Moby Grape

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Re: Moby Grape

Postby zoomboogity » 28 Nov 2010, 11:45

Seeing as it's been over a month since this one's been active...

I did some digging around and found the 1994 Spence article. It's slightly rewritten from the version that appeared in the L.A. Weekly, and was the first time that a lot of people (including myself) were made aware of his plight.

[EDIT: link removed.]
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"Quite."

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Re: Moby Grape

Postby Balboa » 28 Nov 2010, 13:26

Oh blimey, has it been a month?

Thanks for bumping this and thanks for sharing the article on Skip. As with all things Skip, I find myself laughing at some of the things he says, but it is always tinged with sadness ("Kids today don't even do acid anymore – how can they make good rock and roll?"). In fact some of it is incredibly sad ("You've got to keep reminding him of where he is," says Adam Spence. "He forgets what year it is and where he is or who he's talking to. But if you prod him gently, he'll snap right back. Usually, anyway.").

But fuck! What a band they were...

"The Moby Grape was the only one of those bands that could play and write pop hits," Rubinson recalls. "All the others, Big Brother, the Dead, they were murdering the blues; they stunk. Moby Grape did their own thing, and they remain to this day the greatest band I ever saw. They were the American Rolling Stones."

Released two days after Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in June, 1967, Moby Grape is one of the greatest debut records ever made. The Rolling Stone Record Guide gives the disc a full five stars, its highest rating. From the Jimmy-Reed-on-Meth shuffle "Hey Grandma," which kicks off the record; to Peter Lewis' "Fall On You," which sounds like the inspiration for Neil Diamond's "Pleasant Valley Sunday" to Bob Mosley's "Come In The Morning," which anticipated Van Morrison's solo work; and the soul-music-at-78-RPM of "Changes," the record is as close to perfect as any pop-rock disc. Stunning five-part harmonies decorate succinct rock songwriting; the pure pop of the Lovin' Spoonful crossed with the full-on guitar attack of the MC5."

And Katz? "Who cares who the members of Moby Grape are – a handful of dumb rock fans? I own the name; it's mine. I invented all those groups. I invented the Airplane and the Grape. I brought them together. I trademarked the term 'San Francisco Sound,' too. And I can put out their records too."

And I thought the part around Skip feeling inferior to the other players was interesting - "When I was onstage, I didn't know what I was doing," Spence recalls. "I was stricken with stage fright."

Thanks Zoom, made my day.

Edit - just read the Miller interview as well.
Of course, I was mostly stoned at the time.

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Re: Moby Grape

Postby zoomboogity » 28 Nov 2010, 16:02

Sure thing, Phil. It's nice having this thread serve as a handy repository for all things Grape. It's kind of taking on a life of its own!

This and the L.A. Weekly article (which was called The Next Big Thing That Never Was) are about 90% the same, with a few minor details added to one or the other. One thing this article doesn't mention is that the recording of God Bless America that Katz was lip-synching to was Etta James' version, which makes it even more bizarre. And Peter's right, there is nowhere to park around there - the nearest parking is about half a mile away, if you're lucky. Do you know that area - Wilshire Boulevard, just east of the 405? What a dumb place to put on a concert. But there you go.

Oh, and that "Fauxby Grape" that Katz put together? They were a Seattle band called Easy Chair that mainly played in that area at a club Katz opened in an attempt to start a "San Francisco in Seattle" thing. Jeff Simmons was in that band before he joined Zappa's Mothers, by the way.

One other thing Peter said that appeared in the Weekly article went something like, "He [Katz] may eat his organic food and live his macro life, but all the bad karma he's brought to this world is going to rot him." Other than finally losing the ongoing court case, the last thing I heard about him was that he ran for city council in Malibu this year. He lost. Oh yeah, and a few years ago one of his horses kicked him in the hip. [Costanza]THAT'S gotta hurt![/Costanza] Especially for someone pushing 80.

You're right about how Skip's tale is both funny and tragic. I got a laugh out of the Greg Elmore/Gary Gilmore "wonder how I got 'em mixed up, hmmmm..." thing. But when I think of those photos of him and realize that he was younger than I am now...

Here's another article archived at this site from around the same time:

[EDIT: link removed.]

I find it even sadder in a way, except that within a couple years Mosley was off the streets (never to return) and doing what he does best... or at least, as best he can anymore:

[EDIT: link removed.]

(Check out the final paragraph - all roads lead back to the Cros, don't they? :lol: )

Bobzilla and I went to see Moby Grape at the Del Mar Fairgrounds near San Diego in the summer of 1996. They had just won their name back for the first time (before the various appeals), and Mosley had been off the streets for maybe two weeks by then. While he wasn't looking his best, the audience knew what was going on (thanks to these various articles coming to light) and cheered him on just for being there. He hadn't played bass in a long while, so Tiran Porter filled in. The other guys basically told him, "We don't care if you just stand there, we want you there with us." And sure enough, a few times that thing he does with his voice made its way out. Very emotional for all who were there.

By the time I saw them at The Whisky in 1999, he was playing again and sounding better, and that was the show where I got a glimpse of the special chemistry those guys had at their peak. It wasn't "1966 all over again," but it was as close as I was going to get, and that was enough for me.

Mosley soon made his way up north, got together with an old friend, and they eventually got married. Around 1998, word was out that he wanted to do some new recordings, so I got his phone number through his wife Connie and spoke to him about it. I was actually recommending Bobzilla for the job, not myself - I just wanted to go along for the ride. We had a couple chats on the phone, and he sounded lucid and healthy, which was great in itself. I sent him a cd by Bobzilla's band, and while he wasn't into the music, he liked the drumming and said, "Sure, come on up." Unfortunately, we realized that neither of our cars was roadworthy to travel 500 miles with a drum set, so that was the end of that.

Mosley still plays locally at a weekly thing with Larry Hosford. So his story has taken a better turn than that article from 1994 might suggest.

Have you heard the Spence memorial gig I sent to Charlie O? Mose does an acoustic set to start things off, and before his last song, Chopping Wood Blues, he tells a story:

We went to our old manager's house in Malibu, and he was kind of a troublemaker for all of us, and Skippy came to us through him when he had the Airplane. Skippy was kind of going through a period when he couldn't relate, and then he couldn't relate [sic]... and I was riding him around in my car and buying him chicken sandwiches, and he'd drink a beer every now and then too, so... but, uh, we were going to cut some wood, and he asked Matthew for the chainsaw. And I looked at him and I said, "No, you're not gonna get the chainsaw."


:shock: :lol:
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Re: Moby Grape

Postby zoomboogity » 29 Nov 2010, 10:00

The Misfits with The Rolling Stones after their show at Balboa Park Bowl, San Diego, 1 November 1964 (Bob Mosley at far right):

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http://www.sandiegoreader.com/bands/misfits
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Re: Moby Grape

Postby Balboa » 29 Nov 2010, 10:48

Was Crosby just turning everyone on? :)

Mosley's story is as sad as Skips - I guess it gets forgotten about because he isn't such an iconic figure (and there aren't as many stories about him). The fact that 2 of the band ended up living on the streets, diagnosed schizophrenics is so sad.
Of course, I was mostly stoned at the time.

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Re: Moby Grape

Postby zoomboogity » 29 Nov 2010, 11:10

Yeah, meanwhile Mr. Man has been livin' large in Malibu. The other thing is, Mosley's songs were more straight-ahead than Skip's, or Syd's for that matter. He didn't document his breakdown, he just lived it. Fortunately, he's doing much better now.

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Re: Moby Grape

Postby Balboa » 11 Dec 2010, 08:35

Image

I've got this screaming through the headphones right now - it has been too long. I know the debut is amazing, but there is so much to love here isn't there. 'Can't Be So Bad' is a MONSTER track - I love the lead guitar, I love the acapella section, the horns, Don's drumming......man oh man this is everything I dig about Moby Grape! And that's not even to mention 'The Place and The Time', 'He' (great vocals by Lewis and Mosley), 'Bitter Wind'......

Do we know which one's Skip was involved in (apart from the obvious ones he wrote!)?

There should be more love for this one!

Edit - I'm wondering if there is a way of 'improving' it though! 'Stop' does sound more in with the debut (and doesn't sound finished), but that would/should have been on 'Wow'? 'What's to Choose'? They still had 'Rounder' lying round, 'You Can Do Anything', 'Looper'.......as much as I love it, there were so many great unfinished tracks that could have improved it.
Of course, I was mostly stoned at the time.

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Re: Moby Grape

Postby zoomboogity » 11 Dec 2010, 17:41

Wow is an odd one, that's for sure. Sort of a case of the sum total being less than its parts. All the pieces are there, but somehow it doesn't add up like it should. I like Rose Colored Eyes okay, but the album always felt like it trails off by the end.

Some different sequencing might have helped, or maybe using other songs. Whenever I hear that unfinished recording of You Can Do Anything, my mind always adds in the five-part harmonies - I can especially hear Mosley wailing away on top of it all.

Besides the ones you mentioned, I love Three-Four, one of my all-time favorites by them. Following it with a novelty tune like Funky Tunk doesn't even deflate the effect, it sounds perfectly logical.

I don't think Skip is on much of the album, apart from his own songs. He was too busy with his extracurricular activities.

Given all the negatives they were dealing with - being away from home, their label losing patience with them - it's kind of amazing the album turned out as good as it did. It could have been better, but it could have been worse (or never gotten finished).

I'm kind of glad they didn't finish Seeing in time to put it on the album. In its own way, it's the perfect closer on '69.

Phil, have you heard the version of Stop they were doing in the late '70s? Mostly new lyrics, and that middle part taken out. It's not on any official release, but there's a great recording from a 1978 Santa Cruz gig that was aired on a local radio station. I really love that version a lot, it's one of my favorite Peter Lewis songs.

Billy

Re: Moby Grape

Postby Billy » 18 Dec 2010, 16:50

You know, this is one of those bands I never really fully pursued till I read all the positive glows about them around these parts ... and every time I revisit them, the better all those albums get ... just thought I'd say ... :)

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Has this page and the family tree been linked on this thread yet?

chickenonaunicycle

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Re: Moby Grape

Postby zoomboogity » 18 Dec 2010, 19:42

Billy wrote:Has this page and the family tree been linked on this thread yet?

chickenonaunicycle


Yes, on page 4 (I had to go back and look for it to be sure!). No harm in mentioning it again!

Thanks to the archival live stuff and reissues and outtakes Sundazed has released in the last few years, it's easier nowadays to see what people like about these guys, other than, "well, that first album is really good, but don't get your hopes up after that." Bootleg recordings have been far and few between, and most of what's been available has terrible fidelity and/or just isn't that great (they were a VERY erratic band in concert, especially post-1968).

I was kind of late coming into them myself, late 1980s. I even remember hearing their name when their debut came out, but I was in the first grade at school, and no one I knew had anything by them (or had an older relative to show us the way), then over the years they just got lost in the shuffle. I look at that gig history and see that the original line-up played a bunch of times in LA, sometimes even coming within five miles from where I live - if only I'd been 10 or 15 years older, or knew someone who was...

But I remember seeing those rock album guides like Rolling Stone giving that first album five-star reviews, and one day I was visiting a friend who had it on the Edsel reissue. I looked at it and said, "So... how's this?" He just said, "Take it home and see for yourself."

Even if the next few albums weren't on the same level, there's just something about their sound, the way the guitars blend, the vocal harmonies, even the songs - I didn't care for 20 Granite Creek much on first listen, but it's really grown on me over the years. I love Road To The Sun - it's pretty goofy (probably intentionally), but muy funky! I won't pretend that Live Grape (1978), "the heart album" (1984) or the Melvilles album (1990) are anything more than "cherry-pick" stuff, but there's worthy material to be found. I hope they finally get around to releasing the new stuff they've been doing.

It's funny how first impressions matter. A year or two before I heard the debut, I was in a record store in San Luis Obispo and saw Live Grape in a second-hand bin on purple marble vinyl. I almost bought it, but didn't know their music. As much as I wish I had it now, it would have been my introduction to their music, and I probably have been too underwhelmed to pursue it any further.

One thing I do regret, though, is not having heard them just a year or two earlier than I did, because in 1987 the original quintet played their final show together at a small club in Santa Monica called At My Place. Okay, it probably wouldn't have been that great, given the mental states of two members, but it could have been fun. I saw the 1991 line-up (Miller, Lewis and Stevenson +3) in LA and San Francisco, and I had a blast. They sounded decent, there wasn't much of a crowd either time, and I got to hang with some of them a bit afterwards. Things like that help you develop an affinity for a band that goes beyond the music. I'd catch them whenever possible after that, and I'd say the best of those was in 1999, when they played the Whisky A Go Go's 35th anniversary. It was Miller, Lewis, Mosley, Sam Andrew on guitar, and Jim Preston (Sons Of Champlin) on drums.

Billy, have you heard the best of their solo albums - Oar, Mosley's 1972 album, or either of Peter's Taxim albums?

Billy

Re: Moby Grape

Postby Billy » 18 Dec 2010, 19:54

Nice post -- your enthusiasm shines through! ;)

zoomboogity wrote:Billy, have you heard the best of their solo albums - Oar, Mosley's 1972 album, or either of Peter's Taxim albums?


I had a copy of Oar before the Grape stuff ... which eventually led me to Grape. Not heard any other solo stuff but I've been meaning to pick this up for some time:

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How comparable/different is it from the spirit of the Grape?

As for this one:

Image

... well, the cover always puts me off (and the date) -- I know that's lame :oops:

Is it also worthy of my time?

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Re: Moby Grape

Postby zoomboogity » 18 Dec 2010, 20:13

Yeah, I'm a fanboy! Also, having been in musical situations where things fall together effortlessly and come apart just as easily, I have a sort of empathy for their career arc.

The Mosley album has some really cool songs, his style being sort of a blues/country/rock hybrid, and his singing is excellent. The Lewis album has pretty glossy production, but the songs are good, and his singing was (and still is) as good as ever. His other Taxim album, Live In Bremen (2002), I like even better. The label's site lists it as out of print, but I think you can get a copy from http://www.davidwest.com until he runs out of them too.

Oar, to me, is an album that actually benefits from the extra tracks on the reissue. Even the little 30-second snippets just work for me and make it more complete.

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Re: Moby Grape

Postby zoomboogity » 29 Dec 2010, 16:18

Peter Lewis will be returning to the Pig'n'Whistle in Hollywood, Friday 14 January, in what hopefully will be the first of many more live shows to come. He will be joined by drummer Bill Bentley (who assembled the More Oar tribute for Skip Spence), bassist Joe Wendt (son of George), and our own Willie Aron (aka bixhenry) on guitar. Plans include a Special Guest Guitarist flying down from Washington state, which I will confirm once it's definitely on. Hope to see as many of the locals as possible show up!

Billy

Re: Moby Grape

Postby Billy » 08 Jan 2011, 13:26

Image

About Desert Rain by The Darrow Mosley Band:

VERY limited 10" on Shagrat featuring three tracks from the Darrow Mosley Band. A collaboration between Bob Mosley (Moby Grape) and Chris Darrow (Kaleidoscope) recorded in 1973. Packaged in a suitably mind-blowing sleeve by legendary psychedelic designer John Hurford (IT, OZ, Dandelion Records etc) and complete with inserts from Chris Darrow this EP is an absolute must for fans of Moby Grape and Kaleidoscope everywhere.
The band was a vehicle for the prodigious talents of Bob Mosley (lead vocals, bass guitar) and Chris Darrow (lead vocals, guitar).

Mosley had been an integral member of Moby Grape, one of the greatest California bands of the late 60s. A quintet comprising five talented musicians who not could play like demons, but were also equally skilled as singers and songwriters - joining Bob, were guitarists Peter Lewis and Skip Spence, Jerry Miller on lead guitar and Don Stevenson on drums. After a superb but sadly over-hyped debut LP that captured better than most the brief psychedelic glory of the Haight Ashbury era (and is now rightly regarded as a classic), they had spectacularly blown apart during the making of their sophomore set WOW, which saw the exit of the visionary Spence. Regrouping in its aftermath as a quartet, they had released the undervalued 69 which saw them mining a more country vein, but following a tour of Europe Mosley quit and in a surprise move briefly joined the US marines!

In 1971 the original members got back together to record the excellent 20 Granite Creek which opened in fine style with Bob's classic,'Gypsy Wedding' - sadly the reunion was brief with all the old wounds and rivalries soon stymiing any chance of recapturing any former glories and Mose quit again releasing a fine debut solo LP on Reprise.

Darrow had been a founding member of the wildly exotic Kaleidoscope, the hugely talented Claremont-based quintet that subsequently has been recognised as one of the first rock groups to play 'world music' - an outfit that blended many different styles from pyschedelic rock, blues and folk with country, cajun, turkish and cab calloway flavours. Chris played guitar, fiddle, bass and mandolin in a combo of multi-instrumentalists, that also featured the likes of soloman feldthouse and david lindley.

Chris quit Kaleidoscope after their second LP, A Beacon From Mars and joined the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band just in time to appear in the musical Western Paint Your Wagon with Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood. He then formed the Corvettes who backed up Linda Ronstadt.. As well as playing in these bands and releasing a series of fine solo albums, Chris had also made a name for himself as a sideman for the likes of Leonard Cohen and John Fahey.

In 1973 both Chris and Bob decided they wanted to be in a band again and their mutual manager Michael O'Connor suggested they form a group together - drawing on the energy and style of vintage Stones and Faces and adding more than a dash of the prevalent SoCal country rock scene to the mix, Bob and Chris were joined by lead guitarist Frank Reckard (subsequently in Emmylou Harris's Band for 14 years), keyboard player Loren Newkirk and drummer Johnny Craviotto (Ry Cooder, Arlo Guthrie, Buffy St Marie) - they cut 3 songs to try and get Warner Bros interested. Sadly Warner passed on the demos and they have lain unheard till now - the A-side, 'Albuquerque rainbow' is a crunchy rocker featuring Darrow on lead vocals and originally debuted on his eponymous second album done for UA. The flipside has Bob Mosley as lead vocalist - a treat for all those who already know what a masterful singer this norse god can be - first up is a soulful, smouldering version of the Temptations' 'i wish it would rain' that also boasts some dexterous picking from Reckard. the EP closes with a new version of Bob's exquisite 'Beautiful Day' originally done for the Grape's 69 record.

The band split soon after but these recordings are an integral link in the chain that binds Moby Grape with Fine Wine and the Ducks (Neil Young's legendary summer of 77 Santa Cruz bar band)- Darrow would go on to record a series of excellent solo albums and participate in a couple of Kaleidoscope reunions. Bob and John Craviotta would hook up with Jerry Miller for Fine Wine and then form the rhythm section of the aforementioned Ducks.

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Re: Moby Grape

Postby zoomboogity » 09 Jan 2011, 13:03

The gig on January 14 is now being billed as Peter Lewis & Jerry Miller. Well, alright!

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Re: Moby Grape

Postby zoomboogity » 14 Jan 2011, 20:57

Just a reminder to all the locals. Hope to see some of you there tonight.

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Re: Moby Grape

Postby Balboa » 14 Jan 2011, 22:30

I want a full write up!
Of course, I was mostly stoned at the time.

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Re: Moby Grape

Postby zoomboogity » 15 Jan 2011, 11:27

Here's what I can muster at 3.30am. It was fun. The band was a bit, um, loose, but it warmed up soon enough. Willie was excellent, it was great seeing him play songs he's known for years, only it's not a cover band, it's two of the guys who wrote them.

Jerry played someone else's guitar, not the one he's had for 50+ years, so it took a while to hit a stride. I brought Bobzilla along, and it was a nice relaxed scene, so there was time afterward to hang a bit with them and their friends. I told Jerry about the recording we did for the first fan-club-based Grape tribute (this was around 2001, I think there are five now). The guys in the band always get copies of them, so he knew our bit, a surf version of Skip's Chinese Song - you should hear it, actually, it came off really well. So that was cool. He also said he hopes to come back to LA soon - I think his last gig here was the Whisky show in 1999. Oh, and he's left-handed. Funny, he doesn't play guitar that way!

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Re: Moby Grape

Postby zoomboogity » 06 Apr 2011, 12:57

two Peter Lewis shows in L.A.:

Friday 29 April - Pig'n'Whistle, Hollywood

Saturday 30 April - Cafe 322, Sierra Madre
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Re: Moby Grape

Postby toomanyhatz » 20 Apr 2011, 22:52

zoomboogity wrote:two Peter Lewis shows in L.A.:

Friday 29 April - Pig'n'Whistle, Hollywood

Saturday 30 April - Cafe 322, Sierra Madre


His band (on at least some of the set) will include erstwhile BCBer Bixhenry as well as yours truly.
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