Mike Marvin Knows
A couple of weeks ago, I found two books about the Rolling Stones on sale at the library. The value of the book if bought new would have run me about sixty dollars. But I bought both for about nine dollars. I was reading that on January 18, 1965 the Stones were at RCA studios in Hollywood recording a song based on a 1955 gospel song by the Staple Singers. “The Last Time” was taped along with its “B” side “Play with Fire”. From what I understand Mick wasn’t too happy with his singing. So a month later after a tour, he returned to the studio and re-did the vocal track where we was literally screaming going into the fade. “The Last Time” became the Bad Boy’s second top ten hit-peaking at #9 that spring. The single’s flip side “Play With Fire” charted briefly at #96. This record would set the stage for their next single-a classic guitar riff dreamed up by Keith Richards in a hotel room in Clearwater FL. “Satisfaction” would chart at #1 for a month that summer of 1965-and would be the Number one song for all of that year. This group would top the charts all together eight times.
Stevie Wonder initially wrote “Superstition” for rockers Jeff Beck, Tim Bogert, and Carmine Appice for their self titled album. I have that CD and I’m here to tell you that this version is a scorcher! However Stevie Wonder recorded his take in an all night session where he played the drums as well as the Hohner clavinet keyboard. He was rewarded with his first number one hit in over nine years. In the Spring of 1973, he collected his second consecutive chart topper with “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life”. Both singles help propel his “Talking Book” album to gold status—glaring omission. For some reason that album’s version of “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” is missing the horns. Hmmmmmmmm.
In early 1970, the Beatles split up over numerous issues-such as money and music direction. During 1970, John Lennon recorded his first solo album and wasn’t exactly listener friendly. In this album he recounted his traumatic childhood and his loss of faith in all idols including the Beatles. An associate remarked that John was “slagging off” everyone including the Queen of England. One single “Mother” was issued but didn’t make the top 40. I guess it was too uncomfortable for most listeners. However not all the tracks on that album was angst ridden. Among the songs had the simple title of “Love” which was later recorded by the Lettermen whose version peaked at #42 in the fall of 1971. However in 1980 after he spent five years away from the limelight, he issued “Double Fantasy”, a more positive album. An example is the mournful tolling bells at the start of “Mother”. Contrast that with Yoko’s “wishing bell” that begins “Just Like Starting Over”.
My first radio experience was at WXKE (later WLCV). In late 1973-early 1974 I recall playing Aerosmith’s first attempted charter with “Dream On”. Initially issued in the summer of 1973, it peaked at #59 nationally but was big in Boston, the band’s hometown. However during the winter of 1976, “Dream On” was given a second life and that second time around, it peaked at #6 that spring. The song’s classical feel was inspired by Steven Tyler’s father who played such music on the piano. I read in an interview that “Dream On” was the only track on their self titled debut album where he used his “real voice”. The subsequent tracks he sounded more soulful, that was the beginning of a very successful career.