Saturday, September 18, 2021


In February of 2003, I visited the Experience Music Project with a few friends from Guitar Maniacs, which I had never been to, but had heard a lot about since its opening some years before. It was pretty cool, to say the least. It was cool to see the Jimi Hendrix Experience's full stage and gear set up, as if it were on stage, but I thought that the guitars, drums and amps should still be out there in the world, somewhere, with plenty more stories to tell. I also remember seeing clothing items worn by Jimi, and also Eric Clapton's jacket that he wore on stage at Cream's farewell concert.

After we were done, we planned to visit Jimi's grave over in Renton, at the Greenwood Memorial Park. This was when it was still the block of granite in the ground; the memorial that was evenutally built there was a few years off in the future.

When we were done with that visit, we went to the McDonald's across the street for lunch. There was something familiar about the place, like I'd been there before, and while we were eating, it finally came to me.

Back in the later part of the '80s, I was made to be part of a Sunday School class, and there were a few times that we took a field trip to places like Winslow, Snoqualmie, and even Vancouver. Not something I recall with any fondness, because the others were teenage girls who were a few years older than me, they lwere into Debbie Gibson and Madonna (who were very popular at the time), and they played tapes of their music on these long trips, and I heard far more of that than I care to remember. Somewhere during the course of one of those trips we had actually stopped at that very McDonald's...only I didn't know that Jimi's grave was located right across the street from the place. If I had, I would have gladly announced to the others, "You go ahead end enjoy your McGarbage...I'm going to go visit Jimi!".

Saturday, September 4, 2021

40 Years On

Strange thing to say, that.

In all honesty, it really doesn't feel like it.

I remember seeing a meme somewhere that said something like, "What if all these years we've lived through was just a dream that we're all having while we're asleep at nap-time in kindergarten?". That's definitely one of those cases of "If I knew then what I know now, I'd definitely make use of that knowledge!".

That period of time has really been occupying my head-space as of lately, flashing back on memories of that period, and reflecting on what I'm doing now.

It had been a great summer, getting very hot at times. It got so hot in the house that my sister Angie once proposed that we pitch a tent in the backyard, and all sleep out in the back. We didn't have a tent...but we had a clothesline that ran from the house to the garage, so we clamped a good-sized blanket to it with clothespins, put a good-sized rock on each corner of the blanket to hold it down, and we all slept in it that night. It was fun, even though we never did do that again for some odd reason. Another overly warm evening found all four of us cooling off in the wading pool that Angie and I had, right on the patio out in back.

We had our friend Mitchell, who lived across the street. For some reason, he had gotten this idea that we should all go to the B&I store, which was way out on South Tacoma Way....just us three, no grown-ups, and we took the bus out there. How we managed to do that is a mystery to me to this day, and still feels like it happened in a dream. Especially when we found out (the hard way) that the local bus only went out there, and not back, so we hoofed it from there all the way back to 9th and J, which is quite a long way (it must have taken us about five hours!).

Along our long journey back, we walked along the outside of the Tacoma Cemetery and we noticed this wall that ran along the top of the hill on one end of the park. Some teenage stoners had spray-painted a big cross and the words "BLACK SABBATH" on the wall. We wondered what it all meant, and what was behind it. We went up there, Mitchell hoisted himself up, got on top of the wall (now guarded by a fence), and saw what was there. Behind the wall is the Tacoma Cemetery graveyard. When he jumped down and told us what was behind the wall, we belted ass out of there so fast, our feet hardly touched the ground, and we didn't stop until we reached the next corner. You can bet we were exhausted by the time we made it home!

The family had gone on a camping trip with Dad's friend Fred, and spent a few days out in Alder Lake, which is pretty close to Mount Rainier. When we came back, the house was overly hot from being shut up for the last few days, even with the windows being opened up, and since there was something that Dad really wanted to see on TV that night, he put the TV and the TV stand it was on, right on the front porch, and so we parked ourselves out on the front lawn, and what was on that night was The Blues Brothers. I had never heard of it, and didn't really know any of the people in it, but I was blown away by it, and thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen at that point. Oddly enough, that was the only time we ever did that!

I started kindergarten that September, over the Bryant Elementary School, which was about half a mile up the street from our house. This was the only school year where Angie and I went to the same school with Mitchell. They were both in the second grade at the time, but I was a newbie to all of this. I was rather prepared by a number of years by watching Sesame Street, plus lots of books and reading material at home, so I was a little ahead of the others in class. So much so, in fact, that I went to the nearest first-grade class for my reading assignments and lessons. I was also the narrator for the class play, which was The Elephant's Child by Rudyard Kipling. Sadly, no pictures or audio of my first public performance (of sorts) exist.

Sometime in September, the whole lot of us (along with Red Fred) hopped a Trailways bus and went to Seattle, where we visited their fair, instead of the usual trip to the one in Puyallup. It was awesome, and much more fun. Red Fred played some sort of ring-toss game, and one prize he won was a sound-alike copy of the "Sgt. Pepper" movie soundtrack (the one on the Springboard label). This was my first trip to Seattle, and in the years since, I have only been there exactly twelve times since then.

Dad beckoned me into the house one evening, while we were the only ones home, and invited me to join him in watching this movie he was watching on Showtime...something about a family looking after a massive hotel somewhere in the Rockies. I think we know what he was watching (I've written about it here), and it completely blew out the inside of my fragile little mind. I was the same age as the young boy in that movie, which really drew me in, and made me see it through his eyes (so to speak). Maybe Dad saw some of me in Danny Torrance? I don't know, but I'm glad he let me watch it with him that night, and I was blown away again when I got to watch it again a week or two later with Angie and Mitchell, who also loved it.

Speaking of Seattle, in October, Dad hopped a Greyhound bus, and went to see the Rolling Stones at the Kingdome, to the tune of sixteen dollars, which was (if you can believe that) considered expensive at the time. Not one of his favorite concerts, as he was way up in the "nosebleed" seats, and was watching the onstage action on the video-screens on either side of the stage, while the band looked like teeny little ants; he later said it was like watching TV the whole time, and that he might have well have done that at home. I thought they were the bee's knees at that time, and was excited for him that he was there, while wishing I had been. It wasn't until 2002 that we saw them together at the Tacoma Dome, even though the ticket price was quite a bit higher that time, but the show was more enjoyable.

At a place called the Music Exchange on 11th Street, Dad got hold of an 8-Track player, and some 8-Track tapes, since they were cheap, as most people were moving over to cassettes, and no-one wanted 8-Tracks anymore. They didn't last too long around the house (he got rid of it, and went over to cassettes as well), but two of them had a major impact on me.

The first one was Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, which Dad had an album copy of, but I hadn't actually heard until he plugged the 8-Track of it into the player one afternoon, and--again--it blew me away completely. I really liked the keyboard playing in it, which was played pretty much as a lead instrument, and I decided right then and there that they keyboards were one day going to be my instrument, even though we didn't have anything remotely like one around the house. The other one was The Best Of The Guess Who by The Guess Who; Dad turned me onto this one with the song "Bus Rider", which was a tight, perfectly-crafted rocker, but I found that I liked everything else on this album. In fact, I fell in love with it, and I don't know how many times I played that 8-Track on days I wasn't in school.

As the 40th anniversary of that magic period is currently hanging around me, there are also a few sad notes that are connected to it. Charlie Watts, the Stones' legendary drummer passed away in late August, as did Ron Bushy, Iron Butterfly's drummer. I'd enjoyed their works and contributions to the music that they helped make all these years, and it was hard to see them leave us. And then there was something else from that period that was also a bit sad.

One of my favorite friends from kindergarten was another boy named Michael, who lived just a couple of blocks up from where I lived, with his parents and younger brother. I remember, when his birthday came around, I picked out a book for him of something I'd recently enjoyed; since a "Little Golden Book" of something like The Shining or The Blues Brothers wasn't an option, I settled for Pete's Dragon, which he seemed to like. Sometime during that school year, he moved away, and I never did see him again. His house on L Street was pretty much the only thing I had to remember him by, the one scrap of our friendship still in existence.

I'd always wondered what became of him, where he went to, and what he could be doing now. I went to one of those "people search" sites online, typed in his name and age...and sure enough, he seemed to have in lived in Tacoma for all these years, even though our paths never crossed. No photo of him, though. Who knows...he's probably 6'6", with a shaved head, tattoos and a ZZ Top beard. His profile had a massive list of places he'd been living at, in and around town, some not lasting more than about six months on average. When I clicked on "most recent address", it showed the address of what was the local jail down there on Tacoma Avenue, a stone's throw down the hill from the old neighborhood. I guess there wasn't much reason to look in any further.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

"The Very Best Of Richard Pryor" (1982)

I've known about this one for quite a while, but just never got around to picking it up. Maybe because (going by the record labels) it consisted of things that I already had, and I pretty much knew that it wasn't going to contain anything "new" or different here. I found an eBay listing, where I bid $1.50 for a used cassette copy...and I won it. And then it showed up in my mailbox four days later.

I was right. Nothing new here. The over-excited intro from Are You Serious??? opens the show, as does Richard's whispered intro from that set. Then it cuts to the version of "Super Nigger" from Who Me? I'm Not Him...but as soon as Richard announces, "with x-ray vision that enables him to see through everything except Whitey!", it abruptly cuts over to a lengthy section from the Craps album (pretty much the "title song" of it, so to speak), and then side one continues and concludes with the last few minutes from side one of Are You Serious??? with the bits about the submarine pep-talk, and the hillbilly guy calling cadence in the Army.

Side better. More selections from Are You Serious??? and Craps, plus a bit about Jesus from the Outrageous album. And then side two concludes with--you guessed it!--yet ANOTHER presentation of "Black Ben" (aka "Prison Play"). Producer/compiler David Drozen must have really liked this bit to have included it on so many of RIchard's Laff albums.

The album cover seems a little strange and eerie now...back when it was released, it would make you think of Richard's otherwise hilarious bit about being busted by the cops while sneaking home at night, but in the day and age of Trayvon Martin and George Floyd, the back cover now seems disturbingly prophetic.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

The reunion that wasn't!

I had a very strange dream on the morning of February 15, 2017.

I was on the 6th Avenue bus, riding towards downtown, and I noticed a sign there announcing a reunion gig of The Pace over at Jazzbones. I wondered What the hell...???, as I hurriedly got off the bus and walked into the place just as the other guys were setting up to play, but they looked like they'd rather be anywhere but there. I was thinking to myself, "Nobody told me anything about this!" as I made my way onto the stage, and sat down at a set of Roland V-Drums that were up there.

Before I knew it, we were playing away at some of the old songs we used to do, and after about three songs, it was quiet, the stage seemed to be empty of anyone else, and there was hardly anyone left in the crowd.

I left the stage, walked around to the back of the place, and saw that there were only about six people there. The atmosphere of the place was very sullen and glum for some odd reason. A couple came in, smiling and talking, but stopped as soon as they noticed the rather dour atmosphere.

Then, the other guys were back on stage and had started up again, playing "Magic Bus" (I quickly thought, "We never played this one!"), and the original Pace drummer Josh Kilpatrick had joined them, but was not playing the drums for some odd reason, just singing backups with Lincoln.

I got up on stage again, got behind the drums (which had now been replaced with white plastic buckets arranged like a drumset for some reason), and began plowing away on them, but it all went quiet yet again.

Next thing I know, the guys had put down their guitars and were sitting on some chairs just off to the side of the stage area, grumbling and growling about "We should have done this back in 2016!". I was just about to add my two cents that I was sort of having fun, but then that's when the alarm went off.

I have to admit, the dream actually put me in a not-so-great mood for the day, but as soon as I got home from work and wrote it all down on Facebook, I realized how weird and hilarious it sounded in retrospect. And not only was it realistic for a dream that didn't last about ten minutes, but it almost seemed the exact way that it probably would have happened in real life!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Faubion's Fabulous Junk

At the end of summer 2018, a new Starbucks opened at the corner of 38th & G Streets, displacing the taco truck that had been occupying the space since the early 2000’s. Before that was there, it was just an empty space for a number of years. But there was something in that space that I always think of when I go by that area.

Back in the fall of 1988, on that corner, was what used to be an old service/filling station, and off to the left of it, a tire shop. When we first moved into that area that April, it was Eagle Radio & Appliance Repair, but sometime in the summer, they’d moved over to Yakima Avenue. In November, Dad had something interesting to tell me when I got home from school one day. Seems the place was now a “junk” shop, with lots of second-hand stuff antiques and whatnot. But what made it interesting was that they had records there. And boxes of them!

Next thing I know, we walked up there together, and in the old place where he’d gotten his Kenwood receiver serviced about six months before, was a really cool place with...well, like I said, but there were a number of tables set up, with cardboard boxes of albums in them, filled to the brim. It was still in the “work in progress” stage, but welcoming, and the boxes of albums had all kinds of interesting stuff in them. Dad found a copy of the Beatles’ Let It Be, I found Jethro Tull’s Repeat: The Best Of, Vol. II for a buck, and also snagged a paperback copy of The Amityville Horror for fifty cents.

Well! This place instantly became my go-to place on weekends, or late afternoons after school. They had a nice-looking, colorful parrot in a large cage, alongside furniture, toys, car name it. One thing I was happy to find there was a Fisher-Price Movie Viewer, with a couple of cartridges, notably a “Sesame Street” one, and the Mickey/Donald/Goofy cartoon classic “Lonesome Ghosts”.

About that tire-shop...sometime after the turn of 1989, they branched out and put all of the records in there, leaving that section pretty much to itself. I can’t imagine how many hours I spent in there total, looking through them, finding ones I wanted or had heard about. If I knew then what I would know about in a few years’ time, I could have made out like a bandit, since they generally charged only a dollar apiece for the albums, maybe a little more if it were a double-LP set, or something in nicer condition than the usual stuff. I was heavily into Grand Funk Railroad at that point, and I found Mark, Don & Mel there for a couple of bucks, E Pluribus Funk for a dollar, and even Shinin’ On for a dollar, but with the poster and the 3-D glasses still intact. I also found a really good copy of The Greatest Of The Guess Who, with cover art by MAD Magazine’s Jack Davis. I also came across a Richard Pryor album I’d never seen or heard of before called Who Me? I’m Not Him, which I got for fifty cents, since it had seen happier days, but it became a long-running favorite at home.

I made a couple of really good scores there. One was a sealed Quadraphonic copy of Ten Years After’s A Space In Time, for just one dollar...and on another visit, we found a German pressing of the Quad version of Dark Side Of The Moon, which had seen happier days, but was still dollar!

And, it must be noted, I still have all of these albums in my collection to this day.

As my 7th grade year wore on, my visits there trailed off after a while, as I wasn’t finding anything “new”, and hadn’t really discovered anything I needed to be looking for at that point. By the time school let out, the place closed down. But what I didn’t know was that they decided to move the place downtown, on 9th and Broadway. We visited there once, as we saw that they had the boxes of albums on the outside, set up like it was in the old days, but they didn’t last very long there, and Faubion’s closed up for good after that.

It was a good ride while it lasted, though, and I made some lifetime scores that I still have, and not only do I still remember the place fondly when I play the albums, I still think of it whenever I pass by the Starbucks, sitting on where it once stood. As for the old location, it became a beauty salon for a few years, but burned up sometime in the mid-’90s, and was torn down in 1996.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

King Crimson: Seattle 6/13/17

I saw King Crimson at the Paramount Theater in June 1995, and I’ve always regarded it as the best live performance I’ve ever seen. Now, I think it’s been superseded by their show at the Moore Theater, which I saw last night.

This would be the first time they went out as the “8-Headed Beast” with three drummers, and though I’d heard a couple of previous live releases with the 7-piece band, it would be no comparison to what they actually sounded like live.

They came on at 7:45, preceded by Robert Fripp’s announcement that everyone should put away their cellphone/cameras and just take it all in and enjoy the moment. Then the band came out to thunderous applause. Just as they were settling down to play, one guy off to left asked out loudly, “Can we take pictures now?”, which got a laugh.

Well! They went straight into “Neurotica”, followed by “Pictures Of A City”, and wended their way through things I never thought I would hear live, such as “Cirkus”, “Fracture”, “Dawn Song > Battle Of Glass Tears > Prince Rupert’s Lament”, and even “Islands”.

I was very impressed with everyone up there. I couldn’t see Fripp very well, due to being way up in the balcony (and thanks to a hanging PA-speaker stack), but I could see that he was playing a lot of keyboard when he wasn’t playing his guitar. Mel Collins was their secret weapon, and he shone just as well as his gold-colored saxophone. I was very impressed with new drummer Jeremy Stacey, who also doubled on keyboards when not playing drums, but when he was, he was definitely a powerhouse on them. Jakko Jakszyk was in fine voice throughout the whole show.

After a twenty-minute intermission, the three drummers did an instrumental piece on their own, and--launching into “Level Five”--preceded to tear the place up. I’ve never heard them play so loud and so hard, even surpassing the Double Trio lineup. After a while, it was pretty much a John Wetton tribute, playing “Easy Money”, “Exiles:”, “Red”, “Fallen Angels” and “Starless”. The latter was crowned at the end by bathing the band in deep, dark red light. What a nice touch!

After a short break, they came back on and did “Larks’ Two”, “In The Court Of The Crimson King”, David Bowie’s “Heroes”, and closed it with “Schizoid Man”. Wow! There was no light show, no dry-ice fog, no lasers, no props, no boring stories/announcements, and no rear-screen video images...just eight sharply-dressed gentlemen up there kicking ass for nearly three hours. That, to me, is how you get up there and do it.

Set One 1. Walk On: Islands coda pre-recording 2. Neurotica 3. Pictures of a City 4. Radical Action III (new) 5. Cirkus 6. The Battle of Glass Tears (full, from Dawn Song to Prince Rupert's Lament) 7. The Letters 8. Fracture 9. Islands

Set Two 1. Hell Hounds of Krim 2. Meltdown/Radical Action 2/Level Five 3. Easy Money 4. Exiles 5. Red 6. Fallen Angel 7. Starless

Set Three (encores) 1. Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part Two 2. In the Court of the Crimson King 3. Heroes 4. 21st Century Schizoid Man/Gavin Solo/Drum Trio/Schizoid Man (Coda)

Friday, June 2, 2017

"The Fun Factory"

Down in the basement, there is an old cardboard box down in one section that has always been somewhat of a mystery ever since I found it down there. It's of an old GE stereo cassette deck that seems to be from the '70s, which included two microphones, but it does not look familiar to me at all, as I never saw a tape deck in the house in my very early years. Dad didn't even get a cassette deck until 1980 or so.

But it reminds me of an evening sometime in my kindergarten year when grandma came to the house with yet another item she'd found down in the basement, and handed over to Dad. It was a battery-operated tape recorder, with a cassette in it. One of those older-looking tapes with a white shell, and labels attached to either side.

After she was gone, Dad loaded the cassette into the tape deck on his stereo, and hit the "play" button. What was on this tape seemed to be some kind of collage of things that he had put together from various things in his album collection, strung together rather roughly, and perhaps after he'd had a few beers (and--perhaps!--a few bong hits), but it was obvious that he was definitely having fun making it.

I remember hearing the classic David Frye comedy routine about Nixon smoking grass in the Oval Office, which I had heard before and thought was funny, even though I didn't know who Nixon was then, but I at least appreciated the humor in it. Sometime after that was a few cuts from The Mothers' Fillmore East, June 1971 album, which I had never heard before. As soon as "Bwana Dik" ended, the voice of Dad came on, sort of like a deejay, saying something like "Hey! This is Fun Factory, ever wonder what it would sound like if a midget fell through the floor of an outhouse?".

Then the recording cut to a sound effect from Chilling, Thrilling Sounds Of The Haunted House, where a guy is crossing a bridge, which collapses, and you hear him yelling Yarrrggghhhh! as he falls down into water, far down below. Then, the tape switched to yet another sound effect from the same album; this time, it was of a dripping-water noise, but Dad had gotten onto the microphone and had added some grunting and groaning noises of his own, as if he were sitting on the toilet. Pure insanity. Also, somewhere on the same side of the tape, I remember hearing "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?" from the Beatles' White Album, with Dad singing along to it. Oh, boy...again, pure insanity, but whenever he had recorded this tape, he definitely had that crazy sense of humor even before I came along!

The next day, after school, I had the tape-recorder up in the bedroom, and I was listening back to the cassette again, but about a third of the way through it, the tape snarled in between the capstan and pinch-roller, ruining the tape, and rendering it unplayable. The tape was, sadly, tossed in the trash. If only I'd had the knowledge to have repaired and saved the tape then, I would have done that, but...I didn't, and I can only wonder what the rest of the tape had on it. Dad would occasionally make weird tape collages such as that, but nowhere near as weird and wacky as "The Fun Factory".

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Led Zeppelin

This is another one that I'd heard at the Blue House for the first time. Angie and I were running around and climbing underneath the pool table while the grown-ups played, drank beer, and were listening to the stereo playing. There was an album cover that was mostly brown, with some people standing around while a large, white thing was pointing up in the sky, emerging from colorful clouds of smoke. I liked the big, golden blimp that was on the inside, although I had no idea what the object really was supposed to be. One thing that struck me as odd was one song where the singer sang something that (to me) sounded like "You need Kool-Aid!".

Next thing I know, it's bedtime, and we were sent off to bed...and the music played on. It was dark in the room, and I could still hear through the wall what was being played. Dad had put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV, but I had no idea what it was, what the cover looked like, and wasn't even sure if it was the same band. When "Black Dog" was playing, I remember being a little weirded out when the music would stop and the singer was going "Ah-ah, Ah-ah, Ah-ah, Ahhhhhhh.....!".

Sometime after that was one that was starting out kind of quietly, and I was hearing what sounded like was about someone "borrowing" a stairway to heaven...whatever that was. The song went on, getting a little louder, more electric, and then rocking out really hard, coming to a sudden stop, with the final line about borrowing that stairway again, and then...silence. I lay there in the dark, completely blown away at what I'd just heard.

It wasn't until we'd moved into the Green House that we really started playing them a little more, and more often. They were one of Red Fred's favorite bands, and you could count on Zeppelin being played whenever he was around.

Not long after we'd moved into the house, Grandma had come to the house, and brought over some stuff that was down in the basement, and needed a new home. Most of what she'd brought over was a small cache of ultra-cool blacklight posters that Dad had put up on the walls of the basement...the way he would talk about it, he made it sound as if it were quite the Party Central spot! Among these posters were ones of Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, a massive coiled-up cobra...and Led Zeppelin!

This one was really cool, all done in blue, yellow and green, against a black background, with a peace-sign, and even a little blimp flying overhead in the back. The old black-light was dutifully attached to the wall, and this one was placed right underneath it. Somewhere, in one of the photo albums, is a picture of the family in the living room, and this poster is fully visible on the wall behind us.

They were one of Dad's favorite bands throughout the '70s, and he even got to see them in Seattle in late 1972 or so. He said it was a great show, almost four hours long. He would always tell me about making his way down to the front of the stage, looking right up at Jimmy Page in front of him. Joints were being passed around all over, and he suddenly found himself with one in each hand. Decisions, decisions!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Emerson, Lake & Palmer

This is another one that stems way back from hearing it for the first time at the Blue House. This time, however, was different. I was lying in bed, supposed to be asleep while Dad and Mom had some company over, and Angie and I had been sent off to our room for the night. I remember hearing a song about a "lucky man" of some sort, and then the song dissolved to a siren-wailing Moog synthesizer, with the drums carrying it along, until they both collapsed in a heap at the end. I liked what I was hearing...the only bad thing was, I had no idea who it was!

Sometime later, at the Red House, Dad pulled this one out, with three guys on the front cover, who seemed to be Siamese triplets, gazing into a setting sun on the back cover. He played "From The Beginning", which was very impressive, with awesome acoustic-guitar figures, wonderful vocals, and--again--with fizzy, gurgling Moog sounds bringing it to a close.

This was another one that intrigued me, but had never heard. On the outer front cover was a gallery of gold picture frames with nothing in them, but on the inside, they now contained some pretty lurid images of strange landscapes and structures. What could this sound like? Now that I knew how to use the turntable, I put it on one afternoon, and had to hear what it sounded like. From the start, it was a live album, recorded in front of a loud, cheering crowd who definitely loved their heroes.

I had never heard anything from Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition, and this was my first introduction to a major piece of classical music. Although the music was written by a Russian composer, it was like a little trip to Europe, as listening to the music filled my head with images of castles and cathedrals. The sounds coming from the synthesizers and Hammond C-3 organ hooked me in, and I couldn't believe that it was just three guys making all of that sound. I loved the entire album, and it was soon one of my most-played and well-loved albums.

Brain Salad Surgery had not only the strangest title, but also a suitably strange album cover that opened up down the center in the front. The first thing that Dad had played for me from it was something called "Karn Evil 9: 3rd Impression", a 9-minute epic that almost sounded like the soundtrack from a Superman movie, with frantic tempo changes, churning organ solos, and a bizarre synthesizer loop at the end that spewed from speaker to speaker. This became another favorite as well. The keyboards sure sounded like a fun and interesting instrument to play someday, with limitless capabilities to them.

As the years went on, I still played them regularly, but eventually wondered what the bands that the three members had once been in sounded like. That led me to seek out some albums by The Nice, King Crimson and Atomic Rooster; it was all great stuff, and the latter two would have immeasurable influence on me as both a player and a writer.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Guess Who

It was sometime in the start of my kindergarten year when Dad pulled this one out, and asked me if I'd ever heard "Bus Rider". I honestly had never heard this album before, though I had seen it in the collection, but it had never been played around me. It sounded like something we could identify with, since we didn't have a car, and pretty much traveled everywhere by bus, courtesy of Pierce Transit.

He put the album on the turntable. The first thing I noticed was that the album had a piece missing out of it on the outer part, as if it had been dropped, or something hard fell on it, and so the opening song on either side was permanently (and literally) cut out. "Bus Rider" played, a two-and-a-half-minute perfect explosion of Rock & Roll, great hooks, great chorus, and fun lyrics. A hit single, if there ever was one.

That did it, and I was hooked.

Dad also had the 8-Track tape of this album, and I began to play it on the stereo on days that I was at home from school, and he was at work. I could not get enough of it. Awesome songs all the way through it, and I loved Burton Cummings' bluesy rasp. When Angie saw the cover, she thought the guys were standing around in a sewer. The songs played through my head as Mitchell, Angie and myself played at Wright Park throughout that school year, and well into that summer.

When we got into the cassette format, I put this album onto cassette, and played it all the time. One interesting way to fill in the gap with the two missing songs was that Dad also had another "greatest hits" album that featured "These Eyes" and "Hand Me Down World", and I was able to record them onto tape in their original running order, and not miss a thing. Plus, it also had songs like "Star Baby" and "Clap For The Wolfman", which I also liked.

Dad also told me that he saw them in concert at the UPS Fieldhouse in 1971 or so, around the same time that The Best Of had come out, so it was the same lineup on the album cover. A great show, but the one thing that he always remembered was that Burton Cummings skulked around the stage all night, smoking a lot of cigarettes (one after the other), and made it seem like he didn't even want to be there. Later on, I felt that maybe it was around the time that he found out Jim Morrison had died, and maybe that's what put him in such a mood.

As I grew up, I still played it often, knowing all the words, and also teaching myself how to sing by singing along to them. And as time went on, I began to find their albums and picked them up as I found them. There were lots more great songs on albums like Canned Wheat, So Long, Bannatyne and Rockin'. I also began picking up some of their albums on 8-Tracks, which I would find at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store. If I liked what I heard, then I would go and pick up the album on my next vinyl safari. One that I loved and played all the time was of their 1974 album Road Food, which I found at House Of Records on my fourteenth birthday.

A year after that, I found a vinyl copy of The Best Of The Guess Who that had a black-light poster included in it. I wasn't aware that the first pressings of the album had a poster included in it, but there it was; a similar shot of the guys underneath the pier, standing in shallow water. I bought it for that, and also to replace the copy at home that was pretty much worn out, and the poster went on my wall. It's still up there.

Flash forward many years, and one of Geoffrey's favorites is "Bus Rider", followed by "Rain Dance" and "Sour Suite". Why he likes the latter song is kind of a mystery, as it's a bit melancholy, but it's one of his favorites.