MARK ERIC – A Midsummer’s Day Dream (Now Sounds/Cherry Red) LP

by admin  25th Apr 2024 Comments [0]

It’s good to see Cherry Red branching out with some vinyl releases, and this California summer favorite is a particularly welcome arrival. Barely anybody noticed when Mark Eric’s album A Midsummer’s Day Dream was released in 1969, probably because its bright-eyed pop innocence, wistful melodies and strong ’65-’66 Beach Boys vibes were so out of step with the times. Three years out of date was the equivalent of about ten years in the sixties because music was changing so fast. But this throwback album is a real gem: great, evocative songs, fabulous arrangements by Vic Briggs of the Animals, a crack team of session players (including James Burton and Don Peake on guitars and Jim Gordon on drums), and a widescreen production by Norm Ratner.

Mark Eric Malmborg was 19 years old at the time, and his lyrics were reflections of his free-spirited Southern California surfer lifestyle: surfing by day and partying at night; cruising the Strip with his buddies, and picking up girls. On the album’s opening track, he sings longingly of his “California Home” as he wings towards it on an incoming flight; as he soars into the song’s sublime middle-eight he transports you into that world.

On “Move With the Dawn” he bids farewell to the girl he bedded down with the night before and, like every morning, heads to the beach to catch some waves. While the song is a celebration of his personal freedom, it also questions the callousness of this self-centered lifestyle, and that imbues it was an affecting poignancy: “In search of myself / I’ll use someone else / Whose bed will I sleep in tonight?” Quoted in the liner notes, Eric admitted that the song was all about him: “I didn’t see much of a life for myself. I always thought I’d be drifting. All I had envisioned for myself was being a surfer. I didn’t think anything would happen.” On an album brimming with wonderful songs, “Move With the Dawn” remains my absolute favorite.

Not far behind though is the magnificent “Night of the Lions,” about a night out in the urban jungle with his friends, cruising for girls and getting into fights. “Acne faces of an age / Are lost through a haze / in a street network maze / Laughter turns into tears / We realize our fears / But nobody hears / Night of the lions / Showing our teeth tonight.” This over a chunky, Motown-like dance groove with vehement acoustic guitar strumming and French horn flourishes.

That upbeat Motown meets “Fun, Fun, Fun”/ “Dance Dance Dance” approach also propels standouts like “I’d Like to Talk to You” and “We Live So Fast.” These are balanced out by some yearning Beach Boys-like ballads such as “Take Me With You,” “Sad is the Way That I Feel,” and the heart-stopping “Where Did the Girls of the Summer Go,” each with some lovely orchestral touches.

In some ways, the album feels like a California cousin of another sought-after album from this era, Billy Nicholls’ Would You Believe. But, as much as I love the Nicholls record, for my money Eric’s album is the stronger of the two by a wide margin with more memorable songwriting and superior arrangements and production. It’s a complete, full-realized work from top to bottom.

Unfortunately, Mark Eric’s career as a recording artist was brief; A Midsummer’s Day Dream was the first and last album he ever made. He went on to work as an actor and a model in the ‘70s and ‘80s, including parts on Hawaii 5-0, Room 22 and The Partridge Family, and a couple of movie roles. He died in August 2009 in Huntington Beach, California at the age of 59.

This vinyl reissue looks and sounds fantastic; the original cover art enhanced by a gatefold cover with rare photos and updated liner notes by Steve Stanley. Your life will be immeasurably better with this album in it. (Mike Stax)



THE PRETTY THINGS – Bare as Bone, Bright as Blood (Madfish) LP/CD

by admin  17th Dec 2020 Comments [0]

By Mike Stax


IT ENDS LIKE IT BEGAN. Two men digging into the blues, finding something new to lift them out of the mundane and into the sublime. When it began, they were art students: Dick and Phil, 20 and 18. A Howlin’ Wolf song on the record player in the common room, a Muddy Waters song in the cloakroom between classes, “Hey, Bo Diddley!” in Dick’s front room in Dartford.

It’s the same two men here on Bare as Bone, Bright as Blood: a guitar player and a singer, now with more than a half-century of hard road behind them, a half-century of life experience, of triumphs and failures, of family and friendship, and music. With “I Can’t Be Satisfied” and “Come Into My Kitchen” they’re back in that cloakroom at Sidcup Art College, digging the blues, finding something new. If you saw the Pretty Things live in the past ten years or so, you’ll know that these two songs were a featured segment of their set with just Dick and Phil playing together acoustically. The room held its breath and it was magical. And so it is here: Dick’s slide playing is magnificent (as it is throughout this album) and Phil is in fine fettle. They draw from that that same deep Delta well to bring us fresh interpretations of Robert Johnson’s “Love in Vain” and Leadbelly’s “Black Girl” (the CD also includes a fine version of Muddy Waters’ “I’m Ready”), as well as a pure bluesy reading of the old gospel song “Ain’t No Grave,” with more superb slide playing from Dick along with some tasteful harp by Sam Brothers; Phil throws in some of his trademark yelps as he improvises over the coda: “Not down… not down!”

But this isn’t just a blues album. As well as digging into their roots, they’re also on a journey of discovery—just as they were in the beginning—finding newer material to dig into and find their own resonance with. “Faultline,” a song by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, feels completely natural in their hands: a stark, simple arrangement with lots of empty space for Phil to place a nuanced vocal into, and a lovely, dirty slide guitar solo by Dick. “Redemption Day,” a Sheryl Crow song also recorded by Johnny Cash, is extraordinary. You can hear the weight of a lifetime in Phil’s world weary, fathoms-deep vocal. The song is laden with an unutterably heavy sadness yet at the same time the arrangement is so understated, moving like ripples across a vast, dark lake with huge rain-heavy clouds reflecting from above. Mark St John’s pure, uncluttered, analogue production is perfect throughout this album but no more so than here.

Gillian Welch’s “The Devil Had a Hold On Me” has an Appalachian folk-blues vibe that works really well with Phil’s voice, as does “Bright as Blood,” a remarkable, dark, stark folk-blues piece written by George Woosey, the Pretties’ long-time bass player. George’s acoustic guitar drives the song, which is enhanced by Sam Brothers’ banjo playing and Jon Wigg’s mournful fiddle.

The ominous, rootsy mood of the album shifts for the two closing numbers, like rain clouds parting to reveal the sun. “To Build A Wall” is a wise, tender song by Will Varley, and Phil embraced its sentiments completely: his voice straining with emotion, he never sounded more vulnerable. His frailty is exposed for all of us to hear, and I have to admit that the first few times I heard this—just after it was completed, while Phil was still alive—it was difficult to get through: the emotions were too real, too intense; I could hear in his voice that he knew he was reaching the end of his road. Listening now, I still hear that vulnerability, but I also hear strength and dignity. Phil asked that on the album cover the song be dedicated to his kids. What a remarkable gift he left them.

The vinyl album closes with “Another World,” a lovely, remorseful, romantic number composed by a young, unknown songwriter called Pete Harlen. Phil sings it beautifully, finding an asset in his fragility. And then it’s over.

No one wanted the Pretty Things to end, but all things must, so let it end as it began: two men digging the blues, finding something new to lift them—to lift all of us—out of the mundane and into the sublime.

One man remains. For Dick Taylor new music and new horizons still lay ahead. The music will endure.


This review also appears in Ugly Things #55, which can be ordered at this link.

Revisiting Otis Redding Live at the Whisky A Go Go

by admin  10th Nov 2020 Comments [0]

By Harvey Kubernik


In October of 1968 I held a copy of the Otis Redding Live at the Whisky A Go Go LP the first day it was available at Wallichs Music City in Hollywood. It was culled from Redding’s 1966 engagement at the landmark venue.

Over the decades it’s been reissued and re-released in various configurations, most recently in 2018, marketed as Live On The Sunset Strip, culled from three full sets of his Whisky A Go Go shows in 1966. This current Live on the Sunset Strip is on Stax Records label through Concord Music Group. I’m thanked in the package credits. Consider purchasing this product for a holiday gift.

The original album supervision was by Neshui Ertegun from the Whisky A Go Go April 9-10, 1966 club dates. The Rising Sons were the opening attraction.

This is a definitive live statement from Redding and songs are sequenced exactly as they went down. The collection includes some of Redding’s best-known songs: “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” “Security,” “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” “Satisfaction,” “Respect,” “These Arms of Mine” and “Just One More Day.”

For Otis Redding, a live recording in 1966 was a very logical career move: His manager and record label (respectively, Phil Walden and Volt, a Stax subsidiary) were seeking to further Redding’s crossover potential and expand his established audience. Engineer Wally Heider, the West Coast’s leading recorder of live performances, was hired to tape three nights of Redding’s run at the Whisky—two sets on Friday, April 8, and three the next night and two on Sunday.

Located at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Clark Street it was owned and operated by Elmer Valentine and Mario Maglieri, two former cops from Chicago. The Whisky had already initiated an integrated patron and live music booking policy that welcomed Otis and company with open arms. In ’66, the club had booked the Otis Redding Revue and entourage which included an emcee and a full 10-piece band (led by saxophonist Robert Holloway) coupled with three up-and-coming singers who were allowed one tune apiece before he entered the famed Whisky stage in Hollywood.

Redding’s band for that long weekend were Holloway, Robert Pittman, Donald Henry (tenor saxophones), Sammy Coleman, John Farris (trumpets), Clarence Johnson, Jr (trombone), James Young (guitar), Ralph Stewart (bass), Elbert Woodson (drums). In the tradition of the R&B tours and whistle stops of the era, Redding also hand-picked some singing protégés including the keyboardist in his group, Katie Webster, Carl Sims and Kitty Lane for the club date.

On October 17, 1965 our Los Angeles radio station KHJ “Boss 30” record play listed “Respect” as number 14. The city was already deep into the Redding repertoire. R&B soul radio stations played Redding regularly and touted his anticipating visit to Sunset Blvd.

Two Otis Redding numbers—“I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)” and “Respect”—had cracked the Pop Top 40, and a number of his recordings inspired covers by rock ’n’ roll bands, especially the Rolling Stones and his version of the group’s best-known song, “Satisfaction” was soaring up the singles charts in April 1966.

“I think Otis’ arrangement of ‘Satisfaction’ is more urgent than the Stones,” volunteered Dr James Cushing, a now retired Cal Poly San Luis Obispo English and Literature professor, who for years was a deejay on KEBF-FM. “I think Otis sings it more as a song of triumph than a song of frustration. What Otis does with it is that the person might not be satisfied but at least he has survived enough to tell the tale of his dissatisfaction. Whereas Jagger just sounds kinds of petulant and pissed off. Petulance and being pissed off is not bad either,” he added, “but it’s not a noble emotion and Otis was more noble.”

Just before his ’66 Whisky stint, Redding on April 2, performed at the Hollywood Bowl as part of a KHJ-produced “Appreciation Concert” to play both the Hollywood Bowl (as part of a KHJ-AM listener appreciation concert to benefit The Braille Institute of America.) The Hollywood Bowl show included Donovan, Sonny & Cher, Bob Lind, the Knickerbockers, the Turtles, Jan & Dean, the Modern Folk Quintet and the Mamas & the Papas, and then his four-nighter at the Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip.

Los Angeles music lovers and television children had already seen Redding in December 1965 when “Pain In My Heart” was broadcast in a TV performance on Dick Clark’s Where The Action Is. In addition, we caught “Just One More Day” from another Redding TV appearance the same day on Hollywood A Go-Go.

Occasionally, when Redding and other R&B acts played the Whisky in 1966-1970, I was outside the club as a young teenager. My local West Hollywood library was down the same street from the Whisky A Go Go on San Vincente Blvd.

The news was out that Otis was in Hollywood and I just wanted to see Otis Redding’s name on the Whisky A Go Go marquee. That was cool enough. The concept of actually going inside the building without hassle was not even considered. I had to wait until I was age 18 when John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers and Savoy Brown shared a bill at the Whisky in 1969 before I was allowed to legally enter the house of worship.

In 1966, musicologist/drummer, and former Watts resident Paul Body, then bunking in Pasadena, and still one of my running buddies, lingered outside the Whisky hoping to catch a glimpse of Redding with our other soul music devotees.

“Otis at the Whisky!” exclaimed Body. “I remember that it was a Friday night and Gooler and I and maybe Joe George went cruising down Sunset on the prowl for foxes. We ended up at the Whisky, standing outside. At that time we couldn’t get in because we were under age and didn’t have any fake ID on us. We usually had some fake ID but on this night we didn’t. That policy later changed. Anyway we just hung around outside and we could hear Otis Redding do his thing. It sounded great.

“As we were waiting outside, a car pulled up and out piled the members of Them; they had been doing a residency thing at the Whisky. I remember that Van Morrison was the last one out the car. I amazed by how short he was. Through the Whisky walls I could hear, ‘Respect’ and it was stomping. The doorman said that Dylan was inside. I like to think that that was the night that Dylan tried to turn the Big O on to ‘Just Like A Woman,’ which always sounded like a soul song to me anyway. It felt great that soul was coming to the Sunset Strip. I didn’t get to see Otis until next year at the June Monterey International Pop Festival, and well, the rest is history.”

Music and record business old-timer Robert Marchese once managed Body’s band, the Sheiks of Shake, and former manager of The Troubadour 1970-1983. Robert was a record producer, who won a Grammy for producing a live Richard Pryor album at The Troubadour.

“I saw Otis Washington, DC at the Howard Theater,” recollected Marchese, “on a Saturday night when he had ‘Pain In My Heart,’ end of 1963. I was in the military stationed in Fort Mead, Maryland. I also saw him at the Royal Theater in Baltimore on Friday night. He was dynamic. One of the great shows I ever saw. He did not disappoint. It was a package of the top ten R&B acts on the soul charts and they would bring them in for the weekend and do a song each.”

(Courtesy Gary Pig Gold Archives)

In October 2020 I conducted an interview with music licensing veteran and television/film archivist Eric Kulberg who described his 1964 encounter with Otis Redding.

“No sooner after arriving in Washington, DC from Alaska in June of 1963, I discovered DC’s R&B stations, WOOK and WUST. WUST featured Jocko Henderson’s Jocko’s Rocket Ship Show and Al Bell, who went on to run Stax Records,” revealed Kulberg. “Mr. Isbell would let me come down to the station where DC’s 930 CLUB is now and watch him work. Al played the best music and a lot of it was recordings he made on his Safice label, which included Eddie Floyd. These jocks were my heroes and inspired me to do my own soul programs on WAMU-AM at American University.

“At AU, one of my fellow student DJs, Dick Heron, told me about the Howard Theater at 7th & U Streets in Northwest, D.C. I had no idea that there was a venue I could see live acts whose records I couldn’t get enough of. For most of the early ‘60s prior to the riots in 1968, I went almost every Friday to see multiple shows as one could pay to get in early in the day, and stick around and see more than one set,” Kulberg marveled.

“Sometime in the fall of 1964, the Ben E King revue came to the Howard and Otis Redding was on the bill. He was still a bit of unknown at that point. As best I can remember, he only sang ‘These Arms of Mine’ and ‘Pain in my Heart.’ The girls in the audience just swooned over him and I was knocked out as well as I loved both those songs and played them on my show.

“After his set, I bolted out to the exit door near the back stage door and hoped he might come out for some air as I was told was his custom. Indeed he did and couldn’t help to ask for his autograph, after gushing about his performance. He signed my WAMU ID card, which was subsequently stolen from me at gunpoint several years later. He then asked if I wanted to hang out a bit, as it would be a couple hours before he would be on again. So we scooted across the alley to a pool hall opposite the theater and actually played pool with Otis and of course he totally outplayed me. I don’t recall him talking much about himself. It was more about who he liked to listen too.

“Being close to 60 years ago, it’s hard to recall. However, I just remember he had a joyful spirit about him and he made me feel very comfortable in those surroundings. I saw perform one more time that night and never saw him at the Howard going forward. However, it’s one of my most cherished moments among so many I’ve experienced here in Washington, DC.”

Robert Marchese provided the run up to his own 1966 encounter with Otis Redding.

“When the Otis ’66 Whisky A Go Go shows announced I was parking cars across the street at the 9000 Building,” proclaimed Marchese, “and I told my boss I was going to the Whisky to see Otis. ‘Well you can’t.’ ‘I quit!’

“I had my uniform on and walked into the Whisky. I sat with Dylan and his entourage which I think included Robbie Robertson and DA Pennebaker. I knew Elmer Valentine who owned the club. Otis was as good as the album. The album is proof of the pudding. At the Whisky he was more sure of himself from ’63. He kicked everyone’s ass in,” Marchese confirmed.

In the spring of 1966, Otis Redding’s touring act was achieving historical notices and press cuttings.

Drummer turned record producer/manager, Denny Bruce, an avid R&B fan, who played with the pre- Freak Out Mothers, and then successfully guided the careers of Leo Kottke, John Fahey, John Hiatt, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and longtime associate of Jack Nitzsche, later jamming himself with Taj Mahal one night at The Ash Grove, also caught Redding and his group at the Whisky one evening in ’66.

“I was amazed to see how big Otis was in person,” admitted Denny. “I went as a paying customer and stood on the dance floor for this epic stand. It was a relief to see the real thing in person after the Enemies and the Leaves in that room.”

Redding was an instant phenomenon and his local ’66 shows did not go unnoticed by reviewer Pete Johnson of The Los Angeles Times. In his headline review, “Otis Redding’s Southern-Style Blues Band Lets Off Steam,” Johnson wrote: “Drawn by his growing popularity, a fervid audience shoe-horned into the club, chorused in on some of his songs and at one point interrupted his introduction of a ballad by clamoring for more of his fast paced tunes. Redding was assured of an In Group [sic] following Thursday night when from among his spectators emerged Bob Dylan, trailed by an entourage of camp followers.”

(Reportedly, Dylan offered Otis “Just Like a Woman” as a possible cover that night, though Redding thought the song was a little wordy.)

In May 2010, Pete Johnson emailed about witnessing cosmic comet Redding.

“I loved Otis Redding very much both as a recording artist and as a performer. I saw him twice: at the Whisky and at the Monterey International Pop Festival. They were both magnificent performances. Like Ray Charles, he could slow down and elaborate a blues piece, morphing it from a song to a dramatic performance. ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,’ for instance, with its stately horn figures and his vocal agony stretched thin.

(Courtesy Gary Pig Gold Archives)

“Similar to, but quite different from, Ray Charles’ slow-motion live versions of ‘Drown in My Own Tears’ and ‘A Fool for You,’ where time stands still as Ray duets with his piano, building toward the horns and the Raelettes. And then Otis could stomp on the accelerator and rip through ‘I Can’t Turn You Loose,’ a rock & roll locomotive. At this point I can’t remember how they crammed his band onto the Whisky stage. The Whisky hosted lots of great performances. This was up near the top.”

For the August 21, 1976 issue of Melody Maker I interviewed Jerry Garcia, Carlos Santana and promoter Bill Graham at Graham’s Mill Valley Northern California home. I asked Bill about his favorite concert performer and without hesitation he ranked Otis as “The single most extraordinary talent I had ever seen.”

But initially, promoter Graham stressed that he had to first fly from San Francisco to Macon, Georgia to personally convince Redding to play his fabled rock palace with the eighteen- piece Robert Holloway band.

How could Graham describe Redding on his stage?

“A six foot three black Adonis in a green suit, a black shirt and a yellow tie who moved like a serpent or a panther stalking his prey.”

There was a documented triumph for Redding on the Stax/Volt tour of Europe and England the following March. Then the game-changing spot in June 1967 at the epochal Monterey International Pop Festival coupled with Aretha Franklin re-working his tune “Respect” that dominated the R&B and Pop radio airwaves all summer and fall.

It was Rolling Stones’ manager/record producer and omnipresent musical tastemaker Andrew Loog Oldham who initially called Phil Walden to secure Otis for the Monterey booking. (My brother Kenneth and I wrote a book A Perfect Haze: An Illustrated History of the Monterey International Pop Festival published in 2012.)

In 1967 Redding was voted number one male vocalist over Elvis Presley in the annual Melody Maker reader’s poll awards. Andrew Loog Oldham suggested to Monterey festival producer Lou Adler that Otis play the non-profit charity Monterey event. Phil Walden initially received the call from Oldham. Walden then in turn dialed Atlantic’s Jerry Wexler to see if the festival was kosher. Wexler also explained to him what the logic of it would be and Walden wisely then took Wexler’s advice that Otis should do the gig for free.

In 2007 Andrew Oldham emailed me from Bogota, Colombia.

“When Otis came on stage you forgot about the logistics. We knew we were taking one small step forward for mankind. Phil Walden, his manager, was in heaven. He knew he’d just graduated from buses to planes. Phil Walden was one of the greatest managers of his time. His enthusiasm, his pure chicanery, his belief, his service to Otis was an example to the game.”

Henry Diltz who was the official Monterey photographer gave me another perspective during 2007 on Redding’s Bay area ’67 exhibition.  “Being a rock photographer you get the best seat because you are in front of the front row. I remember nothing was between me and Otis. The warmest most wonderful music and so different than the rest. A different flavor of music. It came from a whole other place, not these things, bands that emerged out of folk music. I just basked in this amazing sound. Warm and tender, delicious tension. The feel of his voice. The edge of it.”  In a 2007 conversation with Al Kooper for MOJO magazine, the legendary multi-instrumentalist then serving as assistant stage manager of the festival, commented, “I watched Otis Redding disarm the audience. And, he had one of the greatest bands in the history of rock ‘n’ roll behind him. I’d seen Al Jackson before. He was like the Charlie Watts of black music.”

And tragically, on December 10, 1967, came Redding’s death with four members of his backing band the Bar-Kays when his airplane crashed in a Madison, Wisconsin Lake.

The DA Pennebaker-directed Monterey Pop documentary followed in 1969 which helped unthaw his frozen legacy. I attended the world premiere of the movie at the Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills.

“Otis Redding was stunning,” DA Pennebaker disclosed to me in a 2006 interview. “It’s a great film, almost a perfect film. He had a pretty good band, I was editing, or re-editing the section of his for Monterey Pop in late ’67 and changed the film a little bit when he went in to the lake and I remember that’s when I got into all that stuff of doing things with the lights. And I know at the time I felt, ‘Gee. What am I doing? This is crazy.’ But I left it that way because I felt so bad that he kind of died on us and that made me sad. So it was the only thing I could do to mark that was to edit that way.”

“I couldn’t wait to see Otis Redding at Monterey,” confessed documentarian Andrew Solt [This Is Elvis and Imagine: John Lennon] in 2017. “He was one of the acts that I knew I couldn’t miss. I loved his voice, his albums and his enormous on-vinyl passion. Otis came out dressed in a shiny suit, his collar open and absolutely blew us away. He was as dynamic in person as anyone I had ever seen live. He owned the stage and the crowd was in awe. His enjoyment at singing at this early pop festival was palpable.

“Otis’s tragic death later in the same year depressed me to no end. What a horrific, massive loss. That voice stilled? Couldn’t be!

“When we did Heroes of Rock ‘n Roll in 1979, [a two-hour music documentary which debuted on network ABC television channel 7] we came across Otis’s final performance on Upbeat before that dreaded flight. He had appeared in the tight quarters of a small local TV station in Cleveland. We made sure Otis was included in rock’s pantheon. He continues to hold a revered place in our history. He always will.”

Various Redding-driven vinyl, tapes and CD’s have been available on the market since Redding’s physical demise and a certain amount of care and sensitivity has been employed by Stax and the label’s distributors and various catalog owners.

The original Redding LP In Person at the Whisky A Go Go I purchased in 1968 housed ten selected titles that included Pete Johnson liner notes. A 1992 version was shipped to retailers: Good to Me: Recorded Live at the Whisky, Vol. 2 in an expanded format from a hard-to-find 1982 release, which implemented additional tracks and emcee introduction.

The original supervision on these discs disc and a 2010 Redding Stax/Concord Music model lists Neshui Ertegun in the credits. He was either in the recording truck with engineer Wally Heider at the Whisky, or assembled the tapes later in New York at the Atlantic Studios.

2018’s Otis Redding & His Orchestra Live On The Sunset Strip should now be considered the true, official, historical and spiritual audio document of Otis’ three consecutive sets that have now been fully unearthed and sequenced as this seminal Hollywood event occurred.

“I played the initial LP pressing on my radio show,” Dr. Cushing offered. “If you spin it on good equipment you can tell different songs were taken from different shows so there are obvious differences in sound quality. Some songs with almost no bass, others with a fair amount of bass. I’m sure they were working out the logistics on the recording end as Otis’ Whisky shows happened.

“The recording got better as the gigs progressed,” reinforced Dr Cushing. “Otis’s voice sounds really good on all the tracks, front and center. What a wonderful rhythmic improviser he is in terms of his voice, in terms of way of his delivery. It is his best live album but the instruments are a little inconsistent.

“I loved hearing brass at the Whisky. It’s Otis at the Whisky! The club then and now had great sight lines and great acoustics. There were seats on the dance floor level, too. And you could see everything well, even from the balcony on top. The sound system, then and now, always state of the art. The idea of somebody there like Otis Redding who had that stadium size charisma, with a full band and horn section…

“I’m so happy about the new remastered album,” he reiterated. “There is more emphasis on the drum sound. On the original it was equalized little far down. The addition of added tracks and material is fine,” he marveled. “The extra minutes now added do not dilute the initial configuration. I don’t feel the intention has been violated because the original intention had to do with finding the retail market and with finding a balance between the music as music and the music as LP. The restrictions of what it could hold on each side of the vinyl.

“But now with the expanded playing time of CDs and the whole computer mp3 thing, I feel that with this 2018 Redding at the Whisky A Go Go model we are getting a much more accurate picture of our own cultural past. With all its richness, liveliness, humor and all of the human touches now inserted.”

In my 1999 interview with teacher, philosopher, and author Ram Dass, we discussed the role of music and specific live events on our existence.

“How can we use this gathering as an exercise in order to help ourselves on the way? This is nothing else to do anyway but become enlightened,” explained Ram Dass. “We can retain a degree of consciousness throughout this whole experience in which we see it as an experience instead of collecting experience. It’s just ‘I’ll be here and dig this whole drama unfolding.’”

If you want to see and hear some powerful moments of what Ram Dass suggested that can be easily applied to Otis Redding, Reelin’ In The Years Productions and Stax Records (a division of Concord Music Group) in 2007 issued Dreams To Remember: The Legacy of Otis Redding on DVD acknowledging the 40th anniversary of Otis Redding’s death and to celebrate his life, and the 50th anniversary of Stax Records.

It’s available with the full cooperation of Redding’s estate this is the first official DVD anthology of classic archival Redding television appearances. The impressive compilation was produced by David Peck, Rob Bowman and Phil Galloway for Reelin’ In The Years productions, a leading California-based television and film archive in conjunction with Universal Music Group. Zelma Redding serves as executive producer.

Also well worth discovering is the DVD The Stax/Volt Revue Live In Norway 1967. Widely bootlegged in truncated and poor condition for years, this is the first time the 75-minute concert will be available on DVD that has been re-transferred from the original master tapes that had been resting in the television vaults for the last 40 years.

The producers also discovered an additional lost reel with an extra 20 minutes of previously unseen performances from the same concert. This footage had been edited out and forgotten for the last four decades, but now the missing songs have been restored, making this DVD the longest and most complete visual record of the legendary 1967 Stax/Volt tour.

Highly recommended are the potent full-length performances, including five songs by Otis Redding, a blistering four song mini-concert recital by Sam & Dave. The Stax/Volt Revue Live In Norway 1967 includes Otis Redding’s versions of “Shake,” “Satisfaction,” the only known filmed concert performance of “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa(Sad Song)” and a six minute version of “Try A Little Tenderness” in which he returns for four encores.

Sam & Dave show why they were nicknamed “Double Dynamite” with powerful performances of “Hold On! I’m Comin’,” and “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby.” Plus, there’s a riveting version of “You Don’t Know Like I Know.” The DVD has Booker T & the MG’s scorching rendition of “Green Onions,” Arthur Conley’s definitive version of his big chart hit “Sweet Soul Music,” the Mar-Keys glowing version of their top-five hit “Last Night.”

I’ve said it before: This live Otis Redding celluloid treasure is what Twilight Zone screenwriter Richard Matheson meant describing compelling television programs on fifties and sixties small screens as examples of “the powerful chilling charismatic effect of black and white film.”

The Stax/Volt Revue Live In Norway 1967 is definitely what Matheson suggested.


© Harvey Kubernik  2020

Featured Image courtesy of Atlantic Records.


Harvey Kubernik is the author of 19 books, including Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon and Turn Up The Radio! Rock, Pop and Roll in Los Angeles 1956-1972.

Sterling/Barnes and Noble in 2018 published Kubernik’s The Story of The Band From Big Pink to the Last Waltz. Harvey is currently writing and assembling a summer 2021 book on Jimi Hendrix for the same publisher.

Otherworld Cottage Industries in late July 2020 published Harvey’s 508-page book Docs That Rock, Docs That Matter. Kubernik interviews with DA Pennebaker, Albert Maysles, Murray Lerner, Morgan Neville, Sandra Warren, John Ridley, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Andrew Loog Oldham, Curtis Hanson, Dick Clark, Allan Arkush, and David Leaf, among others.

In 2020 Harvey served as Consultant on Laurel Canyon: A Place In Time documentary directed by Alison Ellwood which debuted on the EPIX/M-G-M television channel.

His The Doors Summer’s Gone was published by Otherworld Cottage Industries in February 2018. It was nominated for the 2019 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research.

Kubernik’s writings have been in several book anthologies, most notably The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats and Drinking with Bukowski. He was the project coordinator of the recording set The Jack Kerouac Collection. Harvey’s 1995 interview, Berry Gordy: A Conversation With Mr. Motown is in The Pop, Rock & Soul Reader edited by David Brackett published in 2019 by Oxford University Press. Brackett is a Professor of Musicology in the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Canada. Harvey joined a lineup which includes LeRoi Jones, Johnny Otis, Ellen Willis, Nat Hentoff, Jerry Wexler, Jim Delehant, Ralph J Gleason, Greil Marcus, and Cameron Crowe.

Kubernik in 2006 spoke at the special hearings initiated by The Library of Congress that were held in Hollywood, California, on archiving practices and audiotape preservation.

He has penned a book jacket endorsement for author Michael Posner’s upcoming volume on Leonard Cohen that Simon & Schuster, Canada, will be publishing during October 2020, Leonard Cohen, Untold Stories: The Early Years).