Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Rockin' Out The Door

Every time it's October, or if I'm in that part of town, I'm still haunted by the memories. In a good way, because of the fun we had watching The Rock Show, and even getting to be part of it at the end. And in a bad way, because most of the people in my life from that period are now gone, or have long since disappeared. I haven't seen Henry J. since the T-shirt signing party at our house in the summer of 1984, and I have no idea of whatever became of him. I didn't have much of the show to remember it by, except some loose artwork pieces by Dad, and my own memories. I can't believe we didn't take a camera with us to that final episode! As the years went by, I would bring up the subject of the show, but it didn't register with many, because a lot of people didn't have cable at that time. But one day down at Guitar Maniacs, I brought this up with Johnny Jones, and he had a story to tell me. Back in the early 1980's, he was in a local band called Mayhem, and one evening, he and the band's singer paid a visit to Henry J. at the studio...and took a handful of pictures to prove it! Wow...there he was! And look at the equipment they used! It may have been pretty high-tech stuff then, but does look pretty threadbare and low-budget by today's standards. But I remembered the cool posters on the walls and in the studio. The memories really flooded back seeing this. Since there was no video, this looks as if this is all there was to prove that the show ever existed.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Who (i)

Dad pulled this one out in the early winter of 1978, and played "Boris The Spider". I liked it. The funny connection was, there was an orb-weaver spider hanging in its web, outside the window; we sort of adopted it as a pet and named it Boris, after the song. Following that was "Magic Bus"; since we rode the city bus to get places, I connected with this one as well. I liked the cover, especially the guy in the tie-dyed clothes, pinching a cigarette between his fingers, cracking a joke and making the other guys crack up. A little over a year later, when we had cable TV, one of the channels was showing the movie version of Tommy; some of it went over my head then, but I liked the music to it; going to the original album some years down the road, I enjoyed it even more, and even trained myself how to sing by singing along to it. I'd seen the movie enough times that I knew all the words. Their music had a lot of impact on me well into my 20's, as I became a born-again fan after not hearing them for quite some time, and was soon getting my hands on anything by them that I could, bootlegs included. And now Tommy is one of Geoffrey's favorites, and one of his most-requested CD's when it's time for bed. Sometimes he'll even sing "Sensation" or "Tommy, Can You Hear Me?" for fun. I think the torch is being passed on quite well with these guys!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Joe Raposo

For the first few years of my life, Sesame Street was the first thing I would see in the morning. Thankfully, I grew up in the era when it was the stuff of legend. One aspect of the show which made it that way was the music of Joe Raposo, their long-standing musical director. Not only on this, but also The Electric Company, various Muppet TV specials, and many others. I read somewhere that within a five-year period, he'd written 2,000 songs and/or instrumental pieces. In fact, the instrumentals were what really made me take note; they usually accompanied short but memorable film-clips of animals or insects in the wild. These and his vocal pieces covered an astounding variety of musical styles: jazz, pop, Latin, country, bebop, marches...you name it, he did it, and it was always good. If I ever got any jazz-oriented tendencies, this is where they came from. Like a lot of young viewers, when he sang, I thought it was Emilio Delgado, who played Luis, but that's only because their voices were slightly similar. I always enjoyed his works on the show, and after he passed away in 1989, his songs and music were sadly (for the most part) phased out from the show. Thankfully, there's always loads of clips of his work on YouTube to listen to, reminisce, and remember him by. Geoffrey is well-versed in his songs, thanks to me playing them from the Old School DVD's, or YouTube.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Rolling Stones

I heard this one in the winter of 1978/79...or at least I remember the sky outside being very cold, frosty and grey the morning that I first heard this one, gazing out of the upper bay-window. It was the perfect setting for the music, and I think Dad played most of the first three sides of the double-album set in one setting. I liked the weird reverse-negative effect on the front cover, and the pics of the guys on the inside. I think Mick's face reminded me of the bizarre computer-animated "Nobody" clips from Sesame Street...
Cuts like "Out Of Time" and "Lady Jane" were great. I liked a lot of the other Hot Rocks album as much, but this one got played a lot more by me than the other one. In fact, there was a lot more by these guys in the years since, and still would be for years to come, but it never meant as much to me as this one did.

The (Young) Rascals

This was another first-timer I heard at age two, but will always remember hearing this coming from an 8-Track cartridge; I had no idea what this white plastic cartridge doo-dad sticking out of the stereo was, but it was putting out some pretty interesting and very Hammond-driven sounds. I immediately liked "Lonely Too Long", and it's still one of my most personal favorites by them to this day. When I started learning to play keyboards, I saw to it that I learned some of these guys' songs, including that one.

Ten Years After

Three words: "I'm Going Home". Now, to a lot of people, that's all there ever was to this band, but (also, with a lot of the same crowd) it was definitely the starting point for me with these guys. It was the summer of 1978, and Dad had put on side four of Recorded Live, and let that one rip...wow!!! I was only in a T-shirt and a diaper, but I had never heard such a fast and an overdriven mix of blues, boogie and swing before, and I was hooked. Over the next couple of years, I would hear selected cuts from A Space In Time, Undead and Cricklewood Green, among others, and was just as equally amazed. Just great stuff. Geoffrey is taking a liking to "Ten After", as he calls them. Flash forward almost 35 years later, and I would be stunned to hear of the passing of lead guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Alvin Lee. But I soon reflected on the fact that he left this world a guitar legend and a true rock-and-roll hero...someone who had always done things his own way, and someone who never sold out. There's not very many who can claim that one anymore!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The first cut is the deepest

720 North I Street in Tacoma: the "Blue House". This is where it all started for me at age two, in two different ways: One, Dad would fire up his Zenith stereo system and rummage through what seemed like reams of vinyl albums, find something he liked, and put it on. The other, I would be lying in my crib, supposed to be sleeping, but listening to music playing from the other room, and I was impressed by what I was hearing. Of course, I didn't know who I was hearing; I didn't read yet, and I wasn't always in view of the album cover, so I would have to wait until I heard it again, and then figure out who I was hearing. It didn't matter to me at all when the music I was hearing was recorded...I liked a lot of what I was hearing, and that's all that mattered. And that still holds to this day.

But I have to say that I was a helluva lot more excited about the older stuff than the newer sounds that were around, and we are talking about the turn of the '70s into the '80s. It didn't matter if it was acoustic-driven stuff by Cat Stevens and Harry Chapin, or louder guitar-heavy things by Slade, Zeppelin, Sabbath, or Ten Years After. To me, it was all good music. As I am passing the torch onto my son Geoffrey, playing for him certain things that I heard around the same age, I got to thinking about the various bands, songs and albums that I experienced for the first time. Some of them have special memories, and some of them were life-changing...or at least turned on a new light inside my head for the time being. I'm going to go through a lot of them in these following pages.