Wayne Wadhams, founding member of the '60s pop group the Fifth Estate, was born on November 12, 1946, in Stamford, CT. He attended Stamford public schools and later Dartmouth College, graduating in June of 1969. Originally class of 1968, Wadhams took off a year plus to tour with the Fifth Estate after "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead" was a hit in mid-1967.
At age nine, he lit on fire to become a theatrical pipe-organist, inspired by the million-selling LP George Wright at the Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ on the HiFi label. Wadhams' parents bought him a piano in 1956, then a large Conn electronic organ in 1957. Taking lessons, he began appearing as a "child prodigy" at Hammond Organ Society meetings. He played for silent movies at the New Haven Paramount theater, which had a small Wurlitzer with all the bells and whistles; then concertized on larger pipe organs in Philly, Hartford, and finally once in 1959 at Radio City Music Hall, on their huge four-manual Wurlitzer still used daily before feature film presentations. At age 13, Wadhams was approached by managers, but his parents, fearful that he would miss out on a solid Eisenhower science education and a respectable career, said no more organizing. He was crushed and gave up music until his last term at Rippowam High School, when the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, a pivotal moment in his career.
Wadhams was enamored of early rock from the Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly through Little Richard and R&amp;amp;amp;amp;B on the Motown and Stax labels. He adapted their songs to lively piano and organ arrangements, sneaking out of classes at Rippowam to play the school's electronic church-style organ in the auditorium.
Hooked on the Beatles, Wadhams advertised for musicians to start a group and found Rick Engler, an avid surf music fanatic and soon lead guitarist, working at a nearby Dairy Queen ice cream shop. Doug Ferrara, who re-strung his Strat with bass strings, unable to afford a real bass, was second guitaring to Engler in his basement. Lyricist Don Askew and Wadhams were already writing what would now be called "Shakespearean rap tunes" during classes at Rippowam: "Oh, Baby, you exceed the norm/You're the glass of fashion and the mold of form." Wadhams told the All Media Guide a bit about this period: "Don Askew and Bill Shute were among the beat poets of the scene, Bill also playing guitar and mandolin in a folk/bluegrass band whose motto, according to their card, was 'just a-pickin' and a-grinnin.' Ken Evans, jazz drummer, answered one of the ads, showing up at our rehearsal space [Wadhams' parent's basement] in a double-breasted black 'n white checked suit -- with beret -- like a Hollywood gangster with his moll [actually his ex-wife Shelly] clad in sleek black leather, dangling from his arm." Wadhams told AMG, "our first gig was outdoors at the Ezio Pinza Theater, Stamford, Connecticut."
The Fifth Estate hit in April of 1967 with a cover of "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead" adapted from the soundtrack to the film The Wizard of Oz. Released on Jubilee Records, it was translated into German, French, Japanese, and Italian along with the original English. The band was an important '60s group with more songwriting depth than a novelty hit might indicate. A compilation of their music, Ding Dong the Witch Is Back!, provides evidence of their fun spirit and keen sense of utilizing the pop/rock format to express themselves in an entertaining way.
Full biography here:http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:wzfpxqrgldke%7ET1
EDEN'S CHILDREN 1968
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
Despite production by Bob Thiele, Frank Kofsky's horrifying liner notes comparing Eden's Children to Jimi Hendrix and Cream are the only thing worse than this music. It's a weak album, for sure, regardless of Kofsky's proclamation that Richard Schamach is a better vocalist than Jack Bruce. He isn't, nor can this Boston band reach the heights of Blue Cheer, never mind Mountain. "Goodbye Girl" is one of the better tracks, resembling very bad Bachman Turner Overdrive. The modulation makes it painfully clear how weak a singer "Sham," as ABC wanted the non-existent fans to call Richard Schamach, really was. There's no need for songs like "If She's Right" with half-baked fuzz guitar, no groove, and drummer Jimmy Sturman all over the map. Emerging from a world where the Beacon Street Union, the Remains, Listening, and the Lost were making musical waves, these poor souls are way out of that league. To be hyped as better than Cream no doubt created expectations this trio could never live up to. "I Wonder Why" is no "White Room," and "Stone Fox" is a total embarrassment
Full review here:
SURE LOOKS REAL Eden's Children
|by Joe Viglione|
Bob Thiele is back producing, this time with Jonathan Whitcup helping out, and the genius photography of Elliot Landy, Bob Dylan's cameraman. It is amazing how much more style the band has with Landy's photos — stunning on the inside gatefold, buried inside an apple by photographer Norman Trigg on the front cover. The band had no image on their first ABC disc, and the rotten apple being eaten by a fly on the back of the LP pretty much sinks it for the band visually. "Sure Looks Real" and "Awakening," the first and fifth tracks, actually are listenable. "Sure Looks Real" borrows heavily from the Byrds' "Eight Miles High" with vocals taken from the Who's "I Can See for Miles." Richard Schamach's vocals are as subdued as the Don Heckman liner notes on this second chapter, but they fall apart, as does the band, on "Toasted," "Spirit Call," and "Come When I Call." It feels like there was no budget here and some of the songs get a better shake than others. Shamach writes nine tracks, bassist Larry Kiley pens two, but it doesn't matter. "The Clock's Imagination" is no Strawberry Alarm Clock, the vocals, drums, and barely audible folk guitar are augmented by poor backing vocals. Not only does this sound rushed, some of the material wouldn't be worthy of inclusion on a soundtrack to filmmaker Ed Wood's shoddy work. Even bands from the day like Fat and Quill had some merit and spark which Eden's Children failed to find and embrace. There is no identity in the framework of "Things Go Wrong" and terrible fuzz guitar in the Larry Kiely composition "Wings," which takes "I Don't Need No Doctor" and decimates that famous riff, though it is hard to imagine this crew actually listening to blues artists. "Call It Design" has even less imagination. There are moments on Sure Looks Real which indicate better production, and a level of seriousness absent from this mess would have generated a better product. "Invitation" could work in the hands of a Quicksilver Messenger Service because they had direction and desire. "Echoes" has the vibe of a demo done in some basement. Richard Schamach's voice destroys a pretty melody and creative guitar playing. A notch above the first album, but the notion that they could have done worse than their self-titled debut is a frightening thought. The music on this record and its predecessor would haunt Boston rock & roll for many years to come, despite the efforts of Aerosmith, Boston, the Cars, the Jonzun Crew, New Edition, Tracy Chapman, and other artists who found fame during the time they played in Boston, MA.
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
Michael Tschudin led the Boston-based band Listening, but it is the contributions by former Velvet Underground bassist Walter Powers and guitarist Peter Malick which make this album historic. Powers performed over the years with keyboardist Willie Alexander as members of Capitol Recording Artist the Lost, the aforementioned Velvets, and on Autre Chose, a live album from Alexander released on New Rose in Paris. Peter Malick is best known for being Otis Spann's guitarist and a member of the James Montgomery Band on Capricorn. Their legendary status in Boston rock &amp;amp;amp;amp; roll history brings positive notoriety to the fine music on this Vanguard release. "So Happy" is the poppiest tune, a cross between the Monkees and the Mojo Men, which is quite misleading. The album runs the gamut from pop to blues to jazz. "Baby Where Are You" is some strange fusion of Motown and the Spencer Davis Group which then veers off in a frenzy of effects and musical jam. Eight of the 11 tracks are written by keyboard/vocalist Michael Tschudin, with three titles attributed to the group. "See You Again," one of the group efforts, is another jam with riffs the Who would greatly appreciate. Phish's success validates how ahead of its time Listening truly was. There is certainly an identity here as Tschudin takes the boys through all sorts of styles inside the tune "Laugh at the Stars." Elements of Jimi Hendrix, the Band, and the Vanilla Fudge swirl around in the pretty decent production by Michael Chechik. Where peer group the Peanut Butter Conspiracy sound forced, Listening is right on target. There's just no hit single here that could launch these gentlemen from the trap known as "The Bosstown Sound." "9/8 Song" is definite jazz, kind of like latter-day Rascals, and we know how good that was, and how far it didn't go. "Stoned Is" sounds like the Velvet Underground performing "Chest Fever" by way of Lou Reed's "New York Stars" from Sally Can't Dance. It would fit perfectly on the '60s film soundtrack Psych-Out. Listening has punch and creativity which deserved a better fate.
Beacon Street Union THE EYES OF THE BEACON STREET UNION 1968
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
The Eyes of the Beacon Street Union is a highly experimental album released around the time of the Bosstown sound. Much better than first albums from Eden's Children and Ultimate Spinach, the disc, however, lacks direction — and cohesion. Vocalist John Lincoln Wright has the same look that he sports 23 years later on his 1991 Honky Tonk Verite CD, including his trademark cowboy hat, but the similarities between these two albums stop there. The Eyes of the Beacon Street Union is garage rock and psychedelia, and it is a trip. Where Orpheus opted for the serious pop of "Can't Find the Time," producer Wes Farrell includes a recitation by the late Tom Wilson, producer of The Velvet Underground & Nico, acting very avant-garde: "Look into the gray/look past the living streets of Boston/look finally into the eyes of Beacon Street Union." Well, Wilson did a decent job with the V.U., but he's no Crazy World of Arthur Brown screaming the immortal line "I am the god of hellfire." The band immediately dips into "My Love Is." resplendent in Robert Rhodes' (aka music attorney Robert Rosenblatt) best ? &amp;amp;amp;amp; the Mysterians keyboard sound, very cool '60s backing vocals, and guitars that are straight from the Psych Out film soundtrack. In fact, this song would have fit perfectly on that album along with the Seeds and Strawberry Alarm Clock. Had Wes Farrell kept the band on this track, the album might have more collectability. "Beautiful Delilah" is too novel to keep the momentum going, and "Sportin' Life" is lounge blues. Side two fares a bit better; "Speed Kills" and "Blue Avenue" are classic '60s psychedelia, a far cry from John Lincoln Wright's Sour Mash Boys, and amazing that it is the legendary Massachusetts country artist singing. "South End Incident" refers to the South End of Boston, which has become quite trendy, but in the day Jonathan Richman, Moe Tucker of the Velvet Underground, and George Thorogood would play that part of town — on the same bill! The music to the song might be an old blues riff, but the body of the work is "Heartbreaker" by Grand Funk Railroad, and one wonders if Mark Farner had this album and perhaps nicked this vamp a few years later? The Eyes of the Beacon Street Union slightly misses the mark, but must be commended for its original approach to this genre. The album cover looks like some history textbook that mistakenly got pressed by Mad Magazine. A mushroom next to an atomic bomb's mushroom cloud ought to tell you enough about MGM's packaging. A hit single and less cluttered album cover is what these musicians deserved, but what they have is, next to the album Listening by the band of the same name and the hit single from Orpheus, the best work from the Bosstown sound.
THE CLOWN DIED IN MARVIN GARDENS 1968 BEACON STREET UNION
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
The Clown Died in Marvin Gardens is an original statement by a Boston group who was musically superior to Eden's Children and Ultimate Spinach, but not as focused as the Remains, the Hallucinations with Peter Wolf, or the emerging J. Geils Band. Where national groups like the Peanut Butter Conspiracy may have been misguided and sputtered with no direction, vocalist John Lincoln Wright developed into a first-rate songwriter and a country singer with a purpose. Hearing his work on highly experimental tunes, like the title track or the impressionistic "May I Light Your Cigarette?," is true culture shock. "The Clown's Overture" seems pointless, yet "Angus of Aberdeen" is inspired and a bright spot in the morass that was the Bosstown Sound. The rave-up version of "Blue Suede Shoes" is great, the guitar funneled through effects and brimming with excitement. Full review link above.
John Lincoln Wright HONKY TONK VERITE'
BARRY AND THE REMAINS
THE REMAINS SPOONFED
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
In 1978 legendary Boston area music executive Bruce Patch re-released the even more legendary 1966 Epic album by the Remains on his Spoonfed Records label, augmenting the ten stereo songs from the original LP with four additional mono tracks. With the grooves cut into delicious red vinyl à la the first pressings of the Bloodshot album by the J. Geils Band, this 1978 limited edition is almost as much of a collectors' item as the band's Epic debut. For the fans who played that debut into the ground, the addition of "Heart," "Don't Look Back," "Thank You," and "Say You're Sorry" expands the experience, something that would happen again seven years later when New Rose Records' Fan Club subsidiary added even more cuts per side. Jon Landau writes a paragraph of liner notes on the back calling the group "the most exciting American band of their time." This reissue was produced by Jeffrey Jennings, mastered by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, and released at the time Patch was moving the Spoonfed label operation from Boston to Malibu, CA. "Once Before" sounds as lovely and British Invasion as ever, while Billy Sherrill's 1965 Nashville production of "Time of Day" features that great separation of tambourine and fuzz tone. Billy Briggs' keys add just enough spice to confirm that all the reverence for the group is justified. An October 3, 1978, article in the Boston Phoenix by James Isaacs documents a meeting with Patch and Barry Tashian during the promotion of this release, at which time the singer commented, "I haven't heard that in 12 years" (regarding the unreleased tracks). Though all this music has resurfaced on compact disc, this special edition is worth seeking out.
THE REMAINS FAN CLUB
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
Released in 1985 on the Fan Club division of the French New Rose record label, this double disc is packaged in bright yellow with a gatefold and superb liner notes/memories by J. Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf along with additional information by Remains bassist Vern Miller. With a whopping 28 tracks, it is seven cuts deeper than the 1991 Epic/Legacy re-release, at least five of those bonus tracks from the Capitol Records demos included here, material released on Sundazed in 1996 as Session With the Remains. The inner sleeve contains songwriter credits as well as the year, studio, and city where each tune was recorded as well as information on who produced each track. It is really exquisite, and sounds great to boot. The eternal debate from those who saw the band in their heyday opening for the Beatles in 1966 is "what if they had been recorded properly." William Briggs III said that he felt the Session With the Remains CD did capture that spirit. "Talking 'Bout You" certainly has a groove, while "Hang On Sloopy" is one of those fly-on-the-wall kind of moments, the band displaying much more of that garage aura than is revealed on the cut from the classic Nuggets compilation, "Don't Look Back," though that track helped perpetuate their legend. Peter Wolf's 1985 letter on the back cover giving the band credit for "power and control" of amplification, comparing them to the Who, is worth the price of admission. Wolf should know; Barry Tashian lived in the same apartment complex and was present when the former Peter Blankfield recorded the famous "bathroom tapes" of his own band, the Hallucinations. The essay by Vern Miller Jr. sheds even more light on the group history, noting that one of the songs here, Gram Parsons' "Luxury Liner," was recorded in Long Island during a brief 1976 reunion. For collectors of vinyl and hardcore fans of the band, of which there are many, this one is essential.
MOVIN' ON 2002 BARRY AND THE REMAINS
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
As authentic a dozen tunes any fan of the Remains could hope for find a niche in the digital grooves of Movin' On, Barry Tashian's distinctive voice picking up where he left off on the group's last full album, which was, ah...1966? Almost 40 years in between releases sure beats the two years it took Sly Stone to get a new disc out during his heyday! But it's worth the wait as Vern Miller, Bill Briggs, Chip Damiani, and Tashian deliver the goods. "You Never Told Me" and "Over You" could easily slip into the Eagles' repertoire, which is the dilemma for hardcore Remains fans who always wanted their heroes to sustain that launch that culminated in a tour with the Beatles and Bobby Hebb. And God knows the Eagles needed some real competition. "A Man's Best Friend Is His Automobile" showed up on Barry &amp;amp;amp;amp; Holly Tashian's 2002 release At Home and gets the Remains treatment here. Holly Tashian contributes backing vocals to the album, the group also augmented by Daniel Tashian on vocals, percussion, and B-3 as well as Angelo on backing vocals, percussion, and a co-write on "Don't Tell Me the Truth." Speaking of which, for those who loved "Don't Look Back," the 45 rpm that ended up on the original Nuggets before getting tagged onto the first Remains disc, opening track "Don't Tell Me the Truth" will satisfy their needs. "Listen to Me" is lots of fun as is the album closer, "Time Keeps Movin' On," resplendent in sounds toward the end of the tune that would make Lothar & the Hand People proud, but the standout and potential hit is "Hard to Find (So Easy to Lose)." "The Power of Love" and "Ramona" both add to the legend, but it's "Hard to Love" that could open up this band to a larger and well-deserved audience. As the Zombies tour, sometimes with Pete Best's collection of early Beatles music, the addition of Barry & the Remains would make a potent trio of artists from an era whose popularity will remain perpetual. TheRemains.com is how to find this music if you can't locate it in the usual places.
BARRY AND HOLLY TASHIAN AT HOME 2002
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
Barry Tashian and Holly Tashian look as happy on the front cover of At Home as they sound on this vibrant folk/country album from the veteran couple. The six-page CD insert has notations on each of the 12 selections as well as an interesting essay on how the music was "recorded live with no 'fixes in the mixes.'" The album's simple quality makes it very appealing, from Felice Bryant's "We Could," which opens the disc like a girl-and-guy version of the Everly Brothers, to a very interesting "A Man's Best Friend Is His Automobile." This is Barry giving the world a preview of a song also recorded for the Remains' reunion album, scheduled for later in 2002. Holly only co-writes two of the five originals with her husband, who has a different collaborator on each of his compositions. Holly Tashian calls their "These Little Things" the first shuffle they've written, though the couple has played them for years. Her "One More Me (The Cloning Song)" is an interesting take on "Dolly the cloned sheep," about a housewife who could use some extra help around the house. And who better but a carbon copy of herself? Imagine the possibilities — this duo could duplicate themselves and be a country/folk version of the Mamas &amp;amp;amp;amp; the Papas. Barry Tashian draws from three different arrangements of two traditional tunes, and he blends "Whiskey Before Breakfast"/"Beaumont Rag" together, the CD's only instrumentals, both tunes "around for at least a century." Buck Owens' "There Goes My Love" has that Everly Brothers feel again, with the couple's great harmonies and smooth playing. Merle Kilgore's "More and More" follows suit, another poppy blues song, as is Barry's "The Sound of Your Name." They cover Connie Francis' "My Happiness," a song from 1933 which charted for half a dozen artists over the years, and the performance is indicative of the album as a whole — warm and enjoyable. Holly sings a version of "My Window Faces the South," which she's performed for 25 years but not recorded until now. "Watermelon Time in Georgia" closes the disc, and Barry's comments under the song are historically vital. When the guitarist was performing with Emmylou Harris in the '80s, Merle Haggard sang to them for about two hours at an Indianapolis Holiday Inn. That's how this Harlan Howard song made it to this CD. At Home is a wonderful document of two important artists being themselves and putting their storytelling on record in a very comfortable setting.
UP UP AND AWAY ARTHUR FIEDLER &amp;amp;amp;amp; THE BOSTON POPS 1968
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
Conductor Arthur Fiedler is a revered name in New England music history and his Boston Pops run through gorgeous Richard Hayman arrangements of familiar favorites on Up, Up and Away. A dramatic rendition of 1967 's "Best Song" from the pen of Jimmy Webb starts off the LP, adding sound colors as the 5th Dimension production did, only without the vocals and different instrumentation, of course. Producer Peter Dellheim gives six paragraphs of insight in his liner notes, identifying that he picked up on the Minuet from J.S. Bach's Anna Magdalena Bach Notebook after hearing Diana Ross &amp;amp;amp;amp; the Supremes' version of the tune "A Lover's Concerto." The amusing thing is that the Toys were emulating the Supremes' sound, and the Diana Ross version the Boston Pops got its idea from was a tribute to the tribute. When Ferrante & Teicher recorded the song on their Getting Together album, they called their arrangement "A Familiar Concerto," denying Toys producers Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell the royalties for the updated composition. Arthur Fiedler & the Boston Pops sprinkle their magic on Paul Mauriat's hit "Love Is Blue," along with "Lara's Theme" from Dr. Zhivago -- better known as Ray Conniff's Top Ten hit from 1966, "Somewhere My Love." André Previn's (Theme From) Valley of the Dolls is just perfect for this ensemble, majestic movements that bring out the sadness and despair of the Dionne Warwick classic. "Cabaret" is a fun romp through the campy hit, while the Beatles' "Yesterday" and "Michelle" melt into the beautiful fabric as easily as the theme from Georgy Girl. Up, Up and Away is the perfection one expects from the Boston Pops, capturing some of the highlights with which 1968's easy listening community was in tune. The amusing cover photo features an airplane on a runway with Fiedler surrounded by eight beautiful women.
Reviews on E Music.com 1/07/05
CLEAN LIVING 1972
Pousette Dart Never Enoughhttp://www.emusic.com/album/10788/10788101.html
POUSETTE DART BAND 3
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
Out of the four albums released by the Pousette-Dart Band on Capitol, 3 may be the most satisfying. The only song that received as much attention as "Amnesia," the title track and minor hit off of their second album, or "For Love," the David Finnerty of the Road Apples tune from their fourth disc, was the cover of the Lieber/Stoller/Ben E. King 1961 hit "Stand By Me." It is a good version, and the songs on side one are the usual fare from Jon Pousette-Dart's group, top notch country/rock. But it is side two that really is extraordinary. "Louisiana," "Too Blue to Be True," and "Mr. Saturday Night" work almost as a trilogy. They are deep, dark, and not as bouncy as Don Covay's "I Stayed Away Too Long" on side one. The beautiful, acoustic "Where Are You Going," which ends this half of the program, sets up the second side nicely, and lends for a seamless flow if listening on compact disc. Pousette-Dart's voice is flawless, as is his playing on "Where Are You Going," which ends suspended in mid-air. As with that tune, all the songs on the second side are written by Jon Pousette-Dart, and along with the sterling performance, this is his best songwriting of these releases on Capitol. "Louisiana" has tension, eerie production, immaculate instrumentation, and just a great vocal walking next to the guitars. While the Eagles and Hall &amp;amp;amp;amp; Oates were enjoying success at this point in time, along with the resurgence of Crosby, Stills &amp;amp;amp;amp; Nash, Pousette-Dart Band's mellow Buffalo Springfield style on this album really should have garnered a huge audience. "Too Blue to Be True" brings it up a bit, the band cooking with excitement and power. That power continues in the semi-funk of "Mr. Saturday Night," three powerful statements by this important artist that somehow got lost in the shuffle of the music industry. Jon Pousette-Dart's appearance at the Paradise Theater in Boston at the end of 2000 with Jon Hall of Orleans and Jonathan Edwards of Orphan was their first appearance live together as a trio, having previously only recorded "Why Can't We Be Friends," the War tune for Rounder. That performance magnified what one of those performers put in these grooves. "Lord's Song" starts to conclude the album in the same fashion as side one, Pousette-Dart's voice and acoustic guitar combined with his plaintive expression, this time the band in the background solidified by co-producer Dave Appell's strings swelling, rising up before the group kicks in with precision. An album that truly deserves a better fate than obscurity.
NEVER ENOUGH POUSETTE DART BAND
(the same tune as Robin Lane's WHEN THINGS GO WRONG)
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
The title track of the fourth album from Jon Pousette-Dart's band is actually a cover of Robin Lane & the Chartbusters' "When Things Go Wrong," reetitled "Never Enough," but more than that, it's a reworking with different lyrics. Lane's 3-song EP on manager Mike Lembo's Deli Platter Records was a phenomenon in the New England region in the late '70s. This song was also the title track of her 1980 Warner Bros. debut recorded by Helen Reddy producer Joe Wissert. Pousette-Dart Band's version reunites them with Norbert Putnam, who oversaw their first two Capitol discs. It is an extraordinary glimpse at how a great melody failed to make the Top 40, recorded differently by two important artists, who themselves failed to make the national Top 40 with any of their discs. Like their contemporary Andy Pratt, these performers contributed much to music and got little in return. The second track, "Silver Stars," is a wonderful instrumental by guitarist John Curtis, but the album's highlight is "For Love," a tune by David Finnerty, leader of Atlantic's the Joneses, who actually did hit the Top 40 in 1975 with a band called the Road Apples and their tune "Let's Live Together." Finnerty's "For Love," as performed by Jon Pousette-Dart, is so commercially viable for this point in time that it is a sin it got only minor airplay. It is as substantial as Orleans or Firefall, more creative and dynamic than what the Eagles were doing in the same format. The first and only Jon Pousette-Dart title on side one is "Cold Outside," which brings horns into the mix; it, and bassist John Troy's arrangement of the traditional "Hallelujah I'm A Bum," are country funkish numbers — adequate, but not as strong as the first three tracks. Pousette-Dart's co-write "Long Legs" opens side two, but that honor should have gone to "The Loving One," a lilting pop tune by Pousette-Dart, with his gifted voice gliding over the keys and percussion. Marc Aramian's composition, "We Never Give Up," thankfully continues the tradition of pop that Pousette-Dart is so comfortable with. The band has a knack for adding polish to these strong hooks, more evidence that this fourth album was a real contender. With management by New England's legendary promoter Don Law, son of record producer Don Law, Sr., the group had the connections and the talent to really make their mark. "Cheated" is another poppy tune by the band leader, leaning a bit more toward the country side of the group that was their foundation, something they significantly embellished with funk and pop. That is most evident in the John Curtis original "Gotta Get Far Away," which ends the album. Jon Pousette-Dart performed at the Paradise Theater in Boston towards the end of 2000 with Jon Hall of Orleans and Jonathan Edwards of the group Orphan. It was their first appearance ever as a trio live — promoting their cover of War's "Why Can't We Be Friends" released on Rounder Records that year. The performance highlighted how important the music on this album is, and that Jon Pousette-Dart is viable a couple of decades after creating this and the three other releases on Capitol.
|Biography||by Joe Viglione|
Orphan was the creation of songwriter/singer Eric Lilljequist (born January 1, 1948) who grew up in Massachusetts' Brockton/Avon area, the ensemble emerging in the mid-'60s, a time when few bands in the region performed their own material. Originally calling the group Orphans, they dropped the plural during the first wave of musicians who worked with Lilljequist on his music. Managed by Ed Mottau, a guitarist who worked with John Lennon prior to the Elephant's Memory, Mottau was in turn managed by Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary. There were always famous names coming through Mottau's house in Avon, and Eric Lilljequist got to meet them. Local entrepreneur Peter Casperson, instrumental in the careers of the Fools, Duke & the Drivers, and other Boston-area entertainers, picked up Orphan, and they went from playing high schools and armories to landing more prestigious club dates as well as a recording contract with Epic Records.
In the late '60s, while Lilljequist was taking vocal lessons from legendary voice teacher Dante Bavone, the man who worked with Faye Dunaway, Peter Wolf, Steven Tyler and so many others, Lilljequist met his musical partner, guitarist/vocalist Dean Adrien, at the suggestion of Bavone. The group spent an autumn recording nine singles for Epic Records; the CBS building in New York providing a great atmosphere and learning environment for the young artists. The two co-heads of Epic A&R, Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell, performed production duties for Orphan as they had for Barbara Harris and the Toys. Linzer and Randell fostered cover versions of Orphan material; the Bandwagon and the Four Seasons doing renditions of this new sound; Frankie Valli singing on Eric Lilljequist's song "He Gives Me Light."
After their stint at Epic and hoping for another deal, the band began recording on spec at Intermedia Studios in Boston where their friend Jonathan Edwards tracked his hit "Sunshine." They got offers and auditions with surprisingly more notice from Columbia, garnering interest from Clive Davis after leaving Epic. The offer from London Records allowed for more creative freedom so they signed a four-album deal with that label, tracking three albums starting with 1972's Everyone Lives to Sing, followed by 1973's Rock & Reflection.
During this time, they were performing on record and sometimes live with Jonathan Edwards, and he often with Orphan, the two acts actually living in a big house in the Boston area for awhile. Four Eric Lilljequist compositions showed up on Edwards' 1973 Atco release Have a Good Time for Me, the title taken from the song "Have Yourself a Good Time for Me" which also appeared on Orphan's final London release, More Orphan Than Not. Lilljequist played on Edwards' first three Atco albums with the entire Orphan band backing him in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, on March 22 and 23 of 1974 for the Lucky Day LP. It's a fine document of Orphan live working with their folk star friend.
Orphan played on many bills with the Castle Music stable of artists, Martin Mull, the McKinney Brothers, Travis Shook & the Club Wow, and, of course, Jonathan Edwards. They played all over the country, opening for the Allman Brothers Band, the Byrds, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, Hot Tuna, and Jessie Colin Young, even recording at Young's house. Orphan backed up Chuck Berry at the Cape Cod Coliseum and Lilljequist and Adrien performed with Bo Diddley at Symphony Hall. One special night was at a party for John Lennon in New York's Tavern on the Greens off of Central Park at the time of Lennon's One to One concert. The Beatle arrived at his party while Orphan was performing on-stage.
Dean Adrien and Eric Lilljequist appear on Tom Rush, Live at Symphony Hall, Boston, released in 2001 on Varese Sarabande, and have performed over the years in a trio with Rush. Lilljequist's music has been recorded by acts as diverse as the Four Freshmen and Bruce MacPherson, the band's presence an important element of the Boston rock & roll scene during the late '60s. The entire summer of 1967, the band performed at the Atlantic House in Provincetown, the group performing in one room while the likes of Odetta, John Lee Hooker, and Nina Simone appeared on the larger stage. It was no doubt a magical summer, as Moulty & the Barbarians and the Velvet Underground were also making noise on Cape Cod, the Barbarians sometimes sharing bills with Orphan.
ORPHAN EVERYONE LIVES TO SING 1972
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
Somehow lost in the shuffle of Boston music are the albums by Orphan. Overshadowed by the cult status of Jonathan Richman &amp;amp;amp; the Modern Lovers, or the ever present Willie Loco Alexander, the songs of Eric Lilliequist may be best represented on this recording. Produced by Peter Casperson at the legendary Intermedia Sound on Boylston Street in Boston, the dark green cover with Dean Adrien — who provides percussion and vocals, and Lilliequist, as well as the mysterious back photo, are welcome fragments of New England folk/rock from the early '70s. While bandmate Jonathan Edwards was topping the local and national charts in December of 1971 with "Sunshine" on Capricorn Records, he showed up here with a vocal on "Look at Her," interpreting a Lilliequist original with a hint of Aztec Two-Step. Especially on the title track, and a very Jonathan Edwards-ish "Fisherman," Lilliequist and Orphan created an intriguing blend of light pop which, in retrospect, should've been as big as Orleans, Firefall, and the bands that had tunes and lyrics but not the bevy of hits America garnered. "Daylight Darkness" is like an answer to Jesse Colin Young and the Youngbloods. These 1971 tunes released in 1972 are the best picture of the work of Eric Lilliequist. If Jonathan Edwards gets a much deserved boxed set, perhaps the world will have a chance to discover Orphan and the important work they did in the early '70s
MORE ORPHAN THAN NOT 1974
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
Caught in that netherworld after the Bosstown sound was forced upon everyone, and two years before the new wave would usher Willie Alexander, the Fools, the Rings, Robin Lane and the Chartbusters, and other Boston groups to national attention, only a handful of bands kept Boston on the map. Along with Aerosmith, the Sidewinders, and the Modern Lovers was Orphan. Recorded at Intermedia Sound (a studio that would be purchased by the Cars and renamed Syncro Sound, and where Aerosmith tracked their first album), the album has the distinction of being taped where Jonathan Edwards created his 1971 Top Five hit "Sunshine." Edwards' presence on this album, playing acoustic guitar, harmonica, and providing backup vocals, makes it important historically. Sadly, there is only one original from Jonathan E. Edwards, the tune "Train of Glory." It is one of the highlights of the disc, along with a very Quicksilver Messenger Service-style rendition of Van Morrison's "I've Been Working," a truly unique "What Goes On" — cover of the Beatles, not the Velvet Underground, although Orphan could have done as nice a job with the VU's composition as they did with this Lennon/McCartney/Starkey tune — and a couple of really fine Eric Lilljequist songs, "Don't Go Fooling Me" and "Have Yourself a Good Time for Me." The group should've hit big time on the country charts with "Have Yourself a Good Time," its Byrds/Flying Burrito Brothers style evident. Perhaps it is the multidimensional focus which kept the band from the success that Edwards enjoyed with "Sunshine." Certainly ahead of their time, the Van Morrison cover bridges the gap from pop to rock to jam. Artists as diverse as Charlie Daniels and Phish have been able to ride the "jam/groove" wave, and Orphan would have fit in perfectly. Jonathan Edwards teamed up with Jon Hall of Orleans and Jon Pousette-Dart in 2000. They have released one song on Rounder, a cover of War's "Why Can't We Be Friends," which sounds like a very commercial extension of what was going on with Orphan 16 years prior. Seven of the 11 songs were written by Lilljequist, with "Overtime" the sole contribution by guitarist Dean Adrien. Any band that can boast the late Bobby Chouinard (of Duke &amp;amp;amp;amp; the Drivers, Billy Squier, and Alice Cooper fame) as their drummer deserves to be in the history books. The record was produced by Peter Casperson and Eric Lilljequist, Casperson being one of the men behind Castle Music, a management company that made some noise in the area. Orphan is a chillingly prophetic name for a band who delivered solid music but never achieved the recognition they deserved.
KATE TAYLOR SISTER KATE
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
This classic recording by the sibling of Livingston and James Taylor offers valuable insight for fans of Carole King's landmark album, Tapestry, but Sister Kate is also a great work in its own right. Peter Asher of Peter &amp;amp;amp;amp; Gordon was the guiding hand behind James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt, and to have his vision of Carole King's "Where You Lead" and "Home Again" from Tapestry with the musicians who helped King paint her masterpiece is a major treat. Lou Adler's perspective on these tunes was what helped reshape music in the '70s, and to have another successful producer issuing the same music at the exact moment in time is essential study for Musicology 101. "Where You Lead" has a totally different flavor from both King's classic album track and Barbara Streisand's hit. Vocally, she's not Chi Coltrane or Jessi Colter, but Kate Taylor is very musical just the same. It's interesting that she would do versions of two songs Rod Stewart covered. Stewart got some serious airplay with "Handbags and Gladrags," but he didn't have Carole King, Linda Ronstadt, Merry Clayton, and most of the Tapestry players on his version of the Mike D'Abo tune — Kate Taylor gets that honor. She also does a fine rendition of the Elton John/Bernie Taupin track which Stewart got FM album airplay with, "Country Comforts," and takes it a step further by covering "Ballad of a Well Known Gun" from the John/Taupin catalog as well. Beverly Martyn's "Sweet Honesty" plays like Donovan's "Season of the Witch," and it works well for this place in time, but the real knockout tunes here are, coincidentally, Taylor's rendition of Livingston Taylor's "Be That Way," and her takes on James Taylor's "Lo and Behold" and "You Can Close Your Eyes." These three go right out of the park, so you can draw your own conclusions as to how well-schooled she was on the music being made by her brothers. The addition of "Jesus Is Just All Right" somewhat mars "Lo and Behold"; the two form a medley, with "Lo and Behold's chorus pressing up against the "Jesus Is Just All Right" melody, but once again, the choice of what would become a '70s standard for the Doobie Brothers two years later shows the intuitive nature of this project. Mort Shuman and Jerry Ragavoy got attention the year before when Janis Joplin's Pearl contained her dynamic version of their "Get It While You Can." Kate Taylor is better suited to their "Look at Granny Run, Run," and she does a fine job with it here. This is the album that got away, and all serious fans of pop, '70s rock, and good music in general owe it to themselves to seek Sister Kate out. It's a very impressive work of art.
ALEX TAYLOR 1971 WITH FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
1971 was the year of "Taylor Mania" with Mud Slide Slim & The Blue Horizon by James Taylor, Sister Kate's album on Cotillion, and the equally brilliant Liv by Livingston Taylor, on Warner Brothers. Alex Taylor's With Friends And Neighbors is a very good album, enjoying the glow of his sibling's excellent work, and emulating them on the first side. It's more pop than one would think, which all changes when you flip the disc over to hear the bluesy jams like on Greg Allman's "Southbound" on side two. Acoustic guitarist's Scott Boyer's "Southern Kids" is up there with some of James Taylor's finest work and with a plethora of guests from King Curtis to Sweet Baby James himself on "Night Owl," With Friends and Neighbors stands on its own as a very listenable and entertaining project. There's not one original by Alex, but he does allow his musicians to contribute, lead guitarist Tommy Talton penning "All In Line" while Boyer gets to include a second composition, "C Song" which ends side one. Bobby And Shirley Womack's "It's All Over Now" gets a fun reading, not as classic as The Rolling Stones or Rod Stewart And The Faces, this one is slowed down and funky but has its charm, and utilizes the same band as on brother Livingston Taylor's Liv album — Bill Stewart on drums, Tommy Talton on lead guitar, Paul Hornsby on keyboards, Johnny Sandlin providing bass as well as producing the entire disc(Jon Landau was the producer on Liv). With the addition of acoustic guitarist Scott Boyer and Alex Taylor on vocals, With Friends And Neighbors is the bookend album to Liv that Sister Kate is to Carole King's Tapestry — Kate Taylor having employed the musicians (and a couple of the songs) from King's classic 70s release. What the world needs is a Taylor Family Boxed set with all the work from Liv, Sister Kate, With Friends And Neighbors and any other material from the sessions that gave birth to this trio of exquisite recordings. It doesn't have the highs of a "Get Out Of Bed" which Livingston Taylor gave us, but it is consistent and highly enjoyable nevertheless.
LIVINGSTON TAYLOR 1970
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
It would be difficult not to compare Livingston Taylor's self-titled 1970 debut to his brother's second solo release, Sweet Baby James, as the latter certainly brought attention to the former, but the Jon Landau-produced disc crafted in Macon, GA, is a world unto itself. Ten originals by Taylor along with one cover, the Earl Greene and Carl Montgomery country standard "Six Days on the Road," make for a pleasant listen. "Sit on Back" is a bright enough opening, with "Doctor Man" bringing in a bit of the darkness. "My time's at hand" is the same line James Taylor used in the hit "Fire and Rain" and both brothers spent their time in the psych ward: "People with smiles/They talk of a hand that they got from a man called the doctor man." You would love to hear Lou Reed take this on, and somehow the pretty guitar and arrangement are real paradoxes for what should be a dirge, the lyrics profoundly in need of a few spins to sink in. Because much of this album feels like the producer and the artists were getting their bearings, "Six Days on the Road" becomes one of the more accessible tracks. Versions by Hank Snow, Bloodwyn Pig, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Taj Mahal, and others proliferated, and this is not as ethereal as the artist's cover of "On Broadway" from the Liv album, but in its simplicity the point still gets across. The LP cover photo is pretty out there, with Taylor looking down from a metal structure of some sort, his hair all frazzled, while the back cover has a darkened room which looks like a recording studio. "Packet of Good Times" is very up-tempo, while "Hush a Bye" brings things right back down and, like most of the project, is understated. It's on Liv, the second album, that things really come together. Sure, these songs are well constructed, but they still seem somewhat raw and no doubt influenced the way things would be tackled the second time around. Sister Kate and James are referenced in "Carolina Day," a song with more parallels. "Can't Get Back Home" follows suit — impressive ditties with "In My Reply" up and "Lost in the Love of You" down again. The obvious yin yang would change on the next album, which should have been a huge breakthrough for this sensitive and special artist. The seeds of future work are here, and Livingston Taylor is a nice start to the singer's interesting career.
LIVINGSTON TAYLOR LIV
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
"Get Out of Bed" leads off Liv, the 1971 album from Livingston Taylor, and it is a brilliant and exciting slice of pop music which should have been a huge international smash. It is one of those songs that you want to play 50 or 60 times in a row, perfectly written and recorded. Produced by Bruce Springsteen mentor Jon Landau and managed by Don Law, the son of the legendary country record producer Don Law, Sr., this Warner Bros. album had all the elements, and is more endearing than the two Top 40 hits this member of the famous Taylor family eventually garnered in 1978 and 1980. Liv's original songs are uplifting and give brother James Taylor a good run for his money. "May I Stay Around" has a vibrant vocal working itself over the elegant acoustic guitar, the bright green colors of the album cover and the laid-back young Livingston sitting in a chair looking aloof just calls back to a time when this sort of music was exploding — Jim Croce, brother James, Harry Chapin, and Carole King, who he is closest to both vocally and sentimentally. The singer picks up the piano on "Open Up Your Eyes," "Get Out of Bed," "Be That Way," and "Gentleman," as well as the cover of "On Broadway," and with the understated production of Jon Landau, Livingston's beautiful heartfelt vocals make this an extraordinary work of art. Most of the tunes are around the three-minute mark, except for "Easy Prey," which gets over four-and-a-half; "Gentleman shows where the artist's contemporary (one year younger than this Taylor) Dan Fogelberg found part of his sound, though the performance is not as pronounced as "Easy Prey," the band kicking in early on that tune, Bill Stewart on drums, Paul Hornsby on electric piano, Tommy Talton on lead guitar, performing breathy, moving stuff. A low-key Quicksilver Messenger Service from the East Coast is what this album is, a musical journey full of delight and surprise. Dave Woodford's flute on "Open Up Your Eyes" is perfect and essential, and this serious music is the antithesis of Hugo Montenegro's Dawn of Dylan tribute album. Liv is the real thing by a troubadour who never really got the acclaim he deserved. Perhaps he was overshadowed by older brother James Taylor, or maybe Jonathan Edwards' "Sunshine" going Top Five nationally the year this album was released edged out other music from Boston instead of putting a focus on the region. Politcal reasons for this not making him a huge star aside, what remains is a very strong album which cries out to get played again and again. Exquisite.
LIVINGSTON TAYLOR MAN'S BEST FRIEND 1980
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
Man's Best Friend boasts superb musicianship, high production values, good song selection, beautiful vocal performances from Livingston Taylor, and an impressive cast of guest stars who do not get in the way of the singer/songwriter. Though "First Time Love" broke the Top 40 for a couple of weeks in September of 1980, this album, much like his work on Atco a decade earlier, is superlative and deserved more chart activity. Converging on "Sunshine Girl" are drummer Jeff Porcaro, Jeff Baxter from Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers (it should be noted, a fellow Bostonian), and ex-Turtles Flo &amp;amp;amp;amp; Eddie, just the right touch to knock this one out of the park. "Sunshine Girl" is so sincere, such an uplifting composition and performance, that it makes it frustrating to hear these remarkable sounds and know that Epic Records or whoever couldn't deliver this to the wide audience it deserved. Covers of Randy Newman's "Marie" and the Stevenson/Gay/Hunter classic "Dancing in the Street" are fine, but the collaboration between Baxter and Taylor, "You Don't Have to Choose," like the aforementioned John Manchester/Livingston Taylor title, "Sunshine Girl," gives the listener insight to the artistry at play, insight you can't find on the fun romps "Ready Set Go" and "Dancing in the Street." It's a nice mix, though. Carla Thomas dueting with Taylor while backed up by Steve Cropper and the Memphis Horns is pretty phenomenal. Baxter takes to the keyboards on this cover of the Motown hit, giving Cropper space, but who wouldn't have loved to hear a guitar duel here? When the earthy dance stuff subsides, Taylor hits you with a co-write his wife, Maggie Taylor, helped him with, "Out of This World," and not to sound cliché, it is out of this world. Taylor has a sweet, down-home folksy voice perfect for pop radio, and his delivery is magical, from the calypso-style "Face Like a Dog" to the beautiful rendition of Jon Hall's 1975 hit, "Dance With Me." Don Henley is on harmony vocal for the Orleans tune and, as stated above, these big-name artists do a marvelous job of complementing the music, not impeding it with overplaying. From his 1971 Jon Landau-produced LP Liv to this John Boylan/Jeff Baxter co-production almost a decade later (the producers doing their tracks separately, not collaborating), Man's Best Friend continues the consistent musical saga of a musician who should be a huge star. Where brother James Taylor is the icon, deservedly so, it is too bad room wasn't made in the pantheon for this bright and talented artist. Livingston Taylor's albums are refreshingly strong, and enhance radio when they get their chance to entertain. This one's a contender for lost classic status.
LIVINGSTON TAYLOR LIFE IS GOOD 1988
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
Ten years after his Top 30 hit "I Will Be in Love With You," Livingston Taylor comes up with an album that has all the brightness of that song and the Top 40 "First Time Love" from 1980. The amazing thing about this artist is that he continually crafts top-notch albums that are highly entertaining, but has not connected with an audience on the same level as his brother, James, Carole King, or other mainstream soft rock artists. A touch of jazz for "Louie" is that magical addition to a folk/adult contemporary album which makes for great crossover potential. The tribute to Louis Armstrong is an essential element of Taylor's ability to put together albums that are extraordinary in their perfection. Robbie Dupree and James Taylor add some vocals to this beautiful Artie Traum production, and though there are no hits, there is also not a bad track here. Released on Critique Records, a label located ten miles north of Boston which had two Top 40 hits in 1995 with Nicki French and 2 Unlimited, Life Is Good is worth seeking out. On "Mary Ann" he does dip into his brother's domain, but it is just briefly and worthwhile. When they do a boxed set on the work of Alex, Kate, James, and Livingston Taylor, a few tracks from this release would be most welcome.
JONATHAN EDWARDS HAVE A GOOD TIME FOR ME 1973
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
Jonathan Edwards is not considered a "country" artist per se, probably due to the success of "Sunshine" from his 1971 self-titled debut, but on his follow-up to the Jonathan Edwards album, Honky-Tonk Stardust Cowboy, and some of his discs on Reprise, most notably Sailboat and Rockin' Chair, he is indeed that. Have a Good Time for Me is a departure from Honky-Tonk Stardust Cowboy in that the artist is covering music by three of the songwriters from the Castle Hill Publishing group, a company owned by co-producer Peter Casperson, who also managed Edwards. Without the original compositions that were the bulk of the previous release, Edwards has an opportunity to put his stamp on outside material, which he does so well. There's an excellent cover of Jimmie Rodgers' "Travelin' Blues," along with a lively, almost gospel rendition of the traditional "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder." The album starts off with longtime collaborator Eric Lilljequist's "Have Yourself a Good Time for Me," which would appear in a different form on Lilljequist's More Orphan Than Not album a year later. On that album, Edwards was pretty much a bandmember, his photo on the cover with the other musicians. Here, "Have a Good Time" is lighter and more introspective, a forlorn statement to a significant other who can't stay true, a perfect sentiment for country radio. "My Home Ain't in the Hall of Fame" sounds like Bostonian John Lincoln Wright, and one wonders had the two teamed up, how they might have decimated the country charts with hits. David Bromberg shows up on electric guitar, and the tune reappeared on Edwards' next album, the live Lucky Day, which actually has Orphan backing him up nine months after the recording of this LP. But it is in this context on Have a Good Time for Me where Edwards excels as an interpreter: "Something borrowed from the friends of gold" the singer writes in his poem inside the gatefold of an album. If you've had it in your collection for years, you may find strange white blotches appearing on the front and back cover; the singer explained that he demanded and got it released on recycled materials. Along with the poem, it is his calligraphy lettering inside and out, making for a very personal collection of material that didn't come from his pen, but does! Interesting indeed how he takes Malcolm McKinney's "Thirty Miles to Go" and makes it his own. McKinney contributes two titles here; Joe Dolce is represented with three; and Eric Lilljequist has four, including the title song. Dolce's "King of Hearts" has more of the pop flavor Edwards' fans from radio expect, the album working because the musicianship from Al Anderson, Bromberg, Stuart Schulman, Bill Keith, Lilljequist, Bill Elliot, and others blends in perfectly behind the singer. With the success of the Eagles at this point in time, one wonders why this album didn't do much much more. Perhaps it was too pure in its approach. It remains a very listenable and courageous work by an artist not content to clone past success but willing to follow his instincts.
LUCKY DAY LIVE 1974 JONATHAN EDWARDS
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
Lucky Day is an important 15-song live document of Jonathan Edwards' music, recorded at what was a wonderfully intimate little venue in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, the late, lamented Performance Center. This perfect live show is enhanced by the presence of Orphan members Eric Lilljequist, Dean Adrien, Dave Conrad, and Bobby Chouinard, along with friends like NRBQ's Al Anderson, pianist Bill Elliot, violinist/pianist Stuart Schulman, Lynnie Dall, and Bill Elliot. Though some of the material would naturally show up on other live discs by Edwards — "Shanty" appearing on 1980's Live and "Lucky Day" on 2000's Cruising America's Waterways — these takes have staying power, making this one of Edwards' most satisfying releases. The title track, "Lucky Day," works so much better with Orphan backing him, and the violins on M. McKinney's "Sometimes" flow beautifully next to Edwards' soulful voice. "Hit Parade of Love" is a hootenanny, while "Stop and Start It All Again" is one of the singer's best country-pop numbers. There is country-rock all over this folksinger's repertoire, and "That's What Our Life Is" deserved to be a country &amp;amp;amp;amp; western hit. The covers of "My Home Ain't in the Hall of Fame" and Merle Haggard's "Today I Started Loving You Again" give a glimpse of the range of Edwards' artistry. It's interesting to note that Orphan labelmates the Poppy Family covered this same Merle Haggard tune on Poppy Seeds, along with an Al Anderson number a couple of years before this release. At the time that Terry Jacks of the Poppy Family was riding the airwaves with "Seasons in the Sun," Orphan and Jonathan Edwards recorded this album (on March 22 and 23 of 1974). The medley of "You Are My Sunshine" into Edwards' own smash "Sunshine" — including the lyrics he brought on-stage during this era ("Nixon's got cards he ain't showing") — turned out to be a good bit of prophecy. Half the album contains covers and half is comprised of Jonathan Edwards originals, like the country-folk "Give Us a Song," which begins the disc, and the short and lively "Everybody Knows Her," which ends side one. The cover of the Chi Lites' 1971 hit "Have You Seen Her" is complete parody, and that's the one downside — a soulful reading of the tune by Jonathan Edwards might have had chart potential. "Don't Cry Blue," the other M. McKinney title, brings the energy level up, while C. Dall's "Nova Scotia" shows Edwards in that sincere light his fans adore. Reopening these tapes recorded by legendary engineer Jay Messina (who worked with Aerosmith, among others ) to expand this album and create a double CD of the performances would be a treasure. Not only is this a great moment in time for Jonathan Edwards, it displays the many talents of the hugely underrated Orphan and captures an important period in Boston music history at a fun venue which no longer exists.
MAN IN THE MOON JONATHAN EDWARDS
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
Man in the Moon is one of the most satisfying and beautiful discs by singer/songwriter Jonathan Edwards in a history filled with such work. The title track is simply amazing in its subtlety, but every track on this disc has a presence and deep emotion. The opening track, "Stay Down," is like an up-tempo take on Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer," and it drives with Gary Burke from the Joe Jackson Group on drums and Duke Levine on guitar. The song was used for the credit roll of the film The Mouse, for which Edwards did the soundtrack. The singer/songwriter has anecdotes about each tune printed beneath the lyrics in the generous ten-page booklet that comes with the CD and, historically, those liner notes are almost as important as the music. "Slave for Love" is a tune Willie Dixon co-wrote and wanted Edwards to cover — they performed on a show together in Boston during the late '60s, and three decades later the song finds its release here. It is tremendous, but so is Edwards' own "Whatever Gets You Through the Night" and keyboardist Kenny White's "To Me," which sounds like an Edwards original. Burke's drums are as lovely as ever, Hugh McDonald's bass is right on, and — with Levine, Michael Aharon, and Al Pettiway — the band combines to forge a really impressive sound, a natural progression from what Edwards was doing with Orphan years earlier. Monica Cohen's cover art matches the music inside, and though label Rising Records seems to have gone the way of all flesh, the material can still be found at www.jonathanedwards.net. Cheryl Wheeler's "Howl at the Moon" is covered here, and Edwards' own "Break Out of the Blue" is just stunning. Some great artists put out albums with highs and lows; songwriter David Pomeranz' It's in Everyone of Us comes to mind as a work of genius with inevitable filler. Edwards' Man in the Moon contains no flaws, and must be viewed as a favorite among his many discs even if not considered his best album by the general record-buying public. Man in the Moon is a major effort that deserves massive exposure.
CRUISING AMERICA'S WATERWAYS (LIVE) JONATHAN EDWARDShttp://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=&amp;amp;amp;amp;sql=10:0jfyxqrkldae
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
This is an interesting recording from veteran artist Jonathan Edwards. With 11 new performances, including "live" versions of "Seven Daffodils" and "Let's Talk Dirty in Hawaiian," the album has some quaint and clever moments. "Sailboat," with solid Jonathan Edwards acoustic guitar, probably should have been the opening track. That honor went to "Lucky Day," a song with great sentiment, but lacking the expressive lyrics we've come to expect from the former member of Boston's Orphan. A very cool three-way segue happens with the acoustic guitar sound of "Sailboat" into Paul Cooper's "This Island Earth" — on which Edwards sings a capella — into the exquisite piano piece "Lady." The transition from song to song is very well done and shows different dimensions of this artist. A remake of his biggest hit, "Sunshine (Go Away Today)," is in the spirit of things, as are the funny lyrics to Cheryl Wheeler's "Is It Peace or Is It Prozac?" Edwards produced this disc with Media Artists Inc. and the liner notes give a bit more of a clue as to the artist's intent: "The "tunes" are windows through which we glimpse human life...Our lives are the ultimate cruise: filled with sunny days and comforting ports; storms that give way to calm seas; and memories that eventually put everything into perspective." There are no dates of recording, engineer notes, or even where the three previously released tracks are culled from. "Man in the Moon" is the title track from Edwards' 1997 previous release on the Rising Records label out of Philadelphia (www.risingrecords.com) and is perhaps the strongest cut on the album. All in all, this is a fun and worthwhile outing from a classy and important singer/songwriter.
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
Clean Living opened up for Lou Reed in Lenox, MA, in September of 1973, the first gig of the Rock &amp;amp;amp;amp; Roll Animal Tour, and to have this country-rock act opening for the debut of a band who would fuse punk and heavy metal, well, the plaid cover featuring a sunrise over a farm gives you an idea how out of place the music was that night. The six bandmembers are so non-descript on the back of the album you could replace it with the back cover photo of 1978's Stillwater album I Reserve the Right and not know the difference — that long hair, blue jeans, and sneaker wardrobe. But Vanguard thought enough of the group to issue this disc in both stereo and quadraphonic — and musically they deserve it. Few country rockers could pull off the a cappella majesty of Alan B. Rotman's "Jesus Is My Subway Line"; it's a perfect one minute and fifty five seconds, and those vocals swell up behind the medley of Dan Velika's "Waterfall" mixed in with David Carron's "Killers," which follows the spiritual piece and ends the album. Paul Lambert's steel guitar provides a creative counterpart to those incredible voices and it is a far cry from the party atmosphere of "In Heaven There Is No Beer." Produced by Maynard Solomon, the album simply known as Clean Living is overflowing with musical ideas and brimming with talent, missing the mark because there is no one song which could publicize them to the mass market. They cover Bob Dylan's "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" with bassist Frank Shaw handling the lead vocals, and it comes off like the Grateful Dead by way of Canned Heat, which is cool; there's no denying the ensemble had oodles of talent. Rhythm guitarist Robert "Tex" LaMountain does a respectable job on Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen." He sounds like Meatloaf. Put that in the mix with the instrumental "Congress Alley" and main singer/guitar player Norman Schell doing yet another spiritual number, "Jesus Is My Thing," and you have the band covering all the bases, from gospel to rock to country to blues. Schell and Frank Shaw do a nice duet on "Price I Pay," and despite their being all over the map, the album works better than this band opening for Lou the Rock & Roll Animal. In retrospect, had they combined their Crosby, Stills &amp;amp;amp;amp; Nash leanings with their ability to skillfully do what the Eagles found success with, they might've been huge. Without that focus, this remains an impressive work by consummate musicians which got filed in the vaults somewhere.
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
The happy-go-lucky almost Mardi Gras feel of "We'll Make Love," the second track on this 1972 solo disc from the man behind the North East's legendary Wildweeds and their phenomenal Boston-area hit "No Good to Cry" (unfortunately, not on this disc, but an acoustic version might be a perfect addition to a future re-release), carries that distinctive almost gravel voice of Al Andersen. Though he would later join N.R.B.Q., this earthy folk/blues/country platter was recorded between June and September of 1972 and is a wonderful snapshot of an underrated artist at that point in time. "Ain't No Woman Finer" has Jeff Potter's wailing harp that plays off of Andersen's vocal sustain and snappy guitar work. The colorful and uniquely distorted cover photo of Andersen is almost psychedelic country, but there's none of that here. His vocal on "You're Just Laughing Inside" is reminiscent of early Elton John, say the "Amoreena" or "Burn Down the Mission" period. Hank Williams' "Honky Tonkin'" is the shortest track, but one of the liveliest. "Don't Hold the Line" explodes toward the end, and it is one of the few tunes on here that gets really raucous. "I Just Want to Have You Back Again" is a simple two-and-a-half-minute tune — if Jim Croce were more laid-back, he'd probably have sounded like this, melodically it reminds one almost of early Paul McCartney solo — maybe the first McCartney meets Ringo on his Sentimental Journey. The closing title, "I Haven't Got the Strength to Carry On" with Tom Staley's drums and Al Lepak's bass, form a nice framework for Andersen's blues-driven guitar. Also released in "Quadrophonic" in the early '70s, it remains a sincere work by a veteran American artist.
THE MODERN LOVERS
We have an extraordinary Jonathan Richman interview in Varulven Magazine that we are going to publish here. Stay tuned.
2)Dignified and Old
5)Ice Cream Man
Dignified and Old
|by Joe Viglione|
Quasi-mystical Jonathan is what we get on "Astral Plane", a brilliant compostion of love in the world in-between - "If you won't sleep with me, I'll still be with you, I'm gonna meet you on the astral plane". And how many actually do visit the people who get almost close to us during everyday life, achieving relationship goals in that realm between the "real world" and sleep? Smart underground poetry from Jonathan Richman at his most poignant, lyrics that glide away from the mainstream but are not too obscure for the intuitive underground rock fan. The Modern Lovers kick in after the song begins with Jo Jo's lonely announcement "Tonight I'm all alone in my room/I'll go insane" and in less than three minutes he projects his persona into your speakers to declare that his everpresent punk/blues can evaporate with a journey plucked out of Sri Paul Twitchell's Eckankar teachings. Richman isn't doing his spiritual excercises, though, he's traveling through the Twilight Zone with the Modern Lovers bashing out their own statement in a world separate from his imaginary lover. The song remains surprisingly consistent in attitude on the latter Kim Fowley demos (not the earlier ones Fowley did with engineer Dinky Dawson ) as on the more popular Warners tapes which have the aura of John Cale's finesse. The band resembles The Velvet Underground more than Jonathan sounding like Lou Reed. He comes off like a Bostonian fronting that venerable group, Jerry Harrison copping the riffs of his producer, David Robinson doing his best Moe Tucker while Richman indulges in his wonderfully brash dementia. The record is so fantastic you actually want to break it over the singer's head for abandoning this jangly guitar confronting keyboard sound, a style that is fresh and exciting years after it was tracked and never duplicated, even by its creator. "Astral Plane" is one of the greatest moments of pop merging with punk, Richman's eccentricities leading many fans to the conclusion that the singer didn't even get his wish in the dreamworld, and that, indeed, it was what drove him allegedly insane.
|Song Review||by Joe VIglione|
Released on the expanded CD of The Modern Lovers classic self-titled debut along with another rarity, "I'm Straight", this is the same theme Paul McCartney brought the world on Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band singing "When I'm Sixty Four", though Sir Paul had the commitment in hand while Sir Jonathan is wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin'. "My telephone doesn't ring/will she never call me/blinding miserable sadness" It is the Richman that the original fans know and love, taking charge with The Modern Lovers accentuating his story telling and exposed emotions. A live version appears on Rounder Records compilation of early seventies tracks, Precise Modern Lovers Order, which has more of a disonant jangle - a hollow guitar sound behind JR's original poetry. Its consistent with his obsessive early mission for companionship, told always with a beckoning wide-eyed hope for a relationship to blossom and grow. The relationship here, however, seems to be like The Turtles unrequited quest in "Happy Together", a notion that's foggy and fading fast. The Microwave Orphans cover the tune on the If I Were A Richman tribute cd with a harder edge, a much harder punkier edge, and give further proof that even the material Jonathan may have initially cast aside, tunes not included in the first go round of repertoire that made up the debut disc, was very insightful, clever, and the reason he developed such a strong following of admirers in the first place. It's just another reason the original Modern Lovers should reunite for a tour to bring these gems back to life.
|Song Review||by Joe Viglione|
Taking a cue from the first Boston band in history to get a Top 40 hit, 50's/60's legends The G. Clefs with their reggae flavored Egyptian dance tune "Zoom Gali Gali", Jonathan Richman delivers superb quasi-flamenco guitar on this gypsy rant mixed with hoofbeats from the old west. "Egyptian Reggae" owes more to other influences than the music from the islands being performed under the pyramids that its title evokes, but its simple shuffle and Spanish flavors smartly speak to Richman's followers on a level higher than his musical practical jokes.
"Egyptian Reggae" is a triumph, a left field underground hit which needs no lyrics or vocals to get the message across. It is one of the best post-rock and roll Modern Lovers concoctions by this eccentric genius. Created with what Richman might consider the fourth or fifth version of The Modern Lovers
(though on record it might be the second on the verge of being the third, it gets confusing ) this instrumental softly rocks interrupted by a wonderful gong sound. On live albums as well as the Andy Paley produced 1996 Surrender To Jonathan disc ( Paley was on drums in the third, mid-70's version of The Modern Lovers which performed live at the Unicorn Coffeehouse in Boston ) its first appearance on record was with Jonathan Richman and future Robin Lane & The Chartbusters Leroy Radcliffe playing guitar, D. Sharpe on drums and percussion with
Greg 'Curly' Keranen on bass. Backed with "Roller Coaster By The Sea" on one 45 RPM and "Ice Cream Man" on another, the song is also credited to an Earl Johnson as co-author on some of the releases. The two minute and thirty-four second excursion has also been put on singles with "Morning Of Our Lives" and "Roadrunner" as different flips. What is "Egyptian Reggae" anyway? Do Egyptians play the music found in the Caribbean? Only Jonathan knows for sure. The Ready, Steady, Go website notes that this was " a major European hit" and, thankfully for the fans, it was a departure from unique inventions like "Dodge Veg-O-Matic" which, being committed to record, put Jonathan at risk of being committed. To an institution.
"Egyptian Reggae" has some marvelous riffing and musical eloquence missing in the folk/rock of the post-amplifiers Modern Lovers. It is a new permutation of folk/rock, "Astral Plane" all grown up. Sure, Jonathan Richman still has his tongue firmly in cheek, a serious Alfred E. Newman on The Gong Show proving to the world that he can dig deep into his soul and come up with something clever and listenable. Then "I'm A Little Airplane" comes on and true fans start smashing things.
|Composed By Jonathan Richman|
|Song Review||by Joe Viglione|
With Jerry Harrison's dirge-like keyboards this is the underground "Whiter Shade Of Pale", a solemn slowed down sentiment originated by Lou Reed in "Pale Blue Eyes" off of The Velvet Underground's first post- John Cale. This track appears on the Cale produced eponymous Modern Lovers album, though he's not credited as the director of this particular performance. It was tracked at Intermedia Sound on Newbury Street in Boston where Moulty &amp;amp;amp;amp; The Barbarians recorded 70's tunes, where Aerosmith's "Dream On" was recorded, and where another Jonathan, Jonathan Edwards, created his Top 5 1971 hit, "Sunshine". That the eventual drummer for The Cars, David Robinson, is on this lament, and that his future band would go on to buy this fancy studio years later is a touch of irony. It's also an indicator that had The Modern Lovers kept going in this direction, they could've been the landlords of the place where this mood piece came into the world.
Jonathan talks about his own eyes as well as the woman he adores here, and the power that resides the eyes of that girl who lives in modern apartments. He's a real stalker in this one, walking down her street with tears in his eyes. The dark romance is not something relegated to just his songs, urban legend has it Jonathan slept all night on the lawn in the rain outside the window of his future wife while she was married to (and sleeping with) someone else. Not to make this review read like The National Enquirer, it is important to note that this creative artist walked the line between the astral world and reality, truly involved in the romances he was writing and singing about.
"Hospital" is a simply great melody from Jonathan Richman, melodies being one of the man's true strengths. It is the organ that dominates this dramatic soap opera of a young guy going "to bakeries, all day long now, there's a lack of sweetness in my life" - descending into some twisted self-tortured mental abuse "I can't stand you", pathos in dichotomy, emotions splitting like atoms over the ominous and slow mood set up by The Modern Lovers. Talking Heads keyboard player Jerry Harrison donated this tape to the album from his archives, and its position on the compilation release that became that landmark disc is essential. The tone sets it apart from the wild fury of many of the other songs it is included with, Robinson's powerful drums picking up the tempo in a way that possibly influenced The Talking Heads, and many others. The song is simple, obtaining its power in the attitude and emotions. You can't help but find this dark essay intriguing, but worry that because it is so well suited to a Psycho film that if a judge and jury got to hear it performed in a courtroom, the singer certainly would have found himself held for observation. This isn't domestic violence, nor is it verbal abuse, it is the strange thoughts of a man who "can't stand what you do, but I'm in love with your eyes." As James Taylor wrote in "Fire And Rain" about his friend at McLeans hospital dying just a couple of years before this episode, one has to wonder what put the subject matter into the "Hospital" in the first place? He knows where she lives. He's scared once or twice, and he's on her street late at night. You do the math. It's where she got her eyes, and he can't stand what she does because it makes him think about himself. Ok. Totally brilliant, malevolent and you just picture poor Jerry Harrison needing therapy going from this gig to "Psycho Killer" in quick succession. Those who think Lou Reed's "Sister Ray" was the most twisted thing you've ever heard give this another spin.
ICE CREAM MAN JONATHAN RICHMAN
|Song Review||by Joe Viglione|
Sounding like a song by Fred Rogers of TV's Mr. Rogers fame, "Ice Cream Man" is Jonathan Richman telling the record industry where to go, his version of Metal Machine Music. The only problem is, where Richman's hero, Lou Reed, moved on from that moment in his career, Jonathan extended this trip to Neverland for decades. The melodic genius appropriately found one photo of himself upside down and that same picture rightside up in The Boston Phoenix weekly magazine, and for some, speculating on his motives became part of the fun. But for those blown away by the rugged innocence of songs like "Roadrunner" and "Astral Plane", the departure from Velvet Underground influenced fury mixed with beat poetry to nursery rhymes like "My Little Kookenhaken" and this ditty frustrated fans no end. A personality with an ongoing need to do his music on his terms, that he has been able to survive the changes in the music industry (again, as does his mentor, Lou Reed ) is a testament not to this song of devotion to the dude who brings dessert to the neighborhood but to Jonathan Richman's absolute brilliance in being able to pull the wool over the eyes of the world. Listen to H.A.R.M. do their cover of this title on the If I Were A Richman tribute cd and see the power of an artist who can influence others to engage in total silliness. It's a power trip of immense proportions, done with amazing success, but the artist failing to see that timing is everything and - at a certain point - the Ice Cream Man has to pack up and go home at the end of the evening. Sitting in a living room with Richman in the mid-seventies jamming on guitars it was clear being up close and personal how very bright, talented, and creative an individual he is. The simple guitar strums of "Ice Cream Man" and the forcing of great musicians to provide background vocals of "ding ding" is, well, humiliating and a waste of the great gifts God bestowed on all involved. "Do you like the ice cream man?" Richman asks on a live version to thunderous applause before going back into the chorus. The raw passion of the perverted "ding dong" in The Velvet Underground's "Sister Ray" is warped here to sound like some purified born-again Christian homogenized fluff. One cannot dissect this composition as The Jefferson Starship's "Miracles" and Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven" demand study and appreciation. Jonathan Richman is clearly capable of composing a song as breathtaking and important as "Miracles" but has opted instead to beating his audience over the head with the same campfire-style approach found on "Ice Cream Man" and replicated in "Back In Your Life". "Ice Cream Man" is the creation of a Pablo Picasso on a mission to spray paint graffiti all over the important gems that brought him an audience in the first place. Important work that will stand the test of time is tested like nature's mosquito landing ker plunk in the ice cream cone delivered by the ice cream man. "Fly Into The Mystery" was a work of brilliance, detoured by a fly in the ointment.
"Ice Cream Man" is the single greatest argument for Jonathan to phone up Jerry Harrison, Ernie Brooks, David Robinson and Jon Felice and re-create the sound that made his work legend. For his penance for punishing his faithful and devoted fans, present company included, extended twenty minute versions of each song from the first Modern Lovers album at full volume are in order.
She Cracked Jonathan Richman
|Song Review||by Joe Viglione|
One of the six John Cale produced "demos" from the combination of tapes which are the first Modern Lovers album, "She Cracked" is the stuff Velvet Underground fans' dreams are made of. It is Jonathan Richman mutating the as-yet unreleased Velvets tune, "Foggy Notion", merging it with a bit of Lou Reed's "Sister Ray" vocal style (these vocals louder and easier to understand than Lou's) while bringing the tempo up and adding lyrics that make sense probably only to the singer. He sings these words which tumble forth with such authority that one gets the idea it empowered him to venture forth into the world of Ice Cream Men and nursery rhymes, an obsession which frustrated the faithful to no end.
Richman calls himself "almost as good as Dick Tracy" in chronichling a timeline for this music in his liner notes to Bomp's The Original Modern Lovers, though it is the appreciative who take a song like this and evaluate it's expressive originality more than the time and place from which it emerged. Piecing together the sounds generated by the early Modern Lovers is more fun than listening to latter day groups who need computers to expand their already limited scope. If Jonathan's attitude imploded the group, it is that same attitude which makes these performances of "She Cracked" fun and endearing decades after their creation. The Kim Fowley Los Angeles tapes featuring this song (from the Fall of 1973) are a doorway to view that Velvet Underground influenced feel . Jonathan wanted the level of the "radio interference and dial-switching", as he called it, down in the mix. It works pretty cool on that particular tape while the Cale take on it has more of what FM radio could embrace in its rock and roll infancy. Years later the two productions of this interesting observation of what she did and what he won't do both stand the test of time. The Fowley supervised garage tapes an interesting blend of the Yule softer Velvet Underground group with the hard edged organ from the days when that band featured John Cale. "It's all horizontal" Richman calls out, and whether he likes it or not if The Velvet Underground was the rock messiah, this material was certainly the acts of the Apostle. As such, "She Cracked" is highly listenable and valuable to those who like trying to figure Jonathan out in a more traditional basement band setting.
RANDY ROOS Mistral 1978 Spoonfed Records
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
Orchestra Luna's guitarist Randy Roos released his first solo album on Boston legend Bruce Patch's Spoonfed records, a label which would issue discs by Third Rail produced by Ric Ocasek, Reddy Teddy, the Remains, J.T.S. Flying, and others. "Stew" is a song that has some great wailing guitar behind percussion and rhythms, the early playing of this virtuoso falling somewhere between Pat Metheny and Steve Vai. The plethora of instruments utilized by the guitarist expose the talents he brought to Rick Berlin's quirky early work on Epic, the bold and highly experimental Orchestra Luna disc. All those avant-garde notions are stripped away for a smooth and precise coloring of original tunes and collaborations which range from three and a half minutes to nearly eight minutes in length. The instrumentalist notes the different tools he uses to get the sounds on each song, "Platypus" containing more jazz improvisation, while "Inward Stroke" is just a lovely, subdued combination of mellow guitar sounds. "The Hunt" is a bit more driving, allowing Randy Roos the liberty to stretch. "Horizon Game" opens side two and has more exquisite playing, inspired ideas which are the furthest thing from redundant, sounds expanding on "Innisfree" and concluding with the seven-minute-plus "Marcel Marceau (Three Little Things)," the epic track on the Mistral album as "Doris Dreams" was to the Orchestra Luna disc. Released on translucent vinyl (as was a 45 on MCA by local pianist Willie Alexander, it was a bit of the rage at the time), Michael Gibbs' liner notes could be more enlightening, though they add some insight — that he first encountered Roos when Orchestra Luna opened for Weather Report at Symphony Hall, and that this is Randy Roos' first solo album. There would be many more, and it is definitely a gem.
ORCHESTRA LUNA 1974 Epic
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
The Orchestra Luna album began the musical legacy of Rick Berlin, the composer/singer who goes by his birth name, Richard Kinscherf, on this Epic Records debut in 1974. The seven-piece ensemble was truly groundbreaking in a world that doesn't take kindly to innovation. Where the Who were content to write rock operas, Kinscherf and his band put opera to rock. This adventurous mix of songs, written as if they were Broadway show tunes backed by a rock band with jazz and classical influences, might sound like a bit much, and 11 minutes and 53 seconds of "Doris Dreams" never had a chance of Top 40 success, or an edit that could get it there, but that idiosyncrasy is part of what makes this album so daring, and special. Co-produced by Rupert Holmes, the man who gave us "Escape (The Pina Colada Song," a monster smash in 1979, and the cannibal anthem "Timothy" in 1971, the choice might not seem appropriate on the surface. But Holmes' unheralded work for Barbara Streisand and the Broadway musical Drood actually makes him a perfect choice to oversee this project. "Miss Pamela" has wonderful Randy Roos guitars blending with Rick Kinscherf's pretty keyboards, keyboards that could have inspired Billy Joel, sounding very much like his 1978 hit "Just The Way You Are." It's when Kinscherf's expressive vocal kicks in that all comparisons to traditional pop go out the window. The cover of the Adler/Ross classic (you gotta have) "Heart" is a standout here, as it was in their live show. Seven of the nine tracks are penned by Rick Kinscherf, and themes that resound in "Fay Wray" (the heroine from the epic King Kong) travel throughout the artist's career. This album may be tough for some to take, but the Tom Werman liner notes put things in a nice perspective. They opened for Roxy Music in Boston when this album was released, and were even more avant-garde than the legendary headliner. The band dropped the "Orchestra" from their name and became the original Luna, releasing a 45, "Hollywood," while the rest of their album was held up in litigation. They re-emerged as Berlin Airlift, then Rick Berlin: The Movie. In 2001, the former Rick Kinscherf, known as Rick Berlin, fronted the Shelley Winters Project. That sound has little in common with the early pictures painted by the exquisite "Love Is Not Enough" or musically bizarre "Boy Scouts" off this album ("Back in the boy scout camp/the moon was very full"). These themes, like the references and inspiration from films, continued to flavor Berlin's music through the years, although the Peter Barrett narrations would fall away. Moody and impressive in its gamble, this is also noteworthy in that guitarist extraordinaire Randy Roos can be heard in his formative years.
INCREDIBLE TWO MAN BAND Mickey Spiroshttp://artsmediamag.blogspot.com/2006/01/70s-boston-rockers-return.html
Medford resident Mickey Spiros is one of the original 1960s rockers, a musician from a magical time that is the foundation for the currently vibrant Boston music scene. In 1965 or 66 he joined the band
"Freeborne" in Brookline, Massachusetts back in along with drummer Lou Lipson,
guitarist Bob Margolin, lead singer Nick Carstau and bassist David Codd. They got signed to Monitor Records out of New York city releasing the psychedelic classic "Peak Impressions" which is selling for ridiculous prices on eBay in February of 2005 - from $129.00 to $300.00 almost
thirty years later.
Freeborne would play at The Psychedelic Supermarket, which was a big underground "supermarket" in Boston, and as legendary as The Boston Teaparty. Spiros stayed with Freeborne for two or three years, then went to finish his last year of high school in Los Angeles at Hollywood High School. He joined a band in California called "Freeway", what he considers one of the best groups he ever played with, but was homesick for Boston. Returning to this area Spiros ended up at the Boston Tea Party
and saw keyboardist/singer Lee Michaels and his drummer "Frosty" as the opening act for Rod Stewart & The Small Faces in the 1960s.
Mickey Spiros was sold on the idea of generating a big band sound with only two players, thus The Incredible Two Man Band, a.k.a. I.T.M.B., was born. Spiros would be the keyboardist/lead singer also playing trumpet, bass pedals, acoustic guitar, and additional drums.
The only drummer available at the time was Lou Lipson from Freeborne - but Lipson didn't think a two man group would fly. So Spiros walked into Berkelee School of Music and found Bobby Lichtenfels. The owner of a hot nighspot known as "The Mohawk Club" gave them a house to practice in. "We did the right songs", Mickey said, "not too many originals because we didn't want to get shut down. We did Bee Gees, Lee Michaels' "Do You Know What I Mean", Moody Blues, Emerson Lake &amp;amp;amp;amp; Palmer and some
funky dance music as well. We ended up playing The Frolics, we were one of the biggest draws at the Frolics Ballroom at Salisbury, Beach. Over 1,000 people (would show up), the place was always packed."
The duo also performed at The Brothers Four in Nashua New Hampshire, Katy's in Boston, Lucifer's in Boston, The Boston Club (now The Paradise), the Commodore Ballroom and major bands like Detroit's Frijid Pink (who hit with "House Of The Rising Sun") found themselves opening for
According to the website the band toured New England as well as parts of upstate New York, California, Florida, and up and down the East Coast. They released 2 albums, titled "On My Way", and "ITMB 2", as well as releasing an 8-track tape."
Pure & Easy Records label president John Visnaskas did some of the first graphics for the band back in the day. He says of the duo "It was a grand sight to see,at the time they were one of the best live acts
I'd ever seen." - Visnaskas witnessed over one hundred of the band's performances, seeing them up at the beach, Mr. C's Rock Palace, The Turnpike Lounge on Route 3a, and it was "totally packed all the time."
While artists like Paul McCartney, Todd Rundgren and Emmit Rhodes were recording albums where they played all the instruments themselves, I.T.M.B. was actually going out and doing that routine live with no
multi-tracking. "They were really really good in the day" stated Visnaskas. "What they did onstage was hard to translate to vinyl."
To translate the sound to record Mickey started writing originals. The biggest name studio outside of Boston proper was Aengus Recording Studio, where the original Cars recorded their obscure collector's item "Milkwood" album. "We played The Red Barn out in Framingham and the studio was out there. Studio co-owner Bill Riseman came out to see us play and said he had a studio. Our manager, Harry Deshowitz, made a deal with him and maybe through Bill Riseman we met Adrian Barner.
Adrian Barber, engineer for The Velvet Underground and Eric Clapton's Cream, was producing the band Aerosmith's first album at Intermedia in Boston, a studio later purchased by The Cars and turned into
Syncro Sound. Adrian Barber and his partner, Buddy Vergo, recorded the "ON MY WAY" disc on ITMB's label. The title track was also released as a 45. "We hired real string players and musicians, a mini
orchestra, maybe 8 pieces" Spiro noted about the classy touch to his debut album.
The disc featured drummer Bob Licthtenfels. As Ronnie Stewart took over for Lichtenfels he is featured on the cover of the ITMB album. The band then went through a succession of drummers. Some of the
percussionists that made up the other half of I.T.M.B. were Joe Pafumi, Medford's own Joe Petruzzeli, Jonathan Mover, and booking agent Norman Bloom. Petruzelli and Ronnie Stewart would join The Joe Perry Project (at different times, of course), that Aerosmith connection always in the
Around 1986 or 1987 or a little later Spiros joined show groups like The Joey Scott Band. In the mid 1980s Mickey started recording another album in his own studio - a 45 called "Ya Ya" came out around 1995 or
1996 with Norman Bloom on drums.
Thinking about the performances way back when Spiros said "The expenses of moving the stuff was incredible, you needed a truck and a good sized road crew.
Mickey moved to Medford in 2005 where he resides now, finishing up the newest I.T.M.B. disc and getting ready to play out again.
The webpage is http://www.itmb.org/
Joe Viglione is a rock critic for AllMusic.com and producer/host of Visual Radio, a ten year old
television program which interviews recording artists, authors and other personalities.
He too is a 70's rocker who has released a compilation "Lifeswork: 2005 and Counting" available on Emusic.com
DAVID MAXWELL MAX ATTACK
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
Originally released on the Blue Max label in 2003, with this 95 North Records version appearing in 2005, the gifted David Maxwell's piano opens this fun and important disc up with the mostly instrumental "Sticky Buns," which drives like a cross between the J. Geils Band debut and Traffic during their John Barleycorn Must Die phase. That jazz vs. blues battle continues later on the CD with the majestic and grooving "Moving Out of His World," which absorbs moods from different genres and delivers true modern electric blues. Picture Jim Morrison sitting at the piano in his sixties (though Maxwell is a good decade younger than Jimbo would have been at the time of this release), assuring the woman that the change in partners is nothing to fret over. "Hip-House Rock" changes things dramatically, an entertaining instrumental with plenty of lively space in between. Producer Tino Gonzales does a superb job keeping things crisp and not getting in the way of Maxwell's arrangements on this material recorded between July and November of 2005. The piano on "Thanks for All the Women" is bright yet still dark in tone, a nice balance as the guitar answers are separated in the stereo mix. With James Cotton, Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard, Pinetop Perkins, Liane Carroll, and the redoubtable Hubert Sumlin as just some of the marquee guests, Max Attack is an engaging follow-up to 1997's Maximum Blues Piano. While "Handyman" is pure blues (not the Del Shannon/James Taylor hit "Handy Man" written by Otis Blackwell and Jimmy "Handyman" Jones — this disc is all Maxwell originals), the title track, "Max Attack," opens jazzy with chirping horns before morphing back into a bluesy showcase — perhaps a nice intro to Buzzy Linhart concerts, as Maxwell is also that legend's music director. Liner notes by Ted Drozdowski of the Devil Gods and the latter-day Scissormen make for a very nice package on this hour's worth of music by a superb musician deserving more appreciation.
JOHN SINCLAIR with Boston's Ted Drozdowski
STEADY ROLLIN' MAN LIVE
|Review||by Joe Viglione|
From New Orleans, John Sinclair wrote extensive liner notes to this collection of live performances recorded on mini disc by drummer Eric Austin. The sound quality is pretty good, with Sinclair's voice booming out over relentless backing. This is not the MC5. "Monk in Orbit" opens the disc, and the poet writes that this is a shorter version of the epic originally released on his 1997 disc with Wayne Kramer entitled Full Circle. Half of the fun of this CD is reading the liners by Sinclair where he tells of how he came to Boston, and the tour which resulted in this project. He also goes over each of these selections giving his insight. After all, the Minister of Information of the White Panther Party can ramble on! Where most artists create and expect the listener to figure it out, Sinclair figures it out for you, which is a different kind of art. "Hellhound on My Trail" is allegedly an "account in verse of the untimely demise of the great Delta blues singer," and it sounds like borderline revisionist history for blues artist Robert Johnson's last days, rife with the F-word and other choice terms. The minister gets so explicit it no longer seems explicit. The band is adequate, called His Boston Blues Scholars, they stay in the background to enable Sinclair to recite his poetry over the bluesy near psychedelic thump of the group. Drozdowski, also a member of the Devil Gods and former music editor of The Boston Phoenix, gets a chance to explode at the end of "Hellhound on My Train," and he keeps that intensity for what Sinclair calls the "power rock version" of "Louisiana Blues." It is the only thing vaguely resembling a song here. The artist doesn't sing, he preaches. He preaches loud. And though this might not be for everyone, if you can get on his wavelength it can hold your attention. Steady Rollin' Man is a nice document of a political activist with a lot to say...it's just kind of difficult figuring out what he is saying. But it's a good record, and definitely unique.
It is Saturday evening, 10:17 PM on July 7, 2007. Having written thousands of reviews for Allmusic.com with hundreds focused on the artists of New England I have wanted to compile these reviews in an online website along with additional commentary. In this age of video on the internet it is also important to remember that my TV show started in 1979 with rock and roll bands from the region appearing on TV Eye. In 1992 I developed a new program when I was about to leave 93.7 WCGY's Boston Music Showcase and launched Visual Radio in the Spring of 1995.
Twelve years later there are approximately four hundred hours of programming including interviews with Willie "Loco" Alexander, Andy Pratt, Jon Macey, Barry Marshall, Jonathan Richman, Lou Reed (who, while in The Velvet Underground, was the house band at The Boston Tea Party), Channel sound man Dinky Dawson, Sal Baglio of The Stompers, Morgan Huke of WMFO radio, Richard Nolan,
Billy Borgioli of The Real Kids, Little Joe Cook, Bobby Hebb, producer Anthony J. Resta, Leo Black of The Fools, June Millington of Fanny who now resides in Western Massachusetts and many more New England area artists.
Utilizing the AMG reviews I've written as a starting point I will fill in the blanks with a variety of articles that have been published over the years as well as new information and unpublished material that we have under lock and key in "the vaults" known as "The Varchives" - the Varulven Archives. We spend over $200.00 a month storing tons of material (literally TONS - thousands and thousands of pounds of vinyl, magazines, tapes and other media), helping to preserve this scene which means so much to many of us. Some of the reviews will be from AMG with new material, some will be truncated with links to the AMG site.
Objectivity is my goal...and with so many recordings to discuss the reader will clearly disagree in some instances... but we do our best...
This blog is going to start with The G Clefs and continue from there. My take on it is not an encyclopedia, it is an understanding of the phenomenon that is Boston Rock & Roll and New England Music from the (here he goes, people, be warned) perspective of one of the people who developed a record label, booked nightclubs from Cantones to The Paradise, produced and hosted radio and TV, managed and booked recording facilities, major record producers, engineers and recording artists... and someone who has chronicled our region in my various writings starting back in 1969 when I first launched Varulven Magazine. Having the worlds record for performances at Boston's Best Concert Club - The Paradise Theater - over more years than anyone else, 49 starting with June 29, 1978, my experiences are important to get on the web before "bluesheimerz" sets in - Danny Klein of the J. Geils Band's reference to musician memory loss.
So there you have it. Enough about me for now, let me talk about some of my friends and colleagues...
Remember! To click on any chapter go to this address: