This is a collection of songs from a variety of recording situations, a real band, some put-together-to-record bands, and a one-man band with occasional friends. Most of these songs have never seen the light of day beyond my house and close friends, a few have had a small public life. I was told recently that these songs sometimes do not sound as if they were sung by the same person. They were. But to some extent that encompasses the essence of what you will experience here. I have always had a somewhat eclectic musical vision. You’ll see more of that in "Volume 2: Instrumentals and Spoken Word 1980- 2008." I give thanks to all who helped bring these songs to fruition. I hope you enjoy them.
1. The Prize (1992). Song was recorded with Beautimus in 1992. Beautimus was a recording project band I put together to do some tunes, with some former students and some people from bands I’d recorded. We recorded 10 songs and then did one gig at the Sunset in Ballard opening for the Green Pajamas. The song was vaguely inspired by Daniel Yergen’s Pulitzer Prize winning book of the same name. Features many 1-4-7 chords, of which I am fond.
2. Little Sally Walker (1984). Recorded with The Icons back in their heyday, this was a staple of our live set. 100% fictional. From GM 003, the Masters of Disaster.
3. (1/2 the World is Made of) Women (1982). Recorded on 4 track with my sister Susan’s Casio MT-65, using the tango setting which I renamed the mighty Volga beat. The whole solo was built around a mistake I made in the rhythm track as this was not sequenced; the auto orchestra was played live – you had to hit the chord changes when you wanted them to happen.
4. The Question Asked (2007). This is my occasional alter ego Reptilicus Maximus, which in this case was me and my son Ben. We had the idea to do something in 5/4(verse) and 7/4 (chorus) and programmed up Mr. Roland drum machine thusly. Ben came up with the main guitar part and I did the rest. My favorite part is at the end, where one side counts to five while the other counts to seven. Lovely!
5. Saturday (1992). Another Beautimus tune, sorta inspired by/sorta written for a former student Mike Z. He is not young now – he is a dad in Australia, but he will live forever!
6. I See Pictures (1981). One of my earliest recordings, done post-The Adults, with Al Bloch of The Deans and Peter Barnes of The Enemy. My then stated goal was to produce a work that would make cats and other small animals urinate involuntarily when in proximity. At the time, I felt I had come close to achieving that goal. Written in my head while walking up Stone Way to Safeway in Fremont/Wallingford.
7. Must Have Lost My Mind (For A Minute) (1992). Beautimus again. This was a study in melody and dynamics – the chords never change at any time during the song – verse, chorus and bridge are all the same. The idea was to make it feel like change by changing up what revolves around those chords. Love the solo by Scott, which to me is total Mott the Hoople. Written for my wife in an imaginary life sort of way.
8. She’s Winning the War for Daddy (1988). This was/is my Sparks song, in both its theatrical approach musically and its gleeful, yet sympathetic description of familial murder. Perhaps Nick Cave will cover it on Murder Ballads 2. Perhaps not.
9. The Stars (2009). Written in the 90’s, recorded a few months ago. I programmed the drums for this five years before I recorded the rest. Good batteries to keep it saved that long! Another upbeat song about people facing desperate times, with a fine guitar solo by my old pal, Jeff Kelly.
10. The Sky (2008). This started out as a MIDI experiment when I first migrated to Pro Tools and eventually mutated into a song. Hugo Burnham of Gang of 4 called it Bowie-esque or some such. I particularly love the instrumental break on this one – it is squeezing lemons.
11. In the Big Time (2000). Did this one using the Acid program when it first came out – all stock loops except the singing (me and Kelle Boyd) and lead guitar, which was by Merle, who I played with in high school bands like Sahara Pack Frame. He is now a church-goin’ guy that plays in blues bands, which I grew up thinking was the devil’s music. Times keep a-changin’!
12. Cars Keep Moving (1983). One of the older things on here, recorded on 4-track with me playing everything. Used to play this regularly in The Adults and yes, the 1-4-7 chords reappear.
13. The Ballad of Jeffery and Susanne (1988). Some people may think this is a song about Jeff Kelly of the Green Pajamas and his lovely bride Susanne, about whom he has written many fine songs over the years. However, this is strictly a fictional work about two people I never met and have not known for twenty years. Honest.
14. Relativity (2006). Me and Ben as Reptilicus Maximus again. Started as a bass lick with Ben. I thought the “In the Apple Orchard” line would end up being my equivalent of Paul McCartney’s “Scrambled Eggs” (Yesterday), but it went the other way and ended up being a quasi-science song. Decided to challenge my limited lead guitar playing skills by leaving a large whole to fill. Ben’s got the bass, I’ve got the rest.
15. SECRET BONUS TRACK - I’m Your Man (1991). Recorded by B.L.O.G. (Bunch of Lame Old Guys) Mach 1, a one-off studio band, at the Art Institute of Seattle during a “faculty meeting.” Some of our finest songs were made up on the spot, this one I wrote in advance. If I had to guess, I would say Roy Scimeca, Keith Livingston and Dave Wheeler play on this, but I can’t guarantee it. B.L.O.G. previously had a Secret Bonus Track, "Heavin’ Tiny Sandwiches," on the Art Institute CD, The Young and The Restless.