Okay, I'm gonna bring it down a little for this next one.
If you're anything like me, you're 32 years old and were born on July 17, 1973, so you don't think much about natural death. Accidental death, sure why not? But unless you're an unfortunate disease sufferer (in which case you're not like me, so the comparison no longer stands), the only mortality staring you in the face is purely hypothetical.
Now then, take my wife's father. PLEASE! No, but seriously - take my wife's father. About six months ago, he was diagnosed with a very rare form of leukemia, and since then has experienced a number of setbacks, mostly related to his red blood cells not creating any more blood. But there's always been this feeling - "Well, he may only have a year or two left..." Then all of a sudden, last week it became, "He's really not doing well. He may only have a few months left." Then, over the course of a single night earlier this week, his body took a complete nosedive and now they're saying it's just a matter of days. But see -- he's still coherent. Or rather, he's too weak to talk or stand up or roll over or anything, but his brain is still alert enough to know exactly what is happening to him. Think about that -- he's in there, a 76-year-old man, war hero, loving father, devoted husband.... he doesn't want to die yet. My wife tells me she keeps catching him crying. Not like big baby blubbers crybaby, but -- he's scared. He doesn't want his time to be over. That's not something a normal person is ever going to be ready for. And he has no idea what will happen after he dies. So he's just lying there, helplessly watching as his body loses all of its fat and muscle, horrific bedsores multiply all over his legs, and the doctor talks to his family about 'end-of-life issues' -- knowing full well that he's not going to recover and he will soon cease to be. Worst of all, as my wife pointed out to me, he still sleeps peacefully. Think about this -- you know how sometimes you have a really good dream about it being Christmas and you having sex with somebody and then you wake up and are disappointed to discover it's not real? Alternately, how about when you have a horrible nightmare about having an exam in a class that you haven't gone to all semester and there's a ghost trying to kill you, and then you wake up and are so relieved that it was just a dream? Well, no matter what my wife's father dreams -- a wonderful sugarcandy dream of America or a nervewracking nightmare of papercuts -- when he slowly stirs his way back into consciousness, he opens his eyes and remembers that his reality is far, far more horrible. I'm not saying people should expect to live forever, or that we should all sit around and worry about death all the time, but Christ, why can't we all die like "Weird Al" Yankovic's parents?
On a slightly less depressing note, I seem to still be attracting angry letters from readers left and right, telling me if I can't appreciate so-and-so, I should stop writing reviews etc blah blah blah. Now look - I've been doing this site for over a decade now. Okay, actually I did it for 2 1/2 years, then took 2 1/2 years off, and have now been back 'doin' it' (fuckin') for five years and counting. But there's still been a web site of my record reviews up on the Introweb for over a decade. And what happens over the course of a decade? (A) People change, (B) Hey, how's it going? Sorry, I thought I had a B, but then I realized it was really just a subset of A. People change. I have changed. My musical tastes have changed. My writing and reviewing style have changed multiple times. And because I seldom re-read anything I write after posting it, there's probably a ton of stuff on here that I no longer agree with or think is amusing. For example, for a while I was reviewing every single album I listened to - which amounted to like eight reviews a day, so of course they were all tiny and didn't say much about the record. Those reviews are still somewhere on the site. For another while, I was hanging out with a particularly ribald group of people and it seeped its way into my writing, resulting in grotesque sexual innuendo for its own sake, with no actual jokes attached. That stuff's still up somewhere. Lots of ignorant anti-Bush diatribes are scattered around the site, along with embarrassing early reviews where I just describe every song on the record. And poor, boring writing? Ho ho! Don't get my started, car! But the bottom line is that if I went back through every single review and updated it to reflect my current taste and style, by the time I finished, my taste and style would have changed again! So I choose to just keep pressing forward rather than dwelling on past mistakes (although I did rewrite my Rush reviews a while back, I admit). It's really just a blog anyway -- a blog before its TIME, you might say! (Or not)
Furthermore, I am not a professional music critic. I am under no obligation to review anything 'objectively.' I work for a living. This site is my HOBBY. I don't come to your house and tell you you're masturbating wrong, so don't bitch at me if I don't write reviews the same way you would. If you don't like my site, fuckin' shut your ass and go to another site! You think I spend all day on sites I hate?
If not, you're DEAD WRONG. My favorite is www.65yearoldwomentakingadump.com
Now let's talk Other Half, since that's why we're all here today. I'll never forget that bright Autumn day in '91 when I was perusing the record library at WXYC-FM Chapel Hill 89.3, and the on-air DJ put on this mod rockin' two-chord blaster that went, "Mistah Phahmacist! Won't yu help me out today? In your usual sunny way - Mistah Phahmacist..." etc. I didn't like it at all. It reminded me of Billy Childish and all Thee bands he's been in. That whole simplistic wayback sound. When the DJ announced that it was The Fall, I decided right then and there that I would never, ever give this "Fall" band another chance.
Then about a week later, Chris Crowson played "No Xmas For John Quays" on his show and that resolution was shot to hell in a handbasket.
So I of course grew to love "Mr. Pharmacist" and it was no small leap for me to then want to hear the original version by '60s California group The Other Half. Luckily, self-same Chris Crowson purchased a copy roundabouts 2001, made me a CD-R roundabouts 2002, and now I'm reviewing it roundabouts 2006! God how the time does fly when you're talking about The Other Half. Whoa! Now it's 2015 and I still haven't said what it sounds like!
It sounds like a 1966 garage rock record. Unfortunately for the band, it came out in 1968! The singer has a lowish voice that kinda makes you think of Sean Bonniwell (Music Machine) or John Kay (Steppenwolf), and says all his 'i's as 'ahh's. Then they've got your basic drums/bass/occasional tambourine rhythm section, a rhythm guitar crunch-janglin' along, and a lead guitarist who soars above the fray with a thick, wiggly sound similar to that heard on Amboy Dukes records or Blue Cheer's "Summertime Blues" (in an interesting turn of events, this guitarist - Randy Holden - actually joined Blue Cheer a couple years after this hit). And as far as this Pebblesy-type music goes, The Other Half were pretty darned good at it!
This type of music is likely not going to change the world or blow your mind at this point in history. It's really pretty basic messy young garage rock. However, it is uptempo, upbeat, hooky, raw and an awful lot of funness. The band proves themselves adept at all aspects of the garage rock subgenre, attacking straight-up Kinksy chord smashers, Yardbirdsy energetic r'n'b, herky-jerk pissedoffness, Middle Eastern psychedelia, tuneful pop and wite man blooze with equal fervor. Sure, some of it sounds amateurish as all hell, but chances are that they were all like 8 years old and tripping on DMSO so what do you want? The only real boneheaded track is "What Can I Do For You, The Other Half," a hilariously inept blooze breakdown intended to fill up several minutes of remaining space on the album. If your children are bored, have them count how many times the singer says the phrase 'come on' in this track. It will keep them occupied til nigh on Dectober!
But I know what you really want to know, you rascal you. Are any of the other songs as great as "Mr. Pharmacist"? Well... there aren't any other songs as blunt, direct and single-minded as "Mr. Pharmacist," so if that's what you're looking for, you might be disappointed. However, if you have an interest in all types of mid-60s guitar-oriented youth music, there's plenty to enjoy here -- the sick Turkish-gone-wrong "Morning Fire," groovy spy bass-driven "Flight Of The Dragon Lady," psych angertone "Feathered Fish," intelligent morbid "I Know," beautiful "Wonderful Day," poppy relaxed "Bad Day," - all great tracks and huge hits! In the little radio station up my ass.
As fun as it is however, it's not the most groundbreaking record in the world. The riffs of "Introduction," "I Need You," and "No Doubt About It" were ripped straight from the Trad. Arr. catalog, and that lousy blues song takes up like 97% of the running time. Thus, a 7 seems the proper grade. But a happy, healthy, thumbs-up 7!
Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to put on a new record in the little radio station up my ass.
Sorry, I forgot we were having live guests today.
At any rate, welcome to my ass! So how did you come up with the name "Kottonmouth Kings" anyway?
That on the outside, I could try to attempt to see if I could bring it even a little closer to what an actual representation of the band was, than what it is, which doesn't even remotely represent what that band really sounded like at all.
The truth was, and always has been, from the time the album was made, until just recently, I couldn't even bare listen to it at all. I just blocked it out of my mind like you do with experiences you wish to forget.
The other truth was, the Band was really one hell of a good stage band, well rehearsed, dynamic, exciting, polished. It had Nothing to do with being a so-called Garage Band, as in the kind where neighborhood kids get together in one of dad's garages, and playing rock star, then go skateboard to the park to play ball.
It was not a half hearted attempt at make believe, it was a Real Belief, as in the kind willing to Sacrifice to gain the Golden Ring.
The Other Half was a contender aiming for the Big Stage, Not snot nosed neighborhood brats plunking after school on guitars mom & dad bought to keep them out of trouble.
The Other Half worked hard for money, sacrificed, and prayed for divine providence to get the Amps needed to accomplish the vision for sound I had. The evidence was, there were no others that could follow us on stage at the time.
Blue Cheer in part was born because of the Other Half, which was more powerful than any other band on stage at the time, including the newborn Blue Cheer, whose novelty in part was having only three players, and a bunch of big Fender Dual Showman Amps, as the Other Half already had. Before Blue Cheer was Blue Cheer the boys in the band to become, used to come to the Avalon Ballroom to see the Other Half perform. It wasn't unusual that I actually went on to link into Blue Cheer, as people in the audience would come up to me, when both Blue Cheer and the Other Half performed in the same Bill, and say to me, hey man, Blue Cheer, is really your band, you should be playing in there.
I understood the reason well why they said that to me. First they meant it, but foremost, Blue Cheer Drummer Paul Whaley was what the Other Half lacked. We had good drummers, but not spectacular, as Paul was, and he was truly spectacular. Paul drummed up a thunder of a storm. Of all the Drummers I'd ever played with, or a ever seen, Paul was the one guy who had a vision, who played as Loud, and Powerful, as I loved to play, and Loved hitting those Drums Hard, and Cleverly, as I loved to hear Drums Hit. Paul was a rarity, and a visionary. The really strange thing was, when I had the Sons of Adam, Paul wanted to play with us, he wanted to come ask me to let him play with us, but he said, you guys already had a good drummer, and he was afraid, or sure I'd have turned him down. I had no idea of that at the time I had Sons of Adam, I had no idea of even who Paul was at that time, and that was was before Blue Cheer was even a twinkle in anyone's minds eye.
But, and also fans in the audience when the Other Half and Blue Cheer performed on the same Bill, thought I should be with Blue Cheer, because of what I was doing / did, i.e. my style of playing was better suited to a three man band that was Guitar Driven. It would ultimately allow me the room to open up and expand and play More Guitar, rather than relegate myself to playing parts and arrangements that gave space for a rhythm guitar.
I itched to play more guitar and subconsciously the felt kind of like I was in a straight jacket. So much so that I began doing an extended solo in the Other Half where the other guys would take a break, go offstage, and plug all the bands Amps together for me as they were going off,bro I could do an extended solo, which boosted the hell out of the power for the solo, and I'd go off into my on my antics that became an antiquity. I continued on doing with Blue Cheer later, but those were the reasons people in the Other Half audience approached me saying Blue Cheer is Your Band, or Blue Cheer is the Band made for you, and, or things like, you should be the guitarist in Blue Cheer.
There were obvious parallels, and reasons, some subtle, others not subtle, but just obvious, and made so, and confirmed when people formed that opinion of their own independent conscious, and vocalized it to me. It's a bit strange, and a bit of an oddity, along the lines of psychic vision I suppose you might say, because that's not something that just happens everyday. I mean how often have you heard anyone say anything like that. It's kind of like people you don't know but who you might have seen around, but they don't really know you other than seeing you around, but they happen to notice there is something between you and some girl that neither you or the girl don't know about as between you, but you've seen her in a way you've had a thought regarding her, from an attraction, and I don't mean in any prurient sense, but likewise she has had a thought or thoughts about you, and neither of you know it about the other, but another person has seen something, noticing each has noticed the other, but not noticed it consciously of or with each other, and this other persons approaches you out of the blue, and decides to tell you for whatever reason, that ... hey, that I've been watching, and noticing, I think that's the girl for you over there, or there's your girl, just in passing, and when they have seen you with a different girl. I mean it has a bit of a phenomeninistic character to it. It's not something that happens everyday. You might even liken it to a biblical characterization, where the story being read says, "and an angel came unto him". In other words, and I don't want to go on and on about it, but it's unusual enough to have a certain significance in life having meaning, and it's a happenstance that has bearing and significance, and changes the course of your life, and someone saw it before you did, and said it in kind of a premonitory way, or manner, and you never saw the person again, but what they said to you came to pass!
So it's kind of like one of those inexplicable things that does happen in life, but is very rare, so rare as to be unusual, but also at the same time as being ordinary, but powerful in some contemporaneous and I contemporaneous way at the same time, which in other words means having meaning both presently and in the future.
That's what that meant. Complicated and deep but nonetheless, complete, and in fact did come to pass and happen, even though you didn't really think anything of it at the time.
This is almost like talking about things that happened before you were born. Yeah, just about that unusual, but true.
But playing Solo, overwhelmingly Loud, yeah I loved doing that, just because I Loved Loud Ferocious Guitar more than anything, and for whatever reason the audience shared in my joy of doing that 15 or 20 minutes of sheer insanity. It was probably the most Fun I ever had & couldn't wait to do it. That said, and ironically, the song "What Can I Do For You" was the basis and take off point where I'd do that. The horror story for me was, the studio recording was so God Awful it just miserably Failed to capture that moment of utter grandeur, which I was sick about forevermore after.
There were a whole lot of reasons Why the Recording of the Other Half Album fell so short of the grade (I mean there is no experience much worse than studying for the final exam, and having it totally together ready to Ace it, and something spasmodic happens. Your brain just stops functioning, everything you knew, for unknown reasons, you Forgot, as if you went on an all night binge, and someone dragged you into class, sat you behind the desk, stuck a pen in your hand, and said Go, then suddenly Times up, you look at a couple scratches on the paper in front of you wondering where you are and what happened, then the test scores come back, and not only did you fail in every single question, you were expelled from school, and the only amazing thing was why you weren't thrown in jail!
Yes, it was That Bad, and that is Why I Always Hated that Album, would Never listen to it, for four decades, and lived in denial it ever existed!
There were reasons that recording was so damn terrible, and I'll try to list them in order of importance, for no other reason than each one of them was very important to me personally, as well as being an incredible learning experience in the Art of Recording Music.
The First reason was; the Room that the Studio was ... it was one of those rare Rooms that's called Dead Room. No matter what you tried to do with Sound, it was just Dead. It means the absence of Life. There was no sparkle, no brightness, no ambience, the sound would leave the speaker as if it stopped the instant it got outside the speaker, as if you were wearing those huge earphone type ear covers you use on a construction site, or in a Helicopter, where sound is so deadened, you can't hear anyone yelling in your face. Sound is just dead. That's what it means when you are in a room that sound is dead. There is Nothing you can do give it life, it's empty, hollow without echo, airless. Difficult to describe, but I'm getting it. Add wretched and Horrid, and probably Dank works as well, even petrifying.
I'm certain that whoever engineered the construction of the room persuaded themselves. To believe, that in order for sound to be pure, it could have nothing else in it that would make any other sound than the sound put in it, and I'm sure that is a grand theory of some kind, but it has absolutely Nothing to do with Life being Alive, and Living, which even in the quietest places on natural Earth, are noisy as hell!
For recording music, it was a nightmare. The 180° opposite of places like RCA Studio B, where Sons of Adam recorded "Mr You're a Better Man Than I", and Dave Hassanger Engineered, and the Rolling Stones recorded there with Dave Hassanger. I think "Satisfaction" was one of the hits they recorded there.
RCA Studio B was huge, with a high ceiling, and had sound separator walls to block amp speaker, and drums from bleeding into each other's Mics while playing Loud together. It had Top Gear. It had space enough to play football, an Engineering Room large enough to host a large party. It had Spaciousness, and Sound. It Sounded Alive!
By Sharp Contrast, the Dead Room the Other Half album was recorded in was excruciatingly small, as in lower case 6 pt font small. Tiny, cramped, dinky, claustrophobic.
RCA Studio was Big Bucks. The Dead Room Studio was El Cheapo, the least of the least expensive. If RCA-B was $200 an hour, The Dead Room studio was $25 a day, 24 hour day.
When making the best Recording you can make, and hoping to have a million seller, Cheap begets Cheap. It takes money to make money.
The recording gear was all forth class garage sale, swap meet, after market seconds, rejects, and No I'm Not exaggerating. It was Junk!
I never did see the contents of a Recording Contract. I never heard of Acta Record Label. I thought we were on Crescendo Record Label, I remember seeing an inch thick document and the word contract, and being in an office with a guy around 50 in a suit, who was suppose to be the Chief Executive Owner of Crescendo Record Label. I remember the guys in the band all saying "Let the Mouth do all the talking. He knows the business, none of us do, and they all said Yeah Mouth you do it! I said nothing. (the "Mouth" was Jeff Nowlen the singer in the Band) It was their Band. I joined them, they were going to do things Their Way! Never mind I provided the Rehearsal Facility for the year or whatever it was we rehearsed, regardless it was my Mother in Laws Home in an Upscale neighborhood in the foothills of Pasadena. Never mind that my Mother in Law prepared a large meal for the entire Band 6 days a week out of her own pocket, which no doubt her benevolence was situated in her interest in my success, to take care of, and provide the Best life I could create for Her Daughter, my Wife. Never mind the 12 noon to 6 pm Loud Inconvenience everyday to my Mother in Law ... After all, if she's giving, no one wasn't not taking.
Cutting the chase. If the Band was all in adamant that "Mouth" do all the business talking, and being no expert in business myself, I capitulated, at least until such a time as any meaningful information came forth that I might be able to discernibly make some head or tail of.
When I first saw that Recording Studio my heart sank into my stomach. I recall saying something to the effect of "Who in the Hell's idea is this" ... Stymied beyond belief ...
I kind of recall someone saying something about "this is the best we could do on such a small budget as we have to work with"!
I think that was the actual moment I Knew it was the End of the Line with this Band.
I remember becoming so despondent I had utterly no heart for playing any longer. I lost all interest in recording. Everyone else was pretending to be upbeat, and all that did was. Depress me more, and make me angry as hell!
I was about as far to my back against the wall as I'd ever been, and no where to turn.
I think the only way I managed to get through the session the next couple of days was just sheer anger.
Besides the Studio being a backwater Dead Room with garbage for gear, no recording budget, and angry as hell, and an Engineer whose only claim to fame was recording a few radio commercials selling God knows what, and to put the cherry on top of the whip cream on the cake, i could not get a sound out of my guitar worth a crap on the Moon.
I personally basically dead ended in that Studio, and I Honest to God made none of this up, but moreover I have very little memory of actually doing any of it. I truly believe I have had such a psychological block against all of it , because it Traumatized me at a very deep psychological level
The album was so bad it always represented a great embarrassed to me in my personal performance, it was all I could do to just erase it from memory ...
I had no part it its mixing or mastering, nor any idea how it was ever released.
Until my only now splash of enlightenment of attempt at Salvation.
This concludes what I have for thoughts in words on the whole matter.
I actually think and believe I can pull enough out of the recording to present a reasonable representation of the Band, that was otherwise a damn good live performing Rock & Roll Stage Band that I can finally say, Yea I Did that, and we were Great, and know it was True, because it was, and that's what I'm attempting to do. I hope it works enough that at least it can be seen in some measure for what it was at its best, in spite of what there is to work with. I'm going for it anyway!
PS I haven't bothered to do any spell grammar check, this was all impromptu, spontaneous, straight from the heart and mind, only because it happened to have happened. So take it for what it's worth, or with a grain of salt, shot of whiskey, or whatever suits your pleasure.