Tuesday, March 19, 2019

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

(a short jaunt)

"Lucky Town" - Bruce Springsteen / "Lucky Town" (1992)  
Here performing at Stockholm 1993-05-28

There's a reason you find so many of this particular CD in the used bins.  It's Bruce with a new band behind him...not the E. Street.  Most fans didn't take a shine to that idea.  Plus the songs just aren't very memorable.  But man, do I love the title track.  Of all the songs from the album, this one sounds the most like "The Boss" we all love.  On the wet streets getting his hands dirty.  It kicks ass.  I remember seeing him on SNL performing this song with his new guitar man dipping and weaving all over the place sounding terrific and honoring the privilege.  And I appreciated the effort.

"Bad Bad Boy" - Nazareth / "Razamanaz" (1973)

The song is what it is.  It's hilarious.  And it rawks!  Dan McCafferty's vocals will make your throat hurt. Kind of a faceless band, but they know how to jam.  Fun album.

"I’m Actin' Different" - Joe Walsh / "Ordinary Average Guy" (1991)

I remember this song coming on the radio.  And then the song finishing.  But I can't remember a dang thing about it.  I don't remember nothing.  It wasn't unpleasant.  It just didn't..."do it"...for me.


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Horse Head Has An Idea:..."The Hitch-Hiker" (1953)


"The Hitch-Hiker" hints of terrible things to come.  Our villain is played by William Talman.  You'll recognize him as the TV District Attorney who always laid a golden turd on the b/w "Perry Mason."  But as the hitchhiker, he gets to stretch his chops playing a psycho murderer with a peep-eye that never closes.  His victims are played like a couple of average Joe Schmos who are neither risk-takers nor tough guys.  That's really kind of refreshing.

The film was directed by Ida Lupina...one of the few female directors of her era (or any era) and she was also the only woman to direct a "Twilight Zone" episode which I find to be doubly cool.  (It was the one called "The Masks"...about a bitter millionaire that forces all his guests to wear hideous masks until midnight.)

"The Hitch-Hiker" looks terrific in that film noir, low budget style, but the story is much tamer than your imagination might lead you to believe.  Just forget about missed opportunities.  Not everyone is brave at the right time.

"The Hitch-Hiker" (1953)

And consider subscribing to Timeless Classic Movies.

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Monday, March 11, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Trout Mask Replica" (1969)

"Trout Mask Replica" - Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band (1969)

Okay, borrowing a line that Joe Pesci used in an Oliver Stone film..."It's a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma."  And that pretty much describes "Trout Mask Replica" right down to the gnarly fish lips.  I had been forewarned what to expect, but since I knew I was going to find this album eventually, I waited until I could actually spin the dang thing for myself before listening to it.  The album is crazy weird, but wonderfully so.  And not quickly accessible.  "Trout Mask Replica" is the absolute definition of a grower.  Appreciation by repeat spins.  Listen... and then back away slowly.  Sometimes, I like the weird shit.  My copy is a 1989 reissue and I'm keeping it.

Will you like it?  If you're open to the avant-garde weirdness of artists like Frank Zappa...perhaps.  The Captain is a little bit like that.  Coming off less jazzy though and more from a blues-rock mind.  But that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of this album.  That this was recorded and released in 1969 makes me pause as well.  So enter at your own risk.
(FWIW...Rolling Stone ranked "TMR" #60 on their list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.)

"Trout Mask Replica" (back)

"Trout Mask Replica" (inside gatefold)

Reprise Records (Blue/Yellow steamboat) 

"Pachuco Cadaver" - Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band / "Trout Mask Replica" (1969)

A1  "Frownland" 1:39
A2  "The Dust Blows Forward 'n the Dust Blows Back" 2:04
A3  "Dachau Blues" 2:21
A4  "Ella Guru" 2:23
A5  "Hair Pie: Bake 1" 4:57
A6  "Moonlight on Vermont" 3:55
B1  "Pachuco Cadaver" 4:37
B2  "Bills Corpse" 1:47
B3  "Sweet Sweet Bulbs" 2:17
B4  "Neon Meate Dream of a Octafish" 2:25
B5  "China Pig" 3:56 
B6  "My Human Gets Me Blues" 2:42
B7  "Dali's Car" 1:25
C1  "Hair Pie: Bake 2" 2:23
C2  "Pena" 2:31
C3  "Well" 2:05
C4  "When Big Joan Sets Up" 5:19
C5  "Fallin' Ditch" 2:03
C6  "Sugar 'n Spikes" 2:29
C7  "Ant Man Bee" 3:55
D1  "Orange Claw Hammer" 3:35
D2  "Wild Life" 3:07
D3  "She's Too Much for My Mirror" 1:42
D4  "Hobo Chang Ba" 2:01
D5  "The Blimp (Mousetrapreplica)" 2:04
D6  "Steal Softly Thru Snow" 2:13
D7  "Old Fart at Play" 1:54
D8  "Veteran's Day Poppy" 4:30

Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet) - vocals, spoken word, tenor sax, soprano sax, bass clarinet, musette, Simran, hunting horn, jingle bells, producer (uncredited), engineer (uncredited)
Drumbo - drums, percussion, engineer (uncredited on the original), arrangement (uncredited)
Antennae Jimmy Semens - guitar, steel appendage guitar, vocals 
Zoot Horn Rollo - guitar, glass finger guitar, flute
Rockette Morton - bass, spoken word
The Mascara Snake - bass clarinet, b-vocals, spoken voice
Doug Moon - acoustic guitar
Gary "Magic" Marker - bass
Roy Estrada - bass guitar
Arthur Tripp III - drums and percussion
Don Preston - piano
Ian Underwood and Bunk Gardner - alto and tenor saxophones
Buzz Gardner - trumpet
Richard "Dick" Kunc - spoken voice
Frank Zappa - speaking voice on "Pena" and "The Blimp" (uncredited); engineer (uncredited); producer

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Friday, March 8, 2019

I Went...SIRIUS...All The Way Home

(a short jaunt)

"Terrifying" - Rolling Stones / "Steel Wheels" (1989)

It has that dated 80s mix but, dang it, this song rocks.  Bill Wyman is playing one-man ping pong underneath.   And Keef is playing odd guitar chords.  I really like the muted horn minimally dancing in and out on the outro. I've never given the album a fair listen,  but I imagine this tune is a pretty underrated song in their catalog. I'd never heard it.  This was their 21st American studio album.

"Key To The Highway" - Derek and the Dominos / "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs" (1970)

A lot of people have covered this.  This is the version my ears are most familiar with.  It's a good blues rock jam. Clapton and Duane.  It's like, "Okay, watch what I can do!”  Like I said, it is good.  But I always thought the song was too long and...meh.  The song just gets lost when surrounded by so many other great ones on the album.  I probably play that side the least because of "Key..."  However, once it's spinning, I seldom lift the needle.

"Beside You" - New York Rock & Roll Ensemble / "Roll Over" (1971)

Gentle...like wisps of smoke.  Haunting ghosts.  Beautiful melody.  Who were these guys?  Never see any of their albums floating around...but will keep an eye out.


Casey Chambers

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Interview -- Mark Farner (Grand Funk Railroad)

"Come on
and ride the railroad...
one more time."
~ Grand Funk Railroad ~

And the thunder's gonna roll.  Grand Funk Railroad was a three-piece absolute thunderdome led by founding member...Mark Farner.  The band was heavy and loud. They were soulful and trippy.  And for nearly a decade they ruled the school.  Yet the critic snobs wouldn't offer them a ride across the street if the band paid for their own gas.  Didn't matter.  The people loved'em.  Blue collars and neckties.  Stoners and hard rockers.  Headbangers and footstompers.  They loved the way Grand Funk Railroad buttered their bread.  They got in the trenches.  They got their hands dirty.  Nothing fancy or prissy here.  Just pounding, chunking, rock and roll soul.  Mark Farner is a thunder-maker.
Go get you some.

Mark Farner Interview -- March 2019
Mark Farner

Casey Chambers:  I'd like to begin with "I'm Your Captain/Closer To Home." (1970)  It has long become an absolute staple of classic rock radio and is one of the definitive songs of not only Grand Funk Railroad...but of hope and determination as well.  The song is epic.  Timeless.  Do moments like that stay with you when you are writing songs?

Mark Farner:  Yes they do, because most of the songs that I have written come from me just jamming on my guitar or jamming on a piano or organ or something.  Just from a jam.  And then I would develop the lyrics from there.  But I went to bed one night back in 1970 and said my, 'Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep' prayers...and I put a P.S. on the end.  I asked God to give me a song that would reach...touch the hearts...of those, the Creator wanted me to get to and went to sleep.  And I got up and wrote those lyrics in the middle of the night.  I didn't know they were lyrics yet 'cause I'm always getting up and writing thoughts or whatever's on my mind.  I got to put it down.  Because I've lost some really good songs by being too lazy and not gettin' my butt out of that bed, dude. (laughs)  But yeah.  I prayed and I got the lyrics in the middle of the night.

When I got up the next morning, I grabbed my guitar out of the corner in the kitchen, got a cup of coffee going and I got my feet kicked up on the chair next to me.  And I'm looking out at the horses in the pasture and I start that...'bap-m-bap-m-bap-m-bap do, do, do-we-do'  thing.  That little lick.  I thought...'Wow. That sounds pretty good.'  And then I sat up and I made the inversion of that C chord that I'd never made previously.  It never occurred to me.  But when I hit that chord, it just spoke to my heart.  Anyways, I took it to rehearsal that day and both of the other guys said, 'Man, that thing's a hit.'  I guess they were right.

"I'm Your Captain/Closer To Home" - Grand Funk Railroad / "Closer To Home" (1970)

Casey Chambers:  There's a transition where we hear the sound of crashing waves and strings that almost startles.  It's just killer.  Was that something you knew you wanted to include when you went in to record the song?

Mark Farner:  Well, I didn't know it was there until I heard it myself.  And I loved it.  It was a natural sound in a rock song and it just took you to a different place.  In consciousness.  A gradual ascent to a different place.  We were in Cleveland to do the recording and I played a little bit of the song to Tommy Baker who was the bandleader for the "Upbeat" show...it was on channel five in Cleveland, Ohio...and he said, 'Man, if you could leave me some room on the end of that song, I'm hearing all kinds of stuff.'   He was the one that actually wrote and orchestrated what people here with the symphony and that is the Cleveland Symphony that you're hearing on that.

Casey Chambers:  A most excellent maneuver.  And when radio began playing "I'm Your Captain/Closer To Home"...not only did it become popular here in the States, but our soldiers fighting in Vietnam were adopting your song like good mojo.  That really adds a whole other dimension, doesn't it?

Mark Farner:  I learned later the song was voted number one out of all the songs that were popular during that time for the Vietnam veterans.  And to vote my song...oh, man.  They asked me if I'd come and play the song at the 25th anniversary of the Memorial Wall in D.C.   And I asked them if they were going to have a stage and lights and a PA.  And they went, 'Oh yeah, we're going to have that.'  I said, 'Great, we'll come and play you an entire show for free.'  I got all the guys.  We got on a bus, put all our equipment under and we headed down there and performed an entire show for them.  But I'm telling you what...it was 36 degrees. (laughs)  We were in the dressing rooms warming our...they had little trailers ya know?  We were having to warm our hands on the dressing room lights because there was no heat! (laughs)

But when we went out to play, not only did we see U.S. Vietnam veterans, but the Canadian Vietnam veterans were there too.  Our brothers and sisters from Canada.  And when we finally got to the end of the set and started into that song, it was very hard for me to sing because...try singing with a softball in your neck, ya know? (laughs)  I was choked up just looking out and seeing the tears come down.  Right from the beginning of the song.  We also played a show for the Vietnam Veterans at Fort Irwin in California where they've processed over a million troops since 9/11.  Everybody crying and singing.  Everybody.  It was all one effort.  But that song, man, I'm telling you what...I thank God for that song because it means so much to other people and for the Lord to have given it to me...it humbles me.

Casey Chambers:  That's a really nice share.  Thank you.  And that song was certainly in the setlist when you guys played Shea Stadium.

"I'm Your Captain/Closer To Home" - Grand Funk Railroad / Live at Shea Stadium (1971)

Mark Farner:  Oh absolutely.  And I'll tell you something, Casey. The way that Shea Stadium was set up in a semicircle, they put the stage at second base.  Humble Pie opened for us.  They had opened for us in Europe and we brought them to the United States.  This was their first U.S. performance and it was at Shea Stadium with Grand Funk.  We arrived at Shea by helicopter.  We took off from a heliport on the East River and flew over the stadium.  And Humble Pie was on second base.  And the stadium was bouncing!  The whole thing.  The bleachers were bouncing and I thought, 'Oh my God, I can see that from here!' (laughs)  They are rocking the house.  We landed in the parking lot where the limo was supposed to be waiting for us, but it wasn't there.  So the guy that was riding with us ran to a telephone booth on the corner and made a call.  And in two or three minutes...bam!....there were cop cars in the parking lot.  They picked us up and drove us into Shea with the lights and sirens going on.   When we climbed out of the backseat of the cop cars...man, the audience went off!  We took over the stage and that semicircle of a sold-out stadium was singing the words to "I'm Your Captain" louder than the PA!  It was projecting like, I don't know man...it was amplified.  It was so extraordinary and I'm getting goosebumps just telling you about it, man. (laughs)

Casey Chambers: That's awesome!  What a great time that must have been.

Mark Farner: Oh, it was.  Yes sir.  What a riot.

Casey Chambers:  In 1973 and '74, Grand Funk Railroad recorded two popular albums with the help of Todd Rundgren producing.  How did his involvement come about?

Mark Farner:  Well, we had names in a hat and his name got drawn.  And that's the same way we did when Zappa produced us.  We just put the names together of producers that we would like to work with or would consider working with.  And we drew.  And that was the luck of the draw.  And yeah, man, Todd effortlessly does whatever he does. It's just what he does.  I learned from him.  I learned a lot from Todd.

Casey Chambers:  Your album "We're An American Band" (1973) was the first one Todd did with you guys.  Great album.  You co-wrote the title track with Don Brewer.  What's your earliest recollection of that song?

Mark Farner:  Well, our publicist Lynn Goldsmith, said, 'You guys need to do a song about who you are.  You know, you're an American band.'  And so Brewer came in with the lyrics.  And I said, 'Dude, I hear the song like this.'  And I played the chords, you know, with all the different stuff.  And I said, 'It's got to start with some cowbell, dude.'  And he did not own a cowbell. (laughs)  So he says, 'Okay, I'll pick one up.'  I said, 'No man, pick six of them up and we'll listen to it and whichever the best one is that really kanks that's the one we'll use.'   And the drum lick on the intro, I taught that to Don 'cause I heard it in my head.  I said, 'You got to double kick the bass drum.'  He goes, 'Man, you can't do that.'  I said, 'You can do it, Brewer.'   And he played it great.  That's the way the song all came together.  But he came to me just before the release of the record and he says, 'Hey, Farner...I've never had 100% writing credit on any record.  You mind if I take it on this one?'  And I went, 'No, go ahead.'  Because I'm a nice guy and I wanted to see him happy and everything.  And so he got credited for writing it.  Yes, he wrote the lyrics, but I had a whole lot more to do musically with that song than he did.

"We're An American Band" - Grand Funk Railroad / Promo (1973)

Casey Chambers:  One of the best rock intros ever.  And the song shows up in pop culture all the time.  I was watching an episode of "Supernatural" on Netflix a while back and heard "We're An American Band" blasting out of their famous '67 Chevy Impala.  And I was reminded again what a great driving song it really is.  ("Ghostfacers" - S:3 E: 13 - 2008)

Mark Farner:  Oh, that's cool.  I knew it was on the Simpsons.

Casey Chambers:  As was "Shinin' On."  Homer Simpson loves "the wild shirtless lyrics of Mark Farner."  How cool is that!

Mark Farner:  Yeah, I thought that was a hoot. (laughs)  I had never watched the Simpsons.  I'm just...I don't watch too much animation.  I just never have.  Cartoons kind of fell apart for me after Road Runner and Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck and, you know, Donald Duck.  But the other ones, they were not as refined as those characters, man.  I don't know what they did with the animation or who got ahold of it, but they simplified it too much.  A lot of people dig it, obviously.  We did use that Simpson's clip to open our show at Pine Knob in Detroit and the audience absolutely loved it.

Casey Chambers:  Now if we could only get Yosemite Sam to get on board. (laughs)   A deeper cut and a personal favorite from that album was another gem you wrote called..."The Railroad."  Just killer all around.  Fantastic vocals and the guitar break just fits.  No baggage.  You were responsible for most of the Grand Funk songs.  Do you have your guitar break worked out in your head when you write them?  And what was your weapon of choice?

Mark Farner:  Oh, thank you.  I was using a Strat.  It's just what I hear when I'm hearing the track back.  And what I visualize.  And then I transfer it to my fingers.  I can't just sit there and play impromptu to something.  I've got to hear it.  I can do that and jam a blues or something.  But something that is more critical as far as the construction, I need to listen to it.  Two or three passes before I start even getting the inspiration.  But then once I get the inspiration...once I start feeling it out and start putting this and that in...it just blossoms into whatever it is and that's the way it was with, "The Railroad."

"The Railroad" - Grand Funk Railroad / "We're An American Band " (1973)

Casey Chambers:  I recently heard your new song..."Can't Stop"...and man, you're timeless!  Good stuff.  And the video looks fantastic.  Funny as hell.

Mark Farner:  Well, I met these guys at Rock N' Roll Fantasy Camp.  The band originally played together when they were kids in Salt Lake City.  They live all over the country now, but they get together to come to fantasy camp.  Ken Van Wegenen was the guitar player and he liked my instruction because they were all big fans in the first place.  But he told David Fishof, who is the owner of Rock N' Roll Fantasy Camp that he specifically wanted to have me up there again next year.  So David called and yeah, I went and I was their counselor again and we got to know each other after about three or four camps.

And Ken said, 'We got a video in mind and I want you to check it out and critique it.  See if you'd be into doing this.  I would fly you out here first class.  I'll put you up in the best hotel.  We'll take care of you and you don't have to pay for nothing, man. Just come out here and do this and let's have some fun.'   And the guys, and there's a Sarah that works with them too, had great video editing for all this.  Jim McCarty drums.  He's good.  He can rock.  He's not like a Hubert Crawford who drums for me.  You gotta put a cage around him when he's up on stage. (laughs)  But they're all very good, accomplished players.  And I went out there and I loved the idea.  And I said, 'You know what, I'm gonna do this and have some fun.'  And we did.  We had fun.

Casey Chambers:  Absolute gold!

"Can't Stop" - Mark Farner (2018)

Mark Farner:  I think we're going to do another one.  Ken's talking about it.  I can't wait.  Isn't that something?  Can't wait.  "Can't Stop."  Maybe the next will be, "Can't Wait." (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Off the cuff, what are a few of your favorite albums?

Mark Farner:  Well, I got a set of R&B albums that have all of the great R&B dance songs on them.  And my wife and I pull back the coffee table and push the chairs to the side of the room and then we'll cut loose in the living room and just dance, you know?  I love the soul stuff.  I got a Howard Tate album called, "Get It While You Can."  That was from 1965 or '66.  Somewhere around in there.  And I got his album when I went to WTAC in Flint, Michigan with Bob Dell, the DJ.  And, we had gone in and he played a record that we made in Nashville and we drove up from Nashville right to WTAC and walked in the building, and said, 'Will you spin this?'  And he did.  That's back when they could.  And on the way out, he says, 'Hey guys, if you want any of those albums over there, any of those records...help yourself.  They'll end up in the dumpster if you don't.'  So we went through them and I picked up Howard Tate.

"Get It While You Can" - Howard Tate (1966)

And that was the best choice I could have made 'cause that guy influenced me so much.  As far as my vocals, I present myself largely because of the influence of Howard Tate.  And I loved Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder albums.  I love the nice texture of their voices on record.  And I have those albums as well.  But I've got Anne Murray. She was another vocalist.  And Karen Carpenter.  And that's kinda what I was into and I didn't buy a bunch of...what everybody thought was popular.  I just bought what I thought sounded good.

Casey Chambers:  Absolutely.  That makes me think of  Farley and Spade when they're driving and The Carpenters come on the radio.  Neither wants to admit they like'em, but neither changes the station either.  And they both end up singing along. (laughs)  Good is good, right?

Mark Farner:  Yes. (laughs)

Farley and Spade sing with The Carpenters - Tommy Boy (1995)

Casey Chambers:  Oh, I want to ask about performing at the Atlanta International Pop Festival.  A lot of great bands showed up and Grand Funk Railroad got invited to come down and do a little jammin', too.  What do you recall about the festival?

Mark Farner: Well, the one in '69 was the historic one.  That was the first one.  We played there in '69, '70, and '71.  All three festivals.  But the first one was, for us, monumental because just getting there was a miracle.  This guy, a friend of ours in Ann Arbor, Michigan loaned us his van and a driver to go to Atlanta and play this gig.  We put all of our equipment in a U-Haul trailer and away we went.  Well, this was before I-75 was finished and we were on one of those side roads and the guy had been driving all night and I'm riding shotgun and I wake up and I look up ...and I see this sign saying I-75 to the right.

And I know he's gonna miss it.  So I said, 'Hey, I-75 is to the right.'  And he goes, 'Oh my God.'  And he turns and that trailer flipped.  The U-Haul trailer with all our equipment in it went flipping down through the ditch and we're like...'Oh my God!'  So anyway, we take all the equipment out of the trailer, we put the trailer back on its tires, put all the stuff  back in the trailer onto the van and we start down the expressway, you know...limping along.  But when the thing rolled, some of the transformers on the amplifiers had ripped right off of the chassis.  And, yeah...when we got to Atlanta, our roadies had to solder the leads back together because the wires...they were...ya know...they were gone.  It stretched them right out and snapped them.  So they had to put everything back together...before we could even play!  But God bless them.  That was Tom Beam and Mike Schwartz who was our guys at the time. They would take a bullet for us if they had to.  They put it together and we made it up on stage.

And those amps kicked ass.  They were West Amplifiers.  And West was from Flint, Michigan.  And Dave West had a good company then for a while,  God rest his soul.  He's gone.  But he's got a son that may be putting out amplifiers too.  But we, you know, before that concert man, we were...we really hadn't been exposed to those kinds of numbers.  And even looking out into the audience from between the cracks and the fence backstage, you could not see past 20 or 30 rows in.  That was all you could see from standing on the ground.  But once you had the advantage of being 15 feet above their head...holy crap, dude.  There was a lot of people.  It was just an ocean of folks.  I said to 'BookMan.'  That was Tom Beam.  We called him BookMan because he had all these comic book characters tattooed all over his body.  I said, 'BookMan, I really gotta piss, man.'  (laughs)  He says, 'You better get out there.'  (laughs)   I really had to pee though.  Superbad.  Cause it was that many people.  It was like, 'Oh my God,  I got to pee.'

"Footstompin' Music" - Grand Funk Railroad / The Forum 6/1/74

Casey Chambers:  It's the stories we can tell, man. (laughs)  And that was in 1969.  That was really early on.

Mark Farner:  Oh yeah.  And we played for free.  At the very first one.  We went on at 12:00 noon and gave a free concert.  Yeah, they loved us.  It was great.  They didn't want us to leave the stage.

Casey Chambers:  And the legend of Mark Farner and Grand Funk Railroad explodes.  What a ride you've had.  I'd like to thank you so much for all the crankin' music and peeled paint over the years.  It's been a real pleasure.

Mark Farner:  Thank you, brother Casey. God bless you, my friend.

Official Mark Farner Website

Mark Farner's American Band 50th Anniversary Tour Dates
...performing the epic Grand Funk Railroad jams we all love along with other surprises.

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Sunday, March 3, 2019

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "The Amalgamation Polka" by Stephen Wright (2006)

"The Amalgamation Polka"...Stephen Wright (2006)
323 pages

Liberty Fish is the son of Abolitionist parents from New York.  He is also the grandson of slave-owning grandparents from South Carolina.  It was the days of slavery.  It was the time of the Civil War.  But the story is less about battles in uniform and more about conflicts in everyday clothes.

Every location is richly described and without slowing the reader down.  Nicely done.  The dialogue and parlay between characters ring true and breathe an authentic air to every scene.  But the story sometimes dances into the land of grotesque and strange.  Which is not necessarily a bad thing.  Many novels that linger around the Civil War era can become quickly repetitive.  But in this novel, however, Stephen Wright throws a bit of a bouncing horseshoe.  What does this all mean?  It means his writing might be better than the actual story if that makes any sense.  But I quib.  I followed this one all the way home and it haunted me long after.

"All Mixed Up" - Red House Painters / "Songs for a Blue Guitar" (1996)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Horse Head Has An Idea:..."Grand Illusions" YouTube Channel


Grand Illusions is a wonderful YouTube channel that is devoted to showing unique and inventive toys from the present as well as days gone by.  Host Tim Rowett, haling from Twickenham, London, England, shares his love and appreciation in all the toys he displays.  All varieties and themes. The toys range from silly and whimsical to stunningly clever  Mr. Rowett tells a little bit about each toy while showing it in action.  His gentle, enthusiastic nature is almost chicken soup.  Grand Illusions is just one of a variety of channels I subscribe and look forward to.  He posts at a comfortable once a week pace. And each episode is seldom more than 6 or 7 minutes long.  Tim Rowett is a YouTube treasure for those lucky to have discovered his channel.

"Grand Illusions"

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Friday, February 22, 2019

I Went...SIRIUS...All The Way Home

(a short jaunt)

"Living In The USA" - The Steve Miller Band / "Sailor" (1968)

A cool slice of atmospheric psych funkiness. From the revving engine at the beginning to the cheeseburger request at the end.  "Doot do do do do doot doot.  Living in the U.S.A."  That can sometimes become an earworm.

"Look at You Look at Me" - Dave Mason / "Alone Together" (1970)

A deep cut...AND a lost gem.  This is what we came for.  The song begins simple enough.  The hellos and goodbyes of our lives.  I get it.  But then Mason pulls everything together with a brilliant guitar solo with not a wasted note one.  And by the time the song fades away into nothingness, you realize that "hellos and goodbyes" are never simple.  Not at all.  And that's in your face.  Now sure, some of Mason's later albums were clusterfucks of patchiness, but we keep coming back on that off-chance he'll pull another white rabbit like this out of his hat.

"Monkberry Moon Delight" - Paul and Linda McCartney / "Ram" (1971)

Paul growls out his vocals like Tom Waits ordering a snowcone at the Tasty Freeze.  I have no idea what Paul is singing about though.  However, I can not NOT hear the cry for "KETCHUP! KETCHUP!" every time I play this.  I'd look up the lyrics but that would spoil everything.  Whatever.  I'll take all of this ya got.


Casey Chambers

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."The Stylistics" (1971)

"The Stylistics" - The Stylistics (1971)

It wasn't until I got the album home that I saw five guys on the cover. (I only saw three initially.)  Camouflaging the group behind tall grass was a terrible idea.  I mean it was The Stylistics debut album after all.  But I guess it's all about the music anyway and this one doesn't disappoint.  From needle drop to lift, there is nothing but the sounds of sweet Philly soul magic for the ears.  It's Russell Thompkins Jr.'s familiar sweet falsetto timbre you will quickly recognize, but there are great vocals and production all around.  The album had five charting singles, but the songs left off the radio will pleasantly surprise as well.  One of the original Philly Soul rat pack, Thomas Bell, was responsible for all the arrangement and production plus he wrote all but one of the songs.  It's simply a terrific debut album.  I'm discovering I have a bit of a jones for the late 60s, early 70s soul stuff and plan to add more to my pathetically small collection.  This album, in particular, can be found in the low-garden...under $5...and it's really a good one to pick up.
Btw...The Stylistics were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004.

"The Stylistics" (back)

AVCO label

"You Are Everything" - The Stylistics / "The Stylistics" (1971)

A1  "Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)" 2:54
A2  "Point of No Return" 2:45
A3  "Betcha by Golly, Wow" 3:47
A4  "Country Living" 2:57
A5  "You're a Big Girl Now" 3:14
B1  "You Are Everything" 2:55
B2  "People Make the World Go Round" 6:26
B3  "Ebony Eyes" 2:21
B4  "If I Love You" 2:05

Russell Thompkins Jr. - lead vocals
Airrion Love - tenor vocals
Herbert "Herbie" Murrell - baritone vocals
James Dunn - baritone vocals
James Smith - bass vocals

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "Life After Life" by Kate Atkinson (2013)

"Life After Life"...Kate Atkinson (2013)
525 pages

This book is truly an ambitious sumbeach.  The story is very unique in the telling and must have been extremely challenging to write.  And Kate Atkinson almost succeeds in the attempt.

In this novel, the main character keeps being reincarnated over and over again.  Her birth is always on the same day and year leading up to WWII.  And each one of her numerous life journeys may vary in length from only a few days to a few decades.  Each one ending in her death.

As the number of her do-overs accumulate, she begins to remember small moments from her past lives and tries to change or divert incidents yet to come.  Destiny and free will and consequences.  The story is clever and fascinating...and falls just a little bit flat.

The story is okay, but I never felt that “connection" I need to really care about any of the characters.  So midway through the pages, I wasn't so much looking forward to my "reading time” as I was just looking forward to finishing the book.

Maybe I was just over-expecting.  That is the dearth of all pleasures.  But dang it!  I really wanted to love "Life After Life" instead, I only just...liked it.  As I said, this story is ambitious.  ”Missed it by that much!”

"What Is Life" - George Harrison / "All Things Must Pass" (1970)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Sunday, February 10, 2019

I Went...SIRIUS...All The Way Home

(a short jaunt)

"Samurai"  - The Pretenders / "¡Viva El Amor!" (1999)

A deep cut from an album that simply passed me by.  Band member changes sorta left me lost back then, I suppose.  I'd forgotten how great Chrissie Hynde vocals can be  Both dangerous and sexy.  She wrote a good song here, too.  "Samurai" has a dreamy pensive quality I really like.  I'd never seen this album before, but the cover photo was courtesy of Linda McCartney which is pretty cool as well.  "Long Live Love."

"The Spy" - The Doors / "Morrison Hotel" (1970)

I love the way Robbie Kreiger makes his guitar sound the way I imagine Morrison's head feels in the morning.  Strange and a bit off-balanced.  When Jim Morrison sings..."I’m a spy in the house of love"...it reminded me of a song title from a Was (Not Was) album.  Until I heard "The Spy" blast from my car radio, I thought Don Was came up with that phrase.  Anyway, it was nice to hear something different by The Doors for a change.

"Birds Of A Feather" - Phish / "The Story of the Ghost" (1998)

Here is a funky...jammy...little bone-shaker of a number.  Studio controlled, of course, but the band leaves little doubt the song is destined to be later dipped into the holy waters of "extended" Phish jam.  And is it just me, or does Trey Anastasio sound a bit like vintage Bob Welch during his Fleetwood Mac days?  Whatever, it's very good stuff.  Many believe..."The Story of the Ghost"...to be the band's best studio album.  Me...I'll let you know when I finally hold a copy in my hands.  I do know the album was the follow-up to "Billy Breathes" (1996) so if it's true...that's saying something!


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Inner Views" (1967)

"Inner Views" - Sonny Bono (1967)

This is Sonny Bono's plunge into the world of psych.  This was also his first (and only) solo album and, for better or worse, the brown acid got to him.  There are only five songs on this short LP.  The psych stuff sandwiches three songs in the middle.  A couple of pop songs and one “get-outta-my-face" ballad that sounds suspiciously like a Beatle riff from "A Day In The Life."  It's not a terribly good album, but it's not bad.  It just is what it is.  Sonny has always been more of a...hipster doofus than a Woodstock hippie, but you know that going in.

The opening track is a psychy 12-minute sitar groove thing with Sonny tripping off rhymes that are often silly and a bit groan-worthy, but I enjoyed it.  The closing track on side two is what you came for.  "Pammie's On A Bummer."  This was his big psychedelic grandiosity.  The song opens with a 3-minute freak-out before Sonny begins singing the tragic story of Pammie...like Joe Friday looking for 'Blue Boy' on Dragnet.  But I thought it was fun...in a bummer kind of way.  Look, this is Sonny Bono....you either like the guy or not.  Me, I'm cool.  "Sonny" is not especially hard to find or expensive and it's a kitschy psych album of the times.  My used copy is still in shrink with a huge Woolworth price sticker plastered right across Sonny's mouth.  I might leave it there.  (BTW...This album got a one-page ad in the very first Rolling Stone magazine on November 9, 1967.)

"Inner Views" (back)

ATCO label

"Pammie's On A Bummer" - Sonny Bono / "Inner Views" (1967)

A1  "I Just Sit There" 12:15
A2  "I Told My Girl to Go Away" 4:15
B1  "I Would Marry You Today" 4:21
B2  "My Best Friend's Girl Is Out of Sight" 4:13
B3  "Pammie's on a Bummer" 7:45

Sonny Bono - vocals
Studio Musicians (maybe a Wrecking Crew or two)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Interview -- Danny Seraphine (Chicago)

"It gets stronger and stronger and stronger and it's relentless."
~ Danny Seraphine ~

The importance of Danny Seraphine, the original drummer for over two decades with the iconic RnR HoF band Chicago cannot be over-emphasized.  Nor should it be.  Danny's presence was felt on every song.  Driving the band through the heavy rock poundage one minute and bopping and dancing off the jazzier moments the next.  Often in the same song.  Of course, that's what really great drummers are supposed to do.  Smash the odd time signatures out of the park.  And then, of course, let’s not forget the long string of top-40 hits.  Danny performed on 16 studio albums. (4 of them were freakin' double albums.)  His drums always sounded fresh and exciting...and way ahead of the curve.  He made it all seem easy.

And Danny is a good songwriter, as well, having penned six charting songs while with the band which often gets overlooked.  When one steps back to look at the high-level body of work while behind the traps...Danny Seraphine was arguably the best and certainly the most versatile and absolutely the most underrated drummer of his time.  Danny Seraphine.  Go get you some.

Danny Seraphine Interview -- February 2019
Danny Seraphine

Casey Chambers:  One of the songs you penned that I've always enjoyed was your gentle, and sorely underrated, "Little One" from "Chicago XI." (1977)  Such a beautiful song.  What do you remember about that one?

Danny Seraphine:  Well, it was during a pretty turbulent time of my life. I was going through a divorce from my first wife, Rose, who's now passed away.  A wonderful lady.  But it was really a tough time for myself and my two daughters, Krissy and Danielle.  It was kind of the tale of two cities for me.  On the one hand, I was riding high with Chicago as a rock star...while on the other my personal life was pretty low.  Really low as a matter of fact. As low as you can go almost.

Anyway, we were scheduled to go on a promotional tour over to France and I thought that would be a good time to take my daughter because both of us could use a little spending time with one another.  So we traveled to Europe together and it was on the Concorde which is one of the few times I ever flew in the Concorde. And ironically, I had the worst jet lag I ever experienced even though I got there in like...three and a half hours or something ridiculous. (laughs)

But we were sleeping in the same place and I woke up very early one morning and my daughter...she was a young child y'know...and this ray of light was shining on her face and it was like...it really struck me then how much she looked like her mother.  And then all the words just started coming out and I just got up and wrote the lyrics.  The song was very, very inspired which most of them that I write are...when I do write.  And my songwriting partner, "Hawk" Wolinski helped put some chords together and we would jam, just the two of us, with a set of drums and the keyboard and we came up with the arrangement.  And that's how "Little One" was born.

"Little One" - Chicago / "Chicago XI" (1977)

And the song was written for Terry Kath's voice and of course, when Terry heard it, he really wanted to sing it because he could relate to it, too.  Your life is dedicated to music but the price of that is...you have to spend a lot of time away from your family.  You know, it's painful.  And it's not about wanting people to feel sorry for us, but there is a price to be paid for the success and the fame and fortune and the most...the most costly is your personal life.  Your kids.  Your marriages.  Your families.

And so "Little One" is just me explaining to a child that I'm always with you and always will be there for you and someday, you know, as the world revolves...someday you'll have your own little one and you'll understand how I feel.

Casey Chambers:  Yeah, it's really sweet.

Danny Seraphine:  Yeah, it's one of the best things I've ever written for sure. And not that I've written that many because I haven't.  I am a songwriter by pure inspiration. But that was one time when I really captured the genie in the bottle.  Couldn't have done it without "Hawk." He's a brilliant songwriter and should get more recognition than he has. And it's a magical song to this day and having it be Terry's last vocal makes it even more meaningful.

Casey Chambers:  Oh yeah, Terry was the man.  Good stuff.  Switching gears, and this is going back to the early days, do you recall hearing Chicago on the radio for the first time and what that was like?

Danny Seraphine:  (laughs) I was driving in my Volkswagen Beetle that had 150,000 miles and had so much play in the steering wheel that you'd have to turn it about a quarter of the way before it would turn, ya know? And I'm driving on the 405.  The San Diego freeway. Beautiful sunny day in California, newly transplanted from Chicago. And we didn't mind the fact that it hadn't rained for six or seven months, because there's nothing but sunshine and flower power and hippies. (laughs)  I'm driving and we had just finished our second album.  If you know the second album, we had a song...it was a whole suite of songs called, "Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon."

And the first time I heard us on the radio, some disc jockey goes, 'And now this is from this new band, Chicago. This is their latest song..."Make Me Smile."' And I almost shit in my pants. (laughs)  Now you must understand, "Make Me Smile" is actually the beginning and the end spliced together.  So I pulled off the freeway.  I got to a payphone and I called our manager, Larry Fitzgerald and started cursing him out like...'Larry, what the 'f' did you do?  What the 'f' did they do to our song?  Why did you let them?  How could you let them do that to our music?'  And Larry said, 'Danny, 75 percent of the radio stations in the country are playing it. We have a hit song!'  I said, 'Larry, can I go buy a Mercedes now?' He said, 'Yep.' (laughs)

"Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon" - Chicago / Tanglewood (1970)

"Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon" continued - Chicago / Tanglewood (1970)

And the next day, Howard Kaufman, at that time the band's accountant and who later became a legendary manager...he and I went to a Mercedes dealership and I bought a new Mercedes.  So, that just goes to show the mentality of musicians, right? (laughs)  But that's the story.  Did I like it?  It worked.  It was Clive Davis' brainchild.  And Jimmy Guercio ended up doing the proper edit.  And it had four bars of me soloing which was playing Buddy Rich/Gene Krupa licks. When did that ever happen?

Casey Chambers:  One of the greatest songs ever.  Just killer.  I remember driving through Buchannon while visiting my grandfather one summer and ordering a sack of pepperoni rolls and we all started talking about that song.  It was kinda cool.  Anyway, you guys were blessed with three great singers.  And everybody in the band was writing songs.  How challenging was it to balance all of that talent?

Danny Seraphine:  Well, it was kind of like a primary election, y'know? (laughs)  Everybody was jockeying and politicking for their songs and in the end that's what it turned into.  In the beginning, it was basically Robert (Lamm) ...of course, he was called Bobby then...and Jimmy (Pankow) who were the main writers.  Robert especially.  He really carried the band on his shoulders for the first few.  But ya know, "Make Me Smile" is a James Pankow composition.  And then Peter (Cetera) got into writing more and he helped me write my first song called, "Lowdown."

Casey Chambers:  Sure, off of "Chicago III." (1971)

Danny Seraphine:  Yeah.  So it was kind of a brotherly thing at first. (laughs)  And then once I became a little more prolific, it became a little more...it was somewhat political.  But that's just the way the band was.  It was like a big family.  Everyone grabbing attention...trying to get their songs on the record.  But sometimes the songs weren't that great, y'know?  You don't necessarily know that when you first write it. You think it's your baby and it's the best thing since sliced bread.  But 50 percent of the time it's shit.  The other 25 or 30 percent of the time it's okay,  And maybe 20 percent or 10 percent is great.  So it was just a process of weeding out.

The guys that were the original writers usually had kind of...seniority.  But as we got further down the line, I began writing.  I wrote "Little One" and "Take Me Back To Chicago" and "Street Player" and "No Tell Lover."  But I never really considered myself to be the writers that James Pankow and Peter Cetera and Robert Lamm were. Or Terry Kath. Terry wrote some really good things too. Terry wrote some really great musical things...like "Introduction" and "An Hour In The Shower" and a bunch of really cool, deep odd cuts. That's where Terry was more in line.  So, it was just the process.  It wasn't always fair.  But that's life.

Casey Chambers:  Brothers in a small room.  Whaddygonnado? (laughs)  2016 and Chicago finally were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  Congratulations.  It was great to see you and the guys receive that love.  Long over-due.

Danny Seraphine:  Oh, thank you.

Casey Chambers:  What do you recall most about your induction night?

Danny Seraphine:  Well, saying 'fuck' ten times during my speech. (laughs)  And watching the shock of the people in the audience and then feeling myself...'oh my God, what did I just do?' (laughs) After the first time I said it, I think I even said, 'Did I just say that? Oh my God.'

2016 R&R HoF Chicago Induction - (Danny Seraphine @ 10:47mark)

Casey Chambers:  I'll take a speech like that any day.  Whenever I see someone at a podium and their hand starts reaching for notes, I'm usually making a quick raid to the refrigerator 'til the next person steps up to the mic. (laughs)

Danny Seraphine:  Yeah. (laughs)  The only regret I have is I didn't thank my wife and children.  And they all sacrificed so much for me to get there.  I got rushed off the stage.  I mean, I could feel those guys throwing daggers at me and I hadn't seen 'em for 25 years.  So you know, it was a very emotional night.  But it was a great night.

It was a great night, but playing with a click track with "25 Or 6 To 4" and the other songs... ("Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is" and "Saturday In The Park")...I didn't like that at all.  That was pretty unfulfilling.  But, y'know, I think we pulled it off.  I would have loved it if Peter would have come but it didn't work out.  Peter and I are good buddies from a distance. We text and we talk on the phone once in a while.  I did get to see him the last time he was in L.A.  It was a really great reunion.

Casey Chambers:  Who were some of your influences as a drummer?

Danny Seraphine:  Well, some of the obvious ones. My very first drum hero was Gene Krupa and I still play a lot of his licks. And, of course, Buddy Rich was very influential.  I even got to know Buddy.  I didn't get to know Gene and I really regret that because he was still alive when Chicago was happening and I would've loved to have met him.

Casey Chambers:  I read somewhere that Buddy Rich was a really big fan of yours.

Danny Seraphine:  Yeah, I know. That's like having God endorse you. (laughs)  As far as rock drummers go...Mitch Mitchell with Jimi Hendrix.  Hal Blaine is another one I love.  Hal was very influential in his tastefulness.  Then there was Tony Williams.  And the bebop guys.  Papa Jo Jones.  I got to study with him for a period of time.  He taught me how to swing and that's such a signature part of my playing.  So much so that people don't call me because they don't realize I can play straight rock really well too.  And Elvin Jones. Max Roach.  Many of the black R&B drummers.  The Motown guys.  The Motown guys had a big pocket and I feel like my pocket is really based from the Motown era. So, you know, it's been a great ride. It's been a great ride.

Casey Chambers:  It was very cool to learn that you have a book on the shelf that fans can pick up.  "Street Player: My Chicago Story."  So...now an author, too.

Danny Seraphine:  Yeah, I am. (laughs)  It's an autobiography I wrote with the help of Adam Mitchell.  It's all about my life...and time with Chicago.  It reads more like a novel than a biography.  A lot of stories.  If you like Chicago, and the story behind it, it's my perspective.  If you ask each guy separately, there'd be seven different stories in there, but this is mine.  It's a very easy read.  At least that's what people tell me.  They can't put it down.  It's really honest.  Especially about myself.  I left some things out and...I don't regret it.  I think that it rings true for people and they like it.   You can find the book on Amazon in hardcover, paperback and digital.  I don't know what the digital form is these days. (laughs)  But Kindle and books.  And also, if you order it from my website, I'll personalize and autograph it.

Casey Chambers:  Excellent!  Another huge favorite of mine was from "Chicago VI"... "Feelin' Stronger Every Day." (1973)  I love the way you tear into your drums when it speeds up during the coda.  Just killer.  That hits a groove that could go on and on...and I'd let it!  That was also the first album you guys recorded at Caribou.

"Feelin' Stronger Every Day" - Chicago / "Chicago VI" (1973)

Danny Seraphine:  Yeah, it was.  The song was written by Peter and Jimmy and the way we used to work at the ranch was we would first meet for breakfast.  It was breakfast for some guys and it'd probably be lunch for me.  In the mornings, I was usually up earliest 'cause I didn't party that much.  At least not that way.  And I would go out and ride my horse in the mountains.  Just to, y'know, keep me grounded.  It was so serene.  They had a mess hall where they served breakfast, lunch, dinner and then we'd all go over to the studio, which was walking distance because it was all a part of the ranch.

At the studio, we'd start running the tune down.  That's where people would introduce songs and like I said, it would go through a metamorphosis.  In those days, there weren't demo tapes.  And basically Jimmy was playing it on a piano 'cause he helped write it and Peter was singing it and then we would formulate the song...and "Feelin' Stronger..." just kind of evolved.  Then at the end of that song, I used two drum kits.  At the very end where you hear it's getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger.  That's me playing two drum kits.  One against each other.  Just doubling.  'Cause I did that on "25 Or 6 To 4" and it was just so, so cool.  And I did it on a few songs.  Once I did it on "25 Or 6 To 4" and people were realizing how good it was, I started doing it on more songs.  So it was extraordinary.  Definitely.  It gets stronger and stronger and stronger and it's relentless.

Casey Chambers:  Hell yeah!  And live, it's an extended jam that ends when it wants to end.  My arms got tired just listening to it. (laughs)  And thanks for letting me cherry-pick.  Probably most already know this, but for the few who don't, you guys had The Beach Boys come add some vocals to the classic, "Wishing You Were Here."  Was that the first time you had met them?

"Wishing You Were Here" - Chicago (live New Years Eve 1974)

Danny Seraphine:  No. No.  They had been hanging out at the Caribou Ranch because Jimmy Guercio had taken over their management.  He knew Dennis and Carl and Al and all the guys.  And they were rehearsing up there because I think Jimmy was playing bass with them too.  And we had already heard Peter's song when the idea came to us...how great it would be to have The Beach Boys sing backgrounds.  Peter sang with them and I think Terry was involved, too.  I got to know Dennis and it became a fun community thing, y'know?  And the song turned out beautifully.

Casey Chambers:  Real quick, what's your favorite Beach Boys song?"

Danny Seraphine:  "God Only Knows" is my favorite by far.  Absolutely my favorite song from The Beach Boys. Well, but then ya have "Good Vibrations." How could anything ever top "Good Vibrations," but "God Only Knows" comes close.

Casey Chambers:  Tell me about your band, CTA.  And I totally get it.  Very cool.  And you have a lot of shows coming up this year.

Danny Seraphine:  Life is good.  I'm performing with former bandmates, Bill Champlin and Jason Scheff.  I was estranged from both of these guys for 20 plus years and we're all really good friends.  We're even talking about doing a project together.  I got a great band called the CTA...California Transit Authority.  If you haven't heard'em, you should. They're that good. And it's really reminiscent of the early Chicago Transit Authority band which to me is one of the greatest bands of all time.  We're playing at a very high level.  And in some ways, I may be a better drummer than I've ever been.  I don't know if that's completely true, but there is some truth to the maturity of where I'm at.  There are still some things I want to accomplish as a player before my days are done, so I need to get to work on it and keep working at it.  We're playing at a very high level.  CTA.  So life is good.

Casey Chambers:  What are a few of your favorite albums?  I know it always changes...but what are a few that strike today?

Danny Seraphine:  That's it.  I have so many.  I mean there was an album...it's obscure, and it's by Gary McFarland called, "America The Beautiful: An Account Of Its Disappearance." (1969)  The first Santana record is amazing.  "Pet Sounds" and "Surf's Up."  The Beatles, "Sgt. Pepper."  There's a number of Beatles albums I just love.   Then there's the first Chicago album.  The fifth album.  "Chicago VII."  The 17th and 19th albums.  Obviously Jimi Hendrix, "Are You Experienced" was a really, really influential album as far as my rock playing goes.  Mitch Mitchell.  So you can put that one in there.  "The Gene Krupa Story" was probably the first album that I bought.  And I used to play along with it.  That one's such an influential part of my playing, too.

Gary McFarland
"America The Beautiful: An Account Of Its Disappearance" (1969)

Casey Chambers:  That first album you mentioned by Gary McFarland.  That's a deep album I'll have to track down.

Danny Seraphine:  Yeah, look him up.  He was a big band arranger and he played in odd times.  If you listened to our song "Introduction"...it was a direct inspiration from him.  But if you're listening to Gary McFarland, it's way cutting edge stuff.  I mean, it's not pop music in any way, shape or form, you know what I mean?   Like Buddy Rich, "West Side Story."  It's all big band instrumental but you'll hear his influence on the early Frank Zappa albums.  "Freak Out" and other really great Zappa albums.

Casey Chambers:  Chicago namedropped Frank Zappa in one of their songs if I remember right. ("Scrapbook")

Danny Seraphine:  Oh, yeah.  Well, we performed with him quite a bit.  He loved our band and obviously, we loved him and his band.

Casey Chambers:  How did your paths cross?

Danny Seraphine:  Well, the very first time we met Frank Zappa...it was when we first came out to L.A.  It was on Venice Beach.  We were playing what's called...they used to call'em "love-ins."  It was a free concert and we were invited to play and Frank was the headliner and there was next to 60,000 people on the beach in Venice.  It was insane.  God, it was insane.  And that was the first place.  And then we went on to play the Fillmore East and the Fillmore West together.  We would talk to him and he was very cool with us.  Very complimentary.  Really loved the band.  In those days, it was really a renaissance in music.

"Saturday in the Park" & "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" - Chicago at the Caribou Ranch (1973)

Casey Chambers:  Danny, thank you so much for taking the time to share a few memory burns from the old days on the fly.  It's been really great talking with you this morning.

Danny Seraphine:  Of course, Casey.  I appreciate it.  Great talking to you, my friend.

Official Danny Seraphine Website

Official CTA The Band Website

"25 Or 6 To 4" - Chicago / Live at Tanglewood (1970)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Horse Head Has An Idea:..."X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes" (1963)


Once this B movie sci-fi gets the premise out of the way...a doctor working on developing X-ray vision for the betterment of medicine...the movie really takes off and quickly becomes more fascinating and fun.  Our doctor's vision increases from reading papers hidden in a folder to watching men and women dancing naked at a party.  Unfortunately, the doctor's eyesight begins to see more than the human mind can possibly take.

It's low budget for sure but has a big heart.  The cast is totally in it to win it.  Extra-bonus is comedian Don Rickles cast as a sleazy, greedy carnival huckster and he kills it.

"X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes" (1963)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Friday, January 25, 2019

I Went...SIRIUS...All The Way Home

(a short jaunt)

"Tomorrow Is The Last To Be Heard" - Gypsy / "Gypsy" (1970)

I love the band Gypsy.  What a kick-ass surprise to hear this come outta my speakers.  Excellent proto-prog, psych-dusting stuff.  Piercing guitar. Wild keyboard. Tight harmonies. Very majestic.  This song was from their self-titled debut album and a double LP to boot.  When I bought this album the first time years back at a garage sale, it was missing the second record. That was my bad. “Once burnt; lesson learnt.”  (That was a little of my Barney Fife education showing.). Anyway, hearing this song again reminded me of the morning I spent with James Walsh / Gypsy.   Check it out.

"Hear Me Lord" - George Harrison / "All Things Must Pass" (1970)

I'm surprised I've never heard this one before.  It's a wonderful song.  I'm sure there are plenty of outtakes of George Harrison without the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound”  treatment, but in this instance, I think it really works.  George's vocals are in top form and the fuller Spector sound makes for a more moving experience.  Clever even.  And definitely more interesting than the title might imply.  I've since learned Billy Preston is responsible for the piano.

"Wicked Game" - Chris Isaak / "Heart Shaped World" (1989)

Nothing sounds like this.  When this song comes on the radio, especially at night, it takes everyone to their own special memory spot. That private one. Very cool and very intense. Perfect.


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers