Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'66 -- Bob Dylan, Gary Lewis and the Playboys

Bob Dylan -- Rainy Day Women #12 & 35

I'll be frank -- I've never had much to do with drugs, and I'm speaking as someone who has been around people who have indulged in recreational drug use my whole life; I have embraced the pop music of the 1960s through the 1990s (the 2000s, not so much) knowing full well that without drugs of whatever type you like, very little of the most creative forms of pop music ever made, from jazz to country to rock & roll, would ever have been made; and fully admit that the main reason for my shunning of drugs is pure, unadulterated cowardice: fear of addiction, fear of not being able to afford a habit; fear of not having full control of my personality. If that's being a coward, I'm guilty as charged.

Despite all the drawbacks why do people get involved with substances and why do many of them abuse substances? Dylan summed it up nicely in "Rainy Day Women" which was the kickoff anthem on his 1966 offering Blonde on Blonde: "Well, I would not feel so all alone, everybody must get stoned." You do it because other people are doing it.

According to legend, when Dylan and studio musicians were working on this, a woman and her daughter came in to the building out of the rain, and the title of a rock classic was born. The numbers 12 and 35 are a little more conjectural; perhaps the mother was 35, and the daughter 12, but that wouldn't explain "women." Bob himself has likely forgotten an incident over 40 years ago. "Rainy Day Women" was recorded in one take with the help of a trombonist, Wayne Butler, who was hunted up just prior to the session.

Despite being a huge concert draw and album act for nearly 50 years, Dylan has never found consistent success on the singles chart (on his own, at least) and "Rainy Day Women" along with the earlier "Like a Rolling Stone" were his biggest hits, each making Number 2 Billboard. "Women" arrived at #2 just after Cher's "Bang Bang," appropriately enough, since Cher's first solo hit was Dylan's "All I Really Want to Do" in 1965.

"Rainy Day Women #12 & #35" ends our look at the #2 hits of 1966 -- that means we'll start on the #3 hits with...

Gary Lewis and the Playboys -- She's Just My Style

I couldn't find a live take of "She's Just My Style" but this lip-synch version, from possibly the Ed Sullivan Show or Hollywood Palace, shows Gary Lewis and his touring band from the mid-60s. As was the case for many groups from the Byrds to the Monkees in this era, the touring band was very often not the group that did the studio recordings. Lewis himself was not a guitarist but a drummer by trade, and John West is seen with his "cordovox" or electric accordion. The drummer never gets a closeup, I imagine partly because Lewis used a number of drummers in his tour group.

In the studio, Lewis (who, of course, is the son of Jerry) was backed by the sterling talents of Liberty Records producer Snuff Garrett, drummers Hal Blaine and Jim Keltner and keyboardist-songwriter Leon Russell, who would become a rock headliner himself in the early 1970s -- his breakout gig being none other than George Harrison's Concert for Bangla Desh in 1971. For a period of three years beginning in late 1964 they could do no wrong, with hit after infectious hit - quite possibly "Style" being your webmaster's favorite. Arranger/composer Al Capps is heard on the "dontcha know that she's" and "everything about her" bass vocal. Gary Lewis' touring band included, by late 1965, guitarist Tom Trippelhorn, father of actress Jeanne Trippelhorn of "Big Love" fame, and bassist Carl Radle (1942-1980), later of Derek and the Dominoes. Radle is standing to Lewis' immediate left in the linked video.


Dr Al said...

Hope everything is fine - I have missed your reviews.

Dr Al.

Kevin Walsh said...

Hope to resume soon....

Denis J. said...

It's definatly from Ed Sullivan.2/27/66-two days before I was born'd!-They also do "Sure Gonna Miss Her"