Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Adam Powell (rocket) Fri 25 Jul 03 14:44
Hwy, Wisconsin isn't all bad... it's the birthplace of The Onion!
RICK LIEBERMAN writes... (tnf) Fri 25 Jul 03 21:36
From Rick Lieberman: Hi, Jeff -- Do you have any info on the guitar/effect/technique Casady used for his drone rhythm guitar on "Fat Angel"? Was it a Vinnie Bell elec. sitar-type thing or what? I do remember he didn't use a pick when he played it. Thanks!
Life Is Easy When Considered From Another Point Of View (dam) Sat 26 Jul 03 07:26
I've been in Wisconson, yechhh!!!! But the Onion is ok! %)
Jacques Delaguerre http://www.delaguerre.com/delaguerre/ (jax) Sat 26 Jul 03 08:15
As I posted above, I loved the book! But here are three minor quibbles and queries for Jeff. 1. and 2. are just fluff, but 3. is interesting. 1. Was Aldous Huxley really a proponent of LSD (pg. 19)? He tripped 9 times, they say, on plant substances, but I don't recall reading that he ever took or advocated LSD, and I'm fairly well read in Huxley. 2. Was G. Gordon Liddy really "one of Nixon's favorite henchmen" (pg. 341)? I thought Nixon didn't even know Liddy existed until the scandal broke. But I could have my Watergate history confused. 3. One thing the book didn't entirely convey was *why* the Airplane were a more popular music act than similar and more musically sophisticated contemporaneous acts. I have in mind the band It's A Beautiful Day, who already had the 1975 Starship/Creach sound in 1968 (compare "White Bird" to "Fast Buck Freddy").
Jeff Tamarkin (jefftamarkin) Sat 26 Jul 03 08:34
>when you worked at goldmine, did you have to live in wisconson? if so, i feel for you.< No, fortunately. They tried to get me to move out there many times but I wasn't going for it. I did visit a few times a year and it's just not my kinda scene, although I did make some very good friends out there. I just have trouble with a place where the nearest movie theater is 40 miles away!
Jeff Tamarkin (jefftamarkin) Sat 26 Jul 03 08:36
>Do you have any info on the guitar/effect/technique Casady used for his drone rhythm guitar on "Fat Angel"? Was it a Vinnie Bell elec. sitar-type thing or what? I do remember he didn't use a pick when he played it. Thanks!< No, I'm afraid I'm completely clueless when it comes to equipment. I did have the band members run through what they used at various stages of the band's run but I never got into the "Fat Angel" setup with Jack. He's fairly accessible thugh if you'd like to ask him. I believe his email address is on his web site, jackcasady.com.
Jeff Tamarkin (jefftamarkin) Sat 26 Jul 03 08:44
>1. Was Aldous Huxley really a proponent of LSD (pg. 19)? He tripped 9 times, they say, on plant substances, but I don't recall reading that he ever took or advocated LSD, and I'm fairly well read in Huxley. 2. Was G. Gordon Liddy really "one of Nixon's favorite henchmen" (pg. 341)? I thought Nixon didn't even know Liddy existed until the scandal broke. But I could have my Watergate history confused. 3. One thing the book didn't entirely convey was *why* the Airplane were a more popular music act than similar and more musically sophisticated contemporaneous acts. I have in mind the band It's A Beautiful Day, who already had the 1975 Starship/Creach sound in 1968 (compare "White Bird" to "Fast Buck Freddy").< I'll have to profess ignorance on questions 1 and 2 and if I'm wrong I'll add those to the list of things that need to be adjusted if we go into another printing. As for It's a Beautiful Day, I think their lack of success can probably be attributed to the fact that they were managed by Matthew Katz, who also of course was the Airplane's first manager. By the time Katz took on IABD he was the most hated man in the San Francisco music biz, and none of the other major players, including Bill Graham and Tom Donahue, wanted anything to do with him. So I would think they had a hard time getting very far (although Graham did book the band) because of their management. Katz also effectively killed Moby Grape's career before it had a chance to get off the ground (and both of those bands are still suffering today because of what he did to them back then). The Airplane's early success didn't come until they'd dumped Katz and taken up with Graham as their manager, and of course they also had Grace and the two songs she brought over from the Great Society. Also, although RCA was somewhat clueless regarding the kind of band they had signed, the label did have a strong promotional department and knew how to push the band to the media. So as soon as it appeared the Airplane was going to have a hit record, RCA capitalized and got the band major media placements.
Clare Eder (ceder) Sat 26 Jul 03 09:16
<scribbled by ceder Sat 26 Jul 03 09:40>
David Gans (tnf) Sat 26 Jul 03 09:20
Do you mmean 'Sunfighter"?
Clare Eder (ceder) Sat 26 Jul 03 09:28
<scribbled by ceder Sat 26 Jul 03 09:33>
Teleologically dyslexic (ceder) Sat 26 Jul 03 09:32
Thank you. ;-) I had the name wrong...
Berliner (captward) Sat 26 Jul 03 09:45
As far as Huxley and LSD, he did, I believe, take it with Humphrey Osmond, and I also understand that when he realized he was dying he had himself injected with some. Don't have cites for this, but I do have a copy of Storming Heaven in the house. Which, of course, doesn't have an index, dammit.
tambourine verde (barb-albq) Sat 26 Jul 03 12:29
Excellent topic and book. Great to see the JA getting some attention again. They were one of my top 3 bands back in the day. I think their straightforward and rowdy political orientation was one thing that set them apart from some of the other bands of that era. As to Huxley's LSD adventures, I found this article which compares his last novel Island with his life experiences, and features comments by his wife Laura: >The Huxleys had taken LSD together while listening to Bach's Fourth Brandenburg Concerto - as does the main character in Island - and experienced "aesthetic revelations". But Laura Huxley is anxious to put her husband's relationship with LSD into context, saying that between 1953 and 1963 he took the drug only about 10 or 12 times, the sort of dosage that some people have taken in a single week. His experiences are described in The Doors of Perception (1953). "Psychedelics are an extraordinary means if you use them very carefully and religiously," she says. [. . .] In her memoir, This Timeless Moment, Laura Huxley describes how her husband took LSD as he died. "He had taken this moksha medicine in which he believed. Once again, he was doing what he had written in Island, and I had the feeling that he was interested and relieved and quiet." http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/07/02/1023864731582.html
Life Is Easy When Considered From Another Point Of View (dam) Sat 26 Jul 03 13:13
so was the reunion tour in 89 musically good? did i just see a bad show in los angeles? and how many times are they going to be reissuing the first 5 albums on cd? of course, i will be getting crown of creation and after bathing at baxters the second they hit the local el pee shop......
Jeff Loomis (jal) Sat 26 Jul 03 16:22
Ah, my '89 memory. More symbolic than anything else, watching them perform "Volunteers of America" in front of the US Capitol during a homeless demonstration in October of 1989. That is, a demonstration for the homeless.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Sun 27 Jul 03 08:30
One would be right in saying that Huxley's last words -- in a scribbled note to Laura -- was a request for an injection of LSD, which she gave him. Hey, Jeff! I'm logging in from Paris, where I am on my honeymoon, so I can only drop in here occasionally. But I'm a great admirer of your work. Thanks for the inspiration and information over the years. Just a couple of tiny ignorable questions: Are there any out-takes from "Blows Against the Empire," as far as you know? And did anyone ever figure out how the wrong master of "Let's Go Together" got used for the CD remaster of that wonderful album?
David Freiberg (freemountain) Sun 27 Jul 03 16:17
Hi Jeff ... looks like things are going swimmingly here. I'm in Minnesota and this is the first time I've had access to a computer. I'm reading along ... cheers!
John McCarthy (jmccs) Sun 27 Jul 03 18:23
One of the bands contemporary with Jefferson Airplane was Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin as the singer. I really like the songs she did with them, Lisght is faster than sound, Women is losers, Oh Lord won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz. I was disappointed when she left Big Brother and got her own band. She was praised for becoming more "authentic", but I liked her new songs less. Did anyone else have a similar reaction?
Jacques Delaguerre http://www.delaguerre.com/delaguerre/ (jax) Mon 28 Jul 03 08:06
I didn't mis her band much. They never entirely learned to tune their instruments. But "Piece of My Heart" was definitely a Big Brother song. Of course, raw musicianship wasn't what these bands were about. They were about building a concert stage in Ken Kesey's "Edge City" and going "Furthur". About the zeitgeist: psychedelia, free love, and brutal frankness in excoriating the failures of the Establishment. Those were scary days, and the music was scary to march along to.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Mon 28 Jul 03 08:06
Well, Mercedes-Benz, with lyrics by Beat poet Michael McClure, was on Pearl, the album with the Full Tilt Boogie Band. I like all her stuff really.
Jacques Delaguerre http://www.delaguerre.com/delaguerre/ (jax) Mon 28 Jul 03 08:13
I loved "To Love Somebody" on Pearl.
Ari Davidow (ari) Mon 28 Jul 03 08:45
I seem to recall that Spencer Dryden is on bad terms with the rest of the Airplane members. What happened there (if anything)?
Jeff Tamarkin (jefftamarkin) Mon 28 Jul 03 12:18
OK, I'll try to respond to a bunch of stuff at once here. I just got home from a very satisfying week of book promo stuff in the Bay Area and while it's always nice to be home I'm aching for that 60 degree weather and fog right now--my kinda summer. Anyway, first, big hellos to Steve Silberman and David Freiberg. Thanks for checking in from points beyond. You guys have both inspired me in your own ways as well! I'll start with the last question, regarding Spencer. It's a long, complicated story (as is everything Airplane) but in short, Spencer began a relationship with Grace shortly after they both settled into the band. As Grace was the "star," she wielded more power in the band than the others (try as she might to not have that power) and whoever was her boyfriend at the time got a lot of that residual power by default. Spencer certainly took advantage of that and there were times that he and Grace threatened to quit the band if things didn't go their way--particularly, they said that if the band didn't fire Bill Graham as manager, they were out. So Graham was fired and Bill Thompson became manager (he was given the task of firing Graham, which he likens to firing King Kong), but Paul, especially, held a grudge against Spencer for decades over that. In fact, when the Airplane did their '89 reunion, the reason Spencer wasn't asked to join was because Paul still held the Graham canning against him. Anyway, as soon as Grace and Spencer split up as a couple, and she started hooking up with Paul, Spencer was kicked out of the band. Grace may have been a strong woman, but in some matters she deferred to whoever her man was at the time, so she allowed Paul to make the decisions regarding who was in and out of the band. Jorma and Jack were OK with the decision to fire Spencer because they didn't think he was a strong enough drummer to head into the harder direction they wanted to take the band. I think most of that stuff between Spencer and the others has since been ironed out by the parties involved (Spencer just sat in for a few songs at one of Paul's gigs and I know he went to see Tuna recently). Re Janis: My own personal favorite Janis era is the Big Brother period. I don't think she ever had more passion than what you get on Cheap Thrills and the Monterey Pop fest. Steve, I'm not familiar with any Blows outtakes but it wouldn't surprise me if some turn up. BMG has Bob Irwin going through the vaults and he's already turned up some other unreleased gems. If there is anything, he'll find it. I have no idea where that alternative "Let's Go Together" came from but BMG at the time said that that was supposed to be the one that was going to be on the album and that it was on the master tape. Nonetheless I think purists would agree that it should be a bonus track and that the version that really did make the original Blows LP should be restored to its rightful position next time this is reissued. Re why BMG keeps reissuing the catalog: I guess each new generation of employees at a label feels they can do a better job than the one before. But having worked with three different incarnations of the BMG reissues department now, I can honestly say that the folks redoing the catalog now are the first to really get things right. The sound is amazing and they've got some great bonus tracks. Re '89 reunion shows. I only saw one, at Radio City, but I sure thought they were good. I would have preferred that they not use all those extra musicians, and some of the new songs at the time were weak, but when they kicked into classic JA material they did a great job with it. More soon...gotta go unpack. Jeff
Howard Levine (hll) Mon 28 Jul 03 13:31
I'm really enjoying your book, thanks for a look at one of my favorite bands. I was fortunate to see JA several times from '68-'71 and the "89 show in Radio City too. Fillmore East was my main venue in the early days. It always seemed to me that JA was more "practiced" than the GD in those days. JA shows didn't meander like GD often did. Was te JA approach to live shows more (for lack of a better word) "professional" than other SF bands at the tim, perhaps due to the financial stake or the RCA influence?
Life Is Easy When Considered From Another Point Of View (dam) Mon 28 Jul 03 14:26
i would love some blows outtakes my blows (as is my first pull up) are on those yellow rca discs that were so think....but they play so well!
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