Volume #6, Issue #5 – October 1979

Fragments
By Steve Kraye
With Toni A. Brown

Robert Hunter – Look Ma, no cavities!

This summer saw a couple of real firsts in the record manufacturing business.  For one, Ry Cooder (see the feature in this issue—ed.) has the first rock LP to utilize digital recording techniques.  The digital process has been very popular in the classical and jazz fields for the past couple of years.  Digital recording results in a product without harmonic distortion.  Bop Till You Drop is the title of the work, and, even if you’re not into Cooder’s stuff, the album makes interesting listening.

            Another first is the development of records containing holographic designs.  Laserdisc Records, part of the Lasergram Company, based in beautiful downtown Burbank, has produced some test singles and LPs to show the effect.  A pattern is stamped into the plastic lacquer that is used for records.  From there, the sound tracks are put on, and then it’s just like any other record.  When one plays the record under non-fluorescent lighting, the effect can be seen.  Presently, no major labels have announced intent to use the process, but there are some discussions taking place.

            Bob Weir’s tune “Cassidy,” which appeared on Ace years ago, has been the subject of speculation for quite some time.  People have argued that it is about Neal Cassidy, the famous beatnik-turned-Prankster.  Others have said that it is actually about Jack Casady.  In truth, Cassidy is the child of Elleen Law, who has been in charge of the Dead family’s public information network, including the Dead Heads newsletter and the recently established Hot Line.

            We understand that Comfort, the band formerly associated with Robert Hunter, has been in the studio lately, getting things together for an album.  Nothing definite is available yet, but we’re pretty certain that they’ll have a different bass player.

            The McGuinn, Clark, and Hillman show at the Dr. Pepper Music Festival in New York’s Central Park on August 13 was missing something—Gene Clark.  During the performance, Roger McGuinn announced that Clark’s absence was due to a medical problem.  Rumor has it, however, that Gene is no longer a part of the band.

            During the summer, the Rowan Brothers reunited to do several performances.  At one show, Chris, Lorin, and Peter, did a lovely acoustic set, performing material from the several albums that they recorded together.  This was followed by a powerful electric set in which Chris and Lorin joined Peter’s rock ensemble, the Wild Stallions.

            Chris and Lorin have been appearing on their own lately, performing folk type materially acoustically, with some nice rhythmic variations.  Lorin’s vocals have increased in strength since his last appearance, and together with Chris’ falsettos, these guys have a great combination.

            Peter, meanwhile, has had three hats to wear.  In addition to his work with the Wild Stallions, he also fronts a band called the Bluegrass Gringos.  He’s also recently become a father.  Congratulations!

            Jorma Kaukonen toured extensively during the latter part of the summer.  It seems that Jorma has followed former Tuna mate Jack Casady into the world of punkdom.  He was backed up at his recent shows by members of the Offs, and appeared in Dayglo colored clothing and with Bowie-like Daylgo red hair!  His shows in the next month or so should be interesting.

            The publisher and some of the executive staff of II Mucchio Selvaggio, Relix’s Italian counterpart, visited New York for ten days during August.  During this period, they got to see at least one show a night, sometimes two.  Among these were David Bromberg (twice), Robert Hunter, Kingfish, Nick Lowe and Rockpile, the B-52s and Talking Heads!  They told us that they were very happy to be so fortunate to see quite a number of their favorites while visiting.  We’re hopeful that they will return, or that we will get a chance to visit them or their home turf, Rome.

            Howard Stein, best remembered as promoter of concerts at New York’s Academy of Music, has returned to the music scene.  He and a partner have opened a club in the SoHo district of Manhattan.  We wish them success in their new venture.

            Arista Records has been sold for $50 million.  The acquiring company, Ariola-Eurodisc G.m.b.H., is a German conglomerate.  Clive Davis is to stay on as president and executive officer, and all aspects of distribution and artist contracting remain intact.  The inside word is that the conglomerate is backed with a lot of Arab cash.

            Maria Muldaur has a fine new album entitled Open Your Eyes.  This includes a tune called “Birds Fly South,” which was written for her by “Midnight At the Oasis” composer David Nichtern.

            Maria has put a band together for touring to support the album.  John Girton, formerly of the Hot Licks, plays guitar, and Jim Rothermel, who’s played with Jesse Colin Young for the past several years, does reed work.  Four other West Coast musicians round out the ensemble.

            Rhino Records is at it again.  This time, they’ve produced an EP called The International Elvis Presley Impersonators Convention.  Need we say more?  They have also released the album by what is termed America’s first punk band, the Barbarians.  This stuff is thirteen years old now, and we’ll leave it to you to see if it has withstood the test of time.  Rhino has also released an LP of greatest hits of the hilarious ‘60s folk singer/comedian Allen Sherman.

            Aside from the Rolling Stones’ European tour this fall, plans have been made for an American tour next summer.  As might be expected, their itinerary calls for ten megagigs, at which they’ll play to about 100,000 people.  We understand, however, that they will play many small clubs and concert halls as well.  Details will follow as soon as they become available.

            Nicolette Larson’s second album, called In the Nick of Time, is due out about now.  We understand that it is more rock ‘n’ roll and R&B oriented than her first.  She is backed up by essentially the same band—Paul Barrere on guitar, Michael O’Martian and Bill Payne on keyboards, Bob Claub on bass, Bobby LaKind on congas, Rich Schlosser on drums, and Michael McDonald and Linda Ronstadt on background vocals.  A tour is planned as well; keep your eyes peeled for announcements of shows in your area.

            Rust Never Sleeps, Neil Young’s concert movie, opened in August.  At the New York opening at the Palladium, they also showed a short featuring Devo performing “The Day My Baby Gave Me a Surprise.”

            The film is of a concert held at the Cow Palace in San Francisco.  It features seventeen songs.  Young performs solo on acoustic guitar for the opening tunes, and is later joined by Crazy Horse.  The stage is set up with giant replicas of amplifiers and microphones.  This stuff is put in place by the ‘roadeyes,’ folks dressed in cloaks and hoods wearing illuminated oversized glasses.  Some elements in the film would lead one to believe that there was something more planned for it, other than concert related material.  The music is very well done, though not especially cleanly recorded.  The album of the same name has a tune or two that is not performed in the film.

            Robert Hunter toured solo recently, playing acoustic guitar and harmonica.  The guitar, by the way, is a limited edition Guild.  It was designed by Bob Weir, only six were made.  Hunter commented that “it only sounds good in front of a microphone.”  When he stood to do his songs, it sounded really good indeed!

            He’s beefed up his performing repertoire somewhat with the addition of a few tunes.  For example, he’s done “Let Me Sing Your Blues Away,” “Althea,” a tune included on the next Dead album, and “Mississippi Halfstep Uptown Toodeloo” into “Ariel,” a tune from his Tiger Rose album.  He sounds better and better all of the time, singing things that are more within his range, that he’s more comfortable with.  He’s also more comfortable with his audience, interspersing his songs with some funny stories.

            We here at Relix would like to take this opportunity to congratulate David Bromberg on his marriage of September 3.  More than 200 people were invited to the private reception at New York’s Bottom Line.  Here’s wishing David and his new bride all the best for a very happy future.

            Speaking of Mr. Bromberg, he and his band have a new album ready.  It should be available just about now.  The LP was recorded live at various gigs around the country, including Minneapolis, Denver, and San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall.  We’ve learned that hot new renditions of “Sharon” and “Yankee’s Revenge” will be included on the album.  Guest appearances by Garth Hudson and Peter Eckland are highlighted on several cuts.  Based on the way this crew was cooking on their summer tour, this should be a real blockbuster.  We recommend you give it a listen.

            As always, your contributions and comments are solicited.  Send to:

            Steve Kraye
            Fragments
            P.O. Box 94
            Brooklyn, NY  11229

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