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Cds You Should Own: Crazy Elephant

Germany's Repertoire record label has recently offered a very significant 1960's bubblegum act Cd that is well worth owning. Crazy Elephant was a bubble gum act put together by record producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz of some great studio musicians into a pseudorock band meant largely to make some production money in the recording business. And although this band was short-lived with only one album, CRAZY ELEPHANT, they had several singles, the only hit one being "Gimme, Gimme Good Lovin". But this was a terrific act with a very tight sound that really captured some genuine recording studio magic on some songs like the largely failed single, "Sunshine Red Wine". crazy elephant.jpg

Germany's Repertoire label has put together a wonderful Cd package that includes a stereo version of the only album, plus bonus mono 45rpm single versions of "Gimme, Gimme Good Lovin'" as well as "Sunshine Red Wine". Also included are the remaining few late attempts at producing another hit single that all fell short on the charts as well.

Interestingly, the stereo version of "Sunshine Red Wine" is probably far and away the best example of the quick magic that this awesome bubblegum act was able to capture for a moment during the late 60's. The producers who threw together this pseudoband had to feel that this song was pure recording magic, which of course it certainly was. But likely the biggest mistake was to issue the single version in mono sound, which seemed to lose the real recording session magic of the stereo track. On the other hand, even the mono single version of "Gimme, Gimme Good Lovin" seemed to translate very well into a real hit sound on the AM radio charts.

This attempt by some enterprising record producers to find some great studio musicians might have fallen short on the charts to become an attempt to become a major recording act, however these talented musicians later contributed to other great acts such as 10CC, The Eagles, Santana, Rod Steward and B.B. King. Interestingly, the lead singer on much of the songs by Crazy Elephant was Robert Spencer from the 1950's Doo-Wop act, The Cadillacs, well known for their hit song "Speedo" and other classics. However, Kevin Godley who later formed 10Cc was the singer on another late single recorded in the UK by the band. Crazy Elephant was a significant alliance of some great talent who could really play and really sing. They formed a very tight ensemble.

You just can't go wrong by buying a copy of this late 60's act on the Repertoire label. The remastering quality is excellent and sound quality just plain incredible. This is a great collection of everything that this short-lived band ever recorded all on one Cd. This is a record collector's dream come true. This is real good stuff here.


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Comments (7)

bryanD:

I haven't thought about "Gimme, Gimme.." since the very early 70s. Well, actually, I didn't think about it then. It was just a 45 my sister and her friends would be spinning. Many rungs above the Osmond Brothers B-sides the girls would obsess over, certainly. Thanks for the trip on the Wayback Machine.

BTW, I notice a homage to the Fendermen version of "Muleskinner Blues" at the end of each chorus. It makes the song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IExZKoC_EJE

Paul Hooson:

Thanks for your thoughts about this long forgotten classic bubblegum act as well, BryanD. I sure love their singles, especially "Sunshine Red Wine", and really freaked when I noticed that a Cd was available of this group comprising everything they ever produced. The connection to 10cc and some other fine acts I also found very surprising as well. And the use of the Cadillacs singer also added a real soulful sound to the group on some songs that worked so well with the punchy tight rock music. For a bubblegum act, the group really had some real recording studio magic on a few of their tracks. This might have been the best bubblegum act ever, or at least the most rock and roll of them all.

bryanD:

"This might have been the best bubblegum act ever, or at least the most rock and roll of them all."-ph

Yeah. I'm trying to quibble, but if we confine ourselves to the formal "bubblegum" genre begun in 1968 (Archies?), you may be right.
But bubblegum is only a continuance of the teen idol trend invented for Elvis fans whose parents refused to let Elvis records into the house. Enter Fabian, Frankie Avalon, etc.
The Monkees were probably kings of that universe before they started hanging out with your colleague Frank Zappa.

THAT might have been the cue for the Archies and the "formal" Bubblegum era, in the first place.

Come to think of it, Crazy Elephant seems Monkees-revanchist to me sound-wise, and the name "Crazy Elephant" sounds suspiciously Zappaian. Hmmm...


Paul Hooson:

BryanD, The Monkees are indeed another interesting example of a group merely thrown together by some producers to make some money. They held auditions, and 4,000 young men showed up, and some producers picked four of them to call a band for TV. But they were a darn great psuedoband. Songs by Neil Diamond and others written for them gave them great material to work with. But surprisingly to me, I found myself most attracted to the work by Michael Nesmith. Some of his solo songs like "Nevada Fighter", "Silver Moon" and "JoAnne" were great stuff. And indeed his film ELEPHANT PARTS might have helped to eventually launch the music video craze.

It sure was fun doing a show with Zappa's band and doing a jam session with those guys. They were great musicians who respected and treated our band as equals, which I always thought was very sporting of them.

One of my bubblegum favorites was Tommy Roe. His "Jam Up And Jelly Tight" song was a great powerpop anthem and I'd put it right up there with the Crazy Elephant material. In fact, poweropop is a pretty useful term in describing some of this music that drives well.

On the other, The Archies did manage some stuff the girls sure liked. I even like The Cowsills a little, which inspired The Partridge Family. But I always thought that David Cassidy was kind of a crappy singer, so I never got it with him myself. His brother was a little better in that he did some half-cool cover versions of some classic rock n- roll much like Leif Erickson did.

bryanD:

"But surprisingly to me, I found myself most attracted to the work by Michael Nesmith."

Ditto. The higher IQ thing. I'm surprised Nesmith didn't eventually shake a tambourine and write songs with an ex-Byrd or two in a new country rock group after a while. The Monkees had some very good albums (compared with most radio pop bands in the mid 60s, such as Paul Revere and The Raiders) but the Monkees pre-fab reputation must have been a royal pain in the ego once the first hundred groupies had been screwed. I guess he was locked into a contract.

No, wait! That movie! "Head". One of the great career killers of all time. I think that sunk all the Monkees in flop sweat. They must have been on REALLY good drugs making that. Unfortunately, I can assure you, NO drug makes that flick watchable. Well, maybe (very fresh) LSD.

Your right though. Nesmith did recover and did some interesting solo work. "Sunset Sam" or something...early MTV (which he kinda sorta invented?).

"I even like The Cowsills a little"

If there's a kinda cute little girl involved, it has to be a disaster for me to not appreciate it. The Cowsills were definitely not a disaster.

Paul Hooson:

BryanD, I agree with most of your observations here as well, except Paul Revere & The Raiders managed to capture a wild and raw sound that seemed to influence the later American punk and new wave movement. Rhino records has put together a very nice boxset called NUGGETS that captures a number of raw sounding and psychedelic acts that seemed to spur on the musical rebellion against the mainstream for some late 70's new wave acts.

Strangely, the early sound of THE WHO seemed to influence the UK version of the new wave and punk movement. The Jam and Generation X(Billy Idol's first band) seemed to both be two versions of the early Who.

Raider songs like "Hungry", "Just Like Me", and others were pretty wild stuff for their time. These songs weren't nearly as polished works as other groups like The Monkees for example, but they provided a raw influence for garage bands and other later new wave and punker acts.

bryanD:

"...except Paul Revere & The Raiders managed to capture a wild and raw sound that seemed to influence the later American punk and new wave movement."-ph

I inherited a copy of the LP "Spirit of '67" by PR&tR. It's musical content was what the Monkees managed to rise well above. It was verrry bubblegum. It seemed strictly aimed at girls. But then again, I had a vast collection already of seminal (often obscure) UK bands from the era 1962-1966 (Unit4+2, The Undertakers, etc), and my very first record paid for with my own $3.99 was (get this), The Beatles' "Revolver". YOWZAAAH! BEST R&R ALBUM EVER PRODUCED!

(Granted, I mainly bought it on instinct because of the cool pen and ink cover drawing (because I liked to draw, too), but, DAYEM! KIZMET!

So anyway, I was already kind of a music snob by age 12 or so. Paul Revere and the Raiders DID produce one killer song, "Cherokee People". Every boy loved that song when it came out. And I've seen the Raiders on TV doing their oldies musical-comedy-entertainment act and THAT'S very good, but I never saw them as cutting edge. Not while co-existing with the Stones and the Beatles.
As far as "influences"? All I know is that the British ballad married the Negro work song sometime in the 1830s, and King Oliver's jazz band sped the tempo up in the 1920s. "Fast" tempo is the calling card of punk, isn't it?

IMHO 95% of UK rock & roll comes through the filter of the Beatles' interpretation of American rockabilly which was a white interpretation of blacks interpreting white country music.
Bands on the "make" in England copied the Beatles' success strategy.
The 5% hardcore mensheviks (such as Mayall) relied strictly on primary US sources: old blues records. The Stones fancied themselves from this school, but they in reality piggybacked on the Beatles' rockabilly style. See their first single release "I Wanna Be Your Man", a rockabilly song written by...Lennon-McCartney.

So what I would say, now that I think about it, punk family bloodsteam goes: Bo Diddley...Chuck Berry...white rockabilly...Beatles...everyone else...hibernation during hippy era...resurgence in UK skinhead scene in early 70s...re-crosses Atlantic Ocean: Ramones...Police and "new wave" triangulation...

That's my GUESS. Did the Who influence the punk movement? You're the expert there. But one can never underestimate the Beatles. They were the first UK breakout group and they ruled the local roost in England for a couple of years before "Beatlemania". No, their records weren't big sellers (because Britain was in a 20 year economic depression) but other MUSICIANS followed the Beatles like puppies. Except for Mayell and the Beatles' only real competition: The Shadows and the Hurricanes. But they were already successful.

Beatle's fast "club" sound: sounds very "Ramones" to me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQEAkg2-Jo8&feature=related


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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