Halloween – Neon Park

10-31-12        Neon Park

Poncho Sanchez born 1951; Illinois Jacquet born 1922; on 10-31-70 “Motown Chartbusters Vol. 4” LP was No. 1 in England; 10-31-81 Human League “Dare” was No. 1 in England.

Recently, I found an A&M Records sampler LP from 1977 with Neon Park (1940 – 1993) artwork on the cover.  I think you’ll agree it’s a suitable “Halloween” theme, for today.

Now that Park is gone, there’s a nice coffee table book about his work that’s fairly easy to find, at least I think it is.  Like many, I first became aware of him with the gorgeous cover art on the front of Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention “Weasel’s Ripped My Flesh” LP, in 1970.  Others first encountered Park’s artwork on Little Feat record covers (when the band featured Roy Estrada from Zappa’s band).

Never has a cover been so divisive, on a phonograph record!  People either loved or hated the “Weasel’s Ripped My Flesh” cover!

The Halloween artwork for A&M Records isn’t in his coffee table book, unfortunately.

Peter Green

10-30-12        Peter Green

Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green born 1946, psychedelic Singer / Songwriter Grace Slick born 1939; I like ‘em both!  On 10-30-71 John Lennon “Imagine” LP was No. 1 in England.

In the ever-revolving doorway of hot new guitarists, Peter Green was once poised to show the rest of us the way to go.  As I was about 10 – 12 years old at the time, I didn’t get to read as much of the story as I would’ve liked.  He’d played with John Mayall – replacing Eric Clapton, even!  He had his own band, Fleetwood Mac.  He had a great single, “Oh Well” – which I had heard on a Warner / Reprise 2LP sampler.

So, with only having a very tiny sliver of the tale, I bought what was to be Green’s only solo album for a good many years:  “End Of The Game”.  Those familiar with this LP know that it’s an instrumental psychedelic-bluesy muscular beast…let’s just say I was not so ready for it, when I got it.

Now, with the mountain of music that has majestically paraded before me, I see it’s place in the pantheon of British blues-rock.  Make no mistake:  NOTHING else sounded like this album in 1970/1.

There are probably those who would (correctly?) classify this album as “British jazz”, as indeed a lot of British jazz was very influenced by the (electric) blues.  There just weren’t all that many instrumental rock music albums at that point; that was the domain of jazz records!  So, jazz played on rock music instruments?

To fully comprehend the Peter Green phenomena, you must hear (and enjoy) “Then Play On” by Fleetwood Mac, and “End Of The Game” by Peter Green.  Yes, there are earlier Fleetwood Mac album on CBS, but “Then Play On” is without a doubt the consolidation of the CBS albums.  New music for 1969!

IMHO, Mr. Green took a well-deserved rest from the music business for a good few decades.  Took him a bit to get all of his chops back, but he’s definitely been on the road with it for a while now.  His playing can still amaze, even if his physical looks / presentation doesn’t.

Mr. Pete Brown, the Cream lyricist, told me about the current work of Mr. Green; yes, I should try to hear it – no, it wasn’t like Fleetwood Mac (of old, not the stuff with the girls).

I can never again regain my innocence, at the time of first hearing “End Of The Game”; “What?  There aren’t any songs on this album?”  No singing at all?  (This guy’s a good vocalist!).  I can only imagine how the folks at Reprise Records in England felt when he delivered this album to them; it’s NOT a Fleetwood Mac album.  But it would further Peter Green’s “reputation”, though quite in what way would not be apparent for some time.

XTC – Go 2 (1978)

10-29-12        XTC – Go 2

Jazzer Zoot Sims born 1925, Charlie Daniels born 1936; on 10-27-73 Status Quo “Hello” LP was No. 1 in England; 10-28-78 XTC “Go 2” charts at No. 21 in England; 10-27-84 XTC “The Big Express” LP charts at No. 38 in England.

I was working in the record distributor (fall ’78) when XTC’s sophomore LP “Go 2” was released.  If I recall correctly, it was packaged with a 12” single “Go +”, and a large poster of an XTC poster (for “White Music”) being placed over a bunch of UK 70’s teenybopper stuff (David Essex etc.) – the exporter, “Caroline Exports”, was an arm of Virgin Records, the releasing company.

So, I believe that “Go +” was an actual introduction to the mighty XTC!  What speed do I play this at?  How do I feel about this “new music” that’s walking down the pike?  At that time, none of my peers had heard this band, so nobody to discuss them with – in a large warehouse of ‘music people’.

Indeed – “White Music” hadn’t made an impression on me.  I saw it, but…didn’t listen, didn’t care.  I was not automatically buying “anything” being released in England – there had been some real punk / new wave clunkers by that time!  Not everything was as good as, say, Ultravox.  Were they a “punk” band?  They sounded like Roxy Music / K.C. to my ears…and Brian Eno produced their debut album!

So, XTC will be forever be mired in the abyss of “This is ‘new music’ – do I care?”  It was so odd when, in only a few short years, they got sort-of popular in L.A., with “Life Begins At The Hop” or “Making Plans For Nigel”.  At least by 1980, there was someone to discuss XTC with!

In keeping with the state of the music business of the day, I duly ordered and got a cassette of “Go 2”, with it’s different text on the cover, “This is a cassette..” etc. Working at the distributor, I found out about the “Guillotine” sampler, the “Hope & Anchor” 2LP sampler…when it came time to investigate XTC further, I merely ordered all of their 45’s from the exporter – by 1979, they all still came in picture sleeves!  Alas, only ever got the 12” of “3DEP”, the 7” was sold out, apparently.

So, I did participate in ‘new wave’ music – at it’s nascent best.  I bought and kept these records in my collection, likely to the amusement of other older record collectors that I knew, who couldn’t believe I would “fall for this junk”.  I did always try to walk my own path, in this regard.

So, I will not argue with anybody about what their favorite XTC album is; I firmly believe it’s all in whatever you encounter first; what’s the album that made you a fan of any band?  This is my favorite XTC album.  When Barry Andrews left, I was pretty ‘bugged’ about it.  Would XTC ever be the same?  Well, yes and no.  Would I ever be the same?  Uh, no – thankfully.

Jon Anderson

10-25-12        Jon Anderson / Yes

Jon Anderson of Yes born 1944

This is turning into “Birthday Week” around here!

I am never really certain who is in or out of Yes at any given time.  In order to get Asia, do you have to add John Wetton?  Yes member solo careers:  I can name at least 2 Jon Anderson solo albums!  Well, I could probably also name 1 x solo album by Chris Squire, maybe 2 x Steve Howe solo albums…and Rick Wakeman doesn’t count (“I know Mudhead, but only to 10”), as he has zillions of solo albums – but how many of them are attributable to his membership in the Yes club?  Yes Club 7!  And we all have an Alan White solo album somewhere in the “W” section of our dusty record collections – don’t we?

I’ve actually seen a few permutations of Yes on stage – and maybe even a solo Jon Anderson concert (or two?).  Really, I don’t mind this stuff!  Best show (that I can still recall) was Anderson at The Roxy, fronting a bunch of children who had learned the overly-complicated Yes licks at some ‘band camp’ (or school).

“Olias Of Sunhillow”, the debut Jon Anderson solo album – certainly had lovely packaging; Nicely printed, with an extra fold, I believe.  It certainly had custom labels.  Always firmly a believer that in order to get “Yes” – you must have at least 3 members of the band present.  Can’t remember how many members of Yes are on “Olias of Sunhillow”, as I sit here typing this.  I went and checked, and the $1 LP of it that I found isn’t filed in either “A” or “Yes”, so it must be in a box somewhere here.

I was among the curious when Trevor Horn of The Buggles replaced Jon Anderson in Yes.  But I will confess that I welcomed Jon Anderson back, for “90125” (original title: “80123”, when it retailed for a dollar less!).  “Big Generator” was also always a bone of contention, at least among the set of Yes fan that I ran with.  Some hated it, others loved it.  It sounded like “Sides 3 & 4” of “90125” to me.  When the yes albums got re-mastered recently, I don’t think Rhino bothered with “Big Generator”, but Warner Japan certainly did!  (Crisp new CD mastering, SHM-CD and bonus tracks!)

Yes members (past and present) must occasionally wonder what happened to the music industry they once knew.  Where’d the suits go who approved our artwork?  Why can’t we make an album that you could buy virtually anywhere in 2012?  How come we only tour Japan now?

So, Happy Birthday, Jon Anderson – the voice of Yes.  Some of the fans still fondly remember when Yes took over that theatre in San Luis Obispo.  Probably, there are fans there waiting for that to happen a second time.  Remember when Jon Anderson played Mongo’s Saloon in Grover Beach?  (Sorry to alienate non-Central California residents, with this idle chat about S.L.O. etc.)

Bill Wyman

10-24-12        Bill Wyman

Bill Wyman born 1938; on 10-24-70 Pink Floyd’ “Atom Heart Mother” LP was No. 1 in England.

CD               MONKEY GRIP                                                           TRATTORIA JP      PSCR-5413

1974 9 TRKS Menu 71, Rolling Stones (’95 issue)

LP                MONKEY GRIP                                                           ROLLING ST UK   COC 59102

1974 9 TRKS Rolling Stones, U.K. vers.

7″                  (SI SI) JE SUIS UN ROCK STAR                            A&M US                   2367-S

1980 2 TRKS no pic sleeve

LP                GREEN ICE                                                                POLYDOR JPN     28MM 0058

1981 18 TRKS Ken Thorne etc., insert

7″                  COME BACK SUZANNE (PS)                                  A&M UK                   AMS 8170

1981 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

LP                BILL WYMAN                                                              A&M UK                   AMLH 68540

1982 10 TRKS Rolling Stones

CD               BILL WYMAN                                                              SANCTUARY US   36265.2

1982 14 TRKS (4 x bonus tracks) (’06 issue)

7″                  NEW FASHION, A (PS) promo                                A&M UK                   AMS 8209

1982 2 TRKS with pic sleeve, promo

7″                  VISIONS (PS) promo                                                A&M UK                   AMS 8227

1982 2 TRKS with pic sleeve, promo

CD               ANYWAY THE WIND BLOWS (Rhythm Kings)     BMG JPN                BVCF-31015

1998 14 TRKS Gary Brooker, Eric Clapton etc.

For rather ages, if you were an outspoken Bill Wyman fan, you had to stick to the “In Another Land” London Records U.S. 45 by The Rolling Stones.  I believe it’s his only lead vocal on a Rolling Stones track.

When watching The Rolling Stones on videotape (60’s stuff especially), you can’t help but notice that their bass player really holds his instrument up really high, which seems a fairly odd place to try and play it.  Probably his best bass sound on a Rolling Stones album (in case you were wondering) is the intro to “Live With Me” on “Let It Bleed” – nothing but bass for a few seconds!

Probably, his career highlight was leaving the shackles of The Rolling Stones.  Free to embrace a solo career, Wyman quickly adapted to the age of MTV…and synthesizers!  No, I don’t have every single Bill Wyman solo album, but…I always rather liked the “Green Ice” (O.S.T.) LP.

My favorite single from his A&M / Ripple Records ’82 solo album is probably “A New Fashion”, which – to my ears – doesn’t sound a million kilometers from contemporary work by, say, Gary Numan.  Did you buy the Sony “Video EP” of the singles from that album?  I certainly did!

Yes, there are more recent Bill Wyman efforts than the ’82 solo slbum.  The Rhythm Kings have several out now, but the only one that ever crossed my path was “Anyway The Wind Blows” with Gary Brooker (of Procol Harum) and Eric Clapton… Happy Birthday, Bill!

10cc – The Original Soundtrack

10-23-12        10cc – The Original Soundtrack

Boozoo Chavis born 1930, Dwight Yoakum born 1956.

Having been a neophyte progressive rock devotee, I “missed” 10cc the first time around.  I read about them, saw their records in the bins; I never cared for their big hit (“I’m Not In Love”), so…I never heard “The Original Soundtrack” until about a decade ago.

“The Original Soundtrack” is probably their best known LP, largely due to the massive hit single – but it is a snappy “Excellent 1975 Rock Music” album, despite “I’m Not In Love”.  My suggestion:  Do what I did recently, program that song out of the playlist!

LP                ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK, THE                                                 MERCURY US       SRM-1-1029

1975 8 TRKS insert

LP                ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK, THE re-issue                                MERCURY EU       753129586

1975 8 TRKS “Back to Black” 60th vinyl annv. Issue

 CD                 ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK, THE (SHM-CD Kami)                  MERCURY JPN     UICY-93814

1975 12 TRKS (’08 issue) (4 x bonus tracks)

SA                ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK, THE (SHM-SA-CD Kami) NH     UNIVERSAL JPN   UIGY-9033

1975 8 TRKS non-hybrid SA-CD (’10 issue) kami sleeve

I’ve got a selection of listening options available, for this title; original U.S. LP, or a new-fangled Euro LP pressing, in the “Back To Black” series.  In the digital sweepstakes, I am not hurting:  I have a Japanese paper sleeve SHM-CD (2008 24bit re-master) and an SHM-SA-CD (“Single Layer” 2010 DSD re-master).

Why have two different Japanese CD’s of the same album?  Well, there’s no denying that the SHM-SA-CD sounds absolutely spectacular – those Manchester guys really knew their stuff, when writing and recording this one.  Sharp stuff!  I don’t even wonder about the Steve Hoffman re-mastered “Gold Disc” anymore – the SHM-SA-CD chumps everything but the mixed master tape!

But…the regular SHM-CD ’08 re-master has 4 x bonus tracks not found on the glorious ’10 SHM-SA-CD!

9. Life Is A Minestrone (Single Edit)

10. Channel Swimmer

11. I’m Not In Love (Single Edit)

12. Good News

Maybe I should also do a shoot out with the divergent LP versions I have?  Naw, as I am missing a Mercury UK LP original pressing – I bet that’s mastered pretty hot.  Still, my phonograph can really surprise me.  But I bet I don’t need to even play my US LP; the quality of the pressing will doubtlessly leave something to be desired.

Maybe I should make a version of the CD (to listen in the car) that replaces “I’m Not In Love” with one (or both) of the B-Sides?

Time Machine 1972 (Strange Days)

10-22-12        Time Machine 1972 – Strange Days

Franz Liszt born 1811, Lux Interior born 1946; on 10-17-70 Simon & Garfunkel “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” LP was No. 1 in England; on 10-19-74 Rod Stewart “Smiler” LP was No. 1 in England; 10-20-79 The Stranglers “Nuclear Device” 45 charts at No. 36 in England.

Strange Days magazine in Japan continues to do their “Time Machine” feature, with the October, 2012 issue containing August 1972 releases.  Quoichiro Iwamoto often seems like he’s looking over my shoulder, but this month’s titles aren’t exactly my cup of tea!

The Band “Rock Of Ages” (Capitol US 2LP SABB-11045; double live LP!); The Kinks “Everybody’s In Show Business” (RCA UK LP DPS 2035); Cactus “’Ot ‘N’ Sweaty” Atco US LP SD 7011); Michael Nesmith “And The Hits Just Keep On Comin” (Pacific Arts US LP PAC 7116); Elf – self-titled (Epic US LP KE 31789); The Doors – “Full Circle” (Elektra US LP EKS 75038; non-Jim Doors!); Bob Seger – Smokin’ O.P.’s (Palladium US LP P-1006); Seals and Crofts “Summer Breeze” (Warner Brothers US LP BS 2629); and finally Michael Jackson “Ben” (Motown US LP M-755L).

Looks like it’s a bit of a turn towards US artists, eh?  Usually these Japanese lists are peppered with original release info about British records / European records!  The only title I own here today is The Band “Rock of Ages”!  And I definitely didn’t buy it in 1972, I bought it within the last 5 years (two versions:  a MFSL SA-CD and the Capitol Records 2CD re-master with a bunch of material added).

While I am reading The Kinks book by Neville Marten and Jeff Hudson – I never took them seriously after the “Lola” LP on Reprise / Pye.  Cactus were interesting mostly because they were on Atco Records, but – I never bought any of their LP’s.  The Monkees were inoffensive, but I didn’t see the use of Michael Nesmith solo records.  Elf?  I remember seeing it, but it didn’t look like the type of record that would interest me, to be honest.  I had as much use for a non-Jim Doors as the record buying public; in fact, I think I got the other one, and not this one.  I’m from L.A., so had little of no use – then or now – for Bob Seger’s brand a rock music.  I have the “Best of” by Seals and Crofts, so I have the song “Summer Breeze” on LP, but “Year Of Sunday” was the last Seals and Crofts LP I got when new.  I firmly believe the Jackson 5 were pitched at someone younger than myself, so the idea of their lead singer having a solo album was pretty much lost on me.

I sure hope Strange Days magazine goes back to Time Machine editions with British and European releases!

Capability Brown

10-18-12        Capability Brown

Singer Anita O’Day born 1919, Chuck Berry born 1926; 10-18-80 Ultravox “Passing Strangers” 45 charts in England; 10-18-80 XTC “Towers Of London” 45 charts at No. 31 in England.

I last dedicated a blog to British 70’s band Capability Brown in May of 2003.  Since then, both albums have re-issued on CD in Japan!  That’s right, “From Scratch” made it’s CD debut!  And I have discovered a 45 that I never knew about / never heard:  “Midnight Cruiser” b/w “Silent Sounds” (Charisma UK 45 CB 207 – the version I have is “Midnight Cruiser” on both sides, a promo-only copy).  So, one more Capability Brown song to go, for me!

Before this set of musicians were Capability Brown, they were in a band called Harmony Grass – on RCA Records in England.  I believe there’s an RPM label CD of their entire recorded output, but I have yet to buy a copy.  I have one Harmony Grass 45, “I Remember” b/w “Summer Dreaming” (RCA NZ 45 60489, 1969?).

And after their two Charisma albums, “From Scratch” (Charisma UK LP CAS 1056, 1972) and “Voice” (Charisma UK LP CAS 1068, 1973), there is a “Best Of” called “Liar” (Charisma UK LP CS 5, 1976), with no ‘new’ material.  Both of their albums got released in the US (Charisma via Buddah for “From Scratch” and Passport Records for “Voice”).

For those who care, after Capability Brown…several of the musicians went to a band called Krazy Kat on Mountain Records (same label as the Sensational Alex Harvey Band!), with two albums “China Seas” (Mountain UK LP TOPC 5004, 1977) and “Troubled Air” (Mountain UK LP TOPC 5009, 1977). With no US issue for these two.

Somehow, via their connection with Buddah Records in the US (via Charisma), Capability Brown were the backing band on the Risa Potters LP “Take Me Away” (Buddah US LP BDS 5115, 1972).

Band member Kenny Rowe had a solo 45 on Charisma UK, but…I haven’t been able to track down any other of the members; not even using “Rock Record”, the mighty UK music / musician book!

I recommend Capability Brown “From Scratch” and Capability Brown “Voice” – you should be able to find at very least US pressings for no more than $3 – $5, with a little bit of looking.  British pop music of a very high order; good for fans of Queen, The Beatles etc.  Do you like 4 (or 5) part harmonies?  Look no further.