Month: May 2014

ARTICLE ABOUT Bob Ezrin FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, AUGUST 18, 1973

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This time I have a special treat for many of you – An interview with Producer extra-ordinaire Bob Ezrin. And WHAT an interview it is! Very revealing in many ways, and I really do hope his attitude towards “faggots” may have changed a bit since 1973.
Anyway – Bob is a favourite producer of mine, and any record he has a hand in is a potential classic. Love his extensive work with Alice Cooper and the records he produced for Kiss, Berlin, Hanoi Rocks, Kansas and Pink Floyd. Enjoy…

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The Square and the Faggots

Nick Kent talks to the man behind Lou Reed and Alice

“Detachment. Yes, that`s it exactly. We were both talking about that. Lou said last night: `This album is an exercise in detachment and apathy`. I mean, that sense of detachment is something most people would give their left nuts to attain – and it just oozes out of Louis so naturally.”

Bob Ezrin`s getting excited now. He`s had maybe three hours sleep over the past 48 hours and he`s lounging around one of the control rooms in Morgan Studios, waiting for Lou Reed and the boys to appear. Outside in the restaurant, members of Black Sabbath wander around looking slightly redundant while the usual hordes of roadies sit around getting drunk.
Just over the road, Yes are working on their current worldshattering epic masterwork.
Here in Studio A, Ezrin and Reed are currently working within a deadline of maybe two weeks. That`s tolerable though, because Ezrin claims to have finally found the perfect medium for Reed`s seemingly-jaded brilliance to florish once more, and both he and Lou seem positively radiant at the immediate fruits of their relationship.

“Sure I`m acquainted with all that `Lou Reed – a shadow of his former self` stuff. I believed it myself, right up until now. But Louis has always been misunderstood, particularly by his producers. He`s not a rock`n`roller or really even a songwriter as much as he is a dramatic poet.
“When I showed the lyrics of the new songs to my wife, she immediately drew a parallel with the writer Lawrence Durrell: the way in which Durrell in a sentence captures a whole landscape, an essence, y`know….
“In one line Lou Reed can convey a whole space, a flavour, an attitude. He`s almost a 70s street consciousness version of Jack Kerouac. You know the way the record company put him out as the Phantom of Rock? That was so ridiculous, because he`s so tangible, like a James Dean image – no, not so much James Dean, more Montgomery Clift.”

Ezrin is explaining the motives surrounding his own approach to the task of producing Lou Reed. He agrees with the statement that Reed`s last two albums were badly conceived.
“I feel that both of the producers treated Lou Reed like a rock`n`roll performer, which is wrong. I mean if you put Louis in a studio with a rock`n`roll band he`ll automatically sing loud, which is disastrous because his voice isn`t suited for that.
“The one track that captured Lou Reed for me – and it was Bowie`s only real triumph during his production – was `Walk On The Wild Side`. Perfect. The backing track portrayed the street – it was perfect sub-scoring and very much subordinate to the voice, so when Louis says `the coloured girls`, they suddenly appear.
“But on `Transformer` I thought those gay consciousness songs were terribly overdone. I don`t even want to speculate on the amount of influence that was exerted on Lou in that direction, and you know what I mean by that. We weren`t there, so who`s to say what went down”.

“Louis first came to see me up in Toronto. Dennis Katz, his manager, contacted me and asked me if I was interested – which I was, though I had certain reservations.
“Anyway we talked, discussed the tunes and storylines, threw ideas around and pretty much left with a good general understanding of how we were going to treat it, which is to incorporate this whole cinematic aspect and style. A total filmic approach.

“Lou claimed that the meeting turned him onto a whole new style of writing, which was bullshit. Lou Reed always writes in the same style and it`s great. Actually the first time he played me the songs – I`ll have to admit this and I don`t think he`ll mind me saying it – they sounded so terrible I felt like just giving up and telling him to find another producer.
“But then I took the lyrics home and it just all started to piece together. Right now, rather than being a shadow of his former self I think we`ve just discovered Louis` real identity and now it`s all down to channeling it out in the right way.”

The above words probably sound incredibly glib until one becomes acquainted with the fact that Bob Ezrin currently packs a fair credibility among those-who-know (the presence of a striking array of musicians – Jack Bruce, Aynsley Dunbar, Steve Winwood et al – now working on Reed`s album has not a little to do with Ezrin`s exceptional reputation as a producer within the business).
His list of actual production credits is small and includes as many commercial failures as successes – albums like Flo and Eddie`s second effort, a one-off record from a Michigan power trio called Ursa Major and Mitch Ryder`s Detroit (a disgracefully underrated work, more than worth the effort of searching out from the reject piles) sold an almost negligible amount.

But then that`s all more than counter-balanced by the fact that Ezrin has probably been more responsible than anyone else for transforming Alice Cooper from a band of musically dire dementoids whose appeal was more or less confined to peeping toms and such characters into some of the finest and most musically viable trash on the boards.
Now there MUST be a few neat stories to be gleaned from the aforementioned shift of stylistic emphasis. Mr. Ezrin, if you please:
“The Coopers were my first ever project. I was hired by Nimbus 9 (a production company formed in Canada) basically as a management consultant, not as a producer – I did stuff like Coke jingles, never anything like a group.
“Anyway I went up to the office one day and everyone was in hysterics. The cover of `Easy Action` (Alice Cooper`s second abortive attempt at making an album) was laying around – and we were all really straight guys y`know – I mean, I was never really that much into rock`n`roll. I had arrived at it more or less through things like Simon and Garfunkel.

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“Anyway we put on the album and just broke up laughing. We didn`t know if Alice Cooper was a guy or a chick and eventually it became a standing joke around the office that if anyone messed up that week we`d be forced to go and work with Alice Cooper.
A persistent Alice Cooper road manager, commissioned by manager Shep Gordon to get Jack Richardson – another Nimbus producer – for Cooper`s future recordings put the heat on Ezrin in order to get him down to see the band.
“I wasn`t interested in the least. I hated the record, but this guy made my life such hell with his persistence that I reckoned that I`d go and see `em just so they`d get off my back.
“So I went to meet them at Toronto. I walked into their hotel and….these five guys – everyone of `em is a faggot, everyone of `em and they`re all after me. I can tell. The roadmanager is a faggot, the roadies are faggots.
“I`m sitting there in my bluejeans, with my short-hair, shaking inside, man, and here`s this guy Alice Cooper – his hair is stringy and down to his shoulders, his pants are so tight I can actually see his penis through the crotch – they`re slit at the side. He`s talking with a slight lisp….
“I just could not handle it. Anyway they said, `We`re great and we want a producer`. Finally we parted company and I was like so relieved. It was such a horrendous experience – I was such a straight guy before all this started – and I just forgot”.

More harassment by the Cooper minions forced Ezrin to witness the band at Max`s Kansas City.
“After the gig I went backstage. I didn`t know why, but I just thought the show had been great, and I went up to the band and said, `I think you guys can make hit records`, and they said, `That`s good – we think you can too`. It was a nice punk start.
“Actually I was still pretty scared because I still believed they were all faggots. It was just a riff someone had decided on as an image, but I`d just had those album covers to go on before so I didn`t know better.
“Anyway I moved to Detroit into a shoddy motel – hated Detroit – and the guys just crowded into the bedroom in the morning. We started to talk and they played me tapes. THE TAPES WERE HORRIBLE. And I mean, horrible! They said, `We like this sound, can we get it in the studio`. I almost threw up.
“The first thing we ever did was `Eighteen`. Their original arrangement was eight minutes long and had a lot of excess bullshit. You see, my job was first to transform stage arrangements into record arrangements, which was something they`d never bothered to consider. Ultimately it was a great rush to hear the 2 min. 38 secs. version. I knew it would be a hit from then on.”

“Eighteen” actually did become a hit, reaching No. 18 in the American charts, and is still arguably Cooper`s best single to date, sharing that accolade with “School`s Out”.
“Love It To Death”, the album that followed, was both their first critical and financial success.
The Coopers` days as an esoteric, bizarro trash delight were over, and Ezrin was most definitely their mentor in this respect. From then on, his work in the studio became more complex and demanding. Even session guitarists were often added to beef up the Coopers` sound.
“Steve Hunter played on a lot of `Billion Dollar Babies`. He`s my favourite guitarist and if you listen, there`s just no one else who could have played lead on `Generation Landslide` or that solo in `Sick Things` but him.
“Rick Derringer played the stinging guitar solo that I buried so effectively on `Under My Wheels` and the rhythm guitar on `Yeah, Yeah, Yeah`. Derringer was the first outsider to be involved in the Coopers` recordings. Glenn (Buxton) had problems – it was a woman or something – and he was just not learning his guitar parts.
“Finally it came to an ultimatum and one day the band walked into the studios in Chicago and saw this guy tuning up. Now Derringer`s a pro – it took him 15 seconds to tune up, and it took the Coopers two hours on average to tune up in a studio. Literally.

“Anyway they all watched him just do it and they just said `Shit`. That experience gave them a far more realistic approach to music.
“Actually in the studio they`re very humble, much easier to get on with than you`d imagine, quite open to suggestions.
“Dick Wagner was another guitarist we brought in – for `My Stars` as it happens, which is pretty complex with all those chord changes. Actually Wagner and I wrote `I Love The Dead`. Alice threw some lyrics in. They bought him out so don`t print that – no, print it. He deserves it as much as anyone.
“But mostly it`s the Coopers themselves playing on the records. Alice is always there on lyrics and he can write good melodies. Mike Bruce comes up with a lot of riffs. Actually it was Glenn Buxton who worked out the chord sequence of `School`s Out`.”
And how strong is the Coopers` singles consciousness in the studios?
“Alice has a strong sense of single consciousness. The rest of the band have a very strong sense of money….Perfectionists? No, they`re doing it to make money.
“Rock isn`t art. Yeah, it is trash – good trash entertainment and a good way to get rich. I`m reconciled to that belief to the point that I don`t even want to think about it.

“Technically, what I do isn`t trash. But I have no pretense about the rest of it. I mean, the Coopers aren`t really musicians or a rock`n`roll band. You can`t say that to `em now – they`ll be very upset but primarily they`re theatre. And the trick is – to make the music theatre.
“I don`t think it`s what Alice claims – which is to bring the music up to a point where audiences don`t think of us as purely theatrical. I`m just bringing the music up to the theatre level and injecting a little bit of myself into it, a lot of myself actually but it`s just my taste.
“I think that`s what a producer`s job is – to decide what should be done and what shouldn`t be used and if the group can`t cut it you should supply it for them.
“That`s the role I`ve always played for the Coopers and I`ve always been very careful to stick with that identity.”

By now, the studio has started to fill out. Aynsley Dunbar has appeared with a dour-faced Trevor Boulder in tow while guitarist Steve `Decator Gator` Hunter stumbles in. Lou Reed himself is in attendance now, very subdued, having had no sleep the night before.
He says nothing, a Scotch in his hand, while the play-back of the previous night`s work which features a truly dynamic spontaneous jam between Mssrs. Dunbar, Hunter and Jack Bruce finishes on the track “Caroline Says”.
The track “Lady Day” comes on next and Ezrin frantically goes through an impression of all the embellishments. The sound, with heavy, almost Procol Harum-styled keyboards and a powerful chorus, is reminiscent of Kurt Weil but in a cinematic as opposed to a theatrical mode.
This feeling follows through for “Men Of Good Fortune”, a marvellous Reed song perfectly defining through the lyrics and studied vocal attitude that sense of cold detachment which has always been Lou Reed`s greatest attribute and calling-card for greatness.

The track “The Bed” may well be the stand-out achievement of `Berlin`: a tragic ballad in the epic tradition, it sounded, from the rough tape I heard, Reed`s finest individual work since he left the Velvets and a remarkable departure from anything he has been involved in before. (Throughout the playbacks, Ezrin is passionately explaining how an orchestra is going to appear at such-and-such a point while a children`s chorus will be added to certain tracks.(We`re going to use the Ronettes on the chorus of “Caroline Says”).
Reed manages a slight smile. He looks healthier than since I last met him and the music I heard from the “Berlin” sessions leads me to believe that those of us who cast Reed off as a wasted talent will need to drastically re-think our policy.

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Elton John – A big star in 1973, but no official fan club? This is what happens….

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Mick Jagger, Nazareth, Stackridge, Keith Moon, Mott the Hoople, James Taylor and Carly Simon, Robin Trower.

This edition is sold!

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ARTICLE ABOUT 10cc FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, AUGUST 11, 1973

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

The last time I printed an article here, a fellow with the name of Thom Hickey made a comment that among other things said that he wanted to see some articles written by a certain journalist. As some of you have noticed earlier, I like hits on my blog making my counter go “whoop”, but now it seems that I like comments too. So here it is, Mr. Hickey, a fine article by your favourite journalist covering the then new band called 10cc.

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When I tell you that a POP band – a “singles band” – has put together one of the best ROCK albums in several years, you`re going to laugh in my face.
So wrote Ian MacDonald in his NME review of new album from 10cc. He`s still trying to convert the doubters.

Ying Tong Iddle Ipo

Can you afford to laugh – and miss out on 10cc?

Remember “Neanderthal Man”? You know – “I`m a Neanderthal man, you`re a Neanderthal girl, so let`s make Neanderthal love in this Neanderthal world”. T.S. Eliot has nothing on that, right?
Well, that was 10cc. Or rather, that was Hotlegs, which was three-quarters of what now is 10cc.
Lol Creme, Kevin Godley and Eric Stewart of Manchester stopped calling themselves Hotlegs a couple of years ago and joined forces with Graham Gouldman, songwriter, also of Manchester.
Having all been close friends since secondary school, it seemed the logical thing to do – and, now that the quartet are beginning to register as 10cc, the logic of the situation proceeds unabated.
They`ve had two hit singles; now they`re having a hit album; next they`re (hopefully) having a hit stage-act. No problems. No surprises. Except that 10cc are a pop-group, aren`t they? They have hit singles all the time – but hit albums? Hit stage-acts?

“I`m a Neanderthal man, you`re a Neanderthal girl, ying tong iddle i po…”
When Lol Creme and Kevin Godley were at art-school together in the mid-sixties, Graham Gouldman was writing hits for the Yardbirds and the Hollies. “We were doing the odd bit of session work at the time,” Creme recalls. “But Graham was bigtime. We were just playing about.”
When, in 1968, Godley and Creme emerged from college, Gouldman was big-timing in America, working directly for publishers and producers, while Eric Stewart was setting up the brand new Strawberry Studios at Manchester in financial partnership with Gouldman and in technical harness with engineer Pete Tattersall.
Creme and Godley went in with Stewart, contributing towards the studio`s as yet scanty equipment, and, during the course of messing about with Strawberry`s 4-track desk in 1969, “Neanderthal man” happened.

In the wake of this success the trio, now known as Hotlegs, quickly got into improving the studio and recording an album with full orchestra, “Hotlegs Think School Stinks”, re-released in slightly altered form as “Song” in 1971.
On either occasion did it raise any interest and the only thing it will probably be remembered for is the cover, the concept of which was “borrowed” by Alice Cooper for “School`s Out”.
“After that,” says Creme, “we got a bit seduced by the facilities in the studio and stopped doing our own stuff so that we could concentrate on producing other people. It wasn`t until Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues suggested we go live as a group that we snapped out of it.”
The creative lull has had its spin-off, however, in that all four of 10cc are now very experienced in production. The fruits of work on such as “The Man From Nazareth” and Rameses` “Space Hymns” can be heard on the group`s current album which is in every respect brilliantly put together while, simultaneously, representing only two weeks` studio time from the first backing-track to the final mix.

“The adrenalin was really flowing that fortnight,” Creme remembers. “Most bands get about six hours actual work done for every two days in the studio, but we were putting in sixteen solid hours a day. We worked quickly and carefully and it was very intense.”
Three weeks after “10cc” was completed, it was on the market – a superhigh production speed which the band attribute to their label`s director, Jonathan King – probably the best record executive in Britain, Creme reckons, “if not the world.”

King it was to whom the band sent “Donna”, soon after recording it with their Gouldman-augmented line-up last year. It took him only two weeks to sign and name the group and get “Donna” out on his UK imprint.
And it was largely due to his perseverance that “Rubber Bullets” overcame first a BBC ban and then the Corporation`s insistence that the record be cut by a full minute, thus depriving it of the chorus-repeat without which singles are supposed to have no commercial chance.
But the ultimate success of “Rubber Bullets” was musical, not promotional, and the fact that its comparative complexity could achieve popularity, notwithstanding the enforced elimination of its one obvious commercial device, holds great significance for both the British singles market and the rock industry as a whole.

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Back at the continuing story of 10cc we find Graham Gouldman returning from the States and joining his old mates at Strawberry Studios, providing the band with a bassist and an extra voice, as well as another source of material.
“Kev and I felt we outnumbered Eric in Hotlegs,” says Lol Creme. “We felt obliged to like his stuff, which he did mostly on his own, and he ours. We were into lighter things and thinking in terms of complicated structures and orchestrations, while he was doing heavy, bluesy stuff.
“These days he`s got Graham to write with and the balance is better both for the band and for helping each other out with the composing side.
“For example, `Speed Kills` started out as a backing-track that Eric did during the Hotlegs period and which he kept adding new guitar-tracks to over the next eighteen months. It was getting heavier and heavier and we had to reinforce the studio several times!
“Eventually Kev and I did a vocal line and some lyrics to go over the top of it, and it ended up on the album.”

The first track recorded by the four-piece line-up was a Gouldman-Stewart song, “Waterfall”, originally intended to be the group`s first single (with “Donna” on the flip), but finally released as the B-side of “Rubber Bullets”.
“We weren`t quite sure what 10cc was going to be at the time,” says Godley. “After `Donna` was a hit, we put out `Johnny Don`t Do It` which was a similar 50s thing. We were thinking in terms of a formula, I suppose.
“Anyway The Shangri-Las` `Leader Of The Pack` got re-released at the same time and, dealing with virtually identical subject-matter, completely eclipsed `Johnny`. After that we had to work out what the band stood for from scratch.
“It`s hard to define what 10cc is. It`s what we do at a given moment, probably. It`s also our particular form of humour and I think it`s a reaction against the introverted `corridors-of-my-mind` stuff we`ve been getting in the last two or three years.

“And it`s not just straightforward silliness or parody, either. The quotes and allusions sometimes arise because the work of artists we admire gets so deeply embedded in our minds that we can`t help coming out sounding like, say, the Beach Boys or Stevie Wonder.
“I mean, when we get into something, we really get into it.
“Like `Rubber Bullets` wasn`t a simple parody of the Beach Boys. Obviously it`s in their musical territory, but it has its own existence. Most groups tend to sound vaguely like other groups at any given point, but that`s neither copying nor sending-up – it`s absorbing.”
“You assimilate what you like,” Creme agrees. “What comes out the other end is as much the product of happy accident and coincidence as it is of planning – although we do work things out very carefully.”

The resulting music is fresh, fast, tight and short, recalling the long lost days of `Revolver` and `Smiley Smile` when it was all down to saying it without supernumary adjectives and getting it right first time – a working atmosphere that could do with revival in the sprawling Seventies.
“Once you`re in a studio and behind a 16-track desk, there`s a great temptation to go on and on twiddling knobs and getting further and further away from the original music.
“With us, we all know each other well enough to be able to call a halt if one of us is getting carried away. I`ll tell Kev to piss off if I don`t like his ideas and vice versa.
“We have `truth sessions`. Someone`ll ring up and say: `I`m leaving`. And the others`ll say: `Oh yeah.` And they`ll call a meeting at 11 o`clock to sort out the grievances. It usually ends up with a whole string of insults and that clears the air – after which we can all get on with the job.”

As to the future, 10cc are getting their road-show together and releasing “The Dean And I”, a track from the album that`s even more subtly structured than “Rubber Bullets”, as their next single.
In their ambivalent position they`re not very sure what their audience will turn out to consist of, so they`re concentrating on making sure that the stage-act is foolproof in any situation, putting a lot of effort into duplicating the faultless sound of their recordings (“As opposed,” says Creme, wryly, “to throwing ourselves around the stage in silver lame”), and perfecting a new instrument which Godley and Creme have recently patented.
There`ll be another drummer, partly to allow Godley to do his share of the singing and partly because they like the sound of two drummers. New material, designed for the live situation, is being composed – to be recorded for their next album in a couple of months` time.

They`d like to influence a slight return to the controlled and restrained aesthetics of writing, recording, playing and producing that existed around 1966, but most of all, says Creme, “we`d like to take the competitiveness out of pop.
“We`re not trying to be better than anybody else and we don`t want to find ourselves in the situation of being compared, either favourably or otherwise, with other bands.
“Once comparisons start, the knocking starts too – and then the music gets lost. If we can help to bring entertainment back, without being trivial, then we`ll be well pleased.”
You won`t be the only ones, gentlemen.

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Let`s have a quick look at the charts again….

 

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: David Bowie, Pam Nestor, Eric Burdon, Status Quo, The Who, Reviews from the London Music Festival, Led Zeppelin.

 

This edition is sold!

 

 

 

 

ARTICLE ABOUT David Bowie FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, AUGUST 4, 1973

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. I have been very busy at work, travelling and such…but I hope to resume normal service from here on. Have fun!

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Bowie-ing out at the Chateau

Charles Shaar Murray with the main man in France. Work on new projects, reports Murray, is going ahead deliciously in the dead of night.

“The future is very open-ended, actually,” said David Bowie, carefully disassociating a quarter of an inch of ash from his Gitane. “I can`t tell you much about what I`m doing because I`m not really too sure yet. There`s not much to add to what you already know.”

Bowie is perched on a chair behind the control board of the studio in the Chateau d`Herouville, about to start another day`s work on his “Pin Ups” album. He`s slightly less than immaculate: slightly stubbled, hair in disarray, face drawn and even whiter than usual, wearing a scoop-necked blue tricot and cream coloured Oxford bags.
Working togs in fact.
Superstars` finery is generally unsuited to the private labours of painstakingly assembling a rockanroll record, and the rustic elegance of the Chateau blends uneasily with such fripperies. After all, it`s buried in the French countryside half an hour out of Paris, and it`s the sort of place where you find a couple of dead daddy longlegses in your toothmug.

Work continues apace. Mick Ronson, the guitarist who launched a thousand fan letters and a similar number of plaudits from knowledgeable folks in several countries, is never seen without felt-tip pen and sheets of manuscript paper.
Even at breakfast, Ronson is working on string arrangements or dreaming up vocal harmony lines. Unlike some members of our merry cast, Ronno has not spent several hours of each night carousing in the bistros and discos of the City Of Light. In fact, he hasn`t been out of the Chateau grounds in three weeks.

Mike Garson and Trevor Bolder are long back in England, but Bowie and Ronson are putting in absurd amounts of studio time with Ken Scott, co-producer supreme. Aynsley Dunbar has completed all his percussion tracks, but he`s still around, wearing a magnificently studded and rhinestoned denim jacket with his name emblazoned on the back, and so many rings and bracelets that he clanks when you shake hands with him.

Today is Vocals Day. The instrumental tracks for the album are all but completed, barring a guitar here and some strings and a Moog there, and so it`s time for Bowie to put the lead vocals on. Apart from a meal break, he, Ronson and Scott are up in the studio well over 12 hours.
“Pin Ups” is Bowie`s tribute to the club rock of the `60s, and the items on the agenda include such classics of yesteryear as “Here Comes The Night”, “See Emily Play” and “Shapes Of Things.” He stands in the studio, hands clasped to his earphone, stopping the take if he`s dissatisfied with his intonation or phrasing.
Between takes, he prowls over to the piano and plays over his part before going for another try, bending the melody line in a slightly different direction each time, curtly snapping instructions over the studio intercom.
On “See Emily Play”, Bowie embellishes the Floyd`s old hit with a vocal device that would have Syd Barrett gurgling in sheer ecstasy. He and Ronson record their vocal harmonies over and over again at different speeds, with the same harrowing culuminative technique produced at the climax of “The Bewlay Brothers.”

Some of the songs are performed in the style of the mid-`60s, like the semi-legendary Pretty Things tune “Rosalyn” with its coarse high-energy vocal and rubbery Bo Diddley guitar.
Others get – uh – revamped. Billy Boy Arnold`s “I Wish You Would”, which had the signal honour of appearing on the first ever Yardbirds` single, gets sprucely turned out with some eerie moog work and a manic, squealing fiddle solo from a moustachioed gent called Michel, who works in a French band called Zoo.
“Can you bring the bass drum up a bit, Ken?” asks Dunbar. Scott mimes surprise.
“All right, Aynsley,” he says, “You don`t have to prove that you`re here.” Dunbar repeats his request.
“So that`s what`s keeping the beat.”
“It certainly ain`t the piano,” retorts the drummer.

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At the other end of the studio, Bowie and Ronson are rehearsing yet another harmony. They go in to record it, Ronson balancing a singularly improbable white hat on top of his cans.
The backing track kicks off, and as Ronson leans into the mike to start singing, the hat falls off. With perfect coordination, he scoops it up and still comes in on time. Unfortunately, Bowie has collapsed laughing and it`s a good five minutes before he`s in a fit state to sing again.
Meanwhile, social life continues apace. The Chateau is blessed with a lame excuse for a telephone switchboard that reduces Bowie`s assistant Gloria to impotent fury and a chef of dubious eccentricity. One of his favourite tricks is to dress up as Charlie Chaplin and provide before-dinner entertainment.
For after-dinner entertainment there`s a football machine, heavily patronised by Ken Scott, engineer Andy, equipment man Pete and Aynsley Dunbar.
During-dinner entertainment generally involves badinage of varying intensity, and the two favourite butts for the humour are Stuey the bodyguard and the unfortunate Ronson, still working away with the manuscript paper.

Apart from “Pin Ups”, there are also the tapes of that last Hammersmith gig to work on. Without exception, each live track cuts its studio original completely dead, and the guest appearance of Jeff Beck on “Jean Genie” and “Around And Around” was definitely an inspiration.
When the famous retirement speech comes up on the speakers, Bowie grimaces slightly. To say that his face shows mixed emotions is definitely an understatement.
The session finally breaks up at around three in the morning. Ronson goes up to bed, still declaring his intention to write some more string parts. Bowie commandeers the piano in the dining room to work on a new song, and by eight o`clock he`s still working.
He genuinely doesn`t know how to stop. After all, there`s another album to come after the live tapes (provisionally entitled “Bowie-ing Out”) are released, and already there`s a backing track laid down for one of the songs, not to mention the production of Mick Ronson`s solo album, and the movie, and God knows what else…

One of the week`s more amusing interludes was provided by the unexpected arrival of a gentleman from one of our competitors, who made himself just a mite unpopular. “We were talking,” said Bowie, “and he had a tape-recorder concealed inside his bag. I felt like telling him to bring it out and put it on the table, but he would have been so embarrassed.” Life is indeed hard.
“Pin Ups” sounds like it`s going to be a fine album. Bowie`s abilities as a composer and as a performer have rather tended to overshadow his skills as an interpretive singer, and his affectionate look back at the rock of the `60s should bring back a lot of goodtime memories for those who were around in the heyday of the Yardbirds, the Who, the Kinks, Them, the original Pretty Things and the Floyd, and quite an eye-opener for those who weren`t.

And as an additional embellishment, there might even be a new version of “The London Boys”, a `60s Bowie tune that was a conceptual forerunner and spiritual ancestor to “All The Young Dudes”.
It may not be the latest in the basic series of Bowie albums, but it`s gonna be fun, and in rockanroll, fun is its own reward.

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These were a golden time for rock operas – the charge led by Roger Daltrey and The Who!

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: The Faces, Don Powell (Slade), Them, Strawbs, The Osmonds, Dave Greenslade, Review of the London Music Festival, The Wailers, Bill Bruford (King Crimson), Peter Green.

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ARTICLE ABOUT Alice Cooper FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, JUNE 30, 1973

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

I wonder what the writer, Mr. Murray, would make of the manufactured artists of today? If he thought that Alice Cooper was “a fake” in 1973, I guess every artist would be deemed so today. Interesting article, and even though I don`t agree with all of it – here it is!

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Hype Hype Hooray

Charles Shaar Murray searches for snakes in the grass at New York`s Madison Square Garden

Let`s assume, just for the purposes of argument, that you`re a sensitive soul filled with love for your fellow humans, and that you really get off on beauty and loveliness. Let us further assume that you believe that rock and roll is the key to the solution of all the ills of this earth, and that its divine mission is to dispense good vibes to all and sundry. Can music save your mortal soul? If your answer is in the affirmative, kindly leave the room, because you`re really gonna feel out at an Alice Cooper show.
From peace and love to mimed necrophilia and baby-killing in a mere six years. You just have to admire the resilience and adaptability of American rock audiences. Alice Cooper has buried Woodstock, and how you feel about Alice Cooper relates directly to how seriously you took what Emmett Grogan refers to in his vitally important book “Ringolevio” as “the love shuck.”
Did you fall for it? Did you think that Woodstock was the most important event in the history of the universe? Did you wear flowers in your hair? Forget it, because you got burned.

Did you think that the youth culture was going to spread through all levels of society, and infuse all the politicians and all the straights and all the soldiers with an overriding, all-pervading love vibration? Sucker. Who won the last American election? It sure wasn`t Alice Cooper, but it might as well have been.
Paul Kantner has pointed out that what an act brings to an audience is what the act gets back, but it ain`t quite that simple. Different bands bring out different aspects of the same audience`s collective personality, and it took Alice Cooper to bring out bloodlust, greed and general viciousness, off comes the mask. What is finally most important about Alice is not the music, or the show, but the effect that the band have on their audiences.

Let`s take it down to basics. Alice`s band are competent, but hardly inspired musicians. Their parts are simple but effective, and they`re played efficiently and cleanly, but no way are they the Mahavishnu Orchestra, or even the MC5 or the Stooges. They do what they`re supposed to, and that`s about it.
Alice himself is a better than average hard rock singer, and a less than impressive harmonica player. Their real musical strength is that they write good songs. They`ve come up with two classic singles “I`m Eighteen” and “School`s Out”, which is two more classic singles than most bands could ever produce.
Those songs are real teen anthems, expressing and crystallising feelings that are in the minds of most young people on the planet at this moment, defining and endorsing what kids feel, but haven`t really analysed or articulated. Just like “My Generation” or “Summertime Blues.” Also, you can dance to `em.

But that`s not really important. Kudos to you, Alice, and more power to your meat-axe. I really sincerely mean that, because you`re the first ever rock act whose music is the selling point for its hype.
Most bands use all the bullshit flummery of the rock sales machine to get them dollars rolling over the counter, but you, my boy, use music to sell the kids the hype. Now that`s a real achievement, and it`s that which leads me to believe that Alice Cooper is the finest flowering of American show business. P.T. Barnum, raise your hat and bow to the master. Alice Cooper is the first true McLuhanesque rock band. The message is now truly the medium. Hype is its own reward.

Remember all those bands who claimed they weren`t in it for the money when all the time they were racking up their 400-acre ranches in Woodstock? Remember how Zappa called an album “We`re Only In it For The Money” and how nobody believed him?
Well, here`s where it`s all ended up. Alice Cooper`s motif is bread, and kids, he`s going to shove it right down your throat. A snake in the shape of a dollar sign, and the whole “Billion Dollar Babies” trip showing the band awash in a sea of hard cash.

He`s in it for the money, and he`s not only owning up to it but he`s glorying in it. And you`re going to go along with it, because it`s really a lot of fun.
The whole Alice Cooper thing is the biggest practical joke in the history of rock and roll, and the funniest thing about it is that he telegraphed his punch. Alice Cooper told everybody right up front what he was going to do, and they still fell for it. It really leaves one dumbfounded with admiration.
It`s been one farce after another, and each one better than the last. First, we hear of a man calling himself Alice Cooper. A guy called Alice, huh? Faaaaabulous. Whatever next? The guy must be a faggot. Of course, he wasn`t. He`s just a good ol` beer-drinking American boy. Next, please.

Next, there`s all these rumours about live chickens getting decapitated on stage, and all the drag-murder weirdness. The first real post-Manson rock band, in fact. And all that snakes-and-gallows stuff, too. Jeezus (with a Z), what must the guy`s home life be like? Once again, back comes the reply: Naw, you`re outta your mind. He`s just a good ol` beer drinking etcetera etcetera, and anyway, he didn`t really do any of that stuff to no chickens.
So here`s this guy pretending to be a faggot psycho killer, and he`s so patently genial, good-natured and all-American that it makes you weep, but people keep falling for it by the billion. And the reason that they do so is that they desperately want to believe that Alice Cooper (whoever or whatever he is) really does carve up babies and screw corpses, and do all those unbelievable gross things that he so transparently mimes on stage.
They`ve been told a billion times that Alice Cooper is really a clean-cut kid who loves his mother, but they totally refuse to believe it.

Of course, on a certain level they do accept that it`s all just part of the show, because it makes the whole thing just that little bit safer if you know it`s a hoax. The point is that Alice`s show is as real (or as unreal) as you happen to want it to be.
If you want to enter totally into the spirit of the thing, then that`s real blood on the guillotine blade, and Alice is indeed truly reincarnated at the end of the show like some nightmarish bastard son of Jesus Christ and Mr. Punch. You pays yer money and yer takes yer proverbial choice. The catch is that you`ve already paid yer money.
But to imply that Alice is a rip-off artist would be completely invalid. Agreed, he`s taking us all for a ride, but it`s a good one, and the best con-man of all is one who pulls off his caper and still leaves his mark thinking that he`s had a good deal.
Alice Cooper is into doing anything that his audience will pay to see, which is cool, because so are many other rock acts. The difference is that they don`t admit it.

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Let`s attempt to analyse whatever-it-is that Alice Cooper is selling. He must be selling something, because people, obviously enough, are buying. What we got at his recent Madison Square Garden show in New York was a neat little package of little theatrical set-pieces involving dismembered shop-window dummies, giant rampaging teeth, f`chrissakes, guillotines, and a glorious “God Bless America” finale in which a Richard Nixon lookalike is saluted before a giant American flag while the voice of Kate Smith blares patriotically over the speakers. Then they beat him up, which seems to be an unnecessary piece of pandering to the audience.
If Alice was really into shocking his audience, then they`d prove their true Americanism by taking down Nixon`s pants and kissing his arse.
The whole Cooper show is redolent with glorious examples of blatant fakery. After the guillotining sequence, the band abandon their axes but – surprise! – we hear the sound of their previous number “I Love The Dead” coming over the PA on tape. Maybe they were miming all along. Who cares? They faked everything else, so why not that?

The real tour-de-force comes when Alice harangues the audience. “Hey, I haven`t been insulted all night?” And, naturally enough, they rise to the bait, yelling “Fuck you!” or “You suck!” at the tops of their voices. “Hey, you know something?” he yells back. “You people are crazier`n I am.”
And he`s absolutely right. He throws 50-cent posters into the audience, and they trample all over each other to get at them, and the fake Alice Cooper billion dollar bills that descends from the ceiling. They prove his point, because they`re acting like pigs at his command – and for nothing. A cheap poster and a chunk of Monopoly money.
As you may have expected, all the hip rock writers were very proud of themselves for sussing that one out, so brandishing their passes, they all flocked backstage for the party, really feeling hip and cool and generally outasite.
They forgot that they were dealing with Alice Cooper. What happened was that they were ushered into a tiny dressing-room where, cursing and crunching and sweating, they forced their respective ways through a sauna sardine can to their objective – the bar. There they received a small plastic beaker full of ice and cheap champagne. They, in their own way, had reacted exactly like the audience, and just like the audience, hardly any of them realised what had been done to them.

Alice Cooper is a very, very clever man. He has perfected the hype as an art form. There are a lot of people contending for the title of The Greatest Hypist In Rock, but Alice Cooper`s off and running with the plastic glittery prizewinner`s cup. And he`s not even denying it, that`s the beautiful thing.
He`s into making money, the original billion dollar baby, and he does it so well it`s a pleasure to watch him rake it in. Alice Cooper is America`s best, truest and most appropriate culture hero, because his whole operation is in the finest tradition of American consumer culture. It`s absolutely no good sneering, “Some people will buy anything,” because Alice will probably agree with you.

Me? I really dig Alice Cooper. I wouldn`t let my copy of “Killer” out of the house, mainly because it`d probably slither down the stairs and start swallowing the cats and babies that infest the stairways of my Islington tenement. Some of his records are incredible, some of them are average and some of them are downright tedious, but that`s alright. For me, Alice`s music is secondary.
No, what I really get off on about Alice Cooper is the way he`s managed, by being fake all the way from his battered top hat to his scuffed platform boots, to reveal the cold, hard, terrifying truth about his audiences, his profession, and finally, his country.

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This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Led Zeppelin, Sutherlands/Quiver, Jethro Tull, Article about the groupies of L.A., Buddy Holly, Stealers Wheel, Bob Dylan, Johnny Winter.

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