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Posts tagged ‘Van Morrison’

The Rock & Roll Three-Way: Peter Wolf’s Couch

If I could be anyone in rock and roll history, a very strong case could be made for being Peter Wolf.

I admire the guy for many reasons: his work as a musician, his work as a DJ, his Dean status at the College of Musical Knowledge and the friends he keeps. If you don’t know his story, you really should read his bio on his website.

He has been there, done that and then some. I’ve always said that if there were any bands I could have played in they would be The Band and The J.Geil’s Band. They are my poles; anything from either end and in between is where I want would to be. Though I have no realconnection to him whatsoever, I do feel a bit of fan-kinship with “The Wolfa”.

He’s not Boston born and bred, but he spent a quite a bit of his life there and is synonymous with the Boston music scene. I grew up in NH and Boston was always my music-beacon. I read everything Steve Morseever wrote in the Boston Globe and dreamt of being at all the legendary clubs, dives and concert halls that I laid eyes on.

He started out as a the music and program director and late-night, deep-cuts, mile-a-minute DJ for Boston’s then renegade rock and roll radio station, WBCN. When I was growing up in Keene, N.H., my radio was always pegged to 104.1. Wolf had long since hung-up the headphones by the time I started listening, but for me ‘BCN was still the station. I wanted to be a part of everything they talked about; no internet then, so the only way to do this was to listen. I listened everyday. I was so affected that I remember when I first moved to Boston I was hell bent on living as close to the (my) two Boston icons that drew me there: Fenway Park and the ‘BCN studios. I lived in walking distance of both.


Wolf loves the blues and classic R&B and Soul music. That is my wheelhouse; my music collection is testament to that. Wolf has a huge rock and roll rolodex. In the Sweet-Spot Sixties, Wolf made friends with everyone that past through Boston’s music scene; his work as the ‘BCN DJ gave him much access to interview all of them. Apparently he was quite the host at home, too. He had an apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


His apartment was a who’s who of guests, roommates and hangers-out. Shit, even Barry Tashian of the Remains lived at Wolf’s place (Please, please  check out the Remains if you don’t know about them. A hugely influential and unheralded Boston band…they opened for the Beatles on their Fab Four’s last tour). The First Wolf…Howlin’ Wolf was a frequent visitor as were Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. Not good enough for you? Van Morrison moved to Cambridge around the same time Wolf lived there. Legend has it that Van couch-surfed at Wolf’s place and penned the songs that would end up on Astral Weeks while doing so. Hot Damn. The Folks and the Lore of Rock and Roll all stayed at Wolf’s place…the stories are endless.

Most of Peter Wolf’s fame comes from the Geils days. I love that stuff. Love it. My true fave rave Wolf material comes from his solo albums, especially his last three: Fool’s Parade, Sleepless and Midnight Souvenirs. If I could make music, if I could write and play, if I could produce vibes…I would make music like these Peter Wolf solo albums. There is such integrity and feel in all of these albums. They are personal albums; they are party albums; they are proclamations and presentations of influence, admiration and skill…and you can dance them.

He puts all of his first hand experience, learned wisdom and tacit knowledge into these suckers. He create the feel and works in the music. Speaking of the music…it is time to unveil The Rock & Roll Three-Way I promised you.

Here are three songs from artists that spent time either sleeping on Peter Wolf’s couch or kicking back on it while listening to records and greeting the sunrise.

The Remains(with Barry Tashian) – “Don’t Look Back”, Glorious garage rock at its finest.

Howlin’ Wolf – How Many More Years. Take a few moments to hear Ol’ Wolf tell us what the blues really is and then rip into a classic live performance.

Van Morrison– “Astral Weeks”.  You think Van wrote this one while couch-surfing?

So there you have it my friends, another Rock & Roll Three-Way: 1 >> Barry Tashian of the Boston garage band, the Remains used to be Peter Wolf’s Roommate 2 >> Howlin’ Wolf was a guest at Wolf’s place (as seen in the included picture) 3 >> Van Morrison couch-surfed at Wolf’s place and spent many a night there listening to music and penning classic tunes. 


Oh yeah…one other Wolf connection: In the sixth grade there was this girl that loved the then popular J.Geils Band’s song, Centerfold. I was a fool for her. She used to love to roller skate it when it came out of the speakers on Friday nights at the YMCA (that’s when I learned to skate backwards). She always loved that song. I always longed to have her star in it.Do you have any fave rave Wolf songs or experiences?


Funny/sad story for you. Back in May I flew from London to Boston. I was there to meet an old friend and now, new business partner. I hadn’t seen him in a while…near 20 years. The night I flew in he suggested we meet. Cool…happy to…wanted to. We needed to, actually. We needed to talk shop at bit and we was being a damn good host. What I didn’t and couldn’t tell him was that I would have been happy to have him just meet me the next morning.

See, that night I had a ticket to see Peter Wolf at the Wilbur Theatre, a small and legendary Boston venue. Peter was playing a one-off to promo his latest release, Midnight Souvenirs. It was a dream gig for me: fly in from London, check in at hotel, kick around in Boston and soak in the scene and then see Peter Wolf play in his backyard.

I had obligations and didn’t want to blow off my buddy. I was hoping it would be a quick drink and then I could flash over to Cambridge to catch the gig. Nope. We ended up having dinner, drinks and lots of conversation; a very good catch-up. Was it the right decision? Yes, it was. We’re walking a long a winding trail right now and we needed to get off on the right foot. Plus, I had a great time.

A few nights later, one of the artists on our label was having an album release party at Boston’s House of Blues. None other than the afore mentioned Steve Morse showed up(!). That was cool. I got to say thanks for all the turn-ons from all his columns. That felt good. I was asking about the music scene and what he was seeing/hearing that was good. Yup, you guessed it…he said he was at the Peter Wolf gig a couple nights prior.

Yup, the same one I had a ticket for. He told me, “I’ve seen a lot of Wolf performances, but that one ranked as one of the best”. Ohh…gut-punch!

I’m Seeing Van Morrison at the Royal Albert Hall tonight: My Requests

Tonight is my third show at the Royal Albert Hall since I loved to London just a year ago. I’ve seen Ray Lamontagne and Jackson Browne w/David Lindley. Tonight I am not so much going to see a performer as much as I am going to hear him fill up that legendary acoustic castle. Tonight Van Morrison is puffing the chest and cleaning out the pipes. 

Tonight is a one-off performance of “hits”. I wish it was a performance of Astral Weeks. That is a fave rave album of mine and I may just like the live version put out a few years ago bette than the original. Ok…that’s a tough, tough call, but the Live at the Hollywood Bowl version is damn good. The orignal is full of tension, anticipation and earnestness. The live one has a bit more swagger, swing and sway…added to it. I love it. A fave rave headphones, whiskey and dim-lights album. 

Hopefully somewhere in between the true radio hits we get a few deep tracks and cool cuts. If I could get hold of the set list and add three songs, these would be it. Enjoy. 

St. Dominic’s Preview

Cleaning WIndows

Slim Slow Slider

Oh, what the hell. Let’s put another on the list. If this is a “hits” night, this one might get played before my other three requests. I love that staccato delivery of the verses. It’s taught and proud. 

Warm Love
Van Morrison – Warm Love 

The Return of Lunch Break Lacquer (Boston Edition): Inhabiting Planet Records

At my old job I used to work in the London borough of Camden. Right next door to Camden is London’s Soho. There are all kinds of used record shops in Camden and Soho. During lunch I would head out of the office…not to eat, mind you, but to visit some of the nearby used vinyl vaults. Hey, I have my priorities. Food…vinyl…vinyl…food…I’d eat vinyl if I could taste the music. 

Whenever I made one of these lunch time record runs, I would write a blog post about it. I called it: Lunch Break Lacquer. It is about time we trotted out that segment again. 

I’m in Boston for work this week. I am staying in Harvard Square in Cambridge. I usually stay in this same hotel when I visit Boston. Harvard Square is full of activity, nightlife and good bars with great beers on tap. Everything I need is within walking distance: gym, bars, sushi and, best of all, Planet Records…a used vinyl joint. 

This is one of my first stops as soon as I check into my hotel. I arrived here Sunday night and by the time I checked in and ran over to the shop, it was closed. Crap. Plan B: get a ridiculous amount of takeaway sushi and watch the Eagles vs. the Redskins back at the hotel. Tomorrow is another day.

Tomorrow is here and today I decided that I would drop by Planet Records at lunch time; a perfect opportunity to post a Lunch Break Lacquer update…U.S.A style.

Planet Records has been in Harvard Square for almost 30 years. They also have an eBay and Amazon shop; convenient, but nothing beats flipping through vinyl bins. I flipped through bins for close to two hours today. I found some buried treasure, too. I am curating a vinyl collection that focuses on two things: breadth and album quality/vinyl listening worthiness. I want to have a variety of albums that are either classic, multiple listen albums and/or albums that are great vinyl experiences. 

I think I covered that criteria for the most part. Here is what I picked up today. 
  • Astral Weeks, Van Morrison: I have the recently released, “Live at the Hollywood Bowl” version of this classic; it breaks my mind every time I listen to it. I had to get the original studio version…long overdue. (I just paused from typing to put this on the headphones. Damn, I love this album…cue the chicken skin). I am seeing Van on the 24th of October at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Can’t wait to hear his pipes fill that palace. 
  • More Real Folk Blues, Sonny Boy Williamson II: I always check the blues section of any vinyl vault first. I have a “list of finds” with a number of blues albums on it. This one by Sonny Boy wasn’t on it, but nonetheless, it was a no brainer. Sonny Boy…original Chess pressing…the blues. Yep, had to be done. 
  • J.Geils Band, J.Geils: Hey, I am in Boston…gots ta buy some J.Geils. Actually, I have made it a tradition to buy at least one Boston band used vinyl when I am in town. This album cooks with gas. It has so much raw energy, you could power a small village with it. There are two bands that I would have loved to have been in: early Geils and The Band. 
  • Leon Russell and the Shelter People, Leon Russell: this is the guts-balls of Ol’ Leon. If he was a cow, this would be his prime cut.  
  • Easy Tiger, Ryan Adams: I am Ryan Adams fan. I’m not a fan of all of his schitzo-efforts, but I think this album ranks near the top of his heap. Halloween Head is a sick track.
  • Trans, Neil Young: When I was here last, I almost bought this from Planet Records. I have been thinking about it ever since. Now I don’t have to. I love the album cover. The name of my macbook pro is “Syscrusher“. Yes, I am a fool. Neil is fucking cool. 
Speaking of Neil Young and Trans…have you ever seen this video of Neil & Devo slashing and dashing through “Hey, Hey, My, My”. NO?! Buckle up ’cause the ride is about to get treacherous. This is 9:53 of some sick shit. “This is a story of Johnny Spud” and Devo and Neil tell it like it is. The story of how this came to be is cool, too. Devo thought Neil was an old fart…Neil showed them otherwise. Listen to Neil just hammer that riff into submission. YES!


So, all these albums for less than $40. Not bad, eh?  Believe you me…the damage could have been significantly worse. I put a half a dozen more of these black beauties back on the racks. Not too worry, I’ll be back for more. 

I am sitting in the window of my hotel room typing away. It is raining. The neon lights of the street below are reflecting off the puddles. I am halfway through Astral Weeks. Life is good.


It’s not what you play, it’s how you play it: live music puts a tiger in my tank

“Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.” 

That is a quote by one of my heroes: Hunter S. Thompson. Hunter…I miss your honesty, your true grit and your wisdom. Oh, your wisdom; the wisdom found in this statement prances and preens like one of your precious proud peacocks. I can’t agree more with what Hunter is saying here: Music = Fuel.

I want to take that one step further.  If music is indeed fuel, then live music is super-unleaded; high-test; moonshine.

I’ve been heavily into the live portion of my collection as of late. Great live albums/songs are touchstones to me. If I need a pick me up, if I need to be jolted or if I just need a cheap thrill…I can always turn to some fave live music. 

Case in point…I am trolling the back catalog lately in anticipation for three purchases that will happen in the next two weeks: all of them live. 

I love this time of the year. Record labels are putting out lush box sets hoping to hook holiday gift buyers and solo splurgers. I am a

record company’s chum; sharks sniff me out and attack and rip me…and my wallet…to shreds. Bring it on. These sets tend to be grandiose with a price tag to match.  It is not that I have money to burn…if I did I would be an arsonist…but I know what I like and what I gots-ta have.

The three sets I am pacing the floor for are:

The Rolling Stones: Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out [40th Anniversary Deluxe Version]. This is the proud black panther crawlin’ up and down my hall. As far as live music goes, this may be the best show of ’em all: a flat-out, hands-down, sure-bet live masterpiece. This set has the whole kit and caboodle: Three LPs, three CDs, one DVD, books, posters and a lock of Mick’s pubic hair. Go HERE to check out this magnificent booty.

This album may contain my fave live tune EVER: “Little Queenie“. This song has it all: Mick teases the home crowd with a shout out (“You talk a lot New York City….”), it is a cover tune and it takes that cover tune and turns it into a stone cold monster…a raunchy, only when the moon is full, full-tilt, evil-twin version. It also has multiple guitar solos in it. “Little Queenie” sets the standard for what live rock and roll can be. All this and it has Keef Richards playing some of the his best riffs ever. Dirty.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: quot; target=”_blank”>The Live Anthology. Four CDs of live TP & The HBs from way back to right now. Everything I hear about this positions it as bow-down material. I think I have to go BluRay version for this.

Tom Waits: Glitter and Doom – Live. I’m going for vinyl on this one. When ever I get done with a Tom Waits listening session I am unsure whether or not red means stop and green means go. Tom Waits swims against the current.

Live music…it is going to be my fuel for the holidays. I want to share a few fave live tunes with you. There is NO WAY I could begin to put together a  list of ALL of my faves…not possible. What I have for you here are ten front-burner faves that I always can turn to when my gage reads “E”.  

Normally I like to embed a playlist here in this post; I couldn’t find all the songs I wanted to share. Instead, I am gifting them to you in a download.  Tis the season, eh?  Here is what you will find in the playlist, including a bit of twitter’esque commentary on each:
  • Everyday I have the Blues (BB King – “Live at the Regal”): this is the first song on the album. The crowd is in BBs hand before Lucille’s second solo rings out.
  • Live Wire (AC/DC – “Bonfire”): This takes place in a radio studio with a small live crowd. How do they strike sparks this fast?!  Combustible music.
  • Mean Woman Blues (Jerry Lee Lewis – “Live at the Star Club, Hamburg Germany”): Pure, unadulterated raw power. The Killer is on fucking fire here.
  • Walk It Talk It (Lou Reed – “American Poet”): Again this one is recorded live in a radio studio. Lou Reed is a rock and roller on this one…it has a definite Chuck Berry sound. 
  • Cowgirl in the Sand (Neil Young – “Live at the Fillmore”): Neil covers the spectrum of his guitar playing abilities on this: intense. Listen to Jack Nitschze’s haunting piano: creepy.
  • Little Queenie (Rolling Stones – “Ya-Ya’s”): Like I said, this is unmatched R&R.
  • Don’t Think Twice Its Alright (Eric Clapton – “Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Special”): “Bobfest”, as dubbed by Neil. This might be Clapton’s last great performance. The second guitar solo makes your head shake involuntarily. Whew. And…its a cover song.
  • Emotionally Yours (The O’Jays – “Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Special”): Wow…this song has that rising power that takes you soaring with it. Emotional, indeed…
  • Caravan (Van Morrison – “Last Waltz”) – Another qualifier of live greatness: the all-star jam. Van takes this one over the top with a handful of crescendos…and with a crazy purple spandex outfit [yikes!]
  • You Don’t Know Like I Know: (Sam & Dave – “The Complete Stax Singles, Disk 4”): Arguably two of the greatest live performers ever. Listen to the fun and excitement in this one. You can’t help but move to it. 
Download the “Live Moonshine” playlist HERE.