The Heart of Markness Podcast: Episode 2 – The ARMS Tour: Clapton, Beck, & Page

Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck

arms tour jimmy page jeff beck eric clapton
Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck. ARMS Tour USA 1983

Steve Winwood, Joe Cocker, Paul Rodgers, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Ronnie Wood, Kenney Jones… Jesus Christ, everybody

Links from the show


This is San Francisco 12/2/83. San Fran 12/2/83 is a nice set by Jimmy. He is hit or miss on this tour, often within the same set. Remember, he may not be using heroin anymore, but he was in no way sober. This is the show from which the Goodnight Irene heard in the podcast is taken. You should watch the whole thing. It’s a shit ton of talent on one stage, and no one is being a prick.


WATCH THIS ONE. It’s not Jimmy’s best, but it’s not that bad. This show also has a killer Goodnight Irene at the end, with Jimmy, Jeff, and Eric trading solos and it’s GREAT! Watch it or the monsters will eat you. You also get incoherent Joe Cocker gibberish at the end.

This is the intro to the officially released London gig. Watch it. It shows how sweet Ronnie Lane was, and how all these huge stars really worked together to help hime. It’s nice.
The first part of the London gig. Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood. Drink coffee first.

Find the rest yourself. I’m an old man.

BONUS NOTES AND SHIT FROM THE PODCAST.
Ronnie Lane:

Ronnie Lane was the bass player for the Small Faces (itchycoo park) and later (when they were no longer small) The Faces. The Faces were a good time, drunken rock and roll band that had Rod Stewart as its singer, and Ronnie Wood as their guitarist, both fresh from Jeff Beck’s band. Remember when the Black Crowes first came out, with Jealous Again? They were a clone of the Faces. The Ron Wood went off to become a Rolling Stone, and Rod Stewart went off to be a disco fuckhead. Ronnie Wood ended up living in a trailer on Pete Townshend’s property, having never ‘made it big’. He recorded an album with Pete, in 1977, called Rough Mix that is absolutely wonderful. Not only is a great album, it’s a great album featuring not just Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane, but Eric Clapton, Charlie Watts, John Entwistle, Ian Stewart, and a bunch more. It’s a great album that was just never promoted by the record company. It also is one of the best sounding analog recordings I’ve ever heard.  Totally listen to it.  Do it.

During the recording of Rough Mix Ronnie Lane was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. His ability to play was hampered, and his already not great life got worse. He must have been a great guy, because holy shit a million huge stars came out to help him.

In 1983

One Of The Best ARMS Gigs in Great Video

The early 1980’s was a dark time for the rock gods of the 70’s. Led Zeppelin had broken up, Jeff Beck was a footnote, and Eric Clapton had turned so mellow he was like the James Taylor of guitar. Everyone had peaked and was hitting 40. The first generation of rock gods were all total has beens by the time they hit 40. This generation risked obscurity as well.

In 1983 a bunch of British rock gods gathered together to perform a series of benefit concerts, in support of Ronnie Lane. Ronnie was the bass player for the Small Faces, and then the Faces. He was a beloved musician and friend (he lived rent free on Pete Townshend’s estate), who had contracted MS and needed some help.

The bands that were represented were the cream of British rock royalty. Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts from the Rolling Stones, Ronnie Wood (from the Faces and the Stones) showed up in New York City for some songs, too. Eric Clapton from Cream, Jeff Beck from the Yardbirds and as his own bad self (also former bandmate of Ronnie Wood), Joe Cocker and his awesome keyboard player, Chris Stainton. Holy shit a lot of people. Oh yeah, The Who! Kenny Jones from The Who (and also the Faces with Ronnies Lane and Wood). Fernando Saunders on bass (Lou Reed and Jeff Beck’s bassist)… so many goods. And Paul Rodgers from Free and Bad Company. Lots of folk who all got together to help a friend.

Jimmy Page had been out of the spotlight since the death of John Bonham, and dissolution of Led Zeppelin. He was a physical and mental wreck. Drug addiction was at an almost terminal level, and the deep depression of Bonzo’s death just made everything worse. Aside from a few minor projects, or even just jams, Page was a hermit.

The word on this is that Eric Clapton was tapped to approach Jimmy and tell him to get his shit together, heroin-wise. Clapton had just himself finished rehab, and everyone else in the band(s) pretty much had their shit together (although I think Charlie Watts got in to heroin at roughly this time), except for Jimmy. So, a pep talk, some positive reinforcement, and a trip to the states, got Jimmy off the heroin. Alas he still drank like a fish and did hella blow.

Still, credit where credit is due. The ARMS tour got Jimmy to come back as a performer again. Having worked with Paul Rodgers on the US Tour for ARMS, Jimmy formed the FIRM. The Firm sucked. Yes it did. Yes it did.

 

 

Podcast Episode 1 – Led Zeppelin Copenhagen 1979

The Heart of Markness Podcast

Episode One: Led Zeppelin – Copenhagen 1979


TETELESTAI!!
It is finished. The inaugural episode of the Heart of Markness podcast. It was fun. It was easy. It was deeply fulfilling. I definitely prefer podcasting to blogging. It’s 2017. Podcasts are where it’s at.
This being my first podcast there are some fuckups. The biggest one is forgetting to include the first song I reference, the 1978 rehearsal track “Fire”, from the Clearwell Castle session. Well, relax, friends. Here is the missing song. Rejoice.

The Triumphant Return Of Led Zeppelin

After the tragic death of Robert Plant’s son in July 1977, the band were on an indefinite hiatus. Robert wasn’t really itching to go back on the road, and the band itself was mired in deep addiction, both among the musicians, and the management. In short, Robert Plant wasn’t feeling incredibly pulled to go back.
However his buddy John Bonham talked him into going to a rehearsal, just to kick the tires and see if there was any magic left. There was. The band recorded In Through The Out Door, and then played a couple of warmup gigs in Denmark, in preparation for the huge Knebworth festival gigs they had planned for August 1979.
The Copenhagen shows were first live appearances by Led Zeppelin for, exactly, two years. They were fucking brilliant, with the band on fire, and Jimmy seemingly off the junk, and playing like it was 1973. Truly amazing gigs with truly amazing quality live recordings made (not official recordings, but amateur)
Listen to the podcast to hear about it, and to hear two amazing tracks from their July 24, 1979 concert at the Falconer Theater, in Copenhagen. Dig it.

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All pics are courtesy of Led Zeppelin.com

Classic Albums – Transformer: Lou Reed

Between Thought And Expression

Lou Reed: Transformer In Depth

My god, this is good. I don’t even like Transformer that much, but it’s undeniably foundational… and it’s great. It’s just not my favorite Lou. GET OFF MY ASS. This is my site. I can like what I want. Remember when I posted that Velvet Underground documentary?  You don’t own me. Where’s my whistle?

Click to buy the DVD if you wanna own it forever.

Ok. Here’s the deal. Transformer is a hugely influential album because (mainly):

  • It’s the first (real) Lou Reed solo album
  • David Bowie (a huge Velvets fan) produced it
  • Mick Ronson (bowie’s guitarist) did the arranging (and there’s some pure beauty)
  • Herbie Flowers has that awesome overdubbed Standup/Electric bass line for Walk On The Wild Side
  • The whole album is gender fluid, queer as fuck, and very very very ahead of it’s time, topic-wise
  • It is the Shadow Lord of the glam movement. T-Rex and Ziggy Stardust would be more saccharine without Transformer to counterbalance.

The story of how I found a streaming copy of this episode of Classic Albums is wild and the stuff of legend. I had eaten a legal edible cannabis candy (50mg THC) and I was extremely high. Almost too high. Pulling myself together enough to do anything was akin to hugging smoke. However, I had a flash of epiphany and searched on Bing, because if you search for videos on google, you get almost exclusively YouTube results. Is it because Google owns YouTube? I would say so. There was no full version of this episode of Classic Albums on YouTube. A lesser man would have given up, but I went to Bing instead.

Bing provided about a half dozen full versions, on various sites of dubious legality (lots of Russian). Who cares? I found one on a Russian tube site, and watched it. It was a low resolution copy (like watching YouTube on 240) but totally adequate. Luckily I know a little Russian, thanks to Cold War paranoia and high school Russian classes. Using my knowledge of the Cyrillic alphabet I was able to find not only a high resolution version, but a longer version! There’s like an additional half hour of interviews and performances here. Holy Shit.

lou reed david bowie transformer
The 70’s demanded ugly clothes.

Anyway. Watch this. It’s absolutely riveting. My favorite part is when Lou is listening to the multitrack of Perfect Day, and he isolates only the strings. It’s perfectly sublime and beautiful, easily as lovely as the strings on Eleanor Rigby (if not as complex), and Lou’s face changes and he freezes. You can tell that he hasn’t heard that in a long time, and he’s moved by the beauty. He then praises Mick Ronson’s arrangement, and it’s touching, and real.

It’s totally worth the hour and half to watch. Or even listen to at work. You can even buy it on DVD like a grown up.  You are absolutely free.

Watch Derek And The Dominos On TV

derek and the dominos
This was an American band.

Eric Clapton’s Fertile Years

The In Between Years

Derek And The Dominos are an anomaly in the career of Eric Clapton. Everyone knows about Layla, and the story behind it (kinda), but few know the album itself. It’s fucking great. You must listen to it fully.

After the breakup of Cream, and then the formation and immediate dissolution of Blind Faith, Eric Clapton was tired of being Eric Clapton. He was not tired of being addicted to heroin yet, though. He was still all thumbs up on that.

Eric Clapton was only 25 in 1970, yet he had already been famous for 7 years. He was the guitarist of the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream for fuck’s sake. Cream. For that alone he would be in the hall of fame, and that was just one charm on the bracelet. And then Blind Faith which also was huge. Holy Shit. It’s a lot. Eric was a little freaked out being God. He toured with his Blind Faith opening act,  Delaney and Bonnie, where he was fairly anonymous. It’s also where he met up with the fellows who would become the Dominos to his Derek.

Around this time (1970) George Harrison (bosom chum of Clapton) had just left the Beatles and was recording All Things Must Pass, his bestest solo album. It also featured all the other Beatles, just not all together (now), along with a bunch of fucks who would end up being the Dominos. Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock, Dave Mason (kinda), and Jim Gordon.  American fellows and exceptional musicians. They had swing, they had that southern Lynyrd Skynyrd shimmy. Seriously, listen to the music on Layla. It is pure Southern swamp. Hell, it could be Muscle Shoals.

Take a look at the above performance on the Johnny Cash Show. They’re tight. They sound great, and it has a country groove to it. Derek & The Dominos kicked ass.

So, where were we? Ah yes, Eric Clapton took George Harrison’s band as his own. That’s not all he took. Wink.

The Longing Of Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton had fallen in love with his best friend’s wife. Pattie Boyd Harrison has had more famous songs written about her than anyone else I can think of. Here’s some off the top of my head:

  • Something
  • For You Blue
  • Layla
  • Bell Bottom Blues
  • Wonderful Tonight

There’s an article about 10 songs about her on Mental Floss, but the ones above are the biggies.

Eric Clapton’s Layla era songs are full of longing, regret, defiance, and conflict. The boy is hurting, but he’s in love. Look at the video below and see that even decades later, there’s still emotion he can tap into. Also, look at what a good singer he became.

Ok. This post has taken forever, over days, so I’m just going to birth this half formed, rather than let it languish in eternal almost done.

Watch Ren & Stimpy Space Madness


The Ren & Stimpy Show – S 1 E 5 – Space Madness by FullerHouseHD

The Ur-Alternative Cartoon

Ren & Stimpy

Ren & Stimpy were the progenitors of the absurdist animation of Adult Swim, which led to Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Harvey Birdman, The Brak Show… all those first gen Adult Swim master. Ren & Stimpy made it happen, and it was shown on Nickelodeon. Holy Shit.

If you’re a Gen Xer like me, or anyone else on earth, you know of Ren & Stimpy. They’re not forgotten. They just lasted a good season or so, because of the mercurial (difficult) nature of creator John K. Who cares? This is about happy happy joy joy and dark humor.

This is my hands down favorite episode ever of Ren & Stimpy. There is what is, quite possibly the greatest McGuffin of all time. The History Eraser Button. This episode is so funny, that back in the early 90’s, when we were all young, my buddy Eric called me long distance, from Florida, and played this entire episode to me, over the phone. I died. It was so funny. So watch it and share a flicker of happy happy joy joy. Or don’t.

space madness
You covet my beloved ice cream bar!

Podcast Immanent

Those of you who are carryovers from Youdopia (my last blog. It was awesome. I miss it. I should have never let it go) may be wondering about the lack of content here. It’s a fair question. The truth is that Heart of Markness has not fulfilled me in the way Youdopia did.

I just don’t feel the magic as much anymore. Most of the stuff I feel inspired to post has already been written about on Youdopia, and even though that site is gone, it still feels cheesy to reboot.

SO… I have decided to start a podcast; not to replace Heart of Darkness, but supplement it. Things about which I want to discuss in depth lend themselves to audio more than 1000’s of words on a blog.

I have the equipment on order and it should be here at the end of the week. I already have my first topic ready. It’s going to be about the aborted XYZ project of Jimmy Page, Chris Squire, and Alan White, back in 1981.

I’ll explore the backstory of how it came about. I’ll go into the 4 songs that have made it into the bootleg world, and how those 4 songs have appeared on Yes, and Firm, albums.

And I’ll go into why it never happened. La la la. It’s good stuff, if you’re a Zeppelin fan, a Yes fan, a Firm fan (are there any?), or just a hominid.

So keep your eye out for my first podcast. I’m aiming for something that’s information rich, like Dan Carlin or Sam Harris do, but also fairly conversational and free form, like Bill Burr’s podcast. As the first one it will suck, but we all start somewhere. 🙂

Tedeschi Trucks Band Backstage Jam With Taj Mahal & Jerry Douglas

So Much Talent

In One Room

I thought I have had Taj Mahal on the blog before, even performing this song. I was wrong. It must have been my old blog. It’s ok. It’s so goddamn good you won’t mind if I post two different versions. If you do mind I’m sure you’ll get over it. If you can’t get over we will be enemies. I saw John Wick. I’m ready.

The song in question is Leaving Trunk. Jerry Douglas of Union Station (and husband of Alison Krauss, who made that album with Robert Plant that sold a trillion copies) joins the Tedeschi Trucks Band backstage, for a run-through of Leaving Trunk, before the show.

It’s tight. It’s intimate. It’s awesome. It’s a roomfull of incredible musicians playing the music they love.

The video below is from 5 years earlier (2009) and it’s Taj Mahal joining the Allman Brothers Band with both Derek Truck, and Warren Haynes. It’s fucking insane. Warren’s solo is so incredible that you are almost blown away, only to be annihilated by Derek Truck’s incredible slide solo. Jesus. It’s perfect. Watch both of these, and listen. It’s worth it. Do it in two sessions if you need to. There is beauty in the world. Here is some.

The Cult. The 80’s Band That Was Almost Great.

the cult love
Such an almost great album.

The Cult

The Best B+ Band From The 80’s

I am a child of the 1980’s. Generation X, that’s me. I’m middle aged but still play video games and read comic books. I’m probably creepy to the young women at work, but I still think I’m cool.

Anyway. Enough about my life. I’m about to hang myself in a moment of clarity. Let’s talk about my favorite band from the shittiest decade of all time, the 80’s.

The Cult showed up on my radar in 1985, on MTV (insert comment re: mtv:videos) with the song Rain.

This song kind of has balls, underneath the 80s shit production (more on that soon). They have a good look, and good song with a nice hook, and I dug it. I went out and bought the album (on vinyl for I was a record store snob). I LOVED IT. It had some clunkers but it was a solid album. What made it like manna from heaven was that it had balls. Kind of, but kind of was enough in that musical desolation that was the 80’s. (Mark, you seem to not like the 80’s much. Why is that? how perceptive. the 80’s were pure garbage. It’s the Taco Bell decade of the 20th Century. It’s completely void of nutrient but full of fat and flavor. It was the death rattle of the brief hope of the 60’s.) Anyway, back to our show.

Rain was good. I liked it. She Sells Sanctuary is good as well. It’s the most throwaway track in that it’s fluff, but it’s good fluff. What makes this album hold up as a good album is Love. The song Love has an actual groove. That’s something of which the 80’s was completely void. It was all white dancing.  At least where I grew up in the Boston Metro area. Love would be a great song if the production didn’t completely neuter it. That song need some goddamn bass holding that groove together, and beefing up the drums. But no. It sounds like you’re listening to a good song on a drive in movie speaker. This band needs ambience. You need to record the room as well as the instruments. Like the Black Crowes. But no, the Cult got boned aurally.


I posit that in an alternate universe The Cult were the U2 of the 80’s and 90’s, with hit after hit, and arena tours and great production. U2 was huge because Brian Eno produced them, and contributed enormously to the sound of the band. The Cult never had a Brian Eno or George Martin to polish the rough diamond into a shining gem.

This post is a goddam train wreck because all I really wanted to was say, “Hey, listen to these songs. They’re good.” But then I started writing about the band, because who the fuck knows who the Cult are in 2016? Over six weeks I would login and add more words to this piece, trying to find a theme upon which to expound, but I never could really care enough. So. Listen to these songs. They’re good.

Futurama Easter Egg In Rick And Morty

futurama rick morty
Brain Slug and the Smizmar Lady

As if Rick and Morty needed anything else to make it awesome. This show is a game changer, like the Simpsons were in the 80’s. I am probably super late to the party on this, but I was watching the recent Rick and Morty shorty I wrote about. The piece itself is hilarious enough, but seeing the nod to Futurama made me fairly burst with joy and good humor. A crossover episode would be as amazing as it is impossible. Nicely done.

Listen to CSN Live 2012 – Suite Judy Blue Eyes

I’m not a huge fan of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, but this song is one of the prettiest ever. CSN have had a rocky road over the years. Epic addictions, fistfights on stage, myriad permutations of individuals (Stills-Young, Crosby-Nash, CSNY, etc.), but they fucking nail it on this night.

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes is, of course, a love song to Judy Collins from Stephen Stills. It’s breathtaking, super hippy, and was omnipresent on the radio throughout the ’70’s and ’80’s. That said, it’s fucking beautiful.

This performance, from 2012, is noteworthy because CSN had not performed Suite: Judy Blue Eyes in years, because they’re old men now (legit in their 70’s old) and those high notes are brutal. To be truthful, I imagine it’s Stephen Stills who had the most trouble as David Crosby and Graham Nash seem to have kept their voices over the … holy shit… 48 year run that CSN has had.

csn

Apparently either Stephen Stills’ voice was strong on this one night, or he worked on regaining range (maybe as simple as lifestyle changes), but in any case this performance is just sublime. Is that the word? Yes, I think so.

The purity of their tone in the harmonies during , “What have you got to lose?” is utter perfection. You needn’t be a fan of CSN to enjoy this. It’s beauty pure and simple, like a sunset, and Stills even throughs in a musical nod to George Harrison during the little guitar break before the doo doo doo part. It’s that Indian sounding bit. It’s the song Within You and Without You, off Sgt. Pepper. Good stuff.

Crosby, Stills, and Nash may rest on the laurels of their earlier work, but when it’s of such a high caliber as this, there’s no shame. Take a listen, really listen, and enjoy.