Tag: New York
When Pulse was finally finished, kaput, Beau, Peter and I moved to New York, rechristened as Island. The idea of the group was to have no limits. We played in a variety of styles. Eclectic would be the best way to describe our repertoire.
The first track here, Good Time, is one of the first, if not the first, we recorded at the cavernous Capitol Recording Studios. The tune was written by Beau and I sang lead, one of my first. Peter is on lead guitar and harmony and the track was pretty much recorded live in the studio as we didn’t even go back and put a rhythm track on to back Peter’s incendiary solo.
We did a lot of acoustic auditions in the offices of managers, promoters, agents and producers in New York and we almost invariably opened up with Good Time and it almost always generated interest in the listeners. An attention-grabber.
It can only be described as power country-rock, a territory we were just delving into.
The second track, Everybody’s Jumpin’, is one of my compositions and was recorded at Blue Rock in Soho with Todd Rundgren engineering as he had on a previously
posted track Where Am I Going? This is what I mean by eclectic. The song was inspired by one of my favorite vocalists at the time. I was trying to sing something in a lower register as most everything I did at that point was either high harmonies or leads in a high register. It doesn’t sound anything like the vocalist I had in mind. The music track is totally other than what inspired it.
We always envisioned the background vocals as horn parts, and perhaps we would have added those on a master, but it kind of works this way as well with three-part harmony. Barry Flast, later of Poco, lends a hand on the keys and as you can hear we gave him pretty much free reign.
All set up by Sam Gordon (RIP) the publisher who worked for Albert Grossman and Benet Glotzer. The SoundCloud photo includes Harvey, although he wasn’t with us by this time.
Island was a trio formed after the final breakup of Pulse, a Connecticut rock group of the late 1960s with a self-titled album on Poison Ring.
Before moving on to Island, though, a little background on the second version of Pulse, a four-piece group, which had changed the direction of the original six-piece band from almost strictly blues-rock to other styles, including country blues, country rock and pop, but still a hard-driving unit.
In the spring of 1970 after the departure of lead singer Carl Donnell from the original six-piece, a variety of lineups were tried until it was settled on Peter Neri, lead guitar and vocals, Paul Rosano, bass and vocals, and Beau Segal, drums and backup vocals, all staying on and the addition of Harvey Thurott, a second lead guitarist and singer/songwriter joining the band.
The group lasted until December, having parted ways with Doc Cavalier and Syncron Studios, the going was tough in Connecticut. Harvey left the band, and Peter, Paul and Beau moved into New York to try to land a record deal.
In New York, the band went even more in a singer/songwriter, pop-rock direction. We had virtually nothing except our equipment when we moved in and a ton of song ideas. We rehearsed in a loft in the mid-20s on the West side between Fifth and Sixth Avenues that Peter and Beau rented and lived in and literally auditioned in the offices of a number of prominent management agencies, including Michael Jeffries, who managed McKendree Spring, Albert Grossman-Benet Glotzer, who represented a plethora of artists such as Dylan, Todd Rundgren, The Band and many others, and even Sid Bernstein, who wanted to set up a showcase for us in the Village.
We settled on doing business mainly with Grossman-Glotzer and in particular Sam Gordon who ran their publishing arm. He promptly signed us to a publishing deal and set up all kinds of studio time.
By the way, the photo above is of the second Pulse with Harvey since I have virtually nothing from the Island era. So you’re getting 3/4 of Island in it.
We recorded most of our tunes at the old Capitol Studios in midtown, which was a cavernous room used for orchestras and musical comedy soundtrack recordings mostly, but the song here was done at Blue Rock in the Village, which is no longer around. A nice studio though. There are some photos of it in the video as well as one of Capitol.
As an added touch to this session, Sam Gordon got Todd Rundgren to come down and help engineer/produce it as a favor. We had produced the sessions at Capitol ourselves. The Blue Rock session is undoubtedly the best sounding of all the Island recordings. Rundgren had just released Something/Anything? and we would have loved to have him as our producer but he was being courted by some heavy hitters such as the New York Dolls and Grand Funk Railroad, both of whom seemingly gave him big paydays. Todd was quiet that afternoon but very easy to get along with and did a masterful job for us.
One thing I recall other than the session itself was that we literally ran into or rather walked into and met Astrud Gilberto, the Brazilian singer, who was checking the studio out for a possible location for her next album. Charming and quite beautiful.
Where Am I Going? was the first track we recorded that day and we were all quite pleased with it, still am. We got a particularly good drum sound on the track for Beau’s semi-busy but appropriate parts and everything worked out as planned from the vocals — I sang lead, Peter harmony — to Peter’s guitar parts and a piano part added by Barry Flast, whom we had met at Gordon’s Publishing offices.
The song followed our trend of writing and playing in a pop style. I recall getting the initial idea for it while walking around the city, notably the intro vocal and a piano playing straight fours. I used to love walking around New York on my own and often would trek from Chelsea, where I lived, to the East Village and back, with melodies and chord changes flying through my head, a great way to come up with musical ideas
Here in the Northeast this summer, we were going to be lucky enough to see the outstanding blues-rock guitarist Mick Taylor on a small club tour.
He rarely plays in the States but Taylor was scheduled to be at four venues in or near Connecticut: Toad’s Place in New Haven, Black-Eyed Sally’s in Hartford, the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, Mass., or if you wanted to drive a little further, Misquamicut Beach in Westerly, R.I.
Unfortunately according to a release from his manager that is posted at Black-Eyed Sally’s, Taylor has been hospitalized with a blood clot in his chest and pleurisy. It appears what was suspected as dehydration is a bit more serious. He has canceled all of his U.S. gigs, but his manager is eager to reschedule in the fall after Taylor’s recovery, which is expected.
Taylor, of course, is best known for having replaced Brian Jones on second guitar in The Rolling Stones. He played with the superstar group in the late ’60s and early ’70s and was part of one of the Stones’ most creative and productive eras, which included the albums Let It Bleed, Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out (live), Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main Street. For me, probably their last truly creative and productive period. (continue reading…)
A few weeks before leaving for Boston University, and later Berklee School of Music, in August, 1967, and after the Bram Rigg Set had broken up, my good friend Beau Segal and I drove down to New York to see the Yardbirds. Beau was the one who found out about the show and it was his treat, sending me off to school in style.
Jeff Beck had left the Yardbirds and now Jimmy Page was the sole guitar player in the group. We had loved the single issued earlier in the year, Little Games, and most of the subsequent album release by the same name, although the U.S. release is a bit of a hodge-podge and left out some key tracks that appeared on the U.K. album. The double CD release of the early ’90s and then a later reissue rectified all this by including just about everything from that period.
But I couldn’t get enough of the shuffle feel of the single with Page’s mesmerizing rhythm guitar part and biting lead in the middle section. Later the next year, my group Pulse came up with a song with a similar feel that Beau wrote. I still have his original lyric sheet. It has no title on it but we used to refer to it as If You Love Me Today, and we played it in the second incarnation of Pulse, which was a four-piece with Harvey Thurott on second guitar.
The Yardbirds were playing at the Village Theater in New York on August 25, about six months later it would become Fillmore East. We didn’t know then that it was actually a rather momentous occasion because this was the show at which Page would get the inspiration, to put it politely, for one of Led Zeppelin’s signature tunes from their first album, Dazed And Confused. (continue reading…)
I’ve been to quite a few concerts over the years, many influential, some inspiring. The earliest big venue shows were in the fall of 1965, both at the New Haven Arena. In early November, it was the Rolling Stones with Brian Jones on second guitar in the wake of their summer mega-hit Satisfaction. The Stones sounded and looked great, but it was a relatively sedate performance compared with ones for which the band became infamous. A side note on the Stones show is that the first time they were booked for the Arena, the summer of ’64, the show was actually canceled because of insufficient ticket sales. Amazing. The second show, the Beach Boys with Brian Wilson on bass, on Thanksgiving Day. The Boys wore yellow short-sleeved oxford shirts with gray slacks, not their customary black-and-white and white khakis (I guess because it was a holiday) and with Brian in the fold sounded like angels. Two rather different groups but both rode the singles charts and that’s what drove the music industry at the time.
But the earliest show that made a huge impression on me was in a much smaller venue, the Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village in the winter of 1967. The headliner was the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. But let’s back up a little.
I had been playing bass since 1964 in a couple of garage bands, most notably the Vanguards with Gary Gerard and Peter Neri, whom I would later play with in Bram Rigg Set and Pulse. I also played with and learned quite a bit from the Aiardo brothers, Tony and Peter, from North Haven who played first as the Highlights and later as New England Jam. They played everything from weddings to proms to clubs such as the House of Zodiac on Route 34 on the West Haven/New Haven line. They were schooled more than most musicians in the area and worked constantly. I’ll never forget a few years later when working with them again temporarily, we played a wedding in the afternoon, a dinner-dance in the early evening and an after-prom into the early hours. This was pretty typical and I learned a great deal from both of them, particularly Peter, who was a brilliant guitarist and was my second bass teacher. (continue reading…)