The sleeve of The Byrds, Ballad of Easy Rider (1969) was given a thorough revision for the Japanese market. This version outperforms the OST, but I still ‘dig’ the design of the standard version of the Byrds’ somewhat brazen exploitation of the film’s popularity …
James Taylor’s Walking Man was released in 1974, but the cover portrait by Richard Avedon looks like a still from Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), or maybe he liked the jumper he wore in the film so much he kept it …
Donnie Fritts never looked so good as he did in Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, which is why he put a picture of himself in the film on the cover of his debut long player, Prone to Lean (Atlantic 1974) … In Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia he and sidekick Kris Kristofferson have bellies that look like over-gorged water sacks. Those images didn’t appear on either singer songwriters’ albums …
Despite the cover shot from Cisco Pike (1972) and the inclusion of three tracks used in the film’s soundtrack there is no direct reference to the film on Kristofferson's The Silver Tongued Devil and I…
Songs on album and film are:
“Loving Her Was Easier,” "The Pilgrim: Chapter 33" and “Breakdown."
A forth song, "I’d Rather Be Sorry" was not included on the album. It was sang as a duet in the film with Karen Black and later recorded with Rita Coolidge. It’s the former that breaks my heart … Someone has put the two versions together here
That cigarette, suede jean jacket over denim shirt sure looks good … Did he swipe Dennis’ belt?
Not so much a soundtrack album as a 3 track EP, UK only I think.
And Introducing Kris Kristofferson: Cisco Pike (1971)
A class act: from Betsy introducing Travis Bickle to his music in Taxi Driver, back through his role in Scorsese’s earlier Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, wandering minstrel cameos in Dennis Hopper’s The Last Movie and Sam Peckinpah’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, a starring role in Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, soundtrack highlights on John Huston’s Fat City and Monte Hellman’s Two-Lane Blacktop, right on down to his feature introduction in Cisco Pike … a film CV unmatched by any of his (country) rock royalty contemporaries I’ll wager … and all this with eyes that look like two pissholes.
John Buck Wilkin, In Search Of Food Clothing Shelter And Sex (Liberty, 1970)
Liberty spared no expense on packaging Wilkin’s album, gatefold with lyric and portrait inner. Hopper gets a thank you in the acknowledgements. I’m guessing there wasn’t enough original material to produce a soundtrack for The Last Movie, which used music recorded in performance and on location, so this is as close as we have to one, with ‘Bobbie McGee’ and ‘My God and I’ shared between album and film.
Wilkin appears to be wearing the poncho Hopper wore in the movie, and the locations mimic the desert junkyard theme at the beginning of Easy Rider and in countless biker movies.
Wilkin had once played in Ronny and the Daytonas and made one more album after this.
With the release of The Last Movie on blu-ray, I’ve been listening again to the OST of American Dreamer . Both soundtracks feature John Buck Wilkin, who appears in a cameo with Kris Kristofferson singing ‘Me & Bobby McGee.’ Wilkin’s mum was the Nashville songwriter and publisher Marijohn Wilkin, by this short route John Buck got hold of KK’s most famous song and delivered the first recording of it on his debut long player, In Search of Food Clothing Shelter and Sex (Liberty 1970). That album also contained ‘My God and I’, another song that found a home on The Last Movie.
Clive Hodgson’s review in Frendz #30 is pretty dismissive of American Dreamer and takes particular aim at the film’s producer, Lawrence Schiller, due to his exploitation of the Tate murder.
Schiller though was a good photographer and many of his images of Hopper provide the booklet illustrations that accompany the recent Light In The Attic re-issue of the OST. The vinyl edition is limited to 1000 copies, you can probably get the original (w/ poster) for less than it is selling on eBay.
Despite the wonderful packaging and that essential poster, the bottom line is that OST is feeble, only Gene Clark shines (of course he does).
Mick Gold, Rock on the Road (Futura, 1976)
This oversized paperback, 24 x 18 cm, is something of a forgotten book, it collects together Gold’s reportage and photos of bands on tour, Faces, Slade, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, but if for nothing else it should be recalled for his document of the Feelgoods on the Naughty Rhythm tour in the spring of 1975. Iconic just about sums it up
Responding to a question about the band backing Heinz at the London Rock and Roll Show, Wilko said:
‘Teddy boys convinced us we didn’t want nothing to do with classical rock ’n’ roll.’ Wilko reminisced. ‘It was so mindless . . . it was based on a fiction . . . they wanted to hear a kind of music that never really existed. They thought if you didn’t wear a drape suit, it wasn’t classical rock ’n’ roll., but no singers ever dressed like that. Chuck Berry never wore a drape suit. I used to love playing the old classics, but after a couple of gigs with teds I didn’t want to know. We shied away from calling our music rock ’n’ roll . . . we called it rhythm and blues instead.’
Three revivalist albums all on the budget Contour label. All examples of the rushed low-cost recording aesthetic that plagued purveyors of the greasy rockin’ beat. You gotta love the hand coloured photograph of the Houseshakers. Only singer Graham Fenton has bothered to turn up in his drape. The others look like they are on loan from some heavy psych-band. Demolition Rock’s track list of covers, which includes Vince Taylor’s ‘Brand New Cadillac’, is the more interesting of the three. Two years after its release, in 1974, Fenton and guitarist Terry Clemson recorded with the Hellraisers and didn’t even get their picture on the sleeve. Remember When?’s track list is miserable, ‘Peggy Sue’, ‘Shakin’ All Over’, ‘Let’s Twist Again’ and so on..
Shakin’ Stevens manager, Paul ‘Legs’ Barrett is scathing about Donny Marchand’s ‘production’ on Rockin’ and Shakin’ . . . He is not wrong.
Two collections from the Contour label drawing on the Philips catalogue, mostly 60s recordings in reprocessed stereo.
The same three Teds are featured on both sleeves - jackets on and off. They have the look of the authentic. No photographer credit.
They are posing in front of a cinema for the Crazy Rock sleeve, Horror of Frankenstein is playing and Abbot & Costello’s In The Navy (1941) is also on the programme. The Hammer horror was released in November 1970, so I’d guess these two discs hit the shops in the following year.
Six albums of electronically reprocessed for stereo recordings drawn from the Philips catalogue, circa 1975. looks like a Harley Duo-Glide to me, though I wouldn’t be embarrassed if you told me it was an Electra Glide. I bet the rider is French (or maybe Dutch), something about that cap says he is . . . Sixties pop art lettering and psychedelic ink suggest the designer was more than a little unsure of his signifiers.
Sleeve notes on artistes and songs is by Stan Britt, who I think was a jazz journalist. The set cost £5 inc. shipping courtesy of eBay
A James Gray photograph of the Black Raven pub that is described in the Rolling Stone piece from a previous posting. Below is one of his portraits from 1973, this one features the same geezer who was supping back a pint in Roger Perry’s pic that accompanied Jerry Hopkins observations. He’s got himself a new hair cut . .
There’s a public Facebook page on the pub here which features lots of snaps. The guys in the banner photograph can all be seen in the 1970 BBC documentary of Gene Vincent’s last tour of the UK having a pop at skinheads, more of which anon.
Jerry Hopkins, ‘Beatle Loathers Return: Britain’s Teddy Boys’ Rolling Stone (March 2, 1972) gets in on the UK’s Rock’n’ Roil revival scene. Here’s my favorite observation by Elvis’ first rock biographer:
All you can see is hair.
Plumes and cascades and whirlpools of hair, all of it greased and obsidian-black, thumbing its nose at gravity as it stretches four inches from the brow, wobbling, glistening: the classic Elephant’s Trunk; sweeping back in shiny sheets past earringed ears to plunge into a perfect D.A. or splash over the velvet collars in hirsute waterfalls. Towers and arches and walls of hair. This isn’t just extraordinary styling—it’s architecture.
Unless you’ve got good eyesight you might want to check out the piece here, which for reasons known only to the magazine’s on-line editors uses a pic of Teds from 1954 rather than Roger Perry’s photographs
#1082 of 3000 is the one I’ve got . . . a really fine package from Indicator with a stand out transfer of the film, superb extras, a fold-out poster, and a booklet with an Alex Cox essay and some great locations stills . . . colour me happy
Just because she hasn’t got any running water or electricity doesn’t mean she doesn’t want nice things. Right now it’s a General Electric refrigerator. Like a jazz drummer, Stella Garcia performance as Maria is never off the beat. She always hits her mark regardless of whatever nonsense is going down.
For much of the film, and in the documentary American Dreamer, Hopper wears a Lee 101J denim jacket and jeans. No one ever looked better in that combination, but this variation on a trucker jacket in heavy suede and rounded leather collar is pretty special, as is the blanket coat with fur collar that he wears while prospecting with Neville. When The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is your guide to getting the gold you gotta look your best.
“Art work” by Ed Roth … what’s that mean? the bikes? Perhaps the vandalism done to Hopper’s Levi’s 507 jacket … who’d cut the sleeves off the jacket Martin Sheen wore in Badlands? Still, at least he’s not wearing a brand new trucker with hacked off sleeves that John Casavettes sports in Devil’s Angels … I guess, Big Daddy blessed the production with the patches - swastikas, Maltese crosses, and gang names and emblems - Henchmen, Jokers, Glory Stompers and, Dennis’s gang, Black Souls … Saundra Gale plays Hopper’s momma in a costume that makes her look like she just jumped straight out of a 50s beatnik movie …
The Glory Stompers (AIP 1968), starring Dennis “Baby” Hopper … Opens and closes with a kickstarter … The fly-eye end credits are well worth riding to the finale for …and that Ed Roth credit …
Dennis Hopper, an American Dreamer armed with an FN FAL; a Taos New Mexico resident’s weapon of choice …
Dennis Hopper, cowboy philosopher: lesson #2
What is good, bad, right and wrong? There are only 1 through 9 numbers. There are no fractions. You either like or dislike, which is weak. You either love or you hate.
Sleeve notes accompanying the “Original Sound Track from The American Dreamer (1971)
Sadly, Paul ‘Legs’ Barrett died on 20 January 2019, 78 years old. His presence and voice is all over The Sunsets 1969 debut album A Legend (Parlophone, PCS 7112), including a dedication to Karl Marx. It is easily their best sounding disc, Dave Edmunds production gives it a depth and a dynamic that was never matched on their subsequent, rushed, recordings. ‘This album contains what was the most progressive music in the history of recorded sound’ writes Edmunds in his sleeve notes, while fans of Colosseum may dispute this fact, and his use of the past tense qualifies the idea somewhat, 50 years later it still sounds good n’ rockin’ to me.
I’m on a Sunsets kick this morning as Paul Gorman has laid out a great spread on the band and their Let It Rock t-shirts on his blog here.
Paul Barrett with Hilary Hayward, Shakin’ Stevens (Star, 1983).
On cover and format alone this looks to be just another exploitation title, a George Tremlett style cut n’ paste job to capitalise on Shaky’s chart success, but it is so much more than that. The first 3/4 are a first hand account of the Sunsets’ story written by their card-carrying Communist manager, Paul ‘Legs’ Barrett. It is a terrific account of the early 1970s rockin’ scene, the gigs and the band’s high expectations and low returns as they endless tour the UK and Europe taking their message to the people. And if you wanna know why so many of the revivalist discs suck, you’ll get the real dope here - no advance, no royalties, minimal recording time in cheap shit studios, and producers who were good at harvesting a fast buck and hopeless at the task they were paid to carry out.
When the band confront Lionel Burge, head of Contour Records (who released some Sunsets sides and LPs by The Houseshakers and Hellraisers), about getting paid directly rather than their funds being channelled through producer Donny Marchand, he tells them to agree to his way or he’ll get the Hellraisers in to make the album. What could you do? asks Barrett. In the end, the records helped them get gigs and that was where the money was and, eventually, good money too.
After 7 years of playing the circuit the band come to an end, killed not by Shaky jumping ship for the Elvis Musical in 1977 but by a new generation of rockers. Barrett tries to sell the band to Island Records’ A&R man, Richard Williams, but tells him, ‘Sorry I think you’re too old. I’m gonna sign Eddie and the Hot Rods instead.’ He then tries Danny Seconda at Track records, who are excited about having The Heartbreakers (if you don’t stare too long you can kinda see a potential synergy between the two bands), and tells the Sunsets to get some new clothes at the expense of the company. off they go to a King’s Road emporium, reserving themselves suede jackets, cowboy boots and fancy shirts’ and then they wait on the company to stump up. . . it never does. Tapes are made with Charlie Gillett, Vic Maile, and Mike Hurst, none are ever released. By the time Track does do something with Shaky he’s gone solo are the Sunsets are long gone . . . and that synergy with Johnny Thunders no longer looks so good.
Barrett stories are worth the price of admission alone, but it’s his depiction of Shaky that is the real draw. He paints him as naive, vain, semi-literate, overly sensitive and just plain dumb. Payback is a motherfucker, as they say, and Legs gets in a bank vault full. Is he bitter? The book’s final sentence:
To quote Paul Barrett, who has been watching Shaky’s career with the caring, concerned interest of a colleague who has been a friend, ‘he’s got what he always wanted, but he’s almost certainly lost what he had.’