Remember Cabbage Patch Kids, those creepy (or so I thought, in my early 30s, or whenever those things were popular) stuffed dolls that were all the rage for a couple of years? I thought about them this weekend, while listening to The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn, a favorite syndicated radio show hosted by the longtime music-scene friend and all-around great guy whose moods make up the flow of each episode.
This week, Ben did a second edition of his highly appreciated “Comfort Zone” theme from a few weeks back. It was as enjoyable and comfortable an episode as Ben is known to deliver regularly, pushed along gently by his dry wit. The appearance of the Beach Boys‘ “Sail on Sailor” was no surprise. His love for later period Beach Boys far exceeds my own. I won’t get into a whole Please Explain discuss on that song right now, but feel free to explain, as a side topic, why that song is any more loved by hipsters than Pablo Cruise‘s “Love Will Find a Way.”
I went seeking a Blodwyn Pig performance and stumbled on this rare live performance by Juicy Lucy instead. Dig the outdoor hippie scene and see if you don’t settle on a favorite segment or image.
I did find some Blodwyn Pig, as well, which I may come back to at a later date, but the related stuff that showed up in my Bloodwyn Pig search on YouTube led me to a bevy of hippie blooz rock. Here’s a band called Taste, which seems to be a late-’60s band led by Rory Gallagher, before he became one of our friend HVB’s Guitar Tone Heroes:
Sad to hear of Joe Cocker’s death. Thanks to my Uncle Joe, he was one of my first Rock Superheroes. Uncle Joe bought me the early Cocker albums, including the mind-blowing The Mad Dogs & The Englishman live album, in which the band members were given little sobriquets, like Leon Russell’s (I believe) unattainable title of “Master of Space and Time.” My uncle saw a tour after that album at the Spectrum and brought me home a huge button with the cover shot and a cardboard cutout of Cocker’s wild face on a stick. I wish I still have that face on a stick. I loved the way Cocker and his band simply KICKED IT OUT. Even his ballads were delivered with force. He will be missed in this age of the navel-gazing artists who sing like Confederate soldiers taking their last breath while holding their newborn sons. Cocker, who was not a songwriter, made the most of so many other artists’ works. Here’s my favorite by him, “Delta Lady.”
For the last few years I’ve been picking away at a memoir, of sorts, on my formative life and musical experiences. For my own edification above all else, as well as a possible guidebook to help my sons understand why their dad is weird, I am examining how these experiences and the sounds swirling around me worked together to “save me” from the hazards of childhood, to set me on the path of becoming the man and rock nerd I am today. Suburban kid‘s excellent Dad Rock thread inspired me to share a current draft of an opening chapter, some of which you may have seen or heard in earlier stages of development.
My first music-playing device was a plastic, olive-green record player that was pleasingly textured on the outside, like stucco, nubby upholstery, or Naugahyde. Flip up the top and the plastic was beige—also textured, to better pick up smudges from my dirty hands. The turntable itself was brown, with a brown rubber mat to soften the blow of singles released from the multi-45 stem. I can’t remember for sure if the arm was brown or beige, but I remember my shaky hands were always challenged by lifting the arm and dropping the needle onto a specific album track. My beat-to-hell childhood 45s, these days crammed into my original orange vinyl box along with other singles picked up through the years, can attest to this challenge. The cord was a brown 2-pronged affair. I experienced my first electric shock on that cord when I left one of my shaky fingers slipped between the prongs as I plugged it in. Ouch!
I used that record player from the age of 4 or 5, playing “She Loves You” over and over, singing along with my speech-impeded “l” sounds (ie, She wuvs you…), through about age 15, when I’d long mastered consonant sounds. My uncle gave me my first stack of LPs as well as a box of 45s. The LPs included Steppenwolf Live, with that snarling wolf on the cover and Santana’s first album, with its sketch of a roaring lion that contained hidden figures and each Carlos Santana guitar solo deliberately articulated with a long, bended note, played high on the neck. He gave me The Band’s second album, which to this day is one of my Top 5 favorite albums ever, and about a half dozen Beatles records, including early ones through their then-recent psychedelic period, Sgt. Pepper’s and Magical Mystery Tour. A year or two later I got Let It Be and the Beatles Again singles collection, the one with them dourly dressed in black and standing in front of a big door. I didn’t know “singles collection” from “proper” release, and thought nothing of the stylistic and sonic differences between “I Should Have Known Better” and the scorching single version of “Revolution.” The band members looked their coolest in the mustachioed, sideburned photos of their psychedelic years, so I “updated” my early Beatles’ albums, drawing the appropriate whiskers on the lads and the distinctive granny glasses on John.
Hey, gang. Mod’s impertinent commentary about Jimi Hendrix’s late career — and specifically his disdainful dismissal of Jimi’s performance at Woodstock — got me thinking about the original big ‘do at Yasgur’s Farm. A quick search on the web for basic set list information on the event led me to conclude that there was a lot of shit that went down there I had no idea about. CCR? Johnny Winter? Neil Young? Mountain? The Incredible String Band? It got me thinking.
Mainly, it got me thinking: is there a snowball’s chance in hell I would have ever braved the traffic jams, the weather, the stench, and the bad acid to check out this show? And if not: how would the show have to have been edited to get me up there?
Of course, I’m just as eager to understand your opinions on the subject. Have a look at the following set list, and let me know your thoughts.
Mick Farren‘s one of those legendary rock ‘n roll underground characters I’ve read much about dating back to a youth pouring over Trouser Press, yet still know little of. Every few years I tried to grab a hold of him, but he’d slip away. I’ve heard music of his bands, The Pink Fairies, Motorhead, and The Deviants, and I know he crossed paths with many musicians I love from the hippie and punk scenes, but I never got a grip on the man himself. I hope you did.
Now he’s dead, having died onstage at a recent show. Feel free to help me understand more about the scene-stirrer whose life and works I, mostly, missed. (Oh, how I know our old friend Happiness Stan would have some choice experiences, likely involving a lady friend and an outdoor festival, with the music of Farren ringing in his ears.)