Archive for Frank Zappa

Captain Beefheart, R.I.P.

Posted in News with tags , , on December 18, 2010 by 30daysout

Don Van Vliet, a.k.a. Captain Beefheart

Don Van Vliet, the avant-garde singer/musician known as Captain Beefheart, has died in California at the age of 69.  Captain Beefheart – with and without his Magic Band – was a mainstay on the Warner-Reprise Loss Leader samplers, and it’s tough to pigeonhole his music.  Blues, rock, soul, country and some classical and jazz influences managed to seep into his work at various times, mostly at the same time.  It’s perhaps meaningful to note that Captain Beefheart was a frequent collaborator with Frank Zappa.  Captain Beefheart was one of a kind.

Captain Beefheart obituary on NPR

Top 14 Reasons Why Captain Beefheart Was A True American Genius, from L.A. Weekly

MP3: “Bat Chain Puller”

MP3: “Ella Guru”

MP3: “Tropical Hot Dog Night”

MP3: “Safe As Milk”

MP3: “Ashtray Heart”

MP3: “Debra Kadabra” (live)

MP3: “Hard Workin’ Man” (main title song from the movie Blue Collar)

MP3: “Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles” (from The Big Lebowski)

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Flo & Eddie

Posted in Rock Classics! with tags , , , , , on October 3, 2010 by 30daysout

It’s been a rough work week, so I sneaked into my sister’s bedroom and dug deep in her record collection … and came up with Flo & Eddie, the 1974 album from, uh, Flo and Eddie.

Flo and Eddie were the Phlorescent Leech and Eddie, who were really Mark Volman (Flo) and Howard Kaylan (Eddie), both founding members of the 1960’s group the Turtles.  The duo were pretty much the leaders of the group, doing all of the vocals and writing most of the band’s hits (except for the Turtles’ biggest hit, “Happy Together”).  Even though the Turtles broke up in 1970, they were still contractually obliged to their old record label so they couldn’t use the Turtles name, or even their own names, in performing music.  So Volman, Kaylan and Turtles bassist Jim Pons joined Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention as the Phlorescent Leech & Eddie.  They recorded a few albums with Zappa and appeared his film 200 Motels.

When Zappa was injured in a 1971 stage accident (he was actually attacked by the angry boyfriend of a female fan), the Mothers went on hiatus so Volman/Kaylan and the rest of the band cut The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie (1972) and then, two years later,  Flo & Eddie.  By this time Flo & Eddie had gained a little credibility on their own, and they were opening for Alice Cooper on his “Billion Dollar Babies” tour.  The duo cut this album to help promote that (or the other way around), and it was produced by Bob Ezrin, who was also Alice Cooper’s producer.

The album consisted mainly of Kaylan/Volman originals, including the Turtle-esque “If We Only Had The Time” and some choice covers, including Ray Davies’ “Days” and the Phil Spector/Ronettes classic “The Best Part Of Breaking Up.”  Some of the trademark Zappa/Mothers weirdness surfaces in “The Sanzini Brothers,” a circus-themed goof with more funny voices and sound effects than music  – in fact the song itself doesn’t kick in until about halfway through the three-minute selection.

“Another Pop Star’s Life” is a slice of rock and roll torn from Alice Cooper’s playbook – it’s a wonder they didn’t give it to Alice to record.  The acoustic strum of “Just Another Town” recalls one of Stephen Stills’ more earnest efforts but it’s really a lament about being a rock performer “on the road.”   The seven-minute-long “Marmendy Hill,” which closes the album, is apparently a leftover from the Turtles days but it gets an epic treatment here.  After a ponderous opening, the song settles into a nice pop groove for a minute or two then the strings and high concept all swirl into an overreaching mess.  This would’a been a nice tune, cut down to about three minutes or so.   In some way this song presages the sort of thing that would make Meat Loaf famous a few years later.

Flo & Eddie would continue to cut albums through the 1970s and the duo also made a number of backing-vocal appearances on other artist’s records, like T. Rex (“Bang A Gong”), Keith Moon, Steely Dan, Bruce Springsteen (“Hungry Heart”), The Ramones, John Lennon and many more.  In the 1980s, they recorded music for children’s shows like the Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake, and began hosting their own radio show on KROQ in L.A. and WXRK in New York.   In 1984, Kaylan and Volman legally regained the use of the Turtles name, and began touring as The Turtles Featuring Flo & Eddie.  And that Turtles music has been featured on just about every commercial imaginable.

MP3: “If We Only Had The Time”

MP3: “Best Part of Breaking Up”

MP3: “The Sanzini Brothers”

MP3: “Marmendy Hill”

The Turtles Featuring Flo & Eddie official website

Sampler Daze: A Last Look at the Loss Leaders

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2009 by 30daysout


When The 1969 Warner/Reprise Songbook appeared in early 1969, the liner notes said, by way of explanation, the sampler’s goal was “hopefully to win new friends for some very creative people.”  People like Jethro Tull, the Pentangle, Frank Zappa, Van Dyke Parks, Randy Newman, even Tiny Tim.  Warner Bros. Records, founded in 1958, was just beginning to hoist its freak flag, and in just a few years the label’s roster would be the cream of the crop.

And so the ride began: with L.A. street freak Wild Man Fischer’s “Songs For Sale” introducing “My Sunday Feeling” by Jethro Tull.  Eleven years later, the Warner Bros./Reprise Loss Leaders series ended on the sampler Troublemakers with Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols snarling, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”

Well, no.  The 34 Loss Leaders samplers that appeared between 1969 and 1980 formed my musical tastes and exposed me to artists I would never have dreamed of seeking out, to people who may have been just a little too adventurous even for early-Seventies radio.  I remember calling up my local AM pop station and smugly asking the DJ to play some Zappa and the Mothers, or that flip side by the Beach Boys, only to get the response, “What?”  The Loss Leaders made me cooler than the disc jockey!

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Rock Moment: “The Mike Douglas Show”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2009 by 30daysout


Mike Douglas started out as big band singer before heading to the small screen in the 1950s. The Mike Douglas Show debuted in Cleveland as a local show in 1961, but by 1967 after the show moved to Philadelphia, it was in 171 markets and watched by more than six million people each afternoon.

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Sampler Daze: WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 7

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2009 by 30daysout

hardgoods deepear

By 1974, radio’s hard rock trend was going strong – Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Humble Pie dominated the FM rock airwaves.  Appropriately titled for the time, Hard Goods arrived in mailboxes with freshly minted rockers like Montrose, covering Roy Brown’s “Good Rocking Tonight” and Foghat, offering its cover of Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be The Day.”  Ted Nugent and his Amboy Dukes show up, and the perfect marriage between glam and hard rock emerges in the then-new KISS (Casablanca Records were distributed by Warner Bros. until about 1976).

The Doobie Brothers were still rockin’ behind guitarist/vocalist Tom Johnston and they were fresh off their 1973 triumph The Captain and Me.  The Doobies’ new “Pursuit On 53rd Street” had a guitar crunch similar to the monster single “China Grove” but behind the scenes, Johnston’s health was becoming precarious.  He was able to stick with the Doobies through late 1974 even as new personnel were added, most notably ex-Steely Dan guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter.  Finally in early 1975 Johnston had to quit the band, and a replacement was found in another Steely Dan alumnus, Michael McDonald.  The Doobies quickly became McDonald’s franchise, and everyone’s heard the rest of the story – with more than 30 million albums sold, the Doobies are still an active touring band with a rejuvenated Tom Johnston at the helm.

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Sampler Daze: WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 2

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2009 by 30daysout

thebigball schlagers

I didn’t really think through how I was gonna do this series of blog posts: Warners released about 34 of these LP samplers between 1969 and 1980, sometimes springing three or four of ’em in one year.  I don’t have all of them, so maybe I will try and survey them year by year.  After the success of the first three samplers in 1969 (there was a single-disc collection we didn’t mention last time), Warners kept goin’ in the new decade with The Big Ball and Schlagers!

The label called these samplers “Loss Leaders” because while they obviously took some money and resources to produce and advertise, and they were selling them for a very cheap price (basically one buck an album) the company stood to lose money on the records.  But they were an awesome promotional tool: mixed in with songs that were already hits and soon-to-be hits were selections from artists on the label that were a little tough to market.  The samplers were a good way to put a taste of their tunes in listeners’ ears.  If not for the WB/Reprise samplers, I probably would not have heard people like Joni Mitchell, John Cale or the Youngbloods.  Samplers were certainly the first place I heard Little Feat, Black Sabbath and many others.

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Sampler Daze: Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 1

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2009 by 30daysout

songbook recshow

For my money, these were the best major-label samplers of the 1960s and 1970s.  Warner Bros. and Reprise (the label founded by Frank Sinatra) was the place where you could find Frank, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Trini Lopez, Miriam Makeba and so on.  But sometime around 1967 the label started to get hip, when it produced the debut album of a San Fransisco band thought to be “unmarketable” – the Grateful Dead.  Warner/Reprise signed people like Arlo Guthrie, Joni Mitchell, Van Dyke Parks and Randy Newman, and experimented with rock acts like the Kinks, the Fugs and Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention.  Then it took a chance on a dude who was getting popular in England but hadn’t yet made a dent in the States: Jimi Hendrix.

So the freaks were lovin’ Warner/Reprise, and in 1969 the label decided to put out its first two-LP sampler, The 1969 Warner/Reprise Songbook, with 23 artists ranging from Hendrix and Zappa to Van Morrison and the Everly Brothers.  The liner notes explained, “We have put this double album together not only for our own enjoyment  … but hopefully to win new friends for some very creative people.”

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Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2008 by 30daysout


MP3: “A Hazy Shade Of Winter” by Simon & Garfunkel

MP3: “Snowblind” by Black Sabbath

MP3: “Snow (Hey Oh)” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers

MP3: “A Winter’s Tale” by the Moody Blues

MP3: “Pisshole In The Snow” by the Pernice Brothers

MP3: “Snowin’ On Raton” by Robert Earl Keen

MP3: “White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes

MP3: “Winter” by Steeleye Span

MP3: “Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow” by Jethro Tull

MP3: “Snow” by Loreena McKennitt

MP3: “Wizards In Winter” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra

MP3: “Cold As Ice” (live)  by Foreigner (with Kelly Hansen)

MP3: “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow” by Frank Zappa

MP3: “Thank You, Dreaded Black Ice, Thank You” by Giant Sand

MP3: “In The Bleak Midwinter” by Bert Jansch

MP3: “Snow In Austin” by Ellis Paul

MP3: “California Dreamin’ ” by the Beach Boys