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January 1, 2014 / thackersam

January 1 – Wednesday – Lee Michaels

Lee MichaelsHappy New Year!

How appropriate that we start the New Year with Lee Michaels, who represents for me a passage, not from year to year, but from AM to FM. And yet I approach the album, the first of my Lee Michaels purchases, with trepidation. Will the music it provides live up to my memories? I don’t recall many of his songs, and we have three record to go through, but I remember his music having a big impact on me. It was just like that moment in the Lou Reed song “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” that I am sharing with you to better elucidate what I mean:

“Jenny said, when she was just five years old, You know there’s nothin’ happening at all, Every time she put on the radio, There was nothin’ goin’ down at all, Not at all

One fine mornin’, she puts on a New York station, And she couldn’t believe what she heard at all, She started dancin’ to that fine-fine music, Ooohhh, her life was saved by rock ‘n’ roll”

Well, I wasn’t five at the time, I was more like 12 or 13 and I was home alone. My mother had a kitchen radio on the ledge of the opening between the playroom and the kitchen. It was AM/FM. I knew from my brother what station to go to, WNEW-FM, 102.7. And I swear, the moment I went from AM to FM was life changing. There was so much more going on. And then one night I heard “Heighty Hi” by Lee Michaels. You could hear the DJ in the background dancing around to it, as I was. Lee Michaels was like nothing I ever heard before. It was just him on piano or organ, and his drummer Bartholomew Smith-Frost, then known as Frosty and currently going by Barry Smith.

So, I exercise to the record, starting with the second side as it begins with Michaels’ version of “Stormy Monday” and ends with “Heighty Hi,” and am glad I decided to do it that way. Those songs still hold up, but the first side was not as enthralling as I had hoped. I remember once getting into the drum solo, “Frosty’s” but no more. Maybe I have developed an intolerance to drum solos (remember I was not thrilled with Ginger Baker’s solo on the Blind Faith album), but I have recently seen the movie of Woodstock and still enjoy the solo performed by Santana’s then 19-year-old drummer.

I have more to say about Lee Michaels, and about radio as well, which I will leave till next time, or the time after that.

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