Archive for the ‘Jim Morrison’ Category


Monday, October 8th, 2012

X - See How We Are

X - See How We Are

Listen: See How We Are / X

Let me tell you one thing. We are very, very lucky, because X still exist and tour regularly. In fact, they may be more powerful live than ever. The original lineup of Exene Cervenka, DJ Bonebrake, John Doe and Billy Zoom has been reunited for several years now and are doing deservedly great business. There’s a lot of sense in sticking out that long stretch that usually ends in legend.

Now X certainly are legends. So many reasons: right up there with Johnny and Ivy resides Billy for greatest guitarist, flawless and razor sharp at every given moment. DJ still the powerhouse metronome, Exene the most magnetic and perfect female front person of her generation, and John, one of the greatest voices ever with those ‘desert at night’ tones only Jim Morrison rivaled. When singing or harmonizing together, John and Exene would actually create a 3rd voice, their timbres meshing so perfectly. Two singers, three voices. Pretty unique. And as writers, forget it. Yes living legends. More honest, hard working, and appreciative people you will not find.

Back in the Elektra days, I was very lucky to be their A&R guy, making several albums with them, and over both lineups. After Billy left in ’86, Tony Gilkyson joined, fitting the bill effortlessly. An incredible player as well and guitarist on this track. When Tony left around ’97, Billy rejoined to present. A&Ring them was a two fold experience: always rewarding, always frustrating.

Rewarding because at the studio, you knew this was the best place in the solar system to be, watching John and Exene through the control room window mastering a vocal take on one mic live. Wow. It still gives me tingles.

But frustrating knowing how the promotion department would have a difficult time with programers, and most likely be forced to accept defeat while sharing a $100 bottle of wine with some pampered PD.

Like all the greats, X couldn’t get their fair shake from radio. Bob Krasnow loved this track when he heard it. He walked into my office late one evening around 9 pm. We were all still there, everyone stayed late. It was a company full of people who loved their jobs and glowed in the success of the label that all had contributed to in some way. No one ever got fired. We never worried about that. So Bob says “I hear you brought back some new X ruffs from LA. I want to hear them”. I handed him an unfinished version of ‘See How We Are’ on cassette and he left.

This track was actually started at Capitol Studios on Hollywood Blvd and it was haunting wandering around those halls with Exene, talking about the legends in framed pictures, that had recorded there prior. It was that work-in-progress version I had given him, and I knew the song was ace. Sure enough, ten minutes later he’s back at my door. “This is fucking incredible, they are the voices of rebellion. This, Kevin, is important stuff”.

I can hear his words as plainly now as when he spoke them, God love him. Words from the guy who had produced Ike & Tina Turner and Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band, and now in praise of X. For whatever reason, we released ’4th Of July’ as the first single from the SEE HOW WE ARE album against Bob’s instincts. He thought that was too commercial, too formula when played up against ‘See How We Are’, but the radio department felt it was more palatable, singable, like Springsteen. Actually, it was all those things and yes, it too should have been a hit. He said, “You always have to put your best foot forward, you only get one chance”.

He was right. Even though as Chairman, I don’t know why he didn’t force the team to go for this single but he didn’t. Although released as a 12″ to radio, the commercial 7″ was cancelled. Only a handful of finished sleeves (pictured) and three test pressings were made. I think Howard or Alago got the third. I have the other two. You always need a safety copy.

A dealer recently asked how much one was worth to me, he wanted desperately to buy it. I said “It doesn’t have a price tag but for everything else, there’s Mastercard”. He got nasty, called me an arrogant cunt. Seriously, he did. Not exactly the way to get that second copy off me despite his admittedly accurate description of my response.

Listen: Highway 61 Revisited (Again) / X

Thanks to reader Mark Deming, his suggestion to also post ‘Highway 61 Revisted (Again)’ was a superb one. All this time, I thought it had come out as a bonus reissue track or part of a cd comp. Wrong. So here it it for all X fans to worship, as I do.

Robin Trower

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

RobinManUK, Robin Trower, Chrysalis

RobinManUSA, Robin Trower, Chrysalis

Listen: Man Of The World (Mono) / Robin Trower RobinTrowerMan.mp3

I don’t really care how dated some folks accuse this era of music to be – or how derivative it all seems now. I agree, you can see how it planted the seeds for mainstream rock radio to go down a wrong way street, yet some of these early bands were very exciting during their beginning days. Robin Trower had just left Procol Harum, he’d had enough of their ‘never have a good day’ music. Nonetheless, camaraderie prevailed and Procol Harum bandmate Matthew Fisher obliged as producer.

I think what set Robin Trower’s band apart was lead singer James Dewar. What a voice. He had a darkness vocally that is reserved for very few: Jim Morrison, Paul Rodgers and John Doe come to mind.

This single preceded the debut album TWICE REMOVED FROM YESTERDAY by seemingly a few months, but I don’t know for sure. I worked for a record distributor at the time, while still in college. All the product was organized by label, and every week about 10-15 copies of this one would move. Slowly but surely, it creeped forward piece count wise – so that by the time it’s followup hit (BRIDGE OF SIGHS), the band were on fire.

Needless to say, the single got no Top 40 play, but like most 7′s back then, their main objective was to focus the album rock dj’s toward something a bit more commercial, and this US white label is from the very tail end of when promos were pressed to include both mono/stereo mixes. For fun, here’s the mono version – not an easy one to find.

RobinFastTrain, Robin Trower

Listen: Take A Fast Train / Robin Trower RobinFastTrain.mp3

Both of those two initial albums still have a spot with me. Dark, maybe minor key and full of great songs, they don’t get a hint of the praise they each deserve.

The B side to ‘Man Of The World’, the non-LP ‘Take A Fast Train’ is very typical: not quite good enough for the album but a ‘must’ for the die hards. I have no idea if the track ever made it’s way onto one of those scrape the bottom of the tape library barrel anthologies, but if not – here you go.

The Zombies

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

zombiesfeelsogood, The Zombies, Parrot, Decca, The Nashville Teens, The Hullaballoos, Colin Blunstone, Rod Argent

zombiesfeelsogoodb, The Zombies, Parrot, Decca, The Nashville Teens, The Hullaballoos, Colin Blunstone, Rod Argent

Listen: You Make Me Feel So Good / The Zombies ZombiesGood.mp3

The fact that my blog is pushing the two year mark, and I’ve yet to write about The Zombies is pathetic. Thought about it often, so in case I croak, now I’ll rest easier.

Luckily much praise and appreciation, despite years of delay, has been afforded this band – to the point whereby they can tour the world consistently and get the admiration for ODESSEY AND ORACLE they deserve.

‘You Make Me Feel So Good’, the B side to ‘She’s Not There’, may indeed be the first seed planted that years later would spawn androgynous 70′s rock and 90′s Britpop, who can say. But the swish and swagger in Colin Blunstone’s delivery is not deniable. At the end of the day, it was basically his normal vocal styling and not too much needed to be read into it. There’s something about the combination of his voice and Rod Argent’s hollow electric keyboard tones that are as magical as Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek’s.

In ’65, The Zombies played The Brooklyn Fox Theater with The Nashville Teens and The Hullaballoos. Way too young to even know it was happening, my parents lucked out, because I would have tortured them into taking me.

zombiesindicationusa, The Zombies, Parrot, Decca, The Nashville Teens, The Hullaballoos, Colin Blunstone, Rod Argent

zombiesindication,  The Zombies, Parrot, Decca, The Nashville Teens, The Hullaballoos, Colin Blunstone, Rod Argent

Listen: Indication / The Zombies ZombiesIndication.mp3

Of their several overlooked later Parrot / Decca singles, ‘Indication’ was my favorite, an indeed hard call to make. Subsequent anthologies and reissues all use the longer, stereo take with an extended keyboard solo at the end. This US mono 7″ version (streamed above), I think, works best.
ZombiesJukebox, Jukebox Tab, The Zombies, Colin Blunstone

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Colin Blunstone


Friday, January 16th, 2009

Kung Fu / Sharks

Listen: Kung Fu / Sharks Sharks.mp3

Being an avid fan of British bands during the 60’s and 70’s meant I’d find a way to hear just about everything. Working at college stations and record shops helped immensely. I’d give anything a chance, and having wide tastes allowed me to get excited about a whole slew of things that never got traction, many times despite deserving it. Sharks were a mini super group to us hardened Anglofiles. Andy Fraser from Free seemed at their core – and followers of Free know he was a key member, despite ‘only’ being the bassist. He wrote songs and his playing style was specific. Sharks benefitted from this recognizable strut. Add in Snips, a vocalist with a dash of both Jim Morrison and Paul Rodgers, plus Chris Spedding, a much accomplished guitarist who’d played with all the right people – and you’ve got something of a recipe. The NME and Sounds both anticipated their debut, and so did I. The two albums they made were patchy and there was little fanfare about the live shows. Missed them when they played The US – in fact don’t really recall it, but their bio says otherwise. Nonetheless, this single was a favorite and still is. The lyrics are a touch simple, but that never put me off. Don’t care much about lyrics unless they are particularly quotable. Block them out and just listen to the music – not a problem. The Asian slant was always pretty fun I thought, especially that piano line.