Category Archives: Geen categorie

5 min
5 May
2017

D.R. Hooker

It will be very unlikely that you are going to get a hold on an original copy of D.R. Hooker’s album The Truth. This privately pressed – often described as psych/folk – album only counts 99 copies and is heavily sought after. Of course people bootlegged and reissued the shit out of it and you can easily find on of these editions, for example on the belgium label Veals & Geeks. Anyway, I’m not the first person to be interested in the mysterious aura that surrounds this gem. The Guardian featured it in their ’101 strangest records on Spotify’ and Vinyl Me, Please also featured this album in their “”Lost” album of the week” section. Nice reads, though I was still curious to hear the story from someone involved in the making of this nice piece of music. I spoke to bass player George Sheck (who also played bass with Edgar Winter’s White Trash) and percussionist/vibraphonist Ken Lovelett about their memories and experiences concerning The Truth.

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KEN LOVELETT, PERCUSSIONS/VIBES

How did you end up playing on this record?

DR asked me to.

How did you guys know each other? What are your memories of making that record.

I was working at a music store that he frequented. The owner must have told him about me. I got back from Memphis, where I was part of a rhythm section called the Dixie Flyers, and when I got back continued to teach there. I didn’t like Memphis much at that time because of all the riots, so I came back to NY. DR, as I recall, told me he was working on an album and asked me to play in it with them. He had George Sheck, from the Edgar Winter band, on bass, Haywood Sheck on drums and the rest of the people listed on the back of the album. I decided to play vibes and conga as well as other percussion instruments. We rehearsed at his mother’s house in the basement as I recall and later went into a studio, I think it was called Scolvill Sound or something or other, and put down the tracks. I had no Idea of the impact that album would have. I started getting calls in the 80″s from different people around the world to purchase one on the albums that I had. I finally gave in a couple of years ago and sold one of the albums that I had to a guy from Belgium.

I still wonder, why such a limited amount of 99 copies back then? Was that – for example – from an artistic perspective or was there not enough budget?

Probably not enough budget.

Did you guys ever perform somewhere?

No, at least I didn’t. The band was put together for this album specifically.

Alright, did – or do – you like the album yourself?

It’s hard not to like something that has garnered so much recognition. The fidelity for the time was very good and I enjoyed doing the project.

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GEORGE SHECK, BASS

Let me tell you my story and I will answer questions. I’m a bass player with 50 years experience. From 1965 on I played with a variety of music groups. From a beach boy cover band to jazz rock horn bands. In 1969 I landed a big job playing in Edgar Winter’s White Trash Band. We recorded an album in the Columbia Records studio. We toured extensively with the Best Bands of the day: Allman Brothers, J Geils, The Band, BB King, ELP, Tull, Airplane, Mountain, and many more. After the group disbanded, l spend time in LA and New York with other projects and recording opportunities. In the early 70s my brother drummer Haywood Sheck asked if I could play on a record DR Hooker was making. We both went to school with DR. He had a very unique, different, talent. I think he was decades ahead of his time with Jesus/Christian message songs with psychedelic distorted guitar solos. I recorded the basic tracks with DR and Haywood and percussionist Ken Lovelett. Then we added the best local musicians to add the background parts. We spent 2 months of long sessions and mixing marathons till the album was done. Everyone donated their time to the project and in a few months the album was printed. We never played again. In the early 2000s Haywood told me that he was contacted by someone in Europe saying the The Truth was a big hit decades of years after it was recorded. I found a copy in my attic and listened to it for the first time in 30 years. I was amazed how well it sounded. The 4 track recorder was so primitive and the bounce down mixing of the very complex background of brass, strings and choir could have impressed George Martin. This year I found out that DR passed on. Haywood also passed last year. I moved to South Carolina 12 years ago still playing music of many styles.

What was DR’s real of full name?

It was a long time ago but his first name might have been Donald?

Why was there such a limited amount of copies printed at the time? Apparently only 99 copies?

He lived with his mother and wasn’t the working type. He probably couldn’t afford more than 99 at a time.

Did you guys ever perform outside of the studio?

He was a unusual guy. There were times that the band was more interested in making a good recording than he was. I heard that sometime after the recording he had a group that performed live but not with the musicians on the recording. Haywood was my younger brother an knew him more than I did.

So just some other small things I wondered…was Donald really a religious guy? And it also implied he was a heavy user of alcohol and drugs. I figured these things are all being said based upon analyses of the lyrics. What do you remember about this?

At that point in time I believe he thought he was religious. A Jehovah’s Witness I recall but I’m not 100% at that. Drugs and Alcohol would not surprise me at all.

Check out some of George Sheck’s other bass playing recordings below, lovely stuff!

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5 min
3 Mar
2017

Chas Jankel

It was not until recently I found out that the guy responsible for that Blockheads groove (say Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll) is the same guy that made fantastic boogie tunes like Glad To Know You or 3.000.000 Synths. Mr Jankel, who goes by the name of Chas or Chaz, was so very kind to answer some questions about his musical taste and development. Now here’s a reason to be cheerful!

Is there any specific record or musician you heard at a young age that inspired you to pick up an instrument?

I remember seeing a picture of Lonnie Donegan, I was probably about 6 years old and I thought that the piece of wood (his guitar I later found out) hanging horizontal to his body..looked cool. I then managed to get a spanish guitar as a present from my parents. I seem to remember my earliest influences were Cliff Richard and the Shadows, moving on to the Beatles. When I got to 14 my attention was drawn to a single by Lee Dorsey (Working In A Coalmine/GET OUT MY LIFE WOMAN) by a cousin of mine, that’s when i discovered the power of black music and I’ve never looked back.

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You’ve worked with a lot of artists, did a lot of solo stuff, wrote a lot of music. I’m curious whether there is one record or song you’ve worked on that you consider your favorite, for whatever reason?

Not necessarily my favourite track that I’ve written but often the first tune i think of when I’m asked this question…Inbetweenies, on the album Do It Yourself. It’s the opening track and.the Blockheads have been performing it for many years live and it keeps on developing. When i first showed the demo to Ian Dury he said “what am I, a piece of furniture in the room?”. What he was referring to was the fact that the melody starts on beat 2 of the bar. Up until that point in our writing collaboration, Ian always started on beat ! Which is the way a lyricist would normally write a rhyming couplet…but in this case I wrote the melody ahead of him, and he had to adapt-which he did brilliantly. I also really like the shape which is totally idiosyncratic and allows me to stretch my piano improvisational skills.

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I’ve been digging through a lot of records, but never – or barely – found one that really suits a proper hangover. Do you have a suggestion?

A song suitable for hangovers-well over the years I’ve become increasingly enchanted by jazz and romantic classical music-so I’d say on a jazzy tip = My foolish heart – Bill Evans, or What’s New? Clifford Brown And Strings. On a classical tip I’d say Mozart’s clarinet concerto or on a soulful tip After The Love has gone by Earth Wind and Fire.

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One of my fave tunes by you and Ian Dury is Spasticus Autisticus. (I love to play the extended version on a party, since the silent breaks in the intro really confuses the drunk crowd). I only recently found out about the fact it was quite controversial and even banned by BBC? Do you have any noteworthy anecdote about this?

We recorded the song at Compass point in the Bahamas with Sly and Robbie as our rhythm section, the engineer was Steven Stanley who was quite fronty. He was a bit sarcy with me until he heard me play guitar and then he lightened up and realized we were on the same page. There are other stories none of which are suitable to print right now, I also got bitten 99 times by mosquitoes on the first night we got to the bahamas, the next day Ian and I wrote Spasticus Autisticus.

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If your house was to be on fire and you could escape safely bringing only one record, which one would that be?

One record i would save would definitely be Surf’s Up by the Beach Boys, and I’d sneak Sly And The Family Stone’s Greatest Hits into my pocket as i fled the scene!

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I live in Amsterdam. Did you ever play here and could you share an interesting memory about it?

In 1979 we played the Paradiso in amsterdam. After the gig we went back to the Hotel Americain where Ian And The Blocks were staying. Quite possibly fired up by a young lady whom I’d met at the gig, who had accompanied me back to my hotel room. The melody for Ai No Corrida popped into my head, the rest of the evening was magical also.

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Imagine you’d want to play frisbee on a nice summer’s day, only to find out you don’t own a frisbee. What record would you suggest using as a frisbee instead? And Why?

That’s tough as there are quite a few. Last night i saw a video of Duke Ellington playing a medley of Beatles hits, I had to turn it off. How sad that Duke, a man of such genius, should go out like this. It was directly after that he informed the orchestra that they were being disbanded, they never played again.

What project are you currently working on?

The project I’m currently working on is the new Blockheads album that i cowrote and arranged, I’m also writing for myself and collaborations outside of Blockhead duty, this music is on a soulful tip. A few years back I made an album called The Submarine Has Surfaced, where I featured 6 different singers including myself. This album along with many of my other works is available for sale on my website chazjankel.com. I think my new work is a continuation of the work and potential expressed in that album.

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5 min
12 Dec
2016

Brian Protheroe

Every once in a while you have a tune that occupies your mind in a way that you get addicted to it, resulting in pushing the repeat button repeatedly. I recently had this with Brian Protheroe’s song Pinball. So fresh. As soon as I went out to buy the record, I found out there’s more to this man than just this song. He made a lot of great tunes and also happens to be a well known actor. Also, he was so very kind to help me out with my questions.

What – as far as you remember – was the first music you were into as a youngster?

First music? Holst’s Mars the Bringer of War from the Planet Suit introduced to me by my father. The Hymn “Ah holy jesus how hast thou offended” arranged by JS Bach (I sang the alto part as a choirboy). The Rock Island Line by Lonnie Donegan. Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis (The first record I ever bought). Move It by Cliff Richard. A Josh White Live album with Jack Fallon on bass. The Everly Brothers. Ray Charles – What’d I Say. The Shadows – Apache. Take Five by Dave Brubeck. Then of course…The Beatles

So you started singing early. Pinball was your first solo album, did you do any – or played on any – records before?

I was in a Folk group called Folk Blues Incorporated (FBI) in the mid 60’s. We recorded a single on Eyemark Records – When The Ship Comes In.

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From what I’ve read, your first single – Pinball – arose through a Chrysalis representative hearing you perform your self-penned song for the Death On Demand play. How did this go down?

The author of the play I was in called Death on Demand in the early 70’s wrote the lyrics to a song I had to sing in the play (I was playing a pop star). I wrote the music and recorded a demo of the song that the author took to a couple of record companies.
Nigel Haynes at Chrysalis Music invited me to submit anything else I’d written. Pinball was one of four songs that I then sent him. The record Company signed me on the basis of these songs.

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Then I guess what happened next is that you went into the studio, how much influence did you have on picking the musicians to accompany you?

I’d worked with Del Newman, who produced all 3 albums, in the theatre. He MD’d a production of Guys and Dolls that I was in at Exeter in 1972. I recommended him to Chrysalis as producer which they agreed to. So Del chose the session musicians for the albums.

Was there – apart from the music you named earlier – any music/musician that inspired you around the time you were making these albums. Basically, what where you into in the early 70′s?

In the early 70’s I was mourning the Beatles break up (“Hey Jude, you were all right. I could’ve grooved with you all night…”). John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Album dominated that time (“Mother”). And Bowie’s Hunky Dory. Alice Cooper – School’s Out. Slade. Sha Na Na. On the whole not such a great time for music!

I like Mccartney’s & Harrison’s first solo albums too. Somehow in the beginning of a decade there’s always a transition in music, or maybe we just tend to think that. Anyway. I know both your debut album and single charted, so I guess it was really well received. What were your own feelings about the album, were you proud? Any favorite aspects or songs?

My one regret about the Pinball album is that the rhythm section – Drums and Bass were not recorded at the same time as my guitar or piano tracks. All tracks would have benefited musically if they had been. This was remedied on the other two albums. Favourite tracks – Monkey and Clog Dancer (and Pinball). Most of the other tracks have aspects that I’m uncomfortable with now – e.g. the end of Mickey Dollar Dreams. I did a better vocal arrangement later of Moon Over Malibu. But overall – yes proud!

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You’ve made a few more albums after Pinball, which piece of your own music do you cherish the most?

I’m really proud of Enjoy It. Of the later songs – Venice was a favourite. City Song. And No Snow Blues.

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You’re both actor and musician, is one of these disciplines more important than the other for you?

I’m and actor first and it’s how I earn my living. I just feel completely at home in that world. But I cherish my musical life greatly as well.

What music are you currently into?

I’ve always loved Paul Simon and a couple of years ago I discovered an album of his called You’re the One from 2002 (I think). A Masterpiece from beginning to end. I’m thinking of revisiting the old Wings catalogue. Adele. Kate Bush. R Kelly. Stevie Wonder forever!!

Now for a sudden switch of speakers, I also talked to Richard Dodd the Engineer of the Pinball Record. He informed about some of the more technical aspects of the record. Also I’ve exchanged some words with legendary Saxophonist Tony Coe, who doesn’t remember playing on Pinball

In another interview (on Yuzu Melodies, a cool French site), Protheroe once said “Great working relationships with Del and Richard. Long vocal sessions with my medicinal bottle of port. The thrill of hearing a finished track on big speakers. It would have been a lot easier to accomplish some effects if we’d had digital recording then. On the other hand, it made certain tracks epic little adventures, requiring a great deal of imaginative problem solving. Richard Dodd, the engineer, was at the forefront there.” When I first heard the song Pinball it took me 37 seconds to decide to save to my favorites. At that particular moment a little background noise/effect is heard, which dragged me out of my stand-by music listening mode. I listened to the song till the end to find out – apart from the fact that the song itself is already brilliant – that I really like the production (also the layered samples near the end). It has something very fresh to it. When I later bought the record and found out the whole piece is woven with some very fresh engineering. Though let’s focus on the song Pinball for a sec. Could you tell me something about your work on this song. What inspired you, what techniques did you use?

I recorded the track using a then new ‘tape noise reduction system’ called DBX (not Dolby). Putting it simply (so that I can understand), the DBX system, unlike the then popular Dolby A system, relied heavily on overall frequency response to achieve encode / decode, (the dolby was more about frequency bands and level). In our case, the tape and machine combination didn’t, to my ear at least, consistently decode properly. When using the Dolby A system, I would often choose to not decode at all or as it was primarily level sensitive, only partially decode the playback to taste. The DBX system , by design, didn’t usually support either option, in so much as the encoded signal was very extreme, it usually made a non decoded signal unlistenable. As I didn’t like either the DBX decoded or non decoded sound for our mix, I created a compromise** that gave the entire track, to varying degrees, a unique sonic ‘vibe’. The resulting ‘sound / effect’ required (in those days), a total commitment, control and faith in the outcome to ever employ again.

5 min
11 Nov
2016

Bobby Caldwell

Probably the coolest uncle out there. His voice cuts through your butter softly and makes your yacht float. His swag has lasted for a couple of generations already and still does. Whether it’s your old AOR radio station, your 90′s hiphop collection or just a new Pitchfork-glorified release …his groove will find your ears sooner or later. I’m talking – of course – about Bobby Caldwell, who was so very kind to answer my questions.

I’m always curious about the early years’ musical development. What music got you going as a kid? What influence did your parents have music-wise?

My childhood home was always filled with music. From Sinatra to Ella Fitzgerald to Broadway tunes to Big Band. My parents were both singers/actors. In fact, they hosted one of the first variety shows on the old Dumont Television Network in Pittsburgh, PA. I took piano lessons as a kid, and got my first guitar at age 12. The Beatles were my favorite. I think I taught myself every single Beatles song ever recorded. To this day I listen to the Beatles often, along with Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and many more.

What made you pick up an instrument yourself?

My mom and dad kind of force the piano lessons, but I mowed a lot of lawns to buy my first guitar. My passion for The Beatles and all of the songs played on top 40 A.M. radio set me in the direction I wanted to pursue. I wanted to play, sing and write songs.

I’ve read something about a pre-1978 release named Katmandu, but I can’t find any info about really. Could you tell me something about this? Is there any other stuff you recorded or were involved with before releasing your first solo album on T.K. (schoolbands, backing vocals, anything)?

My friends and I formed our own band in middle school. We played at school dances, and of course, the garages at our family homes. Eventually, Katmandu was formed. We actually recorded an album. In fact, I still have a copy of that LP. We played the clubs in the Miami, FL area, and eventually packed up our van and moved to Los Angeles. We played clubs all over California, and at the same time, I started writing songs. For several years I tried to hawk my songs, but I couldn’t get a record deal. I went back home to Miami feeling a bit beaten and dejected. Then my mom brought me a newspaper article about TK Records in Hialeah. She suggested I pay them a visit, so I did. I came out of the meeting with my first record deal. That first album included, “What You Won’t Do for Love.”

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I personally first go to know your music because I bought the single of 2Pac’s Do For Love as a kid and then suddenly heard your song on the radio. Then I recently found out that that 2Pac production is considered to be ripped from an earlier J Dilla production….To cut a long story short, your music has been sampled over and over. Were you aware of it being sampled at the time? What was, or is, your opinion on the whole sampling industry?

Quite frankly, I’m flattered to have my songs sampled, or covered. 2Pac’s “Do For Love” brought my original song to the attention of a whole new generation, just as Common’s sample of “Open Your Eyes” in his release called, “The Light,” and Notorius B.I.G.’s “Sky’s the Limit” breathed some new life into “My Flame,” also off my first album.

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Your work has been defined as smooth jazz, blue eyed soul, AOR, yacht rock and so on, the list is long. What’s your favorite description/how would you describe your music?

I like them all. I suppose certain songs can be placed into a variety of categories. I have also released a number of big band/standard albums, which basically fit into the POP music of the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. My most recent big band album called, “After Dark” was released in 2014. I had a fantastic band behind me, and had a lot of fun in the studio. In fact, I plan on doing another album like this very soon.

Your album covers – at least a lot of them – seem to have a recurring style/theme. Could you tell me something about this?

I do tend to write a lot of songs about broken hearts and unrequited love. Let’s face it, it’s a universal theme, and something we all can relate to.

What do you consider one of your favorite songs by yourself?

Although the song went virtually unnoticed, I wrote a song in an attempt to emulate the sound of the 1940’s. The song is called, “April Moon”off my “Come Rain or Come Shine album. I love the song. I poured my heart out into that one. Please give it a listen sometime.

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What do you consider one of your favorite songs by somebody else?

I am a huge fan of Donald Fagen. I.G.Y. is an incredible song!

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I can have trouble finding a song that suits my hangover, do you have any?

Check out my latest release with Jack Splash. The album is called, “Cool Uncle.” Put on a cut called, “End of Days” and crank it up, during a hangover.

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A lot of people have thought that you were a black singer. Do you have any noteworthy anecdote about this?

A lot of people still think that. My wife used to think that.

Did you ever perform in Amsterdam (my hometown)? And how was that?

I never was invited to perform in Amsterdam, but I sure would love to do so.

Your latest album Cool Uncle was – justly – well received. What are you working on at the moment?

Shortly, Jack Splash and I are going to get back at it for the next Cool Uncle release. This time we’ll be writing and recording in my old stomping ground, Los Angeles.