Category Archives: Vinyl

LP records I am converting to digital format

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 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

Guitar Legend Alvin Lee: Dead at age 68…


745px-Alvin_LeeI hate to write another homage to another dead musician, but Alvin Lee, the legendary Blues Guitar player and founder of the band Ten Years After, died last week due to complications from a routine surgery.  I have to write about him.  He was too great to let this moment pass.

These things run in threes.  There are those that call this anomaly a “Trifecta” .  Somewhere in heaven there is a rehearsal studio and Alvin Lee, Van Cliburn, and Reg Presley are all jamming together.

Alvin Lee was an extremely underrated Guitar player.  He rose to prominence in 1969 when Ten Years After was featured in the documentary film “Woodstock”  His incendiary 11 minute jam on “I’m Goin’ Home” brought the house down.  I never get tired of hearing it.

Ten Years After had 12 albums in the Billboard top 200.  Although they only had one top forty hit, “I’d Love To Change The World” from their great album A Space in Time.  I have always loved this album and since it contains Alvin Lee’s biggest hit, I thought I would post this album to my blog and share it with anyone who hasn’t heard it before.  It’s a great one to own on vinyl.  It sounds great, it’s kind of psychedelic, and it’s just great music.

A_Space_in_Time

Here is “A Space in Time” in it’s entirety.  All of the songs on this album  were written by Alvin Lee except “Uncle Jam” that was co-written by the entire band.

Side 1

One of These Days

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 The music fades in and the Blues begin.  Great harmonica on this song in addition to Alvin Lee’s great blues guitar work

Here They Come   Spacey is all you can call this tune.  I can hear the “space in time…”  

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I’d Love to Change The World  The year is 1971.  The Vietnam War is raging.  There is enormous disenchantment with the way the world is heading.  The feelings are global.  Protest songs are everywhere.  That’s one reason I love this song.  Everyone else was trying to claim they had all the answers.  Alvin Lee had the courage to say “I don’t know what to do…so I’ll leave it up to you…”

The technique of using electric and acoustic guitars in this song and the previous song shows the influence of Led Zeppelin.  But still there is a lot of originality here.  This song is the only Alvin Lee composition to make it into the top forty.  It was #40 in 1971.

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Over the Hill-Baby Won’t You Let Me Rock N Roll You

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 These last two songs merge into each other.  This song sounds so much like a lot of rock music that is coming out of Indie bands.  What’s old is new again… Then side one ends with a classic rocker.

Side 2

Once There Was a Time

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 I love this acoustic blues intro of this song.  It sounds ancient, like it came from one of the original Mississippi Delta Blues players.

Let The Sky Fall

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 This song has a typical R&B bass line and yet it is not typical in any other way.  It also continues the “Spacey” sound of the record.  There is a great “Trippy” guitar solo from Alvin in the middle of the song.

Hard Monkeys

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This  song also got some good airplay.  It is a song about drug addiction.

I’ve Been There Too

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 This song has a great sound and when Alvin Lee sings “I’ve been there too…”  I believe him.  The power chord chorus is great, as well. This song also gives you insight into how great a guitar player Alvin Lee was.

Uncle Jam

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 The intro is almost jazz.  This is exactly what the title implies…A  Jam.  There is some really great piano playing on this cut.

So Alvin has left us, like Van Cliburn, and Reg Presley.  He leaves behind his wife and daughter.  My deepest sympathy for your loss.  The sudden nature of his death could not have been easy.  His music lives on and his memory should be preserved.

 

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

Van Cliburn’s legacy will be that of a musical ambassador…

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I was saddened to learn of the passing away of Van Cliburn this week.  If it were not for him, I may have never taken up playing the piano.  His victory at the 1958 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition launched him into “Rock Star” status immediately.  He is still the only “Classical” musician who has ever had a New York City ticker tape parade.  The album you see above was the first classical LP to ever go platinum.  So if you own a copy, especially an early copy like my copy, you own a historically important LP, even if it is not a rare LP.

He was born in 1934 in Shreveport, Louisiana, but moved to Kilgore, Texas in 1941.  His dad was in the Oil & Gas business and his mother was a piano teacher.  My Dad and I knew a very talented pianist in Dallas named Newel Oller.  He grew up in Kilgore with Van Cliburn.  His claim to fame was that he finish second in every piano contest he entered because Van always finished first.  My Piano teacher and her son were close friends of Van and his mother.  I never met him, however, I did see him perform live twice.  Both times he played the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No 1 with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

Van lived in Texas so long that we claimed him as a native.  At the age of 13 he debuted with the Houston Symphony Orchestra.  In 1954 he graduated from High School and enrolled at The Julliard School in New York City.  In 1954 he won the Levintritt Award which included a debut with the New York Philharmonic.  Then in 1958 (the year I was born) he made history.

It is impossible to communicate exactly how stunning his victory in Moscow was.  It was like “The Miracle on Ice” in the 1980 Olympics, when the USA defeated the Soviet Union in hockey.  No American had even come close to winning a major international piano competition.  The United States was considered a backwater of classical music talent.  All the great musicians were born in and trained in Europe.  This was at the height of the cold war.  The cold war was so cold that the jury had to get Nikita Khrushchev’s direct permission to award the prize to Van Cliburn.  He was easily the crowds favorite. After he performed his concerto he received an 8 minute standing ovation.   What set him apart was his more deliberate pace that he took with the music.  In that time people had fallen in love with technical excellence and there was a lot of fast and loud playing.  Van took the time to make music.

He returned to America in triumph.  He appeared on the cover of “Time” magazine.  I love this quote from the Time magazine article describing him as  “The first man in history to be a Horowitz, Liberace, and Elvis Presley all rolled into one.”

In 1962 fans of Van Cliburn in Fort Worth, Texas organized “The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition“.  There is now an Amateur Piano Competition in addition to the main competition.  I entered the amateur competition a few years ago, but was not accepted.  I need to hire a teacher again and practice more. The Van Cliburn competition has done much for international good will.  It’s value cannot be overstated.  This May will mark the 14th quadrennial competition.  The Cliburn is one of the premiere competitions in the world.

Van Cliburn put classical piano playing on the map in the United States.  He caused numerous people to take up the challenge of playing the Piano.  His victory and fame caused my mother and father to encourage me to take up the hobby.  I never dreamed where it would ultimately lead me.

So my condolences to Van Cliburn’s friends and relatives, as well as music lovers everywhere.  The great ambassador of music has left us, but his music and his legacy will never fade.

Here it is in its entirety.  One of the most famous classical LP’s of all time.  The first classical LP to go platinum.  Van Cliburn, Kirill Kondrashin (Who was the conductor in Moscow during the competition)  and The RCA Symphony Orchestra.

First Movement

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Second Movement

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Third Movement

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The performance still resonates today and has inspired countless people to take up playing the piano, including yours truly…

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Posted in Classical Music, Life Events, Vinyl | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Buckingham Nicks LP to be released on CD? Maybe…

Album cover for Buckingham Nicks

Album cover for Buckingham Nicks

Gate-fold showing Lyrics and album credits for Buckingham Nicks
Gate-fold showing Lyrics and album credits for Buckingham Nicks

Label for side one of Buckingham Nicks
Label for side one of Buckingham Nicks

Copyright 1973.  Album was re-issued in 1975, but this is a first pressing.

Copyright 1973. Album was re-issued in 1975, but this is a first pressing.

This is one of the best known of all unknown record albums! This is the album Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks made right before they joined Fleetwood Mac. This album is responsible for them becoming members of “the Mighty Mac”. That story will be part of this blog too.  One other side note on the record:  In the credits they misspelled Stevie’s name.  It’s spelled Stevi…

Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham made this record after breaking up their current band Fritz.  It was a tough decision for them because they had become so close to their fellow band members.  Tension had built up in the band because Stevie Nicks was getting more and more of  the attention at their live shows.  By the way, Fritz must have been a pretty good band.  They opened shows for Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Credence Clearwater Revival, and even Santana.  But Polydor records was calling and they had to grab the brass ring while they could.  They had no idea how the course of their lives had just changed.  They thought they’d make this record, do a tour (possibly using some of the members of Fritz) and then pick up where they had left off.  And that is what very likely should have happened.

Stevie and Lindsey were romantically involved at this time.  They were also dirt poor. The two of them were waiting tables and getting any side gig they could during the recording of this record.  Money got so tight that at one point the producer, Keith Olsen, had to let them move in with him.  Then something amazing happened.  

Fleetwood Mac was in the midst of another major personnel change.  Bob Welch and another band member had left the band leaving Mic and John and Christine McVie.  Mic Fleetwood flew to California in search of a studio to record their next album and one or two new band members.  He walked into Sound City Studio where Stevie and Lindsey were recording their new album.  The first song he heard was Frozen Love.  This song features the great guitar work of Lindsey Buckingham.  The song is over seven minutes long and a tour de force rock song.  Mic immediately asked Lindsey to join  the band.  Fleetwood was very disappointed to learn that it was a package deal.  Lindsey said it was both of them or none of them.  The negotiations went on for some time but in the end Lindsey won out and the rest is history.

Then there is the album cover.  Stevie and Lindsey both topless.  Stevie hates this album cover.  When the photo shoot was coming up she took her last $100 and went out and bought a very cool blouse that she thought the photographer would love.  He took several photos of them and then suggested the topless picture.  After a tremendous amount of persuading she agreed to do it.  She still thought they would end up using a photo of her in her blouse.  So another reason to find and buy this record is you  get a topless picture of Stevie Nicks.  She never did anything close to this ever again…

And now here in all it’s naked glory is Buckingham Nicks

Side 1

Crying In The Night

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 This song was written by Stevie Nicks.  Tell me this doesn’t sound like Fleetwood Mac.  This song could have been on any of the records they made with Lindsey and Stevie.  This is just a great song!  How did this not become a hit?  The one thing we know is that Polydor really screwed up on the promotion of this great record.

Stephanie

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 One of two great instrumentals featuring Lindsey Buckingham’s awesome finger picking style of guitar playing.  It goes without saying that Lindsey also wrote the song.

Without A Leg To Stand On

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 Once again this song (written by Lindsey Buckingham) sounds like it belongs on a Fleetwood Mac album.  If you heard this song on the radio you would say “Hey that’s a new song from Fleetwood Mac!”  It kind of has an “Empire State” feel to it from the “Mirage” album.

Crystal

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 This song was written by Stevie Nicks.  This song actually did end up on the first Fleetwood Mac album they made.  Great harmonies in the chorus.  It’s just a beautiful song.

Long Distance Winner

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 This is one of my favorite songs on the album.  It’s a great song to close side one and really makes you want to turn the record over and hear side two.  This art of arranging the order of songs has largely disappeared in the age of digital music.  It was crucial during the age of vinyl…Lindsey’s guitar playing is fantastic!  By the way, the other musicians are studs too.  The session musicians featured Jim Keltner on drums, Jerry Scheff on bass, and the amazing Waddy Watchtel on guitar.  The lead guitar work by Lindsey is exactly the same great driving guitar sound that made so many hits for Fleetwood Mac. The song was written by Stevie Nicks

Side 2

Don’t Let me Down Again

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 This song could be the root inspiration for the opening song on Rumors:  Second Hand News.  I think the similarities are stunning!  This song is so good that it could have been substituted for Second Hand News and Rumors would have been just as great an album as it is today.

Django

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 This is the other instrumental on the album.  It is written by John Lewis.  John Lewis was the pianist for The Modern Jazz Quartet.   The music is a tribute to the great Brazilian Jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.  Many guitarist will tell you that Django was the greatest guitarist who ever lived.  He had two paralyzed fingers and played all of his guitar solo’s with two fingers. You can imagine why Lindsey might want to put a tune on the album like this.  This is beautiful guitar playing by Lindsey Buckingham.

Races Are Run

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 This song was written by Stevie Nicks and it is absolutely beautiful.  I love the way Lindsey slides down the neck of the guitar to get the song going. The harmonies in the chorus are awesome.  This could have easily been on any Fleetwood Mac album. The acoustic guitar solo in the middle of the song is sublime.  The song fades out leaving you wishing that this song was longer.

Lola

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 This song was written by Lindsey Buckingham.  When the song starts it almost can fool you into thinking that “The Chain” is being played. It has that banjo sound to the guitar.  This is the weakest song on the album, but it’s still a good song.  It certainly can’t be lumped into the category of “filler”.

Frozen Love

 

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This song was written by Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.  If you liked the  Buckingham Nicks Line up of Fleetwood Mac, then  you can thank this song for all the hits that followed. This is the song that Mic Fleetwood heard that caused the merger of the two bands.  This song is a powerful coda to the album.  It makes you wonder what would have happened if they had stayed on their own instead of joining Fleetwood Mac.  You can hear the root of everything that Fleetwood Mac went on to become in this last 7 minutes of great rock music.  The song starts out quietly and builds and builds…  I really enjoy the duel lead guitar sound in this song.  Stevie’s voice is powerful and emotional.

So this year is the 40th anniversary of Buckingham Nicks.  Fleetwood Mac is out on tour again (minus Christie McVie this time…) and it seems that every time they put out a new record or go on tour the subject of this record comes up.  Stevie and Lindsey both said in interviews in December of 2012 that they would like to see a 40th anniversary edition of the album released. They have both said they would write new songs for it.  They both said there are outtakes that could be included.  We have heard it all before.  The time has come.  The time is now.  And Lindsey and Stevie… If you do reissue this LP on CD please be sure to also put it out on vinyl…

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Posted in Rock Music, Vinyl | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments