Light, J.J.


Band members               Related acts

- J.J. Light (aka Jim Stallings) - vocals, guitar, bass, drums
   

 

 

The Quintet

- The Sir Douglas Quintet

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Heya!

Company: Liberty

Catalog: LBS 83341 1

Year: 1968

Country/State: New Mexico

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: German pressing

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 4241

Price: $100.00

Cost: $1.00

 

This one initially attracted my attention due to the fact Jim Stallings (aka J.J. Light) played bass on several classic Sir Douglas Quintet albums.  

 

At some point in time Stallings became friendly with West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band front man/resident eccentric Bob Markley. The result was 1969's Markley-produced "Heya!".  Credited to 'J.J. Light", the solo project's quite good.  Light wrote all 14 (!) selections, showing a nice touch for balancing commercial moves with more experimental touches.  Anyhow, before going on any further, here's what the back cover liner notes say: "From the mold of 'early Dylan' comes this young, Navajo Indian - J.J. Light.  His songs are unique and although they are not "message" songs, they show deep concern for the plight of his people and our society."  Luckily the liner notes aren't exactly accurate.  There are a couple of nods to his Navajo heritage (the title track and 'Indian Disneyland'), but in spite the illusions to sappy singer/songwriter moves, exemplified by tracks such as the fuzz guitar propelled 'Follow Me Girl', 'It's Wednesday' and the echo-filled 'Gallup, New Mexico', Light's main interest is in rocking out.  The opening rocker 'Na Ru Ka' bares an uncanny resemblance to something from Tjinder Singh and Cornershop (though it was penned some three decades earlier).  Elsewhere, to my ears there's no Dylan comparison (good thing), rather Light occasionally recalls a young Arlo Guthrie, albeit with a rock-ish edge ('Silently Sleeping').


"Heya!" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Na Ru Ka   (J.J. Light) - 3:00

2.) Silently Sleeping   (J.J. Light) - 2:58

3.) Follow Me Girl   (J.J. Light) - 3:00

4.) It's Wednesday   (J.J. Light) - 2:29

5.) Until It Snows   (J.J. Light) - 2:55

6.) The Electric Land Band   (J.J. Light) - 1:24

7.) Hello Hello Hello   (J.J. Light) - 2:33

 

(side 2)

1.) Heya   (J.J. Light) - 3:09

2.) While the World Turns To Stone   (J.J. Light) - 2:17

3.) Henry Glover   (J.J. Light) - 2:10

4.) Hey Yo Hanna Wa   (J.J. Light) - 2:13

5.) Indian Disneyland   (J.J. Light) - 2:44

6.) Gallup, New Mexico   (J.J. Light) - 1:53

7.) On the Road Now   (J.J. Light) - 3:04

 

This set's also somewhat of a mystery in that it appears to have only seen a European release (France, Germany, Italy and the UK).  I've bought three copies and they all been German pressings with an American catalog number (LST-7034).  I've never stumbled across a US pressing.  There were also a couple of European singles.  'Heya' b/w 'On the Road Now' was released in Germany (Liberty catalog number 56111).  'Na Ru Ka' b/w 'Follow Me Girl' was released in France (Liberty catalog number 2C00690888M).

 

 

Markley and Light reportedly recorded a follow-up album.  Unfortunately, with Liberty Records collapsing, the project was subsequently shelved and the tapes apparently lost.  Shame, since the debut is quite good.

There's also a one-shot 1976 single on the small PBR label that I've never seen or heard - 'Baby Let's Go To Mexico' b/w 'It's a Sunshine Day' (PBR catalog 502).

 

 

 

 

Back to Bad Cat homepage/search



Forgive me for a slightly self-serving posting on this one, but I
hope this will be of some interest to members of the group.

Some of you will know of my abiding fascination with the West Coast
Pop Art Experimental Band. Some years ago this led me to an obscure
1969 LP on Liberty by JJ Light produced by Bob Markley. JJ light was
actually Jim 'James' Stallings, who played with the Sir Douglas
Quintet from Mendocino onwards.

The status of the LP has always been a little murky, the main reason
being that it was never released in the US (although it was clearly
scheduled). The title track, however, was a sizeable hit through much
of Europe, South America and beyond and the LP was issued in several
countries. As the title suggests, it has an American Indian theme -
Jim was of Navajo descent and like XIT and Jim Pepper's Witchi Tai
To provides an interesting example of the much over-looked cross-over
of this ethnic group into the musical mainstream.

I tracked down Stallings a few years back and it had always been my
intention to reissue the LP if I had the chance. Well I got Sunbeam
interested and we started the project in earnest. I had the chance to
go over the history the recordings with Jim in some detail and some
surprises began to emerge. The full story is told in my liner-notes
but here are a few tit-bits.

It turns out he met Markley through Kim Fowley (now there's a
surprise). He had already recorded a doo-wop 45 for Paxley, the label
Kim shared with Gary Paxton, in the early 60s. He met Bob when the
latter was playing bongos in a pizza restaurant. Markley would, of
course, go on to be the controlling force in the WCPAEB, but in the
meantime he and Jim (as the latter has told me) came up with the
concept for `JJ Light' through which Markley encouraged Stallings to
connect with his Navajo routes. The result was the song Heya and the
subsequent album.

The recordings involved many of the usual session crew Jim Gordon,
Early Palmer, Joe Osbourne and Larry Knechtel but also lead
guitarists Ron Morgan (from the WCPAEB) and Gary Rowles. Ron is long
gone, but I was able to speak to Gary recently and he had much to
tell.

The sharpest among you will recall that he played on the last two
Love LPs (it was google that helped me to remember). He had also
played with Stallings on a one-off Liberty 45 by the Forerunners and,
by an amazing coincidence, had also been friendly with William
Lincoln and Wesley Watt of Euphoria another group close to my
heart. It turns out he even played guitar on the last track `World'
from their Capitol album and was later involved with Lincoln in some
early 70s projects which I hope you will all get to hear one of these
days.

Anyway, I digress: back to JJ Light. Some time ago Jim sent me a
couple of tapes with tracks he had recorded after the Heya LP. The
transfer quality was terrible, but the original tracks sounded great
with a much fuller production than the Liberty LP. I had often asked
him about the origin of these tracks without much result but a couple
of months ago, during one of our late night phone conversations, I
asked him again. To my surprise he went off to fetch "some acetates
from a dusty shelf" and came back to say that he had three acetates
in his hands. These then whisked their way to the UK and we took them
into a studio to be remastered.

Now I don't want to mislead anyone into thinking that I have
discovered the Holy Grail of late 60s music, but these tracks stand
up very well indeed. One in particular, `Low Riders Rule' - with some
crunching lead guitar - sounds a little like T Rex and also seems to
be the blue print for a hit a decade later for War (the
ubiquitous `Low Rider', but don't be put off by the comparison).
According to Jim Stallings these tracks were arranged by Michael
Lloyd another WCPAEB connection.

Well, I'll let others be the judge. It's certainly an interesting
addition to the WCPAEB story (which I will be trying to tell in full
in a forthcoming feature for Shindig magazine).

Tim Forster (`smell_of_incense' on ebay)