Thursday, August 15, 2019

I Went...SI--SI--SIRIUS...All The Way Home (again)

(a short jaunt)

"To Susan on the West Coast Waiting" - Donovan / “Barabajagal” (1969)

My fascination with the Vietnam War, both movies and books, was always fueled, in no small part, by the large output of music inspired by this terrible conflict.  In this gentle song, Donovan sings a letter written from...' Andy in Vietnam fighting' his favorite boo.  Separated because of the mandatory draft.  Not Donovan's best, but it's Donovan.  The album is recommended.

"Black Queen" - Stephen Stills / “Stephen Stills” (1970)

“This is a song about a card game.”  So Stephen Stills drunkenly declares before riffing off some dirty acoustic blues and baring his drunken soul.  This recording has become one of those infamous RnR stories passed down.   In this case, Stills had quickly finished off a bottle of some 'good ol' whatever it was' ...among other things, and picked up his hardware and began tripping off some pretty tasty, but out of his head, blues...all while unaware the studio tapes were running.  There were some pretty famous musicians hanging out so most of this legend is probably true.  Anyway, I like me some Stills from time to time.  Though his later musical output can be a bit of a briar patch to wade through.  This song and album, however, makes for safe travel.

"Carouselambra" - Led Zeppelin / "In Through The Out Door" (1979)

This is going to sound really, really strange, but I would much rather be surprised hearing this song blast outta my radio like it did the other day...than to have to watch the needle drop onto this opening track of "ITTOD" side two. Whaddyagonnado?


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Monday, August 12, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Jonathon Round" (1971)

"Jonathon Round" - Jonathon Round (1971)

If you threw Jack Black and Meatloaf into one of those experimental pods that Jeff Goldblum climbed into in "The Fly" might find Jonathon Round on the other side.  His vocals hit the speakers with that same kind of over-the-top commitment.   His self-titled (and only) album is a mixture of hard folk and blues-rock with a bit of psych seasoning scattered about.  The insane soliloquy and spooky arrangement of the Stones, "Sympathy For The Devil" is just killer and one that a few cooler radio stations still play.  After a few moments into the song, you quickly realize that this shit's for real.  The devil ain't looking for no sympathy here.  He's demanding props and praise.  It's a great cover that doesn't imitate.  And the song also has a really cool fadeout.

"In Quest of the Unicorn" is the opening track that introduces us to Jonathon Round and it doesn't fail to impress.  The gentler "Tolu" is a floaty acoustic gem.  Good vocals and good musicianship.  Not every track is amazing, but there's some really good stuff here.  It's not an expensive square, but hard to find in the wild.  The album has a gimmix round gatefold cover and was released on the Westbound Records label.  Bands like Funkadelic and Ohio Players parked their horses there.  Jonathon Round used a different kind of transportation.

"Jonathon Round" (back)

"Jonathon Round" (inside)

Westbound Records (promo)

"Sympathy For The Devil" - Jonathon Round  / "Jonathon Round" (1971)

A1  "In Quest of the Unicorn" 4:50
A2  "Don't It Make You Wanna' Go Home" 3:01
A3  "Tolu" 5:06
A4  "Sympathy For The Devil" 5:55
B1  "To Love Somebody" 2:55
B2  "Travelin' Mama Blues" 4:06
B3  "Young Sadie (Dancing Lady)" 4:40
B4  "Train-A-Comin'" 2:30
B5  "And I Will Not Be Moved" 5:30

Jonathan Round - vocals, guitar
Dennis Coffey - guitar
Bob Babbitt - bass
Mike Theodore - keyboards, guitar
John Griffith - keyboards
Sam Fozzini - drums
Jack Ashford - percussion
Bob Coward - oboe, flute
Fred Boldt - saxophone
Carl Raetz - trombone
Thaddeus Markiewicz - strings
Jack Boesen - strings
Edgar Clanton - b-vocals
LaVerna Mason - b-vocals

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Thursday, August 8, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Love It To Death" (1971)

"Love It To Death" - Alice Cooper (1971)

I'm not going to regurgitate more hyperboles about “Love It To Death” and the Alice Cooper band.  Both were a welcome branch for the direction of rock music.  But I do want to speak about the infamous "Love It To Death” album cover.  When the album was first released in early 1971, the cover had an outrageous group photo of the band with frontman Alice extending his thumb through a buttonhole or opening of his coat giving the appearance that he was exposing his uncle jack.  It was just some juvenile shenanigans, but it soon became known as..." the thumb album."

The Thumb Album Cover

But it wasn't on the shelves too long, because record peep uppity-ups decided to pull “the thumb album” and release it with a new censored cover.  In December, Warner Bros. released it again with the same photo but only showing the band members from the waist up with the addition of two thick white strips appearing above and below the picture.  But the strips almost feel like Plan B after the photo was lowered a third of the way down and still didn't cover up "the thumb.”  You can almost feel the pressure of the Xmas holiday shopping season on their shoulders.  Plus, for some strange reason, they decided to censor the back of the album cover, too.  Thus, “the white album” was born.  At the beginning of the new year, WB issued yet another censored cover.  This time simply airbrushing the thumb away.  This is the album most commonly seen today.

Which brings me to the point.  For vinyl collectors, the short window of time that the censored "white album" was made available...makes it as hard, if not harder, to find than the original "LITD" album.  I seldom come across this one anymore.  Probably because those who do find it...are hanging on to it.  It's not an expensive purchase, but the prices are starting to rise.  Anyway, besides "Love It To Death" being an essential album...(#452 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time)'s also a fun one to pick up to bookend your other copies.   Here is a recent interview I had with bassist Dennis Dunaway earlier this year.

"Love It To Death" (back)

"Love It To Death" (inside)

Warner Bros. Records / Straight label

"Second Coming" - Alice Cooper / "Love It To Death" (1971)

A1  "Caught in a Dream" 3:10
A2  "I'm Eighteen" 3:00
A3  "Long Way to Go" 3:04
A4  "Black Juju" 9:11
B1  "Is It My Body" 2:39
B2  "Hallowed Be My Name" 2:29
B3  "Second Coming" 3:04
B4  "Ballad of Dwight Fry" 6:33
B5  "Sun Arise" 3:50

Alice Cooper – vocals, harmonica
Glen Buxton – lead guitar
Michael Bruce – rhythm guitar, keyboards, b-vocals
Dennis Dunaway – bass, b-vocals
Neal Smith – drums, b-vocals
Bob Ezrin – keyboards, producer

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Antithesis" (1972)

"Antithesis" - Gypsy (1972)

This is a more rock-driven and less prog-spinnin' Gypsy album.  The songs here are much shorter and a bit funkier.  The gorgeous harmonies are still killer.  The musicianship is still tight as ever.  But methinks their search for a radio hit was weighing on this album.  It didn't come.  This was Gypsy's third album and while there's some really good stuff here, what's missing are the extended prog trips and clever jams that made their self-titled double album debut (1970) and their follow-up, "In The Garden" (1971) gather a bit of a cult following.  Go search those albums out first.  But if you're already familiar with the distinctive sounds of'll probably cozy up to this one just fine.

"Antithesis" (back)

"Antithesis" (inside)

RCA Victor (orange dynaflex)

"Facing Time" - Gypsy / "Antithesis" (1972)

A1  "Crusader" 3:10
A2  "Day After Day" 3:15
A3  "The Creeper" 3:10
A4  "Facing Time" 4:11
A5  "Lean on Me" 3:15
A6  "Young Gypsy" 3:06
B1  "Don't Bother Me" 3:15
B2  "Travelin' Minnesota Blues" 2:33
B3  "So Many Promises" 3:25
B4  "Antithesis (Keep Your Faith)" 3:22
B5  "Edgar (Don't Hoover Over Me)" 3:26
B6  "Money" 4:53

James Walsh - keyboards, vocals
Enrico Rosenbaum - guitar, vocals
James Johnson - guitar, vocals
Bill Lordan - drums
Randy Cates - bass, vocals

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Monday, August 5, 2019

I Went...SI--SI--SIRIUS...All The Way Home (again)

(a short jaunt)

"Another Road" - Loggins & Messina / Capitol Theatre (7/9/1976)

I've always been in the Jim Messina camp when it came to this duo.  I can certainly understand Kenny Loggins' appeal, though.  He had the sensitive voice.  He was the throb.  But Jim Messina's guiding hand pushing him to the front of the stage can not be overstated.  The live version from "On Stage" (1974) is a beautiful little gem...but I like the live version (above) captured at the Capitol Theatre a little better.  Written by Loggins, but it's the gentle arrangement and backing vocals of Messina that keep the song from flying off.  Together they take a small song and give it real substance.  When the two were on the same page, they made quite the team.  Jim Messina interview.

"Midnight Man" - James Gang / “Thirds” (1971)

Was this the last “great song” Joe Walsh did with the James Gang?  It's definitely a favorite.  The song just makes my heart ache, but I can't put my finger on just why.  A chance lost, perhaps.  And that guitar sound.  Just killer.  A real midtempo beauty.  "Thirds" was the last James Gang album fronted by Joe Walsh.  And he probably knew it.

"Home and Away" - Humble Pie / "Town and Country" (1969)

Hell yeah!  That's Peter Frampton vocals out in front with Steve Marriot riding shotgun this time, and definitely getting his licks in, as well.  A fantastic acoustic jambox with some tasty organ thrown in by Marriot.   There's a kickass jam midway and even a fake ending fade out, too.  It all sounds rather...epic.   This was from Humble Pie's 2nd album that was only released in the UK.   I had never seen the album or heard this song before, but you can definitely hear the precursor of the solo Frampton yet to come.


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Saturday, August 3, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Gulliver" (1970)

"Gulliver" - Gulliver (1970)

All I needed to know about this album was that Gulliver was on the Elektra label (making it a pretty safe blind purchase) and was also notable for having Daryl Hall in the band.  The music is mostly clever McCartneyesque pop-rockers.  There is even a little bit of fuzzed-up guitar that satisfies that other itch.  Nothing hard, but sounds good.  Even when the tempo slows down, like on the wonderful "Enough"/"Over the Mountain" still sounds FM worthy.  There are a couple of weaker tracks on here, but nothing that reaches the skippable level that would make you leave your chair.

Tim Moore wrote most of the songs and splits vocals with Hall.  Moore went on to have a successful career as a songwriter for many musical artists.  AMG only gave this album two stars, but I think it rates higher than that.  I really enjoyed it.  The album cover, however, is definitely a two-star.  Whoever thought a group shot of the band with the sun at their backs would be a good idea must have been smoking something.  For the record, Daryl Hall is the second shadowy figure on the left.  The back cover has Hall wearing a groovy Batman t-shirt which is pretty cool.  Look, I would never pay big money for this album, but if you can find a good copy near the $12 mark, grab it.

 "Gulliver" (back)

 Elektra Butterfly label

Original Elektra sleeve

"Enough"/"Over the Mountain" - Gulliver / "Gulliver" (1970)

A1  "Every Day's a Lovely Day" 2:45
A2  "I'm Really Smokin'" 2:25
A3  "Christine" 1:45
A4  "Rose Come Home" 3:35
A5  "Enough" / "Over the Mountain"
         a. "Enough" 1:58
         b. "Over the Mountain" 2:32
B1  "Angelina" 3:10
B2  "Flogene" 2:20
B3  "Lemon Road" 3:05
B4  "Seventy" 3:10
B5  "A Truly Good Song" 4:25

Daryl Hall - vocals, keyboard
Tim Moore - vocals, guitars
Tom Sellers - keyboards, bass
Jim Helmer - drums

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Thursday, August 1, 2019

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "The Big Sleep" - Raymond Chandler (1939)

"The Big Sleep"...Raymond Chandler (1939)
231 pages

"The Big Sleep" is a noir mystery that introduces us for the first time to Philip Marlowe...a tough, cynical detective hired by a dying millionaire to check up on one of his two beautiful 20-year old daughters.  And there are shenanigans afoot.  Taking place in Hollywood, CA circa the late 1930s, our detective narrates us through this wonderful fustercluck that involves double-crosses and blackmail.  Triple-crosses and murder.  Plus a host of not-so-nice characters that all have a bit of stink on their fingers.  Adding to the fun, Raymond Chandler has Marlowe tossing off one classic observation after another.  Gems like...

She lowered her lashes until they almost cuddled her cheeks and slowly raised them again, like a theatre curtain."
"The sunshine was as empty as a head waiter's smile." 

Even with all these delicious Marlowe observations and burns, "The Big Sleep" doesn't loiter. The pace is steady and all the cool noirish vibes made me feel a bit like a time-traveler.  I mean, I was right there.  "The Big Sleep" ain't no catnap, yo.
FWIW...In 1946, Humphrey Bogart brought Philip Marlowe to the big screen.

"Big Eyes" - Cheap Trick / "In Color" (1977)

Good stuff.


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Horse Head Has An Idea:.."Steely Dan: More Than Just a Band"


"Steely Dan: More Than Just a Band"
There are a few Steely Dan documentaries out there.  But this one is especially entertaining without being a time-suck.  At 17 minutes, this doc does a nice job of taking us from the band's early “Do It Again” debut period and quickly touching on each album.  The gentleman doing the voiceover is pleasant with interesting observations and sincere enthusiasm.

The Walter Becker/Donald Fagen duo was always like cosmic magnets...drawn together by unseen musical forces.  A pairing of minds searching for the lost chord.  Or some other type of perfection.  And their music made us feel smarter.  A touch more grown-up.  The music makes us want to tidy up the house for company.  And Steely Dan albums always make me want to drink some scotch whiskey.  All night long.  I never do, of course.  I'm just not that cool.  But I truly do have an unopened bottle of Glenfiddich 12-Year-Old collecting dust should the off-chance opportunity to speak with The Fagen presents itself.  (Or something equally worthy of throwing some scotch back.)  Again, this short documentary is nicely done.  Grab a beverage and enjoy.

"Steely Dan: More Than Just a Band" / Documentary

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Sunday, July 28, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."The Inner Sounds Of The Id" (1967)

"The Inner Sounds Of The Id" - The Id (1967)

“The Inner Sounds Of The Id” is a fantastic psych record that was, in many ways, ahead of its time. All the music was recorded before 1967, making for some really early trippage.  A stamped postcard for the psych music later to come.  Remember, this was months before “Sgt. Pepper”...when every band wanted studio time to try and join the psychedelic parade.  The opening track “The Rake” brings a wonderful off-beat weirdness to the cerebellum.  And the album closes with the darker 10 1/2 minute title track.   Along with the psych, "Inner Sounds..." offers up some tasty and a bit strange garage rock.  Interesting, for sure.  From needle drop to run-out, this is some pretty groovy stuff.

The Id was never a “real” band, however.  They were just session musicians.  Wrecking Crew guys with guitarist Jerry Cole being the better-known of the bunch.  Cole was responsible for “The Animated Egg” psych album (I've never seen in the wild...evah!)  And he played on many of the cash-in “101 Strings” LPs, which I have come across, but was never aware Jerry Cole had a hand.    This was a bit of a pony-up. (For me anyway, I'm cheap).   I had been trying to snag a good copy at a price that fell in my sweet spot for a long time.  I bought this one online from a new seller with very little feedback history and took a chance.  I made an offer and it was accepted for $20 shipped.  A price I was comfortable paying.  This was the only album The Id ever recorded and it's a good one to grab.

"The Inner Sounds Of The Id" (back)

RCA Victor label

RCA Victor company sleeve

"The Rake" - The Id / "The Inner Sounds Of The Id" (1967)

A1  "The Rake" 2:03
A2  "Wild Times" 3:02
A3  "Don't Think Twice" 2:41
A4  "Stone and Steel" 3:30
A5  "Baby Eyes" 2:47
A6  "Boil the Kettle, Mother" 2:55
B1  "Butterfly Kiss" 2:29
B2  "Short Circuit" 2:56
B3  "Just Who" 2:36
B4  "The Inner Sound of the Id" 10:29

Jerry Cole - guitar, vocals, sitar
Rich Cliburn - guitar, b-vocals
Glenn Cass - bass, b-vocals
Don Dexter - drums, b-vocals

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Monday, July 22, 2019

Interview -- Alvin Taylor (Drummer w/ Eric Burdon, George Harrison, and many others...)

"It's like being
in the right place
at the right time." 
~ Alvin Taylor ~

As a very young teenager,  Alvin Taylor was already the drummer for the iconic Little Richard band that included Billy Preston and Jimi Hendrix.  (Let that sink in a minute.)  And if he had decided to put his sticks away forever after that stint, Alvin Taylor would still be way cooler than the rest of us.  Oh, but wait.  Taylor also provided some funky bottom for Billy Preston and Sly Stone.  Rolled thunder for The Eric Burdon Band.  And provided a different kind of bonza for Elton John and George Harrison.  But really, I'm cherry-picking here, because Alvin Taylor has left behind enough chilly-cool drumming to crack even the longest of heat indexes.  Alvin Taylor.  Go get you some.

Alvin Taylor Interview -- July 2019
Alvin Taylor

Casey Chambers:  Let's jump right into it.  Before getting hip to all the many artists you've been associated with, I first became a fan of your craft from your work with Bob Welch.  How did you and Bob hook up?

Alvin Taylor:  Well, that's interesting.  I'll try to make it short. (laughs)  Through working with Capitol Records, I was with Eric Burdon.  I was one of the founding members of The Eric Burdon Band.  And John Carter, we all called him Carter...may he rest in peace...was an A&R man for us.  He'd travel around the world with us and meet us at various locations.  And every night he'd come sit behind the drums while I was playing.  And he'd say, 'Man, you are the most amazing drummer I've ever seen.  I'd like to do some work with you someday.'

(Check out this firestick!)
"River Of Blood" - The Eric Burdon Band / "D K Rock Concert" (1974)

And after The Eric Burdon Band broke up, Carter called me and said he was going to be producing a new artist that Capitol Records had signed by the name of Bob Welch.  I didn't know who Bob was at the time.  Of course, I knew Fleetwood Mac...the band.  But I wasn't familiar with any of the members except for Fleetwood.  Mick Fleetwood.  Bob had left and was pursuing a new career as a solo artist.  So Carter asked me to take responsibility for being his band leader and finding band members for him to record with.  I asked him to give me a tape so I could hear what these members should sound like.  And lo and behold, I got the tape and probably about three minutes into it, I was convinced the musicians on the tape were the guys that needed to be on the album.

So I called Carter back and asked, 'Who's the guitar player?'  He says, 'Oh, that's Bob Welch.'  I said, 'Well, what about the bass player?'  "No, that's Bob Welch.'  I said, 'How about the keyboard player?' 'Well, that's Bob Welch, too.'  I said, 'You gotta be kidding me! Well, who's doing the singing in the background?'  Carter said, 'That's all Bob Welch.'  I thought, my goodness!  Why should I be looking for a band?  We have the band, ya know?  So for the recording of the "French Kiss" album  (1977), with the exception of the one song Bob had done before with Fleetwood Mac ...called "Sentimental Lady"...all the other tracks were done by Bob Welch and myself.

"French Kiss" - Bob Welch (1977)

I had worked with Barry White, so I knew a very amazing string arranger by the name of Gene Page, who's also passed away.  He had done hundreds of records with Motown and various other famous artists.  I asked him if he would come in and do some string arrangements for us on "French Kiss."  Especially on "Ebony Eyes" and then later on the song "Precious Love."   The next thing I know, the record went Gold and then went Platinum.  And Bob and I secured a very meaningful relationship as friends and I was friends with him right up until his tragic death.   And that's how we got together.

"Ebony Eyes" - Bob Welch / "Live At The Roxy" (1981)

Casey Chambers:  It was a great album.  Did you guys do a lot of road promotion after the album's release?  I watched an awesome show with you guys performing at the Roxy and it was sick.

Alvin Taylor:  That was "Bob Welch and Friends Live At the Roxy" (1981) and that was just a fun, fun night!   I never toured with Bob, unfortunately.  The financial end of things at that time didn't work out from my management's point of view.  I would have done it for whatever...'cause I loved working with Bob.  The money wasn't important to me.  But we did do The Roxy together and yeah, we had a lot of fun.  And it was a good chance to mix it with a lot of our friends.  Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood.  Christine McVie.  And some of the really great players.  Joey Brasler playing bass.  And Robbie Patton, who is an amazing singer from England with his own career, on percussion.  Congas and tambourines and cowbells.  And of course, Stevie was playing a tambourine and singing background with us.  And a lot of friends just showed up.  Carmine Appice came and did one song and that was really nice.  He was like...' No, you're not doing this show without me.' (laughs)  The Roxy was just a fun, fun night.  I was using a custom-built set of Rogers that was made for me through a company called Far Out Productions who created the band...WarJerry Goldstein, a producer, and songwriter with the band wanted me to have whatever it was that I thought I needed to play with Eric Burdon.  I told him my favorite drums was Rogers, so he arranged for them to make a special custom made drum set for me.  And that's the drum set I used with Bob live as well as during the recording sessions.  And I used Zildjian Cymbals.  Basically, customized hardware.  That's why the live stuff pretty much sounds like the record.

"Precious Love" & "Hot Love, Cold World" - Bob Welch / "Live At The Roxy" (1981)

Casey Chambers:  It's always kinda cool learning about what was the first...something.  Trivial or not.  And I think this is a pretty neat deal.  You get to share the banner for being...The First Musical Act To Perform On "Saturday Night Live."  What a cool bag to carry.  How did that happen?

Alvin Taylor:  I was with Billy Preston at the time.  He was the musical guest and I was working with him.  Janis Ian was also on that show.  And George Carlin was the host.  It was 1974 or '75, I believe.  So yeah, it was the very first show that ever appeared on television for "Saturday Night Live."  We did "Nothing From Nothing" and a song called, "Fancy Lady."  He had a ranch up in Topanga Canyon and that was a horse that Billy was in love with.  Billy Preston was a very intricate part of my career way back in the day.  When I was first discovered, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Little Richard, and Billy Preston were all together at a show that I was playing.  And Little Richard loved my playing and came back to the kitchen where I happened to be the busboy at this place.  I doubled as a drummer every now and then when the other drummer got drunk. (laughs)  Little Richard asked me to be his drummer and I ended up on the road with Little Richard opening up a show for Elvis Presley.

Jimi Hendrix was playing guitar in the band and Billy Preston was the organist.  And Little Richard made the age of 13...not only his drummer, but his bandleader.  I conducted an 18 piece orchestra at the same time.  And like I said, Jimi Hendrix was playing guitar in our band. (laughs)  When Richard wasn't working though, he was doing promotional tours to promote his artistry and, you know, he kinda left us waiting for him to be ready to go on tour again.  Billy Preston and I became really good friends.  And we thought...well, we need to make a living.  And Billy had connections over at Motown Records and we'd go and do sessions for Motown artists.  People like...Smokey Robinson.  Marvin Gaye.  Diana Ross and the Supremes.  The Temptations.  I even had the privilege and the pleasure of working with Teena Marie and Rick James on a song called, "I'm A Sucker For Your Love."  Anyway, later Billy needed a drummer after the great Manuel Kellough left, so I ended up playing drums for him.

"Nothing From Nothing" - Billy Preston / 1st episode of SNL (1975)

Billy's manager was Robert Ellis, who was Diana Ross' husband and managing Rufus with Chaka Kahn at the time.  He ended up sending us to New York to do the show.  We didn't really mind that the show had no name yet or wasn't famous because they were paying us really well.  They were taking care of our hotel and flying us out to New York and back.  So we went and did it and had a chance to meet some amazing people.  We used Tower Of Power's horn section and Bobby Watson, the bass player from Rufus and Tony Maiden, the guitar player from Rufus.  Along with a friend of ours by the name of Steve Beckmeier, an amazing guitarist who's worked with a lot of famous people.  So that's how I ended up working with Billy and having the privilege and the pleasure of having that opportunity to do the very first "Saturday Night Live" show.  It's like being in the right place at the right time. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  "Live...from New York!"  (laughs)  Exciting times.  I know Billy Preston had a close relationship with The Beatles.  Is that how you found yourself working with George Harrison?

Alvin Taylor:  Well, absolutely.  Just like I said...having the 'face in the place.' (laughs)  Being in the right place at the right time.  What happened was...George Harrison came out to Billy's ranch to visit and say hello to him.  I guess he was in town while we were doing pre-production for The Stairsteps...known as The Five Stairsteps.  They had the song..."O-o-h Child, things are gonna get easier.'   We were rehearsing an album called "2nd Resurrection." (1976)  They were getting ready to resurrect and make a comeback in the business.  Which they did.  And Billy was producing that band along with the famed producer Robert Margouleffwho had produced some of Stevie Wonder's biggest albums.

So at that time, I'd been spending a lot of time rehearsing out at Billy's ranch.  And I just happened to be there when George Harrison showed up and he was like, 'Oh my God, who's that drummer? I got to have that drummer on my album.'  And Billy came out and said, 'Hey, George really likes your playing.'   I'm like...' Yeah, sure.  Right.'  (laughs)  But then the next thing I know, I actually get a call from George Harrison!  I thought it was someone faking an English accent and I was like, 'Yeah, right. Sure, George.'  He just ignored me.  He...he just kept on talking. (laughs)

George Harrison's Friar Park Castle 

He said, 'Oh yeah, I 'd like to have you on an album I'm doing a year from now.'  I'm thinking to myself...'A year from now?  Who knows what I'll be doing a year from now?  But, I made the agreement.  I consented to be available. To go to London.  He said we'd probably do it in London at a place called Friar Park in Henley-on-Thames...which is where his castle was at.  He had a studio in his castle.  And then a year later, sure enough, I got a call asking if I would still be available on a certain date to come and live in George Harrison's castle.  And at the same time, participate in the recording by playing drums on his album..."Thirty-Three & 1/3" (1976) along with some other really great players.  Tom Scott was producing the album.  David Foster was one of the keyboard players.  Gary Wright.  Richard Tee.  Billy Preston.  We had four keyboard players and they all played a major part on that album.  Along with the most amazing bass player in the world...a guy by the name of Willie Weeks. And there were some other great players.  The percussionist...Emil Richards.  And I got the chance to meet Kumar Shankar, who's a nephew of Ravi Shankar who was one of our engineers.  So yeah, that's how I met George and that's how I got involved with him.

Casey Chambers:  That's a great story.  I gotta get myself a castle. (laughs)  And this was a really good album for George.

"Crackerbox Palace" - George Harrison / "Thirty-Three & 1/3" (1976)

Alvin Taylor:  Oh, yeah.  "Crackerbox Palace" and "This Song."  There was also "Beautiful Girl."  That one is definitely one of the great songs.  But my favorite happens to be "Crackerbox Palace" because of the unique drumming that I was able to do on it.  Not the usual norm, but something really different.  And then I also really liked "This Song."  It was actually a song that was kind of making fun of the "George getting sued" situation.  "This song has nothing tricky about it / This song ain't black or white / and as far as I know don't infringe on anyone's copyright."  George had gotten sued for "My Sweet Lord" because of the similarity to The Chiffons song..."He's So Fine."

Casey Chambers:  "This Song" was about as close to an "FU" song as George Harrison ever got.  Another writer might've gone for the angry retort.  George politely flips the bird with some eye-rolling sarcasm instead.

Alvin Taylor:   He was just telling it how it was.  George was such a gentleman and a person that lived a life of mutuality.  He would just go with the flow in the spirit of grace and mercy.  Had a God he relied on and chose to honor and worship and you could see it in his lifestyle.

Casey Chambers: It definitely wasn't done for fashion.  And you were part of a really important album in his discog.  Does Alvin Taylor have any new projects in the works?

Alvin Taylor:  I do.  I have a book being written as we talk.  We were thinking of calling the book, "From Drum Major To Major Drummer."  I was a Palm Springs High School drum major growing up.  I started all the high kicking stuff that you see back in the day.  But we're not tripping on the title, we're just getting the content involved right now.

Casey Chambers:  Good title for a book.  Let us know when it drops.  Well,  I know we've barely scratched the surface, but I wanna thank you for taking the time to share a few stories with us.  And for the great music.

Alvin Taylor:  Well, it's a privilege. It's a pleasure. And it's an honor.  And I would not want to close without giving thanks to Big Papa.  The people who discovered me.  Frank Sinatra, may he rest in peace.  Billy Preston. Sammy Davis Jr.  May they rest in peace.  Little Richard.  And my friend Candy Hunter.  I thank them all for giving me my big break in the business.  And once again, thank you for allowing me to share.

"This Song" - George Harrison / "Thirty-Three & 1/3" (1976)

Alvin Taylor Facebook

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers