Monday, September 16, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Never Mind The Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols" (1977)

"Never Mind The Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols" - Sex Pistols

Until recently, I've always thought of "bollocks" as a British way of saying "bullshit."  And that's pretty spot on.  The first definition Google brings up, however, is...” testicles.”  Which is quite funny in its own right.  Whatever your poison may be, in 1977, the punk rock band Sex Pistols offended the hell out of everybody.  I'm not going to regurgitate the importance of this album.  The internet is full of essays galore about the band's legacy.  I'm not about to say the Sex Pistols are the best punk band ever.  Or even the first punk band ever.  But there should not be much argument, "Never Mind The Bollocks..." was a jumpstart in the way we think about our music and the various directions that rock music went from there.  It is an essential album and one I wanted to possess if nothing more than to check off another album from my “must own” list.

I found my used copy at a record swap in Hutchinson, KS.  I don't remember the fella's name but he was using chairs for his table.  The vinyl was vg++, but the cover had a little water damage in the corner.  The seller was quick to point that out.  It was late in the day and I wanted to leave with something...important.  It was marked $10, but he sold it to me for an Abe and 2 Georgies which was very cool.

“Never Mind...” sounds great on vinyl.  I mean surprisingly great.  The music absolutely jumps from the speakers.  For some reason, this surprised the heck outta me.  And I was also struck by how catchy and melodic the music is.  Don't get me wrong.  Johnny (Rotten) Lydon's wonderful and pissy spit attitude shines bright enough, as one might expect, but the musicianship backing all that talk up is really good, too.  Forty-plus years later, “Never Mind The Bollocks...” might not sound as dangerous, but you'll still need to wipe the phlegm off your face after giving the record a spin.

"Never Mind The Bollocks..." (back)


Warner Bros. Records / Virgin label


"Never Mind The Bollocks..." (sleeve-front)


"Never Mind The Bollocks..." (sleeve-back)


"E.M.I." - Sex Pistols /  "Never Mind The Bollocks..." (1977)

TRACKS:
A1  "Holidays In The Sun"  3:22
A2  "Bodies"  3:03
A3  "No Feelings"  2:50
A4  "Liar"  2:41
A5  "Problems"  4:11  
A6  "God Save the Queen"  3:20
B1  "Seventeen"  2:02
B2  "Anarchy In The UK"  3:32
B3  "Submission"  4:12
B4  "Pretty Vacant"  3:17
B5  "New York"  3:05
B6  "E.M.I"  3:09

PERSONNEL:
Johnny Rotten – vocals
Steve Jones – guitar, bass, b-vocals
Paul Cook – drums
Sid Vicious – bass ("Bodies")
Glen Matlock – bass ("Anarchy in the UK")

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Sunday, September 15, 2019

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

(a short jaunt)


"Back Where I Started" - Box Of Frogs / "Box Of Frogs" (1984)

I never knew who did this song until now.  It's like a lost classic rock song.  "Box Of Frogs" is an album I find in bins all the time.  I thought the album was just another new wave album released by another new wave band that seemed to pop up on new wave shelves like Flash.  But no!  This group is made up of former Yardbird members.  Plus several guest guitarists like Rory GallagherEarl Slick.  Alumnus Jeff Beck even kicks off his boots.  Nothing fancy, but no prisoners either.  If the rest of the album sounds anything like this, I'm down.


"Simple Sister" - Procol Harum / “Broken Barricades” (1971)

"Simple sister got whooping cough.
Have to burn her toys."
Unlike "Whiter Shade Of Pale" that quite rightly rips your heart, "Simple Sister" takes it out more precise like Cristina Yang in the O.R.  A great way to lead off an album.  And it's an especially nice balance of guitar crankage to go along with vocalist/keyboardist Gary Brooker's more proggier leanings.  Guitarist Robin Trower left after this album to pursue his own dreams with an excellent body of work in his own right.  Still, one can't help but wonder what kind of album they might have recorded had Trower's drippy guitar play been allowed a longer leash. “Broken Barricades” was Procol Harum's fifth studio album.


"Dazed and Confused (live)" - Led Zeppelin / "The Song Remains the Same" (1976)


The last time I sat through this entire song, I remember shaking my head telling myself that I didn't want to listen to "Dazed and Confused (live)" again until.......EVER!!!   And then, months turned into years and that very same song comes on the radio.  All 27-8-9 minutes of it.  And once again, I sat through the song in its entirety...shaking my head and telling myself the very same thing.  Déjà fuckin' vu.

"WILMA,  I'M HOME!"

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Future" (1967)

"Future" - The Seeds (1967)

The Seeds third album..."Future"...is a bit of early garage-psych.  And if not the band's best, it is at least my favorite.  The L.A. band, The Seeds, weren't the most skilled and Sky Saxon's voice at times sounded like an angry Sonny Bono had built a nest in his throat, but what they lacked in A-level talent, they made up for in sheer commitment.  There are a number of interesting psych tracks that will make your lava lamp feel at home.  “Flower Lady and Her Assistant” is an outstanding atmospheric spin.  "Now A Man" is an excellent example of garage-psych.  "Six Dreams" has the beginnings of what Alice Cooper would take to the next level.  But it is the last track, “Fallin'”...that finds the band at their most psych-seediest.  At nearly 8-minutes, Saxon's repetitive refrains backed by harp strings, organ, and other weird noises and beats make for mind-stealing fun.  Sky Saxon supposedly was the first musician to coin the “Flower Power” phrase.  Or one of the first to claim ownership.  And while embracing the high, I imagine Saxon's head exploded when that mantra struck his brain!

The packaging for this album is primo.  A nice heavy gatefold with lyrics and the "Originations of the Flower Generation" written inside.  Most of the artwork was done by Sky Saxon himself.  Also included were three mini posters. (see below)  Two for the wall, I suppose, and the other one for your scissors to cut into pieces.  Maybe not the best idea while dropping the Lysergic stuff.  Again, "Future" is about half psych and half garage.  And pretty good on both counts.  A little messy, but fun, and a nice example of early psych.

"Future" (back)


"Future" (inside gatefold)


GNP Crescendo label


"Future" (insert 1)

"Future" (insert 2)

"Future" (insert 3)


"Flower Lady And Her Assistant" - The Seeds / "Future" (1967)

TRACKS:
A1  "Introduction" 1:03
A2  "March Of The Flower Children" 1:45
A3  "Travel With Your Mind" 3:00
A4  "Out Of The Question" 3:02
A5  "Painted Doll" 3:20
A6  "Flower Lady & Her Assistant" 3:15
A7  "Now A Man" 3:20
B1  "A Thousand Shadows" 2:25
B2  "Two Fingers Pointing On You" 3:10
B3  "Where Is The Entrance Way To Play" 2:55
B4  "Six Dreams" 3:05
B5  "Fallin'" 7:40

PERSONNEL:
Sky Saxon - vocals, bass, artwork
Jan Savage - guitar, gong, b-vocals
Harvey Sharpe - bass
Daryl Hooper - organ, sitar, piano, b-vocals
Rick Andridge - drums, b-vocals

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Saturday, September 7, 2019

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "Revival" (2014)

"Revival"...Stephen King (2014)
403 pages

NO SPOILERS:
This wasn't 'scary' scary.  But there are plenty of disturbing shadows to go around.  A young family preacher loses his faith and finds something else to take its place. (I'm a poet and don't know it.)  The story is entertaining enough.  The main characters are fleshed and are easy to visualize.  A third-string bar band musician and a traveling salvation tent healer.  Sort of.  On a given night, both can pull off a pretty good show.  It's about obsession and a little bit of addiction.  I'm glad I spent a few evenings reading it, but I felt the payout was a little lowball.  However, there is an image Stephen King describes near the end of "Revival" that really creeps me out.  Even now.  Not in my top-ten King books, how could it be, but if you're a SK fan, here's another book to scratch that itch.  "Reverend was right about one thing: people always want a reason for the bad things in life. Sometimes there ain't one.” ― Stephen King, "Revival."

"Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show" - David Spade / "Lost & Found" (1999)


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Friday, September 6, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Barbarella" (1968)

"Barbarella  Soundtrack" (1968)

I guess you could call this album part space lounge and part lounge psych.  Most of the tracks are instrumentals.  There are flourishes of light fuzz guitar, along with spanks of horns, (not too brassy) and hints of futuristic space grooves.  Some of it is really pretty good.  It's all mostly groovy utopian vibes intermixed with tracks that sound a little more authoritarian.  And these tracks sometimes interrupt the overall good vibes.  Yin and Yang, I suppose.  There are 4 tracks with vocals, all but one provided by The Glitterhouse.  There is some groovy rhyming going on.  Like 'Barbarella' with 'psychedella,' for example, crooned in a 'Space-F-ing is Fun' kind of style.  Way more campy than sexy.  But if spinning in the background, there's room for both.  The soundtrack was given new life in 2018 with a hand-numbered re-issue of "Barbarella" limited to 500 copies on the Varèse Sarabande label.  But nice original copies are pretty cheap and easy to find.

I mentioned the band, The Glitterhouse earlier.  They recorded a psych-rock album of their own, “Color Blind” (1968) and a few in the VC have taken time to recommend it.  (Check the album out here).

Look, the film was a daring (for the time) future sex space flick.  It was silly, but it did present a young and attractive Jane Fonda as eye-candy, so there was that.  Unintentionally campy or not, the film gained a midnight movie following.  Having said, and this is by no means a stretch, I enjoyed the soundtrack a little better than the film.

"Barbarella" (back)

Dynovoice label


"The Black Queen's Beads" - "Barbarella Soundtrack" (1968)

TRACKS:
A1  "Barbarella" (Vocal by The Glitterhouse) (2:40)
A2  "Goodnight Alfie" (1:29)
A3  "Spaceship Out Of Control" (1:28)
A4  "Ski Ride" (1:56)
A5  "The Hungry Dolls" (1:48)
A6  "Love Love Love Drags Me Down" (Vocal by The Glitterhouse) (3:42)
A7  "Pygar Finds Barbarella" (1:17)
A8  "I Love All The Love In You" (Vocal by The Glitterhouse) (3:52)
A9  "The Labyrinth" (1:11)
A10  "Pygar's New Wings" (1:57)
A11  "Fight In Flight" (2:35)
B1  "Entrance Into Sogo" (1:55)
B2  "Hello Pretty Pretty" (1:03)
B3  "Pygar's Persecution" (1:16)
B4  "The Black Queen's Beads" (3:31)
B5  "Dead Duck" (0:34)
B6  "The Pill" (1:02)
B7  "Smoke" (Viper Vapor) (2:16)
B8  "The Sex Machine" (3:17)
B9  "The Chamber Of Dreams" (2:23)
B10  "The Destruction Of Sogo" (2:27)
B11  "An Angel Is Love" (Vocal by Bob Crewe) (4:23)

PERSONNEL:
The Bob Crewe Generation (session musicians)
The Glitterhouse - vocals
Charles Fox - score

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

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

(a short jaunt)


"Guns, Guns, Guns" -  The Guess Who / "Rockin'" (1972)

This has an Elton John kind of intro before Kurt Winter applies some tasty guitar and that recognizable voice of Burton Cummings walks up to the plate.  Seldom heard, but one that rocks pretty legit.  Cummings could be the best part or the worst part of The Guess Who depending on how much he fed his self-indulgence.  When under control, The Guess Who was one of the best things to ever happen to AM radio.  "Godspeed Mother Nature.  Never really wanted to say goodbye."   This was the band's ninth studio album.


"Sparks Of The Tempest" - Kansas / "Point of Know Return" (1977)

As much as I like “Leftoverture,” I think I enjoy "POKR" a little better.  “Sparks of the Tempest” is a killer track with hard rock getting the upper hand over the prog side of things, but not deserting it.  That's violinist Robby Steinhardt doing the vocals on this one.  True story.  I was trying to set up an interview with Robby via his people and was emailed back they'd hook me up...but could I also give them Joe Vitale's phone number who I had recently done an interview with.  I chose not to share, respecting Joe's privacy.  And then I never heard from the Steinhardt camp again.  Whaddygonnado?  Kansas' 5th studio album.


"For Ladies Only" - Steppenwolf / "For Ladies Only" (1971)  

This is the original album track.  The radio edit version cut out nearly 4-minutes.  The lyrics are a bit...not preachy, but something like it.  In an 'I'm a man and you're a woman' sorta way.  John Kay really sells the song like it's the end-of-the-month for buying aluminum siding.  It's good, but I'm not really sure I trust myself to say just how good the song really is.  Nevertheless, I enjoy this quite a bit.  Maybe I'll just file this one under ...”Guilty Pleasure.”  Steppenwolf's 6th studio album

"WILMA,  I'M HOME!"

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Sunday, September 1, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."666" (1972)

"666" - Aphrodite's Child (1972)

"666" is a double album filled with almost 80-minutes of floaty prog-psych trippiness. A lot of ideas are going on here.  And everything works.  It's amazing.  One engaging idea after another.  And even in the albums' strangest moments, Vangelis, vocalist/bassist Demis Roussos, and the rest of band's confidence just oozes out of the speakers and we can relax trusting that wherever the music takes us will see us safely to the end.  It's all very peculiar, and yet all very easy on the ears.

I remember finding my mid-70s copy last spring at the local record store (Spectrum) with a $15 price tag and a note saying one of the records had a slight warp but plays fine.  The fella told me to take it home and if it didn't sound great...bring it back.  The album plays like a leviathan.  And I saw barely a lift in my cartridge.  Otherwise, the records play minty.  Close to it.  By the way...this is what an 'essential' album sounds like.  If you can find a good copy of this for under $25...you're getting a steal.  By the way, this is one of those rare double albums that deserves to double-down.  Good stuff.
"666" was the third (and last) album from Aphrodite's Child.  The group had separated before the album was released.

"666" (back)


"666" (inside gatefold)


Vertigo (spaceships) label

Original Vertigo/Mercury sleeve


"The Four Horsemen" - Aphrodite's Child / "666" (1972)

TRACKS:
A1  "The System" 0:23
A2  "Babylon" 2:47
A3  "Loud, Loud, Loud" 2:42
A4  "The Four Horsemen" 5:54
A5  "The Lamb" 4:33
A6  "The Seventh Seal" 1:30
B1  "Aegian Sea" 5:22
B2  "Seven Bowls" 1:29
B3  "The Wakening Beast" 1:11
B4  "Lament" 2:45
B5  "The Marching Beast" 2:00
B6  "The Battle of the Locusts" 0:56
B7  "Do It" 1:44
B8  "Tribulation" 0:32
B9  "The Beast" 2:26
B10  "Ofis" 0:14
C1  "Seven Trumpets" 0:35
C2  "Altamont" 4:33
C3  "The Wedding of the Lamb" 3:38
C4  "The Capture of the Beast" 2:17
C5  "∞" 5:15
C6  "Hic et Nunc" 2:55
D1  "All the Seats Were Occupied" 19:19
D2  "Break" 2:58

PERSONNEL:
Vangelis - keyboards, organ, piano, vibraphone, bass, flute, percussion, b-vocals
Demis Roussos - vocals, bass, guitar, b-vocals
Loukas Sideras – drums, vocals, b-vocals
Silver Koulouris - guitar, percussion
Guest musicians
Harris Halkitis - bass, saxophone, congas, percussion, b-vocals
Michel Ripoche - trombone, saxophone
Irene Papas - vocals ("∞")
John Forst - English narration
Yannis Tsarouchis - Greek narration ("Ofis")
Daniel Koplowitz - narration ("Loud, Loud, Loud")
Costas Ferris - lyricist

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Friday, August 30, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Silk Torpedo" (1974)

"Silk Torpedo" - Pretty Things (1974)

This isn't "Parachute" or their rock-opera, "S.F. Sorrow."   And admittedly, I was a little disappointed.  But let's be honest, I wasn't expecting Pretty Things to touch either of those two gems.  What the album does touch, intentionally or not, is that blurry area of AOR.  And maybe trying for an FM hit.

The AMG only gave it 2 stars and that may be undercutting the album a little bit.  But not by much.  There are no ducks on this record, by any means, but nothing really stands out either.  The first time I played it, I couldn't remember a single thing I listened to.  Later though, I gave the record a second spin with a more active ear, and enjoyed it much better.

The opening two tracks..."Dream/Joey"...slide together into a 6+ minute song that really gets better with each listen.  "Belfast Cowboy" sounds like Tommy Bolin vocally and is a lost gem buried on side two.  And there's an early emo song..."Is It Only Love"...which is quite good.  And foretells of the plethora of harder bands incorporating a soft "heart-on-sleeve" song into their repertoire.

This was Pretty Things 7th album and first on Led Zeppelin's label...Swan Song.  I picked up a box of vintage Rolling Stone newspapers several years ago and remember seeing full-page and half-page ads for "Silk Torpedo" running through several issues. Knowing now the label they were on explains the heavy adverts.  I was always fascinated with the cover and finally found a beautiful copy in a $3 bargain box.  And I'm probably going to hang on to it.

"Silk Torpedo" (back)


"Silk Torpedo" (inside gatefold)


"Silk Torpedo" (original record sleeve w/lyrics)


Swan Song label


"Belfast Cowboys" - Pretty Things / "Silk Torpedo" (1974)

TRACKS:
A1  "Dream" 1:08
A2  "Joey" 5:35
A3  "Maybe You Tried" 4:19
A4  "Atlanta" 2:42
A5  "L.A.N.T.A." 2:23
A6  "Is It Only Love" 4:04
B1  "Come Home Momma" 3:39
B2  "Bridge of God" 4:53
B3  "Singapore Silk Torpedo" 3:54
B4  "Belfast Cowboys" 4:53
B5  "Bruise in the Sky" 2:02

PERSONNEL:
Phil May  -  vocals, percussion
Pete Tolson  -  guitars, bass
Jon Povey  -  keyboards, b-vocals, harmonica, percussion
Gordon John Edwards  -  bass, b-vocals, keyboards, guitar
Skip Alan  -  drums, b-vocals, percussion
Jack Green  -  b-vocals
Silver Band  -  brass ("Is It Only Love")

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Horse Head Has An Idea:.."The Hogs Ear Report"

HERE'S AN IDEA!

The Vinyl Community, or the VC as they like to call themselves, is a group of YouTube guys and gals who enjoy collecting records.  They enjoy hunting for albums out in the wild or wherever...and then putting their mugs in front of the camera to share what they found and show them off.
That's it!   It's just that flippin' simple.
But their joy and enthusiasm while talking up their discoveries for the week or month...is like chicken soup.  I am not kidding.  They calm me down.  I like saving them in my "watch later" list and then once or twice a week, I throw my feet up in the air and watch a few shows on the big screen.  I have my favorites, but look, it's a cult of personality and you'll quickly gravitate to whichever one scratches your vinyl itch.  Careful though, or you might find yourself going down a rabbit hole.   If you have even a passing interest in record albums, you owe it to yourself to check out a few of the many VC channels.  Here is a VC Channel I watch regularly and is highly recommended.

"The Hogs Ear Report" / The Vinyl Community (2019)

"The Hogs Ear Report"...is hosted by Ron, a leaping gnome of sorts hailing from the great city of Phoenix, AZ.  The show has plenty of US and UK vinyl of the classic rock, psych and garage realm with plenty of branches leading into various directions.  In showing his hauls, our host takes his time offering insight and opinions about why we should care.   And a big plus, Ron almost always shows his albums...'FBI' (Front-Back-Inside)...which is great for folks like me who will probably never get close enough to actually own some of them.

The guy definitely knows his shit, too.  But not in that irritating 'know-it-all' kind of way.  No, Ron is more like the friend who just learned something really cool and is excited to tell you about it.  The show is fun and addicting.  One episode in particular, and it had to have been a few Halloweens back, Ron did his record haul while lying inside of a coffin.  All you could see was his arm and the hand holding the record.  Hilarious...and pretty badass at the same time.  When you stumble upon a channel you like...hit the Subscribe Button.  Show'em you love'em.  Every VC member has their own styles and tempo.  So if you don't enjoy one channel so much...click on another one.  I mean they are really doing the Lord's work!  And I, for one, appreciate each and every one of 'em.

Btw, I like going back and checking out their earlier stuff, too.  Here is one of "The Hogs Ear Report's" very first episode below.

"The Hogs Ear Report" / The Vinyl Community (2014)

(Do you have a favorite VC channel you never miss?  PLEASE leave me a comment to check it out for a future Horse Head Idea.)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
Follow Me On FACEBOOK

Monday, August 26, 2019

Interview -- Steve Hackett (Genesis)




"The battle was on 
like a relay race 
for the rest of us."
~ Steve Hackett ~




The addition of guitarist Steve Hackett into the Genesis fold in 1971 can not be overstated.  From the very beginning, Steve Hackett's mastery at filling in spaces with just the right weight, whether electric or acoustic, was just instinct doubled.  His creative guitar techniques and intricate melodies and riffs were gorgeous and sometimes head-shaking.  In a band that was already loaded with incredibly talented musicians, Steve Hackett very much held his own.  From his very first appearance on the bands' third album, "Nursery Cryme"...followed by "Foxtrot."  "Selling England By The Pound."  "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway."  "A Trick of the Tail."  And finally, "Wind & Wuthering”...there was just no drop-off.  Steve Hackett's presence created a nice shady place for his other bandmates to play.  And what an incredible run of albums.  When Steve left the band in 1977, he went on to record an impressive discog in his own right.

Along with his other Genesis bandmates, Steve was finally inducted into the RnRHoF in 2010.  And although Genesis has been successful in both “before and after" incarnations...the legacy of the early Genesis had already earned them their invitation.  Steve Hackett.  Go get you some.

Steve Hackett Interview -- August 2019
Steve Hackett

Casey Chambers:  So, I was doing some electric surfing and saw that you're now performing the classic Genesis album, "Selling England By The Pound"...in its entirety.  And my jaw dropped.  That's gonna be one heckuva of a show to catch.  And you have quite a few shows lined up.  Sounds really exciting.

Steve Hackett:  That's right.  Yeah, it is exciting and I think it's still a great album.  It came from a time when John Lennon said that we were one of the bands that he was listening to.  And I was always intrigued by that.  And I wondered what it was...what he liked, you know, cause there were so many things that I liked about that album.  So I began performing the album in its entirety.  On a whim.  I've been doing it in Europe and it has been...it's been extraordinary.  The response both in terms of attendance and reaction from the crowd...  Bringing that back has been a really wonderful time.

Casey Chambers:  That's going to be an awesome show.  One of my favorite tracks from that album is "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight."  Just killer.

Steve Hackett:  I think that's my favorite Genesis track of all time, to be honest.  There are so many different musical influences in it.  Everybody in the band was contributing something.  The song at the beginning is really Peter Gabriel's.  And then after that, the battle was on like a relay race for the rest of us.  Tony takes the lead on it.  I take the lead on it.  And the instrumental parts of it is very unusual.  It's this cross between classical music and rock and big band and yeah, it's a very, very, unusual track.

Casey Chambers:  That middle is all like, "I got mine. You get yours!" (laughs)  And what a wonderful way to begin the album.

Steve Hackett:  Well, I think we all felt that it was the strongest out of everything and it seemed to introduce the album.  Plus it had the album title implied in it.  Originally we were going to call the song, "Selling England By The Pound."  But we tended not to do that with Genesis.  At least in those days, we didn't.  The idea was that an album would be regarded in its entirety without bringing too much attention to any one particular track.  So it was called, "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight" instead.

"Dancing With The Moonlit Knight" - Genesis / (Live 1973)


Casey Chambers:  And while you were with Genesis, you were also introducing a rather new guitar technique that became known as finger tapping.  You used that on this song too, didn't you?

Steve Hackett:  Yes, I did.  Yeah, yeah.  It was a way of playing lightning-fast on one string basically. And I was doing sweep picking as well, which is another technique which got to be named long after I was employing it.  And octave jumps.  In some ways, it's a kind of prototype heavy metal solo.  It's fast and furious...but it's also melodic.  So Genesis had the edge on that, I think.  We were all writers with ideas for coming up with melodies.  I think they wouldn't have let me join if I hadn't been at least aspiring to write things.  And that became more the case, the longer I stayed with the band.  It was a very great time.  1973 was a great time for the band.

Casey Chambers:  You're being modest, but this finger tapping technique that you were employing was really ground-breaking stuff.  Actually incorporating it into some pretty complex compositions.  When did you first begin using it?

"Selling England By The Pound" (1973)

Steve Hackett:  I was trying to play something that sounded a little bit Bach-like. A little bit like something from "Toccata and Fugue."  I thought the best way to do this was all on one string.  But it was a fledgling technique and I didn't know whether I could do it in time or not.  So I used to practice it live with the band and I found that I could.  That I could keep it in time.  So, two albums earlier when we were doing, "Nursery Cryme" (1971)  I incorporated it into a track called, "The Musical Box."  In the solo.  And we also used it at the beginning of "The Return Of The Giant Hogweed."  It was difficult to tell what was cabled and what was guitar.  We sometimes used to do this technique in harmony.  I'd be finger tapping and Tony (Banks) would be using a Hohner Pianet through a fuzz box.  He was trying to impersonate a guitar and I was trying to impersonate the keyboard. (laughs)  The technique is born of the desire to imitate.

Casey Chambers:  Another track that you wrote on "Selling England..." was the beautiful instrumental called, "After The Ordeal."   It's at a great place on the album and the song always makes me feel like I've slipped through some kind of time-crack.  I'm glad to hear you're performing it live.

Steve Hackett:  Yeah, we didn't do it live in those days because nylon guitars were not very loud.  We have pickups for those things now.  In fact, back in the day, we couldn't really impersonate a grand piano, either.  Of course, now keyboards carry all sorts of solos and it's not exceptional to find someone sitting there with a keyboard triggering all sorts of things, including a great sounding grand piano. (laughs)  So, the song has a grand piano, nylon guitar, and then the track goes electric. Originally it was written as an electric track, but we thought it might work better as an acoustic thing. And Tony came up with a very florid keyboard part to support that cause.  Originally I was going to be bending notes and everything, but the song ended up becoming a very romantic kind of thing.  So I'm very glad it went on the album.

"After The Ordeal" - Steve Hackett (Capitol Theatre - 2016)

Plus, when I'm performing "Selling England..." live with my band, we use another track which didn't make it onto that album.  It was something that Peter Gabriel introduced but hadn't finished at the time.  Some years later I said,  'Look, I remember that track.  Do you mind if I finish it?  I've got some ideas for it.'  And he said, 'Go ahead.'   So we did a co-write and I recorded it.  Oh, it's been some years ago now, but we do it live.  So part of this project is doing the whole of "Selling England..." plus this extra track.  Including it is a bit like a deleted scene from a movie.  But the album's had plenty of time to ride high in the affection of fans ever since...if I can kind of blow everyone else's trumpet if you know what I mean.  We never did the album in its entirety back when it was current.  And it's full of great ideas.  At that point, lots of writers were involved with it.  And I think we were just a great band.

Casey Chambers:  And what was the name of that song that you and Peter were working on?

Steve Hackett:  Oh, it's called, "Deja Vu."  It's a very reflective tune.  And when performing it live, I do a solo at the end that is very emotional for me.  It's kind of like, ' Here's a track of now...but it's also a track of then, as well.'  So you get a song which straddles different eras.  I probably would not have had the technique at the time to pull that off.  Technology might not have served it sufficiently back then.  But now we do it with all sorts of things.  With acapella and singing choir that's being accounted from the fingertips of Roger King.  And it all has a magical feeling to it as so many of the quieter moments do from, "Selling England By The Pound."  We use that and we use lights to sparkle in the tinkly bits as well.  So I'm really proud of it.

Casey Chambers:  You've created so many instrumental pieces throughout your career.  From the short, classical piece "Horizons" off of my favorite Genesis album, "Foxtrot" (1972) to longer, more ambient mind-spins like the title track from "Spectral Mornings." (1979)  When you're writing, do you recognize a song to be an instrumental in your head before you're finished?

"Spectral Mornings" - Steve Hackett / "Spectral Mornings"  (1979)

Steve Hackett:  Well, originally I imagined "Spectral Mornings" the kind of song that Randy Newman or Elton John might've sung.  A cross between.  And then many years later, two bands... Magenta and Big Big Train...did a vocal version of the song and asked if I'd take a guitar solo on it to give it that authenticity of the original.  When I first played the song for my band as a potential track for inclusion on the "Spectral Mornings" album, they said. 'Oh, this sounds great.  Why don't you just do it on guitar?'  And it was unusual for our singer at the time, Pete Hicks, to talk himself out of doing a tune.  But he had other great moments on the album, so he was happy.  And so that song became an instrumental.

But it's one of those things.  I remember a Duane Eddy track I loved when I was about 10 or 11 years old..."Because They're Young."  It was a huge instrumental.  I have heard a vocal version of that song, but I'll always think of it as an instrumental.  I remember sitting around the record player listening to that stuff when we were kids all those years ago.  We'd sit around and talk about it...and we're still talking 50 years, or are we talking 60 years ago?   A great song is always timeless and it's always a classic.  So whenever I hear one, straight away I'm a kid sitting on the floor around a tiny little Denzel record player again.  Listening and it still thrills me in the same way.

Casey Chambers:  Switching gears, there's a classic rock station I listen to that turned me on to your song, "Narnia" from the album, "Please Don't Touch" (1978).  A cool 12-string melody that leads into some Steve Walsh vocals joining you on the song.  What a great match.

"Narnia" - Steve Hackett / "Please Don't Touch" (1978)

Steve Hackett:  That's right.  It was Steve Walsh from Kansas singing.  They had just had a hit with, "Carry On Wayward Son."  Steve has this extraordinary voice.  And Phil Ehart was the drummer.  I had the chance to meet them and I asked if they would be interested in working with me and we became good friends.  I think they were influenced by quite a lot of British stuff.  There's that cross-pollination between great bands like Kansas and an English band like Genesis.  They did two tracks with me on the album, "Please Don't Touch." (1978)  And Steve Walsh did an extraordinary vocal on both.  Lovely guy.  Can't speak highly enough of both of them and I really loved the experience.  A bit later on I met the whole Kansas band.

Casey Chambers:  Very cool.  And I'll go ahead and mention that "Racing In A" was the other song they were on.

Steve Hackett:  Yeah. "Racing In A" was the other one.  And I had some words, but Steve Walsh said, 'Well, you know, I have some other words for here I could suggest which might make it easier to sing.'  And I was just very, very happy working with them.  I also worked with Richie Havens on that album.  He sang two tracks.  And funny enough, he didn't want to change a word.  I think maybe we changed one word in the song. ("Icarus Ascending.")  I had the word, "slender wings of ambition" and Richie said, 'Why don't we have "splendor wings of ambition." (laughs)  He was seeing it as a positive, you know, whereas I was quite shy and being immodest with the idea that I was ambitious.  'Cause the story of Icarus...he falls into the water because he's getting kind of above his station. (laughs)  But again, a wonderful experience to work with a great American singer.  The guy who kicked off Woodstock.

Casey Chambers:  Going back to your earlier days with Genesis when you first joined the band...one of your first major songwriting contributions was the song..."For Absent Friends" off of the most excellent album, "Nursery Cryme." (1971)

Steve Hackett:  You have to remember the band played at school for many years and they made an album when they were still at school.  And then they made a follow-up Genesis album once they turned professional.  So they were already very experienced songwriters.  And everyone took the summer off.  Stopped doing gigs and we were all trying to learn to write as a team.  For the first time for some of us.  I had just joined Genesis and Phil Collins had just joined three months before me.  We were new to the band.  And I sat down, Phil Collins and I, and we wrote a song together.  We shared it.  I had the music and the melody line and together we worked out a story between us.

I said to Phil, 'I really like the lyrics to "Eleanor Rigby"' because it addressed the idea of old age and loneliness.  So we hit on the idea of having not just one, but two old ladies in the song.
It was about life having marginalized.  At least, that's the way I see it.  The song is full of imagery.  Empty spaces.  It's an empty park on a Sunday.  It's a grey world very much like the weather in England today.  It's summer, but it's grey.  And it was a little ditty about these two imaginary old ladies.

"For Absent Friends" - Genesis / "Nursery Cryme" (1971)

Casey Chambers:  And fans loved it.  Did you see it as a breakthrough as far as writing and getting your songs on the albums.  Sorta like an...' I can do this'...moment?

Steve Hackett:  Well, I think that there was that, sure, but there were parts of other songs that I came up with.  Solos and melodies that were done on guitar.  And that was the basis for joining the band. Pete (Gabriel) said to me, 'As soon as you write a guitar part, you're a fully-fledged writer along with the rest of us.'  (laughs)  So, that was enough for me.  My orientation was much more towards writing guitar parts and instrumentals.  But I learned to write vocal tunes and I marveled at the ability of everyone in the band to be able to come up with extraordinary stuff.

Casey Chambers:  What are some of your all-time favorite albums?

Steve Hackett:  Well, the first album I ever bought was Ravel's..."Bolero."  And I absolutely thrilled to that.  I used to pretend to conduct it when I was 12 years old.  That was my first album.  It was classical music, but I think it turns on a lot of rockers because it has this extraordinary power as it gets bigger and bigger and bigger.  That sense of crescendo.  I listened to Andres Segovia.  He was a big influence and still is.  Just the miracle of being able to play all that complexity on one guitar.  So yeah, I took that influence forward and used some of that with Genesis.  But I loved the blues bands, as well.  I loved John Mayall and Eric Clapton and Peter Green and those kinds of bands.  And Hendrix.  We'd be here all night if I talked about all the bands I love and was influenced by. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Did your path ever cross with any one of your musical heroes?

Steve Hackett:  Yeah, I've met quite a few of them.  I did get to meet Eric Clapton and that was very interesting.  I was talking to Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck.  I'd grown up listening to the two of them and I guess it's an eyeopener to find out that your heroes are as human as you are.  Jeff Beck was a huge influence on many rock guitarists.  He seemed to invent so many ways of working with the guitar and stretching the boundaries of what was capable.  So, yeah, I had my heroes from the early days.  When I was 16, I was listening to these guys.  Every song I'd go, 'I can't wait for the guitar solo. Let's get to the guitar solo.' (laughs)

I met Eric at Phil Collins' wedding, funny enough.  His second wedding to Jill.  And I met Jeff Beck in London. There was a gathering of a number of guitarists.  There were Eric and Jeff.  There was David Gilmour.  And Steve Howe and I had just formed GTR and we were invited to a gathering to celebrate the life of Hank Marvin...the guitarist with The Shadows.  Marvin was very important for English guys because The Shadows was our first experience of really hearing electric guitar.  The first single I ever bought was a Shadows record.  I think it's the same for all those other guys as well, you know?  This is where music begins.  Hank Marvin was about to move from England to Australia and we all gathered together to wish him well on the journey.  It was an unforgettable gathering.

Casey Chambers:  This has been a real honor speaking with you this morning.  I'm a huge fan of all your music and I want to thank you so much for taking the time.

Steve Hackett:  Thank you, Casey.  It's been great.  Thanks so much.

"Firth Of Fifth" - Steve Hackett / Genesis Revisited: Live At Royal Albert Hall (2014)


Steve Hackett Tour Dates

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Thursday, August 22, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."The Beat Goes On" (1968)

"The Beat Goes On" - Vanilla Fudge (1968)

“Should you or any of your IMForce be caught or killed, Vanilla Fudge will disavow any knowledge of this album.”  On the band's 2nd album, the group felt they had been sabotaged by their producer, George "Shadow" Morton.  They were so blindsided that the very same year...and only four months later, 'the Fudge' released their 3rd, and much better album, ”Renaissance” and quickly put "The Beat Goes On" behind them.

And I get it. “The Beat Goes On” had no real songs on it.  Just snippets of ideas (producer ideas) and a bunch of seeds and stem studio shenanigans.  It was all supposed to be a mind-blow.  An avant-garde wonderflip.  The problem was the producer did most of this stuff unbeknownst to the band.  There is a lot of weird shim-sham and flibbety-floo goings-on. And no less than five, albeit short, versions of the title track done in a variety of subtle styles.  Nothing radio stations could really play.  Nothing to measure up to their mega- debut.

But I kind of liked it.  It's trippy weirdness meant for headphones.  It's not all that mind-blowing, but it makes for a cool 'wtf' snapshot of the psychedelic era.  It's not the Vanilla Fudge your ears expect.  None of the drawn-out sludge the band's famous for.  As I said before, the album holds no less than five mini-versions of “The Beat Goes On.”  I only wished they would have picked one song and really slugged the meter.  Anyway, it is what it is and I enjoyed some of it.  You can easily find a nice copy for cheap.  My copy was a $3 find at Spin It Again.  I know I'm not going to spin this album very often.  Not without headphones anyway.  But sometimes Vanilla Fudge without the sludge is okay.

"The Beat Goes On" (back)


"The Beat Goes On" (inside)


ATCO label


"The Beat Goes On I" - Vanilla Fudge / "The Beat Goes On" (1968)

TRACKS:
A1  "Sketch" 2:55
A2  "Intro: The Beat Goes On" 1:57
A3   a. "Eighteenth-Century: Variations on Divertimento No. 13 in F Major" 0:45
        b. "Nineteenth-Century: Old Black Joe" 0:46
        c. "Twentieth Century: Don't Fence Me In" 0:52
        d. "12th Street Rag" 0:49
        e. "In the Mood" 0:45
        f. "Hound Dog" 0:43
        g. "I Want to Hold Your Hand / I Feel Fine / Day Tripper / She Loves You" 1:45
A4  "The Beat Goes On I" 1:32
A5  "Für Elise & Moonlight Sonata" 6:38
A6  "The Beat Goes On II" 1:05
B1  "The Beat Goes On III" 1:00
B2  "Voices in Time" 8:09
B3  "The Beat Goes On IV" 1:50
B4  "Merchant / The Game Is Over" 8:57
B5  "The Beat Goes On V" 2:20

PERSONNEL:
Mark Stein - vocals, keyboards
Vince Martell - guitar, vocals
Tim Bogert - bass, vocals
Carmine Appice - drums, vocals
George "Shadow" Morton  - producer

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Sunday, August 18, 2019

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "Headless And Other Improbable Excitations Of The Muse" (2019)

"Headless And Other Improbable Excitations Of The Muse" (2019)
Michael Jan Friedman
236 pages

NO SPOILERS:
I like reading short stories from time to time and try to get my hands on at least one book every year.
“Headless...” is a collection of eight elliptic short stories that travel around the genres of fantasy and sci-fi, each with its own unique and mysterious destination.  Each tale throws a surprise louie at the reader.  Sometimes in your face, other times striking with a more subtle jab.  But all have a bit of the twist that makes for page-turning pleasure.

Honestly, good short stories are a notorious dice roll.  They're just not easy to pull off.  But Michael Jan Friedman has delivered a pretty satisfying read.  Not every story within these pages is Starbucks, but there is certainly more gold here to be found than copper.  Friedman plays fair in the telling and never gives anything away cheaply.

Michael Jan Friedman

My favorite stories were ”The Spirit Of Lost Women."  “Geocatchers.“  And “Cold Case.”   I hesitate to expound on why these particular stories hit the sweet spot for fear of spoiling the ride. (These are short stories after all.)  But suffice it to say that the Twilight Zone-ish endings are well met.   Whether accidental or with intent, each story gets progressively stronger and the flow of each one works well.  Again, “Headless...” is an enjoyable read.  “You got Bradbury in my O. Henry!”  “You got O. Henry in my Bradbury!”  Mostly, Friedman left me nodding my head in appreciation as I paused to consider what the hell I just read.

Michael Jan Friedman Official Website

"Head Games" - Foreigner / "Head Games" (1979)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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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'...to 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?

"WILMA,  I'M HOME!"

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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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"...you 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)


TRACKS:
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

PERSONNEL:
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
Others...

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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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)...it'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)


TRACKS:
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

PERSONNEL:
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
ADDITIONAL:
Bob Ezrin – keyboards, producer

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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