Saturday, July 11, 2020

Interview -- Ronny Cox (Actor, Singer-Songwriter)



"We had been 
on the water six or eight hours
a day for four or five,
10 weeks already...
we were ready for those."
~ Ronny Cox ~

     They seldom are the ones chosen to host the big party, but they are part of a select group of actors who seem to always get that early invitation.  The ones who will help keep the party running smoothly.  The ones who always make the party better when they arrive.  Such is the case for longtime actor Ronny Cox who has graced the screen in roughly 150 movies and television shows.  Ronny Cox is one of those actors that make whatever you're watching a little more interesting.  Whether playing a warm understanding father or a coldhearted sumbeach...Ronny Cox brings it with equal measure.  And whenever I see him doing his thing, I put the remote down.  Ronny Cox Go get you some.

Ronny Cox Interview -- July 2020
Ronny Cox

Casey Chambers:  The terrifying backwoods thriller..."Deliverance" (1972) was also your very first film.  What was going on in your life at that time?

Ronny Cox:  Well, Mary and I got married in college. We were high school sweethearts. And by the time we graduated from college, Mary had a Ph.D. in chemistry from Georgetown University and I started my career in theater in Washington, D.C.  When we moved to New York, Mary was working on her postdoc at Sloan Kettering and I was doing some Broadway and off-Broadway still struggling as an actor.  And the people from Warner Bros. had come to New York looking for good unknown actors...and God knows I was unknown. (laughs)  I was actually one of the first actors they saw in New York.  Not because I was at the top of anyone's list, but because I was so far at the bottom.  I was the first person they saw because I came in for a pre-meeting.  They were meeting people at like 10 o'clock on a Monday morning and they asked me to come in at nine just to meet with the casting director.  He gave me a copy of the script, and as it turned out, ya know, I lucked out and got it. (laughs)  It was not only my first film, but it was also my first time in front of a camera.  And most people don't realize this...but it was Ned Beatty's first film too.

Casey Chambers:  Oh, that's cool.  And what a primo way to kick off your career.

Ronny Cox:  Yeah, and Ned and I were cast totally independent of each other.  They didn't know we had already done 20 plays together.  Or that we even knew each other.  We'd been best friends for about eight years.

Casey Chambers:  Small world, big place.

Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, and Ronny Cox

Ronny Cox:  Yep.  And it was probably the first time in the history of film that they found the two actors below the title before finding...(laughs)...I was the first actor they found.  Then Ned.  And we waited around for another three, four or five weeks while they were deciding on the two guys above the title.  Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds.  It generally works the other way.  The big names first and then they fill in around it.  But Ned and I were the first ones.

Casey Chambers:  Were you at all familiar with James Dickey's novel?

Ronny Cox:  Yeah, I had read the novel.  And it's a brilliant novel.  When we were making "Deliverance" into a film...and you gotta remember, this was 1971...a lot of people, especially down in Georgia where we were shooting, felt it was practically a porno with the homosexual rape in it.  But the film is a brilliant action, psychological thriller.  Generally with films that are made from novels...either you like the novel or you like the film.  But you seldom like them both.  "Deliverance" is one of the few that I liked equally as well.  But they're very different.  I don't know if you've read the novel, but the novel is in the first person.  Everything is seen through Ed's eyes.  The character of Ed.  And there's no way to do the film that way.  So the story works as a film and it works as a novel, too.

"Deliverance" Trailer (1972)

Casey Chambers:  John Boorman, who directed the film, chose to shoot the film chronologically.  How unusual is that?

Ronny Cox:  Totally unusual.  And it's because generally, the mitigating factor is always the bottom line.   And so most films...let's say we're doing a film and there are four scenes that are in your office.  Well, we're going to go in and shoot those four scenes in your office all at once.  Because there's no reason to shoot there, go away, and then come back and relight.  You're just not going to do that.  There are other reasons, as well.  Sometimes you might have a character that's in a scene and then doesn't show up again until much later in another scene.  You're going to try to put all these scenes together.  Or there may be a location that you can only get access to during a specific time.  So, therefore, you're almost always shooting out of sequence.

Now, "Deliverance" is a film that goes from point A to point B, and you're never in the same location twice.  So, therefore, "Deliverance" lent itself to shooting in sequence.  And in many ways, that was really helpful, since we were doing all the canoeing ourselves and all the stunt work.  The film starts in the easy rapids and the rapids get progressively harder and harder as we go along.  By the time we got to the really difficult rapids...we had been on the water six or eight hours a day for four or five, 10 weeks already...we were ready for those.  If we had been shooting out of sequence, who knows what might have happened?  Another hidden asset, if one of us scratched our cheek or tore our shirt or bumped our knee, it didn't have to be covered up with makeup or whatever.  By shooting in sequence like we did in "Deliverance," those things could all be used organically in the film.

Casey Chambers:  Did you guys know what you were getting yourselves into?  That river really looked wicked.

Ronny Cox:  It was.  Like I said, we did all the canoeing ourselves and if you recall, at the end of the film plot-wise, they find the other wooden canoe broken in half.  They didn't have to do that.  We did that for them. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Note to self: Bring lots of duct tape. (laughs)  Had you had any canoe experience prior to that?

Ronny Cox:  None.  None of us had really.  The best canoeist of us all, oddly enough, was Ned...the bumbler. (laughs)  Now Burt was a great athlete, but he was probably technically the worst canoeist, although his mammoth ego wouldn't allow him to fail. (laughs)  He couldn't be bothered with learning all the proper techniques, but his athleticism got him through.

Casey Chambers:  One of the most iconic moments from the film is your "Dueling Banjos" scene.  What do you recall about shooting that part of the movie?

"Dueling Banjos" scene / "Deliverance" (1972)

Ronny Cox:  Well, it was my very first scene ever.  One of the reasons I was cast in the film was because I play the guitar.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a bluegrass picker.  In the book, they play "Wildwood Flower," which is a much more sedate song.  But John Boorman had found "Dueling Banjos" and wanted to use that.  And John Boorman wanted me to play it in the movie.  To actually be the one picking in the movie.  He wasn't interested in making a hit song...which "Dueling Banjos" became.  He loved the idea of this savant kid showing up this totally amateur guitar player.  But see, here's the thing.  Billy Redden...the kid we got to play the role...didn't play the banjo.  That's not even his left hand in the film.  And since he couldn't play, we had to pre-record the song and then do what's called match-playback.  So in other words, they would start the music.  And then, we would match our finger movements to the song.  John Boorman wanted to be able to cut to somebody's fingers playing the right notes.  So, Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell are the two people who played it on the soundtrack.  But Steve Mandell taught me the piece note for note.  So, if you go back and look at the film, any time they cut to me playing, I'm playing the actual note. So, when push comes to shove...did I play it?  Yes.  Is that me on the soundtrack?  No.  Did it cost me about a million dollars?  Yes! (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  What a great scene.  What a great movie.  You were cast as a villain in two of Paul Verhoeven's blockbuster movies..."Robocop" (1987) and "Total Recall." (1990)   At that point in your career, playing a bad guy was a bit of a switch for you, wasn't it?

Ronny Cox:  Totally.  "Robocop" ended up being an iconic film.  And this was proof to me of what a director's vision can bring to a script.  The only reason I wanted to do the film was that it gave me the chance to play a bad guy.  I had spent 15 years playing nothing but boy scout nice guys.  So this gave me the chance to play a villain.  Everything about it.  The humor.  And making us care.  All those things were elements that Paul Verhoeven added to that script.  I mean, the script was fine.  Don't get me wrong.  But what made that film magic was Paul Verhoeven's approach to it.  Paul told me later, one of the reasons he cast me as "Dick Jones" was because he wanted to trade on that residual goodwill that I had built up in my career.  So when my character comes on the screen, the audience gets a feeling of...' Oh, this guy's good.'   Then when he ends up being bad...that makes him seem twice as bad.  I've seen some online polls where Dick Jones was voted the best villain in film in the '80s. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  You made a pretty excellent villain in Verhoeven's "Total Recall" as well.

Home In Time For Corn Flakes scene - "Total Recall" (1990)

Ronny Cox:  Yep. Yep.  We had a good time. We shot that in Mexico City.  We took over the whole of Churubusco Studios in Mexico.  I don't know if you know this, but "Total Recall" had been in development for 14 years because no one could figure out how to make it for the price.  This was 1990...and even then the film cost about hundred million dollars.  It was far and away, the most expensive in the history of film at the time.  The film had actually shot, I think, for a week or two in Australia.  With Ridley Scott directing and Patrick Swayze playing Arnold's (Schwarzenegger) role.  And then they realized they weren't going to be able to make budget and pulled the plug on it.  That's when Verhoeven got involved and moved it to Mexico City.  It was a really different time.

Casey Chambers:  With all the crazy special effects, and there were a bunch of 'em, the Mars decompression scenes were hard to forget.  And your character got the decomp face treatment, too.

Ronny Cox:  That was Rob Bottin who did that.  I'm sure you've heard of people who have photographic memories.  Rob Bottin has photographic memory with his hands.  He can sit with a pencil and paper and draw an absolute photographic likeness of you.  Or take a piece of clay and make an absolute replica of your face and head.  Just with his hands.  And so for that decompression scene, Arnold and I spent one whole day just making as many faces as we could.  Grimacing and contorting our faces in every possible way.  And they took photograph after photograph.  Then Rob took all of them and made masks with all those grimaces.  In addition to that, he put air pockets behind so they could distort our faces even more.  That was how Rob Bottin was able to make the masks that were grotesquely almost like us, but obviously not us.  I tell you the truth...by the end of the day, both mine and Arnold's faces were so sore. (laughs)

Mars Decompression scene - "Total Recall" (1990)

Casey Chambers:  It was fun to watch.  Even with all that going on, I think I still enjoy the scene of you having a 'bad-day tantrum'...and taking it out on the fish aquarium.  No tricks.  No smoke and mirrors.  Just your character being frustrated to all hell. (laughs)

Ronny Cox:  Ya know what's funny? (laughs)  I got more hate mail for kicking over that damned aquarium than you can imagine. (laughs)  And I have to tell you the truth.  We had another tank below and all the fish were caught and unhurt during that time.  But boy, people went on!  If you recall in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" when I played Captain Jellico...my character made them take the fish out of the Ready Room, too. (laughs)  By the way, I'll tell you a story about that.  The reason I took the fish out of the Ready Room in "Star Trek" was a perk to Patrick Stewart.  He had always hated those fish in Captain Picard's ready room.  His point being...' we're doing a series about the dignity of all species in the universe, and we've got captured fish in the ready room. That's terrible.'  And so he kept going to the producers and saying, 'They should be out of there.'  But the producers liked it because they liked being able to shoot through there and the production values.  So as a perk to Patrick, when I came on the ship for the two episodes, they took out the fish.

Casey Chambers:  Oh right.  That was the two-parter called, "Chain Of Command." (S:6 E:10/11 - 1992)  Really, really good episode.

Ronny Cox:  They were the two highest-rated episodes of "Next Generation."  The two highest-rated episodes.  It's funny, I mean, everybody loves to hate Jellico, but he was actually quite good.  And I had a good time playing Jellico.

Captain Jellico - ST:TNG / "Chain Of Command" (1992)

Casey Chambers:  Can we talk about the book you wrote a few years ago?

Ronny Cox:  Well, of all the films I've done, there are more questions about "Deliverance" than any other film I've ever been involved with.  And so, I decided to write "Dueling Banjos: The Deliverance Of Drew" (2012) and offer it as an audiobook too.  You can listen to it in about three hours.  It's just me telling the story of making "Deliverance" and dispelling many of the myths.  And going from an absolute unknown to having the break of a lifetime.  Most people seem to love the book and it is pretty good if I do say so myself.


Casey Chambers:  I'll look for it.  Mr. Cox, thank you for letting me cherrypick from your long list of films.  It has been a real pleasure speaking with you today.  Thank you for all the fine entertainment you've given us and be sure and stay safe out there.

Ronny Cox:  Of course.  You bet.  Thanks.

Ronny Cox Official Website


"Roll Down Your Windows" - Ronny Cox / "Ronny Cox"

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Thursday, July 9, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Rudy Love & The Love Family" (1976)

"Rudy Love & The Love Family" - Rudy Love & The Love Family (1976)

Soulified and funkified and certified to satisfy.  Rudy Love has a warm voice that, at times, recalls the timbre of Sly Stone and yet is his very own.  His arrangements are smart with no discount and allow room for the rest of "The Family" to get their funk on.  The album is not a masterpiece, but it shines way more than shades and is a soulful and funky square that very much holds its own.  “Ain't Nuthin' Spooky” opens the album and grooves the schnikey outta the needle.  Great vocals all around, as well.  The slinky "Does Your Mama Know" takes it to the house and the lost gem closing track..."Come Back Home" answers the final bell nicely.  Funky and urgent.

Rudy Love and The Love Family hail from Wichita, KS...and I can remember hearing stories about how people in the 70s would rush to a club when learning Rudy was playing in town.  And how Rudy would sometimes just slip into a club unannounced and perform late into the night for those lucky enough to be inside.  He never became "big" big...but he broke bread with Sly Stone for about 10 years which is very cool...and a story for another time, I'm sure.  Recently, a documentary has been making the rounds that I have yet to see..."This Is Love"... about Rudy and the Love Family and has been widening the appreciation for this guy everywhere it is shown.  Rudy refers to the film as a Funkumentary...and that's good enough for me.

"Rudy Love & The Love Family" (back)

Calla Records

"Come Back Home" - Rudy Love And The Love Family (1976)

TRACKS:
A1  "Ain't Nuthin' Spooky" 4:55
A2  "Disco Queen (Instr)" 4:27
A3  "My Imagination" 6:35
A4  "Shake Your Tail Feathers" 3:53
B1  "Does Your Mama Know" 3:31  
B2  "Love Electricity" 3:27
B3  "Disco Queen (Vocal)" 4:32
B4  "She's My Sister" 3:30
B5  "Come Back Home" 5:47

PERSONNEL:

Rudy Love - vocals, guitar, bass, drums
Tyree Judy - lead guitar
Blood, Tony Matthews, KJ Love - guitar
Willie Week, Robert Popwell, S. Johnson, Z. Phillip - bass
Larry Faucette - l bass
Gerald Love, B. Miles, J. Godson - drums
N. Morgan, E. Van Treece - keyboards
Carlos, Shamseu - congas
M. Jurnegen - sax solo
A. Worfolk - horn solo
Peggy Love, Denise Love, Shirley Love, Ace Love, Robert Love - vocals
C. Walker, L. Allen, A. Summer, H. Channel - vocals

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Friday, July 3, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Space Oddity" - David Bowie (1969)

"Space Oddity" - David Bowie (1969 - Rei 1972)

It was early February at a Wichita Record Swap that I found this Bowie square.  I was wanting to leave with something I didn't see every day and found this 1972 German pressing of “Space Oddity.”  (Originally titled "Man Of Words/Man Of Music")  Apart from the title track, I wasn't familiar with any of the songs.  This was David Bowie at the very edges of going glam and historically it's pretty cool knowing what delicious things were yet to come from him.  But he hadn't met The Spider quite yet.  That would have to wait until Bowie's next album when guitarist Mick Ronson would glitter into the picture.  And although Bowie looks very glam on the cover of this album, the songs...not so much.  Here we find mostly folk-rock given a light dusting of psych here and there.  Still, “Space Oddity” has its moments.  And if you don't let your expectations play tricks, you'll find early Bowie had some game, too.

The title track, of course,  is the Big Brutus on the album.  The song was re-recorded with orchestra and Rick Wakeman adding Mellotron.  It also has a slower tempo.  Together it gives the listener a real sense of danger and isolation.  The song just over-shadows everything else.  So much so, you might miss a few gems while taking your first lap.  “Cygnet Committee” is a folk psych lost gem and brings a familiar Bowie sound that he would successfully mine again and again.  "Memory Of A Free Festival" starts out in a folk-psych Pearls Before Swine kinda vibe before breaking midway into a trippy four-minute refrain of "The Sun Machine is coming down, and we're gonna have a party."  It shouldn't work, but Bowie pulls it off.  And "Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed" reminds everyone what a songwriting word-finder he was.

"Space Oddity" (back)

RCA Victor label (German press)

"Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed" - David Bowie / "Space Oddity (1969)

TRACKS:
A1  "Space Oddity" 5:15
A2  "Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed" 6:55
A3  "Letter to Hermione" 2:28
A4  "Cygnet Committee" 9:33
B1  "Janine" 3:18
B2  "An Occasional Dream" 2:55
B3  "Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud" 4:45
B4  "God Knows I'm Good" 3:13
B5  "Memory of a Free Festival" 7:05

PERSONNEL:
David Bowie – vocals, acoustic guitar, Stylophone, chord organ, kalimba
Tim Renwick – guitar
Keith Christmas – acoustic guitar
Mick Wayne – guitar
Rick Wakeman – Mellotron, electric harpsichord
Tony Visconti – bass, flute, recorder
Herbie Flowers – bass
Terry Cox – drums
Benny Marshall and friends – harmonica, (b-vocals on B5)
Paul Buckmaster – cello

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Saturday, June 27, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Smooth Ball" - T.I.M.E. (1969)

"Smooth Ball" - T.I.M.E (1969)

"Smooth Ball" was T.I.M.E.'s second (and last) album and it's a solid mix of acid and bluesy psych-rock.  There's not a lot of information about T.I.M.E., although their bassist Richard Tepp was a part of Richard and the Young Lions.  And Larry Byrom, who went on to play guitar with Steppenwolf and Neil Young and then later became a sought after session player in Nashville.  Almost all the songs from "Smooth Ball" have some tasty, sometimes aggressive, fuzzed-out guitars that we all like and the vocals are quite good.  The album opens with "Preparation G"...a great psyched-out instrumental that sets the table nicely.   The 10-min. acid psych jam...“Morning Come” and the slinky..."I Think You'd Cry" are both killer.  Strangely, I could find no credit for the Hammond, but it's perfect.  And the floaty "See Me as I Am" is a sneaky good psych biscuit.

I thought T.I.M.E. was the band's name...and it is, but it's also the acronym for TRUST IN MEN EVERYWHERE.  Yeah, pretty lame.  I couldn't help but try coming up with better words for the acronym.  I mean they were a psych band after all.  How 'bout...THE INNER MIND'S EYE.  Or THE INDEPENDENT MUSIC EXPERIMENT.  Both would have made a more compelling name.  Hell, even TONY IOMMI MAKES EGGS would have been better!  But, it is what it is.  So be it.  Don't let the name deter you from picking this album up.  "Smooth Ball" is a fun and entertaining spin.  My copy was once owned by RODA (see above) and I can think of a pretty good acronym for that one, too.  This was an eBay "make-offer" purchase for $15 shipped.

"Smooth Ball" (back)

"Smooth Ball" (inside gatefold)

Liberty label

"I Think You'd Cry" - T.I.M.E / "Smooth Ball" (1969)

TRACKS:
A1  "Preparation G" 0:53
A2  "Leavin' My Home" 3:09
A3  "See Me as I Am" 5:49
A4  "I Think You'd Cry" 4:23
A5  "I'll Write a Song" 4:20
B1  "Lazy Day Blues" 1:45
B2  "Do You Feel It" 2:32
B3  "Flowers" 2:40
B4  "Morning Come" 9:59
B5  "Trust in Men Everywhere" 5:05

PERSONNEL:
Bill Richardson - vocals, guitars
Larry Byrom - vocals, guitars
Richard Tepp - bass
Pat Couchois - drums

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Sunday, June 21, 2020

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "Akira, Vol. 1" (2000)

"Akira, Vol. 1"
by Katsuhiro Otomo
Dark Horse  (2000)
(first published in 1984)
359 pages

(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.)

NO SPOILERS:
This is an anime neo-futuristic sci-fi story where groups of young, Japanese cyberpunk bikers run the streets of Tokyo.  A time of rampant kid-gang violence and anti-government terrorism.  And there are two friends...Tetsuo and Kaneda...who somehow get caught up in a nefarious and dangerous government cover-up involving powerful psychic energy.  And though the action is fast-paced, there is very little character development to hang a hat on.  At least with "Akira, Vol. 1." (There are six volumes in all.)  Adding to the lack of development, there was just a bare-minimum of narrative to further the story along.  Everything had a bit of that cold Clockwork Orange vibe.  At over 300 pages, I wanted to root for somebody, anybody, but mostly, I was indifferent.


The artwork is both amazingly fresh and curiously exaggerated.  And, for me, occasionally frustrating.  A few panels that looked fantastic left me scratching my head who the players were.  The segue was that bumpy.  And yet, despite the darts I've thrown, "Akira, Vol. 1" is like a Kramer on the wall.  You can't look away.  Look, I admit I'm fresh blood when it comes to anime, so maybe the stuff will grow on me.  What I do know is that in 1984, "Akira" was pretty groundbreaking and considered highly influential.  I do believe there is enough good to be found here to want to see this story to its conclusion, should there be another in my box.

"Red" - Sammy Hagar / "Sammy Hagar" (1977)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
Follow Me On FACEBOOK

Thursday, June 18, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits" - Doobie Brothers (1974)

"What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits" - Doobie Brothers (1974)

Bars and Bikers.  Hippies and Stoners.  Tats and Ties.  They all think The Doobie Brothers are "righteous dudes!"  And they're right.  The band has that familiar sound that instinctively Pavlovs some good times.  Like when you hear Fogerty, you just know.  Get outta the house.  Go for a drive.  And the band's "What Were Once Vices..." their 4th album, is a great outside album.  I was more than friendly with the wonderful, but over-played "Black Water," however it was "Another Park, Another Sunday" that I fell in love with.  For whatever reason, that song just takes me.  It's a bit atypical, but Tom Johnston and the rest of the Doobs don't let the song get away.  And whenever I hear it on the radio, I turn it up.  But it wasn't until listening to the record in its entirety that my appreciation really grew.  On my first spin, I thought it was okay.  I enjoyed it.  On my second lap around, I was thinking this one rivals..."The Captain."

There are many deep cuts and gems to be found here.  "Pursuit on 53rd St." and "Spirit" are Doobie joys.  As is the charting, but lesser-known, "Eyes Of Silver" which I had no idea was hiding on this album.  The Patrick Simmons penned, "Tell Me What You Want (And I'll Give You What You Need)"...is a mellow Eaglesque gem and another welcome surprise.  Finally, the closing tracks "Daughters of the Sea" that segues into "Flying Cloud" is nicely done.  "What Were Once Vices..." can be found everywhere and it totes a low dollar.  My copy tapped out at $5.00 and it came with a beautiful 11.5" x 23" color foldout poster. (see below)  Something I wasn't even aware of until I got home.  Anyway, I can listen to this stuff all day long.  A good pick up for the pocketbook.

"What Were Once Vices..." (back)

Warner Bros. Records label

"What Were Once Vices..." (11.5" x 23" poster included)

"What Were Once Vices..." (WB company sleeve)

"Eyes Of Silver" - Doobie Brothers / "What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits" (1974)

TRACKS:
A1  "Song To See You Through" 4:06
A2  "Spirit" 3:15
A3  "Pursuit On 53rd St." 2:33
A4  "Black Water" 4:17
A5  "Eyes Of Silver" 2:57
A6  "Road Angel" 4:49
B1  "You Just Can't Stop It" 3:28
B2  "Tell Me What You Want (And I'll Give You What You Need)" 3:53
B3  "Down In The Track" 4:15
B4  "Another Park, Another Sunday" 4:27
B5  "Daughters Of The Sea" 4:29
B6  "Flying Cloud" 2:00

PERSONNEL:
Tom Johnston -- vocals, acoustic and electric guitars
Patrick Simmons -- vocals, acoustic and electric guitars
Tiran Porter -- bass, vocals
John (Little John) Hartman -- drums
Michael Hossack – drums
ADDITIONAL:
Arlo Guthrie – autoharp, harmonica
Jeff "Skunk" Baxter – pedal steel guitar 
Keith Knudsen – b-vocals
Bill Payne – organ, piano, clavinet, synthesizer
James Booker – piano
Eddie Guzman – congas, timbales, percussion
Milt Holland – tabla, marimba, pandeiro, percussion
The Memphis Horns 
 * Wayne Jackson – trumpet
 * Andrew Love – tenor sax
 * James Mitchell – baritone sax
 * Jack Hale – trombone
Novi Novog – viola
Ted Templeman – percussion

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Saturday, June 13, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Goodthunder" - Goodthunder (1972)

"Goodthunder" - Goodthunder (1972)

This self-titled album is filled with 70s hard rock dipped in some prog.  The vocals are really good and there is a wicked-smart balance between guitars and Hammond that are grin-makers.  Goodthunder doesn't really establish any new ground here, but they do sound like they've been chewing the same dirt as very early Deep Purple and Wishbone Ash.  The best parts.  And I love the prog breaks and the way they seamlessly feed the head without being rude.  This was Goodthunder's only cake, but the band sounds like they were ready to take names.  Crank-ready!  This was a blind purchase I made at a local swapmeet in March.  I wanted to leave with something and I"d never seen this one in the wild before.  Plus it was on the Elektra label so I took the blind-buy plunge.

Favorite tracks are "Barking At The Ants" that closes the album.  It rocks and burns with guitars and keyboards fighting for purchase.  "I Can't Get Thru to You" is a locomotive and a great way to open this square.  And at nearly 7 minutes, "P. O.W"  is their epic cannon, a gentle beginning that evolves into something much heavier and with a light psych dusting added to the mix.  The keyboard, guitars, and drums each come to the front and along with the vocal harmonies...it's a nice mind-journey.  You can find Goodthunder under the $20 mark and it's a good pickup for that price.

"Goodthunder" (back)

Elektra label

"Goodthunder" (lyrics insert front)

"Goodthunder" (lyrics insert back)

"I Can't Get Thru To You" - Goodthunder / "Goodthunder" (1972)

TRACKS:
A1  "I Can't Get Thru To You" 3:18
A2  "For A Breath" 5:35
A3  "Moonship" 2:46
A4  "Home Again" 6:48
B1  "Sentries" 2:36
B2  "P.O.W." 6:50
B3  "Rollin' Up My Mind" 4:11
B4  "Barking At The Ants" 6:39

PERSONNEL:
James Cahoon Lindsay - vocals, percussion
John Desautels - drums
David Hanson - guitars, vocals
Bill Rhodes - bass
Wayne Cook - keyboards

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
Follow Me On FACEBOOK

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Interview -- Peter Noone (Herman's Hermits)




"We didn't know
it was a British invasion.
We just knew there was much
more enthusiasm over there."
~ Peter Noone ~



Peter Noone was just 15 when he became the lead singer for Herman's Hermits.  Before that, he had been a successful child actor in a TV soap.  Peter Noone was the perfect frontman.  He had a boyish charm that made all the little girls mad.  And an infectious, good-time goofiness about him that made it clear he didn't take himself too seriously.  And most importantly, he could sing.  Peter, along with the rest of the Hermits, made a lot of great AM radio-ready songs.  Their first single, “I'm Into Something Good” went to number one.  “Mrs. Brown...” did the same.  The British Invasion went down and the boys were off to the races.  In fact, for a while, Herman's Hermits were giving The Beatles a close run for their money.  They were that big.

At 72,  Peter remains ageless, looking and sounding much the same as he ever did.  He is still acting on both stage and on screen, but it's as the lovable Hermit that Peter is remembered best.  And it's nice to find out that "Herman's Hermits with Peter Noone" have some new tour dates scheduled for later this year...if the creeks don't rise.  Peter Noone is the Peter Pan of the British Invasion.  Go get you some.

Peter Noone Interview -- June 2020
Peter Noone

Casey Chambers:  I recently heard your recording of "Oh, You Pretty Things" (1971) and it is amazing.  This was an early David Bowie song that he would later record himself.  Your version was the first version and it was released to big success in the UK.  And it really begs new ears.  How did that all go down?

Peter Noone:  David came to Mickie Most's office with the song.  Mickie Most was our producer...Herman's Hermits producer.  And The Animals.  And Donovan.  David thought it would be a good song for Herman's Hermits and he played it for him.  Mickie called me over to his office and while David was playing it, Mickie said to me, 'This should be your first solo single. This shouldn't be Herman's Hermits.'  And as it was in those days, we quickly booked the studio.  David played the piano on the record.  He was the only person who could play it like he wanted it.  We got Herbie Flowers on bass and, I think, Bobby Graham on drums.  And 20 minutes later it was done.  We edited the take a few times because David couldn't play all the way through and it turned out great.  It was my very first solo single and then we did a couple more together.

"Oh You Pretty Things" - Peter Noone / Single (1971)

Casey Chambers:  Was that the first time your paths crossed?

Peter Noone:  I can't remember the first time I met David.  England is a small country.  Everybody who was in the music business knew each other.  We'd seen each other at gigs and been for a beer and stuff like that.  But the first time I saw him, I just don't remember.  Probably when I was at school.  He was in one band and I was in another band.

Casey Chambers:  Your first solo single turned out to be a pretty tasty cinnamon roll.

Peter Noone:  Yeah, it was a big song in Europe.  I don't think it even came out in America.  I'm not quite sure if it was ever released.  But it was a massive hit in England.  When I do concerts in England, that's the most requested song.  That, and "No Milk Today" strangely enough. (laughs)  David and I ended up doing a few songs together.  We did "Life On Mars," "Right On Mother," "Bombers," but "Oh, You Pretty Things" was the only one that was a hit.

Casey Chambers:  Jumping around, you were in an episode of the cult-favorite TV show..."Quantum Leap." ("Glitter Rock" S:3/E:17 - 1991)  And it was great fun seeing you.  How did you leap into that gig?

Peter Noone:  The show had an audition looking for people to play musicians.  Musicians for a band that looked like Kiss.  And I went in to audition because I actually knew the producer and the writer of the show.  When I got there, they asked if I would be interested in being the crossdressing, embezzling, murdering manager. (laughs)  Everybody knew I was already in a band, but no one would ever suspect Herman to be the cross-dressing, embezzling manager.  And it was good.  It was good.  And it sort of led to other things because later I was asked to replace Scott Bakula in a Broadway show called "Romance/Romance."  Scott's a genius guy.  A great singer.  Great musician.  And I got to be his replacement in a Broadway show.  That was partly because they had seen me in "Quantum Leap."


"Quantum Leap" Season Three

Casey Chambers:  I was a little late to the party, so my introduction to your music was when the song "I'm Into Something Good" was featured in the movie, "The Naked Gun." (1988)  And that song became a hit all over again.  Radio was playing the song all the time.

Peter Noone:  Yeah, what happened was they wanted to use "I'm Into Something Good" for a scene in the movie, but the song belonged to Allen Klein who wanted to charge them a lot of money.  The Zucker Brothers, who made all those "Naked Gun" movies, called and asked if I could recut the song...so we did.  We recut it so well...it was so close to the original...we needed to change the guitar solo.  Otherwise, Allen Klein would think it was his version.  So we added a kind of Moog synthesizer instrument that wasn't invented in the '60s.  Yeah, yeah it was great fun.  The people who made the movie took me to see it afterward.  I went with Elvis' wife and his daughter.  The Zucker Brothers had such great energy.  Comedy energy  It was a very, very good fun time.

"I'm Into Something Good" - Peter Noone / "The Naked Gun Soundtrack" (1988)

Casey Chambers:  Little did I know at that time, 25 years earlier and long before Leslie Nielsen had fallen on top of the queen, "I'm Into Something Good" was Herman's Hermits first charting single.  It really opened the floodgates for you guys.

Peter Noone:  People were sending songs to our producer all the time and Mickie Most was a great song picker.  He gave us that song and told us we should go try it out.  And so we did.  We went out and played it at a few gigs in Liverpool and Glasgow and all those.  And the people seemed to really like it.  So we recorded it and the song went to number one in England.  Went straight to number one.  It was a quite massive hit.  And still, when people see me...they will sing that song.  It's also become the theme song for the Manchester United Football Club.

Casey Chambers:  You gotta love it when a football team adopts one of your songs.

Peter Noone:  Yeah, 'cause we were all from Manchester, so yeah. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  Even better.  Free tickets! (laughs)  "I'm Into Something Good" was also written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King.  Did you ever receive any feedback from them?

Peter Noone:  Oh yeah, of course.  Carole loved it.  We did a concert once, and they were both in the audience together.  And when we played it, they looked at each other and smiled, which was a great feeling.  You know, it's nice when performers see the writers get off because they connected with it.  They wrote so many great songs and it was a great moment.

Casey Chambers:  What was it like coming to America for the first time and being a part of what became known as the British Invasion?

"Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter" - Herman's Hermits (live 1965) 


Peter Noone:  Well, we had no idea what America was.  We thought Elvis Presley was America.  Chuck Berry was America.  England was just a bunch of nice chaps where everybody knew each other.  You know, the British rock and roll scene.  No competition.  We were all collaborators in this Invasion.  When we got to America, we went out on a tour that included Little Anthony and the Imperials, and Bobby Vee and Freddy Cannon, and Ike and Tina Turner.  And we saw that America was lots and lots of mixed up things.  So...big culture shock.

Casey Chambers:  In your mind, did you think of it as a British Invasion at the time?

Peter Noone:  Well, we knew that lots of British acts were doing America and having hits in America  The audiences had changed very quickly.  You don't remember...but once upon a time, there was no afterlife to music.  You had a hit record and then you went back to high school.  But with the British invasion...all these artists had had more behind them.  There was an album.  There was a tour.  And so it was just different.  We didn't know it was a British Invasion.  We just knew there was much more enthusiasm over there.

Casey Chambers:  Mickie Most was one of the most successful producers of the era.  How did you guys meet?

Peter Noone:  He came to see us play.  England is a small country and what happened...all the record producers would hear about a band getting popular...and they would show up.  Sort of like Seattle for Nirvana and Detroit for Motown.  And there was a scene in Liverpool and Manchester.  My parents lived in Liverpool and the band was from Manchester and we somehow crossed over into being a Merseybeat band and a Manchester band.  We were playing a lot of dates and were being quite successful.  In those days, if you were getting lots of concerts, you had to be successful.  That was a part of the success.  So Mickie heard about us and came to watch us in this little club in Bolton.  We were the hottest unsigned band for quite a while.  We'd do auditions for people and fail because they didn't understand what we were doing.  We were kind of mixing music and comedy and luckily Mickie was the guy who signed us.

"A Must To Avoid" - Herman’s Hermits / American Bandstand (1966)

Casey Chambers:  Was that before or after you guys were playing the legendary Cavern?

Peter Noone:  Oh, much after.  We started playing The Cavern right in the beginning.  We were one of those bands who could play all day at The Cavern.  We could do the lunchtime session.  We could do the junior Cavern and evening Cavern.  We just had a good setlist for that.  We did American songs with an American accent.  What we supposed was an American accent.  We would do "Mother-In-Law" thinking we were singing like Americans and songs that were very English like, "Mrs. Brown, You've Got A Lovely Daughter" and "Leaning On The Lamp Post"...we sang with an English accent.  We did the accent that fit the character.  Little characterizations...sort of Stanislavski stuff.  All these songs were done at The Cavern.  Yeah, we played there a lot.

Herman's Hermits

Casey Chambers:  Many bands used The Cavern as a springboard.  The Kinks. The Stones. The Beatles, of course.  That had to feel like grabbing the golden ring.

Peter Noone:  We thought we had made it when we made it to The Cavern.  'Well okay, we've made it. Now what?' (laughs)  But then next you wanted to get heard on the radio.  And it was always about the next.  All those many bands at The Cavern.  Some of them were much, much better bands than Herman's Hermits, but they never made it and nobody knows why they didn't make it.  But I think it's because all the pieces have to be on the same board.  And I mean...all of them.  If one's missing...it could be a manager.  It could be a crooked agent.  In our case, all the pieces fell together.  We had the right song.  The right label.  The right producer.  The right manager.  And on and on.  And that's how we made it.  But there were lots of good bands.  The Mojos was a great band.  The Escorts was a great band.  The Undertakers was a great band.  Much better than us.  I mean, we would go to watch them.  And they never made it.  We were just unique enough to make it.

Casey Chambers:  Did you have much of a musical upbringing?

Peter Noone:   Yeah, yeah.  I had a musical household.  Everybody was a musician, you know?  I'm a true musician.  So my dad had a trombone.  His brother had a trumpet.  My grandfather was the church organ player.  My grandmother was the choir mistress of the church.  All we did was sing and dance and laugh at you know...at weddings, funerals, christenings, baptisms.  There was always music. Live music.

Casey Chambers:  Did you have the opportunity to see many American artists in England when you were growing up?

Peter Noone:  Oh yeah.  Many, many.  I only liked American artists.  I didn't have much energy for the English ones.  I saw Del Shannon and Roy OrbisonThe Everly BrothersSam CookeChuck Berry.  I saw Gene Vincent and Gene Pitney.  The ones who came to England, I would go and see.

Casey Chambers:  You mentioned Sam Cooke.  You guys did a really nice cover of his classic..."Wonderful World" and had another smash.  It's a fun listen.

"Wonderful World" - Herman's Hermits (Live in Australia 1966)

Peter Noone:  Yeah, everybody did one of his songs.  He was pretty inspirational because he had beautiful pop songs.  In America, they had all these different charts.  Charts that confused us.  They had a country chart and rhythm and blues chart.  The Top 40.  England, we did have the Top 40.  But The Beatles were number one.  And number two was the soundtrack to "The Sound Of Music." (laughs)  We were not spoiled by all the broken up little towns of different radio stations for different people.  So we heard it all.  We heard all music.  Of course, Sam Cooke was brilliant and we heard it right.

We'd hear Julie Andrews.  Then we'd hear Sam Cooke.  And then we'd have Woody Herman's Thundering Herd.  That's how England was.  We didn't get stuck with just the top 40.  Or just country and western.  We didn't know that Johnny Cash wasn't a rock and roll star.  We bought Conway Twitty thinking he was a rock star like Elvis.  We didn't know that supposedly...in retrospect, almost all the British superstars that came from America were country singers.  Roy Orbison was country.  The Everly Brothers was country.  Everybody except for, you know, Sam Cooke and Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis.  The rest of them were country stars.  Elvis.  His first records broke in country music.  "That's All Right, Mama" was a country song and then they changed the name to rock and roll and he got moved over into the top 40.  Same with Roy Orbison.  Same with Johnny Cash.

Casey Chambers:  I get it.  Music labeled to death.  What's an album you would recommend readers track down and listen to?

Peter Noone:   You know, I think Buddy Holly and the Crickets.  It's the one with the gray cover with his glasses on the front.  I recommend everybody start with Buddy Holly and the Crickets because they just recorded everything that they could.  Non-stop recording.  He was the music of everybody in those days.  The Beatles did...(singing) 'Words of love whisper soft and true."  And maybe they recorded more than one song, but when they were live...they played lots of Buddy Holly.  The Stones recorded "Not Fade Away" and turned it into a rhythm and blues song.  But pop was the thing that Buddy Holly owned.  Herman's Hermits recorded one of his songs, as well. ("Heartbeat")  All the bands were doing Buddy Holly material.


Casey Chambers:  I'd like to toss you a few names and have you say whatever comes to your mind.

Peter Noone:  Okay.

Casey Chambers:  John Lennon.

Peter Noone:  John was very nice to me.  I think because he had the same English kind of wit as I have.  So I could parlay with him.  He would say, 'That's a nice suit. Do they make it in your size?' (laughs)  And I would say, 'No, but my tailor can make collars.' (laughs)  Stuff like that.  It was just easy.  We all liked each other.  You didn't have to like the music to like somebody.  That's this new thing that's been created, like with "The Voice." and "American Idol."  So, I had friends and they didn't necessarily buy my records.  I'm sure John Lennon didn't rush out and buy my records.  But I think he liked me.

Casey Chambers:  Brian Jones.

Peter Noone:  I had just been reading his book again.  You know, he was a really nice guy.  I was probably one of the few people who got on great with him because nobody seemed to like him.  But I loved him.  I thought he was the person who was most like me.  Grammar schoolboy.  A nice mom.  Totally, totally into music.  If ya went out on a walk with him during a break from a TV show or something, we'd talk about music and girls.  No rubbish.  Just music and girls.

Casey Chambers:  Arthur Lubin...the director of the movie, "Hold On!"

Peter Noone:  He was a great character.  He had done some great work.  He had a massive TV background.  And he had no idea what to do with us. (laughs)  He thought that Herman's Hermits were like the Beatles in "A Hard Day's Night."  Like everybody thought that the Monkees were like the Beatles in, "A Hard Day's Night."  So we just had fun.  Music is fun.  Arthur Lubin understood that singing "Leaning On The Lamp Post" in a spaceship was a good joke.  And none of this should be taken seriously, you know?  So the serious stuff, we never had any.  We never gave that a moment.
If you're a musician and you want to try to impress other musicians, you don't stand a chance.  History will prove this to be a fact.  You now move from one in a million to one in a trillion chance of making it.  I was very lucky.  We never wanted to impress musicians.

Casey Chambers:  Well thank you so much for hanging out this morning.  It's been a real treat.  I hope you're staying safe in your neck of the woods.

Peter Noone:  Of course, I am.  I was already a hermit, remember, before this started. (laughs).  Nice talking to you, Casey.

"There's A Kind Of Hush" - Herman's Hermits / "There's A Kind Of Hush" (1967)

Peter Noone Official WebSite

Upcoming Tour Dates


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "Custer" by Larry McMurtry (2012)

"Custer" by Larry McMurtry
(2012)
Hardcover, 178 pages

The book "Custer" is a short biography about Gen. George Armstrong Custer and the players and events leading up to the historic battle at Little Big Horn in 1876.  There are plenty of photographs and illustrations included to connect the faces and places and this really adds to the time-travel mind-experience.  Best of all, for a coffee-table book, Larry McMurtry provides us with a very readable biography.  Experts on this subject will doubtlessly discover nothing new, but for lay-folks like myself, it was a revelation.  McMurtry does recommend a few books much better than his for anyone wanting to dig deeper into the subject.  But here, he simply gives us an interesting overview of the General and the goings-on during those tumultuous times in our country's history.  "Custer" is for readers who want to start with a light meal, rather than have a full course.  McMurtry gives us a fast and fascinating read and it satisfied an itch I didn't even know I had.

"Infinite Sun" - Kula Shaker / "K 2.0" (2016)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Thursday, May 28, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."The Missing Years" - John Prine (1991)

"The Missing Years" - John Prine (1991)

"We all reside down the block inside of 23-Skidoo."  This Grammy award-winning, "The Missing Years" was John Prine's 10th studio album after taking a fairly long hiatus and it's a really good spin.  There's nobody like John Prine.  His songs are sweet and bittersweet; catchy and filled with wonderful and curious Prine-isms and observations.  And his vocals are friendlier than a front porch.  Some of his biggie friends show up to add sugar to the tea like Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Howie Epstein, Bonnie Raitt, and a few others.  And they all do so without being the elephant in the room, which is much appreciated.  There is a lot to like here.  The "Jesus, The Missing Years" track, of course.  "Picture Show."  And the faded love gem, "All The Best"...which John performed frequently while doing the obligatory TV album promotion thing.

My favorite, and maybe lesser-known tracks are "It's a Big Old Goofy World,"  "Unlonely" and "The Sins Of Memphisto"  I have this album in both CD/digital format and grabbed the vinyl copy directly from Oh Boy Records during one of their sales.  It is a double album and the first re-ish.  The album also includes the previously unreleased song..."The Third Of July."  The song is a darker affair about feeling...trapped in one's circumstances.  "I believe that a thought has just gotten caught in a place where words can't surround it."  I really dug it and wonder if he ever performed it on stage.  We sadly lost John Prine from  COVID-19 complications on April 7, 2020.

"The Missing Years" (back)

"The Missing Years" (inside gatefold)

"The Missing Years" (insert-1)

"The Missing Years" (insert-2)

"The Missing Years" (lyrics on back of both inserts)

Oh Boy Records label (Side A-B)

Oh Boy Records label (Side C-D)

"Unlonely" - John Prine / "The Missing Years" (1991)

TRACKS:
A1  "Picture Show" 3:22
A2  "All the Best" 3:28
A3  "The Sins of Memphisto" 4:13
A4  "Everybody Wants to Feel Like You" 3:09
B1  "It's a Big Old Goofy World" 5:10
B2  "I Want to Be With You Always" 3:01
B3  "Daddy's Little Pumpkin" 2:41
B4  "Take a Look at My Heart" 3:38
C1  "Great Rain" 4:08
C2  "Way Back Then" 3:39
C3  "Unlonely" 4:35
C4  "You Got Gold" 4:38
D1  "Everything Is Cool" 2:46
D2  "Jesus the Missing Years" 5:55
D3  "The Third Of July" 3:11

PERSONNEL:
John Prine - vocals, guitar
Albert Lee - guitar, mandolin, piano
David Lindley - guitar, bouzouki, fiddle, harp
Mike Campbell - bass, guitar
John Ciambotti - bass
Howie Epstein - guitar, bass, b-vocals
Steve Fishell - dobro
Bob Glaub - bass
Joe Romersa - drums
Mickey Raphael - harmonica
Benmont Tench - organ, piano, harmonium
John Jorgenson - guitar, bass, dobro, mandolin, bassoon, saxophone
Phil Parlapiano - mandolin, accordion, harmonium
Tom Petty - b-vocals
Christina Amphlett - b-vocals
Liz Byrnes - b-vocals
Phil Everly - b-vocals
Bonnie Raitt - b-vocals
Bruce Springsteen - b-vocals

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
Follow Me On FACEBOOK 

Friday, May 22, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."H.P. Lovecraft II" - H.P. Lovecraft (1968)

"HP Lovecraft II" - HP Lovecraft (1968)

This was to be H.P. Lovecraft's 2nd (and last) album.  It's filled with mostly chill folk-psych with some electric keys tapping the brush in spots.  The lyrics have very much the spin of the times and the words are carried along in an almost foreboding manner.  Every song has been lightly dipped in psych dust and it's a moody little biscuit, at times, but it never gets boring.  Often, the vocals reminded me of a young Marty Balin and I was totally cool with that.  I dug it, actually.  "HP Lovecraft II" succeeds in feeding the head on a late-night bender.  And with a pair of comfortable headphones, it's bonus.  My favorite songs are "At The Mountains Of Madness"..."It's About Time"...and "Electrallentando."

The band members were from Chicago, but they recorded this square in L.A.  The band quickly fractured into pieces shortly after this release.  The album cover is a gatefold unipak with tracks and credits listed, band shots, and some vintage psych artwork inside.

"HP Lovecraft II" (back)

"HP Lovecraft II" (inside gatefold)

Philips label

"At The Mountains Of Madness" - HP Lovecraft / " HP Lovecraft II" (1968)

TRACKS:
A1  "Spin, Spin, Spin" 3:26
A2  "It's About Time" 5:20
A3  "Blue Jack Of Diamonds" 2:55
A4  "Electrallentando" 6:27
B1  "At The Mountains Of Madness" 4:48
B2  "Mobius Trip" 2:46
B3  "High Flying Bird" 3:15
B4  "Nothing's Boy" 0:40
B5  "Keeper Of The Keys" 3:06

PERSONNEL:
George Edwards – vocals, acoustic & electric guitar, bass
Dave Michaels – vocals, keyboards
Tony Cavallari – lead guitar, vocals
Jeff Boyan – bass, vocals
Michael Tegza – drums, percussion, vocals

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
Follow Me On FACEBOOK