It’s a good time to be a Peter, Paul & Mary fan.
Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey, and Mary Travers first came together in 1961, and although they took the occasional hiatus here and there over the years, they continued to play together until Travers’ declining health took her off the stage, but even after her death in 2009, Yarrow and Stookey have carried on, taking the trio’s music into their 50th anniversary and beyond. Those five decades are being celebrated on PBS on December 1, when the network premieres a new documentary, “50 Years with Peter, Paul and Mary,” but the celebration really started back on November 4, with the release of a new coffee table book, Peter, Paul and Mary: Fifty Years in Music and Life. As you’ve probably guessed by now, we’re getting into the act, too, and our contribution comes out smack dab between the other two, with the release of a collection featuring 13 live performances of songs never recorded for any Peter, Paul & Mary studio album.
Whether you knew him for his artwork or his music, Don Van Vliet – beloved to many as Captain Beefheart – has been much mourned since his death in 2010 at the age of 69, but the man who once helmed The Magic Band has continued to maintain a dedicated following. While his music was generally well out of the mainstream, his seminal album, 1969’s Trout Mask Replica, made such an impact that it was added to the United States National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress in 2010. For many, though, that particular album is the sum total of their Captain Beefheart collection, which is why we’re so excited about the opportunity to expand some people’s musical horizons with our new limited-edition four-disc boxed set, Sun Zoom Spark: 1970 to 1972.
Sometimes we write posts because we think you’ll enjoy reading them, other times we write posts simply because we think they’re important, but this is one which feels at least a little bit superfluous, if only because the people to whom this release would likely be the most important have probably already ordered it. Nonetheless, we have a duty to perform, and perform it we will, so here goes:
See what we mean? We know that you diehard Monkees fans already knew this day was coming, so it seems unlikely that you’d really need a reminder for a date that you’ve no doubt had circled on your calendar for quite some time.
If you never travel far without a little Big Star, then not only do you likely already know who Chris Bell is, but you probably already own the lone solo album by the late Mr. Bell, who played guitar and sang on Big Star’s boldly-titled debut album, #1 Record, before departing the band’s ranks for a solo career which ended abruptly when, at the age of 27, he was killed in a car crash. It was a sad, sudden end for a songwriter who’d already begun to earn respect from his peers, and it seems all the more tragic in retrospect, given how many artists have found inspiration in I Am the Cosmos since it finally received its belated release on Rykodisc in 1992.
In 2009, Rhino Handmade offered up a two-disc deluxe edition of I Am the Cosmos, pairing the album’s original 12 tracks on the first disc with a second disc featuring three tracks by Bell’s pre-Big Star bands (two by Icewater, one by Rock City), nine alternate and extended versions and mixes of songs from the album, collaborations with Keith Sykes (“Stay with Me”) and Nancy Bryan (“In My Darkest Hour”), and concluding with the instrumental “Clacton Rag.” Here’s the full track listing for your perusal:
This week’s Mono Monday release features a title track which has gone on to become known to quite a few classic-rock aficionados as a really great ZZ Top song, but if you’ve never heard the original, then get ready to thank us.
Sam Moore and Dave Prater had been a hot commodity in the world of rhythm and blues since Hold On, I’m Comin’, their 1966 debut album on Stax Records, which they took to the top of the Billboard R&B Charts, but it was their third studio effort, 1967’s Soul Men, that served as their full-fledged mainstream breakthrough, hitting #2 on the Billboard Top 200. As such, one might’ve expected I Thank You, which was the duo’s Atlantic Records debut, to build on that success, possibly even providing them Sam & Dave with their first chart-topper, but it was not to be: the album didn’t even crack the Billboard Top 200, and as it was, it only made it to #38 on the R&B chart.
But let’s get back to that title track, which was a hit, providing Sam & Dave with another top-10 success on the Billboard Hot 100 (#9) while also taking them to #3 on the R&B singles chart. And while we’ve already mentioned how ZZ Top brought the song to a whole new generation of listeners as well as into a new musical genre, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the similar success of the B-side, “Wrap It Up,” which – in addition to being on the I Thank You album as well – provided The Fabulous Thunderbirds with a minor hit (#50) in 1986.