Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Demo That Got The Deal - iconic radio program that was launched on 93.7 WCGY in 1991

Friday, August 20, 2010

Janis Joplin Jimi Hendrix Al Wilson Conspiracy


Arlington's Forgotten Music Legend

By Joe Viglione

September 3, 2010 is the fortieth anniversary of the passing of Arlington's Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson, the late lead singer and founding member of the legendary blues/rock group Canned Heat. I was sixteen years old and living on Beverly Road in Arlington, on the shores of the lower Mystic lakes when the Arlington Advocate published its obituary of Wilson. As a huge music fan I certainly loved the groups' hit recordings, "On The Road Again", "Goin' Up The Country" and a cover of Wilbert Harrison's "Let's Work Together". Wilson sang the first two hits while his friend and band co-founder, Bob "The Bear" Hite, sang "Let's Work Together."

As the history of Arlington music goes, Canned Heat is an essential - perhaps central - component, deserving of a place in the history books because of Al Wilson's roots in this community. Along with Alan Hovhaness, former Arista recording artist Andy Mendelson, The Prince and The Paupers, Fox Pass, Tony Caliendo of the Pink Floyd tribute band Pink Void, The Tarbox family and others, Arlington has a heritage to be proud of.

There are plenty of places to find out about Alan Wilson's work with Canned Heat. Wikipedia and AllMusic.com have lots of entries, this writer contributing reviews to All Music of the Canned Heat album Hallelujah as well as a "best of" package entitled Canned Heat Cookbook: Their Greatest Hits. Released in 1969 it would be the first of dozens and dozens of repackages, according to the AMG site. This tribute being what it is, readers are urged to check out those sites for more information, especially a fan page for Wilson called simply BlindOwl.net

What people don't realize is that Wilson was the first of four 27 year old rock stars to pass on, and when put in this context it is actually quite chilling. After Otis Redding died in a plane crash in 1967 at the age of 26 it was Wilson's death on September 3, 1970 that preceded Jimi Hendrix on September 18 and Janis Joplin's on October 4. This is the 40th Anniversary of all three of these rock & roll legends...and their story doesn't quite stop there. Conspiracy theories abound for all three of these counterculture figures.

But why the seemingly harmless Alan Wilson? In the epilogue of Salvador Astucia's controversial book " Rethinking John Lennon’s Assassination - The FBI’s War on Rock Stars" as well as at the conclusion of the biography on BlindOwl.net there are hints and more. Wikipedia currently has a photo of the upside down American flag being planted on the moon in an Iwo Jima-type way (one has to look at the actual flag with his upside down on a rightside up pole). Wikipedia notes "The upside down flag was Alan Wilson's idea and was a response to his love of nature, growing environmentalism and concern that humankind would soon be polluting the moon as well as the Earth (as reflected in his song "Poor Moon")." While Astucia states in his essay - Targeting the right people - "Alan "Wilson made a powerful political statement by displaying an upside-down American flag on the cover of Canned Heat’s 1970 album, Future Blues". In Chapter 12 of his book Astucia writes " Canned Heat performed with Jimi Hendrix on September 4, 1970 at a concert in Berlin, but Alan Wilson died that very morning. (JV notes: Actually, Wilson died on the 3rd) This fact has been suppressed in virtually all accounts of Hendrix’s final days." Astucia also claims Janis Joplin was at the Berlin concert, which would have been impossible if her final concert with Full Tilt Boogie was August 12 1970 in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Wikipedia notes that her Pearl album's recording sessions "...began in early September, ended with Joplin's untimely death on October 4, 1970."

But the fact that Canned Heat and Jimi Hendrix played just two weeks before Hendrix's death, and that Al Wilson died on the day before the show, is definite food for thought as more evidence is uncovered that both Hendrix and Joplin might have been murdered. Alan Wilson.net says in the biography of Wilson " Although Alan Wilson’s death was ruled a suicide by the press at the time; the fact remains that in many instances, the statistics surrounding his passing were mis-reported. The police officer listed the cause as "accidental". The music tabloids in Europe, where Canned Heat was on tour, reported several incorrect drug-related scenarios (we have copies of at least 4) that were debunked by documents in the public record. In addition, The LA times article from September 4, 1970 reported that Alan was found with 4 "reds" (phenobarbitol) and that it was an "overdose of barbituates."

Three counterculture figures died within a month of each other, all at the age of 27, and J. Edgar Hoover was said to be watching these individuals who potentially had control over the youth during the Viet Nam era. Despite Salvador Astucia getting somewhat overzealous by adding Joplin to the German concert and pushing Wilson's death up a day (the time difference between West Coast Pacific Time and German time being about 8 hours), his information is still hard-hitting and, for the most part, very accurate.

Wikipedia notes that Alan Wilson may have attempted suicide twice before his passing, so we are left to our own conclusions. But it is pretty strange that he was the first of these 27 year old rock stars who had all performed at Monterey Pop and Woodstock together (Canned Heat, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix both performing at those iconic moments in music history)
to leave us.

This is the Fortieth Anniversary of the passing of Arlington's Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson. At the very least we'd like to respectfully note his accomplishments and hope that people in the town recognize his importance.



Alan Wilson site


Canned heat Catalog

Canned Heat Cookbook review by Joe Viglione

Hallelujah review by Joe Viglione

Wikipedia with Upside Down Flag photo

Future Blues CD review with upside down flag

Hendrix/Canned Heat Chapter 12 Astucia

Janis Joplin PEARL

Joplin's Lsst Concert

Biography on BlindOwl.net

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Peter Cetera Live at the Boston Esplanade

Saturday evening, July 31, 2010

Former musician from the group Chicago plays it soft and safe at the Boston Esplanade

By Joe Viglione

To those of us who loved the pop music of The Velvet Underground and The Beatles, the underground rock/pop of Lou Reed and the mainstream pop of John, Paul, George & Ringo,
the music of the group Chicago was truly anathema when it first touched our collective ears.

Four decades or more later one can appreciate the majesty of songs like "If You Leave Me Now", "Hard Habit to Break" and the endless stream of other adult contemporary confections that Peter Cetera has collected during and after his stint in Chicago.

With a solid band of musicians behind him P.C. strangely put together an extremely pedestrian presentation. It was actually quite shocking that the performance concentrated so heavily on the sounds of the eighties when there was much potential for a dynamic roller coaster ride through his career.

Interviewing Syb Hashian of Ernie & The Automatics (and the group Boston, of course), Cetera stopped by and said hello to Sybby...a professional and very nice gentleman, I was hoping he would go out there and out Chicago his former band Chicago!

Alas, the audience was hoping for the same thing too and didn't get it. Rather than open up with the song co-written by legendary Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller and Traffic's Steve Winwood, "I'm A Man", a huge hit in Boston for Chicago as the flip side of "Questions 67 and 68" as well as a Top 10 hit for Spencer Davis Group in 1967 - produced by former Bostonian-for-a-time, the late Jimmy Miller, the set featured laid-back ballads punctuated by a quasi-reggae tune (??), a cover of "Lady Madonna" (??????). A pleasant surprise early in the set was the accompaniment by a young lady who performed duets on Peter's hits with Cher and Amy Grant. When they went into the Top 10 1989 smash "After All", the young lady (we'll track her name down) sounded so much like Cher the audience resounded with total enthusiasm. The audience also responded when the star asked them to pull out cameras and sway with one of the super power ballads, possibly "Hard Habit To Break" (wasn't that from the interesting movie "Summer Lovers" back in the day?....no, no, no ...it was probably "Hard to Say I'm Sorry")...anyway, lots of Cetera vocals/songs have spilled over into the film world...good for him - glad he has something to fall back on because the free concert audience was clearly getting tired waiting for the break of day, waiting on "Make Me Smile" or "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is", songs that he avoided. Perhaps because Robert Lamm or Terry Kath were the voices on those old hits (it seems that Lamm did take the lead on "Does Anybody Really Know...", proud to say I'm not an expert on the music of Chicago...far from it!)...still, the audience wanted some punch and the Chicago hits would have brought them to life.

The rendition of "If You Leave Me Now" was more Dan Fogelberg than Chicago, the strings definitely needed to bring this one home, and the acoustic encore of "25 or 6 to 4" was truly foreplay without the kiss - don't even think about the sex. When the riff that's as classic as "Sunshine Of Your Love" (I'm not comparing the value of the tunes, just that both songs contain two of the most historic opening riffs in rock) came in for verse two the audience finally almost got what they came for. But unlike Eric Burdon's mesmerizing "Sky Pilot" or Three Dog Night's terrific "Celebrate" or Peter Noone's exquisite "There's A Kind of Hush", all performed on the Esplanade in years past and all delivering pandemonium, the truncated rendition of the most necessary song of the night (though not Cetera's biggest) was a let down. As was the concert.

Look, I was not a Peter Cetera fan to begin with, but I do appreciate his contributions and was rooting for him. When someone is giving an artist more than a benefit of the doubt and that artists takes his hits and puts together a show with the worst pacing this writer's witnessed in a decade, well, it is clear he's having fun and if you can enjoy it with him, all the better.

It was a nice summer night with pleasant music on the Esplanade with a major name who could have walked off the stage owning this town. Instead, he delivered predictable songs with a bit of a dated feel to them. A pity...the song construction and his marvelous voice could have made for a dynamite conclusion to this year's summer concert series from 103.3 FM. Cetera showed up sober and was professional throughout, but he could have won some converts over and just didn't care to.