Time for this week’s edition of songs, stories and videos. And awaay we go...
I Don’t Care (So There) by The Donnas (From the album, “Spend the Night”)
Mix equal parts Runaways and Ramones and you have The Donnas. The Donnas original lineup consisted of Brett Anderson, Torry Castellano, Allison Robertson and Maya Ford. They formed the band right after they all graduated high school and kind of did an opposite Ramones thing with their names and all took the first name of Donna and then used the first initial of their last name. For example, bassist Maya Ford became Donna F.
They released a couple of indie albums and then in 2002 they got signed by Atlantic Records and had a semi-hit with the single, “Take It Off,” from their debut album on Atlantic, “Spend The NIght.” They’re not on Atlantic records anymore and their last album of original material, “Bitchin’” came out in 2007 on the Purple Feather Records label. They haven’t played a live date since 2012 and their website has been closed for maintenance for quite some time now.
Sadly, it looks like the Donnas may currently be residing in the “Where Are They Now File.”
Mucho Mungo/Mt. Elga by Harry Nilsson (From the album, “Pussy Cats”)
I remember buying Pussy Cats the summer after my sophomore year in high school at the old Bergener’s store in downtown Peoria in 1974. I was with my mom and was hanging out in the record section (back when department stores had record sections) and when I saw the Pussy Cats album which was produced by John Lennon, I bugged the shit out of my mom to loan me the money to buy it and she finally relented. This was my first Harry Nilsson record I ever bought and then started going backwards, buying his old albums and becoming a huge fan to this day. His album, Nilsson Schmilsson is one of my all-time favorite albums.
I read an interview with him in a magazine shortly before he died in 1994 and he said at the bottom of the Pussy Cats album cover (which John Lennon designed) is a code that played an important part in the making of the album but he said he wouldn’t say what it was and the reader had to figure it out for themselves. So I obsessed for days and nights staring at the album cover (this was pre-internet days, so you couldn’t just Google it) and finally figured it out. Look at the bottom of the album cover and the blocks with “D” and “S” are intrumental to cracking the code. So is the thing in between them. Have you figured it out yet? No fair Googling!
I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine by The Ronettes (From the album, The Best of The Ronettes)
This is my favorite Ronettes song and quite possibly my favorite Phil Spector production. Beth Orton does a good stripped down version of the song here.
Set You Free This Time by The Byrds (From the album. “Turn! Turn! Turn!")
Gene Clark sometimes gets overshadowed when people write about the Byrds because he was only a member for two years and Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman and David Crosby were also in the band. That’s a lot of talent in one band, but Gene Clark was always my favorite singer of the band when he was in the Byrds. He also wrote the lion’s share of their original tunes back when he was a member. This is one of my all-time favorite songs by them, which was written and sung by Gene Clark.
Ironically, one of the things that led him to quit the band at the height of their success was a fear of flying. So this Byrd clipped his wings and started a solo career and later was one of the front men in the band, Dillard & Clark.
Rock n’ Roll Love Letter by The Bay City Rollers (From the album, “Rock n’ Roll Love Letter”)
When punk rock is written or talked about, The Bay City Rollers are rarely given any credit for being an influence on that musical genre, but the fact is that they were. They were a direct influence on The Ramones and The Sex Pistols as well as scores of other punk bands. I think this article from the website, Louder Than War nails this fact.
I was a senior in high school when this album and single were released and while I never would’ve admitted it back then, I’ve always loved this song.
Blitzkrieg Bop by The Ramones (From the album, “Ramones”)
If you disagreed with the fact that The Bay City Rollers were an influence on punk rock, then let’s look at this quote from Joey Ramone when he was discussing the song “Blitzkrieg Bop.” Oh Joey...
“I hate to blow the mystique, but at the time we really liked bubblegum music, and we really liked The Bay City Rollers. Their song ‘Saturday Night’ had a great chant in it, so we wanted a song with a chant in it: ‘Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!’. ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ was our ‘Saturday Night’.” (Taken from the website, dk presents.)