Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Savoy Brown / The Nice / Family

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Savoy Brown The Nice Family Poster

The Weaver's Answer / Strange Band

Listen: The Weaver’s Answer / Family
The Weaver's Answer / Family

One of the great triple bills from ’70, still trading on the English Invasion angle that was becoming a distant marketing ploy.

No problem here. My friends and I ate it up. Couldn’t leave early enough that morning to make a day of hanging out on the campus, pretending to be college kids. The serious Anglofiles, crowded onto the entrance steps of The Palestra Auditorium for a solid few hours prior to doors opening, provided the ultimate social scene. Everyone opinioning and bragging about one record after the other. It was almost as much fun as the show.

I think it was well attended, up front there was no looking back.

We were very seriously not prepared for the power of Family live. No one in the room was. And I do mean no one. I’d only seen their three albums in the store, never heard them and as much as I wanted ownership of at least one record, some other title always took their purchase slot. Turns out, this was my favorite lineup, having become obsessed as a result of the show and then seeing them many times. Poli Palmer on xylophone most of the night, a stunning player. And John Weider on guitars and violin. It was the first band I saw playing any of these instruments (except Brian Jones on vibes during ‘Under My Thumb’), not to mention changing them up for each song.

The ace in the deck for Family was always Roger Chapman. Definitely an acquired taste vocally, you still seldom see a madman like him, totally possessed. Once you experienced Family in person, their recordings made perfect sense, vividly bringing back his on stage intensity.

They couldn’t catch a break in The States. Bill Graham banned them from The Fillmores. Don’t know why. This particular night the audience was into it, but a few years later, opening for Elton John, things didn’t work out the same. I remember many of the crowd booing. I couldn’t believe such a sophisticated group of great musicians were being booed. I was embarrassed. But the band tore threw it unflinched. This was ’72. Sadly it was to be the last time they toured the US. Props to Elton John for having them.

The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack / The Nice

Listen: The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack / The Nice
The

The Nice were on Immediate. This was a big deal.

Immediate was a serious label to this bunch. A lot of conversation was had earlier on the steps about the greatness of the roster. Everyone was clued into the supposed stage antics of Keith Emerson, still I don’t think we were really ready. When he mauled his organ during ‘America’, it was shocking. Everyone took a step back as the knives came out. All these skinny English people with crazy energy. The flower power stuff from their albums interested me a lot. I think they stopped playing that stuff pretty quickly as the prog symphonic material took center stage, plus I assume Emerson, Lake & Palmer were right around the corner. I remember hearing this tour was simply honoring contractual commitments. Didn’t seem like it being a wide eyed kid upfront.

Made Up My Mind / Savoy Brown

Listen: Made Up My Mind / Savoy Brown
Made Up My Mind / Savoy Brown

Savoy Brown were theatrics-free, but never mind, they tore it up. In keeping with the evening looks wise, the underfed, velvet and stacked heeled Englishness prevailed. Can still remember these fair haired frail guys playing wicked blues. Probably very white, but this was prior to seeing any of the originals, so all new, all impressive. RAW SIENNA had just been released, and their set covered a lot of it plus some prior singles (‘Made Up My Mind’, ‘Train To Nowhere’) and their theme at the time, Muddy Waters’ ‘Louisiana Blues’. Like Family, this was a classic Savoy Brown lineup, with Chris Youlden on vocals and Tone Stevens on bass.

I'm Tired / Savoy Brown

Listen: I’m Tired / Savoy Brown
I'm Tired / Savoy Brown

My vivid memory of Kim Simmonds starting off ‘I’m Tired’ is as plain as day. It was my first time up super close, literally with elbows on the stage, and thinking ‘he makes it look so easy’, the true sign of a great guitarist.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Kim Simmonds

On the way out of town after the show, we stopped at a late night record/head shop near the campus, figuring out who would buy what, strategizing so that collectively we arrived home with records by all three bands. Picked these handout charts up at the counter, with some pretty interesting playlist titles. Yes, the days of underground radio…..and the ‘Super Heavy Sound’ of Janis Joplin. See them below:

WHFM 3-5-70

WHFM 11-5-70

WHFM 12-4-69

Ike Turner

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Listen: Right On / Ike Turner
Right

Lux and Ivy once pulled me aside in Toronto’s Kop’s Collectibles while we were shopping for 45′s just after doing a MUCH MUSIC interview. In deadpan seriousness, Ivy handed me an Ike Turner single proclaiming if I did not own it, I needed it. “He’s incredible, like seriously incredible.”

“Forget all that whoee about his domestic life, the records, just get ‘em all”, Lux in an almost scolding tone.

I have obeyed, and as an email I recently got specific to my several posts on this blog conveyed, you can never have enough Ike & Tina Turner.

‘Right On’ came out as a 7″ back when I was a college rep for United Artists, desperately interested in The Move, Wizzard, The Bonzo Dog Band and Family from their current roster, but also into the occasional Blue Note (who they distributed) funk-jazz release and any Monk Higgins or Bobby Womack single.

How I missed, misplaced or failed to pay attention to ‘Right On’ is a scary blank in my memory. It’s so good, so racey, so unforgettable. What the fuck happened? Did I black out for three months or something? Well, I’ll never know. But as I lie here in bed, with it on repeat and type this post, I can tell you one thing. At this very moment, it’s my favorite record in the whole wide world.

These lyrics are hysterical. Listen to every one. It may take a few plays, and I suggest headphones, but you’ll pick them up. Ike’s delivery will get in your face, maybe even scare you a bit, his voice is that alive. Wow.

Last week, while out on the Matt & Kim / blink-182 tour, we had a day off in Pittsburgh. Typically, they hit the Warhol museum, I think the crew went to a sporting event of some stadium sort, and I hit today’s version of the yellow pages, Google, looking for used 45′s. First thing that comes up: Jerry’s Records.

I rang to ask, did they have 45′s from the 50′s and 60′s. It was Jerry who answered.

Affirmative. “About 700,000.”

Hmm, ok, sounds like a bit of a stretch, but certainly more than a few boxes, and it was close, four miles. What the heck.

Lord have mercy. This was the most jaw dropping, overwhelming record store I can recall being in, maybe ever. If you visit, and you seriously must, be ready. What you see pictured above is one row from the $3 section of 45′s, then a few of those rows representing around one third of that total $3 section. Plus there’s the $7 section, the new arrivals and the $100+ locked room, none of those even pictured here. In total, they all take up maybe one quarter, tops, of the entire shop. The rest is albums. The walls are lined with memorabilia and every space is crammed with old displays and trade ads and, and, and……

I stood there frozen, body and brain. Couldn’t think of one single I needed for like five minutes. It was that powerful. But once I got going….forget it.

Promise yourself you will visit, and don’t plan on doing it in just one day. Maybe bring a stretcher. You might need to leave on it.

Like ‘Right On’, which I purchased at Jerry’s, I’d somehow never heard of either.

Aren’t records the greatest! There are so many, you never run out of the need to keep looking.

If

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Listen: The Promised Land / If
The Promised Land / If

Jazz rock didn’t usually work for me. The description of If, a UK version of Blood, Sweat & Tears, was not inviting. But hey, they were from England, and when booked to open a show for The Faces who were still in their newly formed prime, I went along early.

No question, this was a live act almost like no other. The sheer power of two saxophones, part of their seven piece lineup, featured an incredible virtuoso in Dick Morrissey. Wow. Other than Family, Blodwyn Pig, Jethro Tull or Fairport Convention, my live experiences were strictly guitar based line-ups. Shortly thereafter, The Flock and Edgar Winter’s White Trash would pass through town, but at that moment, it was all new.

On record, things were a bit less spontaneous. Sounding more like Chase than the intended BS&T, If produced a rather controlled racket. Not unlike The Keef Hartley Band, occasional tracks or singles became favorites, especially some of those played live.

‘The Promised Land’ can still return me to that live show years later. Trust me, this one sounds way different having watched it up close.

The Kinks

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Listen: Sitting In The Midday Sun / The Kinks
Sitting In The Midday Sun / The Kinks

June 26, 1973. The first day these two feet ever touched British soil or more accurately, the carpeting at Heathrow. Just dug through my sock drawer to verify. It’s where all the old passports are kept.

Three days later, ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’ was officially released in the UK, according to the label copy on the demo pictured above. And that’s probably very accurate, given it was one of the first records heard when I finally, like finally, finally, finally got to hear BBC Radio 1. Believe it, in those days, the great radio of the UK was not a click away.

Now there are many priceless summertime songs, and one could opinion differently, but ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’ is amongst the very best. Always overlooked, often for The Kinks’ own ‘Sunny Afternoon’, but don’t be fooled. This is the one. The tingle of hearing The Kinks new single on the radio that day in June ’73 was a grand privilege. Despite ‘Lola’ being a massive US hit just three years earlier, by ’73 The Kinks were relegated to finished, has beens, completely washed up by American programmers. But in homeland England, they were still being played on the radio, a kind of musical precursor to open source.

I know exactly the spot where this monumental moment occurred. It was about two hundred yards into Regents Park, sitting up against the first tree to the very left of the park entrance directly opposite the Great Portland Street tube station. This became my good luck spot for making a fake pillow (music was not allowed in the Queen’s Park, as a bobby once gently scolded) out of cousin Dinah’s large transistor radio and spending hours listening almost daily.

Dinah still has that wireless in her kitchen, and lives in the same flat a few blocks away on Cleveland Street, W1. I visit her and the radio every time I’m there.

That spot and that radio introduced Roy Wood ‘Dear Elaine’, Junior Campbell ‘Sweet Illusion’, Linda Lewis ‘Rock A Doodle Doo’, Dave Edmunds ‘Born To Be With You’, Kevin Ayers ‘Caribbean Moonshine’ and The Honeybus ‘For You’, amongst many, to this insatiable teenager.

All great singles but nothing near the direct hit ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’ delivered. I was still in a swirl from up and moving to England without a plan in the world, and only $200 in my pocket. The beautiful insanity of youth, you have to love it. It was as though Ray Davies was speaking right at me, every last word. A little frightening in one way, given almost all of them applied. Thankfully the song’s calming conclusion helped keep the two pints I’d chugged en route at the Tower Tarvern on Clipstone Street down.

A little over two weeks later, The Kinks played a one day, outdoor festival at the White City Stadium in London. I didn’t want to go, it was expensive and other than Lindisfarne, the few UK bands playing were regulars at The Marquee. Besides, I recall a load of US groups as well, like Edgar Winter, by then quite polished and nothing like the soul review of Edgar Winter’s White Trash from a few years prior. I came to England to escape American bands. But how could I miss The Kinks, especially as I was now possessed by ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’.

It was a cold day for July. Never will I forget exiting the tube at White City and thinking, “I don’t want to do this”. Literally did an about face and decided to go back, then stopped. What an idiot, coming all this way and already having bought the ticket. Still, something felt not right.

Turned out this was the day Ray Davies quit on stage, just like that. Said he was “Fucking sick of it all’ straight after playing ‘Waterloo Sunset’, and left to the horror of the crowd. Everyone literally looked at each other in fear, was this really happening? Days later, all the music press covers announced the bad news to the world. ‘Ray Davies Quits Kinks’, as the MELODY MAKER headline read. I still have my copy.

Radio 1 stopped playing ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’.

Listen: Sweet Lady Genevieve / The Kinks
Sweet Lady Genevieve / The Kinks

It was not a good week. Family also announced their breakup. Two of my all time favorites, gone. Still, with glam in full swing, the mind did wander and life did go on.

Miracles can happen. What seemed like an eternity in reality lasted about three weeks. Ray Davies was now out of the hospital, where he’d gone directly following his stage exit that day for a stomach pumping. False alarm, The Kinks were in tact, with a new single in the wings even.

Was it the joy of having The Kinks back that made ‘Sweet Lady Genevieve’ sound even better? I don’t think so. We were all crazy about this record. Well, Corinne and I that is.

By Fall, both of those UK A sides were coupled as a US 7″ on RCA, and an American tour announced. We ventured to New York for the triumphant return of The Kinks at The Felt Forum, and somehow figured out the band’s hotel, The Warwick on 54th Street. So we booked a room there as well.

Never a shy one, she calls the front desk and asks to be connected with Ray Davies, and sure enough, he picks up the phone. Without hesitation, Corinne explained we had traveled hundreds of miles from upstate New York to see the show, and would he be so kind as to play ‘Sweet Lady Genevieve’. My jaw was on the floor.

Did you just talk to Ray Davies? “Yep.”

The Kinks didn’t play ‘Sweet Lady Genevieve’ that night, but between songs, during either one of his Rudy Vallee style renditions or some old dancehall classic, Ray Davies did a quick a cappella verse/chorus from ‘Sweet Lady Genevieve’, and we know to this day, it was just for us.

Julien Covey & The Machine / Wynder K. Frog / Jimmy Miller

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

juliencoveyuk, Julien Covey & The Machine, Wynder K. Frog, The Spencer Davis Group, The Kinks, Ray Davies, Jimmy Miller, Island, Philips

Listen: A Little Bit Hurt / Julien Covey & The Machine
A Little Bit Hurt / Julien Covey & The Machine

I guess you might call them a supergroup. Julien Covey, real name Phil Kinorra, played with Brian Auger in his early days. As well as fronting the band vocally, he also drummed. Amongst it’s members were John Moreshead on guitar, who played with Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, The Shotgun Express and The Ansley Dunbar Retaliation. In addition, the band included Peter Bardens (Them, Camel), Jim Creagan (Blossom Toes, Family) and Dave Mason at various times. Their lone release, ‘A Little Bit Hurt’, was co-written and produced by Jimmy Miller in ’67, who brought along his freshly used prodcution techniques, successful on The Spencer Davis Group’s ‘Gimme Some Lovin” and applied them to The Kinks ‘You Really Got Me’ riff, to help create this now, Northern soul classic, according the Northern soul classic experts.

wyndergreen,  Wynder K. Frog, Island, Jimmy Miller, Mick Weaver

Listen: Green Door / Wynder K. Frog
Green Door / Wynder K. Frog

Between ’64 – ’67, the sound of the Jimmy Smith/Jimmy McGriff hammond B3 was the prevalent connection that bridged hip rock and soul, bringing the jazzy black Flamingo club stuff (Brian Auger & The Trinity, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, The Graham Bond Organization) to a more mainstream public, as with The Spencer Davis Group. Jimmy Miller’s production played a part. He worked as house producer for Chris Blackwell then and recorded some successful and some less successful, well commercially for the time that is, singles, like the aforementioned Julien Covey & The Machine track, and ‘Green Door’ by Wynder K. Frog. Although not chart records, they became club hits, and apparently still are to this day, on the Northern circuit, wherever that is.

Country Gazette

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Listen: Teach Your Children / Country Gazette CountryGazetteTeachYourChildren.mp3

Graham Nash seems a good egg. Having written so many great songs, his patience with Crosby, Stills & Nash must be admired. Unlike The Hollies or he as a solo artist, that band just never seemed to breathe life into any of his compositions. I didn’t pay them a lot of attention mind you, and only when it was a Graham Nash song did Crosby, Stills & Nash seem to catch my ear.

How glad was I to finally find an inspired version of ‘Teach Your Children’ in a pile of A labels, saved so generously for me by my pal Graham Stapleton in London. Check out our history elsewhere on the blog.

Even before giving it a spin, hopes were high. Jim Dickson had produced. His many recordings with The Byrds, he demoed and managed their original lineup, were always powerful.

When Country Gazette were current, and releasing records on United Artists, yours truly was the label’s New York State college rep, having gained notice from Rich Fazekas. Basically UA, as we all called them, were the US outlet for a few of my top favorites from the period: Roy Wood via his various releases with The Move, Wizzard and solo; plus Family. Racing their singles and albums to the top of our college station’s playlist alerted the UA home office. Fandom expanded to business relationship. Exactly what going to college is really all about, making connections for the real world.

Once firmly in place as the UA college rep with a trunk full of promos, I blindly championed the aforementioned English acts, while unfair lack of attention was bestowed on the Blue Note catalog and various Nashville leaning artists like Townes Van Zandt and Country Gazette. Big regret. Apologies.

Luckily, the ‘unable to throw anything away’ gene meant I saved a copy of every last record I was supposed to promote, and can now repent for my sins by finally trying to spread the word about Country Gazette, even if Graham Stapleton hadn’t saved me this 7″.

Seatrain

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Listen: 13 Questions / Seatrain Seatrain13.mp3

Despite my preference for the British bands from the 60′s and 70′s, there’d many times be an American group as part of those three band live lineups so prevalent at the time. Like there were always three at The Fillmore. Three bands were kind of a given.

No recollection which bill Seatrain were part of, ’13 Questions’ was current at the time and I remember liking the set.

Besides, I did fancy the look of the Capitol label around this time: those lime green with purple/black logo albums, then the circular orange and red with graphically matching blue/yellow bullseye 7″ label/sleeve combos. Plus, Capitol used a lot of recycled vinyl, whereby they’d grind up and melt down returns and defectives with the label still affixed, hence ‘Capitol surface noise’ as we all coined it. Example: did you EVER hear a Quicksilver Messenger Service album without it during the quiet patches? There you go. The proof.

I must admit, it made all those records by Joy Of Cooking, The Band and yes, Seatrain sound a touch desirable to one person at least. I liked Capitol’s particular sound of crackle.

Listen: I’m Willin’ / Seatrain SeatrainWillin.mp3

Seems ’13 Questions’ had a fair share of airplay on the FM stations in it’s day. I know I heard it on occasion, as was the case with their version of Lowell George’s ‘I’m Willin”. Despite Seatrain’s general lack of lyrical ability, seems they were not alone. Lowell Geroge, on this particualr song at least, is clearly no poet. I mean, are these words supposed to be funny?

Still, I’d acquired a taste for violin in rock, when well done as in the case of Family, it can make one quite open minded. Then I saw The Flock support John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and Jerry Goodman was setting the place ablaze. Really good stuff. Likewise with Seatrain. Richard Greene was a much more subtle but classy violinist. His playing was never overdone.

Live, they were pretty raw. In the studio though, with George Martin producing, no doubt wearing his signature shirt, tie and suit coat, they were sadly cleaned, polished and de-souled. He did have a knack for white washing things in the booth. See my post on The Action.

Got home that night after seeing the band and played both ’13 Questions’ and ‘I’m Willin” a good half dozen times each, until I could stand the ‘Capitol surface noise’ no longer.

Brinsley Schwarz

Friday, May 21st, 2010

BrinsleyHappyUSA, Brinsley Schwarz, Nick Lowe

Listen: Happy Doing What We’re Doing / Brinsley Schwarz BrinsleyHappy.mp3

Never much interested in American flannel shirt country rock easily lead me to brush off similar bands from the UK. I was equally dismissive of Man, Help Yourself, Brinsley Schwarz, any of that early stuff hiding behind the pub rock shield. One listen and as soon as The Band/Woodstock detector would sound in my head – immediately off came the vinyl and back into the sleeve it went. Besides, I noticed Brinsley Schwarz were playing The Fillmore East with Van Morrison and Quicksilver Messenger Service. This just didn’t feel right for my palate.

Having preceded themselves as Kippington Lodge, a more mod, colorful pop Marmalade meets Herd lightweight singles band, they too never registered on my radar, oddly, despite Mark Wirtz as producer. So the evolution of Brinsley Schwarz basically was a rather unnoticed one for a while.

I softened a bit to some singles by The Band, and actually liked ‘Up On Cripple Creek’. Interestingly, their first few 45′s were higher, much higher chart achievers in the UK than here. I know, not an obvious guess, but true.

By ’72, I was fast friends with Rich Fazekas out at UA’s west coast office – a connection initialized by the label suddenly being the hip home to Family and The Move. He implored me to give their newly released fourth Brinsley Schwarz album, NERVOUS ON THE ROAD, a fair listen. I did and guess what, it became a favorite for a patch. There are a bunch of songs worthy of 7″ status on that one, and I was perfectly content to have ‘Happy Doing What We’re Doing’ be someone at the label’s choice. I just wanted a Brinsley Schwarz single from that LP in my collection.

Being a completist, I eventually surrounded ‘Happy Doing What We’re Doing’ with their singles prior and following. Some of them are fun, and real keepers, but nothing tops this one still, not for me at least.

Bobby Womack / The J. Geils Band

Friday, March 26th, 2010

JGeilsLookinUKA

Listen: Looking For A Love / The J. Geils Band JGeilsLooking.mp3

I used to pretty much ignore The J. Geils Band during this period, well always if the truth be told. They were a six piece, one too many in my imaginary rule book, and man did they look bad. Endlessly touring, always playing upstate New York, mostly with some up and coming UK band as support. So, I’d go to the show, but usually found my way backstage to talk with said English group, stalking them for obscure info and details while they boogied through their headline set. It was way more exciting to stand in a crowded dressing room talking to Steve Marriott or Phil May than listen to The J. Geils Band’s blues jams.

Now I wish I could have found a way to do both. Eddie & The Hot Rods were big fans, and I started to appreciate them in hindsight. Barrie Masters constantly pestered everyone about them. So now, I can listen and appreciate them a lot more. Please accept my apologies guys, but you did need a visual make over I’m afraid.

BobbyWomackLookinUSA, Bobby Womack, The J. Geils Band, United Artists, Atlantic

BobbyWomackLookin, Bobby Womack, The J. Geils Band, United Artists, Atlantic

Listen: Lookin’ For A Love / Bobby Womack BobbyWomackLookin.mp3

Bobby Womack, on the other hand, was always a favorite. Funny enough, the English group fan in me had a lot to do with that as well. I was very friendly with Rich Fazekas from United Artists’ LA office in the early 70′s, when they had two distinct sounds to their roster: one a bunch of UK bands like The Move, Hawkwind, Brinsley Schwarz and Family; then the other RnB via Ike & Tina Turner, Monk Higgins, Marlena Shaw, Donald Byrd and Bobby Womack.

It was Roger Chapman who cornered me at the label’s LA location on Sunset, giving a stern lecture about both Bill Withers and Bobby Womack. He took me into Marty Cerf’s office and forced several new tracks from Bobby Womack’s then current COMMUNICATION album on me, at the same time recounting he and Family’s first exposure to Bill Wither’s ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’. It was on the car radio somewhere between Houston and Dallas, and they would literally pull over every time it came on, drooling as it played. Being a Family freak, I hung on his every word of advice, hence my initial Bobby Womack crash course and eventual worship.

Audience

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Indian Summer / Audience

Indian Summer / Audience

Listen: Indian Summer / Audience
Indian Summer / Audience

It Brings A Tear / Audience - US

Listen: It Brings A Tear / Audience
It Brings A Tear / Audience

Listen: You’re Not Smiling / Audience
You're Not Smiling / Audience

AudienceStandUKA, Audience, Charisma, Howard Werth

You're Not Smiling / Audience UK

You're Not Smiling / Audience - UK

Stand By The Door / Audience

Listen: Stand By The Door / Audience
Stand By The Door / Audience

I really shouldn’t like Audience. I’d have done a lot better in school had it not been for them. I could have been a doctor or something. Instead, I spent seemingly an entire Fall semester possessed by their album, THE HOUSE ON THE HILL. It wasn’t just me. My two room mates Larry and Stewart caught the Audience sickness as well. We would literally listen to this album over and over and over. Lights low, candles, pot, huge Audience poster hanging squarely above the turntable (still have it – neatly folded and slid inside the album with the label bio and 8×10′s). We were all entrenched at the college radio station, WITR. We pretty much ran the joint. I was both the music director and program director, not to mention concert chairman. It was English bands and only English bands. If you didn’t like it – transfer out. Every night we’d come back to the apartment with the latest promos that had arrived from the labels. We weren’t in the dorms – we had a proper apartment with very little furniture, lots of mis-matched pillows, orange shag rug and a low coffee table covered in music magazines and drug utensils. Mattresses on the floor in each bedroom – no beds, cardboard boxes for dressers. The records were everywhere, cinder blocks and clapboards constructing many makeshift shelves. Emergency suitcase record players in each bedroom for late night listening too. So we would whirl through the latest offerings: Greenslade, Byzantium, Atomic Rooster, Colosseum, Chicken Shack, If, Family, Juicy Lucy, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, just endless titles. But THE HOUSE OFN THE HILL would start and end the sessions, with a few plays during as well. You could really justify fucking off to it, nothing was more important, it was that good.

I’d heard ‘Indian Summer’ on the radio just before school went into session, must have been late August. Wow – what was that?!? It stood right out and was getting that suspicious two week window of play at Top 40. They called this being tested, and if good results came back, then they’d really hang you out for payola. Isn’t American radio great!!! This sophisticated British sounding song in between Andy Kim and Lobo, or whatever. Yes, I paid attention. I remember the single charted briefly on the Billboard Top 100 too.

During the following winter, I made one of my life’s biggest mistakes. I missed Audience live on their brief, and only, US tour. Gasp. They were opening for The Faces. It was a Sunday night, in Buffalo, about 80 miles away. I had no car, no one did, and no money to get there and certainly no way to get home. I watched the clock that evening, knowing they were playing so close yet so freaking far away. Why didn’t I just hitch hike? Risk being murdered – no brainer. But I didn’t and they never returned. Still bothers me to this day.

Such beautiful music. I know that sounds well corny but just listen. Howard Werth’s shivering vocals, Keith Gemmell’s signature sax that years later The Psychedelic Furs would unknowingly coin, just the right touch of baroque classical trimmings, not stuffy or overdone. The Strawbs, Amazing Blondel and ELO were klutzy klompy plodding wannabes next to Audience. Mind you, Audience had a wonderfully sloppy feel as well. But it was a magical balance and no one ever came close to matching it.

I’ve posted a bunch of Audience mandatories above. That first US 7″ is a classic double sider, and the promo only UK sleeve that housed ‘You’re Not Smiling’ is a prized possession. Isn’t even in the price guide. ‘Stand By The Door’, their final single is simply a perfect masterpiece.

Blue Cheer

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Feathers / Blue Cheer

Feathers / Blue Cheer

Listen: Feathers From Your Tree / Blue Cheer
Feathers From Your Tree / Blue Cheer

OUTSIDEINSIDE, Blue Cheer’s second album, was their pinnacle. They recorded some of it on a pier in NJ, and had mikes on the NY side of the water as ambient devices. You can really get the resulting effect on tracks like ‘Come & Get It’. This was the most inviting scam yet – at the time. I listened to Side 1 over and over and over. It was a favorite for ages. They had just come off a massive Top 10 single with ‘Summertime Blues’ and album VINCEBUS ERUPTUM. Now let me clue you in: you need both the mono and stereo versions of VINCEBUS ERUPTUM. It is massive in mono and in stereo, well it’s the only album I know of that has complete left/right separation with drums all in the left channel, guitars all right. It sounds fantastic, why others have never followed is a surprise, although probably some have and I’m forgetting.

So OUTSIDEINSIDE was the terrific followup, and everything was all set for world domination. Then clunk. Promotors started blackballing them, beginning with Bill Graham’s Fillmores, because of volume. He seemed to have a mean streak that fellow, he did the same thing to Family. Then radio didn’t play either single from this second album and it all just went cold. Guitarist Leigh Stephens decides to leave. Boom. End of story. ‘Feathers From Your Tree’ was the second single, even came with a picture sleeve – and in headphones (like all the tracks on the album) it was a drug takers dream come true. Right up there with The Pretty Things’ SF SORROW and The Pink Floyd’s THE PIPER AT THE GATES albums. Sounds swirling and switching speakers at record pace. Dickie Peterson is one of the world’s greatest vocalists too, that’s just fact.

David Bowie / The Faces

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

London Boys / David Bowie

Listen: The London Boys / David Bowie
London Boys / David Bowie

What can anyone say about David Bowie ‘The London Boys’. It’s damp, cold, eery, but cryptically and wonderfully captures a lot of my London experiences as a kid in ’73: Wardour Street, pills, having no money, living on butter and bread, listen to the lyrics. If we come back in life after death, I would do it all over again, to a T. Read on.

So I decide, upon graduating high school, that instead of going to college, I’m moving to England. Can you believe this? I can’t.

My parents, ever understanding, desperately advised against it. But always supporting me in my ambitious dreams, finally said okay providing I do some college when I return.

My Mom was born in Great Britain, her sister lived in London, so I guess it didn’t seem all that risky at the time. I skipped a grade in high school and was therefore really a baby, boarding a Pan Am flight in early June ’73 with a huge $200 in my pocket. I would never let my kids do this today by the way. My aunt in London had me for a few weeks, then shipped me off to my cousin Diane, who lived, and shockingly still does, on Cleveland Street in London’s west end, Soho, This, as it turned out, was the place to be. Literally 4 blocks down from her council flat (Cleveland Street eventually turns into Wardour Street as it crosses Oxford Street), was the Marquee Club. Without shame or hesitation, I walked into the office midday and asked for a job. And they give me one, shockingly. I now was in charge of collecting the empty pint glasses left all around the club as the bands are playing, an endless cycle. I was a slave but deemed this as the opportunity of life.

I grew up outside of Syracuse, dreaming of the other worldly England, now here I am, working at The Marquee. Holy shit. Is this really happening? No one will believe me back home, or care for that matter.

I got paid one huge great big British pound a night, drank all the beer I could for free and got to see every band playing. All I need do is pick up the glasses. I’ll take it.

This was heaven. My days were spent trolling the used record stalls in Rupert Street, Cheapo Cheapo Records in particular, where Graham Stapleton, a good friend now, who I met decades later by shear crazy coincidence via Jim Lahat, sold all the promo/dj copies that the Radio 1 and Melody Maker staff would unload, for pennies, in an open air market stall. The stuff I got from him then…..forget about it. Crazy. We still exchange records and laugh about those days. Small world indeed.

Then there were the bands that played: Robin Trower, Thin Lizzy, Sparks UK debut with Queen opening (from whom Queen admittedly lifted many of their ideas – why Queen didn’t ask Russell Mael to join the reunion lineup instead of Paul Rodgers is preposterous), Andy Bown, Alex Harvey Band, Sutherland Brothers & Ouiver, Daryl Way’s Wolf, The Spencer Davis Group, Writing On The Wall, Climax Blues Band, Colin Blunstone, Chicken Shack, Bedlam, Wild Turkey, JSD Band, The Marmalade, Caravan, East Of Eden, Byzantium, String Driven Thing, Tempest, Colosseum, Keef Hartley Band – I could go on and on and on. Plus, I had the golden key, I could put people on the guest list.

With hormones raging and so many pretty girls trying to unsuccessfully get to the bands, they’d turn to the staff. I spent many a damp grass night in Soho Square on the green, juggling in hindsight, laughable relationships. And in the process, fell for a Scottish girl, Claire.

Bowie ticket Reading 73

Claire and I became an item and went to loads of shows together (Family, Wizzard, Fairport Convention, The Kinks, Slade, Curved Air) or, didn’t bother to go to some, like the biggest mistake of all times: David Bowie & The Spiders From Mars final show ever – for which I bought a ticket (see scan above) and didn’t use. I know, stupid.

Listen: Pool Hall Richard / The Faces
Pool Hall Richard / Faces

It wasn’t the only ticket I didn’t use. Claire & I went to Scotland the weekend of Reading Festival, for which I had a 3 day, all access pass. Only a few years ago I admitted to myself, I didn’t really like The Faces (who were playing – see scan) because Rod Stewart’s voice irritates me to no end, not to mention his fat bottom half in leopard pants.

Still, their ‘Pool Hall Richard’ single has a groove that’s unmatchable. A beautiful shambles.