1/21/2007

The engineer was a cat named Sean and later on he got real gone

Yeah, everybody's got their story of this one and everyone's got their cut. This is The Malarian's final album the way I heard it. The working title of this is '88 was "Finished In This Town" and while Mal Thursday went on to cut a fuckin' BLISTERING live album with another lineup that came out under that title, this is just th' way I like to remember it.

There's a lot more really, really solid material from these sessions but this right here is the fuckin' heat. I've leaned on our original stuff and a couple of raging covers i.e. th' Turtles' majestic "A Walk In The Sun" and "Do Like Me" by long-lost garage geniuses Nobody's Children.

The stories behind the sessions and the band are myriad and alternately funny, poignant, tragic, sordid and action-packed the way they fucking SHOULD BE. They're also the precious personal memories of a lot of people I'm still close to and who are almost to a man still above ground and kicking ass in various ways.

In other words, I'll leave th' mythologizing for someone else. These are the songs. This is The Malarian's unreleased 1988 epic, Finished In This Town.

Th' password is "froist".

I'm going to spin it once and just sort of reminisce in real-time to the tracks and with any luck a flavor of the sessions, the times and the circumstances will emerge.

1. "Taking Over": curtain rises on an early afternoon in th' spring of 1988. Fort Apache Studios in glamorous Roxbury, Boston, MA. Johnny Tomorrow clears the air with a big-ass power chord and Lime Ricky Keith Moons us into this epic. Wow, some tones going on here. All this stuff was helmed by Sean Slade and Treat Her Right harp player Jim Fitting. We were recording on 16-track analog, 8 tracks at a time. So we could use the tape twice. Yeah.

The bridges on this are insane. Love bassist Slater Awn's blond semi-hollow Fender Coronado. Boy, what a great, funny song this is.

2. "A Taste Of Five": This one is a good introduction to the Malarian love of stories. This story is about a guy in a band getting called up for Vietnam. It was based on a story we'd heard of a band that all got drafted in '66 and at their final gig they all freaked out and pissed on their instruments and stuff.

"A Taste Of Five" is some good-old depression-era slang for "a slap in the face". When I wrote this song (Mal wrote all the verses) I liked the idea of "five". Five fingers on a hand, five members in the band and there's a section in 5/4 at the end. Which is where I make my skilled and breathtaking debut on fake vibes.

These first two songs use the classic Malarian lineup- Mal Thursday up front, me on Farfisa, Johnny Tomorrow on guitar, Slater Awn on bass and Lime Ricky on th' kit. Onstage and in the studio we often assumed "formation B" wherein I played rhythm guitar and Mal played organ. This was usually the case when someone other than Mal was singing the song.

As in the third track- The Turtles '66 classic

3. "A Walk In The Sun": Quite a guitar tapestry here. See, at Apache they'd bought all the stage gear from the "Beatlemania" tour that was leaving the country so they'd ended up with all this great mid sixties gear. On this track I played a Gretsch Country Gentleman through a Vox AC30 and Johnny plays his Fender XII and who knows what-all else.

This certainly is mournful and majestic. Love the twelve-string bridges.

4. "It's A Crime": Slater steps up to the mic with his classic. Oh, I hear me playing a Squier through a Rat in those breaks. Nasty. This song was great live. What a cool singer- his voice always had this sincere teenage thing. Fuck it, we practically were teenagers. Big harmonies, eh? Sean Slade taught us all about stacking and that.

Oh, there's a solo by Johnny in full Zeppelin mode. Raging. More AC30 jangle by the boatload. And farfisa through the Leslie speaker.

5: "Are You Going To Be There (At The Riot)": Like a cut from an evil Sgt. Pepper, this one. We're back in formation A for this one. Wow, this sounds like The Sex Pistols if they'd come out in 1966. This was culled from some B movie or another called "Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In)".

This is less a song than a performance event. I remember striping in all these sound effects off John's four track. This is a Johnny Tomorrow number- you can tell by the angular chord changes and the minor-keyed epicness. "Your mom and dad used to own this town/But now they're down in the gutter gettin' kicked around". Ha ha. "Your little sister just shot a cop".

Love those breaks. The sirens.

6. "She's The One": this was my first sort of "Revolver" influenced Malarian song. I figured it was time to modernize and for me this meant copping from the mid instead of the early 60's. Or something.

It's a pop psychedelic rock 'n' roll carpet ride, this one. Man, were we sucking up a lot from the Dukes Of Stratosphear. I really hear it on "She's The One".

Beautiful, beautiful instrumental break on this one. I brought in acoustic guitars under Johnny's gorgeous doubled solo and I played that last bit through the ubiquitous Rat pedal. It was supposed to be done on a Coral electric sitar but I don't think we had the Coral anymore.

7: "Boom Boom": A bar-rocking nugget from the mysts of tyme. I'm familiar with th' John Lee Hooker version but there are lots of versions.

Jim Fitting drapes this in his virtuoso blues harp. Wow. I'm on Farfisa organ. Very inspired run on this. Live, if I'm not mistaken.

8: "You Shoulda Lied": Another romantic ditty from Johnny Tommorow. Quite a guitar orchestra here.

A lot of these songs (maybe all of them) began with a title that sounded convincingly pimply. I actually had one that never made it in called "Fuck You Girl" that was cool. Also another one called "Outta Luck"- "outta luck, outta luck, outta luck, outta luck little girrrrrl..." Ha.


9. "Paranoid": Heyyy...what about a surf instrumental? This was originally called "Hospital Waste". This was back when all that shit was washin' up.

This certainly has some layers. Dig Johnny's clean solo on the bridge. Crazy shit. That's got to be a Telecaster and it sounds like a Dynacomp is involved.

10. "I'm Mean"- Mal steps back up to th' mic with what I believe is a Lime Ricky number. We have Jim fitting again on harp and what's going on is he's commenting on Johnny Tommorow's rhythm and lead guitar over on the left side. This was an overdub for sure. I remember him perfecting the phrasing and hitting it in passes in the control room.

Jesus, the processing on Mal's voice is awesome. I'm surprised we let ourselves be that hi tech.

Yeah, listen to Jim over on the right play with John's parts. That didn't sound right. You know what I mean.

This one is one of my personal favorite discoveries from the vault. I think all I did on this was go duh-duh-DUH-DUH-duh-duh-DUH-DUH through a fuzz box.

11. "Do Like Me": this was always one of John's signature songs. It's a 60's nugget and he delivers it with a sort of girlish lilt that is really kind of menacing. This is a really great vocal, man. I think the 1988-ness of these recordings come through here a lot- the whole guitar gestalt is totally REM. I do a sort of Peter Buck 12-string non-solo in the middle of this.

Wow, another favorite for me. Ridiculous harmonies.

12. "You Know The Game": we step into pop mode for the Slater Awn closer. This is his finest hour in my opinion. This song was so pop but we all loved it and pictured it as a single. I got to have a lot of fun on this on organ and really arranged the hell out of my part. It was the first time I got hip to the whole Leslie thing and worked in some swells and all that "real" organ stuff on my solo. The idea was to make it sort of baroque with two lines going. Since we knew this would be a huge hit I ceded the second half of my solo to the hit-making harp of Jim Fitting.

Man, nice vocal on this. That guy was a great, natural, unstudied singer.

So that's The Malarian's epic unreleased masterpiece, my friends. I don't know if I'm breaking any unspoken copyright thing or if I'll piss anyone of by posting it so grab it while you can. Thank you and good night.


4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool stuff! Please tell me there is also a bubblegum project in your archive ;)

6:44 AM  
Anonymous brentmeister general said...

Ooh, just three songs into this collection and I'm digging it, baby.
.
Good stuff.
Good, good stuff.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Bobby Lightfoot said...

Yernt- no question about it. This stuff is th' heat. The real McCoy.

There's just so many guitars and drugs.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Bobby Lightfoot said...

But that's just how _I_ measure musical quality.

3:46 PM  

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