MIKE-SHELL PRESENTS - THE LINER NOTES TO "SUPER HITS OF THE SEVENTIES: HIT EXPLOSION!"

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First things first: THANK YOU for your support to WFMU during our 2016 fund raising efforts - it is listeners who keep us on the air.

“Super Hits of the Seventies: Hit Explosion!” is the forth in a series. When I set out to put together the first volume, I had doubts that I’d be able to find enough great artists to take part and I certainly never dreamed it would turn into a franchise or sorts. I was trying to offer something completely unique, and something that was a properly awesome thank you gift for the supporters of my show & the station. Every year I’m been thrilled with the great music we’ve received, and with the reaction from pleased listeners.

The guidelines were simple - to create a recording just for WFMU - to cover a song that went top 40 somewhere on Earth in the 1970s - AND: no irony.

If you appreciate the support these artists have shown to WFMU, please support them and reach out to let them know that you value their efforts.

Here’s some information about each of the great artists on the album, and about the great songs they choose.




1) The Above “Didn't I Blow Your Mind (This Time)”

Produced by The Above
Recorded and mixed by David Alan Horowitz

David Alan Horowitz - guitar, lead vocals
Frank Caira - bass, background vocals
Matt Marando - guitar, background vocals
Christopher Cancelliere - drums

The stellar lead off track this year is brought to us by Brooklyn based The Above. Their highly recommended and often spun 2014 lp “Waterbury Street” if full of clever and catchy songs that draw from the bands’ 60’s influences but that are good enough transcend any pigeon holing.

“Didn't I Blow Your Mind (This Time)” was a Grammy winner (Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group) and #10 hit for The Delfonics in 1970. Like most of The Defonics’ hits it was co-written by Thom Bell and Defonics’ lead singer William Hart. Bell would go on to become one of architects of the 70’s Philly sound with his work as an arranger for producers Gamble and Huff and on and his producer of the year Grammy award wining work with The Spinners ("I'll Be Around", "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love", "Rubberband Man" etc.)

The Above turn this song on its ear with most pleasing results. Find information about the band’s latest release: here


2) Sam Elwitt “Beach Baby”

Produced by Sam Elwitt
Recorded at Nokie's in Brooklyn, NY, and Casa Cassar in Keene, NH

Sam Elwitt - all vocals and instruments, except
Dustin Beardsley - trumpet
Tom Cassar - trombone
Gregor Kitzis - violins

Sam Elwitt’s credits are numerous. He’s the genius behind The Nutley Brass (check out his “Ramones Songbook as Played by Nutley Brass“), and a Sea Monkeys alum. These days he can be found playing with instrumental combo The Moto-Gators, cutting cutting edge 45s for The New Surfsiders and producing albums by Norton Records’ Miriam.

John Carter (co-wrote "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat," "Little Bit O' Soul) co-wrote “Beach Baby” with his wife. He produced the record with studio musicians and made up the band name First Class. The lead singer is the prolificTony Burrows, who also sang lead on Edison Lighthouse's "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)"; White Plains' "My Baby Loves Lovin' & The Brotherhood of Man's "United We Stand". In the US the record peaked at #4 in 1974.

Here’s Sam on why he chose this song:
I had a great time recording this! I love the song and wanted to do something really challenging.

Keep tabs on Sam: here


3) The Tripwires “Games People Play”

Recorded by Johnny Sangster at Crackle & Pop! Ballard, WA

John Ramberg - vocals, guitar
Jim Sangster - bass guitar
Johnny Sangster - guitar, vocals
Dan Peters - drums

If you’re a regular listener to my show then you’re familiar with this Seattle super group’s third lp “Get Young” as it is chock full of number one hits. Besides the band’s pedigree (a few of the bands on Tripwires’ resumes: The Minus 5, Screaming Trees and Young Fresh Fellows) here’s what you need to know, some of the bands they list as their influences: Los Shakers, The Equals, Rockpile, Cheap Trick, The Everly Brothers, The Undertones, The Sonics, Otis Redding, The Ink Spots, The Move.” Need I say more?

I still have the 45 I bought of The Spinner’s “Games People Play” in 1975, the year it went to number 11 on the pop charts (#1 on the R&B charts). I still love it as much as when I was 11. Written by Joseph B. Jefferson, Bruce Hawes & Charles Simmons - who between them wrote a quite a few songs for The Spinners and others - and produced by Philadelphia phenom Thom Bell (see song #1). Best part = 12:45.

The Tripwires give this great song the full Tripwire treatment - complete with their trademark squirrely guitars. Be friends with The Tripwires: here


4) Crystal Robots “Welcome Back”

Produced and Engineered by Richard Martin At DCXXV Recordings
Vocals and acoustic guitar engineered by Seth Mintz

Crystal Robots are:
Daniel Harnett
Kevin Corrigan
Ahmed Kharem
Richard Martin

After a releasing some well received solo recordings, long time NYC music scene fixture Daniel Harnett put together Crystal Robots to showcase a different side of his song writing. The band brings Hartnett’s songs to life, reminding me at times of early Talking Heads. Their 2015 self titled debut lp is pop music but with enough of a twist to make it a refreshing listen, I liked it immediately.

“Welcome Back” was written by ex-Lovin’ Spoonful leader John Sebastian specifically for the TV show - which was originally to be called simply “Kotter”, but was re-named after hearing Sebastian’s song. The show aired four seasons (starting in 1975) and quickly became a cultural phenomenon launching the career of Scientologist John Travolta (playing a high school student while already in his 20s) and the sale of countless show themed lunchboxes. It was produced by The Komack Company, whose founder, James Komack, was Milton Berle’s illegitimate child. “Welcome Back” reached #1 in May 1976.

Why did Crystal Robots choose this song?:
Daniel used to pretend he was "Barbarino" while riding his Skate Board.

Listen to the Crystal Robots latest here


5) Key Wilde & Mr Clarke “Seasons In The Sun”

Produced and engineered by Dean Jones at No Parking Studios, Rosendale, NY

Key Wilde - guitar, vocals
Mr Clarke - guitar, vocals, bass, percussion
Dean Jones - keyboards, drums, percussion

Key Wilde & Mr Clarke are long time collaborators whose sound has evolved over the years absorbing influences from their time in the punk bands & the NYC anti-folk scene. They became known for their eclectic live sets (& inventing “samba country”). This all culminated in 2010 when the duo released their debut “Rise and Shine” ostensibly a “kids music” album, but one made with the whole family’s enjoyment in mind - as I can personally attest, as my family have listened to Wilde & Clarke (wonderfully illustrated) cds countless times!

I remember singing “Seasons In The Sun” in music class in elementary school, when Terry Jacks’ version was a #1 hit for three weeks in 1974. Originally written and recorded by Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel in 1961, the song’s lyrics were adapted to English by Rod Mckuen, who released a version in 1964. Jacks' version is one of the fewer than forty all-time singles to have sold 10 million copies worldwide.

Why did Key Wilde & Mr Clarke choose this song?:
As a kid I was a little embarrassed about loving this song as much as I did. And if "Seasons In The Sun" wasn't maudlin enough, the B-side "Put The Bone In" is about a woman at the grocery store trying to get sympathy for her dog who has just been run over by a car.

Info all about Key Wilde & Mr Clarke can be found here and here


6) Los Gatitos “I Can See Clearly Now”

Produced by Martin Beal and Los Gatitos
Recorded by Martin Beal at Racket Room, Santa Ana, California

Lisa Marr – vocals, ukulele
Paul Gailiunas – vocals, guitar
Daniel Garcia – bass
Noah Malone - organ
Paolo Davanzo - drums

Lisa Marr, the driving force behind Los Gatitos, has a long resume including Canadian punk-pop pioneers Cub, L.A. based Buck, super group The Beards, The Lisa Marr Experiment, and a series of collaborations with Joe Queer that have produced some of my all time favorite pop songs ever written.

Texas born Johnny Nash’s career started in the 50s, he bounced from label to label trying standards, light soul and gospel but it wasn’t until he traveled to Jamaica, where he recorded “I Can See Clearly Now,” that his career caught fire. The song went to #1 in 1972.

Los Gatitos on why they picked this song:
I Can See Clearly Now was a childhood favorite of Lisa and Paul’s and we still love it today!

Read about Lisa’s day gig here


7) The Dahlmanns “Tear Me Apart”

Produced & Recorded by Christian Frehley at RS Studio, Moss, Norway

Line Dahlmann - Vocals
Andre Dahlmann - Guitar
Otto Gamst - Drums
Christian Jacobsen - Guitar, Bass

At the end of 2011 The Dahlmanns released their debut album “All Dahled Up” which, along with their two EPs and a handful of #1 hit singles, established them as one of my new favorite bands. Their infectious music encompasses so many of my favorite pop song elements. They are the greatest band EVER from Norway.

“Tear Me Apart” has quite the pedigree: written by Mike Chapman & Nicky Chinn ( over 50 top 40 hits including most of Sweets hits, Exile's "Kiss You All Over", Tony Basil’s “Mickey”) and produced by Mickie Most (The Animals, Herman's Hermits, The Nashville Teens, Donovan, Lulu, Hot Chocolate). In 1979 it cracked the top 40 in the US & UK, with its highest showing, #17, on the German charts.

You can friend the Dahlmanns here



8) Jay Gonzalez "Knowing Me, Knowing You"

Produced and Recorded by Chris Grehan and Jay Gonzalez
Recorded at 1093 Boulevard, Athens, GA

Jay Gonzalez - Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keys
Chris Grehan - Guitar
Joe Rowe - Drums

In 2012 Jay Gonzalez sent me a copy of his just released debut solo album “Mess of Happiness.” A veteran of a million bands and currently playing keyboards and guitars for the Drive-By Truckers, Jay still managed to squeeze in some time listening to WFMU and thought his music might be just right for my show. “Mess of Happiness” turned out to be one of the musical high points that year. Jay obviously grew up with many of the same records I had (Cheap Trick, Top 40 singles), and his music manages to fuse his influences with a thing all his own.

Like so many ABBA songs, "Knowing Me, Knowing You" was a worldwide hit, cracking the top 40 in over twenty countries in 1977. Jay tells why he picked this particular song: Chris suggested this one as a possible cover and I thought it was a great candidate as I love the tune and thought it would be a fun one to play.

It being an Benny and Bjorn production, we figured there was no use trying to match the layered vocals and gloss of the original, so we opted to strip it down, speed it up a touch and rock it out a bit. We repeated the guitar harmony section one extra time as well, as it’s such a great part of the song.

In the end I think we took the tune from a champagne soaked discotheque in Sweden in 1976 to a beer soaked pub in England in 1979 (with hopefully a touch of Athens, Georgia 2015 thrown in as well!)

Click here for more information about Jay, and to watch some highly amusing music videos.


9) The Kanaloas “Girls Talk”

Recorded and mixed at From the Bongo Studios, a Coruña, Spain by Joe Bongo from Mongo
Produced by The Kanaloas

Jose Makahiki – Guitar
Miki Staccat Dora – Guitar
Joe Bongo From Mongo – Drums
Juanito Double Walk – Bass Guitar

The Kanaloas, who always perform masked, are Spain’s finest Surf instrumental band. Whether it’s on their reverb soaked originals, or melodic cover versions, the quartet always stay true to their Surf inspiration while mixing in some international flavor.

Why did the boys pick this particular song?:
We love this song! A superb composition, powerful guitars, and a great vocal line and lyrics. Both Dave Edmunds’ and Costello’s version are amazing. We think it suits fine to an instrumental cover.

Info on their latest, Surf A Go Go, can be found here



10) Pop 4 “Help Is On Its Way”

Produced by KC Bowman
Recorded at four home studios in Oakland, CA; Tacoma, WA; Austin, TX and St. Petersburg, FL

Kirk Adams, KC Bowman, Scott McPherson & Andrea Perry - Vocals
KC Bowman - Rhythm Guitars
Kirk Adams, KC Bowman - Lead Guitars
Andrea Perry - Bass

The members of Pop 4 (WHO HAVE NEVER MET EACH OTHER) are all veterans of multiple bands (see the family tree on their website) and mutual fans of each other. They collaborated across the web to create their lovely 2015 debut lp “Summer”. The first time I played their song "Einstein & Sunshine" on WFMU some listeners thought it was a track from the new E.L.O. album. That’s quite a compliment!

One litmus test I use for records is “do I change the station when this come on the radio?” and I must say that when Little River Band’s 1977 hit version of "Help Is on Its Way" (#1 in their native Australia, #24 in the USA) comes on WCBS FM, I reach for that radio dial fast, really fast. So, it’s nice that Pop 4 have taken this song and made a version that’s a million times better then the original. Sometimes it takes hearing a cover version to realize that a song has virtues.

Here’s why they choose this song: We nominated KC to be producer of our cover song and he chose this song because he loved it as a kid, partly because it was unusual subject matter for a pop hit in the 70s. Other songs were about boogie, pina coladas, werewolves, skeezy romance. This song was about being totally inside your own head. And it has an undeniable chorus hook. Sounds like a commercial jingle. Plus we wanted do something that hasn't been covered to death and isn't in heavy rotation in karaoke bars and classic rock/oldies radio. And, it was the fourth biggest selling single in Australia in 1977, which makes it a legitimate lost classic.

For more Pop 4 info click here


11) The Philistines Jr. “Don't Fear The Reaper”

Recorded and mixed by Peter Katis at Tarquin Studios

Henry Katis - lead vocals
Peter and Tarquin Katis - additional vocals
Tim Walsh - drums
Rob Schwimmer - the Haken Continuum, piano and Wurlitzer
Ann Risen and Will Katis - cowbells

The Katis brothers entered my life in 1996 when I was looking for a recording studio and tracked Peter down because he had produced one of my favorite records in 1995, The Mommyheads’ “Bingham's Hole.” Besides running a recording studio Peter and his brother Tarquin also played in The Zambonis, backed James Kochalka and fronted The Philistines Jr. In the intervening years The Philistines have occasionally released new music, when the can fit it in around Peter’s schedule producing bands like Interpol and The National at his amazing Tarquin Studio.

“Don't Fear The Reaper” reached #12 in 1976 for Long Island’s Blue Oyster Cult whose guitarist, Buck Dharma, wrote & sang it. The repeated lyric "40,000 men and women every day" is occasionally quoted as the number of people who die each day on Earth, however the line was not based on fact, but made up by Dharma. When this comes on my car radio I turn it UP. More cowbell!

Enter the world of The Philistines here


12) Momo-Sei “Before The Next Teardrop Falls”

Produced and recorded by Momoko Yoshino and Sei Yamamoto at Sporadic E Studio

Momoko Yoshino - Guitar, snare drum, electric mandolin and Vocals
Sei Yamamoto - Vocals

It was a You Tube video of Japanese band Triolean Tape’s version of Nick Lowe’s “Heart” that lead me to the sublimely harmonic Momo-Sei. A little research lead to a series of energetic pop bands (The Automatics, Sunnychar, Tiger Shovel Nose, Tirolean Tape) that were somehow related. Of course most of this information was on Japanese websites and I’m still not sure I connected all the dots properly, but with help from a friend involved in the Japanese music scene (thanks Ryohei Matsunaga) I was able to pinpoint vocalist Momoko Yoshino as the common thread behind all this great music. Her pairing with Sei Yamamoto (check his out of this world instrumentals: https://momo-sei.bandcamp.com/) has resulted in a new chapter: Japanese pop-folk.

Here’s why they say picked this song:
Because Freddy Fender's album was on our turntable.

Hear more here


13) Ray Mason “I’m Eighteen”

Produced, recorded and mixed by Henning Ohlenbusch at Rub Wrongways Records, Northampton, MA

Ray Mason - vocals, 1965 Silvertone electric through a 1980 Peavey Bandit 65 amp

2016 celebrates 50 years that Ray Mason has been making music, mostly in northwest Massachusetts. He’s as busy as ever with a new album due in 2016 and a busy schedule of gigs. When I decided to start to add interviews to my show, Ray was the very first subject: October 28, 2006.

Alice Cooper (who co-wrote it with his band) had a #21 hit with “I’m Eighteen” in 1970. Producer Bob Ezrin captured Cooper’s raspy vocals by “using a Shure SM57 microphone with high compression and judicious addition of treble and midrange equalization.” In 1998 Kiss based their terrible song Dreamin' on “I’m Eighteen” and allegedly* settled out of court for plagiarism.

*I really do not want to be sued by Gene Simmons

Why did Ray pick “I’m Eighteen”?:
I've always considered “Love It To Death” to be one of the great rock and roll albums. Eighteen is from that album and was also a single.

Ray’s official web site is here


14) Rasha Shaheen “Making Plans For Nigel”

Produced and Recorded by Rasha Shaheen
Mixed by Bob Earland

Rasha Shaheen - All instruments
Kezia Pumffrey & Merla Pumffrey - Backing Vocals

Rasha Shaheen is Egyptian, born in Kuwait, raised in Bangor, N. Wales and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A cultural hot-pot that has also translated to her work. She is songwriter, comedian, actress, educator, coder and project coordinator. She started out as a musician performing sounds from post-punk, to no-wave psyche to art-pop, and has performed internationally since 1997. With a Masters in Song-writing, Rasha teaches at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music. She is also a project coordinator for Highlight Arts (not-for-profit arts organization). Rasha currently explores theatre through comedy and drama and is part of the Scaffold State theatre company.

"Making Plans for Nigel" reached No. 17 on the UK Singles Chart for group XTC in 1979; it was one of six songs the band would land in the UK top 40. It drove band leader Andy Partridge nuts that producer Steve Lillywhite picked Nigel as a possible single, and spent an inordinate amount of time on it in the studio, as it was written by bassist Colin Moulding.

Why did Rasha pick this song to cover?:
The main reason I chose to cover this song is because XTC became our tour soundtrack while I was tour managing This is the Kit on their winter 2013 European tour, so it has good memories embedded in it as well as having a political message behind it. I like songs that have a message, and its a great song, so simple, catchy and clever. I love the Nouvelle Vague version also and I set about trying to do a completely different version. I think I did.. what do you think?

Answer Rasha here


15) Peter Holsapple "The Morning After"

Produced, recorded and mixed by Peter Holsapple at Bill Ding Studio, Durham, NC

Peter Holsapple - played and sang everything

There is no band on this earth that has influenced me more then The dB’s. If you’re not familiar with their work, and Peter’s role in that band, then please stop reading this & go have a listen. They are a band that changed the direction of music for many. After the dB’s demise in 1988 Peter made solo records, was the 5th R.E.M., the 5th Blowfish, and a member of The Continental Drifters. The dB’s even reunited for a terrific 2012 lp “Falling Off the Sky.”

"The Morning After" was written by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn specifically for the 1972 film The Poseidon Adventure and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. In the film the song is sung by a character who is an entertainer on the doomed ocean liner, but no one though to release that version as a singe. It was only after the success if the film that 20th Century Records had Maureen McGovern, then a secretary, record a version, which was a #1 hit for two weeks.

Why did Peter pick this song?:
I cannot imagine that the line to record “The Morning After” was long. I have always loved the original version of this song by Maureen McGovern and thought it could have been a cool Stax-style ballad, not that this version turned out that way, mind you. Plus The Poseidon Adventure is a fairly accurate reflection of my life.


16) Shibboleth “Feels So Good”

Produced & Recorded by Shibboleth
Mixed by Don Cento

Keyboards and Synthesizers: Rich Martin
Guitars and Lap Steel: Don Cento
The Bass: James Driscoll

This Dallas, Texas-based instrumental band is a delight, effortlessly jumping from lounge to surf to jazz with a consistent emphasis on melody that holds it all together. Their two albums defy categorization, but they all fit into the #1 hit category.

One of my first concerts was The Beach Boys, Steve Miller Band, Pablo Cruise & Stanky Brown at Giants Stadium. We got there at like 8am - with no money, no sun tan lotion, no food, no blanket - and sat on the field in the scorching sun and listened to the Chuck Mangione lp “Feels So Good” over and over and over and over. I guess it was the only tape the sound guy had. It is etched in my brain. The 1978 single of the title track reached #4 for Mr. Mangione.

Why did Shibboleth choose this particular song?:
In early 2015 Michael Shelley contacted us regarding an incorrect pizza order. After a brief yet wide-ranging conversation Mr. Shelley suggested that Shibboleth should record “Feels So Good” for an upcoming WFMU fund-raising album. Not ones to take threats lightly, we quickly sold our pizza business, bought instruments and committed this act of musical coverage.

We still owe Michael a pizza.

Go Shibboleth here


17) The BlueBonnets “Nutbush City Limits”

Produced and Recorded by Chris "Frenchie" Smith at The Bubble, Austin, TX
Mixed By Sean Rolie

Dominique Davalos - lead vocals, bass
Kathy Valentine - guitar, vocals
Eve Monsees - guitar, vocals
Christina Comley - drums

(Hey: two Austin Texas groups in a row!) The Bluebonnets formed in 2007 when Kathy Valentine left the Go-Go’s and returned to her hometown, Austin, Texas. The band quickly built a following with their melding of glam/garage/blues/rock and girl-group harmonies.

"Nutbush City Limits" charted at #22 for Ike & Tina Turner in 1973. The song, credited to Tina (though there are some reports that Ike wrote the music), tells the story of her actual hometown Nutbush, Tennessee.

Check out The BlueBonnets here

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When I think of the hours of effort and the resources that went into choosing, rehearsing, recording, mixing these recordings it makes me feel incredibly indebted and appreciative to all of the artists and technicians who participated, and donated their time and talent.

Special thanks to;
-Scott Anthony at Storybook Sound for mastering this and all the previous volumes of this series. It is a difficult job to take 17 masters recorded in different corners of the world and making them sound like a cohesive, professional sounding, album. More info on Scott’s mastering studio can be found here: here
-Steve McFarland (who answered my on air plea for help) for the wonderful package design & amazing Photoshop skills on all four volumes in the Super Hits series!
Check out his portfolio here
-Aaron Dunkel (who also answered my on air plea for help) for the perfect and utterly professional video editing!
Have a look at Aaron's work here -WFMU ‘s Rex Doane for his voice over work!
-WFMU's Gaylord Fields for proofreading!

Once again, thanks to YOU for supporting WFMU.

-Michael

Shelley 2016


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v1.1 (this document will possibly be edited, expanded & corrected in the coming weeks, so check back for later versions)