Wednesday, November 11, 2015

THEM: "The Happy Tiger Years" (1970-71)

As noted before, I didn't have much knowledge about Them's ever-changing lineups, let alone how far they'd continued on after Van Morrison left the band. They had a pair of albums on Capitol's Tower label, where they'd relocated to Texas, and then based themselves out of LA, becoming a West Coast psychedelic band. They'd had essentially the same lineup from when Van left, only with a new frontman, Kenny McDowell.

Scouring through a vintage-vinyl catalog, I noticed a couple of entries for a couple more of their albums on some label I'd never heard of called Happy Tiger (sounds really official, doesn't it?). Both albums were described as having "the heaviest snarling fuzz ever", and "sounding like an offspring of early Who and MC5". Wow, what could these sound like?

Sometime in the summer of 2000, I came across the first of the two Happy Tiger albums, this being the self-titled one, released in 1970 or so. Weird cover, with what looked like a dead girl floating over some sort of symbolic mish-mash of British and American themes, regardless of the fact that Them were from Ireland...and with the band's name spelled out above it all in purple shaving foam!

The band consisted of longtime bassist Alan Henderson, and session guitarist Jerry Cole on guitars and vocals. The two of them are credited as being the "rhythm section", but maybe they were the ones doing all the rattling percussion on some of the songs. Further listening, and a little research shows that Hal Blaine was the drummer on these sessions, plus contributions by Jack Nietzsche (piano) and Ry Cooder (guitars), among some others.

The first thing you notice is how low-budget the production and recording qualities are. Lots of fuzz-tone guitar, as promised, but the lyrics to the opening song (Cole's own "I Keep Singing") leave much to be desired ("C'mon and get some feelin'...let's get higher than the ceiling!"). Yet another "Gloria" re-write follows, but this time as a Charlie Rich tune by the name of "Lonely Weekends", with Cole trying hard as he can to belt it out like Van once did, and failing miserably. "Take A Little Time" comes next, with endless repetition of the chorus, ans thankfully fades out after a bit.

Now, it starts getting good, with some heavy fuzz tone on rockers like "You Got Me Good", "Jo-Ann" and "Memphis Lady" (another Cole original), and Alan really struts his stuff on "Jo-Ann". After a couple of dead-end covers of "In The Midnight Hour" and Nobody Cares", we get treated to a cover of the Stones' "I Am Waiting" (from the Aftermath album), but with Alan on lead vocals for this one. He had a pretty good voice...maybe he should have been the band's singer, he could have pulled it off quite well. The album ends with a cover of "Just A Little", made famous by the Beau Brummels, which also fades out rather quickly.

Not much is known about the band during this period, like if they did any gigs or toured. Indeed, they seemed to be more of a recording project than an actual band. Somehow, they managed to pull together for one more album, Them In Reality, in 1971, this time as a power-trio with Alan Henderson on bass, and former Texas band Kitchen Cinq members, guitarist Jim Parker, and drummer John Stark. The album cover is rather cheesy, with a group photo on the front (in which they sort of remind me of The Nice), and individual in-the-studio shots on the back.

The album opens with a loud, sloppy, trashy medley of "Gloria" and "Baby Please Don't Go". Sounds like they were going for a garage-rock sound here, with a heavy James Gang influence, especially when they clam up and start jamming. This was such a low-budget production that no-one could bother with fixing a couple of loud tape-warps and drop-outs toward the end of the medley, but...oh well, it just adds to the fun.

After a Paul Williams tune, "Laugh", the rest of the album consists of all-original tunes by Parker and Stark. I can only describe them as West Coast hippie-rock, with a kind of CSN&Y feel on the backing vocals. One song, "Let My Song Through", kicks off with a riff that will remind you of "Sweet Home Alabama", three years before that one was recorded...maybe Skynyrd copped it from here. The remaining tunes aren't bad, kind of laid-back feeling, with some solid drumming and good distorted guitar to be heard, save for the final cut "Can You Believe", done on a sole acoustic guitar and reverbed vocals.

That seemed to be it for Them after its release. I heard an interesting story during a visit to Golden Oldies, where I told Jeff about finding this one, and he tole me about a guy who once came into the store with a box full of sealed copies of this very album. Seems he had been a local concert promoter back in the '60s and '70s, and he tried to get the band to do some shows up in the area, but they were running into some legal trouble regarding use of the name "Them", and so it never happened.

The two albums have been put on CD, though possibly in quasi-bootleg form. My copy has both of them on one CD, on the Synton label, but nothing else in the way of great mastering, or any liner notes, just reproductions of the covers. I've also seem them on CD as individual CD's, but if they were remastered in any way, I have no idea. It was just very cool to see them on CD, if only for a while, as they weren't in print very long.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

THEM: "The Story Of Them" (1997)

This showed up at the house one day in April of 1998, something I'd never seen or knew was out. Dad had a battered copy of their first album, which I honestly had never gotten around to listening to, but I always liked the picture on the front cover. I remember seeing this one way back at the Blue House, but wasn't sure what this was going to sound like. With the black and orange on the cover, was this going to be spooky? The guys on the cover sure looked threatening enough!

Quite a compilation, this one. It's a 2-CD set that has pretty much everything they ever recorded and/or released, and digitally remastered. And loud, too! Unfurling the little booklet in the, what a history of this band that was only around for just a few years. So many different lineup changes, save for Van Morrison himself, and their bass player, Alan Henderson. I had no idea how many players had come and gone in such a short time, and I saw that they had a second album, Them Again, which I wasn't even aware of.

The first disc showcases the classic era, when they banged out hits like "Here Comes The Night", "Mystic Eyes" and the immortal "Gloria", which launched umpteen garage bands for years to come. But there were some great, bluesy tunes such as "All For Myself", "One More Time" and "Just A Little Bit", just to name a few. Why these guys weren't and aren't more revered is beyond me...this stuff kicked major ass. Raw, bluesy, snot-nosed R&B with Van howlin' and hollerin'...what's not to like?

A lot of the songs are heard in real stereo, though some of the songs may have been mixed later on when a similar-titled double-album compilation was compiled back in 1972. The two copies of the first album I have here are both in mono, so I can't comment on if the mixes on the stereo copies were really in stereo or not. But it is exciting to hear "Gloria" and "Here Comes The Night" in full, wide-open stereo. On the other hand, we have some songs where the song was in mono, but some extra added percussion instruments are added in the left channel, making them "stereo".

Apart from way too many lineup changes, one criticism about the band is the fact that they were often augmented by session musicians on their recordings. So maybe they were, but they sure had a great sound (at least in the beginning), and well-written tunes. Alan Henderson's bass playing was rock-solid, and he was the only one who was never replaced by a studio player. Or there's just plain old "I don't like Van Morrison", though that applies to either his music, his prickly personality, or both.

As for the second disc, there was not a whole lot to make me go back and listen to it. Their sound was a little too jazz-driven in places, not helped by poor production and less-than-stellar songwriting (especially on the ones not written by Van). The one cut well worth the price of admission was their version of Bob Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue". Great atmospheric piano fed through a tremolo unit that drives the song along.

Now, as 2015 comes to a close, there is a three-CD set coming out that not only features all of the above, but a third disc comprising of unreleased studio takes, demos and BBC radio sessions. Not only is this going to be bitchin', but it will be great to see and hear this stuff coming out again. Maybe they'll finally get the respect they finally deserve!

Monday, October 26, 2015

King Crimson: Civic Hall, Wolverhampton, September 10, 1971

This seems to be one of those shows that fell in between the cracks, not appearing in the band's list of gigs that they did from 1969 to 1974, yet a recording of it exists...and a very good one at that. Of course, it sounds as if it were recorded on a reel-to-reel tape recorder in someone's lap, but I've heard worse than that. And, of course, this lineup of the band is still divided down the middle by most fans. You either like this lineup, or you don't. It took me a while to warm up to them (especially since the 1973-74 lineup--which I heard first for many years--sets the bar pretty high), and hearing more live stuff from them apart from the Earthbound album, I noticed how really good they were, and now look on them as very underrated and undervalued.

The show consists of the usual songs that this lineup did live throughout its existence, but this one has a couple of unique differences to it. This version of "Sailor's Tale" features Mel Collins playing flute and Robert Fripp playing the electric piano during the part where Fripp's guitar solo would be on the eventually-recorded studio version; when it picks up into the ostinato section, Fripp plows away on the Mellotron, making it sound more like something from Lizard than Islands.

The version of "Groon" during this show is over 18 minutes long, featuring Ian Wallace's VCS3-treated drum solo, but also a guitar solo at the end by Fripp that is reminiscent of the one he did at the end of the Earthbound album, but less menacing, and it ends with a final flourish of the song's opening riff, something they rarely did.

This show is on YouTube in separate parts; I downloaded them all and cut them onto CD to listen to (save for "The Devil's Triangle", which wouldn't fit). If you're a fan of this lineup, you'll like it. If you've never heard this lineup live before, you won't be disappointed. It's just a darn shame that there seems to be no film or video of them in existence...that would be great to see!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Who: Chicago, December 8, 1979

This came in the 3-DVD boxed set of Amazing Journey, when it was released in 2007, and you could only get the third disc by buying it at Best Buy. As I watched it for the first time, I recorded the audio onto CD. It wasn't a bad thing to do, as the music was re-mixed from the original 24-track tape.

This was a show from the Chicago Amphitheater, not even a week after the tragic concert at Cincinnati, where eleven people were trampled to death while the crowd was rushing to get into the venue to see the show. You would never know by watching this, although they lightly acknowledge this a couple of times during the show. This was also 15 months after they had lost Keith Moon, and were touring for the first time with a new drummer, so there was quite a lot riding on the band at this time.

But, as Ive said, this is actually quite enjoyable. Pete and Roger, in particular, are out to have a good time, and are in a playful mood while on stage. The songs are played with plenty of energy to spare, far from the lethargy of the 1981 and 1982 tours that most fans remember this lineup of the band being plagued with. With John "Rabbit" Bundrick on keyboards, they were able to play newer songs such as "Sister Disco", "Music Must Change" (a surprisingly well-received song here), and piano-driven tracks from Quadrophenia, such as "Drowned" and "5:15".

Kenney Jones....what can we say? He had some massive shoes to fill, and while a competent player, he sticks to playing "four to the bar" on the hi-hat (which doesn't suit songs like "Substitute" and "Baba O'Riley"), whereas Keith would have been plowing all over the crash cymbals, doing it only the way he would have done it. But they needed someone who could play a good, long show, with someone to match the band members' energy.

Since there were never any live shows released from the 1979 tours, from which a good live album could have been made (save for the forgettable Concerts For The People Of Kampuchea), this is probably one of the best post-Keith Moon live shows that's out there.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pink Floyd: "More Blues" (Montreux, 1970)

One night, looking through YouTube, I found something by Pink Floyd called More Blues. It was a 2-disc bootleg set, but thankfully uploaded on there separately. Not much of a title, and not much in the way of any details of where or when it was recorded, but I took a listen to it, and was impressed by what I was hearing. A very good stereo recording of the band, sometime in 1970 (definitely by the set-list, anyway), with excellent renditions of "Astronomy Domine", "Fat Old Sun", and "Atom Heart Mother". Also, a great version of "Cymbaline", where the "walking footsteps" section isn't too long 9as it can be on some versions), but the band gets drowned out momentarily by a big, buzzing noise coming through the PA during the final verse, and David Gilmour simply laughs it off.

A very good performance, and with such good sound quality that I often reach for this one to take with me for a spin in the Discman.

The second disc has the final encore of "Just Another 12-Bar", and the rest of it comprises a live BBC recording from the London Playhouse, which I was already familiar with. For the uninitiated, it has the only live performance they ever did of Roger Waters' "If", which could have been a good one live if they'd played it more than just this one time...oh well, at least it exists. And then this was the debut performance of "Atom Heart Mother" (featuring brass and choir, but no cellist, which was replaced by a French horn, which doesn't have the same ring to it).

That show was recorded November 21, 1970 at the Casino Montreux. There was another full show recorded the following night, which is also around in excellent quality, and in stereo for that matter (I think it was recorded on a reel-to-reel). In September of 1971, they played there again, only this time armed with some new material that would soon be released on the Meddle album, but three months after that, the place would burn flat to the foundation when "some stupid with a flare gun burned the place to the ground".

Friday, September 25, 2015

THE BEATLES: Hollywood Bowl (three complete shows)

One of the very first things I ever heard from them was this album, in the summer of 1979, when I was only three years old. Dad had been playing them, and I was amazed at everything I was hearing by them so far, although we were still playing just the earlier stuff for now. We had the "red album", which held a lot of favorites, but songs like "She Loves You", "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "It Won't Be Long" were major favorites of mine. While they were playing, nothing else in the world mattered.

The copy of the album we had disappeared, and we got it again in 1986 at Golden Oldies during one of the first times we ever went there. I fell in love with it all over again, and played it often. As the years went on, I waited to see if it would ever make its way onto CD when all of their other albums made it onto that format, but for some reason, it never did. In the meantime, I read different things about how the album was recorded with 3-track equipment, and how they didn't have to bother putting out any recording mikes to catch the sound of the was all captured perfectly!

There were plans to release the 1964 show as a live album not long after it happened, and acetates were pressed, but the recording quality was apparently not quite up to snuff, so it went unreleased (although transfers from the acetates made the rounds as bootlegs of the show for years to come). I've also read where Phil Spector was even tapped to perhaps do something with the recording (in 1971, after the band had broken up), but thankfully nothing happened in that department. He might have dubbed a 90-piece orchestra and choir on top of the music!

One of the things I looked for when I first got a computer at home was any live shows by the Beatles on YouTube. Not only was there a rip of the album on there, but the three concerts that comprised the album, in their entirety! I downloaded them, cut them onto CD's, then I put them on, and turned up the volume.

The first thing I noticed upon hearing these shows in their entirety is that they are raw stereo mixes, without any added echo to the vocals or instruments. Bass and drums in the left channel, guitars in the right, and the vocals in the center. They sound a lot clearer to me, and for some reason, the never-ending wall of screaming girls doesn't sound as gratingly loud on this as they do on the album.

The August 1964 show is excellent all the way through. There is a surprisingly good version of "You Can't Do That", which should have made the album, and they even do "Yes It Is" rather well. For not having any monitors or PA to hear themselves, let alone over all the screaming, they actually pulled off a really good show in the face of all that, and they actually sounded like they were having fun onstage.

A year later, they played two shows: August 28 and 30. The first show of the two was not used for the album at all, except for a few edit pieces. The vocals did not come through on the recording for some odd reason. Otherwise--again--we have the same simple rawness to the recordings and mixes that make them such a joy to hear. The August 30th show is a really good one. In fact, most of this show makes up the album, although we get to hear Ringo sing "I Wanna Be Your Man" on this one, and the show closes with "I'm Down".

Well worth giving a listen to, if you come across them on YouTube. As you listen to them, you realize just how good they were as a live band. If only they'd had really good PA and monitor systems back then, they might not have given up on touring quite so easily, but just imagine how different their story might have turned out!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Beatles: "Live At The Star-Club, Hamburg, 1962"

There seems to be quite a variety of differing versions of the Beatles' final Hamburg show from New Year's Eve of 1962, with different track-listings and sound quality between them. Okay, so they're far from being perfect...far from being bootleg quality, to some ears...but this is all there is, and not only is it exciting, but you're hearing them as you would never hear them again. They weren't the leather-jacketed scruffs anymore, and not quite the four "mop-tops" yet.

It was amazing the scope of music and songs that they had in their repertoire at the time ("To Know Him Is To Love Him", "Til There Was You", etc.) , and also quite a number of their own songs, and some bitchin' rockers, such as "Hippy Hippy Shake", "Ain't Nothin' Shakin'", "Some Other Guy", and "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You)", all of which would have made some immortal classics if they had recorded them. We ended up getting them on Live At The BBC, but they all would have been some killer singles.

The first time I had ever seen or had known of the early recordings were from a double-album I would see at the library, on the Pickwick label. I remember getting it once, and listening to it at home, but the sound quality didn't sit well with me at the time, or some of the material, so I didn't appreciate what I was hearing. It wasn't until year later that I heard the "official" version of the German edition on the Lingasong label that it sounded better, and was much more enjoyable. You can just imagine what it must have been like to have been there as you listen to it.

One of the last things George Harrison did before he died was put an injunction on these recordings, so that they would never be released again. Quite a shame, as it would be fascinating to hear what they would sound like now, especially with such a massive leap forward in remastering technology since they were first released.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Doors: "Live In Boston"

I was surprised to see this one when it came out. Not only as a full show, but that they had played two shows that night...and it was a show where (as I had read in a few books about them) the hall managers had pulled the plug on them, mid-song. That alone was going to be worth the price of admission, so I got it.

The first thing you notice right away is that Jim Morrison is drunk. I mean, falling-down drunk, with sloppy and slurry yells as soon as he hits the microphone, but lets rip with a scream as they go into "Roadhouse Blues". And then he actually turns in a coherent show, in spite of his condition, although he slurs one word during "Ship Of Fools" and changes the entire meaning of it: "The human waste was dying out!".

And he's not without some humor during the show. In the middle of "When The Music's Over", he makes a joke out of a long-standing accusation that he'd whipped it out onstage in Miami the year before. He half-sings "What would you do with it?" to the girls in the audience, and then asks it again a little more serious this time. After hearing some yells and some suggestions, he cracks, "I think I'll pass!".

For the second show, they'd started a bit late (which did them no favors, as we shall soon hear!), but sounded like the band was ready to give it another go, although Jim was still a few sails into the wind. He gets through the first few opening songs without incident...but as soon as they hit "Five To One", something odd happens. It's as if not only the band is hit with a wave of newfound energy, but Jim actually seems to sober up a little bit, and puts a whole lot more into his performance.

The performance of "Light My Fire" that kicks of Disc 3 is well worth the price of admission. Not only is it inspired, with Ray Manzarek playing a lengthy keyboard solo, but it makes a couple of references to "Summertime". After Robby Krieger's solo, Jim directs the band to cool down and stop altogether, and then he sings some of "St. James Infirmary" a capella, and recites the "Graveyard Poem" (later insterted into another version of the song on Alive, She Cried). They then plow into the final verse of the song, which is spoiled by Jim singing into the mic with his hand over it (or something), but--wow, what a rendition of the song!

One little-mentioned aspect of these later-era shows is that Ray played some of the bluesier numbers on the guitar, while Robby played an actual bass guitar; in this format, they usually played "Maggie Magill", "Been Down So Long" and a loose encore of "Roadhouse Blues"...which is what they just swing into, and then the plug gets pulled on them. The crowd jeers, Jim goes on a rant about "these cocksuckers!" pulling the plug on them, there's more booing, and the band has no choice but to pack it in for the night. It sounds like chairs being tossed onto the stage after they've left.

All in all, an interesting ride. Maybe not a great starting point for newbies, or for anyone who's never heard their live stuff, but an interesting listening experience.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pete Townshend: "The Tommy Demos"

After hearing the two Scoop volumes, and a few bootleg compilations, I was always curious as to how his demos for Tommy were like. There were two cuts on Another Scoop, and a handful of them on the Deluxe Edition of Tommy in 2003, but I'd always wanted to hear the whole albums' worth of demos.

I never found a CD of them anywhere around here, but I eventually found them all on YouTube. They come from a bootleg compilation showcasing all the home demo recordings for the album. I was able to hear all of them, and was quite amazed at what I was hearing. The song structures are all pretty much identical to the final versions on the album, save for the occasional different lyric, but it's astounding to hear it all played and sung by Pete himself at his home studio.

A vast majority of the songs are carried along simply with just acoustic guitar, piano and vocals. The demo for "Pinball Wizard" is simply acoustic guitar, electric guitar and double-tracked vocals, and it sounds amazing on its own like that. The one song that seemed to be missing was "Go To The Mirror, Boy", replaced by a short interlude called "Success", presumably sung by the doctor after Tommy's "miracle cure".

All of Pete's home recording should be released, as they're so fascinating, with a lot of as-yet-unheard gems to be discovered, I'm sure. It's amazing that just one guy wrote all of these songs, and so many of them became classics.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

YES: "Yes" (1969) / "Time And A Word" (1970)

The earliest Yes I'd ever heard was by seeing a vintage black-and-white video clip of them from Beat-Club on Night Flight, doing a cover of Richie Havens' "No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed", although I didn't know it wasn't an original tune then. My exposure to them was pretty limited, so I wasn't aware of their early history, other than The Yes Album. I didn't know that they had done some more before that one.

In November of 1990, I was at Golden Oldies when I saw the album with that song on it, on what I assumed was their first album. It only cost me four dollars, and I was excited to hear what it sounded like. Sure enough, that was the lead-off song on side one, but was accompanied by a loud, clunky orchestra, as were most of the other songs on the album. But beyond the strings, I was impressed and amazed by what I was hearing. They even had a different guitarist (Peter Banks), although Steve Howe was confusingly on the front cover.

There was some great rockin' stuff on this one, such as "Then" and "Astral Traveler", but I was most impressed with their haunting cover of Buffalo Springfield's "Everydays". On my fifteenth birthday, I went and got myself a cassette copy of the album at Tower Records, so I could blast it on the Walkman whenever I went out anywhere.

Speaking of cassettes, a while after getting that one on tape, I found another on by them, only it didn't have a title on it. I immediately figured that this must be their first album...but this time, I didn't have the money to get it. As luck would have it, an 8-track copy of the album turned up at St. Vincent de Paul, and this time, it went home with me. Thankfully, it was in good condition, and played just nicely.

This one was a little rawer and rougher around the edges, but there were some great songs on it, even a Beatles tune ("Every Little Thing"). I was impressed with "Looking Around", and there was a glint of things to come with the opening of "Survival". In the summer of 1993, on a trip to Fred Meyer, there was a close-out section where they were getting rid of all their unwanted vinyl albums...and a sealed copy of this very album was in that rack...for twenty-five cents!!! Score!

Many years later, and I'm buying myself the remastered CD's, the ones with the original British album covers, and bonus tracks on both of them. I really liked the early non-stringed version of "Everydays", and it was cool to hear alternate mixes of songs from the West German version of Time And A Word. They both sounded amazing, and the first album in particularly sounded very impressive. Much fuller, and less brittle than on the original vinyl. A lot of people always complain about that album's production values (or lack of them), but I personally think that it compliments the music just perfectly. They simply got better as they went along, didn't they?

As with Metamorphosis, these two albums are always played a lot around the end of the summer, and well into fall...that time of the year just seems to suit the music, for me, anyway.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Iron Butterfly: "Metamorphosis" (1970)

In my teens, when I was really getting into collecting, one thing I would do is find 8-tracks at either the Goodwill or St. Vincent de Paul thrift stores that we had around the area. They were always cheap, usually in pretty good condition, and it was a good way to check something out before seeking it out on vinyl.

At the end of August of 1990, this was such a case. I'd been a fan of these guys for years, but this album was a bit of a mystery. Dad didn't have it, and there were a few cuts on it on the album-spanning compilation album Evolution. I tried to listen to the three songs that were on there, but they didn't do much of anything to me. Maybe it was that they sounded way different than what preceded it, more guitar-driven than keyboard-driven. The 8-track was only 39 cents, and I figured What the hell!

I stuck it into my player when I got it home, and played it all the way through...and I loved it! Yes, it was much different with Mike Pinera and Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt on guitars in Erik Braunn's place, but that was exactly the point of this album. There are more than a few instances where the dual lead-guitar lines sound something like the Allman Brothers. Hearing Doug Ingle on the Hammond organ instead of the old Vox Continental was quite a welcome surprise.

Great timing to have found this one...I was just entering high school that September, so life was going through a metamorphosis of its own. I recorded the 8-track onto cassette, and it was played often, just as soon as I got home from school. I still think of this album at the end of the summer, just as it's on its way into the autumnal equinox.

Later on, I would find further adventures with these guys (in a way) by discovering that Rhino and Lee Dorman joined forces with Deep Purple's original singer Rod Evans, and Johnny Winter's drummer Bobby Caldwell, and formed Captain Beyond. That would be a handful of years in the future, and quite a handful out of my pocket (especially that their albums were only available on Japanese import CD's at the time), but that's another story to be told soon.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pink Floyd: "Zabriskie Point: The Lost Album" (1970)

I've had the misfortune of trying to sit through this movie...twice, but ten years apart (and both times, out of curiosity), and it's terrible. I'm not going to go into what it's supposed to be about, so I'll just get to it: I only watched it to see if there was any interesting scenes with Pink Floyd's music in it. The movie opens up with "Heart Beat, Pig Meat", a sliver of "Crumbling Land" gets played, and "Come In, Number 51, Your Time Is Up" gets played to the slow-motion montage of a desert mansion exploding in super slow motion. That's the only good part in the whole movie, but that's almost two hours of watching it just to see it.

The soundtrack album was always hard to find, but their three cuts were available on a budget-priced compilation CD called Rock Goes To The Movies...good enough. I'd always wondered if they'd recorded anything else for the movie, and then a deluxe edition of the soundtrack album came out with a few unreleased things on it. I couldn't bring myself to fish out the coin to pay for just a few tracks on it, so I would see if it would turn up at the library or something. No luck there.

Years go by, and someone has uploaded an entire album's worth of material they recorded onto YouTube. Not only in great quality, but some fascinating material to behold. One of them, the oddly-named "Country Song", would have fitted nicely on Atom Heart Mother or Meddle. "Oneone" sounds like a collage from Ummagumma, and the real surprise was a blues instrumental called "Alan's Blues", which is an actual blues, with some great guitar work, and some surprising blues runs on the piano.

Until an actual and official album of this material comes out, check it out on YouTube while it's on there. You will be completely blown away.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Who: "Young Vic Blues" (April 26, 1971)

I found this one down at Buzzard's, sometime in 2002. I'd found a few good Who bootleg CD's there before in the past few years, and finding yet another new one was always a treat. This one was interesting. I hadn't really heard much live stuff from the 1971 era, and I noticed that this one had some songs on it, such as the openers: "Gettin' In Tune" and "Too Much Of Anything".

It's a soundboard recording of the April 26 show at the Young Vic Theater, from when they were rehearsing songs for Pete's new concept piece, Lifehouse. They threw open the doors to the place, and let whomever wanted to come in off the streets and hear them play.

It's a great show, although this CD only has the latter half of the show. This was superseded by the Deluxe Edition of Who's Next, which was released in 2003 with the same Young Vic show, only professionally recorded. There are some songs that aren't on the bootleg, and vice-versa, so it's nice to have both of them for completeness' sake.

One interesting thing is that a couple of the songs are played at the tempo at which Pete wrote and recorded them. A number of songs into the show, Keith Moon apparently gets bored with the medium tempos, and kicks "Bargain" from a slow, mid-tempo ballad into the fast-paced rocker we all know it as. This includes the first performance of "Won't Get Fooled Again", on which Keith had again stepped up the tempo, turning into another hard-edged rocker. It's still kind of a work in progress, as he didn't quite get the drum breaks in toward the end of the organ-snyth solo. All in all, a great performance, and well worth seeking out both versions.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Warhorse: "Warhorse" (1970)

Before discovering and using the internet, looking up info on older bands was often a gamble. Even more so if they weren't as well-known as, say, Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd. And double that if their stuff went unreleased over here in the States. One had to rely on liner notes inside of albums, CD's, footnotes in book entries and stuff like that. You would read about a band where one guy had left to form his own band, and they might have mentioned the band's name, but that was it, and you would be left wondering what they might have sounded like.

Such was the case with early Deep Purple, the "Mark I" lineup. I know Rod Evans and Nick Simper had left, but I really didn't know what became of them (musically) after that. Rod Evans fronted a band called Captain Beyond, featuring former members of Iron Butterfly and Johnny Winter's band, but Nick Simper was in a band called Warhorse, and...that was all that was known then!

In the pages of Goldmine, I began to see that they not only had two albums, but that they were also on CD. They were pricey imports from Germany, but I was anxious to find out what they sounded like. I ordered both of them from a place in Berkeley called Mod Lang, which specialized in imports. Two weeks later, they showed up in the mailbox.

To be honest, I was a little disappointed that not only were they a five-piece band not unlike Purple (I was hoping for a heavy power-trio or something), but they sounded a lot like them as well. In fact, most of the songs on the first albums were re-treads of songs from the first three Purple albums. Heck, they even looked like Deep Purple, with the long hair, and the mustachioed keyboardist!

But, the more I played it, the more I liked fact, I actually liked it more than Deep Purple's stuff (at least, the stuff after the Mark I lineup). The vocals left a little to be desired here and there, but the music was so good that you could overlook that. Great, crunching Hammond organ, and ultra-cool basslines from Nick throughout it.

The second album, Red Sea, had some good moments on it, but they were blatantly trying to be Deep Purple on this one, with a lot of Ian Gillan-style yowling, and guitar solos that sounded like Ritchie. Nonetheless, the first album was definitely a heavy influence on my fledgling keyboard playing and composition style, and is still a favorite to this day.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Rodney Dangerfield: "The Loser" (1966) / "I Don't Get No Respect" (1969)

I found this one at House Of Records in March of 1990, not long after my 14th birthday. I was looking through the comedy albums there, fished this one out, and was amazed. Not only had I never seen or even heard of this one, it looked like it went back a ways. It was on the Who's old label, Decca, and the tagline on the front said it all: The New Comedy Sensation.

When I got it home, this was quite different than hearing No Respect or Rappin' Rodney. On this one, he was actually doing routines instead of zipping by with witty one-liners, one after the other.

One of my favorite routines on the album is about him going out to eat in a restaurant, the place gets busy, and he finds himself having to split a table. Not with a pretty girl, you see, but with a crotchety old man in his 80's, who criticizes everything that Rodney orders for himself. There's also another bit where he gets held up in an alley, but the robber tells him a story about robbing his own mother, and would never have gotten caught if he hadn't invited her over for dinner and having her discover that they were using her silverware.

A bit of the ol' downtrodden Rodney going on, but he hadn't come up with his famous tagline least I don't thin it's on this album.

A few years later, in 1969, it would be the title of his second album, on Bell. I used to see it around a lot (it was reissued in 1980 on Arista), but never got around to picking it up until I saw a cassette copy of it for cheap at Musicland.

This one finds Rodney really downtrodden-sounding. The routines and bits are slowly disappearing, going more for one-liners and quick anecdotes, but without the speed and energy that would be found on the later albums. You can just visualize him standing up on stage in some smoky, smelly dive somewhere while this was being recorded. But there are some funny bits, especially ones with his so-called friends pushing him out of the car for being too drunk, or dating a woman with a really heavy (but unidentified) accent who talks all the time. Good bits, but Rodney's new-found "loser" persona probably just didn't jibe with record-buyers at the time.

So , there we have it...some early beginnings of the man who would finally get some respect and become an instant comedy legend in Caddyshack, some ten-odd years later!

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Nice: "Fillmore East, 1969"

I was excited to find about this one when it came out. I really enjoyed the live material across three of their five albums, feeling that they were so much better live than in the studio. At least from what I've heard...I can only wish I'd been there!

It's a two-disc set, a composite of two shows from the Fillmore East, newly remixed from the original multi-track tapes, and the sound is nothing short of amazing. When I would listen to Elegy and Five Bidges, I was amazed at Brian Davison's drum sounds, but even more astonished to later find out that he was playing a small jazz-type kit. How did he get such a big sound out of such a small kit?

One interesting thing about this entire set is that Keith Emerson plays the Hammond L-100 all the way through (save for the opening of the "Five Bridges Suite") and that includes "Hang Onto A Dream", which was always played on the piano. The only aspect missing would be the sight of Keith bucking the organ across the stage, playing it from the rear, dragging a thumbnail across the spring-reverb on the bottom, and slamming it down on the stage, getting all kinds of feedback and weird noises from his battered Hammond.

A great companion to their small but fascinating discography, and a nice overview of their work, whether you've heard it or not.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Steve Miller Band: "Extended Versions" (2002)

I found this one at K-Mart in the summer of 2003, in the $4.99 section. I'd never seen it before, and it didn't really say when or where it was recoded, but the tracklisting on the back was more than interesting, so it went into the shopping basket, alongside the potato chips, socks and cat food.

Once at home, I slid it into the CD player in the living room, and turned up the volume. It kicked off with "The Joker", moving onto "Fly Like An Eagle", and then going on to some pretty cookin' versions of "Living In The USA" and "You Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash". At the end of the set, Steve introduced the members of the band, which I immediately recognized from being around the 1976 period, so I knew I'd picked up a good one.

Actually, it was a composite of a 2-CD live set that I'd seen floating around, from two different shows, including a 1973 show from Washington D.C., when they were a compact 4-piece band, with Steve being the only guitarist in the band. On my next trip to Circuit City, I found that, and added that one to the collection.

Some of those CD's in the Extended Collection series are actually pretty good, despite the cheesiness of their presentation. This is a good one to start with, and should be pretty easy to find.