Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town/Monster ’69

 
 

I’ve always loved this song. “Ruby” breaks my heart every time. It’s amazing how topical popular music could be. What top ten hit today deals with shattered soldiers returning from an unpopular war in such a frankly disturbing manner?

This downer song was a hit, and still relevant.

This downer song was a hit, and still relevant.

The First Edition (later known as Kenny Rogers and the First Edition) was a country music/rock band stalwart members being Kenny Rogers (vocals & bass guitar), Mickey Jones (drums & percussion) and Terry Williams (guitar & vocals). The band formed in 1967, with noted folk musician Mike Settle (guitar and vocals) and the operatically trained Thelma Camacho completing the lineup.

The First Edition signed with Reprise Records in the summer of 1967 and first hit big in early 1968 with the pop-psychedelic single “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” (US #5). After several hits and misses the group (now billed as “Kenny Rogers and the First Edition”) once again hit the top ten in the summer of 1969 with the topical Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town (US #6, UK#2).

For the next six years, the First Edition bounced between country, pop and mild psychedelia, enjoying worldwide success.

These guys were scary.

These guys were scary.

Steppenwolf’s “Monster_Suicide_America” is 40 years old, but sounds like it was written today.
Except the reality expressed in the song is worse now, making it more like prophecy come true.
Music was an important part of the culture. What has been lost saddens me. Fortunately, the industry as we know it, is dying
a not-so-slow death, so maybe something good will come of the demise.
Meanwhile enjoy the topical tunes. This stuff used to get played on the radio.

Monster is an album by the band Steppenwolf, released in 1969 (see 1969 in music) and was their first LP with new lead guitarist, Larry Byrom instead of Michael Monarch. The album was Steppenwolf’s most political one, making references to important issues at the time, such as the Vietnam War.

The title refers to the contemporary politics and state of the U.S., as in the lyrics to the title song:

“The cities have turned into jungles,
and corruption is stranglin’ the land.
The police force is watching the people,
and the people just can’t understand.
We don’t know how to mind our own business,
’cause the whole world’s got to be just like us.
Now we are fighting a war over there.
No matter who’s the winner, we can’t pay the cost.
‘Cause there’s a monster on the loose,
it’s got our heads into the noose.
And it just sits there… watching.”

The album was the first Steppenwolf album not to feature a US top ten hit, and can thus be seen as the beginning of their slow fall from fame. Even though this album, “Live”, “Steppenwolf 7” and “For Ladies Only” are today seen as making up the latter half of their ultimate prime, their days of “Born to Be Wild”-like fame were over. Still two singles from the album cracked the top 40, and Steppenwolf would continue landing albums in the US top 20 for a while yet, a factor that became more and more important during this time.

As seen above, the title track is a call for pacifism and a more ethical society. The tone, which can be seen as very provocative towards the political decisions of the US at the time, continues with “Draft Resister”, which glorifies draft resisters as heroes.

Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town
Kenny Rogers And The First Edition
Monster-America-Suicide
Steppenwolf

The Geraldine Fibbers

 
 
 
 

GeraldineFibbers-Lost
I found Lost Somewhere Between The Earth And My Home, released in 1995, in the cut-out bin. Somehow pigeonholed as Alt-Country, this album defies categorization. While Jessy Greene plays violin and cello, nowhere in the credits does it say “fiddle”. It’s really more like the Velvet Underground than anything from Nashville. I believe everything Carla Bozulich says even though my favorite lyric is:

(from “Dragon Lady”)
Everything I say is a stupid lie
I won’t tell the truth even when I die
I’ll pick myself to pieces ’til the end of time
Then I’ll glue them back together in a stupid rhyme

The music is a tasteful balance between noise and music, played with feeling.
I’ve never been able to get into their next, Butch, released in 1997, which I found in the same milk crate as the first, but a year later. I just checked again, and while Carla wrote a decent batch of songs, there have been personnel changes and it just isn’t the same.

The Geraldine Fibbers

The Geraldine Fibbers

The Geraldine Fibbers were an alt-country band founded in 1994 by Carla Bozulich. Initially, band members included Bozulich, Daniel Keenan, Jessy Greene, William Tutton and Kevin Fitzgerald. While Bozulich had previously been known for noisy industrial music (Ethyl Meatplow), The Geraldine Fibbers fused American roots music and blues-influenced punk.

In early 1996, Keenan and Greene departed, to be replaced by Nels Cline, the band shifting to a more guitar-rock sound.

The band later featured Julie Fowells, Jessica Moss, and Leyna Marika P. on violin.

Dragon Lady
A Song About Walls
Blast off Baby
Get Thee Gone

Red Foley/Kitty Wells

 
 

Red Foley

Red Foley

I’m not crazy about what passes for Country Music these days. It bears little resemblance to  it’s roots. Gram Parsons pioneered Country Rock in the ’60’s and early ’70’s with The Byrds, Flying Burrito Bros, and his incredible pair of solo albums, but much of the progeny is pretty ugly. Garth Brooks, aka Chris Gaines, would confuse both Gram and Hank Williams.   Mix equal parts Country and Blues and you’ve got the raw ingredients for Rock N Roll.

“One By One”, the 1954 duet of Red Foley and Kitty Wells I’ve included sounds like the prototype for Gram and Emmy Lou Harris on songs like “We’ll Sweep Out The Ashes” from 1972’s “GP”.  Speed up”Midnight”, Red’s 1952 #1 Country Music hit and you’ve got rockabilly, even though it predates Elvis at Sun by two years.   Give these great tunes a spin and enjoy!

Rockin prototype

Rockin prototype

Here’s wiki:

Clyde Julian Foley (June 17, 1910–September 19, 1968), better known as Red Foley, was an American singer, musician, and radio and TV personality who made a major contribution to the growth of country music after World War II.

For more than two decades, Foley was one of the biggest stars of the genre, selling more than 25 million records. His 1951 hit, “Peace in the Valley,” was the first million-selling gospel record. A Grand Ole Opry veteran until his death, Foley also hosted the first popular country music series on network television, Ozark Jubilee.

He is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, which called him “one of the most versatile and moving performers of all time” and “a giant influence during the formative years of contemporary Country music.”

Kitty Wells

Kitty Wells

Ellen Muriel Deason (born August 30, 1919), known professionally as Kitty Wells, is an American country music singer. Her 1952 hit recording, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” made her the first female country singer to top the U.S. country charts, and turned her into the first female country star. Her Top 10 hits continued until the mid-1960s, inspiring a long list of female country singers who came to prominence in the 1960s.

Wells’s success in the 1950s and 1960s was so enormous that she still ranks as the sixth most successful female vocalist in the history of the Billboard country charts, according to historian Joel Whitburn’s book The Top 40 Country Hits, behind Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, Tammy Wynette, and Tanya Tucker. Wells was the third country music artist, after Roy Acuff and Hank Williams, to receive the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991, as well as being the eighth woman and first Caucasian woman to receive the honor. In 1976, she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. She is as of 2009 — at age 90 — the oldest living member of the C&W Hall of Fame. Wells’ accomplishments earned her the moniker The Queen of Country Music.

One By One
Midnight