Thursday, December 22, 2016

"Brothers and sisters, I wanna see a sea of hands out there, let me see a sea of hands. ."

Your bluff has been called and you are clearly a liar if you tell me your family aint dysfunctional. But siblings playing music together – a no brainer, no? Back in LA I used to have the Allman Brothers lp with the cover I have scanned featured prominently on my record shelf facing forward more as an art curiosity featuring the Allman’s Planet of the Apes/inbred mugs scribbled by whoever the bootleggers hired cheap outside the local high school art class. That said, I really like listening to the Miami-Macon Sessions (not sure if issued in 1972 or 1975) – just a bit grittier than the later studio versions of some of the songs on Eat a Peach and I keep revisiting it. Duane Allman’s solos on Melissa are worth it for the price of admission alone.

 Along the brother line, the last and only time I saw the Sun City Girls (with Six Organs on the bill) with my pal Joseph in Hollywood was truly a masterclass in rock trio dynamics. It is cliché to say that the brothers have a telepathic connection but that night propelled by the monster drumming of the much missed Charles Gocher, the room levitated. In my opinion (at least this week), the most important and influential band to evolve out of US hardcore, a point which only took 30 years to manifest itself to the masses (though Forced Exposure had kinda nailed it as early as 1987), led by brothers Rick and Alan Bishop. Funeral Mariachi is the saddest lp of the past decade hands down.

But sibling rock (though I know all genres have their long lists) really is in a class unto itself and my bookshelf is filled with critical breakdowns more heavily weighted to this class than any other: Ron and Scott Asheton, Kris and Kurt Kirkwood, Karen and Richard Carpenter, Nancy, Suzi and Patti Quatro, Phil and Don Everly, John and Dix Denney, the Bishops, Jeff and Steven McDonald, the Barrett Brothers Helen, Betty and Dot Wiggin, Solomon and Jay Gruberger, Angus and Malcolm Young, the Cowsills, Chip and Tony Kinman, David and Hamish Kilgour, Frank and Rick Agnew, Ann and Nancy Wilson, David Sylvain (Sylvain) and Steve (Jo) Jansen, the Jacksons, Epic Soundtracks and Nikki Sudden, Johnny and Ronnie Van Zant, Kim and Kelley Deal, Ray and Dave Davies, the aforementioned Allmans Brothers, Vicki and Debbi Petersen, Rich and Chris Robinson, Liam and Noel Gallagher, Tom and John Fogerty, Ernie, Ron and Rudolph Isley and Tim and Sean Presley. Do the Bradys and Partidges even count – they do in my book insofar as a simulacrum of the real thing.

A few years back I had been obsessed with Jay and Solomon Gruberger – not only their music with O Rex and that first Afrika Corps lp, but particularly with their music writing that I could lay my hands on. Their odd competitiveness in each having their own fanzine sold me. Such an obsession had already happened last century for me with my lifelong obsession/love of the music and very idea of the Bee Gees and the Beach Boys. Not sure if the Grubergers would have liked to be in such company given the lack of heaviness such as heard in their beloved Mountain. The Bee Gees and Beach Boys though are really their own category. It is three brothers dynamic that Brian Wilson speaks to in his “spiritual love in music” intro to the Gibbs. Take a look at Brian Wilson’s induction of the Gibb Brothers and tell me there is anyone else who really grasps that dynamic as much as Brian Wilson – it is very similar to that telepathic twin dynamic. I rewatched that heartfelt induction recently (having taped it live on videotape when first broadcast and forgotten about the JT cameo) which put me on to thinking about sibling rock and watching the CCR induction again as well minus Tom Fogerty. Is the animus between Tom and John any less heated than between Pettibon and Greg? Sure there are lots to add to the list so go ahead.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

John Cougar Mellencamp Covers the Stooges/The Great American Songbook Part 1

So when somebody decides to release another cover record of the “Great American Songbook” we all know its fraudulent nature from the get go when the likes of this Pop/Williamson composition is not in there. A nausea inducing cover to those partial to the Gulcher/Gizmos/MX-80 crew Weltanschauung, to me it sounds like JCM's very Jobriath-y influenced interpretation. Did Mainman still have some interest in the publishing rights to have JCM record this? Weary of the waltz and mashed potato schmaltz? Look no further! At last someone has made this recording easy to share so I don’t have to tear up the barn looking for it. Recorded in 1975 (!!), lp released in 1976, only to appear as a 1998 CD bonus track:

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Lightnin' Strikes!/Mike Love's Rock n' Roll City Cassette LP (1983)

A great KRTH or KRLA oldies blast – FM or AM take yer pick. I really dig this early 70’s take on Christie's own 1966 hit. From Lou’s Jemaine Clement-Gentlemen Broncos/Gene Clark 1965/Carl Wilson look (ALL DENIM!) to the great backing band and singers, this moves from the Four Seasons’ falsetto to windows down, sun out, got my RADIO ON, Wall-o-Sound, Beach Boys bliss.: The Jan & Dean take from 1966's great Filet of Soul amps up the Spector sound another notch: Now, how could I not know that Mike Love and Dean Torrence actually covered Jan & Dean covering Lou Christie – even better with a pseudo KRTH bumper. Inspired by Klaus Nomi's underground hit cover? Did Kip Brown play this at Moby Disc over the in store speakers which has subconsciously seeped into my 1983 head? From the Love and Dean Torrence cassette only (? Grady?), Radio Shack exclusive album Rock 'N' Roll City):

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Roxy Music "Full House" 25 November 1972/"I hope things will turn out right Old Man"

Unfortunately, the entire Roxy Music "Full House" performance from 25 November 1972 has not appeared in one piece. October 1972 has the group wait out while Ferry has a tonsillectomy, and December 1972 has Roxy in the US opening for the J. Geils Band, Humble Pie, Ten Years After, the Steve Miller Band, Edgar Winter, Jo Jo Gunne, the Allman Brothers and Dr. John the Night Tripper. I actually think in retrospect some of these pairings make a lot of sense, not sure how the crowd at the Miami Speedway would have treated Eno though. In between, we get Full House at the BBC studios in London. The clip below of "For Your Pleasure" with the unsynced sound comes from the 2007 collection The Thrill of It All: A Visual History 1972-1982 where it is synched (enjoy the screen grab). The review of For Your Pleasure in Rolling Stone amusingly noted: "The title tune ends the album, but is it a tune? It sounds like dogs barking repetitively for minutes on end. Maybe it is Eno's genius at work, but if so you've gotta be Mensa level to understand him or be so stoned you still think the drum solo on "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida" is a tour de force." Uh, I kinda take offense as I like Ron Bushy's solo on the lp version. "For Your Pleasure" is a concise statement of where the band was at - can you name another Krautrock-inspired art pop track that clocks in at around three minutes. There is a time coded clip from Full House in circulation as well but is incomplete. The BBC will likely unearth the whole session for one of its extra channels in the near future but until then . . .

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The First European (Proto) Velvets Cover?

Thinking about Bowie and his early championing of Reed/Cale, I have always liked the Downliners Sect crusher "Why Don't You Smile Now" but forgot that of course, it is in part a Reed-Cale composition. From the same year, 1967, as Bowie's VU covers. Bowie acknowledged the Downliners Sect as a big influence on David Jones and the King Bees, so do we thank Don Craine for the Velvets intro to the UK (along with Bowie). The Sect 45 was a Sweden-only release and Pärson Sound were already onto their VU/Cale drone sound via Terry Riley among others, but this may have been Cale-Reed's intro to Swedish am radio:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

"Now that’s the essence of Mod" - Bowie Covering the Velvet Underground Before the First VU LP Released in US/The Deviants Covering "Prominent Men" 1965-1966? [Repost 2012]

Is the music game only about one-upmanship? Who was hep to who at the earliest? Do you really care? I do. Grady has recently pointed out that Bowie covered "I'm Waiting for the Man" as early as 1967, which turns out to be before the first VU lp even came out in the US! I even had the track on the Bowie "Rare and Well Done" cd but as boots go, it had the date listed as a 1969 demo. That boot also has the track "Litle Toy Soldier" with its Small Faces-ish rewrite of "Venus in Furs" listed as 1969 as well. According to this excellent and illuminating write-up, which lays out the timeline, the who and how, it demonstrates that the proverbial race to the courthouse door does matter if you care about such things. Or is it "first in time, first in possession"? “Now that’s the essence of Mod,” Bowie boasted [about covering the VU before the lp was even out]." Turns out "Little Toy Soldier" dates from 1967 as well, again with the Riot Squad. Not so fast flash. Mick Farren had an acetate of the 1965 VU demos (stolen from Joe Boyd!) that eventually became the first disc of the "Peel Slowly and See" box set around the same time (1965-1966) so maybe he can claim the hep crown from old carrot top. We need Mick to see if he can scrape up some rehearsal tapes to back up his claim! First lets hear Bowie tackle Lou twice in 1967: What I can say with absoulte certainty is that the British were among the first to "get" the Velvet Underground in a broader cultural sense, and that the influence was seeping into the consciousness of folks like Mick Farren and David Bowie as early as 1965-1967. Makes me want to dig out my original U.S. Sire pressing of the Deviants' "Ptoof" right now. I remember reading with some astonishment Ritchie Unterberger's interview of Farren back in 1999 right here and it would behoove you to remind yourself of what their approach encompassed.
Q: What were the Deviants' inspirations when you starting coming together around late 1966?
MF: We didn't know what we were doing, for a start. The most exciting thing at the time was probably the Who. Probably what Pete Townshend was doing. But that in a way was kind of big time major hit single rock'n'roll. The two rather diverse things that we were listening to was on one hand, we were getting the first ESP records by the Fugs. And at the other extreme, I was listening to a lot of... particularly the album Mingus [did], "Oh Yeah," with Roland Kirk, with "Ecclusiastics" and "Passions of a Man" and "Eat That Chicken" and all that stuff on it. Bob Dylan of course. We were trying to like blend it all into something that made sense, without very much money. The Fugs had a certain kind of jugband appeal, which fitted our income at the time. Joe Boyd [producer of Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, and numerous other late-'60s bands] brought over some tapes of the Velvet Underground, which we stole off him, and somebody immediately stole off us. That was the most interesting thing that seemed to be a similar kind of synthesis, coming from the same sort of background. [The tapes] were pre-first album (ED: i.e. predating the Velvets' famed "Banana" LP).. I was almost beginning to think I'd dreamed them. Everybody denied all knowledge of them. We performed a song called "Prominent Men" for a while that we took off those tapes. And suddenly they resurfaced. They're the very first tapes on the Velvet Underground box set. [The tape] was ["Prominent Men"], three or four versions of "Venus In Furs," the very strange acoustic version of "Waiting For The Man," "Prominent Men," "All Tomorrow's Parties." [We were] a bunch of guys who'd really come out of the sort of British North London art school R&B band scene. Like the Pretty Things; that was really our heritage. We were trying to like push it in simultaneously a more demented and more intelligent direction. 'Cause we couldn't really be spending our time recycling old Jimmy Reed tunes. So we were looking for something to do. I think basically Lou and Cale got in there first. It was very much a sort of parallel development, London and New York. That's where we felt things were happening the most. You know, we were pretty incompetent at the start. We were pretty incompetent at the end. But more money came in. The amplifiers got bigger. We all got ourselves fierce amphetamine habits, and at that point, kind of ear-bleeding noise took over for a while. Plus we were also kind of listening to Zappa, which definitely affected the way we made the first album.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

"I Used to Sing With a Group Called the Zombies"/misty roses and wings over america/Neil McArthur Never Died [2011/2016]

[NB: When I first wrote this about five years ago, the performance on the OGWT had not yet surfaced. Hadn't thought to look for awhile so nice to finally see it and thanks to Steve T. for the memory refresh. Note the Creepy Crawl confusing set of badges in the still image lacking in the performance itself]

Looking through the March 2, 1972 issue of Rolling Stone (Dylan cover, natch) in the barn, I came across the article below on Colin Blunstone and the upcoming release of his first solo lp "One Year." I can't remember if Tim or Rubin Fiberglass was the one to first tip me off to its sublime greatness. A premier interpreter of the likes of Tim Hardin, Zombies-mate Rod Argent, Denny Laine (!) and others, the record is over before you know it. The image shows Colin recording a track for the Old Grey Whistle Test with a string section which presumably was his version of "Say You Don't Mind." Unfortunately, while that OGWT appearance has not yet surfaced, the original of Denny Laine's has (in full "Sgt. Pepper"/"Piper At the Gates of Dawn" mode), as well as a short performance by Hardin of "Misty Roses" with a brief appearance by Twiggy on her show Twiggs. Sam Rockwell as Hardin in a biopic?