Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Classic Song 43 - Paganini "Caprice No. 24"

Let's talk about classic music from 
a turn-of-the-century composer.

And by 'turn of the century', my little pretties, 
I mean the turn of the nineteenth century. 

The composer? Why, none other than Niccolo 
Paganini, who was certainly a proto-prog 
musician, if there ever was one. 

His astonishing violin virtuosity notwithstanding, 
he lived a life that we would today describe 
as that of a rock star, overindulging in sex, 
alcohol, drugs and serious, classical 
composition and concerts.

Before he descended into personal chaos and 
financial ruin, he graced the world with original 
music that was so far ahead of its time, many 
thought his more challenging works 
to be near-musical heresy.

Caprice No. 24 is the final caprice of his 
24 Caprices, and is one of the most famously 
difficult pieces ever written for violin soloists,
featuring a main theme, eleven astounding 
theme variations and a brief finale.

Performed by the great Jascha Heifetz 
(whose grandson is Danny Heifetz, 
drummer for Dieselhed and most 
notably, Mr. Bungle), here's a 
live performance, filmed in 
beautiful black and white,
following a picture, taken while 
I recorded with members of the 
Toronto Symphony Orchestra 
and other elite TO musicians.

I'm just a lucky guy.

Mozz the Elder


Monday, 30 May 2011

Classic Song 42 - Blonde Redhead "A Cure"

Let's talk about classic music from the turn of the century.

And by that, brave warriors, I mean the year 2000.

We'd all survived the runup to, and letdown from, 
the Y2K silliness, and were back to consuming 
way too much, way too often, with way too 
few concerns for way too many.

In other words, life was GREAT.

The fave album at the Fen-by household 
was Red Hot Chili Peppers' Californication.

I was constantly scouring music periodicals to find out 
more about their resurgence, and during one particular 
interview with their guitar great, John Frusciante, he 
mentioned he was a big fan of a band which was 
opening for the Chilis, called Blonde Redhead.

So I followed Frusciante's lead and picked 
up Blonde Redhead's fifth album: 

'Melody Of Certain Damaged Lemons'. 

I popped the CD in the house system and... 
wow... I liked... no... LOVED what I heard. 

The band's three-person lineup (minimally augmented 
with tasty studio overdubs) yielded an inventive, musically 
challenging sound that appealed directly to both me AND 
my lovely lady, Pamela. Which was quite a big feat, 
considering that our musical tastes differed mightily,
with respect to anything that sounded 
remotely like progressive rawk.

I think the main difference between 'normal' prog rawk 
and the permutation performed by Blonde Redhead was 
that their lead singer was - and still is - a quirky Japanese 
woman named Kazu Makino, whose accented vocal 
prowess cast a spell on both Pam and me.

Her musical partners, twins Amedeo and Simone Pace 
also added high quality vocals to the mix, not to mention 
their Boston-trained percussive and stringed prowess.

The songs themselves run the gamut from the 6/8 
intensity of Melody Of Certain Three, to the almost 
Parisien pop of In Particular, to the stark, emotive 
balladry of Hated Because of Great Qualities 
my favourite track on the album: "A Cure".

With great shared lead vocals, "A Cure" feels at once 
like a Yes song, albeit with PFM-like male vocals, 
accented by Kazu's breathy rejoindres. 

The combination still feels fresh and invigorating, 
a full decade or more down the road of life.

Here's "A Cure", following a brief backyard 
visual from my trusty camera eye.

Moss the Elder


Monday, 16 May 2011

Classic Song 41 - The Doors "When The Music's Over"

When I was 13 years old, 
my brother Gord took me to my 
first ever rock concert, headlined
by none other than The Doors.

Mom, Dad and I were in Vancouver,
visiting relatives, and while spending an 
afternoon with big brother Gord, he
asked if I'd be interested in seeing
The Doors that very evening,
July 13th, 1968 at the
Pacific Coliseum.

Needless to say, I voiced an unqualified 'yes',
which was followed by Gord, wanting to 
make absolutely sure I was into seeing 
the band, since the 2 tickets'd 
cost him about 8 bucks.

I guess my job of convincing him was... 
convincing, for the next thing I knew,
I'd gone and bought a Nehru shirt at
Woolworth's, and Gord and I made
our way to the Coliseum - first,
to see the 3 opening acts, The 
Crome Syrcus, The Hydro-
Electric Streetcar and solo
singer, Tom Northcott.

Remember: this was my first rock concert,
so I was overwhelmed by a few things,
such as the pre-show crowd revelry 
(which got me all worked up), not
to mention (to the parents) my
first, ever contact high....

which really got me worked up.

So when the hockey PA speakers echoed the 
following announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen,
from Los Angeles, California, THE DOORS", I 
nearly leaped straight out of my skin and onto
the stage, except that it was about 20 rows 
away, and I was too young to be allowed 
to disappear from within Gord's sight. 

I stayed in my seat, straining to take in every, 
single moment of Morrison's and his band
mates' performance, albeit from row 20.

The concert changed my life, without a doubt.

Who knows? If I'd not seen this show at the
impressionable age of thirteen, would I have
been galvanized enough (without its impetus)
to want to be in the music business, when I was 
old enough to try my luck and my folks' patience?

Most likely, the true answer would still be 'yes',
even without my experiences, during that singular
and influential evening with the Lower Mainland 
hippies, the multi-named, long maned opening 
bands, followed by Northcott and The Doors.

I'm just so glad it happened, and forever 
grateful to Gord for making it happen.

The embedded video was taken during 
The Doors' '68 European tour, which
followed hot on the heels of their
tour of the US and Canada.

The poster and ticket stub 
were screen-grabbed from 

Mozz the Elder


Mozz the Elder - Random Rune 6

No man is truly great who is 
great only in his lifetime. 
The test of greatness is 
the page of history.

William Hazlitt
(whose work, ironically, is little-read)

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Classic Album 2 - Simon and Garfunkel "Bookends"

Let's talk about Simon and Garfunkel,
their epic concept album, Bookends, 

and the times in which it was 
released to the world - 
including Castlegar.

During the mid to late 60s, the family home on 

the hill was constantly thrumming with music. 

At any given time, the console stereo would be 
pumping out the latest sounds from a wide 
variety of artists, while Rod's Seabreeze 
record player was in use in his or my 
bedroom. Doug might be outside,
washing his 4-wheeled pride and 
joy, as its radio blared the 
hit parade, courtesy of 
Castlegar's own 

Meanwhile, Gord, 
Ken and I might be in the 
rumpus room, trading licks: 
Gord on his '65 Yamaha Spanish 
guitar (with the original 'motorcycle 
spokes' logo on the headstock), Ken
playing his Ludwig Jazz kit, and me 
on my used, $25, candy apple red 
Teisco bass (with the 4 pickups).

Music was anywhere and everywhere, 

on the hill and in the valley below.

That was how cool Castlegar 
was, way back in the 60s.

When Rod unwrapped and first played Bookends, 

top to bottom, we brothers all stopped what we 
were doing and congregated in the living room, 
amazed by the LP's lush production and 2-sided 
concept: side one exploring the ups and downs of 
ageing and side two containing hit song after hit song, 
mostly written for (and rejected from) the soundtrack to 
the movie The Graduate. My ears quickly became hooked 
on the album, requiring daily doses of its timeless strains, 
as I subconciously memorized every melody and lyric, 
not to mention its perfectly planned - perfectly 
sequenced running order...

Side One: 

Bookends Theme; Save The Life of My Child, 
featuring Bob Moog's synthesiser; the magnificent, 
sprawling America; Overs; the haunting Voices of 
Old People (who were not much older then than I 
am now); one of my lifelong faves, 
Old Friends and the title song, 

Side Two: 

Fakin' It, with its incredibly deep and wide production,
 courtesy of the great Roy Halee (whom I met in early '80); 
the humorous Punky's Dilemma; the number one smash, 
Mrs. Robinson; A Hazy Shade of Winter and... finally... 
the mesmerising At The Zoo, with its tongue-twisting 
couplets of rich, wry rhyme. What an album!! 

I searched far and wide for clean copies of each song,
then embedded each Tube video in its correct sequence,
below. I couldn't find Voices Of Old People, and could
only locate a 'live', mono version of Punky's Dilemma.

Now, it's up to you, ladies and fine fellows, 
to follow the mellow yellow brick road...
back... back... no... further... yeah... 
THAT far back... 

...to the distant spring of '68.

Here's Classic Album 2,
almost in its entirety: 

Bookends Theme

Save The Life Of My Child



Old Friends


Fakin' It (Mono)

Punky's Dilemma
(live version from 1968)

Mrs Robinson

A Hazy Shade of Winter

At The Zoo

Mozz the Elder

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Mozz the Elder - Random Rune 5

A painter paints pictures on canvas.
But musicians paint pictures on silence.

Leopold Stokowski

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Classic Song 40 - Lenny Breau "Toronto"

Let's talk about classic music.

Let's talk about Lenny Breau.

When I was a kid, my brother Gord used to play a song
he wrote with his buddy, Joe Irving. Entitled "Firelight
Fairytale", Gord's song featured Joe's vocal and lyric,
to be sure, but the tune's magic came from the style
of acoustic guitar playing and chording that my 
big brother said was inspired by Lenny Breau, 
whom I'd never even heard - or heard of. 

In 1972, I first travelled to Toronto, as one of
200 young, Canadian school kids who were
chosen to attend a 2 week-long conference 
at Newtonbrook Secondary School, in 
beautiful northern Toronto. All
the students were also asked 
to take in a few shows,
including a concert at
the famed Massey 
Hall, featuring
The Toronto

So there I was, in the third row of the stage 
left balcony, waiting for the orchestra to 
begin their program, when, over the 
house PA system, I heard this 
announcement: "And now, 
ladies and gentlemen, 
The Lenny Breau Trio".

Over the polite audience applause, one most likely 
could have heard me exclaiming "Lenny Breau!"
to those around me. I had no idea he was going
to perform before the TSO, so my surprised
outburst was simultaneous with the sight of
 Lenny and his two band mates, waving to
the crowd as they walked to their setup,
which consisted of an upright bass and
a small kit of drums, as well as what
looked to me like a Fender Twin
Reverb amplifier... and Lenny's
six string guitar on a stand.

Once the trio was ready, he leaned into his
microphone and said "We'd like to start 
with a little number I call "Tu-ning".

What followed was a sunshower of guitar 
harmonics, unlike anything I'd ever heard. 

From that moment, until the end of their set,
I was suspended in some kind of out-of-body
universe, where all that mattered was Lenny's
incredible guitar mastery, performed in perfect 
sympathy with his two equally adept sidemen.

Time seemed to stand still, as I osmosed every
nuance that Lenny and his mates coaxed from
their complex, simply astounding repertoire.

I have no recollection of anything the Toronto
Symphony Orchestra played, although I assume
it was a stellar, world class classical performance.

All I remember, to this very day, is how
profoundly Lenny Breau's inimitable 
performance influenced me, and
gave me a dazzling glimpse 
into the rarefied world of 
guitar playing mastery.

Ladies and gentlemen,
may I present to you
Lenny Breau, solo!

But first, warm your hands over the fire.

Mozz the Elder


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Classic Song 39 - The Woodshed Orchestra "Geddy Lee"

This just in...

So here I am, checking emails, and up pops a 
link from my buddy, Lorne 'Gump' Wheaton,
sending me to rushisaband.com (a great Rush
fan ephemera site). Once there, I'm greeted by
a totally uplifting and heartening video/song
tribute to Rush, featuring former Rheostatic,
Dave Clark's The Woodshed Orchestra.

With lyrics like these,

Geddy Lee is a Canadian National Treasure
playing the bass in the greatest rock band 
All around the world people flock 
to see our Geddy Lee play
"Limelight" and 
"Twenty One Twelve"
and "Tom Sawyer"

"Geddy Lee"'s spontaneous klezmer arrangement
and uproarious 'live' recording and video duly
honour the man that, with his two buddies,
has changed the face of progressive rock.

The best part of this song and video is that 
the majority of the participant artists look
like they were born long after 2112 was
recorded, let alone Limelight and Tom
Sawyer. That's the most heartening
thing, to me, about "Geddy Lee".

The torch has been passed.

A new generation of Rush fans - 
inventive artists in their own right - 
have paid homage, and in shining
yet another bright spotlight on 
Messrs Lee, Lifeson and Peart,
they, too bask in the afterglow.

Congratulations to Dave Clark
and his Woodshed Orchestra
for making magic 
AND my day.

Here's "Geddy Lee",
(available in Spanish, 
German and Italian 
versions, too).

Mozz the Elder


Sunday, 1 May 2011

Classic Album 1 - Pink Floyd "The Wall"

The other day, I was bemoaning the often repeated 
opinion that there are very few, complete albums, 
new or vintage, that merit the adjective 'classic'.

The Beatles' "Revolver" is surely deserved of classic status,
with nary a drop of musical filler in its to-the-brim brew.

The Rolling Stones' "Beggars Banquet" answered all 
post - "...Satanic Majesties..." requests for more fruits 
from their rock, rhythm and blues and country roots.

The Band's sophomore album is generally regarded as 
another complete, musical thought, with song after
song that speak of, and to, old myths and truths,
played as one by the five Band members.

Van Morrison's Astral Weeks is a timeless journey of 
both musical and spiritual discovery, with more soul
per song than just about any album, before or since.

For us proggers, certainly Yes' Close To The Edge
pretty well confirmed the theory, postulated at the
time of their previous release, Fragile, that Yes 
was the greatest prog rock ensemble ever.

But the LP I'm featuring for this inaugural posting 
of a complete, Classic Album is none of the above.

Ladies and gentlemen, would you please hoist 
your flutes, shot glasses, bottles, pints and 
mugs in a toast to the undeniable, dark 
genius that is Roger Waters, and his 
and his band's 'everlast-erpiece', 
The Wall.

I could offer up and let you sample a few, gossipy tidbits,
gleaned directly from the mouth of The Wall's producer, 
Toronto's Bob Ezrin, since I had occasion on two occasions 
to speak to Bob about his legendary involvement (read: 
battle) with the unyielding control freak, also known as 
Pink Floyd's main composer, lyricist, bassist 
and mastermind, George Roger Waters.

But I'd rather shut the fuck up and let you experience 
Pink Floyd's final, epic release of the 70s: "The Wall".

Here it is, in its entirety, contained on one, 
hour-and-a-half long Youtube video post,
following a couple of my OTHER fave
walls - all of which are hidden in plain
sight, within the city limits of Rome.

Mozz the Elder