rock and roll

Who Are the Brain Police? ~ Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention ~

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the above mentioned song appeared on the mothers first LP, ‘freakout’, in 1968. to say it was well ahead of it’s time would be like the proverbial pot, kettle, and black name calling adage. what follows about the song, Who Are the Brain Police?, was gleaned/lifted from wikipedia:

The song’s structure was described in detail by AllMusic:

“Simply put, it is weird and creepy. A chorus of living-dead voices supports a slow and sloppy waltz beat. Lyrics make numerous references to melting plastic and chromium and repeatedly ask the question found in the song’s title (answered by the brainless chorus). Halfway through, the song breaks into a fast-paced bridge; the same happens in the coda, which includes a kazoo solo.”

“The song was stated to be a “direct defiance of top 40 radio.” Repetitive lyrics were noted as part of this “defiance.” The song was also cited by Mojo magazine as “one of the scariest songs to ever emerge from the rock psyche.” While comparing it to Kafka, Mojo described the song as “a vision of contemporary America where personal identity and individuality is erased.”

interesting, what? yep. perhaps weird and creepy but the song is much more than frank railing against the radio and music industry that wanted very little to do with him, his music or ideas.

a couple of days ago i was sitting in a dentist office reading magazines while waiting for the brown eyed girl’s appointment to be over. some of the magazines were ok but a bit borderline in their finger wagging. ‘time’ magazine sent me over the edge and into an orwellian free fall. thankfully, it’s a magazine i rarely read let alone page through.

yes, kids, long dead uncle frank pretty much nailed it. we’ve indeed become that contemporary america where we’re told what and what not to do and when and when not to do it. he also nailed a bunch of other stuff musically as well 40 years ago long before ‘american idol’ or ‘the voice’ hit the airways. though ‘the voice’ does it’s damnedest to distance itself from what a pop singer ought to look like. sorta. but that isn’t why i’m here.

don’t do that. do this. do that. not this. say this. not that. believe this. don’t believe that. don’t ever say that! eat this. not that. it’s going to kill you. this won’t kill you. or at least it won’t this week. next week? meh. vote this way. god forbid, not THAT way! think this. never that. buy this. not that. read this. never that. you really fucking need this. your government would never ever lie to you. what’s the matter with you, boy?

yeah, we’ve been erased. or our minds have. it’s only a matter of time before we ourselves will be erased for not toeing the line. count on it. your personal identity is already gone or has been stolen. individuality? that disappeared along with the so called freedoms we once had. if you haven’t noticed you haven’t been paying attention. we are all suffering from all the brain policing that’s been going on for years. though most hardly notice the day in and day out nonstop barrage of swill and we know what’s best for you crapola. it’s as if we’re all too fucking stupid to figure anything out or entitled to form our own opinions about damn near everything on our own anymore. for good or bad.

ok. sure some of you are so fucking stupid you need to be spoon fed every damn thing even if it is wrong or wrong headed. after all it is properly PC and has been vetted by legions of assorted loons, dumb asses, hacks, hustlers, and politicians from both sides of the aisle. fine. screw it. just leave me out of your fucking equation and it’s related insanity. i’m not even gonna say please. just do it. yeah, sure, like that’s gonna happen even if i say, please.

when the bells start tolling don’t say they aren’t for you because they are. by the time that circus/scenario rolls into your town it will already be too late.



an ode to gram parsons or john harrelson’s cd “mojave”

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this originally appeared here in september of 2008. john harrelson passed away in june of 2013. don rehkop passed away in march of 2014. may you both rest in peace, my friends.


let’s see…ok.  the boys, dfr & jwfh, were over this past evening and i cooked up a nice sorta southern down home meal for my brothers.   jwfh says i got the job.  dfr as well.  sweet.  their lips to the food network’s ears.  for those that are wondering, the brown eyed girl was busy doing stuff with her nephew.

at any rate, my sorta cooking skills aren’t why i’m here.  ah, no.  at one point i stuck john’s cd, ‘mojave’ on the cd player.  yeah, well.  i’ve been down this road before a year or so ago.  none the less, ‘mojave’, by john harrelson still kicks ass and those of you that haven’t bothered need to bother because it is that good.  trust me.  the link will follow.

we are like eating and i’m yammering about this and that music wise on the cd.  jwfh is yammering back.  i tell him the title track, ‘mojave’, is stellar and i love it when he does it live.  like who wouldn’t?

then we got to the tune, “joshua tree ’73”.  one of the finest hippy country western tunes ever written.  fuck yeah.  ” under the influence of loneliness, morphine, and desire “…sweet, jesus.  write it and sing it, jwfh.  i told jwfh that i needed to hear him do the tune next time he did a live gig.  he smiled and said, ‘yeah.’

then he went off into something i hadn’t heard before.  turns out writing the song was one of those deals that just comes from beyond type deals.  a channeling of sorts according to john.  a tune nothing like he’d ever written before.  after it it was written he was like, ‘where the hell did this come from?’

then jwfh says, ‘it’s the suicide note gram parsons never got to write.’  whoa.  fine.  i’m there.  the tune is one of those late 60’s early 70’s country western tunes that sings of life on the edge.  life, ala charlie bukowski, dressed up in a country western nudie suit.  as a veer, google, ‘nudie’ and country western outfits.  life ala what country western music means to me.  not the sugar coated crapola stuff of today.  the old days of hank williams and outlaw country.  the old hippy cosmic country.  real life angst and despair.  angst and despair dealt out from the bottom of the deck.  country as i remember it was and should still be.

my point?  you should probably, no, you should, go to: and buy the cd, ‘mojave’.  if you like country western/blues/rock ‘n’ roll by someone who’s lived several lifetimes playing and writing it then this cd is for you.  it’s time to jump on the bandwagon before it pulls out and heads west into that morphine induced unwritten note sunset.  um, yeah.  it’s ok, jwfh.  i understand.

‘mojave’, is one of those cd’s you listen to and need to listen to a bunch in order to get it.  it just gets better with each listen.  my brother, know this.  you knew it and did it.  i just hope there’s more comin’ down the pike.  capice?

i wrote this last night after the boys left.  i sat at the computer and listened to “joshua tree ’73” a number of times while i finished off a bottle of sicilian red.  it’s early morning and the sun is still around an hour away.  i’m sitting at the computer again.  this time drinking coffee.  the only sound is the keyboard and the lonely night time wail of a freight train echoing north from down in de onta.  i’m still haunted by john’s joshua tree tune.  haunted by gram parsons.  haunted by my youth.

i wish i was out in joshua tree this morning.  sitting on a rock someplace and smoking a very large bowl of something or another while waiting for the sun to rise.  there’s magic out there and there’s magic in john harrelson’s tune, “joshua tree ’73”.


just another desert island music re-visit or a break in the football action

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if you’ve stumbled onto to this while looking for my college football picks for week 8 look to the left and click on it or scroll down to the next entry. thanks. jmh

this is the third version of my must have desert island music must have list. the original idea was to have only 10 LPs or Cds to take with you when you’ve been whisked away to some exotic desert island locale. a fine idea to be sure but to any music aficionado 10 would never be enough regardless of the rules, as abitrary as they might be. plus the fact if it’s going to be over the long haul and you’re stuck there for any length of time you are going to get sick of those 10 Lp/Cds. count on it.

yes, of course, with the advent of the iPod things are different today. however, for the purposes of this adventure and assignment the iPod isn’t part of the equation. no iPods allowed. okay, to be truthful if i were an iPod user things might be different. old school dies hard. real hard.

there is also the fact that over a certain period of time your or my musical taste sort of bounces about here and there. it’s fine to have the original 10 selections and even the next 10 selections plus the honorary mentions along for the ride. the fact of the matter is, it’s not enough. more music is still needed to soothe and replenish. so here i am again re-visiting or adding to my already over flowing 10 must have desert island LPS and/or CD’s. so, once again, in no particular order my desert island music list gets a little longer.

1. gram parsons, ‘the gram parsons anthology’ 2 discs. this clears up some space as it has plenty of stuff on from gram’s brief career. including a number of tunes with emmylou harris, the flying burrito bros, and the birds. yes, some repeats from ‘sweetheart of the rodeo’ but who cares. certainly not me.

2. hank lll, ‘risin’ outlaw’. one of my favorite country CDs.

3. hank lll, ‘straight to hell’. speed metal, punk, and country rolled up into one nifty package. for those times when nothing else will do.

4. bob wills and his texas playboys, ‘the essential bob wills: 1935 – 1947’. boy howdy. ride em cowboy.

5. spade cooley, ‘shame on you’. the other half of the western swing battle of the bands. bob and spade duked it out many weekend here in socal a few years before i was born. spade won. well, up until he pummeled his wife to death in the early 60’s.

6. emmylou harris, ‘wrecking ball’. a grammy for emmy and the usual haunting vocals from one of the best.

7. emmylou harris, ‘the very best of emmylou harris’. more haunting vocals from the best of the best.

8. new riders of the purple sage, ‘new riders of the purple sage’. the 1971 first LP by the group. great songs and vocals. jerry garcia shines on steel guitar.

9. tens years after, ‘ten years after’. their first LP. alvin lee is one of the best ax players ever.

10. tens years after, ‘undead’. more of the same and easy to see why i think these guys were one of the best live acts ever.

there they are. 10 more added to the list. i’m sure at some point there will be more. after all, living out the rest of your fantasy life on a desert island is gonna take plenty of music. for editorial purposes i’m going to add the first two at the bottom of this current list. hopefully, there will be room.

“Never under estimate the influence of country music in rock ‘n’ roll.” Keith Richards


this started out to be a whole mind numbing run down of a old lp i came across a few weeks ago. stuff i hadn’t heard in a very long time. yeah, like 30 plus years. the problem being someone did a short blog on this band last week with a youtube video stuck in it for good measure. my mind numbing thunder had been stolen. so here i am trying to deal with it.

i’ve looked over the 10 lp’s/cd’s and there really isn’t anything i’d change. i could stick some other stuff in there but then i’d be missing the original stuff. you don’t miss your water till the well runs dry.

so maybe an alternate 10 cd desert island music list is needed just in case of some sort of musical emergency or just because i still need to yammer about this one old lp in particular. the other parameters still stand from the original. i won’t repeat them here because i do that enough as it is and if you really care you can read the original.

1. the byrds — ‘sweetheart of the rodeo’. an amazing piece of country music with some of the best peddle steel guitar you are gonna hear this side of hilo hattie and her old b/w tv show from hilo, hawaii in the 50’s. or perhaps spade cooley and his band on local l.a. tv every weekend back in those same b/w 50’s as well. even if you aren’t a fan of country music this will make you a fan or there’s sumpin’ wrong someplace.

2. tower of power — ‘east bay grease’. that’s the one i’ve been obsessing on for the past few weeks. well, actually it’s a greatest hits cd by the band. so i suppose you could interchange either one. however, ‘east bay grease’ was my introduction to them. i’m really not sure just how far east they went from their oakland, ca roots. hence, east bay grease not to be confused with whatever was going on over in the city or frisco as us un-enlightened ones loved calling san francisco just to piss them off. drifting. if you have never heard tower of power you are missing some of the best soul, r and b, and funk to ever be laid out on vinyl. hands down. just another horn band laying down some good stuff. not chicago, or blood, sweat and tears, or cold blood. nope. tower of power. tight ass horn riffs with a bass line along with drums to make any band jealous. ‘you got to funkifize’, ‘your still a young man’, ‘soul vaccination’, and the truly hip ‘what is hip’. try it you’ll like it.

3. peter green’s fleetwood mac — ‘live at the marquee’. yes, the original and still the best fleetwwod mac. just crunched out down home blues.

4. fleetwood mac — ‘men of the world’. a newer lovely 2 cd package of some more old fleetwood mac from the old days. the original ‘black magic woman’ and ‘oh well’ make it worth your while.

5. frank sinatra — ‘live at the sands’. a great lp with old blue eyes belting em out backed by the count basie band. sweet. it doesn’t get much better.

6. the rolling stones — ‘beggars banquet’. some great stuff including the greatest sing a long line ever from ‘sympathy for the devil’.

7. the rolling stones — ‘now’. ‘pain in my heart’ and ‘little red rooster’

8. the rolling stones — ‘out of our heads’. ‘under assistant west coast promotion man’. along with ‘satisfaction’.

9. the rolling stones — ‘aftermath’. ‘think’ and the countrified tunes ‘flight 505 ‘ and ‘high and dry’. along with the 11 minute masturbatory grand finale ‘going home’.

10. cream — ‘fresh cream’. their first lp.

there ya go. my alternate desert island lp’s. of course no top 10 worth it’s salt could be with out a runner-up. this list is no exception. my runner-up would be a double cd of stevie ray vaughan & double trouble’s ‘greatest hits’. actually it just might be interchangeable with ‘fresh cream’ depending on the mood and the moment.


i’ve kicked this one around in my head for awhile now. other than being transported to some exotic asian place loaded up with all the stuff i’d ever need and babes to go along with it all, where else would work as a nice place to be whisked off to? the obligatory desert island for me. of course, it would have have a nice break, surf wise. maybe chest high glass all day long with some nice barrels that rolled for a bit just so you could get comfortable riding them with a board or body surfing. a kinda kick back and enjoy the ride along with the scenery deal.

i’d need a couple of marshall amps as well or jbl’s, something with some power to them so while i was out in the water i could listen to my music. yes, my desert island would have electricity. cause i am not going if there is no power for stuff. a long time ago i might have but these days, no, i need some comfort. along with a nice bbq, decent food, maybe a lady or two and of course some dago red or white. hmmm, desert islands are hot so some ice cold chinese beer would be nice as well. then of course there’s the music.

now the rub is, i can only take 10 cd’s with me. that’s it because with all the other crap there’s no more room. you see, whisking machines can only hold so much and with a couple of babes along for the trip i’m sure most of the stuff would be theirs anyhow. leaving me only enough room for the 10 cd’s, a pair of shorts, a university of oregon t shirt, some flip flops plus a surfboard and a swim fin. oh yeah, and the massive speakers. i can travel semi light when the need arises.

the real question has been, what 10 cd’s? what music would i really need? what music is gonna make me happy is what it boils down to. plus, what can i listen to over and over again that won’t drive me mad or madder. good questions. i’ve thought about it and i’ve come up with my 10 selections. of course yours would be different. as sly used to sing, different strokes for different folks. no sly didn’t make the cut. at any rate here they are in no particular order.

1. rolling stones- let it bleed, the opening riffs of ‘gimme shelter’ still give me goose bumps.

2. rolling stones- exile on main street, for me it’s says lots of stuff on all kinds of levels.

3. jimi hendrix- electric ladyland, what could be better than crashing through a tube while body surfing and hearing ‘voodoo child’ screaming out from the sand?

4. bob dylan- highway 61 re-visited, if only for ‘desolation row’.

5. the mothers- burnt weeny sandwich, gotta have some of my mothers and that one pretty much covers the mothers’ spectrum, plus i love it.

6. bob dylan- blonde on blonde, ‘visions of johanna’ and ‘sad eyed lady of the lowland’. nuff said.

7. pink floyd- ummagumma live, the ultimate floyd drug experience lp. i still listen to it just for the contact high.

8. van morrison- moondance, this was a really tough one. it boiled down to this cd having ‘into the mystic’ on it. plus ‘moondance’ and he’s always good for getting the ladies interested.

9. paul butterfield blues band- east/west, there aren’t too many blues cd’s out there much better. this one still kicks ass.

10. the allman bros- live at fillmore east, i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again. this cd is probably the best party cd ever made.

ok. there they are. you are all of course going…well, he’s forgotten and what the fuck is he thinking? and yada yada yada. don’t matter cause it’s my list and my desert island. more importantly, my ears channeling the stuff to be processed by my brain.

this is actually a kind of fun thing to do. it was interesting going over and over stuff to get to the final 10. try it for yourself. the limit is 10 cd’s. no more. oh, i guess you can do less, i wouldn’t, but then it’s all up to you.

music provided by, david bowie, ‘ziggy stardust’, the 30th anniversary edition, an honorary mention.


john harrelson’s, ‘cottonmouth revelator’, a cd review

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my friend, john harrelson, is indeed back in the saddle again with his latest cd release, ‘cottonmouth revelator’.  boy howdy, if you like the blues then this cd is a must have.  john has gone back to his blues roots for some of the best blues i’ve heard in long time.  this cd takes me back to the late 60’s and back to when the great blues bands traveled the land. it also reminds me of why that music was so good and still is so damn good.  real blues and real country.  ain’t nothin’ better than pure american music.

i suppose i could just copy the liner notes written by his executive producer and old hard luck boy roadie, john neiuber, because john does a great job setting up the cd.  but i’m not gonna do that. i’ll just ramble along as usual and see what happens.

‘i want your ass’ is an old harrelson standard and it shows up here with a fire and polish i haven’t heard before.  the tune is one of my favorite harrelson songs that’s played with gusto and humor at all of his live gigs.  it’s nice to see it here with john and jeff ross kickin’ out some fine guitar licks along with john’s whiskey growl that make this his best version of that classic harrelson song.  speaking of great ass.  i love the photo and accompanying tattoo on the cd’s cover.

how about some ‘bar-b-que’?  yeah, bbq.  a great song done in the old spoken blues tradition sorta the original rap.  but much much better.  john gives the song a wonderful old feel with a sadly politically in correct these days kingfish style monologue.  a tune right out of guitarist jeff ross’ little bbq book.  though mike krevis is playing on this song.  jeff has a passion for bbq and has a book filled with notes about all the bbq joints he’s eaten in over the years.  john has nailed that bbq passion in this wonderfully funny classic blues song.

other harrelson originals include, ‘fire and gasoline’ a wonderful harrelson song.  ‘redeeming angel’ another favorite of mine.  ‘sugar’ with a killer vocal from john.  ‘whose little sister?’, yeah, who’s?.  sexy and sweet.  ‘looking for you’, ‘i want to teach you french’, the title says it all.  ‘independent woman’, great lyrics and guitar work.  the song reminds me of old paul butterfield stuff.  ‘talk dirty to me’ and ‘love among lovers’.      

along with the eleven harrelson originals there’s three re-makes of all-time classic blues tunes.  robert johnson’s ‘crossroads’ gets a fine treatment with john’s vocals and jeff and john’s guitars.  also a fine rendition of b. b. king’s ‘worried life blues’ filled with kickin’ guitar and john’s sweet vocal.  then there’s one of my favorites on the cd.  muddy waters’, ‘long distance call’.  holy crap, momma, lock up the kids.  this is what the blues are all about.  those three songs bring john’s passion for the genre right up front and center, then he slaps you up side the head with it.  shit don’t get much better.  trust me.

‘cottonmouth revelator’ is for any blues lover and/or fan.  it’s john harrelson back to where he started, singing and playing the blues.  singing and playing with a passion you don’t see from many performers these days.  musicianship, passion, style, polish, and wit all sum up this cd from john. 

john harrelson is known in these parts for his raw gutsy style.  tell you what, this cd is raw and gutsy but with a polish and style that i haven’t heard from john before.  ‘cottonmouth revelator’ could only have come from a life of living and loving the blues.  john harrelson has lived that life.  sure nuff.  the music here is testament to the love of his life, the blues.   

oh, yeah.  be sure to let it keep tracking when it’s all over.  john lays out some fine acoustic bottleneck that’s worth the wait.

john is joined by his usual band on this cd along with some other stellar folks as well.  brian chapman, bass. steph kuhn, drums.  jeff ross, guitar and bottleneck.  dr roland avalon, upright bass.  k. r. ehmmann, tenor sax.  dj alverson, bass.  mike krevis, guitar.  steve ross, drums.  c mccormick, bass.  a waddington, drums.  kid cadillac, baritone, sax.  e moultrie, backing vocals.  r donofrio, bass.  and of course, john harrelson, vocals, guitar, bottleneck, harmonica, piano, and organ.  john has had some fine line-ups in the past.  however, for my money, this one is his best.        

tell you what, my friend, thanks for the music.  again.  this one sure does hit some notes.  really really sweet notes. 

buy this cd and crank it up loud.  very loud.  you’ll be glad you did.  rock ‘n’ roll.

john passed away 6/26/13. hopefully, he’s in a better place. RIP, john.


rod stewart ~ soulbook ~

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for me, football season is over for the next few months.  time for something different or back to the usual stuff here.  music for one.

the brown eyed girl loves rod stewart.  so i gave her a copy of his latest cd for christmas.  it’s been in her car cd player ever since.  fine with me as it’s a very good lp.  rod sings up some old motown stuff with the best of them.  from the opening, ‘it’s the same old song’, to the closer, ‘just my imagination’, with stops in between.  like my favorite on the cd, ‘love train’, the theme song for the tv show ‘soul train’.  the entire cd is filled with great stuff top to bottom.  you like old r & b?  you like rod stewart?  then you need this cd in your collection.  simple as that.

rod stewart has been around since the mid 60’s.  he first hit the radar with the band, the small faces.  which also featured ronnie wood who is now with the stones.  after rod split with the faces he teamed up for a spell with jeff beck as jeff’s lead singer.  now that kids was a band.  jeff ripping the place up with his guitar and rod laying down some fine bluesy vocals. 

the concert poster that follows is from a show i was lucky enough to see in the late 60’s at the shrine exposition hall next door to the actual shrine concert hall in los angeles.  imagine that.

the exposition hall was more like a basketball gym than a concert venue joint.  hardwood floors and no seats.  you sat your ass on the floor or you got up and boogied.  or both.  at any rate, that concert with jeff beck & rod stewart, the moody blues, and ten years after was probably one of the best concerts i ever saw and i saw tons of them.  from the stones to led zep and the who.  jimi, the dead, zappa, the doors, and the byrds just to name a few.

at any rate, that one show was killer.  it’s hard to imagine a line up like that.  just incredible.  even more so was the fact that ten years after played two sets and nearly set the place on fire with each set.   jeff and rod had to follow their last set.  they did indeed fill the bill and then some.

rod stewart has been around a long long time.  the guy just keeps on being an amazing vocalist.  he never ceases to amaze me.  to me, and i mean this with all due respect to both gentlemen, rod stewart is the tony bennett of my generation.  you may not like that but it is what it is.  rod is a phenomenal talent that just keeps on ticking.  check out his new stuff.  ‘soulbook’.



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my old friend, doctor john harrelson, has written a couple of nice things about the history of pop music.  i’m re-posting them here to get the word out a bit more.  history comes in many colors.  musical history as well.  for many of us musical history, is just as important as the more regular stuff.  i hope you enjoy john’s blogs.


Part One—Dedicated to Drew and to Jason

Was Elvis the King of Rock? Was Michael Jackson the King of Pop? Can you even doubt that James Brown was the Godfather of Soul?

First, Pop[ular] music. Before 1930, Popular Music was very much associated with regional taste/culture and narrow exposure. The first guy to appreciate the possibilities of capturing a national audience was Bing Crosby. Incorporating Jazz phrasing learned from Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden and a great sense of song choice, Crosby was the first commercial entertainer to use his recordings as a substitute for his live performance. He figured the exponential impact correctly and was a successful entertainer into the 60s and lingered on into the late 70s [See his duet with David Bowie in a Christmas special doing “Little Drummer Boy.”]
Frank Sinatra is the next memorable icon, though hardly the only singer of the late-30s and 40s to be a PopStar. Many Big Bands featured romantic, handsome and/or talented vocalists who were a major feature. Trumpeter Harry James, drummer Gene Krupa, and clarinetist Artie Shaw were musicians who courted movie stars, engaged in mis-behaviour, and were very much like Mick Jagger, Glen Campbell, or Chris Robinson.
Frankie Laine, Snooky Lanson, even Tennessee Ernie Ford were singer/stars of the 50s that were on the radio, television and selling great quantities of recordings. Then came Elvis Presley.
In 1954 and 1955 Elvis started a revolution—though he did not invent it. Singers who based their entertainment approach on Louis Jordan’s Tympani Five, Bullmoose Jackson, Roy Milton, Louie Jordan, Bill Haley, were causing a ruckus, filling the gap left by the sudden decline of the Swing Era bands. Nat ‘King’ Cole, Charles Brown, and some crooner types brought fantastic textures to the market place. Elvis, though, got young people excited.
Many young folks were drawn to the visceral realm of Roy Brown, Wynonie Harris, and the new DooWop genre. The realm of the Crows, the Robins and two hundred more was exciting, new, and not like any of the music before 1945. Elvis drew from these sources and his own White cultural music, Hard Rock Gunther, Bill Monroe, and Bob Wills. [Check his first version of “Milk Cow Blues” a tune that dates back to Kokomo Arnold, where Wills probably learned it.]. Elvis, with his band, brought together a vast number of disparate elements that became Rock-a-billy and, less than four hundred days later, “Rock and Roll.”
Once the label was firm, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Gene Vincent, Little Richard, and Carl Perkins were under the same ‘new’ umbrella. But, as businessmen will do, the real deal was quickly sharing the genre with Georgia Gibbs and Pat Boone. By 1958 the “Bobbies” fucked everything up. Some were talented (Bobby Darin), some were vapid (Bobby Vee, Bobby Vinton). Some were not Bobbies at all (Bobby Paul Anka and Bobby Tommy Sands) and some were too late (Johnny Burnette and Jimmy Clanton). Ricky Nelson took a while to get over his own celebrity, but he did contribute some great songs. The Everly Brothers took the simple device of singing in thirds and performed some fantastic songs.
Link Wray did the magnificent “Rumble.” Johnny & the Hurricanes did the cheerful but useless “Rocking Red River Valley.” Elvis got out of the army and did two killer tunes; “Marie is the name of his Latest Flame” and “Little Sister.” Then he folded into a shameful pile of has-been. Periodically he would offer an amusement (“Viva Las Vegas”) or a piece of crap (“Girls, Girls, Girls”). He got pseudo-operatic with “You Gave Me a Mountain” (and “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”). He got maudlin (“In the Ghetto”). He tried to be hip (“U.S.Male”). He tried to be cultivated (“My Way”). But, in reality, his creative days were over in 1958, and his genuine power was gone after 1961.
But he was the figure who got young folks excited. That is why Elvis is considered the King of Rock’n’roll. –JWfH

PART TWO—Dedicated to Justin and to Dahvia

So it is apparent that Elvis has virtually no power after 1961. Girl groups, the Shirelles, the Chantals, the Ronettes, the Chiffons, and more to come, are a dominant segment in the market-place. Duane Eddy made the guitar a more prominent voice, leading to Dick Dale, the Chantays, and a tide of instrumental Surf bands. The Beach Boys opened the door for the Surfaris, Jan & Dean, and the other side of the Surf genre, that of the vocal groups. This offered the opportunity for the Ronnie & the Daytonas (from Memphis), the Cobras (studio band?), and the Pyramids (with a Black guitarist!) to enter the genre. The last gasp of Surf music was “New York’s a Lonely Town” by the Tradewinds in 1965.

The Folk Music Scare was in full effect. From 1958’s Kingston Trio hit “Tom Dooley” [nee “Duhla”] through Peter, Paul, and Mary, Folk music was a commercial arena. The Back Porch Singers, Pete Seeger, and the essential Bob Dylan, were to provide the foundation for the 1965 rise of a new sub-genre—Folk-Rock. Barry McGuire, the Mamas and the Papas, the Lovin’ Spoonful, and, importantly the Byrds and the Buffalo Springfield inhabited a realm that was only American. (Except of course, those pesky Brits were as good at this as they were at copping our Blues and other styles and genres. Check Chad & Jeremy, Peter & Gordon, and the Beatles.)
1960 to ’64 is a rich and overlooked era in Rock/Pop/R&B. Obscure events and records (Reparta & the Delrons, the Cookies, three-and-four track tape machines, Fender amplifiers improved, cheaper, efficient microphones, Sam Cooke leaving the Gospel genre, et al.) The Four Seasons managed to update the DooWop style as far as it could be taken. MoTown went from Smokey Robinson, the Marvelettes, Little Stevie Wonder to a huge stable of hit-makers that were always present in the charts (‘64-’74). Stax Records developed from “Green Onions” and “Last Night” to a significant contributor to American culture.
When the Beatles emerged, young people once more became excited. And with that excitement came rapid change and creativity. A Buddy Holly clone became the leader of the Bobby Fuller Four. The Warlocks, a Memphis Jug Band imitation, became the Grateful Dead. King Curtis opened a Hollywood Bowl concert. A pair of albino brothers left Texas and found their way to acclaim. A mild sub-wunderkind from the late 50s became Sir Douglas.
The Rolling Stones, John Mayall, and Paul Butterfield stimulated a curiosity in young Americans about their own inheritance. Thus B.B.King, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed and a clutch of Chicago-based Blues musicians gained notoriety and increased their influence. The Folk folks had reintroduced Mississippi John Hurt, Sonny & Brownie, Jesse “Lonecat” Fuller and ten more, so the Blues scene flourished.
Between ’65 and ’72 the acceleration of ideas was nearly unbelievable. The Moody Blues went from a sophisticated R&B ensemble to an incredibly sophisticated orchestral presentation. Eric Clapton developed from a convincing heir to Blues authenticity to an intense Jazz-inspired [but not informed] improvisational-ist. The Yardbirds, a very experimental-minded Blues band, spawned the foundations for Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Jeff Beck’s Group, and eventually Led Zepplin. Miles Davis created “Bitch’s Brew,” as much a landmark of change as any such ‘event’ in American music history.
The Beatles traveled from a fantastic Rock band to a bunch of Rock’n’roll musicians who made it a habit to trample on boundaries. The first 60 songs fall away from memory when “Rubber Soul” appeared. That work was pushed aside for the impact of “Revolver,” which was faded by “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The final LPs by the group stand as holy grail items.
As the Beatles became the four individuals, an expectation developed that a “New Elvis/Beatles” phenomena would develop. The two leading qualified candidates were Stevie Wonder and Elton John. Of course, Stevie Wonder had been famous since 1963, he was blind, and, he was Black. While the atmosphere for Black artists had changed since Count Basie’s 1935 reference to racism, Nat ‘King’ Cole had died before benefiting from changes, and Ray Charles had gone forward to new boundaries, America would not realign its’ habits or tastes for Wonder. Elton John received support from some quarters simply because there was a vacuum of power.
At this point [1974] Michael Jackson was a novelty, associated with the Jackson Five. The Jackson Five had not matched MoTown’s best acts—the Temptations, Smokey Robinson, and the stellar Supremes. Since Wonder had taken Berry Gordy to task, wanting new terms with his recording contract. Marvin Gaye soon wanted the same. The Jackson’s tried for similar renegotiations but separated from MoTown and benefited from this decision. Gordy kept legal ownership of the Jackson Five name and could not really exploit the family’s earlier efforts. Further, Gordy was unconnected to Michael’s rising fame.
If you want to really understand Michael Jackson’s place in the greater scheme of Rock/Pop history realize that he had twenty-seven super hit songs. Nine of those were with his brothers involvement. Only three of his ‘long playing’ discs had deep impact. Twenty-three of his solo singles failed to attract any attention.  Contrast this with the Beatles having 21 Number One singles and one Number Two (in six years). Then, as individuals they had many hits (“Imagine,” “Jet,” “My Sweet Lord”).

Year Title Highest Chart Slot
1969 “I Want You Back” 1
1969: “Who’s Lovin’ You”(b-side of “I Want You Back”) 1 [False statistic]
1970: “ABC” 1
1970: “The Love You Save” 1
1970: “I’ll Be There” 1
1970: “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”
1970: “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”
1971: “Mama’s Pearl” 2
1971: “Never Can Say Goodbye” 2 [Cover of a previous hit]
1971: “Maybe Tomorrow” 20
1971: “Sugar Daddy” 10
1972: “Little Bitty Pretty One” 13 [Cover of a previous hit]
1972: “Lookin’ Through the Windows” 16
1972: “Doctor My Eyes” [Cover of a recent hit]
1972: “Corner of the Sky” 18
1973: “Hallelujah Day” 28
1973: “Skywriter” – 25
1973: “Get It Together” 28
1974: “The Boogie Man”
1974: “Dancing Machine” 2
1974: “Whatever You Got I Want” 38
1974: “Life Of The Party”
1974: “I Am Love (Part 1)” 15
1975: “Forever Came Today” 60
1975: “All I Do Is Think of You” (B-side of “Forever Came Today”) [False statistic]

CBS releases (The Jacksons)
Year Song title US chart
1976: “Enjoy Yourself” 6
1977: “Show You the Way to Go” 28
1977: “Dreamer” – 22
1977: “Goin’ Places” 52
1977: “Even Though You’re Gone
1978: “Different Kind Of Lady”
1978: “Music’s Taking Over”
1978: “Find Me a Girl”
1978: “Blame It on the Boogie” 54
1979: “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)” 7
1979: “Destiny” – 39
1980 “Lovely One” 12 29
1980: “This Place Hotel” 22
1981: “Can You Feel It” 77
1981: “Walk Right Now” 73
1981: “Time Waits For No One”
1981: “Things I Do For You”
1984: “State of Shock”(with Mick Jagger) 3
1984: “Torture” 17
1984: “Body” 47
1984: “Wait”
1987: “Time Out for The Burglar”
1988: “2300 Jackson Street”
1989: “Nothing (That Compares 2 You)” 77
1989: “Art Of Madness”

Long Player releases
1972 Got to Be There * Released: January 24, 1972
1972 Ben * Released: August 4, 1972
1973 Music & Me * Released: April 13, 1973
1975 Forever, Michael * Released: January 16, 1975
1979 Off the Wall * Released: August 10, 1979 * Label: Epic (EK #35745)
01 – Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
04 – Get On The Floor.
05 – Off The Wall
1982 Thriller * Released: November 30, 1982 * Label: Epic (EK #38112)
03 – The Girl Is Mine
04 – Thriller
05 – Beat It
06 – Billie Jean
07 – Human Nature
08 – P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
1987 Bad * Released: August 31, 1987 * Label: Epic (EK #40600)
01 – Bad
02 – The Way You Make Me Feel
07 – Man In The Mirror
08 – I Just Can’t Stop Loving You
09 – Dirty Diana
10 – Smooth Criminal
11 – Leave Me Alone
1991 Dangerous * Released: November 13, 1991 * Label: Epic (EK #45400)
08 – Black Or White
2001 Invincible * Released: October 30, 2001 * Label: Epic (EK #69400)

“—” denotes albums that weren’t released or were released but did not chart.


Now you can compare these facts with Rod Stewart’s career, Pink Floyd, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Neil Diamond, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Elvis, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles. Figure out that Peter Frampton means nothing. That means van Halen, AC/DC, Nirvana are not imperatives. The Who accomplished something, but Boston and Aerosmith are only significant, not essential.

To many participants in Pop Music, Van Morrison, RadioHead, Tupac Shakur, and your favorite act mean nothing. If Michael Jackson is the King of Pop, Madonna is the Queen Mother, Britney Spears is a Princess, and the royal blood-line is dependent on the genetic information provided by the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. –JWfH

“Doc H and the Rio Laudanum Cowboys”, a CD Review

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that’s the title of the current cd by my friend, john harrelson.  it’s been playing on the car cd player since last friday.  now, i’ve got it on my media player as i type.  the more i listen to it the more i like it.

Doc H and his usual band of suspects: brian chapman, bass and stand-up bass; steph kuhn, drums; jeff ross, guitar and steel(ed) guitar; and jwfh, himself, on vocals, guitar, accordion, mandolin, piano, harmonica, bottleneck guitar and 12 string guitar; kick out some fine country and western music.  oh, yeah, turn it up!

jwfh, told me this cd is about as country as he can get.  kids, that’s fine by me because it’s good stuff.  stellar stuff.  12 tunes and 9 of them are john harrelson country originals that were written over the past few years.  john’s usual take on love, life and playin’.  plus, a very interesting little snippet at the end of the stones countrified, ’19th nervous breakdown’, that is if you let the cd just track on.  a nice short sorta country version of the old mothers of invention tune, ‘my guitar wants to kill your mama’.  a fine example of john’s humor.  yeah, frank’s too.

john harrelson stands alone as one of the only truly original singer song writer players of the 60’s that’s left standing.  yeah, he’s been at it for more than 40 years.  writing and playing jazz, blues, rock ‘n’ roll and country.  it would be hard to find anyone anywhere that could pull off all those genres.  and he pulls them off all very very well.  this cd in particular.

musically john’s playing style is all his own.  if you listen closely to his guitar licks you’ll hear some folks out of the past.  however, he’s no eric clapton disiple that’s for sure.  though jeff beck, keef and brian do come to mind.  there’s some fine pickin’ and grinnin’ on this cd from everyone involved.  no doubt about it.  like i said, this one is growing on me and it just might be john’s best effort so far.  but then i’m just an old country honk as well as a friend of john and his music.

at any rate, Doc H and the Rio boys, is now high up on my play list.  trouble is, the only place you can find it right now is at rhino records in claremont, ca.  or contact john personally.  you can find him on myspace.  trust me, it would be well worth your trouble to do so.  the cd should be available soon on  you can search his name there.

find this cd.  buy it.  play it.  LOUD!!!! ‘Doc H and the Rio Laudanum Cowboys’.  country thangs don’t get much better.  count on it.  a nice bit of country fried meat and potatoes.  and after several listens you get the fact john is spooning on the country gravy.  bring it, my friend.

john harrelson passed away in june of 2013. i sincerely hope he’s in a happier place.