Yusef Lateef: “Eastern Market” (Yusef Lateef’s Detroit: Latitude 42-30 Longitude 83, 1969)

One of my favorite jazz bandleaders died just before Christmas. Yusef Lateef was born William Emanuel Huddleston in Chattanooga in 1920, but grew up in Detroit and built the foundation of his career in the city’s underappreciated jazz scene (Milt Jackson, Kenny Burrell, Donald Byrd, the three Jones brothers and Paul Chambers all came from that scene, and Miles Davis weathered one of the toughest parts of his career there). 

Lateef was an expressive and imaginative tenor sax player, but unlike most jazz musicians, who really work on mastering their voice on a single instrument, Lateef built an identity as a multi-instrumentalist, playing flute, oboe, and over a half-dozen non-Western reed instruments. Those non-Western instruments figured prominently in his adventurous and pioneering experiments in early world music on albums like Eastern Sounds, Prayer to the East and Into Something

Coltrane was among the many who listened to those albums and took notes—the two never played together that I know of, but I would’ve liked to hear that. Lateef did play with many others, though, appearing as a sideman even long after establishing himself as an influential and capable bandleader. He played for both Cannonball and Nat Adderley, Donald Byrd, Curtis Fuller, Grant Green, Olatunji, Art Blakey, and Les McCann, among many others; he’s not a household name by any means, but he’s thoroughly woven into the fabric of jazz made from the 50s through the 80s. 

Over that span, he evolved capably, as did all the best leaders. His 1969 LP Yusef Lateef’s Detroit, looked back to his formative years playing in that city when it was at the peak of its might, with tracks named for the neighborhoods he spent his time in and the streets that defined his travels. “Eastern Market” is named for the huge farmer’s market just northeast of downtown (before I-375 was built and ripped their guts out, some of the city’s most thriving black neighborhoods were just south of this area).

I buy vegetables at Eastern Market a few times a year, and it still has the bustling, free-for-all feeling suggested by the shouted vocals at the end of this track (the guy who runs it, Dan Carmody, is an insightful thinker about the relationship between food and community). Really, listening to the whole LP as a Detroiter conjures the city, and even if it looks back to a time when the city’s fortunes were much different, it still isolates the feelings that make the city special. 

Lateef’s arrangements reflect the rhythmic, psychedelic music that the city had become famous for producing. The band includes a 19-year-old Chuck Rainey on bass, with a cameo by Cecil McBee, Ray Barretto on congas, Bernard Purdie on drums, and guitarist Eric Gale. Lateef gets funky on the flute and throws in some inventively arranged strings, too; it’s soul jazz where the combination doesn’t neuter either one. 

This was the kind of synthesis Lateef could pull off. He knew how to pick a band and shape the music around it. Listen to the space he gives Purdie here. Everything is loose-limbed and grooving. The album ends with Lateef on tenor, playing through the standard “That Lucky Old Sun” with incredible depth of feeling, almost as if to remind that he was a hell of a straight jazz player as well as an experimentalist. 

Lateef spent a lot of his later career teaching jazz at universities. He died at his home near Amherst, Massachusetts, where he taught as UMASS and Hampshire College. He was 93. If you care at all about jazz, give this guy a few thousand moments of your time. It will be worth every one of them.

Julia Holter: Horns Surrounding Me (Loud City Song, 2013)

I like a sound that breathes. It’s almost as if spaciously recorded music leaves room for me to grow into it—if nothing else, it agrees with my ear.

Julia Holter’s music breathes so much that it is basically a big lung. She’s now made one of my favorite records of the year two years running. I can just get lost in these things and not care—why would I want to find the way out when there’s so much interesting stuff to take in? 

"Horns Surrounding Me" is just incredible. The way she weaves the brass through that throbbing rhythm is entrancing, and the rest of it brilliantly uses layering. When she sings the title, I love that there’s no countermelody, just this smear that implies enclosure even as it echoes into the distance. 

Loud City Song has other amazing tracks and figures to be in the rotation for a long time, but this song’s power is singular. I don’t think I’ve heard it the same way twice. I sort of hope I never do.

Thee Oh Sees: I Come From the Mountain (Floating Coffin, 2013)

I still love rock and roll, dammit. I spent a lot of this year with old hard rock—there is something about the sound and feel of those recordings that just gets me. The 60s and 70s in general, I guess, when recording was an ill-defined frontier and mistakes still made it onto big-budget records.

Thee Oh Sees have been around for a while—I saw them at the Pitchfork Festival in 2012 and they were great; up to that point, I’d never given them a second thought. Their earlier records still haven’t clicked with me, but Floating Coffin just hit the spot in 2013 and became one of my favorite records. I stuck this song at the top of my tracks list because it’s just about everything great about hard rock all in one place.

It’s a little psychedelic, a little heavy, a little unhinged, a little melodic, a little pop (the organ!); I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else call in hard rock, but by my standards, standards formed by absorbing all kinds of old stuff like Stray and Captain Marryat and Odyssey and Stone Garden, that’s exactly what it is.

This track made me happy. Those wild riffs, that frantic bassline, the drums that are just keeping up with the tempo, the hi-fi backing vocals set against the lo-fi lead vocal… all of it just adds up to something badass and fun and catchy and alive. I think I needed it in my life in 2013. It’s something I’m likely never going to stop listening to.

The Chambers Brothers: “Time Has Come Today” (The Time Has Come, 1967)

I remember the first time I heard this. The circumstances weren’t special—I was sitting in my room, listening to the radio, waiting for WAQY to get through the same Eagles and Led Zeppelin songs they played every day and give me something that wasn’t in the regular rotation. I did this almost every evening while I put off doing my homework until the last minute. 

Then this came on. 

That opening, with the echoing cowbells, the simple but effective guitar fanfare, and finally the drum fill that blasts us into the first verse, immediately struck me as different. They had a spooky, ramshackle quality to them that wasn’t common on classic rock radio, and that first verse…. I was hooked. 

The four Chambers Brothers, George, Willie, Joe and Lester, has been performing for 15 years by the time this song came out. They originally toured as a gospel-folk quartet, then went electric after Dylan’s controversial show at Newport. Drummer Brian Keenan rounded out the new, electrified Chambers Brothers, and they developed a raw psychedelic soul sound, of which this song is the absolute apex, though they have a ton of other great tracks, and they have several albums well worth listening to. 

That’s Willie or Joe singing lead on this song (I’m not positive which), and it’s his performance that turns the song into a comment on the tumult of the era. He sounds completely swept along on the tide of the song, spitting out the words as though this is his only chance to say it. This is even more pronounced when the song recapitulates a the very end. 

The psychedelic breakdown, with the deceleration, wobbly percussion overdubs, and wild build-up, is the instrumental complement to that performance.

In  way, this song is everything we were supposed to learn about the 60s—turbulent, psychedelic, exploratory, a little bit out of control. I think the fact that the guitarists aren’t anything like virtuosos (Willie and Joe had only recently begun playing electric) helps a lot. They briefly allude to “The Little Drummer Boy” while the drums go crazy in the background, but otherwise, it’s pretty much just ragged jamming.

This is, in the end, a song I just don’t think I could ever get tired of. It does too much too well and captures a feeling in the process that never seems wrong. 

The Temptations: “Law of the Land” (Masterpiece, 1973)

Last week, we lost both Richard Street and Damon Harris of the Temptations. Both were members of the group during the early 70s, when Norman Whitfield used them as one of his vehicles for psychedelic soul experimentation, and they can be heard trading lines on classics including “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” “Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)” and “Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On.”

Harris was brought into the group to replace Eddie Kendricks, whose distinctive falsetto was a centerpiece of some of the Tempts’ biggest hits, and he stayed for four years, long enough to make a big mark. It must have been amazing for him-he’d started his career singing in a group called the Young Tempts, a Temptations tribute, and he was the kid of the group nearly ten years younger than the rest. He was born Otis Harris, but changed his name to Damon to join the group—Otis Williams wanted to be the only Otis.

Street joined in 1971, replacing Paul Williams, whose deteriorating health and spiraling addiction forced him out of music and to a tragic early death by his own hand. He’d been with Motown for a while by that point as a member of the Monitors and a staffer in Quality Control, and believe it or not, he was the first native-born Detroiter to sing with the Temptations. Everyone else had been born in the South. 

While Harris’ tenure with the group was brief but brilliant, Street remained through 1993, staying through some of the group’s leanest years after joining them near their peak.

By most reports, the Temptations didn’t really enjoy singing Norman Whitfield’s message tracks—the longer-tenured members especially preferred singing harmony, and Kendricks left the group over the direction Whitfield took them in. You wouldn’t naturally guess that from listening to the way they attack storming funk numbers like “Law of the Land,” and this phase of the group’s career was arguably more influential than the pre-“Cloud Nine” string of harmony-laden hits they had in the mid-60s. 

Harris had some minor success in the late 70s singing with Philly soul outfit Impact, then left music for a decade to go to college. He and Street were reunited in the 90s singing together in a Temptations revue that toured separately from the official group. Harris also founded his own cancer charity after being diagnosed with the prostate cancer that finally took his life last month. He was 62. Street was 70.

The Shangri-Las: “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” (Red Bird RB 10-008, 1964)

Writer/producer Shadow Morton died on Valentine’s Day. This is the first song he ever wrote or produced.

Morton wasn’t really a songwriter in 1964, but he wanted to be one, and the fact that he’d never put a note down on paper didn’t stop him from visiting the Brill Building, where his old girlfriend, Ellie Greenwich, worked as part of a very successful writer/producer duo with Jeff Barry. He told them he’d written a bunch of potential hits.

Barry saw through it and challenged him to bring in a demo. I don’t imagine he thought he’d hear anything like this. Barry and Greenwich knew something about teen drama and writing hits. They’d been working with Phil Spector since 1962. They wrote “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “Be My Baby,” “Then He Kissed Me,” and “Baby I Love You,” four songs that essentially defined the girl group sound, at least until The Supremes broke big a couple of years later.

So Shadow Morton, still known as George at the time, left the Brill Building and drove to the beach. With seagulls calling outside, he sat in his car and wrote “Remember (Walking in the Sand).” The Shangri-Las were singing in clubs after a couple of flop singles and had no record contract at the time, and he convinced them to cut a demo of the song with him (Billy Joel, working sessions in his pre-Atila days, played piano on the demo).

I’m trying to picture Jeff Barry listening to this in his office the following week. It wasn’t this exact recording, but it must have been clear how great it was, so Barry must have felt odd knowing that this guy who had obviously been bullshitting him a few days earlier had made good on his claims. Regardless, Barry got Morton and the Shangri-Las contracts with Red Bird, a little-remembered but amazingly successful label where Barry and Greenwich were the lead producers.

"Remember" got to #5, and it launched the Shangri-Las to sudden stardom. This song really gets me—it is uncommonly dark for its time. Morton had taken the big drama of the Spector-produced girl groups and twisted it into detailed, harrowing melodrama. The girl narrating this song is distraught over losing her lover, man she has not seen for a year and who has now sent her a letter telling her he’s found someone else. What a jerk.

In Mary Weiss, Morton found the perfect actress to deliver his lines—she nails the desperation of the prechorus, sputtering “let me think, let me think/what can I do” with utter desperation as the chord sequence spirals down three beats at a time.

And then the gulls come.

This would be a brilliant song in almost any arrangement, but the thing that always sticks with me most is the seagulls that creep into the chorus, which is weirdly the quietest part of the song. They start out way in the background, but they get louder as the chorus goes on, and the effect is chilling.

This is not some sunny beach scene—it is pretty much that awful, hot-feeling kind of headache you get when you realize things have gone terribly wrong and there is nothing you can do about it, transformed into music. Possibly, it’s the same feeling Morton had as he left the Brill Building knowing he had no songs with which to answer Barry’s challenge.

What you do with panic makes a big difference to the kind of life you lead. If it swallows you whole, as it appears to do with this song’s poor narrator, it may be the end of you. But if you can harness it to spur creation, as Morton did, it might lead to something great.

Morton rode high for a few years as a writer and producer in the mid-60s, then had a fair amount of success during the 60s/70s transition years producing hard rock and proto-prog bands, including Vanilla Fudge, whose biggest hit was a grotesque heavy rock version of a girl group hit (the Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”), and Iron Butterfly, who played their infamous 17-minute version of “Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida” at Morton’s urging as he pretended to fix his mixing board (he was actually recording them without telling them).

He left music in the 70s and never really made a comeback. Unlike Phil Spector, he never did any legacy productions with John Lennon or the Ramones, and unlike David Axelrod, he never became a vogue household name or reliable sample fodder. But he did help make some of the best records of the 60s, and this is one of them.


Donald Byrd: I’ve Longed And Searched For My Mother (I’m Tryin’ To Get Home, 1964)

For an album called I’m Tryin’ To Get Home, Donald Byrd’s tenth LP as a bandleader is for the most part remarkably celebratory. Like its predecessor, A New Perspective, it combines threads of cool jazz and gospel to create a seamless and singular sound. A few years later, Quincy Jones took this same kind of sound, dragged it further out of church and shot it into orbit on his great Walking In Space LP, but here it still has a strongly organic feel.

In the middle of all this joyous, wordless singing and upbeat jamming, though, is this song, “I’ve Longed And Searched For My Mother,” which is… I don’t know what you’d call it. A cosmic funeral march, perhaps. It twists the ebullience of the rest of the LP inside out, and for all its very intentional drama, it’s really a devastating piece of music.

Byrd takes the sound he’d developed and pulls it apart, strand by strand, isolating one female voice and setting her away from the background singers. The others may be there, cooing at the fringes, but she is alone. He has the saxes playing at the very bottom of their range, where the tone is naturally rougher and less even, and he keeps his own trumpet muted at the outset, calling out from the distance. When he finally takes a solo, he doesn’t sing out—he sings inward. His trumpet sounds exhausted but determined.

It’s a modern tone poem. It doesn’t tell a story with a concrete beginning, middle and end, but it does nevertheless tell a complete story, taking you on a journey of ache.

Albums like this make me wonder why I don’t hear more about Byrd as a bandleader. He’s widely respected as a trumpeter, but the LPs he made under his own name aren’t usually considered must-hear entries in the jazz canon unless you’re already in deep. I suspect some hardcore jazz heads never forgave him for the records he made in the 70s with the Blackbyrds, a fusion group he assembled from among his best students as he was teaching music at the university level. It’s also awfully hard to make a dent in jazz’s front line when it’s populated by guys like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Bill Evans and Dizzy Gillespie.

Regardless, the guy was a fantastic leader with lots of great, creative ideas, and exploring his catalog reveals some amazing stuff, from his hard bop days in the 50s all the way through the Blackbyrds. His roughest fusion record, 1971’s Ethiopian Knights, is a favorite of mine.

I’ve loved this song for years, but there’s a reason I chose to write about it today.

Byrd was born Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II in 1932. He grew up in Detroit, was a music major at Wayne State University, and went on to a brilliant and prolific career leading his own bands and playing with Coltrane, Art Blakey, Lionel Hampton (while he was still in high school!), Herbie Hancock, Paul Chambers, Horace Silver, Red Garland, Jackie McLean, Sonny Rollins and others. He was one of the last people to play with Eric Dolphy before the woodwind player’s untimely death from insulin shock.

And he taught his craft generously, to students at Oberlin, Rutgers, Howard and half a dozen other schools. He’s still going today at 77, living in New Jersey.

And as for me, I just moved to the Detroit area so my wife could teach at Wayne State. And there is something about this piece of music that matches the journey of Byrd’s home city over the last five decades. Detroit’s population peaked in 1950. Things were already changing by the time Byrd recorded this fourteen years later—the ‘67 riots weren’t the beginning of the end like we’re often told. They were a step along the way.

And of course, you’ve seen the photos of abandoned homes and factories, and the vacant lots, and you’ve heard about the white flight and the hollowing of the city’s core. But I’ve been around this place a little now, and I can tell you it’s not all bad. The suburbs and the city still have their backs turned to each other, and there’s a lot to be done, but the thought of doing it makes Detroit an uncommonly exciting place to be these days.

And that’s the bit I left out of my description of the song above—the edge of hope. It has the ring of a long, exhausting journey that hasn’t reached its destination yet. You don’t know where else it will take you, but the future just might carry you home. And that’s something to look forward to.

Donald Byrd passed away last week, and I’ve been wanting to do a proper remembrance post. Re-sharing this will have to do for the moment.

Beacon Street Union: “May I Light your Cigarette” (The Clown Died in Marvin Gardens, 1968)

Beacon Street is one of the major avenues of Boston, running from the base of Beacon Hill, near the Massachusetts state capital through Back Bay and Copley Square into Brookline, past Boston College and out to Newton. During my freshman year of college, I once rode the entire length of it as the passenger in a Jeep being driven way too fast by a person whose idiocy knew much greater depths than I’d yet discovered. 

It’s a beautiful road, though, to the extent that roads can be beautiful. It runs through the entire urban transect, from lanes shadowed by tall buildings to full-on suburbia and small remnants of the pastoral Boston hinterland of old. Beacon Street Union was a Boston band, sometimes cited as one of the early Bosstown Sound groups; I should note that I don’t really think the Bosstown Sound was a real thing. It’s more a name people cooked to try and apply coherence to a bunch of pretty disparate-sounding bands. 

They all went to Boston University, and their music ranged from pretty ordinary rock and roll covers and standard-issue beat to much stranger stuff. The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens, the second of the two albums they released in 1968 (they released a third in 1970 under the name Eagle after moving to New York) is a weird jumble of all their tendencies. Side one features a Doors-y waltz, a chamber pop oddity, a jarring and not very good cover of “Blue Suede Shoes,” a hint of funky soul, and some gestures toward psychedelia.

Flip it to side two, and you were confronted with this. “May I Light Your Cigarette” is a plain odd soundscape-and-spoken-word piece that’s as unsettling as anything else I’ve heard from 1968. John Lincoln Wright’s nonchalant delivery makes the vocal sound structureless at first, but it keeps coming around to the same beats, there are hidden internal rhymes all over the place, and it turns out to have a well-considered organization.  It’s followed by a wild, 17-minute version of “Baby Please Don’t Go.”

"May I Light Your Cigarette" resonates with me in a way that’s hard to describe. All that wobbly guitar and the unpredictable rise and fall of the vocal remind me a bit of walking through Boston at night in the winter, with the wind hard in your face and your collar up on your cheeks. There’s a very specific image of smokers on a sidewalk that comes to me when I listen to it—I see the red brick facades of the portion of Beacon Street that runs through Back Bay as they shiver and draw in the smoke.

I must have witnessed that exact scene a hundred times in the four years I lived in Boston, so it’s no stretch. The sidewalks of Boston are wonderfully busy places. Its skyscrapers aside, Boston has managed to maintain a human enough sense of scale that the streets are usually filled with people walking where they need to go. That’s one of the things I miss about it. I haven’t been back in eleven years, and I haven’t found another city quite like it.

Liner Note

Weirdly, the deceased clown on the album cover is the same clown that appears on the cover of The Doors’ Strange Days

Guided By Voices: “I Am A Scientist” (Bee Thousand, 1994)

I saw this video in 1994 on MTV’s 120 Minutes. I was staying over my friend Matt’s house, and he had cable, and when the two of us had a sleepover, there was very little actual sleeping, because we were up all night, watching Mystery Science Theater 3000, Beavis & Butt-head, and 120 Minutes and all the other amazing junk food Comedy Central and MTV shoveled our way in the small hours. 

What’s astonishing to me is how well I remembered the video. That high leg kick on the basketball court, and the rock and roll frontman act on the empty band shell stage stuck with me. They are still the first thing I think of when I think of Guided By Voices. 

A lot of times when I tell a story like this, it’s as a way of relating how I got into something, but this isn’t one of those stories. After seeing this video, I did not become a GBV fan, I did not go out and hunt down all their albums, and I didn’t even really think twice about them. It wasn’t an indie rock conversion moment. The next day, I probably listened to The Division Bell three times in a row. 

Even today, I don’t really listen to Guided By Voices. I have eleven of their songs on my iPod, and this one is the only one I like from Bee Thousand well enough to want to take it with me anywhere. They’re one of the canon indie rock bands that I never connected with—I went from 1994 to 1999 without even hearing them again, when I bought Do the Collapse and couldn’t figure out why the band’s fans hated it. I checked it against their other records and I thought it was the best sounding thing they’d done!

I might have been missing the point, at least as far as the devotees were concerned. But sometimes I wonder if that night in 1994 might have been different. If there was some mood I could have been in that particular night that could have changed how I perceived that video, that maybe would have made the opening guitar figure (no D string!) the thing that stuck with me instead of the black-and-white high kicks. In some Sliding Doors-style alternate universe, that night was my indie rock conversion night, and I spent high school listening to Guided By Voices and Pavement paying homage to classic rock rather than actual classic rock. 

I keep watching this video tonight. I hadn’t seen it for almost twenty years until a few hours ago, but everything Bob Pollard does with his body in it triggered instant recognition. In an odd way, even though I never really connected with the band, the title of the first song of theirs I ever heard became a sort of epigram for my life. “I am a scientist.” Regardless of what you do for a living, I think you’re a scientist if you approach the world with curiosity and an open willingness to accept what the data tell you. You’re a scientist if you seek to understand.

This is a good song. When I first heard it, I’d never heard anything like it. But at the time, that didn’t matter. It passed me by. None of this is to imply that I don’t think GBV are a great band—they are, but sometimes, you have to keep it casual with a great band. You can’t be a fervent fan of them all. In 20 years, if YouTube is still around, I’ll cue this video up again and call all the kicks before they happen. And hum along a little, too.

Shiver: “Tough As Nails” (Shiver, 1972) 

I don’t know exactly when or how it happened, but as I got older, I developed a taste for heavy rock. It wasn’t something I ever liked when I was younger. I listened to tons of classic rock, but didn’t start liking Led Zeppelin until my mid-20s. My friends’ metal albums in high school and middle did nothing for me (that hasn’t changed much, honestly).

It feels like I’ve done this backward—you’re supposed to get into all this loud, thundering music when you’re young, disillusioned and rowdy, except I’ve never been rowdy at all, and I’ve always felt that I had a pretty healthy relationship with my disillusionment. Outside of Hendrix, Nirvana, and maybe Pink Floyd’s “The Nile Song,” straight-up hard rock just wasn’t a thing that interested me when I was supposed to be interested in it. I got into it through the back door beginning in my late 20s, when my interest in old psychedelia and progressive rock led me to a few bands, and then I sat down and really listened to Black Sabbath and could hardly believe I’d been ignoring them for so long.

So it was with a historian’s ear that I first probed the depths of late 60s and early 70s hard rock, with a sampling of the 80s and 90s thrown in. I followed recommendations, took shots in the dark, and listened intently, trying to figure out what was going on in there that I suddenly liked so much. And then a funny thing happened: I started just enjoying it on the visceral level you’re supposed to enjoy most of it on. Like, just cranking the heaviest stuff I could find in the car and feeling it surge through me and trying to remind myself not to speed too much. 

It’s a good feeling for someone who’s made a life out of over-thinking everything. Let go. Feel the music instead of considering it. I guess I did that with funk first, but funk and hard rock fill two different holes in my life, with maybe a little bit of overlap. This is different from giving in to the emotion of music—I’d been doing that since I spent all those cumulative hours lying on my bed listening to “Wish You Were Here” detail-for-detail as though it would somehow help me merge with the great weight of longing at its core, which felt oddly similar to my own feelings about what I wanted out of life.

Today, I found this track by San Francisco’s Shiver, recorded in 1972, but hidden from the world until Shadoks put it out decades later. It’s a ragged, raging, live-in-the-studio instrumental, and when I first listened to it, all I could do was wonder where it had been all my life. They play with the kind of abandon I wish I was capable of, out of control, but totally in control. It radiates confidence, and it is teeth-cracking, wall-smashing heavy

Shiver was a power trio of guitarist/screamer Frank Twist, drummer Don Peck, and bassist Neil Peron—they were fried hippies playing brutal music in a city burning out on peace and love in Nixon’s America, their music more in tune with the blasted hard rock coming out of places like Detroit than anything you’d tie to Saturdays in the park with Timothy Leary. If they had local heroes, it had to be Blue Cheer. 

They had a fourth member before they made these recordings, a guy with a hook for a hand who used the hook to play slide guitar, which is something to visualize. From the sound of “Tough As Nails,” Twist did not need another guitarist in the band. The guy could shred. The whole band could play, but none of them ever seem to have gained much of a profile outside Shiver, which was a blip on the 70s rock radar that an air traffic controller could have easily dismissed as a wayward chickadee. 

There are a lot of comps of 60s and 70s rock bands that never put out a record during their time together, and I have listened to a lot of them. More often than not, it’s pretty clear why the music was previously unreleased. But every now and then you get one like this, where you can only imagine reasons the band never got out of the starting gate. Shiver seems to have been a wrong place-wrong time proposition. They gave it everything they had when they got their one chance to put their troglodytic bomp on record—Twist shouts so hard on the vocal tracks that his mic feeds back. 

I had problems with a mild heart condition when I was a teenager, and ever since, there’s rarely been a moment when I wasn’t aware of the base biology of my body—keeping track of my own blood moving through my vessels makes it hard to get to sleep some nights, and the aches and pains that come more frequently as your age gets higher have exacerbated that tendency. Somehow, the blood pumping through this music, so close to the surface, makes me feel more comfortable with that. I’ll bet that’s something Peck, Peron and Twist never figured on when they rolled the tape and played their guts out back in ‘72.