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

The Act You’ve Known For All These Years

This has been a popular idea for some time.
I first encountered it in the ’70’s when critic Robert Hilburn suggested in the LA Times that although they’d broken up, you could assemble virtual albums from their solo work.
This can be done for every year they all made albums.
The first possibility is most interesting to me.
Almost all of these songs, except for the selections from “Plastic Ono Band” (which include Ringo), were at least written while they were still a band, if not rehearsed during “Let It Be”.

 

It’s clear they were all moving in different directions, but that was also apparent on “The White Album”.

Enjoy!

-BBJ

Beatles ’70

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

Now That’s What I Call Bullshit 60

 
(Dion-“Now”)

All Killer No Filler!!


If I was in control of a radio station, let’s call it WBBJ(WBuzz-Baby-Jesus), my playlist would be based on Duke Ellington’s concept of “There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind”.

They all begin with the “needle drop”. This sound inspires delicious anticipation. I salivate when I hear it. Apparently the ancient Greeks used a bit of cacophony to start a performance, as it defined the silence immediately after. This particular needle drop is “The Night Tripper” by Dr. John. A record I found on the street in Soho.

2- “Campesina” by Spiteri, from 1973. Led by Venezuelan brothers, Charlie and George, Spiteri was released in England as an answer to Santana.
It never charted anywhere, and they didn’t make any more albums. And so this one gem makes its mark in history as a collectors’ ‘must have’ and an album that could have been…. but never was. Still, never too late to enjoy it! I don’t always know where I found something, but in this case it’s here.

3- “What’s Right” by David Werner from his eponymous 1979 album. It’s brilliant, and actually made the charts. Song writer, recording artist, and record producer, he is also known for his two RCA glam rock releases “Whizz Kid” and “Imagination Quota”. All are worth checking out.

4- “Dirty Boys” is my favorite from David Bowie’s latest, “The Next Day”. (2013)

5- “Don’t Swallow The Cap” by The National. I read a great review of this album in the NYTimes. Reminds me of ’80’s Bowie. The jury’s still out, but I like this song. (2013)

6- “Now” – Dion and The Wanderers. From his late ’60’s album “Wonder Where I’m Bound”, which no one bought, this song is powerfully good. With it’s kind of California folk-rock arrangement, it doesn’t sound a thing like “Runaround Sue” or any of his other hits. One thing for sure, the man can sing. (1968)

7- “Ride Your Pony” – Lee Dorsey. I chose this over “Working In A Coal Mine”. (1966)

8- “The World Is A Ghetto” – War. I like to include a couple actual hits in the mix. The context elevates the more obscure tunes. That they hold their own is evidence that the biggest reason they didn’t chart has more to do with luck than quality. (1973)

9- “Walking The Whippet” – Andy Mackay from his 1974 album, “In Search Of Eddie Riff”. With a nod to “Telstar”, this instrumental features Phil Manzanera, and is pretty much Roxy Music without a singer.

10- “Jungle Lullabye” – CW Stoneking from his 2008 album “Jungle Blues”. This Australian singer songwriter guitar banjo player manages to evoke 1920’s music without sounding like a museum. This song is a favorite around my house. Great arrangement by the Primitive Horn Orchestra.

11- “Blue Monk” Original founding members of NRBQ, Terry Adams and Steve Ferguson from “Louisville Sluggers” (2006). Thoroughly affectionate and charming cover of Monk’s tune.

12- “The “In” Crowd” by Dobie Gray is just cool. (1964)

13- “Stop Me, Citate Me” By The Fraternity Of Man, best known for “Don’t Bogart Me” from “Easy Rider” Its original members included three musicians from Lowell George’s band The Factory – Richie Hayward later of Little Feat, Warren Klein, and Martin Kibbee. This countrified psychedelic artifact tells a familiar tale with humor without being a novelty. (1968)

14- “Melody” Formed in 1990, Custard is an indie rock band from Brisbane, Australia. Working similar territory as XTC, they wrote short snappy pop songs with elements of rock n roll and the occasional pedal steel. “Melody” will stick in your head.

15- “Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)” by Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel for the album “The Best Years of Our Lives”. Somehow I missed this when it came out in 1975. Infectious as hell, it reminds me of Eno at his glam-poppy best.

16- “Sad Is The Way That I Feel” Mark Eric (1969). Really obscure slab of Beach Boy homage. On a side note, Eric was also a teen actor, appearing on The Partridge Family, among other TV shows of the 60s.

17- “Shelby GT 356” The Chesterfield Kings. From their foray into surf music “Surfin’ Rampage” (1997). This Rochester NY institution has been exploring various forms of rock music since the 1980’s. They get all the details right, down to their outfits.

18- “Muswell Hillbilly” Southern Culture On The Skids take on The Kinks classic. I’ve been a Kinks fan since “You Really Got Me”, and I can be pretty hard to please, but I think they get all the important things right on this. The rest of the album “Countrypolitan Favorites” (2007) is just as good.

19- “Be My Guest” Neil Finn From “The Kitchen Sink”, a collection of rareties and demos. (2004)

20- “Car Song (Non-Album Track)” Fresh Maggots (1971). Impossibly obscure bit of early ’70’s British folk. This catchy tune is more fun than anything else on the album.

21- “Freddie’s Dead” Curtis Mayfield, 1972. Another actual hit. The single was released before the Super Fly album, and in fact before the film itself was in theaters. It peaked at #4 on the U.S. Pop Chart and #2 on the R&B chart.

22- “Played The Game Too Long” The Original Texas Playboys Under The Direction Of Leon McAuliffe(1979). I found this vinyl rip over at Willard’s.

Special Thanks to TWILIGHTZONE! and Willard’s Wormholes

Art Included.

Now………….60

Number Fifty Two

The Playlist

A friend sent me a link to someone’s idea of the greatest rock guitar solos on record because “Baby’s On Fire”, one of my first posts, and a guitar solo I’d nominate for some kind of “best” list, was on it. I can’t remember what the other eleven tracks were, except I wasn’t familiar with most of them, or my response was, “What?!”. A brief email correspondence took place where I nominated a handful of solos that would be on my list, and got as far as promising it would be the theme for the next “Bullshit”. I started to jot down some ideas, a little disappointed that “Baby’s On Fire was already on Number Fifty when I realized I had no interest in compiling or listening to all that fretful wankery.
Also I’d collected the solo-less “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” from Lux N Ivy’s Favorites and already earmarked it for Now That’s What I Call Bullshit 52.
All the Bullshits tend to follow the same pattern of eclecticism, so I lost the guitar solo theme. That said, a few of them made it onto the playlist. They are grouped together in a mini set consisting of “Old Pervert”, possibly my favorite Kimberly Rew solo from The Soft Boys Underwater Moonlight. Interesting because this version is not on the cd reissue, where it has been replaced by a vastly inferior rendition. This version is dubbed from a cassette copy I made in 1986 of the original vinyl release. Next up is “Lounge Lizard” from Ian Hunter’s first solo album featuring Mick Ronson on guitar. It’s really hard to narrow Mick down to a single solo, but I think this one stands out for all the right reasons. After that comes “Tit-Nan-Darag”, from Live, Love, Larf by French, Frith, Kaiser, and Thompson. Three out of four of those guys are well known for their guitar prowess. The other guy for the incredible drumming in Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band. I hear the album isn’t great, but this track smokes, and when Richard Thompson plays, I listen. It wasn’t destined for my list, but his solo on Fairport’s “Tale In Hard Time” is no laughing matter, either. It’s not a solo, but Blixa Bargeld’s guitar on “The Moon Is In The Gutter” is some of my favorite atmospheric noodling. Davy O’List plays some crazy shit on “The ‘In’ Crowd”, Mick Ronson shimmers tastefully on “Up To Me”, and the guitars on Acetone’s “No Need Swim” are as gorgeous as you-fill-in-the-blank.
Keef’s playing on “Honky Tonk Women” and Ron’s solo on “Twisting the Night Away” would have both made the cut, but I’ve heard them too many times, so here they are together on “Not Fade Away” from The Stones Stripped Deluxe, where no one in the band sounds like they plan on fading away any time soon. And then there’s Lou Reed on “You’re Driving Me Insane”, a song recorded by The Roughnecks shortly before forming The Velvet Underground, where he plays the practically same solo (if you can call it that) as “Run, Run, Run” from the “banana” album.
The Mekons always have good guitars, and are here because this song narrowly missed the cut on my post a few months back. One of the Mekons, Lu Edmonds, is currently playing guitar on tour with Public Image Ltd.
The Liquor Giants “I Don’t Mind” is a dead ringer for Big Star. Too bad it wasn’t covered by them on In Space.
Something by Chris Spedding would have found it’s way onto the guitar list, check out Roy Harper’s “The Game” on an earlier post, so I end the set with the Sharks hysterical “Kung Fu”, from Jab It In Yore Eye(1977). One of those albums that wouldn’t make it onto anyone’s all-time list, but for some reason I played to death way back when, largely due to Spedding’s incredible tone and economy coupled with Snip’s charismatic vocals.
There isn’t any guitar at all on Gene Krupa’s “Scandanavian Baby”, but it rocks nicely and comes from a history of Jazz record my parents bought at a supermarket when I was a toddler.
It’s really about the songs anyway.
Link in Comments.
Enjoy!

Number Fifty One

The Ancestral origin of my blog

Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies is not shown, but you get the idea

Throughout the ’70’s and into the ’80’s (and apparently into the ’90’s in cd form) Warner/Reprise had what they called their “loss leader” program. The inner sleeves offered the opportunity to buy  two record samplers for two dollars apiece. The idea, of course was that you’d go out and buy the full albums at full price.

I had and still maintain a restless ear that needs a constant supply of new music. It’s rare I play any one thing to death.  As a kid I never had enough money to buy all the music I craved, nor any older siblings to “borrow” from.  As soon as my parents left the house I’d turn on their Magnavox and go to the right of the dial looking for the freeform FM radio stations lurking around 106. This was a full decade before KROQ. The DJ’s would spin a lot of discs without saying anything so I rarely knew what I was hearing, except  it was dangerous, and my parents would hate it, saying it was “Acid Rock” played by people on dangerous drugs (Turns out they were right about that).  As soon as I saw the garage door open off it went before the oppressors caught on what I was up to. Except for when I forgot to turn the radio back to their regular station. They were not amused when greeted by Frank Zappa and the Mothers lovely “Mudshark” from “Live at Fillmore East 1971”

I might have been at a friends house smoking catnip and looking at his big brother’s Black Sabbath album when I noticed the offer on the sleeve. Otherwise I have no idea what album I might have cut out the order form to send off with $3 for Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, a 3 record set filled with the likes of The Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac, The Beach Boys, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, The Faces, Randy Newman, Ry Cooder, Captain Beefheart, Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks, Little Feat, T-Rex, Alice Cooper, The Fugs, Black Sabbath, along with lesser known acts as like Pearls Before Swine, H.P.Lovecraft, Half Nelson, and Beaver and Krause.
Waiting six weeks for that sucker to arrive was an eternity. It came as a  Box set with Elmer Fudd on the front.  There were extensive liners with biographies and photos.

I just saw one for $90

Eventually I bought six or seven of them. The influence of these records on my development was huge.

Sadly I got rid of them during the great Punk purge of 1979, when suddenly everything sounded so tame, and irrelevant.
Pictured above is one I never owned, as it seemed “too old” in 1972 when I started buying them. I found this one in a thrift store and bought as a tribute to fond memories of all the others.

All through college and continuing today I’ve made compilations similar in concept to these records, although I didn’t put this together until fairly recently. That said, I have to admit my blog is an extension and a descendant of them.
The tradition lives at  Now That’s What I Call Bullshit.

Last week a friend sent me a DVD loaded with something like 600 MP3’s, so I made a playlist of a surveying less than 10% of the music. One song off each album made for 48 tracks and 2.8 hours of music. From the highlights I made a compilation cd for the car.
Entitled, Now That’s What I Call Bullshit 51, it is here for you to download if you like. The link can be found in the comments. Enjoy! And feel free to buy anything you can’t live without.

Of course after I wrote this last night I thought to Google “Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders” and found a buttload of articles about the series including this one:

http://www.dustbury.com/music/wbloss.html

Go there for the full story.

The Playlist

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)

Tangoed Up In Blue

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Luis Albert Spinetta likes a crowd

Luis Albert Spinetta likes a crowd

Here’s another artist from left field catching me completely off guard. I was working on a 3 cd set of obscure prog rock, and I needed one more album or artist to make it complete. I checked out  Sakalli, a veritable gold mine of high quality music, specializing in 60’s and 70’s rock (with an emphasis on prog), looking for something I’d previously missed, when I stumbled upon Almendra. I’m not sure why I’d passed them up before, perhaps because they were from Argentina, and their albums were from 1969 and ’70, which is a little early for prime prog rock.

Spinetta Y sus amigos Almendra

Spinetta Y sus amigos Almendra

I downloaded Almendra II, listened to half of “Toma El Tren Hacia El Sur”, thought it had promise and burned a cd to play in the car (one of my favorite listening rooms). Later that day I returned to Sakalli, and similarly, Pescado Rabioso caught my eye.

70% of what I download without first hearing isn’t worth the effort, time, or hard drive space, but this was something else again.

The first song from Artaud also sounded worthy of a burn. I listened to the whole thing while assembling my annual Christmas cd’s. It wasn’t until I went back to reread Almendra, or check out another Pescado Rabioso album that I realized the same artist was responsible for all this music.

I ordered a ham, not a glam, sandwich

I ordered a ham, not a glam, sandwich

He is Luis Alberto Spinetta, and the founder, singer, songwriter, and guitarist in Almendra, Pescado Rabioso, and Invisible, all considered legendary in the history of Argentine rock.
Last week I downloaded eight albums, two are doubles. This covers The years from 1969-1976. He is still active.
It was really difficult picking out seven representative tunes, as the albums are all worth listening to in their entirety.
There are many songs over 6 minutes long which are really little suites.
The sound is uncluttered with the musicians playing the majority of the music live in the studio together.
It’s some of the most original and exciting rock music from anywhere I’ve ever heard.

Not square, but the record was round.

Not square, but the record was round.

His album Artaud, essentially a solo album released as Pescado Rabioso, was initially package in an oversized cover, awkwardly shaped, which would not fit comfortably into a standard record rack.

wiki

Anything but

Anything but

Luis Alberto Spinetta is an Argentine musician, one of the most influential of South America, and together with Charly García and Fito Páez is considered the father of Argentine rock. He was born January 23, 1950, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the residential neighbourhood of Belgrano. As a kid he listened to all kinds of music: folklore and tango, and a little bit later, rock. As with almost every other rocker of his generation, The Beatles would change his life. In 1967, in the midst of a repressive political climate, he formed a band called Almendra with school mates.
It was 1969 and his band, Almendra, recorded their first album. The band started recording and playing intensely and it became successful almost overnight. Almendra composed its own songs and the lyrics were in Spanish (something radically new). The subtlety and beauty of their sound would be one of the milestones (maybe the first) of Argentine rock. After two albums that enjoyed radio diffusion and deserved fame, the band split. Spinetta composed and recorded a new solo album, but an inadequate environment (he would later say that the mood of Argentine rock and rockers of those times were too “heavy” and negative for him) and the vast changes that success effected on his life made him leave the country.
After a lengthy stay in Europe, he returned to Argentina and formed a new band: Pescado Rabioso. It was destined to be as mythical as Almendra. With a far more powerful sound and expressing the tension in the streets of an increasingly violent Argentina, Pescado recorded its first album in 1972. It was both a continuation of the creative stream of Spinetta and a drastic change in the style of his music and lyrics. The band recorded a second album; although a third one carried its name, Pescado was by then dissolved; Artaud, recorded in 1973 and mostly a solo album by Spinetta, was a major breakthrough. Partly based on the writings of Antonin Artaud, Spinetta exorcised many of the demons of his past in this album. This process would open the door to a new era in his music.
In 1974 he formed a new band, Invisible. With his new band he recorded three albums; Invisible, Durazno Sangrando (together with Artaud, hailed as his best album ever), and El Jardín De Los Presentes. With Invisible, he left the powerful and rough sound of Pescado; the new tunes were more harmonic, soft and mellow, yet his work remained essential and revolutionary. Following this line, he embarked on a solo project, A 18´ del Sol, after dissolving Invisible in 1976–77. By then, ten years later after starting his career, his style had become a delicate amalgam of old and new; the old pop and (proto) heavy rock had merged with various elements of jazz and bossa nova. That unique flavour would become his style during the next half decade.
After recording and editing a failed album in the United States in 1979 (the only album that Spinetta lamented ever doing), with lyrics in English and destined to the US market, Spinetta returns to Argentina and starts a prolific era: he would record two albums with a short-lived Almendra Revival (one with original songs and the other live), and embark on a new project: Spinetta Jade.

More recently

More recently

Ana No Duerme
Toma El Tren Hacia El Sur
Algo Flota En La Laguna
Viajero Naciendo
Las Habladurias Del Mundo
En Una Lejana Playa Del Animus
Nino Condenado

The Great Unknown Ollie Halsall

 
 
 
 
 
 

“Ollie may not have been the best guitarist in the world, but he was certainly among the top two.”

John Halsey, 1997 (Drummer for Patto)

Ollie Halsall 1974

Ollie Halsall 1974

“Allan [Holdsworth] was very meticulous, very clear. He had a vision about what he was trying to do. Ollie was a lunatic, a chameleon, again: in any circumstance he’d find a way to make it work. Interesting guy! I liked Ollie a lot.

“I never heard him in PATTO, no. He just came recommended to me, and when we played we hit it off, I thought he was great. When we were a trio, we did some fantastic gigs – Mark Clarke, Ollie and me.

Jon Hiseman 2004, Drummer, founder of Tempest

I had been planning a Patto post for some time when a few days ago I stumbled upon Tempest, another top-flight band that managed to stay off my radar an unusually long time. This is especially surprising given my fondness for Patto and my long familiarity with Ollie’s work in Kevin Ayers band. The little I’d read didn’t prepare me for Living In Fear, The second album by Tempest, released in 1974.
He was a replacement for Allan Holdsworth, and the album generated even less interest than the first one so it seemed like an insignificant side project. As it turns out Ollie was the principal songwriter and singer, as well as keyboardist, playing synthesizer for the first and last time. Usually everyone focuses on his playing, but his gifts as a singer and songwriter are considerable, Living In Fear sounds a lot like a less jazzy Patto album, with Ollie’s voice and phrasing quite reminiscent of Mike Patto’s.
It is also forward looking as the cover of The Beatles “Paperback Writer” is revved up in a way prototypical of punk rock almost four years later.

Oliie, John Hiseman, And Mark Clarke

Oliie, John Hiseman, And Mark Clarke

“When I joined Tempest, I was surprised by the amount of Heavy Metal material that they were doing”, he rationalised to Melody Maker in July. “I was very surprised, because I thought they were going to be into something very different from that, because I was writing the material.
“I wanted them to do more songs, but I don’t think they really wanted to be drawn in that direction. I was always more Interested in singling and songs and writing than Instrumental things, but Jon Hiseman always wanted an instrumental-based band.”
-Ollie Halsall

“Given that late-period Tempest was essentially Halsall – chief singer, songwriter, guitarist, pianist, synth-player – plus a rhythm section. Ollie’s comments on the band’s musical direction might well be considered a trifle disingenuous. Be that as It may, his departure sounded the death-knell for Tempest.”

-David Wells-May 2005-from The Ollie Halsall Archives

Peter John ‘Ollie’ Halsall (14 March 1949 – 29 May 1992) was a left-handed guitarist and is best known for his role in The Rutles, the bands Patto, Timebox and Boxer, and for his contribution to the music of Kevin Ayers. He is also notable as one of the few players of the vibraphone in rock music. He was known as Ollie because of his distinctive way of pronouncing his surname with a dropped ‘h’. The Ollie Halsall Archive was established in 1985, with the aim of documenting and promoting the work of a unique musician.

Halsall came to London in 1967 to play vibraphone with the pop rock outfit Timebox (which included bassist Clive Griffiths and keyboardist ‘Professor’ Chris Holmes. Halsall took up guitar, they enlisted Mike Patto on vocals and drummer ‘Admiral’ John Halsey.

It has been suggested that the electric guitar parts played in Donovan’s psychedelic 1968 single “The Hurdy Gurdy Man” were played by Halsall.

In 1970, following the departure of Holmes, Timebox evolved into the band Patto. They played a unique blend of progressive Jazz rock featuring Halsall’s guitar work, which developed legendary status.

In 1973, Halsall left to join Jon Hiseman’s Tempest. After less than a year, he quit and did numerous sessions including a track for Kevin Ayers which this led to a permanent position in Ayers’ band The Soporifics.

In 1975, Patto staged a brief reunion comprising just three benefit gigs. The reuniting of Halsall and Patto sparked the formation of Boxer during 1975. Boxer never reached its true potential, as Mike Patto died in 1979 during the mid term of their contractual obligations to the Virgin record label and are best remembered for their debut album Below The Belt and its controversial sleeve design.

Probably the best known recording of Halsall is his work on the album The Rutles (1978), on which he plays many of the instruments and provides backing and lead vocals, most notably on the tracks “Doubleback Alley”, “With a Girl Like You” and “Get Up and Go”. Eric Idle was cast in his place in the accompanying film and Halsall only featured as a very minor cameo role as Leppo, the fifth Rutle who became lost in Hamburg.

During 1976 Halsall had rejoined Ayers with whom he stayed for the next sixteen years. In 1989, he replaced ill Enrique Sierra of Radio Futura, a Spanish rock band.

A finished solo album remains unreleased – produced by Robert Fripp.

Halsall died from a heroin overdose in 1992.

Whilst working with Radio Futura, Ollie volunteered to chaperone one of the band who had become hooked on heroin. Although a drinker, Ollie had emerged relatively unscathed from his rock career. so it came as a complete shock when he died of an overdose in 1992, having spent all his considerable earnings on heroin.

He had been hooked on it by the very musician he was trying to protect, who had insisted that, whilst a more expensive pastime, there was no danger if you smoked instead of injecting.

On the night of 29 May 1992, in the flat he shared at 13 Calle de la Amargura (‘Bitterness Street’), Madrid, desperation drove Ollie to try the cheaper way. He misjudged the quantity and was found dead the next morning.

The Musicians’ Union paid the expenses and his girlfriend, singer Claudia Pujol, brought his ashes back to be scattered on the beach at Cala Deià.

Sittin’ Back Easy
(Patto)
Living In Fear
Paperback Writer
Yeah Yeah Yeah
Waiting For A Miracle
Dance To My Tune