Desert Island Discs - TG - October 23, 2011

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Desert Island Discs - TG - October 23, 2011

Postby TG » 23 Oct 2011, 20:58

I was born in the winter of 1957 in Buffalo, New York. I was the sixth child but there would be three more after me. We lived in a very crowded house that was almost always a beehive of activity and was also almost always filled with music. We had a piano – my older sister was a child prodigy – and my oldest brother played guitar.

My father had a love for music that began with the Big Bands of Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman and the Dorsey Brothers. He also loved the crooners like Sinatra and the great Boogie Woogie pianists like Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons. He owned 78s and LPs of those folks and lots more.

No one from my family wonders where the record collecting bug that I have came from. He also loved hifis and we always had radios and something to play records on in our home.

**********


One record that my Pop loved was Girl Talk by Neil Hefti. I knew Neil Hefti's name because he wrote the theme song for the Batman TV show of the 60s and I remember my Dad telling me it was the same guy and not understanding how that could be possible. My Dad played the song a lot when I was a kid and I heard Girl Talk so many times when I was a kid that it became part of my DNA. I heard it so many times that I hated it. Strange, though, that over my adult years the melody would come into my head and not go away. I never knew what song it was; only that it was the one that I heard throughout my childhood. At one point, around twenty or so years ago, I was talking to my sister and told her that I had a song that our Dad used to play stuck in my head and when I hummed it to her (because I knew only the instrumental version) she immediately knew what it was. A little pre-internet research (remember those giant Phonolog books that record stores had?) led me to the fact that it came from the soundtrack to the movie Harlow. Two years ago I finally bought the soundtrack and I was amazed that I remembered every - and I mean every - single note and every little turn that the arrangement took and each beat of the drums and, well, I remembered it like it was a part of my DNA. So this one is for my Pop (who passed away a little over a year ago); without whom I wouldn't likely have the love for music and wouldn't likely have ended up, all these years later, typing out this D.I.D. list on BCB. Thanks, Dad! I miss you.

************

Having older brothers and sisters who were born in the late 40s and 50s meant that they were in their teens and twenties when R&R hit. My oldest brother played guitar in R&R bands in college and saw Bo Diddley and the Everly Brothers and others while away at school. One of my earliest memories is of holding a yellow Sun Records 45 of his and being somehow mesmerized by it. No idea what the record was but I loved the sun rising and the rooster and, I guess, I've always loved 45s.

My older sisters were teenagers in the early 60s and so I witnessed the English Invasion in all its glory. I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and also the Dave Clark 5 and the Rolling Stones and the Animals and the Kinks and everyone else on any and every TV show they would have appeared on. I was obsessed with music from a very early age. I watched American Bandstand and Shindig and Hullabaloo and Where The Action Is and knew every band and every song. One of my favorites was The Yardbirds.

**********


The very first record I ever bought was the 45 of The Yardbirds' For Your Love. A block and a half from my home was the closest major street to us – Bailey Ave – and it was like the center of my universe. You could go to the butcher shop, a bakery, a soda fountain/candy store (The Garden of Sweets), a shoe store or a weird and tiny bowling alley that was on the second story of a building, above a women's dress shop. You could catch a bus to points far enough away that we could never walk. And most importantly there was a musical instrument store that also sold records. I bought my first LP there – The Rolling Stones' High Tides and Green Grass. But that's for another Desert Island. The memory of buying For Your Love revolves around a discount store a few blocks away that, in those days, we called the five and dime. There were lots of them and the name of this one is long erased from my mind, but the thing I do remember is that when you walked in the front door there was a very large vending machine and the product in the machine was 45 RPM records. It seems as though there were probably 5 or 10 hits to choose from but I really don't know for sure. What I do know is that it seemed so exotic to my 8 or 9 year old self to put my coins into the machine and press the button that caused it to send a copy of my very first ever purchased record into my hands. And then running home the eight long blocks and racing through the door and up the stairs and into my sister's room where she had a portable record player and playing it over and over and over. The harpsichord; playing that four chord intro that ends on a minor (not that I knew any of that then) that leads to the bongos that leads to what I still feel today when I hear the record – pure bliss. That was the start of the bug that I still have. Records and music and the thrill of the hunt and the joy of the find and it all started with that single.

I can remember my other brother being the singer in a band in the mid 60s and me talking to the guitarist (whose name was Ed Sullivan!) and asking why the Yardbirds sounded different than all the other bands around. He said he knew what I meant and he reckoned that they seemed more electric than the other bands were. All these years later that's still as good a description of Jeff Beck's playing and the Yardbirds sound as I've ever heard.

**********



It's the summer of 1967, I've reached the age of ten and I am in love. Way, way deep in love. Like, completely smitten. Her name was Renee and she was the relative of a neighbor and was staying with them for the entire summer. I remember her to this day – what she looked like (red curly hair, freckles), what she wore (summer dresses, pedal pushers, Keds), the games we played, the music we heard. Strange, though, that I have no idea which neighbor she was there to visit. We spent the whole summer together laughing, playing, running around and listening to AM radio. My friends on the street would tease me because I didn't want to hang out with them, preferring Renee's company. We had a swing set in the backyard that was a little too close to an overgrown rose bush. We would play on the swings and get too close to the thorns on the rose bush and they would sometimes scratch our legs and I can remember her yelling “I'm the rose bush pricker lady” as gleefully as possible. The previous year The Left Banke's Walk Away Renee was a hit and I loved the song as much for the song itself as for my first girlfriend. Of course, she left at the end of summer and I never saw her again. I remember missing her terribly.

I still love this song by the Left Banke and have from the first that I heard it. I think it is one of the best U.S. responses to the Beatles records/British Invasion of the time. It's tough to pick just one record from this era but this one will do the job. It's funny that 44 years later, if I'm feeling nostalgic, it will still remind me of Renee and that summer. I wonder if she remembers me?

**********


Fast forward to the summer of 1968. My family has picked up stakes and moved to California and stayed for nine (count 'em - nine) months. Then we picked up stakes and moved back to Buffalo. For three months. And then picked up stakes (what stakes we had left) and went back to California. 3000 miles across the US each time. Utter madness, I know. Those who made the decisions are no longer with us and the reasons don't probably matter any more, anyway.

During those turbulent times of getting up and leaving the only world(s) I knew and all of my friends and then doing it again and then again; I found reading. Books, of course (and I would get much more into those a bit later); but the real find was music magazines. Circus, Hit Parader, Phonograph Record Magazine, Rolling Stone. And I began to learn about music that didn't crack the top 40. Then came free form FM radio. And the bands that most interested me seemed to come from Detroit - The MC5 and The Stooges. I read all about them and what they did and how they lived and how they sounded and I was smitten. It mattered little that I'd never heard a note of any of it.

Too young to drive and too poor to buy many records at full price; my salvation came when I discovered a record store called Barefoot Sounds in Torrance, California. They sold used records – who knew you could buy used records?- and I could ride my bicycle there! And it was there that I found a used copy of the MC5's Kick Out The Jams LP. Finally I'd found a little piece of something that I barely knew that I was looking for. This LP sent me down a new path of discovery and would soon change my life in ways I couldn't have imagined and still find difficult to comprehend. I wanna know... Are You Ready To Testify???

Not too long after that discovery, advertisements started appearing on TV for the Midsummer Night's Rock Concert or some such title. It was a rock festival being held in Cincinnati, Ohio and was going to be broadcast on TV. Mountain was appearing along with Alice Cooper, Grand Funk Railroad, Traffic – okay, you've got my attention - and The Stooges! Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down there. Did they say the Stooges? Yeah, well, they did. I'd still not heard a note by them but it was all I wanted to hear for months. You couldn't get the records where I lived but you could get TV. It was all I could think of for weeks. The Stooges come on doing TV Eye. Within seconds I realized that I could play these songs. I grabbed my guitar and quickly started playing along. I'd never heard anything like it before. I still haven't. That song/obsession helped lead me to the aforementioned life changes that put me down a path that, as I said, I couldn't have comprehended at that time. All the way to a friendship with the guitarist on that record that would last until the day he died a few years ago. It's probably not my favorite Stooges song but it's the first one I heard and it meant so much to me that it has to be the one to go with me to the deserted isle.

**********


I have to have some sort of soul or R&B with me and it's a really tough to decide what to bring. Motown? Stax? Where does one begin? This track by Sly might just be the one. I know exactly where I was when I first heard it. When you leave the Hermosa Beach / Redondo Beach area in SoCal and head inland on 190th Street you climb a large hill and then drop down the other side into Torrance CA. I was playing in a band and had gone to pick up the guitarist to go to rehearsal. As we came down that hill into Torrance the AM radio spit out this slab o' funk that seemed to come from some other, way funkier and junked out planet than the one that I knew. The sparse bass, wah-wah guitar, falsetto scatting and electric piano intro, the hi hat crash that leads to the lead vocals and sparse horns. It is one of the most beautiful records I can imagine. It holds a place for me near The Flamingos' I Only Have Eyes For You and the Jaynetts' Sally Go Round The Roses – that place that contains songs that seem like they came from outer space and that little else could ever really sound quite like that – ever. A tough choice here but I can live with this song and I wouldn't want to live without it.

**********


Phonograph Record Magazine had an enormous impact on me in my teens. It was one of the first places I read Lester Bangs and Greg Shaw and Ken Barnes and Mark Shipper. It was where I learned about Big Star, The Move, Wizzard, Slade, Bowie, Mott the Hoople. It was where I learned about music when I was finally old enough to drive and actually find the records that I was reading about. It was a freebie 'zine that came out monthly. I wrote them a letter once and they gave me a free subscription that remained in place for years.

As mentioned; they wrote (a lot) about Big Star. My only connection to them was through Chilton's membership in the Box Tops – a band I loved. Big Star records were not easy to come by in the 70s and the first piece of vinyl I found by them was the 45 of When My Baby's Beside Me. I was smitten. I liked the Beatles and The Who and The Raspberries and Badfinger so I was obviously aware of Power Pop. But this was different. This was mine. No one I knew had ever heard this. I have a friend who has called me the original Big Star fan, the first member of the cult. I could barely have a conversation about music without extolling their virtues. Of course, that came later. First I had just the one 45 and I played it a lot, eventually turning it over and finding On The Street on the B-Side. This has to come with me to the island. It just means so much to me and was a record that led me down so many paths to so many other great records.

**********

(Not the original - I couldn't find that one on YouTube)

If I could bring the music of only one region to my Desert Isle it would be the music of New Orleans. There is something about the rhythm, the bounce, the Second Line beat and just the joy that it gives me that puts it over the top of everything else. I have said before and will say again – the rhythm of New Orleans is the rhythm of my body, my soul; of me. I knew the hits from NOLA when I was growing up – Barefootin' by Robert Parker, Ain't Got A Home by Clarence “Frogman” Henry, Ya Ya by Lee Dorsey and countless others. But at that time they were just more great Soul music on the radio. At some point in the early 80s I heard this track. Actually, I heard the great Atlantic Records LP by Professor Longhair called New Orleans Piano. It is a compilation of his early 1950s Atlantic recordings and it knocked me for a loop. I'd never heard a piano played quite like that nor a singer who sang quite like that. It was a turning point in my musical/record collecting journey. I mean, what the hell could this song be about?

Tipitina, Tra La La La
Oh Tra La La, Tra La La
Tipitina, Ooola Walla Molla Dolla
Try my Tee Na Na

It would be years until I read Dr John's autobiography and found out. But it didn't matter. This record spoke to me in a way that few others have before or since. This record led me to a search and discovery mission to find the music of N'Awlins. Some years later I used the knowledge gleaned from that search to compile three New Orleans hits compilations and one Huey “Piano” Smith greatest hits package for the Rhino label. I'm still finding and buying music from that city and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if I end up living there one day. If I get off the Desert Island, that is.

**********


In the mid 70s some friends and I were bored. To tears. We had all been in bands that had gone nowhere. There was no place to play original music in Los Angeles. We all (or most of us) collected records, read all the music magazines of the time; pretty much lived and breathed music. One of my friends – Phast Phreddie Patterson - decided that he wanted to start a fanzine. Ha called me to his house (actually his parents' house) and asked me if I wanted to join up. He showed me copies of Denim Delinquent and Brain Damage; two fanzines from around that time. They were type written and Xeroxed and funny and they covered the music the writers loved. It seemed far fetched to me. We were kids. Hell, I was only 16 or 17. The others were several years older than I, but still kids. What did we know about magazines? But, too stupid to know what we couldn't do, we forged ahead.

This led to an amazing few years of publishing our own magazine (Back Door Man) that predated the Punk/New Wave explosion. When it did hit we were already there. Long story short – we were there when it all happened and had a front row seat to watch the scene grow. For several years I went to an average of, probably, three shows a week. Not only on the guest list but probably with a bar tab. Oh, to have a few of those brain cells back. We saw every band that came through L.A. I was lucky enough to see nearly every British punk band of note and most of the NYC, San Francisco and Cleveland punk bands. Many of them several times.

Just as important to me, though, were the bands that constituted the Los Angeles scene of that time. They are often overlooked in the Rolling Stone Magazine Official Punk Rock/New Wave Historical Timeline. But, since I was there and saw it, I can swear to their quality and importance. The Runaways, Weirdos, Blasters, Plimsouls, The Pop!, The Zippers, X, Top Jimmy, The Plugz, Phast Phreddie & Thee Precisions, Dream Syndicate, Long Ryders and so many others constituted the scene and gave me so much great music to listen to. However, one of the later bands on the scene – Los Lobos – are the band I would pick to bring with me to my little island paradise (it is a paradise, right? It's not some crap island, I hope).

Im many ways they are America's answer to Traffic. And, like The Band, they come to American roots music from a different cultural perspective and imbue it with a spark that would otherwise be missing. They are also fine gentlemen and hellacious players to boot. They've been around for some time but a few years back they put out Kiko And The Lavender Moon and a better album has rarely been made by anyone. It's their Sgt. Pepper, as they say. This song has such skewed rhythms and odd harmonies that I doubt that I'll get bored with it and it will offer up a little piece of Los Angeles for when I get homesick.

That's eight songs and I hope that it's enough.

**********

For reading material I think I'd have to try and bring the Complete Mark Twain (including that autobio from a year or so ago). I've been wanting to read some Twain – I haven't since I was a kid even though I've picked up 2 or 3 books recently – and this being-stuck-on-an-island time would seem to present the perfect opportunity to get started.

**********

And, like so many others, I'd bring a guitar with me. But not just any guitar. I want Mother Maybelle's classic 1928 Gibson L-5.

Image

And not a faithful recreation. I want her real guitar. I think it's enshrined at the Grand Ole Opry or somewhere. They'll have to find a way to part with it so I can bring it with me. If they want it back badly enough then they can send out a search party or two.

So there's my list. I hope I never need it.
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Re: Desert Island Discs - TG - October 23, 2011

Postby the masked man » 23 Oct 2011, 21:06

Another wonderful entry in this exceptional series. Beautifully written, and full of really good choices.

I tell you, we ought to publish a book out of this series. It's a constant delight.

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Re: Desert Island Discs - TG - October 23, 2011

Postby never/ever » 23 Oct 2011, 21:10

Fine read indeed! Nice to meet you TG! I feared that the DID-threads slowly were dying a bit but stories like these will keep the flame a-burnin'.


Long Ryders- yeah!
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Re: Desert Island Discs - TG - October 23, 2011

Postby Hugh » 23 Oct 2011, 21:29

Another great read that has helped me to get to know someone a lot better than I did before. Thanks for that.

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Re: Desert Island Discs - TG - October 23, 2011

Postby Six String » 23 Oct 2011, 22:35

Very well done and yes, great song selection too. I drove halfway across the U.S. twice in a three month span so I can't imagine doing the whole country like your family did. Holy smokes! Yikes!, etc....

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Re: Desert Island Discs - TG - October 23, 2011

Postby Jeff K » 23 Oct 2011, 23:37

Tom was flabbergasted a few months ago when he saw me mention Back Door Man on here. He couldn't believe there was somebody here who actually knew about that fanzine. In return, I told him I was honored to be in the same cyberspace as the infamous "The Punk", which is what he called himself and neglected to mention in his write-up. :lol:

I can also totally relate to the impact that A Midsummer's Rock Festival had on him because I watched it too without ever hearing a note from the Stooges and only barely remember reading about them. After watching that special and being totally left in jaw-dropping awe by their performance, I could never go back to the likes of Traffic and Grand Funk again. A big life-changing moment for me and I would guess, anyone else whose seen the performance. I must have been about ten or eleven when I saw it.

I almost forgot that this was your Desert Island Discs and not mine! Well done but then I knew it would be. I might even go pull out Kiko and give it a spin because of you.
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Re: Desert Island Discs - TG - October 23, 2011

Postby Magilla » 23 Oct 2011, 23:44

You were friends with Ron Asheton ? :o :o :o That is just so cool. Great write-up Tom, you really have had some amazing experiences and led a very rich life, musically.

I like that you also have many fond memories of the late '70s, early '80s LA scene. Both Hatz and his friend Willie Aaron (aka erstwhile BCBer Bix Henry) have periodically reminisced with delight about what a great scene it was how exciting it was to be there among it.
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Re: Desert Island Discs - TG - October 23, 2011

Postby Jeff K » 23 Oct 2011, 23:51

Ma'a gilla wrote:You were friends with Ron Asheton ? :o :o :o That is just so cool. Great write-up Tom, you really have had some amazing experiences and led a very rich life, musically.


He's a very humble guy and you never see him boasting about his past acquaintances. Hell, if that was me I'd be finding out ways to bring up my friendship with Ron Asheton in every post I made on here! TG knows a lot of cool people besides Matt Wilson.
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Re: Desert Island Discs - TG - October 23, 2011

Postby trans-chigley express » 24 Oct 2011, 05:30

Excellent write up and a really interesting musical life you've had. Did your older sister continue with her piano playing?

I was really touched by the story of your first girlfriend Renee. So sweet.

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Re: Desert Island Discs - TG - October 23, 2011

Postby ConnyOlivetti » 24 Oct 2011, 06:08

Fab read, very well done, thanks!
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Re: Desert Island Discs - TG - October 23, 2011

Postby BlueMeanie » 24 Oct 2011, 07:05

Quality read. Thanks!
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Re: Desert Island Discs - TG - October 23, 2011

Postby kath » 27 Oct 2011, 21:18

this was just fantastic.

some connections of coolness... my dad was also a big band lover (he played trombone and bass), and he was into some crooners, piano players, among other things. a major influence on me. i, too, had the older sibs who passed down music. not as many, of course. oddly enough, i used to buy my early singles at the five and dime half a mile from my house, mwhaha. it was the TG&Y. also the first place i ever got a job, when i was a very young teen. they put me in the fabrics section, of all places, the idjuts... but never mind that.

i love yer musical picks, big surprise. walk away renee is one of my fave songs of all time. it's true i missed the stooges and big star at the time, i had to come back around to them later, just one of those weird gap things, but great all the same.

and tipitina, well... why does no one tell me anything? huh? do i get to know which new orleans rhino comps are yers? do i? ya know, everyone on this board seems to know already everyone else's real name and every other damn thing, except ME. it pisses me off. fucquin bastards, surrounding me.

um. so anyway, absolutely great stuff.

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Re: Desert Island Discs - TG - October 23, 2011

Postby Jeff K » 27 Oct 2011, 21:23

The best part was little Tom riding his bicycle to the used record store to grab a copy of Kick Out the Jams.
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Re: Desert Island Discs - TG - October 23, 2011

Postby fange » 28 Oct 2011, 01:24

Read this yesterday and loved it, TG, wonderful stuff.
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Re: Desert Island Discs - TG - October 23, 2011

Postby Corporate whore » 28 Oct 2011, 09:26

A fantastic read - I think we need a nother series so you can expand on some of the bombs you dropped there.

Excellent, and a great selection of music to boot.
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Re: Desert Island Discs - TG - October 23, 2011

Postby Quaco » 28 Oct 2011, 15:26

TG wrote:I was born in the winter of 1957 in Buffalo, New York. I was the sixth child but there would be three more after me. We lived in a very crowded house that was almost always a beehive of activity and was also almost always filled with music. We had a piano – my older sister was a child prodigy – and my oldest brother played guitar.

My father had a love for music that began with the Big Bands of Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman and the Dorsey Brothers. He also loved the crooners like Sinatra and the great Boogie Woogie pianists like Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons. He owned 78s and LPs of those folks and lots more.

No one from my family wonders where the record collecting bug that I have came from. He also loved hifis and we always had radios and something to play records on in our home.

**********


One record that my Pop loved was Girl Talk by Neil Hefti. I knew Neil Hefti's name because he wrote the theme song for the Batman TV show of the 60s and I remember my Dad telling me it was the same guy and not understanding how that could be possible. My Dad played the song a lot when I was a kid and I heard Girl Talk so many times when I was a kid that it became part of my DNA. I heard it so many times that I hated it. Strange, though, that over my adult years the melody would come into my head and not go away. I never knew what song it was; only that it was the one that I heard throughout my childhood. At one point, around twenty or so years ago, I was talking to my sister and told her that I had a song that our Dad used to play stuck in my head and when I hummed it to her (because I knew only the instrumental version) she immediately knew what it was. A little pre-internet research (remember those giant Phonolog books that record stores had?) led me to the fact that it came from the soundtrack to the movie Harlow. Two years ago I finally bought the soundtrack and I was amazed that I remembered every - and I mean every - single note and every little turn that the arrangement took and each beat of the drums and, well, I remembered it like it was a part of my DNA. So this one is for my Pop (who passed away a little over a year ago); without whom I wouldn't likely have the love for music and wouldn't likely have ended up, all these years later, typing out this D.I.D. list on BCB. Thanks, Dad! I miss you.

************

Having older brothers and sisters who were born in the late 40s and 50s meant that they were in their teens and twenties when R&R hit. My oldest brother played guitar in R&R bands in college and saw Bo Diddley and the Everly Brothers and others while away at school. One of my earliest memories is of holding a yellow Sun Records 45 of his and being somehow mesmerized by it. No idea what the record was but I loved the sun rising and the rooster and, I guess, I've always loved 45s.

My older sisters were teenagers in the early 60s and so I witnessed the English Invasion in all its glory. I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and also the Dave Clark 5 and the Rolling Stones and the Animals and the Kinks and everyone else on any and every TV show they would have appeared on. I was obsessed with music from a very early age. I watched American Bandstand and Shindig and Hullabaloo and Where The Action Is and knew every band and every song. One of my favorites was The Yardbirds.

**********


The very first record I ever bought was the 45 of The Yardbirds' For Your Love. A block and a half from my home was the closest major street to us – Bailey Ave – and it was like the center of my universe. You could go to the butcher shop, a bakery, a soda fountain/candy store (The Garden of Sweets), a shoe store or a weird and tiny bowling alley that was on the second story of a building, above a women's dress shop. You could catch a bus to points far enough away that we could never walk. And most importantly there was a musical instrument store that also sold records. I bought my first LP there – The Rolling Stones' High Tides and Green Grass. But that's for another Desert Island. The memory of buying For Your Love revolves around a discount store a few blocks away that, in those days, we called the five and dime. There were lots of them and the name of this one is long erased from my mind, but the thing I do remember is that when you walked in the front door there was a very large vending machine and the product in the machine was 45 RPM records. It seems as though there were probably 5 or 10 hits to choose from but I really don't know for sure. What I do know is that it seemed so exotic to my 8 or 9 year old self to put my coins into the machine and press the button that caused it to send a copy of my very first ever purchased record into my hands. And then running home the eight long blocks and racing through the door and up the stairs and into my sister's room where she had a portable record player and playing it over and over and over. The harpsichord; playing that four chord intro that ends on a minor (not that I knew any of that then) that leads to the bongos that leads to what I still feel today when I hear the record – pure bliss. That was the start of the bug that I still have. Records and music and the thrill of the hunt and the joy of the find and it all started with that single.

I can remember my other brother being the singer in a band in the mid 60s and me talking to the guitarist (whose name was Ed Sullivan!) and asking why the Yardbirds sounded different than all the other bands around. He said he knew what I meant and he reckoned that they seemed more electric than the other bands were. All these years later that's still as good a description of Jeff Beck's playing and the Yardbirds sound as I've ever heard.

**********



It's the summer of 1967, I've reached the age of ten and I am in love. Way, way deep in love. Like, completely smitten. Her name was Renee and she was the relative of a neighbor and was staying with them for the entire summer. I remember her to this day – what she looked like (red curly hair, freckles), what she wore (summer dresses, pedal pushers, Keds), the games we played, the music we heard. Strange, though, that I have no idea which neighbor she was there to visit. We spent the whole summer together laughing, playing, running around and listening to AM radio. My friends on the street would tease me because I didn't want to hang out with them, preferring Renee's company. We had a swing set in the backyard that was a little too close to an overgrown rose bush. We would play on the swings and get too close to the thorns on the rose bush and they would sometimes scratch our legs and I can remember her yelling “I'm the rose bush pricker lady” as gleefully as possible. The previous year The Left Banke's Walk Away Renee was a hit and I loved the song as much for the song itself as for my first girlfriend. Of course, she left at the end of summer and I never saw her again. I remember missing her terribly.

I still love this song by the Left Banke and have from the first that I heard it. I think it is one of the best U.S. responses to the Beatles records/British Invasion of the time. It's tough to pick just one record from this era but this one will do the job. It's funny that 44 years later, if I'm feeling nostalgic, it will still remind me of Renee and that summer. I wonder if she remembers me?

**********


Fast forward to the summer of 1968. My family has picked up stakes and moved to California and stayed for nine (count 'em - nine) months. Then we picked up stakes and moved back to Buffalo. For three months. And then picked up stakes (what stakes we had left) and went back to California. 3000 miles across the US each time. Utter madness, I know. Those who made the decisions are no longer with us and the reasons don't probably matter any more, anyway.

During those turbulent times of getting up and leaving the only world(s) I knew and all of my friends and then doing it again and then again; I found reading. Books, of course (and I would get much more into those a bit later); but the real find was music magazines. Circus, Hit Parader, Phonograph Record Magazine, Rolling Stone. And I began to learn about music that didn't crack the top 40. Then came free form FM radio. And the bands that most interested me seemed to come from Detroit - The MC5 and The Stooges. I read all about them and what they did and how they lived and how they sounded and I was smitten. It mattered little that I'd never heard a note of any of it.

Too young to drive and too poor to buy many records at full price; my salvation came when I discovered a record store called Barefoot Sounds in Torrance, California. They sold used records – who knew you could buy used records?- and I could ride my bicycle there! And it was there that I found a used copy of the MC5's Kick Out The Jams LP. Finally I'd found a little piece of something that I barely knew that I was looking for. This LP sent me down a new path of discovery and would soon change my life in ways I couldn't have imagined and still find difficult to comprehend. I wanna know... Are You Ready To Testify???

Not too long after that discovery, advertisements started appearing on TV for the Midsummer Night's Rock Concert or some such title. It was a rock festival being held in Cincinnati, Ohio and was going to be broadcast on TV. Mountain was appearing along with Alice Cooper, Grand Funk Railroad, Traffic – okay, you've got my attention - and The Stooges! Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down there. Did they say the Stooges? Yeah, well, they did. I'd still not heard a note by them but it was all I wanted to hear for months. You couldn't get the records where I lived but you could get TV. It was all I could think of for weeks. The Stooges come on doing TV Eye. Within seconds I realized that I could play these songs. I grabbed my guitar and quickly started playing along. I'd never heard anything like it before. I still haven't. That song/obsession helped lead me to the aforementioned life changes that put me down a path that, as I said, I couldn't have comprehended at that time. All the way to a friendship with the guitarist on that record that would last until the day he died a few years ago. It's probably not my favorite Stooges song but it's the first one I heard and it meant so much to me that it has to be the one to go with me to the deserted isle.

**********


I have to have some sort of soul or R&B with me and it's a really tough to decide what to bring. Motown? Stax? Where does one begin? This track by Sly might just be the one. I know exactly where I was when I first heard it. When you leave the Hermosa Beach / Redondo Beach area in SoCal and head inland on 190th Street you climb a large hill and then drop down the other side into Torrance CA. I was playing in a band and had gone to pick up the guitarist to go to rehearsal. As we came down that hill into Torrance the AM radio spit out this slab o' funk that seemed to come from some other, way funkier and junked out planet than the one that I knew. The sparse bass, wah-wah guitar, falsetto scatting and electric piano intro, the hi hat crash that leads to the lead vocals and sparse horns. It is one of the most beautiful records I can imagine. It holds a place for me near The Flamingos' I Only Have Eyes For You and the Jaynetts' Sally Go Round The Roses – that place that contains songs that seem like they came from outer space and that little else could ever really sound quite like that – ever. A tough choice here but I can live with this song and I wouldn't want to live without it.

**********


Phonograph Record Magazine had an enormous impact on me in my teens. It was one of the first places I read Lester Bangs and Greg Shaw and Ken Barnes and Mark Shipper. It was where I learned about Big Star, The Move, Wizzard, Slade, Bowie, Mott the Hoople. It was where I learned about music when I was finally old enough to drive and actually find the records that I was reading about. It was a freebie 'zine that came out monthly. I wrote them a letter once and they gave me a free subscription that remained in place for years.

As mentioned; they wrote (a lot) about Big Star. My only connection to them was through Chilton's membership in the Box Tops – a band I loved. Big Star records were not easy to come by in the 70s and the first piece of vinyl I found by them was the 45 of When My Baby's Beside Me. I was smitten. I liked the Beatles and The Who and The Raspberries and Badfinger so I was obviously aware of Power Pop. But this was different. This was mine. No one I knew had ever heard this. I have a friend who has called me the original Big Star fan, the first member of the cult. I could barely have a conversation about music without extolling their virtues. Of course, that came later. First I had just the one 45 and I played it a lot, eventually turning it over and finding On The Street on the B-Side. This has to come with me to the island. It just means so much to me and was a record that led me down so many paths to so many other great records.

**********

(Not the original - I couldn't find that one on YouTube)

If I could bring the music of only one region to my Desert Isle it would be the music of New Orleans. There is something about the rhythm, the bounce, the Second Line beat and just the joy that it gives me that puts it over the top of everything else. I have said before and will say again – the rhythm of New Orleans is the rhythm of my body, my soul; of me. I knew the hits from NOLA when I was growing up – Barefootin' by Robert Parker, Ain't Got A Home by Clarence “Frogman” Henry, Ya Ya by Lee Dorsey and countless others. But at that time they were just more great Soul music on the radio. At some point in the early 80s I heard this track. Actually, I heard the great Atlantic Records LP by Professor Longhair called New Orleans Piano. It is a compilation of his early 1950s Atlantic recordings and it knocked me for a loop. I'd never heard a piano played quite like that nor a singer who sang quite like that. It was a turning point in my musical/record collecting journey. I mean, what the hell could this song be about?

Tipitina, Tra La La La
Oh Tra La La, Tra La La
Tipitina, Ooola Walla Molla Dolla
Try my Tee Na Na

It would be years until I read Dr John's autobiography and found out. But it didn't matter. This record spoke to me in a way that few others have before or since. This record led me to a search and discovery mission to find the music of N'Awlins. Some years later I used the knowledge gleaned from that search to compile three New Orleans hits compilations and one Huey “Piano” Smith greatest hits package for the Rhino label. I'm still finding and buying music from that city and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if I end up living there one day. If I get off the Desert Island, that is.

**********


In the mid 70s some friends and I were bored. To tears. We had all been in bands that had gone nowhere. There was no place to play original music in Los Angeles. We all (or most of us) collected records, read all the music magazines of the time; pretty much lived and breathed music. One of my friends – Phast Phreddie Patterson - decided that he wanted to start a fanzine. Ha called me to his house (actually his parents' house) and asked me if I wanted to join up. He showed me copies of Denim Delinquent and Brain Damage; two fanzines from around that time. They were type written and Xeroxed and funny and they covered the music the writers loved. It seemed far fetched to me. We were kids. Hell, I was only 16 or 17. The others were several years older than I, but still kids. What did we know about magazines? But, too stupid to know what we couldn't do, we forged ahead.

This led to an amazing few years of publishing our own magazine (Back Door Man) that predated the Punk/New Wave explosion. When it did hit we were already there. Long story short – we were there when it all happened and had a front row seat to watch the scene grow. For several years I went to an average of, probably, three shows a week. Not only on the guest list but probably with a bar tab. Oh, to have a few of those brain cells back. We saw every band that came through L.A. I was lucky enough to see nearly every British punk band of note and most of the NYC, San Francisco and Cleveland punk bands. Many of them several times.

Just as important to me, though, were the bands that constituted the Los Angeles scene of that time. They are often overlooked in the Rolling Stone Magazine Official Punk Rock/New Wave Historical Timeline. But, since I was there and saw it, I can swear to their quality and importance. The Runaways, Weirdos, Blasters, Plimsouls, The Pop!, The Zippers, X, Top Jimmy, The Plugz, Phast Phreddie & Thee Precisions, Dream Syndicate, Long Ryders and so many others constituted the scene and gave me so much great music to listen to. However, one of the later bands on the scene – Los Lobos – are the band I would pick to bring with me to my little island paradise (it is a paradise, right? It's not some crap island, I hope).

Im many ways they are America's answer to Traffic. And, like The Band, they come to American roots music from a different cultural perspective and imbue it with a spark that would otherwise be missing. They are also fine gentlemen and hellacious players to boot. They've been around for some time but a few years back they put out Kiko And The Lavender Moon and a better album has rarely been made by anyone. It's their Sgt. Pepper, as they say. This song has such skewed rhythms and odd harmonies that I doubt that I'll get bored with it and it will offer up a little piece of Los Angeles for when I get homesick.

That's eight songs and I hope that it's enough.

**********

For reading material I think I'd have to try and bring the Complete Mark Twain (including that autobio from a year or so ago). I've been wanting to read some Twain – I haven't since I was a kid even though I've picked up 2 or 3 books recently – and this being-stuck-on-an-island time would seem to present the perfect opportunity to get started.

**********

And, like so many others, I'd bring a guitar with me. But not just any guitar. I want Mother Maybelle's classic 1928 Gibson L-5.

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And not a faithful recreation. I want her real guitar. I think it's enshrined at the Grand Ole Opry or somewhere. They'll have to find a way to part with it so I can bring it with me. If they want it back badly enough then they can send out a search party or two.

So there's my list. I hope I never need it.

What, no Yes?

:)

Great choices and writing.
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TG
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Joined: 30 May 2006, 23:41
Location: Boss Angeles

Re: Desert Island Discs - TG - October 23, 2011

Postby TG » 28 Oct 2011, 15:46

Thanks to all for the very kind words. It's a little daunting to throw yourself open in threads like these and it's nice to know that it's appreciated.

I'll try and answer some questions here.

Ma'a gilla wrote:You were friends with Ron Asheton ?


When we started the fanzine we were given the chance to interview Ron and Dennis Thompson (ex-MC5) whe were then doing business in L.A. as the New Order. They liked our company and invited us to hang out. Over time, as the band got a few gigs, they needed a roadie and I volunteered to fill the position. The band broke up but Ron and I remained in contact over the years and saw each other when we were close enough geographically. I still miss his (very) late night calls.

I still have his message on an old answering machine wishing me a happy 50th birthday. I've never deleted it and it seems so final that I don't have the heart to do it even now.

trans-chigley express wrote:Did your older sister continue with her piano playing?


She did (and does) but in the late 70s she was in a car accident and injured her wrist. That made playing more difficult and she had to step away a bit from playing for any length of time.

kath wrote:it was the TG&Y.


I remember those stores. I always wanted to have a band called TG & Why.

kath wrote:do i get to know which new orleans rhino comps are yers?


These. All vinyl only and all long out of print. The first three were co-compiled. I remember when they actually came out being shocked at how many names were added as co-compilers. Apparently you needed only to think about songs to get your name added.

The Huey "Piano" Smith one I am very proud of as it was compiled unlike any other Huey Smith comp by including the songs that the band did but which were released under the name of the vocalist. It made for a much stronger collection of songs.

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corporate whore wrote:I think we need a nother series so you can expand on some of the bombs you dropped there.


I rarely bring these things up because I don't know how to gauge the interest of the board. I would hate to bore everyone. Or worse - be ignored. What would you like to know?

Quaco wrote:What, no Yes?


I knew I forgot something. Can I start over?

Once again a big thanks to all. It is truly appreciated.
Jeff K wrote:Not at all. I love TG. I might be the only one on BCB who does but I don't care.

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never/ever
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Re: Desert Island Discs - TG - October 23, 2011

Postby never/ever » 03 Dec 2011, 22:41

*bump*
kath wrote:i do not wanna buy the world a fucquin gotdamn coke.