Author: mgroesch2014

Zachariah – or how the greatest jazz drummer of the modal era steals the first “electric western”

Zach_OST“Zachariah, The First Electric Western” bellows the deep baritone at the top of the trailer. 

This declaration is quickly followed by some meaty power chords and an aggressive edit full of saloons, flappers, shootouts, strobey type animations and heavily treated footage of The James Gang conducting what Josh Homme might even consider to be the Desert Sessions 1.0.

The film’s artwork depicts a photo of the titular character wearing Janis Joplins shades and space-age ear goggles tucked under his 10 gallon hat. A regular doob smoking steampunk.

Unfortunately the trailer and the poster art are about as psychedlic as the movie gets. The heavily saturated film effects, the headphones, the sunglasses, and the joint, literally do not exist in the movie.  In their place is a pretty tepid (and very campy) coming of age film with a western backdrop.

This excursion is not a total waste, however. What the movie lacks in the plot, performances, production value, and just about everything else, it makes up for in youtube wormholes.

zach_ramseyray_flyerThe screenplay was written by the forward thinking comedy troupe The Firesign Theatre, and was allegedly based on Hesse’s Siddhartha.

The soundtrack and film also featured a Banjo/Fiddle cousin duo known as White Lightnin’ who have a pretty interesting story in their own right.

The best surprise of this film is the inclusion of legendary jazz drummer Elvin Jones as Job Cain, the fastest gun in the west.

The great documentary Beware of Mr. Baker  draws a pretty organic connection between the jazz greats and psychedlic rockers.  Ginger Baker and Elvin Jones had a shoot out of their own sometime in the 1970s. Zachariah, however, is Elvin’s rodeo.

In the clip below, witness Elvin’s Job Cain win a duel and then proceed to commandeer Jim Fox’s drum set for a killer solo. Aerial shot to boot.

The soundtrack is a well sequenced mix of old guy rock (James Gang, New York Rock Ensemble,) Country & Western (Doug Kershaw, White Lightnin’,) and traditional film score.

The James Gang – Laguna Salada

White Lightnin’ – Shy Ann


Mix: All The Tired Horses

Tired_Rev_2015_squareAll The Tired Horses – April 2006

Recently dug up an old mix (and an write up) from 2006.

Country Rock, Southern California Sound, Alt-Country. Call it what you will. The only thing we’ll say for sure is that these people have been beat down.

They’re probably beat down from snorting all night with Mick & Keith, or downing shots with George Jones, but it sure as hell isn’t from herding cattle.

Track List:

1 All The Tired Horses Bob Dylan 0:00
2 Snow Blindfriend Steppenwolf 3:05
3 You’re Still On My Mind The Byrds 6:51
4 Tears Pure Prairie League 9:14
5 (Down To) Seeds and Stems (Again) (Live) Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen 11:53
6 Coast To Coast Fever David Wiffen 15:48
7 Flyin’ Shoes (Live) Townes Van Zandt 19:38
8 Dues Ronee Blakely 23:05
9 Sin City The Flying Burrito Brothers 26:33
10 Jesus In Three Quarters Time – John David Souther 30:36
11 When The Morning Comes Hoyt Axton & Linda Ronstadt 34:10

Cameo: David Briggs & Neil Young – Where The Buffalo Roam

Buffalo_Briggs & Young

Two winos huddle up in the alcove and share a cigarette. It’s David Briggs and Neil Young!

Hunter S. Thompson (Bill Murray) and his attorney, Lazlo (Peter Boyle) are inhaling libations.

Wishing Director Art Linson followed Briggs and Young rather than Murray and Boyle for the remainder of the movie.

Murray is fantastic, but the screenplay was so scattered and light on plot that every ounce of manufactured chemistry between Boyle and Murray is wasted energy.

buffalo_BriggsYoung and Briggs had just as good of a shot at tapping into the Gonzo zeitgeist that embodied Thompson and his real life attorney, Oscar Zeta Acosta.

Their origin story is rooted in that same freewheelin’spirit, when Briggs picked up Neil hitchhiking in Topanga Canyon in 1969. The kindred spirits hit it off, and Briggs ended up producing many of Young’s best albums.

His low-tech streamlined recording process was a huge influence on Young, and Briggs often pushed Neil to his limits in the studio. “When you make rock ‘n roll, the more you think the more you stink.” said Briggs

“When not working, David Briggs enjoyed reading books, chasing beautiful women; driving fast cars; going to Las Vegas; insulting managers, lawyers and record executives; and a number of other endeavors ill-suited for publication,” according to the “official” Neil Young biographer, Jimmy McDonough, in an obit in the Los Angeles Times.

Shout out to IMDB Trivia page for the cameo nugget.

Neil Young – Where The Buffalo Roam OST

Buffalo_SDTK I continue my trek on the celluloid fringe of Neil Young’s discography with the soundtrack to Where The Buffalo Roam.

Other than the factual information that is on the album sleeve, then regurgitated throughout the internet, I’ve found it hard to pinpoint any concrete information regarding Young’s involvement with the project.  How did he become involved? How did the collaboration with the Wild Bill Band of Strings orchestra play out? Tell Me Why? Is it hard to make arrangements with yourself? When you’re old enough to repay but young enough to sell?

In Jimmy McDonagh’s Shakey, a throw away mention of the soundtrack appears only in context of teeing up work on Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man.

In addition to everything else, Neil also began work on his first real film score (discounting a thrown-together Where the Buffalo Roam in 1980) for Jim Jarmusch’s surreal Western, Dead Man.

Here’s what we do know:
– Neil’s total contribution to the soundtrack is approximately nine minutes worth of music.
– All nine minutes is a variation on a theme of Traditional “Home On The Range.”
– Neil’s longtime producer David Briggs was the Music Supervisor on the project.

Briggs’ track selection play like an miniature Time-Life collection of the Sixties. Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisted,” Hendrix’s “All Along The Watchtower” and “Purple Haze,”  The Four Top’s “Papa Was A Rolling Stone.” The only real standout rocker is the Creedence deep cut “Keep On Chooglin’.”

Wikipedia tells us that: Because of the high cost of music licensing, most VHS and all DVD releases have retained only the Neil Young score and the Creedence song, “Keep on Chooglin'”, with the rest of the music replaced by generic approximations of the original songs. Only the theatrical release and early VHS releases contained the songs found on the soundtrack. The choice of songs for the DVD version was somewhat anachronistic, since it featured 1980s-style songs in a 1960s and 1970s setting. However, the streaming version I saw a few months back on Netflix had all the original songs.

Despite the limited minutes from Young, his “Home On The Range,” is beautiful. A few measures of pomp and circumstance followed by an acapella performance that is pure Shakey.  If you can find a copy of the out-of-print soundtrack for a reasonable price, go for it.

“Buffalo Stomp” > “Ode To Wild Bill #1” – Neil Young with The Wild Bill Band of Strings

“Home On The Range” – Neil Young

Prelude – After The Goldrush (Neil Young)

Prelude_goldrushPrelude’s acapella cover of Neil Young’s “After The Goldrush,” gives me goosebumps.  The good kind of goosebumps.

It makes me wish I could watch the final scene of the unrealized Dean Stockwell screenplay that inspired the song, just to have this version play over the closing credits.

“I was gonna write a movie that was personal, a Jungian self-discovery of the gnosis,” said Stockwell. “It involved the Kabala, it involved a lot of arcane stuff.” Though the After The Gold Rush script is currently missing, Shannon Forbes recalls that it involved a huge tidal wave coming to destroy Topanga. “It was sort of an end-of-the-world movie,” she said. “At the very end, the hero is standing in the Corral parking lot watching this huge wave come in and this house is surfing along, and as the house comes at him, he turns the knob and that’s the end of the movie.” Russ Tamblyn was to play an over-the-hill rocker living in a castle; others vaguely recall some scene of George Herms carrying a huge “tree of life” through the canyon. – Shakey: Neil Young’s Biography by Jimmy McDonagh

Shout out to Bob Brainen’s show on WFMU for introducing me to this track.

Prelude – After The Goldrush

Pause Tape: Kooks/Till The Morning Comes (David Bowie/Neil Young)

Pause_Kooks_PhotoDavid Bowie has never made it a secret that his ode to fatherhood, Kooks, was written after an inspired listening session to Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush.

I first read about it in the very thorough (read encyclopedic) The Complete David Bowie, but have also read up on it at the top shelf and tireless Bowie Songs.

The story goes that Bowie was listening to the record when he got the news that his son Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones was born on May 30, 1971.  He allegedly wrote the song one day, and performed it a week later during a BBC Session.

I’d been listening to a Neil Young album and they phoned through and said that my wife had a baby on Sunday morning, and I wrote this one about the baby. – David Bowie to BBC studio audience 6/3/71

When they phoned!

Just the idea of Bowie being in some sort of artistic seclusion somewhere, smoking a pipe, listening to vinyl while the mother of his child is in labor plays right into his mythology. Throw in a wall full of televisions and we’ve got an early draft of The Man Who Fell To Earth. Oh fatherhood.

Here is a Pause Tape containing snippets of the two songs. The horn part in both songs are pretty similar, so it seemed like a logical splicing point.

Pause Tape – Kooks/Till The Morning Comes

Neil Young & Devo – Hey Hey, My My

Palette cleanser with this other Eighties collab of Hey Hey, My My.

From Neil Young’s 1982 Cult movie Human Highway, which allegedly will be getting an official Director’s Cut re-release any day now.

The movie co-stars Devo, Russ Tamblyn, Dean Stockwell, and Dennis Hopper, among others. Watch the trailer and look at some stills over at Neil’s Shakey Pictures Human Highway page, which is where I lifted this little bio right here:

Production of the film began in the late 1970’s and lead to an eventual screening at the Mill Valley Film Festival in 1982.

Mixed reactions from the assembled audience of film buffs and music fans gave the producers cause for reflection and they immediately went back to editing, resulting in parts of the movie being strewn about all over the cutting room floor….destined to be forgotten and left behind in a laissez faire manner.

The post Mill Valley work lead eventually to the mid-90’s limited release VHS and LaserDisc versions of Human Highway that are much sought after by collectors today. As of this writng, these are the only commercially available copies of the film.

More time passed and the world moved boldly into the 21st Century.

Mr. Shakey and his long time producer L.A. Johnson returned once again to Human Highway editing and sought out the elusive missing footage that would help piece back together their original vision of a possible future.

A few new ideas came out of the writer’s shack and some were added to flesh out the telling of the story.

The team at Shakey Pictures was then tasked with locating, cataloging and viewing every element ever associated with the film in the hopes of finding the masters sources.

Long days and nights passed as they went through rooms of boxes, countless canisters of film and negatives in their search, eventually locating and restoring the picture to Mr. Shakey’s liking and high standards of excellence.

The Shakey Pictures audio department conducted similar searches, identifying the master analog multi-track tapes and original analog Nagra dialogue reels which they restored and transferred at high resolution for digital assembly and surround sound mixing.

Now, 32 years after Human Highways’ first screening, Bernard Shakey is ready to share it once again.

Bring it on Bernard.

Neil Young & Devo – Hey Hey, My My

Loudon Wainwright III & Rebecca De Mornay – Hey Hey, My My (Neil Young)

Sluggers_CoverThe 80’s were unkind to many of our greats.

The Slugger’s Wife is a prime example of some super talented people getting sucked into the undertow of me-decade trends. Neil Simon, Caleb Deschanel, and the director Hal Ashby to name a few.

This vehicle makes me wish that Hal had battled through to the early 90’s, when indie film had it’s renaissance, and he could have had a revered late career surge ala Robert Altman.

Nonetheless, curiosity got the best of me when I saw this in the dollar bin (okay, two-dollar bin), and I started poring over the tracklist. I just had to hear Loudon Wainwright and Rebecca De Mornay’s version of Neil’s “Hey Hey, My My.”

Now I know.  Here it is, in all it’s tinny, reverb, programmed drum-fill glory.

Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) – Loudon Wainwright III & Rebecca De Mornay

Wednesday Links – 2.4.15

Dust & Grooves: Colleen Murphy (Classic Album Sundays)
I can’t stop with these Dust & Grooves features. Shelves and shelves and shelves of records for days, and the anecdotes of some serious collectors. Click through at your own risk, it’s a time suck

Terry Kath Documentary
Electra Glide wormhole led me to this trailer for an in the works documentary about the late Chicago guitarist Terry Kath.  The doc is being helmed by his daughter who was two years old at the time of his passing. We follow her some thirty plus years later as she sets out to learn more about him via interviews with his old friends and band mates.

Neil Hamburger Nation
With a recent Sundance premiere and today’s Season Six premiere of Adult Swim’s On Cinema, it’s a good time to be a Gregg Turkington fan. Grantland’s Matt Patches has a great write up that touches on the evolution of Turkington’s anti-comedian Neil Hamburger, and the interplay of the Hamburger persona within the new Rick Alverson film to Entertainment.
Found this pretty decent stream of the movie, if my last post whetted your appetite.

Electra Glide In Blue – Soundtrack

Electra_Cover A western with motorcycles in lieu of horses.  A right wing response to Easy Rider. The most beautiful b-movie ever shot.  Electra Glide In Blue can be called a number of things, but it can’t be called boring.

In his one and only turn as a film director, music producer James William Guercio allegedly took a one dollar salary for his director rate so that he could afford to hire legendary cinematographer Conrad Hall.  The film is absolutely gorgeous.


The movie succeeds in delivering a compelling character study of John Wintergreen (Robert Blake) as an Arizona motorcycle cop aspiring to be detective, but is not as successful in hammering down on a consistent tone. Guercio unintentionally creates a genre exercise that is part John Ford film, part melodrama, and part 70’s exploitation film.

The soundtrack does nothing to taper those flights of fancy.  At the time Guercio was best known as the producer for the band Chicago (thus explaining the cameos by Peter Cetera and co.) and he seemingly couldn’t help himself from throwing the kitchen sink at the soundtrack, which he helped score. There are Byrds inspired country-folk ballads courtesy of Mark Spoelstra, a few Shaft-influenced cuts that could fit into the Blue Note Rare Groove Series, and a good amount of dialogue from the film. Nonetheless, like the movie, it’s a pretty fun ride.

“Overture,” written and produced by Guercio, opens like a Sergio Leone spaghetti western that eventually just builds into what sounds like the open to every network TV action show in the 70s.

“Tell Me,” also written by Guercio, but sung by Chicago guitarist Terry Kath, is an over the top ballad that acts as the exclamation to the dramatic final scene of the movie. Kath channeling Ray Charles croons about America and mankind in what is either sincerely earnest or very jingoist attempt to drive a point home.

Overture – James Williams Guercio

Tell Me – Terry Kath