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“Time Fades Away”, but this album won’t…

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This is the very first “Live” LP Neil Young ever released. The album captures Neil Young on his first major solo tour after he released his best selling LP of his long and illustrious career, “Harvest.”  Although this album was widely praised and sold over 1 million copies, Neil Young has refused to re-release it.  There are still no plans to release this LP on CD or any other format.  There are several reason that Neil has persistently resisted the pressure from his fans to release this LP again.  We will get into that later.

I side with his fans.  I LOVE THIS RECORD!  I love it for many reasons.  First of all, I bought this record in 1973 when it first came out, and I couldn’t quit listening to it.  The music is fantastic!  I had become a fan of Neil Young from the moment I first heard him on “Four Way Street,” the Live album from 1971 by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.  I went on to purchase “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere,” the first album Neil made with Crazy Horse.  And then I bought “Harvest” the week it came out. I am still a huge fan of Neil Young and I own almost everything the guy has ever recorded. I am also a proud owner of his Blu Ray collection “Neil Young Archives Vol. 1.”  

I loved the album cover.  I’d love to know who the guy is in the front row throwing up the “Peace Sign.”  He must have been the envy of all his friends!

I love the parts on the album where Neil would talk to the audience.  It reminded me of all of those moments on “Four Way Street” where they would talk to the audience.  “TFA” seemed to echo “FWS” in many other ways.  Just like CSN&Y did on their 1971 tour, Neil opened his 1973 shows with an Acoustic set (“Wooden Music”) and then an electric set.  I always thought that was cool format for a live show.  It seemed to me to be one of the foreshadowing ideas that led to “MTV Unplugged.”

I love the mood of the album.  This record has a melancholy that is unmistakable.  It truly captures a moment in time.  This is reason enough for Neil to reissue this somber masterpiece.  It is also the reason he won’t reissue the album…

His friend and fellow member of Crazy Horse, Danny Whitten;  was supposed to tour with Neil.  Unfortunately, Danny had developed a terrible heroin addiction.  Whitten started to get clean so he would be able to tour, but replaced his heroin addiction with pain pills and alcohol.  Whitten could not function well enough to get through rehearsals   Neil had to fire his friend.  Neil met with Danny privately and told him things were not going to work out for the tour, he gave him $50 bucks and a plane ticket back to L.A.  Neil never saw  him alive again.  Danny died the next day of a heroin overdose.  Neil blamed himself for Danny’s death.  Now he had to go out on tour and play 65 shows in 90 days.

His back up band was “The Stray Gators.”  This was the same band he had recorded Harvest with.  The fans came out in force to hear all the new hit songs from Harvest, but instead they were greeted by a large number of new songs.  These songs were not in the vain of the country-folk sound of many of the songs on Harvest.  These songs had a hard edge to them that was closer to the music Neil produced when he was performing with Crazy Horse.  The Stray Gators were also uncomfortable with these heavy edgy tunes.

The Stray Gators were basically an “All-star” Nashville band with egos to match. There was a lot of in-fighting among the band members as well as excessive drinking, etc…  There are several stories floating around about band members showing up so messed up they didn’t even know what instrument they were playing during the sound-check   The first Drummer Kenneth Buttrey quit two-thirds of the way through the tour.  He was replaced by Johnny Barbata.  Johnny played with CSN&Y on the Four Way Street Tour.  He was also their drummer at Woodstock.

Another problem with reissuing the LP as a CD is the manner in which it was recorded.  Neil Young wanted to use the very first “digital mixing” soundboard.  It was called a “CompuMix.”  Later it became known as the “CompuShit” because it was unreliable.  The live recordings went straight from the soundboard to the CompuMix.  As a result, there are no two track masters of these recordings.  This complicates any reissue.  Also, the CompuMix made the recording murkier.   I think this adds to not subtracts from the awesomeness of this LP.

Very few of these songs have been released in any other format. What you are about to hear is quite rare.  These were all new songs being played live.  The only exception is “Love in Mind”.  It was recorded on the 1971 tour.  The same tour that resulted in the live recording on Harvest of “The Needle and the Damage Done.” (Neil’s song about Danny Whitten.)

According to Wikipedia Neil Young has made two main comments about this album.  I quote:   “It was recorded on my biggest tour ever, 65 shows in 90 days. Money hassles among everyone concerned ruined this tour and record for me but I released it anyway so you folks could see what could happen if you lose it for a while. I was becoming more interested in an audio verite approach than satisfying the public demands for a repetition of Harvest. ” 

Also:  “Time Fades Away was the worst record I ever made – but as a documentary of what was happening to me, it was a great record. I was onstage and I was playing all these songs that nobody had heard before, recording them, and I didn’t have the right band. It was just an uncomfortable tour. I felt like a product, and I had this band of all-star musicians that couldn’t even look at each other.”

His comment about not having the right band may be a reference to Crazy Horse.

So  give it a listen and tell me what you think:

Side 1:

Time Fades Away

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This song was recorded in The Myrid, Oklahoma city on March 1, 1973.  From the very beginning we are in darkness. “Fourteen junkie too weak to work.  One sells Diamonds for what they’re worth. Down on pain street, disappointment lurks.  Son don’t be home too late!”  Danny Whitten is in his mind from the beginning.  Also, this cut establishes the Hard edged audio verite sound more closely associated with the sound of Crazy Horse.

Journey Through The Past

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This song was recorded in Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio on February 11, 1973. Neil tells the crowd: “This is a song without a home.” Simple and beautiful…

Yonder Stands The Sinner

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After the quiet beauty of Journey Through The Past, we return to the hard edged country STOMP!  Right before the song starts you hear David Crosby say: “This will be kind of experimental…”  Then you hear someone else in the band say:  “This is gonna be GOOD, man!”  He turns out to be right… This song was recorded at the Seattle Center Coliseum on March 17, 1973.

L.A.

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This song was recorded at the Same show in Oklahoma City that the same show that the title cut came from.  I can’t help but think that this song is about Danny Whitten.  It makes the refrain of the song so sad…“Don’t you wish that you could be here too?

Love In Mind

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 This song is the only song on the record that was not recorded on the 1973 tour.  This song was recorded at Royce Hall at UCLA on January 30, 1971.  This is the same night that “The Needle and the Damage Done” was recorded.  “The Needle…” ended up on Harvest and Love in Mind ended up on this album.

Side 2

Don’t Be Denied

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Side 2 starts with a very emotional rendering of a micro-Biography of Neil’s life. This song was recorded at Memorial Auditorium in Phoenix, Arizona on March 28, 1973. Neil could not be denied. This is just emotion laid bare for all to see. WOW…

The Bridge

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This song was recorded in Sacramento, California on April 1, 1973. Yet another very personal song. For a number of years now Neil Young has held a charity fundraising concert for The Bridge School.

 The Bridge School is a non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure that individuals with severe speech and physical impairments achieve full participation in their communities through the use of augmentative & alternative means of communication (AAC) and assistive technology (AT) applications and through the development, implementation and dissemination of innovative life-long educational strategies.

Neil has two children with these types of disabilities.  Neil is still building his “bridge”.  “It may take a lot of time…”

Last Dance

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This song was recorded on March 29, 1973 in the Sports Arena in San Diego, Ca.  Neil growls: “It’s the last dance!”  This song captures a mood all of us have felt from one time to another…The grind of working for a living.  Is this how he felt on the tour?  I love the grind of the song.  I love the harmonies provided by David Crosby and Graham Nash.  The coda makes the song:

“You wake up in the morning and the sun’s coming up.  It’s been up for hours, and hours and hours, and hours, and hours and hours.  And you light up the stove and the coffee cup is hot and the orange juice is cold, cold, cold…Monday morning.  Wake up, Wake up, Wake up.  It’s time to go, time to go to work!! You can live your own life.  Making it happen. Workin’ on your time.  Laid back and laughing.  Oh,no…Oh, no…”

Then at the end he repeats over and over “No, no, no..” and then… “Negative, Negative!!”

Then it’s over… Graham Nash yells “Last Dance!!!”  and it was…

So where do we go from hear?  Neil says in the next volume of the  Archives he will not include any songs from this LP.  He said he will include cuts from the earlier part of the tour that included drummer  Kenneth Buttrey.  Maybe the karma is just too bad for him to bear?  Who knows, but Neil has got to stop saying “NO, NO, NO…”   This is a powerful rock n roll statement that deserves to shine again.

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Steal Your Face is a Steal of an LP…

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Steal Your Face is a live LP from the Grateful Dead.  The album was recorded during their 1974 “Farewell Tour”, but it was not released until 1976.  This album is widely regarded as the worst live recording that the Dead ever released.  It was released under duress because the band had to fulfill a contractual obligation with the record company, and the band wasn’t working at the time, so there wasn’t much choice.

As I stated earlier, the LP was recorded in 1974 during a four night stand at the Winterland in San Francisco, CA.  It is a kind of “Greatest Hits” live. This tour was supposed to be the last tour ever.  After all, the band had been on the road since they formed in 1965! It’s hilarious that they continued on as a band for years and years after this tour was completed.  In spite of the overwhelming opinion of “Dead-heads” everywhere that the LP is not up to par, this LP has continued to be highly collectible.  The main reason is the awesome cover art:  the so called “Stealie” or “Steal Your Face” Logo.  This logo is one of the most famous of all Rock-n-Roll art; not to mention some of the most famous Grateful Dead art.  The Grateful Dead have a lot of art that is identified with the band.  This logo was designed by Owsley Stanley and rendered by Bob Thomas.  The skull with a lightning bolt going through it is an overt reference to L.S.D. as well as other drug use by the band and its fans.  Not long after this LP came out you could buy this symbol on everything from T-Shirts to Blotter Paper.  It captures everything about the Grateful Dead experience within its grinning skull!

The album title that also ended up naming the logo is taken from a song called “He’s Gone”.  The lyrics are “Like I told you, what I said, steal your face right off your head”…The song was performed frequently on the tour and every night of the 4 night stand at the Wintergarden, but was not included on the album for some reason.

The main criticism of the album is twofold.  First many fans feel that there are much better live recordings of every song on this record.  Second that there are no “deep cuts” as well as none of the long jam sessions that made the band so famous.  Both points are legitimate, however; I feel that it still does not diminish the performances on this record.  I found the LP highly entertaining and I found several of the songs quite emotionally charged in view of the fact that the band thought they were about to call it quits.  I think that the slower, mellower songs on the LP are especially effective.  I have included the entire two record set for your personal consideration.   I love the album!  But let me know what you think…

Side 1

The Promised Land


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  The LP opens with a straight ahead R&B cover of a Chuck  Berry song.  The band is tight, together and rockin’!  What’s not to like?

Cold Rain & Snow


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This song really features the slow grove jam sound that I associate so strongly with the Grateful Dead.  There would be no “Jam Band’s” if it wasn’t for the Grateful Dead.  They were the father to many children…  This is a traditional folk song that was arranged by the Grateful Dead.

Around and Around

 

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  The Dead cover another Chuck Berry Classic. Admittedly, not the greatest cover ever, but it is still very hard not to tap your foot to the beat; if you know what I mean…

Stella Blue


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  This is the first original song on the album, and it’s a great one.  This song was co-written by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia.  Richard and Jerry were the principle song writers of the Grateful Dead.  Richard wrote the lyrics and Jerry wrote the music.  Robert Hunter was often referred to as “the non-performing” member of the Grateful Dead.  In spite of all the songs he wrote with Jerry Garcia and all the concert halls he went to with the band, he never once appeared on stage as a performer.  When the band was inducted into the Rock n Roll hall of fame, Robert was also inducted as a band member.  He is the only “non-performer” ever inducted into the Hall of Fame.  This is a great “trippy” cut that is tinted at the edges in mellow but deep emotion.  This is a beautiful performance.

Side 2

Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo


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  This song is also an original written by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia.  It has all the characteristics of an old folk song.  Don’t you love the title.  This song just has a happy go lucky feel to it that makes me smile.

Ship Of Fools


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In the previous song Jerry Garcia sings the lyrics “When your ship comes in…” and then the next song is “Ship of Fools”. This is also an original song written by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia. It’s a great slow blues song. It almost has the feel of a spiritual. “Ship of Fools on a cruel sea.  Ship of fools, sail away from me…”

Beat It On Down The Line


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This song was written by Jesse Fuller. Jesse became famous by performing as a “One Man Band” in the San Francisco bay area.  He is best know for a song called “San Francisco Bay Blues”.  The Dead also covered other songs  by Fuller.  This is just a great straight ahead rock song.

Side 3

Big River


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  So far on the album they have covered Chuck Berry and Jesse Fuller.  Why not cover Johnny Cash?  The Grateful Dead were such an amazing conglomeration of Rock, Jazz, Country, Folk, and Psychedelia!  This is a perfect example of them working their craft.

Black-Throated Wind


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This song was written by Bob Weir and John Barlow.  Bob was, of course, one of the founding members of the Grateful Dead and John Barlow was a poet, essayist, rancher and political activist; who became friends with the Grateful Dead.  Very cool stuff, don’t you think?

U.S. Blues


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This song was written by Hunter and Garcia.  A song written from the viewpoint of Uncle Sam.

El Paso


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Once you’ve covered Johnny Cash you kind of have to cover Marty Robbins, don’t you?  This is a great version of a very well known song.  Enjoy…

Side 4

Sugaree

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 Once again an original song by Hunter and Garcia. I just really love this song. It just has such a nice way of mellowly rocking along. The lyrics are great too.  “Please  forget you know my name, my daring Sugaree…”  Beautiful subtle guitar work from Jerry Garcia too.

It Must Have Been The Roses

 

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 This song was written by Robert Hunter. The lyrics are beautiful. So is the performance. Great music, passionately performed. Again I ask: What’s not to like??

Casey Jones


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 The album closes with one of their best know songs. This was also written by Hunter and Garcia.. Okay, so it’s not the best “live” version of Casey Jones.  So what?  It is the Grateful Dead at their peak.  They are not tired of playing their hits and the perform this song with energy and imagination.  It think it’s a great version of this song.

Well there you have it.  Steal Your Facein its entity.  If you see it buy.  Maybe even steal it!  But don’t pass it over just because you heard it wsn’t that great.  Sure it’s collectible just for the cover, but don’t overlook the contents.  This album can be expensive.  I’ve seen it on the internet from $25 – $85 or more.  If the jacket is in good condition it could cost a pretty penny.  All the more reason to enjoy the contents as well as the cover.  Personally, I think this album is a Steal.  Or should I say Stealie???

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Up next, A series of blogs about Live LP’s…

My next project is to write a series of blogs about 3 very different, but highly collectible “Live” LP’s.  The first blog will be about the worst live album from one of the most famous live bands. I am referring to Steal Your Face” by the Grateful Dead.  This LP is widely considered to be the worst live recording of the Dead.  The LP is still highly collectible, however; because of the album cover.  Exterior condition is almost more important to the value of the LP than the interior condition of the actual vinyl.  Here’s what the cover looks like:

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This is the first appearance of the famous Grateful Dead logo.  I think the album is better than advertised.

Next up will be a “Live” LP from an artist who is also known for his high quality “Live” performances.  This record is a fantastic “Live” LP, but the artist has attempted to suppress it in spite of attempts by his fans to force him to re-release it.  The LP I am referring to is:  Time Fades Away by Neil Young.  When the LP came out it got great reviews and sold over 1,000,000 copies.  It was his first “Live” LP. It was never released on CD and Neil doesn’t even plan to include it in the next volume of his Archives.  He has his reasons and we will discuss them in the blog at that time…

Here’s the album cover:

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Last but not least is a “Live” LP from three Jazz giants: McCoy Tyner, Ron Carter, and Sonny Rollins.  This is a truly great “Live” LP, and yet; I had never heard of this album before.  I bought this LP by chance when I bought over 500 LP’s for $50 at a garage sale.  I never knew the three of them had toured together and recorded a “Live” LP!  This is music making at a very high level.  It’s a mystery to me that this LP is not more well known.  The LP is called “Milestone Jazzstars:  Ron Carter, Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner – In Concert”

Here’s the Album Cover:

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All three of these LP’s are collectible in their own right. Each is collectible for a different reason. I’m lucky to have all three. Each LP has a fascinating story behind it too. We will delve into each one. First up: The worst “Live” LP from one of the most famous “Live” bands in Rock-n-Roll history. The Grateful Dead – “Steal Your Face”…

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Is Kat Edmonson the next Cole Porter?

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My Wife’s birthday resulted in the discovery of an amazing new musican. My wife wanted to get out of town for her birthday so we planned a weekend trip to Fort Worth. It just so happened that a new live music venue was opening up that weekend and my wife found an article in the weekend guide of The Dallas Morning News promoting a concert there the same weekend. The performer was a singer/songwriter from Austin named Kat Edmonson.  We had never heard of her, but the article described her as follows:  “that beautifully gray area that separates Americana from Jazz, country from folk”. Well that was enough for me.  We bought tickets.   She was performing at a new venue in Fort Worth called The Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge.  This is a great new place on the south side of Fort Worth.  It has an outstanding restaurant, a rooftop bar with an incredible view of Forth Worth, and a Music Hall that seats a little over 200 people.  The entire menu in the Lounge is also available in the Music Hall.  Pretty cool!

Our experience at the Lounge was first class.  The food and wine selection was excellent.  After dinner we went into the music hall and enjoyed the concert.  The opening act was Luke Wade.  He is a local artist from Fort Worth.  He was late because he had just played a private fundraiser for President Obama that was hosted by Bill Clinton.  The guy came in through the main entrance for the public, ran up on stage, and asked for two minutes to get ready. He performed on guitar with a fiddle player.  He put on a very enjoyable show.  He sounded too much like John Mayer to me.  That should tell you that he could sing and play at a very high level.

After a brief intermission Kat Edmonson sang and was accompanied by a acoustic guitar player.  Her guitar player was a French Canadian and he was a spactacular musicain.  She performed every song from her latest album and covered a song by Ella Fitzgerald (Champagne) and also Brian Wilson (I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times.)  Her cover of the Brian Wilson song was easily one of the highlights of a very magical night.  She infused the song with a pathos that exceeded the brilliant original song by The Beach Boys

Kat Edmonson was raised in Houston by her Mother and Grandmother.  She grew up listening to their LP records. (This is this story’s link to my blog..)  She especially loved her Grandmothers LP’s.  She grew up listening and loving The Great American Song Book.  Her songs are full of amazing lyrics.  She is also a very effective and interesting live performer.  She understands subtlety and technique like very few performers I have seen recently.  I picked up her latest CD “Way Down Low” and I cannot stop listening to it.  The CD features a duet with Lyle Lovett.  The lyrics are a great example of her work:

The Long Way Home

I’ll take the long way home tonight Please don’t wake up I’ll be alright Going about my usual day, I had no idea Cupid and friends had other plans for me, now i see And so, before I call it a day I’m making stops along the way Well I’ll be laughing with the moon in sea of delight and thinking every little bitty star in sight When I, take the long way home tonight I’ll take the long way home tonight Please don’t wake up I’ll be alright, going about my usual day, I had no idea Cupid and friends had other plans for me, now i see And so, first, before this day is through I’ve got some things I’ve gotta do Well I’ll be laughing with the moon in sea of delight and thanking every little bitty star in sight When I, take the long way home tonight Well I’ll be winking to the (? wise one?) who always knew And babbling with the brook about my love for you
When I, take the long way home tonight, tonight When I, take the long way home tonight.

If you can’t hear the Soul of Cole Porter in those lyrics then you must not have ever heard a song by him…

Check out Kat Edmonson.  She just recorded an episode of Austin City Limits with Willie Nelson.  Here is the link to her site:  Kat Edmonson.  Her music and lyrics are fantastic.  The ghost of Cole Porter lives!

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Is Music for the listener or for the composer/performer??

Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band and their wild and crazy LP “Trout Mask Replica.”

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It is curious that the general public has an easier time accepting the avant-garde in art and literature before music. It is a part of the history of music in the 20th century that music diverged into a never ending ever expanding delta instead of the river it used to be.  Part of this divergence was directly attributable to the fact that some musicians and composers no longer sought or even cared about public acceptance of their music.  Captain Beefheart was this type of musician.  What you are about to hear is not an accident.  It’s not a result of bad musicianship. And equally true, this is not some kind of joke or farce being perpetrated on you the listener.  This is an attempt to make art for the artist sake whither anyone else enjoys it or not.

This record was made in 1969.  It was produced by Frank Zappa.  Frank actually named Donald Van Vliet “Captain Beefheart”.  Van Vliet once told David Letterman that his named symbolized that he had a “Beef in his Heart against this society.”  This may give insight into the genesis of this record.  This record is highly acclaimed by Rock historians and critics.  It is on The Rolling Stone top 100 LP’s of all time list and top 500 recordings of all time.  It is also included in the book “1,000 recordings to Hear Before You Die”  by Tom Moon.

The album would never have happened without Frank Zappa.  Frank owned two record labels so he offered to put the record out on one of his labels if he could produce the LP and then he gave Captain Beefheart full creative authority to do what ever he wanted…  Let’s just say that Captain Beefheart took full advantage of his creative freedom.

This songs were all meticulously composed by Van Vliet.  The band moved in together and rehearsed the compositions for 8 months in a relentless, physically and emotionally abusive, cult-like atmosphere created and driven by Donald Van Vliet.  At one time or another every member of the band bordered on having a nervous breakdown.  None of them had any money and they subsisted on Welfare and shoplifting for food.

Van Vliet claims that all of these songs were written in one 8 hour session, however; it has been proven that at least 2 of the songs were written in 1968.  What is true is that all of the music tracks were recorded in one 6 hour session.  Vliet spent another 2 or 3 days adding in the horn overdubs and vocals.  I guess rehearsing 14 hours a day for 8 months paid off.  Keep all of this in mind when you hear the songs.  Everything you hear was rehearsed until it was perfect. Hmmm… The band consisted of the follow cast of characters:

Donald Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart):  Vocals, Tenor and Soprano Sax, Bass Clarinet, Musette, Smiran Horn, Hunting Horn, and jingle bells.

Jeff Cotton (Antennae Jimmy Semens):  Slide Guitar and Vocals.

Bill Harkleroad (Zoot Horn Rollo):  Slide Guitar and flute.

Victor Hayden (The Mascara Snake):  Bass Clarinet and Vocals.

Mark Boston:  (Rockette Morton):  Bass Guitar and narration.

John French (Drumbo):  Drums and Percussion.

Without any other comment to influence your opinions and/or insights to this album.  I present to you the complete set of songs from the infamous album “Trout Mask Replica”!

Side 1

Frownland

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The Dust Blows Forward ‘N The Dust Blows Back

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Dachau Blues

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Ella Guru

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Hair Pie: Bake 1

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Moonlight On Vermont

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Side Two


Pachuco Cadaver

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Bills Corpse

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Sweet Sweet Bulbs

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Neon Meate Dream Of A Octafish

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China Pig

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My Human Gets Me Blues

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Dali’s Car

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Side Three

Hair Pie: Bake 2

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Pena

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Well

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When Big Joan Sets Up

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Fallin’ Ditch

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Sugar ‘N Spikes

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Ant Man Bee

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Side Four

Orange Claw Hammer

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Wild Life

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She’s Too Much For My Mirror

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Hobo Chang Ba

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The Blimp

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Steal Softly Thru Snow

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Old Fart At Play

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Veteran’s Day Poppy

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So there you have it.  Trout Mask Replica in all it’s avant-garde, bluesy, free jazz glory!  Did you like it?  I think it gets better and better the more you listen to it.  Most listeners probably won’t be able to do that.  So, is music for the composer or the public?  Here is a great example to debate.  This album influenced people like Tom Waits, P.J. Harvey, The Sex Pistols and punk rock in general, even modern composers like John Cage.  In the end I have to vote in favor of the composer.  If it were not for the bold artist, writers, and composers that didn’t care about popularity, some of the greatest art, music and literature of all time would never have come into being.  That’s what I think.  But I’d love to hear what you think.  In the end  Captain Beefheart summed it up the best with the opening line of the first song…”My smile is stuck, I can’t go back to your Frownland…”

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What’s the Point of “Zabriskie Point”??

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This record was purchased at Good Records (Check out their link on my Blogroll) in Dallas, Texas by my friend Jim. Jim saw the movie in the theater in 1970 and couldn’t believe he was holding the soundtrack in his hand. The LP is a reissue by 4 Guys With Beards. We bought the LP and I agreed to make him a CD of the music. This is the soundtrack to a movie that was voted one of the “Fifty Worst Movies of all Time.” It was directed by by Michelangelo Antonioni. Antonioni wanted to be a part of the counter culture movement in the United States. He was hired by Carlo Ponti to make three films for MGM that would appeal to the young “hippies” of 1970. This was the only film he ever directed in the United States. Antonioni hired Pink Floyd to do the soundtrack for the movie. Although the movie was a flop, it is now known for it’s amazing cinematography and it’s psychedelic soundtrack. The principles that contributed to the soundtrack, other than Pink Floyd, were Jerry Garcia, The Grateful Dead, The Kaleidoscope and The Youngbloods. Much of the work that Pink Floyd put into the movie soundtrack never got into the film. Much of it was never released until years later as ‘rarities’ on Pink Floyd compilation CD’s. During my research to write this blog I found some of these out takes and I am including them in this blog. I’d love to read your comments regarding these rare outtakes. The LP itself was new and unopened. It is on really nice quality vinyl and had very quite surfaces as well as great sound quality. So here’s side one of Zabriskie Point…

Side 1

HEART BEAT, PIG MEAT

Written and Performed by Pink Floyd

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This song is more of a sonic collage. All of the Pink Floyd songs were written in Rome in 1969 right after the release of their album Ummagumma. Can you see where Massive Attack might draw some inspiration from Pink Floyd?

Brother Mary

Written and Performed by The Kaleidoscope

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This song was written by the great side man and musician David Lindley. The Kaleidoscope was a favorite band of the LA scene and it was Lindley’s band. They were very respected by other musicians like Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, but they could never get a hit record. They made three LP’s with Epic Records and called it quits. Lindley went on to fame with Jackson Browne.

Excerpt from DARK STAR

Written and Performed by The Grateful Dead

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This song really should need no introduction since it is one of the Dead’s most well know songs. I think it sounds awesome and it doesn’t last long enough. (The opposite of when you see the Dead perform it in concert.) Rhino Records has a double CD of the soundtrack that includes another 30 minutes of outtakes of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead.

Crumbling Land

Written and Performed by Pink Floyd

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I think a lot of people might not identify this song as being a Pink Floyd song. It has a definite Country twist to it.

Tennessee Waltz

Written by Pee Wee King and Performed by Patti Page

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This song appears in the movie during the heroine’s drive through the desert. She here’s it on the radio.

Sugar Babe

Performed by The Youngbloods

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This song also was heard on the car radio by the Heroine of the movie during her drive across the desert. It’s a little more hedonistic than the Tennessee Waltz…

Side 2

Love Scene

Written and Performed by Jerry Garcia

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This is one of the great surprises of this record! This is a beautiful improvisation of Jerry Garcia. It contains everything that is great about his playing. The love scene is the core of the movie and it occurs out on Zabriskie Point in the desert. There is a lot of full frontal nudity and that may be one of the reasons that this movie has attained a level of cult followers… At any rate the music is sublime! Pink Floyd also wrote two different songs for this scene but both were rejected by Antonioni. I have included those cuts at the end of this blog for your evaluation and enjoyment.

I Wish I Was A Single Girl Again

Traditional folk song performed by Roscoe Holcomb.

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Roscoe Holcomb was an icon of Blue Grass and Folk Music. This is him at his best. Quite a jolt after the Garcia Love music! Loud and proud!!

Mickey’s Tune

Written and performed by The Kaleidoscope

This is another cut by David Lindley & Company. It is a glimpse into the musicianship of this wrongly obscure band.

Dance Of Death

Written and performed by John Fahey

John Fahey is another interesting side story to this LP. He was a pioneer of the rediscovery and promotion of Folk Music. He single handedly rediscovered and revived the music of Skip James. He hated ‘hippies’, Antonioni, Jerry Garcia and anything else that appeared to undermine the United States of America. During the making of the movie he got into an argument with Antonioni and punched him in the face! How any of his music got in the movie, I can’t explain… By the way, it is rumored that he recorded hours and hours of music for the film that ended up on the cutting room floor…

Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up

Written and performed by Pink Floyd

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This song is an early version of Be Careful With That Axe, Eugene… This is the Pink Floyd we all know and love. This music is in the final scene where the Real Estate Developers house in the desert is blown up over and over and over again. The massive wall of guitar fuzz is the perfect accompaniment to total destruction.

Thus ends the soundtrack that is way better than the film it was made for. I am including the outtakes below.

Outtakes

Untitled

Written and performed by Pink Floyd

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Love Scene #1

Written and performed by Pink Floyd

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Love Scene #2

Written and Performed by Pink Floyd

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Untitled (aka Oenone)

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Untitled (aka Fingal’s Cave)

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So Young

Written and Performed by Roy Orbison

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This was the song heard over the closing credits of the movie.

So what IS the point of Zabriskie Point? I don’t know, but there seems to be several lessons. First, not all great music is inspired by great art or beauty. Inspiration can come from anywhere. Second, if we’re not open to new things we could miss a lot of great stuff. But last, I think the biggest lesson I learned can be summed up by the William Hurt character in the great movie “The Big Chill”: “Sometimes you just have to let Art flow over you…”

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Posted in Rock Music, Vinyl | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Canned Heat “Living The Blues”

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Imagine if you will, a couple of guys setting around the house smoking pot and listening to blues records.  The year is 1965. They get the idea to put together a jug band and jam in the garage. Two short years later they are playing at The Monterrey Pop Festival. Then in 1969 they performed at Woodstock in front of half a million people! Kind of cool,eh? That is the story of Canned Heat.

Canned Heat was founded by Alan Wilson and Bob Hite in Los Angeles, California. They took the name from a 1928 blues song by Tommy Johnson called “Canned Heat Blues.” What do you think this song is about? It’s about a man who has such a bad drinking problem that he is now drinking Sterno!  Now that’s a blues song…

This album was their 3rd release.  This album “Living The Blues” came out in 1968. It contains their most famous song:  “Going Up The Country”.   The line-up is considered the “classic” line-up of this band:  Bob “The Bear”Hite, Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson, Henry “Sunflower” Vestine (a.k.a Harvey “The Snake” Mandel), Larry “The Mole” Taylor, and Aldolpho “Fito” De La Parra.   The album was produced by Canned Heat and Skip Taylor.  Bob Hite and Alan Wilson new more about blues and the history of the blues than anyone else in the world and they used their knowledge to their advantage.    So let’s get to the music.

Side 1

Pony Blues

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Pony Blues was written in 1929 by Charlie Patton.  It was a ‘standard” of the Mississippi Delta region.  It sounds ancient from the very first note.  This song is typical of their “Boogie, Blues” style.

My Mistake

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This song starts with that loose string blues sound just like the first cut on the album.  My Mistake is an original song written by Alan Wilson.

Sandy’s Blues

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Sandy’s Blues was written by Bob Hite.  Very cool, slow blues crawl.  It reminds me of the Segal –  Schwall Band.  I recorded this LP on the Friday of Memorial Day week-end.  I was enjoying listening to it so much I posted what I was doing on Facebook. Almost immediately after I put it on the world wide web, the phone rang.  It was a good friend of mine who will remain nameless.  He said “I smoked a lot of pot listening to Canned Heat when I was in college.”  I’m sure you were not alone my friend.  “It’s the Blues now…”

Going Up The Country

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This is the song that really got famous from the movie “Woodstock”.  Although, Canned Heat played at Woodstock their performance did not appear in the original movie.  The producer used Going Up The Country for the Opening sequence of the film and the song became a kind of anthem for the Back To Nature movement.  This song made it to #1 in 25 countries but reached #11 in the United States.  The song is a reworking by Alan Wilson of the song “Bull-doze Blues” by Henry Thomas.  The song originally came out in about 1928.  In the original version Henry Thomas performed the solo on a type of Pan-Flute that is called The Quills by old blues musicians.  The Henry Thomas quill solo was performed note for note on the flute by Jim Horn on the Canned Heat version.

Walking By Myself

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This is an old Jimmy Rogers song.  It was originally released in the early 50’s on Chess Records.  The song has a very obvious Chicago Blues sound.  It features the harmonica playing of Alan Wilson.  The original featured Little Walter on harmonica.

Boogie Music

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This song features Dr. John on piano.  The song was written by someone named L.T. Tatman III.  I can’t find anything on the guy.  If you know anything about him I’d love to hear from you.  More Boogie Blues and then at the very end a sample of very old original Delta Blues ends the side.

Side 2

One Kind Favor

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One Kind Favor is also credited to Tatman.  The one kind favor is to keep his gravestone clean.  This is a great blues song.

Parthenogenesis

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This is a highly experimental song.  Yes, I spelled the name of the song right.  This song is a medley of nine different segments.  The segments are titled as follows:  Nebulosity, Rollin’ and Tumblin’, Five Owls, Bear Wires, Snooky Flowers, Sunflower Power, Raga Kafi, Ice Bag, and Childhoods End.  This cut was the brain child of Skip Taylor (the Producer of the album).  The writing credit is shared by the entire band.  Remember, it was the 60’s and they did a lot of drugs…I think it is a very interesting cut. Notice that several of the sections titles allude to the nick names of the band members.  Those sections then feature that band member.  (Example:  Bear Wires features Bob “The Bear” Hite)  It’s kind of trippy. I really like the boogie woogie piano part. What do you think?

Side 3 & 4

Refried Boogie Part I and II

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This may be the longest song I have ever seen on a rock album.  It takes up all of side 3 and 4.  The song is recorded live at The Kaleidoscope in Hollywood, CA.  It is a monster jam and I present it in it’s entirety.  I had to split it into two tracks because there is no way around having to turn over the record without stopping the music.  This is a great example of some of the psychedelic jams of the 1960’s and 70’s.  Enjoy….
So there you have it. Canned Heat living the blues.  So what happened to Canned Heat?  Well they are still around.  Henry Vestine was the first to leave the band. He had an on stage fight with Larry Taylor at the Filmore West in 1969.  Larry Taylor left the band in 1970 and Joined the John Mayall Blues Breakers. Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson died of a drug overdose in 1970.  He was found on a hill behind Bob”The Bear” Hite’s Topanga Canyon home.  No one knows for sure why…He was only 27.  Just a few weeks later Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix also died.  In 1981 Bob Hite passed out on stage at the Palamino in L.A.  he had overdosed on Heroin.  Later that evening he was found dead at the home of band member De La Para’s home.  Harry Vastine died in Paris, France of Lung Cancer.  De La Para continues to tour with a band call Canned Heat, but he is the only survivor from the glory days.  With 3 of the band members taken by drugs and cigarettes, it only goes to show that you shouldn’t drink Sterno and if you play with fire you might get burned.  Even by Canned Heat…

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Rare Earth should not be so rare…

Finally, I am back to writing about vinyl. This album came to me by way of my new friend Dave.  Dave said I could keep all his vinyl if I transferred them to CD’s for him.  I have been working on that project steadily over the past few months.  I have other albums he brought to me that I intend to blog about too, but I have more ideas than I have time to blog.  Anyway, thanks Dave for this very cool record!

This new post is about the first all white band to sign with Motown Records; Rare Earth.   Motown decided in 1969 that they wanted to start a new label that would be dedicated to only white performers.  They wanted to create a label that would be equally branded as the Motown label was for black performers.  Rare Earth was the first band signed under this new marketing effort.  They were a local Detroit band and had already been recorded by Verve Records, but that album had not sold well.    The title of this record is “Ecology”This was Rare Earth’s third LP and and their second one released on the Motown owned “Rare Earth” label.   It was released in 1970.  The record label is pretty cool and 70’s looking.  The members of Rare Earth actually named the label for Motown executives.  The Motown A&R guys asked the band members what they thought the label should be called and they jokingly suggested their own band name.  Later they were stunned to find out that Motown took  them up on their idea!  That’s how they came to record on a label named after their own band.  I think this may have been an all time first in Rock-n-Roll history.  Here are some pictures of the album and label:

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This album came about in an unusual way. The second Rare Earth album “Get Ready” was very successful and the title cut was a cover of the great song by the temptations.  The Temptations.  But The Temptations version only made it to #29 on The Billboard top 100.  Rare Earth’s version peaked at #4.  Because of the success of this record Hollywood came calling.  They wanted the band to contribute songs to a movie called “Generation”.  The movie starred David Jannsen and Kim Darby.  Once the movie was a hit then Motown was going to release a movie soundtrack.  Unfortunately, the movie flopped.  There would be no soundtrack.  So several of the songs on “Ecology” were from the failed movie.  The album has 7 cuts because two of the songs are fairly long.  There is a 11 minute cover of The Temptations song (I know) I’m Losing You and a 6 1/2 minute version of The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby”.  (I think it would be cool to do a blog on the best and worst Beatles covers of all time.  Maybe I will do that on in the future?)

Here we go with SIDE 1:

Born To Wander

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This song was a minor hit for the band and it appears on “Greatest Hits’ and/or “Best of” compilations of the band’s music.  It’s a great opener and it is very typical of their R&B style.  I really like the flute in this song.

Long Time Leavin’

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This is a very bluesy number. One interesting thing about this group is that the lead singer was the drummer. Pete Riveria had a great, soulful voice.  He was a huge part of why I loved this band.  Great organ solo by Kenny James. This song also has a very jazz influenced Coda.

(I Know) I’m Losing You

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I love this version of this song. There is also a great cover of this song by Rod Stewart on his great album “Every Picture Tells A Story”. But I really like the echo on the voice, the fade in beginning and the fuzz ladden guitar. It’s just a great extended version of a classic Motown song.

Side 2

Satisfaction Guaranteed

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Side 2 begins with a band and Satisfaction is Guaranteed! This song has the attitude of Detroit Motown soul! I can hear this song being done by any number of Motown artist successfully. “You gotta trust me baby… you gotta believe me…”

Nice Place To Visit

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This song has a real “Funk” feel to it. Great guitar solo by Rod Richards.

No. 1 Man

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This song has kind of a far eastern intro and then emerges with a cool bluesy guitar sound.  The chorus is kind of catchy isn’t it?  I kind of want to sing along “I wana be  your No. 1 Man…”  Then the great guitar work of Rod Richards returns.  A Rockin’ good time!

Eleanor Rigby

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So the previous song fades out and the next sound we hear is this A Capella chorus performing a fairly complex round that is eventually joined by a string orchestra.  It’ s a very interesting attempt to give a blues/almost gospel treatment to this classic Beatles song.  You’ve got to admit that they make it their own.  I think it’s kind of a cool version.  Ray Charles tried the same thing with better results.  A great closing track.  Notice the fade out fade back in at the very end of the song. Very Beatles like…

So what happened to Rare Earth?  Well, technically, they are still around.  They have a website www.rareearth.com.   The only original member is Gil Bridges.  He plays flute, Tambourine, and sings.  Rod Richards left the band over business differences.  Kenny James left next because he was tired of touring.  They replaced the band members and had a couple of more hits (I Just Want To Celebrate, Hey Big Brother) but they never had another hit after 1971.  When Motown decided to relocate from Detroit to Los Angeles, John Persh decided not to move with the rest of the band.  He died in 1981 of a staph infection.    In 1974 Pete Riveria left the band after having major business differences with their manager.  The other band members sided with Management, so Pete walked out and started another band.  was inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends On Line Hall of Fame.  In 2011 their song

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Radiohead fearlessly blazes their own trail… Radiohead live in Dallas March 5, 2012

Radiohead is not only the future of Rock, but maybe even the future of music.  I used to tell people that had never head Radiohead that they were the modern Pink Floyd.  The real truth is Radiohead is not like anyone else that has ever been.  This band is so creative and smart there is no telling where they can take music in the future.  Currently the lead guitar player Jonny Greenwood is collaborating  with the avantgarde composer Krzysztof Penderecki.  They did the movie soundtracks to “There Will Be Blood” and “Norwegian Wood”.  They just released a CD on the Nonesuch  label.  The CD is a compilation of works by both musicians.  It was just released on March 13, 2012.  I haven’t heard it yet, but I assure you I will purchase it as soon as possible.  Needless to say this is not the average rock band.  Radiohead is heavily influenced by contemporary “Classical” (for lack of a better word!) composers.  Another cool thing about this band is that they regularly employ some of the very first synthesizers ever invented.  First is the Etherwave Theremin Kit:

This Synthesizer was invented in 1928 by a Russian Scientist named Theremin. It was first used in Rock-n-Roll by Randy California of Spirit, and Randy introduced it to Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, who got a lot of mileage out of it during live performances with Led Zeppelin.

The other synthesizer is called the ondes Martenot.   This synthesizer was invented in France in 1928.  Radiohead owns two ondes Martenots!  Here are a couple of pictures of the Martenot.  They are very difficult to play and even harder to master.

So on to the show.  My brother Joe went with me.  He is a highly trained and excellent musician. (If I may be so bold as to brag on my brother…).

I have been a fan of this band for years and have always wanted to see them so needless to say I was very psyched for this show.  The opening act was a band called Other Lives.  This band was a real pleasure to see live.  They sounded like a cross between old Peter Gabriel era Genesis, Kate Bush, and with a little Arcade Fire mixed in.  Several of the musicians in the band played different instruments during their 30 minute set.  At various times they had a cello, violin, trumpet, and many different kinds of percussion instruments playing.  The poor bastards were jammed together in front of the giant pile of equipment for Radiohead.  They could hardly move around but they really sounded great!  Then to my surprise, when the lead singer introduced the band, he said they were from Stillwater, Oklahoma!   I would never have guess that.  They sounded English!  Here is a photo gallery of Other Lives on stage at American Airlines Center, in Dallas, Texas.

 

 

 

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After a brief intermission the main event began. Here’s a taste of what it was like.

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They opened their two hour 24 song set with Bloom from their latest CD called King of Limbs and ended their set with Paranoid Android from their CD called OK Computer.  From the very first song it was apparent I was in for a very special night.  First of all their set included the live debut of two new songs.  The first one came about half-way through their initial setIt was called The Amazing Sound of Orgy.  The second new song was played during the second encore. (By the way, I’m told that two encore sets from Radiohead is extremely unusual too!)  That song was called Skirting on the Surface.  Both songs were excellent and bode well for the next Radiohead CD.  They also played two other new songs that they have played other places on this tour:  Identikit and Staircase.  They played almost everything I wanted to hear.  Of course they could play all night and I’d still think of a song I wished they had played.  The light show was amazing.  They had 12 giant flat screened televisions that were hung suspended above the stage.  These screens could move up and down and rotate, creating mind boggling effects.  Behind the band was an extremely sophisticated wall of lights that really blew me away.  Here is a photo gallery of pictures I took at the show with my iPhone:

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The most interesting thing about the light show, however, was what was not there.  There was not one single spotlight used during the entire show. In all of my life of going to rock concerts (my first show was in 1969) I have never seen a band perform without using spotlights.  The message is obvious and a real insight into the mindset of Radiohead.  Radiohead is a BAND!  The sum is greater than the parts. This band has no Star.  They are truly an ensemble performing their joint compositions.  Really, that is what I love about them.  They are composers not song writers.  They are practicing their art on the highest level.  They could care less if anyone likes it.  They write their music because they have too.  Because their art always comes before their popularity it was very gratifying to see a sold out hero worshiping crowd at the AAC that night.  The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades!

Here’s the Set List:

  1. Bloom
     
  2. Little By Little
     
  3. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
     
  4. Morning Mr. Magpie
     
  5. The Gloaming
     
  6. The Daily Mail
     
  7. Pyramid Song
     
  8. The Amazing Sounds of Orgy
    (Live debut)
  9. Karma Police
     
  10. 15 Step
     
  11. Staircase
     
  12. Identikit
     
  13. Lotus Flower
     
  14. There There
     
  15. Feral
     
  16. Idioteque
     
  17. Encore:
  18. Separator
     
  19. Climbing Up The Walls
     
  20. Bodysnatchers
     
  21. Everything In It’s Right Place
    (w/True Love Waits intro)
  22. Encore 2:
  23. Give Up The Ghost
     
  24. Skirting On The Surface
    (Full band live debut)
  25. Reckoner
     
  26. Paranoid Android

 

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Big Head Todd is a Monster of Rock!

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If you don’t know who Big Head Todd and the Monsters are, then you need to get to know them. I was not familiar with their music until last year. Now I have all of their music except the new CD of Robert Johnson covers. Big Head Todd was formed in 1986 released their first studio album in 1989 so they have stood the test of time. What I think Todd Mohr (The Lead Singer/Lead Guitar Player/ Song Writer) has accomplished is the perfect melding of alternative rock with blues rock. Simply put, The man can play the blues. The set they performed at the House of Blues was appropriately Blues infused! I think Todd had the blues in his heart and mind because he had just released “Big Head Todd Blues Club – 100 Years of Robert Johnson” in 2011 and his buddy, the great Hubert Summlin, had just died. Hubert was the guitar player for Howlin’ Wolf. Keith Richards was putting together a surprise birthday party for Hubert at the Apollo Theater in New York when Hubert passed away. The birthday party became a tribute concert. Todd was invited by Keith Richards and Eric Clapton to participate. That concert occurred in New York on February 24th right before I saw this concert on March 1st, 2012. I think the blues were on his mind.

I got invited to the show by a friend of mine who is one of their biggest fans and he is also the guy that turned me on to them as well. I had heard a few of their better known songs like “Bittersweet”, but I had never sat down and listened to an entire recording of theirs until Wojo came along.  Thanks Wojo where ever you are! My friend Wojo is also a Founders Club member of The House of Blues. What that means is that we had a first class experience at the show. We had access to a private entrance to the club, a private bar, reserved seats, and table service for cocktails. That’s why some of the pictures are so good. I was sitting right next to the mixing board.

There was no opening act. Todd and the Monsters walked on stage at exactly 9:00pm and promptly blew the doors of the building. The sound quality was excellent. The musicianship was even better. Todd wields a major Ax! (It’s no wonder that Keith Richards and Eric Clapton invited him to participate in the Summlin tribute.)  They played all of their hits as well as a good bit of material from their newer CD’s.  The show lasted 2 hours but it went by way too fast.

Big Head Todd and the Monsters are on tour right now.  Don’t you dare miss them.  You will have a first class rock experience even if you’re not a Founders Club member.  Buy their music too.  You will not be disappointed.  I for one am going to get the Robert Johnson CD as soon as possible. Also, check out their website:  http://www.bigheadtodd.com  – There is great video of the Hubert Summlin tribute as well as all of the music from this amazing band.

Sorry for the long hiatus form my blog.  It couldn’t be helped.  I was traveling a lot in the first 3 months of this year and I have really been working way too much.  My focus is back on music and my blog now.  I have several other blogs that I need to post, so expect much higher activity in the near future.

Happy Easter and Long Live The Blues!

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