Thursday, May 28, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."The Missing Years" - John Prine (1991)

"The Missing Years" - John Prine (1991)

"We all reside down the block inside of 23-Skidoo."  This Grammy award-winning, "The Missing Years" was John Prine's 10th studio album after taking a fairly long hiatus and it's a really good spin.  There's nobody like John Prine.  His songs are sweet and bittersweet; catchy and filled with wonderful and curious Prine-isms and observations.  And his vocals are friendlier than a front porch.  Some of his biggie friends show up to add sugar to the tea like Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Howie Epstein, Bonnie Raitt, and a few others.  And they all do so without being the elephant in the room, which is much appreciated.  There is a lot to like here.  The "Jesus, The Missing Years" track, of course.  "Picture Show."  And the faded love gem, "All The Best"...which John performed frequently while doing the obligatory TV album promotion thing.

My favorite, and maybe lesser-known tracks are "It's a Big Old Goofy World,"  "Unlonely" and "The Sins Of Memphisto"  I have this album in both CD/digital format and grabbed the vinyl copy directly from Oh Boy Records during one of their sales.  It is a double album and the first re-ish.  The album also includes the previously unreleased song..."The Third Of July."  The song is a darker affair about feeling...trapped in one's circumstances.  "I believe that a thought has just gotten caught in a place where words can't surround it."  I really dug it and wonder if he ever performed it on stage.  We sadly lost John Prine from  COVID-19 complications on April 7, 2020.

"The Missing Years" (back)

"The Missing Years" (inside gatefold)

"The Missing Years" (insert-1)

"The Missing Years" (insert-2)

"The Missing Years" (lyrics on back of both inserts)

Oh Boy Records label (Side A-B)

Oh Boy Records label (Side C-D)

"Unlonely" - John Prine / "The Missing Years" (1991)

A1  "Picture Show" 3:22
A2  "All the Best" 3:28
A3  "The Sins of Memphisto" 4:13
A4  "Everybody Wants to Feel Like You" 3:09
B1  "It's a Big Old Goofy World" 5:10
B2  "I Want to Be With You Always" 3:01
B3  "Daddy's Little Pumpkin" 2:41
B4  "Take a Look at My Heart" 3:38
C1  "Great Rain" 4:08
C2  "Way Back Then" 3:39
C3  "Unlonely" 4:35
C4  "You Got Gold" 4:38
D1  "Everything Is Cool" 2:46
D2  "Jesus the Missing Years" 5:55
D3  "The Third Of July" 3:11

John Prine - vocals, guitar
Albert Lee - guitar, mandolin, piano
David Lindley - guitar, bouzouki, fiddle, harp
Mike Campbell - bass, guitar
John Ciambotti - bass
Howie Epstein - guitar, bass, b-vocals
Steve Fishell - dobro
Bob Glaub - bass
Joe Romersa - drums
Mickey Raphael - harmonica
Benmont Tench - organ, piano, harmonium
John Jorgenson - guitar, bass, dobro, mandolin, bassoon, saxophone
Phil Parlapiano - mandolin, accordion, harmonium
Tom Petty - b-vocals
Christina Amphlett - b-vocals
Liz Byrnes - b-vocals
Phil Everly - b-vocals
Bonnie Raitt - b-vocals
Bruce Springsteen - b-vocals

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Friday, May 22, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."H.P. Lovecraft II" - H.P. Lovecraft (1968)

"HP Lovecraft II" - HP Lovecraft (1968)

This was to be H.P. Lovecraft's 2nd (and last) album.  It's filled with mostly chill folk-psych with some electric keys tapping the brush in spots.  The lyrics have very much the spin of the times and the words are carried along in an almost foreboding manner.  Every song has been lightly dipped in psych dust and it's a moody little biscuit, at times, but it never gets boring.  Often, the vocals reminded me of a young Marty Balin and I was totally cool with that.  I dug it, actually.  "HP Lovecraft II" succeeds in feeding the head on a late-night bender.  And with a pair of comfortable headphones, it's bonus.  My favorite songs are "At The Mountains Of Madness"..."It's About Time"...and "Electrallentando."

The band members were from Chicago, but they recorded this square in L.A.  The band quickly fractured into pieces shortly after this release.  The album cover is a gatefold unipak with tracks and credits listed, band shots, and some vintage psych artwork inside.

"HP Lovecraft II" (back)

"HP Lovecraft II" (inside gatefold)

Philips label

"At The Mountains Of Madness" - HP Lovecraft / " HP Lovecraft II" (1968)

A1  "Spin, Spin, Spin" 3:26
A2  "It's About Time" 5:20
A3  "Blue Jack Of Diamonds" 2:55
A4  "Electrallentando" 6:27
B1  "At The Mountains Of Madness" 4:48
B2  "Mobius Trip" 2:46
B3  "High Flying Bird" 3:15
B4  "Nothing's Boy" 0:40
B5  "Keeper Of The Keys" 3:06

George Edwards – vocals, acoustic & electric guitar, bass
Dave Michaels – vocals, keyboards
Tony Cavallari – lead guitar, vocals
Jeff Boyan – bass, vocals
Michael Tegza – drums, percussion, vocals

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Monday, May 18, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Space Ritual" - Hawkwind (1973)

"Space Ritual" - Hawkwind (1973)

If this is space rock, I'll take all of it you got!  This is so good.  But you already knew that.  As for me, I just listened to it for the first time a few weeks ago.  Lord have mercy.  "Space Ritual" was Hawkwind's 4th album, an incredible live double album that was recorded in London.  Everything on here is a force to be reckoned with.  There's plenty of head-spinning sounds from insane sax to the spacey oscillating whatever-it-is.  And the energy from the beloved bassist known as Lemmy drives the ship with his crazy and exciting bass runs.  I even enjoyed the short spoken poetry breaks.  I know it sounds lame, but the spoken poetry actually throws an almost portent vibe into the kettle that allows the listener to catch their head before it segues back into the music.  And it does that surprisingly well.  It all makes for a wonderful space-metal-psychedelic vacation.

"Space Ritual" (back)

The "Space Ritual" album cover is also very cool having a gimmx six-fold panel that opens up to display interesting and trippy pictures.  My favorite songs on this anyway...are “Orgone Accumulator”...“Lord of Light”...and “Master of the Universe.”  My copy has a thumb-size tear at the top-right, but the seller made allowances for that snafu and gave me a pretty good deal.  The vinyl is nice and clean, so I'm cool.  "Space Ritual” is starting to go high dollar for a cheapskate like me, so I was glad to find this one.  And it's one of my 10 favorite finds from last year.  I'll never part with it.

"Space Ritual" (inside tri-fold)

"Space Ritual" (inside unfolded)

United Artists Records label

UA sleeve

"Lord of Light" - Hawkwind / "Space Ritual" (1973)

A1  "Earth Calling" 1:46
A2  "Born to Go"  9:56
A3  "Down Through the Night" 6:16
A4  "The Awakening" 1:32
B1  "Lord of Light" 7:21
B2  "The Black Corridor" 1:51
B3  "Space Is Deep" 8:13
B4  "Electronic No. 1" 2:26
C1  "Orgone Accumulator" 9:59
C2  "Upside Down" 2:43
C3  "10 Seconds of Forever" 2:05
C4  "Brainstorm" 9:20
D1  "7 by 7" 6:13
D2  "Sonic Attack" 2:54
D3  "Time We Left This World Today" 5:47
D4  "Master of the Universe" 7:37
D5  "Welcome to the Future" 2:03

Dave Brock - guitar, vocals
Nik Turner - saxophone, flute, vocals
Lemmy (Ian Kilmister) - bass, vocals
Dik Mik (Michael Davies) - audio generator, electronics
Del Dettmar - synthesizer
Simon King - drums
Robert "Bob" Calvert - poetry, vocals ("poet and swazzle" on album credits)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Saturday, May 16, 2020

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "The Snowman" (2010)

This novel is a mystery/thriller about a serial killer who targets certain women and leaves behind a freshly built snowman at the scene of each murder.  Often with the snowman facing, not toward the street...but toward the victim's room.  What a very disturbing idea.  Our protagonist is a police detective named...Harry Hole.  I snickered like a 9-year-old when I first read it, too.  Harry's good at what he does but he's been damaged by alcoholism, divorce, and life in general.

I really dig Jo Nesbo's noirish writing style.  The story moves along quickly with plenty of plot twists and ducks to keep everything edgy.  And the author plays fair with the clues, which is always cool.  Clues are scattered here and there and help thread the needle, but thankfully, not too easily.  This was book #7 in Jo Nesbo's..."Harry Hole" series.  I believe each story is "stand-alone", but correct me if I'm wrong.  "The Snowman" was all good, but for a few of the Norwegian names that caused me to trip over my tonsils.  I got over it.  You will, too.

"Snowblind" - Ace Frehley / "Ace Frehley" (1978)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Monday, May 11, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."The Holy Mackerel" (1968)

"The Holy Mackerel" - The Holy Mackerel

This is a lesser-known psych album led by...Paul Williams.  Yeah, Paul Williams gets a little bit trippy on this "one-and-done" album.  Most of the songs float around in a folk-psych pool that's gentle and sometimes floaty.  There are also a few country-rock tracks that are reminiscent of what Michael Nesmith was trying to do.  I liked those songs as well, but they sorta broke the spell with their placement.  Still, nothing boring or cheap.  There are occasional flutes and sitar and good harmonies.  And apart from one silly stinker that closes out Side One, "The Holy Mackerel" is an enjoyable spin worth picking up.

The band also included bassist Jerry Scheff who played on The Doors' "L.A. Woman" and was a member of Elvis' "TCB" band.  My favorite tracks include the 4-minute "Wildflowers" ...a very "float downstreamish" psych-driven song.  "Scorpio Red" has a mysterious and beautiful pop-psych vibe that really jumps out of the speakers.  The flutey opener "The Secret Of Pleasure" with its great harmonies set the table nicely.  "Bitter Honey" is a Paul Williams lost gem.  AM radio should've eaten this one up.  Over-all this is an enjoyable "soft-psych" spin and I liked it a lot.  I grabbed my original copy online.  I wanted the album for the Paul Williams connection, not the rainbow...and the music was a pleasant surprise.

"The Holy Mackerel" (back)

Reprise Records label

Reprise company sleeve

"Scorpio Red" - The Holy Mackerel / "The Holy Mackerel" (1968)

A1  "The Secret of Pleasure"  (3:35)
A2  "Scorpio Red"  (3:26)
A3  "The Lady Is Waiting"  (2:05)
A4  "Wildflowers"  (3:59)
A5  "The Somewhere in Arizona at 4:30 AM Restaurant Song (And Now I Am Alone)"  (2:25)
A6  "Prinderella"  (2:44)
B1  "Bitter Honey"  (2:22)
B2  "Nothin' Short of Misery"  (2:35)
B3  "The Golden Ghost of Love"  (2:42)
B4  "The Wild Side of Life"  (2:52)
B5  "10,000 Men"  (3:42)
B6  "1984"  (4:27)

Paul Williams - (vocals)
Mentor Williams (rhythm guitar, vocals),
Jeremiah Scheff -  (bass, vocals) 
George Hiller (lead guitar, vocals)
Cynthia Ann Fitzpatrick (flute, vocals)
Michael Cannon (drums)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Monday, May 4, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."On The Beach" (1974)

"On The Beach" - Neil Young (1974)

"Sooner or later it all gets real."  I skipped over "On The Beach" more than once before finally pulling the trigger and taking a copy home.  I'm really glad I did.  This was his 5th album.  Neil Young was still a relatively young man.  It was 1974 and he was angry, scared, depressed, and a bit high.  Everything on here hits close to the nerve.  And it's all worth your time and money.  The opening track "Walk On" is a response to Skynyrd and critics in general.  "See The Sky About To Rain" is a beautiful song that's familiar in a good way.  My favorites are the deeper tracks.   "Ambulance Blues" a 9-min rambling of word-play that I really dig.  And the beautiful despair heard in the title-track is some heady stuff.  And "Revolution Blues" is a crunchy and anger-filled jam said to have been very much Manson inspired.

For the longest time, Neil refused to allow the album to be reissued or even made available on CD.  It's not a terribly expensive album to own, but it is becoming harder to find.  I think it's because people tend to hang on to this album, once they have it.  My copy set me back $15 at a Wichita swapmeet.  I've seen it go for more.  My copy has "C. Stevens” written in cursive located in the matrix.  I could find no mention of this on Discogs.  One other cool feature is the flowery inside jacket matching the lawn chairs on the album cover.  "On The Beach" has a reputation for being a downer of an album, but it's not that way to my ears.  Everything works.  Like a wake-up call from a forgotten alarm.  Don't sleep on this one.

"On The Beach" (back)

"On The Beach" (inside cover)

Reprise Records label

"On The Beach" (sleeve front w/local Poverty Records sticker)

"On The Beach" (sleeve back)

"See the Sky About to Rain" - Neil Young / "On The Beach" (1974)

A1  "Walk On"  2:40
A2  "See the Sky About to Rain"  5:03
A3  "Revolution Blues"  4:02
A4  "For the Turnstiles"  3:13
A5  "Vampire Blues"  4:11
B1  "On the Beach"  7:04
B2  "Motion Pictures"  4:20
B3  "Ambulance Blues"  8:57

Neil Young – vocals, guitar, harmonica, Wurlitzer electric piano, banjo, electric tambourine
Ben Keith – slide guitar, vocals, Wurlitzer electric piano, hand drums, bass
Rusty Kershaw – slide guitar
David Crosby – rhythm guitar
George Whitsell – guitar
Graham Nash – Wurlitzer electric piano
Tim Drummond – bass, percussion
Billy Talbot – bass
Rick Danko – bass
Ralph Molina – drums, vocals, drums, 
Levon Helm – drums

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Sunday, April 26, 2020

Interview -- Gerry McAvoy (Rory Gallagher, Band Of Friends)

"...we all ended up at the airport,
in a coffee shop...passing the time
away and speaking with Frank Zappa.
I was 19.  And it was amazing."
~ Gerry McAvoy ~

The Belfast bassist Gerry McAvoy had Rory Gallagher's back since the self-titled blues-rock debut album in 1971.  For over two decades, Gerry provided the driving bass you hear on every Rory Gallagher album.  And it was that energy from Gerry's bass that really complimented Rory's passionate guitar shine.  Rory and Gerry were a team in every sense of the word.  Stage or studio made little difference.  The two were one.  Gerry McAvoy.  Go get you some.

Gerry McAvoy Interview --  April 2020
Gerry McAvoy

Casey Chambers:  My introduction to Rory Gallagher was with the 1978 burner "Photo-Finish" and I've been playing catch up ever since.  "Photo-Finish" is one of my favorite albums.  And your bass just screams to catch its breath.  And you guys recorded that one as a three-piece band.  That was a bit of a switch.

Gerry McAvoy:  That's right, yeah.  I mean, prior to that it had always been a four-piece with Lou Martin on piano and Rod de'Ath on drums.  It was after we had started recording the album that would eventually...sort-of...become "Photo-Finish" in San Francisco.  But towards the end of the sessions, I had gone back to London and Rory stayed there to do some mixes and remixes.  While he was there, he went to see The Sex Pistols' last show in San Francisco.  And he was knocked out by it because of the three-piece thing.  The rawness of it.  Like he had had with his band, Taste.  And then again, when I had first joined up with Rory Gallagher.  I think he wanted that again.  So Rod and Lou left and Rory brought in Ted McKenna on drums.  Ted was a bit of a powerhouse drummer.  And the album we were recording in San Francisco, Rory scrapped the whole thing.  I think originally it was going to be titled "Torch" or something, but when we went back into the studio later in Germany, we recorded it as the "Photo-Finish" album.

Casey Chambers:  The song "Shadow Play" from that album is just killer and it quickly became a fan-favorite.  One of those 'must-play-live' songs for you guys.

Gerry McAvoy:  Oh, it really was.  Yeah, it was normally towards the end of a show that Rory would pull that song out.  We rehearsed it a bunch of weeks before we actually went into the studio to record it.  We rehearsed it in Cork, Ireland.  And that was the first time I heard it.  It was myself, Rory, and Ted McKenna who was on drums.  I was trying to get a good handle on it and basically, I was just trying to be as rockin' and as punk as possible, I think.  And hence..."Shadow Play."

"Shadow Play" - Rory Gallagher / Live in Montreux (1979)

Casey Chambers:  I always liked Ted McKenna's drumming.  How did he hook up with you guys?

Gerry McAvoy:  Well, we had actually met Ted before when he was with The Sensational Alex Harvey Band.  We did a television show together.  Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, I think.  It was a TV show with the strangest line-up.  It had The Electric Flag.  Rory and the band.  The Sensational Alex Harvey Band.  And Abba!  Which is just the weirdest line-up ever for a TV show. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  I bet when Abba broke in with "Fernando" it rocked the house down. (laughs)

Gerry McAvoy:  Yeah, that was pretty strange. (laughs)  But it was great.  We had met Ted then.  And when myself and Rory were trying out different drummers. the engineer Colin Fairley, who was Scottish, mentioned that Ted McKenna was free at the moment because the Alex Harvey Band had split up.  So Colin arranged for Ted to come along for a bit of a rehearsal recording and eventually he got the gig and that was it.

"Photo-Finish" (1978)

Casey Chambers:  Small world, big place.  I'm a fan of The Alex Harvey Band, too.  They were a road trip.  What was your take?

Gerry McAvoy:  Yeah, I enjoyed them.  I knew Alex very well.  I enjoyed the quirkiness of the band.  I've got a couple of their albums.  I remember they did a great version of the Jacques Brel song..."Next"...which was really unusual.  And there's a bunch of other songs that are really good on that album.  I really like that album.

Casey Chambers:  I didn't realize you guys were on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert.  I'll have to seek that out.  So, how did you get turned on to the bass?  Was that your first instrument?

Gerry McAvoy:  No, it wasn't, actually.  The guitar was my first instrument.  I was in a high school band in Belfast.  We sort of formed a band together and we were playing...Top 40 and some soul classics.  I mean, this was in like '67.  And I was basically double guitar.  Rhythm guitar with another guy, Jim Ferguson, who was our other guitar player.  And our bass player, funny enough, was a butcher.  A trainee butcher.  We were all like 16. 15, 17.  And every time he would come to rehearsals, he had cuts all over his hands.  Because he was a trainee butcher. (laughs)  So eventually he just couldn't handle it anymore and left.  And there was nobody there to play bass.  I had sort of been teaching Don...our bass know, some of the rudiments, 'cause I was going to music lessons and things.  So I was the obvious choice to pick up the bass.  That's how it all started.  I started playing bass in a high school band.  The name of the band was...Pride.  Belfast in 1967.

Casey Chambers:  "Come on Don.  Wash the pig guts off your hands you crazy butcher and let's jam!" (laughs)  Funny story!

Gerry McAvoy:  Yeah. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  What kind of bass did you play growing up?

"Moonchild" - Rory Gallagher / "Calling Card" (1976) 

Gerry McAvoy:  Oh, it was called a Top Twenty.  It was horrible.  There was a catalog.  In the States, you could get one from Sears Roebuck.  In the UK and England and Ireland, there was a company called Bell Music.  They would sell instruments, but fairly nasty instruments.  So my first one was like a paper copy called a Top Twenty.  It was unbelievably bad.  After that, I got a Vox Cougar which I really enjoyed playing.  Eventually, my mother managed to get me a Fender Precision.  A 1961 Fender Precision.  Then again, this was only 1967 so the guitar was only six years old at that stage. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Growing up, what was one of the first albums you threw coins at?

Gerry McAvoy:  I think it was a Del Shannon album called "Runaway" named after the track he had a hit with.  I think I bought it second hand.  Yeah, I'm sure it was a Del Shannon.  After that, I mean...obviously The Beatles and so on.

Casey Chambers:  Who were some of your musical influences?

Gerry McAvoy:  Oh, as a bass player, I started listening to a band in the UK and Europe called The Shadows.  They were quite big in the '60s.

Casey Chambers:  Oh, yeah. With Hank Marvin, right?

Gerry McAvoy:  Hank Marvin, that's right.  The bass player was a guy called Jet Harris.  I really enjoyed listening to his music. He ended up having a bit of a solo career.  Him and the drummer from The Shadows. (Tony Meehan)  But after that, I listened to the Beatles.  I used to lift Paul McCartney's bass lines and learn them.  I just thought he was such a melodic bass player and a good rock and roll bass player as well.  Yeah, I listened to Paul McCartney a lot.  And then I started listening to guys like Willie Dixon.  When I got into the blues, I was listening to guys like that.  Jaco Pastorius.  It went on and on.  And then around the mid-'90s, I started re-listening to all my old Motown stuff and I got turned on by James Jamerson.  I really started listening to James Jamerson again.  Bob Babbitt.  All those guys. They're great, great players.

Casey Chambers:  Off the top of your head, what are a few Rory songs that you really had fun playing?

Gerry and Rory

Gerry McAvoy:  Wow, that's a hard one. (laughs)  There were so many of them.  "Shadow Play" I used to enjoy.   And "Moonchild."  I mean, just for the bass lines alone.  I enjoyed playing most of them, but some of them I really enjoyed because of the bass lines.  "Tattoo'd Lady" is another one.  They were fun to play.  I couldn't go through them all.

Casey Chambers:  I read that Bob Dylan was a big fan.  Did you guys ever meet Bob?

Gerry McAvoy:  We did, yeah.  At the Shrine Auditorium, I think.  In Los Angeles.  He was a big fan of Rory.  And he loved Rory's song..."I Could've Had Religion."  He thought it was a cover from an old blues guy, but it was actually Rory's song.  And Dylan came to the concert and came backstage.  Rory and I were in the dressing room when we met him.  He walked in.  It was fantastic because I could see the two guys meeting each other and really wanting to talk.  But then all of a sudden, Hank Sieck, one of the record company guys come barging in with a bunch of photographers, and Dylan just had to make a quick exit which was a terrible shame.

Casey Chambers:  How cool that Dylan was listening to you guys.

Gerry McAvoy:  Oh, absolutely.  And over the years I think he kept in touch with Rory.  I know towards the end when Rory was in the hospital, he sent Rory a telegram.

Casey Chambers:  "Irish Tour '74" is one of those live albums that everyone must hear.  Great on so many levels.  With all the tumultuous goings-on at the time, what was that experience like?

Gerry McAvoy:  Well, I mean, obviously it was during The Troubles in Ireland.  The North of Ireland.  And I think we started in Belfast.  I mean, the camera crews were there. Tony Palmer and the camera crews.  They were filming things, but we couldn't record the Belfast shows because the mobile unit couldn't make it from the south of Ireland to Belfast.  So most of the recordings were done, I believe, some in Dublin and the rest were done in Cork.  It was just...strange times.  For the obvious reasons.  All the troubles that were going on at the time, it was really difficult to get things in and out of Ireland.  But we managed.  We got away with it.

Casey Chambers:  You guys left behind some amazing shows, but your nerves had to be on edge.  I mean, most acts were canceling concerts and refusing to perform there, right?

Gerry McAvoy:  Oh yeah.  I mean, it was one of those things that Rory did every year.  Even from the beginning in 1971 when I joined Rory.  We would always go back there around Christmas time and play for the folks.  Because there was no music going on there, you know.  So Rory and the band and the road crew...and you gotta show respect for those guys...we would go and do a show literally every year.  I think we missed once in like 1976 or something.  But every year during The Troubles we would go in.  I was from Belfast, you know, so I knew what was going on and I think I was a bit more aware than the other guys.

Gerry and Rory

Casey Chambers:  That was a good thing you guys were doing.  And your powerful "Irish Tour '74" album serves as a strong reminder just how good the band really was.  When I was going down the rabbit hole, I found out that you had released a book about some of your experiences.

Gerry McAvoy:  Yeah, it's called "Riding Shotgun" and basically it's my story.  Obviously, 20 years of my life was taken up with playing with Rory, so there's a lot of stuff in there about those times.  But there's also growing up in Belfast.  Joining my first band.  What happened after Rory.  It's just something I wanted to document.  I know in the past I've met different people who say, 'I'm going to write a book.  I'm going to do this. I'm going to keep a diary.'  And eventually, they die and they're gone.  And so it's forgotten.  All those stories are gone. So I wanted to document my life and stories.  And we're going to augment it later this year, whenever we kill off this virus.

Casey Chambers:  I know that you guys were always a hard-touring band.  Who were a few of the acts you worked with early on?

Gerry McAvoy:  There was a lot.  We toured with ZZ Top.  We did a massive four-month tour with Deep Purple and Fleetwood Mac which was fantastic.  The Faces with Rod StewartKiss opened up for Rory in the early days.  I think the longest tour we did was with Rush.  The first tour they did of the U.S. they were actually on tour with us.  With Rory.  They were the opening band at that stage. They obviously became massive in the early '80s and we ended up touring with them again for four months.  An American tour, which I believe was the biggest tour of that particular year.  Rush were a great bunch of guys as well.  They remembered how good we were to them when they were opening up for us...and they sort of paid the compliment back when we were opening up for them.  The first tour I did with Rory in '71, we opened up for Frank Zappa.  Which was quite amazing.  It was in Milwaukee and I remember he had the two singers from The Turtles.  Flo and Eddie.  The band was incredible.  What was really hip, the next morning everybody was flying out of Milwaukee and we all ended up at the airport, in a coffee shop sitting together. (laughs)  Passing the time away and speaking with Frank Zappa.  I was 19.  I was a kid.  And it was amazing.  There were a lot of bands we played with over the years.  And a lot of bands who played with us.

Casey Chambers:  Okay, just for today, tomorrow fughetaboutit, what's an album you recommend everyone go back and listen to?

Gerry McAvoy:  I listen to everything, Casey, that's the thing.  But some of my favorite albums are by the big guys.  An album I think everybody should go back and listen to is "Blonde On Blonde" by Bob Dylan.  It's a great album.  "I Want You" is classic.  "I Want You" is a great, great song.  It says it all on that album.  In fact, Al Kooper...we got very friendly with Al Kooper who plays on that album...he got up and played with us a couple of times.  He was telling us some stories about playing keyboards because Al...he was really a guitar player.  How he was just messing about with a Hammond organ in the studio and came up with that sound.  And Dylan loved it.  Al was not a keyboard player by any stretch of the imagination, just messing about with the Hammond, pulling drawers out and pulling stops.  And he ended up with a sound that became synonymous with "Blonde On Blonde."  It's a great album.  It says it all on that album.

Casey Chambers:  Another reason to go give "Blonde..." another taste of the needle.  This has been a lot of fun.  Gerry, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today.   It's been a real pleasure and I thank you so much.  Stay safe out there.

Gerry McAvoy:  No problem, Casey.  And thank you very much yourself.  Stay safe.

"Shadow Play" - Rory Gallagher / "Photo Finish" (1978)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Sunday, April 19, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Camembert Electrique" (1971)

"Camembert Electrique" - Gong (1971)

I'm not that familiar with Gong, this being only my second album to spin, but this was the band's sophomore square and it's a wonderful avant-garde head trip.  It's proggy with a trippy psych flavor.  All with a current of free jazz moving around underneath.  The music sounds very ambitious and forward-thinking.  Founding member Daevid Allen has a lot going on inside his head...and it's bizarre but brilliant in all its reveal.  The ideas and music, as hinted, are strange, but I never got the sense Allen was trying to have us on.  Everything sounds premeditated.  Nothing flip.  And somewhere in all the madness is a genuine sincerity that allows the listener to trust the process.

"Camembert Electrique" is an album that requires your attention.  The first time I played it, I was busy doing other things and missed it.  Later, I put on some headphones and gave the album both my ears.  Some of it still went over my head, but I enjoyed the journey.  "Camembert Electrique" might even be a concept album.  There is a "Gnome" introduction and "Gnome" departure.  But if it is, the concept escapes me.

"Fohat Digs Holes in Space" and "Tropical Fish: Selene" are my two favorite songs on the album.  They both give great headphone.  "Tried So Hard" is another fantastic track.  The song is kinda floaty and jammy and probably the most accessible song on the album.  And it gives your mind time to regroup.  Straight-up, this album has aged extremely well.  My copy is a 1974 Rei on Caroline Records, a branch from the Virgin label.

"Camembert Electrique" (back)

Caroline Records label

"Fohat Digs Holes in Space" - Gong / "Camembert Electrique" (1971)

A1  "Radio Gnome Prediction"  0:25
A2  "You Can't Kill Me"  6:18
A3  "I've Bin Stone Before"  4:55
A4  "Mister Long Shanks, O Mother, I Am Your Fantasy"  3:35
A5  "Dynamite: I Am Your Animal"  4:30
A6  "Wet Cheese Delirium"  0:28
B1  "Squeezing Sponges Over Policemen's Heads"  0:10
B2  "Fohat Digs Holes in Space"  6:18
B3  "And You Tried So Hard"  4:35
B4  "Tropical Fish: Selene"  7:32
B5  "Gnome the Second"  0:26

Daevid Allen ("Bert Camembert") - guitar, vocals, bass
Gilli Smyth ("Shakti Yoni") - space whisper
Didier Malherbe ("Bloomdido Bad De Grasse") - sax, flute
Christian Tritsch ("Submarine Captain") - bass, guitar
Pip Pyle - drums
Eddy Louiss - Hammond organ and piano  (A-3)
Konstantin Simonovitch - phased piano  (A - 5)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Monday, April 13, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Bend Me, Shape Me" (1968)

"Bend Me, Shape Me" - The American Breed (1968)

The American Breed's second album is filled with garage pop-rock and a few softer songs.  The musicianship and harmonies sound just fine.  I was hoping the album would be as psych as the cover, but the band only dips their toe in that direction.  Still, the songs are good without being too cotton-candy.  The American Breed was a band out of Chicago, so there are occasional horns.  But it's nothing to get hung about.  This isn't really a horn album.  The horns are not over-used, I mean.  When the horns show up, they paint with brushes, not rollers.   

The stand-out track for me was "Don't Make Me Leave You."  The song is really good with some stinging guitar.  Good stuff.  Their hit "Bend Me, Shape Me" still sounds tight and groovy as ever.  The opening track, "Green Light" has a lot of garage-pop energy and includes a long siren wail being cranked in the middle.  Just the kind of idea guys come up with when goofin' around in the garage.  And I liked it.  ‘Mindrocker’" starts off with some fantastic harmonies similar to the band, Gypsy.  I like the song, but it could have been so much more.  For the slow-dance at the sock-hop, "No Easy Way Down" sounds very much a part of its time.  The song was written by Goffin & King.  Overall, I would say Side One is the stronger half. 

I see this album going for five simoleons or less all the time.  And yet, I would always leave it behind.  Finally, I picked up a copy from a seller affectionally known as..."Garageman Gary" and took it home.  It was clean and looked like it had hardly been played.  And at that particular moment, I felt just like Charlie Brown looking for a Xmas tree.  "It needs me."

"Bend Me, Shape Me" (back)

acta label

"Don't Make Me Leave You" - The American Breed" / "Bend Me, Shape Me" (1968)

A1  "Green Light"  2:15
A2  "Don't It Make You Cry"  3:10
A3  "Mindrocker"  2:38
A4  "Bird"  2:39
A5  "Something You've Got"  2:47
A6  "Don't Make Me Leave You"  2:18
B1  "Bend Me, Shape Me"  2:25
B2  "Before and After"  2:45
B3  "Sometime in the Morning"  2:20
B4  "I've Been Tryin'"  3:05
B5  "No Easy Way Down"  3:20

Gary Loizzo - vocals, guitar
Al Ciner - rhythm guitar, b-vocals
Charles Colbert - bass, b-vocals
Lee Graziano - drums, trumpet, b-vocals,

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Friday, April 10, 2020

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "The Boys of ’67: Charlie Company’s War in Vietnam" (2012)

"The Boys of ’67: Charlie Company’s War in Vietnam" by Andrew Wiest
Softcover, 448 pages

This was the first group of "Charlie Company" that was drafted into the Vietnam war circa 1967.  These young men were called from all over the country, but what was extremely unusual...this particular group stayed together from day one.  From the few short weeks of basic training...right into the enemy fire and landmines of the Vietnam jungle war.  How frightening and dangerous that all must have been.  Andrew Wiest gives the reader a pretty good overview of these young guys.  Kids really.  Their backgrounds. Their personalities.  Their dreams.  Their fears.  And their especially strong bonds of friendship that are only made through shared experiences.

There are also several pictures of the Charlie Company included in the book.  To be able to put real faces to so many of the names...after reading about their victories, losses, and tribulations...was both haunting and heartbreaking.  You look at each photograph and try to see if there's anything there that gives away who will make it back and who won't.  I was hoping there might be a clue.  But no.  Nothing.  Death comes as it will for everyone.  And that's scary stuff.

"Goodnight Saigon" - Billy Joel / "The Nylon Curtain" (1982)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers