BLOOD liner notes
One of the most fun projects I've ever been involved with was a band I put together to play a NORML benefit in Tempe, Arizona. Organizing things was Brad Smith, the first promoter to bring Bruce Springsteen to The Grand Canyon State. He asked me to gather some players on short notice-- like a week's short notice. As crazy as it might seem, I did so, using as a core some of the musicians that were denizens of the "Jed Clampett" house where several of us resided.
The place had a 24-track recording studio in the basement which had been dubbed Galaxy; a fenced-in backyard for all the various dogs, cats, snakes, and pot-bellied pigs the aforementioned denizens kept as pets; a work shop; a grill that vented through the kitchen ceiling; and... well, you get the idea. Okay, one more. Swear to God, the custom-built three-room dog house in the side yard was air-conditioned for the benefit of the owner's three Rottweilers...
Several musicians lived there. I was fortunate enough to get three of them to take part in the project, which by this time I had decided to call Blood: Guitarist Joe Pullaro chops a lot of funk, as well as covering most of the guitar solos. He's in your left channel. Steve Shelby, also on guitar, and playing with his usual good taste, fills in the right channel. León Santiago plays guitar on some tracks, but really shines on percussion, and his amazing background vocals. All three are bandleaders in their own right, and all sing. Jed Clampett had quite the house full of wonderful musicians.
I had been working my own band, Cut To The Chase, which had devolved from five members to three. I like playing in a trio setting, but it does make for a lot of hard work as lead singer, bass player, and functioning as both keyboard player and percussionist (all from the bass). So, I decided to go the opposite route, and put together a larger ensemble. There would be seven of us working together in Blood.
I knew I wanted to play some of the songs written for CTTC that we had never gotten around to doing because singing and playing intricate bass lines at the same time ain't always easy. So, I started by looking for a second bass player for the project.
I asked Dale Smith to join us on 6-string bass, and his brother Evan Smith to join us on keys. The Brothers Smith were nephews of the aforementioned promoter, Brad Smith, and well-respected players on the A Zee scene. Evan had also been part of the L.A. scene, and at one time was the keyboard player for Steppenwolf.
On this recording Dale works the bottom territory on his 6-string Modulus, while I take the middle on my Wal doubleneck. We worked well together, and having two bass players was a lot of fun for me.
I asked Rob Müller to handle the drum chair. He played with Cut To The Chase almost from the band's very beginning days in Chicago. As fine a drummer as anyone could want, he is perhaps an even better singer, and added just what the project needed. There is a reason he's called "The Notorious Müller".
With only a week to prepare for the gig, we were only able to get in a couple of rehearsals. This is the only recording from that time that survived. We recorded it so the players could take a copy home to prepare on their own prior to going on stage. There is a drawback to having a large band. It's hard to arrange everyone's schedules for rehearsals.....
I am releasing this recording, "warts and all", because the energy is so high, and the grooves are so deep, that the session won't be denied-- it wants, it demands-- to make its way into the light.
And, it was such a rush to be a part of it all, that I feel I just have to share it. We recorded with all of us in the same room at the same time. There were no separate vocal booths. No one recorded from inside the control room. There was no Plexiglas cage for the drums, and nothing was recorded direct into the board. It was microphones and amplifiers and speaker cabs for everything, including the vocals, all recorded live to 2-track DAT. No way to mix anything, but that is perhaps part of the session's charm.....
Was it loud? Hell, yes. Was it hot and sweaty? Ya damn betcha. And it is also one of the most enjoyable projects in my musical life. I could just float on the river of what was in large part, improvised music. We arranged everything on the fly, and moved through it all without inhibition.
This project should have become a real band. Maybe one day it will. Let me know what you think. (mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Power To The Peaceful,
May 7, 2019