On "keeping it real" and the end of an era

Backslapping time. Well done us. We are fantastic.
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Postby Guest » 27 Jan 2005, 22:17

The Candyman was like ground zero, man. Didn't ya know?

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Postby Guest » 27 Jan 2005, 22:19

goldwax wrote:
nathan wrote:The Candyman was like ground zero, man. Didn't ya know?


Yeah, man. I'm hip to that jive.

A creative benchmark. The likes of which we shall never see again.

The Modernist

Postby The Modernist » 27 Jan 2005, 22:21

goldwax wrote:
IlModernista wrote:However all this racial designation shouldn't blind us to the fact that the most creative musician of the psychedelic era was a black man steeped in soul and blues.


Image :?:

:shock:


Don't diss Sammy! He put the V in Vietnam and sucked the marrow out of bones!

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Postby JQW » 28 Jan 2005, 17:29

IlModernista wrote:
Hip Priest wrote:Kind of in keeping with what MrModerista said above, I got a copy of Don't Look Back on DVD for Christmas and was watching for the first time with the commentary on. In one of the scenes when Dylan is hanging out backstage there is a black guy in the background and Pennebaker identifies him as Tom Wilson. I didn't know Wilson was black and how did a black man get to produce records for Columbia in 1965?

Not that I expect anyone to give me a detailed answer but I was surprised.

carry on.


And later produced The Velvet Underground of course. I think he was also the guy who put the guitars on Sound Of silence, but I may be wrong.
Given his presence at so many pivotal recordings, it's odd not more has been written about him. Like HP I'd be interested to know more, I believe his background was in Jazz but I'm sure someone will sketch this in.


Tom Wilson also signed The Mothers Of Invention to Verve, producing their first two albums before Zappa took over producing his own work. Wilson's voice appears on 'We're Only In It For The Money'.
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Postby Tactful Cactus » 28 Jan 2005, 17:34

JQW wrote:Tom Wilson also signed The Mothers Of Invention to Verve, producing their first two albums before Zappa took over producing his own work. Wilson's voice appears on 'We're Only In It For The Money'.


The heavy whisperer? Thats Gary Kelgren, I believe.
Apparently thats also Wilson at the start of Bob Dylans 115th Dream (I always thought that was Bob himself)

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Postby Charlie O. » 29 Jan 2005, 02:55

Wilson also "produced" The Soft Machine's first album, and they were put off by his production style - sitting in the control room and yakking on the phone and/or entertaining his ladyfriends while they played.

The Velvet Underground told much the same story, except that they didn't seem to mind. He seemed to gravitate towards independent-minded artists who knew what they wanted and didn't require much direction, as would befit a producer with a jazz background.

Not to take anything away from Tom Wilson. Anyone would covet his CV, he did pull Simon & Garfunkel's career out of the shitter, and who knows if-when-or-how those early Velvets, Mothers, and Softs classics (not to mention "Like A Rolling Stone"!) would have been made without him?

And, like Gary Kellgren, he died far too young.

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Postby Mr Maps » 29 Jan 2005, 17:58

Charlie O. wrote:And, like Gary Kellgren, he died far too young.


How and where and when did Wilson die?

Obviously not cover story material but a small feature in Mojo would be nice, if unlikely.
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Postby Piggly Wiggly » 29 Jan 2005, 22:46

Hip Priest wrote:
Charlie O. wrote:And, like Gary Kellgren, he died far too young.


How and where and when did Wilson die?

Obviously not cover story material but a small feature in Mojo would be nice, if unlikely.


I've been extremely curious about Tom Wilson as of late. I know virtually nothing about him - yet his presence at/involvement with "Sounds Of Silence", "Like A Rolling Stone", Freak Out, and The Velvet Underground And Nico suggests that there must be a hell of a story in there somewhere. That, to my knowledge, few artists worked with him twice suggests that he may have been rock and roll's own Zelig/Forrest Gump - just inexplicably present at all the right times.

Speculation.

It's a story I'd love to read.

By the way, fantastic work on this thread, everyone.

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Postby Jeff K » 29 Jan 2005, 23:05

Here's almost all you need to know about Tom Wilson...

http://blogcritics.org/archives/2003/10/23/154347.php
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Piggly Wiggly

Postby Piggly Wiggly » 29 Jan 2005, 23:20

Thanks for that, Jeff!

marios

Postby marios » 30 Jan 2005, 06:19

Excellent article Jeff! Thanks for digging it up. I'd love to read more about this guy, and as someone on the blog pointed out perhaps a book wouldn't be such a bad idea.

What's amazing is that there's not even a photo of him on the web, despite helping Dylan go electric, helping S&G break out and producing such cult acts as VU and Zappa!

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Postby Guest » 30 Jan 2005, 13:15

Fascinating. I've known Tom Wilson's name forever as associated with these bands, and always thought of him as daring, if anything else. But that bio helps put him into a much better perspective.

Strange that he isn't more well-known, and sad.

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Postby Quaco » 30 Jan 2005, 14:26

Emperor Marios Ketchup wrote:What's amazing is that there's not even a photo of him on the web, despite helping Dylan go electric, helping S&G break out and producing such cult acts as VU and Zappa!

Image

I think that's him standing on the far left. The black guy with his hand in his cardigan with no shirt, next to the Billy Mundi doll.
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Postby Charlie O. » 30 Jan 2005, 14:38

Emperor Marios Ketchup wrote:What's amazing is that there's not even a photo of him on the web, despite helping Dylan go electric, helping S&G break out and producing such cult acts as VU and Zappa!


That is a little surprising. I've seen at least two photos of him - in Al Kooper's book there's one from the "Like A Rolling Stone" session, with Wilson, Dylan, Albert Grossman, and a very nervous-looking Kooper (along with a few other people) in the control room, listening to the playback. Then there's a later (undated, but you can tell it's later) picture of him, smiling mischievously, in Uptight: The Velvet Underground Story.

I enjoyed the article too, but I'd never heard before that Wilson and Dylan had a falling-out. I just thought that Wilson happened to leave Columbia for MGM right at that time. (You may recall that Dylan, too, was about to sign with MGM when his Columbia contract expired 1966; I always assumed he was lured there by Wilson.)

There's a recording - I have part of it, somewhere - a promotional thing of some sort, where Wilson is chatting with Lou Reed and John Cale (just after recording White Light/White Heat), in between playing tracks from then-current MGM releases. Reed and Cale are talkative enough, but sound a little, um, uptight; Wilson is very jovial and effortlessly hip - he even gets them to laugh once or twice. He sounds like he'd've been a fun guy to know.

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Postby Charlie O. » 30 Jan 2005, 14:39

Quaco wrote:Image

I think that's him standing on the far left. The black guy with his hand in his cardigan with no shirt, next to the Billy Mundi doll.


Correct as usual, Quaco. I'd forgotten about that one!

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Postby Owen » 30 Jan 2005, 14:52

Emperor Marios Ketchup wrote:Excellent article Jeff! Thanks for digging it up. I'd love to read more about this guy, and as someone on the blog pointed out perhaps a book wouldn't be such a bad idea.

What's amazing is that there's not even a photo of him on the web, despite helping Dylan go electric, helping S&G break out and producing such cult acts as VU and Zappa!


Image

I was sure i'd seen him on a dylan inlay but i just checked and he isn't, i've definitely seen a photo of him at a dylan session somewhere. Mojo?

that pic is from a john cale webpage.

marios

Postby marios » 30 Jan 2005, 15:14

Thanks for the info guys! I had no idea he was on that Zappa cover!

What did you google for Owen? I used Yahoo and i used his name along with variations of the people he produced.

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Postby Owen » 30 Jan 2005, 15:30

Emperor Marios Ketchup wrote:Thanks for the info guys! I had no idea he was on that Zappa cover!

What did you google for Owen? I used Yahoo and i used his name along with variations of the people he produced.


"Tom Wilson" producer

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Postby Leg of lamb » 30 Jan 2005, 15:42

Dragging the thread back to its original themes for a moment, I have a few thoughts about Dylan's 'back to roots' work. Whilst there's certainly an element of creative burnout involved (I mean, he just couldn't have carried on at the pace he set for himself from Bringing It All Back Home to Blonde On Blonde), I think there's also a major reactionary fuck-you factor going on. Dylan is by far and away the most interesting 60s star for me because he's both the ringleader of the era and a staunch outsider, making records that both amazed and scared the other major figures of the counter-culture. When the prevailing trends were optimism, peace and rootless invention he was making this music that was bursting at the seems with creativity and vision but which was rooted in mythic, apocalyptic Old Testament narratives. Listen to the Live 66 bootleg and you don't hear an artist who is with the spirit of the times - it's a deeply angry and alienated recording.

So, in my eyes, it was only a matter of time before he would drop out of the whole 'all you need is love' circus altogether and reconnect with his essentially austere roots, which manifested themselves in him retreating to the woods to make earthy music and concentrate on being a good Jewish husband and father. If Dylan can be credited as spurring the back to the primitive impulse of late 60s rock then it's more than a little ironic because my sense of the whole episode is of Dylan being disgusted by the counter-cultural world and its (in his eyes) phoney, rootless 'all for one and one for all' ethos. His natural instinct was to move on to something more timeless, and that's not a regression per se - I think that Dylan's a deeply religious writer and part of that involves returning to established truths. The fact is that a person with such an amazingly original mind is going to find an interesting way to interpret them.

However, when everyone else spectacularly missed the point and jumped on the bandwagon, they did so with a different (and, in my eyes, misplaced) conviction. They just took it on as another cool pose, with none of the sincerity and sense of biblical drama that made John Wesley Harding such a fascinating and unique record.

I don't really want to get bogged down in theories but I think that if Dylan's going to be implicated in accelerating the move back to 'keeping it real', then this fundamental distinction has to be noted.
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Postby Phenomenal Cat » 30 Jan 2005, 18:25

Excellent points regarding Dylan. I don't really have much to contribute to the discussion as to why the great Innovative Trend of 1965-67 ended; I'm just disappointed that it did. It is rather ironic that Dylan disappeared in 1967, just when it seemed that anything was possible, and the great bands of the time were putting out increasingly progressive music. Something like Sgt. Pepper could only have happened in 1967 (regardless of how it holds up nowadays, it was regarded as an event upon release. When's the last time that happened?).

Looking at the singles charts, with records like "Good Vibrations", "Have You Seen Your Mother Baby", "Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane", "Pictures of Lily", "Here Comes the Nice", "See Emily Play", and of course Dylan's work, it's hard not to get caught up in the boundless optimism and anticipatory feeling that, wow, music just keeps getting better and better. I can't wait to see what happens next. With the exception of Satanic Majesties (which I love, but I've always enjoyed fish-out-of-water comedies), it seems like everyone from Simon and Garfunkel to The Kinks to The Pretty Things to The Zombies benefited from the competition and freedom of this era to create the next big thing.

Then it was 1968. Ugh. Will anyone really argue that John Wesley Harding or Nashville Skyline can stand toe to toe with Highway 61 or Blonde on Blonde? The hard rock combos began to propogate, and today classic rock radio plays Traffic every day but no Small Faces. I'm not saying that every band suddenly abandoned the race, but it seems that it became acceptable to just play and sing. This may not seem like a travesty to some, but when Ringo starts getting his tunes on wax, you know that no one's minding the store like they used to.

And then The Beach Boys began to play on their own records.
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