Tag Archives: Progressive Rock

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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Posted in Rock Music, Vinyl | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Captain Beyond leaves me “Sufficiently Breathless…”

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For those of you who haven’t friended me on Facebook, (A phrase I thought I would never utter!) I spent the Fourth of July in Austin, Texas.  I went to a really cool record and CD store call “End of an Ear”.  I strongly recommend them to any and everyone.  Visit their site at:  www.endofanear.com.  I can assure you that vinyl is alive and well in Austin Texas.  For a complete list of all the cool vinyl and CD stores in Austin check out www.VinylAroundAustin.com.

I tried to resist buying any more LP’s.  but I failed badly.  I picked up four great albums:  Captain Beyond – Sufficiently Breathless, Alan Parsons – I Robot, Buffalo Springfield – Retrospective, and a blues LP by a New Orleans pianist who was know as “Archibald”.

When I found the Captain Beyond LP I flipped out!  I’ve wanted this record ever since I first heard the title cut in 1975.  Back then F.M. Radio wasn’t like it is now.  It was kind of underground radio. D.J.’s had complete freedom as to what they played.  They could play without commercial interruption for long periods of time.  If a D.J. wanted to play the entire live version of Whipping Post from The Allman Brothers Live at Fillmore East they could.  Captain Beyond was one of the “Cult Band’s” of that time.  They were a kind of Super Group.  

Sufficiently Breathless was the second LP from Captain Beyond. The LP also had different band members from the first LP.

The line up of the second LP was as follows:  Lee Dorman – Bass, Guille Garcia – Congas, Timbales, Percussion, Rhino (We will come back to him later) -Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, and Slide Guitars, Rod Evans – Lead and Harmony Vocals, Marty Rodriguez – Drums, Back-up Vocals, Reese Wynans – Electric and Acoustic Pianos, and Paul Hornsby  – Organ on “Starglow Energy”.

Lee Dorman was the bass player for Iron Butterfly when they recorded the Psychedelic Rock classic “In-Na-Gadda-Da-Vida”.  Dorman received all the song writing credit for this record because everyone else was being sued at the time.  It is unlikely that he wrote all the songs by himself, but he definitely was a major contributor.  Guille Garcia had played with Chicago and also played on Joe Walsh “Barnstorming” prior to joining Captain Beyond.  

This brings us to “Rhino.”  Rhino was the nick name of Larry Reinhardt.  Larry had played with Lee Dorman after Iron Butterfly recorded In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.  He first appeared on the album “Metamorphosis”   I actually saw Rhino and Dorman perform in El Paso Texas in 1976.  Iron Butterfly had reformed and were out on tour opening for Rush on the “Fly By Night” tour.  On “Sufficiently Breathless”  Rhino is simply named as Rhino.  If you check out the pictures above there is a detail shot of the band.  The guy in black is Rhino.  He looks like Jimmy Page.  The information super-highway was years away and so a lot of  rumors got started that Rhino was actually Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin).  I think it helped sell a lot of records for Captain Beyond.  I even remember hearing DJ’s on FM radio speculate about this very thing.  It kind of was a smaller version of “Paul is Dead”.   For years I thought that Rhino was Jimmy Page!

 

This brings us to Rod Evans.  Rod Evans was the first lead singer of Deep Purple.  He was the lead vocalist on their first to big hits:  “Hush” and “Kentucky Woman”.  The other members of the band felt their sound was to “Pop”  oriented so they kicked him out of the band and hired Ian Gillian.  (Ian Gillian was every bit as revered as  Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin when I was an angst ridden teenager.)  More on Rod Evans when we get to the wrap up.

I know very little about the Drummer Marty Rodriguez.  I do know that the new producer of “Sufficiently Breathless”  Giorgio Gomelsky did not like the original drummer Brian Glascock  even though he had played with Santana; so, Guille Garcia personally recommended Rodriguez.  

Reese Wynans is a very interesting person.  Reese had been in a band called Second Coming.  This band was a forerunner to The Allman Brothers.  Second Coming had Dickey Betts and Berry Oakley as members.  When Reese joined Captain Beyond, Betts and Oakley joined the Allman Brothers.  Reese got beat out of his spot in the Allman Brothers by some guy named Gregg Allman.  I guess blood is thicker than water.  Things worked out for Reese anyway.  We will get back to his story later as well.

Paul Hornsby is better know today as a major producer than as an organist.  He produced records of The Charlie Daniels Band and The Marshall Tucker Band.  Paul got involved in the session because he knew Reese through his involvement with the pre-Allman Brothers Band called Hour Glass.  Is this a web of musical incest or what?!?!

This LP was recorded in 1973.  It is dedicated to Berry Oakley.  In a strange twist of irony.  Berry Oakley was killed in a motorcycle accident in Macon Georgia almost exactly a year after Duane Allman was also killed in Macon Georgia in a motorcycle accident.  The accidents even occurred just a few blocks apart! With all the Allman Brothers connections on this album it is not surprising that it is dedicated to Oakley.

On the inside fold out of the album and on the back of the album; the song order on side one is wrong. I have no idea why.  The song order is correct on the albums label.  So let’s hear this great cult album from one of the original “Stoner Groups” Captain Beyond!

Side 1

 Sufficiently Breathless

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The LP starts with this very cool and laid back acoustic sound.  The percussion has a Latino flavor.  Then the chorus hits you and you know you are listening to the right stuff.  The lyrics are appropriately cryptic.  At the break we get the first great guitar solo from Rhino.  The background music becomes drone-like and sounds a little Eastern influenced.  There are great harmonies here.  Evans does a great job as lead vocal. And then it all fades out…

Bright Blue Tango

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Right off the bat we get a great dose of the keyboard word from Reese Wynans.  The song has a funky swing to it.  Not exactly a Tango but it does make you want to move your body through space.  Once again great guitar work by Rhino. 

Drifting In Space

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Now Captain Beyond shows their Allman Brothers/Santana roots.  This is really great music.  It swings!  Wynans has a great solo in the middle of the song.  Evans vocals are awesome.  The rhythm section has soul.

Evil Men

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Evil men starts out with a breezy almost Steely Dan guitar sound but quickly switches to a much more sinister sound.  Next a  percussion break followed by a nice guitar solo by Rhino.   Rhino has an extended solo over a stop-start back-beat.  The vocals return.  Rod Evans sings his heart out.  Then Side 1 ends with the fade out…

Side 2

Starglow Energy/Distant Sun

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Side 2 fades in with some nice keyboard work from Wynans and Hornsby.  Don’t tell me Alan Parsons wasn’t a big Captain Beyond fan.  This cut could have just as easily been on I Robot or some other Alan Parsons Project.  Starglow energy is one of my favorite cuts on the record.  It has a majestic feel to it.  Once again Rhino and Evans shine.  Personally, give me a” taste of Starglow Energy!”  The song fades out and then there is an immediate kick of percussion that summons in Distant Sun.  The beginning of this song foreshadows fusion jazz.  The song has a very jazz like middle section too.  This is just very creative high quality rock-n-roll. These guys didn’t want to sound like someone else.  What they came up with had never been heard before.  This is why this LP is considered by many different artist to have been very influential.  The end of this song is surprisingly abrupt.

Voyage Of Past Travellers/Everything’s A Circle

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Track 3 and 4 are uninterrupted as well.  Voyage of Past Travellers (Intentionally spelled this way by the song writer.)  Is very Pink Floyd sounding and segues directly into the final song Everything’s A Circle.    Voyage fades in like a bad radio signal.  There is some nice feedback guitar and then a mysterious voice send us a message.  There is a fade into the Bass guitar and percussion.  This could easily be Santana.    I love the duel guitar sound in this song. Once again the music takes on a Latin Swing sound.  Great percussion, great vocals.  The music makes you want to move.

So I hope you enjoyed Captain Beyond – Sufficiently Breathless.  I think it is one of the great “cult” LP’s of Rock-n-Roll.

So what happened after this great record was finished?  Well, Rod Evans had trouble getting along with others once again.  As soon as the record was completed he left the band due to tensions that developed during the recording sessions.  The band later reformed at the end of 1973 and went on tour.  There is a CD of Captain Beyond recorded “Live” in Arlington, Texas at The University of Texas at Arlington.  It was recorded in 1973 but not released until 2002.  They still couldn’t work out their differences and the band split up again.  Rod Evans completely got out of the music business.  He became a Respiratory Therapist  in 1980.  He was talked out of retirement to do a “Deep Purple” reunion tour.  The problem was Deep Purple didn’t want to have anything to do with Evans.  Rod Evans did the tour anyway and got sued.  He lost the law suit along with a +$6000,00o damage judgement.  In order to pay the damages he gave up all the rights to his royalties from his Deep Purple days.  There are many people who would love to know his whereabouts today.  He has entirely disappeared.

Larry “Rhino’ Reinhardt went on to have a long but not distinguished career.  He played on several recordings of the Bobby Womack.  He had his own band, he play with a band called Mad Dancer.  In 2008 he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  He put out a CD called Rhino’s Last Dance in 2009.  Somehow he managed to survive and is still alive today.  You go, Rhino!

The last person I want to fill you in on is the keyboard player Reese Wynans.  Reese went on to play with Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble.  He played with Stevie till the day Stevie died.  I got to see Double Trouble open for The Who in The Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas a month or two before Stevie was killed in a helicopter crash in Wisconsin.  They were so good that I told my friend that I was with: “If I were The Who, I wouldn’t go on after that.”  Reese continues to have a great career.  He has toured with Joe Ely, Chris Layton, and Tommy Shannon on the Double Trouble tour “Been A Long Time” and has also played with the great Delbert McClinton.  I got to see Reese play with Delbert McClinton when Delbert was asked at the last minute to substitute for George Jones to open for The Rolling Stones.  Reese was great that night as well.

So there ends the story of Captain Beyond – Sufficiently Breathless.  This band stood at the crossroads of so many different bands and trends in Rock-n-Roll.  What is really cool about the record is that you can hear it all in the music.  I have to stop writing now I am breathless…

Another tale from the turntable.

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Posted in Life Events, Vinyl | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments