Friday, May 31, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Low" (1977)

"Low" - David Bowie (1977)

"Low" is my favorite from Bowie's 'Berlin Trilogy' phase and was his 11th album.  It fluctuates around in my top-5 Bowie albums but never has quite settled.  "Low" is a great album though. all about experimental electronica and snarling, jarring guitars.

Side A is short and catchy with Bowie throwing out cool lyrics over cool synths and guitar rhythms.  Nothing ever sounds complete.  Nothing ever gets resolved.
Side B is colder and very...Brian Eno-esque.  All instrumental.  And though I have no reason to doubt Bowie was actively involved in the all sounds very..." tastes great, less filling" like.  And again, nothing really sounds complete.  Nothing gets resolved.  Perhaps it's all a metaphor for our pathetic little lives.  And maybe that was the point.  And maybe me thinks too much!

I absolutely love side A.  And sometimes...I love side B.  But only sometimes.
And then there are those times when I absolutely need them both.  It can all be so alienating.  Historically, this record will always be held up as a musical envelope pusher.  And it's remarkable how fresh and exciting this record still sounds today.  I read somewhere that when "Low" was first released, customers would test their stereo equipment with this album.  Me, I like headphones and this one goes a long way to scratching that sweet spot.

"Low" (back)

My copy was rescued from the collection of "Garageman" Gary Hess.  He brought it up to one of the regular Hutchinson Record Swaps.  The album has a gold promo stamp embossed on the back cover, however, there was nothing identifying it as such on the RCA Victor label.  Oh yeah, about my top five Bowie albums. Right now I have...
1)  "Ziggy..."
2)  "Station..."
3)  "Hunky Dory"
4)  "Low"
5)  "Scary Monsters."

I'm actively looking for a clean copy of "Diamond Dogs" which is sorely underrated and might give the list a push.  As for Bowie's later stuff, I haven't tasted much, is what it is.
FWIW..."Low" ranks #249 on RS list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

RCA Victor label

"What In The World" - David Bowie / "Low" (1977)

A1  "Speed of Life" 2:46
A2  "Breaking Glass" 1:51
A3  "What in the World" 2:23
A4  "Sound and Vision" 3:03
A5  "Always Crashing in the Same Car" 3:29
A6  "Be My Wife" 2:55
A7  "A New Career in a New Town" 2:51
B1  "Warszawa" 6:20
B2  "Art Decade" 3:43
B3  "Weeping Wall" 3:26
B4  "Subterraneans" 5:39

David Bowie - vocals, sax, guitar, pump bass, harmonica, vibraphone, xylophone, pre-arranged percussion,  keyboards, Synth, "instruments"
Brian Eno - keyboards, Minimoog, Synths, vocals, guitar treatments, "instruments"
Carlos Alomar - rhythm guitars, lead guitar
Dennis Davis - percussion
George Murray - bass
Ricky Gardiner - rhythm guitar, lead guitar
Roy Young - pianos. Farfisa organ
Iggy Pop - b-vocals
Mary Visconti - b-vocals
Eduard Meyer - cellos
Peter (Robinson) and Paul (Buckmaster) - pianos and ARP

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

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

(a short jaunt)

"The Doctor" - The Doobie Brothers - "Cycles" (1989)

I'm not crazy in love with it, but those wonderful Tom Johnston vocals are so familiar, it's hard to stay in a bad mood.  The original members got back together for this album and that's always a good time.  And this song, in particular, sounds like it could have been an outtake from one of the early “The Captain and Me" sessions.  Feels like a summer day.

"Arriving Somewhere But Not Here" - Porcupine Tree / "Deadwing" (2005)

This is pretty epic stuff.  It has a very gentle, but dark, Floyd-like intro ("Animals,” to my ears.) Then morphs into something more distorted.  The delicious outro returns to a dark floaty ambiance.  The lyrics are mysterious and haunting and add to the already psychy-prog setting.  Like there's more going on than what you think you hear.   12 minutes of perfect.  Porcupine albums, come to me.

"A Ride Back Home" - John Mellencamp  / "Life, Death, Love and Freedom" (2008)

I recently saw John Mellencamp perform back in April and I'm not so sure that he didn't play this one. Mellencamp played a lot of his less familiar songs that evening.  Unfamiliar, but entertaining just the same. “A Ride Back Home” is a beautifully simple, warm and weary song.  And it resonates a universal truth we all have felt at one time or another.  Like the artist trying to give a piece of himself away.  I've seen reviews touting this album as one of Mellencamp's best.  I haven't spun it yet, so maybe it is.  But I'm the jake who still believes, “Nothing Matters and What If It Did” is his real true gem.  I do know one thing.  I've shelved John Mellencamp away on more than one occasion, only to be pleasantly surprised by another 'lil bastard' gem like this one.  So I'll not be doing that again.  I expect, when all the smoke has cleared, JM's body of work will be looked at in an even more appreciative light.  I hope so anyway.


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Monday, May 27, 2019

Horse Head Has An Idea:.."Bill Evans Gets Ready To Play" (1966)


Getting to watch jazz legend Bill Evans prepare for a television taping is like being a fly on the wall.  This was for a show in Copenhagen, Denmark, 1966...and we see everything!  We see Bill discovering that the piano the TV producers provided him has a funked-up damper pedal.  We see bassist Eddie Gomez ripping off runs, working his fingers and getting ready to go.  But more especially, we watch Bill Evans trying to catch the fill-in drummer, Alex Reid, up to speed.  Now Alex was no hack, he drummed for everyone all over Denmark...but Alex has an awful lot of information thrown at him to eat and has a very short time to digest it all.  So, you can almost hear Alex sweating.  Bill does try to relax his drummer, reminding him it is only a rehearsal.  But even then....the pressure can be felt.

And it’s nice watching Eddie trying to help chill out the new drummer who clearly does not want to let Bill Evans down.  And it's very cool watching Eddie try to lighten the mood.  But, of course. that's what you would expect from these real jazz masters of their craft.  Seeing all the banter and preparation is just amazing.  It's easy to see that Bill Evans will not suffer fools gladly.

This is 20-min of textbook stuff not to be missed. All music fans will love and appreciate the behind-the-scenes last-minute preparations in all its uncensored glory.

"Bill Evans Gets Ready To Play" - Bill Evans Preparing for a TV Taping (1966)

Jazz Video Guy's mission is to continue to create great lost jazz
and has a GoFundMe page if you're interested.

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Friday, May 24, 2019

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "Capote In Kansas" (2006)

"Capote In Kansas"

(I stumbled upon a good-sized box filled with a variety of graphic novels at an estate sale. No official count as I've just been pulling from the box when I find time to read one.  Afterward, I post the book and go from there.)

"Capote In Kansas"
by Ande Parks,  Chris Samnee
2006 by Oni Press
128 pages

Once upon a time, Truman Capote had the idea to take a trip to Kansas in hopes of writing a non-fiction “novel.”   It was a ground-breaking idea.  The story was to be about the horrific and unnecessary murders of the entire Clutter Family that took place in Holcomb, KS in 1959.  The story would be called “In Cold Blood”...and go on to become one of the most critically acclaimed books of the 20th century.

However, this graphic novel is not about the hideous murders.  It is an abbreviated telling of Truman Capote, a talented high society New York dandy trying to get his big story.  His experience trying to collect information about the Clutter Family...and the crime...from an understandably mistrusting close-knit community.  It is about being a very strange fish in a very different pond

"Capote In Kansas" (inside)

The story is a fast read.  The author plays around a bit with ideas of what might've been going on in Capote's head during that time.  Interesting, but not a whole lot of substance.  The black and white artwork certainly falls in line with the subject,  Unfortunately, I noticed a couple of panels where the Capote figure wasn't quite on the mark.  I'm quibbling, I know!  Overall, “Capote In Kansas” is not a bad time-kill, but not a must.  If you're going to read it, I would highly recommend reading the outstanding “In Cold Blood” first.

"Don't Talk To Strangers" - Dio / "Holy Diver" (1983)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Monday, May 20, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Gris-gris" (1968)

"Gris-gris" - Dr. John (1968)

I had no idea when I picked up this album that "Gris-gris" would slip into my “house on fire” takeout bag of records.  I like it that much.  This is a stew of New Orleans r&b sprinkled with psych salt and stirred into a strange caldron of voodoo blues.  The music is very cool and, at times, a little unsettling

I'm not going to banter too much hyperbole about the album's spooky reputation, although it does come by it honestly.  Spinning "Gris-gris" is a fascinating and mysterious experience.  True that.  Voodoo chanting and strange unexpected sounds over a variety of hypnotic rhythms give everything a haunting vibe.  As if Dr. John struck a bargain with who-knows-who allowing him to channel the original Dr. John Montaine, the high priest of New Orleans voodoo.  And, like I said, it is a little unsettling.  Like being an uninvited guest stumbling into an "Eyes Wide Shut" ceremony where guests wear grotesque masques and skintight clothes.  You know you don't belong, but your feet won't move.  This is an album in its truest form, meant to be enjoyed in its entirety.  Everything leads up to “I Walk On Guilded Splinters.”  The final track.  The album is perfect.  And kind of fun.  And it also makes for an enjoyable headphone experience.

It wasn't until I got home, that I noticed the shadowy profile behind the man on the front cover.  Don't know how I missed it, but I sure did.
FWIW...this was ranked #143 on the RS list of 500 greatest all-time albums.

"Gris-gris" (back)

ATCO label

"Croker Courtbullion" - Dr. John / "Gris-gris" (1968)

A1  "Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya" 5:34
A2  "Danse Kalinda Ba Doom" 3:44
A3  "Mama Roux" 2:55
A4  "Danse Fambeaux" 4:53
B1  "Croker Courtbullion" 5:57
B2  "Jump Sturdy" 2:19
B3  "I Walk on Guilded Splinters" 7:57

Dr. John - vocals, keyboards, percussion
Dr. Battiste - bass, clarinet, percussion
Dr. Ditmus - percussion
Senator Bob West - bass
Dr. Boudreaux - drums
Gov. Plas Johnson - saxophone
Dr. Boulden - flute
Dr. Steve Mann – bottleneck guitar, banjo
Dr. McLean - guitar, mandolin
Dido - congas
Dave Dixon, Jessie Hill, Ronnie Barron – b-vocals, percussion
Joni Jonz, Prince Ella Johnson, Shirley Goodman, Sonny Ray Durden, Tami Lynn – b-vocals

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Monday, May 13, 2019

Interview -- Dennis Dunaway (Alice Cooper)

"All that I know 
is all that I think.
Dead feelings are cool,
down lower I sink."
~  Alice Cooper  ~

RnR HoF bassist Dennis Dunaway, an original member of Alice Cooper, is a writer and performer of some unnerving songs.  Some wonderfully wicked, unnerving songs.  Even their famously euphoric anthems, “I'm Eighteen" and "School's Out" have an underlying hint of danger wandering beneath.  A fuzzy shade of darkness that you can almost touch.  But not quite.  Like magician Shin Lim, you can see the smoke coming out of his mouth, but you're not sure how it got there.  It's just there.

Other songs are not as subtle.  No hidden agendas here.  Songs like, "Killer," "Black Juju," "Dead Babies," and "Halo Of Flies."  It is what it is.  Haunting and in your face.  The kind of vibes that throw creepy sugar into the night.  I haven't forgotten about the theatrical pizzazz of Alice, for sure...but the rest of the band definitely knew where the freezer was hidden.  Dennis Dunaway, along with the rest of the original Coop Group, were trailblazers.  They were door-openers.  Authentic spoonbenders.  And many a band have proudly hitched a ride on their coattails.  The original Alice Cooper group made 7 brazen albums together.  And they are a pretty good watermark for remembering to write all your nightmares down in a dream book.  RnR HoFamer Dennis Dunaway.  Go get you some.

 Dennis Dunaway Interview -- May 2019
Dennis Dunaway

Casey Chambers:  One of my favorite songs you've written is "Black Juju" from your "Love It To Death" album. (1971)  Epic atmosphere all over it.  Great headphone song.  How did that song come together?

Dennis Dunaway:  How it began...we were in an old hotel or probably a motel up in...I think it was Rochester, New York or Buffalo or somewhere in upstate New York and the other guys in the band had gone out.  And there was a room, off of the room we were staying in, that had a washing machine and a water heater. (laughs)  That stuff.  I went in there just trying to get in the mood to write a creepy song.  I took the little door off of the water heater and could see the flame inside it.  I had all the lights out.  And I set up this little tiny amp and I had my bass.  And I wrote the riff.  That little amp...the speaker was just about to blow because I was really pushing it for the distortion.  When Glen Buxton got back, I showed it to him and he learned the guitar part.

I had the instrumental part down, but I wanted to wait until another moody environment came along to write some lyrics.  I wanted them to be like...I wasn't thinking necessarily Edgar Allan Poe...but in that sort of direction.  Somehow, the band ended up in Cincinnati and we didn't have a place to stay.  Some guy at a club told us about a frat house that would be empty all summer.  And if we wanted would be fine if we stayed there for free.  And we're like, 'What? Really!?'   When we went to the big frat house, everybody cleaned it up and we claimed our rooms and got settled down.  I was just exploring around the house and I went way up to the attic.  It was very hot in there.  And the windows needed to be cleaned.  They looked kind of orange with the sunlight coming through, but the rest of the room was dark.  You could kind of see some trunks over in the corner and stuff, but it was really dark.  I got my bass and note pad and it was there I wrote the lyrics.  I went down and showed them to Alice and he liked them.

Now, we were going to play at the Cincinnati Midsummer Pop Festival or something like that and it was going to be broadcast nationally.  The Stooges were on the bill. Traffic was on the bill.  Mountain.  Grand Funk Railroad.  It was a big concert at a baseball stadium.  And I think it was NBC.  They had all their sportscasters, so they decided they would announce this rock concert like it was a baseball game.  And I talked the band into doing this song.  We hadn't really even played it.  I just described the arrangement and stuff on the way to the concert and then we ran over it a little bit backstage. (laughs)  But we played that song for the first time ever live on television.

Casey Chambers:  Oh, man.  That's balls and a half.

"Black Juju" - Alice Cooper / "Love It To Death" (1971)

Dennis Dunaway:  Yeah.  You can look it up.  And we had stolen all the sheets from the hotel, too, because we were going to cover each band member up...under a sheet...toward the end of "Black Juju."  And Alice did.  He covered each one of us up with a sheet.  Because 'bodies need rest.' (laughs)  But the one thing we hadn't planned out well was...' how are we going to cue the ending?'  Nobody could see each other.  So the ending of it kind of dwindled. (laughs)  But the most famous part of that concert was in the middle of "Black Juju."   Alice was crouched down right in front of the crowd when somebody threw a cake in his face.  Right in the middle of the song.

Casey Chambers:  What did he do?

Dennis Dunaway:  Well, you know...this is a great tribute to Alice's ability to recover.  You know, we did a lot of things that were kind of embarrassing in those days. We kind of liked that it kept people's attention.  But that was totally unexpected and it came at exactly the wrong place in the set because Alice was 'hypnotizing' the audience supposedly.  And Alice grabbed a big handful of the cake and you could see that he was thinking about retaliating.  And you could see all the people up front that had nowhere to go getting nervous about who he was going to throw that handful of cake at.  But then Alice smashed it into his own face!

Casey Chambers:  That'd make you take the tater outta your pocket. (laughs)

Dennis Dunaway:  Yeah. (laughs)  I don't know how many way up in the stands could see what was going on... they didn't have big screens back then...but they showed it on television.  And then when Alice put the sheet over Neal (Smith) and everybody was covered...Alice flipped his sheet out toward the crowd and they grabbed it and almost pulled him into the crowd.  So he had to let go and run underneath Neal's sheet.  And when the cameraman went under the sheet with him to show a close-up of Neal who had on turquoise makeup...Neal started blowing kisses to the camera.  We found out later that that was the first time they knew of in television history where a lot of the syndicated stations across the country pulled the plug.  Usually, if a station was going to bail on a live performance, they would wait until the next commercial break.  But, no.  They cut us off right after Neal blew kisses to the camera. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  The epic "Black Juju" jam gets better all the time.

Dennis Dunaway:  Yeah, and ya know, "Black Juju"  was one of the only songs that the Alice Cooper group recorded live in the studio with the vocals and everything all at once.  We recorded it and said, 'We got a take.'  Except Michael (Bruce) had played this dissonant chord on the organ that he said, 'Well, that's not what I wanted to play. That was a mistake.'  So we recorded it again.  But then when we were listening and comparing the two tracks in the studio, the only thing that was different was that dissonant organ note. And we all voted that we liked that better than the proper note. So, we ended up getting it in one take after all.

"Be My Lover" - Alice Cooper / "Killer" (1971)

Casey Chambers:  Happy accidents.  Sometimes mistakes are good.

Dennis Dunaway:  That's right.  We thought of it almost like...if somebody made a mistake and we liked it...that was sort of fate telling us that's what we should do.  Like another one is Neal Smith on the end of "Be My Lover." There's a part in the ending where there's a break and you hear these two clicks.  That's because Neal dropped his drum stick and you hear it landing on the shell of the bass drum.  It goes, 'click click.'  And we could have cut that out of the song, but we liked it.  And to this day, Neal will still click his sticks together right in that part of the song.

Casey Chambers:  Very cool.  Yeah, I know exactly what you're talking about.  I'm sure a lot of fans, myself included, just assumed it was intended all along.

Dennis Dunaway:  Right, well it wasn't. (laughs) Neal was fast though because ya know, he had his little sheaf with his extra drum sticks right there and grabbed another drum stick just in time to finish the song properly.

Casey Chambers:  Cherry-picking as I do, you were responsible for writing "Killer"...the title track of the band's 4th album along with Michael Bruce.  A tasty gem.  Plus it's always bonus when your song becomes the album name.  What was the genesis?

Dennis Dunaway:  When you're traveling a lot through different time zones, up late because of a concert and knowing you have to get up early to get to the next town and all takes a while to wind down.  It was either we'd totally pass out or we just couldn't get completely to sleep.  Sleep was rarely...a deep sleep.  So I had this...I still have it...this pile of notebooks.  I call them dream poems.  And I got in the habit of when I woke up from a dream, I would write it down as fast as I could before it disappeared.  Like dreams do.  "Killer" was a dream poem.

I was floating...kind of like the way the artist (Marc) Chagall had people float in the air. (laughs)  I was floating alongside this guy that was on death row.  He's walking down this hallway to where the electric chair was and I could hear his thoughts.  And the lyrics were his thoughts.  'What did I do to deserve such a fate?'  Y'know, like that.  And then I came up with that bassline.  The Alice Cooper group had a rehearsal at the Pontiac farm outside of Detroit and we would rehearse 10 hours a day.  And when we finished a full day of rehearsal and everybody was packing up, I said, 'Michael, I have this song idea. You want to work on it with me?'  And he went over...he had already put his guitar in his case and I was hoping that he would play guitar... but he went over to the organ.  Even though I had a more sprawling idea for it, Michael kind of did what Bob Ezrin did for, "I'm Eighteen."  Cut out the fat and made it more of a concise thing.  And we knocked it out.  I said, 'Should we record this or we remember it?'  And Michael said, 'We're gonna remember this.'  Then we went up to the house and told the band about it and the next day we all worked the song out.  I still have those lyrics actually that I wrote down.  The dream poem.  That song, by the way, is one of my favorite things that Michael Bruce and Glen Buxton did to compliment each other's playing styles.  The intro, how the guitars intertwine, the two different sounding guitars and how they work together, especially on headphones...I love the intro of that song.

"Killer" - Alice Cooper / "Killer" (1971)

Casey Chambers:  Yeah, absolutely. Me too.  The entire band is credited with writing one of the most anthemic songs ever..."School's Out."  It captures the euphoria of the last day of school, yet still retains the Alice Cooper undercurrent of shadows.  When did you first get to put your bass on that song?

Dennis Dunaway:  Well, almost every song that the Alice Cooper group did was done together in the studio.  Somebody would hit on some idea.  Anyway, "I'm Eighteen" really targeted the record buying age.   But "Be My Lover" and "Under My Wheels" didn't quite hit that same group in the way "I'm Eighteen" we thought, 'Well, let's target the teenagers again.' (laughs)

And of course, everybody in the Alice Cooper group went to school in Phoenix, Arizona at the same time.  Alice and Glen and I went to Cortez High School, and you could practically throw a rock and hit Camelback where Neal went to school.  And Mike went to school at North High. So we were all on the same page.  It was easy for us to relate to each other's memories of being in school. It was a natural.

Once we decided we were going to do a song about school, Neal and I decided it should be militant. It should be very aggressive because we're all really happy to be out of school.  So the bassline was written with that in mind.  And the drums...the middle kind of a bolero part.  We wanted the song to be more militant, but when it comes to the 'no more teachers' part, I wanted the bass to sound like a little kid, so I lightened it up there.

Casey Chambers:  And the song went sick.

"School's Out" - Alice Cooper / "School's Out" (1972)

Dennis Dunaway:  Y'know, out of all the songs we did, with maybe the exception of "Elected"..."School's Out" was the one song everybody knew right from the beginning when we were writing it, that it was going to be a hit.  Everything just fell into place so perfectly.  By the time "I'm Eighteen" came out...we already had our first two albums..."Pretties For You" and "Easy Action"...under our belts and we thought both of those albums were going to set the world on fire...and they didn't.  So we were gun shy at that point as far as opening any champagne before anything happened. (laughs)  But with "School's Out" we just knew it.  You always try to make every song the greatest song you ever wrote, but sometimes the creative gods are kinder to you. (laughs)  Sometimes writing a song is like pulling "You Drive Me Nervous."  That one we kept shelving over the years and coming at it from different directions.  That song was a lot of work.  The same with "Elected."  It began as "Reflected" and went through all of these different versions until it turned into "Elected."  But "School's Out" kind of fell in our laps.  It was just so easy.  And I think the best songs are like that.

Casey Chambers:  And the song lives on forever in tons of movies.  "Scream" jumps to my mind.

Dennis Dunaway:  Yeah, that was cool.  And I was also really proud that it was in The Ramones movie.

Casey Chambers:  Sure.  "Rock! Rock!  Rock 'N' Roll High School."

Dennis Dunaway:  Yeah, I was especially happy that they chose it for that.  It's always a big compliment anytime that happens.  Or when bands cover our songs.  It's just a big compliment.  I'm in a band called Blue Coupe with Joe and Albert (Bouchard) of Blue Oyster Cult.  And they have a very solid following as well.   No matter where we play, usually the crowd is about 50/50 Alice Cooper fans and Blue Oyster Cult fans.  And they're like, 'Wow, there's like an Alice Cooper Tribute Band in every town.'   And I'll say, 'Yeah, well there must be Blue Oyster Cult Tribute Bands.'   And they'll say, 'Well, we've never heard of one.' (laughs)  But of course, it's always a big compliment.

"You (Like Vampires)" - Blue Coupe / "Tornado on the Tracks" (2010)

Casey Chambers:  I'd read somewhere about an all-star jam session that involved the Alice Cooper group.  I believe that Marc Bolan put it together.  I'm not a hundred percent sure on that...

Dennis Dunaway:  Yeah, it happened.  We had been doing some touring in England and we still needed a couple more songs for the "Billion Dollar Babies" album. So the band flew to the Canary Islands and stayed at this brand new hotel where they were still constructing the upper rooms up on the roof.  We were the first people to ever stay there and we had the roadies bring up amps and drums.  We wrote "Generation Landslide" there.  After that, we flew back to the Morgan Studios outside of London.  Donovan was working there and Marc BolanHarry Nilsson was there.  And Keith Moon, who had had way too much to drink.  And they kept busting into our session...knocking stuff over and falling down and being loud and we had to keep kicking them out.

Well, one day they came in and Harry Nilsson just went into the control room and fell right across the control board that had all of the settings.  We'd spent hours getting the settings to record this song.  So Bob Ezrin said, 'We're not gonna get anything done today. You know, we can't start over on this today. So, let's just let'em play and have a jam.'  (laughs)

So yeah, it was an off the wall jam, totally.  It was Harry Nilsson who couldn't walk, but he could sit down with a piano and play these beautiful songs.  And Keith Moon, who could barely stay on the drum stool, let alone keep a beat.  Ric Grech of Blind Faith was playing bass.  I jammed for a little bit and then I just handed him my bass.  Flo and Eddie were there...Mark and Howard from The Turtles.  And at that point, Flo and Eddie...were touring with us.  Donovan and Alice were there and the rest of the Coops.  And, then Marc Bolan showed up with his guitar.  He walked in with his guitar ready to jam.  He plugged into a Marshall and started playing, "Bang A Gong" and for the first time of the night, all of a sudden...something kind of sounded like a real song. (laughs)  Especially with those incredible harmonies.  Not only Flo and Eddie but Harry Nilsson.  The next day we started listening back to the recording and said, 'Well...oh my God...this is terrible.' (laughs)  I actually have some of the recordings and it just sounds like a crazy wild party.  It doesn't sound that musical.

Casey Chambers:  You were living in a totally different world!  Thank you for sharing.  You came out with your own book not too long ago. Tell us a bit about that.

Dennis Dunaway:  Yeah, it came out in 2015.  I decided to write the book in 1997 when I was in the hospital.  I have Crohn's disease and at the time, I had to stay in the hospital for a month to build up my strength...enough that I would be able to survive the surgery.  And all of this fan mail started coming in from all over the world.  I was thinking, 'Wow, fans really remember me.  That's very cool.'  Plus that tied together with my daughters both hearing me correct every interview about Alice Cooper that was incorrect.  They'd hear me and say, 'Dad, shut up and write the book.' (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  "Nip it in the bud!"  So was the book hard to write?

Dennis Dunaway:  I started writing the book in '97 and I didn't have the book in my hand until 2015.  It took more years for me to write about it, than the actual events of the original Alice Cooper group. (laughs)  But it came out in 2015 and it's still going strong.  It's amazing.  It went through its third printing.  It's been released in paperback with a new introduction by Alice...which is so flattering.  I told Alice I read it and now I'm not worthy of myself. (laughs)

There's also a documentary about a book signing event we did at Good Records in Dallas.  The owner, Chris Penn did most of the work helping me organize it.  We had the original group, including Alice, do a surprise concert at his record store and they filmed it.   The film is called, "Live From The Astroturf: Alice Cooper" and it looks and sounds great.  Bob Ezrin mixed it.  The reason it's called "Live From The Astroturf" is the stage where they'd have musicians play is made of green astroturf.  But because the front of my book has pink panties on it, he got pink astroturf. (laughs)  The film has also received a few awards.  Best Documentary Short at the Phoenix Film Festival.  And Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Dallas International Film Festival.  It was shown at the Film Festival in Detroit, too and received a very warm reception there.  It's just been amazing.  Hopefully, Netflix or another will pick it up.

Casey Chambers:  I hope so.  I'd really like to watch that.  Big congrats!

"Live from the Astroturf Trailer" (2015)

Dennis Dunaway:  Yeah, one thing leads to another. There's so many hours and so much hard work behind everything that happens.  And that's what I do.  I'm my own paparazzi. (laughs)  If you're an artist and you sit back waiting for somebody to discover you, it's very unlikely that it will ever happen.  You have to make things happen for yourself.  This is an extreme, but the Alice Cooper group once showed up at Frank Zappa's house.  Frank and his wife were asleep in the bedroom and we set up our equipment outside their bedroom and started playing.  And that's how we got our first record deal with Frank Zappa.

Casey Chambers:  Had you met Zappa before?

Dennis Dunaway:  We had.  The GTOs, who were like...I don't know...six or eight girls...kind of fluctuated sometimes...included Pamela Des Barres, a friend of ours who wrote the book, "I'm With The Band: Confessions Of A Groupie."  And also Miss Christine.  The GTOs lived downstairs at the log cabin that Frank Zappa owned in Laurel Canyon.  It used to belong to the cowboy star, Tom Mix.

"Permanent Damage" - GTO's (1969)

Anyway, Alice and Miss Christine had a handholding relationship going on and Miss Christine was the babysitter for Moon Unit.  And we would go over and hang out and watch baby Moon Unit crawl across the floor and keep her pointed in the right direction while Alice would try to convince Miss Christine to talk Zappa into coming to hear us play.  Because we knew he had a new record label and we wanted to be on it.  She'd say, 'Oh, okay. Frank said he's going to come and see you at a particular gig.'  And then he couldn't show up.  And this happened like three times. So we were getting really desperate and Miss Christine made the mistake of saying, 'Well, Frank's going to be home tomorrow.'

And we're like...' Okay, we're coming over.'  She said, 'No, no he doesn't like for people to just come over.  How 'bout if I say nine o'clock or seven o'clock?  How about if I say seven o'clock and I'll call you if it's not okay?'  So Alice and I walked all the way back from Laurel Canyon to Topanga Canyon, which, because we were both long-distance runners in high school, wasn't as big of a deal as people make.  Most people in L.A. wouldn't believe that you could do that.  But anyway, by the time we got back to our band house in Topanga, Alice had turned it into...' We have to be at Zappa's house at 7:00 in the morning!' (laughs)  And we did.  We showed up at seven and knocked on the cabin door until Miss Christine opened it with the expression of shock on her face.  And we barged in, set up our equipment right outside his door and played so loud that the picture on the wall went crooked. (laughs)  His door cracked open and Frank's hand reached out and motioned for us to stop.  Then he stuck his head out and said, ' Well, let me have some coffee and then I'll listen.'  And that's how we got our record deal.

Casey Chambers:  Wow, that's one of those...rock-n-roll...stars-in-alignment...stories.

Dennis Dunaway:  Yeah, well if someone did that to me, I would not be very happy. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Oh, no doubt!  But it turned out to be the right move back then.  And you guys did it.  Let me change course and ask about a few of your favorite albums.

Dennis Dunaway:  Oh, man, there's so many.  I love "Astral Weeks" by Van Morrison.  I'm looking at tons of vinyl records right now and I could tell ya hundreds of them.  I love The Yardbirds.  Most anything the Yardbirds did.  Bob Dylan.  I love the "Crown Of Creation" album from Jefferson Airplane.  I love the bass sound on that, especially on the title song, "Crown Of Creation."  "Phil Spector's Greatest Hits."  Even though he's in prison and I don't like any of the reasons that he's there.  I love a lot of The Byrds.  For current stuff, I like what Ian Hunter is still putting out.  He still puts out great albums that most people don't realize he's doing.  Even though he just finished a tour, a Mott The Hoople Tour.  Check out his solo albums.  I love Free.  My wife turned me on to them. "Free At Last." (1972)  I love that album.  So it goes on and on.  Even though I listen to newer music, like most people, my heart is with stuff from the era when I was a teenager.

My daughters, when they were little and Cindy (Smith Dunaway) would be making dinner, I would turn into the DJ.  I'd go to the turntable and just play all kinds of different songs. 45s. Classical. Jazz. Whatever.  And now they thank me for giving them a wide exposure to different styles of music.  And I think Cindy and Neal Smith had the same thing.  Their mom, if you looked through her record collection...would have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Glenn Miller.  And then the Yardbirds! (laughs)  Her apartment in Phoenix was where a lot of the musicians would hang out.  She wouldn't let you get away with much, but you could talk about anything in front of her.  Ron Wood would come over.  And The Tubes.  And you would flip through her record collection and go, 'Wow, this is pretty hip for a mom.' (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  It's always great to have a friend with cool folks, right?

Dennis Dunaway:  Yeah, Alice's father was like that too.  You could bring up some British Invasion group and he would know all the details.  Whereas, Glen Buxton's father was... We did an early gig when we were The Spiders.  We were the house band at the most popular teen club in Arizona.  We even had a hit song in Tucson on the AM radio station.  It went to #11.  It was called, "Don't Blow Your Mind." (1966)

"Don't Blow Your Mind" - The Spiders / single (1966) 

So we were a pretty big deal then. And we're playing at this club and Glen's father was there and Glen went down on one knee in front of his amp so that he could get feedback.  After the show, Glen's father was like, 'Why were you down on your knee in front of the amp?' And Glen said, 'To get feedback!'  And his father said, 'Well if you don't get down in front of the speaker, that won't happen.' (laughs)  Y'know, he just didn't get that we wanted that to happen.  We thought that was hilarious!

Casey Chambers:  Yeah. (laughs)  I'm hearing Hank from "King of the Hill" telling Bobby, 'Get away from the front of the speaker, son.  Nobody'll be able to hear anything!'  (laughs)  Those are the good memories.  Thanks so much for sharing your time and stories.  This has been so much fun.  And thank you for all the great music you've given us.

Dennis Dunaway:  Thanks for listening.  Very cool.  I enjoyed it.

Official Dennis Dunaway
Official Blue Coupe

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Sunday, May 12, 2019

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

(a short jaunt)

"Effigy" - Creedence Clearwater Revival / "Willy and the Poor Boys" (1969)

You just don't hear this one often.  The song was written in one of those darker keys that hint of bad moons rising.  Fogerty was inspired by President Nixon's attitude toward the war protesters, if I remember right.  It's moody and portent.  And if the song was two minutes shorter it would be perfect.

"Friends of Mine" - The Zombies / "Odessey and Oracle" (1968)

I really like this song, and yet it only made #6 on my favorite songs from the bands classic "Odessey and Oracle" album.  That's how strong this pop-psych masterpiece really is.  "Friends..." is the Zombies tribute to a few of the love birds wandering around in their world at the time.  If you listen closely, you can hear their names.  I watched a clip of original members, Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent performing a couple of songs at a bookshop and they are still amazing.

"Nightrider" - Electric Light Orchestra / "Face the Music" (1975)

Somehow I'm only just now discovering this song.  How was this not a hit?  Should've become classic radio fodder long ago.  What an underrated song.  And those cellos are so badass on this.  Jeff Lynne certainly knew his way around a catchy arrangement.  Makes it look and sound so simple.  This was from the same album that fed us "Strange Magic" and "Evil Woman."


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Monday, May 6, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."These Things Too" - Pearls Before Swine (1969)

"These Things Too"  -  Pearls Before Swine (1969)

In 1969, Pearls Before Swine released their third album.  Led by singer-songwriter, Tom Rapp..."These Things Too" is considered by most fans to be the weakest PBS to this point.  Yet this is usually clarified with a ..." still pretty good album"...disclaimer.  Tom  Rapp's lyrics are always interesting, but hard to describe without doing injustice.  I'll just add that his chosen words feel...unexpected, but perfect.  There's some gentle psych-folk goings-on, but just a little.  Still, there is a cool trippy melancholy that wanders around your brain like Angie Dickinson at an art museum.  (Sorry, I just watched a DePalma film.)  And most of it works.  From almost all accounts, Pearls Before Swine never really put out a bad record.  Pretty much risk-free, if you like your folk rock with a dusting of psych.  Grab'em when you can find'em.
FWIW...The album cover depicts the 15th-cent painting of Christ by Giovanni Bellini.  Also in a later sleeve insert, Tom Rapp stated "These Things Too" was the first "Pearls Before Swine" album which reflected drug use in the writing of the songs.

"These Things Too" (back)

Reprise Records (orange/brown) 

"Look Into Her Eyes" - Pearls Before Swine / "These Things Too (1969)

A1  "Footnote" 1:16
A2  "Sail Away" 3:06
A3  "Look Into Her Eyes" 4:34
A4  "I Shall Be Released" 3:02
A5  "Frog in the Window" 1:36
A6  "I'm Going to the City" 2:27
A7  "Man in the Tree" 3:25
B1  "If You Don't Want To (I Don't Mind)" 3:20
B2  "Green and Blue" 0:22
B3  "Mon Amour" 2:04
B4  "Wizard of Is" 3:36
B5  "Frog in the Window" 3:36
B6  "When I Was a Child" 4:44
B7  "These Things Too" 3:24

Tom Rapp - vocals, guitar
Jim Fairs - guitar, harmony, Celeste
Wayne Harley - banjo, harmony
Elisabeth - vocals
Bill Salter - bass
Grady Tate - drums
Richard Greene - electric violin

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Friday, May 3, 2019

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "Star Trek: The Modala Imperative" (1992)

"Star Trek: The Modala Imperative" 

(I stumbled upon a good-sized box filled with a variety of graphic novels at an estate sale. No official count as I've just been pulling from the box when I find time to read one.  Afterward, I post the book and go from there.)

"Star Trek: The Modala Imperative"
by Michael Jan Friedman and Peter David, Pablo Marcos (Illustrator)
1992 by DC Comics
192 pages
(Originally two 4-issue mini-series - ST / ST:TNG in 1991)

Chekov's first assignment.  He and Kirk beam down incognito to the planet Modala to observe if their people are ready for Federation inclusion and unexpectedly find themselves in the middle of a society filled with major civil discord and oppression.  Many years later, the TNG crew pay a visit to Modala and discover things have vastly improved, but all is not as it seems.

"The Modala Imperative" (inside)

The story is well paced with plenty of action and excitement.  Plus, it's always great to find something with Michael Jan Friedman's hands on it.  The real fun, however, is when ST characters from both eras interact, which I'm sure Peter David had a field day toying with.  That was just icing on the cake for me.  The artwork looks good and flows nicely, too.  This graphic novel remains a great snapshot of the kind of Trek stories DC was beaming to comic shops in the '90s.  Walter Koenig providing an introduction is just bonus.

"Something's Out There" - Freedy Johnston / "Never Home" (1997)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Horse Head Has An Idea:.."T-Bird Gang" (1959)


There is a T-Bird automobile in this movie, but it's mostly parked with the gang leader waiting for his orders to be followed.  They must've borrowed the car from the lot, 'cause the T-Bird seldom moves.  The tuffs could have easily been called the "Parked-Car Gang" and never missed a beat.  So, yeah, there is a T-Bird in the movie and the gang leader gets to sit in it.  Now, let's move on.

A young man's father is killed by the T-Bird Gang...and of course, the son seeks revenge.  This is a story that's quick in the telling...and really not too shab as far as 50s B-movies go.  Roger Corman is involved and adds his quirky touches to this low budget and that's always a good thing.  The leader of this T-Bird Gang is played by Ed Nelson who went on to do beaucoup character roles in television. You'll recognize him, if not his name.  In this b/w, Nelson is a bit of a finger snapper and a bit of a poser.  Plays Chess. Spins classical records. And again, snaps his finger at his gang.  Pretty fun watching him Cagney his way around.

The music is beatnik bongos and some occasional greasy bebop horns. Nothing special, but at least it tries to add a bit of edginess to the film as I expect the score was wont to do.  Finally, the "T-Bird Gang" movie is short enough to fall into that wonderful time-kill sweet spot.

"T-Bird Gang" (1959)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers