Tag Archives: Atlantic Records

Rocks In The Attic #258: The Coasters – ’20 Great Originals’ (1978)

RITA#258This summer, the oldest song that was constantly on my playlist was Poison Ivy by The Coasters. I knew the song already, but hearing the Rolling Stones’ (passable) version of it on their debut EP turned me back onto it. There’s something so charming about a line like You’re gonna need an ocean / of calamine lotion, that it’s hard to not smile.

Like most people my age I probably heard The Coasters for the first time on the soundtrack to the classic Stand By Me. The use of Yakety Yak in that film probably goes to show how the group is more remembered for their Leiber & Stoller penned pop songs rather than their more traditional Blues-based output. Charlie Brown is a great example of a song that – obviously due to its subject matter – feels like it was written for children and young teens, but it’s just so catchy that it’s still a great pop song (only the sound of the production has dated).

When I started listening to music in my early teens, The Coasters were again introduced to me by way of The Beatles. Their version of Searchin’ can be heard on their Decca audition tape, available on Anthology 1. I then heard The Blues Brothers’ version of Riot In Cell Block Number 9. It seems that the group has influenced a lot of work, and probably still do to this day.

One of the things I like most about this record is that it’s not a rushed-release hotchpotch of singles, crammed onto a minor label when the publishing for the songs came up at a reduced rate. It’s a full-on Atlantic Records release, on a nice hefty slab of vinyl (probably close to what we’d refer to as heavyweight vinyl in this age of vinyl revival). It comes with a nice set of liner notes, and the disc comes with the classic orange and green Atlantic Records label. Atlantic Records may not be my favourite record label – that has to be Stax, just for its sheer David & Golliath-ness – but Atlantic Records is probably the most consistent in terms of sheer quality of output. It’s also probably the most prominent label in my collection thanks to the mighty ‘DC, Zeppelin, and the occasional gem like this.

Hit: Yakety Yak

Hidden Gem: Little Egypt

Rocks In The Attic #252: AC/DC – ‘’74 Jailbreak’ (1984)

RITA#252When I was greedily consuming AC/DC’s back catalogue at the tender age of 14, this was always the album I could never bring myself to buy. It’s not even an album – it’s an EP of five songs previously released on the band’s Australian albums (but missing from the international releases), to celebrate the band’s 10th anniversary – which all sounds fine until you consider that it was priced the same as all their other albums. It was either this or a full album for the same price; so it remained an aspirational purchase, always slightly out of my reach.

A matured appreciation of the band’s back catalogue now makes this an essential purchase – the title track is worth the price alone. Originally released on the Australian version of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Jailbreak saw the light of day in the UK in 1976. It was released as a single on the same day as the Thin Lizzy song of the same name. That must have been a confusing day for denim-clad rockers in record shops.

It’s odd that the song was never used on any of the international releases until this EP came out, despite the band releasing it as a single and going to the trouble of shooting a great music video to promote it. The song was later to feature on the double-disc version of AC/DC Live in 1992, although this 14-minute version, split with a lengthy instrumental break to soundtrack Angus’ striptease, isn’t the best version. It’s a great pop song, but remains a largely ignored slice of their canon (no pun intended).

The rest of the EP’s tracks are taken from the original Aussie release of the band’s debut – High Voltage – and were probably overlooked by Atlantic Records in favour of the heavier songs on their second album. I guess when you take two albums and split them into one, you’re always going to have to leave something by the side of the road.

I can do without the cover of Baby, Please Don’t Go – it isn’t a patch on the seminal version by Van Morrison and Them – but Soul Stripper is fantastic. It’s a groove-based slow-burner, probably excluded from the international releases because of its length (6:25) and its lyrics which paint Bon Scott as a weak virgin – ‘then she made me say things I didn’t want to say / then she made me play games I didn’t want to play’.

Instrumentation other than guitar, bass and drums are usually very rare on an AC/DC track – unless you’re talking about bagpipes, cannons or (hells) bells – but Soul Stripper has a great cowbell-like percussive touch that sets it apart from the other songs cut from High Voltage. The effect makes the song sounds ominous – a true hidden gem.

Hit: Jailbreak

Hidden Gem: Soul Stripper

Rocks In The Attic #212: Ray Charles – ‘True To Life’ (1977)

RITA#212This is Ray’s first album back at Atlantic Records, where he started his career in the late ‘50s. It’s a very upbeat record, with an overall late-‘70s feel not too dissimilar to his appearance on the soundtrack to The Blues Brothers, which was only recorded a couple of years following this. The production of the album is very nice and sounds very fresh, with Ray backed by both a groove-based funk / rock band as well as a traditional big band, which really swings on a couple of the tracks.

The thing I tend to enjoy most when I’m listening to Ray Charles is not his piano playing, which is always fantastic, if a little laid-back here, but his voice. It truly is magical and unmistakable.

Hit: I Can See Clearly Now

Hidden Gem: Game Number Nine

Rocks In The Attic #70: Led Zeppelin – ‘Coda’ (1982)

Rocks In The Attic #70: Led Zeppelin - ‘Coda’ (1982)This album goes a long way to confirm that when bands choose not release material when they record it, there’s usually a good reason. That’s not to say this is a bad album – it’s nowhere as near as bad as the atrocious In Through The Out Door – but for a Led Zeppelin album, it’s pretty poor.

Released two years after the death of John Bonham, this is Page’s way to get out of a contractual agreement (they owed Atlantic Records a fifth album from when they started the Swan Song label to release their own work). The songs are mostly left-over pieces that didn’t quite make the albums they were originally recorded for, together with a couple of live tracks (where they’ve removed any audience noise, to make them sound like they were recorded in a studio).

The real issue is that the album is very disjointed, which you would expect from an album that collects songs from across their entire career, from 1969 through to 1978. There are also a few notable omissions – Baby Come On Home and Travelling Riverside Blues, which would eventually surface on Boxed Set in 1990 and Boxed Set 2 in 1993, and are better than anything included here.

Hit: We’re Gonna Groove

Hidden Gem: Bonzo’s Montreaux

Rocks In The Attic #31: The Darkness – ‘Permission To Land’ (2003)

Rocks In The Attic #31: The Darkness - ‘Permission To Land’ (2003)This album ticks all the right boxes. It’s got a naked lady on the cover. It has a Parental Advisory sticker. It’s on Atlantic Records – home of, amongst others, Led Zeppelin. The guitarist is a big fan of Thin Lizzy. It couldn’t get much better really.

Except the album isn’t actually that great. There’s some killer singles on there – Get Your Hands Off My Woman, Growing On Me,  I Believe In A Thing Called Love and Love Is Only A Feeling – but the rest of the album is just filler. Just like most average rock albums, the singles are good but they obviously didn’t spend as long on the other songs. In fact the second side of the album – the side without all the singles on it – is pretty forgetful.

I regret not seeing the band at Glastonbury. They were playing the Second Stage, just as they were breaking in the UK, and I remember my good friend Natalie saying I should go and watch them as I’d probably like them. I hadn’t heard about them by that point, but they really caught my attention when I finally heard about them. What’s not to like about a band playing classic rock riffs behind a screaming singer in a white lycra jumpsuit?

Hit: I Believe In A Thing Called Love

Hidden Gem: Friday Night