Monday, December 30, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."The United States Of America" (1968)

"The United States Of America" - The United States Of America (1968)

This was The United States Of America's only album and it is a tasty slice of some West Coast psych.  There is a lot of fascinating Joe Byrd electronic trickery and experimental knob-twisting on display and though there is not one single guitar on the album, this self-titled offering has its rock hard moments.  I'm a guitar man at heart, but I swear, I never missed them.  The album also has plenty of floaty, mind-stealing moments as well, and yet never loses its pop-sense direction.  It's a headphone smile-generator.  The vocals from Dorothy Moskowitz are a killer fit for what TUSoA was doing.  What a surprise!  She's a lost gem herself.  TUSOA was a talented five-member band, but it's the way Joe Byrd fills in spaces and dots the i's that coat everything with Lysergic dust.  "TUSoA" can be found on many essential psych lists and was one of those albums I wanted to experience for myself before visiting Youtube.  I knew I'd find one eventually.  And I did.  A very clean original copy (minus the paper bag) from a fellow parishioner thinning out his herd.
Joe Byrd went on to record another highly regarded psych album..."The American Metaphysical Circus" the very next year with some West Coast session musicians ...calling the band Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies.  I've never seen this one out in the wild.  Yet!  Happy hunting.

"The United States Of America" (back)

Columbia 360 two-eye label

"Hard Coming Love" - The United States Of America / "The United States Of America" (1968)

A1  "The American Metaphysical Circus" 4:55
A2  "Hard Coming Love" 4:43
A3  "Cloud Song" 3:18
A4  "The Garden of Earthly Delights" 2:39
A5  "I Won't Leave My Wooden Wife for You, Sugar" 3:52
B1  "Where Is Yesterday" 3:07
B2  "Coming Down" 2:40
B3  "Love Song for the Dead Ché" 3:25
B4  "Stranded in Time" 1:50
B5  "The American Way of Love" 6:38
        i. "Metaphor for an Older Man"
        ii. "California Good-Time Music"
        iii. "Love Is All"

Joseph Byrd - electronic music, electric harpsichord, organ, calliope, piano, vocals
Dorothy Moskowitz - lead vocals
Gordon Marron - electric violin, ring modulator, vocals (B1, B4)
Rand Forbes - bass
Craig Woodson - electric drums, percussion
Ed Bogas - occasional organ, piano, calliope
Don Ellis - trumpet (A5)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Thursday, December 12, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Doing Their Love Thing" - The Nickel Bag (1968)

"Doing Their Love Thing" - The Nickel Bag (1968)

There is not a whole lot in the clouds about The Nickel Bag, but their gimmick was taking the words from famous poets and tripping it out a bit with really good soulful vocals and sometimes dipping them in a bit of pop-psych dust.  However, only a handful have that kind of flavor.  A little flute here.  A wee-bit of horns there.  A dabble of organ.  A sliver of sitar.  Some light fuzz in a few corners.  Kipling, Shakespeare, Byron and so on.  They all get The Nickel Bag treatment.  There are a few songs that trip rather nicely, though.  Mostly it's just straight-up soul-pop.  But it's the strange meter each poem has that...when set to music performed surprisingly the album a fish-outta-water vibe.  Nothing heavy or mind-blowing,  mind you.  But the vocalist (not sure who's credited) and everyone else sounds seriously committed.  It's kinda pop trippy and kinda pop weird.  Not for everyone, but I liked it.

"Doing Their Love Thing" (back)

"Doing Their Love Thing" (gatefold inside)

Kama Sutra label

"Doing Their Love Thing" (front sleeve)

"Doing Their Love Thing" (back sleeve)

"She Walks in Beauty" - The Nickel Bag / "Doing Their Love Thing" (1968)

A1  "How Do I Love Thee" 1:53
A2  "A Red, Red Rose" 2:58
A3  "Lovers' Litany" 2:45
A4  "The Night Is Darkening Round Me" 3:24
A5  "She Walks in Beauty" 3:00
B1  "Shall I Compare Thee" 4:00
B2  "God's Gifts" 2:54
B3  "She Was a Phantom of Delight" 3:10
B4  "Tears, Idle Tears" 4:00
B5  "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam" 3:50

Gary Grappone - instruments
Lenny Messina - instruments
Vincent Nappi - instruments
Bob August - instruments
Larry Fallon - instruments. arranger
Bob August - arranger (A5)
Robert Butera - arranger (B1)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "Spangle" (1987)

"Spangle" - Gary Jennings (1987)
Hardcover, 978 pages

This is another epic piece of historical fiction from one of the best...Gary Jennings.  This time taking us through all the ins and outs and the goings-on of an up and coming circus in the late 19th century.  Shortly after Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox, a couple of wandering soldiers decide to throw in with Florian’s Flourishing Florilegium of Wonder Circus.  And from there we commence on an amazing journey that takes us through the South and across the big waters into Europe.

Along the way, there are a variety of perversions to chew on, as well as violence in various shapes and sizes.  But of course, there is, because that is one of Jennings' familiar trademarks.  Nudging the reader into the uncomfortable.  His left-field surprises.  But around all these shenanigans, Jennings provides us with an absolutely wonderful detailed education in circus survival.  Plus we're introduced to an eclectic group of circus people and the crowds of curios who are starving for entertainment.    The strategy of keeping one step ahead and two steps afloat as they venture from one town and show to another is fascinating.  Expect the unexpected.  All this while Jennings seamlessly introduces historical information and description.  At times, like watercolors on canvas.  This isn't my favorite Gary Jennings novel. “The Journeyer” and “Aztec” and, of course, one can't forget “Raptor”...still hold a higher place on the shelf.  At 900+ pages, "Spangle" is a commitment, for sure, but it's still one worth getting lost in.

"Show Me The Way" - Nektar / "Down To Earth" (1974)

Gary Jennings Website

Nektar Website

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
Follow Me On FACEBOOK 

Sunday, December 8, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Moses" (1973)

"Moses" - Jerry Hahn (1973)

"Moses" was Jerry Hahn's first "solo" effort and the album has Jerry working his guitar with a more rockier jazz swag than expected.  Oh, there is still the familiar fast and swinging Barney Kessel flavor but there are three tasty surprises that really clean the pallet.  The funky Jerry Hahn penned title track, is a fantastic opener.  It's a real groove and gets interesting in the places Jerry takes it.  I never tire.  There is also an 'out of left field' surprise dive into Donovan's, “Sunshine Superman.” Hahn fills it with wah-wah goings-on and other cool ear candy giving it a delightful jazzy psych dusting.  Surprise! Surprise!  Plus there is a wicked solo thrown in.  It's the kind of workout that makes me wonder if someone threw down a challenge...and challenge was accepted.

Finally, buried on side two is a cover of "All Blues" from Miles Davis' "Kind Of Blue" album.  I first heard Hahn's version driving back home from a comedy gig I once did in Tulsa, OK.  I loved it.  I can't find it on YouTube, but it sure sounded good to me that night.  This was a pretty hard album for me to find, but not very expensive.  It's a good album and still under the radar.

"Moses" (back)

Fantasy label

Fantasy company sleeve

"Sunshine Superman" - Jerry Hahn / "Moses" (1973)

A1  "Moses" 4:25
A2  "Prime Time" 3:21
A3  "Slick & Sharp" 4:36
A4  "Blues Suite" 5:55
A5  "Full Moon and Empty Arms" 1:42
B1  "Sunshine Superman" 5:00
B2  "Joy Spring" 4:35
B3  "All Blues" 4:30
B4  "Honey Suite" 5:07

Jerry Hahn - guitar
Mel Graves - bass
George Marsh - drums
Merl Saunders - organ, synthesizer

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Interview -- Judy Norton (Actress, Writer, Director)

"You just call out my name
And you know
wherever I am
I'll come running..."
~ Carole King ~

I first fell in love with Mary Ellen (Judy Norton) and the rest of the Walton family when she called her brothers and sisters “...a bunch of pissants” for complaining about her plans to put a bird's nest on the Christmas tree in the holiday TV movie..."The Homecoming.”  I thought Mary Ellen was awesome!  First, because it sounded like she got away with a bit of cursing.  (I was nine, okay?)  And second, I thought she was very cool and really cute at the same time. (I was going on ten.)  "The Homecoming" was my first introduction to the Walton family and it immediately became one of my family's annual holiday viewing traditions.  But it was "The Waltons" TV series that became our goto when any one of us just needed to escape from the daily rat race and chill a while.  To this day, hardly a week goes by that we don't watch an episode or three.  "The Waltons" are like a warm hug.  Like the proverbial chicken soup for the soul.  And I've since fallen in love with Judy Norton many times over.  We all did.

Grandpa Zeb and Grandma Esther. John and Olivia Walton.  And their seven children.  John-Boy, Jason, Mary Ellen, Ben, Erin, Jim-Bob and Elizabeth.  The Walton family.  They were our safe place.  And we continue to watch the shows over and over.  Since "The Waltons," Judy has been successfully involved with almost everything.  Writing, producing, directing and acting in theater, television, and films.  She sings all over the country.  And her latest film, the psychological thriller, "Nowhere To Hide" is available right now on DVD and streaming.  She's the complete package.  But look, Judy Norton will always be known and loved by her legion of fans as the pretty girl filled with wanderlust and a touch of badassery...Mary Ellen Walton.  And I'm glad she's cool with that.  Judy Norton.  Go get you some.

 Judy Norton Interview -- December 2019
Judy Norton

Casey Chambers:  In 1971, you appeared in a lil-bitty TV movie called..."The Homecoming: A Christmas Story" and became part of one of the most beloved families in television history.
What a life-changer.  How did you become a Walton?

Judy Norton:  I'd already been acting since I was about six, so I was always going out on various auditions.  And this particular audition was just for that Christmas movie, "The Homecoming."  At the time we were filming it, nobody knew they were going to turn it into a series.  For the audition, we read the scene in the barn where we were cracking walnuts which was great for me because Mary Ellen had quite a lot to do in that scene.  So it allowed me the opportunity to stand out a bit.  They did something sort of unusual in that they had all the actors who were auditioning for the kids there at the same time.  They would put together a group of boys and girls and take us in like six at a time.  I don't remember if they had any auditioning actors read for John-Boy 'cause I believe that they'd already cast Richard Thomas at that point.  So the casting director may have just read that role with all of the other kids.  I had that one audition and then a couple of times they called me back and we sort of did the same thing.  On the final audition, I guess they just wanted to see us all together.  There were the six of us and they had us all in the room and they looked at us and said, 'Okay.  You are the actors we'd like to have do this film.'

"The Homecoming" - Trailer (1971)

Casey Chambers:  How much did you know about your character Mary Ellen going in?

Judy Norton:  Oh, I knew that she was a tomboy, which I was.  And I knew that she was kind of cocky and outspoken which I was not so much.  So it was really fun to play that character.  I remember I went in wearing cutoff shorts and I was barefoot and I think I had, y' know, like pigtails or something.  I don't remember specifically.  But I remember at some point in later years, an interview was done with Earl Hamner who created the show.  The characters were based on his real-life family.  And at one point in the interview, he talked about that initial audition and said, in regards to me, that when I walked in the room, he just went, 'Oh, that's her.'  So that was kind of nice to hear.

Casey Chambers:  What a sweet thing for Earl Hamner to say.  How cool.  Now, 1971 was a strong year for TV movies.  "Brian's Song" and Spielberg's first film..."Duel" to name just a few.  But "The Homecoming" has gone on to win over the hearts of generations and has become for many an annual holiday movie tradition.  Not too shab at all.

Judy Norton:  Oh, well, thank you.  It's fun to have a show that's become part of the holidays.  One that airs every year during Christmas and Thanksgiving time and people still watch.  So y'know, that's...that's kinda special.

Casey Chambers:  Absolutely.  My family watches it every year.  So, "The Homecoming" was actually the pilot for "The Waltons."  But none of you were aware of it at that point.  How did it become a series?

The Waltons Game by Milton-Bradley (1974)

Judy Norton:  Well, originally it was just intended to be a TV Christmas movie.  We spent five weeks filming "The Homecoming."  Four of which were in Los Angeles at CBS Studios.  And then we spent a week up in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Because there were all those scenes where we were outside in the snow and walking the cow from the barn to the house and all those sorts of snow sequences we filmed.  So we spent a week up there.  And while we were filming up there, we somehow started hearing about producers maybe turning it into a series.  Well, I mean, at 13...I understood what a series was, but I didn't understand the process of turning a TV movie into a series.  And who made those decisions.  I thought it was like, 'Oh, the producers want to do it, so it'll happen.'   Which is not at all how it would have happened.

CBS would have had to have been on board and I guess the producers were in conversations with CBS about doing that.  My understanding is at that point in time, the networks were starting to get a lot of pressure from the Moral Majority groups saying that there was too much sex and violence and y'know...non-family type programming.  So CBS basically gave the green light to creating "The Waltons" because the show was supposed to be sort of a 'sacrificial lamb' in a sense. (laughs)  They were going to do this nice little family show that nobody was going to watch...and then they could say, 'See, nobody wants that kind of programming.' (laughs)  'We'll appease all the protestors and then they'll have to shut up because no one's watching the show.'   So yeah, that's literally the story I heard.

They also put us on in this impossible time slot against two shows that were very big hits at the time.  "Flip Wilson" and "The Mod Squad."  When the show first aired, it was like 59 or 60 on the ratings.  But there were some really good things about that time period.  First of all, there were only three major networks.  ABC, NBC, and CBS.  If anyone was gonna watch television, they pretty much had to watch one of those three networks.  There weren't 700 channels and DVRs and internet streaming.  So people at least knew that our show existed.  And the producers went out and they created a grassroots campaign.  And I think they took out articles and ads and stuff like that in magazines, newspapers, whatever.  Particularly in middle America and in the areas of the country where they felt there was an audience for "The Waltons."  And so they built this campaign.

"The Waltons" Opening Theme

Also nowadays, a show might only get three, five, or six episodes for it's first season to test it out.  And if it doesn't find an audience, a show can disappear after two or three episodes and nobody would even know it was there.  Whereas at that point in time, they pretty much gave you a full season.  I don't remember if we were originally given 13 or 26 episodes.  But basically, producers usually had 26 episodes to get their audience.  And over the course of that first season with this grassroots campaign, the ratings just kept climbing.  And by the end of that first season, we were up in at least the top 10, if not the top five.  And we basically stayed there for...I don't know...about seven seasons.  Something like that.  So it was a fortunate time for the show, otherwise, it would probably have been gone in a blip and nobody would've even known it existed.

Casey Chambers:  That's crazy.  And yet, "The Waltons" not only found an audience...but the show went on to run for nine seasons.  221 episodes.  And seven made-for-TV movies.  Doing that many episodes, it has to be hard keeping them all straight, but if you can, are there any episodes, in particular, that stand out for you?

Judy Norton:  Wow. you're right.  I mean, there's a lot of times that fans will come up and say, "Hey, I was just watching such and such an episode.'  And I'm like...'What?' (laughs)  There were so many.  There's a lot I just don't remember.  But some of the ones that really stand out for me are, "An Easter Story." (S:1 E:24/25 - 1973)  I thought it was a really lovely episode.  We were all trying to help our mom who had polio.  And again I also had some fun things to do.  I had to go teach G.W. how to dance. (laughs)  But it was a really sweet episode.

"The Waltons" Promo - "The Quilting"

Then there was the one where our house burned down. ("The Burn Out" (S:4 E:18/19 - 1976)  We all vividly remember that one, because we filmed one Friday at night which was unusual for us.  They had sort of set fire to the house and our dad had gone back in because John-Boy and Erin were missing.  And so like the rest of us were standing outside watching all these flames engulfing the house and not knowing if our family members were gonna make it out.  So it was all very real.  Very emotional.  It was fascinating because we ended up with this whole group of people.  All these looky-loos. (laughs)  All these people from the lot standing around watching us film this.  But it was all very vivid to us.

And the same thing with the episode with the late great John Ritter who played our Reverend Fordwick.  It was the one where he learns about Germany burning books.  And so he decides that Walton's Mountain is going to collect all the books that are in German and have its own ceremonial book burning.  To get rid of all those muddy books, so to speak.  But because the books are all in German, he has no idea that one of the books he was about to burn was a German Bible.  And it was really a very powerful scene. ("The Fire Storm" S:5 E:5 - 1976)

Casey Chambers:  Yeah, yeah, I remember all of those.  I always liked John Ritter.  Seeing him cast in a role so different from his famous Jack Tripper character in "Three's Company" was interesting.  Did you get to know him at all?

Judy Norton:  Oh, he was wonderful.  John Ritter was very funny and lighthearted.  But you'd never know what a prankster he was from the way he played Reverend Fordwick.  Not that he didn't have a serious side.  But he and Richard Thomas were great friends and they were pranksters together.   They were always trying to one-up each other.  Or trying to crack each other up in scenes. Things like that.  It was always fun when John was on the set.  And so yes, I certainly knew him during that time because he did quite a few episodes. He was a wonderful actor.

Casey Chambers:  The elder patriarch and matriarch of the Walton family...Grandpa Zeb and Grandma Esther...were played by the wonderful actors Will Geer and Ellen Corby.  I can't think of a better pair than those two.

"The Waltons" Quilting Song

Judy Norton:  Yeah, they both had such amazing histories in show business.  They had both been in the industry for so many years.  However, Will Geer had been blacklisted during the McCarthy era and wasn't able to work for years.  He built a kind of an outdoor theater compound that he created during the '60s or '70s and it still exists today.  So during that period of time, my understanding is when he couldn't work as an actor, he just went back and lived at his property and grew vegetables.  He had a degree in botany.  So, you know, he grew plants.  He planted the actual garden on the back lot...that was sort of the Waltons garden.  And he tended that garden and was always giving us an education in plants.  He'd spew off all the Latin names of these plants.  He also loved Shakespeare.  He loved Woody Guthrie.  And he was just very, very grateful to be working and was always trying to impart that appreciation for the work to us.  The opportunity to those of us who didn't have that kind of an experience.  He was always sort of like, 'Appreciate this.  And enjoy it.'  But he was very much like the character of Grandpa.  He was warm-hearted.  He was generous.  Always trying to help support young aspiring artists and actors and stuff like that.

Casey Chambers:  That kind of explains why we see Ellen Corby in so many of the old movies and TV shows, but Will Geer, as good an actor as he was, not so much.

Judy Norton:  Ellen Corby had started in the industry as a script girl for shows like, "The Little Rascals" and then moved somewhere along the line into acting.  She was in, "It's A Wonderful Life" (1946) and had TV roles like on "I Love Lucy" and "The Andy Griffith Show."  She was constantly showing up in movies or episodes of TV shows.

Casey Chambers:  Sure, she played the sweet ol' lady who scams Barney into buying a piece of crap car. (laughs)  And, of course, the scene where George Bailey lays a big smackaroo on Ellen Corby's face in the Building and Loan.  Both classic gems.  Small parts, but you just can't take your eyes off her.  She pops up everywhere!

A very young Ellen Corby in "It's A Wonderful Life" (1946)

Judy Norton:  (laughs)  Yeah, I mean she just, again, had such a prolific career.  And they were both such professionals.  They always showed up on time prepared.  They knew their lines.  They just had that sort of work ethic.  And Ellen was always trying to impart that...particularly to the younger kids.  She was a bit of a mentor to me.  'Cause I think she saw something in me that she felt was similar to her.  Because I had also come up through theater.  I had worked with a theater company as a child.  So I had that kind of discipline and work ethic as well.  Not that as a teenager I was always...I had my moments, (laughs)... but basically, she took me under her wing a bit.  She took the work very, very seriously.  But, y'know, she had the cutest little giggle that you didn't get to hear very often.  Every once in a while when she and Will were doing a scene, you could actually hear her giggle and it was very rare and it was very cute.  It was very girlish.

Casey Chambers:  Did many other celebrities ever unexpectedly wander onto the set for a visit?

Judy Norton:  Well, sometimes. There were people who were working on the lot and somebody from our cast would meet somebody from theirs and they'd come by and visit.  One time, we were at Warner Brothers and "ER" filmed on the same lot.  And Mary McDonough who played Erin somehow had met George Clooney.  And I remember George Clooney coming by and visiting in the makeup trailer or something one day and we were chatting during his "ER" days.  And there was a time when Elton John came on the set.  He came by 'cause he wanted to meet the cast.  Or I think he wanted to meet Richard.  And so he came into our schoolroom and spent about 20 minutes with us or more and just chatted with us.  Our schoolroom was just us.  Initially, we had our own little school trailer and a couple of teachers and stuff like that.  And yeah, he dropped by.

"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" - Elton John / Hollywood Bowl (1973)

He chatted with us and then gave us VIP tickets for that point he was doing his "..."Yellow Brick Road Tour."  All of the kids and Ellen Corby went.  I don't remember if anyone else did, but when we went to see Elton's "Yellow Brick Road" concert...he and his band were involved in some sort of event that was happening I think on the backlot of Universal Studios.  It was almost like a fair.  I don't remember if it was some sort of fundraiser or whatever.  But that all was pretty cool.  And we were invited to that.

Mary Ellen pulls the hair out of Erin's scalp

Casey Chambers:  That's a memory to take.  If there was one show of Elton's to be party to...his "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" tour would have been it.  Major scorage!  Were you already a fan?  What's a favorite song or two?

Judy Norton:  Oh, that's tough.  There's so many.  I really like, "Rocket Man."  "Daniel."  "Your Song."  "Crocodile Rock."  I love the whole "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" album.  Oh yeah, I'm a fan.

Casey Chambers:  What other music do you enjoy?  Do you remember the first album you actually spent your own money on?

"Tapestry" - Carole King (1971)

Judy Norton:  The first album I ever bought was "Tapestry" by Carole King.  I grew up with classic rock so that's one of my favorite genres, still.  I think we often remember and are most impacted by the music we grew up with.  Crosby Stills and NashElton John.  Loggins and Messina.  A lot of music from that era.  Blood Sweat and TearsChicagoDon McLean.  So those are some of my favorites in terms of rock and roll.  Growing up, my mom sang professionally and the music she listened to was sort of all the standards.  Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney and Frank Sinatra and all of that.  That's what she would listen to on the radio.  So I grew up listening to a lot of that around the house. And she had soundtracks from Broadway shows.  And so I got interested at an early age in musical theater.

I saw my first musical when I was, I don't know, about 15, but I had done a children's theater production of a version of "Cinderella" when I was a kid.  My sister and I did this show on weekends for like a year.  And so I was interested in musical theater and then started studying voice when I was about 16.  When "The Waltons" ended, one of the things that I started doing was theater again and particularly musical theater.  So in terms of what I sing...a lot of it is Broadway.  It's standards.  Great American Songbook.  Sometimes a little bit of country 'cause I've ended up doing shows with country music and stuff.  So I'm a little somewhat all over the map.

Judy Norton

Casey Chambers:  I visited your website recently and since leaving "The Waltons," you've been very heavily involved in writing and directing theater and films.

Judy Norton:  Well,  I guess since about '91, I spent about eight years with a theater company up in Canada writing and directing.  And I've stayed involved with a lot of that.   Not just in the theater but also for film.  I've recently written three films that have been produced and a number of series episodes, and I'm developing some film and television stuff.  And of course, I still act.  Right now I have a film that I'm probably going to be directing next spring.  It's kind of a family drama.  And I have a couple of TV shows that I'm working on with a partner that are being pitched to networks.  So I'm still busy working on both sides of the stage or screen so to speak.

Just last year I had a film released that I co-produced and also starred in and wrote.  So it is one of those projects that is very personal to me.  It was originally called, "Inclusion Criteria" but it was retitled, "Nowhere To Hide".. .which is tough because there's a couple of other films with that same title.  If people are looking for it, "Nowhere To Hide" has my picture on the cover.  And it's streaming on a lot of platforms.  It just recently got picked up by the free Tubi TV and you don't have to pay to subscribe to it. (If you have Roku, you can watch this. ~editor)  The DVD is also available.  So I'd appreciate it if anybody who likes suspense thrillers, and this one is a psychological mind game film...if they like that sort of thing, then they should check it out.  People tell me they liked the surprises and they didn't see it coming.

Casey Chambers:  Who doesn't like popcorn all over their lap?! (laughs)  I love a good jumper.

Judy Norton:  Yeah, great! (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Well, Judy, it's been a treat for me to speak with you this morning.  I wish I could put into words what an important place you and the rest of "The Waltons" cast have found in my own family circle.  Thank you for all the warm moments your show has given us.  And thank you so much for taking time-out to speak with me this morning.

Judy Norton:  Oh, well thank you, Casey.  It's been a pleasure.

Judy Norton Official Website

Judy Norton Facebook

The Waltons Final Goodnight

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Saturday, November 30, 2019

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

"Bang" (front)

I've heard many from the vinyl community describe Bang's self-titled first album as being similar to Black Sabbath.  And I admit, it really does have that vibe.  The riffing and tempo changing style is familiar and great.  And the Ozzy-ness in the vocals is hard to miss, as well.  It kicks ass and I really enjoy the similarities.  Bang brings some pretty clever and contagious songs that headbang nicely.  But Bang's songwriting lacks the heavy gloom and darkness that Sabbath would take to the bank.  Had their writing been heavier in that regard...who knows?  Still, this is a strong album and stoners should appreciate this early taste of '70s proto-metal.  Bang was the band from Philly who deserved a better fate.  Pick it up when you find it.

"Bang" (back)

Capitol label (lime w/purple logo) 

"The Queen" - Bang / "Bang" (1972)

A1  "Lions, Christians" 3:58
A2  "The Queen" 5:24
A3  "Last Will and Testament" 4:09
A4  "Come With Me" 4:12
B1  "Our Home" 3:26
B2  "Future Shock" 4:38
B3  "Questions" 3:50
B4  "Redman" 4:58

Frank Ferrara - vocals, bass
Frank Gilcken - guitar, b-vocals
Tony D'Iorio - drums

Bang Website

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
Follow Me On FACEBOOK 

Monday, November 25, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Share The Land" (1970)

"Share The Land" - The Guess Who (1970)

This is a great album that can almost always be found for $1...$2...maybe $3 dollars.  And it's a killer spin for your listening pleasure.  Loaded with no less than 4 radio songs with the rest of the album equally as entertaining.  The lost gem for me was the epic 9-min closer. “Three More Days.”  Not a minute is wasted.  It stays interesting from beginning to end with Burton Cummings sounding fantastic without going over-the-top.  It felt like a real band effort.  No egos.  The other is the hard-rockin' “Hang On To Your Life" which I didn't know I knew until I spun the record.  The song has a killer harmonic hook that never gets old.  An under-appreciated treasure.  And the psych fade out of this song has a surprising, almost Morrison-like, recitation about something or other.  It's quirky and I dig stuff like that.

For the small amount of coinage, this is a solid album.  There is even a bit of a Black Oak Arkansas vibe going on with one of the songs..."Coming Down Off the Money Bag"...and on first listen I was throwing eye rolls to whomever I could make eye contact with.  But on subsequent listens...I think it was a risk that worked.  Don't pick the needle up...let it ride.  I think you'll get it.  This was the first album minus Randy Bachman, but the new Guess Who bandmates could not have gotten off to a better start.  Cummings dials back the lounge-act bit.  A habit that would slowly sink the band in the years to come.  But here, he is in fine form.  Find this. Buy this.

"Share The Land" (back)

"Share The Land" (Gatefold Unipak)

"Share The Land" (inner sleeve - front)

"Share The Land" (inner sleeve - back)

RCA Victor label

"Hang On To Your Life" - The Guess Who / "Share The Land" (1970)

A1  "Bus Rider" 2:57
A2  "Do You Miss Me Darlin'?" 3:55
A3  "Hand Me Down World" 3:26
A4  "Moan For You Joe" 2:39
A5  "Share The Land" 3:53
B1  "Hang On To Your Life" 4:09
B2  "Coming Down Off The Money Bag" / "Song Of The Dog" 3:54
B3  "Three More Days" 8:55

Burton Cummings – vocals, keyboards, flute on (B3)
Kurt Winter – lead guitar, b-vocals
Greg Leskiw – guitar, b-vocals, lead vocal on (B2)
Jim Kale – bass, b-vocals
Garry Peterson – drums, b-vocals

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Sunday, November 24, 2019

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

(a short jaunt)

"Shanghai Blues" - Robbie Robertson / "Sinematic" (2019)

All right. Some new stuff from The Band legend...Robbie Robertson.  And he sounds like he's on a mission.  This has one of those cool sort of a spoken word recitations goin' on.  About a mob boss in Chinatown you don't even want to think about crossing.  Robertson is just someone easy to pull for.  I'm not the biggest fan of The Band...but I always thought he was a pretty cool hoss.  "Sinematic" is Robbie Robertson's 6th solo album.

"Thoughts And Words" - The Byrds / “Younger Than Yesterday” (1967)

“I thought I was on top of it all
Everyone else was so small
Then I knew what you wanted to do
I knew what you wanted to do.”
Chris Hllman penned this hot little biscuit and it's a sexy psychedelic monster.  The solo break is killer and waaay too short.  And doesn't it sound like McGuinn and Crosby are enjoying themselves?  A good song brings a band together.  This was The Byrd’s 4th album.

"Out The Blue" - John Lennon / “Mind Games” (1973)

This song sounds like a leftover outtake from The Beatles White album.  It certainly would not have been out of place.  Just a beautiful song that seems to brush the soft shoulders of regret.  That's what I hear anyway.  "Mind Games" was John Lennon's fourth studio album.


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Friday, November 22, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Red Weather" (1969)

"Red Weather" - Leigh Stephens (1969)

Leigh Stephens was the lead guitarist for Blue Cheer for crying out loud, so his cred has already been nailed to the rock wall...but this album doesn't bring the thunder of that kinda noise.  However, Stephens' first solo album does have its crank-it moments.  They're pretty good, but they don't blow out your windows.  Mostly, there is an earthier chill-out spell being cast.  And it's this quirkiness that gives the album a bit of a psychy-vibe.  The album is a different octopus.  It's probably your "Blue Cheer" expectations that will let you down.  Leave your notions at the door and you might discover a few gems.  "Red Weather" is by no means a necessity for your 'psych' collection, but it's still a nice one to own.  It has a great cover to display and Stephens does give us a few deep tracks worth discovering.  A bit of a grower.  My album was a record club copy.

"Red Weather" (back)

Philips label

"Red Weather" - Leigh Stephens / "Red Weather" (1969)

A1  "Another Dose of Life" 4:47
A2  "Drifting" 6:41
A3  "Indians" 4:47
A4  "I Grow Higher" 5:39
B1  "Red Weather" 3:14
B2  "If You Choose Too" 5:10
B3  "Joannie Mann" 5:05
B4  "Chicken Pot Pie" 3:12

Leigh Stephens - vocals, guitar, bass
Ian Stewart - keyboards
Nicky Hopkins - keyboards
Kevin Westlake - drums
Mick Waller - drums
Eric Albronda - vocals  (A1)
Kevin Westlake vocals (A1)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
Follow Me On FACEBOOK 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "Cover" (1987)

"Cover" - Jack Ketchum (1987)
302 pages

I've always been a big fan of Jack Ketchum and the creepy, twisting tales he enjoyed spinning around us, but "Cover" just didn't have enough 'shim in the shang-shang.'  A Vietnam veteran back from the war just can't deal, so he excuses himself from the table...preferring to isolate off in some secluded woods to try to work through some pretty messed-up memories.  On the other side of this coin is a small group of city shakers off to the forest for a little weekend back-to-nature break.  Of the same general vicinity.  This reads much more like an average thriller than a typical JK horror novel.  The story reads fast and “Cover” does have its moments, but when you pull your book-dart away from the final're left with a story that's already been chewed a few times.  Still, when Ketchum goes off on a few of the main character's flashbacks...(the best parts of the story)...the shiat gets disturbingly real...real fast.   Entertaining, but not the first Jack Ketchum novel to start with.

"Cover Me" - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band / "Born In The USA" (1984)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Music To Eat" (1971)

"Music To Eat" - Hampton Grease Band (1971)

The Hampton Grease Band's only album...“Music To Eat”...has reached a bit of cult status of sorts.  At one time, this album ranked as being the sorriest selling Columbia album ever...second only to a nobody yoga album.  That in and of itself is an oddly cool rep to possess.  This 88-minute double album is filled with quirky avant-garde rock.  There are plenty of silly and strange moments and at times the album has a bit of the Beefheart or Zappa vibe going-on.  But mixed in with all the weird cornucopia are some really good jamming sessions and psych dipping.  Much of it crank-worthy.  Yes, there is some eye-rolling weirdness, for sure, but overall my listening experience teeters to the side of ”just ride it.”  I don't love this album, but I like it enough to make room for it on my shelf.  “Music To Eat” was a hard one for me to find, probably because those that stumble on it, hold on to it.  There are enough interesting changes throughout these two squares...if you don't like what's happening, just wait a few minutes and get hit with a different stick.

"Music To Eat" (back)

"Music To Eat" (gatefold inside)

Columbia label

Columbia company sleeve

"Halifax" (first 10 min.) - Hampton Grease Band / "Music To Eat" (1971)

A1  "Halifax" 19:36
B1  "Maria" 5:27
B2  "Six" 19:31
C1  "Evans"
       a. "Egyptian Beaver" 5:18
       b. "Evans" 12:30
C2  "Lawton" 7:48
D1  "Hey Old Lady and Bert's Song" 3:19
D2  "Hendon"
       a. "Spray Paint" 1:15
       b. "Major Bones" 2:05
       c. "Sewell Park" 5:18
       d. "Improvisation" 11:35

Bruce Hampton (Col. Hampton B. Coles, Ret.) - vocals, trumpet
Glenn Phillips - guitar, saxophone
Jerry Fields (Bubba Phreon) - trombone, drums, percussion, vocals
Mike Holbrook - bass
Harold Kelling - guitar, vocals, composer, cover design

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Sunday, November 10, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."One Nation Underground" (1967)

"One Nation Underground" - Pearls Before Swine (1967)

“One Nation Underground” is filled with odd folk-psych melodies and a floaty moodiness that gives the listener a mind-loosening experience.  It's hard to explain but Tom Rapp is good at it.  Pearls Before Swine's debut is not completely covered in psych dust, but the album sounds clever and sometimes strange.  The opening track "Another Time" is a subtle example of Rapp on target.  There are a couple of heavier songs in the folk-psych mode.  "I Shall Not Care" is probably my favorite.  And the biting Vietnam jab, "Uncle John" is one of the better anti-war tracks I've heard.  The oddest track is the Dylanesque "Playmate" which is good but feels a little outta place.  I'm not sure what was the point.  I've since come to enjoy the Dylan take quite a bit.  Overall, "One Nation Underground" is a nice piece of folk psych that holds up pretty well.  Btw...Tom Rapp tries slipping in a bit of F-U-C-K in Morse code a few times on "(Oh Dear) Miss Morse."  The song was quickly pulled from the radio stations when complaints were made.  The idea was silly but kind of cool.

"One Nation Underground" (back)

ESP label

"I Shall Not Care" - Pearls Before Swine / "One Nation Underground" (1967)

A1  "Another Time" 3:07
A2  "Playmate" 2:24
A3  "Ballad To An Amber Lady" 5:20
A4  "(Oh Dear) Miss Morse" 2:04
A5  "Drop Out!" 4:10
B1  "Morning Song" 4:11
B2  "Regions of May" 3:30
B3  "Uncle John" 3:00
B4  "I Shall Not Care" 5:26
B5  "The Surrealist Waltz" 3:28

Tom Rapp - vocals, guitar
Wayne Harley - autoharp, banjo, mandolin, vibraphone, audio oscillator, harmony
Lane Lederer - bass, guitar, English horn, Swinehorn, Sarangi, celeste, finger cymbals, vocals (on "Surrealist Waltz")
Roger Crissinger - organ, harpsichord, clavioline
Warren Smith - drums, percussion

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
Follow Me On FACEBOOK 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "Hillbilly Elegy" (2016)

"Hillbilly Elegy" - J.D. Vance (2016)
257 pages

From his early years surviving in a dysfunctional family home surrounded by dysfunctional neighbors, author J.D. Vance gives a compelling story about his own personal and painful journey growing up in the deep Appalachian areas running through Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio.  Poverty and abuse was just the way it was.  Love was often shown with violence.  Violence and loyalty went hand-in-hand.  His mother was an addict bringing in one boyfriend after another into their home.  Sometimes hanging around for a few months.  Other times, only a few days.  His teenage years were a juggle of bad grades and bullies.  The Marine Corps was soon knocking. (A common escape for young men in a hopeless town.)  Finally, Vance made it into college.  And Ivy League school at that.

Stories like this one are not that unusual.  They happen.  But it's always a BIG surprise when they do.  It's like the rural Appalachian areas are trapped under an oppressive dome that's filled with nothing but take-a-way dream-snatchers.  And nothing is ever a quick fix.  A government program here.  A scholastic incentive there.  I'm generalizing, of course, but most times the help must first come from within.  And then from within the home.  "Hillbilly Elegy" is a great memoir filled with hard soap and plenty of love.  I'm glad I finally picked this one up.  A surprisingly wonderful read.

"Hillbilly Highway" - Steve Earle / "Guitar Town" (1986)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Monday, November 4, 2019

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

(a short jaunt)

"Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" - "The Rolling Stones / "The Rolling Stones No. 2" (UK 1965)

This is the fantastic unedited UK album version.  On the US release, “The Rolling Stones Now!”...the song tapped out at a measly 3-min clip and it's not nearly as hot.  I used to ignore early Stones albums, dismissing them as merely albums with a hit single and filler.  But man, was I wrong.  The more I listen to that early British r&b Stones swag...the more I want to hear.  Give Keith Richards' “Life” biography a page-spin sometime.  It will really open your eyes.  This isn't throw away stuff.  This is the Stones loving what they do.

"Girl From The North Country" - Joni Mitchell & Johnny Cash / "Best Of The Johnny Cash TV Show: 1969-1971" (2007)

A young and gentle Joni Mitchell and the big man Johnny Cash.  The juxtaposition of these two artists knock this song right out of the park.  Joni's voice, for sure, is golden, but it's John's hard, yet vulnerable, vocals that sells it all for me.  One of the best covers from a very small few I like.

"Back-Door Angels" - Jethro Tull / "War Child" (1974)

"In and out of the back-door, ran one front-door angel.
Her hair was a golden-brown.
She smiled and I think she winked...her...."

Probably my favorite deep track from this album.  It has the great and under-appreciated Martin Barre throwing down cool guitar burns.  Choice Ian Anderson lyrics with just the right flute attention that I like.  “Warchild” was a little bit under the high-bar from what came before it...meaning I just didn't enjoy it right away.  But the album is a grower with several gems to be discovered.  I find this album in bins everywhere and for very little jingle.  Certainly worth revisiting. 


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
Follow Me On FACEBOOK 

Thursday, October 31, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."In Search Of Space" (1971)

"In Search Of Space" - Hawkwind (1971)

If you've been curious about what the heck space rock is all about, pick up this bad-puppy.  This was Hawkwind's 2nd album...and it's goooooood!  It's very ethereal.  Heavy at times with tasty psych and prog shenanigans going on.  It rocks and jams and it gets a little trancy.  Everything adds up to a free ride without leaving the couch.

The opener "You Shouldn't Do That" is a fantastic 16-min ‘how do you do.”  I loved this and grabbed my headphones the second time around.  ”Master of the Universe” is another gem, more rocking but without losing the spacey-psych flavor.  This is one I might have heard on The Psychedelic Experience.  Somewhere anyway.  ”Adjust Me” is a goodly strange, experimental spin.  But really this album is good from needle drop to label.  I've heard others say this isn’t even considered their best album.  What!?  Methinks I have some more exploring to do.

This Hawkwind album cover is a gimmix die-cut with interlocking sides that fold out.  It's pretty clever, but a major pain getting to your record.  It's the kind of cover design you'll want to be very patient with when taking your record out.  I decided to just keep it in a sleeve in front of the back cover for easier access.  (That's what she said!).  Either way, your head is gone before you can grab your hat.

"In Search Of Space" (back)

"In Search Of Space" (gimmix inside)

"In Search Of Space" (inside unfolded)

United Artists Records label

"Master Of The Universe” - Hawkwind / "In Search Of Space" (1971)

A1  "You Shouldn't Do That" 16:15
A2  "You Know You're Only Dreaming" 6:47
B1  "Master of the Universe" 6:35
B2  "We Took the Wrong Step Years Ago" 4:56
B3  "Adjust Me" 5:58
B4  "Children of the Sun" 4:08

Dave Brock - vocals, electric guitar, 6 & 12 string acoustic guitars, harmonica, audio generator
Nik Turner - alto saxophone, flute, vocals, audio generator
Del Dettmar - synthesizer
Dik Mik (Michael Davies) - audio generator
Dave Anderson - bass, electric & acoustic guitars
Terry Ollis - drums, percussion

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers