Tag Archives: 1973

Steely Dan Thrills Early and Often

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Happy Friday. We dug this out of the archives today as one last tribute to Walter Becker and Steely Dan. This short piece is from the February, 1973 issue of Zoo World as the band reflects on their new found success with their first hit single, “Do It Again” of their new record, Can’t Buy A Thrill. 

Steely Dan

“Well, I imagine you’ve seen it,” Steely Dan manager Gary McPike sighed as he withdrew a well-fingered, almost crumbling, clipping from that morning’s Los Angeles Times.

It was a critical review of the band’s recent appearance at the Whiskey. A quick scan revealed it wasn’t as crippling a write-up as the concerned McPike’s attitude may have implied. The music was fantastic, contended the reviewer, but the band’s drab attire was inexcusable. This lack of showmanship, concluded the piece, revealed an inherent disregard for the audience.

“I like movement,” remarked Wait Becker, the group’s bassist and one half of their composing team, “and I’m all for the visual side of rock ’n roll, but the music is the most important thing. When the visual aspect gets in the way of the music. I’d rather forsake it.”

It’s not as if Steely Dan hides behind their sound equipment while performing their set, however. Lead singer, David Palmer, performs as spirited a set as anybody else, and the rest of the band does their share of bopping as well, but some people you just can’t please.

“As far as that one review is concerned,” added Donald Fagen, organist, sometime lead-vocalist, and the other half of the aforementioned writing duo, “I think the person who wrote it has an unusually high interest in men’s fashions.” Fagen pauses a moment to laugh, then continues, “I mean if a person is that disinterested in the music, I’d just as soon they go elsewhere.”

Steely Dan is a new band. Emerging out of the ruins of several other bands that barely missed making it or just plain never did, (their present line-up (Jeff Baxter on guitar, Jim Hodder on drums, Becker on bass, Fagen on keyboards and Palmer on vocals) was settled upon as recently as last August. Their first dose of recognition came with an irresistible single by the name of “Do It Again.” Steely Dan passed that first hurdle on their way to large scale success, which was a new experience for the former members of Jay And The Americans and Ultimate Spinach. So Steely Dan has reached a position in four months, most bands can’t reach in years.

Perhaps most responsible for the group’s following is the extremely accessible composing talents of Becker. Do It Again, according to the writers, was not intended to be a single. “In fact,” Faqen-one of your more obvious New Yorkers – continues, “we didn’t try to record or write any of our tunes catering to any particular market. But, as it turns out. I guess we’re just naturally commercial.”

Can’t Buy A Thrill, Steely Dan’s impressive debut album, looks like it’ll produce several more hit 45’s before the band’s follow-up Lp hits the stands in a couple months. But, the question appears to be, does the group intend to be a singles band or an albums band.

“Both…I hope,” Becker responds. “We try to make every cut as good as we can, not really thinking whether it’s adaptable to AM or not.”

Needless to say, things have not always been on the up-and-up for the Becker-Fagen team. Writing together long before their involvement in Steely Dan, the two kept themselves alive for two years by playing in Jay And The Americans’ back-up band.

“We worked about two weekends a month on that job,” remembers Becker. “That paid the rent. The rest of the time we just hung out, wrote songs and threw them out the window. Our publishing company was actually non-existent, and we ended up writing songs for other people who never did them. We wrote some songs for Barbra Streisand…she actually did one of them, “I Mean To Shine.” It’s on her Barbra Streisand album. “We wrote songs for Dusty Springfield. I don’t think she ever got to hear them. Then we wrote some non-pop songs that no one got to hear.”

“Denny Doherty recorded one of our songs,” Fagen mutters, “but the album it was on never got released. His contract had ended.”

From there the two migrated down to Los Angeles from New York, where they met the other future members of Steely Dan, formed the band and began work on Can’t Buy A Thrill.

With the fickleness of the record industry and it’s audience being what it is, how does it feel, you may be wondering, to be in the depths of frustration one day and be topping the charts and accepting superlative praise the next. How does it change an artist’s life? Donald Fagen and Walter Becker can only speak for themselves.

“Well,” begins Fagen, “I used to have a lot more leisure time…like all the time…”

“As for me,” Becker interrups in a bored monotone, “I gained twenty pounds.”

Courtesy of Zoo World – Cameron Crowe – February 3, 1973

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Sep 15, 2017

Joe Walsh and Barnstorm Review

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Joe Walsh photo by Henry Diltz

Cameron did a rare concert review for Rolling Stone in the summer of 1973. It’s brand new to The Uncool. Enjoy!

Joe Walsh and Barnstorm
Winterland
July 7th, 1973

Several hours before showtime, Joe Walsh sat in nervous anticipation on the edge of his motel room bed. “I am so excited about tonight,” he blurted. “I just want to go out there and . . . kill ’em.”

When Joe Walsh bowed out as the guitarist-vocalist and focal point of the James Gang last year, the impression given by his fellow band members was that Joe was off to Colorado to become thoroughly immersed in the “get-my-head=together-and-make-my-solo-album” syndrome.

Truth was that Walsh knew exactly where his head was, and it wasn’t with the James Gang. Tired of the trio’s shoddy compromises that he was forced to comply with. Joe left to record Barnstorm, a masterful, if fairly low-keyed solo LP. The ethereal tunes then out of his system, he promptly returned to the high-powered style that was his trademark. To celebrate the occasion, he formed his own band, also called Barnstorm, and went on to record an album of mainstream rock & roll. The LP, The Smoker You  Drink, The Player You Get, is Joe Walsh’s finest work to date if only for the band’s perfectly offsetting musicianship.

And this brings us to Barnstorm’s recent appearance at Winterland as show-opener for the Doobie Brothers and the New Riders of the Purple Sage. Given no sound-check and all of 45 minutes to perform, the group wasted no time in overpowering what normally would have been a still-milling sold-out crowd of 5000.

Playing material mainly from the Smoker LP, the band was able to dart in several directions without straying far from the common denominator of rock & roll. Several of the tunes were laced with improvised interplay between Rock Grace’s piano and Walsh’s guitar, while Tom Stevenson’s synthesizer belched gushes of wind and drummer Joe Vitali guided the interludes to their climactic peaks. Summoning images of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, the stream-of-conscious musicianship bordered at times on jazz without alienating a crowd that had come to be rocked.

Two vintage James Gang tunes, “Tend My Garden” with bassist Kenny Pacerelli on harmonies, and “The Bomber,” actually a medley of “Closet Queen” and Vince Guaraldi’s “Cast Your Fate to the Wind,” far surpassed their original versions and earned bales of applause from the audience. But it was the new single, “Rocky Mountain Way,” that whipped them into a frenzy.

A standing ovation brought Barnstorm back for “Funk 49.” Needless to say, Walsh’s guitar wailed and his voice soared. The set had been flawlessly paced.

Pete Townshend has said many times that Joe Walsh was his favorite contemporary guitarist. Let us just say that Townsend saved face that evening. Walsh did kill ’em.

Courtesy of Rolling Stone #141 – Cameron Crowe – August 16, 1973

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Mar 15, 2017

Doobie Brothers – Rock Magazine 1973

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The Doobie Brothers, July 15, 1973 Balboa Stadium, San Diego California. Photo by Julian Baum.

Cameron has a quick chat with The Doobie Brothers for this 1973 interview with Rock Magazine.

Nice Guys Don’t Win, But Doobies Do

Nine months ago, in a Warner/Reprise mail-out by the name of The Circular, a contest was declared. The Doobie Brothers, owners of an obscure first album, were about to finish a second and needed title for the LP. Readers were encouraged to send in their suggestions, and the winner, besides receiving credit for the verbal creation, would have his picture plastered on the album’s cover.

“We had a tough time deciding what the name of the album should be,” Tiran Porter, Doobie’s bassist reminisces. “That particular contest for the name never worked out. We had a lot of “Doobie Doo” and some clown even thought up “Dickey Doo and the Don’ts.” Needless to say, there was no winner. The album was simply called Toulouse Street after one of the album’s cuts.

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Aug 31, 2015

Faces Come Back to Life

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The Faces (1973). Pictured clockwise from left to right: Rod Stewart, Ian McLagan, Ronnie Lane, Ronnie Wood and Kenney Jones. Courtesy of WireImage

As Summer winds down, we thought you might be interested in a new Journalism addition to the site today. Cameron talks with The Faces for this 1973 interview with Circular magazine.  Cameron interviewing Rod Stewart between blow drying his hair creates quite a visual. Enjoy…

Faces Come Back to Life

Chasing Faces Through the Showers. Double Album, maybe.

It was originally due out in September, this notorious Rod Stewart/faces live double album. Recorded earlier this year at Philadelphia’s Spectrum and Chicago’s Amphitheatre, the package would have been the quintessential back-to-school item. But alas, it is now wintertime and the album has vanished from imminence.

“Two for tea,” cracks Ian McLagen while surveying the setting for his interview – backstage at the San Diego Sports Arena. The Faces have just encored, leaving behind 16,000 fans in a state of euphoria and turning a few jaded heads as well. The dressing room is predictably loud and hectic. McLagen is sitting on metal chairs and shower stalls down the hall. Every word promptly reverberates within tiled walls.

“The live album will be totally redone,” reveals McLagen. “We’re recording both Anaheims (the next night’s two shows at the Anaheim Convention Center) and the Palladium.” Pause. “I can’t hear at all. My ears are gone.” McLagen punctuates the statement by thrusting a finger into one of his blocked ears and jiggling wildly.

On that note, Connie De Nave, Faces’ publicist, enters. “Rod’s ready to talk,” she declares, leading the way to yet another dubious interview site: the john. Here Rod Stewart has a few moments to talk while he blow-dries his famous hair. “Me here is like a fookin’ lawn,” he mumbles amid the clamor of his hand dryer. “Got to sow it and mow it.”

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Aug 26, 2014

Archives: James Taylor – Circular Magazine

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walkingman Happy Monday. I’m super excited to share a new addition to the site today, Cameron’s 1973 story about James Taylor from Circular magazine. Circular was Warner Bros. promotional magazine and this story profiles James and his latest album, Walking Man. Most of the quotes are from James’ longtime manager, Peter Asher. We hope you like it.

J. Taylor Ends the Wait

It was mid-1970 when America first stumbled onto a gently brilliant, yet fairly obscure album called Sweet Baby James. Seeing it as an oasis in the midst of psychedelia’s dying embers, the public catapulted a somewhat dazed and retiring Carolinian guitarist-composer named James Taylor to superstardom. Gold records, the cover of Time Magazine, adoring throngs . . . it all came in quick succession, and Taylor retreated to write deeply probing and introspective songs that filled infrequent, but well-crafted albums like Mud Slide Slim and The Blue Horizon and One Man Dog.

Not until the recent Walking Man, however, has James appeared content and positive in his work. The mood of the new album is bright and confident, the songs strong and true. In short, James Taylor has presented a solid case against the John Lennon school of thought that “genius is pain.”

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Jun 23, 2014

Marriott on Humble Pie & Small Faces

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marriott

It’s hump day and we’ve got a new addition to the Journalism section. Here’s an interview Cameron did with Humble Pie’s Steve Marriott back in 1973 for the L.A. Times. We hope you like it.

No Upper-Crust Pretensions for Humble Pie’s Steve Marriott

With Humble Pie’s eight album “Eat It” riding high on international charts and its current worldwide tour doing SRO business every stop, Steve Marriott, the spirited English rock ‘n’ roll band’s lead-signer, song writer, guitarist and mastermind, is a man content.

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Jan 29, 2014

Archives: Marc Bolan – Creem Magazine

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CC&Bolan

Cameron and Marc Bolan. Photo courtesy of Neal Preston

Today marks the anniversary of Marc Bolan’s death. The T. Rex singer was lost in a car accident back on September 16, 1977. We’d like to honor him with this Cameron penned interview from the July, 1973 issue of Creem magazine. As usual, the 20th Century Boy was his outspoken self and never shy or afraid to share his feelings.

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Sep 16, 2013

Bob Weir – Ghost Stories

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You don’t want to miss Cameron’s 1973 interview with the Grateful Dead’s one and only Bob Weir. He talks about his career with the Dead, their Europe ’72 live album, his solo album Ace and even a ghost story… We hope you enjoy this new Journalism interview from Rock magazine.

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Oct 18, 2012

Mike Finger’s The Blue and the Black