Category Archives: Rock Music

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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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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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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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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

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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Reg Presley passed away today at age 71

Troggs_PresleyReg Presley, who was the lead singer of The Troggs, passed away today from lung cancer at the age of 71. His publisher Keith Altham stated “My dear old pal Reg Presley died today, one very real person in a sometimes very unreal world.” What a nice thing to say about someone. He must have been a good “Chap”. Altham stated that Presley died at home surrounded by his friends and family.

Wild Thing is one of the seminal songs of “garage rock”. It has to be up there with “Louie, Louie” as far as the history of rock n roll is concerned. It was covered, famously at the Monterrey Pop Festival by Jimi Hendrix.  Wild thing was also covered by Bruce Springsteen.  The Troggs never quit touring even though there star faded in the 70’s.  They experienced a revival in the 90’s when REM covered their other hit song “Love is All Around”. So rest in peace Reg and thank you for your contribution to “Three Cords and the truth…”

In his honor Click here: Wild Thing by The Troggs

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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