What was the great Ur-reverb?
I read a newspaper piece recently regarding Duane Eddy’s use of an echo chamber – apparently, he ran his guitar sound through a huge grain tank to enhance that famous twang – and I wondered, who used an echo chamber first? Don Kingsley, via e-mail
Fred Says: The first successful use of the ploy can be attributed to Turkish-born Jerry Murad and his Harmonicats, whose echo-enhanced version of Peg O’ My Heart, recorded for Chicago’s tiny Vitacoustic label, topped the US charts for eight weeks in 1947. I also remember being amazed by the huge sound of the Stan Kenton band during the ’40s, achieved through the use of eight concrete-clad subterranean echo chambers, 20 feet below the Capitol Records Building, devised by Les Paul who had experimented with echo in a cave that he purchased. In later years, saxophonist Paul Horn recorded in various locations – the Great Pyramid at Giza, the Taj Mahal, etc – in a search to gain enhanced sound. But the very first use of creative reverberation? Readers’ thoughts are welcomed at the usual e-mail address!
WHAT WAS THE ORIGIN OF MORRISON’S SONG
Is there any back story to Woman In The Window, the song on Perry Farrell’s Satellite Party album Ultra Payloaded that featured the voice of Jim Morrison? Was the vocal take really unreleased, and how did this come about? Kent Boreham, via e-mail
Fred says: Perry Farrell, along with The Doors’ John Densmore and actor Josh Hartnett, employed the Satellite Party track as a theme song when launching Global Cool, a campaign to reduce carbon emissions, in January 2007. At that point Farrell explained that the Morrison vocal had been recorded in 1970 “before Jim left for Paris”. In truth, Woman In The Window was one of the poems voiced by Morrison at Elektra’s studios in Los Angeles during March 1969, which later surfaced on the somewhat mistitled Lost Paris Tapes bootleg. Other extracts from these sessions have surfaced from time to time, prominently on the 1978 release An American Prayer, where the three surviving Doors recorded new music over audio of Morrison reading poetry and other spoken word performances.
WHEREFORE ART BUZZY?
Whatever happened to Buzzy Linhart, who made the superb Buzzy, on Kama Sutra Records, with such people as Skunk Baxter, Todd Rundgren and Moogy Klingman in the early ‘70s? Pete Cummings, via e-mail
Fred Says: I know the record, which many people refer to as ‘The Black Album’ to differentiate between this and an earlier LP, also titled Buzzy, which was made in England with south Wales’s Eyes Of Blue. Linhart went on to play (mainly vibes) on albums by Richie Havens, Jimi Hendrix, Carly Simon, Cat Mother and various others. While continuing to release solo albums up to 2015, he became a successful songwriter and even slotted in some TV acting parts along the way. But he’s also suffered health problems, including knee trouble, osteoporosis, strokes and heart attacks, so much so that an online cry for help ran: “I’m in trouble, need a complete shoulder replacement, losing everything.” He blamed a cop whom he maintains deliberated dislocated his shoulder due to a case of mistaken identity. Well-wishers can do their bit over at sweetrelief.org/ program/buzzy-linhart-fund/.
Plagued by questions, cavils and enigmas? Then let sage Fred Dellar illuminate the pop-lore darkness!
DID BONEY M LIFT FROM COZY POWELL?
After a recent vinyl night, someone brought Boney M’s Nightflight To Venus (don’t ask) to play, so play we did. Having never heard this album before I was completely astonished when the title track proved to be a direct copy – drum beat, guitar riff, everything – to Dance With The Devil by the late great Cozy Powell. Didn’t anyone notice this at the time? Paul Howells, via e-mail
Fred says: Apparently, Cozy Powell was completely cool about producer Frank Farian employing the Dance With The Devil drumbeat and never received any royalties from sales of either Nightflight To Venus or the following track Rasputin, which arguably also owed much to Cozy’s percussive pursuits. Incidentally, there are those who point out that Dance With The Devil itself was itself an emulation of sorts, one that utilised the main melody of Hendrix’s 3rd Stone From The Sun. Finally, mention of Rasputin acts as a reminder of one of pop’s eeriest facts – that former Boney M lead singer Bobby Farrell died in a St Petersburg hotel on December 30, 2010, while Grigori Rasputin, the subject of the group’s hit, was assassinated in St Petersburg on December 30, 1916. Spooky!
WAS THAT THE SOUND OF TOM PAXTON?
In Greta Gerwig’s film Lady Bird, there‘s a scene, just six or seven minutes in, when Laurie Metcalf is driving a car while a singer that sounds like Tom Paxton can be heard on the soundtrack. The song is also repeated towards the end of the movie. Can you identify the song? T.A. Merry, via e-mail
Fred says: The performer is the late John Hartford and the song is This Eve Of Parting, which originally appeared on Hartford’s The Love Album in 1968. It currently appears on a Lady Bird soundtrack album but be careful, because there are two albums with similar sleeves – one featuring Jon Brion’s film score and the other containing the various vocal tracks by Hartford, Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews, Ani DiFranco plus others, some of which have little to do with the movie but appear under the dubious “inspired by the film” designation.
I picked up the 1978 Mary Lou Williams and Cecil Taylor duet live album Embraced – basically the sound of two jazz pianists playing at cross purposes, one ‘traditional’ and one free. Was this the most non-sympatico team-up ever released on vinyl? Hard to quantify I know, but still… Ian Davies, via e-mail
Reverb madness: (clockwise from main) Les Paul wonders if it needs more guitars; Boney M and influencer Cozy Powell; Mary Lou Williams; Jim Morrison and Buzzy Linhart.