About yerdoingreat

Me=Adam Gimbel, no relation to the founder of Macy's & Gimbel's dept. store (dig the crazy 1916 coin and book that I bought on E-bay at the top of this page). I grew up in San Diego, living a "don't drink don't smoke what do you do?" lifestyle during my Brady Bunchesque (in a good way) upper middle class upbringing. I went to college near Los Angeles at Cal State Northridge, graduating with a degree in audio production and missing the big quake by two weeks. After doing various entertainment industry jobs, I moved to the Bay Area with some friends and had a blast doing not much of anything. A good job came up in LA and I reluctantly moved back down and consequently lost the job a few months later. I moved back to San Diego to run a business my father started, helping people find parts for old cars, even though I don't know anything about cars ("this thing steers it" is the extent of my knowledge). I realized my lifelong goal of singing at England's Reading Festival last summer, even though karaoke is stretching the rules a bit. I wanna rock.

91X, 1988 & ME

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A few goodies but I usually think of 1988 as an off-year in between big albums when the airwaves were ruled by forgettable tunes by Information Society, Edie Brickell and Timbuk 3 but, DAMN, that first Primitives album. This might’ve been the only year I ever listened to the whole countdown, so that’s my very own dot matrix typing action there.

1988. Ending eleventh grade at University City High School and starting my senior year. More of the same. School became more interesting as a few friends took over production of the school’s television program and we were suddenly the most visible comedians on campus. After helping fix up our family’s apartments while cataloging every song I heard on 91X, I landed a job at the nearby Baskin Robbins and suddenly all of my friends were eating free ice cream. Other than that, the year was mostly spent watching my friends drink, doing a little homework (despite going to a San Luis Obispo camp to encourage study skills) and getting caught by the fuzz in a park with a pot-smoking friend. On New Years Eve, I listened to the 91X top 91 countdown in a borrowed van instead of being inside with my drunk friends. Priorities.

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RIDE ARTWORK (No, I’m not a child pornographer)

smokerNow I know how Pete Townshend feels.

One of many things I love doing for YDG is finding outtakes of album covers I love. When UK band Ride reunited a few years ago, they put up a great collage of photos on their new website that included uncropped photographs used for some of their singles. The black and white pictures of children for the “Leave Them All Behind” and “Twisterella” singles were taken by photographer Jock Sturges. In looking him up quickly, I saw another famous one of a young girl smoking I didn’t know he’d taken.

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I excitedly uploaded them to Yer Doin’ Great’s Facebook page, knowing some of my fellow shoegaze loving readers would love seeing them as much as I did but I got some kind of error message. Confused, I tried again and again, figuring it was like any other occasional glitch. I was suddenly logged off of Facebook and asked to answer some security question. When I logged back in, I saw a note about somehow violating FB’s rules of appropriateness. It mentioned obscenity or nudity or something that hadn’t occurred to me. A quick look into the work of Sturges immediately showed me full nudes of young people taken at nudist communes in northern California and France that resulted in all kinds of accusations of child pornography. Oops.

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Sleepy Xmas 1997, San Diego

I’d had those singles for years. My girlfriend was a fellow fan and we had a HUGE Twisterella poster over our bed. To us, it was a beautiful portrait of the innocence of youth….and a great song. It never occurred to me that there was something obscene about the photos. I always assumed they were three boys, which would be acceptable in nipple-phobic America but now I see it’s titled Christina, Misty Dawn and Alisa. Does three more feminine girls in the same window setting or the Sturges photo of a topless girl used on the Japanese Ride “Grasshopper” EP Japanese Ride “Grasshopper” EP seem more wrong? I can’t say. It’s such a gray area I’m glad I’ve never had to consider.

Beautiful pictures. Great songs. Strange experience….

All photographic images by Jock Sturges

ALSO READ RIDE LIVE IN SAN FRANCISCO: Twenty years and 500 miles later

11345, our little East Bay music family

Wrote this for the 1999 release of the 11345 Records compilation, Horseshoes & BBQ’s.

The 11345 story started in late 1993, when three young men looked northward to the Bay Area. They wondered aloud if life could be sweeter there than it was down in the sunny region of San Diego, where they were currently residing. What motivates such a 500 mile relocation? Women, of course. Patrick Secor was chasing a young, black clad “goth” woman, Sam O’Daniel was chasing his lovely fiancee, and Adam Gimbel was chasing two young ladies handling the fanclubs for musical acts Jellyfish and Redd Kross. The three were associated by coincidence, happenstance and friendship. Gimbel had done collegiate level radio with O’Daniel and worked at a major music retail establishment with Secor. They unified to make the exodus as a trio. O’Daniel and Gimbel pulled into town in January of 1994 and after an exhausting one week search for a suitable place to take up residence, called a number inquiring about a three bedroom flat in El Cerrito (just north of Berkeley) for just $800. The call was answered by a tropical fish store employee. They knew they’d found their home.

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1994 sign still intact in 2017

Looming large above several businesses (a nail care boutique and a facial care establishment in addition to the fishstore), El Cerrito Manor is located at 11345 San Pablo Ave, just across from Atlas Liquors, spitting distance from Target and just a stone’s throw from the El Cerrito Del Norte BART stop. Nestled on the border of rich, rolling suburban hills and one of the most dangerous “hoods” in America, as the city of Richmond was labeled in Rolling Stone shortly after the trio’s move-in), it simultaneously gave the appearance of extremely posh digs AND street credibility thanks to an overgrown backyard, treacherous back staircase and breathtaking view of the five star Travelodge hotel . Although there are neighbors located on either side of the building, one is more or less free to make as much noise as is desired and that is exactly what happened there.

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Adam’s beautiful mess 1994

Shortly after arriving, O’Daniel, himself a gifted guitarist and part-time vocalist, answered an advertisement in a local publication and found himself in the company of one Geoff Bock, local resident and singer/songwriter extraordinaire. The two formed the band Tucker and, with Steve St. Cin and Jim Summers as the rhythm section, rehearsals commenced at 11345. The bedrooms were so big that an entire four piece rock unit (drums included) could fit comfortably inside. Before the band played a single gig, they placed in the top 25 spots of a Conan O’Brien national band search with a one shot video done in the corner of O’Daniel’s bedroom. The quality of the band’s material was such that the submitted song was soon out of the set!

sanpablopalooza1For its debut gig, the band played a set at the first ever gathering of local talent at the flat in August of 1994. Dubbed Sanpablopalooza, the event was a monumental undertaking and sister event to the “other” major alternative festival then touring America. The show was opened by the three guitar, no bass, rock force known as Cover Me Badd, consisting of the three roommates (Gimbel, Secor, O’Daniel) plus visiting friend and future 11345 resident, Mike Flinn. The band dared to play songs by The Brady Bunch and Camper Van Beethoven in the same set, even going so far as to play tunes by Smashing Pumpkins, the Temptations and Neil Diamond in the space of one medley. Tucker’s set went down like a firestorm, leaving many disbelieving the fact that it could actually be the band’s first performance.
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95 tuckerThe group started to play outside of the cozy comfines of the chateau 11345, performing memorable concerts on both sides of the Bay, including a memorable night where they reportedly “stole the show” from a laughable, yet up-and-coming band called Third Eye Blind (at least that’s what the 20 people who stuck around said and one of them was a young Bill Graham Presents employee that wanted to manage them based on that one performance). The band played out regularly and their circle of musician friends started to expand. The core group of friends rarely performed together outside of the regular celebrations at 11345. It was only at these gatherings that you could see such influencial local acts as Tucker, The Moore Brothers, Nova Come Home, Street Vendors (now called rar.), and Adam Gimbel, right alongside regional artists like Mike Flinn, Dan Buczaczer, Ripley Caine, and many others, all on one free bill.

94-acoustic-chanukahIn direct competition to alternative rock stations’ annual Christmas shows, the Acoustic Chanukah show was staged in December of 1994 with members of the inner circle of the 11345 scene all playing acoustically, including Tucker. The event marked the debut of the second scene supergroup: Beatnik Bitch. The acoustic trio (Secor on bongos, Flinn on sax and Gimbel on acoustic guitar) dressed all in black and sported sunglasses for the indoor nighttime set. Gimbel mainly used the act as a platform to spout “tongue-in-cheek” poetry (though rumors circulated that he took himself quite seriously) and perform an occasional “song”, like the cult hit “Killing Mr. Furley”, an ode to America’s favorite landlord’s suppression of Jack Tripper’s heterosexuality.

seis-de-mayoOnce enough time had elapsed, the organizers looked for an excuse to stage another event and, finding that their desired excuse didn’t fall on a Saturday, invented Seis De Mayo. Despite the early blasphemous accusations in the Hispanic press, the event was a huge success. The usual talent was assembled for the show with an in-between act soundtrack that included everything from “Born In East LA” and “La Isla Bonita” to bits of how-to speak Spanish tapes. The spirit was jovial (as most events with piñatas are) despite huge changes in some of the central acts of the scene.

beatnx11345 and Tucker founder Sam O’Daniel had left the band and had also left 11345 to pursue marriage. He was replaced on guitar by Carvel Bass and the already amazing band took a turn toward a more midwestern/country sound that cemented their place in rock history, despite the lack of a record deal, national following or full length album. Even more surprising, Secor was kicked out of Beatnik Bitch (now called Beat n X) midshow during their now-infamous “Drunk Bongo Player” number. The slack was taken up by the addition of San Diego costume assistant Summer Brannin and the dual acoustic guitar attack of the Street Vendors. Still, the performance was to be the band’s last as Gimbel was also soon to leave 11345.

el-cerrito-cdsIn the ensuing years, there were many inhabitants and bands that filtered in and out of the 11345 scene. The founding members have all followed separate paths:

  • A few short years after applying his bachelor degree to being a short order cook at a golf course, O’Daniel found himself working as a high powered computer industry bigwig, owning a home in Concord and playing father to two lovely children (one can only presume that his second child, still in utero as of this writing, will be equally as lovely as his first). His current studio project, The Foster Brothers, practices and records several times a year.
  • 95-sanpablopalooza1n2Gimbel had narrowly escaped the devastating earthquake that flattened his alma matter (California State University at Northridge) just days after his arrival in the Bay Area and took it as a sign to not pursue his audio production degree. The fanclub connections he had relocated north to pursue fizzled away by the time he arrived there. After stints as a rubber stamp technician in Berkeley and music management front office assistant in West Hollywood, he has settled into the position of being the CEO of the foremost antique automobile part locating guide publisher in the country. After stints in side projects like the Atlas Lickers and Suzanne & The Summerz, he has begun to perform acoustic solo shows under the pseudonym Adam The Gimbel.
  • Secor first moved to the Bay Area after raising necessary capital to release the first full-length release for multi-platinum hardcore punk rock outfit Blink 182 through his now-defunct label, Filter Records. After several critically acclaimed releases through Filter, Secor proved himself to be a true chameleon of rock, reinventing himself, once again, under the banner of 11345 Records, an obvious nod to the apartment that has helped shape an entire generation of music lovers. He has recently done session work, drumming with several local acts and has set up a worldwide online distribution center for his record label at 11345.com.
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The roommates n Shari Brukman outside Amoeba Records, 1994

11345 is still the hub of a thriving scene as creative artists continue to pass the aparment down to worthy inhabitants. The northwest suite has now been inhabited by Gimbel, Bock, and Flinn, considered by some to be the holy trinity of American songwriting. Secor has even moved back into the apartment’s familiar walls after a self-imposed exile (though tabloids report that he is planning to move out again). Rock historian Katie Skibinski recently created the 11345 website to document the scene’s history for generations to come.

h-&-bbqsAll-star extravaganzas were staged to celebrate the release of the 1999 compilation Horseshoes & BBQ’s, 11345 Records’ debut release. It is the first audio commemoration of the legendary circle of talented friends. Gimbel penned the still-unreleased title track for the album’s San Francisco record release party (later recorded by his band Rookie Card, see link below). Even strangers to the story of 11345 have instantly been intoxicated by its imagery of the early years of the scene that the song depicts. Close your eyes and imagine a living room packed with a group of people all committed to making and appreciating great musical art. In each corner of the room, compass points remind you of the global nature of life and each point (N, S, E & W) is surrounded with appropriate icons associated with each letter. Neil Diamond stares from the North, the Sesame Street gang supports the South, Elvis Presley guards the East wall and Wham carelessly whispers to you from the West corner.

Close your eyes and remember. Here’s hoping we never forget.


“Horseshoes & BBQ’s” (Gimbel)
Star Search Factor Songs 1999

Boxcar Willie tumbled off the tracks
near the end of the Richmond line.
He said “Now, move over shorty.
El Cerrito Del Norte looks like it would suit me fine.
Well, I’ve been saving up some wishes
for a store that sells some fishes
down San Pablo way.”
So he aimed his boots across the parking lot
and went heading for Target (pronounced in French)

Singin’
“Throw your horseshoes and barbeques in the air
and throw a Travelodge backyard party
like you just don’t care.”
All the shit kickers
come to Altas Liquors.
But, they don’t even compare
to the folks across the street and up the stairs.

They said “Well, you can stay with us
if you sing us a song.”
And he swore they wuzza heaven sent.
They said “We’ve got some extra room
down in the Twilight Zone
and we already pay cheap rent.”
Well, he faced the east corner of the living room
and he waved towards on Ohio.
He said “I’ll rock every compass point
that’s left on the walls
on the evening of Seis De Mayo.”

Beatniks and Vendors, Sandycoates and Tuckers
all can have a place to roam
and we’ll even leave a light on
just in case Nova comes home.

Well, your red and black kitchen
is lookin’ mighty bitchin’.
And how about those hardwood floors?
If you need a posh flat to stay tonight
just dial 2-1-5-6-2-2-4!

11345now

11345 2017

Also read “The least embarrassing first song ever written”, the tale of Gimbel’s song for the Horseshoes compilation, “Miss Right Now”.

JELLYFISH TALE #5: HELLO, HELLO

Jellyfish Inspiral Carpets SDSU Backdoor 1991

Thought I kept a concert scrapbook, I never had an ad for this show until I found this recently on the San Diego Reader’s online archives. I had no idea the Inspirals played the Backdoor just two days before I saw them in Hollywood.

This was originally written for my Jellyfish site in 1996 when these memories were far fresher. Highly edited 21 years later with more than enough geeking out still intact. Yer welcome…

After months of loving their debut album, Jellyfish was finally coming back to southern California.  Who knows how I got San Diego concert news back in late 1990 (not from this brief mention in the SD edition of the LA Times) but I found out they were playing my hometown, which was only a two-and-a-half hour drive from where I was going to school in Los Angeles. Close enough. Someone in the band once told me that they, like many bands, just didn’t do well in LA. After doing early shows at Club Lingerie and the Roxy, they only did one more headlining show there, at the Palace in Hollywood in 1993.

Inspiral Carpets were playing said Palace the night before and I was going through a wicked Manchester phase.  Even Anglophiles Jellyfish weren’t immune, name-checking the Carpets onstage at one of their first shows, mentioning the Stones Roses in interviews and even covering “Fool’s Gold”.  My friend Jim, who’d introduced me to Jellyfish AND the Roses, came down for both shows from Santa Barbara, where he’d seen Jellyfish a few months earlier. After making us wait for two hours, the Inspirals opened with “Weakness” and induced instant pandemonium, immediately prompting a stage diver to land on my nose.
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90 kcr logoThe next day, Saturday, February 23, 1991, we picked up Jim’s girlfriend and future wife, Sonya, and drove down to San Diego State University, where I’d attended school the year before. The show was in a small downstairs room in the Aztec Center student union called the Backdoor, where bands like Talking Heads, the Ramones, Tom Waits, U2, the Replacements, Jane’s Addiction and Metallica had been playing since the early 70’s.  As a child, I’d watched The Black Stallion while going to summer camp there and, in late 1989, had seen Food For Feet play the same room.  Before the show, we walked across campus to visit radio station KCR, where I’d spent most of my freshman year. On the air was my old friend Jeff Motch, who would soon start 360 Magazine, design album covers and eventually own several successful restaurants around town. By the time we got back, there was a huge line to get into the show. I couldn’t believe how many people had heard of them. The album had been out less than six months but still hadn’t received much radio airplay.

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What the arcade next door probably looked like when I was seeing the Black Stallion at camp. Photo c/o http://universe.sdsu.edu/

I’d seen local opening act If Tomorrow, several times before. They brought the house down, closing with an epic cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”. The band came offstage excited about their version, until someone told them that someone who had worked with Pink Floyd was in the crowd and they quickly went from “Yeah!” to “We butchered it!” They were followed by an LA band called Everything who played a chugging, well-received set.

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SDSU Aztec Center c/o https://library.sdsu.edu/

We jockeyed for a decent spot and the anticipation ratcheted up. I’d never enjoyed watching a stage being setup so much before. First, you notice that all four of them are lined up at the front of the stage. Christmas lights are draped over the instruments. Here comes a bubble machine and sections of white picket fence to lean against the instruments. I couldn’t wait.

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Niko Wenner, early 1990s, Palo Alto photo by Hillary Sloss

Out they come in 70’s outfits, of course. Having not seen them before, I didn’t notice that the guitarist looked a little different. It turns out that it wasn’t Jason Falkner, but, Niko Wenner, a Bay Area friend from the band Oxbow. Jason had dislocated his shoulder earlier the year before and when it acted up horribly in November, it required surgery. Wenner filled in for him from December to February of 1991. No one mentioned Jason that night, Wenner sounded great and I didn’t know the difference.  I’ve never seen any pictures or video from these shows but audio from a San Francisco show at Slim’s popped up on the Jellyfish media archive at http://jellyfish-archive.de.  It included a rare cover of Todd Rundgren’s “Couldn’t I Just Love You” I uploaded earlier this year.

The only snag the band hit was when they played a show in Long Beach recorded by the Westwood One Radio Network. Jason didn’t want any of the songs to be released as Jellyfish tracks unless he played on them. So, he went back into a studio and re-recorded the guitar and vocal parts, which were released as b-sides and in full on the 2012 live album Live at Bogarts. Wenner wasn’t thanked on the original release but was on future pressings.

Jellyfish-Live-At-Bogarts-Product-ShotThe band starts in and it’s not something from the album. I know I know it, but, I’m not sure from where. Wait, it’s “Hold Your Head Up” by Argent. Despite my classic rock childhood, I’d only recently heard it on the Queen’s Logic soundtrack. From there, they go right into their unreleased gem, “Hello”. Perfect rocking hooky guitar pop. I’m in heaven. I was wondering how this band with only one album was going to do a full set and they’re not disappointing.

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It’s the THE JELLYFISHERS, damnit!

From there, they go RIGHT into “Calling Sarah”. Interesting, the first song they play off of the album is the last one on the record. Finally a breather in between songs. Some guy keeps yelling that there’s too much reverb on the snare. Andy sarcastically replies, “Thanks, pal.” Before we have time to think, they’re doing “King” and it’s glorious. The middle eight vocals are unreal. From there, we hear “I Wanna Stay Home”. Next, we get two more new songs. The first is “Mr. Late” and it’s incredible. The next is “Bye, Bye, Bye”. They’re doing a polka! This is too much.
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“She Still Loves Him” is the biggest rocker of the night. They mention that Chris Isaak is in town and Roger does a fun impersonation. Also, they just went to an outdated Chuck E Cheese style restaurant called Bullwinkle’s, where the puppets still sing Hall & Oates songs. Important stuff. Here comes another new one called “Marry Me” and, again, it’s as good as anything on the album. “Now She Knows She’s Wrong” follows it and the acoustic parts sound soooo good. They start into a lounge thing, no wait, it’s Player’s “Baby Come Back”!!!! They do a bit of it and go right into “Baby’s Coming Back”. Next up, they cover “Jet” by Wings. In the middle, Andy yells, “Ladies and gentlemen, Linda McCartney!” and Roger plays the solo horribly. The last notes go right into Badfinger’s “No Matter What”.  They rock out “All I Want Is Everything” and leave the stage.

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Aztec Center at SDSU Photo c/o https://as.sdsu.edu

The crowd goes nutso and gets them back out to play “The Man I Used To Be”. The band informs us that the Gulf War ground war has just started, as we’d all been fearing, so hopefully “this will send a scud missile straight to your heart”. “Into battle” would never sound so eerie. They follow it with a bit of “Let ‘Em In” by Wings. Too much! Saving their biggest radio hit for last, they segue right into “That Is Why”. They leave again and come back to people yelling for every 70’s band imaginable. Finally, in a brief moment of silence, someone yells out “Fleetwood Mac!” and Roger immediately starts playing “Go Your Own Way”, nodding as if to say “Oh, you want Fleetwood Mac?!” Our jaws drop as they actually do the….WHOLE….SONG. We were disappointed to find out later that a friend of theirs knew it was coming and yelled for it.  Still, an amazing closer.

We staggered away knowing the trip had definitely been worth it. I passed up buying a shirt with the circle logo on the chest and a square with the album cover’s bellybutton in the appropriate place but grabbed some stickers and a postcard to join their fanclub, the Jellyfish Army. We went out back to wait for the band and talked to Everything for awhile. They’d played together a few months earlier at the Roxy in Hollywood, where the drummer told me JF had done a hilarious Dennis DeYoung soundalike contest onstage.  Jellyfish had asked them to come down to open this show and, not long after, I saw them play a noontime set at my school, Cal State Northridge. Years later, singer Dave Ambrose found our site and recalled playing with them: “Both times we played our hearts out, both shows they blew our asses right off the stage. No band played tighter or sang better than those guys.”

We’d been hanging out near the backstage area awhile and it was getting late. As some current KCR DJ’s were excitedly telling me that they still played commercials I’d produced there, someone finally ran up and told us that the band had walked right out the front door. We rushed around to the front to see them chatting with fans. I wanted to ask Roger about their previous band, Beatnik Beatch, but couldn’t remember the name, accidentally asking him about Beat Happening. He knew what I meant but refused to remember. Andy was friendly and happy to tell us how they’d met Cheap Trick recently and that they hadn’t aged well. I told him he actually looked a little like Robin Zander and he replied, “Don’t say that!”

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Chris is alright, Tommy’s alright, Roger’s alright, Jason’s alright, Robin’s alright….

We talked a little bit about the covers in their set and he and Roger both agreed in unison. “Too many covers,” they said, shaking their heads. We reassured them that it was good fun and I asked if they’d ever consider doing a Beatles song. Andy said that Wings were a little more their speed, though they soon played a bit of “Rain” during a rainy MTV taping and covered “Eleanor Rigby” on Japanese television in 1993.  They told us about a recent interview they were “FREAKING OUT” about where Kurt Loder had mentioned them in an interview with Paul McCartney. I’d always wanted to find it but- oh, hello, internet.

It was the nicest conversation I ever had with Andy, so, naturally, I ruined it by asking for his autograph. No one seemed to have a pen, so I started to run back to my car, only to realize halfway there that I hadn’t driven. When I got back, someone had found a pen and lacking any paper, I had him sign the back of a coupon I had for Mexican restaurant La Salsa. It reads “Adam-An official Flying Burrito Brother. Andy”.
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Jellyfish returned to SDSU just four months later, opening for the Black Crowes at the Open Air Ampitheater, where I’d gone to my very first show back in 1984. Although I moved back to San Diego in 1995, I never saw another show at the Backdoor, though I did see the Grays’ Buddy Judge play guitar with Liz Phair upstairs at Montezuma Hall. They closed down the room for concerts in 1997 and it became a meeting space before the amazing midcentury student union built in the sixties was sadly demolished to make way for a brand new student center in 2011.

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2011 demolition photo c/o http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/

Sooooo, after waiting for months to see Jellfyish, they’d gone way beyond expectations and I couldn’t wait to see them again. Little did I know I’d see them another twelve times in just three years. To my surprise, I got to see them less than two weeks later….

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GROOVE IS IN THE HEART: the samples

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Photo by Ricardo

Locally produced ABC-TV music show, Unherd, just aired a Thanksgiving Special, inviting local viewers and musicians to fill-in for the regular hosts. They had me write something for the music history section normally hosted by radio veteran Mike Halloran. I was asked to relate it to A Tribe Called Quest since a review of their new album was preceding it, so I wrote about Q-Tip’s guest spot on Deee-Lite’s “Groove Is In The Heart”.

Despite the combination of my hastily assigned and written script, bad eyesight and a quick shoot in a dark graffiti park in front of a group of strangers, I managed to get through it in just 374 takes. They were nice enough to post amateur outtakes on Facebook with my mistake obviously hinting at how frustrated I was getting.  Definitely a HUGE newfound respect for folks who have to read tele-prompters.  Here’s the section with my piece and staff-writer Andrea’s Lou Reed history.

Lito did a great job with the graphics and editing. The only thing they left out was explaining why I bothered mentioning my BMG intern desk.  See if you can spot the Tribe promo album flat.
deskThe short piece was only 100 words long which was quite an exercise in editing, especially for such an interesting tune. Here’s the 291 words it started out as……

Born out of the late 80’s New York dance clubs, Deee-Lite preached
global unity with a diverse lineup made up of Russian immigrant Dmitry
Brill (Supa DJ Dmitry), Japanese design student Dong-hwa Chung (who
became Towa Tei) and frontwoman Kierin M. Kirby, better known as Lady
Miss Kier.  Often dismissed as a one hit wonder, their debut album
World Clique is a layered dancefloor masterpiece from front to back
and they topped the US dance charts six times in their short five year
recording career.  None of the singles nearly matched the hook-filled
worldwide success of their debut, “Groove Is In The Heart”, which hit
#1 in Australia and was voted single of the year by the staff of both
NME and The Village Voice.

Jonathan Davis (the Q-Tip one not to be confused with the singer from
Korn) saw the band perform the song at the Hotel Amazon in New York
and asked if he could rhyme on the recording.  He wrote his 16 bars on
a notepad while famed Parliament bassist Bootsy Collins laid down his
bass part and then recorded his rap in just one take.  Collins also cut a
rap that found its way onto the song’s remixes and recruited famed
James Brown bandmates, horn players Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley to
play on the track.  Almost everything else on the song was sampled
from a wide-ranging selection of sources from a belly-dance
instruction record to Eva Gabor sighing “I” on the Green Acres theme.
Most of the song is anchored on two samples, the bassline from the
Herbie Hancock song “Bring Down the Birds” from the 1966 soundtrack
album Blowup and 70’s R&B singer Vernon Burch’s “Get Up” for the
song’s drums, tambourine, crowd noise and famous (whistle) which kept
the world’s slide whistle industry in the money for years.

Here’s a Youtube playlist I put together of the songs sampled in “Groove”…

Sample breakdown c/o Wikipedia:

  • Bel-Sha-Zaar with Tommy Genapopoluis and the Grecian Knights – “Introduction” from the album The Art of Belly Dancing, 1969, Gateway: GSLP 3527 (intro music, vocal sample: “We’re going to dance, and have some fun“)
  • Herbie Hancock – “Bring Down the Birds” from the soundtrack album Blowup, 1966 (bassline)
  • Vernon Burch – “Get Up” from the album Get Up (drums, crowd noise, slide whistle)
  • Ray Barretto – “Right On” from the album Barretto Power, 1972 (cowbell)
  • Theme from the TV series Green Acres (vocal sample: looped “I” sample (“I-i-i-i-i-i“), sung by Eva Gabor)
  • Ralph MacDonald – “Jam on the Groove” from the album Sound of a Drum, 1976 (percussion)
  • Billy Preston – “Uptight” from the album Wildest Organ in Town!, 1966 (breakbeat under rap by Q-Tip)
  • The Headhunters – “God Make Me Funky” from the album Survival of the Fittest, 1975 (drum fill)

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THE STORY BEHIND THE ONLY PHOTO OF ME DRINKING ALCOHOL: Some musician friends of mine decided to have their wedding reception at the legendary Lafayette Hotel in San Diego. It was a great night but when it came time for us to dance, the DJ they’d hired slowly began to ruin things. Time after time, right when he’d get a ton of excited, happy dancers going, he’d cut away to something that would empty the dancefloor and punctuate it with a “Lookin’ good out there!” on the mic. Finally, when he played “Groove Is In The Heart”, a song the bride and I had talked about dancing to earlier, I ran over and BEGGED him not to cut it short. About 90 seconds in and WAY before Q-Tip’s rap, he segued into Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and immediately cleared the place. ENTER SANDMAN!? I started SCREAMING at him until people had to hold me back. I don’t drink. EVER. I grabbed someone’s beer and went back to the empty dance floor and sat down, yelling “LOOK what ya did!” I hate to name names but this man is known as The Party Rican. “I’m a Puerto Rican that loves to party. Get it?…The Party Rican!” Yep, we get it. I was so inspired by how proud he was of his heritage that I almost started using the name “Jew Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party” when I DJ’d friends weddings. Almost.

Thanks again to everyone at Unherd TV for the invite!

OH, CAROLINE NO. REMEMBERING CAROLINE CRAWLEY

Lost my breath when I read about Caroline Crawley’s recent passing. What a voice to be silenced.  It was hard enough knowing how little of her adult life was spent singing publicly. Seems fitting to finally repost what I wrote close to twenty years ago about Babacar appearing on the Songs For Summer charity record…..

When your name is Summer, you see your name everywhere. Summer vacation, summer camp, summer everything. Most importantly, you have lots of songs with your name in it. When I first met Summer, I asked her what her favorite summersong was and she replied “Summer Flies” by Shelleyan Orphan. At that point, I knew it was over.shelleyan1

Shelleyan Orphan was a British band whose baroque, almost classical sound is beautiful beyond description. Not your typical rock. They’re credited with influencing bands like The Sundays and The Cranberries but those bands aren’t even in the same league. Singer Caroline Crawley is one of the most talented singers to ever sing a note. You may have heard her vocals on This Mortal Coil songs but the band’s biggest claim to fame (at least in America) was that they opened for the Cure on the Disintegration tour in 1989. If I’m not mistaken, it was on this tour that Cure drummer Boris Williams met Shelleyan singer Caroline Crawley.

I saw that tour in San Diego. My friends and I dressed up goth. I looked more like Ian Astbury from the Cult with short hair. Summer tried to be goth for a few months but all she ended up doing was wearing magenta and listening to Sisters of Mercy a lot. I don’t remember much about the Cure’s show other than LOTS of smoke but I remember LOVING Shelleyan Orphan and losing my friend Jim’s father’s fake earring during their set. After the show, we saw some members of the band walking anonymously through the crowd. It almost seemed like a bet that they wouldn’t get noticed even though they’d just played in front of thousands of people. We chased after them to tell them how great we thought their set was and they seemed genuinely flattered.

shelleyan2I couldn’t believe it when Summer told me how much she loved “Summer Flies”. The fact that she’d even heard of the band was good enough for me. I remember writing a letter to the afforementioned Jim to tell him that I’d started dating a girl named Summer and her favorite summersong was “Summer Flies”, just to make him jealous. He responded with a tape that had one side filled with summersongs. I filled up the other side with more and gave it to her.

The band put out three great albums and then disappeared. Summer was always on the lookout for information about them but never heard anything. While we were on vacation in New York City, she excitedly ran up to me in a record store carrying a cd by a band called Babacar. It had a sticker that said it featured Caroline Crawley. Then she pointed to the best part: the name of the song featured on the British single was “Midsummer”. Too much. Not surprisingly, the song was amazing, as many people who love Songs For Summer have told me. The single had very little information about the band and we never heard anything else about them.

After Summer passed away, one of the first things I did was make a mixtape of some of her favorite songs to give to family and friends. I HAD to include “Summer Flies”. I wanted to put the song on Songs For Summer but I looked into it fairly late and the red tape was pretty thick. By chance, an e-mail I’d written fell into the hands of Brad Morrison, the man who had handled the band’s American affairs for ten years. He also released an entire Babacar album on his label, Absolute A Go Go Records. It turns out that Babacar was mainly Caroline and Boris but they enlisted the help of Jem from Shelleyan and Porl Thompson from the Cure among others. He was touched by Summer’s story and suddenly “Midsummer” was as good as on the record. He phoned Caroline and Boris in England and they instantly agreed to let us use the song.

I don’t remember how it came up but Brad told me that when he first met his wife, she mentioned the band Big Star (one of Summer’s favorite bands) and he knew she was the one for him. Great minds. Is that so wrong?

More Summer tales here.

THE BEATLES’ REVOLVER ALBUM ART

Revolver turns 50 today. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band topped most Greatest Album Ever™ lists when I was a kid. But, with less and less rock writers around who were there when Pepper revolutionized ears, less-biased rock fans have declared Revolver the band’s best LP in MUCH bigger numbers for 20 or 30 years. I’m on that team. As a small child, I was obsessed with my Dad’s copy, listening to side one ENDLESSLY before ever turning it over. It wasn’t until high school that a mod kid at school told me that some of the best songs were left off of the US version of the album.  He was right.  “Doctor Robert”. “I’m Only Sleeping”. “And Your Bird Can Sing”!

rev out nowThere’s just something magical about 1966. Rock had a few post-Beatlemania years to evolve and it was just before things got a little too flowery and mustache-heavy there.  Things were raw and arty and rocking and stylish all over.  The Beatles pushed the boundaries of the studio so far that they went out for their farewell tour that year without being able to perform a single song from their new album.  They went from “She Loves You” to “Tomorrow Never Knows” in just three years, dragging all of pop culture along with them.

Robert Freedman, who had photographed the band’s last five album covers and took many famous pictures of the band creating Revolver at Abbey Road (collected in the 1991 book Revolver Sessions), came up with a fantastic circular photo collage that was fitting for the times and the album title. There’s little or no information on whether or not it was actually commissioned or why it wasn’t used but the band apparently wanted something different. As Freeman’s interests turned to film around this time, he never did another Beatles album cover.  His proposed design did appear in the band’s 2000 Anthology book. A fan created a white background for what the album might’ve looked like as an actual Capitol LP.
rev_freeman_lpTheir old Hamburg friend, Beatle haircut innovator and fellow ex-art college student Klaus Voormann had recently moved to London and John Lennon invited him to listen to the Revolver tracks in progress and come up with something for the album’s visual.  John and Paul searched through a huge stack of newspapers, magazines and Robert Freeman shots with childhood friend Pete Shotton to supply Voormann with actual photos to place over his sketches.  He drew the classic lines over the course of three weeks on a kitchen table in an attic flat for the whopping fee of £50. The main large portraits were done from memory but since he was never happy with how he drew George’s eyes, he used cut outs of a newspaper photograph’s eyeballs instead. He also inserted himself, peeking out of George’s hair under John’s chin.

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Klaus Voorman’s evolving Revolver sketches

Before John, Paul and Shotton had their photo party at John’s house, Voormann must’ve done his own archive scrapbooking for his earlier mock-up because he recalls Paul being surprised when he spotted a picture of himself on the toilet taken in Paris when he first presented it to the powers that be at George Martin’s office at EMI in Manchester Square. Paul was shocked at first then loved it but George Martin and Brian Epstein wouldn’t allow it to stay.
rev paul toiletrev aftermath paulAccording to Voormann, “Then they started talking about it. Everybody loved it, George loved it, John loved it, Ringo loved it. I looked at Brian, who was standing in the corner and he was crying… I thought, Oh no… what is he doing? He came up to me and said, ‘Klaus, this is exactly what we needed. I was worried that this whole thing might not work, but I know now that this the cover. This LP, will work – thank you.'”

The album was famously almost named “Abracadabra” but they supposedly caught wind that someone else was using it as an album title…or perhaps they predicted the Steve Miller Band heating up by about 15 years.  Ringo apparently suggested “After Geography” as a play on the Rolling Stones’ Aftermath.  Of course, someone online mocked it up.  Thanks, Ear Candy Magazine.
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The back of the LP used a photograph taken by Robert Whitaker from the set of their “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” studio promo films.  Several pictures from the session appeared on albums and bootlegs including this stunning color shot with Paul covering his still cracked tooth from a motor scooter accident.  It’s an interesting reminder that their first real psychedelic album had purely black and white album artwork.  Just add LSD and wear sunglasses so George looks like Keef and no one knows that’s happening. Wink.
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US alternate artwork

US alternate artwork

Uncropped version from back cover

Uncropped version from back cover with John Sebastian instead of Lennon

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Voormann won the Grammy that year for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts.  A talented bass player in his own right, he offered to replace Stu Sutcliffe before Paul switched to bass. After turning down joining the Moody Blues and the Hollies, he played with Manfred Mann, George Harrison, John Lennon, Lou Reed, BB King, Randy Newman, Jerry Lewis and dozens more. There was even a rumor after the Beatles split that they would reform as the Ladders with Klaus replacing Paul on bass. He designed album covers for artists as varied as the Bee Gees and Turbonegro and produced Trio’s Trio & Error album, a HUGE Yer Doin’ Great fave. He also designed the Beatles’ Anthology artwork. In 2008, for a Berlin art exhibition, he decorated a Volkswagen Beetle with wind-blown Revolver Beatles  Check out the great pictures of him taking pen to car at IHeartKlaus.com.  Info on his new book, Birth Of An Icon REVOLVER 50, can be found at Voormann.com.
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For more info and great quotes from Voormann and the band about the album cover, check out the always great Norwegian Wood album cover page, a recent Guardian interview with Klaus and today’s Ulitmate Classic Rock piece.

Also, BUY THIS SHIRT from Go Ape Shirts (pictured below) and check out CCC’s incredible mashup album Revolved, most of which you can hear on this Youtube channel.  Genius and geniuser.
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BACK TO THE BEATLES ALBUM COVER OUTTAKE PAGE

Check out FAMOUS ROCK/ROLL IMAGE OUTTAKES VOL 1 and even MORE OUTTAKES on our Facebook page or our “BEATLESS” photo gallery full of rare, interesting pictures of that one band.  Make sure to “like” us to keep up on when we feel like sharing.