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Updated: 2018-03-06T09:00:25.162-07:00


The Secret Museum





The Secret Museum: Maher Shalal Hash Baz-  Be Quick if You Steal!    Maher Shalal Hash Baz started in 1984 as a noise/punk rock group in Japan before eventually heading out into more conceptual waters. Band leader Tori Kudo is the visionary force behind their music, and is joined by his wife Reiko and a rotating cast of fellow musicians for their projects( some ex -members have formed the group Tenniscoats). They very quickly dropped the “constraints” of writing three minute rock songs, for the “liberating” effect of even shorter pieces. The music falls somewhere between psych – folk, and pop, with helpings of experimental and purely improvised group interplay added to the mix. What would you say if I told you this band have released a two cd set that has 177 songs on it, with most between thirty to sixty seconds long! We might debate over what actually constitutes a “song”, but there is no denying the audacity of their 2009 release titled “C’est La Dernier Chanson” (English translation from my almost 24 yr. old daughter Mackenzie who majored in French  from The University of New Mexico is : “This is the Last Song”). Mr. Kudo has likened listening to this music as if you are visiting an art museum. The general public normally spends a couple of hours walking through a museum, stopping at various paintings briefly before moving on to the next offering. Most people will find this 2 cd set from Maher Shalal Hash Baz: A) their most enjoyable, or B) their most maddening. I think you already know without listening to a note of it what side you’ll be on. When I first read it was 177 songs on 2cds, with most under a minute in length (some only five to fifteen seconds!), I had to have it. Others might recall a painful trip to the dentist when reading about such brief snippets of arrangements and melodies. I think you will find it very likeable, as long as you accept the brevity of the music. Some might call this simple music, and that wouldn’t be an inaccurate comment, but it is very difficult to know what exactly should be simplified to make great art, or music. The Velvet Underground, for one example, derived great power from their less is more approach to rock n’roll, and understood the hypnotic effect of well placed repetition in their songs (“Sister Ray”, “Heroin”). Kudo also knows how to strip down the unnecessary parts of a song to make great music. He has been involved with pottery for a long time, being taught the basics of that craft by his father, and knows how to strip clay, and now music, down to its most essential core. After many years of practice and discipline in cutting away the unneeded parts to his songs, what’s left is a beautiful simplicity to his music that is rarely attained by others. While the band’s primitive sound and lyrics that express real emotion may not be for everyone, it comes from their heart, and isn’t that all you could ever ask for from musicians? They have infrequently performed live through the years, and it’s also hard to find their music since they have been on a number of smaller independent labels (Geographic, Yik Yak, and K Records). You can pick up a handful of Tori and Reiko’s solo releases from the Japanese label PSF Records, but some of the band's titles are getting impossible to find and are quite collectable (3 cd Return Visit to Rock Mass, 1996).  If the 2 cd “Chanson” seems too daunting to start with, you might try “Blues de Jour”, or “Maher on Water”, both of those releases have more of a pop/guitar oriented sound. The instrumental/group improvisational stuff is featured more on“Faux Depart”, and “Live Aoiheya”, but any of the releases will have their trademark minimalism, and abrupt writing style. Their name Maher Shalal Hash Baz comes from a biblical passage from the book of Isaiah, and band leader Tori Kudo’s translation of the phrase is, “Be quick if you steal”.  I don’t know about Maher Shalal Hash Baz bein[...]

The Bevis Frond Map Guide


The Secret MuseumBy Jim WebbNick Saloman is one of the most underappreciated guitarists/songwriters of our generation. Notice I didn’t say singers, even though he does have a unique voice; that is more of an acquired taste. He is “Bevis Frond”, even though other mates of his (Adrian Shaw, Martin Crowley to name two) have periodically contributed to the musical journey. Working out of his bedroom led to a certain lo-fi ambiance on his earlier recordings, with the initial LP titled “Miasma” appearing in 1986. While there is a wealth of diverse styles that Nick is comfortable writing in, it is important to know what recordings might be most compatible with your tastes. Why waste time trying the song- oriented releases, if what you really wanted was the psychedelic inspired guitar freakouts. I will not say “they’re all great”, that’s a fanatic’s phrase that shows he’s been so captured by a musician’s spell that he’s now lost in the forest of infatuation. The Bevis Frond just recently ended a seven-year hiatus with the release in 2011 of “Leaving London.” I think it’s time to navigate the musical topography that he has travelled these last twenty-five years, and point out a few significant sites along the way.The Lo-Fi / Psych - Guitar Blow Outs:Miasma / Inner Marshland / Triptych / Acid Jam / Auntie Winnie/Through the Looking GlassWhile there is any number of great shorter “songs” on any of the aforementioned releases, they are dominated by piercing lead guitar work, longer instrumental passages, and watery keyboard/organ fills. Psychedelic might mean Grateful Dead/Quicksilver Messenger Service to some, to Nick it is a hyperextension of what Jimi Hendrix was doing. He layers plenty of raw guitars that explode out of the studio speakers, no time limit as to when the lava will stop flowing off his fret board. The problem with trying to classify his output is that you have such ultra-Pop gems like “Lights Are Changing” (Triptych) on the same cd with the 19:47 long “Tangerine Infringement Beak”. Let’s not split hairs- Saloman will always be a stylistically divergent cat. Remember that a maps job is to get you close to where you want to be. The Bard of Walthamstowe:Any Gas Faster / New River Head / Son of Walter / North CircularI do not mean in any way, shape or form that these are Sweet Baby James, Jackson Browne confessional diary-type songs that can be used as sleep aids. Nick has always taken the time to write interesting lyrics with a personal slant, he still has a lot of muscular guitar riffs flying around on these songs; they just seemed to get compacted into a shorter structure. The two cd North Circular is the high water mark to these ears, with New River Head not far behind. Some of these riffs during this period wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Dinosaur Jr. cd for an American reference, but Saloman’s words (Stars Burn Out) and vocal delivery take him way above other talented three chord masters. The song “New River Head” shows just how far Nick has come, lyrically and melodically.Riff City:Gathering of Fronds / Superseeder / London Stone / Scorched Earth Ok, Scorched Earth is a side project from 2008, but “Woman Gone Bad” has such a heavy slamming riff that Ron Asheton shat his pants when he first heard it (I’m assuming). London Stone features the slashing “Well Out of It”, that riff you could loop into a thirty minute remix and I wouldn’t get tired of it. “Gathering” compiles a lot of rarities onto a full-length cd, featuring a guest appearance by guitarist, and Nick’s boyhood friend, Bari Watts. If you like the heavy guitar aspect of Bevis Frond, then Bari’s band The Outskirts of Infinity should also be checked out. Other Stuff:It Just Is / Vavona Burr / Valedictory Songs / What Did for the DinosaursI wouldn’t call anything from The Bevis Frond “bad” but there are a few that didn’t do much for me. His various styles from these cds all had better songs on other releases, and a[...]

The Secret Museum: The Hare Krishnas, The Misunderstood, & Me


I have had a long standing interest in the Hare Krishna movement since the first time I bumped into them outside of the Spectrum arena in Philadelphia. They were distributing their magazines and selling incense on a hot summer day in July of 1975 before the rock band Yes played later that night. Through the years I've read a lot of their books and visited the Radha - Krishna Temple in West Philly a number of times, I haven't tired in keeping track of what has happened to "them" these last 35 plus years. There is something fascinating to me about this large group of American devotees that have renounced meat eating, alcohol, gambling, and sex ( other than sex for procreation), and also accepted a 16th century Bengali holy man from India, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, as the incarnation / avatar of God (Krishna). Krishna appeared as Caitanya to bring the singing and chanting of the Lord's holy name to the masses during these harsh godless times known as Kali - yuga (which we are still in). Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare. Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare.Fast forward to December 28, 2011 and I've been reading up on all of the recent ISKCON ( International Society for Krishna Consciousness) related news. Two or three times a year I'll check out the numerous web / blog sites and try and get a feel for the current issues that they are dealing with.The whole modern Hare Krishna movement was begun single handily by a 69 year old Indian reunciate preacher In a small Second Ave. N.Y.C. storefront in 1966. It slowly splintered apart almost from the day the founder of ISKCON, A.C.Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada, died in November of 1977. Before passing away he named eleven senior devotees to be in charge, but all too quickly there were various power struggles and conflicts that still haven't been totally resolved as of today. The late 1970's, and into the 1980's sadly had numerous cases of young children being sexually molested in the movement's school system, and many of the original eleven handpicked disciples that formed the Governing Body Commission (GBC) had either quit (" fell down" ), died, or been forced to resign over various sex, drugs, and money issues. ISKCON today is very vibrant in its native India, and has had varying degrees of success in finding new devotees in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia. The U.S. temples have gradually changed from a proselytizing emphasis based on distributing Prabhupad's books, to one of retrenchment that now largely caters to the local Indian communities that are their major support group. The counter - culture in 1966 was ready to throw off all of the "Establishments" views including having a career focused life, with traditional Christian values and rituals. More than a few people decided to tune in, turn on, and drop out. But it wasn't all drugs that they were turning on to.I googled Santa Fe, New Mexico ( where I now live) for things related to Hare Krishna and got a wide assortment of choices to investigate. I wasn't surprised at all to see that in 1968 Santa Fe had one of the first ISKCON temples opened in the U.S.A. on Water Street, not far from the historic downtown plaza. New Mexico has been home to many religious denominations, hippie communes, art communes, writer groups and just about every alternative life style choice that North America has to offer. Currently the Vedic Cultural Center is one of the few Hindu related organizations active in nearby Pecos, NM and is led by Hamsavatar Das (Howard Beckman), and his wife. He was a disciple of Prabhupad in the 1970's/80's and has commented through the years on all of the changes ISKCON has gone through, and is also an esteemed Vedic astrology and gem specialist. His website led me back to google where I found another Krishna devotee named Hrisikesh (Richard Shaw Brown)who also currently specializes in gems, but has an interesting footnote in his personal biography. Richard Shaw Brown was the lead singer in a legendary California psychede[...]



The Horse Fly does not appear to be returning to print. We haven't shopped the column elsewhere. Jim should be filling space here soon.

The Soul of Peter Greenberg


The Secret Museum by Jim Webb It’s not often that you meet a solar company executive who is also one of the most underrated guitarists in America. Many in the Taos Valley can now make that claim since Peter Greenberg and his wife Milissa moved to Arroyo Seco in 2008. Music aficionados of the local rock scene have seen him playing with Manby’s Head in a garage rock style, and a recent show at the KTAO Center had Peter on stage with his old Rock n’ Soul group Barrence Whitfield & The Savages. Throw in his previous membership with Boston punk group DMZ and the ‘60’s influenced Lyres and you have someone who has attacked his fret board with a passion in a variety of styles these last thirty-five years, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. He is a music fan, as well as a writer and performer of songs, but his music collection isn’t like mine or yours. First of all he doesn’t buy cds, only old style vinyl 45s and LPs are allowed into his home. He has turned his back on any mainstream release through the years, and concentrates with a gold miner’s intensity in looking for lost nuggets in a variety of styles that others have missed. Listening to forgotten swing / jump blues artists from the 1940’s like Louis Jordan and Bullmoose Jackson, along with old time country singers from the 1950’s including Floyd Tillman, Webb Pierce and Moon Mullican is his idea (and mine) of a fun evening. Obscure blues artists and rockabilly bands form another core of his library that pretty much ends by the late 60’s. His real passion though falls under the category of Soul music. There has been a lot of Soul Music sub -genres through the years including Memphis Soul, Philly Soul, Detroit Soul, Chicago Soul, and the broader, overlapping Northern Soul. Detroit Soul, more popularly known as Motown, had the most mass commercial appeal, while Philly Soul generally had more of a “sweeter” sound than the grittier Stax/Volt label artists who recorded in Memphis. Chicago Soul had at times a harder blues edge, and Northern Soul is a general catchall phrase for a lot of obscure artists from the North who never had hit records but released a lot of quality music. Northern Soul also caught on big in certain U.K. clubs during the 60’s and 70’s that were specializing in playing these lesser known Soul musicians. No matter how you classify Soul records, it always has a lot of feeling inside the grooves. I spent an evening with Peter recently, and he kept pulling out rare and unknown Soul 45s while we discussed the various artists on the small Chicago labels of Onederful and Mar - V- Lus. He recorded the songs he played onto a cdr; here are a few of what we listened to: 1.) Carl O. Jones / Betty Everett – “Days Gone By” (Chicago / Northern Soul). Betty had a hit with the “Shoop Shoop Song”, this was less commercial, but just as satisfying. 2.) Johnny Sayles – “You Told a Lie” (Chicago Soul). Deep, wrenching tale of loss and betrayal. 3.) Soul Brothers Six – “Your Love is Such a Wonderful Love” (Rochester, N.Y.) Five brothers and a friend, uptempo group who recorded on the Atlantic label 4.) Otis Clay – “I Got to Find a Way” (Chicago Soul). Powerful vocalist still performing live. 5.) Alvin Cash – “Twine Time” (Chicago Soul) Big instrumental hit in 1965 6.) McKinley Mitchell – “A Bit of Soul” (Chicago Soul). One-derful label, he epitomizes the talented, unknown mid – sixties Soul artist. 7.) Bobby Moore & the Rhythm Aces – “Go Ahead and Burn” (Alabama). The Deep South never sounded so good. 8.) Freddie Scott – “I’ll Be Gone” (Rhode Island). Knock out lost single on the Shout label. 9.) Eddie Floyd – “Big Bird” (Memphis Soul). Lesser known song than his big hit “Knock on Wood” 10.) Johnnie Taylor – “Love Bones” (Memphis Soul). Stax / Volt label magic.In one evening of playing music[...]

The F – Word


The Secret MuseumBy Jim WebbIt has a deep impact on most people when heard, no matter what the circumstances might be. It’s also an adjective that can be used to describe a whole range of feelings and emotions when calmer vocabulary seemingly just won’t do. A lot of people refuse to even utter the letters that comprise its meaning, because by even saying it you have accepted a certain responsibility for choosing such a descriptive word. There are some who freely accept it as an expressive term, while others have run away from it for as long as they’ve heard its sound. Yes, I am talking about the musical category known as Fusion.A recent concert appearance in Santa Fe by Fusion pioneer John McLaughlin has reopened this long running debate on the merits of this style of music. He is the pre-eminent Fusion musician on the planet, still releasing new cds and touring all over the world at sixty-eight years of age. He has played the guitar for the last sixty years and has been at the forefront of this highly technical brand of music since its creation in the late 1960’s. No one that has ever seen or heard John McLaughlin play would doubt that he has a tremendous command of the guitar. Not only does he play at times with a blazing pace on the fret board, but he is also a master improviser in the great Jazz tradition. What has made McLaughlin such an imposing figure is that he does have more than just technical virtuosity plugged into his amp. There is a lyricism to the guitar lines that he endlessly weaves, and he has also proven himself to be one of the original innovators in creating a true World Music style. He has played with both Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix, and that high octane mixture of jazz and rock is what Fusion is all about. His 70’s electric band Mahavishnu Orchestra had some of the best musicians around (Cobham, Goodman, and Hammer), while he later created Shakti as a vehicle to explore his interest in Indian music. Guitarists Jeff Beck and Pat Metheny have both called John the best guitarist in the world, lofty praise from two highly respected musicians. His performance with The Fourth Dimension band was a microcosm of all things good and bad that have been debated about Fusion since its creation. Excessive soloing might be a downer for some, but how do you argue with such mind blowing technical virtuosity? Others might cry about a lack of “songs” (a la Burt Bacharach), but these four musicians exhibited a cohesion rarely seen that trumped any mundane need for familiar tunes. If someone said it sounded like a guitar / drum clinic at times I wouldn’t argue, but what a sound they threw at us! Etienne M’bappe was a revelation with his unique bass lines, while Mark Mondesir kept the drum seat red hot all night long. Keyboardist Gary Husband added a lot of tasteful licks with McLaughlin the whole evening smiling as if he had finally found that lost chord he’d been searching for all these years. John called himself just an aging hippie at one point during the concert, and that humility rang as true as any note from his guitar. Like a Zen master patiently waiting for his future students to find him, McLaughlin has explored the fret board in a variety of styles throughout his life, and has stayed open to its possibilities. Many people aspire to be the best at what they do, but hard work and skill will only get you so far. After many years he came to the realization that a true master doesn’t just play the guitar, you also have to let the guitar play you.Immediately after the final notes ended a concert goer one row away from me leaned over to his friend and said - “what do you think”? After forty years people still don’t know what to make of it. If you have any doubts buy John’s latest cd entitled “To The One”, after listening to it then you’ll know exactly what side of the fence you’re on. When it comes to the F-Word, I [...]

To 1971 and Back Again: T.S. McPhee and his Mighty Groundhogs; America Cried


The Secret MuseumJim Webb and Michael MooneyThe Groundhogs—Split(Liberty Records/United Artists 1971)At first I don’t believe the things I thought the night before,But now they come back like a torrent of ignorance once more,I can’t accept life isn’t a dream; it doesn’t seem real any more,My mind and body are two things, not one.T.S. McPhee (Split Part Three)Making the most of the LP record format, Tony (T.S.) McPhee utilizes the first side of his claustrophobic masterpiece, Split, 1971’s sixth bestselling album in the United Kingdom (!), to document his (subsequently recognized as mistaken) descent into schizophrenia. I believe it’s the Post-Sixties Life-In-London Comedown he’s describing here—see Ray Davies’ Muswell Hillbillies LP for further proof that 1971 wasn’t the best of times to be residing in The Smoke—or maybe just the drugs, but McPhee does a convincing job of relating the terror of psychic disconnect regardless of its nature (I should know).Briefly John Lee Hooker’s UK backup group, The Groundhogs use the archetypal Power Trio format, a la Cream, Experience, Cheer, Grand Funk, and Budgie (Budgie!) as a springboard for uniquely furious and unglued shape-changing riffage, with a flair all their own for spontaneous shifts in tone and rhythm. This definitive ‘Hogs lineup of T.S., Peter Cruickshank and Ken Pustelnik play an equivocal configuration of Rock: Blues-derived in the loosest sense (more a mood than a style), but stripped of all Brit B-Boom artifice, then layered with dense distortion, wah wah-fired guitar dementia, and an unsettling lyrical fatalism. I call it Punk Rock. The four Splits (Parts One, Two, etc.) of side one create a mood of paranoia matched only by Van Der Graaf Generator’s Pawn Hearts (also from 1971, more evidence that maybe it was the times.). Split One set the tone and rocks its multi-tracked-axes-self silly, as T.S. descends into the psychogenic inferno, but the entire side is a monster. Tony doesn’t find any answers by the end of Split Four, though one gets the sense that redemption may be found by flipping over the record.Almost. Side two modulates the mood a little, but not the attack, beginning with leadoff cut—and hands down bonafide Rock Classic scorcher—Cherry Red. Not much optimism for T.S., though:All night long I loved herMorning came too soonI knew she’d be gone by the afternoonI said, “Please don’t go”Still she said goodbyeBut as she turned around she had a crafty look in her eye. All next day I waited for her return But she didn’t showThe daylight turned to the dark of nightI said, “Please come soon”Still there was no sign.As the dawn returned I knew that look in her eye was just a lie And I thought it said:“When the moon rise this evening, you turn round in your bed,The warmth of my body will heat you, Make your blood run Cherry Red”Cruickshank’s bass and, especially, Pustelnik’s unbridled drumming approach brilliance here, yet McPhee’s incandescent playing outguns them both. You will not have lived a full life until you’ve heard this song. The somber, near-gothic ecological paean A Year In The Life follows, then the truly lunatic Junkman (famously covered by The Fall) with its skronky atonal solo guitar that takes up the song’s entire second half. And lest anyone forget that T.S. was/is an expert Blues player (a version of The Groundhogs still exists in 2010), the record ends on a relatively quiet note with a grungy roots version of Hooker’s Groundhog Blues—basically Tony, his masterful vocal, authentically bluesy guitar, and wavering stick tapping for accompaniment.Also recommended:Thank Christ For The Bomb (1970)Who Will Save The World? The Mighty Groundhogs! (1972)-Michael MooneyAmerica CriedIn the fall of 1971, singer, songwriter Don McLean released his epic song about experiencing the tumultuous 1960s, entitle[...]

The Christmas Letter; Randy Holden: Population I


The Secret MuseumJim Webb & Michael MooneyThe Christmas LetterI’m sure you are familiar with the practice of old friends filling you in with a little too much information as regards the trajectory of their life and children during the past year in a Christmas letter. Triumphant tales of job promotions or high school class achievements from the kiddies are added to what their Golden Retriever is up to for a recap of their important events from the last year. It’s nice to hear that Jennifer made the lacrosse team, or that an old acquaintance is now higher up the corporate ladder, but if someone was a friend you would’ve talked to them (or emailed etc.) occasionally for these updates. Sending an Xmas letter seems like a great cover for not wanting to actually speak to a person, but you make sure they know all about your “big accomplishments” from the past year. The only problem is that you never get to hear about the really important stuff. I’m talking about what new musical infatuations they’ve gotten into; like a late adult entry into Glam, or finally having a deep Sinatra immersion. In response to such routine letters I have decided to compose my own year end Holiday recap that will bring everyone up to date on what I consider to be the key music events that I have experienced in the last twelve months.2010 will be remembered by me as the year when Taos favorites Manby’s Head played their first live shows. Mr.’s Greenberg, Mooney, Reid, and Whitlock broke out of their rehearsal space near Arroyo Seco and brought their brand of garage / psych- rock to the masses. They played several shows at Seco Pearl, and also raised hell at The Shadows Bar & Grill, as well as playing through a minor dust storm outdoors at the Kannaroo Festival near Questa in June. Add in their Santa Fe and Albuquerque gigs and they became a thirst quenching drink for New Mexicans that were parched by the continually dry local music scene. Two other club shows stood out during the year, The Meat Puppets at the Santa Brewing Co. in May, and a series of shows in September by Barrence Whitfield & The Savages. The Puppets brought their mangled sound of hard rock, punk and psychedelic cowboy tunes up from Tucson and entertained a packed crowd with a great set. Barrence Whitfield is a soul shouter that hails from the Boston area, his good friend and guitarist Peter Greenberg of Arroyo Seco reunited the original Savages for three gigs in New Mexico, and the KTAO Center show in September was a welcome blast of fresh air for these parts.A lot of new infatuations did occur (Blue Note record label - see earlier Secret Museum /Horse Fly), but certainly the biggest was a 100 CD collection that I stumbled upon from the German Membran Label. Every jazz song that charted from 1917 to 1954 was included on this epic compilation of old Ragtime, Swing and Jazz tunes. Detailed liner notes helped bring the music of Fletcher Henderson, Benny Goodman, and hundreds of others back to life. We are now quite a bit away from the original 1935 – 1940 explosion of the Swing Band era, but all I can say is that current bands like Arcade Fire and Maroon 5 forced me into cannon balling toward the past for new kicks. The biggest disappointment has to have been the recent cd from Hobbs, New Mexico native Ryan Bingham titled “Junky Star”. He was on an upward flight after releasing “Roadhouse Sun”, and sharing a Grammy for his song in the movie “Crazy Heart”, but this was a step in the wrong direction. He abandoned his slashing rock band sound, for a mostly dull collection of late night campfire songs that could only be recommended as a sleep aid. The best concert of the year was a no brainer – Roger Waters “The Wall” was a spectacular multi media extravaganza that had epic ticket prices ($99.00 - $250.00) as well. This intense story from [...]



Via email earlier today:

Hello everyone!
I want to let you know that it has been decided to close the Taos Horse Fly. There will not be a December publication. Feel free to submit your pieces to any other publication.
I thank you all for your past contributions and wish you all the best in the future.
For those of you have subscriptions, the remaining balance will be calculated and returned to you.
Lydia Garcia

We're not sure what's going on here, but hopefully it'll get sorted out soon. Loftholdingswood and the Secret Museum will continue.

The Zombies, David Gates and Johnny Otis


The Secret MuseumBy Michael Mooney and Jim WebbDavid Gates & Bread vs. The Zombies: A Word of CautionIn the annals of Rock, one would be hard pressed to find two more prominent groups with greater self-esteem issues than The Zombies and Bread. Both were responsible for some of the mid-20th century’s most delicate and tuneful music (in Bread’s case, treacly so), yet were much too sensitive for their own good (in Bread’s case, falsely so.) And both bands displayed varying symptoms of mental illness, and in very different ways. As such, their musical message must be declared extremely dangerous to any potential listener who may be experiencing the slightest hint of emotional vulnerability. The behaviors demonstrated in the following songs are not recommended. Consider this a warning.The Zombies got off to a good start in the late fall of 1964. Their debut single “She’s Not There” shot to Number Two on the Billboard Top Hot 100 chart and heralded them as strong contenders during the second wave of the British Invasion. The Zombies’ jazzy sophistication set them apart from other less polished chart invaders that autumn, such as The Kinks, Manfred Mann, The Honeycombs and The Rolling Stones. “She’s Not There” reveals the group’s innate sensitivity, but suggests, via Rod Argent’s alternating direct/nebulous lyric and the equally alternating resignation/fury of Colin Blunstone’s vocal, a reluctant indifference to the song’s subject (everybody sing): Well, no one told me about her—the way she liedWell, no one told me about her—how many people criedBut it’s too late to say you’re sorryHow would I know, why should I care?Please don’t bother trying to find herShe’s not thereWell, no one told me about her—what could I doWell, no one told me about her—though they all knew …Well, let me tell you about the way she lookedThe way she’d act and the color of her hairHer voice was soft and cool, her eyes were clear and brightBut she’s not there …This is a very peculiar song. The singer is compelled to describe details of the subject’s physical characteristics and behavior, perhaps indicative of the power she may still hold over him, meanwhile admitting his bewilderment that others (his friends?) had been aware of her deviousness all along, yet chose to keep the secret from him. His anger and confusion are obvious, and who can blame the guy?Second single “Leave Me Be” (written by bassist Chris White) is a signpost for things to come: Blunstone admits his self-pity over her departure, and would like to be left alone, please, until he’s completely recovered. Alas, it is not to be, for The Zombies’ third single bears all the markings of full-blown psychosis.With “Tell Her No” (another U.S. Top 10 smash), The Zombies’ psychological sickness (it should be noted that most of these songs are the work of Rod Argent; White’s songs, while occasionally lacking amour propre, rarely approach the self-loathing shame of Argent’s more autophobic material. And to be fair to Rod, not everything he’s composed is like this—how could it be?—but surely enough is like this to make you wonder) becomes fully manifest: … And if she should tell you “come closer”And if she tempts you with her charmsTell her no …I know she’s the kind of girl who’d throw my love awayBut I still love her soDon’t hurt me now, don’t hurt me now …And if she should tell you “I love you”Just remember she said that to me …The lack of self-respect revealed in these words defies comprehension. Because he is still in love with his ex, Colin is asking her new lover to call off the relationship. The 63 “no’s” repeated during the song (second only to The Human Beinz in the Great Rock Negatives competition) probably won’t[...]

Mick Jagger & The Rolling Stones; A Baker’s Dozen For Jim Webb


The Secret MuseumBy Jim Webb & Michael MooneyDeath of a Salesman: Sir Michael Philip “Mick” JaggerHe sold because that’s what he did best. Some people knew him only as a musician, a singer, and writer of songs. Mick never straightened them out—part of being a master salesman is letting the customer think they know you, are comfortable with you. No one would ever have considered him an innovator in the musical products he packaged and sold since 1963 with various members of his sales team called The Rolling Stones. The quality of his wares varied considerably, with a noticeable decline in later years. In the fast changing tastes of the pop culture market place, he figured out how to stay active for almost 50 years, when others simply faded away.“The man knew what he wanted and went out and got it! Walked into a jungle and comes out, the age of 21, and he’s rich!”—Willy Loman*The last great product he had to sell was from 1972, called “Exile on Main St.” This period was at the tail end of when Jagger still gave a damn about what he was pushing on the showroom floor. His vocals on “Sweet Virginia,” “Loving Cup,” and “Torn and Frayed” have an authenticity that was rarely heard again. What followed in the coming years exposed how naked his ambition was to sell, regardless if it affected his credibility. A track from 1973’s “Goat’s Head Soup” called “Dancing with Mr. D” was complete nonsense, foreshadowing the inconsistent studio and unnecessary live albums to come. It took the young punks selling rebellion in the U.K. to get Jagger & Co. hustling again with “Some Girls” in 1978. By the mid-eighties, Mick was so bored he decided to go solo, before quickly coming to his senses when the sales figures for those efforts were reported. While his old buddy Keith Richards had been mostly chasing drugs, Mick was interested in being a celebrity and chasing women more than anything else.“Just wanna be careful with those girls, Biff, that’s all. Don’t make any promises. No promises of any kind. Because a girl, y’know, they always believe what you tell them.”—Willy LomanMick Jagger was one of the greatest salesmen in the last 50 years. At one time or another he sold sex, seduction, danger, attitude, style, albums, 45s, CDs, DVDs , T-shirts, hats and anything else he could put his big lips logo on. We bought it all, and in the process he became a very rich man. A brief nod should be given to his first manager Andrew Loog Oldham who showed him how to use the media to his advantage. The group formed their own Rolling Stones record label in 1971 to increase profits and cut out the middle man, and also became one of the first to accept corporate sponsorship when touring. Budweiser, Volkswagen, Tommy Hilfiger, Sprint and Levi’s are just a few of the companies that have paid big money to be associated with The Rolling Stones traveling circus. Ultimately, the product that Mick Jagger sold best was always himself.“The man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead.”—Willy LomanIn 2010, “Exile on Main St.” was re-released with a couple of previously unused tracks from the original sessions. After all these years, the strength of the writing and performances from 1972 still stands out as one of the high points in their long catalogue. “Exile” has unfortunately also reminded us that the Mick Jagger who wrote great songs has been a missing person for so long that it is time to officially announce his passing. Mick had a lot of big sales through the years, but his biggest was making people believe he was just a singer in a famous rock n’ roll band. It was a pleasure doing business with you Mr. Jagger. I w[...]

Lisa Germano Redux/Jager Shots Live


The Secret MuseumMichael Mooney & Jim WebbLisa Germano: Magic Neighbor, In The Maybe World, Lullaby For Liquid PigI was wrong. A few issues back, a particularly nasty review of Lisa Germano’s (somewhat) recent recordings appeared in this column. Actually, one recording: Lullaby For Liquid Pig, from 2003 (I’d never gotten around to listening to 2006’s In The Maybe World, and wasn’t even aware of last year’s Magic Neighbor.) I made a big deal about why I couldn’t relate to Lisa’s newer music, how her self-pity bored me, and that she seemed stuck in a self-created rut only she could wallow in. Exceedingly boorish accusations, I’m ashamed to admit. The fact of the matter is that I hadn’t truly listened to Lullaby For Liquid Pig. But now I have, and I was wrong.Jim has a rule, which demands that one listen to a recording at least three times before consigning lesser works to eBay (or wherever those thousands of CDs go each year.) I’m impulsive. If something doesn’t grab me immediately, I’ve been known to hit the eject button and move on to something else. Lullaby For Liquid Pig is not an easy first listen. Maybe it’s the sequencing, but the three initial songs killed the album for me the first time around. And while it picks up considerably from there, I didn’t give the record a chance. That’s a shameful admission, particularly from someone who prides himself on his musical tastes, because LFLP is a pretty good disc. While not quite approaching the caliber of Lisa’s groundbreaking 4AD LPs, it does maintain an appealing unsteady quality throughout, and the tunes are definitely there, although she occasionally buries her hooks beneath provisional-sounding—and surely intentional—home-studio dissonance (especially on those first three tracks, which are, of course, my favorites now.) Another thing I was wrong about: Lisa’s still self-deprecating (a rare quality in the overweening world of Pop,) and she’s still, at times, terribly funny.There’s nothing humorous about In The Maybe World. This album ranks right up there with Berlin, The Painted Word, and Germano’s own Geek The Girl as one of Rock’s classic works of introspective sadness. The theme is loss. These are the lyrics to Too Much Space:In the morning without a soundAnd the stirring of dreams aroundThen you wake upHe wasn’t there againOn the way home you feel it thereCause your heart needs to be somewhereBut you wake upTo too much space againAn illusion it’s just not trueWe’ve always been me and youBut I wake upAnd you’re not here againYou never knowYou wait too longYou need a fireIt’s all gone wrongHe gave it up he hit the dustAnd now your heart is made of rustYou dig a plantAnd put it thereAnd hope and hopeAnd swear and swearOne of us.Lisa Germano has the rare ability to render complex emotional states into deceptively astute and intelligible lyricism. The music on this brief record (34 minutes) is equally beautiful, at times heartbreakingly so. That it’s taken me four years to discover the album is regrettable. In The Maybe World is a small masterpiece.So is Magic Neighbor. The fact that an artist can produce her best work nearly 20 years into a solo career that hasn’t exactly set the world on fire is (may I say?) remarkable. That the same artist only got started well into her fourth decade proves that Pop is not exclusively a young (or someone pretending to be a young) person’s game, and that creativity need not diminish with age. It’s inspiring that a musician as distinctive as Lisa Germano continues to remain true to her own musical intuition while expanding its possibilities. Magic Neighbor is a little more impressionistic than most Germano recordings (French Impressionistic to be exa[...]

Doll By Doll: Gypsy Blood; Lew Lewis


The Secret MuseumMichael Mooney & Jim WebbDoll By Doll“I see the bars of your prison when you cry.”Released in the early morning of the Thatcher era, “Gypsy Blood” is a towering monument to the failure of Punk. Working loosely within the Classic Rock idiom, on this recording (their second LP, following the speed-fueled sonic claustrophobia of “Remember”—a relentless, dualistic masterpiece of horror and beauty) Doll By Doll blended elements of pub-rock, doo-wop, folk, country, psychedelia, gospel, early-’60s pop melodrama and the Velvet Underground, added their own unique guitar ferocity (albeit tempered here) and a late-’70s dynamic production sheen (think “Born To Run” or “Bat Out Of Hell.”) The result is a singular work of breathtaking magnificence, capped by the sweeping power of Jackie Leven’s vocals.This record simply sounds like no other. From the 1-2 radio-friendly punch of “Teenage Lightning” and the title track, through the majestic “Stripshow,” “The Human Face” and “Highland Rain,” and finally the unsettled and unsettling “Endgame” and “When A Man Dies,” Doll By Doll achieve that rarest of aims: absolute timelessness. The album could have been recorded in 1969, or last week. That it evokes a Britain (and Europe) about to disappear forever is the only clue to its moment in time.Roundly ignored upon release (the album was un-issued in the U.S.), the failure of “Gypsy Blood” signaled the coming musical backslide—Spandau Ballet were just around the corner—that the English record buying public willingly accepted. 30 years later, it still stands alone, reflective of a time when music took chances and changed lives.Michael Mooney“The Devil of Dreams is Black”Why is this record so different and important that you should immediately pop round the local shop to order a copy? If I rave about how brilliant “Gypsy Blood” is, I risk becoming just another fanatic trumpeting his favorite group. But there is truly something special about Doll By Doll, a U.K. rock band from the late ’70s/early ’80s led by singer, guitarist and main writer Jackie Leven. Two guitars, bass and drums were the basic components, playing in a straightforward rock style that we’ve all heard before. They are musically tight as a group and play with passion. The magic for me, however, lies in two things that elevate this band from hundreds of others who suddenly appeared on the late ’70s scene.Jackie Leven’s vocals are unique and will have you on the edge of your seat with the passage of each song, wondering where he will soar to next. I won’t compare him to Roy Orbison, or other celestial-voiced wonders, because, while he has taken on many influences (as Gypsies do), what comes out of his mouth is ALL Leven ALL the time. Jackie’s range is unbelievable and he has the gift of a classic saloon singer for putting across real depth and emotion.The other aspect of this band that is so enjoyable to me is the subject matter. These are no run-of-the-mill tunes about whiskey, women or life on the road. Leven writes from an idiosyncratic perspective that makes his lyrics so much more interesting than anyone else’s. He will walk that lonely street and, by the time he reaches the next corner, you will feel that his world and yours are one. “Stripshow” is one of the most powerful songs I have ever heard in over 40 years of listening to music. On “The Human Face,” Jackie sings about knowing why Jesus wept (for the next 30 years he’ll continue to unravel that particular mystery in his solo career). You may at times find yourself close to weeping, too, at the beauty of this music.Jackie’s like an insomniac bus driver, cruising t[...]

From The Archives: Jackson Browne and the California Myth


One of the first to try and make a career out of hanging around other people while doing nothing: Jackson Browne. It wasn’t until the late 60s that it became possible to seriously think you could get away with it (Southern California had copious amounts of weed and cocaine amongst the hippie/music fringe types). Who needed a job when it was sunny?

But then, who wants to listen to anyone’s constant personal diary, especially when it’s set to such uninspiring music? America’s youth lost 10 years of their lives listening to Browne’s and James Taylor’s navel-gazing drivel. He couldn’t even make his best song a hit; had to let those flannel-shirted idiots The Eagles smooth it out for national consumption.

I saw Browne live in 1976. Even then he was the dullest headline performer I’d ever seen (out of 800 concerts). Lawyers In Love- the title says it all- you knew that would be a real sad-ass album before even hearing a note of it. In 2008, I thought I would give him one last chance and bought Solo Acoustic, Volume 2. This CD is so God-awful sleepy, I almost lost consciousness while trying to listen to it. I want to give him a little slack because he has been on the right side of most political issues of our day, but I’m sorry, this is strictly a musical critique. If you want to listen to a good singer/songwriter, try Fred Neil, Townes Van Zandt, Nick Drake, Kevin Ayers, John Hyatt, or Stephen Merritt (for starters).

Joni was right- he’s a loser; stay away from him.
-Jim Webb

Two Ton Strap; Infatuation Therapy


The Secret MuseumMichael Mooney and Jim WebbINTERVIEW WITH TWO TON STRAPGroup history, please.We've been friends since the late ’90s. Kevyn, Danny and Max grew up in Dixon, and Kan, originally from Japan, spent his youth in the valley of San Cristobal. Later, after Kan lived on the couch ... for months ... the band was formed. "Restless nights," says Kan. Max and Kevyn used to play with Omar Rane and Rita O'Connell until they got fired and replaced by significantly better musicians. What up, Norm!Obviously, some rootsy countrified influences are discernible in your music. Are you Mekons fans?We don't know who they are ... now we feel like real tools. It's surprising that anything in our music is "discernible." (What does that mean?) Our major influences are hangin' out and friends. And we're boozers. Also, the band Handsome Molly was a major influence on our music and our drinking.Favorite tipple?PBR and a shot of Beam.Banjo: open G tuning?The banjo was custom-made for Kan by Brooks Masten ( If anyone knows how to tune a 4-string banjo, fuck you.You have some very nifty gig fliers. Who's responsible?Our good friend, Taos resident Sarah Hart of Hart Print Shop (, designs and prints all of our flyers on recycled beer boxes. "She's an incredibly talented woman and we're blessed to have her in our lives," says Kevyn Gilbert. “With her help, we also make all our own shirts, underwear, beer koozies and other stuff.”Can you offer some thoughts on the allure of Dixon, N.M.?"Stay the hell out of our town, yuppies," says Koko. "Except for the studio tour, when we'd like your money."I've been listening to your music on MySpace, but the player produces a hyper echoey wobble, like Lee Perry and Martin Rushent on Ether fighting for control of a Pogues session. I'm sure it's just my computer. You should hear it though.Sounds like maybe it IS your computer. Call Gizmo Productions (575) 758-9522. We record all our own music. A lot of our online material is from live shows.Does everyone write?Everyone does a bit of writing—some as group songs, some written solo and brought to the group.What's your schedule looking like this season?Check our website: We're too lazy to book our own shows. If someone else wants to do that, please call (575) 613-5914. Shadows and Dreams excluded. Fuck you. "Thanks for paying our bar tab, Brendan!"Dreams? What was that about?"Hey bartender. D’ya know how to make a redeye?"4 ounces Beer1 ounce Vodka3 ounces Tomato Juice1 whole EggRecording plans?We record intermittently at Milton Records, and will be recording our full-length EP with Dave Costanza, hopefully.Kannaroo—group effort or simply Kan?Simply Kan. June 19. Sunshine Valley. Lots of bands. Free show. Free camping. Free love. are one of the more higher-profile Rock bands in the area. What is your take on the local music scene, and what can be done to improve it?"Stale? Watered-down? Unoriginal?" says Max."I'm improving the scene!" says Kan. "Come to Kannaroo.""They should change our name to the Brent BEAR Band," Koko pointed out, "because we're about to pull a grizzly on their asses."“If you're tired of the same-old, same-old, come out to Kannaroo. Don't be a tool.”Thank you, Two Ton Strap.-Michael Mooneymanbys.head@yahoo.comINFATUATION THERAPYMost of you probably have at least one or two hobbies that you spend some of your free time pursuing. You might be into gardening, playing golf or any number of other healthy diversions that help us cope with the pressures of everyday life. I’m sure you think you are pretty well adjusted and these leisure activities wouldn’t b[...]

From The Archives: WORST GIGS EVER (part one)


Michael Bolton/ Kenny G.
Universal Amphitheatre,
Los Angeles, 1990

Diane had heard something by Gorelick on the radio at work, and decided that she liked his smooth style. I was able to get tickets to this sold-out show via a brokerage ($50 each), and had no idea what I was in for-I thought they might be Jazz guys like maybe Al Jarreau or Chuck Mangione or something. This was the single-most horrific musical experience of my life. Kenneth Gorelick made like a brain-dead Pied Piper as he lurched from the stage all the way up the center aisle to the lobby (keep going!); Mikey Bolton’s take-no-prisoners vocal histrionics gave new meaning to the term ‘stupefying’. Afterward, we retired to Bob’s Frolic Room in order to erase all lingering memories- double Jameson for me- though whenever I see a guy with a shiny mane of curls (not very often in Taos) or a Bolton-style mullet (seems like every day!) I’m reminded of that night, and want to be sick all over again.

Here’s something I didn’t know:

Gorelick's 1999 single, “What A Wonderful World” stirred controversy among the jazz community regarding the overdubbing of Louis Armstrong's classic recording. A common criticism was that such a revered recording by a musician known especially for improvisation should not be altered. Pat Metheny responded to this recording by saying, "With this single move, Kenny G became one of the few people on earth I can say that I really can't use at all - as a man, for his incredible arrogance to even consider such a thing, and as a musician, for presuming to share the stage with the single most important figure in our music."

Santana/ Rusted Root
Greek Theatre,
Los Angeles, 1997

Two years before the massive Supernatural, we find Carlos here at his career’s ebb, preaching to the largely upscale Hispanic audience that their lowly vocational choices (itinerant farming, lawn care, dry cleaning) determine how the world sees them. Also, only meditation will heal the planet. Interminable jams follow. Saving grace: the explosive power of Cuban percussionist Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez.

And whose idea was it to allow the appalling Rusted Root a 75-minute opening set?
-Michael Mooney

Johnny Cash/Johnny Dowd / Lisa Germano


The Secret MuseumBy Jim Webb and Michael MooneyFebruary of 2010 saw the release of Johnny Cash’s last studio recordings from 2003, titled “American VI: Ain’t No Grave.” These were his final sessions produced by Rick Rubin in a project that originally started in 1995. A few weeks later in March came Texan Johnny Dowd’s latest CD called “Wake Up The Snakes.” Two musicians: one who left a musical legacy as a certified American legend, the other a little known singer, writer, guitarist who’s happy to add a few more fans with every new CD and club tour. Each man brings a personal intensity to his darkest songs that few others can match.Johnny Cash was a deeply religious man his whole life. Even in the midst of his problems with drug addiction, he always looked at it as a test from God. Cash’s contradictions are apparent from early on as he embraced the wild rockabilly music of the ’50s while still singing gospel music every chance he had. He was known as “The Man in Black” who released hit albums and toured constantly. Throughout his career he sang thousands of songs; some of his best were about liars, robbers and killers. The main line from the title song on Cash’s last release goes “There ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down.” Near the end of his life the only songs that mattered spoke of faith, and the coming glory. He quotes scripture on “I Corinthians 15:15”—“Oh death, where is thy sting. Oh grave, where is thy victory.” His wife June passed away four months before him in 2003, and you can hear on these final recordings how ready he is to join her. There is a contemplative spirit that pervades these last recordings and the selection of buddy Kris Kristopherson’s “For The Good Times” was another beautiful choice. At the end of his life such lines as: “Don’t look so sad. I know it’s over. But life goes on, and this old world will keep on turning. Let’s just be glad we had some time to spend together” carry a gentle goodbye to his fans. “Ain’t No Grave” is a somber, melancholy album, but this poignant selection of final tunes ultimately becomes a touching farewell from one of America’s most popular performers.Johnny Dowd is now 61 years old and was born in Ft.Worth, Texas, but raised in Oklahoma and Memphis, Tennessee. He didn’t get his first CD released until he was almost 50 years old, so you know his early songs had been fermenting for quite a while. His overall sound could be compared to the carnival barker Tom Waits colliding with a ’50s psychobilly singer named Nervous Norvus. His voice isn’t as soothing as Cash’s, and at times he treats it with a megaphone effect, along with the static of a fading radio station. “The Wrong Side of Memphis” was his first studio recording that finally got released in 1998, and following efforts like “Cemetery Shoes” and “Cruel World” are just as strong. These evocative lines are from a tune called “Final Encore”: “He died in a motel, surrounded by women’s shoes. Lipstick on a mirror had the words—I’m the king of the Jews. A Fender amplifier was still warm to the touch, in the corner a telecaster against a wall, like a cripple’s crutch.” 2010 finds Dowd releasing his ninth CD, entitled “Wake Up The Snakes,” and it’s a continuation of the mangled garage/blues sound that has been his trademark from the beginning. The organ is a little more prominent now, but Dowd’s still sitting on the front porch of the Bates Motel singing mysterious songs with black humor and intrigue. It’s a shame that Cash never recorded any songs by[...]

From The Archives: Guilty Pleasures


The Secret Museum:Jim Webb & Michael MooneyMusical snobbery has its unhealthy roots in popular culture. If enough people love (and buy) a particular song, then the elitist saying goes, “it must be crap.” There are exceptions to the rule because sometimes quality songs just can't be denied. Roger Miller's 1964 smash King of The Road comes to mind, as well as The Beach Boys' Good Vibrations, but those are just two examples from the Golden Era of Pop. Don't tell me about all the great singles from The Beatles, British Invasion or Motown, because the Sixties was the time before Big Business got a real stranglehold on the music. Popular Music went downhill fast in terms of quality starting in the 1970's, when calculated fluff took over the airwaves and your local radio DJ become a puppet to corporate profiteers. The 70s saw the rise of Barry Manilow's super-schmaltz formula, The Bee Gees hollow disco, and Olivia Newton-John's plastic world of joy. The 80s were just as bad with Hall & Oates, Billy Joel and the impossibly sappy Air Supply. If you add Mariah Carey to this list representing the 90's, you would have a great set of mega-selling "artists" who collectively haven't received a good review in forty years. The music executives of corporate America have been fleecing you and your loved ones out of hard earned money for a long time now. They have it down to a science including focus groups telling them what kind of music to sell, with demographic trends and promotional budgets targeting the weak and easily duped.I have also been led astray by the greedy Music Moguls who live in high story condominium castles. The narcotic-like trap they set with music is a powerful one and sometimes you just can't get out of its grip. Phil Collins has sold over 150 million records in his solo career, and his brand of aural voodoo has proven to be an especially strong spell to break. The cover songs he has scored with include homogenized versions of Groovy Kind of Love and You Can't Hurry Love, both from the 60's. Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now) is a typical emotional plea that ruled the charts in 1984 for 16 weeks. And let's not forget Easy Lover (no Pulitzer here for lyrics), or the great Sussudio. Phil's music to me is like a large Sonic Oreo Blast with whipped cream. You know it's not good for you, but you still got to have it occasionally. Yes, a founding member of The Secret Museum - an organization that is committed to uncovering the underrated and overlooked lost classics of music- listens to Phil Collins. Don't tell anyone.-Jim WebbWhile I tend to agree with your thoughts regarding musical snobbery, I have never been guilty of reacting to a piece of music based on its potential to reach (or avoid) the Top Twenty. My criteria are determined by how I respond intellectually and/or emotionally to the song itself. I know that I am simply not going to like much of what appears in the pop charts, though there have been unaccountable deviations. For example, Vanessa Williams' Save The Best For Last was Number One for five weeks in 1992. I love that song, and know I shouldn't: it's a banal topic- boy realizes girl was the one for him all along, she compares it to meteorological/astronomical phenomena- and lyrically very Moon/June (in a good way, and the writers were aware of it) but containing a degree of intelligence- probably Wendy Waldman's- that places it a notch above your standard modern ballad (N.B.- one of the guys involved in this also had a hand in Crazy For You, one of two or three Madonna songs I can almost stomach). These lyrics mea[...]

From The Archives: Concept Albums


The Secret MuseumNovember 02, 2008"This world is big and wild and half insaneTake me where real animals are playingJust a dirty old shackWhere the hound dogs barkThat we called our homeI want to be back thereAmong the cats and dogsAnd the pigs and the goatsOn animal farmMy animal homeOn animal farmMy animal homeWhile I lay my head upon my pillowLittle girl, come play beneath my windowThough she’s far from homeShe is free from harmAnd she need not fearShe is by my sideAnd the sky is wideSo let the sun shine brightOn animal farmMy animal homeOn animal farmMy animal homeGirl, its a hard, hard world, if it gets you downDreams often fade and die in a bad, bad worldI’ll take you where real animals are playingAnd people are real people not just playingIt’s a quiet, quiet lifeBy a dirty old shackThat we called our homeI want to be back thereAmong the cats and dogsAnd the pigs and the goatsOn animal farmMy animal homeOn animal farmMy animal homeOn animal farm"THAT IS FUCKING SONG WRITING-Jim WebbHey! That's where I live! It's also a song from one of my Top Ten Concept Albums of all-time (yours, too, I'll bet.)-Michael MooneyThe Top Ten Concept LP’S of All Time1.) Jesus Christ Superstar / 1970Music – Andre Lloyd WebberLyrics – Tim RiceA Rock Opera that has Jesus of Nazareth, Judas Iscariot, and King Herod, among others, brought into the 20th Century medium of Rock and Roll. Controversial in it’s approach that Jesus was “just a man.” Tim Rice’s lyrics bind this narrative together with such clarity and force that you’d think he’d located a Lost Scroll as a guide to chronicle the true story of Jesus’ last days. What’s the Buzz and Yvonne Elliman singing I Don’t Know How to Love Him are just two of the many standout tracks on what was originally a double LP release. Great songs, coherent story line, well recorded: a masterpiece in concept and execution (no pun intended.)“ One thing to say for him, Jesus is cool.” – Caiaphus the High Priest2.) The Who – Quadrophenia / 1973A turbulent look at a week in the life of Jimmy the Mod, a U.K. teen circa 1964. While we Yankees may not totally understand the Mod vs. Rocker battles in mid 60’s England, the themes of despair, loneliness, and redemption are universal to any time period. Love Reign O’er Me is arguably Townshend and Daltrey’s finest effort ever. The Punk Meets the Godfather, The Real Me, and 5:15 are songs that show The Who flexing their muscles in the streets of Brighton, ready to take on all Rockers. Is Quadrophenia better than Tommy? I think it’s coming of age adolescent story is one which I can relate to more. The great thing about Quadrophenia is that the music will move you, even if the story line doesn’t. Don’t miss the film version, either.3.) The Who – Tommy / 1969Rightly praised as an instant classic, Pete Townshend reaches high and (mostly) delivers on the amazing journey of a deaf, dumb and blind boy “Tommy” Walker. The Beatles had taken small steps in turning Pop Music into certifiable Art with Rubber Soul and Revolver. Sgt. Pepper was a big advance, using recording technology to enhance the listening experience, and The LP suddenly was no longer a couple of hit singles with a lot of filler. Tommy was a giant leap forward in taking a complex story line and weaving a musical tale around it. Pete seemed to expound on and slightly alter what the story really meant through the years, but the spiritual essence never changed. This is Townshend’s baby as much as Mrs. Walker’s.4.) The Pretty Things – S.F. Sor[...]

George Harrison; Art of Flying


The Secret MuseumBy Jim Webb and Michael MooneyGeorge HarrisonI was listening to “The Radha Krishna Temple” CD recently and started to dig deeper into George Harrison’s involvement with the Hare Krishna movement in the late ’60s and ’70s. George produced and played harmonium on “The Hare Krishna Mantra” single, which was released in August of 1969 on Apple Records, and it quickly went to No. 12 in the U.K and No. 1 in Germany & Czechoslovakia. “Govinda” was the second single released in March of 1970 and it peaked at no. 23 on the British singles charts. George has said that watching the Hare Krishna devotees sing on the UK TV show Top of The Pops 40 years ago was one of the greatest thrills of his life. As big as The Beatles were, George Harrison’s role in helping The Pepsi Generation discover the sacred vibrations and religion of ancient India might be a bigger accomplishment than anything he ever recorded with The Fab Four. To all of the smart asses who want to know why, if Krishna (God) is so powerful, his devotees didn’t always have a no. 1 hit in every country—that’s just another mystery you can ask The Big Man (or gasp, Woman) about when you finally leave the material world. Chant and be happy.George’s Spiritual Timeline:- Born February 25, 1943 in Liverpool England- First Holy Communion, age 11, 1954 (Anglican father/Roman Catholic mother)- Spring 1965 takes LSD for first time- June 1965 meets Indian musician Ravi Shankar in London- October 1965 plays sitar for first time on Beatles record (“Norwegian Wood”)- September 1966 visits India/Kashmir with Ravi- July 1967 sings Hare Krishna Mantra for first time on holiday in Greece- August 1967 meets Maharishi Mahesh Yogi- February 1968, travels with Beatles to Rishikesh, India, for retreat with Maharishi- December 1968 meets Hare Krishna devotees for first time- August 1969 Apple releases “Hare Krishna Mantra” single, produced by George- September 1969 meets Swami Prahbhupada, head of Hare Krishna movement- March 1970 records “Govinda” single with devotees of The Radha Krishna Temple- October 1970 finishes recording for his “All Things Must Pass” LP- January 1971 “My Sweet Lord” single no. 1 around world with Hare Krishna refrain- May 1971 “The Radha Krishna Temple” LP released, produced by George- August 1971 organizes/performs at The Concert for Bangladesh in N.Y.C.- March 1973 purchases Tudor Manor on 70 acres outside London for Krishna Temple- February 1974 visits Krishna’s birthplace in Vrindavan, India- November 1977 Swami Prahbhupada dies, Hare Krishna Movement struggles- December 1980 John Lennon killed, George retreats to his Friar Park estate- April 1996 travels to Vrindavan, India- August 1997 undergoes surgery for throat cancer- December 1999, attacked/stabbed repeatedly at his home outside London by intruder- September 2000 makes trip to India- March 2001 cancer spreads to lungs- Spring 2001 visits India for last time to bathe in Ganges River- November 29, 2001 dies at a friend’s home in Beverly Hills, California- George’s body is cremated and his ashes are rumored to be scattered in the sacred Ganges and Yamuna rivers of IndiaReferences:“I, Me, Mine” by George Harrison“Here Comes The Sun” by Joshua M. Greene-Jim Webbwebbjuice@comcast.netArt Of Flying Interview: David Costanza, Anne Speroni, and Peter Halter(For Anne and David): Your press kit states that you were both participants in the 1980s Los Angeles Free Rock/improv scene through your membersh[...]

Adventures of Flannery : A Portrait of Cathal Coughlan by Bandit Films


From the archives: Rock Guitar Blowout


Today’s assignment: The epitome of kick-ass rock. Uptempo guitar riff blowouts, heavy and smokin': the MOTHER list of all foot stompin' rock tunes that we were raised on.Unfortunately, heavy and smokin’ ain’t always uptempo. In fact, because it’s so heavy, it’s frequently very slow, and unable to stomp it’s feet at all. Here’s a random sampling:Love- Seven and Seven is (Da Capo LP- 1967, single- 1966)Proto-something or other and the baddest dude on the Sunset Strip.Oop-bip-bip, oop-bip-bip, YEAH!MC5- Looking At You (single- 1968)Frantic testimony from Brother Tyner over a furious fuzzy squall recorded on a Radio Shack condenser mic at the far end of the airplane hangar.Beatles- I Want You (She’s So Heavy) (Abbey Road LP- 1969)Shit. Judging by this monster track, if The Beatles had stuck around, every proggy girl’s blouse would have their clocks cleaned REAL quick. So long, ELP!Randy Holden- Guitar Song (Population II- 1969 LP)Like it says: just Randy, a drummer, sixteen 200-watt Sunn amplifiers, and Dickie Peterson nowhere in sight. Far-out.Free- All Right Now (Fire and Water LP- 1970, single- 1970)Black Sabbath- Paranoid (Paranoid LP- 1970)1970: being a good year for the chance indelible guitar figure (see below).Fleetwood Mac- The Green Manalishi (single- 1970)Peter Green didn’t want the money or fame, and gave us this instead (see The Clash: Jail Guitar Doors). Thanks, Pete!Sir Lord Baltimore- Hell Hound (Kingdom Come LP- 1970)Slippery, choppy- how can that be? And it feels like this: “Woo-muhn is uh hal-hown-duh, you know I got the fee-vuh”!Chicago- 25 or 6 to 4 (Chicago LP- 1970)The fastest gun in the (Mid-) West (sorry, Ted) versus Chicago’s horn section, and wastes them cold (careful with that pistol, Terry)The Stooges- T.V. Eye (Funhouse LP- 1970)Ron Asheton finds a chord sequence he can almost master, repeats till he needs to use the bathroom halfway through, but returns in time to remember where he left off. A Rock masterpiece is born. I’m kidding.Groundhogs- Cherry Red (Split LP- 1971)Spartan power-rock. One tap of the cowbell (rock percussion’s most effective weapon) and TS McPhee’s greatest distillation of Heavy Blues is off and running with dynamics galore. Feverish.Focus- Hocus Pocus (Moving Waves LP- 1971, single- 1973)Alternating between wickedly fluid guitar turns by Jan Akkerman and Thijs van Leer’s keys, flute, and truly bizarre gnomic vocalizing, plus an ace rhythm section, this bears no resemblance to anything else from these Dutch Prog masters. The single edit belatedly hit the US Top Ten in ’73. So someone bought it. Now fess up.Deep Purple- Highway Star (Made In Japan LP- 1972)I chose this over the studio version (Machine Head) simply because it’s more muscular and loosey-goosey. Ian Gillan sounds like he knows he’s the luckiest man in the world. See Amboy Dukes (below).Alice Cooper- School’s Out (School’s Out LP- 1972, single- 1972)An anthem to those of us leaving life-phase one (8th grade/Junior High), while assuming things would improve for phase two (it didn’t). Also, Hard Rock was becoming more rare on AM radio that summer. Need a reminder? Here’s the Billboard Top Ten from August 5, 1972:1. Alone Again (Naturally)- See?2. Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)- I do like this one, though. A LOT.3. If Loving You Is Wrong…4. Daddy, Don’t You Walk So Fast- I said SEE?5. Too Late To Turn Back Now6. Where Is The Love7. School’s Out8. How Do You Do- Man, this one[...]

From The Archives: The Clash


From Notting Hill to the Five Points RiotThe Clash: The ClashI don't know why this record (UK edition) did not immediately resonate with me when I first heard it in Jim's room that Year Zero summer- too dole-queue English in outlook? Too harsh and trebly? Not enough hooks? Was it Joe Strummer's one-dimensional croak? Or a message I just wasn't ready to hear? It’s difficult to say. As a more-typical-than-I'd-hoped-to-be 19 year-old barely coping in the Teenage Wasteland of suburban Philadelphia, I certainly had enough distractions to keep my increasingly short attention span occupied. In any event, after several spins of Jim's copy (apparently it worked for him), I decided to give a pass on The Clash. But when CBS released a re-sequenced domestic version two years later (replacing four original songs with seven non-lp single tracks), I bought it (in tandem with Give 'Em Enough Rope), and suddenly everything clicked. THIS was MY music.By the summer of 1979, I'd spent a few miserable post-high school years living the very things the Clash sang about- being bored, working a series of go-nowhere jobs, loving rock 'n' roll, feeling alienated, getting stoned, lacking social status, and (most-profoundly) jail guitar doors- just like, except for that last one, several million other dumb American kids (so why were they all listening to Toto, Benatar and Breakfast In America and not THIS?). The contrast to Give 'Em Enough Rope (released six months prior) was extreme, and not just because of Sandy Pearlman's big and slick production (someday we'll need to take a closer look at that one; it definitely isn’t the Sophomore Slump). A comparison of the two puts the former into perspective, but requires it's own juxtaposition with the original UK release.Stated simply, I didn't realize what I was missing. While the US version is the meatier prospect, song for song, and displays to fuller effect the humanity, humor and reach of the band (adding the excellent- and free- bonus single, it sets the stage for London Calling), The UK edition is the one for me. There's an immediacy here that is unparalleled in the annals of Rock, a low-fi fury of tightly wound working-class frustration, sulphate-driven riffing (Mick Jones- guitar HERO), and the rabid bark of THE quintessential acquired taste in Rock vocals. The Clash is an attestation to the disaffected, a permission slip to act up (which I took literally for the next twenty years) and ask questions (ditto- plus ten). And the hooks were there all along. When I listen to this record now, I can see the boy who became the man, and hear the voice of Strummer reminding that boy that he is not alone.-Michael MooneyI bought the White Riot 45 at Plastic Fantastic in Bryn Mawr, Pa. It sounded like an ambulance racing by at 90 miles an hour, sirens wailing. The power and fury were extraordinary. The Ramones had led the way, and The Damned's New Rose was one hot track, but The Clash were serious from start to finish, and were on the Front Line. Listening to the first Clash LP was like a radio transmission from Mars that suddenly came blasting through my stereo speakers. Certain words and phrases jumped out of the distortion... “I'm So Bored With The USA”, “Career Opportunities, the ones that never knock”, “We come from Garageland”, “Hate and War- the only things we got today”, “London’s Burning with boredom now”, “Monday’s coming like a jail on wheels”…It f[...]

John Zorn; The Dovells


The Secret Museum: Jim Webb & Michael MooneyJohn Zorn & HisRadical Jewish MusicIt is hard to talk about John Zorn’s music since it defies all accepted borders and has encompassed almost every stylistic trend of the last 50 years. He is a musician (saxophonist), record label owner (Tzadik), artistic director (The Stone performing space in N.Y.C.), besides being one of America’s most prolific composers, appearing on over 400 recordings.Zorn became better known starting in 1985 for his release titled “The Big Gundown,” where he adapted the music of filmmaker Ennio Morricone into his anything-goes style of avant/jazz that helped solidify his stature as one of New York City’s most respected “downtown” artists. The word Downtown here is not just where this collective group of musicians lived, but is a term that became the catch phrase for all things experimental. He also has a large discography of film soundtrack recordings, recorded prolifically in the early ’90s with his noise/metal/punk/jazz outfits called Naked City and Painkiller.Up until 1994, I would not have called myself a big Zorn fan. Naked City/Painkiller were so extreme at times that even though you could occasionally marvel at its sheer power and complexity, I never seemed to find the right time in the day when its punishing moments could be listened to for more than a brief period. Zorn released Kristallnacht in 1992 and it revitalized his interest in exploring and contributing to his Jewish roots. He founded his record label Tzadik (righteous man) in 1995 and decided to write one hundred songs for his latest band called Masada. They incorporated elements of Klezmer, Eastern European folk music and classical string parts to create a new kind of Sephardic chamber jazz sound. The Masada String Trio and The Bar Kohkba Sextet have also recorded these songs and in 2004, Zorn wrote three hundred new compositions for a series called “The Book of Angels.” “The Book of Angels” is now up to 13 released volumes of music, with Uri Caine, Erik Friedlander and Marc Ribot being just some of the musicians that have recorded these new compositions. This extended period of quality music encompassing everything from the Masada quartets through the 13 volumes “The of Book of Angels” is easily Zorn’s most consistently enjoyable work for me. Volume 13 was released in January 2010 and is titled “Mycale.” It continues Zorn’s unpredictable ways with 33 minutes of music performed a capella by four female vocalists. I still find that some releases from Zorn outside of the Masada/Angels series are too ambitious for my tastes in music. He released a three CD metal/free jazz play in 2006 (“Moonchild/Astronome/Heliogabalus”) that had spontaneous sounds coming from vocalist Mike Patton instead of words. John was awarded a MacArthur Foundation grant of $500,000 in 2006 and his muse continues to take him far away from following any one established path as a writer and performer.His music is consistently more melodic now than in the past, and his strength as an original writer remains unchanged. With his Masada/Book of Angels work, Zorn has taken strands of classical, jazz and traditional music and interwoven them with his modern influences to create something truly unique. Now it doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, I find myself listening to these various string trios, Klezmer and jazz infused releases. [...]