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Wild early UFO footage featuring Larry Wallis from Pink Fairies and Motörhead
07:37 am


Larry Wallis
Pink Fairies

UFO Wallis
Larry Wallis is not pictured in the UFO image on the left. He never recorded with the band.
Check out this rare footage of Larry Wallis (Entire Sioux Nation, Shagrat, Bloodwyn Pig, Pink Fairies, Motörhead, “Police Car”, etc.) playing with UFO on the French TV music program, Rock En Stock from 1972. It’s a fantastic, fuzzed-out, raw mini-set featuring three tunes: “Galactic Love,” “Silver Bird” and a righteous version of Eddie Cochran’s “C’mon Everybody.”

Wallis was only with UFO on a 1972 European tour from February to October after original guitarist, Mick Bolton left the band in January of that year. Wallis never recorded with the group and this has to be one of the very few performances of the proto-punk guitarist jamming with UFO ever captured on film.
UFO with Larry Wallis
UFO 1972 from left to right: Singer Phil Mogg, drummer Andy Parker, bassist Pete Way, and temporary guitarist, Larry Wallis.

Here’s Wallis in a 2002 interview with Tony Rettman discussing his brief relationship and rather hilarious separation from the band:

TR: After Bloodwyn Pig, you answered an ad in the Melody Maker that read ‘Gigantic Rock Band, No Names, Needs A Guitarist. You’ve Got To Look Great.’ Am I correct? 

LW: It was all very secretive for some reason. Eventually I found out it was U.F.O. It was the winter of 1971. I toddled off to the audition. When I got there, Andy Parker (drummer for UFO) and Pete Way (bassist) were there, along with a video camera. No Phil Mogg (singer). He probably had a plumbing job that day. Now, at the time I had the full set up… the long hair… the cool hippie garb. When I came in, Pete said ‘He looks like a star.’ We plugged me in and the day before I heard Hendrix on the John Peel radio show and he’d whacked out something called “Drivin’ South,” so I just started playing my version of that. And that was that. I had never heard of UFO, but I didn’t tell them that. Mark Hannau was our manager. He had just parted ways with the successful Curved Air. We thought the Curved Air pedigree was great until we figured out they must have fired him for a reason. He signed us a publishing deal for 8000 pounds, which was a respectful amount in those days. We were about to go off on a tour of Germany, so naturally we spent the money on a sound system bigger than anyone else’s and a second hand Bentley. The tour ended when the German gangsters running one of the shows nicked the Bentley. Apparently Mark Hannau made them believe we were going to stay in Germany and tour for them. It was then we figured out Mark wouldn’t be giving Peter Grant (Zeppelin manager) any sleepless nights.

When we got back, Chrysalis got involved and gave us a chap named Wilf Wright to look after us. They kept us busy touring Italy and these were great times. One night, I got drunk and told Phil Mogg what I really thought of him and he kicked me out. Pete and Andy were real upset, but whatcha gonna do? The roadies hated me leaving so much they dropped my amps off at my parents’ house. This caused Wilf to have a meeting with me where he said the amps weren’t mine and I would have to give them back. I said ‘No’ and Wilf pointed out it would be a great shame if the police were told anonymously that dope was kept and smoked at my parents’ house. I called him a string of names that I felt suited his behavior and made an exit. Fuck him and the stolen horse he rode in on!

TR: And right after that was when you were asked to join The Pink Fairies. 

LW: I wanted to be a Pink Fairie more than anything in the world.

You can read the whole interview here.

After Pink Fairies (for whom Wallis wrote the majority of the tunes on Kings of Oblivion), Wallis would go on to become a founding member of Motörhead and, as a producer at Stiff Records, a seminal figure in the late seventies transition between heavy rock and punk in Britain.

After working even more briefly with Bernie Marsden, UFO would find a slightly more long-term guitarist in Michael Schenker who stayed with the band until 1978 before taking a long break and returning in 1993.

It’s almost criminal that the Rock en Stock commentator couldn’t have waited until after Wallis’s killer sounding guitar solo on “Galactic Love” to do his spiel! 

Posted by Jason Schafer | Discussion
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‘Brain Invasion’: Meet Billy Joel’s idiotic two-man 1969 acid rock heavy metal prog band, Attila
07:20 am


Billy Joel

I always argue that Billy Joel should be embraced as an artist of masculine, heterosexual camp—like a Broadway Bruce Springsteen, perhaps (not that Born to Run: The Musical isn’t going to happen one day, but I digress). As far as pop music goes, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more earnest chanteur, but finding that radio-friendly voice has been a strange journey for ol’ Billy. Prior to becoming the piano man, he was in Attila, a short-lived (1969 to 1970) two-piece hard rock band (or heavy prog metal duo if you prefer) with drummer Jon Small.

In Billy’s own words:

End of the sixties, I was in a two-man group. We were heavy metal, we were going to destroy the world with amplification, we had titles like ‘Godzilla’, ‘March of the Huns’, ‘Brain Invasion.’ A lot of people think [ I ] just came out of the piano bar… I did a lot of heavy metal for a while. We had about a dozen gigs and nobody could stay in the room when we were playing. It was too loud. We drove people literally out of clubs. ‘It was great, but we can’t stay in the club’

Attila’s intense amplification was achieved a result of running Joel’s Hammond organ directly into Marshall amplifiers.

Perhaps even more fascinating than the sound (or those nutty outfits) is the love story behind Attila’s demise. Billy began an affair with his drummer’s wife Elizabeth, and though Small was a philanderer himself, he and Elizabeth had a small son together, and she told Billy if he confessed, she’d leave both men. Racked with guilt, Joel attempted suicide by drinking furniture polish, putting him in a coma. After a brief stay in a mental hospital, Billy eventually told Jon, Jon broke Billy’s nose, and Billy and Elizabeth ended up together (married for 10 years, actually—she’s the waitress “practicing politics” in “Piano Man.”)

Needless to say, Attila didn’t make it through all that drama, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say it’s not as bad as critics have made it out to be (though even Joel himself called it “psychedelic bullshit”). Think Deep Purple, Wolfmother, Iron Butterfly, etc, though not really as good. However, if you’re looking for something new to listen to in the back of a carpeted van under a blacklight, you could do worse! There’s also just something compelling about the experimental line-up—this is a two-piece acid rock outfit with a heavy sound despite having absolutely no guitars!

Considering they posed with carcasses on their album cover—just like the Beatles—it’s sad that there is no documentation of the group’s live act. The two men actually made up later and Jon Small produced one of Joel’s live videos.

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Stacia, Hawkwind’s buxom cosmic dancer discusses her wild sex life in vintage interviews
09:13 am



Stacia as pictured in the iconic ‘Space Ritual’ fold out sleeve designed by Barney Bubbles

You read Dangerous Minds for the articles, right? Sure you do. Well maybe not this time, because today we’re talking about Hawkwind’s mononymous, voluptuously endowed former stage dancer, Stacia. I was checking out a Hawkwind fan site the other day when I came across a couple of interviews with the busty performer, both from 1974. The first one to catch my eye was from Penthouse and was entitled “Long, tall Stacia – the six foot lady with the two-way sex life.” The other, simply titled “Stacia, the girl in the band” came from the August 3rd edition of Record Mirror. Stacia comes off as a total badass in both, as I would imagine that you’d have to be to hang with the likes of Lemmy Kilmister all day long.

If you know anything about Hawkwind’s legendary 70’s live shows, you’re fully aware that they were unique not only because the band was spacing you out so hard. Here’s how the Penthouse article puts it:

What makes Hawkwind concerts rather different from those offered by the current crop of rock bands is the fact that they possess a 42-28-39 asset called Stacia. At the magic moment when the music really starts getting under your skin, Stacia makes her entrance - dancing, miming and generally interpreting the sounds in her own, very unique fashion; usually wearing little but greasepaint. With the above-mentioned statistics and standing six feet tall, Stacia is an impressive lady: as she so rightly says, “If I could get my waist down to 18 I’d have the same shape as Sabrina.”

The article goes on to discuss how Stacia started dancing for Hawkwind in 1971 (she was with them until 1975) and the fact that she received no formal dance training after being kicked out of ballet class for being too tall. Stacia then relays a story about helping out a guy from the audience who was freaking out on acid by simply handing him a ring from stage.

Next, we learn about her relationship with then boyfriend Arthur Kane from New York Dolls, her girlfriend Ingrid, some thoughts about fans and her take on Women’s Lib:

Stacia was 21 last December (“I’m still a kid”), and now lives in Earls Court with two men, two other girls, and two budgerigars. She is happily bisexual, which works out rather conveniently because her boyfriend is Arthur Kane, of the notorious New York Dolls rock band. “I adore getting drunk with him.  It doesn’t matter if I never see him again; I’ll always love him. I have his pictures on the budgie cage.” As Kane is bisexual as well, he can have no hang-ups regarding Stacia’s girlfriend, a German lady called Ingrid. As well as this interesting manage, Stacia has countless other admirers. When Hawkwind appeared in Los Angeles, a 36-year-old man vowed that he would follow her to the ends of the earth, though the ladies who admire Stacia tend to be more interested in what she’s really like underneath the greasepaint and exotica. She’s defiantly opposed to Women’s Lib: “I’d rather sit at home and let the men do all the work. They should make enough money to pay for a maid.” On further consideration, that sounds extremely liberated.

Stacia 2
Stacia’s Psychedelic sign language for Hawkwind
She also really liked her booze:

In the course of our interview Stacia demolished several glasses of wine and we asked if she took a shot of Dutch Courage before she went on. “Of course, she admitted, “it calms my nerves. I’m not as over-confident as people think. I drink like two fishes, but I don’t seem to get drunk. I can still be relatively together after a couple of hours boozing. I love Tequila: it gives you that terrific warm feeling, doesn’t it?”

You can read the whole article here.

In the Record Mirror interview, Stacia again talks about how she met up with Hawkwind and how she feels about people’s perception of her in relation to the band of space heroes:

“Yeah, that psychedelic rock band who made “Silver Machine” and blimey, they had a nude girl moving her hips in time with the music. When we made “Silver Machine” we attracted a Top 20 audience of filthy little boys who came along to stare at me.”

When she first started dancing with Hawkwind though, it didn’t surprise most people according to Stacia:

“I don’t think Hawkwind could surprise anybody.  They get into so many weird things.”

She goes on to recount some insane on-tour incidents including a time that she nearly got murdered:

“I was doing a mime of a robot who was given a pill and becomes human for a spell.  I was freakin’ out at the time, and I felt this choking sensation round my neck. People thought it was a guy hugging me at first, which was cool, but a roadie saw that he was strangling me and he threw the bloke off the stage.

“He even had a go at me a second time,” recalls Stacia, “and the hall bouncers beat him up and threw him out. I was really shaken, and I wasn’t much good for the rest of the tour.”

Later, she talks about her Catholic upbringing and the fact that she’ll probably be leaving Hawkwind soon to pursue a solo singing career.
Stacia 3
Hawkwind with cosmic dancer, Stacia

Finally, here’s Stacia’s response to a question about whether she feels pressure to maintain her girlish figure:

“Aw, come on man,” she retorts, “remember that song, “Accept Me For What I Am”? well that’s me. I don’t diet or anything and besides I’m too fond of Guinness. Anyway I wouldn’t be able to wear my favorite costumes if I started that caper.”

You can read the entire Record Mirror interview here.

Stacia, Lemmy and others talk about her legendary performances in the clip below from the 2007 BBC documentary about Hawkwind.

Posted by Jason Schafer | Discussion
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The Kinks tear it up on German TV, 1965
08:30 am


The Kinks

Beat Beat Beat was a German TV show that ran from 1966 to 1969. Music fans might be familiar with Beat Club, but that was a different show, out of Bremen, that lasted into the early 1970s. According to the enthusiastic Sam Leighty, Beat Beat Beat was run by a company out of Frankfurt but “broadcast from and videotaped in” Hamburg. Beat Beat Beat also featured had a radio simulcast on the Armed Forces Network. (Update: knowledgeable DM reader DJones clarifies in comments that the show was taped in Offenbach, a town near Frankfurt.) As with all such programming, the target audience was both the children of armed forces personnel as well as native Germans, and the on-air personalities tended to reflect that, mixing American and German hosts.

The show seemed to specialize in British invasion bands, such as the Animals and the Hollies, but also working in an act like the Jimi Hendrix Experience when the opportunity arose. This Kinks performance was broadcast in Germany on January 7, 1966 but had been taped the previous December. Data is a little scarce, but IMDb lists this Kinks appearance as the first edition of the show, and to judge from the amateurish camera positioning and so forth, I wouldn’t be very surprised if that turned out to be true. Other acts that appeared on Beat Beat Beat included the Small Faces, the Yardbirds, the Move, the Creation, and Manfred Mann. The show tended to mix U.S. or U.K. bands with German bands doing similar music—thus, a later episode of the program featured a German band with the marvelous name of The Kentuckys.

As Leighty reports, “For increments of 45 minutes to 55 minutes, it was all broadcast live in excellent black and white in a studio that probably accommodated 1200 people. There was bleacher-like seating with a dance floor. The audience seemed to consist of German teenagers ranging from 14 to 18 years old.” This video certainly seems to accord with that description. The Kinks are in fine form here, injecting familiar bluesy rock of the British Invasion with their own distinctive energy.

There are inexpensive DVDs you can buy of Beat Beat Beat rock performances. This Kinks performance is available at Amazon, as well as DVDs featuring Cat Stevens/Herman’s Hermits, the Move/the Searchers, Eric Burdon and the New Animals, the Troggs, and the Yardbirds.

A Well-Respected Man
Milk Cow Blues
Till the End of the Day
I’m a Lover, Not a Fighter
You Really Got Me

In some sources the second track is mis-identified as “Oh Please,” but it’s definitely “Milk Cow Blues.”


Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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There’s a Vox Phantom bass guitar car for sale and obviously I WANT IT

As a musician and gear junkie (I don’t use the term “junkie” lightly here, I probably do have an actual hoarding problem), I frequently surf around the marketplace, but I never expected to find my dream car there. The seller doesn’t seem keen to share overmuch about it, but I DO NOT CARE.

Here it is. The real deal. The Voxmobile. Too much stuff to list, but if seriously interested shoot me an email. Also, some of the info in this video I created is incorrect. However, most of it is correct. Jimmy did not own the car, Vox let him use it. Apparently, it may or may not be a Cobra as someone who had a more intimate relationship with the car told me they were Cobra valve covers. I don’t know enough about engines to know either way.





The vehicle appeared in the psychsploitation classic Psych-Out, notable for featuring an early Jack Nicholson performance.

The thing even had a trading card, in the 1970 “Way Out Wheels” series!

The vehicle, built in the late ‘60s as a promotional device/guitar fetishist’s wet dream, has its own web site,, from whence this bit of history is unleashed:

Conceptualized by the King of the Kustom Cars, George Barris, maker of The Batmobile and The Munstermobile, and Dick Dean, the vehicle resembles a Vox Phantom guitar in silhouette. The car can handle up to 32 guitars, and has a Vox Super Continental organ mounted in the rear. It cost $30,000 to build in 1968 and is well-stocked with vintage Vox Beatle equipment.

The hidden speakers and special chrome steps allow for three guitarists and an organist to rock out and play the music of the flower power era right from the car. If a band is not available, a Muntz 8-track player is used to supply the tunes.

The car is no slouch either. It is powered by an original 289 Cobra engine (used in early AC Cobras) and is reportedly able to reach 175MPH. Ryan and Brock are not sure they want to test that.

The asking price, $175,000, is a bit out of my range, unless I maybe can sell off a couple of amps, and everything else I own, and donate about ten years worth of plasma, so I guess this is not gonna happen for me. I could maybe afford that trading card, though.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Photo of David Bowie & Iggy Pop’s 1976 pot bust for sale on eBay
08:07 am


David Bowie
Iggy Pop

I have heard—on very good account—that David Bowie is meant to be a total eBay addict and that having a conversation with him might often see his attention divided between what you’re saying and him furiously bidding on something. Apparently eBay is a great way for the thin white duke to discover all of the various ways people made money off him during his long career, that he was never previously aware of. If I were him, I’d do the exact same thing!

Well, an unusual Bowie item is currently on offer on eBay with four days to go, and although the price has dropped 25%—or $5000—it’s still got a starting bid of twenty grand. Perhaps Bowie himself is the only one who could afford this, but what a weird little memento it is: an original vintage photograph taken precisely at the moment when undercover cops in Rochester, NY slapped the cuffs on when Bowie and Iggy Pop were arrested for someone else smoking pot in Bowie’s hotel room in 1976.

The story is told in greater detail in this post I put together previously of the local news reporting of the Bowie bust.

Here’s the description from the eBay seller:

For offer, a very rare photograph. Fresh from a prominent estate in Upstate NY. Never offered on the market until now. Vintage, Old, Original, Antique, NOT a Reproduction - Guaranteed !! This photos came from a man who was present when Bowie and Pop were arrested in Rochester, NY, March 25, 1976. Most people have seen the famous mug shot. But this is a “behind the scenes” photo taken with undercover officers. Officer on left putting the cuffs on Bowie. Kodak paper. In excellent condition.  Please see photo for details. If you collect 20th century American Rock history, Americana crime photography, pop culture, etc. this is a treasure you will not see again! Add this to your image or paper / ephemera collection.

Worth mentioning is that the Rocester mugshot was not taken when Bowie was processed at the station that night, but rather when he showed up for his court date, hence the change of clothes.

h/t Hadrian Von Paulus

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Music is the Weapon’: The must-see Fela Kuti documentary from 1982
06:42 am


Fela Kuti

Fela Kuti Art
Musical visionary, street preacher, incendiary political activist, and Afro-beat progenitor, Fela Anikulapo Kuti is chronicled in Fela Kuti – Music is the Weapon, a compelling 1982 documentary directed by Stéphane Tchal-Gadjieff and Jean Jacques Flori. The film documents all-night politically charged performances at Fela’s Shrine nightclub, intimate takes from inside his Kalakuta Republic compound, and scenes of street culture in Lagos, Nigeria. It’s not a complete picture by any means, but it’s a singular and important historical record capturing Kuti in stage and home milieus that were vital to his life and work. If you had any doubt that Fela Kuti was anything short of an otherworldly human being, this film and these performances will dispel that belief quickly. As he did often in his music, Fela speaks out repeatedly against the Nigerian government throughout the film while discussing his political and musical ambitions.

Kuti’s attitude is defiant from the get-go. He takes command in the very first on-screen moment, saying “When you are the king of African music, you are the king. ‘Cause music is the king of all professions.”
Fela Kuti Sax
Almost immediately it becomes apparent upon watching the film that life can be unforgiving in the place where Fela and crew choose to make their home base. Lagos, Nigeria is depicted as being the most dangerous and violent city in the country and, by extension, the world. Street scenes portraying the chaos, desperation and the day-to-day existence of citizens in and around the former Nigerian capital are beautifully shot. Scenes of poverty, humor and violence along with shipwrecks and scrapyards of decaying cars and motorcycles are interspersed with vibrant local markets. One chilling scene shows the body of a man washed up on a popular beach, a regular occurrence according to the film’s narrator.

In these surroundings Fela Kuti arrives nightly around midnight to his famous Shrine to unleash a combination of music, spiritual ritual, and personal political testimony. The performances captured in Music is the Weapon are magical things, encompassing dance, classic Afrobeat call-and-response and charismatic displays from Kuti himself who plays baritone sax and keys and often performs in nothing but his briefs. The vibrancy of Kuti’s work is obvious through his myriad recordings but it’s even more potent when you can see it radiating from what was ground zero for Kuti’s entire transcendent enterprise.
Inside the shrine
Inside The Shrine
Some of the most illuminating scenes take place off the stage. One notable sequence begins early in the morning, when “day breaks and the music stops,” and Fela and crew leave in a beat-up van and a rickety VW Beetle and The Shrine is left empty for the day. The band, looking like they could play for a few more hours if they felt so inclined, return to a ramshackle Kalakuta Republic compound where Fela lived with his controversial bevvy of “queens” and fellow musicians. At the time of the filming, Fela had been there for several years despite repeated attempts by the Nigerian government to intimidate him with shows of force, one of which tragically led to the death of his mother years earlier. One such incident actually takes place in 1981during the filming of Music is the Weapon and is documented with still photographs taken by the camera crew who didn’t have time to set up their movie cameras. Nigerian soldiers surround the compound, fire tear gas and brutally beat the occupants.  Kuti finds himself in prison on trumped up charges but is soon released and is right back at it on stage within days at The Shrine, despite the fact that it was supposedly closed by Nigerian officials. 
Kuti Car
A car fit for a king.
Despite repeated jail sentences and years of beatings, persecution and all nature of mistreatments leveled upon him, Fela comes across again and again in Music is the Weapon as a not-from-this-world, heavy, unstoppable force attempting to live a life of pure principle where politics, spirituality, music and activism are indivisible. 

Ultimately, Fela Kuti’s legacy is far larger than what could be captured in a short film, but this is an informative introduction to the Pan-African pioneer’s life and work. 

Says the anti-colonialist visionary at one point in the film:

Music is a spiritual thing. You don’t play with music. If you play with music you will die young. See because when the higher forces give you the gift of music, musicianship, it must be well used for the good of humanity. If you use it for your own self by deceiving people… you will die young, you see. And I’ve told people this many times. So, I’m gonna prove them all wrong and prove myself right.  Because now I’m 44, I’m getting younger. Because I’m doing it right. I can play music for ten hours and never tire. I’m getting younger because the spiritual life of music that I’ve led, RIGHTLY, is helping me now.

Kuti was the subject of a Toni Award winning Broadway production called Fela! from 2008 and of a recent 2014 documentary called Finding Fela

You can watch all of Fela Kuti – Music is the Weapon below. It’s also streaming on Hulu Plus.

Posted by Jason Schafer | Discussion
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Some rare shit that proves Bob Seger is punker than you are
05:35 pm


Bob Seger

Sometime in the early 70s I saw Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band in Denver, Colorado. It was badass. Seger laid on some Detroit rock that was as primal and intense as The MC5 or The Stooges - no frills, in your face and loud. Sadly, Seger faded over time into someone who rarely connected with me again. There were a few tunes but overall what had once been stripped-down and ferocious rock and roll became adult-contemporary bloat—songs about rock and roll that weren’t particularly rock and roll. Seger distanced himself from his earlier, punkier work and focused on anthems for the beer cozy crowd.

But, as you can see in these newly unearthed videos, Seger and his band, The System, killed it back in 1970. The group consisted of Seger on guitar and vocals, Don Honaker on bass, Pep Perrine on drums (lots of ‘em) and Dan Watson on organ. These clips come from a live performance on a Washington, DC TV show called Turn On which broadcast on UHF Channel 20. Hosted by Barry Richards - “The Greaser that Saw the Light” - Turn On was a proto-MTV show that focused on cutting edge acts, many of whom Richards went on to manage or produce.

Two of the songs performed here are from Seger’s seriously underrated and hard to find out-of-print album Mongrel. “Lucifer” is indisputably a garage/psych rock classic.

So kick back and get into The System.

More after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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‘Kraftwerk: Pop Art’ documentary asks if they’re more important than the Beatles?
08:07 am



Kraftwerk: Pop Art, the 2013 documentary by Simon Witter and Hannes Rossacher has been available on YouTube in German, French and Spanish versions for some time, but Friday night an English language version was broadcast on BBC Four and surprise, surprise, it’s there now, too, for your weekend viewing pleasure.

The film focuses on the group’s eight day residency at London’s Tate Modern in 2013, where they played each of their albums from Autobahn to Tour de France all the way through in front of a 3D screen with elaborate computerized visuals. There are plenty of archival clips, and what is said to be Ralf Hütter’s last known filmed interview, from 1981. Naturally there are a lot of professional talking heads, including British journalist Paul Morley who argues that the lads from Düsseldorf are more crucially important to music than the Fab Four.

Although I personally don’t agree with him, Morley’s got a fair point and he’s able to back it up. Were Kraftwerk more influential than the Beatles? Discuss amongst yourselves in the comments… while I run in the other direction!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Whatever happened to 70s soft rockers Seals & Crofts?
01:39 pm


Seals & Crofts
soft rock

It must suck to have your music played on “soft rock” radio stations. Well, that’s not exactly what I mean, because getting radio play would, of course, always be a good thing for musicians, so let me rephrase that: It must suck to have your music played on the same soft rock stations that also play Sting and Phil Collins all day long. At least that would bum me out.

Such is the fate of Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts, professionally known as Seals & Crofts and one of the most wildly successful soft-rock singer-songwriter duos of the 1970s. It seemed like they were constantly on the radio and television when I was a kid. Admittedly they weren’t my cup of tea at the time—David Bowie, Alice Cooper, The Kinks and the Sex Pistols were more my style—but I could certainly appreciate their music when I heard it, which was… very frequently. If you weren’t around back then, well trust me kid, even if you’ve never heard of them, Seals & Crofts were once quite a ubiquitous presence on the mainstream American entertainment scene. They were huge, in fact. Then suddenly you never heard of them again.

They were so big that there was a Seals & Crofts Frisbee. That’s big. Seventies big.

Can you guess the decade?

Seals and Crofts were musician’s musicians. Although their primary instruments were guitar and mandolin, they could both play just about anything. Their harmonies were heavenly. Songs like “Diamond Girl,” “Hummingbird,” “We May Never Pass This Way (Again)” and “Summer Breeze” extolled the virtues of living simply, the beauty of nature, finding true love and devotion to God. Despite the fact that they had faces “made for radio” and precious little traditional showbiz charisma to speak of it was the musicianship and the message which set their songs apart during their era and what makes their emotionally heartfelt music still so memorable and pleasurable to listen to today. (Eleven years ago, I saw their Greatest Hits CD for $5 bucks used and bought it so I could stick “Diamond Girl” on a CD I was making for my future wife. I confess, it’s either been in the car or in the stack of CDs next to the stereo ever since. It should be in every music collection!)

In 1980, they basically dropped out of music to follow the Bahá’í Faith full-time (both men have been adherents of the 19th century Persian prophet Bahaullah since 1969). During the height of their success, Seals & Crofts commitment to the faith saw them stay for hours after concerts talking with their fans about their spiritual beliefs and world religious harmony. They’ve recorded and performed very sporadically since retiring. A CD of new recordings was released in 2004 called Traces, made with their children. Crofts mostly lives on a coffee farm in Costa Rica, while Seals lives on a ranch in central Texas.

Strangely, for such a massive-selling “classic rock” era act, their albums were not available on CD, save for a greatest hits and one other record, until fairly recently. Even Rhino dropped the ball when it came to Seals & Crofts for many years, although by 2007 all of their albums had been released on CD. There are gems on every one of them, so keep that in mind when you’re crate digging.
“Diamond Girl”

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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