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

Little Bit Of Magic

 

"Little Bit Of Magic" Not found here.

Rosco Gordon’s “Little Bit Of Magic” is the #2 song I’ve been searching my cassette archives for. This originally came from a Swedish “best of” I bought in 1984. Most of the songs were from the fifties and early 60’s, the usual tunes including “Booted”, and “No More Doggin”, but at the end, something unusual, “Little Bit Of Magic”. Apparently a 1969 single put out on Bab-Roc, Rosco’s own label, this is the only “modern” soul music I’ve ever heard from him. No proto-ska “Rosco’s Rhythm”, but a heavy funk-soul workout.
I’ve never seen it again, and on YouTube someone has posted an earlier version of the song.
I used to think it would have been a perfect vehicle from Bryan Ferry, had he recorded it in the ’70’s when he was relevant.
Anyway enjoy the tune, it smokes. I wonder what was on the “B” side?

Here’s a link to Youtube uploaded by DJ Soulmarcosa. You can at least see the artifact.

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

Little Bit Of Magic

Some Bright Stars For Queens College

 

The culprit

Two weeks before I built it, I said for the benefit of everyone else in the room as they unpacked their effects pedalboards, that I’d never use one. I thought of myself as some sort of guitar purist. I was into my guitar, it’s pickups, and a cord plugged straight into a tube amp. At the same time I was playing bass in another band and in order to have more colors in my pallette, I’d started to bring the analog delay and tremelo pedals, and of course all the wall warts, patch cords, and irritating set-up that go with them.  It flew in the face of my of my plan to keep things as simple as possible.  Also we moved from one rehearsal room into another and in the process, I found, in a milk crate full of unloved pedals, a Electro Harmonix Micro Synthesizer.

That night I was playing synthetic beats and thought it would be interesting to hear them squashed through it (true).  It was these and other convergences that inspired me to build my pedal board which I no longer know how I lived without.  I run everything through it.  It’s great, it fits in a hard shell case.  I pull it out, plug it in, and I’m ready to go, tuner on and everything.  The hard shell case had been in my basement storing a discarded cassette machine, next to an old suitcase filled with tapes I’d often thought of getting rid of as I had no plans of going back to them, except occasionally to archive something I couldn’t find anywhere else.  A few of my posts feature these digitized recordings.

So the cassette machine, naked, went back down to the basement and my painting studio, where I have a pretty awesome stereo.  I had been listening to NPR or my mp3 player.  I got the bright idea of hooking up the tape machine.  I opened the suitcase which held almost 300 tapes, some dating back to the late ’70’s, and others as recent as 2001.

It turned out to be a great idea, the cassettes sound good , and a reminder that the mp3’s we all listen to are not better, necessarily, just convenient.  In fact an mp3 ripped from an audio cd is a rough equivalent to a song a taped off an lp.  I became reacquainted with my mixtapes from the mid to late ’80’s.  The most exciting discoveries being found in the space at the end where the 45 minute side was longer than the vinyl album and the dead space filled with the random odd thing.  I have about 3,000 cd’s representing most of the music I need to have at my fingertips.  I’d long ago foolishly discarded almost all my lp’s, and most of it has been replaced digitally, but there were a few long lost gems I began to realize I might find in the cassettes.  The lp’s have been gone for decades but here were copies pickled back in the day, all the wondrous surface noise which had sent me over to cd’s in the first place now a charming reminder of  how music used to sound.

The scene of the crime

I became obsessed with one recording in particular.  Out of all the music I’d ever heard, there was one astonishing bit of recorded music I’d never been able to replace on cd.  I knew it would turn up somewhere, unless it was something I’d taped over, which unfortunately  happened pretty often.  At least a quarter of them had been sacrificed for car tapes from cd’s I still have.  The lp in question was David Bedford’s Nurse’s Song With Elephants from 1972.

David Bedford had been involved with the british art rock scene in the late ’60’s and ’70’s as a string arranger for the likes of Roy Harper, and Kevin Ayers.  He orchestrated and conducted Mike Oldfield’s The Orchestral Tubular Bells album (1975).

(wiki)

The first album to consist entirely of David Bedford compositions was Nurses Song With Elephants, recorded at the Marquee Studios, and released in 1972 on John Peel’s Dandelion label. On this album, Bedford mixed classical ensemble with poems and voices. “Some Bright Stars for Queen’s College” uses twenty-seven plastic pipe twirlers, John Peel himself being among the pipe twirler players. There are five tracks on the album: “It’s Easier Than It Looks”, “Nurses Song With Elephants”, “Some Bright Stars for Queen’s College”, “Trona” (1967), and “Sad and Lonely Faces”.  Bass guitar on the title song is played by Mike Oldfield and the final track features a poem by Kenneth Patchen that is sung by Kevin Ayers.

The Album

After about a month of searching, I’d already found Sad And Lonely Faces, so I knew I was on the trail and success was possible.  I found a cassette simply labelled “ex Albums ll”, which I sussed was made of choice cuts just before selling the records to buy my first cd’s back in 1991.   I’m a painter and all this time I’m listening, I’m painting pictures, sometimes not paying real close attention, but this time I was standing there, waiting to see what came next.  About 3/4 of the way through, and after Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s amazing Space Guitar, and Magic Sam’s 21 Days in Jail, there it was, I’d found my holy grail.

I’m not sure why I picked this out of everything to obsess over, except that it’s one of the most oddly compelling pieces I’ve ever heard.  There is a lot of air moving from acoustic sources, always a powerful experience.  All those girls voices make my hair stand on end in a good way.  Anyway I was very happy to hear it again, and wanted to share it this holiday season.  Enjoy!!!!!

Some Bright Stars For Queens College

Frankly Brilliant

 

I painted this seven feet high

I didn’t “get” Frank Zappa for a long time. My friend Slow Uncle, did, and tried to interest me. I eventually bought We’re Only In It For The Money, largely for the hilarious send up of Sgt Pepper’s album cover, but I didn’t think the songs were very good. I mentioned a couple posts back being exposed to “The Mudshark” from Live at Fillmore East, June 1971, and my parents disapproval, but I wasn’t really ready for it. I liked the toilet humor and everything, but I hated jazz and the music was over my head.

Still cracks me up

When I moved into my dorm room at San Diego State in the fall of 1976, we were encouraged to paint our rooms or if we felt like it, murals outside our rooms. Sounds crazy, but this was the ’70’s. Even though I wasn’t a fan of his music I always admired his irreverence, that’s why I painted his likeness from We’re Only In It For The Money next to the door outside my room. I don’t have a picture of it, but to the right is what I copied, including Frank’s wondering, “Is This Phase One Of Lumpy Gravy?”

I was no longer living in the dorm in the Spring of 1978 when he played the amphitheatre on campus where I witnessed a phenomenal performance. After the last song the audience stood and began clapping and yelling for what seemed to be 30 minutes or more.
Eventually Frank came onstage and said, “You people are crazy. We can hear you all the way in the dressing room”, at which the band came back out and proceeded to play another hour and a half.  Interesting detail:  There was a guy in Frank’s band I never heard of  that played guitar and did a dead-on Dylan impersonation.  His name was Adrian Belew.   A month or three later I went to see David Bowie at the San Diego Sports Arena and there he was again! I thought he was great until he started singing on King Crimson records.

A couple months ago, Q, drummer in Foglizard, where I am a member of the rhythm section, said he planned to spend the summer listening to Frank, and did I own anything he could borrow?  I had Fillmore East June 1971, and Ahead Of Their Time.  I did some research and managed to acquire 17 FZ releases for personal review.
I tend to prefer the work of the original Mothers of Invention. Maybe because they were a band he joined and took over. After he fired them in 1969, he hired ever more amazing musicians, but with a diminishing amount of soul.

In around 1991, I bought a cd copy of Cruisin With Ruben And The Jets, an album I remembered as being a fun parody/tribute to old R&B and Doo Wop. There was something terribly wrong with it, which turned out to be that Frank had rerecorded the original drum and bass parts for reasons only understood by him. I got rid of it right away. Turns out He also ruined We’re Only In It For The Money in a similar fashion. Fan’s outcry against this was so strong he eventually restored We’re Only In It For The Money, but not before referring to them as “fetishists”. He never got around to Ruben before his death, so I found an original vinyl rip of the lp. It’s a mystery why he thought those bass and drum tracks needed replacement. It’s kind of like Paul McCartney replacing John Lennon with Mark Knopfler.
If you buy the Zappa Family Trust’s Lumpy Money, you’ll be treated to the horrible remix of WOIIFTM as a “Bone us” disc.

"A last ditch effort by the Mothers to get their crummy music on the radio"

I encourage you to read the whole Zappa/Mothers story on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Zappa

If you don’t have the time or inclination here is an interesting tidbit:

During his childhood Zappa was often sick, suffering from asthma, earaches and sinus problems. A doctor treated the latter by inserting a pellet of radium into each of Zappa’s nostrils; little was known at the time about the potential dangers of being subjected to even small amounts of therapeutic radiation. Nasal imagery and references appear both in his music and lyrics, as well as in the collage album covers created by his long-time visual collaborator, Cal Schenkel.

Long Out Of Print

Anyway I’ve compiled a fun disc worth of music by the original Mothers. There are some songs from Mothermania, a long out of print “best of” compiled by Frank in 1968, containing substantially different mixes from the original albums. Also are some cuts from Cruisin With Ruben And The Jets, which is kind of the spiritual center of my comp which I call Motherama. All these tracks come from rips of the original vinyl releases. The rest are from Freak Out, Absolutely Free, Uncle Meat, Burnt Weeny Sandwich, and Weasels Ripped My Flesh.

I also included a passage from Playground Psychotics (1992) which has Jeff Simmons quitting the group a few days before shooting 200 Motels. He was replaced by Ringo Starr’s chauffer at the last minute. This is followed by two tunes from Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up, an out of print 1970 album by Jeff Simmons produced by Frank under the pseudonym of Lamar Bruister. “Lucille” and “Wonderful Wino” are about the only songs in Frank’s catalog that credit a co-writer. Frank plays guitar and Ian Underwood is featured. Both tunes turn up later in Frank’s discography in less interesting versions.

For your immediate listening pleasure I’ve included a rare “live” version of “Plastic People”. I read that before real music was written for it they played it over “Louie, Louie”. This must be that.

I think this stuff has aged really well.  Frank’s social commentary was/is right on the money.

I am now a fan.

Plastic People

Link in Comments.

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!

Alex Chilton RIP Big Star

 

Bach's Bottom

William Alexander “Alex” Chilton (December 28, 1950 – March 17, 2010) was an American songwriter, guitarist, singer and producer best known for his work with the pop-music bands the Box Tops and Big Star.
Chilton’s early commercial sales success in the 1960s as a teen vocalist for the Box Tops was not repeated in later years with Big Star and in his indie music solo career on small labels, but he did draw a loyal following in the indie and alternative music fields.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Chilton

The original artifact

I moved to New York City August 1, 1988. It took awhile to get settled which really means not about to get evicted. When I finally had enough coin to buy a little baggie of weed and make a trip to the record store it was sometime in March, 1989. I know this because I have a cassette dated April 1, 1989, which I must have made within a week or two of buying Big Star’s Third. I’d heard of Alex Chilton, knew he’d been a Box Top, and that he was responsible for music I needed to hear. Mixed with this impression was also tragedy, and or failure, and that while he was still making music it wasn’t as it turned out more Big Star. I’d never run across any of his stuff until I found 3rd which I bought and loved on first listen. It was recorded in sessions produced by Jim Dickinson at Ardent in Memphis during 1974, but never properly sequenced and released until years later.

Of course I was back at the record store looking for more within days, where I purchased my second Alex album, Bach’s Bottom, which was an entirely different experience. I’m dense enough not to have realized until just now that the title was a pun on “Box Tops”.
The title wasn’t the only thing that mystified me. The vinyl record of 3rd didn’t have all the extra songs the cd’s come with, just ten of the best, most solid tunes. No “Downs” for instance.
How did the brilliant songwriter and performer who crafted this masterpiece follow it up with the junk on Bach’s Bottom (1975)?  Exactly the question every Big Star fan wonders.  I went back to the record store and bought High Priest. More lame, barely listenable crap, including a throw away “Volare”.   After that I just zeroed in on the Big Star albums and avoided Alex’s solo work just like most post Velvets Lou Reed.

When I really liked something, I’d make a cassette copy to listen to every day and archive the vinyl.  I’d read somewhere once that a record begins to sound different after about eight plays.  I would have copied 3rd almost immediately. The blank cassette I had available was a C-60, so I filled the end of each side with “highlights” from those other albums.

One song from Bach’s Bottom I couldn’t stop listening to was “Take Me Home (And Make Me Like It)”.  Before posting this I did a little research and found that there are three versions altogether on the 1993 Razor and Tie version of the album.  I think the one I like is #2, but on Amazon, the sample you can hear has so much banter at the top that it cuts off before the song actually kicks in.  The version posted is dubbed from the cassette. It’s the only thing I really remember about Bach’s Bottom, maybe my copy had more than one version, I don’t know.  It took me half a day to find the cassette, which disintegrated while I made the transfer, in fact about 2:30 in you can hear where it was almost eaten.   The spirit captured by the recording is so great, I love Alex’s instructions about the headphones and the helpful advice at the end.  Everyone is obviously lit up like a tree,  the performance’s sub demo quality get’s by on charming exuberance and the song still comes through, even though he’d just previously sung “It’s The Singer Not The Song”, which by the way, isn’t true.
It’s got this great tension between what it is and what it could have been which is the story of Alex Chilton’s career.  That’s why I’m posting this and not one of the Big Star classics which I figure everyone else is doing.

I meant to get this up days ago, but I became suddenly busy with Globular Cluster.

"Global" Cluster had a blast at this show

Take Me Home And Make Me Like It

Here is a very brief video by William Eggleston shot in Memphis about the same time as sessions for 3rd (Sister Lovers) (1974). Captures perfectly the studio ambience of Memphis nightlife found on  “Take Me Home And Make Me Like It”, I think.
Eggleston has contributed the cover photos for both Big Star and Alex solo albums Radio City, ColumbiaLike Flies On Sherbert,  and others probably as well.  I’ll have to check later.

The Grandest Time

here’s another:

Be Nice

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