The Beach Boys in Schenectady 11/17

When We Were Kings

I recently noticed that The Beach Boys will be in Schenectady at Proctors Theatre on Sunday, November 17, 2023, at 3 pm. While I am not planning to attend, it renewed that long-time debate about the legitimacy of that band, or ultimately any band, to use the name.

Yes, I understand that Mike Love has the legal right to the group name. But the last Beach Boys album I bought was 2012’s That’s Why God Made the Radio. It featured Love, Brian Wilson, Al Jardine (all original members), David Marks (who replaced Jardine briefly early on), and Bruce Johnston (a long-time member who replaced Brian on the road early on.) That group’s tour was presented on the album Live: The 50th Anniversary Tour in 2013.

These guys, with Brian, Mike, and Al, are the Beach Boys, to my mind.

That’s Why God Made The Radio – the Beach Boys Bandsintown notes the band members as Love, Ricky Fataar, Marks, Blondie Chaplin, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Brian Wilson, Jardine, and Johnston, all of whom were in the group at one point, although Dennis and Carl are deceased.

The Proctors site notes: ” The Beach Boys are led by Mike Love, who, along with longtime member Bruce Johnston, musical director Brian Eichenberger, Christian Love, Tim Bonhomme, Jon Bolton, Keith Hubacher, Randy Leago, and John Wedemeyer, continue the legacy of the iconic band.” 


I guess the Rolling Stones, without the late Charlie Watts but with the Glimmer Twins and long-timer Ronnie Wood, are. Wait, Bill Wyman is on the new album Hackney Diamonds!

Angry – the Rolling Stones

But Paul and Ringo, reportedly also playing on the Stones’ album, couldn’t front their old group. When people speculated about Lennon, Harrison, and Starr playing with Billy Preston and Klaus Voorrman, they wouldn’t have been accepted as the Beatles.

Real Love – The Beatles

The Who are Daltrey and Townshend? I guess so.

All This Music Must Fade – the Who

I’ve long insisted that The Temptations are a lineage group. David Ruffin replaced Elbridge Bryant, Dennis Edwards replaced Ruffin, Ricky Owens then Damon Harris replaced Eddie Kendrick, et al. When Otis Williams, the remaining original member, retires, it’ll still be The Temptations, unless the group ends. Otis and the estate of Melvin Franklin control the group. Oddly, I think of them like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Or maybe Menudo.

When We Were Kings – The Temptations

It appears that any group with Chrissie Hynde can be The Pretenders, with or without co-founder Martin Chambers.

A Love – the Pretenders

Frankie Valli has a quartet that might as well be Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.

What are your criteria for whether a group is still “the group”?

Sunday Stealing: Swapbot redux


Swap-botFor today’s Sunday Stealing, here’s Swapbot redux

  1. What did you do today?

By “today,” I will answer for yesterday since I’ve done nothing consequential today. Or maybe I have. In any case, I washed all of the dishes and vacuumed the first floor. Then my wife and I went out and had dinner with old friends.

2.  What are the must-sees in your area?

Discover Albany has a page for this very thing. The Capitol is cool, but I haven’t been there in decades. One of my favorite underappreciated treasures in my county is the Overlook Park with the waterfalls in Cohoes. The Underground Railroad Education Center is cool and will be more so in the next few years.  I’ve visited Schuyler Mansion, Thatcher Park, and the USS Slater. My wife and I are members of the Albany Institute of History and Art. I understand that the ‎New York State Museum is getting a needed facelift.

3. What is your favourite quote?

It’s probably from Here and Now: Living in the Spirit by Henri J.M. Nouwen, a Canadian theologian who died in 1996. Here’s a piece of it: “Celebrating a birthday reminds us of the goodness of life, and in this spirit we really need to celebrate people’s birthdays every day, by showing gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, and affection.” A longer version I posted on my 60th birthday and probably subsequently.

4. What was the last thing you cooked or ate?

I prepared oatmeal with blueberries, strawberries, and bananas. My regular breakfast.


5. What is something you learned from your grandparents?

Playing cards. From my paternal grandmother, canasta. From my paternal grandfather, gin rummy.

6. What makes you happy?

Friends, music, learning stuff, leisure

7. What is your best travel memory?

Unexpectedly, we flew first class from Barbados to JFK in NYC from our honeymoon in 1999.

8. What’s the weather like today?


9. Share an interesting fact that you’ve learned

Almost anything I learned as an adult after college that I feel I should have learned in school. The Red Summer of 1919 and related activities, e.g.

10. What is your favourite book, movie, or band?

I’m going to go with The Temptations. I saw a musical about them called Ain’t Too Proud in May 2023. The group is still going with one original member, Otis Williams.


11.  Write your favorite poem or haiku.

I’m sure I don’t have one. So, I decided to think of something by Bob Dylan or Smokey Robinson. But then I saw the book Finishing The Hat by Stephen Sondheim on my bookshelf. I leafed through the table of contents and came across Anyone Can Whistle from 1964. At my previous church, I sang the title song at a cabaret.

Anyone can whistle; that’s what they say-easy.

Anyone can whistle, any old day-easy.

It’s all so simple. Relax, let go, let fly.

So someone tell me, why can’t I?

I can dance a tango, I can read Greek-easy.

I can slay a dragon, any old week-easy.

What’s hard is simple. What’s natural comes hard.

Maybe you could show me how to let go,

Lower my guard, Learn to be free. Maybe if you whistle, Whistle for me.

Here is Patti LuPone singing it.

12. What is a local festival or tradition from your area?

There are several, but my favorite may be the Tulip Festival in May, which I’ve attended at least two dozen times. The Dutch colonized New York before the English took over.

13. What was the best thing you learned in school?

The most interesting fact I learned is that if you add up the digits of a long number and it adds up to be 9, and that number is divisible by 9, the larger number is divisible by 9. For 123,456,789, the digits add up to 45, divisible by 9. When I learned this in 4th grade, it was MASSIVE.

Morissette and the Temps

Otis Williams

In May 2023, my wife and I attended two musicals at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady. The first was Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill: the Musical, based on her 1995 album and more of her songs. The second was Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.

The Morissette piece was interesting because it had a narrative not driven by the songs. Instead, Diablo Cody wrote the book and seemed to plug in the appropriate tune for that narrative arc.

The story revolves around a Connecticut woman named Mary Jane Healy. She’s writing the annual Christmas letter. She brags about her husband Steve’s work promotion and son Nick’s early admission to Harvard. And, oh yeah, her adopted daughter Frankie’s art. Things are not so perfect in suburbia, however.

The Hollywood Reporter wrote: “Electrifying, visceral and stunning. JAGGED LITTLE PILL takes a stand against complacency.”

The review headline in the Albany Times Union by Steve Barnes calls the show “pushy, overambitious, loud.” The last sentence and a half: “The show, in its own weird way, has the integrity of committed beliefs. Whether that’s your kind of theater is another matter.”

It is undoubtedly MY kind of theater, a narrative that hits on several hot-button topics, including prescription drug addiction and rape by a familiar. I accept “pushy” and even “loud.” But it was clear that the Thursday matinee audience, except for an older couple who walked out after the first song in the second act, You Oughta Know, was enthralled by the material and the actors performing it.

Jagged Little Pill played on Broadway from December 2019 to March 2020, then from October to December 2021. It’s been touring since August 31, 2022, and will be touring in Buffalo, Boston, KC, and elsewhere at least through September.


Ain’t Too Proud is a standard jukebox musical. It tells the story of Motown’s leading male singing group from the point of view of Otis Williams, the only remaining member from their heyday in the 1960s and 1970s.

Before the program began at our Saturday matinee, my wife asked if the group had stayed with its original members. Er, no. Indeed, the group’s evolution drove the narrative: Elbridge Bryant was replaced by David Ruffin, who was replaced by Dennis Edwards et al.

The music and the performances were top-notch. The TU’s Barnes calls it a “resplendent cavalcade of Temptations’ hits,” even as he questions the jukebox musical genre.

My issue was more prosaic. The show takes some liberties with the facts, probably to trim a full show. For instance, I would have concluded from Ain’t Too Proud that the Temptations reunion show took only a couple of years after Eddie Kendricks left the group in 1971.

Actually, it took place in 1982, and I attended it at the Colonie Colosseum in Albany County, NY. Glenn Leonard was one of the seven, not Damon Harris, who left the group in 1975.

I had to actively say to myself, “Self, these details don’t much matter to the audience.” And there were things the show got correct, such as Berry Gordy refusing to let the group release War as a single; it became a #1 hit for Edwin Starr.

Like JLP, Ain’t Too Proud’s run (Mar 21, 20190 -Jan 16, 2022) was interrupted by COVID. The show has been touring since December 2021. It’ll be touring the US Midwest, South, and Western Canada, among the locales, through February 2024.

Favorites: the Temptations (2014-2017)

Reunion tour, 1982

Richard, Otis, Eddie, Melvin, Glenn, David, Dennis

The fact is that I have mentioned The Temptations at least six dozen times in this blog. And yet, I’m going to do it again, for J. Eric Smith’s favorite songs by favorite artists.

Not many groups of 60 years can claim an original member, Otis Williams! In fact, I was fascinated by how the Elgins/Primes featured Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams. Otis Williams & The Siberians/The El Domingoes included Elbridge “Al” Bryant, Richard Street, Melvin Franklin, and of course, Otis.

The early Temps were Al, Eddie, Melvin, Otis, and Paul. But Al left and David Ruffin took over. The first classic lineup was formed. By 1968, David left and Dennis Edwards took his slot. At about the same time, Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong started writing more “relevant” songs for the group, produced by Whitfield.

More changes

In 1971, Eddie left to pursue a solo career, replaced briefly by Ricky Owens, then Damon Harris. Paul’s addiction problem was getting the best of him, with Richard Street, one of the Siberians, singing Paul’s parts from off-stage. Then Richard replaced Paul, who died in 1973. Glenn Leonard took over for Damon in 1975. Louis Price replaced Dennis in 1977, but Dennis came back in 1980.

This set the stage for the Reunion tour, where Dennis, Otis, Glenn, Richard, and Melvin were joined by Eddie and David. I saw this performance at the Colonie Coloseum in Albany County in 1982. It was one of the two or three greatest concerts I’ve seen in my life. First, they sang together, then in groups of five. They started with the first classic lineup, Richard in for the late Paul. Then Dennis went in for David, then Glenn supplanted Eddie. They closed singing together.

I saw them about two years later in Heritage Park, a baseball stadium. It was a lesser show, even though it included the Four Tops as well. The lineup was Ali-Ollie Woodson, Ron Tyson, Otis, Richard, and Melvin. The problem in part was that the singers were so far away. The 2020 lineup is Otis, Ron, Terry Weeks, Willie Green, and a new guy, Mario Corbino.

So why The Tempations then in this past decade? I think it’s something else J. Eric Smith wrote about, comfort music. He defined it as “Music that provides consolation or feeling of well-being, typically any with a highly melodic or other pleasing content and associated with childhood or music played by one’s family.” For me, that would be Motown, roughly from 1964 to 1972, when the label moved to Los Angeles. And it was the Temptations who were most consistent, to my ear, throughout the period.

Ten Songs

I could have picked 40 more. All four of their #1 pop hits are here.

Ball of Confusion, #3 for three weeks pop, #2 for 5 weeks soul in 1970.
Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me), #1 for two weeks pop, #1 for 3 weeks soul in 1971. Eddie Kendricks’ swan song with the group.
(I Know) I’m Losing You, #8 pop, #1 for two weeks soul in 1966.
No More Water In The Well – a cut from With a Lot O’ Soul album, which is probably my favorite LP of theirs.
My Girl, #1 pop, #1 for five weeks soul in 1965. On the Temptations anthology, there’s a lovely a capella version.

Ain’t Too Proud to Beg, #13 pop, #1 for eight weeks soul in 1966. Appeared on The Big Chill soundtrack in 1983.
I Wish It Would Rain, #4 pop, #1 for three weeks soul in 1968.
Papa Was A Rolling Stone, #1 pop, #5 soul in 1972. Dennis Edwards reportedly was getting really irritable in the studio about the length of the intro before he got to sing, which may have been the producer’s intent, to get the snarl in “It was the third of September”
The Way You Do The Things You Do, #11 pop, #1 soul in 1964. Their first real hit, with that Smokey Robinson poetry
I Can’t Get Next To You, #1 for two weeks pop, #1 for 5 weeks soul in 1969. The best use of that five lead vocalist thing that Whitfield stole from Sly Stone


The last of the Bubbling Under


Temptations circa 1965
The Temptations circa 1965 – David, Melvin, Paul, Otis, and in the middle, Eddie
We’ve come to the last of the Bubbling Under the Billboard Hot 100 Charts. These are songs that just didn’t chart high enough to be deemed a hit. Many of them are quite familiar nonetheless, and I own all of them in some physical form.

When Something Is Wrong With My Baby – Otis (Redding) and Carla (Thomas), #109 in 1969
Crush with Eyeliner – R.E.M., #113 in 1995
Louie Louie – Paul Revere and the Raiders, #103 in 1963, the SECOND version of the song on the list
Like a Rolling Stone – Rolling Stones, #109 in 1995

Linda Ronstadt

Her box set gleaned all of these
Skylark, #101 in 1985,
Heartbeats Accelerating, #112 in 1993
A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes, #101 in 1995

More Than This – Roxy Music, #102 in 1983
Watch Your Step – Carlos Santana, #107 in 1983
Put Your Lights On– Santana featuring Everlast, #118 in 1999
When I Meet Them – Seals & Crofts, #104 in 1972

Sock It To Me, Baby – Bill Minkin as Senator Bobby, #128 in 1968, unfortunately, released just before the RFK assassination
My Kind of Town – Frank Sinatra, #110 in 1964
When Somebody Loves You – Frank Sinatra, #102 in 1965
Kind Woman – Percy Sledge, #116 i 1969
Black Coffee in Bed – Squeeze, #103 in 1982

Bad Sneakers – Steely Dan, #103 in 1975
I Love My Dog – Cat Stevens, #118 in 1966
Matthew and Son – Cat Stevens, #115 in 1967
Brand New Day – Sting, #103 in 2000

Once in a Lifetime – Talking Heads, #103 in 1981; a live version went to #91 in 1986
Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads, #105 in 1985
Carolina in My Mind – James Taylor, #118 in 1969; reached #67 in 1970

The Temptations

Their 5-disc box set gleaned most of these
Paradise, #122 in 1962
The Girl’s Alright with Me, #102 in 1964, RB #39; B-side of I’ll Be in Trouble (#33 pop)
You’ve Got To Earn It, #123 in 1965, RB #33; B-side of Since I Lost My Baby (#17 pop)
I Truly, Truly Believe, #116 in 1968, RB #41; B-side of I Wish It Would Rain (#4 pop)

Try Jah Love – Third World, #101 in 1982
A Dime A Dozen – Carla Thomas, #114 in 1968
You Don’t Miss a Good Thing (Until It’s Gone)– Irma Thomas, #109 in 1965
I’m Gonna Cry Till My Tears Run Dry – Irma Thomas, #130 in 1965
Something in the Air – Thunderclap Newman, #120 in 1970; hit #37 in 1969, reissued because of its inclusion in the movie The Strawberry Statement

Wordy Rappinghood – Tom Tom Club, #105 in 1982
Talk To Ya Later – The Tubes, #101 for two weeks in 1981
River Deep-Mountain High – Ike and Tina Turner, #112 in 1969; original issue on a different label initially reached #88 in 1966
Love’s Gone Bad– the Underdogs, #122 in 1967

Need Love – Vanilla Fudge, #111 in 1969
Since I Fell for You – Lenny Welch, #134 in 1967; reissue of #4 1963 hit
The Kids Are Alright – The Who, #106 in 1966
MacArthur Park – Andy Williams, #102 in 1972

Night Train – Steve Winwood, #104 in 1982
I Call It Pretty Music, But the Old People Call It the Blues – Little Stevie Wonder, #101 in 1963
Generals and Majors – XTC, #104 in 1981

“Weird Al” Yankovic

I have a LOT of Al
Another One Rides the Bus, #104 in 1981
I Love Rocky Road, #106 in 1983
Headline News, #104 in 1994
Gump, #102 in 1996

Yup, that’s the last of the Bubbling Under experiment. What will be the next theme?

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