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Groovin' To The 70's

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Captain Beefheart (1941-2010) Dec. 21st, 2010 @ 01:56 pm
kevin_avery


Don Van Vliet, better known in the music world as Captain Beefheart, died on Friday (you can read The New York Times obituary here). 

In the very early 1970s, shortly after Paul Nelson accepted a job in publicity at Mercury Records, he worked closely with Beefheart. In Paul's memoirs, which are included in Everything Is an Afterthought, he detailed "two great memories" he had of Beefheart.

And, as mentioned here a couple of years ago, Paul played a part in making sure that Beefheart's classic Trout Mask Replica became part of the White House Record Library back in 1979.

Copyright 2010 by Kevin Avery. All rights reserved.


MEME: Top 10 Led Zeppelin songs Oct. 26th, 2010 @ 10:17 pm
indira14
Hello! I've recently been introduced to the amazingness that is Led Zeppelin, after being coerced into writing an article for the this 70's band that is still held in high esteem even now. Last night, I read through the entire Wiki page in one go after listening to Whole Lotta Love, Kashmir and Stairway to Heaven and a few others, and I was surprised that they were... this famous.

I mean, I knew they were famous, but I never really comprehended just how famous until I read about their achievements. *__* So, I'm hosting a discussion meme in my journal to know what the masses think of Led Zeppelin. Are they really the greatest rock band of all time? Or is their music just overrated? Or are they old and washed out, soon to be replaced by contemporary talents, and the in-your-face attitude of the wannabe rockette?

What I will tell you, though, is that I love that flamboyant, long-haired look the members had going on, so have a picture:


The good ol' 70's

And another one:

Almost four decades later

Now onward to the meme! Take a look at the MEME right here and share your thoughts!

Signing off,
~I.
Current Mood: bouncybouncy

The Doors Redux Mar. 14th, 2010 @ 04:18 pm
kevin_avery
I've addressed Paul Nelson's writings about the Doors before, back in June of 2008 ("Perceiving the Doors"). In that same entry, I mentioned that award-winning director Tom DiCillo was at work on a Doors documentary. Now that DiCillo's movie, When You're Strange: A Film About the Doors, is preparing for its U.S. premiere (in select theaters on April 9) and the Internet is abuzz with anticipation, it seems like a good time to post this ad from July 1967, which incorporated part of Paul's Hullabaloo review about the band's first album. Just click on the image to enlarge it.


And, while we're on the subject, here's the trailer to DiCillo's film, which is artfully composed entirely of period footage, much of it previously unreleased.


Should you miss DiCillo's film in the theater, fear not: it's also scheduled to appear on PBS's American Masters series on May 26.

Copyright 2010 by Kevin Avery. All rights reserved.


"Mel Lyman's America" Feb. 1st, 2010 @ 09:59 am
kevin_avery
Though I finished writing Everything Is an Afterthought over five months ago, hardly a week goes by when I don't receive an e-mail or a phone call that is in some way connected to Paul Nelson. (Thankfully, with publication imminent this fall, the Stewie Griffin-inspired "How you comin' on that book you're workin' on?" inquiries have pretty much subsided.) Recently, I heard from William MacAdams, author of Ben Hecht: The Man Behind the Legend. In addition to being a longtime friend of Paul's, in 1995 William coauthored a book with him: 701 Toughest Movie Trivia Questions of All Time.


Kevin,

You probably know that at one time (and perhaps to the end of his life?) one of Paul's favorite albums was Jim Kweskin's America. To Paul the creative force behind the music was Mel Lyman, thus he referred to the record as "Mel Lyman's America." He introduced me to it sometime in the early '70s, before I moved to Europe. I had a vinyl copy, which disappeared a long time ago. Just the other day, don't know why, I thought of Lyman and checked to see if someone on Facebook had a Mel Lyman page (there isn't one), which led me to search for a CD. There is a double Kweskin set including America. I bought it, wondering if it held up. Got it yesterday and couldn't stop playing it.

When Paul died I was saddened but didn't grieve (we had been out of contact for several years, as you know, Paul shutting me out, a deeply hurtful mystery that will never be explained). The music brought Paul back so vividly I broke down in tears, especially upon once again hearing "Amelia Earhart's Last Flight," "The Old Rugged Cross," and "Old Black Joe," Paul's favorites.

I thought you might be unaware of Paul's fondness for Lyman's music. If so, the whole saga of Lyman's remarkable life is worth reading about, the Rolling Stone hatchet job/exposé, et al.

William
 

I'd never heard of Jim Kweskin or Mel Lyman, let alone the album in question. Nor could I find where Paul had ever made mention of them in any of his writings. But, trusting William's judgment (he'd proved himself an invaluable resource regarding All Things Paul Nelson), I downloaded the album posthaste from iTunes. I wasn't disappointed. While I was familiar with many of the tunes by way of other artists' versions, there's something deeply felt and unique about Jim Kweskin's America. It reminds me of something Paul wrote about Jackson Browne's Running on Empty (and which was quoted in the program at Paul's memorial service):

It's simple enough to talk about lyrics, aims, structure, and all the critical etceteras, but it's very difficult to pinpoint what it is that's actually moved you. It has to do with essences, I think, and all those corny virtues like truth, courage, conviction, kindness, and the rest of them.
 
Jim Kweskin's America has all those corny virtues, I think, as did Paul.

Copyright 2010 by Kevin Avery. All rights reserved.


Lou Reed Jan. 9th, 2010 @ 05:08 pm
kevin_avery
One of the more frustrating aspects of selecting which of Paul Nelson's writings to include in Everything Is an Afterthought was deciding which works not to include. For a guy who's famous for his struggles with getting the word onto the page, he wrote a hell of a lot. As much as I hated to, one of the last chapters I deleted from the manuscript was devoted to Lou Reed. Reed was a frequent touchstone and reference point for Paul, but he wrote about the singer-songwriter-founding Velvet Underground member surprisingly few times. Fortunately, two of his best pieces about Reed are available online.



When Paul was still in A&R at Mercury Records, he seized the opportunity to acquire some previously unreleased tapes of the Velvets performing live in Texas, less than a year before Reed departed the band. When the album (a double) was finally released in 1974 as 1969 Velvet Underground Live, Paul penned the liner notes that appeared on the back of the LP’s gatefold cover. (For the inside, he invited singer-songwriter Elliott Murphy, whom he was still trying to sign to Mercury, to compose some liner notes of his own. Murphy writes about the experience here and, although he misremembers the year—it was 1973, not 1972—offers a download of his original handwritten notes.)


In 1975, a few months after Paul left Mercury Records and returned to criticism, he wrote about Reed again, reviewing Lou Reed Live, the artist's follow-up to his classic Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal. “Had he accomplished nothing else,” Paul wrote, “his work with the Velvet Underground in the late Sixties would assure him a place in anyone's rock & roll pantheon; those remarkable songs still serve as an articulate aural nightmare of men and women caught in the beauty and terror of sexual, street and drug paranoia, unwilling or unable to move. The message is that urban life is tough stuff—it will kill you; Reed, the poet of destruction, knows it but never looks away and somehow finds holiness as well as perversity in both his sinners and his quest.”



Paul ended his critique of Lou Reed Live on an optimistic note and, as his review the following year of Coney Island Baby attests, his faith in Reed was rewarded. The review contains some of Paul’s best writing, his usual well-chosen words expressing not only his aesthetic admiration for Reed’s new work but also the sheer pleasure he derived from listening to it. The review—one of the rare times that his writing reflected his love of sports—also boasts one of my favorite Paul Nelson last lines.

Which makes me want to enjoy the entire piece over again.

Copyright 2010 by Kevin Avery. All rights reserved.

Other entries
» Stepping into People's Lives
I'm late in posting this, but Bruce Springsteen turned sixty one week ago today. Over at Mental Floss, Matt Soniak posted the very entertaining "60 Springsteen Facts for Bruce's 60th Birthday." 

Regarding Number 17 on his list—

Springsteen lore has it that Bruce was once spotted in a movie theater watching Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories (which comments on artist/fan relations). The fan who saw him challenged Bruce to prove he didn’t regard his own fans with the contempt as the Allen stand-in in the movie by coming to meet his mom and have dinner. Bruce did so and supposedly still visits the fan’s mother every time he’s in St Louis.
 
—I was reminded of a passage from the "Two Jewish Mothers Pose as Rock Critics" chapter of Paul Nelson and Lester Bangs's Rod Stewart book wherein, during a give-and-take between the two critics about the nature of fame and what it can do to an artist, this same story about Springsteen came up. Paul said: 

I've been backstage at Springsteen shows where Bruce'll open the doors and let thirty kids hanging around outside come in and talk to him. Hope Antman [of CBS Records] told me a story that when Bruce was in Minneapolis and had a night off he went to a movie by himself, and this kid recognized him as he was buying a ticket and said, "Hey, you wanna sit with me?" And he sat with him, and the kid said, "Hey, you wanna come home and talk and my mother’ll fix us some things?" And Bruce went home with the kid and spent the whole night with the kid. And that ain't ever going to happen with Rod Stewart.”

I asked Bruce if any of this were true when I interviewed him in 2007.

"Oh yeah," he said, "oh yeah. I think it was St. Louis, though, or St. Paul. I forget where. I was by myself. I sort of enjoyed the license that that strange part of my job, where people recognize you, allowed me to kind of step into people’s lives, and it was just a night where I wasn’t doing anything and it just sounded like a good idea. The kid ran into his room and came out with an album cover and held it up next to me [laughs] after we came in the door.”

Springsteen volunteered that he does still see the kid's mother occasionally when he's in town (whichever town it may be), though it sounded as if such meetings were in the nature of a before- or after-concert encounters, not a visit on his own part.



» Kansas (FAQ)
I have recently come across a unique opportunity to interview a member of the band Kansas! He is currently their drumming apprentice and travels the country with them. He sets up for concerts, plays during the shows and hangs out with them all the time! AND we at mossip are going to take questions from the fans to pass along to him!

If you would like to ask a question or want more information please go HERE!
» Paul Nelson's White House Connection
In the latest issue of Rolling Stone, David Browne reports that in 1979 Paul Nelson was recruited as an advisor to a commission headed by legendary producer John Hammond to update the official White House Record Library. As a result of the commission's efforts, President Obama can enjoy vinyl versions of Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, Springsteen's Born to Run, Randy Newman's Good Old Boys, Led Zeppelin IV, the Rolling Stones' Let It Bleed, the Ramones' Rocket to Russia, the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, the Flying Burrito Brothers' The Gilded Palace of Sin, as well as records by Santana, Neil Young, Talking Heads, Isaac Hayes, Elton John, the Cars and Barry Manilow.

It's not difficult to surmise which selections were high on Paul's list of suggestions.

The entire article, "Obama's Secret Record Collection," can be found here.

» Need Free Sheet Music to "Wish you were here" pink floyd
If anyone knows where I can get a good version plz post, thanks. :)
» No More, No Less
In 1972, Paul Nelson was promoted from publicity to East Coast head of A&R at Mercury Records. His first real signing was Blue Ash, a band from Youngstown, Ohio. The group's 1973 debut album, No More, No Less, earned a place on several critics' best-of-the-year lists but, as these things often go, didn't make a connection in the marketplace. Blue Ash's MySpace page remembers it this way:

In July of 1972, the group signed a contract with Peppermint Productions of Youngstown and began recording and sending out demos. In October, legendary A&R man and rock writer Paul Nelson from Mercury Records flew to Youngstown to see Blue Ash "live" and immediately began signing procedures. They started recording their first album No More, No Less in February 1973 with Peppermint's John Grazier producing and with Gary Rhamy engineering. Executive producer Paul Nelson introduced them to a never-before-published, never-before-recorded Bob Dylan song called "Dusty Old Fairgrounds" and suggested they record their version of the Beatles' "Anytime At All" both of which appear on the lp...

On May 15, Mercury released the first Blue Ash 45 "Abracadabra (Have You Seen Her?)" b/w "Dusty Old Fairgrounds" On May 25, No More, No Less was released. Rave reviews and feature articles followed in Rolling Stone, Creem, Crawdaddy, Zoo World, Circus, Phonograph Record, New Times, Record World, Billboard, Rock Scene, Fusion and many others. That summer they began touring and opening for acts like Bob Seger, Iggy and the Stooges, Ted Nugent, Nazareth, Aerosmith and more. Blue Ash along with Raspberries, Big Star and Badfinger became "critical darlings" of a new sound later to be called power pop. Despite the good press Blue Ash was not getting much national radio airplay or sales... 
 
Thirty-four years later, No More, No Less has finally been released on CD. As Blue Ash's bassist and vocalist, Frank Secich (now of the Deadbeat Poets), recalls in the Cd's liner notes, "In June of 1974, Blue Ash was dropped by Mercury Records (under heated protest from Paul Nelson) for lack of sales. Paul was subsequently sacked from the label, too, in large part for signing Blue Ash and the New York Dolls."

While that has indeed been the legend of Paul's departure from Mercury, it's not quite that simple. Reasons for leaving seldom are.

Blue Ash and friend in 1973 (left to right): Frank Secich, Jim Kendzor,
Bill Bartolin, Paul Nelson, and David Evans. Photo by Geoff Jones.

 
Copyright 2008 by Kevin Avery. All rights reserved. 

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