Archive for Jesse Colin Young

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: The Youngbloods

Posted in Rock Classics! with tags , , , on April 26, 2010 by 30daysout

Diggin’ around in my sister’s record collection today, I found a forgotten classic by one of the best bands of the 1960s.   The album is Elephant Mountain, from the Youngbloods, which came out in 1969.  The Youngbloods were the folk-rock band from California that many people compared (then and now) to the Lovin’ Spoonful – a likeable rock group with strong, radio-friendly songs.

The ‘Bloods came out of the Northeast in 1967 with a self-titled debut that contained the song “Get Together,” the well-worn hippy-dippy brotherly love anthem.  Upon its initial release, it only struggled to about No. 62 on the pop charts.  Two years later, the Youngbloods were a trio after founding member Jerry Corbitt left, and the band had moved its base of operations to the Bay Area.

Jesse Colin Young was the band’s lead singer, bass player and main songwriter, Lowell “Banana” Levinger was a multi-instrumentalist who mainly played guitar and piano and drummer Joe Bauer could play jazz.  After lead guitarist Corbitt left in early 1969, Levinger moved over to electric guitar.

The songs on Elephant Mountain put a polished pop-rock sheen on the jam-till-you-drop vibe shared by many of the era’s Bay Area bands.  Young knew his way around a hook, and one grabs you right off with the great “Darkness, Darkness,” which opens the album.   Opening with the ominous strains of a fiddle over an acoustic guitar, “Darkness” is probably the Youngbloods’ best moment on record.  The song certainly is a Sixties classic, perhaps because many soldiers in Vietnam shared the song’s sentiments of hope fighting off fear by embracing the darkness.

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Sampler Daze: WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 7

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2009 by 30daysout

hardgoods deepear

By 1974, radio’s hard rock trend was going strong – Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Humble Pie dominated the FM rock airwaves.  Appropriately titled for the time, Hard Goods arrived in mailboxes with freshly minted rockers like Montrose, covering Roy Brown’s “Good Rocking Tonight” and Foghat, offering its cover of Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be The Day.”  Ted Nugent and his Amboy Dukes show up, and the perfect marriage between glam and hard rock emerges in the then-new KISS (Casablanca Records were distributed by Warner Bros. until about 1976).

The Doobie Brothers were still rockin’ behind guitarist/vocalist Tom Johnston and they were fresh off their 1973 triumph The Captain and Me.  The Doobies’ new “Pursuit On 53rd Street” had a guitar crunch similar to the monster single “China Grove” but behind the scenes, Johnston’s health was becoming precarious.  He was able to stick with the Doobies through late 1974 even as new personnel were added, most notably ex-Steely Dan guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter.  Finally in early 1975 Johnston had to quit the band, and a replacement was found in another Steely Dan alumnus, Michael McDonald.  The Doobies quickly became McDonald’s franchise, and everyone’s heard the rest of the story – with more than 30 million albums sold, the Doobies are still an active touring band with a rejuvenated Tom Johnston at the helm.

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Sampler Daze: WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 4

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2009 by 30daysout

wholeburbankcatalogue middleroad

By 1972, the world was still rockin’ in a sort of Sixties-era hangover: newly freaky 18-year-olds had been given the right to vote for the first time (only fair, since they were long qualified to be drafted into the military), and men were still walking on the moon way up there.  Warner/Reprise issued a whopping four – count ’em – 2-disc sets in 1972, so for brevity’s sake we’ll break ’em up here.

The Whole Burbank Catalog showcased the variety of the label’s stable: rockers like Jethro Tull and Alice Cooper were mixed in with Jerry Garcia, Jackie Lomax and Bonnie Raitt.  T. Rex and Faces would spotlight their best albums with “Bang A Gong (Get It On)” and “Memphis,” respectively.  Cuts from old radio shows were interspersed with the music, to really make it sound like a free-form FM radio show – that technique is still in use today.   A new group making their first appearance in the Loss Leaders series was the trio America, represented by “Sandman,” a deep cut from their first LP.  That album would of course yield the big hits “Horse With No Name” and “I Need You,” and was the springboard for a long career.  It would take another album for the Texas-born duo of Seals & Crofts to hit it big – here they offer “Sudan Village,” a cut from their first album.  They’d cash in later in the year with the title song from their next album: Summer Breeze.

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