Friday, August 30, 2019

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

"Silk Torpedo" - Pretty Things (1974)

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

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

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

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

"Silk Torpedo" (back)

"Silk Torpedo" (inside gatefold)

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

Swan Song label

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

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

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

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Monday, August 26, 2019

Interview -- Steve Hackett (Genesis)

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

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

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

Steve Hackett Interview -- August 2019
Steve Hackett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Selling England By The Pound" (1973)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Hackett Tour Dates

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
Follow Me On FACEBOOK 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

"The Beat Goes On" (back)

"The Beat Goes On" (inside)

ATCO label

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

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

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

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
Follow Me On FACEBOOK 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

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

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

I like reading short stories from time to time and try to get my hands on at least one book every year.
“Headless...” is a collection of eight elliptic short stories that travel around the genres of fantasy and sci-fi, each with its own unique and mysterious destination.  Each tale throws a surprise louie at the reader.  Sometimes in your face, other times striking with a more subtle jab.  But all have a bit of the twist that makes for page-turning pleasure.

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

Michael Jan Friedman

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

Michael Jan Friedman Official Website

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

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Thursday, August 15, 2019

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

(a short jaunt)

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

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

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

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

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

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


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Monday, August 12, 2019

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

"Jonathon Round" - Jonathon Round (1971)

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

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

"Jonathon Round" (back)

"Jonathon Round" (inside)

Westbound Records (promo)

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

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

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

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Thursday, August 8, 2019

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

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

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

The Thumb Album Cover

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

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

"Love It To Death" (back)

"Love It To Death" (inside)

Warner Bros. Records / Straight label

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

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

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

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

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

"Antithesis" - Gypsy (1972)

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

"Antithesis" (back)

"Antithesis" (inside)

RCA Victor (orange dynaflex)

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

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

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

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Monday, August 5, 2019

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

(a short jaunt)

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

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

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

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

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

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


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Saturday, August 3, 2019

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

"Gulliver" - Gulliver (1970)

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

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

 "Gulliver" (back)

 Elektra Butterfly label

Original Elektra sleeve

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

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

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

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

Thursday, August 1, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good stuff.