This is a real bummer. I can't say we were good friends, but I was a big fan and we did hang out a few times. I'll never forget the first time I saw/heard of Game Theory, it was at a place in Lincoln Nebraska called The Drum Stick, fried chicken joint by day, rock venue by night. I was a roadie for Beat Rodeo and they were the opening band that night and I pretty much ended up roadie-ing for them that night as well (I remember it having something to do with me having a crush on the bass player). I became a big fan of their music after that.
Musician and writer Scott Miller has died, according to his official site.
"Scott passed away on April 15, 2013. He was a wonderful, loyal friend as well as a brilliant musician, and I will miss him for the rest of my life," his webmaster, Sue Trowbridge, wrote. She did not provide a cause of death.
Miller, born in 1960, formed college-rock act Game Theory in the early '80s with Fred Juhos, Nancy Becker and Michael Erwin. The band's shifting lineups released four studio albums before label Enigma went under, leading to a fresh start for the musician with '90s project the Loud Family.
A prolific musician, he was also an exhaustive listener, offering a well-received critical overview of 53 years of rock history in 2010 book "Music: What Happened?" With that project accomplished, he had set his sights back on music.
"Scott had been planning to start recording a new Game Theory album, 'Supercalifragile,' this summer, and was looking forward to getting back into the studio and reuniting with some of his former collaborators," Trowbridge wrote.
The webmaster has made a number of Game Theory releases, currently out of print, available for free download.
" My main goal is to prevent people from trying to capitalize by selling these long out of print albums for lots of money. I want everybody who would like to hear these albums to be able to do so without paying outrageous prices," she wrote. Link.
I would assume that most every Bedazzled! reader is at least FAMILIAR with Big Star. If you aren't, I strongly suggest that you do not pass GO and immediately purchase the box set Keep An Eye On The Sky as well as the double disc reissue of Chris Bell's posthumous masterpiece I Am The Cosmos. These are some of the greatest sounding CD's out there (it takes A LOT for an analog diehard such as myself to admit that), but there's a real charm to these 45's, and it is my pleasure to share them here.
"When My Baby's Beside Me b/w In The Street" was the debut release, coinciding with the long player #1 Record. "When My Baby..." is a nifty, AM radio ready mono mix of the Alex Chilton sung mover; this was one of the few Big Star songs that Alex Chilton played regularly in his solo gigs. 'In The Street" however, is a completely different mix with a different vocal take altogether from Chris Bell, who reaches some absolutely nut-crunching high notes here.
These records mean the world to me, and the combination of a grizzled yet still-very-young music biz veteran Alex Chilton matched up with the tragic melodic genius of Chris Bell created some of the greatest music of the early '70's.
With the type of songwriting, vocal and instrumental prowess contained in this group, one would think that they would have indeed realized their name and climbed the ladder to success. Lambasted as being passe during the time of endless boogie, Big Star records sold poorly but were cherished by those who owned them, and along the way the cult grew and grew, eventually manifesting itself into what became the heart of guitar based power pop/ college rock/ indie pop/ whatever the hell you wanna call it music from the late 70's onwards.
Ardent (which was distributed by Stax) tried again with a second single from the first LP, pairing the aggressive "Don't Lie To Me" with the gorgeous, pastoral "Watch The Sunrise". Once again, the single sunk without a trace. Interestingly, my copy was mis-pressed and contains "Thirteen" (quite possibly the most enduring track of the album, and Alex Chilton's greatest ever performance) in place of "Lie". I don't hear any mix differences, but this track is just too good not to share here. "Watch The Sunrise" is certainly different, as it edits a chunk of guitar picking from the intro. The vocal also sounds a tad different to my ears as well.Rather ominously, the trail off wax on the "Lie To Me' side reads "SKULL TREE".
After the lack of success of the first LP, Chris Bell left the group, embarking on epic travel adventures in Europe and England which included time spent recording tracks that eventually made up the I Am The Cosmos LP, which was first released in 1992, some 14 years after his tragic death. Chris Bell suffered a lot in his personal life, exasperated by drug abuse, mental illness and the pain of closeted homosexuality. However, from his despair came some of the greatest, most transcendent music of the 1970's. Shortly before his death, the 45 of 'I Am The Cosmos b/w You And Your Sister' was released by Chris Stamey's Car label. "Cosmos" is a MASSIVE recording, and the druggy haze was recorded in Memphis, and overdubbed/ mixed by geoff Emerick at AIR Studios in London, fulfilling Chris' wish of recording with the Beatles engineer. The incredibly touching b-side finds a reuinion of the Big Star principles back at their home base in Memphis at Ardent studios. Alex Chilton's harmonies here are the stuff of goosebump inducing legend, and it never fails how many times I've heard this song that it moves me to tears. Once again, while the recent double disc CD reissue sounds amazing, listening to the original 45 is a truly incredible experience. Hopefully that translates to you thru these high quality transfers and scans! -Derek See
"The Pete Ham estate will be releasing a Limited Edition 50 track double CD set - "Keyhole Street: Demos 1966-67" - the majority of which will be previously unreleased and unheard music. This release will coincide with a Blue Plaque Ceremony and Tribute concert to Pete Ham / Iveys / Badfinger taking place on his birthdate, April 27, 2013, in Pete's hometown of Swansea in Wales. The following day, a memorial stone will be unveiled at the Morriston Cemetary, which is where Pete's ashes had been spread."
"By pre-ordering or 'pledging' for a copy of "Keyhole Street: Demos 1966-67," fans are guaranteed to get their copy before anybody else and they will also have access to a wide range of exclusive offers and premium items."
"All Pledgers will receive a special digital download of rare music as an added incentive. Pledgers will also have access to a special Pledgers-only updates page, where unheard demos and previously unseen photos are available."
"At the age of 19 and 20, Pete had recorded all of this set of demos at the band's London home. Recorded on a two-track Sound-On-Sound machine - of which you could bounce back and forth to layer parts - you hear in this 50 track collection, elements of classic balladry, Pink-Floydian psychedelia, rock'n'roll tributes, R&B, Beach Boys type harmonies, instrumentals, music hall stereotypes, an Elvis tribute, blues, humorous lyrical content, Beatle-ish tracks, and a horror film soundtrack."
Like so many other record fanatics, I first encountered Emitt Rhodes' solo debut LP for mere peanuts at one of my old record digging spots, which in this case happened to be a rural flea market and the price was probably 25 cents. In the twenty years since, I snatched up every other vinyl artifact from this masterful songwriter (most of which came my way after signing up for ebay in 1999) and have treasured them deeply, never growing tired of their majesty.
While these songs are heard everywhere on LP's and digital compilations, there's something cool about hearing the mono 45 versions that I felt compelled to share. I'm the first to admit that there's a whole lot of wackiness when it comes to the mindset of the completist, there is a certain sductive power of hearing the same familiar songs at 45 RPM that brings to mind an era that I did not live through but feel a deep connection with nonetheless.
While Emitt was only 20 years old when he recorded his solo debut LP, he was already a veteran musician with 7 years professional experience under his belt as both a drummer (The Emerals, The Palace Guard) and guitarist/ forntman (the amazing Merry Go Round). "Fresh As A Daisy", the debut single from the LP, became a minor hit (peaking at number 54) that drove the self-titled LP to become a mild success. The mix heard on the 45 is mono, punchier and has much hotter low end than the LP version. Must have sounded incredible on the AM radio!
The opening track from the debut LP, "With My Face On The Floor", was released hot on the heels of "Fresh As A Daisy". As excellent as the song is (I think of it as one of the definitive, explosive album openers that is so good it draws the listener in to the mood of the record immediately), the single failed to make much of an impression on the charts. However, just like the debut, the 45 mix is mono and HOT, and, while it still retains the homemade murkiness of the LP, it is far punchier than the mastering that is heard on the full length release. While that mysterious, murky sound is indeed part of the charm, every copy of the LP I've had has sounded WAY too flat when compared to the 45's.
Thanks to its conclusion on the Royal Tennenbaum's soundtrack, 'Lullabye" is perhaps Emitt's best known song (all 1:05 of it), and it was also used as the b-side for Dunhill D-4280. By the early 1970's it had become common practice for 'fold down' mono mixes; this is simply when the engineer "folds down" the stereo track into a mono master. Often times, this results in a mess, as the record can sound thin and out of phase. An even stranger phenomenom happens here on this fold down mix, as the intended phase shifting effect gets put out of phase, giving the effect a far stranger sound.
LullabyeEnding today's set is the one non-LP single that emitt released during his years at ABC Dunhill Records. 'Tame The Lion', a strong anti-Vietnam statement, was not included on his (excellent) second LP, Mirror. While this song has been reissued on a few compilations, here it is taken from an original, mono UK copy.
"In the latter months of 1969, somewhere between the moon landing and the start of the Vietnam draft, the concerts at Woodstock and Altamont, Alex Chilton decided to take back his life. During that annus mirabilis, while the world experienced a generationally sparked social, political, and cultural upheaval, the 18-year-old Chilton was in the midst of a revolution of his own."
"For the past year, Chilton had been strapped in a creative, professional, and personal straitjacket. He was the lead singer of a million-selling band, The Box Tops, but felt like little more than a puppet of the group’s producers. In the era of free love, he’d been pressured into a shotgun marriage and fatherhood. And he’d ultimately come to see himself as the pawn of an unscrupulous business machine, sent to grind it out on the road in a series of silly lip-synched TV performances and one-night stands while someone else cashed his checks. As he entered the studio that summer to make his first solo recordings, the man who would come to define the very spirit of musical independence was still bound in chains. At a time where liberation and self-expression were rallying cries, Alex Chilton was about to break free." via www.ardentstudios.com
Ward Dotson's Liquor Giants, a band I was in briefly in their NYC incarnation. One of the most under-appreciated Pop bands of the last 20 years or whatever. Like a much poppier Paul Westerberg. Great melodies, lyrics, playing and production.