Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Sunday Comments ( 09 - 30 - 18 )

There’s no escaping the hype …

It looks like we’re going to be hearing (and talking) about the new deluxe edition of The Beatles’ White Album until it finally hits the streets and fans discover the slew of new material (and then continue to discuss it amongst themselves!  Lol)

Check out this recent snippet from Ultimate Classic Rock.  (Jack Levin will enjoy the logic shared at the beginning of this piece … and there’s a lot of truth to it … heaven forbid that at the rate we’re going, 50 years from now the newly remixed remix of the remix of the remix might include the sound of one of The Beatles farting in an “up-till-now” unheard outtake from these session!)

In an interview a few years ago at about the reissue of his Hater side-project, Matt Cameron of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam commented on the deluge of outtakes included in box sets. “It can almost be like an invasion of privacy,” he said. He felt that not every note recorded in the studio is meant to be heard by the general public.

The conversation veered towards the latest installment of Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series: it was Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965 – 1966, an 18-CD collection that contained every surviving take he recorded during those two years, including an entire disc devoted to the recording of “Like a Rolling Stone.” He laughed and said, “Are you really going to listen to that?”

Which brings us to the Beatles. Although they’ve been heavily bootlegged over the decades, they haven’t mined their vaults as much as Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and many of their other peers. There were the Anthology collections, two compilations of BBC recordings and last year’s six-disc 50th anniversary expanded edition of 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Pepper seemed to be an odd choice for an expanded version. The original album seems so perfect, the idea that it would need any enhancements at all seemed odd. Even the inclusion of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane,” which were recorded during the same era, felt a bit out of place. The extras were interesting, but not essential.

Yesterday (September 26), Giles Martin (son of George, and producer of the expanded edition) hosted a listening session at New York’s Power Station to preview select tracks from the upcoming 50th anniversary edition of The Beatles (aka the White Album). A double album that, at times, feels like separate EPs by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, its sequence doesn’t seem quite as set in stone as Sgt. Peppers’. So it’s less jarring to hear different versions of the original songs and additions to the original track listing.

For someone considering paying $160 for the Super Deluxe Edition (you can opt to get more expensive bundles, one of which includes a white turntable and costs $1,880), the bonus material here -- at least what Martin played at the Power Station -- is worth it. The legendary Esher Demos, recorded at Harrison’s house in Esher, Surrey, are a blast. Martin played “Back In the U.S.S.R.,” “Sexy Sadie” and “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” as well as “Not Guilty,” a Harrison-penned song which didn’t make the White Album, but was re-recorded for his self-titled album in 1979. He also played “Child of Nature,” another song that didn’t make the cut, but which would later evolve (with completely different lyrics) into Lennon’s classic solo song, “Jealous Guy.”

Intellectually, it’s interesting to listen to these tracks; they give insight to how the White Album was made. That’s also true of the bonus material on the Sgt. Pepper's reissue. But the Esher Demos are fun to listen to in their own right. It’s almost like hearing the Beatles if they were around long enough to do an episode of MTV Unplugged, albeit a bit less polished and a lot more fun than that.

Yesterday, Martin cited a quote from Lennon, who said that the White Album is “the sound of the Beatles breaking up.” Martin said he didn’t get that from listening to all the outtakes (which also includes banter between the members), and most listeners would probably agree. It sounds like they are having a great time, and it’s fun to listen to.

The outtakes were interesting as well: there a version of “Good Night” featuring the Beatles singing over an electric guitar that's far more raw than the orchestral version that made the album. Martin also shared rough versions of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (the early version, like the album version, features Eric Clapton on lead guitar) and a bluesier “Cry Baby Cry.”

Did the Beatles ever intend for all of this stuff to be released? Probably not: then again, they might not have suspected that they’d still be so popular, 50 years later (interestingly, the box set will be released just a few weeks after McCartney’s Egypt Station topped the Billboard Album chart). More importantly to you, at least some of the bonus material will hold up to the existing Beatles catalog, and may prove to be something worth listening to over and over.
-         Brian Ives / Ultimate Classic Rock

Speaking of The Beatles (and yeah, I know, we have been quite a bit lately), Ringo Starr becomes Dan Rather’s 100th “Big Interview” Tuesday Night (October 2nd) … the program airs at 9pm Eastern / 8pm Central on AXS TV and, with nothing but Macca and The White Album bombarding us of late, this should be an interesting piece to watch.  (kk)

There are still a few great seats left for Jim Peterik’s World Stage happening next Saturday Night, October 6th, at Moraine Valley College in Palos Hills, IL.

Check out this line up:  Jim Peterik with special guests: Mike Reno of Loverboy, The Ides of March, Bill Champlin of Chicago fame, Danny Seraphine, the original drummer with Chicago, Colin Peterik and the amazing Mark Farner, former original member of Grand Funk.

Complete ticket information can be found here:

Omg, Kent!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your positive review of my Through the Eye Of The Tiger presentation.
Sorry for the tardy response.  It was truly a magical night surrounded by so many friends and business associates. And the Jam Lab and my video team The Bizarros did and amazing job on my video presentation. 
The next day I was on a jet to NYC for four days with the Sirius / XM people doing guest DJ work on the 70s, 80s and Beatles channels and on the air with the great Cousin Brucie.  
Thx again. You are the megaphone of the rock scene. Shout it out loud!
Rock on!!  

Sadly, Marty Balin, founding member of Jefferson Airplane (and later Jefferson Starship) fame has died.

We ran a story a few weeks back about Marty having filed a lawsuit against New York City Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, following an emergency heart procedure that left him totally disabled.

Balin’s suit alleged that the staff there botched his recovery from open-heart surgery in 2016, causing him to lose half his tongue, his vocal cords, left thumb and the mobility in his left hand.

Balin was in New York at the time for a gig on March 12, 2016, but the day before, he was rushed to Mount Sinai Beth Israel with a cardiac issue and then ended up not leaving the hospital for three months. While there, he wound up having open-heart, triple-bypass and valve-replacement surgery, and spent time in the hospital’s intensive care unit.  

During his time in the ICU, he required a tracheotomy, which he claimed was performed improperly, resulting in the loss of half of his tongue and use of his vocal chords. He also alleged that his IV was incorrectly inserted and improperly monitored, resulting in his left hand being paralyzed and his thumb on that hand requiring amputation. He said that while he was there, he also got bedsores and that he now required dialysis after his kidneys were damaged during his stay. 

Balin’s lawyer, David Jaroslawicz, told the New York Post that the hospital branch was apparently in the middle of closing, and lacked the specialists and resources to care for patients with Balin’s serious needs. “It was a horror show,” Jaroslawicz said.  As a result, Balin became totally disabled and never recovered properly.

Frequent FH Contributor Harvey Kubernik shared these thoughts and memories of his friend …

I knew Marty Balin for a handful of decades and interviewed him a few times.  I have this archive interview from 2015 that was displayed on … David Kessel owner of the website has made available.  
I am very sad about his passing. 
I suggest anyone who believes in the power of music to listen to Jefferson Airplane's "Today" done at RCA Studios in Hollywood during 1967. 
Harvey Kubernik 

Marty Balin: On the Jefferson Airplane 
By Harvey Kubernik ©2015; ©2018 

Born Martyn Jerel Buchwald in Cincinnati, Ohio, on January 30, 1942, Balin moved to the Bay Area at the age four by his parents Joe and Jean Buchwald. Joe was a lithographer and printed more than 200 different posters for music shows at the Matrix club, the Fillmore and Avalon ballrooms. He briefly attended San Francisco State University, initially pursuing a career as a painter. He then turned to music with the encouragement of his good friend Ralph Mathis, brother of singer Johnny Mathis.

In 1962 Martyn renamed himself Marty Balin and began recording with Challenge Records, recording at the legendary Gold Star studios in Hollywood with the area’s top session players.  The results were the tracks “Nobody But You” and “I Specialize in Love.” 

He subsequently became lead singer of a folk music quartet called the Town Criers, followed by a brief stint with the Gateway Singers in 1965.  Marty then mulled over an electric folk sound. “I wanted to play with electric guitars and drums, but when I mentioned that notion in the clubs that I played, the owners would say, ‘We wouldn’t have you play here ... not with drums and electricity. This is a folk club.’ So I decided to open my own club.”   

Balin opened the Matrix on August 13th, 1965, featuring his new band, Jefferson Airplane. Over the next two years, Big Brother & the Holding Company, the War Locks, and the Doors would play inside his venue.   

“Marty is the one who started the San Francisco scene,” said former Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship manager (and Balin roommate), Bill Thompson. 

“Back in those days Marty was quite the businessman,” stated Jefferson Airplane’s Paul Kantner. “He was the leader of the band on that level. He was the one who pushed us to do all the business stuff, orchestrating, thinking ahead, looking for managers and club opportunities. He was very good at it.

“We had the fortune or misfortune of discovering Fender Twin Reverb amps and LSD in the same week while in college,” Kantner revealed to me in a 2010 interview we did in San Francisco. “That’s a great step forward. (laughs). We later named a music publishing company Ice Bag which had nothing to do with cocaine. It was good marijuana. The best of the year if not the decade. 

“FM radio was one of the many things that showed up and was going on in those days. So many things were going on you didn’t take that kind of notice of them. You just assumed that was going on. All right! And go with it. 

“We didn’t analyze it. We didn’t think to wonder about it. It was just another thing that was going on along with the music, the clothes, the book stores, the poets, the artists … there was a plethora of things and you did not have time basically to take it all in. It existed. It’s part of a whole. In San Francisco we had no restrictions. All we had to do was roll with it. I liken it to white water rafting. There was so much going on you didn’t worry about what was around the next curve. Or what are you going to do on the third curve. ‘Cause you are right in the river.” 

Initially a folk-rock venture, Jefferson Airplane came to epitomize the psychedelic scene that was reflected in their 1967 second album, Surrealistic Pillow 

Balin co-helmed Jefferson Airplane / Jefferson Starship until the end of 1978.  In 1981, he released his first solo album, Balin, which spawned the hit single “Hearts.” In 1989 he joined Jefferson Airplane for a reunion tour. In 1993 Marty reunited with Paul Kantner in Jefferson Airplane.  In the last few decades Balin continued to make solo recordings and tour.  He was now based in Florida, where he passed away on the way to the hospital last Thursday, September 27th.

In November of 2015, Marty Balin was in Los Angeles where he was being honored at the Grammy Museum.  While he was in L.A., I interviewed him about Jefferson Airplane and his current performing group lineup at the time.      

Q: Living in San Francisco in the fifties and sixties, you saw a lot of local music before Jefferson Airplane really started flying.    

A: I grew up and got to see all the beatniks and all the jazz cats in the clubs. I was a friend of Ralph Mathis, Johnny Mathis’ brother. They had a house in San Francisco. I’d go over with Ralph and Johnny would have Erroll Garner in there ... Nancy Wilson, the Jazz Crusaders … and they’d just perform. And then Ralph and I would go downtown, and ‘cause he was Johnny Mathis’ brother, we could get into any club. I saw John Coltrane. Man, I saw Miles Davis. I saw Thelonious Monk. Plus, I saw all the great writers and poets. This is a world before 1967 and the Summer of Love. It started with the beatniks and poets.  I think San Francisco was full of all these people who were talented and who were expressing themselves or their rights or playing music. And I think San Francisco has a lot to do with that. I don’t know if it’s the geomagnetic forces of the earth and the ocean but something went on there. It’s a lot different than the rest of the world.  

Q: Tell me about the Matrix Club.

A: I opened the Matrix Club in 1965 in San Francisco. Booked bands in 1966 and ’67. As a solo performer in 1964, ’65, I started to use a 12-string guitar with a pickup on it and wanted to use drums. I had played the Hungry I, The Purple Onion, The Jazz Workshop as a folk band group. I went back to get some jobs and no one would hire me because I was too loud. So, after being turned down by everybody, I was playing a folk club. In the evening I would perform and these four nurses used to come who liked me. Then they started coming with their boyfriends and during the break I was sitting and talking to their boyfriends and they were all talking about investing this money they had together and didn’t know what to do with it. So I said, “Well give it to me.” And I said, ‘I’ll build a nightclub and I’ll put a band in it and you can have the night club and you can have the band.’ ‘OK.’ I roamed around and went into this bar down on Fillmore that looked empty on a Friday night. Not many people in it. So, I came back Saturday night and there were very few people in the bar. So I went and told these guys I thought we could get that bar because it’s not doing great biz. So they went and they got the license from that guy and we started fixing it up and making it into the Matrix. As we were doing that, people, you know, people were comin’ in lookin’ for places to play. The infamous Warlocks. Janis [Joplin]. All these other people were looking for places to play, too. So I had an immediate influx. And besides that, I had jazz guys playing, there, blues guys, cats from The Committee. They would do stand up. It took off right off the bat.

Q: Jefferson Airplane replaced Signe Anderson, the original female vocalist in the band, and Grace Slick joined the expedition.  

A: Grace Slick was real popular at the time with her own band, The Great Society. She had her brother and her husband in that band. When we need to get a new girl, because Signe [Anderson] was pregnant and she didn’t want to tour outside San Francisco, so we needed the new girl. There were only three girls around singing: Janis in Big Brother, Grace with the Great Society and Lydia Pence of Cold Blood.  Janis.  I have heard people sing ‘Summertime’ by the thousands. I have never heard anybody do ‘Summertime’ like Janis. She sent chills up my spine and I’m standing on stage watching her do it. It was just amazing. I thought she was a great entertainer and just a fun person. People loved her. And I told the guys when we had this meeting I said, ‘Who can we ask? They all have big popular bands.’ So Jack [Cassady] said, ‘I’m gonna ask Grace Slick.” I kind of chuckled at that. She was pretty popular. But you know, Grace used to come to the Matrix and sit out in the audience, right in front of the stage and watch me. She would stare me down. She would just sit there. And Jack asked her that afternoon and that evening she left her band and joined us. Can you believe that? That’s amazing. It’s funny. When we were looking for a girl singer we actually auditioned [topless dancer] Carol Doda. We did. I cracked up. She came in and had this thing on Broadway as a topless star and I was amazed she actually came and auditioned. She couldn’t sing very well.   

Q: On your new Good Memories you cut “It’s No Secret,” initially done for Jefferson Airplane Takes Off debut RCA LP. 

A: In 1966 and ’67, and all through Jefferson Airplane, we did my tune “It’s No Secret.” I originally wrote it with Otis Redding in mind. It was for him. I used to hang out with Otis and follow him around like a little puppy dog and watch his shows. Hang out with the band and him. I just wanted to write him a song that had his kind of groove thing I thought. But Otis never did it. He did write his own songs. I didn’t discover Otis at the Monterey International Pop Festival.  In fact, I was the guy who took the 45 record of Otis’ ‘These Arms Of Mine’ to Bill Graham. ‘Hire this guy. I want to see him.’ And Bill Graham did, December of 1966. He would listen to the bands of who to book and as support or lead acts. Otis was the most powerful person I’ve ever seen perform.  Outside of anybody you name. I’ve seen a lot of people play and on TV. I’ve never seen anybody handle an audience like him and rock the joint. The energy level was amazing with this guy. He had that great horn section. For me, a highlight of the Monterey International Pop Festival was Otis. I had been around and he knew who I was. We went on before he went on. And nobody got the crowd moving but when the Airplane came on, we got the crowd moving. We got them excited and got ‘em up and dancing. And I walked off and Otis Redding was standing there and he said, ‘Hey man. It’s a pleasure to be on the same stage with you.’ For me, that was it, baby. Right there.  He staggered the crowd. 

Q: You worked with concert promoter Bill Graham, who in the sixties managed Jefferson Airplane for a while.

A: In my formative rock days, Bill Graham was my manager, and you couldn’t have a better teacher.  Bill came out from New York and had the New York moxie. He was a totally different cat. He was running the Mime Troupe when we went over there to rehearse and I remembered him. He was sitting in the office and I looked at him and remembered him auditioning for this play, Guys and Dolls. And he got fired after a big fight with the director. ‘Cause I was a dancer in the show. So I went into the office. And he asked, “‘I’m just playing original music. I just want to do that.” And we started talking and I said, “Why don’t you put on a benefit for your Mime Troupe and we’ll play it and see what happens.” And he put on a benefit for the group’s legal defense fund. They were lined up around the block. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the Fugs, John Handy, and Jefferson Airplane. November 6, 1965.  I said, “Hey Bill, why don’t you get a place and we can play often?”  So he went and got the Fillmore. We played a show with the Russian poet Andri Vozneskensy. And boom! History was made. I loved the room. There was a good sound system that changed and grew as the bands grew with their equipment. That’s one of the amazing things: The technology that grew around us, you know, as we were playing. Because I remember starting out we had these little Column speakers on the side of the stage that were really lame. Especially for electricity. And I thought to myself, ‘Boy, if it’s like this for me, what was it like for Little Richard and Elvis and guys like that?’ As the Fillmore started, people were coming in with amps and guitars for the guys to try and a new sound system that was always be changed, being put up and getting bigger and better. It just all grew all around us and just fascinating to watch.    

Q: The Jefferson Airplane had a traveling light show. I know you said the songs could work on stage without that visual component. Was it an essential component in bringing the message and the sound to the audience?

A: You can see us and the light show in the Monterey Pop movie. The light show was important. There were times we played in a museum and the light show would be the main thing and they would turn the lights out on us on stage so that we would be in shadow so they could just concentrate on the light show. ‘Cause it was getting talked about more than anything else at the time.  It was a lot of fun. I used to go up and play with the plates. I remember when Jimi Hendrix played the Fillmore and we were playing with him for a few dates and I went up and played the plates when he was on. I’d start working the light show.

Q: The Doors played the Matrix club in very early 1967. I know in ’67 and 1968 you toured the U.S. and Europe together.

A: I didn’t see the Doors at the Matrix Club but saw them many times. We worked and played with them many times. We did some high school and colleges shows together. I loved the Doors. Oh my God! I thought Jim Morrison was fantastic. I fortunately became a friend and hung out and got to drink with him. He’d read me his poems all the time. I thought that was funny. I thought Jim was great as an artist. Who knows? He would have probably gone into film and done movies. The guy was a good lookin’ dude, man. I’d go out with him and try and pick up chicks and I was like invisible.            

Q: How was “Comin’ Back To Me” from Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow written?  

A: It just happened. I left the RCA studios in Hollywood and went back to the motel.  I ran into Paul Butterfield and they had this joint and gave it to me. “Smoke this Marty. It’s the best stuff you’ll ever smoke.” (laughs). So I did. And I was in my room and I tell you, I couldn’t find my legs. I got up and went to the guitar. Bam! In five minutes that song came out. So I ran back to the studio, the session pretty much ended, they were cleaning up. Jerry Garcia was there, Grace and Jack Cassidy. And I said, ‘Hey guys. Play this with me.’ And I told the second engineer to turn on the tape and we did one take and that was it. And I didn’t think any more of it. Because you couldn’t play it live because it was so soft. I didn’t have any idea about that song lasting that long. It’s ended up in a movie and I’ve done it on my new album.

Q: There is also “Today.” Recorded originally for Surrealistic Pillow and re-done on “Good Memories.  What do you remember about the writing or recording it?      

A: I loved that RCA studio in Hollywood. We had a lot of studio time. The label would pull us off the road and say, “we need a new album.” One time was when I wrote “Today.” Studio A had the Rolling Stones and Studio B was the Airplane and Studio C was Tony Bennett. The Stones and us wanted to meet Tony Bennett. So I thought the best way I could meet him was write him a song. So I wrote “Today” and took it to the drummer who was working on that session. I gave him a tape of it. The engineers were great. Al Schmitt was top dog. He was great. He and his brother Ritchie were great people.   

Q: I would be remiss if I didn’t ask about your hit with Jefferson Starship, “Miracles.”  

A: I was reading these Persian poets who had these poems about making love to a woman but they’re really talking about God. That kind of gave me this idea. And I had been involved with a living avatar Sathya Sai Baba. They called him the man of miracles. And so I started playing and out came this thing and making love to a woman but also it was about God and I put it all together. I played it for the band and they kind of looked at it and went “I don’t know about that … there’s something wrong with that.” Nobody really liked it, you know. And I thought, “Gee … I don’t know ... maybe they’re wrong. I liked it. Fortunately for them …   

Watch for another piece from Harvey later in the week, spotlighting Graham Nash!  (kk)

ABKCO Records has set the release of Come and Stay With Me: The UK 45s 1964 - 1969 by Marianne Faithfull on CD and digital platforms for October 26th. The 22-track collection is compiled in chronological order and includes all of the legendary icon’s singles from this unique era packaged with rare photographs and extensive liner notes featuring interviews with Ms. Faithfull. In addition to the A and B-sides of each 45 recorded for the UK Decca label in the 1960s, this album also incorporates the entirety of Go Away From My World, her EP.

All digital album pre-orders will come with the “instant grat” track “That’s Right Baby,” the B-side of her 1966 single “Tomorrow’s Calling.” The song is available on all streaming DSPs now.  
Pre-order Come and Stay With Me: The UK 45s 1964-1969:

Marianne Faithfull’s Decca singles are exemplary string-laden UK ‘60s pop and offer insight into both her roots and artistic development. Come And Stay With Me opens with Faithfull’s first hit, her bittersweet 1964 version of the Mick Jagger/Keith Richards composition “As Tears Go By” (co-written with their manager Andrew Loog Oldham who changed the title from “As Time Goes By”), and closes with her original chilling 1969 rendition of the dark song, co-written with Jagger and Richards, “Sister Morphine.” It was later remodeled by The Rolling Stones on their classic 1971 album Sticky Fingers.

Born in Hampstead, UK in 1946 to a former British Army spy and a ballerina, Faithfull moved to Reading where, by her early teens, she could be found in coffee bars singing folk songs.  Her repertoire included “House of the Rising Sun” and Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ In The Wind,” both of which she would eventually record for Decca and are part of the new collection.  After immersing herself in London’s party scene, she befriended Andrew Loog Oldham, who upon realizing that she could sing, quickly signed her. Her subsequent romance with Mick Jagger from the mid-1960s until the end of the decade would become a national obsession. The couple was viewed as emblematic figures of the era, the media fixation obscuring and ultimately hurting her own career. 

Come And Stay With Me restores the focus upon the magnificent folk (a remarkable rendition of the traditional “Greensleeves,” produced by Oldham) and popular music (including versions of Jackie DeShannon’s “Come And Stay With Me,” Donovan’s ‘The Most Of What Is Least” and John D. Loudermilk’s “This Little Bird”) that Marianne Faithfull created at Decca as she stumbled towards writing her own material and moving towards a redemptive career path. The package also features extensive biographical notes by celebrated music journalist Kris Needs, which are informed by his longstanding close friendship with the singer, and were forged using numerous interviews during the past four decades.

ABKCO Records will release the collection on vinyl in 2019. 

Marianne Faithfull – Come and Stay With Me: The UK 45s 1964-1969

1)   As Tears Go By
2)   Greensleeves
3)   Blowin’ In the Wind
4)   House of the Rising Sun
5)   Come and Stay With Me
6)   What Have I Done Wrong
7)   This Little Bird
8)   Morning Sun
9)   Go Away From My World
10)  The Most of What Is Least
11)  Et Maintenant
12)  The Sha La La Song
13)  Summer Nights
14)  Yesterday
15)  Oh Look Around You
16)  Tomorrow’s Calling
17)  That’s Right Baby*
18)  Counting
19)  Like To Dial Your Number
20)  Is This What I Get For Loving You?
21)  Something Better
22)  Sister Morphine
*Digital pre-release single  

While Marianne Faithfull had only four Top 40 Hits here on the US Pop Charts, she managed SEVEN Top 40 Hits in Great Britain, including four that made The Top Ten (all of which were her Top 40 showings here in The States).  Probably more famous for who she was dating (and the fact that for years she was the glamour “It Girl” in The U.K.), this new ABKCO set will probably a great audience in Europe than it will here Stateside … but it’ll still be nice to have ALL of her chart hits wrapped up in one tidy little package.  (kk)