Tres Songs

Wherein I play three random songs for your dining and dancing pleasure. Pictured above, Kirsty MacColl.

We all know Boz Scaggs from somewhere or other in his long career, yes? He was a classmate of fellow Texan Steve Miller. They kicked around together in a few bands, Boz went overseas for a few years then came back in 1967 to a burgeoning hippie culture. (Which, sophisticated traveler that he was, he had much disdain for.)

In that year he reunited with Miller and played guitar and sang on Miller’s first couple of albums. He left the band in 1968 for a solo career, initially staying close to a bluesy sound. In 1969, he recorded his eponymous album with the Muscle Shoals rhythm section including Duane Allman. This is the album that has the great “Loan Me a Dime” that I’ll get around to featuring one fine day.

But Boz’ solo career didn’t really take off till his 1976 smash Silk Degrees. In that year you couldn’t turn the radio on without hearing one of his songs. By then he had pretty much traded his blues shoes in for a smooth, soulful sound. (Interestingly, Les Dudek, who had been featured on the Allmans “Ramblin’ Man,” played on this album.)

By far my favorite tune on the album is “Lido Shuffle.” It just cooks right along and then has that synth solo by co-writer David Paich. Paich, David Hungate and Jeff Porcaro went on a couple years later to form Toto:

Spotify link

Steve Gibbons is a British singer/songwriter who has been kicking around that music scene for a long time. In 1969 he had a group with the lovely name of Balls which he formed with former Moody Blues (and future Wings) guitarist Denny Laine.

He briefly joined a band called The Idle Race of which Wikipedia says, “In addition to being the springboard for Jeff Lynne, the band holds a place of significance in British Midlands’ pop-rock history as a link between The Move, Electric Light Orchestra, the Steve Gibbons Band and Mike Sheridan & The Nightriders.” (The latter of which I know nothing about.)

The Steve Gibbons band had formed by the mid-Seventies and – while never gaining the level of recognition of many other British bands, at least here in the States – played on bills with the Who, J. Geils, Skynyrd, etc. Probably the biggest hit they ever had in the US was a song called “Down in the Bunker.” It’s super catchy. Some commenter on Amazon describes the song thusly:

“The imagery mixes “bunker” as used in military terms with the golf version of the word. Somehow in the midst of this strange world halfway between a golf round and a wartime battle, a nude woman appears in the bunker to tempt our hero. (Or does he imagine it? – ME) While all of this is going on, ultra-tasty guitar leads fill the gaps between vocal lines, very much in the style of Dire Straits’ ‘Sultans Of Swing.'”

Spotify link

Wikipedia: “Kirsty Anna MacColl (10 October 1959 – 18 December 2000) was an English singer and songwriter. She recorded several pop hits in the 1980’s and 1990’s, including “There’s a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis” and cover versions of Billy Bragg’s “A New England” and The Kinks’ “Days.”

Her song “They Don’t Know” was covered with great success by Tracey Ullman. MacColl also sang on recordings produced by her then-husband Steve Lillywhite, most notably “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues.” (Lillywhite is a producer of some renown having worked with everyone from U2 to the Stones to Simple Minds to the Pogues.)

Kirsty was the daughter of folkie Ewan MacColl and – including the tunes mentioned above – became a fairly popular backup singer. She also toured with the Pogues and was somewhat of a better-known name in the UK than in the States.

In the year 2000 she released an album called Tropical Brainstorm which got some play in these parts, especially of a song she co-wrote called “In These Shoes?” The album’s got a nice Latin flavor and this song is just plain fun. (And it should come as zero surprise that Bette Midler covered it.)

I once met a man with a sense of adventure
He was dressed to thrill wherever he went
He said, Let’s make love on a mountain top
Under the stars on a big hard rock
I said, In these shoes?
I don’t think so
I said, Honey, let’s do it here

Spotify link

Alas, a few months after this album was released, Kirsty was killed in a motorboat accident in Cozumel. Let’s dedicate this one to her, shall we?

 

23 thoughts on “Tres Songs

  1. Love Boz, he’s like an old friend by now. Steve Gibbons I’ve heard of, but that’s it.

    The big revelation in your post is Kirsty MacColl. Lillywhite’s one of the best producers around. Kirsty’s father, Ewan, is an English folk legend who wrote “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (the Gordon Lightfoot version will make you cry). Also, “Ballad of the Carpenter” (a socialist and secular take on the teachings of Jesus), which my man Phil Ochs covers.

    I really like “In These Shoes,” as well as the LP cover art, and she sounds like she had a lot of promise. I’m right with you in dedicating this post to her.

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    1. Yeah, Boz is part of the furniture by now. I found ‘Silk Degrees’ to maybe be too slick by half, especially given his roots. But hey, it was the Seventies when yacht rock abounded.

      Interesting about Ewan MacColl. I knew a little about him but none of what you said.

      I’ve had “In These Shoes?” in my to-post list forever and I finally said “This is too good to not post. ” From what I’ve heard of the album, it’s pretty good too. I remember when she died. Bad accident by some idiot who was driving a boat where he shouldn’t.

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  2. Silk Degrees is a pretty solid pop record. I have another Kirsty McColl album (Electric Landlady) and I’m listening to this one now. And I’ve never heard of Steve Gibbons – normally I think I’m pretty well versed in 1960s and 1970s pop, but never even heard the name.

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        1. Yeah, it’s not my usual sweet spot but I found it ringing in my head afterwards. How were the Pogues? I only them peripherally but I’ve heard wild stories.

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  3. Alas, poor Kirsty. Lovely voice but these days Fairytale of New York coming hitting the radio tends to be a marker for the approach of Christmas and radio stations wheeling it out every hour on the hour (albeit suitably bleeped)

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    1. Interesting. I confess I don’t even really know the tune. Also, as my preeminent representative of the entirety of Old Blighty, are you familiar with Steve Gibbons?

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  4. I think we have discussed Boz before. Another before and after guy for me. (Maybe its CB). His early stuff I like, later he lost me. Your picks not a bad tune. Like you say radio fare from the day. Heard of Gibbons but never heard his music. Yeah it sounds good. Nice pick Doc. I seen so many bands (opening acts) that I might even have seen Steve but been to corned to remember (CB was usually straight at shows)’
    Being sober was not the case at the Pogues. Through them is how I found Kirsty. Great tune Doc. I don’t listen to her enough. Maybe I should fix that. Being the caveman that I am I was not aware of her passing. Here’s to Kirsty. Great tune.

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    1. Yeah some great horns on that Kirsty song. As to Gibbons, he’s the mystery man it seems. I wonder now if some adventurous Boston DJ picked up on that tune. I bet there’s a whole generation of rock fans around here who remember that song.

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      1. I remember him. But like a lot of others at the time I just didn’t take the plunge. Not a case of not liking him. I loved it when DJ’s did that. There was another artist we were talking about a while back that for some weird reason was big in Boston and unknown else where. It was somebody CB was into. Go Sox!

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  5. I only know the self-titled Boz album (one of my favourites) and I’ll admit to being a tad weary of his catalogue (album covers tend to sway my thinking on an artist), though I have this one on my list. Have done for a while actually, so maybe it’s time to go investigate.

    The Gibbons track is a good one. Never heard of him, though.

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  6. Great choices, Jim, I like all of these songs – tres bien!😀

    I only had known the Boz Scaggs tune.

    The one that really grabbed me is the Steve Gibbons track. Call me crazy, to me this tune has a Dylan vibe. I could picture on the Desire album when Dylan still had more of a singing voice.

    BTW, based on sampling some of the other tunes, this entire Steve Gibbons album seems to be great.

    I also like the Latin groove of the Kirsty McColl tune.

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