ON THE TURNTABLE: 1968

1968 polarized me. The news, not only in print but on TV and radio had vivid footage, reports from the field of the Vietnam Conflict. Gun shots could be heard in the background as the reports were being taped. The newspapers and magazines did not concentrate solely on the war abroad but also on the conflict developing on the home front, particularly the protests against the war occurring in every major city. The Anti-War Movement was big news. Campus sit-ins, teach-ins, black arm bands, fist salutes,“the long hairs versus the hard hats” with the hard hats being saluted as “Pro America” while the “long hairs” were depicted as “Anti-American”.

A blurb written in Howard Smith’s SCENES in the Village Voice (February 17) addressed a Janis Joplin performance at The Anderson Theatre. I remember being amazed at how Smith described the show. This particular Big Brother and The Holding Company gig, with B.B. King on the bill,was meant to be a “coming out” party, NY style for the recently (8 months ago) herald band’s performance at Monterey. Smith compared Joplin to Bessie Smith (whom I never heard at that point in time), Aretha Franklin, and James Brown. But Janis, is a white girl. Hmmmm, this had to be good.

Besides the VOICE with it’s legendary Howard Smith (SCENES) and Richard Goldstein’s POP EYE column, I read CRAWDADDY , RAMPARTS, ROLLING STONE (newspaper format)and EYE magazine along with the weekly hit paraders that the local stations produced, GO(WMCA), etc. I vividly remember THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION ads run that summer in THE VOICE for their Garrick Theater performances. Also, the first Rolling Stone magazine with John Lennon gracing the cover and pictures from Monterey Pop. However, the risk of bringing home or to work a copy of THE EAST VILLAGE OTHER (EVO) was always a challenge. Oh yeah, that summer I had an intern’s job at CHASE MANHATTAN BANK on Wall Street NYC. 75 bucks a week, wearing a tie, short corporate hair.This 16 year old was now “citified” as I traveled on a daily early morning commute from “out in the country” to the Big Apple.

At CHASE, each Wednesday was pay day and that would be the day I would head to the WALL STREET RECORDS store where I would buy an album or two. I would also slip an EVO from the news stand, cooly placing it on top of the pile of my vinyl selections. After purchase I would carefully place EVO in the bag containing the records. I would only consider reading the EVO in the sanctity of my own room as some folks in my home, or anywhere in fact would deem even the comics a bit obscene. Mom would have freaked. I loved it. Overall, it was a wonderful summer job. My cousin John worked around the corner and we would get together for lunches. At only 16, looking like I was a 12 years old in a suit, I still was served beer at lunch, no questions asked. I did have a phony draft card which I paid 15 bucks for, it had my name printed out, matching my school ID photo and it looked legit but I was never asked for it, anywhere.

That summer from my desk on the tenth floor of the Chase building I watched the TWIN TOWERS being erected two streets over. From my perch I saw TRINITY CHURCH where Alexander Hamilton is buried, the Hudson River a few streets over, and basically the world at large. At work I progressed from a “runner/go-fer” handling mail the first few days, to sitting in the Signature Verification Department, to later helping to find a $1,000,000.00 error all by the end of my second week. I got a raise to $95.00 and was given a desk with my own adding machine and phone. Cool. Every day I still volunteered to take all the outgoing materials to the data processing center on the ninth floor at about 4:30 PM. Everyone considered this a lowly task, except me. The pretty girl at the window greeted me with a huge smile, knew my name by week 2 and gave me the receipt promptly which allowed me the time to zip down the stairs, out the door to the subway all in hopes of catching the 5:08 which I did most evening.

1968: My record collection was growing in leaps and bounds and with a decent paying job and having a record store only a street away well…it was now mostly albums (vinyl) and some cassettes, with an occasional single thrown in.

THE BEATLES “The Beatles” aka The White Album. I already posted about my experience in the manufacturing of the cassettes of this collection but I needed the vinyl. Wore that sucker out.

THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE- “Electric Ladyland,” this double set was a late year release,one which my girlfriend bought and I borrowed until she demanded it back so I had to get my own copy.I also picked up a 45 of “All Along The Watchtower” which I recently sold for 15 bucks.

JEFF BECK GROUP-“Truth” Arguments occur when I state that I like this lp better than “Electric Ladyland”. Most of my guitarist friends adored Hendrix and tolerated Beck, until they see him live. Different story they tell. This album was a killer , also bought on Wall Street that summer.

THE ZOMBIES-“Odessey and Oracle” yes the title is a misspelling and never corrected. This was one I bought on a lunch hour after seeing the poster of the band in a record store on Wall Street. Truly a gem “This Will Be Our Year”, the sheer fun of “Care of Cell 44” and of course the overlooked (for one year) “Time Of The Season”.

THE BAND-“Music From Big Pink” bought this early summer of 68, along with an accompanied 45 from THE BAND. Years later I won 5 or 10 bucks from a DYLAN fanatic who claimed the album was recorded AT “Big Pink” the house the band used for rehearsals. My disagreement lead to a minor argument, a few insults, and ultimately he handing over the money when he found out it was recorded in NYC and LA, not in the “basement”. I love being right.

THE DOORS-“Waiting For The Sun” I bought this the same day as “Big Pink’. Yuck, this album sucks, the gateway sleeve sucks, the photos suck,the songs suck, THE DOORS suck, yet I bought it so I suck,too.

ARETHA FRANKLIN- “Lady Soul”(my brother’s record but I took it constantly).Roger Hawkins on the kit,ERIC CLAPTON guitar, JOE SOUTH guitarist extradanaire on the unedited version of “Chain of Fools”,SPOONER OLDHAM keys and KING CURTIS on sax…what a line up and with the Queen of Soul at the mic…there is not one bad song here, geez, there is not one bad note.
“In December 1967, while he was still a member of Cream, 22-year-old British guitar phenom Eric Clapton was brought into a recording studio in the U.S. and asked to add a guitar part to Franklin’s powerful “Good to Me As I Am to You.”

BLOOMFIELD/KOOPER/STILLS-“Super Session” a great listen,especially the Mike Bloomfield side. Before this I thought of STILLS as just part of Buffalo Springfield. After this I thought of him as an amazing guitarist, which he is. Education is a strange thing, this educated me.

THE BYRDS-“Sweetheart Of The Rodeo” Not one of my friends had this, in fact not one of my friends like this. I was warned not to put it on at any house parties. My Pop liked it and that says alot. This album was a big change for the BYRDS, a big change for music, intro a new category “country rock”. God Bless Gram Parsons.Those in country music hated it, rock fans hated it, I loved it.

BIG BROTHER and THE HOLDING COMPANY-“(Sex,Dope and)Cheap Thrills”- this, contrary to popular myth, is not a live recording, only one track Ball and Chain is live, and what a great live track it is.
Dave Getz,drummer….“Cheap Thrills seems to have stood the test of time,It might be because it is arguably the greatest work by a great artist, Janis Joplin. It is certainly the greatest and closest representation of what Big Brother & the Holding Company was as a band and I would add to that argument that Big Brother/Janis as a band, and as a SOUND, was the embodiment of the San Francisco, psychedelic, counter-culture of the 1960s.”

CREAM-“Wheels Of Fire” their third album, a double lp set with one live the other studio recording. “Crossroads”,“Spoonful”, “White Room”, “Sitting On Top Of The World” and “Born Under A Bad Sign”, need I said more.

SMALL FACES-“Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake” is a blast. It is a precursor for HUMBLE PIE to be sure and “Happiness Stan” is one of my heroes.I played side two regularly on my college late night radio program and never got one complaint. Either people didn’t care or weren’t listening. Makes no never mind to me, I loved that album.

THE ROLLING STONES-“Beggar’s Banquet”- to this day this collection is one of my favorite albums, not just by the STONES but by every other artist.

I got that record the moment it was released and it very rarely left my turntable for one full year. Side 1, Side 2, back to Side 1, and on and on. There are very few albums I can said that about, very few albums I listen to in its entirety without getting bored by a clunker or two. I was enamored by this collection of Stones tunes. The slick printed cover (American version which was completely different from the British cover), the photo spread inside, and the music. These songs were individually and collectively a great relief, a wonderful change in direction from the ROLLING STONES ’67 set of THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST, which I owned but never played all the way through. The only tunes I liked on TSMR were 2000 LIGHT YEARS FROM HOME and SHE’S A RAINBOW. The rest,rubbish.

Before SATANIC MAJESTIES I was stuck on BETWEEN THE BUTTONS(1967) (US version), especially side 1 which we played endlessly at my buddy George’s house.TSMR is/was nothing like BUTTONS. But then, BEGGAR’S BANQUET is released and with that a new STONES approach to the blues.The BB album was the real deal, and foreshadowed what would become of the STONES over the next few years and releases. To my ears Beggar’s Banquet was a Keith album as Brian Jones due to “personal reasons” is limited here to slide guitar on NO EXPECTATIONS, a harmonica on PARACHUTE WOMAN, DEAR DOCTOR and PRODIGAL SON. It was the last ROLLING STONES album to be released during Brian Jones’ life.

Side One Track 1, SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL, just listen to the title before you put the needle down, WHAT? Sympathy for whom? Are you kidding me? Conga, screams, maracas, Nicky Hopkins on piano, and THE WORDS…PLEASE TO MEET YOU, seriously this is not Satanic Majesties at all. WOW.Then the voices, Get down,hit it, guitar riffs…six minutes plus of sheer ecstasy . I danced around my room so many times shaking imaginary maracas.
Track 2:NO EXPECTATIONS, Keith on acoustic, Brian in a semi-sober moment plays slide. Bill with a few bass thuds,I still play this tune on my guitar, “never in my sweet short life have I felt like this before”.
Track 3: DEAR DOCTOR, humorous to say the least..”Help me please Doctor I’m damaged”…“preserve it right there in that jar”. Many a nights I sang this tune with like minded folks, very poor off keyed singers we were after a few cocktails.
Track 4:PARACHUTE WOMAN: acoustic guitar, electric guitar, some echo added to vocals, and Charlie beating it down, “join me for a ride”.
Track 5: JIGSAW PUZZLE: The drum beat is awesome, I played it thousands of time, Charlie was the man. “Me, I waiting so patiently, lying on the floor”.

SIDE TWO Track 1 STREET FIGHTING MAN: The guitar intro and then the drums…this was the tune revolutionaries were using as their theme song, well, pseudo- revolutionaries. Hey, it was a sign of the times.
Track 2: PRODIGAL SON: Not a Stones tune but a remake that they called their own.Charlie’s high hat work is exceptional, Mick’s vocals is a take on a blues man.
Track 3: STRAY CAT BLUES: This was sex, straight out.”I bet your mama don’t know you can scream like that”…
Track 4: FACTORY GIRL: I first thought this was the same riff from “2000 Light Years”, but no. As I was working in a factory at the time this tune made so much sense.”Waiting for a factory girl…”
Track 5: SALT OF THE EARTH: This is the one that did it for me. Aren’t we all salt of the earth? and when the drums kick in….”Let’s drink to the uncounted heads”…these words made so much sense to me…and then the mention…. “A choice of cancer or polio”.

Salt Of The Earth
The Rolling Stones
Let’s drink to the hard working people
Let’s drink to the lowly of birth
Raise your glass to the good and the evil
Let’s drink to the salt of the earth
Say a prayer for the common foot soldier
Spare a thought for his back breaking work
Say a prayer for his wife and his children
Who burn the fires and who still till the earth
And when I search a faceless crowd
A swirling mass of gray and
Black and white
They don’t look real to me
In fact, they look so strange
Raise your glass to the hard working people
Let’s drink to the uncounted heads
Let’s think of the wavering millions
Who need leaders but get gamblers instead
Spare a thought for the stay-at-home voter
His empty eyes gaze at strange beauty shows
And a parade of the gray suited grafters
A choice of cancer or polio
And when I look in the faceless crowd
A swirling mass of grays and
Black and white
They don’t look real to me
Or don’t they look so strange
Let’s drink to the hard working people
Let’s think of the lowly of birth
Spare a thought for the rag taggy people
Let’s drink to the salt of the earth
Let’s drink to the hard working people
Let’s drink to the salt of the earth
Let’s drink to the two thousand million
Let’s think of the humble of birth