Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thanks for the comments everyone. Yep, the DC5 was my first concert. The performed at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo on a Sunday afternoon in December 1964. Opening act was Shirley Ellis who performed The Name Game for a very long time. Good to have your one hit be something you can really stretch out on. The DC5 ran through a half hour set. The weird thing was that the stage lighting was so low that their white cuffs and collars were about all you could see. Evidently the promoter didn't read the one page rider calling for a couple of spot lights. A few months later I returned to see The Beach Boys with some unknown guy named Glen Campbell on bass. After the show there was some harmless shouting and jostling in the lobby (teens being teens) and rock concerts were banned from the hall for the next 4 1/2 years (3,000 seat home of the Buffalo Philharmonic). They changed the policy in time for The Who to perform Tommy and a double bill of Led Zeppelin and The James Gang in September 1969. Chris Bell and Andy Hummel would have dug that Zep show for sure (they were both Zep fans and their band also covered some James Gang tunes).

Ardent related tidbit...I've been exploring the early recordings of Tony Joe White album, especially his first album (Tony Joe White) for Warner Reprise in 1971. I once had a vinyl copy but hadn't heard the recording it in decades. Turns out that it was produced by Peter Asher and was recorded in part at Ardent (would have been the National location). This is a really great album and not usually mentioned when people are going through the list of things done at Ardent (the first I'd heard it). The song Copper Kettle was recorded by Bob Dylan for the Self-Portrait album. Tony Joe is sort of like Elvis's younger brother immersed in a backwoods bayou groove (Elvis of course recorded and performed his tune Polk Salad Annie). Peter Asher returned to Ardent to add the Memphis Horns to James Taylor's post-cover of Time magazine Mudslide Slim album. But that Tony Joe album is better...

Have been getting a lot of feedback on the Chris Bell set and the general feeling is that if you have the money it's a nice thing to have but not essential by any stretch. It would be nice if it were someday available for download so those of use who already gave at this particular office could cherry-pick some additional tracks. Given that the original I Am The Cosmos cd wasn't an album but rather a collection of the best available tracks, it would logically follow that barring any new discoveries in the archives that the new tracks would be interesting but not essential.

Alex Chilton's Box Tops are playing a casino in Niagara Falls at the end of November. A lot of people are asking me what to expect and I don't really know what to say. Any one care to weigh in? If you've seen the Box Tops recently, tell us what you think.

Artvoice (Buffalo arts weekly) is slated to run a feature on the book this week. Will post a link when it runs.

http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showthread.php?t=170503 If you aren't familiar yet with the Steve Hoffman music forum, you've got to check it out. Intelligent people discussing good music in a civilized manner. This is the thread for the Big Star box set. There's also a thread for my book:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hey everyone...Happy Rocktober (a cheesy phrase for sure but one I love nonetheless...) Frequent commenter Larry and a few other people have asked me what I think of the new Chris Bell deluxe reissue. My response is "I don't know." Or to be more specific: I'm not really sure if it's worth the money. Some time this decade I hit a wall as to how far I'm willing to go to buy reissues and concert tickets. A four CD box set of one of my favorite bands ever for $52? I'm in. 13 new / alternate tracks added on to an album, monumental high points aside, that I don't go back to anywhere near as much as any of the three Big Star albums, for $40 plus shipping? Naaaaah. Or at least I'll have to hear it all first to get over my resistance to reissues. I recognize that this is a different case than that of a hit album being reissued for the fourth time but overall I have this feeling that record companies are playing us for suckers as a way to cover up their own increasing ineptitude. Can't develop any new bands? Let's find a way to repackage someone's past success yet again!...Enough! But if you have the Bell reissue, please weigh in and tell us what your take is.

Same goes for concert tickets. Since my first concert (the Dave Clark Five in December 1964) until maybe five or six years ago, I never thought twice about going to a concert if I wanted to see a band and when I made that decision, I always bought the best seats. Now I pass on a lot of shows and have gravitated towards cherry-picking the best of the cheap seats (seats just behind the stage sold as obstructed view actually give you the feeling of being on stage with the band). Could I afford the top price seats? Probably. But next month I'll be sitting in the cheap seats for the last show of Springsteen's current tour (an arc that began for me when I booked him for two grand at my college in '73 and has put me in the front rows for many a show). $29 a seat feels about right in this economy. And given that last night there were entire empty sections at his show last night in Philly (home turf), I'm not the only one thinking this way. And recently I've passed on seeing some old favorites in a local club (Todd Rundgren, Robin Trower, Hot Tuna) not because of the ticket price (around $30 - reasonable for a small venue) but because the service fees jacked up the price to $40. Sorry Todd and Jorma....it wasn't your fault. But why should it take $10 just to sell me a ticket (and I love that they actually charge you more for printing at home even though you're using your paper and ink and saving them printing, labor and postage costs)??

Friday, October 9, 2009

The November issue of MOJO not only has a review of the book but a feature story on Big Star. I used to subscribe and would sometimes get my copy a week or two before it hit the newsstand and sometimes would never get it at all and would have to go through the aggravation of getting a replacement copy. So now I just wait for it to arrive at the local store (and they don't really give you much of a break on the money when you subscribe). Sometime over the next few days I'll be able to put my hands on one and report back.
Hi Folks -

The free book offer is over thanks to the folks at the FTC. They just put in a rule that if if anyone endorses / reviews a product in any public forum (on tv, in a blog, at amazon etc.) and received "consideration" in any form, it has to be revealed. A sample of the product is considered to be consideration. So, if I sent a copy of a book to a music blog for review, they have to reveal that I sent them a book. Or if you posted a review at amazon, you would have to reveal that I had sent you a book. Do they really expect magazines and newspapers to put in a disclaimer at the end of every review "Hey, we got a free copy so take all this with a grain of salt"? Do they really think that viewers watching some movie star shill for a product on Oprah can't figure out that there's probably something going on? Or who is sincere? You can read more about this in today's WSJ. It's just another example of government overreaching. Mighty considerate of them to announce that they expect prosecution to be rare...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

MOJO!! Just got the word that the book is reviewed in the November issue of MOJO (Kraftwerk on the cover although not sure if they'll change it for the US market as they sometimes do. Really good review (just read to me over the phone). Details to follow.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Just received a note from Hans Flagon aka James Enck about the book. He has a highly entertaining blog with some really interesting firsthand tales of his time in Memphis in the 70s and 80s with Tav Falco, The Panther Burns (touring member), Alex Chilton, and a cast of many Memphis luminaries and legends. I hereby nominate Hans to write the 33 1/3 book about Behind the Magnolia Curtain! Hans put in request for some Blue Reimondos recordings. I'll admit to being a bit behind the curve on that front but will do my homework on how to post some mp3s for your listening pleasure...

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Nice article about the 33 1/3 series at this very nicely done English / Australian alternative music site. This is conclusion of the part about Radio City: "It’s about as an authorative and informative an exposition as you could hope for." Thanks, mates!

The book is back in the Top 20 again. I'll have a full-length update over the weekend, including some new info about the alternate version of O My Soul on the box set. But right now, it's a beautiful autumn morning and it's time to go watch some of the top high school cross-country runners in North America.