Posts Tagged ‘Moby Grape’

Masterpiece: Moby Grape

16 July 2010

[Today: Moby Grape sinks...]

“What’s eight tons, purple and floats in the sea?” In 1967, Moby Grape dropped one of the greatest debut albums of all-time, and then were savaged by every form of bad luck known to hit a rock band, save having their drummer burst into flames. They suffered through poor management, idiotic promotion, personnel issues (a nice euphemism for insanity and drug abuse), and a string of under-appreciated albums, each not quite as good as the one before, that finally sunk their battleship.

The Grape featured five songwriters who could sing, three of whom were solid guitarists, and harmonies that sounded like the product of years of practice. In truth, the band was a hasty assemblage of diverse musical parts. Guitarist Skip Spence had previously been the drummer in Jefferson Airplane, guitarist Jerry Miller had roots in country music, guitarist Peter Lewis and bassist Bob Mosley played in surf bands, and drummer Don Stevenson and Miller played together in garage bands around Seattle. But they instantly clicked, and their live shows were powerful enough that within two months of their formation, Columbia Records awarded them what was then the largest contract in that company’s storied history.

Contrary to their San Francisco brethren, Moby Grape made melodic, three-minute songs that didn’t feature a drop of psychedelic nonsense. Instead, their sound was an easy blend of country, folk and rock, with hard-charging guitars when the mood called for them. No spacey jams or endless noodling solos, just one great tune after another. Their debut was so chock full o’ goodness that Columbia smothered them in kindness, making the monumental misjudgment of releasing ten of the album’s songs on five singles, all at the same time.

‘8:05′ and ‘Omaha’ are songs for the ages, but confused disc jockeys had no idea which of the five singles to play, and consequently all of them tanked (‘Omaha’ somehow managed to reach #88 on the charts). With one grave misstep, Columbia Records killed Moby Grape’s momentum and made the rest of their career an uphill climb. But that was small potatoes compared to what came next: when Spence broke down Stevenson’s hotel room door with a fire ax and earned six months in the psych ward, The Grape were effectively done. Against all odds, they would go on to release several more very good albums (including the massively underrated 20 Granite Creek, and guitar showcase Grape Jam), but none reached the level of their debut. Even more tragic, Mosley and Spence ended up schizophrenic and homeless, while Moby Grape’s sleazy ex-manager blocked both reunions and reissues by invoking his ownership of the band’s name.

The original cover art of Moby Grape (pictured above) featured Stevenson staring daggers and flipping the bird. Their cursed fates deserved nothing less than two middle fingers…

Listen: 8:05

Listen: Omaha

Listen: Fall On You

Listen: Naked, If I Want To

Weekend Playlist

12 July 2010

“Treating your audience like thieves is absurd. Anyone who chooses to listen to our music becomes a collaborator.” ~ Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, on digital downloads


Mac Gayden | Skyboat


Moby Grape | Moby Grape


Average White Band | Cut The Cake


Various Artists | Lagos Disco Inferno


Jean Michel Jarre | Oxygene


Wilco | Summerteeth


Miles Davis | Volume 1


Jimmy Smith with Stanley Turrentine | Prayer Meetin’


Canned Heat & John Lee Hooker | Hooker ‘N Heat


Mance Lipscomb | Vol. 4
[album cover not pictured]


Can | Ege Bamyasi


Daryl Hall | Sacred Songs


Queen | A Night At The Opera


Joni Mitchell | The Hissing Of Summer Lawns


Olatunji | Drums Of Passion


Hubert Sumlin | Hubert Sumlin’s Blues Party


Masters Of Reality | Sunrise On The Sufferbus


Queens Of The Stone Age | Songs For The Deaf


Ramones | It’s Alive


Paul McCartney & Wings | Wings Greatest

Doubleshot Tuesday: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band/Surrealistic Pillow

6 April 2010

[Today: Talking overrated...]


I take a fair amount of heat in the comments section of this blog – most of it deserved, some of it semi-coherent, drive-by noise that goes on all over the internet. Certain posts have drawn sustained ire over the three-year run of this blog, most particularly those that aren’t kind (although none more than my selections for the greatest Hip-Hop albums – that post practically has gunshots ringing out in the comments section). I’ve come to expect and enjoy the inevitable friction that some of my opinions stir up, and I appreciate passionate fans speaking out, even when their passion is pointed angrily at me.

One of my early posts on this blog was a list of the most overlooked albums of all-time. As an addendum to that post, I included a list of what I considered to be the most overrated albums of all-time (now I would totally make that into its own post, but whatever…). The overrated list included Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run, any Jimmy Buffett (shudder), Dave Matthews (double shudder), The Eagles’ awful Hotel California and The Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness, which unbelievably is the best selling double-album of all-time.

But the two albums on that list that have earned me the harshest fire over the years are The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s… and Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow. The comments from incredulous Beatles fans are there for your enjoyment. I know it’s hard for some people to believe that I can simultaneously like this album and think it’s overrated, but that is the case. Sgt. Pepper’s was important because it elevated the LP to the place of art. The iconic cover image, the lyrics printed inside (the first album to do so), the “concept” behind it – all of this made people take music more seriously, which made musicians take themselves more seriously, which was both a good and bad thing. It’s a great album, but Sgt. Pepper’s is not the greatest album of the 20th century, which means it’s overrated by the army of critics who call it that.

Surrealistic Pillow‘s inclusion on that list has drawn little in the way of reader comments. Instead, it was a red-faced friend of my hippie uncle who lowered the boom on me for daring to besmirch the name of the Airplane. His voice rising an octave or two, he scolded me that they were “a great band that could tear it up on stage.” From there we quickly progressed to I’m-shaking-my-head-sadly-because-you’re-a-worthless-piece-of-crap-who-will-never-get-it. In the years since that conversation, I’ve spent more time on Jeff Air, and I’ve come to think of them as a band whose whole was actually less than its parts. Their stage harmonies were horrible, and they had no business out-selling SF contemporaries like Moby Grape and Quicksilver Messenger Service. But that said, Jefferson Airplane had a few great tunes and some charismatic personalities on board (I’m not crazy about Grace Slick’s voice, but she carried herself like a superstar), and they wouldn’t be on that overrated list if I were compiling it today. Sgt Pepper’s however, still isn’t the greatest album of the 20th century, so it stays put…

Weekend Playlist

4 January 2010

“I couldn’t talk to people face to face, so I got on stage and started screaming and squealing and twitching.” ~ David Byrne


The Black Crowes | Before The Frost…


Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers | The Live Anthology


Kings Of Convenience | Quiet Is The New Loud


Beck | Modern Guilt


Peace Orchestra | Peace Orchestra


Erlend Øye | Unrest


Little Feat | The Last Record Album


Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force | Planet Rock: The Album


Moby Grape | Moby Grape


Blakroc | Blakroc


Blitzen Trapper | Furr


Bobby Womack | The Poet


Traffic | John Barleycorn Must Die


David Byrne | Rei Momo


Bonzo Dog Band | Tadpoles


The Headhunters | Survival Of The Fittest


Soundgarden | Down On The Upside


Neil Young | Time Fades Away


MGMT | Oracular Spectacular

Let’s Put It To A Vote…

1 December 2009

Your vote will help determine next week’s ‘Buried Treasure’ and ‘Masterpiece’ features. One vote per poll per person, polling will be open until midnight PST on Sunday…


Weekend Playlist

3 August 2009

You got to have smelt a lot of mule manure before you can sing like a hillbilly.” ~ Hank Williams

Hank Williams | 40 Greatest Hits
Hank Williams | 40 Greatest Hits

Duke Ellington | Ellington At Newport
Duke Ellington | At Newport

J.J. Johnson | J.J. Inc.
The J.J. Johnson Sextet | J.J. Inc.

Donald Byrd | Long Green
Donald Byrd | Long Green: The Savoy Sessions

Arnett Cobb | Smooth Sailing
Arnett Cobb | Smooth Sailing

Lee 'Scratch Perry | Chicken Scratch
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry | Chicken Scratch

Eugene McDaniels | Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse
Eugene McDaniels | Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse

Moby Grape | The Place And The Time
Moby Grape | The Place And The Time

John Mayall | Blues From Laurel Canyon
John Mayall | Blues From Laurel Canyon

The Modern Lovers | The Modern Lovers
The Modern Lovers | The Modern Lovers

Black Uhuru | Black Sounds Of Freedom
Black Uhuru | Black Sounds Of Freedom

Freddie King | Texas Cannonball
Freddie King | Texas Cannonball

Bonniwell Music Machine | Ignition
Bonniwell Music Machine | Ignition

Gilles Peterson @ Dingwalls
Gilles Peterson & Patrick Force | Sunday Afternoon At Dingwalls
[Album cover not pictured]

Lyrics Born | Everywhere At Once
Lyrics Born | Everywhere At Once

Fania All Stars | Live At Yankee Stadium, Vol. 1
Fania All-Stars | Live At Yankee Stadium, Vol. 1

The Art Farmer Quintet | Blame It On My Youth
The Art Farmer Quintet | Blame It On My Youth

Miles Davis | Nefertiti
Miles Davis | Nefertiti

Dave Alvin | Public Domain: Songs From The Wild Land
Dave Alvin | Public Domain

Bo Diddley | The Chess Box
Bo Diddley | The Chess Box

De La Soul | 3 Feet High And Rising
De La Soul | 3 Feet High And Rising

Kris Kristofferson | The Silver Tongued Devil And I
Kris Kristofferson | The Silver Tongued Devil And I

The Meters | Look-Ka Py Py
The Meters | Look-Ka Py Py

Iron & Wine | The Shepherd's Dog
Iron & Wine | The Shepherd’s Dog

Weekend Playlist

4 May 2009

Like sands through the hourglass, these were the records of our weekend…

Moby Grape | The Place And The Time
Moby Grape | The Place And The Time

Radiohead | In Rainbows
Radiohead | In Rainbows

Paul McCartney | McCartney
Paul McCartney | McCartney

J.J. Cale | Rewind: Unreleased Recordings
J.J. Cale | Rewind: Unreleased Recordings

Traffic | Dear Mr. Fantasy
Traffic | Dear Mr. Fantasy

David Grisman Quartet | Dawgwood
David Grisman Quartet | Dawgwood

Beck | Modern Guilt
Beck | Modern Guilt

Lee Morgan | Tom Cat
Lee Morgan | Tom Cat

Fleet Foxes | Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes | Fleet Foxes

Sly & The Family Stone | Small Talk
Sly & The Family Stone | Small Talk

The Beatles | Rarities
The Beatles | Rarities

Van Morrison | Veedon Fleece
Van Morrison | Veedon Fleece

War | The World Is A Ghetto
War | The World Is A Ghetto

Mac Wiseman | 'Tis Sweet To Be Remembered
Mac Wiseman | ‘Tis Sweet To Be Remembered

Bob Dylan | Highway 61 Revisited
Bob Dylan | Highway 61 Revisited

Kinks | Face To Face
Kinks | Face To Face

Pete Townshend | White City
Pete Townshend | White City

Mighty Imperials | Thunder Chicken
The Mighty Imperials | Thunder Chicken

Dr. John | In The Right Place
Dr. John | In The Right Place

Pete Seeger
Pete Seeger | The World Of Pete Seeger
[Album cover not pictured]

Freddie King | The Best Of Freddie King
Freddie King | The Best Of Freddie King

Neil Young | Massey Hall 1971
Neil Young | Massey Hall 1971

Lyrics Born | Everywhere At Once
Lyrics Born | Everywhere At Once

Jerry Lee Lewis | Live At The Star Club Hamburg
Jerry Lee Lewis | Live At The Star Club Hamburg

The Stooges
The Stooges | Declaration Of War: The Best Of The Funhouse Sessions [Album cover not pictured]

Radio Birdman | Radios Appear
Radio Birdman | Radios Appear

Ween | Chocolate And Cheese
Ween | Chocolate And Cheese

Whiskeytown | Strangers Almanac
Whiskeytown | Strangers Almanac

Stevie Wonder | Innervisions
Stevie Wonder | Innervisions

Weekend Playlist

27 April 2009

Here’s the latest from our turntable:

Freddie King | The Best Of Freddie King
Freddie King | The Best Of Freddie King

Queens Of The Stone Age | Queens Of The Stone Age
Queens Of The Stone Age | Queens Of The Stone Age

Lyrics Born | Everywhere At Once
Lyrics Born | Everywhere At Once

The Temptations | Anthology
The Temptations | Anthology

Bob Marley & The Wailers | Soul Rebels
Bob Marley & The Wailers | Soul Rebel

Burning Spear | Garvey's Ghost
Burning Spear | Garvey’s Ghost

Sublime | Sublime
Sublime | Sublime

The Who | The Who Sings My Generation
The Who | The Who Sings My Generation

Los Lobos | La Pistola Y El Corazon
Los Lobos | La Pistola Y El Corazon

Eric Clapton | 461 Ocean Boulevard
Eric Clapton | 461 Ocean Boulevard

Neil Young & Crazy Horse | Rust Never Sleeps
Neil Young & Crazy Horse | Rust Never Sleeps

Lee Oskar | Lee Oskar
Lee Oskar | Lee Oskar

Various Artists | Om Chilled 2007
Various Artists | Om Chilled 2007

Big Star | #1 Record
Big Star | #1 Record

The Four Tops
The Four Tops | The Best Of The Four Tops
[Cover not pictured]

Moby Grape | The Place And The Time
Moby Grape | The Place And The Time

Kanye West | Late Registration
Kanye West | Late Registration

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band | Will The Circle Be Unbroken
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band | Will The Circle Be Unbroken

Mad River | Mad River
Mad River | Mad River

Donny Hathaway | Live
Donny Hathaway | Live

Al Green | Livin' For You
Al Green | Livin’ For You

Various Artists | Africafunk: The Original Sound Of 1970s Funky Africa
Various Artists | Africafunk: The Original Sound Of 1970s Funky Africa

Horace Silver | Silver's Blue
Horace Silver | Silver’s Blue

Charles Mingus | Mingus Ah Um
Charles Mingus | Mingus Ah Um

Teeny Tiny Tunes – The Cover Art

4 December 2008

My future as a hand model is now secure.

Here’s my latest mix, dedicated to songs under a minute long. In the spirit of its wee little theme, this mix was burned onto mini (200MB) discs and sent out in mini jewel cases. This idea had been kicking around my brain for a couple of years, but The P and I were both concerned that at least one person who got the mix would try to toss it into a front-loading CD player and ruin something, so I stayed away from it, until now.

To anyone out there who got a physical copy of this mix, please be sure to use it in standard tray-style cd players only. As the warning on the CD packaging so eloquently put it, “Please consult with your hardware supplier or manufacturer to confirm compatibility (particularly for front loading CD devices).” In other words, this little disc can mess up your equipment. Listener beware…

A few words about the selections here: I was looking for songs that felt like complete tunes even though they’re short. In other words, “preludes” and “intros” need not apply. The songs included here prove that musical genius can come in small packages. Moby Grape pretty much sum up the spirit of the 60’s in 57 seconds. Jerry Douglas plays a hot pedal steel guitar and packs more into 41 seconds than most musicians get out of four minutes. Elvis Presley managed to influence not one, but two Beastie Boys songs (‘Girls’ and ‘To All The Girls’) with one compact display of horny showmanship. And Joe Walsh has to be the only artist on earth who can fart around for 20 seconds and still fit an entire song comfortably within a minute.

With that, here’s the artwork…

Here’s the front:
Teeny Tiny Tunes | Front

Here’s the front gatefold:
Teeny Tiny Tunes | Front Gatefold

Here’s the inside gatefold:
Teeny Tiny Tunes | Inside Gatefold

Notes read:
TRIUMPHS OF THE TINY…

1) E.B. White’s classic children’s book ‘Stuart Little’
2) The world’s first microprocessor – the Intel 4004
3) ‘Mini-Me’ – the incomparable Verne Troyer
4) 5’5” Spud Webb wins the 1986 NBA Slam Dunk Contest
5) The Mini Cooper is reintroduced, April 2001
6) Everybody loves Leprechauns
7) Monopoly makes it cool to be the thimble

and

This mix has been APPROVED by The Peanut! [editor's note - She was bribed with cat treats]

*****

Here’s the playlist:
1] Eight Lessons For The Guitar – No.1 In A Major (Aguaduo) – 0:58 – Andrés Segovia
2] The Lovely Linda – 0:45 – Paul McCartney
3] Give Peace A Chance (Medley) – 0:58 – John Lennon
4] All Night Laundry Mat Blues – 1:00 – Joe Walsh
5] Jet Pilot – 0:49 – Bob Dylan
6] Uncle Sam – 0:41 – Jerry Douglas
7] Naked, If I Want To – 0:57 – Moby Grape
8] Denver – 0:54 – Willie Nelson
9] Moons – 0:51 – Josh Ritter
10] Dawna – 0:44 – Morphine
11] Embryo – 0:28 – Black Sabbath
12] Her Majesty – 0:23 – The Beatles
13] Wet, Wet, Wet – 0:42 – Badly Drawn Boy
14] Trees Against The Sky – 0:53 – Moondog
15] Street Rap – 0:44 – Busy Bee
16] House Music – 0:51 – The Free Association
17] Martin’s Story – 0:53 – Minutemen
18] Stand Up – 0:52 – Minor Threat
19] Pinocchio (Viaggio In Groppa Al Tonno) – 0:49 – Manu Chao
20] Carnival – 0:55 – Elf Power
21] Seas Of Cheese – 0:42 – Primus
22] Girls! Girls! Girls! (End Title Version) – 0:52 – Elvis Presley
23] It Was A Very Good Beer – 0:40 – Homer Simpson
24] The Relevant Ballads – 0:37 – Destroyer
25] Snowflake Music – 0:38 – Mark Mothersbaugh
26] Bourrée – 0:43 – Julian Bream

20:20 Total Running Time

Weekend Playlist

29 September 2008


The Rolling Stones | Hot Rocks 1964-1971


ZZ Top | Deguello


Mandrill | Composite Truth


Miles Davis | Bitches Brew


Mark Lanegan Band | Bubblegum


Fred Neil | Other Side Of This Life


Willie Colon | El Juicio


Santana | Abraxas


Beck | Mutations


Johnny Winter | Johnny Winter


Moby Grape | 20 Granite Creek


Tom Waits | Nighthawks At The Diner


Howlin’ Wolf | Moanin’ In The Moonlight


Fleetwood Mac | Then Play On


Small Faces | The First Step


The Black Keys | Chulahoma


Various Artists | World Psychedelic Classics 3: Love’s A Real Thing


Lee Morgan | Lee Morgan


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