Arkiv för februari, 2007

Man Of The Millennium


This piece is about the man with probably the most uncool name in rock history; Curt Boettcher (he eventually changed to Becher, which really isn´t much better is it?). Boettcher was a visionary producer who recorded a trio of albums in the 60s that are all timeless classics according to us here at ACGTGAE. His first studio project was a group called the Ballroom. They recorded an unreleased album filled with psychedelic pop gems that is both otherworldly and adventurous. “It´s a sad world” is a good example of the magical quality in Boettcher´s best work. Next, he hooked up with Byrds-producer Gary Usher and together they masterminded the group Sagittarius, whose lone album Present Tense from 1967 is also pure genius. But Curt Boettcher´s crowning achievement would be with the Millennium. Counting 8 members and with Curt as the leader of the band, they went into the studio in 1968 to create Begin. The record would become what was then the most costly recording session in the history of Columbia Records with Boettcher spending a massive amount of hours in the studio looking for the perfect take and adding new effects and echoes. The end result is truly stunning. Take the opening song “Prelude” for example, an amazing instrumental number that sounds waaaay ahead of it´s time. The whole album is a fantastically hypnotizing ride but since it failed commercially the band soon split up. Boettcher recorded some solo material in a more cosmic singer-songwriter vein in the 70s but it was a far cry from his glorious 60s productions. He passed away quietly in 1987, a good ten years before his records would start to gain wider recognition.

"It´s a sad world"



Manuel’s last waltz


Richard Manuel was the soulful member of the Band. With a gospel background and a falsetto voice almost on par with the Gibbs, Manuel took the Band to a higher level. He was also behind some of the more memorable songs, even if Robertson stole the glory with ”The Weight”. Being a shy Canadian, Manuel still had his hand with the ladies – marrying a Swedish model, and demanding polaroids of groupies before allowing them backstage. As popularity grew, he started to drink notoriously (according to drummer Levon Helm, he downed 8 bottles of liqueur a day) and was often way too pissed on stage. After the death of his friend and manager Albert Grossman, Manuel fell into a depression and after a gig in Florida 1986 hung himself. Here is maybe his finest moment – ”Whispering Pines”. Hey, by the way, don’t forget to check out Scorsese’s ”The Last Waltz” for some great footage of Manuel and the Band in action.

Del Shannon – the sad rocker


Fact: Del Shannon is one of my favourite singers ever. I love the way he always sounds powerful and totally sad at once. Making it big in 1961 with the megaclassic “Runaway”, Del had several more hits (mostly “Runaway”-soundalikes) before the mid 60s found him stuggling to keep up with the changes in pop music. Desperate for a hit, he jumped on a plane to London in 1967 and started working with Andrew Loog Oldham, manager of the Rolling Stones, on a record that would sadly never be released.
The album, which was supposed to be called Home and Away, is solid gold. All killer, no filler. “He cheated” is probably my fave track, in which Del takes on the role as the frustrated guy who´s in love with a girl whose boyfriend is a cheating son of a bitch. Del Shannon recorded one more album of psychedelic pop brilliance, The Further Adventures Of Charles Westover (yup, that was his real name), before becoming a tragic figure travelling the oldies-circuit playing “Runway” to middle-aged people trying to recapture their youth. In 1990 he obviously couldn´t take it anymore and commited suicide, but let´s remember him for that magic period in 1967-68 when he seemed to be invincible, recording one great song after another.

"He cheated"

The non-mystery of Mama Cass


We continue our female front, with yet another flowery singer from the golden era – Cass Elliot from the Mamas and the Papas. Now, the death of Cass was not a mystery. She was simply extremely overweight and died from a heart-attack. But the rumours around her death were numerous. Possible explanations ranged from drug abuse, killed by the FBI, to the quite obscure fabrication of her carrying John Lennon’s baby… The most popular one was the ”ham sandwich theory” – the idea that Cass died from choking on fast food in bed – suggested by the extraordinarily sharp doctor Greenburgh to the tabloids just after finding her dead. A slight problem still remained: the sandwich was still in wrappings and untouched by Cass. Thanks to Greenburgh, the rumour lives on. But fortunately, so does ”Mama Cass” music, in the smoth and poppy sound we have learnt to associate with the Mamas and the Papas.

Sandy the earthquake


Sandy Denny was like a force of nature. Her earthly yet complex songwriting, and beautiful, haunting singing, made Fairport Convention maybe the best folk-rock band the English moors had ever seen. If she conquered the folk scene with an almost earthquake effect, her death was in comparison as silent as the clearing of the fog in the morning. On holiday with her parents, she fell down a flight of stairs with severe headaches as a result. A few weeks later she died from mixing her painkillers with alcohol. But let’s remember her music instead – press play and feel the breeze of Sandy Denny gently in your face.

"Tried So Hard"

The Godmother of Electronica


Okay, looking back at the first few posts on this blog I´ll be the first to admit I´m sensing a pattern: no women. So, to make everything right I though I´d introduce you to one of the coolest women ever; Delia Derbyshire. As one of the most creative members of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, who wrote music for the BBC´s wide range of programs, Delia made a lot of groundbreaking electronic music in the 60s. But why should I try and explain how they worked, take it away Delia:

Delia was responsible for one of the most memorable theme tunes in television history, the mighty “Dr Who”-theme. Music doesn´t get much sweeter than this 2:21-minute pop art explosion. In 1969 Delia and some friends released the album An Electric Storm as the group White Noise. Early electronic pop with weird and wonderful sounds and ideas. “Your hidden dreams” is a perfect example of the album´s experimental and hypnotizing wall of sound. By the mid 70s Delia Derbyshire withdrew from the music business. She passed away in 2001. A true pioneer.

"Dr Who"

”Your hidden dreams ”

Like Dylan, but more honest


Always in the shadow of Dylan’s glory is where Phil Ochs spent his life as a folkie. But he was the protest singer to come out of Greenwich Village. ”I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore” became the tune to which hippies from left to right (more from left) joined in the anti-war rallies. It’s for his outright and bold lyrics we remember him (”here’s to the people of Mississippi…they tremble in their shadows at the thunder of the Klan, the sweating of their souls can’t wash their blood from off their hands, they smile and shrug their shoulders at the murder of a man”). As a controversial artist, Ochs occasionally brought friends to his gig to keep an eye on the audience in case he was being harassed. In the 1970s, Ochs suffered from depression and an odd twist in his musical career – he started performing rock medleys dressed in a sparkly, golden suit. ”Phil Ochs is dead!” someone in the crowd shouted. A few years later he hung himself.

Because of censorship, Ochs never really got a chance to perform on the American broadcasting networks. Here is instead a number from Swedish television in 1969.

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