The Walker Brothers – Hurting Each Other

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Ain’t they just dreamy??

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Listen – The Walker Brothers – Hurting Each Other – MP3

Greetings all.

I hope all is well on your end, and that the end of the week sees you ready for some musical melodrama.
I say melodrama, because the mighty Scott Walker was constitutionally unable to deliver ANY lyric, be it ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’, or page 432 of the Los Angeles telephone book without it.
Sadly, though Scott himself has enjoyed something of a cultish renaissance thanks to hipster reappraisal of his post-Walkers solo albums (which were duds over here but HUGE in the UK), the Walker Brothers themselves are largely remembered only for the aforementioned ‘Sun…’ and ‘Make It Easy On Yourself.
As a connoisseur of both phases of his career, I can assure you that although the Walkers were rarely as deep as Scott’s solo stuff (he wasn’t free to indulge in his Jacques Brel-mania) they did have many moments of genius, the vast majority of which were due in large part to Scott’s monumental baritone.
Many moons ago, when I was still free to roam the record shows of New Jersey scooping up OG Scott and Walkers vinyl at prices that would now be considered chicken feed I made pretty quick business of a general form of completism (with one or two marked exceptions). A small part of this was the Walkers’ UK LP ‘Portrait’.
The day I bought this record, I got it home, popped it onto the playing deck of the stereophonomachine and about 20 minutes into the record I hear something strangely familiar, a sensation that was prelude to my mind being good and blown. There, in the middle of side one was the Walker Brothers singing a song that I had known for years, as sung by…wait for it…here it comes…are you sure you’re ready???….The Carpenters.
That’s right.
It was one of those moments, that any music nut with a sizable enough record collection will experience frequently, in which you discover that a song you have long associated with an artist was not in fact the original version.
As it turns out, the Walkers weren’t the first to record Gary Geld and Peter Udell’s ‘Hurting Each Other’. They were preceded by both Jimmy Clanton (?!?) and Chad Allen and the Expressions, and though I have yet to hear either of those versions, I’m pretty sure neither of them could possibly match the Walkers, on account of Scott Walker was verily MADE to deliver this tune.
Scott Walker’s voice – one of the really great ones – pours out over the lyrics like so much melted butter – starting slow and building in emotion (and volume), which any Walkers fan will tell you was something of a trademark in their catalog. The really groovy thing in this particular instance, is that the bittersweet melody and the forlorn lyrics seem as if they were tailor made for the group (which obviously they were not).
The arrangement by Reg Guest is killer, taking the Spectorian majesty of records like ‘After the Lights Go Out’ and layering a lush, super-charged version of easy listening strings over it, all paling (and rightfully so) when juxtaposed with Scott’s voice.
It’s a killer, late period track for the Walkers, and a taste of what Scott would do on his own little more than a year later.
I hope you dig it, and that you all have an excellent weekend.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a taste of guitar funk.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider, updated 2/18

Dan Seals RIP: Southwest F.O.B.- The Smell of Incense

NOTE: I had something else ready to post, but I just saw that Dan Seals, country star and original member of the Southwest F.O.B. passed away at the age of 61. I thought it’d be cool to repost that group’s best song in his memory.
See you on Monday.
L

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Southwest F.O.B.

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Listen – The Smell of Incense – MP3

Greetings all.
I’m taking advantage of a small, precious bit of quiet time this morning to get a song posted.
This post ought to be subtitled, ‘The Groovy Roots of AM Radio Hell’, as the group playing today’s fine selection, the Southwest F.O.B. included in its ranks none other than England Dan (Seals*) and John Ford Coley.
But first – as if you didn’t see this coming – a little background.
I first heard ‘The Smell of Incense’ back in the mid 80’s garage/psych days when I saw a fuzzy, many times duplicated video of the group playing the song on a local Texas dance party show. If memory serves (as the video is long gone) I was struck first not by the song (which I came to love) but by the ultra-mod lime green pant suits that the band was wearing. The day-glo effect provided quite the jarring contrast to the mellow, trippy vibe of the song.
I had never heard of the band before, but started looking for their record immediately. Oddly enough I found a copy of their album long before I grabbed the 45 you see above, which is strange because the song was a minor hit (just outside the Top 50), and the single is actually pretty common.
‘The Smell of Incense’ is actually a cover, with the original version having been recorded a year earlier in 1967 by the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band on Reprise (there was also a cover by a group called the Abstracts). The Southwest F.O.B., which hailed from Dallas recorded their version in 1968, and it was initially released locally on the GPC label). After the record saw some success the group was signed to the Stax subsidiary HIP Records. They went on to record the LP ‘The Smell of Incense’ for HIP – which also included an excellent cover of the Buffalo Springfield’s ‘Rock’n’Roll Woman’.
The Southwest F.O.B.’s version of ‘The Smell of Incense’ – which I prefer to the original – is a slice of late 60’s commercial pop-psyche perfection. It manages to be lightweight and heavy at the same time, teetering on the edge of faux-hippy cheesiness while managing to retain a kind of rough edged (dig the heavy guitars), paisley dreaminess.
It’s the kind of record I have to give multiple plays whenever I dig it out.
I hope you dig it.
The fine folks over at Sundazed Records (by far the best label for this kind of stuff) have done an excellent job with the reissue, including several bonus tracks.
I’ll be back later in the week with a cool ‘joint’ post with Funky16Corners.
Until then…
Peace
Larry

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*Making a case of 1970’s AM Radio domination, England Dan Seals (who went on to a very successful country music career) is brother to none other than Jim Seals of Seals & Crofts…

Denny Belline & the Rich Kids – Rain

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The Rich Kids

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Listen – Denny Belline & the Rich Kids – Rain – MP3

Greetings all.

Welcome to the beginning of another chapter in the interwebs saga known as Iron Leg.
The tune I bring you today is something I picked up years ago just as my hardcore garage punking days were winding down.
Some friends and I had taken a ride over to Red Bank in search of a record store that we heard had recently moved. I’d never bought anything at their old location but harbored lust in my heart for a copy of a local rock fanzine from the 60s that they had hanging on their wall, to which that had affixed a price tag of one hundred American dollars (which, by the way I almost bought, back when $100 bucks would have been an absolutely insane sum).
Anyhoo…we eventually found the store in its new location, only to discover that they were on the verge of insolvency and were about to close their doors forever. I suspect that moving from a hole in the wall on a side street to a piece of prime real estate on the main drag probably shot their rent up exponentially, but I had some cash burning a hole in my pocket and they had a room full of records they were trying to sell, so I started digging.
While the trip wasn’t exactly a bonanza, I did pick up a couple of very nice records, including a couple of fairly rare psych LPs and a couple of garagey things. One of the other items I picked up, which maybe wasn’t as fabulous as I suspected, was an album by Denny Belline and the Rich Kids.
I already knew Belline’s name, having a copy of a 45 by his earlier band the Dwellers, and having seen copies of the Rich Kids later 45s on the Steed label. When I pulled the Rich Kids album out of the bin – stone minty fresh by the way – it was immediately apparent that they were committing an act of stylistic larceny, i.e. (to borrow a phrase from the kids) biting the Young Rascals look six ways from Sunday. It was a definite “If I was Felix Cavaliere I’d be calling my lawyer” thing, but since I dug the Rascals, and the record was inexpensive (even more so when I got to the counter and discovered that everything in the store was half the sticker price), I grabbed it and took it home with me.
Once I got it there and had a chance to give it a spin I wasn’t exactly blown away. The whole thing has a ‘live in the studio party’ vibe, and some of the performances were lackluster.
However, there was also something very cool, i.e. a cover of the Beatles ‘Rain’.
Despite the fact that the Beatles were huge, and got covered lots of time, you don’t tend to see a lot of contemporary covers of the psychey stuff, especially not ‘Rain’. Belline and the band slow the tune down a tad, add a harpsichord, and while they were clearly no threat to the Beatles (or the Young Rascals), it’s a nice version of the song.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back later in the week with something melodramatic.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for my ongoing tribute to the late Eddie Bo.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider, updated 2/18

The Peddlers – What’ll I Do b/w Delicious Lady

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The Peddlers (back to front) Tab Martin, Roy Phillips, Trevor Morais

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Listen – The Peddlers – What’ll I Do – MP3

Listen – The Peddlers – Delicious Lady – MP3

Greetings all.

If you’ve been reading the Funky16Corners Blog for the last year or so you’ll already be well acquainted with my ongoing love affair with the Peddlers. Between the dawn of the Beat era and the early 70s the Peddlers – Roy Phillips (organ, vocals), Trevor Morais (drums) and Tab Martin (bass) recorded some of the most consistently interesting sounds to come out of the UK.
They also covered one of the widest stylistic ranges of almost any group I can think of, while managing to also be consistently good (two qualities that are often mutually exclusive).
There was always a jazzy edge to their sound – Phillips was a madman on the Hammond as well as a dynamite scat singer – but they managed to apply that basic building block to everything from pure R&Beat, Hammond grooves, pop, soul and progressive funk with equal facility.
As a result, the Peddlers are for me the ultimate group in that I could feature different tunes from different stages of their career on either Funky16Corners or Iron Leg.
The tunes I bring you today come from the mid-60s, both appearing on the Fontana LP ‘The Fantastic Peddlers’.
The top side of the 45 is a cover of an extremely old Irving Berlin song which also happens to be a favorite of mine.
The tune has a beautiful, wistful melody when taken at the traditional pace, but the Peddlers reframe it – with what I can only perceive of as a huge tip of the hat to Georgie Fame – in the style of Fame’s ‘Yeh Yeh’. The Georgie Fame reference is an important one. I can’t say for sure who came first, or if Fame influenced the Peddlers or if they were coming at a similar sound from the same roots, but if you dig Fame you should be out digging for the Peddlers.
This is not to say that they’re exactly the same either. Whereas Georgie Fame’s vocals draw heavily on sources like Fats Domino and Mose Allison, Roy Phillips was nothing if not dramatic, coming at almost everything with a fiery, Ray Charles influenced edge that Fame often lacked.
This contrast is displayed perfectly on the flipside of ‘What’ll I Do’, the Peddlers’ original ‘Delicious Lady’. There’s a vaguely Latin underpinning to the tune with driving bass and drums pushing the tune between the stop/start sections. It helps that both sides were produced by none other than the legendary Keith Mansfield.
Interestingly enough, both the Peddlers and Fame recorded versions of Teddy Randazzo’s ‘Let the Sunshine In’. I have no idea who covered it first.
I’ve only ever seen one video of the Peddlers, taken from a 1971 episode of the Roger Whittaker Show, tearing up ‘Walk On the Wild Side’, with Trevor Morais absolutely kicking ass on the drums. In addition to their experimentation in the studio, they were clearly a formidable live band. If anyone knows of a source for any other video of the group, please drop me a line.
That said, you can count on hearing more of the Peddlers on both blogs.
I hope you dig these tunes and I’ll be back on Monday.


Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a great slice of sock soul!

PSS Check out Paperback Rider, updated 2/18

The Blades of Grass – I Love You Alice B Toklas!

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The groovy side of Peter Sellers

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Listen – The Blades of Grass – I Love You Alice B Toklas! – MP3

Greetings all.

Glad to be back in the saddle as it were, with a slice of groovy 60s pop.
This is an interesting one.
The song itself was the title tune for a very funny Peter Sellers movie of the same name. I always dug the movie, and the song, so when I found this 45 many years ago (pre-portable) I grabbed it and brought it home.
So I fire up the victrola and slap the disc under the needle, and all of a suddenly I realize that the song I was hearing was different from the song I was remembering, at which point something snapped in my brain and the next thing I know it’s hours later and I’m on the floor in a pool of my own sweat.
Well, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but I did experience a somewhat jarring disconnect, which was of course explained a short while later when I discovered that the song ‘I Love You Alice B Toklas!’*, as performed in the movie was done by none other than Harpers Bizarre. The version of the song on the 45 – the one you’re hearing today – was by another group entirely, North Jersey’s own Blades of Grass. This was especially confusing since the 45 label says that the tune is from the movie (I guess they were being extra literal)*.
Though I’ve seen references that suggest that the Blades of Grass were from Upstate New York, I’ve seen plenty of others that make a better case for their coming from the Maplewood/South Orange, NJ area.
The group had the unfortunate experience of releasing two 45s of two different songs (‘Happy’ and ‘I Love You Alice B Toklas’) that were released at the same time by two competing groups (The Sunshine Company and Harpers Bizarre respectively).
The groovy thing is (for you and me) is that the Blades of Grass version of ‘I Love You Alice B Toklas’ is a much cooler take on the song than the HB version, with the Blades of Grass taking things a little farther out, with the psychedelic vibe adding an edge to the brighter, poppier underpinnings of the song, especially the freakout at the end.
While it’s certainly not putting the fear of jeebus into the Chocolate Watchband, it is quite groovy, and I dig it. I hope you do too.
See you later in the week.

Peace

Larry

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*If the title piques your curiosity, it’s a reference to the companion of writer Gertrude Stein, who was rumored to have concocted a particularly delicious recipe for pot brownies. What Toklas actually provided a recipe for (borrowed from none other than Brion Gysin) was hashish fudge.

PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a new edition of the Funky16Corners Radio podcast!

PSS Check out Paperback Rider, updated 2/18

The Family Affair – Let’s Get Together

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Listen – The Family Affair – Let’s get Together – MP3

Greetings all.

Here we are, it’s Friday again and I’m going to close out the week with something plucked fresh off the vine (as it were) during my digs down in Washington, DC last weekend.
I was mainly on the prowl for soul and funk, but I did pull a couple of nice pieces of 60s pop (all of which will eventually be featured here). One of them is pretty much a mystery record, since no matter how much I look for information (my Google hand is usually unfuckwithable) I come up with snake eyes.
This may have something to do with the fact that the name of the group, The Family Affair is so vague/common that proper Google-i-zation is practically impossible, not to mention the fact that the song in question, ‘Let’s Get Together’ was heavily covered in its day, and as a title is also open to wide search engine interpretation.
No matter. It’s a cool side.
The Youngblood’s version of ‘Get Together’ is one of my favorite records of the 60s and is about as iconic as songs get. As soon as I saw the title I pulled the 45 out and put it on the “to be previewed’ stack, where it soon proved a worthwhile purchase.
The arrangement is actually very interesting, opening with a phased organ, which gives way to steel guitar, female and male harmony vocals, strings and eventually some fairly heavy guitar.
This single was released in 1969 – prime hippie period when one would assume that there were countless versions of this song being recorded – and I dig it a lot. The copy I have has the same song on both sides. The stock copy should have a tune called ‘Crazy Morning’ on the flip.
If any of you brave souls has any more info on the group, please drop me a line and let me know.
I hope you dig the record, and I’ll be back on Monday.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a very nice soul jazz Hammond 45!

PSS Check out Paperback Rider, updated 2/18

The Sonics – Psycho

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The Sonics

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Listen – The Sonics – Psycho – MP3

Greetings all.

This will be brief, as I just got back from three days on the road doing the funk and soul deejay dealie and I’m am so f*cking tired I think my eyeballs are about to fall out and roll somewhere dark for their own good.
First off, I’d like to thank all of you for playing along last week. You’ll all receive a copy of the Iron Leg home game as a parting gift*.
The tune I bring you today is one of the greatest from the indisputably savage discography of one of the truly great (in a decade where the notion of greatness is bestowed willy nilly by a pack of goons who know not true greatness when it crawls up their legs etc etc etc…) bands of – in the words of the champ – “all times”.
If’n you aren’t hep to the Sonics, you mi amigo ought to climb out of your bomb shelter and back into the sunlight, on account of the fact that Gerry Roslie and his gang of thugs tore a hole in the Pacific Northwest during the 60s that shall not soon be mended by either time or anyone’s good intentions.
It was as if Satan himself pulled up to a mental hospital, handed out a truckload of geetars, organs and drums, plugged it all in and sat back and laughed as his creation ran amok.
The Sonics were – to borrow an unfortunate but entirely apt phrase – the musical equivalent of “retard strength” – in which pure, unbridled animal energy, mixed with an electrified libido and marinated in grain alcohol is reduced to a serum, injected into Little Richard, who then went to the zoo, mated with a hyena in a swimming pool during an electrical storm then took their unholy spawn into a recording studio (during a tornado) and whipped up something very, very heavy.
One of the heaviest products of this union is the song ‘Psycho’, which opens with a drummer who sounds like he’s playing with his feet, followed soon by Roslie’s howling and the rumblings of the frat band from hell.
Honestly, there were moments when the Sonics made Screaming Jay Hawkins sound like Bobby Short (look it up…).
It’s powerful stuff and shouldn’t be taken on an empty stomach, lest you burn a hole in your feedbag and end up attached to a series of tubes somewhere.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you, because I just did.
I’m going to bed.
See you all later.

Peace

Larry

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*Note to readers. There is no such thing as the “Iron Leg Home Game” so stop staring at your mailbox waiting for the mailman to bring it (to your mailbox)

PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a recap of this past weekends DJ festivities!

PSS Check out Paperback Rider, updated 2/18

Iron Leg Digital Trip #22 – Memories of a Not So Free Festival

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Iron Leg Digital Trip #22 – Memories of a Not So Free Festival
Grand Funk Railroad – Inside Looking Out (Capitol)
US Sound – Toady Frog Clan (Trump)
Steppenwolf – Tighten Up Your Wig (Dunhill)
Rod Stewart – Street Fighting Man (Mercury)
Three Dog Night – Feelin’ Alright (Dunhill)
Milwaukee Freak Scene – Land of Plastic (SSM)
Offenbach – Moody Calvaire Moody (Barclay)
Country Joe & The Fish – Rock and Soul Music (Cotillion)
Leslie West – This Wheel’s On Fire (Windfall)
Natural Gas – What Do You Want From My Life (Firebird)
Rationals – Barefootin’ (Crewe)
Humble Pie – I Don’t Need No Doctor (A&M)

You Can Hear This Mix in the Iron Leg Digital Trip Podcast Archive

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Not many people remember the Isle Royale Festival of Peace, especially not those that witnessed it firsthand.
It was the second annual rock festival to be held on the grounds of Isle Royale National Park, on an island in the middle of Lake Superior, a few short miles from the Canadian mainland.
That particular geographic fact is of little importance, until you realize that the very first Festival of Peace, held in August of 1970 was put on as what turned out to be a huge diversionary tactic by the publishers of a Duluth, Minnesota underground newspaper (Blown Wind). They had been informed, incorrectly as it turns out that Isle Royale was in fact within the borders of Canada – though the countless signs indicating that they were in a United States National Park should have been a tip off – and planned to send a busload of their compadres – draft resistors one and all – over the border to freedom.
As it was they all – the promoters included – ended up spending the next two years working in the prison laundry at Leavenworth.
No one is sure whose idea it was to bring the Festival of Peace back in 1971, nor why they did it in November. The first snows had fallen weeks before, and the grounds of the park, where the festival goers were expecting to camp, were, like the Wisconsin State Police, hard and unforgiving.
The line up of performers was surprisingly good, though in retrospect experts say this is more likely than not due to the fact that the US festival season was at a slow point, and there were a ton of bands hanging around with nothing to do. There are those who have surmised that had the Festival of Peace not come along, several major stars may have taken the opportunity to overdose, instead of participating in one of the signal debacles of rock and roll history.
Tickets to the festival were a surprisingly cheap fifteen dollars for all three days, which to the hordes of teenagers descending on the park seemed like a godsend. Unfortunately, the three-quarters of the performers who received little or no compensation for their work didn’t see it that way.
As the promoters from the first festival were in prison, their duties had been assumed by an ad hoc committee of Duluth’s underground, including the city’s last revolutionary, several members of the local motorcycle gang the Ape Hangers, and local AM radio personality Stash Wojchiehowicz who at the time was trying to reshape himself as a “progressive” (‘The Wojo with the Mojo’). What started out with the best of intentions went bad quickly, when the vast majority of pre-sale ticket revenues were diverted into the Ape Hangers’ beer fund, with little left over for hospitality, security or other expenses.
In the first volume of his autobiography, Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley remembered their shock when they arrived backstage only to discover that the specifics of their rider had been ignored and they – like all the other bands – had to survive on barrels of Kool-Aid and a huge, seemingly bottomless cauldron of (for the English) a strange dish that the locals described as “beans and weenies”.
Unfortunately for Humble Pie, and every other act at the Festival of Peace, unless they arrived in their own boat (which none of them – with the exception of the seafaring Mountain - were lucky enough to do), once they stepped off the helicopters, they were stuck there until the end of the three day period.
Friday morning November 10th, the lone park ranger on winter duty was surprised when he answered a knock in his door at 6AM, only to open the door and see a line of cars and pedestrians that stretched for miles. Though the promoters had in fact secured the proper permits, the park administrator had gone on vacation without passing along the information to his staff (that lone ranger).
Any sane person would have packed his car and run in the other direction, but Ranger Claude Westerveldt, following the model of farmer Max Yasgur two years before, decided that the kids had gotten a bad rap. Unfortunately he was wrong, and after the evening of Saturday, November 11th, he was never seen again, on the books as having abandoned his post, and widely assumed to either have gone over the border into the Ontario woods, or the victim of foul play.
In a tableaux reminiscent of the late night scenes at Altamont, the trucks carrying the stage, scaffolding and lights – after fighting their way through the traffic – managed to get to the festival site and set up by 2PM on the afternoon of the 10th. It was a few short hours later that the Grand Funk Railroad took the stage. Mark Farner had come in via Thunder Bay, and by the time the band plugged in he had consumed at least a case of Carling’s Black Label and was in rare form. The band played for the better part of two hours, performing their storming cover of the Animals ‘Inside Looking Out’. Years later, both Farner and Don Brewer both expressed wonder that they made it through the Festival at all.
The next band, the U.S. Sound were utterly obscure and unknown to everyone at the Festival, including the promoters, none of whom remembered booking them.
Steppenwolf took the stage around dusk, and played for the better part of the evening. They closed their set with the tune ‘Tighten Up Your Wig’, stolen almost note for note from the Junior Wells tune ‘Messin’ With the Kid’. Legend has it that Wells, who was set to play the following afternoon, heard the performance and was waiting for John Kay backstage where he greeted the unsuspecting singer with a cry of ‘Motherfucker!’ and proceeded to beat him senseless.
The fact that Rod Stewart was coming off a number one hit was apparently not taken into consideration, as he didn’t take the stage until almost midnight. When he did he was met with an ugly scene of forty thousand freezing fans, all huddling as close to possible to eleven trashcan fires. The beer had run out hours before and the audience had turned into a pulsing mass, interrupted by a floating fist-fight that seemed to pass back and forth at random, much the same as beach balls came to be used years later. The fact that Stewart opened his set with his cover of the Rolling Stones’ ‘Street Fighting Man’ only served to make things worse. It was the only song he played that night.
Midnight arrived as the crowd was returning to their tents and vans. There were reports that dozens of festival goers spent the night wandering the frigid beaches of the island looking for the hotel they’d read about, oblivious to the fact (as were the promoters) that t had burned down in 1947.
It didn’t help that the ferry to the mainland was on a winter schedule and stopped running after 5PM. Isle Royale had become, in 24 short hours, the largest city in Wisconsin, and a federally declared disaster area. There was little food, the supply of running water in the park was rusty and filled with bacteria (a problem that would test the park’s limited bathroom facilities the next day).
As the sun peeked up over the horizon the next morning, the hundreds of freezing hippies that had foolishly camped on the beach (it had been reported that some of them had tried to build rafts and float back to the mainland) awoke to the surreal sight of several dozen World War Two landing craft arriving on the beach, with hundreds of Wisconsin National Guardsmen – and tons of supplies – spilling out onto the beach.
There were rumors that an angry Tiny Tim (smelling of lavender) elbowed his way to the front of the line demanding C-rations, cigarettes and beer, but there are no (living) witnesses and this story is now generally understood (or hoped) to be apocryphal.
Either way, by mid-morning the National Guard had already treated most of the frostbite and exposure cases and State Commandant Earl Cressley had taken the stage to announce “breakfast in bed for all you stinking hippies.”
The crowd was too hungry and tired to be insulted – many of them were sure that they were in fact hallucinating – and proceeded to the newly erected tent city where they were greeted with steaming plated of cream chipped beef on toast (a completely alien dish to most of the crowd). Interestingly enough, this event was the impetus for the creation of Sunflower Leibowitz’ Cream Chipped Beef-a-torium, which has been a Sault Saint Marie landmark for the last 37 years.
Following breakfast, Three Dog Night took the stage and played for close to two hours. They were originally scheduled to close the festival, but once they arrived and surveyed the carnage they insisted that they be allowed to perform (and leave) in the morning.
They were followed by local Wisconsin band the Milwaukee Freak Scene, French Canadian heavies Offenbach, and Woodstock alums Mountain and Country Joe & the Fish.
The second evening came to a close with a set from another Canadian band, Natural Gas, working a maple syrup infused angle on the Blood Sweat and Tears vibe. Their set was cut short by a near riot as the Ape Hangers started beating everyone in sight when their bikes started to sink in the wet sand. Eventually they had to stop hitting people so that they could devote their energy to shoveling sand with their bare hands.
Ultimately they were unable to do anything, and as the tide came in the motorcycles sank deeper and deeper. The toughest bike club in Minnesota was shattered in one fell swoop as every single one of their bikes was swallowed by the beach at Isle Royale, where they have reappeared intermittently over the years, usually after a particularly strong storm.
There was a particularly telling photograph, published in a Look magazine article about the festival, in which the entire Ape Hangers club – all suddenly pedestrians – are huddled together in the corner of the Isle Royale ferry, shivering, glassy eyed and lost. Upon their return to the mainland, they discovered that news of their misfortune had preceded them, and their main rivals, the Visigoths club out of Minneapolis had swooped down on and ransacked their clubhouse. They were left with nothing, and those that didn’t return immediately to lives of petty crime were scattered to the four winds, though there are rumors that the club president resurfaced years later – with a new name and considerably shorter hair – as the Republican representative from a certain northern Minnesota congressional district.
The morning of the third and final day of the Isle Royale Festival of Peace looked like an instant replay tape of the final morning of Woodstock. The already sparse crowd had thinned considerably, the frozen ground was covered with garbage, abandoned sleeping bags and what were initially assumed to be corpses, but were in fact abandoned sleeping bags filled with frozen garbage.
There was some discussion about whether or not the festival would continue, but oddly enough the promoters weren’t involved, since they had vanished sometime after the conclusion of the previous day, along with all the money, the last two cases of beer and a duffel bag filled with beans and weenies.
Members of the Rationals and Humble Pie, who had spent the previous night huddled together for warmth decided that as long as the electricity was still on (and it was, provided by a single extension cord reaching into the park office), the festival would continue – and at the end of Humble Pie’s set – conclude, which (mercifully) it did.
What followed – at least as captured in photos in the rare coffee table book about the Festival of Peace, published in the 80s – resembled nothing less than a very hairy, acid drenched version of the WW2 evacuation of Dunkirk. Dozens of local boats, everything from fishing trawlers, to pleasure cruisers, to rowboats were pressed into service to transport the remaining festivalgoers, performers and their equipment back to the mainland.
In the two hour documentary film broadcast last year on Minnesota Public Television, several festival attendees, as well as performers like Leslie West, Peter Frampton and Danny Hutton of Three Dog Night were interviewed about the Isle Royale Festival of Peace. Not surprisingly, not a single person had fond memories of the experience, and West – who was apparently traumatized – could not recall it at all until placed under hypnosis by a psychiatrist.
The word last year was that there was a small movement afoot to erect a monument of some kind on the park grounds, but an unpleasant combination of lack of interest, and an angry letter from the National Park Service (in which they denied any knowledge that the festival had ever occurred) put an end to that.
The only sonic evidence of the fiasco – considered by those in the know to be the “Altamont of Wisconsin” – is a two LP bootleg, much of which appears in this mix.
As always, I hope you dig it, and that you raise a glass (or something else) to the memory of a not so free festival.

Peace

Larry

Example

PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some Hammond funk!

PSS Check out Paperback Rider, updated 2/18

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