Saturday, June 29, 2019

Still Can't Hear The Music?

Denny Doherty was noticeable for being the least noticeable of The Mamas & The Papas. Cass Elliot and Michelle Phillips, each in their own way, had gravitational fields capable of pulling lesser planets into orbit. Then you might notice the lanky one, the bearded boho with the jazz hat, but you'd only be vaguely aware of Papa II, Denny Doherty, even when he was singing. It's a quality that suffuses his first album, Watcha Gonna Do (1970). No great statements, no grandstanding, no pretension. Just that sublimely easy voice, songs sweet as summer, and a mouthwatering production from Bill Szymczyk (remind me to copy-paste that next time) using the Record Plant pool of perfect session talent. Perhaps because of the laid-back feel, it's an album that sneaks up on you, and you suddenly realise you couldn't live without it.

It didn't exactly bring him any more attention that he'd gotten being a Papa. A second album, the ominously titled Waiting For A Song, appeared to even less excitement in '74. The boilerplate critical view (Allmusic, ffs) holds that this is some kind of document of personal breakdown, drenched in depression, a man at the end of his tether. Bullshit. He may have been battling his demons, but it doesn't show here. A couple of the songs express regret, and a wish that the good times could roll around again, but that doesn't make the album Skip Spence's Oar, not by a long way. And M&P songs weren't free from the same feelings - California Dreaming? Monday Monday? 

The production, and the material, take a step back from the Malibu hippie vibe of the first album to a mainstream pop approach. Cass and Michelle back him up, and the whole thing sounds more like a worthy collection of Mamas & Papas outtakes (even the covers are as corny as M&P choices) than the more introspective singer-songwriter direction he might have taken. It's a less hip piece of work, and the string arrangements tend to the generic, but it's full of delights, his voice is still gorgeous, and the way it's been dismissed and forgotten is shameful.

This collection brings together the two albums, the essential extra tracks that were included on the expanded first album re-issue All The Things, and the stunning Columbia single from '73, which wasn't.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Single Fantasy - The Yoko Ono Interview

This isn't really an interview in the accepted sense of the word. I didn't get the opportunity to ask Ms Ono about John's unreleased Single Fantasy album as she basically had her foot on my throat the whole time. What follows is a direct transcription of the contents of the tape, and I think her stream-of-consciousness delivery and elliptical zen-like utterances give us a better insight into her process than the normal question-and-answer dynamic.

"Single Fantasy was going to be John's album, always. I gave him the artistic freedom he needed, like snow in a very small room, a dark room, and this snow was my gift, but he said, I can't do this, mummy! Please help me! I'm all alone! And I said John you are strong, like an orange in a subway train that's slowing at a station, and it's rolling on the floor, and this is your strength, John, you can hold it. Can you hold the roundness? And he said, but what I've done is just me, like you're not there, and it's empty. And I said it's a beautiful album, John, it's like a drop of water at the bottom of the lake, and it's looking up at a leaf, and it's beautiful. But he said I need your talent, Yoko, only you can save the album, please make it my Double Fantasy! And he started screaming eeeeeee!!!!! and I screamed with him, eeeeeee!!!! and the air was full of tiny, tiny stars, but made of pasta, that were songs, and we painted our bodies with them and they became the Double Fantasy album."

Country Rock - The Sick Shame Of Our Nation's Youth (Part 1)

Who did it first? A perennial question with beaucoup of answers. The Byrds (effectively led by Gram Parsons at this point) get regular credit for Sweetheart ('68), but Parsons' International Submarine Band started recording their album the previous year, as did Hearts & Flowers. Longbranch Pennywhistle and Blue Velvet Band followed in '69.  Mike Nesmith's contributions to Monkees albums could arguably be labeled country rock as far back as '66, although he didn't record the First National Band albums until the seventies. And inevitably there are Beatles fans who insist their idols did everything first, a real stretch in this case - Dylan has a much stronger claim with John Wesley Harding in '67. It depends how you define the term; Elvis and Jerry Lee recorded country music, and the point of asking the question at all is to discover how the roots of rock n' roll are intertwined with country, and how deep those roots go.

Rick Nelson is a fascinating, and under-praised dude. It's not many child stars - he started at eight, on radio and TV - who survive adolescence, leave alone continue a career into adulthood. You've got have a level head, flexibility, talent, and determination. Nelson also had the benefits of strong family support, and unerring good taste; as a teenager he recruited the eighteen-year old James Burton (later poached by Elvis) into his own band. But by '66 his teeny-bopper audience was "becoming more selective", and he needed a change of direction. He tried two simultaneously - full-tilt Bakersfield country, and psych-tinged pop (which we'll get to). The country approach was the one that paid off, and led to his successful late career as a country-rock artist.

Here's the two albums that I'd include when answering the who got there first question - Bright Lights & Country Music ('66), and Country Fever ('67). They're both fantastic. Great choice of material, virtuosic band playing, and Nelson's perfectly pitched and cool-toned vocals. Ultimately, genre doesn't matter. This is timeless music, impeccably played and recorded, and a whole heap of fun.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

None More None More

I recently showed the Spinal Tap movie to a couple of friends in their early thirties - Millennials, then - thinking they'd find it at least hilarious, if not the greatest cinematic artwork of all time. They sat slatey-faced and uncomprehending, and after about thirty minutes I gave up, and hit the abort button on the remote. There was simply no part of it that connected with their experience or tastes or cultural references, leave alone sense of humor. I'm not even sure they understood it was a spoof. Maybe I'm naive (one of them told me he wasn't a fan of - finger-waggle - guitar music, like it was psoriasis, so I should have known) but I was grievous disappoint. This is the movie with more quotes per square inch than Shakespeare. The movie that reduced an entire generation to sobbing, incontinent fools, again and again. And again. I may have watched It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World more times, but it's a close-run thing.

So what's happened? Has it dated so very badly? I suppose the answer is yes. Unless you understand the references, unless you have been immersed in rock music culture for at least a decade, it's not going to raise a laugh in the way that, f'rinstance, Airplane still can. And there's the fundamental problem that Millennials have with funny stuff. Like food, they have to sniff at it very carefully and approve its provenance first. The only good thing you can say about Millennials is that they'll die out because they are unable to breed, what with all that politeness and respect they have for each other. Millennials actually fucking? *shudder*.

Anyway, back to the funny stuff. Here's most of what I have. I have the rough cut of the movie somewhere, in appalling quality, which I'm sure you can find without my help. This bumper package of fun includes This Is, Break Like The Wind, Back From The Dead, and a couple of radio rockumentaries. Just don't play them for Millennials and you'll have a swell time.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Drizzle Pop

I blame the weather for the stubborn seam of melancholy running through a lot of British pop. But occasionally that cloudy grey can be beautiful. Honeybus made the UK equivalent of Sunshine Pop; instead of catching a Malibu wave they huddled under Brighton Pier in the rain, sharing a Thermos of tea, and dreamed. Literate, sensitive, tasteful, melodic, and every song in the key of sad. Even the upbeat songs never lost that atmosphere, it's just there, in the air they breathed, in the weather. But it's often sheerly lovely, and never depressing. These guys were dreamers first and last, romantics, but they could write a stunning tune. Joe Cocker's genius version of Do I Still Figure In Your Life predictably betters the original, amplifying that melancholy into the desperation they could never achieve, but it's not the only song worthy of a genius cover - nearly all of them are.

The harmony singing is flat-out gorgeous. There's some tasteful string and horn arrangements, but none of it can be called remotely psychedelic or even rock, and at the time that might have made them appear a little old-fashioned. It didn't help that dumb-ass Deram sat on their album until the band had broken up (cf. Skip Bifferty, The End, und andere). In 1969, the heads were nodding out to heavier sounds, and the Honeybus, in spite of the worldwide success of Maggie, had lost their moment. The original lineup reunited for an album that the record company shelved, for fuck's sake. If ever a band was poorly served by both luck and record companies, it was Honeybus. But quality songs well-played will last forever, regardless of fashion. God bless the Honeybus, and all who sailed in her.

Monday, June 24, 2019

"Almost every fifteen minutes for two years"

John Phillips was never going to win Father Of The Year Award, and let's leave that at that. Please. And then there was the sheer tonnage of blizzard he did. He and Bowie were a marriage made in Colombia, and it's a wonder that Nic Roeg's movie got made at all, what with the snowplows in constant use. Bowie said he was "stoned out of my mind from beginning to end", and that's probably true of the moviegoers, too.

Phillips' solo work has been exhaustively re-issued, sometimes with more respect than it deserves (Man On The Moon, anyone?), but this OST on RCA might have passed you by. Check the curves on that cover! Don't you want to oil up and writhe over that gorgeous body? (Hey - Michelle Phillips ain't so bad, either).

Saturday, June 22, 2019

(... and that's the truth)

Long-time readers of th' Foam may remember - if they did their meds today - our exclusive coverage of Paul Manafort's little-known sideline as jazzbo hepcat [April - Ed.]. Turns out he's not the only White House felon to grace the recording studio! Luscious, pouting nymphet Sarah Huckabee Sanders (be still my heart!) recorded this CD of cover versions for Baltimore's prestigious Beltway Digital Supplies a year or so back, to little applause. A shame. I was lucky enough to grab one from the racks of a Fairfield convenience store I was tossing, and boy, was I ever glad I did! Sultry Sarah belts out the hits in her trademark mouth-full-o'-dick whine to a fashionably eighties Casio VL-Tone beat in a non-stop synth-pop medley! Hmm ... maybe getting her pretty face out of the President's lap presages good news for pop fans???? You read it here first!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Music, Laughter, And Hard Liquor

Dean Martin was a bigger star than anybody, ever. Even Sinatra, who worshiped him. He got so rich that "money was just there, like smoke in the lungs" as Nick Tosches would put it in his fine biography. He was a superstar in a way we haven't seen since the passing of the Age of Entertainment. The only artist to have ever been at the top in TV, radio, movies, recordings, and live performance simultaneously. Yet he took none of it seriously, never broke into a sweat. He played the lush, but never lived it like he played it. That whole Rat Pack thing is anathema to the Woke Generation, who are too busy cringeing and groaning and judging and apologizing to share a table at The Sands, nibbling martinis and each others' ears and guffawing at the sheer outrageousness of his act. But we can get a hint of what that experience was like, in all its man-made fiber magnificence, from this recording, which has somehow survived as some kind of Rosetta Stone of Lounge.
Cody digs Dino!

Although it all sounds unrehearsed and freewheeling, his act changed only fractionally from night to night. Hundreds of nights. Millions of dollars. Note how it lasts an hour, almost to the second, as per his contract. This was business, the business of Show, and the hottest ticket in town. So if you can scrape one together, raise a frosted cocktail to Dino, the King of Kool.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

La Marr Bruister's Protegé

Oboyoboyoboy! Here's Jeff Simmons' entire œuvre [French for egg - Ed.], except for the apparently unfindable Blue Universe from 2004 which I strongly suspect is the usual return to *cough* blues roots made by rock musicians of a certain age in the absence of any better ideas. Or chords. As an hors-d'oeuvre [French for horse's egg - Ed.] we have the swell single-sided disc cut by early Simmons combo Easy Chair for Seattle's mega-corporation Vanco Records in '68, complete with unused cover slick in the low, low quality you've come to expect from FalseMemoryFoam©! I tried sharpening it up but it still looks way gnarlacious.

Around this time, La Marr Bruister, noted bandleader and rodent-heater, took the fresh-faced Master Simmons aside, dangling a contract to record his good shit on Bruister's record label, Straight. Eagerly inking pact, Simmons immediately landed the prestigious gig soundtracking the Favorite Films blockbuster Naked Angels, which starred like, nobody, and was only seen by a couple hundred people nationwide, most of them projectionists.

Undeterred by his Tinseltown heartbreak, Simmons went on to record the epochal Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up, with generous contributions from Bruister, and although you won't find a better album title this side of the Pecos, the album itself joined the efforts of pop chart hopefuls Wild Man Fischer and the GTOs in the cut-out bins, in spite - or maybe because - of Simmons' way bodacious 'fro on the front cover. Jeff Simmons - we salute you!

Twisted Orange Rainbow

The great thing about these out-of-print Sundazed Psychedelic Microdots comps is not so much the choice of tracks, a mix of the relatively well-known (The 13th Floor Elevators - again) and the obscure that seemed to offer little to the swivel-eyed afficionado, but the quality of the sound. Bob Irwin sourced the master tapes, and it's a quantum leap from the gritty Pebbles noise the collector had come to regard as standard - this material has never sounded better, and possibly never will. There are also enough unique stereo mixes and otherwise unavailable tracks to make this set kind of essential. Details at discogs.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Let's Be Franks

Michael Franks is very nearly a weirdo, but in the nicest possible way. He's got a voice that'll either make your skin crawl or hook you right in; a breathy jazz-lite whisper that never strains for a note or hangs on to it past its sing-by date. You could, if you were feeling uncharitable, describe it as a tad precious, with top-notes of wimp. And you'd file him away in the nothing to see here file, and it would be your grievous loss. Maybe he was canny enough to adopt the style because he knew it would last his lifetime - his latest album shows no signs of ageing except the white hair (and the hands suspiciously clasped over a bald spot) on the cover. But that gossamer-weight delivery hides lyrics with a bitingly sharp edge, playful wit, and a surprising sexuality. Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee.

This, his eponymous [big as a horse - Ed.] first album from The Year Of The Singer-Songwriter 1973 wasn't his breakthrough - that came with the second, The Art Of Tea. But it shoulda oughta. Chock full o' tunes, top flight musicianship from the cream of the LA cream, and anti-Jesus lyrics - what more could you want? It got re-released a decade later, with the standard cheap sleeve "update" that dumbass record companies think will make for an attractive new product, and predictably re-nosedived. It's so under the radar it doesn't even rate an Allmusic review (neither does his new one, ironically). You might have enjoyed his stuff for years and ignored it because everyone else did, like I did. Do me a favor - kick my ass - I'm not asking, I'm telling with this - kick my ass.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

"Cancer Is Always Good" - An Interview With Ethan Krönut

Fans of Millennial music will know that Ethan Krönut is the owner of Gap Year Records, Dad's Amex Records, and Side Project Records. He's also their in-house producer, head of A&R, and Art Department. We spoke to Mr Krönut on Skype at Seattle's hipster hangout, Ethical Sprout.

FMF©: Why are we doing this on Skype? We're sitting at the same table.
EK: I do everything online. And this way, I can look at myself instead of you.
FMF©: How did you got into the music business?
EK: Who-ah! We don't use the term music business. Have you tried the artisanal steel-ground kelp porridge? It's shade-grown kelp from sustainable low carbon-footprint sources.
FMF©: Tell us about how you work with - sorry, enable - your musicians.
EK: We offer a complete package of media production and distribution across appropriate platforms, at realistic and ethical rates.
FMF©: Wait - you charge your acts to make recordings?
EK: I'm sorry? How else could I bring value to partnerships?
FMF©: They don't get, like, royalties on sales?
EK: What sales? Our musicians create through love of music, and a respect for the process. One of the qualifications for joining our [finger-waggle] family is bringing funding for your project, as a demonstration of commitment. We don't believe in charity.
FMF©: What advice would you give to new musicians?
EK: The text is the most important aspect of your work. Text is key. Your supporting text will get you coverage at Slate, Pitchfork, and other ethical online marketplaces. The consumer will spend more time reading about your æsthetic and motivation and reference points than listening to your music. Ideally, your work should be inspired by a death of a loved one, or battling a serious illness - cancer is always good - or the breakup of a love affair. Depression is a given requirement. The longer you've spent in rural isolation coming to terms with your demons, the better. It helps if you are breaking a hiatus of several years to make your new recordings - the longer the better. Maybe you've been traveling the breadth of this great land gathering tunes from endangered indigenous communities - you can do this on-line.
FMF©: And you offer - er -  optics consultancy?
EK: The right look is key. Anything Amish is good. The more you look like American Gothic, the better. Most of our musicians already own vintage Martins, which photograph well. We offer a portfolio of optics for your album cover. Bare trees and wooden shacks. Waist deep in water. Woodcuts of owls. Face covered by hair. Bleak motel interiors at an angle with cables and sockets. We offer the optics that are most appropriate to your stance. Above all, we don't let your project be tainted by professionalism at any level.
FMF©: Any new act you're particularly excited about?
EK: Act? Excited? Oh. Well, we're pretty proud of the new album by hdhnn#±pnp.
FMF©:  hdhnn#±pnp?
EK: It's a side project by gIRLwITHbEARD. A psychedelic mix of Inuit and Mennonite musics which - shit - connection lost - the wifi here is ... ooofff.
FMF©: We could, you know - just talk to each other?
EK: [blank look]

Friday, June 14, 2019

Roger, Roger, Redux

For those digging the Roger Miller post (enjoying a frisky popularity here at th' Foam) here's scads more. Two swell collections on the defunct fan-created Warped "label", Chronological 1957-62 (Warped 5790) and Chronological 1962-64 (Warped 6401). Fifty-six tracks of Prime Miller Time. Yes, there's some duplication with the previous post but what the hey, right? Over, Over ...

EDIT: Thanks to Foamster Hermann, we now have the third and final volume in the Warped Roger Miller set. See comments.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Diving For Pearlman

There's no empty space in Sandy Pearlman's head. It's seething. There's no time for zen contemplation, the simplicity of incense smoke curling up into still air. In Pearlman's head, everything's happening at once, a rush of events too intense for narrative to describe. One side of the original inner sleeve of Imaginos was entirely filled with tiny text, trying to set out the story that infested his head. It didn't help. Here, nothing is explained, nothing is logical. You're on your own, in this cavernous, howling vacuum. No air. Sound like fun to you? It is.

There are some who say that this isn't a "real" BOC album. Who cares? Eight years in the making, Imaginos reaches parts of your brain you didn't know you had. It makes Phil Spector's Wall Of Sound sound like a picket fence, Wagner like a celeste being kissed by pixies. There are more guitars here than in Nigel Tufnell's Semi-Detached House Of Guitars. The drums sound like planets would sound if you could find big enough sticks. The bass vaporizes your bowel content. Amazingly, the tunes are melodic as hell, and beautifully sung -there's virtually no hoarse heavy metal vocal styling that normally infects the genre. And the production is gorgeously detailed, repaying endless listens. This is very, very, clever stuff.
Hi! I'm Cody!

But I didn't need the silence between tracks - it seemed to run counter to the crammed-universe theory, and I never cherry-picked individual songs. It was always listen to the damn thing all the way through or nothing. And the sequencing was baffling - not in a mysterioso way, nor in a literary narrative way. The dynamics of the album were shot to hell, random. The Siege and Investiture of Baron von Frankenstein's Castle at Weisseria (one of the greatest song titles ever - no, scratch that - the greatest song title ever) was surely the obvious last track - nothing can come after this except a cosmic and deafening silence. But there it was, buried half way through the album.

Hence, dear readers, the FalseMemoryFoam© Mindmelt© Edition. Say yes to no embarrassing silences between tracks! Say howdy to a new, improved running order that'll leave you a shuddering wet mess after an hour under the headphones!

Plus also too, I done did a swell cover remix so you can click with confidence in yer iTunes. No, no, don't thank me. Having Cody as my blogintern is its own reward.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Wild Child

Born into a dirt-poor family, Miller picked cotton, ran away from home at seventeen and stole a guitar. Too fundamentally decent for a life of crime, he turned himself in next day, and enlisted to avoid jail. Served in Korea. Came home, did this and that, went to Nashville to pursue his dreams of becoming a songwriter. Got a gig playing fiddle. Wrote some songs (some in the time it took to sing them), got rich, did drugs, got his own TV show, got married three times, did some more drugs, wrote songs for movies and shows, won some awards, and died of throat cancer - he was a life-long smoker - at fifty-six.

Yep. Miller lived the life. Undiscliplined, charming, generous, funny, and superhumanly talented, the sharp-looking Texan wrote and performed songs that in their unabashed sentiment or flat-out humor could never have been created in these grim times, where his values and behavior would be judged problematic by prematurely middle-aged Millennials without one percent of his talent.

Where you find him praised, it's often as a "guilty pleasure", that jarring phrase used to show you have sophisticated tastes but can be adorably human too. Nuts to that. There's nothing ironic or self-conscious or arty about any of his work - he's as transparent as a glass of vodka. When he sings sad, you're sad. When he sings funny, you laugh. Simple emotions, directly evoked, nothing fancy about any of it. Pure pleasure from the lost age of entertainment.

Here's a couple of his earliest albums. Some vinyl crackle may be present - if in doubt consult your physician.

Little Boots 2

Second in a series. Collect the set and win swell premiums! No Whispering is a little different, concentrating on studio rehearsals, demos and the like, and boy, does it ever make for a swell package! Exclusive extras include Fool On The Avenue, an otherwise unavailable soLowell tune from '77. The only in-concert piece is the closing Eldorado Slim. Don't miss this opportunity to add to your collection of Little Boots you'll be proud to display in den or lobby!

Sunday, June 9, 2019


There's a tendency for a certain type of fan to claim that an acknowledged worst album of a certain artist is their favorite, or the worst track on a certain album the best. This has the effect - they imagine - of making them seem fascinating individualists, unswayed by mass opinion. I'm not doing that here. "Dylan" isn't his best album, nor is it my favorite, but it does deserve that hoariest of critical processes, the re-assessment.

Known in some quarters as the "spite album", this is the collection of outtakes released by Columbia without his involvement when Dylan sought Asylum in '73. Robert Christgau's opinion echoed many, and it's worth quoting here because Christgau carves his reviews in Travertine marble with a silver chisel while his brow is mopped by sloe-eyed odalisques [? - Ed.], so he must be right:

Listening to this set of rejects from what used to be Dylan's worst album [sic - Ed.] does have its morbid fascination [...] Not only are the timbre and melody off - he was always wild - but he also doesn't phrase cogently, and the songs just hit the dirt. E

But wait! There's more contumely and opprobrium! Here's Jon Landau, whose opinion I am at least interested in:

[...] bizarre choice of material, insipid, incompetent production and erratic and uncontrolled singing [...] utter disgrace [...] inept package of a great artist’s weaker moments, best left forgotten.

So that, as they say, is that. It's been shunned and ignored by everyone from Dylan down, appearing briefly on CD only as part of a premium box set. So why do I enjoy it? It's not out of perversity. I'm not a car-crash rubberneck, or kitsch enthusiast with a sophisticated sense of the ironic. It's a nice album, is all. Let's imagine - be a come-with guy! - this had never been released until yesterday, and it's suddenly appeared without any hype or back story. Let's suppose Dylan decided to shunt it out anyway. What have we got? A short album of songs by other people. The choices range from the inspired to the baffling. But who would come down on it so heavily today? The reaction would be, I'm guessing, one of fascinated appreciation, especially after the way-late critical re-assessment of Self Portrait. Who wouldn't want to listen to Dylan delivering a sweet bunch of covers from the "I can still sing" years? That's the album I'm listening to. Not Christmas In The Fucking Heart.

Friday, June 7, 2019

The Sunset Album

That Brian Wilson survived the sixties is surprising. That he made this music over half a century after the Beach Boys' first album is astonishing. It's evidence that his muse, although taking a well-deserved break from time to time, never left him. No Pressure Radio - credited here to Brian Wilson And The Beach Boys - is an assemblage of songs from That's Why God Made The Radio and No Pier Pressure. I've omitted all the celebrity "feat." team-ups, the up-beat numbers, anything vaguely quirky, and anything "feat." Mike Love. What we're left with is an old man, singing on the beach at sunset, lost in bittersweet reminiscence, but the warmth of the sun still inside him. A suite, a hymnal, as full of melody as the beach is full of sand. The subtle quotes from early Beach Boy hits, although getting the thumbs down from miserable Beach Boy Factbots, are pitched absolutely right and part of the DNA. The participation of David Marks, Al Jardine, Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar is inspired. Carl and Dennis are here in spirit. Bruce Johnston probably wore shorts at the mic, and good for him. Mike Love sez: "I was disappointed with the album's direction. I was denied much songwriting input." Well, we cordially urge Mr Love to do a hundred yard sprint and jump up his own ass.

I can't offhand think of another artist who has expressed the euphoria of youth and lived long enough to sing the melancholy of old age so personally, and so affectingly. Although never a surfer, he made us all feel like we were catching that wave; the giddy rush of sheer teenage fun never sounded so real. And here we are, a lifetime down the line. He's not bitter, angry, or even depressed. He can still write and sing the upbeat stuff (which the world apparently has little use for), but his heart is here, in the acceptance of old age and the world that lives only in treasured memory. And that's what memory can be, as old people know - treasure, glowing with the warmth of the sun.

It's not an album he could ever have released himself - he'd get bored with the lack of rock n' roll - but it shows the man as transparently as anything he ever did. Fourteen songs, forty-four minutes. Proper album.

Thank you Brian, for everything.


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Jane Fonda's Finest Moment

Jane: What's my motivation in this scene, M. Vadim?
Roger: Er ...
She's a terrific person. Whip-smart, fearlessly outspoken, and a radical force for good. Should have been the first woman POTUS. But for many men of a certain age *cough* she did her finest work in the opening sequence of Roger Vadim's berserk acid-in-outer-space artsploitation romp Barbarella. In spite of Vadim's protestations of it being a feminist movie ("Her sexuality is not measured by the rules of our society. She is different. She was born free" - blow it out yer ass, Roger!) it's mercifully impossible to imagine the movie getting made by Millennials in these woke times. But it's impossible to imagine anything getting made by Millennials other than a nice frothy coffee. Bless!

Bob Crewe - the Windolene-klene leader of hip lounge combo The Crewe Generation  - directed the loungexotica soundtrack, I'm guessing unironically, and the extended Complete Nerd version is attached for your convenience. It's the kind of thing you'll be proud to display on your iPod when unexpected guests drop by, but probably never get to hear in its entirety unless you're breathing through a tube. It's an enjoyable slice of psychedelic cheese, but the most interesting thing about it is the limited participation of The Glitterhouse, a genuine lost band if ever there was one.

They made their own album, Colorblind, featuring the Barbarella songs and adding their own drops of perfectly-crafted op-art psych pop such as Tinkerbell's Mind, which is every bit as good as you want it to be. A New York band out of New York [New York - Ed.], their sound is closer to UK pop-psychonauts like Jason Crest, and the quality vocals - reminiscent of Arthur Lee - are a treat
Again, this is the extended version, twenty-three tracks calculated to satisfy the base desires of the sad and in many ways lonely individual who enjoys this kind of thing.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Party Like It's 1993

Morning Dove White, by One Dove ... maybe it's the other way around. Nothing groundshaking. No swaying arena anthems, bangin' dance hits, or songs that would make it onto decade-specific TV compilations. Which is all to its, and our, advantage. It kind of slid out, and slid away, making a few Best Of Year lists but no great waves. Andrew Weatherall's multi-dimensional production touch is evident, but aside from Dot Allison's cool vocals, there's no sense of the real band here. Criticized for sounding "dated" at the time ("This is how the future sounded in 1990"), it's aged very well, achieving a kind of hip timelessness. A second album never appeared. If you're in the mood for a little slink, maybe posing with a cigarette between the second joints of your fingers and letting the smoke creep over your face as you try to remember what the hell you were doing in 1993, this is your soundtrack.

Monday, June 3, 2019

"It's All Been Splendid Fun!" The Van Morrison Interview (Part One)

This interview - a FMF© exclusive - with the musician known as "Van Morrison" will, it is fervently hoped, dispel at last and once and for all the myths surrounding this enigmatic and larger-than-life character, revealing him for the man he really is; a sensitive and deeply committed artist who has, over the years, created a persona that threatened to overwhelm him.

A little background: "Mr Morrison" (we'll get to that) was once a neighbor of mine at the Bide-A-Wee Residential Motel in Petworth, Washington, D.C., located between the Armed Forces Retirement Home and Rock Creek Cemetery on Blockbuster Avenue, accessed by a private alley next to the Polish Polecat Poledance Club. The Bide-A-Wee was a haunt of artists, and much patronized by those shunning publicity, or on the lam. I'd recognized the great Irishman in the lobby, but respected his privacy as much as he respected mine. One morning, he knocked at my door wearing his trademark damask smoking jacket, fez, and Persian slippers, and enquired - in a surprisingly aristocratic English voice - if I could "possibly spare a drop of milk for one's morning cuppa." I was of course delighted to oblige, and he kindly invited me to share it with him. His room was opulently furnished with fine antiques and costly wall hangings. A tall bookshelf displayed leather-bound volumes, and a vase of fresh-cut flowers stood on an ormolu table. Over a "cuppa" served from an exquisite Dresden bone china set, we fell to chatting about this and that, an informal and very private conversation that I present here, in confidence, for the first time.

FMF: You're not registered as Van Morrison, then?
VM: Good lord no! Nobody uses their real name here, eh, Mr. Foam?
FMF: You're obviously not Irish!
VM: Ah! I suppose it had to come out sooner or later. One was born Cholmondeley [pronounced Chumley - Ed.] St. John [pronounced Sinjun - Ed.] Featherstonehaugh [pronounced Fanshaw - Ed.], to the Great Titterington Featherstonehaughs. Papa was Lord Featherstonehaugh of Great Titterington, where Titterington Hall has been in the family since the Crusades. So naturally one had a privileged upbringing.
FMF: But you moved to Belfast?
VM [shudders]: Heavens no! That came later. Dreadful place. Full of unemployed drunkards bombing each others' legs off.
FMF: So your earliest musical influences weren't American Rn'B singles brought into the docks by merchant seamen?
VM: I should rather think not! Mama was celebrated for her salons, chamber music soirées, at which one was a keen attendee! I think one became quite addicted to the celeste at an early age! More tea?
FMF: Thank you. When did you first sing in front of an audience?
"Madame George"
VM: Ooh! That would be the Footlights Revue whilst one was up at Cambridge. One had adopted the highly theatrical persona of Madame George - spent an entire term in drag! Happy days! And the act proved riotously popular!
FMF: But still no touch o' the Blarney?
VM: Well, when one was sent down from Cambridge one decided to work up a new act. My little circle of dissolute gentry found Irishmen most amusing at that time, their delightful accents, red noses, funny walks, and so Madame George, with a lot of hard work and cathartic rehearsal, became George Ivan Morrison, the absolute antithesis of everything I was in real life. Curmudgeonly, abusive, aggressive, drunk ... and disgustingly working class. I had in mind the quintessential Irish poet, inarticulate yet somehow in touch with his muse. We - my little band of classically trained musicians and I - toured the Working Mens' Clubs of Belfast as an Rn'B band, keeping our true identities secret. My! They were rough brutes! But strangely exciting ... one could sense the homoerotic sublimated in their virile displays of drunken violence - quite intoxicating!
FMF: This would be Decca recording artists Them.
VM: Them being showbiz argot for, well ... as in [arch look] "he's one of them." One is constantly amazed the public didn't catch on!
FMF: And then the move to Boston, as a solo artist.
VM: Yes! And that was when this little Irishman, my creation, became ... Frankenstein.

(Part Two to follow after a suitable pause. Maybe.)

Sunday, June 2, 2019

No More Mama

Cass Elliot came up with The Mamas & The Papas name when she joined The New Journeymen, and got stuck with the name Mama Cass. Michelle Phillips didn't get called Mama. But, you know, hey, Cass was mama-shaped. Imagine Cass looked like Michelle. Now imagine her career. Oh well. The thing is, Cass has left us a lasting legacy of beautiful music, and Michelle ...

This is the hardish-to-find Hip-O-Select collection of her first two solo albums, plus a generous helping of extra tracks that are truly worth having - not the usual obsessive scrapings that weigh down many resissues. Both albums are brilliant late sixties West Coast pop, far better than they're given credit for. Releasing them in sleeves that screamed cutout before they even hit the racks didn't help, nor did Dunhill refusing to let her use her own name. And neither did doing Vegas do her any favors. Although a genuinely hip mover and shaker (she put Crosby Stills & Nash together), there was always a tad too much show in her business, but her recorded legacy is good taste and good music from first to last, damn near.

Oh - and she died because her big old broken heart gave out on her. Thirty two years old.

(Hey, Cass - hope you like the cover)

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Jerrystock - The Forgotten Festival

Michael Lang[promoter and producer - Ed.]'s 1968 Miami Pop Festival had been a massive success, even though bad weather brought it to an early close (inspiring Hendrix's Rainy Day, Dream Away). Woodstock was already at the back-of-an-envelope stage, but Lang wanted to bridge the gap with something quick and easy, on a smaller scale, without the high-stake risk. He and Artie Kornfeld [promoter and producer - Ed.] got together in his tarpaper shack behind Jerry's Used Tire And Muffler Mart in New York's fashionable Canarsie, and spitballed a few ideas.

"It was crazy," Artie remembers. "We'd just grab these ideas out of thin air, or actually bong smoke if I'm honest. Michael started riffing on the stock thing, this-stock, that-stock. This was even before Woodstock, leave alone all the other stocks that came later, like Watergate ... stock ... anyway ... Jerry, right, this guy Jerry that owns Michael's pad, he comes by for the rent - he was always hassling Michael for the rent on account Michael never paid it - and Michael says, Jerry, I can't give you the rent, but I'm giving you a music festival instead. You'll be rich and famous! So Jerry gives Michael the finger and until Thursday and the hell with his music festival shit, what does he think he is, like that. When he's gone Michael takes this huge hit on the bong and says, in this squeaky voice I'll never forget, Jerrystock!"

And so the world's smallest music festival was born. Lang and Kornfeld drew up a list of all the artists they could think of called Jerry. Five, including flautist Jeremy Steig, who refused to be billed as Jerry and was scratched. But Jerrys Corbitt (Youngbloods), Jeff Walker (Circus Maximus, Jerry Jeff Walker), and Yester (too many credits to mention) all agreed to support headliner Garcia [lead guitarist for The Greatful Deads rock group - Ed.]. The festival took place in the upstairs room at Pies n' Poetry, Canarsie's hipster hangout, and was attended by a sell-out standing-room-only crowd of well over a dozen or so people. "We made enough bread on the door to pay the rent!" laughs Lang today, adding, "still didn't pay it, though."

Although no recordings of the epochal event were made (Lang's trusty reel-to-reel was in hock), the attached recordings give an idea of the quality of the musical fare on offer on that forgotten day. Walker's first solo album doesn't give much indication of the Outlaw Country direction he would take, Corbitt's is homespun rockin' ("My brain's goin' blind," he sings), Yester's collection of vintage gems Pass Your Light Around is drop-dead gorgeous. Garcia is represented by The Cauldron Journey For Healing (that's what it's called), a kind of hippie self-help cassette made by Nicki Scully (me neither). The music (by "Roland Barker and Jerry Garcia") is the same both sides, but on one side Nicki gets to blather spoken word Hippie Wisdom all over it, which is funny for about one minute, then terrible, then a fucking nightmare, leaving this listener baying for the blood of the narrator, which is not presumably the kind of healing she had in mind. I "lost" this side in a freak internet tsunami, so you can't hear it, as a bonus.