The B-side is a cover of the song, the Witch by Mark Fry. I probably never heard the original. This is something very different from the A side which is a rocker, this is more of an experimental folky strange track to start and then it rocks and psyches out! The bio mentions Red Krayola and I think that is pretty accurate. Another excellent release. The single is released Feb 12th.. Great work again..
Sunday, January 17, 2021
This is the first new Circle music in a couple of years and the longs break in releases since the band began 20 years ago. The thing with Circle is that their musical catalog is so diverse, this tape could be anything from extreme metal, metronomic kraut, ambient, noise… Who knows?? So what it is. .. This appears to be the first ever release by the quartet of Dawson-Lehtisalo-Rättö-Westerlund. It was produced by Tomi Leppänen. Anyway.. this stuff is mellow and does not feature any drums. Floating music with some nice keyboards and cool vibe. There is about 30mins of music with one long track on each side. The tape is only release was in an edition of 150. I think there are still copies available. I would say this is only for the die hard collectors.
Cassette Culture- Homemade Music and the Creative Spirit in the Pre-Internet Age by Jerry Kranitz. (VOD Records 2020)
This is quite a monster book. Heavy duty cover, large print, thick pages, lots of colour pictures and 2 full cds of strange and wonderful experimental music. I have to say I was quite ignorant on this subject coming in as back in the day when cassettes were a daily part of my life, it was for listening and trading live recordings and demo tapes and not for making music. The world described in this book is about the whole scene of people who made music at home most often with very simple recording set ups. It is also about the labels and magazines that drove the scene and made some of these artist famous or at least to a much larger audience. It also describes just creative these people were, not just with the music but also packaging and art and how important the product was. The only person I have personally known that was part of this scene was Doug Walker (RIP) of Alien Planetscapes. He would release many tapes on all of these different labels and was fully part of this scene, even collaborating musically with a lot of the folks who ran the most important labels. Pity he died long before this book was written as his insight would have been unique. Anyway, Jerry did have access to Richard Franecki, Hal McGee, Al Margolis, and many others. This is a very special book and not an easy read, I have to say. It was highly motivational though and really made me want to make more hand done releases with special artwork etc.. I have already done so with three releases where all the album covers were hand spray painted and all unique, as well as special CD-rs for bands I was in like Gas Giant and ØSC.
Anyway, a hell of a book that will inspire you to be more creative and hopefully, to make a closer connection to you music scene. Amazing effort. I know it took Jerry 10 years to finish this book. Incredible..
Kansas was a super hard working band in the 70s as were many and knocked out 3 amazing records in their first 18 months on Kirshner Records!! The highest chart position was still only 57 and eventually all three albums would go gold (sales of greater than 500,000). It was not until Leftoverture in 1976 that the band would have a major hit and the record would reach #5, with only Point of no Return beating it at #4. It was all down hill as far as the charts from this point. Although they did have 3 more top 20 records!!
The album Somewhere to Elsewhere (2000) was a unique album in the catalog as this was the first time since Audio Visions (1980) that the 6 original members appeared on an album together again, albeit for only 1 songs (Billy Greer played most of the bass on the record, and original bassist Dave Hope, only on 2 songs. I did not know much about the band in 90s and afterwards although I did see them in 1992, when they were a 5 piece with only one guitar player and then twice at Sweden Rock Festival in the 2000’s.
The band released a new record in 2020 and that is also described here. At this point in time the band is down to only two original members (Phil Ehart- Drums and Rich Williams- Guitar), both of who have played on every album but contributed very little to the songwriting. IT is not all new folks though as Billy Greer (Bass) has been with the band since the 80s and David Ragsdale (violin), also played with the band in the 90s.
Overall, if you are a fan of Kansas you will learn quite a lot about the band and the albums and certainly the details of every song. Cool book. It also includes some rare colour pictures of the band in a small section in the middle of the book. Great job Kevin.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
I hope you are all well and survived the year. This is probably the year that I reviewed the fewest albums but made the most music ever myself. There seems to be less and less interest in me reviewing stuff so I suspect the blog will slowly die or it will evolve into something else... Anyway, I bought around 100 CDs and Lps this year and around 100 digital albums (free or bought)... Below are the ones that I listened to the most and really got into or was surprised by with bands like Mr Bison, Forming the Void, and Lost Stoned Pandas. It is hard to put these in any exact order.. It is just a list...LOWRIDER- REFRACTIONS (BLUES FUNERAL)
Who would have thought this swedish band who had not released a record in 20 years would knock it out of the park! Although, I got the record in Dec 2019, most are considering this a 2020 release.. My wife and I played this a lot and it still is awesome. Killer record..
Geezer-Groovy (Heavy Psych Sounds)
I have been a fan of Geezer for quite some time and really loved their last album. The album though, the band went for something different and totally hit the mark. Just dig it!! One of the records that I played the most this year.
DATURA4- WEST COAST HIGHWAY COSMIC (Alive Records)
This has got to be my favourite band from Australia these days. I just love the retro sound and vibe and they just write killer songs. I actually think this is maybe their best album. Totally killer..
The Spacelords- Spaceflowers (Tonzonen)
Been friends with these guys since we played some gigs together and love these guys but with this album they really killed it. This is for sure my favorite album by the band and I had to buy that box set as well now. Awesome vibes on this record..
Mr Bison- Seaward (Ripple)
I really loved the split with Spacetrucker last year but this album just grew and grew on me. This and Lowrider were for sure the best stoner rock records of 2020.. No doubt!!
TEMPLE FANG- LIVE AT MERLYEN LP (Self Released)
Saw these guys a couple of times at Roadburn and again at Desert Fest. Super cool people and what a great new band. I have been waiting for a studio album and the snuck this live one out earlier this year. Killer songs… Can’t wait for more. Heard this one a lot as well.
OUTLAWS- DIXIE HIGHWAY 2LP (Steamhammer)
Who would have ever thought that the Outlaws would have another studio album and one that kicks ass as well. Wow.. We were really into this album this year and so many great songs. A lot of the guys in this band are dead but Monte Yoho (Drums) and Henry Paul (guitar and vocals) are still from the original band. Great stuff..
MOTORPSYCHO- ALL IS ONE LP (Stickman Records)
Another year, another Motorpsycho record. The last few (The Tower, Crucible) have been quite similar and this also carries some of that weight but throws in a few shorter track as well but the band excel the most on the killer long album side tracks. Wow.. Another amazing record.
DEEP PURPLE- WHOOSH! (Ear Music)Deep Purple pretty much make really solid records every time and some how can maintain that signature sound. Besides a few too many new age synth parts (stick to the Hammond Don!), just a set of killer songs. Lots of great playing. We really liked album a lot.. Classic 70s rock..
Forming The Void-Reverie (Ripple Music)
This was a totally new band for me and while I like most of the Ripple releases (I subscribe and get the digital files for all the albums for 5 dollars a month), this and Mr Bison were my favorites. The band has been around since 2014. Powerful stuff…
HOOFFOOT- THE LIGHTS IN THE AISLE WILL GUIDE YOU (Paura Di Niente)
My friend Pär and his band Hooffoot really killed it this year with this amazing album. It has to be the best one they have made. Classic 70 prog but with their twists and turns. Just awesome songs.. Great job guys..
KANAAN- DOUBLE SUN (El Paraiso Records)
Here is another band that was new to me. I first met the guys in Nov 2019 when Black Moon Circle played with them in Oslo and we also did a jam together. Super nice people. I still have not heard their first album which is out of print but this and the one with Jonas were both great.. Cool stuff..
YURI GAGARIN- OUTSKIRTS OF REALITY (Kommun2)
The heavy instrumental space rock band from Göteborg, Sweden were back in 2020 with another blast to another universe! Christian is a master at the riff and his solos cut through so nicely. Another intense journey to the other side!
OULU SPACE JAM COLLECTIVE- HARVEST SAGE (Adasonia Records)
I had hoped for another Deep Space Destuctors record but this will have to do! The space jam collective from the north of Finland released another brilliant trip from their archives on vinyl. A bit more laid back but super spacey and nice vibes. I dug it a lot.
ANTIBALAS- FU CHRONICLES (Daptone Records)
My favourite afrobeat band mixed it up quite a bit on this album and I was not really that hooked to start but after many listens I grew to totally dig it. Always pushing forward… Hope Seun Kuti will release a new one next year..
LOST STONED PANDAS- TURN ON TUNE IN GET PANDA’D (Fruits de Mer)
A brand new band but not new folks, most the guys surrounding Sendelica in this group but what a great record. The wife even liked this one a lot. Super nice and original stuff guys..
OZRIC TENTACLES- SPACE FOR THE EARTH (K-Scope)
he first new Ozrics studio album in 5 years and one of my faves for a long time. It is not really an Ozrics record though as I think of Ozrics tentacles a 5 piece band and this all done by Ed with a few guests on some tracks. Somehow this album just reached me an a special way. I have been a huge fan for more than 20 years. Great job Ed… I still dream that there will be “real” Ozric Tentacles again one day.
WHITE DOG- WHITE DOG (Rise Above Records)
This was a band that I saw first on Walter’s facebook page. Totally new band from Austin Texas playing classic 70s blues rock with a bit of Southern rock style. You have to crank this one up..RRAGS- HIGH PROTEIN LP (Lay Bare Recordings)
This Dutch band have a special chemisty. Just a trio playing retro 70s hard rock but damn they are good. The bands first EP was just mind blowing but this album really grew on me after a while. Cool band….
White Manna – ARC LP (Cardinal Fuzz)
This album really had the vibe of early Hawkwind and took me on a total trip… It is one of those albums where you have to get stoned and just relax and take the trip… Crazy sound production as well..
Ellis Munk Ensemble - San Diego Sessions (El Paraiso Records)How could you not come out with a cool record when you take Jonas (Guitarist in Causa Sui), Brian Ellis (Astra) and guys from a lot of other San Diego area bands like Sacri Monte, load up with beers and joints and jam!! Fun record I hope there will be more of this!!!
Kind- Mental Anguish (Ripple)
Been 5 years since the last KIND record. My friend Matt played drums on the first one and contributes percussion and synth to this one. It is a special band but after a while I learned to really dig this band… Cool and original stuff.
GOSTA BERLINGS SAGA- LP (SONY)
The Swedish band Gösta Berlings saga are totally unique. No one sounds quite like these guys. While I would have liked some more guitar on this very keyboard heavy record, the tracks are all so cool and different. I got hooked..
Samsara Blues Experiment-End of Forever (Electric Mistress)
This being the last album by this great band, now that Christian has moved to Brasil! I have been a fan of the band since the beginning and love these guys. As expected, this album did not disappoint. Still need to get the vinyl. Great stuff.
ØSC- FOUR RIDERS TAKE SPACE MOUNTAIN, DR SPACE’S ALIEN PLANET TRIP VOL 4- SPACE WITH BASS, Dr Space- Nykawana
Well, I had a lot of releases this year but these three are real stand outs.. My first solo album, Nykawana, the first Alien Planet Trip with bass and a monster ØSC album with a 62 min track… New ØSC has sold the best and had the best reviews. Not surprising....
Happy Holidays and a great new year. Here is to the return of live music and many more great releases. Peace, love, no war...
The rest of what I heard in 2020....
ALL THEM WITCHES- NOTHING AS THE IDEAL LP (US 2020)
ALLMAN BETTS BAND- BLESS YOUR HEART CD (UK 2020)
ANTIBALAS- FU CHRONICLES CD/LP (US 2020)
ARMORED SAINT- PUNCHING THE SKY CD/DVD (US 2020)
ASTRAL MAGIC- PATHWAY TO THE STARS CD-R (FINLAND 2020)
ASTRO HATCH- ASTRO HATCH CD (DENMARK 2020)
AURAL HALLUCINATIONS- LP (US/PT2020)
AUTOMATISM - INTO THE SEA LP (SWEDEN 2020)
BALEFUL CREED- THE LOWDOWN CD (IRELAND 2020)
BARNABUS- BEGINNING TO UNWIND 3LP/7” (UK 2020)
BIG SCENIC NOWHERE- VISION BEYOND HORIZON LP (US 2020)
BIGSCENIC NOWHERE- LAVENDER BLUES LP (US 2020)
BISMUT- RETROCAUSALITY 2LP (HOLLAND 2020)
BLACK SABBATH- VOLUME 4 (REDUX) LP (US 2020)
BLUE OYSTER CULT- THE SYMBOL REMAINS CD (US 2020)
BLUES PILLS. HOLY MOLY LP (SWEDEN 2020) RED GOLD SPLATTER
BRANT BJORK- BRANT BJORK LP/CD (US 2020)
BONIFÁCIO – HANAMI TAPE (PORTUGAL 2020)
BUDOS BAND, THE- LONG IN THE TOOTH LP + 7” (US 2020)
CANDLESMASS- THE PENDULUM LP (SWEDEN 2020)
CIRITH UNGOL - FOREVER BLACKCOLOUR HAZE- WE ARE LP (GERMANY 2020)
CYCLE- COSMIC CLOUDS 2LP/7” (UK 2020)
DATURA4- WEST COAST HIGHWAY COSMIC LP (AUSTRALIA 2020)
DEAN ALLEN FOYD-SHERPA SPLIT LP (ITALY 2020)
DEEP PURPLE- WHOOSH! CD/DVD (UK 2020)
DOCTORS OF SPACE- FIRST TREATMENT CD/LP (PORTUGAL 2020)
DOMBOSHAWA- FYRA LP (SWEDEN 2020) BLUE
RICARDO D'ORLANDO – WARHEAD CD-R
DR SPACE- NYKAWANA LP/CD (PORTUGAL 2020)
DR SPACE- SCORPOODLEDOO CD (PORTUGAL 2020)
DR SPACE’S ALIEN PLANET TRIP VOL 4- SPACE WITH BASS 2LP (PT2020)
E-GRUPPE LUX OHR- NON PLUS ULTRA CD (FINLAND 2020)
EARTHDRIVE- HELIX NEBULA CD (PORTUGAL 2020)
ELDER- OMENS 2LP (US 2020) SMOKE CLEAR
ELECTRIC MOON- YOU CAN SEE THE SOUND OF LP (GERMANY 2020)
ELECTRIC REMAINS- EYE MAKE THE HORISON LP (SWEDEN 2020)
ELLIS MUNK ENSEMBLE - SAN DIEGO SESSIONS LP
ENDLESS BOOGIE- THE GATHERED AND SCATTERED VOL 1-4 4LP
EYE MAKE THE HORIZON - ELECTRIC REMAINS LP (SWEDEN 2020)
FROZEN PLANET 1969- COLD HAND OF A GAMBLING MAN LP (AUSTR2020)
GIÖBIA - PLASMATIC IDOL LP (ITALY 2020)
GOLDEN GRASS,, THE- 100 POINTS LP (US 2020)
GOSTA BERLINGS SAGA- LP (SWEDEN 2020) MAGENTA
HAIR OF THE DOG- IT’S JUST A RIDE CD (SCOTLAND 2020)
HAWKWIND LIGHT ORCHESTRA- CARNIVOROUS CD (UK 2020)
HIGHER CRAFT, THE- I LOOK CD (UK 2020) AMAZING PACKAGE!
HOOFOOT- THE LIGHTS IN THE AISLE WILL GUIDE YOU LP (SWEDEN 2020)
HUMUULUS- THE DEEP CD (ITALY 2020)
KADAVAR- THE ISOLATION YEARS (GERMANY 2020)
KANAAN- DOUBLE SUN LP (NORWAY 2020)
KANAAN- ODENSE SESSIONS LP (NORWAY 2020)
KOMBYNAT ROBOTRON- DICKFEHLER STUDIO TREFFEN 1 LP (GER 2020)
KOMBYNAT ROBOTRON – FELDVERSUCHSSAMMLUNG TAPE
KRYPTOGRAK- S/T LP (NORWAY 2020)
KUNGENS MAN- TRAPPMUSIK 2LP (SWEDEN 2020)
LANDER, MATT/SOUNDS OF A NEW SOMA- LP (GERMANY 2020)
LEADEN FUMES - ABANDON SHIP LP (SWITZ 2020)
LORENZEN, UFFE- MAGISK REALISME LP (DENMARK 2020)
LOST STONED PANDAS- TURN ON TUNE IN GET PANDA’D 2LP (UK)
LOWRIDER (2) - ODE TO IO 2LP (SWEDEN 2020) REISSUE
MADMESS- S/T LP (PORTUGAL 2020) COLOURED
MÅNESKJOLD- DE HØJESTE TRÆER 7” (DENMARK 2020)
MERCURY BOYS - RETURN TO CINDERS LP
METAL HAMMER PORTUGAL- SUBSOLO 20 CD (PORTUGAL 2020)
THE METERS - GETTIN' FUNKIER ALL THE TIME 6CD BOX
MOS GENERATOR - I'VE GOT ROOM IN MY WAGON
MOTORHEAD- ACE OF SPADES BOX SET /UK 2020)
MOTORPSYCHO- ALL IS ONE LP (NORWAY 2020)
JONAS MUNK - MINIMUM RESISTANCE CD/LP (DENMARK 2020)
ØRESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE - EXPERIMENTS IN THE SUBCONSCIOUS CD/LP
ØRESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE - SONIC ROCK SOLSTICE 2019 CD
ØSC- VASTAVIRTA CD (DENMARK/PORTUGAL 2020)
ØSC- FOUR RIDERS TAKE SPACE MOUNTAIN CD/LP
OSSOS D´OUVIDO- ASA NISI MASA CD (PORTUGAL 2020)
OULU SPACE JAM COLLECTIVE- HARVEST SAGE 2LP (FINLAND 2020)
OUTLAWS- DIXIE HIGHWAY 2LP (US 2020) SMOKE CLEAR
OWL XOUNDS EXPLODING GALAXY- THE COALESCENCE LP (US 2020) ONLY 30 made
OZRIC TENTACLES- SPACE FOR THE EARTH CD (UK 2020)
PINK PUSSYCATS FROM HELL- HELL NINA CD (PORTUGAL 2020)
RED SPEKTOR- HEART OF THE RENEWED CD (2020)
RRAGS- HIGH PROTEIN LP (HOLLAND 2020)
SAINT GALLUS CONVENTION TAPES- FILES VOL. 1 CD (GERMANY 2020)
SHEM- NO SONGS, JUST SOUND CD (GERMANY 2020)
MARTIN RUDE & JAKOB SKØTT DUO - THE DISCIPLINE OF ASSENT LP (Denmark 2020)
TEMPLE FANG- LIVE AT MERLYEN LP (HOLLAND 2020)
SIENA ROOT- THE SECRET OF OUR TIME (SWEDEN 2020)
SKIFTING- SKYGGEMARKER LP (DENMARK 2020)
SOLTITÂR- 1989 EP (SWEDEN 2020)
SONIC DAWN, THE- ENTER THE MIRAGE LP (DENMARK 2020)
THE SPACELORDS- BOXSET (GERMANY 2020)
STONEGAZER- THE END OF THE WORLD CD (FINLAND 2020)
SULA BASSANA- THE BOX 6LP (GERMANY 2020)
THE 17TH DREAM OF DR SARDONICUS- LIVE 2CD (UK 2020)
THE WORLD IS OUR LOBSTER CD (UK 2020)
TSIOLKOVSKI – MOLNIYA LP (FRANCE 2020)
VIBRAVOID- KURSAAL PSICHEDELICCO PDISC (GERAMNY 2020)
VIBRAVOID- THE DECOMPOSITION OF NOISE 2LP (GERMANY 2020)
VIBRAVOID - OUT OF TUNE IN ROSENHEIM 2LP (GERMANY 2020)
WHITE DOG- WHITE DOG LP (US 2020) CLEAR
WHITE MANNA – ARC LP (US 2020)
WICKED LADY - RUN THE NIGHT / I'M A FREAK 7”
WITCHCRAFT- BLACK METAL LP (SWEDEN 2020)
YURI GAGARIN- OUTSKIRTS OF REALITY LP (SWEDEN 2020)
ZAKK SABBATH- VERTIGO LP (US 2020)
ZAKK SABBATH- VERTIGO-BEHIND THE WALLS OF DOOM CD/DVD BOOK
DIGITAL MUSIC I BOUGHT OR GOT FOR FREE:
TONY REED FUNERAL SUIT (ALBUM)
KIND- MENTAL NUDGE
BRIMSTONE COVEN. THE WOES OF A MORTAL EARTH
CRYSTAL SPIDERS - MOLT
WINO- FOREVER GONE
CORTEZ - SELL THE FUTURE (ALBUM)
TURNED TO STONE : VOLUME II: MASAMUNE & MURAMASA ALBUM
HOWLING GIANT : SERGEANT THUNDERHOOF TURNED TO STONE : VOLUME II: MASAMUNE & MURAMASA (ALBUM)
KINGNOMAD SAGAN OM RYMDEN (ALBUM)
CURSE THE SON EXCRUCIATION
WAR CLOUD EARHAMMER SESSIONS (LP, ALBUM) RIPLP123 2020
FORMING THE VOID-REVERIE (ALBUM)
HIGH PRIESTESS CASTING THE CIRCLE (ALBUM)
STONEBIRDS COLLAPSE AND FAIL (ALBUM)
BONE CHURCH ACID COMMUNION (12", ALBUM, LTD, TRA) RIPLP119
THE GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST LIVE AT FREAK VALLEY 2019 (ALBUM)
RITUAL KING RITUAL KING (ALBUM)
BISON* / SPACETRUCKER ENTER GALACTIC WASTELAND
PSYCHLONA VENUS SKYTRIP (CD, LTD, DIG) RIPCD148 2020
WOLFTOOTH- VALHALLA (CD, ALBUM, DIG) RIPCD141 2020
ARCADIAN CHILD PROTOPSYCHO (CD) RIP CD007 2020
MOS GENERATOR, VOID VATOR COVERING QUEEN
THE WATCHERS (5) HIGH AND ALIVE
A DECADE OF DOOM: RIPPLE MUSIC TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY (CD, COMP,
JONATHAN SEGEL- OUTSIDE INSIDE
KANOI- FROM THE CITIES TO THE STARS (REMASTER)
ELECTRIC JAGUAR BABY- S/T
TRANSATLANTIC SPACE COLLECTION- S/T
THUNDER CREEK.- DARK WATER RISING
FROZEN PLANET 1969- HYDROCULTURE
ASTRAL MAGIC- IN ORBIT
SAINT KARLOFF- INTERSTELLAR VOODOO
THE GOLDEN GRASS- HEAVY COLOUR
WHITE DYNOMITE- S/T
КОМВУИАТ ЯОВОТЯОИ- KR V
LEGENDARY PINK DOTS- THE LAST 10 YEARS ( A COMPILATION FOR THE COURAGEOUS)
SULA BASSANA- CV SESSIONS
VESA PARTTI- AMBIENTWERK I: AALLOKKO
CFA- THE SMOKING GUN EP
DUBBAL- THE RETURN OF THE LONESOME TRAVELLER
JAMBATTISTA- SEEKING THE SEEKER
Sunday, December 20, 2020
I really dug this UK trios last album but they have really topped it with this killer 70s rock and groover. 8 really well crafted and rockin’ tunes. Warflower starts things off in a groovy way. At about 2 mins the band starts to space out a bit as things come down and then back to the rock. Revol starts slowly, almost a bit doomy, bluesy and hypnotic and about 1.45 into the track, they vocals come in and they go into a different direction. Great guitar solo section on this one. Masquerade kicks back with a hard riff before the track drops down for the vocal section. At 3mins the band kick into full on rock out mode with some intense drums and lead guitar. Nice bass lines as well. Gilded Tears is a really great moody track. Long Way Down starts slow and spacey as they slow build up the track. Noisy, effected guitar and then about 1min in they kick into a great groove with a bluesy guitar line. Violet Sun keep the energy flowing and the groove stoned. A bit hendrixy… Hell to Pay slows things down again and in a heavy blues mode. They really rip it up starting about 4mins but only for 20m seconds or so. Ivory Towers closes out the record with another heavy spacey blues number.
Friday, December 11, 2020
I have to say, I am beginning to believe that STP is the premiere space rock band in England. So glad that this concert was captured in high quality and the band decided to release it on bandcamp and perhaps on a CD as well in the future. Vince Cory is a highly underrated guitar player. The guy just plays magical spacey guitar with such great feel. I love him… The opening jam was great. Next up is Neon and Elevator Seven both tracks from various releases but always different. Nice to hear the addition of the djembe on here. One Blue dot is slow and spacey and I guess a new number. Dreamy and nice melodic guitar lines. Psi Aum Ra starts with some weird synths before the bass and guitar kicks in and we are back to space rocking! Starz/Can Opener (old song) end this show with a 17min uptempo track. Very cool band who had a great chemistry.. I was hoping to add some video from the show but seems no one uploaded any to youtube yet! Enjoy..
Bodeda del Sol is a one man Spanish project by Jordi Vasquero Pujagut from Barcelona. We met some years ago at the Reverence Festival. Here is the story behind this digital only EP, which follows up his more doomy album from 2016. "In autumn 2019 I started writing the second Boveda del Sol album, writing new songs and finding my own evolutionary path. A few months later, the pandemic started and our day to day was disrupted. My initial plan was to finish recording and mixing the new album, then gathering some great musicians to hit the stages, as the approach for this new album is quite different from the first one, this new music is less ambient/drone focused and has way more drums, vocals and steps away from the classical doom sound, to evolve through my own experimentation. But with the pandemic, venues closed, culture choking in Spain...my chances to fulfill my original plans were almost impossible. So I put the album on hold, although it is fully written, and 90% of it is recorded. But it has been 4 years since my first album, and I wanted to release new music, so I followed the path the new music is leading me to, and started writing an EP, with the idea to do two songs, one song that is a gate to what's to come, a sample of the new path this project has taken, and a mellow instrumental song. And so I started working on it and in a few weeks I had both songs finished. As the pandemic isn't letting us fulfill our plans as we intended, I won't let a pandemic fully stop me, so here's this new EP"
This is a band that I think would go down well with the Classic rock magazine staff and audience and at a festival like Download in the UK. Great album guys.
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
How did you get started playing music?
That's hard to pinpoint. I mean, my parents were both music listeners, but not players really, outside of church choir or high school band. My dad still had his trumpet, though, I think a nephew of mine has it now. He has always had a huge classical music collection on LP and CD, they had many varied LPs I listened to growing up. During the time that I grew up in the 1960s, they actually had music classes in school in elementary school (“da-da-ditdit-da and the like”) and I was already playing songs on recorder by then (wooden flute) and I tried to have piano lessons but had one of those mean teachers who physically mushed your fingers into the correct key to get you to remember it, so I quit at 7 and started messing around with my mom's classical guitar. But I was also already drawing little hairy figures like cousin Itt with electric guitars and bat wings and top hats, listening to my clock-radio alone in my bedroom late at night—I got my own room when I was four or so, that'd be 1967-68, so I'd tune in to an AM station from San Francisco which was mixing in local bands with the bubblegum, so Jefferson Airplane caught my ears early on. I didn't start playing with other people until I was 12 (1975-76) when I got back to Davis after my mom had been on sabbatical in Tucson, which was where I got turned onto much heavier music by the record store dudes on 4th Ave; I'd walk up and down the street after school, they were like, whatcha listening to kid? I said, Beatles, you know, they said, here's some Alice Cooper, (etc.) So when I got back to Davis, I was like, hey have you heard this Led Zeppelin, they're phenomenal! And found a guy in my neighborhood who was into playing bass, and then we met another guy at school whose parents ran a “Pickers and Singers” folk group at their house, so they all played (folk and country music, mostly) and had several instruments, so we formed a band, acoustic at first. Stayed together until we left for college! Mostly covers, but we wrote about a half dozen songs.
Did you try out other instruments besides violin and guitar?
Well, I stayed mostly away from keyboards after that first thing, and in fact developed a thing against keys even for a while in high school, like was not into bands with keys. Except Pink Floyd. (I got over it). But, while I was, say, liking the Queen records where Mercury played piano, I did note that they had liner notes that said “And nobody played the synthesizer!” And when suddenly that liner note was absent was the beginning of them losing me. A lot of the 70s big timers lost me with their later 70s albums, I wasn't that into The Wall or In Through the Out Door by then, in favor of more out-there and DIY stuff that I was hearing on the UCD station, KDVS.
Anyway, yes, I should say that I started playing violin when I was 10, but I quit after 7th and 8th grade Orchestra, I broke my left hand in PE and pretty much stuck with guitar after that until I was in college. I did get a mandolin when I was about 15, as much because of Heart as Led Zeppelin!
You studied music at the University of California, Santa Cruz? I was reading recently about the electronic music laboratory and how they had some of the original modular synthesizers. Was modular synthesis part of the program? Did you get to play with any of these and make recordings??
Yes! So I went to UCSC in 1981 and was initially a philosophy major, but I tested into the second year music theory classes right off the bat and they were intense! Every day at 8:30am for four quarters (3 per year, summer break) 1.25 hrs MWF, 2 hrs T-Th, plus labs, so after that first year, I could get a music major in 3 years, so I switched to Music Comp, minored in Classical Languages. Before you got to go in the studio, you had to pass Gordon Mumma's Mus35 class in the history of electronic music, which was amazing (and all 20th century, an anomaly in all the other music studies) but involved hours of listening in the library basement listening rooms. Then we got to work in the EMS, with Peter Elsea as mother hen for the studios and him and Gordon teaching the classes or seminars. One studio had 4 Revox B-77s, a Tascam 16-channel 8-buss mixer, a modular Moog system and a few awesome rack examples: an Omnipressor, the Eventide Harmonizer, some parametric filter device… an A/DA Stereo Tap Delay, just awesome gear. A big room, and mics (can't remember which). The second room had a Buchla and an Alpha Centauri digital system, these were tougher to control, more code-writing instructions and fed by cassette-modem! The Moog of course was pretty old and drifty, but it was fun, had a 8-step sequencer and the filters and oscillators of course and ADSR units. We did a lot of tape collage stuff too (duh, you can tell by how I work in ProTools…) And then second year you could get to book time in the middle of the night, so we started recording bands and stuff, even though there were obviously other engineering labs in the building. Which reminds me, the stairwell was a great echo chamber, it was concrete, a 5 story building, we could run lines to the top and bottom.
So to answer your previous question, while a teenager I played guitar, bass, mandolin and violin, but when I started the music major, I had to pass a “keyboard proficiency” exam which meant lessons and playing Bach and stuff, which I muddled my way through. But also I was studying composition so I tried to learn how all the instruments worked and felt, I've gone through numbers of instruments and attempted to learn what I could, clarinet, trumpet, flute, organ, cello, contrabass, marimba, vibraphone, etc. I don't know if I'd say I can really play them, but I have a better understanding of them. I've recorded myself playing any one of these things at some point or another to use in some recorded music somewhere.
UCSC was known as a really cool school. I went to UC Berkeley but it was 30,000 students, where as UCSC was much smaller and tucked away in forest! What are your best memories of going to school there. You could have gone to UC Davis which was much closer to home.
Oh, I have so many intense and interesting memories of UCSC, I was at school 1981-85, started playing with Camper Van Beethoven in '83 and our first album came out the day I graduated in 85. I lived on campus the first year, then moved to a little town called Felton in the mountains behind the school for two years, about 45 minutes to get to school by road but we could also walk across the forest in the same amount of time, then eventually moved back into the town. The campus is on a hill overlooking the northwestern part of the town, so it's very separated from the town in that you have to expend energy of some sort to get up there one way or another. But it's beautiful all around that area, the cliffs over the ocean are incredible, the redwood forests above the University are incredible. Definitely some tripping events took place out there. There were lots of very creative people living there when I was, like in my second year of school the music theory class had tons of jazz guys, (most of whom are still playing, in whatever capacity professional musicians play in these days. That is to say, I see their names around still.) That was a little daunting to me (I was 19 or so) as I wasn't super into jazz, I was listening to a lot of classical to try to basically ingest music history as I learned about it, and a lot of avant garde/20th century “western art music”—which included the minimalists—shit all these are long stories—and weird 70s stuff like Can and Art Bears when at home, and other prog rock, and then my high school girlfriend was also at UCSC and on the radio KZSC doing a punk show, so that too. But that year, the jazz cats won and the theory had a lot of Coltrane or Miles as examples...
So anyway, there were always people interested in or doing all kinds of music, so I went to a wide variety of shows. On campus was one thing, but in downtown Santa Cruz there were rock and jazz clubs, and you could go up to San Francisco to see all sorts of things if you were committed to driving back in the middle of the night (about an hour and a quarter.) From Sun Ra at Kuumbwa in Santa Cruz, next night a gamelan ensemble, then later that week Philip Glass or Robert Ashley in SF, or maybe a punk show or a concert of baroque music on campus. And then in the dorms there were tons of kids who were typical Santa Cruz deadheads, so I saw the Dead several times too. A band called King O-San that I played with in high school, the guitar players were super deadheads, so they would teach us Dead songs for when the singer “took a break” (i.e. went for a coke bump or whatever) so I played a lot more Dead in the dorm lounges that first year, despite the antagonism between punks in the other campus bands and the Dead world. I was sort of oblivious, I just liked to improvise. There were several bands on campus or students that lived off campus but practiced on campus, so CVB also had our own shows there too. And when I graduated, Camper made a record and even toured out to Texas and back later in the year, but we lived and got jobs in town for another 5 years and played at parties there for a few of those years. By the late 1980s, CVB would tour the whole United States twice or more every year, even Europe and the UK, and then come home to sleepy old Santa Cruz, like, whew we're home, but then after a few weeks you'd get restless, wonder what's going on in the real world out there? Santa Cruz is sort of a whirlpool, I think it's one of those places that people get caught in and maybe don't escape. I moved to SF in 1989, the earthquake hit and SC really changed after that too.
What was the first band you played in? What is the last band you have played with?
First band I played with was with those guys in Davis, we called ourselves Bürnt Toäst. At that same time, or between times when Bürnt Toäst had a drummer, I also played in other cover bands in Davis, including King O-San (whatta name!) who were older dudes in their late 20s who played guitar and even older (oh my god) singer with a moustache who crooned the “Tuesday's Gone” type stuff, I played bass and another guy I knew in high school played piano. The drummer was a ex-biker who would freak out about gigs and drink too much, so we'd call in another high school guy we knew, we got to play in bars, have beer, so we stuck with it just to get beer and play music… um, pretty much still doing that now.
It is well known that Camper Van Beethoven has been your main band for the last 30+ years. How does that work these days with you being in Sweden for the last many years?
Well, we had a schedule up until early this year where we would play the West Coast between Christmas and New Year's, then do some middle US or the South or Texas, and the East Coast by President's Day weekend in January, later adding in a festival (called Camp-In) in clubs in Athens, GA for the end of the month. As well, we started an indoor/outdoor stage festival in 2004 in Pioneertown (the Camp-Out) near Joshua Tree in California, which usually ran four days in late August or early September, so we'd tour to it or from it in the Southwest or Midwest, say, Chicago to Minneapolis, then south through Iowa, Kansas, Colorado, NM, AZ, to the Joshua Tree thing, or vice versa. So it was pretty easy when I moved here in 2012 to just fly to the US twice or three times a year and tour for a month or six weeks. In that time, we played in the UK once and in Germany/Austria. Since the singer also fronts Cracker, we almost always (except for the UK/EU) played with Cracker headlining. They had big 90s radio hits and are still the bigger draw, of course, more publicly recognised and accepted. At the festivals in Pioneertown and Athens, each band got headlining nights, and we all got solo sets to do songs or improvise, which I built a tradition of at the Camp-Out festivals, and then brought it indoors at the Flicker Bar in Athens for the past 4 or 5 years. I turned a lot of listeners on to the Øresund Space Collective in that way too, and Sista Maj. The truth is that even straight rock music listeners (like the Cracker fans, who are a little country, a little rock n roll, like a lot of 70s bands) like to hear a good jam, and the CVB rhythm section—who just happen to be half of the Monks of Doom—with me wailing on guitar, we can jam out some decent stuff now and again, so they were interested in hearing more, which was really cool to see happen. I'm sort of the “weirdo” of the band family, which is fine I guess.
It has been quite a few years since the last CVB studio album. Anything in the pipeline??
To be honest, I have no idea. We've each been on our own this year, there have been a couple attempts to work on things over the internet but it hasn't amounted to much. Mostly concept album ideas that petered out, but damned if I didn't try to write outlines for several songs based on North Korean popular propaganda song titles… Everybody in the band worked on solo projects, and Victor Krummenacher (bassist) also had band with Dave Alvin and David Immerglück called “The Third Mind” which put out a record of songs and jams, very cool stuff like covering Alice Coltrane or Butterfield Blues Band, and they were going to tour last spring, all cancelled.
That band went through two distinct lineups, the first before it was even really named was with Berkeley guys from Barrington where we practiced, with David Immerglück (also Monks of Doom, in the Ophelias at the time. Later with Counting Crows, which he has stayed with as a career… ick, but what can you do. He's an amazing guitarist, can play anything at all.) Immerglück got hired to make up for my absence in non-violin things after I got essentially kicked out of CVB in 1989 and they hired Morgan Fichter to play violin, so Hieronymus Firebrain v1 dissolved and I advertised in local mags (BAM, maybe? I can't remember) and a Berkeley student named Russ Blackmar auditioned to play drums, and played everything off the HF tapes I sent him perfectly right off the bat, and a bass player from Oakland named Ted Ellison (later of then band Fuck) and then my then-roommate in SF Mark Bartlett played guitar and sang also. Mark was the person who convinced me to continue the band, and he's a great player (look up Four and a Half Pounds of Sunlight sometime, if it's even on the internet anywhere!) but what happened was that he and Ted got more and more proggy over the 90s while Russ and I got more Can and simpler. Eventually we broke up and Russ and I got his roommate, Jane Thompson, to play bass and formed a classic pop rock trio.
Dent was a project that came after HF broke up and you guys were living in rural New Mexico. What was life like for you there compared to the intense SF bay area? What was a day like? Did you guys just sit around and get stoned and play music?? The two CDs you made are quite interesting. One is more poppy mainstream while Verstärter, more experimental in someways. I always loved the title, There must be less to life than this!
Our friends in the band The Whitefronts, who were a psychedelic art collective, several of them moved out there to Questa and built a studio out of adobe, so we went there. We'd mostly just play when the mood struck us, work on things right there in the studio to record, make it up as we went along. In 1997, I moved to LA to work in a studio there, (film sound, doing sound effects and that sort of thing) so I just took the tapes and mixed them at home. Dent was whoever was around, which was often me or Victor (from CVB, Monks, etc) and the Whitefronts/Lords of Howling/Art of Flying people (go look them up!) but also sometime somebody coming off their drugs heading out in NM to dry out, but could play a lead somewhere, that sort of thing.
Obviously with the Covid 19 lockdown your normal life of a few tours in the USA with Camper, one tour with Øresund Space Collective and local gigs was highly disrupted (as was your income). How have you dealt with this? As many musicians, I guess you made a lot of new music, dug into the archives?? What was the most interesting thing you found in the archives??
It's been a tough year! Last year, the LAST of the Camp-Out festivals (number 15!) happened in early August, we had toured from Chicago to it, then I did three weeks of solo shows playing songs I had written over the course of the previous 25 years and then one last CVB show, headed home, went back for the winter tour, ended that by playing improv sets at the Camp-In, came back and did two solo shows with Donald Lupo in Finland in February and then wham! nothing.
At the very end of the time I was in Athens, I got together with Bryan Howard and Carlton Owens, the rhythm section from Cracker, cuz Bryan was setting up a studio at his house, so we jammed, just on what instruments he had there, which was fun—unfamiliar guitars, a ES335 and a set-bridge Strat with heavy strings! Anyway, the first thing I did was work on those, and that came out as the Transatlantic Space Connection.
And I thought, hey, last summer I played tons of songs and sang and shit, I can do a streamed live show. It took a few tries to figure out how to, and the time zone differences between Sweden and the bulk of what audience might listen in the crowded world of the internet was in the US, but eventually I got it down and did a couple shows and one at Larry's Corner, with an audience of Larry. I made a few attempts at playing songs from my first solo album, Storytelling, from1988, so I got it into my head to try it in its entirety. It was a double album from late 1988, even more on the cassette I think. Remastered by Myles Boysen in 2011 on 2-CDs. I did streamed live sessions of side 1&2 first, then 3&4 and then the whole thing and then only the “Thinksong” parts as a suite, the improvisable-with-set-arrival-progressions stuff. Then I started burning out on songs, and singing to nobody in my living room, staring at my phone, so I did a couple instrumental improv things in between these, then I sorta stopped. I had been working for a couple years on a bunch of weird recordings I'd made of recorded environments and/or field recordings worked into music, so I just continued with that. That one came out finally in August of this year, called Outside Inside. It's esoteric, but I was very isolated (am still) and that was what was going on in my head, I think there'd be some people who must relate to it. Not sure still, but it's out there for you. Then also, the rights to Superfluity ceded to me earlier in the year (3 years on Floating World UK) so I had to wait for the “sell off period” and the contract was over. Luckily for me, they had 100 2-CD sets with 4-panel artwork by Richard Gann (one of the people I've worked with since forever, he did all the HF CD covers, all the Sista Maj CD covers, etc. The other person is Edie Winograde, who's been photographing us all since the 80s, lots of the CVB covers, and several of my albums have her photographs) so I got to buy those and finally release the album on Bandcamp, using the 48khz 24bit masters! Yeah! Released this last week! Please take a listen all you readers, it's like the bookend for Storytelling. We're moving onto a different shelf now.
Aside from all that, I've done lots of individual tracks for people, a couple Astral Magic albums, Spirits Burning with Michael Moorcock, couple of Buck Down's songs, some on albums by Taperecorder, and we finished a bunch of the ØSC live and studio stuff, just today finished a mix of a friend's cover of a hokey Swedish song he wants to put out for Solstice ...and I did finally do a Dead cover, Here Comes Sunshine. In other words, not getting a job, going way up and down, trying to continue, not playing as much as I want to nor feel I should do. Trying to keep recording chops up but I feel self conscious in an apartment building when many people are home most of the time now. I have this cool little Vox AC4 and an AC15 but they're both so loud! Crazy. So mostly if I need to play electric I use the Princeton Reverb with a cleaner signal at lower volumes into the mic, then use amp and effects stuff in the computer! I feel like it's cheating, but especially in context if you're doing something for somebody else, it's quick to get controllable tracks with the Universal Audio guitar amp emulators or Native Instruments' Guitar Rig or even Amplitube. If I practice at night, I do pedalboard directly into the UA interface with their amp plugins, or Softubes' Amp emulators. I love NI's Guitar Rig (still on 5) for mixing guitar signals into mixes, so many weird choices. I guess one day I'll have to get a real job.
The last 6 years or so you have been quite active with the Scandinavian music collective or supergroup called Øresund Space Collective. For those not familiar with ØSC, it is a totally improvised rock music collective with lots of different members. How did this all start?
….Well sonny, back in abouts 1992 or so, if'n I recall… I think Scott Heller was at the Starry Plough taping a Hieronymus Firebrain show? Local music head, maybe you knew Russ Blackmar (from HF, J&J) from KALX? I think he's still on KALX now does a metal show? Anyhoo.
Yes.. I was at the Starry Plow and recording the show. I probably won tickets to the show on KALX as i usually did to some show every week. I did visit Russ once at his apartment in Oakland, I think.
I moved from Oakland to Stockholm in 2012. Backstory is that I married a Swede in 2003 and we lived in Oakland, I taught music theory and computer music at College of Marin and Ohlone College, probably unsuccessfully but who knows, and worked at used book stores in SF, until that financial crisis in 2008, so while in Sweden in the summer of 2009 I learned that the colleges couldn't keep the part timers' contracts, so I had to get a new job. I had musician friends who worked for Pandora doing “analysis” where they multi-choice a piece of music or song for its component parts, to build a database that matches specific elements to suggest new music to you. I thought, cool! So I got a recommendation, but they didn't need any more music analysts, so they sent me to the listener support team. See, customer support is actually for the ad department, the customers are the advertisers, the listeners are the people that pull the sausage through the pipe. But the interview was mostly about how computers work, which I knew from using computers since the 80s, and using them in sound studios or record labels, and then in graduate school at Mills, doing computer music, so sound issues, I thought, I could handle. And handling sound problems for people was mostly ok, if it was just computer fuck ups, like, scripted responses to people. But if the algorithm fucked up, tracking it down was really funny. For example there's a band called Anal Cunt from Rhode Island, and their song titles are misspelled version of, say “Pavorotti” or “Greatful Dead”, so the hapless listener would misspell something they wanted to hear and suddenly have this horrific noise, as they would say. But I also got complaints about ads, so I started checking into what sort of things were being advertised to whom, and found several rightist/christian/homophobic groups were targeting midwest colleges, and I complained to the company… and this went on for a while, I had arguments with the head of the engineering about the ethics of tracking people's phone to target ads, about whether they should accept political ads, then these same arguments with Tim Westergren, which was useless obviously, because one day I came into work and they were like, take your shit and go. On the way out the elevator (big building in downtown Oakland) I see David Immerglück coming out because the Counting Crows were gonna do a noon concert for the employees…
So I was fired and we had a kid who was 1. The only choice was to barge in on my wife's parents in Stockholm, so we lived in their apartment till we found our own.
Thanks Jonathan.. the Collective have changed a lot since you have been part of it and we have released some of our best recordings ever...The band is known for playing quite long concerts for the fans. How do you and the others approach, getting up on stage with no songs and just creating music for 2-3hrs? How do you come up with the next idea? Do you often lead the jams?
The answer to these questions is impossible to put into words, and I think that's why we play it as music. Often when we start I think it has as much to do with where the first person to make a noise has put their fingers. You hear it and find where you are in relation to the other sounds. Sometimes we have to step back and listen is someone is making sounds to find how it's going and how we might fit, sometimes, your fingers just do a thing in response. When we're live, jamming with Jiri on bass, for example, I remember so many times when he and I would be standing next to each other on the last tour and just occasionally look to the other person, fingers, eyes, then change the music. Often, for me, improvising music is a combination of some sort of hearing in my head all the things that people are playing (at best, in live situations) and having my ears add in many parts that I could hear going along with it, (probably just tinnitus), and my fingers doing something that compliments it or makes sense. (and pedals). Sometimes your fingers just play and you just listen. It's hard to describe it: where does music come from? Some people say it's there already and we just play the notes.
I guess it is similar for all of us.. Listen, listen to all the sounds and let your mind and body flow and hope your skills adapt! At least for me, as the least skilled one in the collective. You have been on quite a number of releases, many of which you have mixed yourself… Describe how ØSC goes about making a record from recording totally improvised music in the studio creating a record?
The sessions that I have been involved in have happened in either the Black Tornado studio in Copenhagen or on the road in the EU, captured either on the band's digital recorder (*) or the house's system or digital mixer—which, btw, as much as live engineers seem to rag on them, they are great for this. I have plugged the USB cable directly into these boards and recorded 32 tracks all night long, direct, using Logic to record with the 2013 Macbook Pro plugged in. One night even with it projecting video. Anyway, that was impressive.
So, in either case, I continuously harangue the recording engineers for all files and abscond with them after the tour/session. Then safely at home in the Magnetic Satellite, I can transfer the raw audio data into ProTools on my Mac Pro from 2010 with Universal Audio Apollo I/O and a couple UAD-2 cards.
The mixes are mapped out then, I usually do the classic left-to-right drums, bass, keyboards, guitars, violin, (banjo, etc), (vocals, in the case of Scott's vocal mic live), then Aux sends for reverb, delay, other effects—often another reverb, like a plate for some things when there was a convolution of a physical space for the main reverb—then a master buss, then the output. I've had sessions so big and long that I had to make stereo master busses for section on the extreme right, but in the virtual/screen space world, that ends up confusing me. In a real mixer, you could just use your hand and no eye.
So I could go on and on about eq and compression and effects. I usually end up putting some of Scott's modular synth into a moving spatial field, and I've ended up using mostly Melda Production plugins for that. There are free ones, I've bought a few of their modulators, they have amazing pan/trem/rotary plug ins, you can change the waveform that it uses across the stereo spectrum to have little loops in the middle instead of just back and forth, for example (e.g. modular synth on some ØSC album…)
Sometimes I add VCAs to control overall levels of groups like drums or guitars, usually I use the bass signal as a line with a compressor (Empirical Distressor) and the amped signal with Softubes' Bass Amp room to put it in a world. Lotta UA Neve stuff, or Helios EQ for guitar (especially Vemund), UA channel strips for keyboards. I use Altiverb for primary reverb space and to set the band into a specific environment, on a lot of ØSC I've used the EP-34 tape echo, or SoundToys delays. And sometimes a UA Plate Reverb for snares or other things. The Altiverb convolution reverb has such an amazing library of mapped spaces that I play around with it a lot, several ØSC mixes live in old churches or halls, even outdoors like the Austerlitz Forest. Some of the live ones in specific clubs (like Paradiso in Amsterdam) or concert halls. On “Experiments in the Subconscious” the last track “Hieroglyphic Smell” resides in the main room of Alcatraz Prison!
So many. I loved all of Different Creatures, that was the first thing I was involved in, so many great musicians and great musics happening. And Kybalion is amazing, just cuz it's so weird, the weirdest tracks. And the Ode to a Black Hole.
So what do you think 2021 will hold in store for you?? Will CVB tour the USA again? Do you have other releases planned??
I honestly have no idea. I don't have more planned, I wrote some songs, but I don't feel them right now. Not sure what music I should be working on, I really miss playing with other people!
I want to see what happens in the world, I think. I'm pretty disappointed in humanity, especially the US, even though they (we) finally voted Trump out, there's damage that will take decades to fix if ever, and the world political landscape gives lip service to things like climate change but doesn't do a fucking thing, I don't even know if I can count on any of us being around for any lengthy period of time.
Anything else you would like to mention??
I've said too much already! Most of the music we spoke about can be found on the bandcamp sites.
Thursday, November 26, 2020
I was never a big fan of the band but they used to play some of their songs on the radio like We’re an American band, Closer to Home, and Locomotion, so I know who they were but none of my friends had their records and they were gone from the scene when I was in high school in the later 70s. It was only about 5 years ago, I really started listening to the band and collecting up their vinyl records. 3 years ago I bought the two Trunk of Funk boxes and I was converted for good.
The bands debut came out in August of 1969, a month after they got a huge break and were invited to play the Atlanta Pop Festival on July 4th. This was a huge festival with well over 100,000 people and great exposure for the band. The bands debut album (On Time) only reached 27 on the charts but they would tour relentlessly over the next years and produce 4studio albums and one live album in just a bit over 2 years!! Each subsequent record would improve upon the next with Grand Funk (December 1969) reaching 11, Closer to Home (June 1970) number 6, Survival (April 1971) also reaching number 6, and E Plurbis Funk (Nov 1971) reached number 5!
The band’s singles would later become very important in them getting on the radio and really selling lots of records and playing huge venues. While none of the singles from the first two records charted, Close to Home, a plea to end the war in Vietnam and bring the troops home. It was their first top 40, reaching 22 in the charts. While the band would release quite a few singles that would reach the top 100 (Time Machine, Mr Limousine Driver, Heartbreaker, Mean Mistreater, Feelin’ Alright, Gimme Shelter, People Let’s Stop the war (105)), it was not until Footstompin’ Music (#29), that they would have another top 40 hit. I am a really big fan of the Let's Stop the War track. This was the bands 2nd anti-war anthem but while Closer to Home was a bit more cryptic in the lyrics, this one was direct!
The week after the returned to the USA, they were headlining the Shea Stadium in NY where they broke the record of the Beatles and drew a crowd of like 50,000 people. Several shows on this tour we recorded. This show was recorded on video and audio but is still unreleased today, except this one clip.
Luck for us a few years back (2002 cd and 2014 LP), The Live 1971 Tour was released with tracks from Chicago, Detroit and a few from the Shea Stadium show. This was a great document of the band and sharing about half the songs from the previous live album.
1972 saw a huge change in the band as long time producer-manager, Terry Knight was let go and they decided to add a keyboard player, a local from Flint, named Craig Frost, a decision that Mark initially was not supporting but he was outvoted by the other members!
After producing Phoenix by themselves, the band hooked up with Todd Rundgren to produce their most successful record to date, We’re an American band. The title track went on to be the bands 1st number 1 single! The LP was released in July 1973 and just failed to reach number one on the album charts by only getting to number 2!!
The bands sound was getting more commercial and slick in production but the band still rocked hard. A 2nd single from the album Walk like a Man reached number 19, also quite successful. Again the band would tour like mad and already create another album again produced by Rundgren with Shine On.
Shine On came with a unique 3D cover in glasses in the first pressings. The album was released in March 1974 and managed to reach number 5 on the album charts but they had another number 1 single with the cover song, The Loco-motion. This album would prove to be very successful with the title track also being a top 20 single. The band was feeling a lot of pressure to make slightly more commercial music as they were being sued by former manager-producer, Terry Knight and finances were tight for them. They did not rest long as by December 1974 they had produced their next record, All the Girls in the world Beware, which would reach only number 10 on the charts but would produce two top 5 singles, Some kind of Wonderful (3) and Bad Time (4).At this time the band were really quite stressed out, burnt out and feeling pressured. They had just released in early 1975 the amazing double live record, Caught in the Act (reached number 21) and had two more records to fulfil their contract with Capital records. For their next to last album of the 70s, Born to Die (released in 1975), which only managed to reach 47 in the charts and neither of the singles (Sally or Take Me) even reached the top 50. It was very disappointing for the band.
They had been working super hard these last years and since their debut album had now 3 gold (500,000 copies sold) and 3 platinum (1 million) including two double platinum records in 7 years. That is a pretty incredible run and here they are almost broke. It just goes to show you how fucked up the music industry was and how managers and labels really fucked over the artists. I am sure Mark was doing much better than the others because he had nearly all the songwriting money. Anyway, by the time the Frank Zappa produced record, Good Singin Good Playin’ came out in 1976, the band was over. Lots of internal problems and having had a really hard time writing songs together for this final record (their first and only for MCA). They really respected Frank Zappa and enjoyed working with him but the end was near.
The band made a couple of albums in the early 80s (I have never heard them) Grand Funk Lives (1981) and What’s Funk (1983) but this would be the last studio albums by the band. They got back together in the late 90s again and released a live album, Bosnia. Don and Mel have had a version of the band going on and off and continuing to this day. They celebrated 50 years last year. There was hope they would come over and play in Europe but it never happened. Anyway, I have put in some of my favorite live videos of the band from you tube. Enjoy and discover this amazing band.