Thursday, 31 March 2011

Update from Mozz the Elder

Well raise my rent! Bust my buttons!

Thanks to all you folks who've read and enjoyed my blog posts.

To reverse-paraphrase Neil Young:

"It does mean that much to me to mean that much to you"

I'm locked in a daylong session, here at Studio Vapor,
but when I finish for the day, I'm gonna weigh in with 
yet another tasty blog-bit about yet another amazing, 
classic song: "Moon Ra" by Jon Anderson

But before I go, I give you sunrise on Buck Lake!

Mozz the Elder

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Classic Song 18 - Tomita "Clair De Lune"

Let's talk about classic music.

Let's talk about Isao Tomita, who in 1974 released what I consider
to be the finest album of classical music ever produced with 
the aid of synthesisers: Snowflakes Are Dancing.

When I think back to '74, the music industry was in full flux,
still morphing from a singles-dominated record industry in 
the mid 60s to an album-dominated business in the mid 70s. 

Disco had yet to dominate the airwaves and invade the dance floors.

Progressive rock bands like Yes, Genesis, ELP and Focus found their 
songs and LPs perched atop the Top sales charts, and new genres 
such as jazz-fusion challenged the age old notion that popular 
music had to consist of three chords and a simple melody.

Imagine my wonderment when I first heard Tomita's eclectic, 
epic Snowflakes Are Dancing album - through a great pair 
of headphones, no less. The entire record consisted of 
ten 'tone paintings', composed by Claude Debussy, 
rearranged and performed solely by Tomita on his
multitude of keyboards and synthesisers.

To say I was blown away and forever changed would be a 
huge understatement. I love this music as much today
as when I was still a teenaged BC boy!

Check out the unbelievably dynamic and captivating
"Clair De Lune", following a look at my beach,
in the dead of a Muskokan winter.

Mozz the Elder

Monday, 28 March 2011

Classic Song 17 - Donovan "Wear Your Love Like Heaven"

Let's talk about classic music.

Continuing along the thread of love and love songs,
I can't think of a better tune to recommend for you
lovebirds than "Wear Your Love Like Heaven".

Released in 1967 as the lead-off single from Donovan's
UK double album, A Gift From a Flower To a Garden,
"Wear Your Love Like Heaven" gently leads you,
the listener, through a palette of lyrical references
to exotic colours, including Prussian Blue, 
Havana Lake and Rose Carmethene.

In my opinion, Donovan's huge influence on pop music has 
been overlooked or downplayed to a considerable degree, 
possibly because of his association with all things 'hippie'.

In reality, he (along with such 60s musical luminaries as 
Van Morrison and Stan Getz) fearlessly and seamlessly
wove disparate musical elements, such as jazz and pop, 
into his rich, sonic tapestries. Time will tell whether
his legacy is revealed to be as important as I feel
it is, but safe to say, Donovan's music has 
had a tremendous and lasting, positive 
effect on this old 'hippie'.

Here's "Wear Your Love Like Heaven", 
preceded by a perfect example of my
idea of Heaven: Positano, Italy.

Mozz the Elder

Classic Song 16 - The Moody Blues "Never Comes the Day"

Let's talk about classic music.

My good buddy got married to his true love, this past weekend,
so I thought that, as a tribute, I'd post and discuss a tune that 
I consider one of the most beautiful rock love songs ever.

Specifically, "Never Comes the Day" by The Moody Blues.

Released as the sole single from their 1969 album, On The
Threshold of a Dream, "Never Comes the Day" features
the inimitable Justin Hayward, who wrote the song,
played guitar and sang lead on this magical track.

I could go on, ad nauseum, about how much the Moodies
influenced me, musically. But rather than blather on 
about their greatness, I simply suggest that you 
put on your ear buds or headphones, and drink in 
the words and melody of this timeless recording.

But before you do that, my friends, 
have a gander at my fridge magnets.

Mozz the Elder

Friday, 25 March 2011

Classic Song 15 - The Association "Requiem For The Masses"

Let's talk about classic music.

I've always had a thing about great group vocals. In my opinion,
some of the very greatest were recorded by The Association. 
Though today they are still most known - by association - 
with their biggest hit records: Windy, Never My Love ,
Along Comes Mary and Six Man Band, my favourite 
tracks of theirs are their many, less commercial 
album cuts, where they showed little 
punters like me how to SING. 

"Requiem For The Masses", the last song on their Insight Out album, 
had a profound influence on me. First off, I didn't have a clue what
a requiem was, nor did I yet have any idea how bands recorded in
the studio. Furthermore, I was just starting the write baby songs
in my head, and following my first exposure to groups like the 
Association and The Mamas and The Papas, my songs morphed 
from little puppy love tunes into more topical and complicated 
epics - albeit epics written by a mountain kid from BC.

Have a listen to their vocal arrangement and execution,
which differentiated them from most other 60s bands.
In particular, the vocal build (2:12 - 2:30 on the video) 
blew my 12 year old, Castlegarian pre-teenaged mind!

But first, have a close look at my trusty Larrivee.

Mozz the Elder

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Classic Song 14 - Mike Oldfield "Piltdown Man"

Let's talk about classic music.

Back in '73, I fashioned myself as a bit of a multi-instrumentalist.

My folks and my brother Gord had chipped in and bought me a
Teac 3340, open reel four track tape recorder (the first one in
western Canada, apparently), which I duly set up in the 
family rumpus room in the basement.

From that momentous moment on, I lost all contact with the world,
and spent what now seems like the rest of my teens, learning the
craft of engineering, playing and overdubbing and - if my voice
would only stop breaking - maybe singing a little bit, too.

Imagine my shock and awe, when I first heard the opening piano motif 
from Oldfield's debut LP, "Tubular Bells", which I didn't yet know, 
because I was too afraid to go see 'The Exorcist' at the local theater.

Imagine my reaction, when the piano motif morphed into some
of the most gorgeous, one-man multi-instrumental interplay and 
layering that I'd ever heard. Or maybe NEVER heard.

Oldfield had an ironic sense of humour, too.

The musical TB excerpt I've chosen is "Piltdown Man", 
Oldfield's raw and quite funny answer to his record boss' 
(a young Richard Branson) request for lyrics!

Have a good listen, but first have a good look at my birds.

Mozz the Elder

Classic Song 13 - Eric Burdon and The Animals "I Think It's Going To Rain Today"

Let's talk about classic music.

In my opinion, anything that Randy Newman wrote, back in the 60s
and early 70s, is most likely classic music, because he's a gifted, 
melodic genius of melody and simplicity of arrangement.

Even though I was tres bored by his Grammy winning song this year.

Back in '67, my brother Rod brought the "Eric Is Here" album home 
after work, and by the following weekend, I had the whole, 
damn thing memorized and internalized - for life.

Including this obscure gem of a tune.

 Both Eric and fellow singer, Harry Nilsson were recording 
and releasing tunes by Newman, at the time, and I revelled
in the discovery - song by song - of this new music that 
completely took my teenage mind over. Eric's version
of "I Think It's Going..." has such a 'period' sound,
it takes me right back to my bedroom in Castlegar:
spending hours with Rod's little Seabreeze stereo.

So check out Eric and his band of Animals, right 
after you check out these beautiful beasts,
feeding quietly at my cottage.....

Mozz the Elder

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Classic Song 12 - Love "The Everlasting First"

Let's talk about classic music.

Now, how about some music I doubt you've ever heard, 
featuring somebody whose music you can't avoid hearing?


It'll all become clear, the moment you play the opening
track from Love's "False Start" album -  a song that
features none other than Jimi Hendrix on his fabled 
Strat and Crybaby wawa. Apparently, Jimi and Love's 
leader, Arthur Lee were friends, and Lee asked Jimi to 
play some guitar on "The Everlasting First".

In fact, Hendrix ended up arranging the song, as well.

When I hear this now, my mind drifts back to December,
1970, less than a year before Jimi passed away, when I
first heard this amazing song.

I'm still a bit tongue-tied by the overall performance, 
so why don't you have a look at this sign in my cottage,
before experiencing Hendrix anew.

Mozz the Elder

Classic Song 11 - The Beach Boys "Surf's Up"

Let's talk about classic music.

I was a Beach Boys fan from the first time I heard them on the radio.
Their pop songs were complete gems that sang of fun in the sun,
California girls and this crazy west coast thing called surfing.

I still remember singing "Help me Rhonda", every time fellow
grade five schoolmate, Rhonda Leitch walked into class. I was
well aware that The Beatles credited The Beach Boys' album,
Pet Sounds as the main inspiration for their epic 
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Needless to say, the Fab Four's hearty endorsement made me
listen even closer to Brian Wilson's songs and arrangements,
but NOTHING could prepare me for that day in '71, when 
my brother Rod brought home the new, long awaited 
Beach Boys' album, and I first heard the title song.

I cried. Like a baby. 

I simply couldn't believe the sounds I was hearing.
Vocal arrangements that both soothed my ears and startled
my senses. Lyrics that, though impenetrable, seemed
preternaturally bound to Wilson's exquisite melody.

So have a look at a beautiful sunset, then have a listen
to "Surf's Up" while I blubber away, yet again.

Mozz the Elder

Classic Song 10 - Kensington Market "If It Is Love"

Let's talk about classic music.

When I was 12, my brother Ken hitch-hiked to Montreal to experience Expo 67.

Upon his return, he told me about this really cool band he'd heard there, named
Kensington Market. They were promoting their debut record called Avenue Road,
and Ken said he was mightily impressed with what he saw and heard.

A couple of years later, he bought a copy of their sophomore record, "Aardvark".
Naturally, I made that record MINE. I must have listened to the whole record a 
hundred times that year, imagining what it must be like to be grown up and
in real band like Kensington Market.

"If It Is Love" features a wonderful chorus that seems to build in intensity,
even though the instrumentation isn't augmented at all. Just the simple
addition of a double tracked lead vocal took me higher and higher...

...and that was at least a year before I first puffed the local herb.

Have a gander at this curious picture of a beach bunny,
then be sure and check out "If It Is Love".

Mozz the Elder

Classic Song 9 - Billie Holiday "Strange Fruit"

Let's talk about classic music.

When I was a kid, jazz music was as foreign to me as the planet Jupiter.

Our family listened to a lot of great music, but I don't recall much jazz
on the turntable, with the notable exception of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five".
My adolescent ears were attuned to the seemingly endless parade of great 
60s singles and LPs that were stacked on their sides in the living room, and
I took great pride in reading every headline, byline and footnote about my
favourite pop and rock bands.

Imagine my astonishment a few years ago, when I first heard a clean
audio copy of "Strange Fruit" by Billie Holiday. To say I was staggered
would be an understatement. 

Check out this 'live' version of the song, following a look at my snowman.

Mozz the Elder

Classic Song 8 - Focus "La Cathedrale de Strasbourg"

Let's talk about classic music.

During my teens, I was awash in all things 'prog', as in progressive rock,
as in Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, ELP, PFM etc., and I welcomed any 
great new band or artist into my brain, via my parents' console stereo.

I first heard Focus on the radio, when "Hocus Pocus" became a breakout hit.

Now, just think about that for a moment or two. Progressive rock music... playing
prominently on Top 40 radio! From Yes' "Roundabout" to ELP's "Lucky Man"
I happily veered, in my search for true prog Top 40 greatness.

When my brother Rod bought Focus' first album, I commandeered it from him
and listened to it until I knew every audio nook and cranny of the record. Over
time (and during school lunch or study breaks) I dove into every record they
released, including Hamburger Concerto in '74.

"La Cathedrale de Strasbourg", for me, is a more focussed Focus, 
and marked their return to shorter, more concise songs, at a time 
when Yes was riding their four-sided Toby's Graphic Go-kart 
to the top of the charts.

As much as I was still a complete Yes freak, something about Focus'
approach to music drew my teenage attention away from Yes, and
toward the awesome Akkerman and van Leer.

Have a look at a wonderful, ancient castle in Ireland,'
then check out "La Cathedrale de Strasbourg".

Mozz the Elder

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Classic Song 7 - Traffic "Shanghai Noodle Factory"

Let's talk about classic music.

And let's talk about the classic composer, musician and singer,
Steve Winwood, who has blazed a trail so bright, throughout
his storied career, that we fans all, at one time or another, have
basked in the afterglow of his incredible and inimitable talent.

When I first heard "Shanghai Noodle Factory", recorded and 
released by Traffic in 1969, I had to relisten to the song, over and
over again, just to try to make sense of the quirky subject matter,
not to mention trying to figure out the musical content.

The endless relistens didn't necessarily make the lyrics' message
any clearer, but they DID confirm one thing: this music was very
different from anything else I was listening to, at the time, and I
memorized and internalized its every musical nuance.

After over 40 years, since its release, this song is still fresh to me, 
and although I still don't fully comprehend the storyline, I can
quote the song's lyrics, verse after verse.

Check it out, after looking up up up at the Eye of God.

Mozz the Elder

Classic Song 6 - Airwaves "You Are The New Day"

Let's talk about classic music.

And right now, I wanna talk about a classic, late 70s tune by
a couple of talented 'studio cats', collectively called Airwaves.

The song, "You Are The New Day" fell into my lap while I was 
playing and touring in a progressive rock band called Rhinegold,
featuring a very young Lawrence Gowan on vocals and piano.

At that time, most of my favorite music was lumped into either
the 'prog' or 'fusion' camps, and featured complex rhythms a la
Patrick Moraz' "The Story of I" or intricate instrumental blends 
a la Yes' "The Gates of Delirium". Was I a diehard fan of these
challenging genres of music?


So imagine my surprise and true wonder when I first heard the
opening chorale from "...New Day", which nestled softly and
reassuringly, deep inside my consciousness - and which has
resided there ever since.

Check out the song, after you check out this photo, taken in NYC.

Mozz the Elder

Classic Song 5 - Return To Forever "Hymn of the 7th Galaxy"

Let's talk about classic music.

As a matter of fact, let's talk about classic jazz fusion.

Whatever that muddy term really means, to me, jazz fusion was
and is personified by acts like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Herbie Hancock
and my own, personal favorite, the original Return To Forever, 
featuring a truly stunning four piece lineup, including one of
my favorite guitarists, Bill Connors.

Have a look at a 'live' version of "Hymn of the 7th Galaxy"
after having a look at one of my favorite places on earth.

Mozz the Elder

Classic Song 4 - Peter Sarstedt "Where Do You Go To My Lovely?"

Let's talk about classic music.

Music that exists in the margins of my addled memory.

Music that sounds as if it was recorded in another place, 
another time, with topical subject matter that one 
needs to research, in order to get the full 
effect of the lyrical message.

Music like Peter Sarstedt's singular hit,
"Where Do You Go To My Lovely", 
which was released way back in 1969 
and contains a circular song structure, 
as well as references to many 
popular figures and 
locations, around 
the world.

As a young teen, I was very impressed by the 
seeming worldliness of Sarstedt, as he sang 
about people and events that tantalized me.

Have a look at the grainy black and white video,
(which, unfortunately, ends before the final verse)
following my photo of something... 

I'm still not sure what it is.

Mozz the Elder

Classic Song 3 - The Mothers "Mud Shark"

Let's talk about classic music.

Music like pretty well anything and everything by Frank Zappa,
including this funny little excerpted nugget from The Mothers'
 astoundingly well played album, "Live at Fillmore East June 1971",
simply entitled "The Mud Shark".

The back story to this song is, apparently, true and hysterical.
Check out Wiki etc for your self, but I think it's safe to say,
this is CLASSIC music, folks!

The embedded video is further down, down, down this page,
after my curious pic of the temple site at Tulum, Mexico.

Mozz the Elder

Classic Song 2 - The Beatles "You Know My Name..."

Let's talk about classic music.

And by this, I don't mean 'Classic Rawk' 
or anything that Toronto's Q107 or any 
similar 'hits' station might playlist.

No offense to Kim and the crew at the Mighty Q.

I'm talking about unique, offbeat, classic music that 
exists because it HAS to; music that both entertains 
AND informs because it's rich in information and 
borrows from earlier works of audio art.

This time, let's talk about classic music by The Beatles.

Yeah, those Beatles.

I know I know... we've heard everything they ever did...
a million times at that, but I think the world at large missed the 
release of one of their most obscure, yet relevant masterpieces,
"You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)", written by
Paul and John and released as the B-side to "Let It Be".

Have a good listen, via the link below 
the photo of my pet seagull, Bill.

Mozz the Elder

Classic Song 1 - King Crimson "Happy Family"

Let's talk about classic music.

Timeless music.

I mean, fucking GREAT, timeless music.
Not that shite that dominates the various sound 
and sight media we're limited to these days, but 
classic music that both defines an era 
AND transcends it.

King Crimson's "Happy Family" is what I call 
classic music. Recorded and released on Crimson's 
third album, Lizard, in 1970, Happy Family's music 
was written by their leader, guitarist and main 
composer, Robert Fripp, with astonishingly
topical and insightful verse by 
band lyricist, Pete Sinfield.

Have a listen, via the link, below the picture 
of a wall in Rome's Jewish Ghetto.

Tune in later when I bring you the next classic song.

Mozz the Elder