No Dice – “Why Sugar” (1978)
This is weird. (No, not the song. My reaction to it.) As soon as it started I thought, “Oh-oh. This sounds like a very ordinary rock song, the kind of thing that’d be playing by any number of bar bands all over the wide land of those United States, and the kind of thing that usually makes me go ‘blah’ – but I’m enjoying it. Why?” This sounds like a Rolling Stones tribute band playing a song that the band members wrote themselves. By the way, the singer sounds to me uncannily like Rod Stewart in (a lot of) places. Maybe No Dice are a Rod Stewart tribute band playing a Rolling Stones-ish song they wrote themselves. Well, no matter what kind of band No Dice are (given their name, I had also thought that they may have had something to do with Badfinger), I’m enjoying this song. Weird. I’m now looking for a better MP3 of it, because the one you supplied is a vinyl rip and there’s some distortion in the track which is preventing me from hearing its inner details (if there are any). Update: I haven’t been able to find a better copy of the track. Ah, well. The weirdness continues: I’ve listen to “Why Sugar” three times now, and enjoyed it every time. What’s surprising to me is that I didn’t like less with each play (which is what I thought was going to happen). Strange. Even more weirdness: I’ve heard it five times now, and I still like it. Huh? Here’s some incredibly pointless trivia, too: “Why Sugar” was originally released in the UK in 1977 but released in the US in 1978. I’m guessing that the copy you sent me is an American one (being that’s where you live and all), so I’ve left the date as 1978 in honour of the American release’s, er, American-ness.
Update: The fabulously helpful Stonefish (Hi, Stonefish!) has found me (and you) a decent copy of “Why Sugar”. However, although it does sound like a CD rip instead of the crackly vinyl one above, it’s considerably slower. It is the same recording (as far as I can tell), but because of the slower speed it sounds almost a semitone lower than the vinyl rip. One unexpected byproduct of the song being slower and lower is that the singer no longer sounds like Rod Stewart. I miss that. Ah, well. I’ve left the original vinyl rip above, but added Stonefish’s CD rip so you can hear how different they sound:
No Dice – “Why Sugar” (1977) (CD)
The Grass Roots – “Look Out Girl” (1966)
To me, this like a Sunshine Pop version of that No Dice track: very ordinary but very enjoyable. Actually, I guess it’s more Folk-Pop than Sunshine Pop. Is the singer trying to sound like Bob Dylan with some of those vocal inflections? Those acoustic guitar rhythms sure are reminding me of “I Fought The Law“. There’s not much else I can think of to say about “Look Out Girl”. I think it’s unremarkable, but I enjoyed it. Just like No Dice’s “Why Sugar”. By the way, I’m now officially gobsmacked. I went to the Wikipedia entry for The Grass Roots and saw that they released squillions of singles (I lost count after 20), but “Look Out Girl” wasn’t even one of them. It was the flip-side to their 1967 single, “Tip Of My Tongue” (as well as appearing on their 1966 debut album, Where Were You When I Needed You). Boy, they made a lot of records.
Excellent! I haven’t heard this song in a-a-a-a-ages (i.e., a long, long time). It’s trivia time: this song was on one of the first albums I ever remember having (Supercharged Hits). Incidentally, whilst consulting the Internet for details about “Grazing In The Grass” (e.g., when it was recorded, album covers etc), I discovered that there’s another song called “Grazing In The Grass”. It’s an instrumental by Hugh Masekela:
That was recorded in 1968, and it’s apparently one of the few instrumentals to have ever gone to #1 on the Billboard charts. And I’ve also just discovered that “Grazing In The Grass” by The Friends Of Distinction is a vocal version of the Hugh Masekela track. Well, waddaya know? Anyway, I’ve always loved “Grazing In The Grass” (the vocal version, that is – I had never heard the instrumental before). As a junior person growing up in Australia in the ’70s, I thought it was groovy! Even now, every time I listen to it I have to use the word “groovy!” with an exclamation mark. This song is groovy! The album cover, however, is not:
I don’t know about you, but that’s fairly unviewable to me. (It hurts my eyes in a big way.)
And from the “Well, I never knew” department: it looks like The Friends Of Distinction are still active – they have a MySpace page.
I think this is great. Pretty much every critic everywhere who’s ever commented on this song – and its performance by father and daughter – will have put it much better than I ever could. Nevertheless, I do want to say that I love (no, make that LOVE) the strings in the right channel. But apart from that, I’d much rather listen to it than talk about it, so if you don’t mind, I’m going to press “play” again.
Chuck Berry – “Chuck’s Boogie” (?)
This might be purely coincidental, but this very track was recently featured on Steve Simels’ PowerPop blog. I don’t mind “Chuck’s Boogie”. I mean, I like it – but I don’t love it. It doesn’t do much for me in any particular way (but it doesn’t fill me with dread either). I liked the little mistakes (for example, Chuck messes up a couple of chords at 1:10, and plays a wrong note in a chord at 2:05 but then corrects it). I’ve said this plenty of times before, but I love mistakes in records because it lets me know that human beings made this music. Incidentally, I’ve had a tough time trying to find out when “Chuck’s Boogie” was actually recorded. The closest I’ve been able to find is a track called “Guitar Boogie” and that appears on Chuck’s second album, One Dozen Berrys (1958). I’ve searched through (what I think is) Chuck’s entire discography, but I can’t find a track called “Chuck’s Boogie” anywhere. There’s another track called “Let’s Boogie” (1972), but that’s not it. Even the All Music Guide doesn’t list it. (The only things close there are “Chuck’s Beat” and “Chuck’s Jam”, but neither of them are it.) What a mystery. And to make it just that little bit more mysterious, the MP3 you sent me is tagged as being track 9 on Rock ‘n’ Roll Legends – but track 9 on that album is called “Guitar Boogie”. Grrr. You can see the entire artwork for Rock ‘n’ Roll Legends here. It says quite unequivocally that track 9 is “Guitar Boogie”, and that it was released in 1958. That’s good enough for me. I’m calling it “Guitar Boogie” from now on. Major update: I found a place where I can play and hear the disputed track – http://www.we7.com/#/song/Chuck-Berry/Guitar-Boogie+4. It’s now definitely confirmed (well, by me anyway) – this track is called “Guitar Boogie”. No ifs, no buts. So…
Chuck Berry – “Guitar Boogie” (1958)
Thanks for this week’s songs, Frank. Once again, there was a nice bit of variety – and in the case of the Chuck Berry track, adventure.