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Luckily most of these songs aren't dreck
February 9, 2014 10:52 PM   Subscribe

The Music Scene is a television series aired by ABC as part of its Fall 1969 lineup. The show featured performances from the top musicians of the week as compiled by “Billboard Magazine” and had a number of hosts, including David Steinberg and Lily Tomlin. Many huge names of the era, including The Beatles, James Brown, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Three Dog Night, Tom Jones on the initial program and Janis Joplin, Bobby Sherman, The Miracles, Sly & the Family Stone, Isaac Hayes, Stevie Wonder, Bo Diddley and Mama Cass Elliot, (who co-hosted as well as performed) among many others, appearing on subsequent shows.

Promos initially used improvisational group The Committee (previously) which featured actor Howard Hesseman (née Don Sturdy), as well as The Rolling Stones. The promos implied that the Stones would be appearing with some regularity on the program. However by the time The Music Sene went on the air, The Committee was nowhere to be seen and the Stones never appeared on the show.

The show was not a ratings success and only ran one season. In an 2013 Inside Comedy interview, Steinberg, and Tomlin point out the biggest problem with the show:
Steinberg: And then Billboard would have the hit music of the week, and we would have to do something satirical about the hit music of the week but no one figured out that some of the dreckiest songs last forever

Tomlin: In the Top Ten forever! Weeks and weeks and we’d have to do the same song and come up with a way to do it!
Episode Guide with artists (including many I couldn't locate) listed by week.

The Music Scene Opening
Theme From The Music Scene
TV Promos, featuring The Rolling Stones and Howard Hesseman (Don Studley)
Groucho Marx interview with host David Steinberg
posted by Room 641-A (18 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, Isaac Hayes covered Walk On By? Sweet!

That CSNY meets Tom Jones clip is so incredible I made an FPP, back in 2012, on that alone!

That version of Mother Popcorn by JB is the Epic Multidimensional Motherfucker of All Time. An old favorite. Just... damn! I don't want no TRASH!

Looking forward to checking all these out. Thanks for the lovely post!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:11 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


I just came back here to say that the drummer on the Lee Michaels clip (introduced as "Frosty", no less) is the heavingest, sweatiest, most primal lump of throbbing rock drummery this side of John Bonham.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:03 AM on February 10


Man, that performance of _Baby_It's_You_ is some powerful good. That woman really could sing! I wonder why that band was only a one-hit wonder? I wonder whatever happened to them.
posted by evil otto at 12:43 AM on February 10


to be clear, The Cowsills are way better than the Partridge Family
posted by philip-random at 12:46 AM on February 10


Actually, Smith's whole album is pretty damn good. They're like Steppenwolf or Deep Purple with a kickass female vocalist. How was this band overlooked?
posted by evil otto at 12:50 AM on February 10


I wonder why that band was only a one-hit wonder? ... How was this band overlooked?

Most likely it could be chalked up to this: they had no material. They did almost only covers, and in 1969, that really wasn't gonna cut it in terms of building a steady following. They probably needed some strong original material to maintain the initial thrust that their Baby It's You hit could've given them, but a band like that doing *only* cover tunes was destined to go nowhere, probably.

There's another interesting point to think about, too: there just haven't been all that many rock bands (emphasis on "rock" and especially on "band") consisting of guys on the bass, drums and guitars with a female lead vocalist. You can kinda count 'em on one hand, it seems. (Actually, now I want to do a head-count of those kinds of bands... Big Brother and the Holding Company, of course, featuring Janis Joplin, and the Jefferson Airplane with frontwoman Grace Slick, and... hell, I know there's more but, they're not springing to mind at the moment.)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:55 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Joan Jett & the Blackhearts is another one, Flapjax.

Great post, some awesome stuff in there. Is there some sort of script to pick all the tunes off a page and save them to your hard drive? Also, BBC, if you're reading this, maybe get the rights and edit it up and show the best bits, with some commetary about the band before you show them?
posted by marienbad at 2:32 AM on February 10


There's another interesting point to think about, too: there just haven't been all that many rock bands (emphasis on "rock" and especially on "band") consisting of guys on the bass, drums and guitars with a female lead vocalist.

Flapjax, depending on how tightly you interpret the question, these'll get you started: Don't forget that Rosie Stone and Cynthia Robinson did plenty of singing with Sly and the Family Stone.

Then there's Honey Lantree, drummer with the Honeycombs. She didn't sing lead on their one big hit "Have I The Right", but did sing with group.

Frosty . . . is the heaviest, sweatiest, most primal lump of throbbing rock drummery this side of John Bonham.

I remember Lee Michaels touring his big single, "Do You Know What I Mean" -- just Lee and Frosty.

You'll be interested to know that Frosty previously played with a band called Sweathog, and is still rockin' in Texas.
 
posted by Herodios at 4:20 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Sergio Mendes covering "Wichita Lineman"? Mind. Blown.
posted by OHSnap at 5:34 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Sly & The Family Stone makes me so goddam happy. Thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 9:08 AM on February 10


Great post with a lot in it. Just one correction: "Easy to be Hard" is actually Three Dog Night (who had the hit on it), not the cast of "Hair".
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 10:23 AM on February 10


Just one correction: "Easy to be Hard" is actually Three Dog Night (who had the hit on it), not the cast of "Hair".

Oops! I had a major cut & paste mix-em-up and thought I fixed everything. There's another Hair link but it's lost for now. Mods, can you please add the song Easy To Be Hard to Three Dog Night's listing and delete the Hair reference? Thanks.

That CSNY meets Tom Jones clip is so incredible I made an FPP, back in 2012, on that alone!

Thanks, I meant to add a previously!

FYI: ignignokt wrote a Chrome extension that plays all the YouTube videos linked on a page, one after another in one player.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:05 PM on February 10


They did almost only covers, and in 1969, that really wasn't gonna cut it in terms of building a steady following.

three dog night did it - interestingly enough, they were on the same label, abc/dunhill, so someone must have thought that lightening could strike twice

the problem being that bands don't make as much money covering songs as they would their own material - they also don't make as much money when they break up, which they did a year later
posted by pyramid termite at 4:50 PM on February 10


Sergio Mendes covering "Wichita Lineman"? Mind. Blown.

Heard the Meters' version?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:41 PM on February 10


there just haven't been all that many rock bands (emphasis on "rock" and especially on "band") consisting of guys on the bass, drums and guitars with a female lead vocalist.

Blondie.
posted by hippybear at 7:56 PM on February 10


Blondie.

Herodios beat you to that one in his rather exhaustive list above!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:10 PM on February 10


Indeed. I missed that. :)
posted by hippybear at 10:22 PM on February 10


Herodios beat you to that one in his rather exhaustive list above!

Well, I am pretty tired, but I guess I'm not quite exhausted yet. . .

Boys on Instruments, Girls on Vocals: The (more or less ) Next Generation: -------------------------------
*Despite the name, as much a band as Three Dog Night. Most of the songwriting was by outside writers, too.
posted by Herodios at 2:48 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


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