Cindrumella Story

On November 20th 1973, rock and roll fantasy became reality.

That was the day that the Who opened their US Quadrophenia tour at the Cow Palace in San Francisco.

From the “truth is stranger than fiction” archives, the story goes that Keith Moon, suffering from stage fright, took a handful of pills that turned out to be horse tranquilizers and washed them down with a bottle of brandy.

Somewhere during first set, Moon passed out face first on his drumset.

Revived after several minutes, but still shaky, Moon proceeded to pass out again during the next song!

Frustrated, Pete Townsend asked the crowd if anyone there knew how to play drums. Hands were raised and a lucky Cinderella was chosen from the masses to sit in with one of the most influential bands of all time.

This real life Cinderella’s name was Scot Halpin. Although the story has morphed over time, the fact remains that Halpin did sit in Keith Moon’s chair at that infamous concert and play drums with the Who for a couple of songs!

Sadly, Halpin died from a brain tumor in 2008. How this story has not been made into a movie is beyond me!

Here’s the proof:

Running Down A Theme

I once dressed as Tom Petty for Halloween. The Tom Petty from the You Got Lucky music video to be exact:

Sure, I could’ve been mistaken for a hobo, or a chimney sweep, or just some dork in a trench-coat and a dumb hat… but in my mind, I was the leader of the dystopian gang the unearthed a boombox full of great tunes! I recalled this failed costume attempt recently while brainstorming dress-up ideas for Halloween 2016.

This memory seed took root and was nourished by news that all 16 of his studio albums will be re-issued in two enormous box sets of vinyl in December. Wow!

A post by Vinyl Stylus fueled the fire and the next I knew I committed four hours last Sunday to watching the Peter Bogdanovich documentary on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers called Runnin’ Down a Dream:

I then spent most of Monday with my Tom Petty/Traveling Wilbury record collection:


From the 1976 self titled debut Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers through 1985’s Southern Accents, I don’t know that I can name another artist with as consistent multi-album run of great records.

Sure, You’re Gonna Get It suffered from a sophomore slump, but it still has Need Too Know and Listen To Her Heart on side two!

Anyway, the movie is great. It has a lot of insight into the band, personalities, and the recording industry of their heyday. It It also has great guest appearances from the usual suspects.


Happy Birthday Mr. Berry

I’ve been thinking a lot about Chuck Berry in the weeks leading up to his 90th birthday.

It started when I happened to see the documentary/concert film Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll, recently. The all star concert (and contentious backstage interview segments) filmed in St.Louis just days before the subject’s 60th birthday.

I was reminded how, upon seeing the film when it was initially released, it felt like artists paying tribute to a legend by giving him a send-off into the golden age of retirement. It also felt like Chuck was having none of it!

Then they released a vinyl copy of the Voyager “golden record“, the Space Bound compilation to the cosmos, including Chuck’s Johnny B. Goode.

Then the articles started showing up in my newsfeed. Everyone from Rolling Stone to Esquire magazine paying tribute to one of the greatest pioneers of rock and roll music.

Today, my social media pages are full of well wishes for Mr. Berry from former students like Mick Jagger and little Steven Van Zandt.

For my part today I am going to break out my copy of The Great Twenty-eight, the phenomenal compilation of Chuck’s 1955 to 1965 recordings for Chess Records.


So happy birthday Chuck Berry, we couldn’t have done it without you!

PS… today, on Chuck Berry’s website, he announced that he would be releasing a new album in the coming year… his first since 1979!

PSS… just heard the news that Phil Chess, one of those most instrumental in getting Chuck’s music out to the world, passed away Tuesday at the age of 95. RIP Mr. Chess!

October 14

Next up on my Verve Records recent find parade is an album from Jimmy Smith called Bashin’ The Unpredictable Jimmy Smith.

This is the second of three Verve Records I found at a local thrift store recently. Although not in as good a shape as the Willie Bobo record, it is still is very playable.

I had previously reviewed a Jimmy Smith album on this blog. I have to say I was not all that impressed with Mr Smith. The subject matter of his standards record just sounded hokey and a little to “Take Me Out To The Ball Game-ish”.

I had kind of written Jimmy Smith off! Until recently, when I picked up some Beastie Boys vinyl and heard the Jimmy Smith samples on songs like Root Down.

I figured I needed to give Jimmy another try and this album showed up in the thrift store. As with Bobo, this is Smith’s debut on Verve.

What a difference from his standards album! Here side one is with a big band and side two with his trio. The album touts a “hit version” of Walk On The Wild Side… but it was not the song I had imagined…

He also covers Hammerstein’s Ol’ Man River here with the band.

On the trio side, Jimmy really swings! With a great effort on the Smith penned title track and a killer version of the Johnny Mercer chestnut I’m An Old Cowhand From The Rio Grande.

My scuffy placeholder copy will do just fine until I find a cleaner copy elsewhere.

August 10

So, you’re a superstar country musician. Unfortunately, things have gotten a little out of hand lately with the drinking and the drugs, but you’ve turned a corner and are looking for a path to revitalize your career.

Your new record label has been giving you the cold shoulder… heck, who could blame them? You haven’t exactly been burning up the sales chart recently. Plus, its 1968 and the pop music scene is taking off like a rocket, dwarfing the country music record sales numbers.

To boot, you’ve parted ways with your old record producer and the label has hired this new guy, some rock-and-roller, to oversee the country music side of the house.

What to do? How about take a 10 year old song and an even older idea, round up the wife and some friends and go make a couple of live records inside the gates of two of America’s most notorious prisons with guards and inmates as an audience!


Released in 1968 and 1969 Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison and At San Quentin were a gamble (to say the least), but these kinds of performances were old hat to Cash, he’d performed in several in the 50s after the initial success of Folsom Prison Blues.

Cash had been receiving letters from prisoners for well over a decade urging him to play their prisons. He pitched the idea to the new head of country music at Columbia Music, Bob Johnston, who enthusiastically gave the green light.

The performance was offered to both locations; Folsom, northeast of Sacramento and San Quentin near San Francisco. Folsom was the first to respond and the rest, as they say, is history.

So, did the plan work? Yup. Even with little backing from Columbia, At Folsom Prison was a number one country record and At San Quentin went to number one on both the country and pop charts. The success also prompted ABC to give Cash his own weekly variety show making him one of the biggest stars on the scene and a considerably forceful kingmaker for other acts.

For my money, At Folsom Prison is the more interesting of the two with considerable on stage banter between the performer and crowd, some Shel Silverstein tunes and starstruck guard interactions. There’s also an emotion present in At Folsom Prison; a kind of “there but for the grace of God go I” feeling…

June 2

Led Zeppelin II – Deluxe Edition Vinyl:

Once again, the packaging is superb; a tri-fold sleeve with original art plus bonus promo photos and a live concert photo:

The companion disc for Led Zeppelin II gets into what Jimmy Page was intending… “Work in progress, rough mixes, backing tracks and alternate versions”. For this record the rough mixes and backing tracks were dominant. I’ll hit a few of the highlights here…

The companion disc starts in sequence with the original album: Whole Lotta Love. This version is referred to as a “rough mix with vocal”. Honestly, the rough mix on most of these tracks seems to be about 80% or 90% of what ended up on the record. Overdubbed guitar, layered keyboards and backing percussion was mostly intact. But, there are enough differences to make things interesting.

For Whole Lotta Love, the Robert Plant vocal was almost totally different. There were certain parts that you could tell made the final mix and many other parts that were cut. The real difference here was the trippy echo/delay string scratchy headphone headtrip Page solo that is featured so prominently on the original is presented as a halting, stilted experiment here… work in progress for sure!

Thank You was the first backing track presented. It sounded just like the original version, just without Plant. Once I grasped the concept it was really interesting to experience all the beautiful layers in this tune without fixating on Plant’s vocal and lyric.

The standout for me was the backing track for Moby Dick. Imagine being in the studio for this one… the intro right out of the original version, a pause… someone counts off “1,2,3,4!” and BOOM, right into the outro! No Bonzo drum solo! This was an interesting window into the process of recording this music and I loved it!

Ramble On was devoid of most of the lead guitar parts but really showcased the acoustic strumming present throughout the song. It made me want to dust off the old Guild and give it a try.

Finally, the only unreleased (?) outtake, an all instrumental tune called La La.

So, that’s it, my first proper companion disc. Once again, will I ever replay it? Probably not… with the original album stored in the same gatefold I’d most likely turn there. Maybe if I had the digital download version these would be nice to shuffle through.

From a May 2014 article in Mojo, Page summed up his intention this way;

“I had the idea of doing something very close to this a while ago, but no one could understand the concept… They couldn’t take it on board – the management couldn’t anyway. I wanted to show an alternative version of the songs. What was a bit peeving was that then [The Beatles] Anthology came out.”

So, the seed of this project has been germinating in Jimmy’s head since the mid 1990s. I for one am glad it took root and bore fruit during my 365 Days of Vinyl!

April 29

OK, Barry White. I get it. You want to “sex” me. Or, you want me to “sex” someone else, while you play on my stereo… Subtlety is not your strong suit. Regardless, I’m happy to have three of your records in The Collection now, just in case. barrywhite Just in case my charm fails me, or flowers don’t do the trick, I now have a fallback plan… the Love Unlimited Orchestra on vinyl. Squeezing you, pleasing you, holding you, teasing you… I feel so loved! A limitless love, I can hardly contain my… love!

February 14

I didn’t see the movie No Small Affair in a regular movie theater. It may have been in one of those lonely, single Airmen showings at a USAF rec center… or there may have been a VHS tape involved. In either case, Demi Moore’s voice made an impression on me.

Specifically the song My Funny Valentine made an impression on me. So much so that I went out and bought the soundtrack! Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the voice that sent shivers up my spine was not Demi Moore but someone named Chrissy Faith.

Those bastards!

No mater, the B side of the soundtrack had songs by Twisted Sister, Zebra (one of my favorite bands of the day) and Malcom McLaren… how could I go wrong? There were a couple 80s movie schlock songs by Chrissy Faith included, but My Funny Valentine was the true standout.

Here’s a video of Chaka Kahn performing My Funny Valentine, and check out Melvin Davis on seven string bass! Happy Valentine’s Day, enjoy!

February 13

I met Elton John because of Neil Sedaka. Sedaka tunes were all over the AM radio of my childhood and Sedaka himself seemed ubiquitous on the TV specials of the day. One day I saw Sedaka on some variety show singing the song Bad Blood.

Soon after, some elementary school friend had the Elton John’s Greatest Hits LP and was playing it on a school record player. “This is the guy singing with Neil Sedaka on that song Bad Blood.”  Oh? “Yup, he does that song Crocodile Rock.”

I’ve been collecting Elton John records ever since.

How nothing from Madman Across the Water made it on that first greatest hits record, I’ll never understand, but Madman has always been one of my favorite Elton John albums. I’d let it sit idle for quite a while, but a (kind of) recent release of a remastered Tumbleweed Connection CD contains a killer extended version of the song Madman. Enjoy!

February 8

Here’s what music critic Robert Christgau had to say about Joni Mitchell’s Dog Eat Dog [Geffen, 1985]…

“When you peruse the lyrics, which are of course provided, the rage she directs at evangelists, racketeers, financiers, and so forth seems like the usual none-too-deep left-liberal modernism–a “culture in decline” enthralled by hedonism and rapacity and the image, tsk-tsk. But by taking her mind off her ever-loving self she’s broken a long drought. There’s no what-shall-I-do ennui in her singing; she isn’t musing, she’s telling us something, and her interest in these well-expressed middlebrow clichés comes through. Damned if I can tell just what Thomas Dolby has done for her jazzbo sound, but I suspect he helps as well. Maybe he convinced her it was pop music. B+”

My favorite Mitchell record, Hejira, also garnered a B+ fro Chritsgau. These two records couldn’t be farther apart to my ear. Dog Eat Dog was an ’80s synth nightmare (thanks Tom Dolby) while Hejira was an eye (and ear) opening masterpiece.

I guess that’s why I’m not a music critic. My grade? Giveaway bin.