LEGEND: Legendary

 

Over the years I’ve collected a lot of albums purporting to be “lost masterpieces”, records which upon release didn’t enter the canon, but were greeted with indifference at best.
Usually it’s obvious why. With the exception of Big Star, most often it’s a combination of bad luck, weak vocals and worse songs.
I don’t know why I never took a chance on LEGEND, as it has a very cool cover. I remember seeing it, back in the day, in the import section, but until recently I had no idea what it was about.
They were “pub rock” a few years before it was a thing.
Mickey Jupp is a fine singer, songwriter, who also plays guitar, and a mean rollicking New Orleans piano as well.

Here are liner notes from the recent reissue of “Legend” (aka The Red Boot):

“In some circles, Mickey Jupp is something of a minor legend, a roots rocker with excellent taste and a cutting wit, best heard on the songs “Switchboard Susan” and “You’ll Never Get Me Up in One of Those,” both covered by Nick Lowe.

Basher’s endorsement is a clear indication that Jupp is a pub rocker, a guy who specializes in laid-back good times, so it shouldn’t come as a great surprise that his first band, Legend, was proto-pub, an unabashed celebration of old-time rock & roll, filled with three-chord Chuck Berry rockers and doo wop backing vocals. Nevertheless, listening to their 1970 LP is a bit of a shock, as it’s completely disassociated with anything that was happening in 1970, even with Tony Visconti enlisted as their producer.

Legend’s sensibility is ahead of its time in its retro thinking, pointing the way to the rock & roll revival of the late ’70s and not even that similar to the country-rock of Eggs Over Easy or Bees Make Honey, as this has little of the rustic feel of the Band: it’s just straight-up oldies rock, a trait emphasized by those incessant doo wop harmonies that are on almost every cut.

Those harmonies and the light, almost goofy, touch of Jupp’s writing here distinguish Legend and also illustrate why they made no waves in 1970; it’s hard to see the counterculture getting roused over the verse “If you were an apple you’d be/Good good eating/If you were a book you’d be/Good good reading.”

These slightly silly flourishes do have a lot in common with the wry humor of Nick Lowe, who at this time was denying this mischievous streak as he attempted to sound like Crosby, Stills & Nash, but at this point, Jupp was largely on his own doing this light, good-time pub rock. That may be why it sank without a trace at the time, but heard apart from its era, Legend is a minor delight, one of the first flowerings of the pub rock sensibility.”

-Stephen Thomas Erlewine

This music is straight foreard, no-frills Rock N Roll. The “Red Boot” was produced by Tony Visconti, so it’s no coincidence that drummer Bill Fifield left shortly afterwards to join T-Rex and record “Electric Warrior” credited as Bill Legend.

It was engineered by Eddie Offord, Yes, ELP, etc.

They didn’t break any new ground, but the familiar elements of blues, country and early rock n roll they worked with was treated with dignity and love.

In short, they rocked.

“Moonshine” was released in 1972, and self produced. After which they disbanded, and,

wikipedia:

“Jupp pursued a low-key existence until the pub-rock revolution (spearheaded by local bands such as Dr. Feelgood, for whom he wrote the hit single “Down at the Doctors”) created a fresh interest in rock and roll. He signed to Stiff Records in 1978, and they initially released a compilation album of the first three Legend albums, which was also called Legend, giving three albums with this title. This was followed by his first solo album, Juppanese, an album in two different styles. The first half was recorded with Rockpile and produced by Nick Lowe, and is in a simple raw style, whereas the second half, produced by Gary Brooker of Procol Harum, was slicker.The album had a racist cover photo, in which Jupp sits at a table of oriental food, pulling at the corners of his eyes. Jupp had a long-standing connection with Procol Harum; one of his early idols was Gary Brooker then with R&B group the Paramounts. When Procol’s bassist David Knights went into management, Legend were his first act. He also produced their final album Moonshine. Robin Trower also produced Legend’s second single “Georgia George Part 1″which was actually Jupp backed by Mo Witham and Procol’s Matthew Fisher and B.J. Wilson.

The follow-up album Long Distance Romancer was produced by Godley and Creme, and has a slick, highly produced, sound, which was generally seen as less successful.

Jupp went on to release a further seven solo albums, some appearing on Swedish and German labels. His songs have been recorded by Rick Nelson, Elkie Brooks, the Judds,Chris Farlowe, Delbert McClinton, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Gary Brooker, the Hamsters, Dr. Feelgood, Roger Chapman, and the Searchers.”

This compilation includes two songs from “Legend” (1969), “Legend” (Red Boot, 1970), most of “Moonshine” (1972), some singles, and “Natures Radio” (1976).

It totally Rocks.

Enjoy!
-BBJ

Legendary

Legendary, too

 

Long, Long, Day

“It’ll be easy” I said to myself, “Just throw something together”, I lied. A good mix goes through several permutations. Getting everything to flow, so that it follows a thread, is always a challenge.

Who knew The Hudson Brothers were capable of producing such a slab of prime Pop/Rock, sounding as much like late-period Beatles as Badfinger? This was always the opener and really set the tone.(1974)
Legend was led by Mickey Jupp. The drummer left shortly after this (1971) to join T-REX, where he became known as Bill Legend. Fat bass-line reminds me of Macca.
“Lonely Blue Boy” (1958) is one of those songs everyone should hear. Vocal crick as art.
“The Power Of Your Love”(1969) from the sessions that produced “Suspicious Minds”. The last time Elvis was thouroughly engaged and at a creative peak in the studio. Long Live the King.
“In The Ghetto” was written by Mac Davis and recorded by Elvis in 1969. Given recent happenings in Chicago, it seems particularly relevent. This version by Nick Cave (1984) was when I realized he had a future after The Birthday Party.
“Sam” (1969) is a rare slice of midwestern psychedelia. Unreleased until 2013. It features the singing of Linda Bruner, who recorded 4 songs and vanished.
“Dripping With Looks” (1987) is a massive riff I never get tired of.
“Little Bit Of Magic” (1969) is very rare. Rosco originally recorded for SUN, in Memphis. His early singles featured a piano style which contributed to the formation SKA in Jamaica. Rosco left music during the ’60’s, moving to Queens to run a Dry Cleaners.
In 1969 he cut this single and released it on his own label. In the ’80’s he briefly returned to music, but stayed with his original SUN material. It’s too bad he didn’t make more music like this. What a voice! I imagine Bryan Ferry covering it back in the day.
It’s hard to believe “Electrify Me (1979) was considered punk rock when it came out. I hear a little RT in the guitar breaks.
If Nick Lowe and Rockpile never covered “Move It Baby” (1964) they should have.
The Shazam (2002) drop some classic Big Star style pop/rock. These guys deserve a bigger audience.
I love everything about “Pass You By” (1996).
“Wonderin'” (1983) is the only keeper on “Everbody’s Rockin”. It was written in 1970.
“WPLJ”-Frank genuinely loved Doo Wop and R&B. From “Burnt Weeny Sandwich”. I keep meaning to try it. Not the radio station.
Swamp Dogg, not Snoop Dogg. From “Total Destruction Of Your Mind” (1970).
“I Got It all Indeed” is the only song I know from “Theosophy”, Pete Molinari’s 2014 album.
“Life Is Good” is one of my favorite songs from my favorite Los Lobos album.
“Jimmy Was” is the title music from “Sling Blade” (1996).
I’ve always thought Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus’ voice sounded a little like Jerry Garcia’s, and the gorgeous pedal steel on this song really makes the case.
“Chicken” (2014) by Bill Patton brings things down to a gentle simmer while we get a little introspective.
“I Remember Cissy’s Baby and the noise on the block,
And seventeen policemen that were in a state of shock,
She had it on the pavement she had it on the ground,
out popped the baby with the cops all around,”

-(1970) Jake And The Family Jewels.
Some fine storytelling. It just goes from there.
“Gone Like the Water”(1996) by Freedy Johnston is beautifully rendered. Perfect.
John & Beverly Martyn made two albums. “John The Baptist” is from “Stormbringer”(1970). His early work is some of my very favorite music, but soon he went MOR and made some records I’d rather not think about.
This demo of “Seeing” is far superior to the version which turned up on “Moby Grape ’69”. Featuring Skip Spence’s original vocal.

Enjoy!
-BBJ

Long, Long, Day