Song of the day: Frank Converse and The Cake – "She’s Leaving Home"

March 6, 2013

The things you see on the Internet.

One of the blogs I visit regularly (i.e., daily) is PowerPop. One of the contributors there, Steve Smiles (Hi, Steve!), posted a song by an American psychedelic girl group from the ’60s called The Cake. Steve posted this:

The Cake – “You Can Have Him” (on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, August 1967)

To me, that was The Shangri-Las on peyote.

Anyway, I watched that video then read the comments after the post. Commenter MJConroy (Hi, MJC!) said these ominous words:

Here is the full Cake story.”

I say “ominous” because it led me inexorably to the following two videos, which are quite possibly even weirder than the one above.

When I went to the full Cake story I found this video embedded in the page:

Frank Converse and The Cake – “She’s Leaving Home (on Popendipity, November 16, 1967)

I’ve seen that twice now, and it was even stranger the second time.

Incidentally, that Frank Converse video reminded me of something similar that was done in Australian a couple of decades later.

Here’s Australian actor Leonard Teale, and his interpretation of a fairly well-known song:

Leonard Teale – “Stairway To Heaven (1990)

Here are the the more familiar versions to bring you back to the Earth you live in (as opposed to the alternate reality presented in those other videos):

The Beatles – “She’s Leaving Home (1967)

Led Zeppelin – “Stairway To Heaven (1971)

Song of the day: Led Zeppelin – "Kashmir" (live)

November 6, 2012

I’m currently writing a couple of longish reviews at the moment and they’re not quite finished yet. (You have been warned.)

So until they are, here’s a video clip of a track from the upcoming DVD/Blu-ray/cinema release of the 2007 Led Zeppelin reunion concert:

For a band that hadn’t played together in a few decades, they sure do pack a punch.

(If someone was slightly uncharitable, they might describe the 2007-model Led Zeppelin as Geezers With Grunt™, or Pensioners With Power™, or Oldtimers With Oomph™ etc. But I wouldn’t do that. No way.)

I’m definitely interested in the Blu-ray.

And before I forget, here’s the original:

Led Zeppelin – “Kashmir (1975)


Musical coincidence # 223

April 22, 2012

I was listening a “rock’n’roll” radio program the other day (i.e., “We play all the hits from the 50’s, the 50’s, and the 50’s!”) when a song called “Pistol Packin’ Mama” came on. I’d never heard it before, but as soon as it started…

Gene Vincent and The Beat Boys – “Pistol Packin’ Mama (1960) (excerpt)


…I thought, “Hmm – it looks like a rather famous drummer may have unconsciously lifted that for a rather famous rock song“:

Led Zeppelin – “Rock And Roll (1971) (excerpt)


I sauntered on over to Wikipedia’s entry for the Led Zeppelin song to see if anyone noticed that coincidence / theft / homage (pick one), and was surprised to read this:

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has said that this song came to be written as a spontaneous jam session, whilst the band were trying (and failing) to finish the track “Four Sticks“. Drummer John Bonham played the introduction to Little Richard‘s “Keep a Knockin’” and Page added a guitar riff. The tapes were rolling and fifteen minutes later the basis of the song was down.

Here’s the start of “Keep A-Knockin'”:

Little Richard – “Keep A-Knockin’ (1957) (excerpt)


Even knowing what I know now (I didn’t know any of that stuff before), I reckon the start of “Rock And Roll” still sounds more like “Pistol Packin’ Mama” than “Keep A-Knockin'”.

Update: Commenter Frank (Hi, Frank!) said this:

You can add one more to the list – Eddie Cochran’s “Somethin’ Else”

I certainly can, young man.

Eddie Cochran – “Somethin’ Else (1959) (excerpt)


Here are the full versions:

Led Zeppelin – “Rock And Roll (1971)


Gene Vincent and The Beat Boys – “Pistol Packin’ Mama (1960)


Little Richard – “Keep A-Knockin’ (1957)


Eddie Cochran – “Somethin’ Else (1959)


In the interests of completeness (and because I like it a lot), here’s the original version of “Pistol Packin’ Mama”:

Al Dexter and His Troopers – “Pistol Packin’ Mama (1943)


And I don’t know if this brings this post round full circle, but Led Zeppelin recorded a version of Eddie Cochran’s “Somethin’ Else”:

Led Zeppelin – “Somethin’ Else (1969)


Song of the day: Led Zeppelin – "Ozone Baby"

November 21, 2011

Today’s song, Led Zeppelin‘s “Ozone Baby“, appears on the band’s 1982 album of outtakes, the not-terribly-well-received Coda. (The general consensus from critics and Led Zeppelin fans is: “It’s rubbish!”)

Leaving aside the relative (non-)merits of the album, I must admit that when I bought Coda in 1982 I bought it for one thing and one thing only: the sound of the bass guitar in this song. If you’re a bass player, you’ll probably know where I’m coming from. If you’re not a bass player, however, then you’re thankfully spared from doing rash things that some bass players (i.e., me) do from time to time (i.e., buy albums only for the sound of a particular musical instrument in one song).

Led Zeppelin – “Ozone Baby (1982)


Listening to it again after a couple of decades of not hearing it (I bought Coda when it came out in 1982), I’d say I don’t like “Ozone Baby” as much as I used to – but I still love that bass sound. And I do like Robert Plant singing “Ooh-ooh”.

Speaking of songs people like solely for the sound of bass guitars in them, as a bonus here’s bass player Chris Squire with some other people:

Yes – “Roundabout (1971)


What a sound.

Musical coincidences # 131

October 1, 2011

Today’s coincidence is action-packed, so I’m going to try and say as little as possible and just let other people do the talking. The person who caused today’s ball to start rolling is one of my friends, David (Hi, David!), who sent me an email about something about he read about The Beatles‘ “I Feel Fine” in a book he has:

Tell Me Why: The Beatles – Album By Album, Song By Song, The Sixties And After by Tim Riley

[Page 117]

“…the guitar lick and some of the drum patterns are lifted straight from breaks in Bobby Parker‘s ‘Watch Your Step’, a 1961 single that picked up where Ray Charles‘s 1959 ‘What’d I Say‘ left off…”

In addition to the bit that David read in the book he has, there are also some quotes from a couple of Beatles books I have…

The Beatles: The Complete Guide to their Music by John Robertson & Patrick Humphries

[Page 87]

Lennon based the finger-twisting guitar riff on Bobby Parker’s R&B record, ‘Watch Your Step’, which had been covered by The John Barry Seven as early as 1961, and was well known among British blues fans.

The Beatles: Stories Behind The Songs by Steve Turner

[Page 92]

On October 6, while recording ‘Eight Days A Week‘, John was working out the guitar riff that would become the basis of ‘I Feel Fine’, a song they recorded only 12 days later. It was obviously inspired by Bobby Parker’s riff on his 1961 track ‘Watch Your Step’. “I actually wrote ‘I Feel Fine’ around the riff which is going on in the background,” John said in December 1964. “I tried to get that effect into every song on the LP [Beatles For Sale], but the others wouldn’t have it.

“I told them that I’d write a song specially for this riff so they said, ‘Yes. You go away and do that,’ knowing that we’d almost finished the album. Anyway, going into the studio one morning I said to Ringo, ‘I’ve written this song but it’s lousy’, but we tried it, complete with riff, and it sounded like an A side, so we decided to release it just like that.”

And there’s this from a book I don’t have:

Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now by Barry Miles:

Paul McCartney [talking about ‘I Feel Fine’]: “I’m on harmonies and the drumming is basically what we used to think of as ‘What’d I Say’ drumming. There was a style of drumming on ‘What’d I Say’ which is a sort of Latin and that Ray Charles’s drummer Milt Turner played on the original record and we used to love it.”

Right. Now for all those songs…

The Beatles – “I Feel Fine (1964)


Bobby Parker – “Watch Your Step” (1961)


The John Barry Seven – “Watch Your Step” (1961)


Ray Charles – “What’d I Say (1959)


And one last thing. Somebody on YouTube mentioned that when they heard the John Barry version of “Watch Your Step” they thought they’d been listening to Led Zeppelin‘s “Moby Dick” instead. Cue one more coincidence…

Led Zeppelin – “Moby Dick (1969)


Musical coincidences # 31

October 16, 2009

Believe it or not, this musical coincidence was the very reason I started Musical coincidences in the first place.* I have no idea why it’s taken me this long to let you know about it.

This coincidence involves, yet again, musical magpie Jimmy Page.

Here’s the opening vocal line of Led Zeppelin‘s “Immigrant Song,” with singer Robert Plant wailing away:


Please store those four notes (“Ah, ah, aaaaah, ah!“) in your memory banks.

That’s some great wailing. I must admit that “Immigrant Song” is one of my favourite Led Zeppelin tracks, as it contains one of the great rock guitar riffs (dunt, du-du-du-dunt / da-dunt, du-du-du-dunt etc). And, like all good heavy metal songs, the lyrics are wonderfully silly (they’re about Vikings).

Now, here are the first four notes of the theme to the TV comedy Get Smart:


They’re the same four notes. They’re in a slightly different key, and with a slightly different rhythm, but they’re the same four notes. If you have trouble recognising the similarity, try playing one then the other, over and over again. However, if you do that, there is the possibility that you may end up mad – or a Viking.

Anyway, “Immigrant Song” was written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. I’m presuming that Robert wrote the words and Jimmy supplied the music. According to Wikipedia, the song was written whilst Led Zeppelin was on tour in Iceland. Explaining the lyrics, Robert Plant said this:

“We weren’t being pompous … We did come from the land of the ice and snow.”

Yes, but that doesn’t make you a Viking, Robert.

As for the originality (or otherwise) of the music in “Immigrant Song,” I was going to give young Jimmy the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was just a coincidence, and he didn’t actually ‘borrow’ the Get Smart theme tune, but Wikipedia has other ideas. Wikipedia’s “Immigrant Song” article mentions that the song’s melody is “reminiscent of “Bali Ha’i“”. “Bali Ha’i” is a tune from the musical South Pacific.

If you’re not a fan of musicals (like me), you may now be wondering what “Bali Ha’i” sounds like. It sounds like this:

South Pacific – “Bali Ha’i


And crooner Perry Como had a hit with his version of it in 1949. If you’re wondering what that sounds like, wonder no more:

Perry Como – “Bali Ha’i (1949)


Yes, I’d go along with Wikipedia about the similarity between “Immigrant Song” and “Bali Ha’i.”

So now we have a musical coincidence involving a rock song, a TV theme tune, and now a show tune. And at the centre of it all is… Jimmy Page.

It seems to me that whenever the name of Jimmy Page is mentioned, musical coincidences fly thick and fast.

Anyway, here are the full versions of both “Immigrant Song” and the Get Smart theme:

Led Zeppelin – “Immigrant Song (1970)


Get Smart theme (1965)


(*That sounds like a tautology to me. For example, since when do people start things in the second place…?)

Musical coincidences # 1

May 27, 2009

Have you ever been listening to a song and thought to yourself, “Hey, that sounds like…”?

Me, too.

I’ll be presenting an occasional series on those times when two (or more) songs sound similar in some way, possibly coincidentally or possibly not (but I’m willing to give anyone the benefit of the doubt).

OK, let’s start off with something rather well known.

Here’s the beginning of Led Zeppelin‘s “Stairway To Heaven“:

Led Zeppelin – “Stairway To Heaven (1971) (excerpt)

And here’s an excerpt from a song called “Taurus” by a band called Spirit:

Spirit – “Taurus (1968) (excerpt)

“Taurus” comes from Spirit’s 1968 self-titled debut album. Spirit was a psychedelic band from California, and the album is so much a part of that era that I’m finding it difficult to resist putting the word “man” at the end of every sentence.

“Stairway To Heaven” was released in 1971. It has been suggested that “Stairway” author Jimmy Page ripped off “Taurus”. I was going to suggest that Jimmy Page possibly had a large record collection in the Sixties and unconsciously delved into it whilst composing “Stairway,” but I just consulted Wikipedia who tells me that Led Zeppelin supported Spirit on a 1968 tour, and that Led Zeppelin were “heavily influenced by Spirit”.

You’re not wrong there, Wikipedia.

By the way, courtesy of Mr Page’s filching, whenever I listen “Taurus” I always expect to hear this:

Spirit – “Taurus (1968) / Led Zeppelin – “Stairway To Heaven (1971) (mash-up)

No matter what’s actually there on the Taurus recording, that’s what I hear in my mind. Every single time.


Incidentally, if you’re keen on hearing how the whole thing sounds, here’s “Taurus” in its entirety:

Spirit – “Taurus (1968)

And if you’d like to hear “Stairway To Heaven” (yet again), here ’tis:

Led Zeppelin – “Stairway To Heaven (1971)

(*I had originally typed “Curse you, Page!” but quickly decided it would be wise not to. I have a feeling that because of Jimmy’s interest in the occult, it’s precisely the kind of thing Jimmy used to do – and, for all I know, still does – to other people, and I don’t want to court any bad vibes, man. No hard feelings, Jimmy – but next time, would you mind letting people know when you’re going to borrow their music?)