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An Interview With Guitar-Session legend Steve Hunter
Joe Milliken
The Jock of Rock
April 30, 2019
0

Guitar-Session legend Steve Hunter (2016)Although many rock music aficionados might not be familiar with the name, Steve Hunter, rest assured you have heard his work somewhere along the line. You see, Mr. Hunter is a long-time (mostly) session guitarist who has worked with some of the genre’s biggest names. From Aerosmith and Peter Gabriel, to Lou Reed and Alice Cooper, to Dr. John, Mitch Ryder, David Lee Roth and Cream’s Jack Bruce, Mr. Hunter has carved out quite a niche for himself.

You may be familiar with Aerosmith’s version of “Train Kept A Rollin’,” or Lou Reed’s classic live version of “Sweet Jane,” or (while he was a member of the classic-70’s Alice Cooper line up) Cooper’s landmark albums “Billion Dollar Babies” and “Welcome To My Nightmare”… Yes, Steve played a role in them all.

Joe Milliken recently caught up to Mr. Hunter, giving us the opportunity to not only get some first-hand insight on how this guitarist from Decatur, Illinois would become so prominent in the rock music scene reaching across four decades, (’cause you know it isn’t just shit-luck) but also learn more about his multiple solo albums because as you can imagine, Steve’s had a few folks play on his solo efforts that you may have heard of as well.

Guitar-Session legend Steve Hunter (2016)Joe Milliken: Thanks so much for your time, Steve and I’ll get right to it! Who were your musical influences during your formative years?

Steve Hunter: Very early on I would listen to guitarists Chet Atkins, Duane Eddy and Jerry Byrd. Then, later on in the 60’s I started to hear some of the music coming out of the UK, so players like Clapton and Hendrix had a big influence on me. Through them, I learned about the blues-men like BB King, Albert King and Michael Bloomfield.

JEM: How/when were you introduced to the guitar? Did/do you play any other instruments? How did your nickname “The Deacon” come about?

SH: My Dad got me into playing lap-steel guitar when I was eight and we would occasionally do local performances together. Later, I moved on to electric and acoustic guitar, but over the years I also got into playing dobro, mandolin and dulcimer which all came in handy when I did the Tracy Chapman tours.

I got the nickname “The Deacon” after (producer) Bob Ezrin called me about some work and asked if I was “still a clean-living boy”… I said jokingly “Yeah, I’m still the Deacon of Rock-and-Roll.” He loved that and still calls me Deacon to this day.

Guitar-Session legend Steve Hunter (2016)JEM: After high school and then serving our country during the Vietnam War, (thank you, for your service) you got your first break in music when joining Mitch Ryder’s new band “Detroit” in the late 60’s… how did that come about?

SH: I was hanging about in my hometown, Decatur, after getting out of the military when I got a call from my old bass player buddy, John Sauter. He was playing with Mitch Ryder at the time and said that Mitch was auditioning guitar players and that I should get to Detroit and try out for it. It took me nine hours to drive there but when I did, I got my first opportunity to play through a Marshall amp and it was awesome! To be honest, I thought the drive was worth it just for that alone, but I got the gig as well.

JEM: Through your experience with the “Detroit” band, you met (the aforementioned) legendary producer Bob Ezrin. How did this relationship effect your musical direction and style at the time?

SH: Bob Ezrin is an amazing producer and I learned so much from him. Not only about playing in a studio, but about how to put a solo together and how to add something to a track without getting in the way of everything else going on. I watched how he got the best out of the musicians and how he got the right sounds in the studio. Over the years, he called me in on many different albums and that is what I loved best about becoming a session player… that chance to play all sorts of music.

Steve-hunter.gabriel - Guitar-Session legend Steve Hunter (2016)JEM: In the 70’s you worked with and appeared on five Alice Cooper releases including the classics “Billion Dollar Babies” and “Welcome to My Nightmare”. How did working with this band effect your style and can you perhaps share a cool story or memory from that time?

SH: Working on “Billion Dollar Babies” was a great honor for me; I loved the original Alice Cooper Group and had seen them live a few times. Working with Alice was always an experience, we had so much fun in the studio during the recording of “Welcome to My Nightmare”. Many times, we would end up crying with laughter when Alice or Bob would get crazy, doing funny voices or other crazy stuff.

JEM: How did you end up playing on Lou Reed’s legendary “Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal” album?

SH: “Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal” actually came about after I had done Lou Reed’s “Berlin” in 1973. We were touring with Lou when a couple of performances were recorded live… which would become Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal and Lou Reed Live.

JEM: Aerosmith’s 1974 release, “Get Your Wings”, is one of this interviewer’s favorite rock albums… how did you come about playing that classic opening solo on “Train Kept A Rollin’” and did you appear on any other songs from that classic record? Did you meet with the band that day?

Steve-hunter.reedSH: Playing on “Train Kept A Rollin’” came about after Aerosmith producer, Jack Douglas, spotted me taking a lobby break from another session and asked if I would like to play on something and I said yes. Then, after he checking to make sure it was o.k. with Ezrin, who I was in recording with, I grabbed my guitar and joined the whole band in the studio! I ran through it once, but didn’t have the vocal in my headphones, so Jack asked me to do another pass and when I finished that one he said, ‘Thanks, that’s great!”

JEM: In 1977, you played on Peter Gabriel’s wonderful debut solo album, including the acoustic intro to “Solsbury Hill.” Can you share a memory from that studio time or perhaps a memory from briefly touring with Gabriel in the spring of that year. Robert Fripp was in that touring band as well?

SH: Working with Peter Gabriel was great, he is so creative and thinks outside the box. I remember that “Solsbury Hill” was the last track to be finished; Robert Fripp had already gone. Peter, Bob and myself sat around the piano as Peter played through what he had in mind. Bob had the idea of my playing it in “Travis Picking” style. Yeah, Robert Fripp was on that tour, but he kind of hid away and called himself Dusty Rhodes.

JEM: How did you come about working with David Lee Roth’s solo adventure in the mid 90’s?

SH: I got called in on the David Lee Roth album by Bob Ezrin, as they had asked me to give some blues lessons to this talented, young shredder named Jason Becker. I played mostly rhythm guitar on that album, as Jason was the main lead player. Jason and I hit it off instantly, then sadly he got diagnosed with ALS during the recording. We are still the best of friends to this day.

JEM: You’ve released some six solo albums over the years and 2013’s “The Manhatten Blues Project” featured several cool guest artists, including Joe Perry, Joe Satriani and Tony Levin. What was the concept behind this release and how did you come to choose any of the guests mentioned?

SH: I got inspired to record “The Manhattan Blues Project” after a friend of mine took some awesome photographs of New York. I had always loved the city as I had done lots of recording there back in the day and would have lived there if I could have afforded it.

The first person I asked to play on it as a guest was Tony Levin, he and I had played on a few albums together, including the one for Gabriel. Once he said yes, it set me thinking that having a few other guest players would be cool, so the next person I asked was Joe Satriani. After he also said yes, I kind of got all confident and starting asking all the others. They were mostly players I had not had the chance to work with before. I liked the idea of the different styles on the album.

JEM: You won an “Emmy Award”… very cool! Please tell me how you got involved with the “Christ Child House” project?

SH: I was asked to do some music for a documentary about a boys home in Detroit called “Christ Child House” and The Detroit Free Press funded it. They used a few pieces of my music including a track from my album “Short Stories” called “Blue,” a piece that was totally improvised when I recorded it. The documentary won an “Emmy” so I got my plaque. I’m very proud of it and very proud that all the boys in that documentary went on to find new families.

JEM: Can you tell me about any current projects you may be working on? Anything else you would like to add that I may not have covered in these questions is most welcome.

SH: I have just finished writing and recording some “chill-out” music with my wife, Karen and we released it under the name “Rue la Mer”. I am currently re-mixing an old demo of mine, a tune that was featured in the movie “The Rose” with Bette Midler… it’s called “Camellia” and we only played the first eight bars for the movie. I thought people might like to hear the whole tune as it was originally written and we will probably put that out as a single. Then, I need to start my next solo album, which will definitely have a bit more rock on it than my last couple of releases.

To learn more about the amazing career of Steve Hunter and check out his solo releases, visit his website at www.stevehunter.com

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An interview with a gentleman who booked shows for the famous 70s NYC club Max’s Kansas City!
Joe Milliken
The Jock of Rock
April 24, 2019
0

PeterMaxed Out! Talking Music At NYC’s Max’s Kansas City With Peter Crowley (2016)

OKEECHOBEE,FLORIDA – Max’s Kansas City was a legendary, New York City restaurant and night club. Opened in 1965 by the late Mickey Ruskin and located on Park Avenue South, Max’s was the night-spot for many of the city’s most influential artists and visionaries of the era, including musicians, painters, sculptors, art dealers, gallery owners, music critics, politicians, assorted hipsters and members of the trans gender and gay societies. Surely an eclectic crowd-mix, to say the very least.

After graduating from Cornell Law School, Ruskin first opened such New York City establishments as The Tenth Street Coffee House, Les Deux Megots on East Ninth Street, and Ninth Circle Steak House on West Tenth Street, before launching Max’s Kansas City. After Max’s, he would later own other New York City restaurants and clubs as well, including Longview Country Club, Max’s Terre Haute, The Locale, and finally Chinese Chance in Greenwich Village, which also entertained its fair share of lower-Manhattan celebrities including David Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Joe Jackson, Ellen Barkin, Lauren Hutton, and Nico.

From the start, Max’s Kansas City quickly became a hot-bed of creativity and a favorite gathering spot for influential pop artist, Andy Warhol, as well as many other creative, trend-setting characters including William Burroughs, William de Kooning, Roy Lichtenstein, Larry Poons, Philip Glass, Robert Maplethorpe, Philip Johnson, Barnett Newman, and the list goes on and on.

As a music venue, Max’s became a regular stop for The Velvet Underground, including their final shows with Lou Reed in 1970. Other noted, landmark performances included Aerosmith’s first New York City show in 1971, a solo-acoustic performance by a then unsigned Bruce Springsteen in 1972 and then later, a Springsteen show with special guest, The Wailers (with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, Bunny Livingston refused to fly) as the opening act, and even an early Devo show with one David Bowie introducing the band.

Maxs’ upstairs venue would become a landing-spot for legendary glam-rock artists and spear-headed the movement in New York City, including such intimate performances by New York Dolls, Iggy Pop, Ramones, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Alice Cooper and the Jim Carroll Band, to name a few. However, after the glam scene had died down, Max’s closed for a brief time in December of 1974.

Re-opened in 1975 under new owner, Tommy Dean Mills, and after a failed attempt at redecorating the venue “like an airport lounge” and featuring a disco cover band, Max’s needed a new direction and that’s when Brattleboro, Vermont-native, Peter Crowley, entered the picture.

After a stint with the Clyde Beatty and Cole Brothers Circus in 1958, Crowley had moved to New York City. “I had spent time in New York City every summer of my childhood and always liked it more, so I moved there in 1959,” Crowley said in an exclusive, Standing Room Only interview. He held a few corporate jobs, before discovering the thriving folk-rock scene in Greenwich Village. After being referred by musician, Wayne County, Mills contacted Crowley, who at the time, was promoting shows for the New York City night club, called Mothers. An edgy visionary, Crowley was about to shift New York City-music history after connecting with Mills.

“I’ve always loved music and art, beginning in 1955, when I heard Bo Diddley on a jukebox in Springfield, Massachusetts. I’ve also always enjoyed visits to art museums and in the early 60s, I hung out with Andy (Warhol) at the original Factory.” (Worhol’s New York City art studio) Crowley had met Warhol through Arthur Lehman Loeb, a member of the Loeb-Rhodes family, who would later launch the Madison Avenue Bookshop. Peter had also opened his own cafe in 1965, called Cafe Tangier, although it was not a performance venue.

“My first experience with booking talent was in the Greenwich Village ‘beatnik’ coffee houses,” Crowley said. “I was walking down MacDougal Street in the fall of 1963, when I saw a sign in the window of the Why Not? Cafe (across the street from Cafe Wha) that read ‘DRAG WANTED.’ As I was staring at the sign wondering what it could mean, a young man exited the cafe, so I asked. He replied, ‘It means we need somebody to ‘drag’ the tourists in.’ I replied, ‘I could do that’… so I was hired.” Crowley started booking artists such as Gram Parsons’ Shilos, David Crosby, Steven Stills, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Richie Havens, Janis Ian, Tiny Tim and many others.

“In 1974, I started booking shows at Mothers, but in between, I did many things, including moving to San Francisco (twice), Tijuana, Anaheim and Los Angeles, before returning to New York City in 1973. At Mothers, I brought in bands like Mink DeVille, Blondie, Ramones, Heartbreakers and then Wayne Country, when (CBGB owner) Hilly had refused to re-book them.”

Mills would consult with and then hire Crowley, to take over the booking at Max’s and “straighten out his mess.” The move would prove to be a very important one for Mills, as Crowley brought in many up-and-coming, ground-breaking, but also eccentric, underground bands and artists.

“After only a few weeks of booking shows at Mothers, I was invited to do the booking at Max’s Kansas City and started bringing in bands such as New York Dolls, Misfits, Suicide, Pere Ubu, Blondie, Madonna and Stray Cats,” Peter said. “I knew we were going to be the next big thing, (the sudden success of) Blondie took me by surprise, though.”

Through Crowley’s bookings, Max’s would return to prominence, re-emerging as the city’s northern punk venue-counterpart, to the south’s CBGB’s on the Bowery. Max’s regularly featured, what are now considered some of the most influential and memorable bands of that time, including Talking Heads, Cheap Trick, Television, Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers, Patti Smith Group, Dictators, Runaways, B-52’s, Devo, The Cramps, Cherry Vanilla, and Wayne County & the Electric Chairs, to name a few.

After the re-opening, however, Max’s was not quite the “artist” hot-spot it had once been, although it would certainly re-gain its’ reputation as a great music venue. It again, became trend-setting and certainly not your traditional music venue, to say the least. “After Max’s re-opened, the art crowd never came back,” Crowley added. “I tried to interest Tommy Dean in new art and artists, but he wasn’t really interested… we could have been billionaires.”

In 1976, and released on Tommy Dean’s own Ram Records, Crowley was the executive producer of a compilation album, titled 1976 Max’s Kansas City, now widely considered a punk classic. The release features rare, quality-sounding studio tracks by several bands who were performing at Max’s during that time, including Wayne County And The Back Street Boys, Suicide, Pere Ubu, Cherry Vanilla And Her Staten Island Boys, The Fast, Harry Toledo, and The John Collins Band. A second compilation album (not under the direction of Crowley) was done later, but did not create the same impact.

A re-release of the classic, 1976 Max’s Kansas City album is currently in the works, with a release date set for the spring of 2017 on Jungle Records. The album will feature a second LP, with several bonus tracks, including songs from Sid Vicious, Iggy Pop, Nico, The Psychedelic Frogs and more. Crowley’s original album project introduced some important artists to the world, and his vision in booking such eccentric artists at Max’s, certainly left an undeniable mark on the history of the New York City music scene.

When asked to perhaps touch upon a fond story or two of these decadent days at Max’s, Crowley simply replied; “The Stray Cats and Suicide come to mind, but that’s a long story. My life during the 1970s was like being in a movie… my week was like an ordinary person’s year!” (Editor’s note: We will be enticing Peter to tell us more of these stories in an upcoming, separate article.)

Max’s Kansas City closed its doors for the final time in 1981 – the original building still stands and houses a Korean deli called Green Cafe. Crowley moved on to an agency that booked studio musicians, and also worked as a producer, recording with such bands as The Terrorists with Roland Alphonso, VON LMO, Sea Monster and Jayne Country. Peter has also spun records as a DJ all over the world; from the Purple Onion in San Francisco, to the Marquee Club in London, to the Paradiso in Amsterdam.

Crowley moved to Florida in 2003 and now retired, he volunteers as the “Sunday afternoon DJ” at Earl’s Hideaway Lounge in Sebastian, Florida, playing an eclectic mix of blues, country, rock-and-roll and punk whenever the bands take a break. I’m sure Mr. Crowley has had enough excitement for this lifetime and welcomes the break.

In the late-90s, Tommy Mills did attempt to re-open Max’s at a new site, 240 West 52nd Street, after the previously failed re-location of two other downtown clubs – the Lone Star Roadhouse and the Village Gate. The Max’s opening was delayed because of litigation over the Max’s Kansas City trademark, so, it opened as a fish restaurant for a few weeks, and nearly died. Though Crowley was called in to try and save the day – as Peter had warned Tommy – times had changed and after a few spectacular shows, Max’s finally closed forever.

However, this certainly does not diminish the fact that this legendary night club influenced the very culture of New York City and generations of artists and musicians. Max’s became a “house-party for the stars,” criss-crossing boundaries, showcasing both established and new music, and cementing itself as an open platform for music and art in the city that never sleeps.

In 2001, Yvonne Sewell (Ruskin, Mickey’s partner) established the Max’s Kansas City Project, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation designed to serve the arts and youth communities. The Project is dedicated to providing emergency funding and resources to financially distressed individuals in the creative and performing arts for housing, medical and legal aid.

The Max’s Kansas City Project is also committed to empowering teens through the arts, with a focus on substance abuse, suicide prevention, mentoring, and building the personal skills needed to inspire healthy and productive lives. To learn more about the history of Max’s Kansas City, as well as the Max’s Kansas City Project, please visit maxskansascity.com and maxskansascity.org.

________________________________________
Article by Joe Milliken * Photos: 1. Lead photo courtesy of Peter Crowley 2. Peter with Dee Dee Ramone, photo by Eileen Polk 3. Peter at Mothers in 1975, photo by Gloria Robinson 4. “1976 Max’s Kansas City” album cover 5. Peter in his “posh” Max’s office, photo by Roberta Bailey.
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An interview with Legendary Drummer Bill Bruford.
Joe Milliken
The Jock of Rock
April 16, 2019
3

Drummer, composer, and band leader, Bill Bruford

Drummer, composer, and band leader, Bill Bruford, is recognized as a highly versatile rock and jazz musicians. As a drummer, he helped pioneer the “art rock” genre in the 70’s with bands such as Yes, Genesis, and King Crimson, and would go on to form his own band, Bruford, a progressive outfit designed to satisfy his growing desire to create music outside of the rock realm.

Article by Joe Milliken * Photos courtesy of Bill Brufird

In the mid-1980’s, Bruford then formed his own band called Earthworks, an experimental acoustic-jazz ensemble created to further expand his compositional skills as a jazz band leader. Over the years, the diversity of rock and jazz musicians and bands Bruford has worked with is remarkable; from the aforementioned rock greats Yes and King Crimson, to such legendary jazz names as Al DiMeola, Larry Coryell, and the Buddy Rich Orchestra. In an exclusive interview, Bruford talks to Joe Milliken about both his past musical experiences, and current projects as well.

Joe Milliken: At an early age you received lessons under Lou Pecock of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. What were some of your other early musical influences?
Bill Bruford: I heard a lot of music as a kid, from three sources. My older sister had all the white pop of the day like Elvis and the Beatles. My parents were keen ball room dancers and show tune people – Sinatra, Bennett, and West Side Story. And the older students at school were hooked on jazz – American bop and hard bop greats. Also a lot of R & B – John Mayall, Mick Fleetwood and Eric Clapton. I liked it all, but I really liked jazz.

JM: What have you taken from your progressive rock days with Yes, Genesis and King Crimson, and applied it to your current jazz format?
BB: Of course, we are all products of the musical environment we have chosen. Much of King Crimson was a music lesson inside a music laboratory, and altered my understanding of what it meant to be a musician. Learning to expect the unexpected; accepting that a first response is probably the best; allowing yourself a strong attention to dynamics.

JM: You have shared the drumming duties several times, including Genesis, Yes and a double-trio King Crimson. What is your approach in this type of setting?
BB: Double drummer work is paradoxically confining and liberating; confining in the sense that if you’ve agreed to play it, you’ve got to play it; and liberating because if you have the simple part, the other can offer the complex, or vice versa.

JM: The first album you recorded with UK in 1978, (a band featuring Allan Holdsworth, John Wetton, and Eddie Jobson) remains a favorite of mine. What stands out about that project for you?
BB: I sometimes site Holdsworth’s first solo on the CD, on “In The Dead Of Night”, as a model of how to build a guitar solo. I knew that he was not well known in the U. S. in the late 70’s, and that album would put him on the map. It was a good album, with all four guys – for the first and last time – all pulling in the same direction.

JM: Upon forming Earthworks in 1986, how did the collaboration with Django Bates and Iain Ballamy come about?
BB: Earthworks was based around the idea that the electronic drum set – able to play all manner of chordal, sampled, pitched and un-pitched material – had come of age, and was an instrument that could be used seriously in jazz. The idea was that I would play much of the chordal material, and I would find some young open-minded players from the growing U.K. jazz scene to play lines on top. I already knew the brilliant tenor saxophonist Iain Ballamy, and he introduced me to the equally astonishing horn and keyboard player Django Bates.

JM: In the early days of Earthworks you played a hybrid kit using both acoustic and electric drums, as well as electronic pads to trigger keyboards. Was there a particular drummer or “model” that you followed in creating this format?
BB: Trying to do the harmonic stuff from these new electronic pads was a self-inflicted punishment that was maddening, but any musician worth his salt always wants to push these new instruments past their design capabilities. The manufacturer also wants a high–level endorser to get behind the instrument, often before the equipment is ready for market, which can be a recipe for disaster.

JM: You have been an active clinician throughout America and Europe since the early 90’s. What do you enjoy most about teaching and has it enhanced or effected your own playing or philosophies?
BB: I prefer teaching small groups in an academic atmosphere, as I do at a couple of universities here in the U.K. We are of course, all teachers and students of music, and you realize how little you know when you try to pass the knowledge on!

JM: When starting your Winterfold/Summerfold labels in 2003, I understand that one of your goals was to bridge the gap between the fans of your older progressive/rock days with those of your later Earthworks and jazz ensembles. Do you feel you have accomplished this?
BB: Well, it’s a work in progress. The two labels have some 22 titles in total now, and it has been fun cataloguing, adding tracks, and reviewing archive video and audio material. I’m also into the newer format of DualDisc, with one side audio and the other side video.

JM: On your recent Earthworks Underground Orchestra release, several of your Earthworks compositions are expanded upon through Tim Garland’s “little big band.” How did this new setting effect the music?
BB: The more musicians you have on stage the more accurate the drummer has to be. Playing in a big band is a skill in itself, so it was a pretty fast learning curve. it was great to play in a larger ensemble with all the firepower.

JM: Thanks for your time Bill and we’ll leave you with this… I have not yet heard your World Drummers Ensemble A Coat Of Many Colours DualDisc release, which includes the world renowned percussionists Chad Wackerman, Doudou N’Diaye Rose and Luis Conte. What would you say to the listener putting on the CD for the first time?
BB: Some of the material is very tightly written, and after a while you begin to hear the melody in the pitch in Luis’ congas or Chad’s pitched drums and cymbals. Think of four guys in conversation, but are new to each others’ ways of thinking.

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An Interview With Veteran Bassist/Vocalist Kasim Sulton (2014)
Joe Milliken
The Jock of Rock
April 8, 2019
1

An Interview With Veteran Bassist/Vocalist Kasim Sulton (2014)

Not only is bassist/vocalist Kasim Sulton the long-time sideman for the legendary Todd Rundgren and a founding member of Todd’s band Utopia, Kasim has also been a sought-after session musician for 40 years strong. His impressive list of credits includes working with Mick Jagger, Cheap Trick, Blue Oyster Cult, Meatloaf (yes, the Bat Out Of Hell album), Hall & Oates, Joan Jett, Rick Derringer, Patti Smith, Steve Stevens, Richie Sambora, Patty Smyth and Scandal, Indigo Girls and The New Cars.

In 2014 and sandwiched in between tours with the aforementioned Rundgren and Blue Oyster Cult, Joe Milliken caught up with the ever-busy Sulton after just releasing his third solo album titled 3, his first solo effort since 2002’s Quid Pro Quo. Along with vocals, Kasim played guitar, bass, mandolin, piano and organ on the CD, a stark affirmation of perhaps the overlooked versatility of this artist.

Kasim is always writing songs, with some of the tacks from the new CD going back some five years. “All the songs on this record were written during and after 2009,” Sulton told Milliken. “I had been performing solo shows since the release of Quid Pro Quo and the only other release I had after that was All Sides, which was a four-sided compilation disk with a few new songs on it.

“Of course, there are always pieces of music that I might be working on for years in various stages of completion. There is one song on 3 that was finished well before the record was done but I wasn’t happy with it. So, I stripped it down to just the basic track and re-wrote the melody and lyric. I’m very happy with how ‘Shine’ turned out.”

Nearly all of the twelve songs were recorded by Kasim at his home studio. “I work alone and at home… these days you don’t need assistants to make a record. All but three of the songs on 3 were recorded in my home studio and the three that weren’t, were recorded in London at Phil Thornalley’s studio in St. John’s Wood.

“Normally, I’ll do everything on my solo records from start to finish including mixing, however, on this record I decided that it might be smart to allow someone else to finish the mixing. After working on the record for the better part of three years I just thought I might be too close to the songs to make the best mixing decisions.

“So, I called a couple of guys who I’ve worked with and admired… and gave them each the songs I thought best suited them. I certainly gave input on how I’d like to hear things, what instruments to feature, placement and the like, but I allowed them to create the overall final mixes.”

The first single from 3 titled “Clocks All Stopped,” features Sulton’s Utopia band mates Rundgren and keyboardist Roger Powell, and as one might expect, sounds eerily like some leftover gem from an old Utopia studio session. The track was fine-tuned over a two-year period, with the help of British songwriter Phil Thornalley. The song was Sulton’s chance to record a track that sounds like something you would have found on a Utopia album.

“I was determined to write a song for this record that paid tribute to the band that started my professional career,” Kasim states in the liner notes of 3. “The music was the easy part, for I never had a problem coming up with a few chord changes that is reminiscent of Utopia.”

The track, “Too Much On Her Mind,” was originally written by Bill Spooner – singer, songwriter, guitarist and founder of San Francisco rockers The Tubes. “Friends, family and other folks always offer me their opinion on songs they think I should cover… most of the time I just nod and say ‘hmmm… interesting,’ then change the subject.

“But a friend had told me about a Bill Spooner song I should listen to, for she thought it would be a perfect song for me to record. I’ve known Bill since the early 80’s, as The Tubes and Utopia were connected through Todd Rundgren. I’ve always thought Bill was a brilliant song writer, so, when this tune was mentioned to me, I listened and had to give it a shot.”

“Too Much on Her Mind” also features Greg Hawkes, Sulton’s longtime friend, former keyboard player of The Cars and brief band mate in The New Cars. “Greg and I knew each other prior to The New Cars but had never worked together,” Kasim said, “although we did share the stage a few times when The Cars would open shows for Utopia. I’ve always been a big fan of Greg’s and I believe his contributions to the myriad of hits The Cars enjoyed had as much to do with the success of those songs as the chord changes, melodies and lyrics.”

Other tracks include the classic rock flair of “Fell In Love For The Last Time,” the lush orchestral keyboards and guitars of “Fade Away,” themes of a perpetual working musician in “Traveler” and “Watching The World Go By” and the inner feelings and social commentary of “Shine On,” “15 Minutes” and “God of Low.” Also featured is Sulton’s stunning piano rendition of the classic Gershwin standard “Someone To Watch Over Me.”

Moving forward and after recently finishing up tours with Rundgren and Blue Oyster Cult, Kasim is currently putting together some solo show dates. “I currently have several shows lined up in New York City and Philadelphia between December and mid-January, and I’ll be looking to do a lot more of these shows in the new year,” Sulton concluded. “I really enjoy playing live (solo) and in the past, it’s been a one man show… just myself and a guitar or piano.

“For these new shows, however, I’ll be joined by a couple of other musicians to round out the sound. Short of hiring a full band, I thought it was time to augment my solo shows with another guitarist and a percussionist. I’ll be doing scaled-down versions of most of the songs from the new record, as well as some Utopia material.”

(All photos By Jim Snyder for RockChat.com)

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Bad Company
Joe Milliken
The Jock of Rock
April 3, 2019
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1975, Bad Company released their second studio album titled “Straight Shooter.” Recorded at Clearwell Castle in Gloucestershire, England and produced by the band for Swan Song (label owned by Led Zeppelin), the album was released a month after the release of the hit single “Feel Like Makin’ Love.”

The album received mixed reviews from the critics, despite the album featuring multiple fan favorites. One critic actually claimed that the legendary Paul Rodgers didn’t have a strong enough voice to support the songs. (Give me a break, please!)

The fans obviously ignored the critics, as “Straight Shooter” reached #3 on the Billboard chart, the UK chart and the Canadian chart. The single “Feel Like Makin’ Love” hit #10 on the singles’ chart and “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad” reached #36, while songs such as “Shooting Star,” “Deal With The Preacher” and “Wild Fire Woman” remained staples in the bands live set for years. “Shooting Star” was inspired by the deaths of Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin.

“Straight Shooter” would go “gold” just one month after its release and eventually hit platinum status, selling more than two million copies worldwide.

(All photos By Jim Snyder for RockChat.com)

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Rockchat Rewind Joe Milliken
Joe Milliken
The Jock of Rock
April 2, 2019
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On this day in 1975, guitar legend Jeff Beck released his second solo album titled “Blow By Blow.” Recorded at AIR studio in London and produced by George Martin, Beck had decided to record an “all-instrumental” jazz-fusion album after a brief audition to join The Rolling Stones didn’t “feel right” to him.

He put together a band for the release which included Max Middleton (from the Jeff Beck Group) on keyboards, Phil Chen on bass, Richard Bailey on drums and special guest Stevie Wonder on clavinet, who also contributed two songs to the album including “Thelonius” and “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers,” which Beck dedicated to fellow guitarist Roy Buchanan. The result was a crisp, new direction for the solo artist after previously putting together a couple of bands that didn’t exactly light the world on fire.

The album is full of sharp, progressive songs in the vein of Mahavishnu Orchestra, including five original tracks, plus covers of the Beatles’ “She’s A Woman” and a Bernie Holland song “Hummingbird.” The songs “Scatterbrain” and “Freeway Jam” remain staples in Beck’s live set to this day. Drummer Carmine Appice was originally a part of the writing/recording process, but was removed from the project after contract issues with Beck’s management.
“Blow By Blow” would peak at #4 on the Billboard album chart and went platinum, selling over a million copies worldwide and making it the best-selling release of Beck’s career. In 2001, Legacy Records released a remastered version of this classic album.

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Rockchat Rewind
Joe Milliken
The Jock of Rock
March 14, 2019
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This photo of Jimi Hendrix was taken by his girlfriend the last day of his life on September 18, 1970, he was only 27 years old. It’s hard to believe the influence he still has on music and pop culture today

when you consider he only released four studio albums within a four year span: “Are You Experienced” (1967), “Axis: Bold As Love” (1967), “Electric Ladyland” (1968) and “Band Of Gypsys” (1970). I mean, even the Beatles were around for a decade. Oh yeah, and he was the most creative and influential guitarist ever! #AreYouExperienced

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