Sometimes, rock and roll dreams can get waylaid, subdued, or even killed by the signing of the line which is dotted. This episode would take 1,000 hours if we only include black artists from the '40s, '50s, and '60s. And '70s, '80s, and '90s. And '00s and '10s. So I just focused on the easy-hanging fruit that is the people who ALSO profited from the hard work of black musicians to make their palatable caucasian crafting.
Adam VIII John Lennon "Roots" Commercial (1975)
What a shitty, washed-out picture. This gives you the idea that Morris Levy just wanted to fuck with Lennon to pay him back for his hubris. Devout (at the time) fans of Lennon like me were perplexed when the last track on "Walls And Bridges" was a strangely shoddy cover of "Ya Ya" with Julian Lennon on drums. Little did we know that that was John Lennon "fulfilling a legal obligation". Just like a junkie would. I don't think anyone would think of Morris Levy as anything but a very sleazy anti-art leech, but that little joke was probably the last straw. "What the fuck is this washed-up hippy doing, and does he know what I can do to him?" Did this whole thing sour Lennon on recording more music, and did he sense his own waning desire to compete with McCartney and use this whole sorry escapade as a good excuse to spend some time in Japan? Lennon was as dishonest and immature as he was gifted, and we will never know for sure.
The insert. Almost as insulting as "The Wedding Album".
Marvin Gaye - Where Are We Going? (1972) I talk to you like you know at least something about popular music. If you don't, let me be the first to tell you that Marvin Gaye recorded an album AFTER "What's Going On" and BEFORE "Let's Get It On". "You're The Man" was intended as another socially conscious record like "What's Going On" (1971), but following the release of its lead single, the title track "You're The Man", [ed: and the lack of positive reaction to same] Gaye canceled its release. [ed: I like this record a lot.]
This was in part due to the reception of the song, as well as the fact that Gaye's political views were different from those of Motown founder Berry Gordy. For these reasons, "You're The Man" was long considered a lost album.
Marvin Gaye - You're The Man (Pts. I&II) (1972)
Marvin Gaye - The World Is Rated X (1972)
Lou Reed - Metal Machine Music (1975) Like The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, etc., some artists tend to benefit from revisionist history. No, "Metal Machine Music" is not a deep, thoughtful cry for help from a misunderstood genius. This was nothing but a big "fuck you" to RCA, which is sad to me because there were so many more talented, interesting, and profound artists than Lou Reed, struggling for royalties, swimming against the tide of record comp.....wait. Maybe he had a point.
...but it's STILL not as bad as "Having Fun On Stage With Elvis".
Badfinger - Apple Of My Eye (1973) Lookie here.
Badfinger - Get Away (1973) So you all know the struggles that Badfinger enjoyed with Stan Polley, who once managed one of my favorite singers, Lou Christie. But Badfinger also suffered under the weight of the lethargic promotion afforded them by The Beatles and Apple Records. This was THEIR Contractual Obligation album, and it's not bad at all. Guys that talented could never turn in a clunker.
(In 1973) Apple was in disarray, but Badfinger – by far the label’s most successful artists after The Beatles – had further cause for complaint. Their original contract, drawn up in the days when Apple was living up to its fair-minded (i.e. hippy) ideals, offered a generous artist royalty of 5 percent, with Apple also paying for all recording and promotion expenses. Now, with legendary US tough guy Allen Klein running the company, the band were being asked to not only take a reduced royalty rate but also to pay recording costs.
George Harrison, for one, was devastated at the loss from the label of a group he held dear, and allegedly (and uncharacteristically) confronted Bill Collins [ed: their manager since 1966) and said: “You guys fucked us after we did all that work for you.” Collins retorted that they had been unable to speak to their former champion directly (an accusation that rings true with all the superstar retinue surrounding the former Beatle), let alone with the formidable Klein. In retrospect, Badfinger’s departure marked the beginning of the end of Apple as anything other than a ‘vanity’ label for John, Paul, George, and Ringo.
But the inevitable payback was Apple issuing Ass (as the 1973 album ended up being rather unflatteringly called) as a spoiler three months ahead of the band’s debut for their new label. As it transpired, Ass would be the final non-Beatles album to appear on Apple (it reached No. 122 in the US). One track, Pete Ham’s Apple Of My Eye, was a genuinely fond farewell to their former paymasters, and he contributed only one other; much of the music was written by Joey Molland, which gave it a different feel.
Al Steckler, the man who had given Badfinger ‘their’ gold disc in New York City, was later incredibly revealing to Stefan Granados, author of the invaluable Apple history Those Were The Days (Cherry Red Books) when he outlined the contract Badfinger signed with Warner Brothers. A band at the peak of their powers, with a track record of US success and the Beatles’ imprimatur, might have thought their next record deal would set them up for life. Not so. The advance, which looked good on paper, was $2 million for, Steckler told Granados: “something like six albums. After they signed, Bill Collins and Pete Ham told me what the advance was and I figured it out for them. When you deducted the cost of the albums they had to pay for, deducted Polley’s cut, and split the money between Collins and the four guys in the group, it came out to nothing… $60,000 apiece per album. They’d really thought they were millionaires. They looked at each other and realized that I was right and that it was too late to do anything about it. Peter had this horrible look on his face… it was the last time I saw him.”
Badfinger - Timeless (1973)
Bonzo Dog Band - King of Scurf (1971) Neil Innes wrote music for Monty Python and starred in "All You Need is Cash" with Eric idle. He was brilliant and he wrote songs that you know but don't know that it was him. I never liked this group, but as I mentioned in my show, they were in Magical Mystery Tour. These songs were recorded in 1971, a few years after they broke up. But the United Artists label pointed the Fickle Finger of Fate at the boys, and we have this.
Bonzo Dog Band - The Strain (1971)
Bonzo Dog Band - Bad Blood (1971)
ELP - Memoirs of an Officer and a Gentleman (1978)
The Mamas and the Papas - Blueberries For Breakfast (1971) Like the Bonzos, they were gently reminded by the bean-counters at Dunhill that there was some unfinished business. So they created this. Again, not that bad!
The Mamas and the Papas - Lady Genevieve (1971) For a drug-addled, amoral daughter-fucker, John Phillips sure wrote a lot of songs about his wife.
The Mamas and the Papas - Pacific Coast Highway (1971)
The Mamas and the Papas - People Like Us (1971)