Boston Rock and Roll Anthology Vol #10 Unnatural Axe +all Boston Rock/Punk Bands
I promise you the plethora of record albums on this site day after day after day are purely from the subconscious. It wasn’t my intent to have pages and pages of vinyl LP reviews, they just started proliferating again; that’s just a big part of my life so here it is:
You might say “this guy’s totally insane” but I did get a good deal for about $6.50 tonight for a bunch more vinyl – Petula Clark, Bette Midler, Olivia Newton John, Al Martino (with some interesting liner notes,) too good to pass up….excuse me as I mix drinks….my icewater and Cranberry juice at 1:08 am…
…Not only do I OWN vinyl records, I review them as well! Found my old Manhole CD/LP review (I reviewed it off the vinyl all those years ago) …so many eBay dealers using my thoughts on the music!
Originally released on Grunt Records.
Personnel includes: Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, David Crosby, Pete Sears, Jack Casady, John Barbata, David Freiberg, Gary Duncan.
Producers includes: Paul Kantner.
Liner Note Author: Jeff Tamarkin.
Recording information: Wally Heider’s, San Francisco.
Manhole was the last of the experimental Jefferson Airplane, and Grace Slick’s first official solo album. While Bark and Long John Silver, the final stages of the original Airplane, displayed the excessive psychedelic nature of the musicians within the confines of their group format, Blows Against the Empire, Sunfighter, and Baron Von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun allowed for total artistic expression. Manhole concluded this phase with 1974’s other release, the Jefferson Starship’s Dragonfly. By taking the name from Paul Kantner’s Blows Against the Empire solo project, Dragonfly began the renewed focus on commercial FM which would turn into Top 40 airplay. Manhole is the antithesis of that aim, but is itself a striking picture of Grace Slick as the debutante turned hippy being as musically radical as possible. To the kids who think she’s the cool singer on the mechanical Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now, Manhole is an alien concoction, but it works on many levels as great head music. The title track itself is almost 15-and-a-half minutes of orchestrated underground rock with Craig Chaquico on lead guitar; Jack Casady on bass, along with Ron Carter; voices from David Crosby, David Freiberg, Slick and Paul Kantner; mandolin by Peter Kaukonen; and a 42-piece orchestra (51, if you include the fragments of the Airplane/Starship onboard). It’s fun stuff, but looking back one wonders how they maintained a distribution deal for Grunt records with R.C.A., the material being so far from commercial. The title track has a left-hand piano part which “was stolen from an improvisation by Ivan Wing,” Slick’s father, and the epic is rife with Spanish/English by the singer, translated in the booklet with Slick’s “phonetic Spanish spelling.” Again, this is total underground excess, but it is actually more than listenable than it looks on paper, and for fans, it has the serious/eccentric nature of this woman who emerged as a big, big star due to her quirky personality having the talent to back it up. Attacks on the government and Clive Davis in the elaborate booklet only prove all involved were not out to make friends, but songs like “Come Again? Toucan” are compelling and intriguing, more so than some of what would constitute 1981’s Welcome to the Wrecking Ball, which contained more elements of guitarist Scott Zito than the star. On Manhole, the music is wonderfully dense, macabre, exhilarating, and totally out there. This is a great portion of music from the lead singer of one of America’s great music groups. Maybe David Freiberg’s “It’s Only Music” deserved to be on an Airplane project or solo LP of his own, but it sounds great and works. “Better Lying Down” is Grace Slick and Pete Sears re-writing Janis Joplin’s “Turtle Blues,” a nice change of pace from the heavy instrumental backing of the other tracks. Slick is in great voice, and reflecting on the album years after it was recorded, the conclusion is that Manhole has much to offer fans. Compare this to Deep Space — recorded live at the Hollywood House of Blues in the 1990s to see the difference between capturing the time and trying to recapture the magic. Despite the eye toward success and the more serious nature of that later project, it just doesn’t have the charm of this artifact from the glory days. It’s also a far cry from the 1980s, when Slick returned with three more solo outings: Dreams, Welcome to the Wrecking Ball, and Software, projects which differ vastly from Manhole. The hard rock of Wrecking Ball and the synths and post-Kantner Starship feel of producer Peter Wolf’s collaborations on Software show a woman dabbling with other rock formats. Put those three discs in a boxed set with Manhole, and you have true culture shock from a major counterculture figure. Manhole is orchestrated psychedelia at its finest with the voice from “White Rabbit” stretching that concept across two sides. ~ Joe Viglione
Wikipedia referencing my review of Gary Wright …someone on eBay using the review to sell the disc June 18, 2021
Gatefold sleeve. Inside gatefold are liner notes by Ken Barnes and a Gary Wright/Spooky Tooth personnel lineup listing.AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione
In 1971, United Artists Records released a double LP entitled Winwood, which was called off the market almost as quickly as ABKCO’s Grand Funk meets Terry Knight & the Pack amalgam, Mark, Don & Terry. Gary Wright’s That Was Only Yesterday compilation fares a little better, and should have been much bigger. The late Jimmy Miller, former producer of Spooky Tooth, had put together a production company which boasted Gary Wright, Chrissie Hynde, and others. When the money people fell off the stock market, Miller’s company was no more, and he told this writer he had to release Gary Wright prior to The Dream Weaver. Wright made the jump from A & M to Warner Brothers, where he hit big time, resulting in this marvelous collection of 19 tracks for A & M to cash in on their original investment. Credited as a Gary Wright/Spooky Tooth album, the tracks are scattered across four sides with no apparent rhyme or reason (except that they sound pretty good in this order). There’s a 20-paragraph essay by the brilliant Ken Barnes, former editor of Radio & Records and Ice Magazine, now at USA TODAY. Barnes neatly wraps up the treasures, the two excellent singles “I Know” and “I Can’t See the Reason; four tracks from the Jimmy Miller-produced Spooky Two and one from Tobacco Road; four titles from Footprint, the album that featured George Harrison and Doris Troy; two from Extraction; and only the single from Wonderwheel. There are also tracks from the latter-day Spooky Tooth projects, You Broke My Heart, so I Busted Your Jaw and The Last Puff. So musically, how does this hold up? Incredibly. “Sing a Song,” from the Extraction album, is in the same vein as the Elton John/Bernie Taupin composition from The Last Puff, “Son of Your Father.” These recordings are classic and every bit as valuable as the work of Steve Winwood. The beauty of all this is it is before Wright went off on his keyboard kick, saturating everything in keys and becoming some astral minstrel. It’s bothersome to give a record label credit after they’ve let an artist move on, but the placement of “Holy Water” with “Stand for Our Rights,” from Wright solo to Spooky Tooth, show how influential his contributions were to a band that boasted a future Mott the Hoople guitarist in Luther Grosvenor and future Foreigner with Mick Jones. While Black Sabbath covered Crow’s song “Evil Woman,” the Spooky Tooth song by Weiss became an underground classic. The dirge-like epic, all nine and a half minutes of it, is included here. As Jethro Tull was able to turn “Living in the Past” into a hit years after it was recorded, it is certainly a statement that A & M couldn’t climb the charts with a single from That Was Only Yesterday. Regardless, it is a treat to hear these songs in this context, and a great primer for Gary Wright’s pre-The Dream Weaver work. https://www.allmusic.com/album/that-was-only-yesterday-mw0001879392
The Esoteric Diary of Joe Viglione 1:48 am June 18, 2021…
So I invested in a rock band, a four piece group who came up with an amazing song. First, I promoted the music which got airplay from Spain to Australia, Los Angeles to parts across the known universe. The band had no direction, and when I set up an interview the 29 year old lead singer wanted to say the most incredibly obnoxious things. Calmly this writer explained to him that a bad tattoo is something you may regret ten years later and need to have scrubbed off. The band leader forgot to give the websites so the interviewer was kind enough to let him send an update and actually promote the music.
The level of serious that they presented was absent.
I get a phone call and the band leader explained that he had a blowout with two of the band members. Not good. The leader/bassist/singer said that the two gentlemen were “egotistical.” He also called them lazy. Some lawyer friend of a relative was working out a deal where they would pay off the guitarist and a drummer and come back as a trio. The trio were going for a Leslie West sound – but the big problem is, the exquisite sound that I was promoting was replaced with a 23 year old amateur with bad drumming habits.
A prescription for disaster. Since I funded the project and the trio started deciding how the session would go. They wanted to record at 8 AM. What do I know? I’ve only been doing this for fifty years, half a century. My outline is simple: don’t have a session go over five hours, no pot smoking, no alcohol, we are there to work not to party. The band got too close to the engineer, the son-in-law of my pals who own the studio. Incredibly, the engineer was telling me that he could record the band without me, and that he would. What am I after producing Grammy winners, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and such? Match.com? Some kid who can’t even stay awake during the ten hour session, looking like he’s losing the digital information that I’m paying for (the late Jimmy Miller called erasing any part of a session akin to murder,) and now I’m getting a lecture on the law from the upstart. Sheesh.
I get an apology:
Tue, Jun 1 at 5:27 PM
I wanted to apologize for my unprofessionalism and crossing any boundaries I might have crossed with you. I have never worked with a real producer before so I was not aware of the proper workflow or procedures during a session like this. I did not mean to step on your toes or overstep my position as the engineer. It was never my intention to undermine you, I only wanted to make sure the music coming into the system was good and usable for what you and the band want to do with it. My ambition got the best of me this weekend, but please know that I have your best interest in mind.
In regards to the files, all track sessions are on your hard drive already. I still need to condense them down to just the stems of each track. Those will be on a separate folder on your hard drive once that’s been done.
Once again, I apologize for my behavior for this past weekend as I really do feel terrible about it all. I hope that I have not tarnished my relationship with you. I look forward to keep on building this relationship with you, and moving onward and upward!
Feels terrible about it all? I gave two examples of bands in 1978 and 1979 that the lad’s father-in-law worked on with me. How great it was to work with the bands Unnatural Axe and Phobia. Indeed, Kurt from Phobia also played in Tall Paul with a member of the Axe, Frank, and they hired me to promote their single years after I launched Unnatural Axe and their classic e.p. They Saved Hitler’s Brain.
Well, after praising Phobia and our reunion, which I thought was a couple of years ago but the lead singer, a dear friend, wrote to tell me our Phobia Reunion was five years ago, August of 2016…how time flies. While I’m praising the band in comparison to the trio that caused a ruckus and thought partying was how you make records, we get word that guitarist Kurt passed away on Monday, June 14, 2021. Five years younger than me, it puts a stamp on the fact that life is too short to argue.
Gary and I were making GREAT classic punk / new wave before the bands of today were even born. Classic recordings that go for big dollars, and some punks calling their ex bandmates “egotistical” put ego on display rather than talent.
Now the group who took ten hours to record six basic tracks…what a waste of time…I could have written and recorded two albums at the piano in that time, blowing each one of their compositions out of the water and off the map. Insult upon insult, investing in them, they abused my time, my consideration for their emerging songwriting, and now they want to steal the tapes without compensating me for my time, energy and efforts on their behalf. It is truly stunning their own self-sabotage of their career.
The studio e mails me that the band who didn’t pay a nickel, who started drinking a bottle of liquor at the studio that didn’t even belong to them, how they – with no cause – want to sue the studio
Wow, how to make friends and contacts in the record industry. Of course all three are either married or getting married…as soon as they start having offspring, well, you know the routine …the women in their lives will start that immortal chant “Isn’t it time you grew up? You tried it, you failed, now be responsible.” They go off to their day jobs, chained to life outside of rock and roll…maybe reuniting with the two members they screwed over because the 23 year old drummer going on five years of age still has his bad drumming habits- can’t remember the full songs, can’t keep time, and his drum rolls sounding like a seagull burping. Music not BY the Byrds, but music FOR THE BIRDS.
Imagine someone offering to put up the money for studio time, give his production ear, and an engineer and band ignoring a man with half a century of production experience.
They know better than everyone with an amateur drummer when I got have brought in any number of Grammy-winning, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummers to make a real record that would entertain the world.
But it wasn’t about entertainment. It’s about their enormous, bloated idea of self-worth, their self-indulgence, their partying and ransacking the serious art of recording that I set up, and that I paid for.
And now, with no cause, they want to sue the recording studio where they created chaos and acted unprofessionally, foolishly, and didn’t burn bridges…they blew them up.
Welcome to today’s edition of Esoteric Diaries…
es·o·ter·ic/ˌesəˈterik/ Learn to pronounce adjectiveadjective: esoteric
- intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest.”esoteric philosophical debates” h Similar:abstruse
di·a·ry/ˈdī(ə)rē/ Learn to pronounce nounplural noun: diaries
- a book in which one keeps a daily record of events and experiences.”I resolved to keep a diary of events during the war” h Similar:journal
memoirchronicleloglogbookweblogblogvlogday-by-day accountdaily recordhistoryannalrecordmoblogdaybook
It’s interesting to write thoughts contemporaneous with our position in the universe at what man calls 10:28 pm Eastern daylight time on Thursday 6/17/21 but which, in actuality, is where the Architect has us situated in the Matrix; where the Talosians have us in their imaginations on Talos IV, or what petrie dish we are in at any given moment in time or space or on the spiritual switchboard. Captain Kirk, of all people, on William Shatner’s recent birthday says as he is in his 9th decade that none of it matters anyway. Not the Mr. Spock article in today’s Boston Globe interview with Adam Nimoy.
As some of you know I’ve been working on tapes recorded August 4, 1971, my dad singing standards like “Release Me,” “My Way,” “Green Green Grass of Home,” “My Woman, My Woman, My Wife.”
well, we have three renditions of “Green Green Grass of Home” so for Father’s Day this weekend, June 20, 2021 I had Eric Lee put some fiddle tracks down and asked Peter to add some drums, bass, keys etc. and add Lee’s fiddle and do a mix. What is amazing is the authenticity of Mr. Calo and his cowboy acoustic guitar. Then it was like, duh, I wrote a review of his amazing Cowboy Song CD, so Pete is the perfect guy to put early cowboy guitar playing on dad’s country CD. It’s not that he’s my pa and that these tapes are a half a century old now, recorded on August 4, 1971 at 7-8 pm on my two track reel-to-reel, but that the music is so much more entertaining than this new 2021 slick country/pop/rap hybrid. The original is still the greatest.
Vinyl Stocker has my review of West Coast Bound from the Blues Magoos up on eBay. God Bless him! Re-exploring my thoughts on albums from long ago here on the Esoteric Diary
Blues Magoos Gulf Coast Bound Vinyl LP – ABC ABCS-710 (1970)Condition: VG Vinyl and Cover. Original gatefold cover with original inner sleeve. Cover has light to moderate ringwear but no splits.
AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione As original member Peppy Thielhelm and original producer Bob Wyld expanded the Blues Magoos’ foray into Latin music meets mainstream blues, these May 1970 recordings take the previous years’ Never Going Back a step further. Gulf Coast Bound is an improvement, retaining John Liello’s vibes and percussion and pianist Eric Justin Kas, who is the major songwriting contributor here (strangely enough, he is listed as “Kas” on the album jacket and “Kaz” on the songwriting credits). “Slow Down Sundown” could be the band Chicago vamping without their horn section, some strange imitation monkey-sound vocals making their way onto the platter mixed in with Daddy Ya Ya’s out-of-place tambourine as the song fades. Erik Kas does the lead vocal on the 12-minute-plus opus “Can’t Get Enough of You,” which sounds like a strange marriage between Steely Dan and Traffic.
Of the pyschedelic/garage rock bands which changed over to another format — the Electric Prunes, H.P. Lovecraft, etc. — in what seemed like gambles to become “respectable,” this is the best of the lot.
TracklistGulf Coast Bound 3:51Slow Down Sundown 6:09Can’t Get Enough Of You 12:21Magoo’s Blues 7:54Tonight The Sky’s About To Cry 4:14Sea Breeze Express 4:13
PersonnelEmil “Peppy” Thielhelm – guitar, vocalsRoger Eaton – bassEric Kaz – keyboardsRichie Dickon – drums & percussionJohn Leillo – percussion
Perry Mason on S1 Ep13 The Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink is on 9:43 am
Commercials are SO annoying, the mute button is my best friend. Got my Vanilla coffee next to me; nice to write these things down for future reference…like what I had for coffee five weeks ago,right? So much to do, got my 351 list handy of “writings for the future” or “writings of the future.” Our index of possibilities, thank you Weird Scenes inside the Goldmine (Doors)…index of past achievements, all for fun for the future generations. I cannot remember any details of this morning’s dreams. Will have to keep a notepad and work on it.
Joe Viglioneimagine the trillions spent on wars instead being spent to build firm housing under the surface, let the animals frolic and have more space…mankind is so stupid and people in positions of power, especially thug Republicans, want people to remain stupid. Jim Jordan as pied piper…ugggh