Wednesday, September 26, 2012

#593: An obituary

This is an obituary 4 an old friend of mine, my best friend, Don Vincent. Punch his name in2 that "search this site" search-engine up there on the left & you'll find I've written a lot about him here, back when I was doing lotsa nostalgia pieces. There's at least 10 posts he's mentioned in, not even including the 1/2-dozen installments of that abandoned rock&roll novel I tried serializing here -- in which he was disguised as "Don."
My old buddy, 1 of the 2 or 3 closest friends I've ever had, died on Sept. 5. Apparently he had a heart attack early that morning & his body was discovered by his son later in the day. Don was just a month short of his 54th birthday.
I just learned about his death tonight, thanx 2 the Internet. Don & I used 2 joke that we both drank WAY too much coffee, but I sure never saw this coming.
I've gone on at great length here before about how Don & I became friends partly thanx 2 Strange Music -- about how back in the days of cheap bargain-bin vinyl he would take the wildest chances on the weirdest stuff & always get something listenable out of it. He was the only other "serious" writer I knew back in the day, & he always pushed me 2 write more, work harder, not get lazy, keep pushing my imagination.
He wrote some great visionary short stories that I thot were far better than anything I'd ever do -- & some of them got published, tho I'm not sure how many. Seems like they always got printed in tiny magazines where basically nobody ever saw them. I knew, & told him many times, that he was a way better writer than me, that he had a way wilder, more visionary imagination.
He wanted 2 write fantasy novels. Back in the dead days of the late '70s & early '80s, long before the LORD OF THE RINGS movies or TV series like GAME OF THRONES, Don had plans 2 write a 7-volume fantasy epic called RAINBOW -- each book cover in the series would be a diffrent color. He drew up his own map 4 it -- always the 1st thing you do when you're dealing with imaginary lands. I know he got the books started, tho I don't know how far he went. I DO know that the images from some of his short stories would have made 4 some great, vivid fantasy illustrations.
He also wrote at least a 1st draft of a novel about a hit-man who gets hired 2 assassinate God -- a story idea actually used somewhat later in a novel: Victor Koman's THE JEHOVAH CONTRACT. Don always had great ideas....
We didn't always see eye to eye, Ghod knows. I thot most fantasy was pointless & badly written. Don could be sarcastic & had no problem saying when he thot I was full of shit -- as he did then.
But we went our own ways & stayed friends. I went off 2 the Air Force & newspapers, Don stayed in Idaho & wrote his fantasy epics at home when he wasn't too tired from his "real job."
At least through 1998, we still talked on the phone at least 1nce a month. After that, I don't know what happened. I moved 2 Washington & got sucked in2 the Worst Newspaper Job Ever, then retired. I remember getting an e-mail when Don joined Facebook, & responded that he didn't strike me as the type who'd wanna B ON Facebook -- Don could B very reclusive. He was even worse than me. But he sent me a follow-up message assuring me that, yes, it really was him....
When I went back home in 2008 when my mother died, I rang Don's phone off the hook trying 2 get him 2 come 2 the funeral, or at least see me. He never answered. I left messages and he never called back. Our good old friend Jeff Mann -- who shared an apartment with us back in the day & who's also been mentioned here a few dozen times -- said that Don had been getting even more reclusive over the past few years.
I sent him letters, I sent him e-mails, I called him -- no response. I sat in front of a computer at 2 am in a freezing bedroom, crying while I wrote an e-mail pleading with him 2 get in touch with me. & then I laffed when I thot of what Don might've said if he'd been there 2 see me. He would not have let me off the hook 4 getting so mushy.
I just wanted my old friend back.
When I was back home in 2010, I tried again 2 reach Don. His phone had been disconnected. On the last nite of my visit, some friends of mine tried 2 reach Don thru Facebook. But he'd taken his page down. It was like he didn't WANT 2 B reached. Like he WANTED to disappear.
I should have gone out 2 his house in Nampa right then & dragged his lazy ass out in2 the daylight. I don't know why I didn't. I don't know what I was thinking. It was my last day there. I didn't want to scare him or barge in unexpected. I didn't wanna cause more damage. & maybe I was sorta scared of what I might find.
& now this.
I was just thinking about him last week, wondering what happened, how he slipped away, thinking we'd always have time 2 figure it out. & when I tried 2 track him down 2nite, I learned that he'd died.
I'm not mad at you for disappearing anymore, Don. I just want my old friend back.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

#592: More good folk

Jeanette Leech's SEASONS THEY CHANGE (2010) is a solid, warm, detailed history of psychedelic-folk music (or what some people today would call "freak folk"), from its origins in the mid-1960s 2 the acts that R still performing off-beat folk music today. It makes a fine companion 2 Rob Young's ELECTRIC EDEN (2008) -- reviewed below under the head "In Progress."
In fact, the only "problem" with Leech's book is that it covers summa the same ground as Young's -- but that's not her fault. I'm sure I read the 2 books 2 closely 2gether....
Here again is your chance 2 trace the histories of summa '60s folk's biggest acts -- Donovan, Incredible String Band, Pentangle, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Shirley & Dolly Collins, etc. + a ton of folks who shoulda received more attention -- Comus, Mellow Candle, Trees, Forest, Dr. Strangely Strange, Trader Horne, Vashti Bunyan, & many many more, many of whom I'd never heard of. Leech continues the story right up 2 folk-influenced acts of today like Joanna Newsom & Animal Collective.
If nothing else, you're gonna end up with a huge list of new bands 2 investigate after reading this book.
In places where Leech covers some of the same artists as Young, she adds more details or follows their histories farther, offers more perspective -- or picks up the story 30+ years later when artists like Comus & Vashti Bunyan start recording again after years of neglect.
As with ELECTRIC EDEN -- a 600-pg book that tries 2 encapsulate the entire history of British folk in a search 4 a "lost Britain" -- I admit I didn't read every word of SEASONS THEY CHANGE. Leech didn't try 2 cover as huge an area. There were some artists & details I wasn't that intrested in -- especially the section on the virtual "disappearance" of freak-folk starting around the mid-'70s.
But that doesn't mean I won't eventually get 2 that section -- I'll B keeping this book around 4 awhile. & tho Leech's book is only about 1/2 as long as Young's, I think I'll probly end up getting just as much good info out of it. & so will you.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

#591: Some actual NEW MUSIC!

...Well, new to me....
This week's at-work playlist runs the gamut from CD's 2 the radio & back again as I continue searching 4 music I'm not already bored with.... Someday soon I gotta do a post about current Seattle-area radio & call it "Lowest Common Denominator"....

King Crimson -- Elephant Talk, Frame by Frame, Matte Kudasai, Indiscipline, The Sheltering Sky, Discipline, Three of a Perfect Pair, Model Man, Sleepless, Man With an Open Heart, Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds), Larks Tongues in Aspic Part III.
Yes -- YESTERDAYS: America, Looking Around, Time and a Word, Sweet Dreams, Then, Survival, Astral Traveler, Dear Father.
Mahavishnu Orchestra -- THE LOST TRIDENT SESSIONS.
Pink -- Who Knew?
Paula Cole -- I Don't Want to Wait.
Jimi Hendrix -- The Wind Cries Mary.
Poco -- THE FORGOTTEN TRAIL (1969-74) 2-CD best-of: A Good Feelin' to Know, Here We Go Again, Crazy Eyes, Get in the Wind, And Settlin' Down, C'mon, You Better Think Twice, Hear That Music, Believe Me, etc.
The Byrds -- SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO: You Ain't Goin' Nowhere, You Don't Miss Your Water, Pretty Boy Floyd.
Jack White -- (20-song homemade-CD mix).
Orange Peel -- (1st) (1970).
Mogul Thrash -- (1st) (1971).

Where to start? KC's "Man With an Open Heart" sounds just like Todd Rundgren meets the Talking Heads. A lot of KC's more abstract stuff from their early-'80s period I can't seemta get in2, like mosta Side 2 on both THREE OF A PERFECT PAIR and BEAT -- "LTIA3" has everything you'd ever want from a Crimson instrumental Xcept 4 a big dramatic finish; it just sorta fades away....
"Frame by Frame"'s still a freakin classic tho -- especially that skittery guitar that sounds like a car slipping out of control on the ice & then crashing in2 a tree.... Have always loved practically everything about "Indiscipline," from Margaret Belew's great obsessive lyrics 2 the oppressive musical attack. But the 2nd side of DISCIPLINE still just sorta drifts away from me....
Yes's YESTERDAYS hasa great 1st side which I've bn playing 4 YEARS -- but only "Survival" jumps out at me from the 2nd 1/2.... Wonder why they didn't include great stuff like "Every Little Thing" & "No Experience Necessary" on this early-best-of? Maybe cos then there woulda bn 2 many non-group songwriting credits...? Publishing income, royalties & all that, etc?
On 1st listen, Mahavishnu's TRIDENT SESSIONS sounds pretty good -- there's a lot more delicate gtr, violin & keyboard work, more contrast, not so much loud unison riffing -- could B a keeper. Of course I wish there were MORE...
After years of having it in the house & playing bits & pieces, I finally got all the way thru Poco's 38-track FORGOTTEN TRAIL best-of. I really like all the upbeat stuff like "Good Feelin' to Know," "And Settlin' Down," "Get in the Wind," etc. + there's a LOT of pickin&grinnin'-style instrumentals (in fact, "pickin' and grinnin'" is a phrase used in the lyrics of the opener "Pickin' Up the Pieces").
When they did a ballad, Poco coulda bn almost anybody (with a coupla Xceptions like the striking "Here We Go Again" & the dramatic-but-drawn-out "Crazy Eyes"), but the good stuff is really good & the singing is always Xcellent. + there's LOTS of previously-unreleased songs (like the Xcellent "Get in the Wind" & "Believe Me"). They shoulda stayed upbeat more often, tho....
Did not get all the way thru The Byrds' SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO. Not sure what I Xpected from this, 1 of the very 1st country-rock albums -- but wasn't prepared 4 the very-stripped-down sound & lack of electric 12-string. "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" is OK & "Pretty Boy Floyd" is funny, but "You Don't Miss Your Water" is taken absolutely straight & kinda flat. & it's all REALLY TWANGY....
So, I turned 2 some CDs people have tossed at me over the years that I'm now bored & desperate enuf 2 play. Jack White's the guy from the White Stripes, who I know mainly by reputation. I was impressed by a couple of his playful but deeply twisted songs -- especially (I'm guessing) "Leave You Alone" & "Conquest" -- & there was a lurid Southern Gothic murder tale near the end of the CD that was pretty harrowing.
There was some good gtr work & the lyrics were often pretty clever. I was reminded of The Kinks at times, & maybe a little Marc Bolan in Jack's quavery vocals -- & maybe of a stripped-down Led Zeppelin or Robert Plant. I normally wouldn't have bought this stuff on my own, but not bad....
I know nothing about Orange Peel Xcept they were German, included 1 guy who was later in the jazz-rock band Passport, & put out 1 long-delayed album of organ-based heavy-prog. & it's not bad. LOTS of riffing organ & gtr-dominated free-form rock -- the 1st track's over 18 mins long -- with a declaiming (not raving) vocalist straight outta Arthur Brown. Lots of lyrics about "changing these strange things that need to be changed." & an Xtremely bloozy cover of "Tobacco Road."
The organ sound isn't 2 far from Soft Machine, or a simpler ELP or The Nice. LOTS of heavy riffing. The drummer's pretty athletic, 2. These guys can play. Not bad at all -- there's a lot going on here, it was a lot more intresting than Mahavishnu, & it kept me awake onna really slow Sun nite at work....
Mogul Thrash featured bassist John Wetton (later of King Crimson, U.K. & Asia), & guitarist James Litherland from Colosseum. Their 1 album sounds (so far) like a sorta blowzy jazz-rock band with horns. Can't hear Wetton's voice at all. & there's lots of gtr. I'll get back 2 this....
More soon....

Saturday, September 22, 2012

#590: The Rock Yearbook

Hey, I remember the '80s ROCK YEARBOOK series -- 8 annual volumes created in England that looked back over & passed judgement on the previous year's music -- usually hilariously.
I remember where I was when I 1st heard about the 1st volume -- I was in the den of my record store's manager, kicking back with him & the assistant mgr while the boss read vast sections of the 1981 volume to us & we laffed R asses off. (The YEARBOOK's view of Polydor Records/US circa 1980: "Oh, are we in the music business?") In the background, some REALLY strange music was playing -- Captain Beefheart's CLEAR SPOT and THE SPOTLIGHT KID, British keyboardist Steve Miller & his sax-playing buddy Lol Coxhill, & possibly even other, odder stuff. Were there illicit substances involved? Hmmm, can't remember....
Anyway, I went out & bought the '81 YEARBOOK next payday. Don't remember laffing my ass off over it, but I had a good time with the less-than-serious British approach 2 the hot acts of the day -- Police, Blondie, Pretenders, Petty, Dylan, Billy Joel, etc. Loved the massive review section -- in which the editors piled-up the best parts from reviews of 100s of albums -- & printed the differing reviews one after another, so the critics could contradict each other. & so the music fan could see how different sounds could get widely varying responses.
I also loved the way the books went after anything music-related -- not just albums & singles, but music-related books, movies, videos, album-cover designs.... & I was amazed by the writers' snarky attitudes -- their willingness 2 go 4 the throat & not hold back, no matter how big or famous the target.
I started looking 4 the YEARBOOK each year, & it seemed 2 get better as it went along, even tho as the '80s progressed there was less & less music that I was following. (Seems like The Good Olde Days compared to now....)
4 me, their last few years seemed 2 B their best. The '84 YEARBOOK included Allen Jones's hilarious write-up on the rise of neo-progressive rock (Marillion, etc) under the title "Tales from Soporific Oceans." I was still a big prog fan then, & the 1st 2-1/2 pgs of the 4-pg feature was basically a non-stop slam of the worst idiocies of summa my olde prog faves. This made me furious at the time. But now I think it's pretty freakin funny....
VOLUME 8 (1987) was crammed fulla great stuff -- Tony Parsons on Boy George's drug problems, Julie Burchill on British pop's harmless "girls next door," & lots more snarky, acidy reviews of the year's best & worst. I thot the YEARBOOK's writers had hit their peak, even if mosta the stuff they were writing about was a mystery 2 me. (Some of it still is.)
Oddly, VOLUME 8 was apparently the end of the series. The books apparently didn't sell well enuf in America 2 keep doing them. (Perhaps it was the writers' slight anti-American bias that did them in? Almost everything from the States was seen by the critics as too big, too ugly, too commercial, too watered down, too successful, too damn obvious -- as smelly as last week's soiled underpants. This stuff can B pretty amusing if you take it with a big-enuf grain of salt....)
I dunno -- I loved 'em. At least some1 was trying 2 keep up with the scene -- & "pop" wasn't 1/2 as huge & confusing then as it is now.
I still re-read these books 4 fun. & most of the artists that R mentioned I've even HEARD OF by now....

Monday, September 17, 2012

#589: But is it commercial?

This week's at-work playlist mostly stars ADD's homemade CD's from 2008. Thanx 2 ADD 4 compiling them, ... & it only took me 4 yrs 2 remember 2 take them 2 work...!

Bread -- Been Too Long on the Road.
Eric Clapton -- Let it Rain.
Green Day -- Holiday.
Jefferson Airplane -- Somebody to Love.
Korn -- Word Up.
Matchbox 20 -- Push.
Nickelback -- Photograph.
Paul Simon -- You Can Call Me Al.
Red Jumpsuit Apparatus -- Face Down.
Mighty Mighty Bosstones -- The Impression That I Get.
Savage Garden -- Crash and Burn.
Stevie Nicks -- Stand Back.
Third Eye Blind -- Jumper.
Tricia Yearwood -- She's in Love With the Boy.
U2 -- It's a Beautiful Day.
Michelle Branch -- Everywhere.
Aretha Franklin & George Michael -- I Knew You Were Waiting for Me.
Bangles -- Everything I Wanted.
My Chemical Romance -- Teenagers (scare the living shit out of me....).
Jordin Sparks -- Now You Tell Me, Worth the Wait.
Coheed and Cambria -- Feathers, The Road and the Damned.
Sarah McLaughlin -- Stupid.
Pam Tillis -- Whenever You Walk in the Room.
Bill Bruford -- MASTER STROKES best-of.
King Crimson -- Three of a Perfect Pair, Sleepless.
Yes -- America (long version), Looking Around.

Bonus trax:
Paul Revere & the Raiders -- My Wife Can't Cook.
Five Man Electrical Band -- Money Back Guarantee.

NOTES: Now, in case some1 wantsta accuse me of "going commercial" or something, I'd just like 2 note that I'm not a Korn fan ... tho "Word Up" is hysterical, a better-than-the-original cover of (4 me) a 1/2-remembered almost-hit from the '80s by Cameo -- which, when I checked back & gave a listen 2 the original was ... kinda lame. Korn's version adds the grit & hilarity the original lacked. & that's the only nice thing I have 2 say about them....
Mosta the rest is my usual kinda stuff, tho if you haven't you otta hear My Chemical Romance's hilarious "Teenagers" -- I have problems with their usual emotional-climax-every-30-seconds style, but this 1 song is a scream from start 2 finish. Shoulda bn a big hit -- they coulda bleeped the "shit." Maybe they did....
I will hear no critiques of "Crash and Burn" either, which I've bn a sucker 4 since the 1st time I heard it. I really like SG's "Affirmation," too. Ah well, there's no accounting 4 taste....
Oh, & KC's "Sleepless" is still a classic, capturing both the terror & the surreal hilarity of nightmares -- Adrian Belew's line about seeing submarines lurking in his ceiling gets me every time. He shoulda won some awards 4 his underrated lyrics 4 KC back in the '80s & since. Oh, & then there's also the guitar work by AB & some guy named Fripp....
Should also note that Coheed & Cambria's "The Road and the Damned" has some really haunting guitar & vocals -- & it's SHORT. "Feathers" has everything you'd ever want from a hard-rock single Xcept 4 a strong ending....
On the bonus trax, the Raiders' "My Wife Can't Cook" is an early, previously-unreleased "Idaho white-boy blues" track from the ESSENTIAL best-of that features Mark Lindsay gibbering about how he'd starve if it weren't 4 beans outta a can, with some unhinged Paul Revere backing on piano. They shoulda done more comedy -- this woulda made a good B-side.
"Money Back Guarantee" was a minor hit for 5MEB around '72, I dimly remembered it from a coupla K-Tel collections, never heard it on the radio. It's kinda silly & gimmicky, but the choruses R cute & it's catchy & it makes 4 a 6th song from their BEST OF released a coupla yrs back that I can actually listen-2 repeatedly. + it fits in with this week's theme....
Oh, & I did listen 2 all of Bill Bruford's MASTER STROKES best-of (after re-reading parts of his autobiog recently) & found it 2 B ... really nice background music, & I'm sorry I can't B more positive than that. I'm sure Bill intended it 2 B more than just background. It's very busy, active music, & on most of it Bill sounds like he's still drumming on the 1st U.K. album. Guitarist Allan Holdsworth also has the same ghostly sound he contributed 2 the original U.K. Both of these R Good Things.
While the collection features some trax that R intricate, intresting & catchy, sevral of em sound like TV game-show themes -- good game-show themes. There's a shortage of really striking, memorable tunes. There's 1 fairly-long thrash at the end that almost gains some Crimson-like impressiveness. I'll B playing the CD again at work, & it DID keep me moving....
That's all 4 now. Please check-out Fear and Loathing as R epic in silliness continues, & I'll have more 4 y'all soon....

Monday, September 10, 2012

#588: In progress

Currently reading Rob Young's ELECTRIC EDEN (2008), a massive 600-page history of British folk, focusing mainly on '50s/'60s/'70s music but going All The Way Back to outline a history of a "lost Britain" thru folksongs.
I admit I'm skimming a lot of the historical stuff, but the long sections on Pentangle, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Sandy Denny, Nick Drake, John Martyn, the Incredible String Band, Richard & Linda Thompson and many others R really marvelous, vivid writing -- Xcellently detailed histories with album reviews woven in. It'll probly take me forever 2 get all the way thru this book, but it looks worth the trip.
Also learned that tho I think the Incredible String Band's HANGMAN'S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER (1968) is a comedy classic (at least Side 1 is, among other things), musically-speaking I've barely heard them, which shouldn't B a suprise. LOTS more 2 Xplore there....
Have also peeked at but not started reading Jeanette Leech's SEASONS THEY CHANGE (2010), a history of British psychedelic-folk which looks at summa the same music + some newer stuff. Will report back on this later.
Have also bn looking at Jon Savage's TIME TRAVEL essay collection (1997), which includes good stuff on the Sex Pistols' early appearances, Nirvana & the death of Kurt Cobain, & an Xcellent long review of the Beatles' outtakes which functions as a sorta pre-review of their '90s ANTHOLOGY CD-series. There will B more good stuff here too, I'm sure. & if you haven't read Savage's Xcellent Punk Rock history ENGLAND'S DREAMING, what's wrong with you...?

Lately I've had music practically raining down on me & have had little time 2 play any of it. A departing co-worker left me a big box of old vinyl that included some music I didn't actually have in the house -- RUMOURS, THE WALL, Aerosmith's ROCKS, like that -- + a ton of late-'50s/early-'60s 45's in fairly bad shape: "Peggy Sue," "The Wanderer," "It's My Party," "Rock and Roll Music," like that. I've started trying 2 clean this stuff up, & we'll see how it works out.
There's also a dozen or so singles by artists I've never heard of, mostly late '50s country & R&B. I think. I have a feeling I'm the wrong person 4 this stuff. Crabby, are you out there? Would you like a list...?
Another co-worker cleaned out her closet & tossed me 3 briefcases full of '80s cassettes, mostly metal. Ozzy, AC/DC, Guns 'N' Roses, Lita Ford, etc. Also some Foreigner, Journey, Fleetwood Mac, Pat Benatar, Billy Idol, Phil Collins.... Some of this I might actually listen 2 eventually. But I haven't even played the cheap vinyl I picked-up over my vacation yet....
Another co-worker claimed that with her smartphone she could locate NE music I was ever unable 2 find cheaply thru She issued this as a challenge, so I thot about it 4 1/2anhour & gave her a 2-page list of stuff I've been unable 2 find anywhere -- maybe 100 songs. As of a couple days ago she said she's about 1/3rd of the way thru the list & hasn't given up yet. She has yet 2 find NE of the songs I haven't heard since 1972 (Heaven Bound's "500 Miles," Billy Lee Riley's "I've Got a Thing About You Baby," Johnathan King's "A Tall Order for a Short Guy"), but I like a challenge & we'll see how THIS turns out....
She also thot my musical taste was pretty strange.

This week's playlist at work included:
Outkast -- Hey Ya.
Joe Jackson -- Is She Really Going Out With Him?
Heart -- Love Alive.
Elvis -- Promised Land.
Blondie -- Sunday Girl, Just Go Away.
Grateful Dead -- Uncle John's Band.
Aretha Franklin -- Day Dreaming.
Steely Dan -- Dirty Work, Don't Take Me Alive, My Old School.
Elton John -- Empty Garden.
Proclaimers -- 500 Miles (I'm Gonna Be).
Dionne Farris -- I Know.
Manfred Mann's Earth Band -- Living Without You.
Motorhead -- Killed By Death.
Howard Jones -- No One is to Blame.
Des'ree -- You Gotta Be.
Deep Purple -- Highway Star.
Sinead O'Connor -- Nothing Compares 2 U

More soon....

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

#587: Bits&pieces

Ken Scott is a helluva producer & engineer. He's worked on summa my favorite albums ever. Probly summa yer faves too: MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR, WHITE ALBUM, ZIGGY STARDUST, CRIME OF THE CENTURY, BIRDS OF FIRE, HONKY CHATEAU, DON'T SHOOT ME I'M ONLY THE PIANO PLAYER, like that. He's worked with some great bands: Beatles, Stones, Bowie & the Spiders, Elton, Mahavishnu, Supertramp, Missing Persons, Dixie Dregs, Happy the Man, etc.
But Scott's book, ABBEY ROAD TO ZIGGY STARDUST (2012), is kinda dull, kinda choppy, kinda annoying -- & I feel like kind of an ass 4 pointing it out. I wanted to love this book like I love summa the albums Scott's been involved with.
Summa the music he's recorded is really glorious. I think he got down mosta Bowie's best moments, some top-notch stuff from Elton, 1 pretty-great album from Supertramp, ... & 1 of Happy the Man's albums is in my all-time Top 20. + there's his Beatles Xperiences from back when Scott was just starting out.
There's some great stuff here. But what Scott & his co-writer Bobby Owsinski can't do thru mosta this 400-pg book is make these Xperiences intresting. There's magic in the music, but there isn't much in these stories.
Scott admits sevral times that he doesn't always remember much from a given session. This is a problem early in the book when he's working 4 the Beatles on stuff like "I Am the Walrus" & the WHITE ALBUM sessions. He confirms that Yoko & Linda didn't cause as much disruption as has sometimes been described -- but if you're a Beatles fan or have read Geoff Emerick's HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE, you've heard these stories B4, or stories like them about the atmosphere around EMI's Abbey Road studios, etc.
The early part of the book is also written in choppy, small chapters to get the most out of Scott's choppy memory. The book smooths out a bit with Chapter 13, when David Bowie arrives on the scene, & continues pretty smoothly from there -- altho there R too many typographical errors. Somebody proofread 2 fast.
There R some suprises here -- that the original Mahavishnu Orch broke up in squabbles over songwriting credits & the fact that guitarist/leader John McLaughlin apparently wouldn't let anybody else contribute tunes; the lengths The Tubes went to 2 get sincere, believable vocals on their YOUNG AND RICH album; the fact that Happy the Man's Stan Whittaker had to take a "refreshment" break B4 recording his mechanical vocal on the knockout "Wind-Up Doll Day Wind"; that Scott hadta teach Dixie Dregs' drummer Rod Morgenstein how 2 play less 2 get a better drum sound....
There R some errors & omissions. Scott takes Mahavishnu 2 record at Miami's Criteria Studios, mentioned in the book as acclaimed 4 the disco sound the Bee Gees were getting there at the time ... but when Mahavishnu visits, it's 3 years before the Bee Gees actually achieved that sound.
There's no mention of the $250,000 that Arista Records allegedly spent 2 record Happy the Man's 1st 2 albums -- or that Scott allegedly had Happy record at 1/2-speed 2 successfully get their complex music down on-tape ... a technique Scott says he's used many times with other bands.
The story of Scott's 1st venture into artist-management -- the rise & fall of early-'80s New Wave band Missing Persons -- really IS pretty intresting. If you're intrested -- I was. But it eats up 40 pgs. The Beatles memories take about 50.
While Scott always enjoys himself, enjoys the music, hardly ever is he floored, astonished, steamrolled by some of the artists he gets on tape. He admits he needs to be "grabbed in the stomach" to know if he wants to work with someone. But he is seldom awestruck. Maybe that's what happens when you start out working for the Fab 4.
Turns out Scott's reputation as a perfectionist isn't totally accurate, either -- tho 1 un-named person in the book blames the rise of Punk Rock on Scott's supposed "lack of feel." But it was the high-tech production sheen he seemed 2 get on everything (especially Happy the Man, Supertramp, Dixie Dregs, Missing Persons) that always attracted me 2 Scott's work.
Unlike some books of this sort, there really is a detailed discography included, listing all the albums Scott's worked on -- you'll recognize a LOT of them.... It's here you'll learn that Scott helped engineer Van der Graaf Generator's 1971 cult classic PAWN HEARTS. Can you imagine what a mind-warping Xperience THAT must've been? Well, you'll HAVE to imagine it, because there's nothing else about it in the book....
It's 2 bad this book couldn't have been a double-CD -- THE BEST OF KEN SCOTT. In the music is where all the magic is. & it woulda been a helluva album....