Apr 292020

HAMBURG, GERMANY – 1st MAY: The Beatles posed in Hamburg, Germany during their residency at The Star Club in May 1962. Left to right: Pete Best, John Lennon (1940-1980), Paul McCartney and George Harrison (1943-2001). (Photo by Horst Fascher/K & K Ulf Kruger OHG/Redferns)

One of my great joys in life is the poker game and all that it entails: spending time with wickedly funny friends, getting polluted, gorging myself with delicious unhealthy food (kielbasa sandwiches; stiff, salty potato chips), listening to choice music (London Calling, The Harder They Come, 12 x 5, etc.), and most importantly, if everything goes just right, experiencing the Blue Velvet-like thrill of having everyone’s money in my pocket at the end of the night.

It was one during one of these poker sessions that our severely stoned ring leader (who has chosen to remain nameless because he’s a wuss) brought this up after landing a Jack between a deuce and a King during a lengthy Acey Deucy round that netted him a pot of about 50 bucks: “You know what?  I’d give all this away right now and everything in the bank if I could go back in time to see one of those early Ramones CBGBs shows, where they played with Television, Suicide, that early version of Blondie…Can you imagine seeing something like that? Jesus!”

The actual music that came out of the CBGBs scene was really not my cup of tea, but the stories surrounding it were a whole ‘nother matter. I too would have loved to have been there. Would it have been worth emptying my bank account? In that state of mind during the poker game? Maybe. Seeing the Preludin-fueled Beatles at the Star Club in Hamburg in 1962 with a recently added Ringo? Absolutely and positively. To be at the front of the stage, guzzling that elixir like German lager with Lady Gergely in tow, in our late teens (with a guarantee that we would somehow or another be able to return to the present in one piece), watching them tear through “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry,” “Red Sails in the Sunset,” “Too Much Monkey Business,” etc, marveling at Lennon’s ability to insult the Germans continually, not caring one whit about any kind of consequences, and just plain being in the thick of that “anything goes” magic environment of locals, sailors, exis, mobsters, prostitutes, transvestites, etc, would without a doubt be worth the trip to the bank. With all that in mind, I now ask you: If the opportunity presented itself, which big music event would be worth seeing at the expense of a secure job, marriage, retirement fund, you name it?


  57 Responses to “A Taste of Honey”

  1. Seeing the Beatles in Hamburg would be my choice too. I have that horrible sounding Star Club double album, but when I listen to it, the energy and attitude is undeniable. Watching them Mach Shau would be a priceless experience.

  2. Tell me about it. I never get tired of reading about their time in Hamburg. I think I’ve read every book that’s ever come out regarding those years, and that’s still not enough for me.

  3. diskojoe

    I would love to have seen the Kinks do Preservation live. I got into them around 1977-78 & by the time I got to see them live, they were in their arena rock phase. I did see the Boston Rock Opera production of Preservation in the ’90s, but I wish I was able to see the original by the Kinks.

  4. Herr Gergely, though this comment section will likely become laden with fantasies of the performers y’all have discussed for years, I’m offering up the performance that launched Melanie’s stardom: her set on a rainy night in the summer of ’69. I’d kill to be at Woodstock that evening, smelling sweet mary jane and watching my soul leave my body to hover like a halo over Melanie’s head. Her rapture-inducing half-wail / half-warble in songs like “Tuning My Guitar” and “Momma Momma” sends me to a star speckled dreamland in which Joan Baez gifts me a cup of tea, as she did to Melanie that night, and each step I take triggers the strum of an acoustic guitar. She performed after, or perhaps during, a downpour of rain, stepping out onto the stage as the audience before her began to glow with flickering candlelight. I would my proffer my first born son, a lock of my hair, the tiki idol from the Brady’s trip to Hawaii, and a box set of The Monkees’ tv show in order to stand in two-inch deep mud and listen to Melanie’s tinkling laugh as she calls the audience “beautiful, wet people.” For now though, I’ll settle for the glimpses of her red tunic and brilliant bangs provided by the various YouTube clips online.

  5. Dick- Hamburg with Ringo or Hamburg with Pete Best? I gotta know!

    Disko- I’m on board with the KInks! I got a chance to talk to Ray Davies after a Kinks show at the Valley Forge Music Fair and begged him to play “Two Sisters” next time he opted to come to Philadelphia. He delivered on that promise when he played a solo show at the TLA some time later.

    Joan- Always curious about the Melanie thing. Everytime I buy a big 60s/70s collection, she’s there, not one album, but most of the time all of them. I’m missing something there, and I need to find out more about what she’s all about.

    Great hearing from everyone! Keep ’em coming!

  6. Ben Vaughn has occasionally played Melanie’s version of “Mr. Tambourine Man on his radio show…and it is surprisingly good.

    Oh, here it is.


    Let the abuse begin!

  7. Joan, are you familliar with this version????

  8. My first thought is, I may go back in my own concert experiences and relive the greatest show I ever saw: X at the Longmarch in Philly, on the tour for Under the Big Black Sun. It was a DIY punk shoe in a dance studio. They played on a 4-inch riser, surrounded by maybe 200 young punks. It was the perfect communion for my tastes.

    If I could see something I’ve never before scene, I’d take my chances on the Clash, with newcomer Topper Headon on drums, at the release of Give ’em Enough Rope. The show would need to be on their home turf.

  9. Happiness Stan

    Joan, hello, I just love Melanie, saw her in about 1990 in London and she was just adorable, Gather Me and Affectionately are two albums I never tire of, fantastic for driving through the countryside to on a sunny day.

    EPG, didn’t see the Ramones until 78, on their first tour with Marky, saw them maybe a dozen times, up to their last show in London which was not only stunning but incredibly emotional knowing it was going to be the end. Before long they all started dying, of course, which still seems unreal.

    Mr Mod, that Clash tour was the first I saw them on, they were stunning, but the London Calling tour was even better, and by the time they toured Sandinista, an album I’ve never managed to get through in its entirety, they were the best live band I’ve ever seen.

    The first time, the one you refer to, was the gig on Hastings Pier, and I’d mainly gone to see Richard Hell and the Voidoids. That was the night Marc Bell was hit on the head by a flying beer can and carried on playing despite the blood pouring down his face. I was only a few feet away from him and did he look pissed off. He said that was the moment he decided he’d had enough, and went off to become Marky Ramone.

    I’d give it all up for Dylan at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in 66, and maybe two thirds for any of the other dates on that tour.

  10. Put me down for Dylan ’66 as well.

    That Melanie “Mr. Tambourine Man” may be uber-Melanie, even though it is not her song. It is surely surprisingly good.

  11. Happiness, sadly, the only time I got to see the Clash was on the Combat Rock tour, with Terry Chimes back on drums. He wasn’t the problem, by the way. The band’s sound was all gooey, thanks to Mick Jones’ fascination with all things chorus and echo and reverb. They rarely gelled the way I was expecting. I wouldn’t have turned down a chance to go back and see those other tours you got to see, but I want to see their Core Four with no extra trimmings – no taking of the fifth, no unnecessary effects boxes.

    I know I won’t convince anyone of this who’s not gotten through it after all these years, but Sandinista has been one of my favorite albums for this period of lockdown. I play it frequently while working in isolation and let it play all the way through – not even skipping the backwards version of “Mensforth Hill.” Hell, this pandemic has brought out qualities in side 1’s longtime needle-lifter, “Ivan Meets GI Joe.”

  12. Al and Stan, good morning! As far as a Dylan show is concerned, I’d opt for one of those early Gaslight performances. Love that stuff!

  13. EPG, this is such a great post/question! When I was younger, I always wished I could’ve been one of those screaming teenage girls at an early Beatles show. I’d watch clips and get nostalgic about something I really had no personal, logical reason to feel nostalgia about. Nevertheless, there was such a sense of loss and of having missed out on something special, and I’d dream of traveling back in time to experience one of those performances. But I’m so glad you’d take me back with you to the Beatles’ Hamburg days. That would have been super cool, not to mention much more sophisticated than my younger screaming Beatles fan-girl daydreams!

    Another Beatles possibility for us could certainly be that “Hey Jude” performance on The David Frost Show in 1968 that you and I recently watched. Imagine standing together at the piano in between Paul and John, joining the audience in that sing along? That would have been amazing!

    Since we’re taking each other to our back-in-time musical dream performances, it seems reasonable that I get another choice for us. I’d like to steal the idea from the Moderator’s earlier comment and revisit an old concert experience of my own with you. Not only would bringing you along to the October 1991 Nirvana/Melvins show at J.C. Dobbs made that even more extraordinary, having you there surely would have helped me remember the details of the event and not just the incredible feeling of that show. We would have had a blast together!!

    By the way, Joan, your beautiful, descriptive writing about Melanie at Woodstock was so visual; it made me feel like I actually was there!

  14. That’s certainly something to brag about. You know I more or less gave up on music after 1983, but I consider that event comparable for your generation (I’ve got 5 years on millady) to a Beatles show at the Cavern. I miss Dobbs. That was always a great place for a show!

  15. I’m older than both of you and I regret missing the Dobb’s Nirvana show.

    I was outside the Costello Hot Club show but it sold out. That would’ve been great to see.

  16. Agreed. I would loved to see Costello early on. The few times I saw him were very disappointing, the worst being his show at the Spectrum “theater” ( the Spectrum was divided in half with a metal collapsible curtain). He treated all of us to most of the upcoming “Goodbye Cruel World” material. It was not good.

  17. I did see him a few months later at the Tower and it was breathtaking. The Hot Club was basically a corner bar, maybe 40′ X 40′ or so. To see that explosion in that space would’ve been something.

    I saw him preview a lot of that album in a solo Tower show earlier in the year. It was certainly better than the album. I didn’t remember the Spectrum Theater show being that bad, and felt the venue was a lot of the problem. Here’s the set list. Goodbye Cruel World is certainly represented, but hardly the crux of the problem. If you include Beat the Clock as problematic, though, it starts to look pretty bad.

    01. Let Them All Talk
    02. The Greatest Thing
    03. Mystery Dance
    04. Shabby Doll
    05. Girls Talk
    06. Worthless Thing
    07. So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star
    08. I Hope You’re Happy Now
    09. I Wanna Be Loved
    10. Sour Milk-Cow Blues
    11. Lipstick Vogue
    12. Watching The Detectives
    13. Shipbuilding
    14. King Horse
    15. Beyond Belief
    16. Clubland
    17. Inch By Inch
    18. The Deportees Club
    19. Everyday I Write The Book
    20. The Only Flame In Town
    21. Getting Mighty Crowded
    22. Young Boy Blues
    23. Alison – including Living A Little, Laughing A Little
    24. Home Truth
    25. Riot Act
    26. Peace In Our Time – EC solo
    27. (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding?
    28. Pump It Up – including Ain’t That A Lot Of Love and Tears, Tears And More Tears

  18. Man, he played that many boring songs at that Spectrum Theater show? I was there. It’s not the worst Costello show I ever saw (that would be his Mighty Like a Turd show in the July heat and humidity of the outdoors Mann Music Center), but it was the least memorable. Nick Lowe opened solo, which was nice enough. Thankfully, I’ve seen three OUTSTANDING Costello shows.

  19. Point taken.

    Thinking back, it is the worst Costello show I’ve seen. I saw the MLAT show at the Pantages theater in LA in my first time outside the NY/Phily/DC area and after my first plane ride. I was newly hired by the Department of Navy and they sent me to a month of training in Port Hueneme, CA. Sure beats the six months I spent in SSA training in a basement classroom at Third and Spring Garden.

    Sam Phillips opened that LA show, which is a giant plus for me. It was in a historical theater in an exotic location. It was exciting and I didn’t have any real opinion of that album. On balance it was way better than the Spectrum Theater, which was like several Costello shows I had seen but less so.

  20. Moderator, you were at the Spectrum theater show? I remember walking out of that show very, very pissed off. I could have sworn it was mostly Goodbye Cruel World crap. I think my memory’s starting to go.

    During lunch today, I asked Lady Gergely what she remembered about that Nirvana show at Dobbs. She said it was a great time, but she couldn’t remember any real details. Same thing.

    The only thing I really remember about any great concert I’ve ever seen is the overwhelming feeling I had of being in the crowd and feeling great about it, proud to be a part of all that, which is usually a very rare occurrence, for me at least. So, when something like that happens, it’s filed in long term memory, but without specifics. Weird.

  21. It is funny, EPG, how hard it can be to remember specifics from shows. For instance, I have memories of John Doe leaning into the crowd and sweating on us at that X show I so fondly remember, I can see shadows of how the band members stood, but I can’t recall a specific instance of what was going on. It was such a beautiful mess. The specific things I remember are chain-smoking a whole box of Gauloises, a filterless French cigarette that only 18-year-old wannabe hipster idiots could consider a good idea, with Andyr, and the two of us hanging with another kid we met that night, who looked like John O’Neill from The Undertones, straight off the cover of Positive Touch, with the dark, round shades. A year or so later, I was working at a bookstore, talking to a cool guy I met there who also knew a lot about music. We were talking about favorite shows, and then it both hit us: We were the strangers hanging out with each other and killing our lungs throughout the course of the X show!

  22. You’re lucky. You got to see some of your heroes at the right time, and more importantly, they lived up to your expectations. Everyone of mine let me down in some way or another. Costello couldn’t deliver, the Everlys decided to work out their problems regarding Phil’s alcoholism on stage, and the Kinks decided to turn “I’m Not Live Everybody Else” into a cabaret number. All that probably explains why I want that Hamburg head explosion at whatever cost.

  23. EPG: There is only one cure for that. Go out once in a while and see the thing that might be the future thing you will wish you hadn’t missed!

    It won’t happen every time, or even once every dozen times, but I’ve seen shows at Boot and Saddle that, for me, touch the magic of Television and Talking Heads in 1976 or Costello in 1978. One specific show I can name is Juana Molina, about 6 years ago. I had seen her open for David Byrne solo around 2003, and had bought and enjoyed her records, but that night with a couple of very young sidemen added, she was on fire. The audience was totally into it, just throbbing with the music. You could tell from the reaction on stage that they had hit a level that surprised even the musicians. I spoke to their soundman briefly after the show, to complement him on what a good job he did, and he remarked that, yes, the performance was exceptional, something different from the previous shows. He was obviously as juiced as I was. Trolleyvox, who hasn’t made a recent appearance on the Hall was also there, and I’m pretty certain he would attest to my characterization.

    There were a few shows that I was looking forward to that had the potential to revisit that buzz that got wiped out by our current predicament: Juana Molina and the Haden Triplets were both on the schedule for April. Sturgill Simpson in March. But even more so, the ones that get me are the ones where I am there out of curiosity and get blasted.

    Seriously, I would go to any show that someone seriously suggested had an outside chance of being one of those events. Would you?

    Think about it.

  24. Fuck. I misspelled “compliment.”

  25. I wrote an endless post regarding my desire to see the Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band at the Main Point in January 1971. When I posted, the site said I wasn’t logged in and I lost the whole thing. Suffice it to say that it was the double drummer (Drumbo and Artie Tripp), double guitarist (Zoot Horn Rollo and Elliott Ingber) lineup playing at that legendary small Philly folk club after local fans had petitioned Warners to schedule such a performance. It was also discussed in detail in some Rolling Stone knockoff newspaper that I read in those days.I have friends that were there but I, alas, was not.

  26. Juana Molina live at KEXP on that tour I mentioned:


    Go ahead, rip on it.

  27. Happiness Stan

    Geo, you make an excellent point. I’d go and see everyone who played on the pier as soon as I was old enough to get in as long as my paper round would cover the ticket. Saw Gang of Four before their first single came out, the Banshees on the Scream tour, and again three days after half the band quit and Robert Smith and Budgie joined, plus the Cure doing their Three Imaginary Boys stuff as support on the same night. The Jam, the Damned, the Stranglers all at their peak. When I was thirteen, the lad next door had a spare ticket to see Budgie that night, which I declined. Turned out the support act was the Sex Pistols, although everybody I know who was there insists they were bloody awful and apart from Poly Styrene and half a dozen others everybody else legged it for the bar.

    When Nevermind came out and was being played to death at home with the guys I shared a house with, I said I wouldn’t mind seeing then if they came over here and one of the others told me I’d watched them with him at Reading a few weeks before. I still have no memory of them on that occasion, there were a lot of grunge acts that year and they didn’t register at all. I also saw their first three songs when they headlined the next year, the set everybody talks about as the greatest gig ever, and Cobain was such a mess I went to the other tent to see the Rockingbirds, who were as joyous and uplifting as they ever were. I loved that band and if I’d missed them it’s that set I’d have regretted watching. Coincidentally, I went to see their farewell gig the next year and when I got off the train saw the cover of the evening paper which said that Kurt Cobain had been found dead, spooky connection there.

    With you on Beefheart, I believe they played the London Albert Hall with the Bonzos and Tiny Tim, that would have been a night out to remember.

    I don’t want to reopen my ongoing debate with the Hall about Mr Costello, but the night I saw him on, if I remember rightly, the This Year’s Model tour was memorable mainly for its shambolic nature, complete lack of interaction or rapport with the audience, and leaving the stage after about half an hour because he felt unwell, as he apparently had on almost every other gig for weeks, even though by all reports he made a speedy recovery afterwards. I’d bumped into him earlier and asked for his autograph, he signed my book but was, without going into detail, the polar opposite of a pleasant experience. Saw him at Glastonbury maybe fifteen years ago, they all blend into one these days, it wasn’t a classic set, but he was in a good mood and it was enjoyable enough. I wouldn’t personally recommend sacrificing all your personal belongings for a trip back to 1978 to see him.

    The thing which has surprised me most about volunteering at the theatre is how few shows I don’t enjoy. It’s opened my eyes to so many things I just wouldn’t have thought might be fun, like cheesy musicals, sixties revival tours. I saw Foster and Allen the day after my dad died and what is expected to be a night of sentimental tosh turned out to be one of the most moving evenings of my life. Apart from jazz club, UB40 and modern dance, I’ve been prepared to do any of the shows there, it’s been quite eye opening.

  28. Good points all around, as usual. Geo, you’re right, I need to get out more often. One small problem: what little I have left of my hearing I’d like to keep. I tried the ear plug thing, and that doesn’t really work. With the plugs in, everything sounds like pounding sludge. The last time I got out for a show and really enjoyed myself was when Lady Gergely and I went ear plugless to Mod’s Boot and Saddle Clash show. My ears got a doozy of a workout, but I had one hell of a good time, for similar reasons I cited above.

  29. That’s too bad that your Beefheart show write up got lost, geo. Sorry about that! I will keep an eye out for it, in case it got auto-saved in The Back Office.

    Happiness Stan, I know you’re on kid duty now, but at some point, I hope to hear the full story on what UB40 did to bug you so deeply. They are about as bland a band in the history of recorded music. I suspect you’ve got a doozy of a story to tell.

    By the way, the Townsman Formerly Known as Trolleyvox has been back. He’s sporting a new handle that is based on the name of his current band.

  30. Oh, and I’ve seen that handle about half a dozen times and wondered what it stood for. Doh!

  31. Gergs,

    You’re really pulling for the sympathy vote here, and you’ve got it.

    My hearing has held up pretty well. Like you, I can’t do the earplug thing. About a year ago, I went to see GBV, a band that has swallowed whole one of my favorite artists, Bobby Bare Jr, and, as you might’ve guessed, it was punishing, probably not worth it in the cost/benefit analysis. On the other hand, the back corner table at Fergie’s for John Train, or Petra Haden, Sam Amidon, Inara George at the Boot & Saddle, Nellie McKay anywhere, there are a lot of acts that are genuinely great that would not overly tax a pair of old people ears. Are you listening to music because you like it or to pretend that you’re still whatever goddamn age you were in 1983?

  32. Oh man, tinnitus is a subtle hassle. At least my case is subtle. I remember the exact moment when it went from being something that would stay with me for a day or two after a gig to a permanent condition: We were rehearsing for our first Magnificent Seven (our Clash cover band) show, and a fellow Townsperson and close, personal friend (I won’t name names) accidentally bumped the speaker in the rehearsal room so that it shot right into my right ear. I felt a pop. I’ve had a ringing in both ears the last few years.

    As a musician, if I may call myself that when practicing music in front of people, I wish I could get past subjecting people to our punishment. I don’t think we play half as loud as we used to, but we still rely on being a physical, pounding band. Whether I’m in the audience or on stage, I have this need to “feel it in my chest.” I’ve been thinking for years that I’m eventually going to find a way to musically age gracefully, but I’m not sure how to transfer my musical roots into a gentler sound. Maybe I simply have to find new rhythms to shift my music into. Acoustic and lower volume electric music doesn’t really support the 4-on-the-floor rhythmic bed that I call home.

  33. Geo, I’ve gotta give credit where credit is due. That was funny. Getting into any kind of new music,and for me that would be anything after 1983, has been a real chore.I liked a lot of that Brit pop, especially Oasis’ first two releases, but that went south real quick. My daughters have turned me on to some good stuff as well, but nothing really memorable enough that would garner a need to open my wallet. I’m a narrow minded old fart, and based on my track record, I really don’t think that’s going to change.
    And just for the record, the Moderator’s a little more open minded than me, but not by much. Our belief that pop died around that time helps us stay somewhat bonded.

  34. “…somewhat bonded…” 🙂 If I could waive a magic wand over you, I’d get you to appreciate the feeling that comes from the music itself, not just how how it’s structured. I wish you had a better appreciation for what I call “head music.” If the Music Genie granted you one wish, what would be your wish for me, EPG?

  35. I told you I got all that back again when I met Lady Gergely. That’s the truth. And as far as my wish for you, it’s the same one I’ve had for the last 25 years or so: take off the Fonzie leather. I love you like a brother, and that’s why I tell it like it is.

  36. That’s a bullshit generalization, you Hank Williams wannabe. Come on, give me something specific, having to do with. you know…music! (Said with love and a laugh.)

  37. Show volume is a whole other issue for me now. In the interregnum between RTH v2 and v3 I had 12 hour brain surgery to remove a tumor and the result is almost total loss of hearing in my right ear (and I was incredibly lucky as that was the only negative result). It means I’m mostly mono, can’t tell the direction from where a sound is coming, and ambient noise is a beast. And headphones are pointless

    I have to rely on ear plugs much as I hate them and I avoid certain clubs and certain bands. I can’t risk the hearing in my left ear.

  38. It’s not a chore; it’s a pleasure. It only becomes a chore when you think “How is this like “12 X 5” and why isn’t it more like “12 X 5”?

    You gotta say “What are they doing and is it working?” Give ’em a little space of their own. There’s a lot going on out there.

    When you say “I liked a lot of that Brit Pop,” you may as well add “because it sounded remarkably like the some stuff I liked before 1983.”

    Free your mind and stop bein’ an ass! (to inaccurately quote another George.)

  39. Al, you’d take the Manchester Free Trade Hall show over one at the Gaslight or Gerde’s Folk City???!!! Please explain!

    Geo, what is this? Payback time? If so, that’s fine. I know I have it coming. Do me a favor, send me a link to that Knife and Fork Band song I love, the one about playing for an audience of 3.

    Mod, I reiterate. Take off the leather. It’s getting old. We’re getting old. You and I may both need walkers by the end of the year, and it’s going to look mighty ridiculous trying to look like Fonzie while manipulating that thing.

  40. EPG: Not actually payback. I actually think you should expand your horizons. All that healing malarkey that Mr. Mod propounds must be gettin’ to me.

    That song is on Spotify, thanks to the wonderful Groove Disques label that was kind enough to release it. The song is called “MHB RIP,” and the lyric was written by an audience member at the recounted incident, which was not a performance of the band which recorded the song. I apologize in advance for the somewhat abstract instrumental interlude; it is my fault and, although it was a good idea, I’m not quite sure we were capable of pulling it off. Oh, one last thing, it’s “23 people can’t be wrong.” Still pathetic, but a little less so.

  41. Fair enough. Is the version your talking about the one I’ve had for years? The one that met the same fate as the rest of the CDs in my car? Who’d have ever thought that cassettes would actually hold up better than CDs!!

  42. EPG, I’d love to see a Gaslight or Gerde’s show. A young, chatty, engaging Dylan trying to win over a crowd would be fantastic. But Manchester?!?! Dylan and the Hawks roaring, specifically NOT trying to win over a crowd, “this is it, take or leave it, fuck you!”

    To be standing there to hear “Tell Me Momma” like that, I’d give up the hearing in the other ear!

  43. Same version. It can be played right there on your computer through the magic of Spotify. (free version)

    I am still buying CDs, though.


  44. Hey Al, you and I have discussed all this before. I agree with you that “Tell me Momma” is a winner from that show as is “Leopard Skin Pill Box” hat, but that’s it as far as the electric set is concerned. To quote the Moderator, they’re studs of corn in the dog turd. The band is just plain bad; loose, sloppy…they really don’t know what to do with the songs. Helm wisely decided to opt out of the whole thing and his replacement plays rhythms and fills in places where no man would dare to go. As I’ve stated previously, the crowd is booing because the whole thing is just plain awful. Granted, a chunk of the purists are pissed that he decided to go electric, but most of them are furious because they laid out good money for garbage. I’ve been threw that several times, and it’s really infuriating. I doubt he would have had that response had he had the Highway 61 band behind him.

    Why nobody ever calls bullshit on the Hawks back up services continues to astound me. You honestly think those other live tracks from that tour sound good? The band alone is bad enough, but the other thing that’s irritating is that he ruins the songs by parodying himself during choice parts of the lyrics, parts that are unbelievable effective and profound on the records because they’re sung with some kind of subtlety. There’s none of that on the live tracks from the tour. The acoustic numbers suffer for the same reason.

    I remember getting all worked up as a kid, reading about all that, then forking over a load of hard earned yard work money to get a high priced boot of that stuff from the almighty Pied Piper Records, one of the best outlets in the 70s and early 80s for unreleased goodies. Let me tell ya: that was a major let down but a good life lesson. Never trust the experts, i.e. those assholes like Greil Marcus, Robert Christgau, Jon Landau, etc. They never get it right, and when they do get it right, they ruin it with too much academic poop.

  45. EPG, watch this clip


    This is from The New Steve Allen Show, originally aired on March 10, 1964. (Here’s the blurb on imbd.com “Steve’s guests are folk singer Bob Dylan (“The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll”), comedian Wally Cox, comic Louis Nye, Hollywood fashion designer Marusia, vocal duo The Soul Sisters, and industrial spy Harvey G. Wolf.”; how’s that for a line-up).

    Here are my thoughts watching this –
    * EPG, you may be right about wanting to see Dylan pre-electric
    * Dylan’s stage mannerisms haven’t changed in 60 years
    * man, I used to love Steve Allen and for all that he used to make fun of rock & roll, he was great here
    * “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll” may be Dylan’s greatest protest song…
    * …and it’s no less powerful today than it was in 1964; watching this actually brought me to tears (before Dylan’s directive in the final line)

  46. Hey Al, just last night, Lady Gergely, her stepson, and I all said the same thing about “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.” Just typing the song title gives me goosebumps. We also said the same about the killer final line. For me, thee performance of that song is served up in Don’t Look Back. I always lose it at the end of the song.

    Do you have that rough recording of “He Was a Friend of Mine” that sounds like it was recorded in a kitchen in someone’s apartment? That’s another one that always does a number on me.

  47. Let the healing begin!

    “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” is pretty much unparalleled in the protest song genre.

  48. Yup. And tonight, know that Lady and I will be watching Don’t Look Back once again, which I would absolutely and positively put on my list of the top 10 movies of all time. I’d put a Hard Day’s Night on that list as well. There’s good reason why the Beatles and Dylan are at the top of the heap and those two movies are loaded with scenes that more or less explain why this is indeed the case.

    A good friend of mine suggested that we should watch A Futile and Stupid Gesture, a biopic about the founder of National Lampoon. The preview did not look good. Rarely does the biopic ever work. Come to think of it, I can’t think of a single bio pic that did work.

  49. EPG – Do you have the two disc set of Don’t Look Back. The second disc is an edited movie of the DLB Pennebaker outtakes. It’s almost like an alternative history of the 65 /English tour where Dylan is a nice guy rather than a bastard. Actually well worth a view.

  50. Got it. The second disc is loaded with treasure. The scene in the clothes store is priceless. It’s just so cool that he’s that into looking just right.

    Al brought up a great Dylan interview earlier in the week, the one from the Les Crane show. I’d love to see the actual footage of that thing along with the audio.

    One other goodie I’d love to see is the 1964 Juke Box Jury episode featuring the Rolling Stones. From what I’ve read, they were every bit as snotty as Johnny Rotten when he appeared on the show in 1979. From all accounts I’ve read, they were absolutely and positively on the show, but a film of the event no longer exists. If you’re one of those Jay Schwartz archivists and know otherwise, please give me a heads up!

  51. BigSteve

    geo, I saw Beefheart in February 1971, but I think Art Tripp played mostly (exclusively?) marimba. There was no Winger Eel Fingerling at the show I saw. Ry Cooder opened. It was great.

    I would like to have been a fly on the wall when Trout Mask Replica was being rehearsed in the ‘Trout house.’

    Dylan & the Band ’66 is the obvious answer to this question for me.

    The LCD Soundsystem song Losing My Edge is a roll call of answers to this question. “I was there at the first Can show in Cologne.” Yeah seeing Can live would have been cool.

  52. BigSteve

    Btw speaking of Art Tripp, Sam Andreyev, who has been interviewing all of the Magic Band members, and he finally got to Art. He’s the one who gave up music to become a chiropractor.


  53. I would have liked to see James Murphy ad-lib “Losing My Edge” in the studio, as he claims to have done.

  54. There is a live Can concert on YouTube.


    I haven’t watched it yet. I started with the documentary.

  55. Wow, who would have ever thought? Big Steve, I never really got the Beefheart thing, but I always respected him. I believe he definitely had a sincere vision for whatever he was hearing in his head and felt it was his duty to make it happen no matter what the cost. I used to belittle him by saying he wasn’t doing much more than psychedelicising Howlin’ Wolf or Blind Willie Johnson, but I was wrong. And I’m glad I’m in the wrong. Something more is happening there. I’m just not getting it. I hope to hear it some day. I haven’t given up. Everything I’ve read about those Trout Mask sessions is more or less Ripley’s Believe it or Not. From what I recall, he ran those rehearsals like EST seminars. Yeah, I wouldn’t give up everything, but I’d definitely give up the retirement fund to be a fly on the wall for all that. Great call!

  56. EPG,

    I just watched the Art Tripp interview that BigSteve mentioned. Tripp had played percussion with the Cincinnati Orchestra, joined the Mothers in late ’67 (when they were still fresh), and then wound up with Beefheart. It was a great discussion, but I couldn’t possibly recommend it because it is really long. Beefheart was definitely the catalyst in his bands, but the contributions of the players in making Beefheart’s “notions” into concrete musical pieces cannot be overstated. This is especially true for the 68-73 bandmembers that were instrumental in putting together the essential sound. Even the good albums at the end of his run mined the work tapes from that era.

    What those guys did was take what amounted to random pieces from different jigsaw puzzles and fitted them together through sheer will and endurance. I don’t know if this link will entertain you or set you off, but I’d love to hear your take. It’s 30 minutes but it is really interesting.


  57. Thanks, Geo! This weekend, I’m gonna have to give that thing another spin, especially after watching that clip. Like I said previously, that would have been something to see those sessions!

Lost Password?

twitter facebook youtube