Archive for December, 2008


The lost boy

Dennis Wilson was not as prolific or multi-talented as his older brother Brian, not as good a musician as younger brother Carl. And probably not until his substance abuse problems near the end of his life, not as much of a pain in the butt as his cousin, Mike Love.

On the early Beach Boys albums, on which they sometimes wrote messages to their fans, Dennis was almost a joke. The good-looking, surfer boy (the only one who actually surfed) wrote things like “see you in your town girls.” OK. He drove a Corvette Stingray. He looked the part, seemingly lived life in the fast lane.

denniswilsonBut as Brian began to fade out  in the late 1960s, eventually evaporating in the lost promise of the unreleased Smile album, Dennis started to emerge with some of the most interesting compositions on early ’70s Boys albums. By the the fall of 1977, he became the first to release a solo album and it artistically eclipsed anything the Boys were doing at the time.

Pacific Ocean Blue, a fascinating mix of California-drenched reverie and early Rock ‘n Roll and funk influenced feels, has been out of print for a while on CD. It was released this year as a double on Columbia Legacy, beautifully remastered with a nice booklet and a second disc that includes Dennis’ unfinished follow-up Bambu, which may possibly be better than POB.

The English magazines love this release and I believe Rolling Stone actually acknowledged it, which is something to marvel at. I agree, this is definitely the best reissue I’ve heard in 2008.

Although I have had the out of print version for some time, I came to appreciate the album more because of this release’s improved sound. The original sometimes sounded muddied by the extensive instrumentation.

One of Dennis’ best qualities is that he was a great collaborator, with Gregg Jakobson on POB, who co-produced and co-wrote some of the songs, and with Jakobson and Carli Munoz on much of the Bambu material.

There may not be a better track than the opening River Song on POB, a gorgeous Beach Boys harmony soaked moderate groove with Dennis’ voice sounding as pure as one of the Boys but with a rough edge to it. That’s used to maximum advantage on Friday Night, while What’s Wrong gives us shades of Dion, an artist Dennis covered on earlier Boys albums.

A funk groove with dixieland instrumentation adorns and contrasts Dreamer with the introspection of Moonshine, You And I, Farewell My Friend, The End Of The Show and Time, all low key ballads Dennis excels at imbuing with deep feeling and gorgeous instrumental and vocal backing.

Pacific Ocean Blues, the almost title track, is another funky workout with Dennis’ heartfelt, almost burned out vocal approach standing in front of cool background harmonies. Rainbows possesses a similarly infectious groove with suspended sections that glide on a string background.

Four previously unreleased tracks are added to disc one, all low key, the best of which is probably the instrumental Mexico.

Bambu features another powerful opener in the bluesy shuffle Under The Moonlight, complete with horns and a  raunchy rhythm guitar pumping from the right speaker to go with the centered lead lines.

The rest is filled with similar types of compositions as POB, slow, tender ballads along with moderate rock and funk grooves as well as the latin excursion of Constant Companion. What makes this set perhaps the better of the two is that Dennis was improving as a writer and arranger. This would have been a step forward.

He drowned in what was ruled accidental not long after he recorded these Bambu tracks. He was still developing as an artist but personally had demons with which he couldn’t cope.


Down, down, down

Can you imagine, the New York Times is down 59 percent in stock value in 2008 and considered a winner.

From Editor & Publisher.

Journal-Register is being calculated in the thousandths of a cent. Does anyone believe Bristol and New Britain will survive and what do you think of the state government getting involved?

On the other hand.


So long Delaney

Delaney Bramlett, a much more influential than popular musician, died Saturday at 69. The Reuters obit is about the most complete.

db-togetherHe and his wife’s group, Delaney and Bonnie & Friends, from the late ’60s, early ’70s, never hit it really big, but had some recognizable tunes such as Only You Know And I Know. More interesting, the group featured many stars among its sidemen. Eric Clapton played with D&B following his tour with Blind Faith. Dave Mason was in that version of the group as well and George Harrison guested. Other luminaries included bassist Jim Radle, sax player Bobby Keys, now with the Stones, drummer Jim Gordon, keyboard player Bobby Whitlock and trumpet player Jim Horn and many more. Most of them played in Mad Dogs & Englishman with Joe Cocker and Leon Russell and Clapton took Radle, Gordon and Whitlock to form Derek & and Dominoes.

In his biography, he takes credit for teaching Harrison to play slide and how to write a gospel song. He also produced Clapton’s first solo album, arguably one of his, if not his best. A recent deluxe edition of the album featured a second disc with Bramlett’s original production mix.

Also, he really brought Clapton out as a singer. His voice on that album, Eric Clapton, is miles ahead of his efforts in Cream.

One personal anecdote. I saw the Blind Faith concert at Bridgeport’s Kennedy Stadium in the summer of 1968, the second of their cross-country tour. D&B opened up. The stage was portable and set up on the football field. What served as backstage was simply a roped-off section separating the crowd from the musicians. I was backstage because the drummer in my band, Pulse, was the promoter’s son.

When Clapton arrived, and by the way the four members of Blind Faith arrived in separate limos, he was immediately grooving to D&B on the side of the stage. This was the second concert! He was gone. The ill-fated, albeit financially successful, Blind Faith tour may as well have ended right there artistically. The group broke up before the end of the tour and Clapton was playing with D&B and planning the solo album.

I also include this post from the Winwood Fans newsletter, written by David Pearcy, who has a very interesting web site.

Greetings All,
It was with great sadness that I woke up this morning to the
newspaper story that singer/singwriter/music legend Delaney Bramlett
died Saturday morning from complications of gallbladder surgery. He
was 69.


The list of music luminaries that he worked played and recorded with
is long. He wrote “Let It Rain” for Eric Clapton and produced Eric’s
first solo album in 1970. He taught George Harrison how to play
slide guitar (he told me that himself) and even took George on tour
with the Delaney & Bonnie and Friends group for which George thanked
him by giving him the one of a kind Fender Telecaster that George is
seen playing in the rooftop concert at the end of the “Let It Be”
I met Delaney in 2002 in Nashville when he came to town to sing
backup (along with ex-wife Bonnie) at daughter Bekka’s CD release
party at a small club in Nashville.(the first time the two had
performed together in 25 years).
I went down that afternoon hoping to catch them rehearsing and
entered a propped open side door and there he was.I introduced
myself and gave him a couple of photos from the day Jimi Hendrix sat
in with Delaney’s band 1969 at a gig in Los Angeles. Delaney was
visibly moved. He held the color photo to his chest and said, “This
is just a joy.” He thanked me and he and Bonnie signed my copies and
I gave them both copies. He even gave me his email address and phone
number (how cool is THAT?) and we talked a couple of times on the
phone. He sent me a copy of his unreleased new CD (he had no record
deal at the time) and I hooked him up with the people at XM Satellite
Radio and they interviewed himon the air and put his new music into
rotation on the Blues and Classic Rock channels.
He talked of coming back to Nashville to visit and coming by my home
to teach my son (a young musician) the rudiments of slide guitar).
To see the photos he and Bonnie signed for me go to my website and
click on the “Autographs” link and scroll down.There is also the
link to his website in the links section.


More fodder for the journalism fires

 Both reports are from Australia. Still, they seem quite relevant for the U.S. and rest of the world.

 Future of Journalism

Where you get your news survey


Revisiting a mini-classic

I’ve been listening to a remastered version of Pete Townshend’s Empty Glass the past couple of days. I still have this album on vinyl but just picked it up on CD. It’s not a new reissue; it’s been around since 2006. But Townshend’s second solo effort from 1980 and probably his best is worth a listen.

emptyglass1Containing two of his most familiar tracks, Rough Boys and Let My Love Open The Door, both successful singles, the album is more pop-rock oriented than anything in his repertoire since the early days of the Who. But there is more than those signature tunes.

Jools And Jim and Cat’s In The Cradle join Rough Boys as the album’s hardest rocking tracks, while I Am An Animal and And I Moved are emblematic of the rest of the album’s more pop sensitivities, featuring Townshend’s capable yet fragile vocals. He often contrasts his hardest, grinding songs with softer, floating sections similar to Who compositions.

The record is somewhat reminiscent of Todd Rundgren, who Townshend appears to appreciate,  not similar in song composition or production but in Townshend’s instrumental contributions, which dominate the album with limited help from other musicians. It also has that pop flavor that Rundgren’s best efforts possess and a commitment to melody, the essence of all of Townshend’s song writing.

Interesting that it was apparently created during a particularly dark period for Townshend, in the wake of Keith Moon’s death and his own heavy reliance on alcohol.



Have you been or ever wanted to go? Check out these beautiful photos.


Long live newspapers

Maybe he’d like to subsidize a newspaper or even buy one. He wanted the Cubs. Interesting ideas, although I don’t agree with all he has to say. Read all about it.

December 2008
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