You Better Believe It Gerald Wilson’s Masterpiece

AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione  [-]
Long out of print, the sophisticated and timeless instrumental work titled You Better Believe It by underrated conductor/arranger Gerald Wilson is a first-rate masterpiece released on the Pacific Jazz label in 1961. The seven performances are available on CD in their original order on the 84-track, five-disc compilation, The Complete Pacific Jazz Recordings of Gerald Wilson & His Orchestra released on the Mosaic label, but the additional 77 tracks on the boxed set might distract from this impressive LP which stands as an important work of art on its own. Beginning with “Blues for Yna Yna,” the album starts off like an intriguing spy movie complete with understated dramatic tension. Written for Wilson‘s pet cat, according to liner note writer John William Hardy, the almost seven-minute excursion features the reeds of Harold Land. Explosive horns chirp over Richard “Groove” Holmes‘ jazz organ solos, but the 17-piece orchestra never gets in the way — just the opposite as Wilson adds this or that in clever fashion so that the pieces stay fresh over endless spins. “Jeri,” the second title and written for Wilson‘s daughter, is almost half the length of the opening track, but pulls away the curtain and explodes with the horns flowing and Holmes‘ keyboard ebbing, the rhythm section of drummer Mel Lewis and bassist Jimmy Bond directing the current so everything else can fall nicely into place. “Moody Blue,” with its pensive and majestic oozing prowl, was a major inspiration to “Sunny” author and Wilson aficionado Bobby Hebb who immersed himself in this album in the early ’60s and pointed out: “The great Gerald Wilson believed in the talent of Richard Holmes.” Indeed, Wilson gave Holmes a tremendous platform to infuse his ideas with those of the other gifted players, Joe Maini on alto, Walter Benton on tenor, and reed player Teddy Edwards, who helps open side two with his participation on “The Wailer.” “The Wailer” is almost like a “Part Two” to side one’s opening track, “Blues for Yna Yna,” back to the spy movie style — and Hardy‘s essay notes that it was written for a television play. One website claims Wilson appeared as a trumpeter in a 1959 CBS-TV drama, Lineup, for an episode called The Wailer. On the track with the same name as the TV episode the music creeps in and evolves into thickly textured swirls of brass, keyboards, and advancing drums. Richard “Groove” Holmes‘ organ swells up about six minutes into the seven-and-a-half minute expedition, just a marvelous performance that transcends jazz and borders on modern pop, a foundation for things that became mainstream within a decade of its release.

On the back cover of the original imprint, Hardy calls this disc “one of the most thoroughly ingratiating big-band jazz recordings in years,” and the test of time proves Hardy correct. The 17-piece orchestra performs like a trio or quartet, each musician knowing where to be and when to execute, so the tension shifts and the moods change as subtle instrumentation slides in track by instrumental track. Shifting from quiet to quickly dramatic, the ideas keep flowing from Wilson‘s creative fount and titles like “Straight Up & Down” continue the mission inside the under four minutes. It sure feels as if Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago were inspired by these sounds from 1961, and most certainly the Henry Mancini composed original soundtrack to The Pink Panther, recorded in 1963 and released in 1964, owes some debt to You Better Believe It. That this music is so film-ready should come as no surprise as Wilson was involved in the soundtrack to the motion picture Where the Boys Are in the ’60s and other TV and movie work. “Gerald Wilson‘s groove can only be told if you have the strength to pull the corner of your lips out of your ears, because he produces a heavy smile” Bobby Hebb says of one of his favorite artists specifically for this review, and it’s difficult to disagree. You Better Believe It somehow got lost in the shuffle in the 46 years between when it was released and when this review was written. It’s a textbook for future generations, a dynamic and powerful combination of sounds waiting to inspire the world again.

Check out Bobby Hebb’s website

AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione [-]Released in Europe on Castle Communications and distributed in the U.S. on Domino Entertainment, a label founded by producer Rob Fraboni, the album’s tracks were all shuffled into a different order except for “A Little Bit of Love,” “It Don’t Come Easy,” and “Use That Power.” An oddity, but you could put the CD in your player on the shuffle setting and it would remain one of journeyman Alvin Lee’s finest statements. The stellar track here is “Real Life Blues,” which hit in spots around the states, notably in Texas and in Massachusetts. It was a Top 30 hit on the Billboard charts in Boston when the regional papers published such tracking. The track featured the unmistakable sound of George Harrison on slide guitar and Deep Purple keyboard player Jon Lord. This is a wiser, slower, more methodical sentiment than we once heard Lee make on “I’d Love to Change the World.” A 16 page booklet accompanies the cover photo (the bull’s eye on Lee’s guitar), it’s the other side of the flash guitar Lee’s been known for. “A Little Bit of Love” is Ten Years After meets Power Station with thunderous drums and very smooth production. Steve Gould and Deena Payne’s backing vocals chirp over Alan Young’s boom-boom drumbeat on “The Price of Love,” a bonafide dance tune that cries for the kind of production that the band Chic made famous — dance blues. “Moving the Blues” is a fun, Delaney & Bonnie type rocker with Clarence Clemons on tenor sax. Clemons appears on four tracks, including “Use That Power,” “Jenny, Jenny” — a Little Richard meets Mitch Ryder by way of Chuck Berry fun stomper — and the funky “Wake Up Moma” which has that trademark Jon Lord keyboard filling in nicely. The instrumental “Lost in Love” is very tasteful. This is a major ’60s/’70s figure making music on his own terms and it is very satisfying.

Joe Viglione’s Unique Perspective on Film

The upcoming Spiderman film looks like fun. Doctor Octopus, Doctor Strange chock full of docs…. I started writing reviews at the age of 15 in 1969 for my fan publication Varulven Magazine. 52 years later I have developed my own “writer’s voice” giving insight quite different from other critics. My theory is, why do a regular mainstream review that you can find online from any publication? With a film out worldwide Marty Balin Live on the Esplanade – Rock n Roll Hall of Fame artist directed by Joe Viglione, the first solo Marty Balin (of Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship) disc full of surprises, and a number of new films already in the planning stages, you get ideas inside my reviews from behind the camera and from the front row of the theater.

From Joe V, the director: This Marty Balin DVD is the “ultimate fan package”…meaning, rather than allow unauthorized tapes to flourish we got footage together from both professionals and people who are long-time Balin supporters who wanted to run cameras at the June 14, 2008 concert in Boston. The spirit of the recording was to document a rare Balin gig a la Cracker & Camper Van Beethoven’s “The First Annual Camp Out Live at Pappy and Harriet’s P”. It’s a 9 camera shoot utilizing 7 of the cameras in the edit. Don’t expect a multi-million dollar production – this disc is a labor of love spanning 14 years beginning with an interview from 1995. As the 1995 concert footage that accompanied the original television broadcast interview was Jefferson Starship material we decided to film a new concert with Marty’s band. Balin was originally scheduled to open for Johnny Rivers in 2007 but due to a prior commitment with Jefferson Starship in New York the date got moved to June of 2008 – a gig with the group/duo America at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade (same venue Rivers played the year before).

The cover photo is not from this America/Balin concert…that’s a picture that former Jefferson Starship lead singer Darby Gould took from the stage when Marty was in the latter-day J.S….and we thank her for such a beautiful and mysterious shot. Marco Centola and Rob Fraboni remastered the two-track soundboard audio…D.J. Eli Polonsky at WMBR in Cambridge/Boston played “Somebody To Love” on the air and it sounded great coming over the radio. Marty Balin was interviewed by Polonsky on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 and when the DJ noted that singer Didi Stewart is a legendary Boston figure Marty said immediately “She’s a great singer!” As producer/director I would love to see an extended version of this DVD a few years from now…and maybe an audio CD mixed from both the soundboard and the multiple cameras. The August 1976 hit “With Your Love” was performed in the studio practice at Newbury Media on 6-13-08 the day before the show and is probably up somewhere on the web as a trailer for this project, though that classic wasn’t performed the next night at the show. Those songs were digitally recorded, multi-track, at the world class facility which has gold and platinum for Marky Mark, New Kids on The Block and other major recording artists. Three of the Newbury Media rehearsal sessions are on this DVD – Essra Mohawk’s “Shaping The Night”, a second version of the Jesse Barish classic “Count On Me” and Balin’s own “Somehow The Tired Reach Home”. The audio on those three bonus tracks was mixed by Ken Kanavos at the studio and the quality is superb.

It is my hope that everyone gets to see the genius of Marty Balin 39 years after he performed at Woodstock and enjoys this presentation that we put a lot of time and love into, released on the 40th Anniversary of the Woodstock event. Four of the songs the Jefferson Airplane performed at Woodstock appear on this disc recorded 4 decades after the Summer of Love.

As noted above I’m the producer/director of this document. The 5 star rating I give it is for Marty Balin’s performance and the performances of singer Didi Stewart, keyboard player Gordon G.G. Gebert (of a latter day version of the group Angel), bassist Dave Trupia (also on Marty’s upcoming CD) and the extraordinary Donny Baldwin, drummer with Elvin Bishop Group and the latter day Starship (the Mickey Thomas version of the band after Marty Balin went solo). It was an absolute honor to work with these talents and it is my hope that the public enjoys this recording for what it is: an historical record of a rock & roll hall of famer with no frills and lots of bonus material including interviews with Signe Anderson, Jeff Tamarkin and Marty Balin himself.

Johnny Thunders/ Joe Viglione The Daughters in Paradise

February 1983

February 27, 1983, I opened for the legendary Johnny Thunders in Paradise with my friends The Daughters. They backed Johnny up. WERS student wanted to interview Johnny, but Thunders said “I will only let Joe Viglione interview me.” So I interviewed Johnny and it purportedly was played on 88.1 FM WERS, Emerson College. Would love to get a copy of that. Never heard the interview. These are Terry Brenner’s Ticket Stubs

Captain America: The First Avenger 2011 Review by Joe Viglione

Captain America: The First Avenger – Movie Review


 Massachusetts native Chris Evans returns to Marvel Comics’ “House of Ideas” as Steve Rogers – Captain America, with a much different look than exhibited in the two films where he appeared as The Fantastic Four’s Johnny Storm. This important component of the Avengers collection, the final “prequel”, if you will, has to be at least as effective as Kenneth Branagh’s Thor: The God Of Thunder, and that it is.

Director Joe Johnston has had plenty of experience with Science Fiction, from 1989’s Honey I Shrunk the Kids to Jurassic Park III. He does an elegant job of blending cliche after cliche in Captain America: The First Avenger, a forumla that has become a quite necessary merry-go-round of sorts for the variety of D.C. and Marvel superheroes launching out of the big screen. These are the spawn of the James Bond blockbuster pictures when Goldfinger was identifiable to the mainstream as Dr. Doom was to comic book fans in the pages of the Fantastic Four.

Captain America sports the film texture from Kerry Conran’s Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow with a bit of Josef Rusnak’s The Thirteenth Floor enhanced with a darker (and so obligatory nowadays) 3D. Let’s face it, the choice of director for these high stakes films is made with mathematical precision and Johnston doesn’t disappoint. The estimated budget of $140 million is in the ballpark for these Marvel epics, a rather daunting figure when The Matrix pulled in four hundred million more than the sixty-three million invested to start that series. Hugo Weaving is recycled yet again, and his vision for The Red Skull is most satisfying. Said to have been pulled, in part, from a James Bond villain, Maximilian Largo (if we are to believe Wikipedia), actor Klaus Maria Brandauer’s psychotic madman is a good study for Red Skull. Weaving’s malevolence far outpaces his Agent Smith from the Matrix…the calculating machine mind replaced by megalomania and a penchant for Norse mythology and the occult. He certainly uses his previous three movie stint as the computer virus as a foundation for this, and his hatred is far more believable here.

Back in the 1960s comics were for kids along with bubble gum cards and Monkees records. Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee had a vision of adults walking down the street with his comic magazines, not in brown paper bags or hidden in their suit jackets, but consumers proudly holding his creations for all to see. Decades after achieving that initial goal – establishing the colorful stories as legitimate literature, the successful author is as revered to his massive following as Alfred Hitchcock was to his, both icons making important cameos as a kind of on-camera signature, to the audience’s delight. The expensive action does get a bit hokey, my recollection of the 1960s Captain America didn’t have him this amped up. The film version gives the hero bonafide super powers that were not as evident in the comic book. This motion picture takes the liberty of giving Cap some of Daredevil’s instinct, Hulk’s strength and Spiderman’s gymnastics, probably to cope with the fact that he’s the most vulnerable super hero of the bunch. Think Superman with a bit of Kryptonite following him about 300 yards away.

As Johnny Storm the producers used Chris Evans for eye candy (though his acting skills rose above the scripts he was handed in both FF adventures).It’s not a stretch to see an actor go from one superhero to another as Marvel made it a habit to switch their comic book creations around…just as Medusa from The Frightful Four became Medusa of The Inhumans (two of the more underrated teams in Marvel history). Here he gets to transform his cerebral approach to Steve Rogers in the same way his body is morphed from stringbean to …well, Wolverine or Incredible Hulk…take your pick. These “origins” are very similar and the trick is to do it as flashy as possible. Marvel is well aware that the film going public has tired of the origin of Superamn, or how Batman came to be is told time and again. Having to address that for a figure unkown to the mainstream means keeping it brief, and adding a little contemporary terrorism to keep things modern and different.

To spice things up the audience is treated to a little Bride of Frankenstein mad scientist laboratory, a little dash of the early Batman serials from the 1940s and some military madness from the 1950s sci-fi film stampede. And while you’re at it, make it a World War II saga to boot. The two hours contain all of it and do it with enough action to make it the roller coaster ride it is supposed to be.

Captain America: The First Avenger has to follow the last Harry Potter film. That’s probably a good thing as the fantasy audience that is devouring Potter magic will, no doubt, want to get right back to the theaters. It’s no Deathly Hallows II, but it is pretty much what comic book fans want. The packed house in Boston waited to see if an Avenger’s trailer would follow the credits. Their disappointment that it did not only shows how devoted the audience for this genre still is.

More Joe V Film Reviews here:

July 7 Esoteric Diaries from Joe V…Wild Cherries in the yard…and Black Widow at the movies. Marvel Summer

Wild Cherries …about 3:39 pm in my backyard/driveway. The birds are feasting on these cherries. I wasn’t sure what they were until two neighbors came by and asked through my living room window if they could “…have some wild cherries.” I’ve been living here 3 years and 1 month as of Saturday, 37 months and wasn’t aware of WHAT kind of fruit or berry was on the tree. Well the wildlife is amazing, birds and seagulls and bunny rabbits and squirrels, it’s lots of fun to watch the plant life and creatures here. So i tried a couple of the cherries today, very tangy with a bite. Seed inside, of course, not as sweet as store-bought cherries.

All photos by Joe Viglione about 3:39 pm July 7,2021

The Esoteric Diaries on an extremely hot summer day Wednesday 6/30/21

Thanks DavyH Photograph of Poppy(below) by DavyH off of his Twitter

on Twitter


Lou Spinnazola just played the “Last Days of May” by Blue Oyster Cult on the Spin Room and I cannot believe that a month has flown by. Found this interesting blog transcribing part of my August 1995 interview with the wonderful and brilliant Bobby Hebb:

Bobby told the story of how he came to write ‘Sunny’ in a TV interview with US TV host Joe Viglione in August 1995…

“I find it more psychological the way I was thinking…it’s your disposition…you need a lift, an up, that’s all. Sometimes everyone needs an up. So “Sunny”, to me, is that disposition, you need a Sunny disposition to get away from whatever, just as I said before, “amuse me”, “make me forget what I just saw man”, “I don’t wanna know, I know I have to know, but I don’t know how to deal with it right now. I will deal with it, I’m not running away from this.  I just need a break.

So this was the idea behind “Sunny” – (it) was (to) give me a brighter idea so that my emotions will not be as disturbed as they are. I need a calmer feeling so that I can balance myself and adjust and then continue forward, onward.”
AllMusic link to the original here:

She Cracked by #ModernLovers #JonathanRichman

She Cracked by #ModernLovers #JonathanRichman Song Review by Joe ViglioneOne 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

91 in Medford 6:28 pm 94°F°C Precipitation: 15% Humidity: 47% Wind: 10 mph Malden, MA Tuesday 5:00 PM Partly cloudy

It’s 6 pm in Malden. Now 6:28 …I’m scurrying around The Esoteric Diaries Tuesday June 29, 2021

Review by Joe Viglione  [-]
Writer Jeff Tamarkin says “ex Butterfield Band guitarist Mike Bloomfield, drummer Buddy Miles, and others put this soul-rock band together in 1967. This debut is a testament to their ability to catch fire and keep on burnin’.” That The Electric Flag do so well — they appeared at the Monterey International Pop Festival with the Blues Project, Paul Butterfield, and Janis Joplin, and all these groups had some musical connection to each other beyond that pivotal festival. A Long Time Comin’ is the “new soul” described appropriately enough by the late critic Lillian Roxon, and tunes like “She Should Have Just” and “Over-Lovin’ You” lean more towards the soul side than the pop so many radio listeners were attuned to back then. Nick Gravenites was too much of a purist to ride his blues on the Top 40 the way Felix Cavaliere gave us “Groovin’,” so Janis Joplin’s eventual replacement in Big Brother & the Holding Company, Gravenites, and this crew pour out “Groovin’ Is Easy” on this disc. It’s a classy production, intellectual ideas with lots of musical changes, a subdued version of what Joplin herself would give us on I Got Dem Ole Kozmic Blues Again, Mama two years later, with some of that album written by vocalist Gravenites. Though launched after Al Kooper’s the Blues Project, A Long Time Comin’ itself influenced bands who would go on to sell more records. In the traditional “Wine,” it is proclaimed “you know Janis Joplin, she’ll tell you all about that wine, baby.” As good as the album is, though, the material is pretty much composed by Mike Bloomfield and Barry Goldberg, when they’re not covering Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor” and adding spoken-word news broadcasts to the mix. More contributions by Buddy Miles and Gravenites in the songwriting department would have been welcome here. The extended CD version has four additional tracks, Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny” and “Mystery,” both which appear on the self-titled Electric Flag outing which followed this LP, as well as other material which shows up on Old Glory: The Best of Electric Flag, released in 2000. “Sittin’ in Circles” opens like the Doors’ “Riders on the Storm,” the keyboards as well as the sound effects, and a hook of “hey little girl” which would resurface as the title of a Nick Gravenites tune on the aforementioned follow-up disc, where Gravenites and Miles did pick up the songwriting slack, Bloomfield having wandered off to Super Session with the Blues Project’s Al Kooper. Amazing stuff all in all, which could eventually comprise a boxed set of experimental blues rock from the mid- to late sixties. Either version of this recording, original vinyl or extended CD, is fun listening and a revelation.

The first Paradise Rock and Roll Spectacular happened on June 29, 1978…after the blizzard of 78 into the summer. The Cars played the night after us. Here’s an audio of the Cars on July 1, 1978 two nights after

Erma Franklin did the original Piece of My Heart. It’s where Janis Joplin and Big Brother got the song from; Aretha’s sister joins the Electric Flag and performs Piece of My Heart go about 55 minutes in Erma sings her sister’s Chain of Fools and then her own pre-Joplin (though in 1968, the Joplin era “Piece of my Heart”