Sonic Bloom

When Sir John rang me up he was in bad shape. Obviously drunk.

“I’m fucked, mate,” was all he could say at first, then, “I can’t finish me bloody album for fuck’s sake!” He always sounds Irish when he’s drinking.
“It’s the Irish talking”, he’ll say, pointing at the word on the bottle above “Whiskey”

He was working on a solo album after giving most of his adult musical life to the band. They’d all quit and now the bass player hates him, apparently.
After the second blown deadline, his label insisted on an outside producer, and he’d rejected everyone they’d suggested.

I got the next flight to London and by tea time the next day I was in beautiful downtown Swindon, dodging hipsters. I had a schwarma at Mamoun’s, a Tiger brew or two at the Splash and Spasm, and thusly fortified, hired a car and rode out to his country estate. I never count on being fed out there. The cook is still mad at me for making a rude joke concerning “bangers and mash”.

I felt a fair amount of trepidation as we turned off the A419, halfway to Cirencester, onto the long drive into the property, and rode past the empty zoo cages, now somewhat overgrown, and signalling disrepair. A family of hedgehogs it’s sole captives.
The maid indicated he was out by the pool, where I found him shut in the cabana. With much cajoling he appeared, dressed in a rumpled terry cloth robe, a V-neck T-shirt, lightly dusted with bisquit crumbs, pink sunglasses, and matching plastic flipflops. He looked terrible. Worse for wear than the topiary animals out by the zoo.

“I need you to be my producer, mate,” he said, sheepishly.

With that, he handed me a thumb drive with over 160 songs on it.

“I’ll see what I can do,” I said.

“I’m sure you’ll make it right as rain,” he said managing a smile, as I wondered about the metaphor. How could rain be “Right”?

“I get to play GOD, er Todd,” I thought, and pondered that troubled history. A masterpiece and a thirty year grudge.

We locked ourselves in the former garden shed, now studio, lit a phatty, and got to work.
I was dumbstruck by the overall quality of the material.
Although there were plenty of throwaway tunes, and self-indulgent experiments, it was obvious there was a great album in there (A double as it turned out).
The first thing I did was get rid of everything that hearing once was enough.
I avoided the overly familiar material made famous by the band.

“WWTD” (What Would Todd Do?), I wondered. He’d roll up the sleeves and do some heavy lifting, while not being too concerned about stepping on any toes. Who has time for that? In other words, beat the thing into shape.

I rolled up my sleeves and dove in. Once the basic tracks were selected, I got fairly intrusive (Sir John’s words, paraphrased without expletives), giving about half the songs tighter intros. Many were too long. “Little Lighthouse” was marred by almost a minute of noise it didn’t need at the end. I gave it a proper one. Through brutality, I made room for more music.

“My Land Is Burning” required no such attention. A perfectly rendered closer if I ever heard one.

Sir John Johns is a great songwriter, fine vocalist, and nifty guitarist. I like his version of “Shake You Donkey Up” about 100 times more than what ended up on that, to my ears, unlistenable album, by the band. I hate the drum programming, but somehow his use of canned drums here doesn’t bother me.
Perhaps because Sir John otherwise sounds so fresh. Nothing like first takes without band politics as a backdrop.
After spending so much time with this material, the band’s versions can sound somewhat overworked.

I’m not sure how he feels about “our” record, as he hasn’t returned my calls. I will someday get even for the “gift” he left in my suitcase.
The uniformed guys with guns weren’t amused.

I think it’s a terrific personal statement, and after this experience,
probably the only solo album we’ll ever get out of him.

Put it on again, indeed!

Sonic Bloom

Sonic Bloom Too

Enjoy!
-BBJ

Prognosis

I was busy with another project (building a guitar) and didn’t have any ideas until last night when I went through the library and started pulling tunes. Even then, it doesn’t always work, and I admit I’ve spent days tinkering with the sequence. Not this time.

I grew up with Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, ELP, and the rest.
None of them are featured here.
This is music I’m less familiar with than usual.
Most of it is from years of trolling blog sites for things I’d only read about in the past.

For example, Mogul Thrash is the band John Wetton left to join Family, before leaving them for King Crimson. I never expected to find it, but thanks to the internet, I have FLAC files.

I hope you like mellotron.

I tended towards shorter songs when possible. My favorite Genesis song, for instance, “Supper’s Ready” is a whole album side and clocks in over 20 minutes. Add “Close To The Edge”, and “Lark’s Tongues In Aspic Pt 1”, and there’s an entirely epic cd length mix.

The Italians really “got” Prog and some of the best bands were from there. “Impressioni Di Settembre”, an old favorite, was somewhat blandly re-recorded by PFM in english as “The World Became The World”, the title track to their second american release, but I’ve always preferred the original Italian version.

Also here is Il Volo, another of the best, represented by “Il Canto Della Preistoria (Molecule)”, which also transcends it’s lack of english with some truly extraordinary guitar sounds.

Amon Düül II is from Germany, and technically krautrock.

Aphrodite’s Child is from Greece, and features Vangelis, long before “Chariots Of Fire”.

Brian Davison was the drummer in the Nice. This 1970 solo album is nothing like his former band.

Tempest was a power trio freaturing Ollie Halsall, sadly best known for playing “Paul” on The Rutles recordings. He briefly joined this band, wrote all the songs, and sang lead on the album they recorded and left, to play with Kevin Ayers.

Bram Stoker is a band who left behind an album with nary a trace of other info. This is one of those that collectors go nuts for. Same goes for Pete Fine’s.

I only downloaded Aubrey Small a few days ago, and barely know “Smoker Will Blow”. This description caught my eye:
“The recording experience at Trident became intoxicating and at times even became somewhat surreal. For one number “Smoker Will Blow”(producer)John Anthony had the idea of putting orchestration on the track as it was too simple. Within a matter of days arranger Richard Hewson appeared together with a huge assembly of the finest jazz and orchestral musicians available. Here was another highly respected musician who had a list of high profile credits to his name including the Beatles, Bee Gees, Diana Ross, Art Garfunkel, Fleetwood Mac, Supertramp, Chris Rea among others – another who’s who! The band watched from the control room with amazement as an extraordinary and complex soundscape unfolded on their song”.

Kaleidoscope was an English band whose roots were in ’60’s psychedelia, and released some really exceptional music, but for some reason ended up with less than nothing. This song is the closer to an album they finished in 1971, but didn’t see release until 1992.

Prognosis

Prognosis Too

Enjoy!
-BBJ

I liked the new neck so much I regretted not doing a better job painting it, so I repainted with 20 coats of lacquer, and upgraded the pickguard. Now it’s finally finished. 1987 Fender Japan 50’s reissue body with Fender licensed USA made late ’60’s style neck. Tuners, and except for the ’90’s Les Paul humbucker, original hardware.

Now I Know High

“The Grape’s saga is one of squandered potential, absurdly misguided decisions, bad luck, blunders and excruciating heartbreak, all set to the tune of some of the greatest rock and roll ever to emerge from San Francisco. Moby Grape could have had it all, but they ended up with nothing, and less.”
-Jeff Tamarkin

Peter Lewis – rhythm guitars, vocals
Jerry Miller – lead guitars, vocals
Bob Mosley – bass, vocals
Skip Spence – rhythm guitars, vocals
Don Stevenson – drums, vocals

Their first album, “Moby Grape” (1967) is widely recognized as a classic.
While recording their second in New York City, Skip Spence’s schizophrenia began to take over. Famously chopping down a band member’s hotel room door with a fire axe. He was committed to Bellevue for six months while Moby Grape soldiered on, finishing “Wow” (1968). Skip never returned to the band full-time. While incarcerated, he wrote enough songs to record “OAR” (1968), in Nashville, playing all the instruments. It’s an un-hinged masterpiece, in many ways similar to Syd Barrett’s post Pink Floyd albums.

Then came “Moby Grape ’69”, “Truly Fine Citizen” (1969) also recorded in Nashville, and finally,
“20 Granite Creek”(1971). Although Spence was no longer in the band they included him when possible, depending on his health.

This compilation covers their initial run.

They have disbanded and reformed many times, and often having to use a fake name as their manager, Matthew Katz, hung on their contract like a drowning man to a log, or worse, a sociopath. They signed their contract under duress, with a large dollop of naivete, resulting in not even owning the name Moby Grape.

From wikipedia:
“Matthew Katz insisted that an additional provision be added to his management contract, giving him ownership of the group name. At the time, various group members were indebted to Katz, who had been paying for apartments and various living costs prior to the group releasing its first album. Despite objecting, group members signed, based in part on an impression that there would be no further financial support from Katz unless they did so. Neil Young, then of Buffalo Springfield, was in the room at the time, and kept his head down, playing his guitar, and saying nothing. According to Peter Lewis, “I think Neil knew, even then, that was the end. We had bought into this process that we should have known better than to buy into.”

Due to continued legal battle between the band and Katz over ownership of their name, pseudonyms were used during several decades for performance or recording purposes; including Mosley Grape, Legendary Grape, Maby Grope, Fine Wine, and The Melvilles.

Moby Grape today:
Peter Lewis – rhythm guitars, vocals
Jerry Miller – lead guitars, vocals
Bob Mosley – bass, vocals
with
Joseph Miller – drums (son of Jerry)
Omar Spence – vocals (son of Skip)
Don Stevenson – drums, vocals (guest appearances)

They were all incredibly talented, and Jerry Miller deserves to be included in any conversation about guitar heroes.

Enjoy!
-BBJ

Now I Know High

Acid Washed Weekend

I didn’t buy a copy of the original double lp”Nuggets” as compiled by Lenny Kaye in 1972.
I never really sought this stuff out before getting Bowie’s “Pinups” in 1973. At first I preferred his versions because the sound was so much better. I thought the Kink’s original “Where Have All The Goodtimes Gone?” sounded weak and thin by comparison. On the other hand, Syd’s “See Emily Play” had something that Bowie’s did not.

Neither of those are here, however.

Only “Lies”, “Open My Eyes”, and “Farmer John” appeared on the original 1972 “Nuggets”.
The rest are from the much expanded Rhino versions, and a few from various other sources.
I included the best, and most obscure songs I know, while mostly avoiding the usual suspects.
While I’m sure some of this is familiar territory, I hope it’s the surprises that really get you.

Enjoy your trip!

-BBJ

Acid Washed Weekend

A Saucerful Of Tears

Five guys, one bike.

Pink Floyd’s sophomore effort could very well be the worst of all time. Syd Barrett, their guiding light, and principal songwriter, became the goose that laid the golden eggs, and infamously flamed out, leaving them at the apex and in the middle of recording. I don’t think it was just acid, or insanity. I think forming a band was fun, but it suddenly becoming a vocation, and pop stardom stopped being so. He really wanted to be a painter, and he was a pretty good one from what I’ve seen.

Anyway the rest of the band found themselves in quite the pickle with an album begun and no songs. The title track can only be described as a composition, as it’s not a song or even music,really, except for the last section by Richard Wright, which I’ve used as a long intro to “See Saw”. My band, The Smoove Sailors write more interesting “jams” every week than the title tune.

I’ve been thinking about fixing A Saucerful Of Secrets for a long time. It was the unlistenable half of A Nice Pair, and just as bad as Ummagumma (The best part of which is the picture of all the gear on the back). A Saucerful of Tears is almost long enough to be a double album. Like if the White album lost “Revolution 9” and “Goodnight”, which I would never miss.

It’s the most democratic Floyd album as it features at least four songwriters and five singers.

I’ve compiled all the Syd Barrett songs recorded after their debut, Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, including the still unreleased “Vegetable Man”, and “Scream Thy Last Scream”, plus a couple singles with David Gilmour from the same period, but not on the album.

“Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” is not my favorite, but is the only one involving all five members. “A Jolly Bunch of Pop Tunes” Syd might say.

I think it plays rather well, and because it’s all from the same period, could have been released this way. Enjoy!

Rehearsing for “The Wall”

 

A Saucerful Of Tears

Number Two

The Playlist


As mentioned in the profile, and other previous posts, the original now that’s what I call bullshit, was thrown together really quickly, but had a great flow and energy. If you make a lot of mix cd’s, then you know some turn out better than others. A good one will stand up to repeated listenings. Some assemble easily and others don’t. Number one was effortless and encouraged me to make another. Number Two had a lot to live up to. It took all week to assemble, with a couple failed prototypes along the way. This time the effort paid off. The result was a lot more variety, and a couple real real sleepers.
Things start off fine with memorable tunes by The Mermen, BRMC, Love Story In Blood Red, but really begin to go places with Ed Harcourt’s “Hanging With The Wrong Crowd”, followed by the aptly titled, “Nightmare”. Duncan Browne is a reminder that being a singer song writer is not alway a bad thing. “Babe Rainbow” is beautifully rendered. Magic Sam’s “Funky G Street” is a hair raising instrumental, Junior Kimbrough is transcendent, and Mattafix provides a conscious multi-culti international take on classic soul with “Big City Life”.

Here’s something I found about Nancy Boy:

Led by the progenies of two ’60s rockers, hippy-dippy Donovan and blue-hatted Monkee Mike Nesmith, pomo new wavers Nancy Boy definitely rebelled against their musical pedigree, emphasizing fashion and style over traditional substance. Model Donovan Leitch and Jason Nesmith threw Bowie, Suede, Duran Duran, and Blur in a blender and served up their self-titled full-length debut in 1996, competing with the post-grunge, Creed-infested landscape of alternative music. With their skinny ties and eyeliner, they didn’t stand a chance.

Anyway this is one of the better mixes, so I thought I’d share it. now that’s what I call bullshit 2 was assembled during the first week of June, 2006. I listened to this the whole summer I spent down in South Jersey as a surf bum.
Link In Comments.

The Original artifact

Number Fifty

As usual it’s been too long since I posted anything of substance. I look at some of my favorite sites, and there’s something new posted every day and I have to think that they must not do anything else except blog. Either that or I’m very slow. Probably a bit of both.  Even this began as a zip file I just wanted to throw up, and now I’m into more than an hour spent writing practically nothing.
As stated previously the blog began as a series of mix cd’s made in response to the demise of my evil i-Pod. I called them now that’s what I call bullshit as a comment on the popular series of Top 40 compilations called Now That’s What I Call Music.  It was a way of processing the ton of music coming my way through friends, downloads, and occasional purchases while I was driving two hours down to South Jersey on surfari.
Many songs posted were originally featured on the cd’s.

I made the first one for Memorial Day weekend in 2006. Here is number 50.

A swell compilation of highlights from the blog so far. It will fill a blank cd nicely, or remain files you can do with what you please.

You can find the link in the comments.

Mine looks like this

Beginning of the Enz

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Original New Zealand release

When I was a kid, I’d ride my bike to the local Licorice Pizza, eat the free licorice and spend hours going through the racks, looking at just about every lp in the Rock section. It didn’t take me long to discover the “Import” racks. It was where all the most interesting stuff lurked.
I didn’t know what to think when Mental Notes arrived some time in 1976. I couldn’t stop looking at it. They didn’t look queer enough to be Glam, so what were they? Some kind of Art Rock? Whatever they were I bought something else that day which I’ve not only forgotten, but probably didn’t like anyway.
Before I had a chance to change my mind, my buddy X-C Polymer (Mr. Malibu Fire) snagged it. He made me a cassette copy of the album, which I ended up playing to death. (The lp was rescued by chance from the 2006 “Malibu Fire”).
It was smart and clever, which I’m usually suspicious of, but the sound had elements of Roxy Music and The Kinks, so I was predisposed to like it.
Produced by Phil Manzanera, Roxy Music guitarist extraordinaire, and at the time, one of the coolest dudes in Rock and Roll, the album is stuffed chocka block with ideas, in a good way.
Decades later I discovered Mental Notes as first released in New Zealand was in reality a different album, and the version I knew was a mostly rerecorded second album released in New Zealand as Second Thoughts.

I bought their next album, Dizrythmia, the day it came out, which turned out to be one of the most disappointing followups I’ve ever heard. The music was so different, and less interesting, they almost sounded like a different band. Two original members had left, among them the principal songwriter, Phil Judd (also the artist responsible for that amazing cover) leaving Tim Finn in charge. Neil, Tim’s little brother, replaced him. The best songs were two left-over Phil Judd compositions.
“Nice To Know” is a credible Beatles pastiche, and probably not an accident, as it was produced and engineered by Geoff Emerick, The Beatles and George Martin’s engineer of choice.

What impressed me about Mental Notes was that after playing it 10 times I still couldn’t anticipate what was coming next. I found it dense and complicated, yet totally engaging, which doesn’t happen often. When it does, I’m usually hooked for good.
Phil Judd succumbed to the pressures of life on the road and left the band. You can see in his cover painting that when everyone decided to get “funny” haircuts, he shaved his head, not usually an indicator of mental stability.

For the whole Split Enz saga: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split_Enz
BTW I gave wikipedia money.

Slightly Updated exported version

Late Last Night
Lovey Dovey
Matinee Idyll
Sweet Dreams
Time For a Change
Titus
Walking Down a Road
Nice To Know (from Dizrythmia)

Vegetable Man

 
 
 
 
 
 

Same photo session as the back of "Barrett" 1970

Same photo session as the back of "Barrett" 1970

So much has already been written about Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd that I don’t think I can really add any new insight.
Like everyone else in 1973 I was enthralled by Dark Side Of The Moon. It was some of the first music after the Beatles broke up that seemed to carry on their tradition of innovation and solid studio craftsmanship.

In many ways I liked the follow-up, Wish You Were Here, even better. It was my favorite album to play at low volume and fall asleep to in my San Diego State dorm room during the 1976-77 school year. I used to spend a ridiculous amount of time in record stores wishing I had more money. I collected a handful of Pink Floyd albums. A lot of them were pretty bad. The best part of UmmaGumma was the picture on the cover of all their gear. (I thought their movie filmed in Pompeii was a frightening bore). I liked Relics, mostly because I was charmed by “Bike”, even though it bore no resemblance to Dark Side Of The Moon. I became aware that there was an apparently brilliant former member by the name of Syd Barrett. I found out that Wish You Were Here was apparently about him. I bought the double album containing Barrett, and The Madcap Laughs both of his studio albums, re-released on Harvest in 1974, due to the enormous popularity of his former band.

The first time I played it I was put-off by the crudeness of the music. The lyric I heard as “Ice cream Baby, I seen you looking good the other evening” stuck in my craw. The music sounded like it was made by a crazy person, which was disturbing.
For some reason I taped the whole thing before I warped the records over a hot plate and returned them to The Wherehouse(record chain). I don’t remember what I exchanged it for, but I’m sure it was something worse, that at the time, seemed better.
I’d play the tape for friends as a curiosity, introducing it as “This guy founded Pink Floyd, went crazy, made this music and disappeared”. Each time I’d let it play a little longer, and pretty soon I was hooked. Some of it was, and is, pretty painful listening, hearing the struggle to get those songs on tape. Still there was something so compelling that Syd has, to this day, never left my playlist.

From the "Madcap Laughs" session 1969

From the "Madcap Laughs" session 1969

What I’ve collected here are some of the more obscure gems. “Vegetable Man”, and “Scream Thy Last Scream”, are some of the last attempts at coming up with a hit single, in the wake of “See Emily Play” that Syd wrote before being booted out of the band. For some reason they are not included in the newish 3 cd re-release of Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, the first album by Pink Floyd, and the only one featuring Syd as a leader. The story I’ve heard about “Vegetable Man” is that Syd was picked up and taken to the studio, where there was enormous pressure on him to come up with another hit. The lyrics are a catalog of what he was wearing at the time. It was rejected by the label, as was “Scream”. “Lucy Leave” and “King Bee” are acetates recorded as demos in 1965, and why they only appeared recently I chalk up to the information age we are living in. I have the files, but I’m not sure of their origin. These days the difference between unreleased and released is a pretty porous border. “Two of a Kind” was recorded for the John Peel Show, and “Bob Dylan Blues” is from a recent compilation, originally from a cassette owned by David Gilmour.

Here’s the connection I’ll make that I haven’t seen before:
While on their disastrous, and abbreviated US tour, Syd got a haircut from Vidal Sassoon in New York which he hated. This is the haircut that “looks so bad” in “Vegetable Man”.
Here can be seen said haircut in a promotional video made for “Jug Band Blues”,
Syd’s last contribution to a Pink Floyd album.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTtXVrANEhU

Syd, "Wish You Were Here Sessions" July, 1975

Syd, "Wish You Were Here Sessions" July, 1975

wiki
Barrett had one noted reunion with the members of Pink Floyd, which occurred in 1975 during the recording sessions for Wish You Were Here. He attended the Abbey Road session unannounced, and watched the band record “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” — a song that happened to be about Barrett. By that time, he had become quite overweight, had shaved off all of his hair (including his eyebrows), and his ex-bandmates did not at first recognize him. Eventually, they realized who he was and Roger Waters was so distressed that he was brought to tears. Barrett’s behavior at the session was erratic, and he spent part of the session trying to brush his teeth by keeping the brush still and jumping up and down. Roger finally managed to ask him what he thought of the song, and he simply said “sounds a bit old” and walked out of the studio. This would be the last time any member of Pink Floyd would ever see him. There is a reflection on the entire day in Nick Mason’s book Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd. A reference to this reunion also appears in the film The Wall, where the character Pink, played by Bob Geldof, shaves off all of his body hair after having a mental breakdown, just as Barrett had.

Vegetable Man
Scream Thy Last Scream
Lucy Leave
King Bee
Two Of A Kind
Bob Dylan Blues

Kaleidoscope/Fairfield Parlour

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

One of my favorite things about being alive is discovering great music. I’ve been into it for so long I’m always surprised when I find something that’s been around awhile and has somehow eluded me. Kaleidoscope caught me completely off guard. It’s crazy that music this good could remain so obscure. All of their albums are well worth hearing. Recently, while I was painting a picture, I had them all on my mp3 player and listened non-stop for a week.

First album (1967)

First album (1967)

The English band KALEIDOSCOPE (not to be confused with American band KALEIDOSCOPE which existed at the same time, played basically psychedelic rock too, and were also ignored by the public) is an almost forgotten band from the late sixties and early seventies.
In 1967 they released Tangerine Dream. The album comprises fine psychedelic songs with experimentations and arrangements like many of the top psychedelic and early progressive bands from that age (THE BEATLES, PINK FLOYD, THE MOODY BLUES). They got lots of airplay and recorded many BBC sessions, but didn´t sell well. They eventually released more singles, like ‘Jenny Artichoke’, which was a success, but sold poorly, and another album, Faintly Blowing. It was released in 1969, showing a progression of it’s predecessor in terms of sound. Although still psychedelic, the compositions were getting more progressive. The album unfortunately failed to chart.

2nd album (1969)

2nd album (1969)

They released a final single, ‘Balloon’, before changing the name to FAIRFIELD PARLOUR and becoming totally progressive oriented. The band didn’t achieve success and they were unlucky at the time, failing to chart and having problems (including some sabotage) in all great gigs they had, including the famous Isle of Wight, which they were the responsible for the ‘Theme Song’ of the festival (released under the name of I LUV WIGHT).

Fairfield Parlour – “From Home To Home” (1970) was released to the same indifference as the others. For some reason there is no mention of it in the prog archives article I lifted. (Sorry the writing’s so bad, even after I practically re-wrote it)-Ed

WHITE FACED LADY was their last album, recorded in 1971 partly with the help of Mike Pinder, from THE MOODY BLUES. The album was a conceptual double-album with many orchestral arrangements. The band had a deal with Vertigo at that time, but they were dropped and moved to CBS, who refused to release it. It stayed shelved for twenty years, until 1991, when Kaleidoscope Records, a label created just to release the album, put it out under the name of KALEIDOSCOPE, although actually recorded by FAIRFIELD PARLOUR. The band split in 1972 due to the lack of success (they were offered less than 20 dollars to play the last gigs). So ended the career of a great psychedelic and progressive rock band which had the talent to be one of the major progressive rock acts of their age. Sometimes bad luck is all it takes. Kaleidoscope was even more unlucky than Big Star.

Last album (recorded 1971, released 1991)

Last album (recorded 1971, released 1991)

3rd album (1970)

3rd album (1970)

Dive Into Yesterday
Faintly Blowing
In My Box
A Story From Tom Bitz
Standing
If So You Wish
Sunny Side Circus
Epitaph-Angel