Thursday, July 30, 2020

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "They Thirst" - Robert R. McCammon (1981)

"They Thirst" by Robert R. McCammon
(1981)
Paperback, 565 pages

NO SPOILERS:
This isn't your fancy dandy vampire Lestat bloodsuckers.  These vampires are much more grungy and a lot creepier.  They are led by a young vampire king planning to take over the city of L.A. turning the entire population into his own personal vampire suck-buddies.  The vampires adhere to most of the familiar lore of vampirism.  No sunlight, crosses, garlic, and other snafu's.  And with that, the game is on.  There are also plenty of creepy and memorable moments that Robert McCammon scatters throughout his story that are both disturbing and deliciously strange.  The undead wrapped in bedsheets.  The vampire king's human minion, Roach.  McCammon has a way of detailing scenes by catching the light from unexpected angles.

There are a variety of characters thrown into the pot, as well.  Some good.  Some, not so much.  They all add a bit of flavor to the stew.  And yet, with all this seasoning, there was no one I really cared to share an umbrella with.  And this causes a bit of a disconnect in a couple of places that make what should have been super suspenseful, to fall just a little bit flat.  Overall, the story is still very exciting, but..." missed it by that much!"  "They Thirst" is not the scariest vampire novel you'll read from this heavily populated genre, but it does have fast legs that will carry you long into the night.

"If You Want Blood (You Got It)" - AC/DC - "Highway To Hell" (1979)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Monday, July 27, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Friar Tuck And His Psychedelic Guitar" (1967)

"Friar Tuck And His Psychedelic Guitar" - Friar Tuck (1967)

Friar Tuck was guitarist Mike Deasy, a longtime member of "The Wrecking Crew" with credits a mile long.  This one-off album was an early cash-in on the psychedelic train that was just beginning to get legs.  Remember, this was still only 1967 so the ground being covered was still mostly a road less traveled.  This is not a great album, but it is entertaining.  A fun, playful pop-psych spin with a few freak-outs thrown in to satisfy the mind-trippers.  And the songs are trippsh, if sometimes silly, but nothing sounds cheap or lacks for effort.  For a cash-in, there is still a piece of psych heart burning in the wax.

Side One is all covers with a tracklist that look like real groaners...but Deasy and singer Curt Boettcher, a very early shaker of the sunshine and psych-pop sounds that were yet to come, give the songs a fresh-take that rewards the listener.  I mean, if you're going to cover a song...at least bring something different to the table, right?!  Friar Tuck and his friends certainly abide by that philosophy.

"Friar Tuck And His Psychedelic Guitar" (back)

On the flipside is all instrumentals with Mike Deasy's guitar dropping in and out from every direction with both freakouts and melody, and though not exactly heavy, he does manage to part the water a time or two.  And the bits of vocals we hear are used almost like instruments and to great effect.  

Favorite tracks are the lightly lysergic cover of "Louis Louis" that builds into a fuzzburn.  The closing tracks "A Bit of Grey Lost" and "Where Did Your Mind Go" punches the Friar psych-ticket in a nutshell.  This "Friar Tuck And His Psychedelic Guitar" square is a mono Mercury promo copy with a bb in the top corner.  "Oh baby, we gotta go now."

Mercury (promo) label

"Louis, Louis" - Friar Tuck / "Friar Tuck And His Psychedelic Guitar" (1967)

TRACKS:
A1  "Sweet Pea" 3:11
A2  "Louis Louis" 4:56
A3  "Work Song" 4:48
A4  "Alley-Oop" 5:09
B1  "All Monked Up" 2:47
B2  "Ode to Mother Tuck" 1:50
B3  "A Record Hi" 2:32
B4  "Fendabenda Ha Ha Ha" 2:30
B5  "A Bit of Grey Lost" 2:37
B6  "Where Did Your Mind Go?" 3:35

PERSONNEL:
Mike Deasy - guitar, arranger, producer
Curt Boettcher - vocals
Ben Benay - guitar
Jim Helms - guitar
Jerry Scheff - bass
Jim Troxel - drums
Mike Henderson - organ
Butch Parker - piano
Toxie French - vibes
Alicia Vigil, Bob Turner, Dottie Holmberg, Dyann King - vocals
Jim Bell, Michele O'Malley, Sandy Salisbury, Sharon Olsen - vocals

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Monday, July 20, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Believe" - The Third Power (1970)

"Believe" - The Third Power (1970 - Rei 2016)

There must be something in the water.  The Third Power was a heavy trio from the same Michigan rock basket that gave us MC5, Grand Funk. The Frost, The Stooges, and the list goes on.  Their music swam in the acid rock pool but had a unique heavy melodic flavor and touches of psychedelic shade.  Tasty riffs and runs are found throughout.  And the vocals are especially strong.  The Third Power was often compared to Cream or The Hendrix Experience, and you can hear hints of both, but not too much.  The Third Power played with their elbows off the table and their only album..."Believe"...is a solid and unique square on its own. 

Favorites are the powerful opener..."Gettin' Together" and the psych-tinged "Feel So Lonely"...the latter being a real grower.  "Persecution" is probably my favorite track with axeman Drew Abbott and singer/bassist Jem Targal delivering the FedX.  Drew Abbott would later go on to play in Bob Seger's Silver Bullet Band for eight albums.  The opening track on side two, "Comin' Home" has Abbott, Targal, and drummer Jim Craig each fighting for rock purchase and is a very close second.

The Third Power...who are included in the holy Acid Archives...had a 2016 RSD release that was pressed on red transparent vinyl and limited to 2,000 copies.  The album came with an obi, an 8-page booklet, and a download card with eleven bonus tracks of singles, outtakes, and two live 1969 recordings taken from the famous Grande Ballroom in Detroit.  Rescued from Spektrum Muzik.

"Believe" - The Third Power (back)

"Believe" - The Third Power (inside gatefold)

Future Days Recordings / Vanguard

8-page booklet

"Persecution" - The Third Power / "Believe" (1970)

TRACKS:
A1  "Gettin' Together" 4:18
A2  "Feel So Lonely" 4:17
A3  "Passed By" 3:43
A4  "Lost in a Daydream" 2:31
A5  "Persecution" 3:24
B1  "Comin' Home" 3:49
B2  "Won't Beg Any More" 4:28
B3  "Crystalline Chandelier" 3:41
B4  "Like Me Love Me" 5:23

PERSONNEL:
Drew Abbott - guitars, vocals
Jem Targal - vocals, bass
Jim Craig - drums, b-vocals
ADDITIONAL:
Sam Charters - organ, piano
C.A.Z. - wind chimes

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Thursday, July 16, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Head" - The Monkees (1968)

"Head" - The Monkees (1968)

"Head" was The Monkees 6th album and the soundtrack from their movie of the same name.  An unexpected psychedelic soiree for their non-experienced Teen Beat fans.  The album opens with a collage of sounds and phrases not unlike The Beatles “Revolution #9”...but much, much shorter.  Less angry.  And segues into the floaty psych classic "The Porpoise Song."   By now, the album leaves little doubt that this train you're on ain't going nowhere near Clarksville.  Surprisingly, “Head” only has six songs, but all of them are quite enjoyable.  Peter Tork's light shines especially bright with "Can You Dig It" and "Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again?" both pushing things forward.  (Peter left the band after this album.)  Only "Daddy's Song" is an eye-roll.  And it isn’t exactly bad...it was written by Harry Nilsson after all...but Davy delivers the goods in that campy vaudeville-style he's so fond of milking.  A well he drew from much too often.  And yet, surrounded by the amalgam of other things, the song doesn't really spoil the party.

The Monkees were on such a roll, I wish there was more music to be found here.  Instead, they chose to include weird noises and snippets from the movie in-between songs.  Thankfully, they are very short, and but for a couple interruptions, do not overstay their welcome.  It's mostly all good fun.  And it's a neat snapshot of the times that were happening.  A couple more songs, a little less silly, and “Head” would be an outstanding spin.  As it is, “Head” is simply a very good one.

"Head" (back)

I seldom see an original copy of “Head” anymore.  When I do, the reflective Mylar cover is usually smudgy and dull.  Or the vinyl has those qualities.  I've never been lucky enough to find the album in the “new arrivals” bin.  Bad timing, I suppose.  Anyway, I found my copy at one of those eclectic homes in Riverside.  The kind of house that has more angles than "The Blacklist."  I was biking around and stumbled upon a yard sale.  I only had $13 in my sad pocket and the hipster couple accepted my pittance.  Sure, The Monkees "Head" has a gimmix cover and all that, but the record is much better than one might expect.

Colgems Records label

"Can You Dig It?" - The Monkees / "Head" (1968)

TRACKS:
A1  "Opening Ceremony" 1:20
A2  "Porpoise Song (Theme From "Head")" 2:56
A3  "Ditty Diego (War Chant)" 1:25
A4  "Circle Sky" 2:31
A5  "Supplicio" 0:48
A6  "Can You Dig It?" 3:23
A7  "Gravy" 0:06
B1  "Superstitious" 0:07
B2  "As We Go Along" 3:51
B3  "Dandruff?" 0:39
B4  "Daddy's Song" 2:30
B5  "Poll" 1:13
B6  "Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again?" 2:39
B7  "Swami (Plus Strings)" 5:21

PERSONNEL:
Micky Dolenz - vocals - drums
Davy Jones - vocals - maracas, organ
Mike Nesmith - vocals, guitar, organ, maracas
Peter Tork - vocals, guitar, bass
ADDITIONAL:
Danny Kortchmar – guitar
Leon Russell – keyboard
Ry Cooder – guitar
Neil Young – guitar
Carole King – guitar
Harvey Newmark
Stephen Stills – guitar
...others

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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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
Follow Me On FACEBOOK

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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