Sunday, August 12, 2007

And We Danced - Filming the Hooters Video, 7/27/85

WXPN Most Memorable Musical Moment #4

"And We Danced" (picture sleeve above) was released in 1985 as the second single from the album, Nervous Night, the Hooters' major label debut for Columbia Records. Here's the video.

The call went out to the Hooters' mailing list the last week of July 1985 that an audience with cars would be needed on the coming Saturday for a video shoot. Participants would report to the Exton Drive-In by late morning and be prepared to stay all day until after dark.

This stage set, early in the day, was a warm-up for the crowd and probably a dry run for the production team for the night-time performance to be filmed later. The banner backdrop does not appear in the video.

Some of the antique and custom cars that were on hand for the shoot.

The production crew prepares the ticket booth for its shot.

This is the film crew shooting the acoustic intro part of the song.

The acoustic intro was shot twice, first with the guys above playing Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman; this shot appears at the beginning of the song in the video.

The second shot of the same sequence features Rob and Eric (above), and this shot appears at the end of the video, projected up on the drive-in movie screen. The significance of having two other guys appear as Rob and Eric has always eluded me (perhaps they represent Rob and Eric at an older age?), so if you know or think you know the meaning, please post a comment.

Cars line up for the ticket booth shot.

Pierre Robert (tie dyed shirt) of WMMR hangs with the folks. He can be seen in the video during the concession stand sequence. Pierre has been perhaps the Hooters' staunchest supporter in local radio throughout the Hooters' career. Although Michael Tearson is widely regarded as being the first to play the Hooters on WMMR ("Man in the Street", 1980), WIOQ also played the Hooters early and often, giving their first independent single, "Fightin' on the same Side" (1981) plenty of airtime. The live demo "Man in the Street" that was first given to Tearson on cassette, was included as a bonus track on the CD reissue of Amore, the Hooters first, independently released album (1983) which contains eight classic Hooters compositions in their original arrangements.

The Hooters - Man in the Street, bonus track from Amore CD Reissue (2001).

After a lengthy hiatus, the Hooters reunited for a one off concert performance in November of 2001 at the Spectrum to help celebrate Pierre's 20th anniversary on WMMR. This performance led directly to several summer tours of Germany where the Hooters still reign as superstars, beginning in 2003. After a pricey benefit performance at World Cafe Live in late 2005 which was broadcast live on WXPN, the hometown audience finally got their first real Hooters concert in over a decade at the Electric Factory in the summer of 2006. Later this year, the long anticipated reunion of the Hooters will become complete with the release of Time Stand Still, the first new Hooters record since 1993. You can listen to some songs from the new album now on the Hooters' myspace player.

The Hooters - Time Stand Still (2007)

Now back to the video shoot.

Finally, darkness and the filming of the performance part of the video. Above is Dave Uosikkinen on drums.

The concession stand.

Rob Hyman on keyboards and vocals.

It may be hard to believe now after so many years absent from the local live music scene, but at one time the Hooters were perhaps the most accessible of all the great bands and artists to emerge from Philadelphia and make it big. Throughout the early 80's they played often at small clubs like the 23 East Cabaret, the Ambler Cabaret, and the Chestnut Cabaret which as memory serves, were all owned or operated by Steve Mountain who still manages the Hooters through his company, Cornerstone Management. The club shows were distinctively different from the more formal concert hall sets, with each song kicking in hard on the heels of the previous song, building an energy level that was white hot. The combination of ska, reggae, and rock was compelling in their original songs (many great tunes from those days have still never been released) and the occasional well chosen cover songs were a similar delight.

One club show in particular stands out as one of the best live shows I've ever been privileged to experience and that was when the Hooters played the Ripley Music Hall (prior to its conversion to Tower Records) on South Street. The show was a special anniversary celebration of some sort for the band and they brought a ska horn section to perform with them. Their version of "Wireless" that night was the most electrifying performance ever of this great song. "Wireless" has never had a CD release, in fact it's only ever been available as the b-side of the original "Fightin' on the Same Side" single. On the picture sleeve below, they dedicate the tune to the memory of Bob Marley. Have a listen.

The Hooters - Wireless (B-Side of "Fightin' on the Same Side" single, 1981)

After dusting off the old turntable, installing a new cartridge and firing it up for the first time in what seems like 20 years to capture that single b-side, listening to "Wireless" brought me back instantly to why the Hooters' club shows were so different from their concerts. This is music that demands the audience stand up and move to it. Sitting down in a seat for music like this is not an option. Even listening to it now it's impossible to stand still during "Wireless". For all the success Rob and Eric have rightfully achieved as songwriters, producers, guest musicians, guest vocalists, and hit doctors, their ability to truly move an audience with their songs and their stage performance will always seem to me to be their greatest gift.

To complete the picture, here are a few bonus pics from the same time period as the video shoot. These were taken at the 23 East in Ardmore, August 10, 1985. Rock steady, indeed.

(L-R) Rob, Eric, Andy King


John Lilley & Eric

The Hooters - Nervous Night (1985)

The Hooters' website.
The Hooters' myspace.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Now Spinning in Heavy Rotation (in my head)

Out west you might refer to a beach vacation as "going to the coast" but here in Philadelphia when we hit the Jersey beach, we're "down the shore". One of many favorite shore activities is a morning bike ride, no portable music device so as to enjoy the sounds as well as the sights. In the absence of recorded music, the iPod in my head takes over and for the past week the following tunes have been spinning in heavy rotation.

Sharon Little - "Spaceship" from Drawing Circles (2006)

Sharon Little was so completely captivating when I first encountered her performing with partner Scott Sax at a singer-songwriter showcase last month at Puck, that I have since jumped at the chance to see her twice more. She was equally amazing performing with a full band at WXPN's XPoNential Music Festival, opening the last day of the festival on the Marina Stage. The stars aligned a few days later to see her again, this time at Cafe Vivaldi in NYC with Scott and a piano player, also a total knockout performance. Will post the show reviews and photos soon. Sharon has just released a new CD, Perfect Time for a Breakdown which I'm very much looking forward to.

Sharon Little - Perfect Time for a Breakdown (2007)
Sharon Little's myspace.

Mandy Moore - "Extraordinary" from Wild Hope(2007)

Mandy Moore first attempted in 2003 to distance herself from her earlier musical identity as a teen/pop singer with an excellent record of well chosen, well sung, and beautifully produced cover tunes called Coverage. Having already established herself as a successful film actress and model, this year she has set her sights on musical credibility as well with a new album, Wild Hope, on which she had a hand in co-writing all of the songs. Working with talented songwriters such as The Weepies, Chantal Kreviazuk, Rachael Yamagata and Lori McKenna, Mandy has come up with an eminently listenable record. "Extraordinary" ("Now I'm ready to be...extraordinary") is lyrically ludicrous, since she's already been extraordinary for quite some time, with the bonus that she's one young talent that you will most likely never see in the tabloids or in rehab. In any case the song is one of those that sinks its musical hooks into you and won't let go; listen at your own risk. Mandy was also great earlier this year in a showcase performance at Joe's Pub; will post review and pics soon.

Mandy Moore - Coverage (2003)
Mandy Moore's myspace.

Dido - "Sand in My Shoes" from Live at Brixton Academy(2005)

This is a classic end of vacation song, so much the better if you've been to a beach. This live version comes from her amazingly great live DVD which seemed to be tragically under-appreciated upon its 2005 release. The production and sound both in concert and on the live recording is as good as it gets, and Dido's live performance betters her already great studio versions on every song. This is a live DVD to demo your sound system with. Seek it out before it's completely unavailable. Oh, and take the time to enjoy the sunset. Dido is currently recording her third album in Los Angeles, as we speak.

Dido's myspace.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Cream and Blind Faith at the Spectrum, Philadelphia, 1968 & 1969

WXPN Most Memorable Musical Moment #3

(L-R) Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, & Eric Clapton

I could not have foreseen it at the time, but looking back on a concert going history now entering it's fifth decade, my first three concerts were absolutely formative in the development of the music obsession that has driven life as we know it from that point forward. Attending a rock concert pre drivers license was no small feat, that I even got to these shows is the first indication that I knew I was onto something even if I couldn't quite explain it.

I've already detailed my first concert (The Beatles at JFK Stadium) in my MMMM#1. My second and third concerts took place at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, they were less than a year apart, and due to the fact that concerts never end at the time predicted, these concert experiences both ended with a very angry driver stuck waiting in the car outside the venue until the last encore had finished.

I shot both concerts with the same starter camera I took to the Beatles concert, no telephoto lens, just a 35mm rangefinder camera. Looking at the enlarged scans of the slides from these shows, I'm amazed that there are any useful images at all. Apparently I was not able to get as close to the stage for pictures at Blind Faith as I did for Cream, but these pictures clearly reflect that even at a young age I knew that these were events that needed to be documented.

Cream - The Spectrum, Philadelphia, 11/01/68

According to the Slowhand Tourography website, the stop in Philadelphia was close to the end of their farewell tour which followed the Wheels of Firealbum, released in June, 1968. After Philadelphia there were three more USA shows followed by the final two night stand at London's Royal Albert Hall which was videotaped by the BBC for a television special and has been released on DVD as Cream - Farewell Concert.

We don't have an exact setlist for Philadelphia, but again according to the Slowhand Tourography website, the sets on this tour consisted of the following songs:
  • White room
  • Sunshine of your love
  • Crossroads
  • Spoonful
  • I'm so glad
  • Sitting on top of the world
  • Politician
  • Deserted cities of the heart
  • Traintime
  • Passing the time
  • Toad

The stage for this show was located at the center of the floor of the Spectrum, it was round and it slowly revolved. This staging technique was soon abandoned in favor of a stage at one end of the arena. Yes revived the circular revolving stage about a decade later for their 1979 tour. The stage arrangement on this tour had Jack Bruce on the left, playing bass and handling lead vocals, Ginger Baker in the middle on drums, and Eric Clapton on the right playing guitar.

As the stage revolved, the above shot was taken from stage left, slightly behind Clapton, looking across the stage. Cream took the seemingly simplistic format of power trio, electric guitar, bass and drums and excelled on any number of levels, not the least of which was Clapton's electric blues excursions. The audiences on this farewell tour were treated to the work of a master guitarist who earned with his playing, every one of the often ridiculous accolades that he accumulated during his tenure in Cream. Here is all 16:43 of "Spoonful" recorded live at Bill Graham's Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco on March 10, 1968. Even though the Wheels of Fireliner notes list the live tracks as "Live at the Fillmore", numerous internet sources agree that only "Toad" was recorded at the Fillmore West, the other three tracks on the live album of Wheels of Firewere recorded at Winterland.

Cream - Spoonful (live at Winterland) from Wheels of Fire

In this shot of the back of the stage which faced half the crowd at any given time, a guitar tech replaces a broken guitar string for Clapton.

Above, Ginger Baker pounds out the drum solo during "Toad" which is basically an endless drum solo, an exercise that I've always felt fell into the "less is more" category. Baker's head is leaning to the right in this shot and he's looking down. Below, Jack Bruce wails on harp during "Traintime".

Opening the show was the band Sweet Stavin' Chain, a local Philly favorite whose excellent combination of blues and rock, "Stormy Monday Blues (Call it Stormy Monday)" may have been overshadowed by their popular novelty rendition of "Teddy Bears Picnic". Led by guitarist Danny Starobin, Sweet Stavin Chain was the house band at Starobin's Germantown club, Hecate's Circle. They made one and only one album which was released on Cotillion (div. Atlantic) in 1970.

Blind Faith - The Spectrum, Philadelphia, 7/16/69

Helping to define the term "supergroup", Blind Faith combined the talents of guitarist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker from Cream with Steve Winwood from Traffic on keyboards and vocals. Rick Grech completed the lineup on bass. Critical assessment at the time was mixed, and Blind Faith was probably doomed from the start by the enormous commercial pressure generated by mountains of money and too short a period of gestation to develop a group repertoire.

The quality of the songs on their one recording holds up even now, but the touring with less than an hour's worth of material, playing for huge audiences that cheered regardless of the quality of performance, not to mention the occasional riot, took their toll. By the end of the tour, Clapton had built a relationship with opening act Delaney & Bonnie to the point that his next job after Blind Faith was the much more anonymous role of guitarist sideman with Delaney & Bonnie and Friendswhich led directly to the formation of Derek & the Dominoeswhich included several players from the Delaney & Bonnie band.

The Philadelphia show was the third U.S. date of the Blind Faith tour, only having previously played two shows in London and an eight show tour of Scandinavia in June of 1969. The London shows were released last year on DVD as Blind Faith - London Hyde Park 1969.Their first U.S. show at Madison Square Garden, NYC four nights earlier included a half hour melee when the crowd rushed the stage and tangled with the police, in the process destroying Winwood's piano and Baker received a police billy club to the head according to an excellent Blind Faith biography written by Bruce Eder for the All Music Guide. The Spectrum crowd was comparatively well-behaved and there were no fisticuffs that I can recall. For Blind Faith, the Spectrum used the same circular revolving stage as they did for Cream.

For the music enthusiast in 1969, the music and the excitement of seeing Blind Faith perform live, totally lived up to the excessive hype. Again, we don't have an exact set list for Philadelphia, but it most likely did not stray far if at all from the lineup of songs that were performed on this tour:
  • Had to cry today
  • Can't find my way home
  • Sleeping in the ground
  • Well all right
  • Presence of the Lord
  • Do what you like
  • Under my thumb
  • Means to an end
  • Crossroads
  • Sunshine of your love (Encore w/ Delaney & Bonnie)
With the possible exception of "Do What You Like", which is really just a vehicle for solos by each member of the group, this was a great set and it was worth all the baggage to see these icons (even then) play together. "Sleeping in the Ground" is a tune that was recorded for but not released on the Blind Faith album. The tour performances of this song are highly regarded for the searing Clapton solos. Here is a version that was included on the double CD Deluxe Edition reissue of the Blind Faith album.

Blind Faith - Sleeping in the Ground (from Blind Faith, Deluxe Edition)

Bonnie Bramlett of Delaney & Bonnie

The Blind Faith U.S. tour had two opening acts. British group Free ("All Right Now") and Taste which featured the blues/rock guitar of Ireland's Rory Gallagher alternated cities to open the show. The Philadelphia show opened with Taste. Playing second at all the shows was Delaney & Bonnie, offering up a decidedly more American sounding mix of soul, rock and blues.