John "Chris" Christensen
Chris has a career in music that reaches back to the mid 1960’s with the group Opus 1 that recorded the garage band cult classic “Back Seat ‘38 Dodge” for Mustang Records. At Mustang Chris worked for Richie Valens discoverer Bob Keane and with future recording star Barry White. In the 70’s Chris recorded for John Fahey’s Takoma Records with psychedelic prog-rocksters Laser Pace, releasing the unusual and ground-breaking album “Granfalloon.” In the 80’s he was the leader of avant-pop band Hot Food To Go! while simultaneously carving out a niche with recordings featured on the Dr. Demento show. In recent years he has scored the films: A Matter of Principal, Real Time; Siege at Lucas Street Market, Caveman-VT Hamlin and Alley Oop, and Mike Hammers’ Mickey Spillaine . A very large dose of his Film Noir music can be found on Troma Video's DVD box set, "Max Allan Collins' Black Box."
Mark is an artist and writer of the highest order. Mark has been awarded five Harveys, two Eisners, and an Inkpot. His work on the Xenozoic Tales books, which he created, is legendary among fans of comics. In recent years, Mark has branched out, co-creating and co-writing SubHuman for Dark Horse Comics, writing the syndicated Prince Valiant adventure strip, scripting Superman, Man of Steel, for DC Comics. and writing a novel based on The Flash. He continues to write and draw, producing scripts and cover art for various other comics projects, including Star Wars, Aliens, and Predator.
Songs from the Xenozoic Age
Based on the popular comic books "Xenozoic Tales" and "Cadillacs and Dinosaurs," "Songs from the Xenozoic Age" is the work of composer, musician, producer John “Chris” Christensen and Harvey/Ink Pot/Eisner award winning artist and writer Mark Schultz. The packaging by Bob Chapman and Mark Schultz, with artwork by Mr. Schultz, is absolutely superb! Anyone who buys modern comics collectibles knows about Graphitti Designs’ complete commitment to quality. The production on this disk sits comfortably with their best work.
Lyrically and musically this CD is a complete concept album, with words and music themed to the Xenozoic Tales comic books. Even so, Mark and Chris were careful to structure the songs so like the music of say, "Sgt. Pepper," the songs would stand on their own when removed from the context of the books and the album. Stylistically it’s a rock and roll record.
When Chris first approached Mark about the project, Mark asked Chris what type of music the books suggested to him. Chris replied that he envisioned a record that would "incorporate the spirit and essence of such influences as Little Richard, Link Wray, Eddie Cochran and New Orleans rock and roll; Professor Longhair, Benny Spellman, and Earl Palmer. It would not be a "Sha-Na-Na" nostalgic retread. The recording would contain that spirit, that essence, done today, as if those guys had been progressing for the last 30 or so years."
"Songs from the Xenozoic Age" contains guest appearances by all the (other) members of Seduction of the Innocent, Bill Mumy, Miguel Ferrer, Max Allan Collins, and Steve Leialoha. The CD opens with a dramatic reading, "Liturgy," performed by Miguel Ferrer. Other artists contributing their talents include; Bob Ernest (Hot Food To Go!), Don Wittsten (Lucille’s Night Out), Tom Habenstreit (The Jenerators), Robert Haimer a.k.a. Artie Barnes (Barnes and Barnes), Scott Rosner (Joe Houston, Midnight Flyer and others) and Kathy Bee (The Nashville Network).
Praise for "Songs from the Xenozoic Age":
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram gave the CD three out of four stars and said, "This extraordinary CD could find a wider following among fans of such supercharged blues-rock acts as Anson and the Rockets, the Blasters and Omar and the Howlers."
Music Connection Magazine is quoted as saying: "The comic book series meshes crime comics of the fifties with prehistoric protagonists; dinosaur noir, if you will. The music is rooted in a time and place between these two extremes, though it would find itself most comfortably in Detroit circa 1972."
The Long Beach Press Telegram: "The result (of the collaboration) is a strong, expertly produced (and even more expertly packaged, with a sharp Caddie-saur cover by Schultz) CD that would appeal to fans of ‘70s-era rock ’n’ roll, with its influences ranging from ZZ Top to Santanaesque Latin jazz and Funk."
Peter David’s "But I Digress…" in Comics Buyer’s Guide: "What it (Songs from the Xenozoic Age) does have is a series of nifty cuts featuring Schultz’s lyrics that cleverly evoke prehistoric imagery in a contemporary sensibility – sort of Bedrock and roll. This is combined with Christensen’s sturdy, confident beats that will generally have you tapping your toes throughout. (Geez, I’m starting to sound like Dick Clark. It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it! I give it a 93!)."
Mark Schultz Speaks about the collaboration
It was a banner day in August of ‘90 when I first met Chris Christensen. It was on my first pilgrimage to that Mecca of the comic book world, the San Diego Comic Convention, during a party honoring the creator of the Spirit, Mr. Will Eisner, that Chris first approached with this notion of creating a CD’s worth of "music to accompany Xenozoic Tales." Having already been pummeled throughout that con by myriad scattershot proposals for exploiting my Xenozoic kingdom, most of dubious merit, I must admit that my first reaction to Chris’ idea was one of skepticism. But doggone if he didn’t go on ahead and say all the right things and quickly win me over.
Simply enough, that was because we were on the same wavelength. The music he proposed as Xenozoic-appropriate eerily clarified and amplified what had already been vaguely circling around my own brain stem. Here, indeed, was a New Orleans-style soul brother and a solid Link Wray to musical manifestation. Here was the guy who could make real the foggy notions in my untrained, undisciplined skull.
You see, musically speaking, I fall into the category of "I don’t know why I like it, I just do", whereas Chris is the ultimate musical insider, able to dissect any song, any form, and tell you just why it works or doesn’t. Without destroying it’s soul. So, lucky me, after three years of innumerable phone calls and musical discussions and basic education and frantic jabs in the dark at lyric writing on my part, and much patience and supervision and generosity and countless hours composing and performing and recording on Chris’ part-- after three years-- we had an album of songs I really liked.
I think the CD that Chris and I made is unique. In fact, I know it is. And half a decade later, it seems those songs have weathered very well.
A few links of interest about Opus 1, Laser Pace, and Time of Your Life: