Author Archives: John

About John

I taught myself how to play the piano and read music when I was 9 years old. I've been been consumed by music ever since. I majored in Piano performance in College and I still play, although not as well as when I had time to practice 4 -6 hours per day. This blog is about music. Music is the sound track of our lives. All it take is one song, one composition; and we are transported across time and space. I think it was Beethoven that said: "Music is the landscape of the soul."

Home Grown Art Exhibit At Texas State University

Father’s Day June of 2015 I went to visit my daughter and son-in-law in San Marcos, Texas.  She had a great plan for my special day.  First a visit to a special exhibit of Rock n Roll concert posters of the 60,s, 70’s and 80’s, then dinner at an Oyster bar, followed by live rock music at a local watering hole.

These posters were to advertise live shows at venues in Austin like The Vulcan Gas Company, .Antone’s, and Armadillo World Headquarters.  They cover a period of time from 1967 to 1982.  Some of these posters predate the great psychedelic poster art of the early 60’s in San Francisco. Way before Austin become known as”the live music capital of the world” it had a vibrant local music culture.  These posters capture that time period perfectly.  The poster artists include Gilbert Shelton, Jim Franklin, Kerry Awn, Michael Priest, Danny Garrett, Guy Juke, Ken Featherston, and NOXX.  The posters cover styles from psychedelic and realism to punk.

The posters were collected by Tom Wilmore and a few other generous donors.  There are over 140 posters and handbills in the collection.  The earliest posters are mainly from the Vulcan Gas Company and they are very psychedelic.   The posters from Antoine’s are very realistic portraits of all of the great blues musicians that played there.  The owner of Antoine’s insisted that the musicians be honored with realistic representations of their appearance.  The later posters and handbills give us a glimpse into the vibrant Punk Rock scene that was happening in Austin in the early 80’s.  Many of these posters and handbills were made by the famous Punk artist NOXX.

Jim Franklin was the main artist who did all the psychedelic poster art for the Vulcan Gas Company and Armadillo World Headquarters.  Ironically, he studied art at the University of San Francisco.  He is credited with making the Armadillo the symbol for Rock and Roll counterculture in Texas.  He drew Armadillo’s for the covers of albums for Freddie King, Commander Cody, and Shiva’s Headband as well as for the posters of Armadillo World Headquarters.

Congratulations to Texas State University for putting on such an amazing art show.  It was a mountaintop experience.  The experience was made even sweeter because I shared it with my Daughter and Son-in-law!

There is an awesome book that has been published by the University of Texas Press called “Homegrown:  Austin Music Posters 1967-1982”.  You can find it on line at Amazon as well as many other sources.  The book comes in paperback as well as a hardback coffee table book.  Enjoy the pictures I took.

This experience has inspired me to write a series of blogs on rock n roll bands from Texas in the early 60’s.  I will write about The 13th Floor Elevators, Bubble Puppy, Shiva’s Headband, and Bloodrock.  Next up will be the amazing story of The 13th Floor Elevators…

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Update for the Post about Moby Grape’s debut LP featuring “The Finger” album cover

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This is an update to the blog I wrote on Moby Grape‘s debut LP.  I finally obtained a “Mono” copy of the album with Don Stevenson giving the”The Finger” still intact on the cover!  I picked this copy up at a brand new record store in Dallas called Josey Records.  I picked this jewel up for $5.00.  Not bad if you ask me.  Josey Records is an amazing store.  It’s the best record store I have been in since the late 70’s or the early 80’s.  It was just voted the best record store in Dallas by The Dallas Observer.  At any rate, I have attached a photo gallery of this great addition to my collection.  Please note the new additions to my blogroll.  I have added a couple of links to some great Jazz blogs as well as links to Josey Records and a direct link to my music collection that I am slowly getting posted to Discogs.

I have made a commitment to myself to get back to blogging on a regular basis.  I have had a lot of things going on so it became a low priority.  That’s all for now.  More to come!

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Rare and Cool 45 rpm from 1962…

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I have a friend named Dave.  He owns a business called “College Hunks Hauling Junk”.  When Dave finds records in the junk he hauls off, he brings them to me.  My wife calls him my “Dealer”.   Recently Dave came to a party at my house.  He came bearing gifts.  He had pulled a bunch of 45 r.p.m.’s from a hoarders house.  They were filthy.  Some were broken.  Many of the artists were totally unknown to me.  It took me a while, but I cleaned the records up in my amazing “Spin Clean” record cleaner.  Then I created a data base of them and started listening to them.  That is when I ran across this very interesting and cool record.  This record grabbed me the minute I dropped the needle on it.

There are several cool things about this 45.  The record is from a group called Shank & Maydiea.  Side A is called “Bye, Bye Baby” and side B is called “Why Don’t You Tell Me”.  The record is on Flip Records.(Flip 361 released in 1962) Flip is the label that Richard Berry recorded for when he released the original version of Louie, Louie. (Flip 321 released in 1957)  This record was one of the very last records recorded at Flip. The record label  went out of business after they released Flip – 364 in 1963.

So who were Shank & Maydiea?  Shank was Ed Wells. I believe that “Shank” was his nick-name in High School.   Maydiea was Maydiea Wells Cole. (Ed and Maydiea were siblings)  Ed Wells founded a do-wop group in 1955 called The Six Teens.  Six teenagers performing do-wop music together.  Ed wrote all of their music.  Their songs were light and innocent.   They were moderately successful until one day when fate intervened.   In 1956 they released a single with the A-Side called “Teen Age Promise” and the B–Side called “A Casual Look”.  Hunter Hancock, an L.A. disc jockey, played the b side instead of the A Side.  A Casual Look immediately became record of the week.  It eventually topped out on the charts at #25.  All total Ed wrote and recorded 20 songs with The Six Teens. The Beach Boys recorded A Casual Look and also turned the song into a hit record.  The Six Teens were never paid a dime and received no credit for composing the song.  The Six Teens didn’t even know The Beach Boys had recorded the song until they heard it on the radio…

By 1961 The Six Teens had run their course and disbanded.  Ed Wells felt that his songs were on the naive and immature side.  He wanted to take one more stab at getting it right.  He formed Shank and Maydiea and began working on new songs in 1962.  In July of 1962 he released this 45.  It is anything but naive and immature.  This is spooky and cool music.  It grabbed me immediately.  I like side A better than side B but both songs are great and have a very cool vibe for 1962 or 2014 for that matter.  So give the songs a listen and let me know what you think.  After you hear the songs I will tell you the rest of the tale.

Side A

Bye, Bye Baby

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Side B

Why Don’t You Tell Me

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After the release of this 45 the sales were not good.  Ed Wells became disillusioned with the music business.  He had plowed all the profits from the songs of The Six Teens right back into the group. He never received any compensation for other musicians covering his songs, and the Shank and Maydiea single did not sell well enough.   In 1963 Ed Wells quit the music business for good.  He left L.A. and moved to San Francisco where he became a very effective social worker.  He spent the rest of his life helping others.  In 2001 Ed Wells died of Throat Cancer.  I think these songs are proof that he still had a bright future in music if he had decided to stick it out.  As it turned out, he impacted the lives of countless other people by his public service.  I couldn’t find any information on what has happened to Maydiea.  Another tale from the turntable…

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What’s big and purple and lives in the ocean?…Moby Grape: the greatest band that never was…

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What’s big and purple and lives in the Ocean?   Moby Grape of course.  The joke is as old as the hills, but it is literally where the band got it’s name.  The same year (1967) that the band “Touch” was making their eponymous masterpiece in L.A., Moby Grape was making their eponymous debut album in San Francisco.  Moby Grape should have been a huge success.  In many ways they were, but they were ultimately overshadowed by their fellow San Francisco based pals The Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane.  While L.A. was embarking on the exploration of Progressive Rock, San Francisco was on the cutting edge of Psychedelic rock.  This album by Moby Grape is one of the finest LP’s to come out of the 1960’s San Francisco rock scene.  I don’t think the Jefferson Airplane or a lot of other bands ever made an album as good as this one.  Alas, fate doomed Moby Grape almost from it’s Genesis…

Moby Grape was formed in 1966 by Skip Spence and Mathew Katz.  Katz had been the manager of Jefferson Airplane and Spence was their first drummer.  Skip Spence even wrote some songs that Jefferson Airplane performed.

Both were booted out of the Jefferson Airplane after the first album.  The proof of the wisdom in that decision is obvious based on the fame the Airplane achieved verses the obscurity of Moby Grape.  Katz was nothing but trouble  for the Airplane.  He was considered unreliable and over-controlling.  Skip was also unreliable.  Shortly after the release of the Airplane’s first album Spence bolted to Mexico with a couple of girls and didn’t tell any of the band members.  Erratic and unreliable behavior would eventually become Skip Spence’s legacy.

Katz wanted Spence to form a band that had multiple lead singers and song writers just like the Jefferson Airplane had.  Spence had played drums for Jefferson Airplane but with Moby Grape he moved back to his primary instrument, the Guitar.  He was a powerful, energetic, and charismatic  rhythm guitar player.  These atributes would be his primary gifts that he would bestow on their debut album.  The energy and excitement of the performances are amazing.

The group was formed from a wide range of musical influences.  Jerry Miller and Don Stevenson were from Seattle Washington.  They were in a band called “The Frantics”.  They came down to San Francisco and met Jerry Garcia.  Jerry encouraged them to relocate to San Francisco.  Once Miller and Stevenson relocated, they met and added Bob Mosley to the group.  Mosley was from San Diego and had been in a surfer band called “The Misfits”. Peter Lewis also joined “The Frantics”.  He was from southern California too.  He had also been in a surfer band called “The Cornells”.  So, the surfer sound joined with the sound of Seattle, and combined with the psychedelic americana sound of San Francisco to create a brand new sound;  a sound that really never got repeated.  This is a very unique album that blends all of the above into a powerful rock & roll statement.  It is replete with great 3 guitar rock.  At times all three players are dueling it out in an amazing wall of sound.  Even Buffalo Springfield, (the other great 3 guitar band of the times) must have been envious.

I have no idea how”The Frantics” hooked up with Spence and Katz.  One  could assume that Jerry Garcia may have played a role in putting Katz and Spence together with the rest of the guys.  If anyone knows please add your comments.  Neither Spence or Katz revealed that they had been kicked out of The Jefferson Airplane.  The new band signed with Katz and unfortunately gave him all the rights to their name and their albums.  The seeds of destruction had been sown.

The original cover of this album featured Don Stevenson “giving the finger”.  The photo was taken by the famous rock & roll photographer Jim Marshall .  “The finger” was discovered and airbrushed out on later album covers.  The album also contained a poster of the album cover. As the air-brushers caught up to the offensive finger, some albums had the finger on the poster and not on the cover and vice-versa.  Unfortunately my copy does not have the original uncensored cover.  It is also missing the poster.  Otherwise it is in very good condition. Naturally, the “finger” cover and poster are highly collectible.

While the rest of the San Francisco rock scene was getting caught up in extended jam sessions that attempted to replicate an acid trip, Moby Grape was focusing on short, tightly focused rock songs.

They began to attract enormous attention because of their powerful live shows.  Al Kooper said they were the only band he really liked that came out of the San Francisco rock scene.  He eventually recorded with the band on “Grape Jam”.  Their tight interwoven guitar sound attracted even more attention.  Buffalo Springfield and Janis Joplin started showing up for rehearsals.  Just like in the case of Touch, record company exec’s started showing up too.  A bidding war ensued.  Columbia won.

This album is about as good as debut albums get.  Columbia spared no expense in the making of this record.  There’s not a weak song on the record.  It is unique to establish a band where every member is a great singer and great musician.  Stevenson was one of the pioneers of drummers  who also sang lead vocal and simultaneously played drums.  So take a listen to one of the great hidden treasures of rock & roll.  Ladies and Gentlemen:  MOBY GRAPE!

Side 1

Hey Grandma

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The album opens with this great rocker written by Jerry Miller and Don Stevenson.  It’s a great example of their powerful, energetic performances and the competing 3 guitar sound.

Mr. Blues

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This sounds like Steven Stills from his Buffalo Springfield days.  Hear we hear Moby Grape out Buffalo the Buffalo Springfield.  Is this a reply to “Mr. Soul”?  This song was written by Bob Mosley.

Fall On You

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This song was written by Peter Lewis.  Another strong song featuring great guitar, great lyrics, and great harmonies.  I am very impressed by the lead guitar of Jerry Miller.  All in all they have guitar riffs that don’t sound like anyone else.

8:05

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The first acoustic Americana sounding cut on the album.  This song was also written by Jerry Miller and Don Stevenson.  It’s a beautiful song.  Great harmonies.

Come In The Morning

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This song was written by Bob Mosley.  This song sounds like it should have been a hit song.  Great vocals, melody, production.  What a shame not many people know it.

Omaha

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This song was written by Skip Spence.  All I could say after hearing this song was WOW!  An awesome three guitar battle.  Great music and a very intense performance.  The energy and power is about to blow the speakers apart.  This is the best example of the powerful performance energy that Skip Spence brought to “Live” performances.

Naked If I Want To

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This short little acoustic number is a real charmer and makes me smile.  I really Like the last line about trying to buy an amplifier on credit…

Side 2

Someday

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Side two opens with this quiet beautiful song written by Jerry Miller, Skip Spence, and Don Stevenson.  Great harmonies and awesome vocals at the break.  The value of having multiple lead singers allows you to change up the vocal texture and add emotion.  There is a great piece of guitar playing at the end of the song as it fades out.  I believe that is Jerry Miller again on lead guitar.  They fade the song out a little to quick.

Ain’t No Use

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This song is written by Jerry Miller and Don Stevenson.  This is the most country rock sounding song on the record.  Very Grateful Dead sounding.  I bet Jerry Garcia wished he had written this one.

Sitting By The Window

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This song was written by Peter Lewis.  It is magic.  What a great song.  Beautiful guitar work.  Very unique sound.

Changes

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This song was written by Jerry Miller and Don Stevenson.  This sounds like it should have been a hit too.  It has all the hallmarks.  I like the ending of this song.

Lazy Me

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This song was written by Bob Mosley.  Now they out Jefferson The Jefferson Airplane.  The vocals and harmonies sound like the Airplane.  The only problem with this song is that it’s too short.

Indifference

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The album ends with this song by Skip Spence.  It is a very strong closing song.  This song also has some Airplane influences.  I love the emotion in the vocals.  The guitar work and harmonies are awesome.  This is one of the earliest examples I know of where a song fades out and then fades back in.  The song ends as it started. But then it kind of  fizzles out.  Real life can be so ironic…

So what happened to this band?  How did so much good go so wrong?  First of all Columbia mishandled their launch.  When they signed Moby Grape they proclaimed them “The Beatles of San Francisco.”  The record company over-hyped them in a time when hype was suspect.  This turned a lot of music fans off.  Next Columbia threw a giant party for the album release.  Purple was everywhere.  Unfortunately a few of the band members  were arrested for smoking marijuana with minor females.  OOPS!  This generated some bad press.  Next, the record company released 5 singles from the album simultaneously.  Can you believe that shit??? 10 of the 13 cuts were released as singles.  As a result the songs canceled each other out and none of them ever made the top 40.  De-Jay’s were put off by the number of singles and all the hype.  There was a backlash.  Sales of the album were less than stellar.

Because the band members were all new to each other, there was no leader, no center.  The band began to bicker among themselves.

Katz screwed up the band’s appearance at the  Monterey Pop Festival. He wanted $1,000,000 for the rights to release the video for the film.  Because of Katz demands Moby Grape went on stage Friday at sunset instead of in the evening right before the headliner, Otis Redding… Valuable exposure was wasted. Katz still has the video locked up in court.  By the time they got to New York the band was coming apart.  Skip Spence was really starting to get strange.

Skip met some strange people in New York City and he started using more serious drugs.  He eventually flipped out and attacked Stevenson’s hotel door with a fire axe.  This landed him in the criminal ward at Bellevue Mental Institution.  He spent most of the rest of his life in and out of mental institutions.  After he was released from Bellevue he left Moby Grape, went to Nashville and made a solo album called “Oar”.  I would love to find this record.  It is supposed to be a great “Acid-folk” album.  It was released in 1968.  Spence never produced any other meaningful work after that.  Sadly he died in California of cancer in 1999. Skip Spence was a causality of the fast lane.

Bob Mosley left the band next.  He was frustrated by the infighting in the group.  Inexplicably, he joined the Marine Corp in 1969.  The Military quickly diagnosed Bob Mosley with Schizophrenia  and he was medically discharged.  He ended up homeless for years.  After the members of Moby Grape won their 39 year court battle with Katz for the rights to their songs and name, Peter Lewis went looking for Bob Mosley.  He found him living under a highway overpass in San Diego.  Peter dusted Bob off and they went back to work in the music business.

Jerry Miller is still alive and kicking and has had a great music career through this entire time period.

Peter Lewis is also doing well and still performing with the remaining members of Moby Grape as well as other music projects.

Don Stevenson is still performing with Moby Grape as well as solo projects.

Matthew Katz tied up Jefferson Airplane, It’s A Beautiful Day, and Moby Grape in court battles for over 30 years.   He ultimately lost his battles.  He is still around and trying to cause legal trouble to the members of Moby Grape.  But the Grape finally owns their work again.

So this is not the end of tale.  Maybe Moby Grape can have a renaissance and finally gain the recognition they deserve.  Some of the members recently performed together at South By Southwest in Austin Texas.  I hope so.  They may be the greatest band you never heard…

 

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Update to blog from 10/29/2011 Spirit is sueing Led Zeppelin over “Stairway to Heaven”!

When I first wrote about the question of Led Zeppelin ripping off Spirit’s song “Taurus” as the basis for “Stairway to Heaven”, I got a number of very heated comments.  The opinions split right down the middle of pro and con.  Now the question will be settled in court.

The heirs of Randy California (Lead Guitar and founding member of Spirit) are suing Led Zeppelin to gain co-song writing credit for the song “Stairway to Heaven:.  The suit alleges that Jimmy Page copied the opening of the Spirit song “Taurus”  and used it as the basis of “Stairway to Heaven”.  The band’s original bass player has also joined the suit.

There is no doubt that Jimmy Page and Randy California were friends and that Page admired the music and performance ability of Spirit.  The instrumental “Taurus” was a staple of Spirit’s live shows.  There can be no doubt that Jimmy Page watched Spirit perform the song several times.  Zeppelin opened for Spirit on Zep’s first American tour.

The stakes are very high.  “Stairway to Heaven” has grossed at least $600 million dollars for the surviving members of Zeppelin.

“Stairway” also bears a striking resemblance to a song by The Chocolate Watch Factory.  They had a song called “And She’s Lonely”.  Page would have heard this song when “The Watch Factory” toured with his band “The Yardbirds”.  The plot thickens… Now the courts will decide.

I’ll keep you posted.  If you’d like to make your own comparison, check out my blog from 10/29/2011.  You can hear the song “Taurus” and draw your own conclusion.

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Update for the Touch Blog

MI0000337411So I go to my Vinyl Preservation Society of North Texas  meeting last month and my friend Vince is there.  He commented that he had read my blog on the group and eponymously titled album “Touch” and he brought something to show me.  He had a copy of the album by Elyse Weinberg that “Touch” performed on as her backup band.  They were credited on the album as a band called “Band of Thieves”.  We looked on the back cover and low and behold, Bob Garlucci is credited as the arranger of all the songs.  In addition, Neil Young sings back up on one of the tracks.  The song “Band of Thieves” which was written by Elyse Weinberg is the same song the Cher covered.  Elyse Weinberg is an interesting story herself.  I am going to try to borrow this album and do a blog on it so that I can tell her story as well.  Stay tuned for further details.  It was quite a treat to hold this album in my hand.  I asked Vince if he had listened to it. He said he only played it once and it didn’t really grab him.  It was great verification of the research I had done on the “Touch” LP.

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What does “Louie Louie” have to do with the Birth of Progressive Rock? The Album “Touch”

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This blog was inspired by my friend and former roommate in college, Ken.  Ken is the first person who ever told me about this album.  Then Ken sent me a copy of the CD.  Later on I found two copies of the LP and bought both.  It turned out that they were both in VG+ condition.  I gave one copy to my daughter and I kept the one you will here on this blog posting.  

When the song “Louie Louie” by the Kingsmen opens, you hear a keyboard riff that is easily one of the most famous and influential musical ideas of all time. A fifteen year old young man named Don Gallucci created that keyboard riff. A billion songs have used that chord progression. It is arguably the most influential song in Rock history. It is certainly one of the most recognizable songs in Rock history. The song is the Root of the tree that all “Garage Rock” grew from. “Punk Rock”, too.  The song and group came out of the Pacific Northwest.  Portland to be exact.  So it is also the root of the tree that Grunge Rock sprang from as well.
The song and the riff were a blessing and a curse to Don Gallucci.  .  The curse was that he was so young that his parents  wouldn’t let him go out on tour with the rest of the band. The blessing was that the course of his life and destiny lay in another direction.
He started a new band called “Don and the Goodtimes” with drummer Bob Holden. He had another hit record. The song was called “I Could Be So Good To You”. The song made it into the top 20. The song was produced and arranged by the famous Jack Nitzchie.
The year was 1967. Don felt like every song, every album, was just like every other album and every other song… Two things happened that lead to Don Gallucci’s next great contribution to Rock history… He discovered L.S.D. and he heard “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”.
Gallucci felt that song structure could be expanded beyond the typical 3 minute radio friendly song.  He felt that Rock-n-Roll had much more potential. Rock offered the opportunity for serious musical composition. He took some acid and came up with 12 minute long, wildly original song he titled “Seventy-five” and Rock music would never be the same.  He formed the band Touch with John Bordonaro on drums, percussion and vocals, Bruce Hauser on Bass and vocals, Jeff Hawks on Lead Vocals, and Joey Newman ( AKA Vern Kjellberg) on Guitar and Vocals.

They rented a house in the Hollywood Hills that resembled a Moroccan Castle and started writing additional songs and rehearsing.  They invited A & R men and Producers up to their Moroccan Castle to hear what they were working on.  Word spread around Hollywood that they were working on a very different kind of album.  This resulted in a bidding war for the bands debut album.  They finally signed with Coliseum Records for a reported advance of $25,000.  That was a lot of money in 1967!    While they were preparing for their own recording session the record label asked them if they would act as the studio musicians for an artist named Elyse Weinberg.  She was working on an album at Sunset Sound.  Sunset sound was founded by Walt Disney in order to record the soundtracks for his movies.  It is one of the most famous recording studios in the world.  The people who recorded successful albums at that studio is a “who’s who” of music history. ( It’s ironic to note that the same studio that recorded the songs for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs also recorded the first two albums by The Doors!)  .They were credited on Elyse Weinberg’s album as “The Band Of Thieves”.  They took their name from one of her songs on the album.

The recording of the Elyse Weinberg album simply morphed into the Touch recording sessions.  The album was recorded in a party-like atmosphere.  Mick Jagger , Grace Slick, and Jimi Hendrix were all hanging around the sessions.  Jimi Hendrix even bank-rolled some of the studio time.

The recording engineer was the now famous Gene Shiveley.  Apparently, no one really remembers how all of the sound effects were created.  A lot of drugs and alcohol were involved.  The only unusual piece of equipment they had at their disposal was a tone generator.  Although, synthesizers were around in 1967 they were not always readily available.  According to Shiveley no synthesizers were used in the production of this record.  After you hear this music you will find that hard to believe.  So what you are about to hear was all done by real instruments and outstanding studio production techniques.

When you hear the stunning guitar work it’s easy to see why Jimi Hendrix was hanging around.  When you hear the piano and keyboard playing you won’t believe it’s the same guy that play “three cords and the truth” on Louie, Louie.

This album predates any English progressive rock.  It was recorded and released before King Crimson or Renaissance.  Maybe Frank Zappa could claim that Freak Out which was released in 1966 was the first Progressive rock album.  But it is a very different sounding album compared to Touch.

So take a listen to the eponymous album “Touch”.  Recorded in 1967 and released in 1968.

Side 1

We Feel Fine

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Friendly Birds

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Miss Teach

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The Spiritual Death Of Howard Greer

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Side 2

Down At Circe’s Place

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Alesha And Others

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Seventy-five

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I am also including some songs that were not on the original album.  They were included on the CD when the album was re released in 1999

Alesha And Others (Alternate Version)

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Blue Feeling

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We Finally Met Today

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The Second Coming Of Suzanne[cincopa AgNA6m7BjfjL

The piano work on this album sounds like Keith Emerson is performing it.  This album is sighted by many progressive rock musicians as a source of inspiration.  Genesis, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Kansas, King Crimson, Yes, Uriah Heep, and Renascence all sight this album as an inspiration and the beginning of Progressive Rock.

So what happened?  What is the reason that this album isn’t better known?  One of the reasons the album didn’t sell well is that they never toured to promote it.  There is a story out there that says they refused to tour because they couldn’t figure out how to perform the songs live.  This is obviously not true because there are outtakes that were recorded live in the studio of the band performing some of the songs.  The real story is that they had personal issues that caused them to decide not to tour.

And what happened to the band members?  Well, Newman still works as a musician.  Hauser is out of the business and lives and works in Central Florida.  Bordonaro is a successful business owner and also an equestrian.  He lives in Southern California.  Hawks is a hair dresser.  And what about Gallucci?  He too, is out of the music business.  He sells Real Estate in Southern California.  It is unbelievable that a man that has had such a major impact on Rock and Roll could  be out of the business and largely unknown by the general public.  He should be in the Rock n Roll  Hall Of Fame!!  But Don Gallucci can always take comfort in the fact that when opportunity came his way, he had the Touch…

 

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Homage to Lou Reed “Sally Can’t Dance…”

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Lou Reed died October 27th, 2013 at the age of 71, in Southampton, New York.  He died of complications of a liver transplant.  An Icon of rock history, he left music a totally different place than the landscape that existed before his career began…

He was a complicated guy, to say the least.  A bisexual Polygamist, he left behind two wives (He lived with both of them up until the day he died), one of which was Laurie Anderson, the great performance artist that he married in 2009.  Laurie called him “A Prince and a Fighter.”  He had been in bad health for some time.  Life in the fast lane…

He was a founding member of The Velvet Underground.  He was a close personal friend of Andy Warhol.  Andy Painted the famous Banana that adorned the seminal LP “The Velvet Underground and Nico”.  The music of The Velvet Underground is the great head water that sprang the Indie Rock, Punk Rock, Glam Rock and even the New Wave Rock movements (Ironic ain’t it?”).  There would be no Ramones, no Talking Heads, no Weezer, No Marilyn Manson, no duel lead guitar sound, no nothing…no… nothin’…A giant has fallen and we must move on somehow…

“Sally Can’t Dance” was Lou Reed’s fourth solo album after he left The Velvet Underground.  It was the follow up LP to his masterpiece “Berlin.”  “Sally” sold more copies than any of Lou Reed’s other solo albums. It even out sold “Transformer”.  “Transformer” contained his most famous song, “Take A Walk On The Wild Side.” (His tribute song to Andy Warhol’s “Factory”).  “Wild Side” was his only top 40 hit, peaking at #16.

“Sally” peaked at #10 on the Billboard album charts.  It was recorded in March and April 1974 and released in August 1974.  Although there is not a single song on the LP a novice music listener would recognize as a hit on the radio, the album is full of songs that demonstrate exactly why Lou Reed is the legend that he is now.  This album ROCKS!!
This album was the first solo LP that Lou Reed recorded in the United States.  All of his other solo albums, up to this point in his life, were recorded in England.  This was his first solo album that Lou Reed stayed out of the production of the record.  (After it went to #10 he joked that he should be less involved in the production of his records.)  It was also the first time he had reunited with a member of The Velvet UndergroundDoug Yule plays bass on the album.  He replaced John Cale in 1968 when Cale left the Underground.

All the songs were written by Lou Reed.  Band members are as follows:  Prakash John – Bass and Background vocals; Danny Weis – Guitar, Tambourine & Background vocals; Michael Fonfara – All keyboards, including the Mellotron on “Ennui”, and background vocals; Whitey Glan – Drums; Richie Dharma – Drums on “Kill Your Sons’ & “Ennui”, Doug Yule – Bass on “Billy”; Paul Fleisher – Sax on “Billy”;Michael Wendroff & Joanne Vent – Background vocals; Horns arranged by Lew Soloff with Reed, John, Weis, Fonfara & Katz; Horn players were: David Taylor, Lou Marini, Trevor Koehler, Hon Faddis, Alan Rubin, and Alex Foster.  The Acoustic guitar on “Billy” is played by Lou Reed.  The great Harmonica on this album is played by Steve Katz.  Steve was the harmonica player for Blood, Sweat, and Tears.

Side 1

1.  Ride Sally Ride

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2.  Animal Language

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3.  Baby Face

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4.  N. Y. Stars

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Side 2

1. Kill Your Sons

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2.  Ennui

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3.  Sally Cant Dance

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4.  Billy

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Posted in Life Events, Rock Music, Vinyl | 1 Comment

McCartney Rocks Austin for the first time…

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I have had the privilege to see Paul McCartney 3 times. So when my friend Jim, who lives in Austin, called to invite me to see Paul in Austin, I almost declined the offer. Boy am I glad I didn’t. I witnessed history. Witnessing history is guaranteed when you go to a McCartney show. First of all, IT’S PAUL MCCARTNEY ON STAGE! Last time I checked he is a living legend. Second, he seems to always dust off a song or two that were never played live by the Beatles. Third: As many times as Paul McCartney has played in Texas, it was hard to believe when he announced from the stage at the Frank Erwin Center, that he had never played in Austin before. Paul was rewarded with a very enthusiastic crowd that was ready to rock, and Sir Paul and his powerful band delivered!

The ticket said it was an 8:00 pm start time and there was no opening band. We arrived around 7:40. A DJ started playing club mixes of Beatles songs at 8:00. At 8:30 the DJ left the stage and a pre-recorded soundtrack played while video screens displayed photos covering the entire life of Paul up to this moment. Paul and his band mates walked on stage proptly at 9:00 and launched into “8 Days a Week”.

The show alternated between Beatles songs and Wings songs. A real highlight of the first half of the show was a powerful version of the Wings song “Let Me Roll It“, followed up by a rocked up version of the Beatles song “Paperback Writer“.

An amazing thing happened during the opening of “Maybe I’m Amazed“: Paul forgot the opening cord sequence of the Piano intro. He handled it in fine form with his typical laid back demeanor on stage. He simply quipped “Well, at least you know we’re live…” The crowd ate it up. He simply restarted the song and went on.

In the middle of the show the band left McCartney on stage alone. He walked to a smaller stage that then elevated him way above the floor of the arena. He performed “Black Bird” which he described as song of social protest that was designed to give hope to Black Americans that were being discriminated against during the 60’s. He then performed a song he wrote for John Lennon called “Here Today“. He described the song as a conversation between he and John that never happened but should have. It was a very emotional moment.

In the next section Paul made history when he played two songs that had never been played live in Texas. He performed “Lovely Rita Meter Maid” and “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” from “Sargent Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” It was awesome. The video screens showed old psychedelic videos from the 60’s that the Beatles had made for “Yellow Submarine” and “Magical Mystery Tour“. Very cool…

After “Mr. Kite“, Paul paid tribute to George Harrison. He started playing “Something” on a Ukulele. Slowly the band joined in one by one, leading up to the big guitar solo in the bridge of the song. It was a very emotional and very fitting tribute to George.

This led to the closing sequence of songs that included “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude“. I was trying to take a close up photo of Paul singing the line “The movement you need is on your shoulder…” during “Hey Jude“. I was zoomed in on McCartney’s face. He forgot the lyrics leading up to that line… I saw him “blah, blah,” the words and then recover. Putting this with the “Maybe I’m Amazed” piano gaffe, I wonder if age is finally catching up to Paul McCartney?

Paul came back twice for encores and closed the show with an awesome sequence of songs: “Yesterday”, “Helter Skelter” and the final songs of “Abbey Road” (Golden Slumbers, Carry that Weight, The End.)  2 and 1/2 hours of great music. The show ended at 11:30 and Paul had to come back and play the next night as well!

It is interesting that this tour is hitting smaller cities and not the usual big venues. Erwin Center only seats 12,000 for a show. So it may take some effort on your part to catch him this time around. But consider this: This might be the last time. Don’t miss this chance to see him live. He and his band mates will ROCK YOU! Paul will not disappoint. And when you are standing with everyone else singing “Hey Jude” at the top of your lungs, you will know that there is so much more that unites us all than divides us. “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make…”

Set list:

Eight Days a Week

Junior’s Farm

All My Loving

Listen to What the Man Said

Let Me Roll It

Paperback Writer

My Valentine

Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five

The Long and Winding Road

Maybe I’m Amazed

I’ve Just Seen a Face

We Can Work It Out

Another Day

And I Love Her

Blackbird

Here Today

Your Mother Should Know

Lady Madonna

All Together Now

Lovely Rita

Mrs. Vandebilt

Eleanor Rigby

Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!

Something

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Band on the Run

Back in the U.S.S.R.

Let It Be

Live and Let Die

Hey Jude

First Encore:

Day Tripper

Hi, Hi, Hi

Get Back

Second Encore:

Yesterday

Helter Skelter

Golden Slumbers

Carry That Weight

The End

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Posted in Life Events, Live Performance Reviews, Rock Music | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

After 50 years, Clapton is still god…


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 Eric Clapton‘s 50th anniversary tour came through Dallas, Texas March 19th at the American Airlines Center. This tour is not getting the publicity of The Rolling Stones 50th anniversary tour, and it seems typical of Clapton to not toot his own horn like Mick and Keith do. Although it is not getting the attention of the media like The Stones tour, it is an equally important milestone in Rock n Roll history. On a beautiful spring evening in Dallas, the 67 year old guitar god proved that he is every bit the musician he has ever been.

Musician is a title that is earned and I don’t use lightly. Eric Clapton is a virtuoso musician of the highest level. In his understated, “Slow Hand” way he took us on a kaleidoscopic tour of his rich musical legacy. And what a tour it is…

I scored my tickets from a good friend I work out with. He called late Monday afternoon with the good news. Making it to a concert on a Tuesday night can be a little challenging and unfortunately we were late for the opening act The Wallflowers. This is Bob Dylan‘s son, Jakob Dylan‘s band. We sat down in our seats just in time to hear their best know song “One Headlight” . They sounded great, but we only heard  their last four songs. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the arena was completely full for The Wallflowers. Apparently, most of the fans that attended the show had no problem being on time for the 7:30PM start time. This is the first concert I’ve been to in years where so many fans turned out for the opening act. Very impressive, and a great indication of the popularity of this great band.

After a brief intermission, Eric quietly strolled onto the stage with his incredible band:  Doyle Bramhall II (guitar), Steve Jordan (drums), Chris Stainton (piano and keyboards), and Willie Weeks (bass), along with the amazing  Paul Carrack (organ and keyboards), Greg Leisz (pedal steel guitar), and Michelle John and Sharon White (backing vocalists).  Instead of kicking off the show with a bang, Eric started out the concert with two acoustic dominated songs: “Hello Old Friend” (A greeting to the crowd) and “My Father’s Eyes”.  Both songs featured great pedal steel solos by Greg Leisz.  After the first two songs, Clapton greeted the crowd by talking about how much he loved Dallas and that he considered it a second home.  He then kicked it up a notch as the band launched in to “Tell The Truth” from his great Album Layla.  This song featured outstanding  solos from all three guitarists.  Doyle Bramhall was amazing as  he played his guitar Hendrix style (he plays left handed, with a right handed guitar that is turned upside down, so the bass strings are on the bottom and the treble strings are on the top).  Up next was a song from Clapton’s new album “Old Sock” called Gotta Get Over.  This song stood up well against all the other well known hits that Clapton played.    A powerful cover of the Albert Collins song Black Cat Bone featured amazing guitar work by Clapton and Bramhall.  Clapton then went back to his Derek and the Dominos days and performed Got to Get Better in a Little While.  This song was smoking hot!  It was a huge bonus that Clapton was touring with Paul Carrack.  Paul is a living legend in England.  He is sadly, only moderately well known in the U.S.A.  Paul took the first of three turns at lead vocal with “Tempted” from his days with Squeeze.  This magnificent song was magnificently sung by one of the best “Blue Eyed Soul” singers on the planet.  It is also very appropriate that Eric Clapton occasionally played the roll of  “side man” to another singer/song writer.  It hearkened back to the days    when he toured with Delaney and Bonnie.  He had several times in his 50 year career that he just wanted to be the guitar player in the band.  Next Clapton played the first song from his days with Cream as the band almost blew the roof off the arena with an extended version of Badge.  This song brought the crowd to it’s feet for the first time in the show.

Clapton took a chair next and did an “unplugged” set that included Driftin’ Blues, (Written by Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers) a uptempo reggae version of Tears  in Heaven that was only marginally effective, a great version of Lay Down Sally, Wonderful Tonight, and Layla.

Paul Carrack then returned to sing his great hit from his days with Ace:  How Long (Has this been goin’ on?).  Clapton turned in one of his best solos of the night during this song.

Then the concert went to a whole different level and I had one of the concert experiences that stay with you for a very long time… Clapton walked up to the microphone and said “Now, it’s Robert Johnson time!”  I’m sure there were many in the arena that missed the significance of that moment, but it was not lost on me.  Without Robert Johnson there would be no Rock-n-Roll.  Few people know that 13 of his known recordings were made on the third floor of 508 Park Ave. in Dallas.  Eric Clapton has been personally involved in saving and protecting this important historical property.  Clapton and his band tore through Stones in My Passway, Love in Vain, Crossroads, and a powerful cover of Little Queen of Spades.  This was what you paid to see.  Powerful, raw blues guitar by the greatest living blues player on the planet.  The last song before the encores was J.J. Cale’s song Cocaine.

The band return for two encores, Sunshine of Your Love, which was amazing, and Paul Carrack sent us all home with a rousing cover of the Joe Cocker song “High Time We Went”.

This tour is coming to an arena near you.  I think it’s high time you went…

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Posted in Life Events, Live Performance Reviews, Rock Music | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment