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

(Before) Before And After

The cover art is a silk screen print I made in 1978.

I vaguely knew Eno as the guy Eddie Jobson replaced in Roxy Music. At the time I was only familiar their third and Eno-less album, “Stranded” (1973).
I picked “Here Come The Warm Jets”, Eno’s first, because it looked slightly glam, and the title Zappa/Beefheart/Alice Cooper loony. The song titles were just as nuts.
Then I saw that Robert Fripp and John Wetton, two of my favorite musicians from my favorite band, King Crimson were involved.
Buying it was a no-brainer.
It’s Proto-punk Glam rock is nothing like the ambient works he’s largely known for today.
“Baby’s On Fire” features a Robert Fripp solo over 3 minutes long, which stands as some of his most fiery work.
From “Here Come The Warm Jets” to “Burning Airlines Give You So Much More”,
“Taking Tiger Mountain(By Strategy)”, from 1974 is much less ramshackle, but fortunately just as quirky.
When “Another Green World” came out in 1975, things were changing. About half of it is instrumental, pointing the way to his groundbreaking ambient work, “Music For Airports”(1978).
Unlike his previous albums, which were recorded in a very short time, “Before and After Science” (1977) was two years in the making. I never got into that one. I thought it was a little slick and bland.
My original plan for this mix was to be career spanning. I began by listening to Disc 3 of the irritatingly packaged and annotated Eno Vocal Box.
It consists of “R.A.F.” b-side of “King’s Lead Hat”, cuts from “My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts” an impressive yet ultimately dull album, 90’s collaborations with John Cale, “Nerve Net”, and the withdrawn “My Squelchy Life”.
While it wasn’t entirely without charm, it bored me to death. So much so that I nearly gave up.
Fortunately I decided instead to start from the beginning.
There is something in his first 3 albums, that has been missing for decades.
It was before he knew what he was doing. Before success, acclaim, and high profile productions for other artists.
I’m a fan, and he’s been a huge influence on my work as a musician, and a painter. While I like and respect his recent work, these early attempts at rock stardom continue to scratch my itch for art damaged excellence.

Two songs are technically by Phil Manzanera. “Miss Shapiro” is from “Diamond Head” (1975). Eno co-writes and sings. “Third Uncle” is from “801 Live” (1976). He is the vocalist and writer. Backing musicians are the usual suspects.

Enjoy!
-BBJ

(Before) Before And After

Or

Before Too

A fun fact I ran across:

Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy (Chinese: 智取威虎山; pinyin: zhì qǔ wēihǔ shān) is a Chinese film from 1970, during the height of the Cultural Revolution. The film was directed by Xie Tieli and was based on a contemporary Beijing opera, one of the eight model plays allowed during the Cultural Revolution. The story is based on the novel Lin hai xue yuan (林海雪原) and tells the story of an incident in 1946, during the Chinese Civil War.
Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy has been identified as one of the most watched films of all time. Official Chinese government statistics claimed a total audience of 7.3 billion through the end of 1974. The large audience can be attributed to the fact that few films were produced during the Cultural Revolution, and almost all earlier films were banned; nevertheless, the average village held ten film showings per year, and failure to attend could have been seen as a sign of political deviation. Hence, Chinese citizens would have been expected to see the film multiple times during the Cultural Revolution era.

Weed, Whites, And Wine

I’m “Willin'” to admit that Little Feat’s “Sailin’ Shoes” just might be my favorite album of all time.

I’ve written elsewhere about the life changing moment I received “Looney Toons And Merrie Melodies” (1970), a Warner’s Loss Leader’s 3 record set I sent away for.
“Strawberry Flats” was the third song on side one, after Faces “Had Me A Real Good Time”, and Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”, and before Fleetwood Mac’s “Tell me All The Things You Do” from “Kiln House”.
I liked the other songs, and I bought all those albums too, but “Strawberry Flats” stood out. So many ideas packed into a little over 2 minutes.

I didn’t know what a record store was. All I knew was the local Target equivalent. They didn’t have “Little Feat”, so I settled for “Sailin’ Shoes” with it’s bizzarre cover art.
From the chiming opener, “Easy To Slip” I liked it. A lot.

I’ve come to recognize it as a perfect encapsulation of it’s time and place. Southern California in the early ’70’s. I hear elements of Country Rock, CSNY, The Eagles, Flying Burrito Brothers, Warren Zevon, Captain Beefheart, and of course, The Mother’s Of Invention.

I’m on my third vinyl copy and have the cd.

This compilation is a tribute to Lowell George, founder and guiding light. He was a tremendously gifted guitar player, singer, songwriter, producer, and bandleader. It recreates the order I first heard them. “Strawberry Flats” followed by “Sailin’ Shoes” in it’s entirety, and then highlights from “Little Feat” and “Dixie Chicken”.

Lowell George met Bill Payne when he was a member of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention.
Payne auditioned for the Mothers, but didn’t join. They formed Little Feat along with former Mothers bassist Roy Estrada and drummer Richie Hayward from George’s previous band, The Factory. Hayward had also been a member of the Fraternity of Man whose claim to fame was the inclusion of their “Don’t Bogart Me” on the million-selling Easy Rider film soundtrack.
The name Little Feat came from a comment made by Mothers’ drummer Jimmy Carl Black (The Indian of the group) about Lowell’s “little feet”. The spelling of “feat” was an homage to the Beatles.

There are three stories about the genesis of Little Feat.
One has it that George showed Zappa his song “Willin’,” and that Zappa fired him because he was too talented to be a sideman, and he should form his own band.
The second version has Zappa firing him for playing a 15-minute guitar solo with his amplifier off. The third version says he was fired because “Willin'” contains drug references.
On October 18, 1975 at the Auditorium Theater in Rochester New York while introducing the song, George commented that he was asked to leave the band for “writing a song about dope”.

In any version, Zappa was instrumental in getting George and his new band a contract with Warner Bros. Records. The eponymous first album delivered to Warner Bros. was recorded mostly in August and September 1970, and was released in January 1971. When it came time to record “Willin’,” George had hurt his hand in an accident with a model airplane, so Ry Cooder sat in and played the song’s slide part.
“Willin'” was re-recorded for “Sailin’ Shoes”, this time with guest Burrito “Sneaky Pete” on pedal steel. It’s the the first Little Feat album to feature cover art by Neon Park, the artist responsible for Zappa’s “Weasels Ripped My Flesh” (On which Lowell is a member of The Mothers).

Despite good reviews, lack of success led to the band splitting up, with Estrada leaving to join Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band (And even more lack of success).

In 1972 Little Feat reformed, with bassist Kenny Gradney replacing Estrada. Also added was second guitarist Paul Barrere, a friend of Lowell’s from Hollywood High, and percussionist Sam Clayton (brother of session singer Merry Clayton). As a result the band was expanded from a quartet to a sextet.

I was so excited when “Dixie Chicken” came out, until I played it. They had 3 new people in the band and it tilted towards New Orleans, and lite funk, which was not what I was looking for.
However, the title is a classic and “Fat Man In The Bathtub” is one of their finest moments.
I didn’t hate the album.
Then came “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now”. Another Neon Parks cover, and a reworking of two songs from “Sailin” Shoes” played as a medley. Which I now understand was made to better reflect their live shows at the time, for which they were getting quite a reputation, but to my ears was a travesty.
I didn’t buy any more of their albums after that.

George continued to produce the albums, but his songwriting contribution diminished as the group moved into jazz fusion, a style in which he had little interest. In August 1977, Little Feat recorded a live album from gigs at the Rainbow Theatre in London and Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC. “Waiting for Columbus” is considered by many to be one of the best live albums of all time, despite the fact that significant portions of George’s vocals and slide work were over-dubbed later in the studio. It was released in 1978, by which time it had become apparent that Lowell George’s interest in the band was waning, as was his health.

In an interview with Bill Flanagan (for the book Written in My Soul) conducted eleven days before his death, George made it clear that he felt the demise of Little Feat was due to his having allowed the band to be run democratically, with the result that Payne and, to a lesser extent, Barrere, had a presence as songwriters and in production which was disproportionate to their abilities.

Nowhere on the wikipedia page I reworked for some of this does it mention that Lowell’s drug use was a contributing factor to his abdication of leadership in the band. Or that Zappa fired him for smoking dope.

His only solo album, “Thanks, I’ll Eat It Here” (1979) is mostly covers. I’ve never heard it.

Too bad there isn’t more of this.

Link In Comments

Here Comes The SUN

If Elvis is Jesus then Sam Phillips is GOD. I’ve read Peter Guralnick’s terrific two volume biography of Elvis, as well as “Lost Highway: Journeys and Arrivals of American Musicians”, so I look forward to his latest, “Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock N Roll”.

All the songs on this collection come from the accompanying 2 CD set curated by the author.
I don’t have a single argument with his selections. These are my favorites sequenced by me.
Everybody should stop off in Memphis on their way to New Orleans. When I had to pick one or the other I chose Nashville, and I don’t regret it, but next time will be Memphis.
In the ’80’s I had a friend working in a record store who routinely sold me fancy imports at her employee discount. I discovered SUN through Charly Records, and their top-shelf reissues. They all look and sound great. I still have a lot of them including a 9 record set of SUN Blues.

I dug the brief post- punk Rockabilly revival of 1980 (culminating with “Crazy Little Thing Called Love), and even formed a band with a childhood buddy which went on without me to get a record deal and everything(Jimmy And The Mustangs).

I know all these songs like I wrote and played them myself and you should too.
The music speaks for itself. Regardless of the weather have a SUNny weekend!

Here Comes The Sun

Jimmy Plagiarist

 
Worth tracking downThis post began as a feature on the underrated, yet highly influential Davey Graham. I was blown away when I acquired his 1964 album Folk, Blues, & Beyond, and first heard his amazing rendition of “She Moved Through The Fair”.  I’ve been into the British Folkies since way before breakfast, and I’d heard of him, but never ran across any of his records.  I forget which of my favorite blogs first clued me in, but suddenly my whole understanding of the late ’60’s folk thing shifted.  The raga break in Fairport Convention’s “Nottamun Town” didn’t seem so brilliantly original.  That eastern flavor is Davey Graham’s contribution.  He developed the DADGAD tuning in order to play oud music on his guitar while travelling through Morocco. It’s also a sitar tuning.
Anyway “She Moved Through The Fair” sounded very familiar.  That’s because Jimmy Page, while a Yardbird, appropriated it, retitled it as “White Summer”, and has performed it as a showpiece and signature song without ever crediting Graham for the arrangement or the tuning making it possible.
I bought “Hammer Of The Gods” for $2 at a flea market in Woodstock last weekend, and according to it’s author, after touring Australia with the Yardbirds,
“Jimmy flew on to India, where he wanted to hear Carnatic Music.  He arrived alone, in Bombay on the Arabian Sea at three in the morning with a duffel bag over his shoulder, and spent days in the streets, listening to itinerant musicians.”
I don’t know about you, but that sounds a little like a fantasy.
Two pages later when describing “Little Games”, the subsequent , final, and only Yardbirds album featuring Jimmy Page he mentions one of the highlights being,
“”White Summer,” Jimmy’s Carnatic madrigal that was his solo showpiece in concert”
I figure since he’s a plagiarist he’s probably a liar, too.  I don’t know about his India story, but as long as he’s stealing a man’s music, why not some of his legend as well?
Here’s a little wikipedia on Davey Graham:
“Graham’s spontaneity made him unreliable and unpredictable, which did little to advance his fame or endear him to concert organisers and the more commercial elements of the music world. In the late 1960s he was booked for a tour of Australia but, when his plane stopped for an hour in Bombay, he changed his plans and spent the next six months wandering through India.”

Martin Carthy from the back of Folk, Blues, And Beyond
“Davy is one of the great originals on the folk scene; in fact I think he’s probably the great original. Davy’s discovery of DADGAD really was the great leap forward and his performance of “She Moved Through The Fair” in this tuning at the troubadour was mind blowing.”

Carnatic madrigal my arse.
Many of Led Zeppelin’s signature tunes are shameless rip-off’s of other artist’s ideas. All I can figure is that their manager, Peter Grant said something like, “They can go broke suing us.”

Jimmy bought this album in 1967

In a 1990 interview with Musician magazine, Jimmy Page quickly soured when questions veered into this territory. The Q and A exchange is quoted below.

Musician: I understand “Dazed & Confused” was originally a song by Jake Holmes. Is that true?

Page: [Sourly] I don’t know. I don’t know. [Inhaling] I don’t know about all that.

Musician: Do you remember the process of writing that song?

Page: Well, I did that with the Yardbirds originally… The Yardbirds were such a good band for a guitarist to play in that I came up with a lot of riffs and ideas out of that, and I employed quite a lot of those in the early Zeppelin stuff.

Musician: But Jake Holmes, a successful jingle writer in New York, claims on his 1967 record that he wrote the original song.

Page: Hmm. Well, I don’t know. I don’t know about that. I’d rather not get into it because I don’t know all the circumstances. What’s he got, The riff or whatever? Because Robert wrote some of the lyrics for that on the album. But he was only listening to… we extended it from the one that we were playing with the Yardbirds.

Musician: Did you bring it into the Yardbirds?

Page: No, I think we played it ’round a sort of melody line or something that Keith [Relf] had. So I don’t know. I haven’t heard Jake Holmes so I don’t know what it’s all about anyway. Usually my riffs are pretty damn original. [laughs] What can I say?

from wikipedia:

During a 1967 tour of the United States by English rock group The Yardbirds, Jake Holmes performed as the opener at the Village Theater in Greenwich Village on August 25, 1967. The Yardbirds were inspired by his performance and decided to work up their own arrangement. Their version featured long instrumental passages of bowed guitar courtesy of Jimmy Page, and dynamic instrumental flourishes. Page has stated that he obtained the idea of using a violin bow on his guitar from a violinist named David McCallum, Sr*., during his session days before joining the Yardbirds in 1966. At that time, it even had a little Eastern influence, as can be heard on some French television appearances. It quickly became a staple of The Yardbirds’ live performance during the last year of their act.
The song was never officially recorded by the band, although a live version recorded on 30 March 1968 is included on the album Live Yardbirds: Featuring Jimmy Page under the alternate title “I’m Confused”. Notably, it is the only track that has no songwriter credits on the release. Another live version of the song, recorded on the French TV series “Bouton Rouge” on 9 March 1968, was included on the CD Cumular Limit in 2000 and was credited “by Jake Holmes arr. Yardbirds.”

When the Yardbirds disbanded in 1968, Page planned to record the song yet again, this time with Led Zeppelin. According to Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, the first time he heard the song was at the band’s very first rehearsal session at Gerrard Street in London in 1968: “Jimmy played us the riffs at the first rehearsal and said, ‘This is a number I want us to do’.” Led Zeppelin recorded their version in October 1968 at Olympic Studios, London, and the song was included on their 1969 debut album Led Zeppelin.
The Led Zeppelin version was not credited to Holmes. Page used the title, penned a new set of lyrics, and changed enough of the melody to escape a plagiarism lawsuit from Holmes — the song’s arrangement, however, remained markedly similar to the version performed by The Yardbirds the previous year.While Holmes took no action at the time, he did later contact Page in regards to the matter. Page had not replied as of 2001. In June 2010 Holmes filed a lawsuit in United States District Court, alleging copyright infringement and naming Page as a co-defendant. The 2012 live album Celebration Day attributes the song to “Page; inspired by Jake Holmes”, although the writer’s credit with ASCAP remains unchanged.

Here is “Dazed And Confused” by Jake Holmes from his 1967 album, The Above Ground Sound of Jake Holmes. The Yardbirds saw Jake perform this and Jimmy Page bought the album at Bleeker Bob’s the next day.
 

*I believe the origin of the violin bow can be seen in this YouTube video of The Creation playing their excellent “Making Time” in 1966. (Eddie Phillips brings the bow out at 1:40)


“Hammer Of The Gods” repeatedly states Led Zeppelin’s affinity for the California sound (“Going To California”), especially San Francisco’s Spirit. Here is a brief instrumental by Randy California, from Spirit (1967)entitled “Taurus”. It’s quite lovely and the central theme is the basis for “Stairway To Heaven”.
 

Bert Jansch

“Black Mountain Side” from Led Zeppelin’s debut, and credited to Jimmy Page is really Bert Jansch’s arrangement of the traditional “Black Waterside” with a new title. Bert Jansch (11/03/43-10/05/11) was also influenced by Davy Graham, and like Martin Carthy, not adverse to giving credit. Here is “Black Waterside” from his 1966 album Jack Orion.
 
Led Zeppelin has been sued by and settled with bluesmen for several songs, “Whole Lotta Love”, for instance. I didn’t include them as the blues are slippery, the originals they copied were themselves built on other tunes. That’s blues. I didn’t mention that “Communication Breakdown” is a re-write of Eddie Cochran’s “Nervous Breakdown” because it isn’t as obvious. Most music is built out of other tunes. But you either render it unrecognizable, thus making it yours, or you give credit where credit is due.


Here are a couple Yardbirds tracks Jimmy would rather you didn’t hear:
“Knowing That I’m losing You” later turned up as “Tangerine” with Keith Relf’s uncredited lyrics intact.
 
The “original” “White Summer” from Little Games (1968)
 
“Usually my riffs are pretty damn original. [laughs] What can I say?”
Thanks to Willard for turning me onto “Taurus”. While the post was taking shape I ran across Will Shade’s fine article:
“THE THIEVING MAGPIES:
Jimmy Page’s Dubious Recording Legacy
Part 2

where I found a lot of information/inspiration.
She Moved Through The Fair
Dazed & Confused
Taurus
Black Waterside
Knowing That I’m Losing You
White Summer