Sunday, June 24, 2007

Allen & Grier - It's Better to be Rich Than Ethnic / Jake Holmes - Dazed And Confused

(Others have most certainly written about Jake Holmes around the net, so I guess it's just my turn)

Pete Seeger dubbed them 'the most tasteless folk group ever'. High praise for the comedic musical duo Allen & Grier, if a bit off the mark.

Songs performed by Jake Holmes (Allen) and his then-wife Kay Holmes (Grier), mocked not just the folk music genre, but society in general as well.

The couple split and the act disbanded some time after the 1963 release of their one album, 'It's Better to be Rich Than Ethnic', and the convoluted career of musician Jake Holmes just gets continually more fascinating after that.

He was the 'straight man' musician in a comedy trio with Joan Rivers and Jim Connell. He performed in one of the groups Tim Rose had before Rose went solo.

By 1967, Holmes had become a 'serious' singer-songwriter, performing solo and with a small backing group, and had recorded his first solo album, '"The Above Ground Sound" of Jake Holmes'.

One notorious piece of Rock history Holmes is famously linked to occured on August 25, 1967 when he was performing at The Village Theatre in New York's Greenwich Village.

He was appearing on a bill with The Yardbirds, he performed his composition 'Dazed And Confused', and the song went over so well with guitarist Jimmy Page that Page would claim sole writing credit on the song two years later on the first Led Zeppelin LP.

But wait, it gets better. In 1969, lyricist Holmes collaborated with musical composer Bob Gaudio on the 4 Seasons' 'concept' album, 'Genuine Imitation Life Gazette' . In 1970, they collaborated again for Frank Sinatra's 'Watertown' LP.

Heading into the mid-seventies, as his musical career appeared to be waning, Holmes moved into writing advertising jingles. It's in this capacity that most people know the work of Jake Holmes, though most are unaware of the fact.

Among his biggest 'hits': 'Be A Pepper' for Dr. Pepper (with Randy Newman), 'Be All That You Can Be' for the U.S. Army, and 'Raise Your Hand If You're Sure' for Sure deodorant.

For more background and a fascinationg interview, click over to read the 2001 article,
'Dazed And Confused: The Incredibly Strange Saga of Jake Holmes' at Perfect Sound Forever.

From Allen & Grier's 'It's Better to be Rich Than Ethnic' LP (FM Records, 1963), Listen to:

Teenage Mother
It's Better to be Rich Than Ethnic
Hyena Baby
Hippety Hop
Snoot Full of Snow

(click for audio)

- - and from "The Above Ground Sound" of Jake Holmes (1967)

Listen to: Jake Holmes - Dazed And Confused (click for audio)

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