Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Alright - time to talk about classic music.
Back in the years before The Beatles changed
everything, I was a little Kootenay kid that loved
pretty well all types of music that I heard, as I was
becoming more and more obsessed with the sounds
emanating from our radio and/or console stereo, and
was constantly on the lookout for something new.
My brother Gord was my music hero, having
allowed me exclusive access to his band's
rehearsals (as detailed in Classic Song
34). By eavesdropping on his daily
guitar practice, whether played
on his '59 Jazzmaster or his
mid-50s Kaye, I heard many
exciting, reverb-laden tunes that
still resonate with me, over a half
century later, including guitar-centric
songs by Duane Eddy, The Ventures,
England's The Shadows or today's Classic
Song, featuring none other than The Tornados.
The story behind "Telstar" has been recounted
often, so I'll give you only a snapshot summary of
the salient points. The song was written and produced
by Robert George "Joe" Meek, who was not only into
music, but dabbled also in the occult, believing that he
could communicate with the dead, including the spirit
of Buddy Holly, himself. When not communicating
with ghosts, Meek was active in the British music
scene, having already had a couple of number
one UK records to his production credit.
He was truly obsessed with futuristic sounds,
having already written and produced a concept
album, entitled I Hear A New World (which he
described as an 'Outer Space Music Fantasy),
for Brit act, Rod Freeman & The Blue Men.
But that was in 1960, and two years later, he was
determined to paint his audio masterpiece, with
the capable help of The Tornados. The title,
Telstar, refers to the US satellite that orbited
the globe, in competition with Sputnik,
the Soviet Union's pioneering satellite.
The song itself features a very catchy melody,
played on a unique little instrument, called
the Clavioline, a forerunner to the analog
synthesizer, that was also used on The
Beatles' "Baby You're A Rich Man"
and many other pop tunes by acts as
varied as Esquivel, Del Shannon,
The White Stripes and a young
David Jones aka Bowie.
After Telstar's massive success, Joe Meek
was sued for plagiarizing the melody from an
obscure soundtrack to a French film, and though
ultimately (and posthumously) found not guilty,
he was denied all royalties to Telstar, during
his short lifetime, and ended up deeply in
debt and massively depressed by his
sad and lonely circumstance.
Though he ended it all in 1967 by murdering
his landlady and subsequently committing
suicide, Joe Meek's legacy has grown in
stature, with each new generation that
has searched for greatness, and
found this classic song.
Now, the incredible "Telstar",
following a totally unrelated
photo, taken from my vast,
personal collection of
Mozz the Elder
BONUS!! Joe Meek's demo of Telstar!!
Wednesday, 8 June 2011
Let's talk about classic music.
Synonymous with the term 'classic music',
the name Steely Dan conjures up memories
of my touring days in the 70s, especially with
Rhinegold, since our master soundman, Bob
Shindle, used to 'tune' our PA to each club
environment by playing various great
sounding records through the board,
including The Royal Scam.
I remember being in Halifax, setting up at
the infamous Zapata's (where our dressing
room was, in fact, the men's restroom), and
hearing the jazzy opening strains of Steely's
"Kid Charlamagne" signal that our PA was
ready for action. But before the band began
our full soundcheck, Bob and I listened to
KC a bit closer, noticing just how rich and
unadorned every instrument and vocal
sounded. In particular, the drums had
that dry, in-your-face clarity that
Bob was able to effectively cop
for our drummer, Danny
Bourne's massive kit.
Though Steely Dan and Rhinegold
shared little, stylistically, we did both
aim for greatness: of song; of performance
AND of sound, and even though Larry and
I parted ways about a year after we played
our hearts out in Halifax, I will always
remember his huge musical influence
on me, not to mention the huge
musical influence Steely Dan
had on me and Bobby and
pretty well the rest of
the world, methinks.
Here's "Kid Charlamagne",
following a recently acquired
picture of yours truly, dressed
from head to toe in Malabar-
made stage clothes - circa
late '78 or early '79.
Mozz the Elder