Jun 042021

I don’t know what compelled me to look up a live version of my least favorite song in the world, Blood, Sweat & Tears’ version of Laura Nyro’s “And When I Die,” but I’m glad I did. This live version is even worse than the studio version.

Let’s be real: Nyro’s version is almost as terrible as the better-known cover. At its songwriting heart, it’s like an outtake from a thwarted musical version of Gone With the Wind. Or Birth of a Nation. Blood, Sweat & Tears, led by the self-satisfied David Clayton-Thomas, milk the the Plantation Party vibe for all its worth. Yuck!

Have you ever found a live version of a song you can’t stand that maximizes all you can’t stand about the studio version?


  32 Responses to “Wipe That Self-Satisfied Smile Off Your Face, David Clayton-Thomas!”

  1. I find the Kiss song, Rock and Roll All Nite dreadful, and I find the misspelling of “night” just downright lame. Live audio and especially video of that turd reinforces my dislike.

  2. hrrundivbakshi

    How bad does a harmonica player have to be to make you want him to shut up so you can hear David Clayton Thomas better?

  3. If this were a version of of “If You Can’t Say Something Nice….” I would mention how satisfying it is to get a good long view of Jim Fielder’s bass playing.

  4. Good lord how I hate this group, but, f you can’t say something nice: I think the audience is clapping on the 2 and 4. Small mercies.

  5. HVB FTW with that harmonica player observation!

  6. One of the ultimate snoozer Stones tracks is “Midnight Rambler.” Studio wise, it’s boring as hell. “Midnight Rambler” is to Let it Bleed as “Goin’ Home” is to Aftermath. It’s an absolute waste of vinyl, an insufferable turd that lessens the oomph of Let it Bleed. Live Rambler green lights the ultimate Jolson Jagger, illustrated best by his performance from 1972 at Madison Square Garden. He comes off like a spastic imitating Tina Turner, and his shit show reaches its crescendo when he swats the stage with his scarf to emphasize key insights about the rambler. Each swat does nothing but emphasize the inanity of the lyrics. From what I’ve read, the Beatles continually had a good laugh at his expense, and after repeated viewings of live Rambler, it doesn’t take a genius to see why.


    Had I been there at that ’72 Garden show, know that I would have spent those 11 Rambler minutes in the lobby.

    I realize that condemnation of Rambler is sacrilege to most diehard Stones fans, but for me, Rambler opened the door to a lot of bad musical decisions not unlike those made by the Who and the Kinks around the same time period.

  7. Happiness Stan

    Back in the mists of RTH history, I justified my love for Laura Nyro on the grounds of diminished responsibility. You can’t see it with your eyes, hold it in your hands, but like the rules that govern our land, I was bludgeoned into it by a thing called lurve and not even our very untidy breakup made me want to part with my greatest hits collection.

    BS&T, on the other hand, I’d gladly stick on a cruise ship with UB40 and risk all to sink the damned thing. It would be worth never seeing the sun or listening to the Fall again just to act in the service of mankind. I even know how to do it, since we watched the Shark Affair from the first series of Man From UNCLE the other day. You just need to break into the armoury with a not very intelligent blonde in tow, fill a sack with explosives and make a bomb. It was, admittedly, fairly light on details, but how hard could it be?

    Rather than the question posed, I’m more interested in the mindset of watching a live version of a song one knows one already loathes. I’m quite sure it wouldn’t take long to find a video of Red Red Whine with the Campbell brothers grinning like a couple of sanctimonious smug gits, but I can’t help thinking my time would be better spent watching something on the Hydraulic Press channel, our youngest’s current YouTube favourite.

  8. Happiness Stan

    EPG, okay, at the risk of contradicting what I posted just two minutes ago, I can see how you’d be conned into listening to something ghastly in the context of a live album, and I’m with you on Midnight Rambler.

    Probably equally sacrilegious is admitting, while standing in the rain at Glastonbury, I decided my life was already full enough without hearing Macca singing Hey Jude for the hundredth time, having enjoyed none but possibly the first two of the previous ninety nine, and made my way back to the tent.

  9. …and I’m going to be very disappointed if a certain someone doesn’t support me in my efforts to pooh pooh Rambler as well as the entire Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out LP, arguably the most boring live album of all time.

  10. Happines Stan, LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hope all is well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. BigSteve

    David Clayton Thomas is evil. The scorn for this clip is warranted, but DCT is responsible for everything wrong with When I Die. BS&T would never have been really my cup of tea, but the record they made with Al Kooper as frontman was good.

    I won’t review my admiration for Laura Nyro, because I just read through the previous RTH discussion of her, and it’s all there. But I contend that When I Die is a cool song ruined by the shenanigans of Lucretius MacEvil.

  12. I’m pro Midnight Rambler. I don’t mind a little bit of acting from a vocalist. From what I understand, Bowie was not actually from out of space.

  13. Busy morning ahead, but I’ll get time later today to revisit that live “Midnight Rambler” clip. I will say that my feelings over that song have grown increasingly mixed.

    When I was a kid (13 or so), the guitar tone and then the slow-down/speed-up trick appealed to me, but it always took too long for the good parts to play out.

    By college days, da Jolson blooz posturing was all I could hear. I lifted the needle/changed the station as soon as I was able.

    About 5 years ago, after 35 years of thinking the Stones were a surprisingly shitty live band (based on recordings and videos – I’ve never actually seen them live), it started to occur to me that “Midnight Rambler” was a deserved, relative showstopper thanks to all the hoodoo-guru being played out. It’s one of the most listenable tracks on Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out, as it takes me back to the simple joys of that guitar tone and the pace alterations.

    That said, if I want some hoodoo-guru, it’s no “LA Woman.” Gimme dat “Mr Mojo Risin'” and dem “Roadhouse Blues” any day of the week!

    And before I forget, chickenfrank nailed it with that Bowie reminder. This is why I lean on him as my most level-headed friend.

  14. hrrundivbakshi

    Glad to see there are some of you who recognize the value of the snarling guitar tone in Midnight Rambler. I enjoy listening to it for that reason alone, though not a whole heck of a lot. Still, that lick right after Mick says something like “I’m gonna git along, and brain bah, in ain gah…” and before “everybody got to go…” that gave me a rock chub as a young teen, and it’s still stimulating today.

  15. hrrundivbakshi

    Sorry, I now realize my boner-inducing guitar lick happens before the line “I’m gonna git along, and brain bah, in ain gah.” Just wanted to clear that up.

  16. For the record, I got a good laugh out of Chickenfrank’s post. His batting average for laugh out loud homer posts is certainly in the Hank Aaron range. That said, Bowie’s act is that of a spaceman. Cleary, there’s no one to offend. Watching Jolson Jagger’s performance is like watching a puppeteer novice work the strings of a Sambo marionette. Your average white 1972 Stones audience could probably have care less about such things, not knowing any better. I can’t image what blacks thought about all that. It’s repulsive, and it even contintued to get worse throughout the years. The Checkerboard Lounge performance is an unbelievably strange affair: laughable, embarrassing, and incredibly offensive. To be able to enjoy all that as is is simply horrifying.

  17. Happiness Stan

    Hey EPG, all very good indeed here, thanks. We’ve had a rare warm and sunny day and it didn’t rain once. I’ll fill you in on Otway and Barrett in due course. I rather doubted they had cut through on your side of the water, which is unsurprising as they’re something of a cult novelty act over here as well.

    You’re not selling me on checking out that Stones performance…

  18. This has nothing to do with this thread, but our old friend dickbonanza just let me know he was celebrating the 10th anniversary of winning the incredible contest we had setup for the Sausages for Sammy fundraiser. Man, so many great memories flood back: https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/classic-rock-station-announced-for-tonight’s-sausages-for-sammy-classic-rock-block-psychic-event/

  19. OK, I sat through that whole clip of “Midnight Rambler.” What sucks so bad about it is that the filmmaker treats it like a porn reel for jerking off over Jolson Jagger. The musical performance isn’t bad at all: they play the song faster than on the record (something I think is essential and that the Stones rarely do), Keef and Mick T do their weaving and knife tossing, even Charlie plays like he gives a shit. Mick Jolson could have tried closing down on an ending consonant now and then (if one had to transcribe his singing of this version, the apostrophe key would wear out), but he sings in more of his classic Jagger “head” voice more than he usually does live. (Usually, he bellows on live performances from the ’70s.) If I could only listen to this version, minus the obligatory 4 extraneous minutes of hoodoo-guru and ho-hokum, I’d say this is prime live ’70s Stones. The whole thing is ruined though, as I feel like I’m waiting for the director to complete jerking off.

  20. hrrundivbakshi

    That Sausages for Sammy classic rock prediction party was so much fun. I still think you could really go internet-wide with such a thing and make some serious green.

  21. 2000 Man

    I get hating everything Blood Sweat and Tears, but Midnight Rambler? Especially from the 72-73 tours. That’s just fantastic stuff. I realize it’s no Herman’s Hermits, but everything can’t be shitty or we’d all end up wondering how great it would be if Mickey Dolenz would sing some Mike Nesmith songs the way they were meant to be.

    Get Your YaYa’s out isn’t very close to an actual 1969 concert but it’s a GREAT record. Nothing but fun from start to finish.

    Happy belated birthday, EPG. I’m getting you one of those bulbs to clean out your ears and a copy of the Stones’ Brussels Affair with a 12 minute Midnight Rambler on it. It will be the best thing for you, I’m sure.

  22. 2K making a strong bid for Post of the Week, in a week loaded with contenders, with that Dolenz cut!

  23. 2000 man, thanks for the birthday greetings as well as the 2000th Herman’s Hermits jab. To each his own. You know what, I really have no problems with Jagger’s spastic Sambo marionette thing during the Brian Jones years. He spent a lot of that time borrowing from other people and trying to put it all together in some way or another that made the whole thing look original. That all ended during the Mick Taylor years when he more or less decided to give up the creative synthesis and became Mick Jolson (thanks, Moderator). Don’t get me wrong, I love everything up to Exile and also enjoy a lot of Some Girls and Tattoo You, but I definitely lost my taste for live Stones during those years. Again, very, very laughable, embarrassing, insulting shit.

    The only real difference between Jolson and Jagger is that Jolson had the balls to do his thing in blackface. Here’s hoping some tech whiz will invent an ap that allows users to watch Jagger perform in blackface. God only knows what that would do to the Stones’ white fan base cred.

  24. As is probably easily predictable, I stand with 2K Man in his support of Midnight Rambler. It’s not even in my top 20 favorite Stones songs but I really like it and although Mick’s vocals are affected, they don’t rise to the level of You Got To Move, or some David Lee Roth vocal-blackface shenanigans.

    Back to Blood Sweat and Tears: the Mod mentioned the Broadway Musical version of Birth of a Nation and this is a key point. Rock in 1970 was the coolest. BS&T’s strike me as nothing more than the kind of carpet baggers who spring up anytime something genuine and cool organically appears (see: Every band trailing in Nirvana’s wake on the entirely new “alternative” format. I’m not a huge Nirvana fan but they seemed like the genuine article to me). If BS&T just got up there and performed the sound track to 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, I’d respect them more. Instead, they’re like an off Broadway pit orchestra cosplaying as a rock band. It’s similar to, but much worse than, when Joe Jackson was like “Hey, I’m an edgy punk too!” and then 3 albums later he was putting out the proto show tune “Into the Night” (or whatever it’s called). The big difference is when Joe Jackson was carpet bagging, he put out Look Sharp, an undeniably great album and he wasn’t singing like a smug douchebag.

  25. We should have a Battle Royale for most egregious vocal blackface. I wish we still had that polling function.

    Possible contenders:
    David Lee Roth – Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t got Nobody
    Van Halen – Big Bad Bill is Sweet William Now
    Rolling Stones – You Got To Move
    Rolling Stones – Love In Vain
    10 cc – Dreadlock Holiday
    Steely Dan – Haitian Divorce
    Kinks – Apeman

  26. CDM, your insights are dead on, though we disagree about “Midnight Rambler.” I can live with that.

    You hit the bullseye with your analysis of BST. Mine is a little less involved: It’s BST. Who cares?

    During my high school years, my gang referred to Joe Jackson as the poor man’s Costello. That wasn’t entirely accurate, but it had a nice ring to it. I too like the first album as well as the second. He did the best he could with what little he had. After those two albums, his ego got the better of him, and he decided that the world needed to become familiar with other more important forms of music besides pop. I actually saw him during at the Mann during his Night and Day phase, when he thought he was this generation’s Cole Porter. He was a pompous ass and continually told the audience to shut up and listen to the music. Never a good move, and it’s absolutely and positively not a good move when you really don’t have the skills to warrant that kind of asshole behavior. That said, I’ve gotta give credit where credit is due. Those first two LPs have a lot of great pop songs. Some are a little dated, but others hold up pretty well. And just for the record, “Is She Really Going out with Him?” is a masterpiece.

  27. The second album has some good stuff but I can’t think of a dud on that first one.

    Also, if you have to scold the audience because they are not paying enough attention, the problem is you, not them. You are just not being entertaining enough. Mach more shau!

  28. 2000 Man

    I like those first two Noe Jackson albums a lot. I like some of Beat Crazy, too. I bought that one that looks like an old Blue Note jazz record and I felt ripped off eve though it was only 50 cents.

    cdm, I totally get what you’re saying regarding You Gotta Move but I think he’s just being Mick Jagger on Love In Vain. I think he’s trying to do it right there and I think he’s just doing The Dear Doctor schtick in You Gotta Move. I don’t hate it but it’s why I hold Sticky Fingers in lower regard than a lot of Stones fans.

    EPG, Herman’s Hermits are just the gift that never stops giving. Thank you for that. I did try to branch out with a Monkees jab, but that’s because I think they’re pretty much the US version of Herman’s Hermits. While you’re digging through records if you ever come across decent copies of Steely Dan’s Pretzel Logic and Countdown to Ecstasy let me know. Mine are too noisy for me. I don’t care what pressings they are so long as they’re quiet. I realize my love of Steely Dan makes me a total dork. I’m okay with that. It’s as close to jazz as I’m ever going to get.

  29. Love “You Gotta Move.” Don’t ever wanna see it live.

    2000man, I’ll keep you posted on the Steely Dan albums. That band is a real used record money maker, mostly because MCA still hasn’t rereleased their LPs since the 1980s Their stuff flies out of my basement. The only title I can’t seem to move very well is Gaucho. I can always count on Pretzel Logic sales to keep my fridge loaded with cold Genesee.

  30. Happiness Stan

    Oh, CDM, I’m with you all the way on Dreadlock Holiday.

    Even when it was new, and a substantial proportion of British TV humour was based around how jolly it was to make fun of people who weren’t a pasty pink colour, it was obvious to anyone I was prepared to be friends with that cod Jamaican wasn’t even slightly amusing. Considering how well most of their output has dated, I’ve no idea why it remains apparently so popular. I saw them twice in fairly quick succession a couple of years back and both times it fairly brought the house down. Perhaps we really are the country of bigoted racists I hoped we’d grow our of when I was hanging out with Anton and Ash after school in the mid seventies.

    Never liked Ape-man, either, nor any others where Ray Davies does the fake accent thing. Dedicated Follower of Fashion drives me nuts. I guess I’m suspicious that he doesn’t have confidence in his words when he sings them ‘in character’,

    All these pale when held up against the entire recorded output of Sting and the Police, if I had to pick a winner, I’d probably go for Walking on de Moon, although most qualify.

    I’d also wave an accusatory finger at Come Together and Obladi Obladah, lest either of the dynamic duo from the sainted Fabs hope to sneak away unnoticed.

    Herman’s Hermits live these days consist of Barry Whitwam, their original drummer, and session musicians. As one who saw the Monkees on the last tour they did with all four of them, I’d say that our Barry takes himself a lot more seriously than Micky Dolenz ever has. HH were a lot bigger in the States than here, I understand, which may be why I find their longevity so puzzling. The Merseybeats, on the other hand, who they regularly tour with, have most of their original lineup and smash it clean out of the park every time.

  31. I never thought Sting was appropriating an accent. I thought he was just singing with a nondescript weird affectation.

    To be clear, I don’t have a problem with punk/new wave Cod Reggae if it’s done right like:
    So Lonely – the Police
    Police and thieves – Clash
    White Man in Hammersmith Palais – Clash
    Don’t ask Me Questions – Graham Parker
    Fools In Love – Joe Jackson

    I even like most of Dreadlock Holiday except for the fake accent and some of the lyrics. Unfortunate because it fucks up and otherwise B- song.

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