ABF Friday: YouTube edition!
Off to LSU tomorrow and then the U of Toledo next week, so I won’t be doing much blogging for a bit. Bringing Jamie to LSU, going to Toledo solo. Stop by if you’re in town!
For today’s Arbitrary exercise, I bring you two or three videos from YouTube, which I have cleverly “implanted” in this blog by sorcery. The first involves a crucial correction to this ancient (but Arbitrary) post from 2006, in which I celebrated some of the little things that make life worth living. One of those little things was the underappreciated kick-drum work on The Spiral Starecase’s one-and-only hit, “More Today than Yesterday.” Here’s a priceless (and very turtlenecky) reminder:
Ouch! Anyway, one of the reasons that drumming is underappreciated, no doubt, is that the song came out in 1969, when people had AM radios and therefore never heard stuff on the low end, like bass drums. Anyway, I don’t remember how this happened, but I identified the drummer as Joel Vincent, and in that I was badly mistaken. I do remember searching and searching high and low in the intertubes for the name of The Spiral Starecase’s drummer, but I obviously didn’t search very well, because their Wikipedia page existed back then, and very clearly identifies the guy as Vinnie Parello. Mr. Parello, I apologize.
But lo! Back in November some YouTuber had the good sense to upload The Spiral Starecase doing the lip-sync thing on their one and only hit, and what do you know? Some guy showed up two months ago and posted the following comment:
The bass and drums on this song are sweet. Listen to the bass drum fills...SWEET..this cheesy lip sync gives no justice. Who was the drummer?? Listen how he drops those triplet notes in and out of the verse, and eighth notes that keep the song marching right along...great idea!!! No other drummer would of played like that. That guys needs recognition.
A month later came the reply:
From associate editor Billy Amendola, Modern Drummer Magazine:
“This was one of the first AM radio pop songs that the kick drum really popped out for me and made me realize I could do more with it without getting super-busy and in the way of the song. And it was my first shuffle groove—the horns made it sound almost big band but not quite—and it still rocked! I always thought it was a session drummer, but band member Vinnie Parello is credited with playing on the tune”
I went to this song on YouTube because it was in one of the feature articles in the March issue of Modern Drummer ... I didn’t appreciate this song when it came out (I was a teenager) because so much was lost in the AM transmission .. I never heard the kick drum until checking this video out .. amazing drumming for the era and very Bonham like .. incredible for this genre of music .. one of the coolest parts of YouTube
So there you have it—an actual discussion of the kick drum in “More Today than Yesterday,” in which Vinnie Parello finally gets his due. I do love the internets sometimes.
And as another commenter in that thread points out, the other half of the rhythm section is notable as well: “Hey did you see the bass player . . . didn’t realize Larry Csonka was part of the group..he’s got great moves on and off the field.” No kidding! That nifty shuffling makes the video rock extra extra hard.
By the way, if you check out their Wikipedia page you’ll discover that The Spiral Starecase started life as The Fydallions, which might be one of the worst ten band names ever. It’s like they were the Ford Probe of pop. But then, the group got
noticed by the A&R representative for Columbia Records, Gary Usher, while they were working in El Monte, California. Columbia signed the band, but insisted that they changed their name. “They loved our work” said [guitarist and lead singer Pat] Upton, “but they hated the name and they didn’t like the way we dressed. This was in the late sixties when all the musicians were wearing long hair. We looked very square!” The band was renamed after the movie The Spiral Staircase, but with a deliberate misspelling.
The deliberate misspelling is very rock and roll. But at least there weren’t any umlauts, like in that other band Spinal Staircäse! Anyway, guys, we still don’t like the way you dressed. Prom night is over, dudes. Great vocals, though.
As for the other video: here’s someone else who never quite got her due for a nice little piece of work.
Ah, it was a simpler time, before “rap” music came along and destroyed civilization. Alternate version with better production values and the jangly guitar riff from the Spinners’ original:
See you all soon! Til then, feel free to implant your favorite obscure YouTubes in comments by sorcery.
those last two videos were great—too bad about the collateral damage to civilization!Posted by Steve Muhlberger on 03/20 at 02:52 PM
This is obviously a follow-on to the review of Sean’s book. The clear implication of the song is that “Love” is some type of “anti-entropic” force that brings things together. Those who speculate that it is life itself which defeats entropy clearly miss the powerful philosophical argument that it is truly love, working through life forms, that really defeats the evil forces of chaos and entropic decay.
How brilliantly effective is the simple statement:
“I love you more today than yesterday.”
at both describing and quantifying this effect?
Stunning.Posted by on 03/20 at 03:00 PM
No, it’s simply a suggestion that love will follow a geometric progression. Half as much as tomorrow? That love is gonna get pretty big by the end of the month.Posted by on 03/20 at 03:45 PM
That love is gonna get pretty big by the end of the month.
A fourth wife, maybe?Posted by Dr. Virago on 03/20 at 04:14 PM
LOL. This is about one of them tele-vision shows, isn’t it?Posted by on 03/20 at 04:21 PM
Whaaa about honoring the demise of the shuttle bat?
Fly on, chiropteric onePosted by Ezra Hound on 03/20 at 04:59 PM
That’s some fine bass-drum-pedaling for sure. But what’s even more remarkable is the tenor saxophonist’s uncanny ability to sound exactly like a trumpet, trombone, and baritone sax are playing along.
With the group (captcha).
And the lyrics are like a reverse Zeno’s paradox of love, man.Posted by on 03/20 at 06:10 PM
what’s even more remarkable is the tenor saxophonist’s uncanny ability to sound exactly like a trumpet, trombone, and baritone sax are playing along
Yeah, that fools a lot of people. It’s not really a saxophone so much as an omniphone.Posted by on 03/20 at 06:56 PM
What’s this, a thread about minor LA garage bands of the 60s that spent most of that period trying to get a moment of shine on Hef’s late night Playboy show from his Sunset Blvd club next to the Trip??? One of my neighbors played in this band, more famous for where its members ended up than for what they actually did. The local high schools at the time offered stranger fertile ground for soon to be one hit wonders and the infamously never heard from again.Posted by on 03/20 at 10:26 PM
re # 9: :-] yeah that became FZ/Mother’s Flower Punk, on whaaa We’re Only in It for the Money (other variations ah believe). The Leaves rocked it, as did JH of course. FZ, however magnificent, could be such a prick at times (a fly’s leg, according to Don VV of 80’s). Lest we forget FZ/mothers did a few shows in the Haight, like ‘66-’67, with the Dead--’fore FZ decided to turn narcPosted by Ezra Hound on 03/20 at 11:49 PM
Whoa, great bass & drums! Thanks.Posted by on 03/21 at 12:19 AM
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Bonus Keenan Wynn/Lee Marvin Cold War homoerotic weight lifting at ye olde lunch counter. (Marvin is “Slob”, a commie spy working as a short-order cook.)Posted by on 03/21 at 01:58 AM
A couple of weeks ago my wife was having a blast-from-the-past moment with Van Morrison (11-year-old daughter: “Does he always sing like that?"). I think it was a chronological best-of CD. The first track was something especially old, anyway, and what stuck out for me was the lame-ass drum fills, down the toms, ba-pa-da-pa da-pa-da-pa da-pa-da-pa--it brought me right back to hearing the school band play “Everyone Knows it’s Wendy” in 7th grade. But it also got me thinking about the drums, and a few days later my ipod shuffled over to “Rock Steady” while I was driving, and it was all about the incredibly articulate stream of 16ths, and the way the hi-hat slices it up. Sometimes there’s another layer of percussion, but on the breaks, and getting in and out of the breaks, it’s the guy on the drum set. You were right in that post a few years ago--these are the little miracles that make life worth living (Aretha’s not bad, either). So keep it up--give-the-drummer-some Friday should become a habit.
Maybe it’s just a matter of overcompensating for years of jazz snobbery, but sometime in middle age I started to really enjoy Mick Fleetwood on a few of those mega-hits that I studiously ignored back in the day. So, as a partial antidote to the cheezy suits and the cheezy shuffle…
(well, the incantation doesn’t seem to work for us mere mortals, so the link‘ll have to do)Posted by Robert Zimmerman on 03/21 at 02:59 AM
Another not quite so forgotten, but much too short-lived band, the leader of which actually studied with the drummers in Morocco with Brian Jones (master musicians of jajouka).Posted by on 03/21 at 05:20 AM
I’m not sure what to make of this. The Jarzombek brothers have some serious skillz, but eight and a half minutes of prog-metal Bambi? Interesting.Posted by Jason B. on 03/21 at 11:38 AM
Forget about the moves, I just want to know what kind of bass that guy’s playing.Posted by Christoher Vilmar on 03/21 at 12:11 PM
Odd how Jones, and then his palsies--including Jimi, and then Morrison, Janis--all perished within a few short years. Pourquoi? Mick n Keef, Inc. man, sponsored by like CIA-led opium production.Posted by Ezra Hound on 03/21 at 02:02 PM
Here’s the part where I admit that I cannot even “hear” what you folks are talking about. I’m not sure how much this is just a personal problem or something shared with many others. For instance, as I’ve gotten more into bird-watching, I’ve struggled to connect fairly distinct songs to the birds (to the disgust and/or amusement of my daughter depending on situation). But then it might be something I could learn through training (I do recognize more macro aspects of music, “Hey, that’s counterpoint!") and I wonder if it is similar to when I discovered via my pedantic mother-in-law that in my Midwesternism not only did I not distinguish “merry/Mary/marry” in speaking, I really did not hear the difference. Through her gently relentless correction I can now hear it if I concentrate.
Enough about me, I wish I had something actually showing these guys playing, but my favorite among several great songs by The Misunderstood from way back then. (My 60s garage-rock Pandora station is one that has really “worked”.)Posted by on 03/21 at 02:17 PM
Speaking of CIA-led operations. The last sentence, I think, is the key.
And I’ve definitely decided that I prefer the first Monie Love video above—the one I remember from back in the day.
Captcha: going, as in Jamie and I have to board that plane now.Posted by Michael on 03/21 at 04:20 PM
Odd, JP mentions Pandora, which reminds me of the oddly placed tiny dance club almost in the middle of the intersection of Sunset and La Cienega blvds in the mid 60s. Pandora’s Box was the “home” of the Darryl Deloach era of the Iron Butterfly, as well as a hangout for Love, and even the Buffalo Springfield, none of whom liked the Trip, nor Gazarris. The Doors and Byrds seemed to have dominated the Whiskey-a-Go-Go then.Posted by on 03/21 at 10:34 PM
@ 2: Will no one speak up for entropy?
First they came for Maxwell’s Demon ...
Captcha, and I am not making this up: “last” as in “things.”Posted by John Protevi on 03/22 at 10:23 AM
May I suggest listening to the Move’s Bev Bevan on some mid to late 1960s tunes from that legendary British pop band?
See this YouTube video of the song I Can Hear the Grass Grow:
Or the song, Disturbance:
Bevan’s drumming definitely anticipates the sort of drum work that started with Ginger Baker and John Bonham, not to mention my favorites Bill Bruford, Pip Pyle of Hatfield & the North/National Health, Barrimore Barlow of Tull (The Brick and Passion Play albums particularly) and Phil Collins (no laughing as his work on Foxtrot and Selling England albums in 1972 and 1973 are serious, creative and often amazing--just listen to the complicated and yet straight-ahead sounding backbeats in Battle of Epping Forest and Aisle of Plenty off Selling England).Posted by Mitchell Freedman on 03/22 at 02:48 PM
Ah, it was a simpler time, before “rap” music came along and destroyed civilization.
Speaking of which, wasn’t it odd that RNC chair Michael Steele said he was a fan of Chuck D? See this video for instance. Plus he’s pro-abortion? See recent GQ interview. Does anyone vet anyone these days? Is he still chairman?
You’d think he’d mention someone who “raps happy” like Will Smith or Digital Underground. Saying this as someone who likes all of the above.Posted by Pedro on 03/22 at 02:57 PM
No link to the original, sadly, as the artist’s recent death has slashdotted his website, but heerza YouTube of a self-cover. Eddie Bo’s”Baby I’m Wise"</a> covered by everyone else in the world who wasn’t Eddie Bo as “Slippin and Slidin,” a fine NOLA and Roll tune whose original is worth digging up.
First time I heard it I was like all, okay, not a bad song, your basic I-IV-I-IV-V-IV-I r&b progression, Eddie singing with a pleasant and clear young voice, and then a passable sax riffing very slightly on the sung melody, back to Eddie with another verse and then a piano riff that comes sideways out of outer space landing on a goddamned diminished vii and then honkytonklissandos through four bars and then hands it back off to Eddie singing as if nothing at all was out of the ordinary. When I found out it was Eddie on the piano I decided that was even more of really something than I had thought before.
Original master of the single’s on iTunes, and it’s worth the buck.Posted by Chris Clarke on 03/23 at 01:23 AM
god, I loved that song when it came out! I was 11 and sang along to both the vocal and the horns. I know the rhythm had a lot to do with what I liked, but I wouldn’t have been able to articulate it beyond an American Bandstand “...and you can dance to it!” Thanks for the breakdown.
Monie Love is lagniappe.Posted by Joanna on 03/23 at 10:23 AM
I mentioned this two years ago, but back in 1979 I worked the night shift in a postal distribution center in San Francisco with the drummer from the Spiral Staircase (Starecase, whatever). He lived over in the East Bay and would ride his motorcycle over the Bay Bridge. Nice guy. Awful work, and at an awful time of night to be sorting mail. He had some great stories about groupies, his failed marriage, Vegas, etc. At that time of night you needed lots of stories to keep you awake.
Then I switched to carrier and worked during the day. Much better. I delivered mail to Prairie Prince and Kwaku Daddy. In service to the rhythmkeepers of the world.Posted by Bob In Pacifca on 03/24 at 10:08 AM
Mitchell at #22, I was always blown away by that massive snare hit at the beginning of “Do Ya”. Dum, dumdum dum. (pause). THWACK!Posted by Bob In Pacifca on 03/24 at 11:13 PM
To Bob in Pacifica,
Yes, I recall the Bevan smash.
Still, I never quite understood why Jeff Lynne required Bevan to ape a Ringo Starr style during the more commercial phase of ELO, rather than let him be more creative with both backbeats and solos.Posted by Mitchell Freedman on 03/29 at 09:29 PM
very nice info at this post thanks!!! i really like itPosted by Spa Treatments on 08/28 at 12:52 PM
specially the drums, really nice, i love itPosted by Best First Dates on 09/10 at 12:18 PM
I was the guitarist in a band with Iron Butterfly Darryl DeLoach lead singer called “The Zero Tolerance Band”
We made a CD called “The Hands Of Time” .
Darryl said that all the hippies lived on top of the buildings down Sunset, everything changed the day the Buffalo Springfield song hit the airwaves , what a field day for the heat.
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I highly agree that in some bands, its the drummers that are really underappreciated. Plus the fact that when in their concerts, they’re not seen because they play at the back.Posted by Keyless Remote on 06/14 at 02:40 PM
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I’ve always been fond of Joe Morello’s solo in ‘Castilian Drums.’It has to be really, really minor, a mere grace note, like Philip Seymour Hoffman continually pushing his glasses up his nose in Owning Mahoney, which is widely recognized as the most minor film ever made…
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