Happy Birthday to the LAVA LAMP: Fifty Years of Cool Wax!

This piece was originally published July 15th, 2013.

Lava Lamp IconIn the mid-Fifties, a former WWII pilot and post-war British accountant named Edward Craven Walker was at a local English country pub called Queen’s Head along with a friend, and found himself staring at a homemade egg timer made by one of the pub’s regulars.

This particular object, which Walker described as a “contraption made out of a cocktail shaker, old tins and things” dated from WWII, and was filled with two immiscible liquids (liquids that do not mix together).

As the contents, “odd oily globules” were heated upon the pub’s stove, the wax rose and signaled that your egg was ready.

Inspired, he purchased the egg timer/lamp and worked for a decade and a half tinkering with various liquids and containers in an attempt to create a better version. He achieved his goal in 1963.

Walker filed a patent for a “Display Device” in 1965 and but had already started merchandising his creation in September of 1963 as a company called Crestworth Ltd. using the name Astro Lamp.

 

Edward Craven Walker

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Standing At The Sky’s Edge: RICHARD HAWLEY’s Unexpected Musical Turn

This piece was originally published June 4th, 2012.

Richard Hawley Post TemplatePsychedelic Rock by its usual connotation, conjures up effects laden productions, replete with swirling overdriven guitars, echoed vocals, feedback squalls, Eastern model musical scales and exotic instrumentation drenched in reverb, all of which hearkens back to the acid fueled music of the late sixties and an early practitioner such as Jimi Hendrix.

The freedom that this music has given musicians and listeners has ensured that regardless of whether any of the participants have ingested mind altering substances or not, over the decades the fresh breath of Psychedelia has been an influences for artists, bands and music fans.

The sounds of Psychedelia have come back time and again as a healthy kick in the seat of musical complacency.

So while the anger of punk might have been the thing to give a big angry boost to said bloated complacency in the mid seventies, the creativity and subtleties allowed within the giant umbrella that is Psychedelia is often the direction to turn to when a sprinkling of something special, perhaps a small pinch of musical “Saffron,” is needed.

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Richard Hawley’s newest album Standing At the Sky’s Edge (Parlophone) is a perfect example of taking a great discography of near perfect albums and stretching out with a different and a very unexpected musical turn.
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Richard Gottehrer: From Strange Candy to Dum Dum Pop

This piece was originally published february 8th, 2011.

I Want Candy Post IconOnce upon a time, back in the early ’60s, there was a trio of American songwriters/producers who, working as a team, had previously scored some major pop hits such as writing the chart topping song “My Boyfriend’s Back” for The Angels.

This trio, Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer (a.k.a. FGG Productions) then decided to get into the recording and performing act themselves.

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The Strangeloves sans the black sweaters

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They pretended to be three Australian brothers, Giles, Miles and Niles Strange, who hailed from a sheep farm down under, where they became wealthy via an invention for crossbreeding the long-haired “Gottehrer” sheep.

Now, having plenty of money and time on their hands, they figured it’d be fun to form a pop band, thereby naming themselves The Strangeloves.

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ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN: An Intimate Evening At Great Scott

This piece was originally published October 26th, 2009

October 18, 2009.

Echo and The Bunneymen IconThings couldn’t have been more perfectly designed…seeing one of the legendary (and a favorite) post punk bands performing in Allston, MA at a tiny venue called Great Scott. Echo And The Bunnymen, in an extremely rare, intimate one-off return to playing a small room, not unlike their earliest days of performing in the clubs of Liverpool.

Little did I know that a freakish snow storm and terrifying driving experience would almost derail this grand opportunity.

Then again, it was also the perfect backdrop for seeing a band who has weathered the highs and lows of musical superstardom and continued to pilot their musical voyage through the “Seven Seas.”


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SKY SAXON AND THE SEEDS: A Tribute.

June 25th, 2009 will doubtlessly go down in popular culture as a momentous day of loss.

This piece was originally published July 13th, 2009

Flower Girl IconJune 25th, 2009 will doubtlessly go down in popular culture as a momentous day of loss.

For the majority of the world’s citizens, it was a day that meant the end of the life for one of the world’s singular, biggest record selling— and to put it mildly—more eccentric entertainers of recent times, Michael Jackson.

Concurrently, it was a day of losing another talent. An actress with charisma, beauty and an affable demeanor, not forgetting an impressive body of acting work, Farrah Fawcett.

An actress whose best known role—while only appearing for one season—boosted a show into a multi season iconic smash hit series that was never as good after she quit. Her pin up poster is still the biggest selling ever, and the profits from sales of the posters were far greater than any salary she made from acting, regardless of how huge the series.

Coming in third on this day of loss, and understandably, relegated to a much smaller mention on that day’s gargantuan news headlines, was another entertainer. Perhaps an unknown to most, or a low level blip on the radar of the stars, but for others, myself included, just as important and as colorful a character as anyone who ever chose the arts as a means of self expression.

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Little Steven’s Underground Garage: Celebrating 7 Years (So Far, and So Far Out) of Garage Rock Radio Greatness

This piece was originally published April 6th, 2009

Mop Top IconThe Little Steven’s Underground Garage syndicated weekly radio show began 7 years ago and is currently celebrating a seven year anniversary of playing selections from the ever growing umbrella of Garage Rock’s creatively wild, brilliantly defiant and just plain freakin’ good music from the ’50s to NOW. The current program is listed at show #366 and there is definitely no sign of slowing down.

One would be hard-pressed to find a better music radio host at the moment (ok Bob Dylan might be an equal, but he’s the subject of a future column) than the gravely voiced, street smart Dead End Kid who is Little Steven…

Steven Van Zandt a.k.a. Little Steven, was born at the beginning of the rock and roll decade, in 1950, to an Italian American family in Winthrop, Massachusetts. Moving to New Jersey when he was 7, his life as a musician will forever be one for modern music’s history books. Even an incomplete list of accomplishments is staggering: founding member of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, several early pre fame Bruce Springsteen bands, twice (and currently) a key figure in the legendary Springsteen E Street Band, activist and leader of the ’80s all star “Artists United Against Apartheid” Sun City benefit ensemble, and infamy as an actor in The Sopranos as the memorable Silvio. Hell, most folks would probably lounge on an island doing nothing else between recording albums and nightly four hour plus shows of touring with The E Street Band alone.

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Thankfully, for those of us who live, love and breathe cool music, Mr. Van Zandt seems to be a workaholic, and number one fan of all that he programs on his radio show.
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BEE GEES’ ODESSA – 40TH ANNIVERSARY REISSUE

This piece was originally published January 13th, 2009.

Morey IconToday marks the 40th anniversary of the release of the Bee Gees’ lavish Baroque double lp pop masterpiece, Odessa. To anyone unfamiliar with the ’60s work from the Bee Gees, think not the ’70s disco or ’80s & ’90s soppy gloss. Throughout the decade, their most prolific period, the Brothers Gibb crafted some of the most creatively insightful, ambitious and majestic music to rival anyone of the time. Not to mention, having hit single after hit single.

Odessa, their sixth album, would be the apex of their work together – a double album covered in red flock velvet for the first pressing, heavily orchestrated, and loosely based on the concept of a ship lost at sea. After Odessa, the Gibbs would never again be as creative, would splinter off into solo projects and until their resurrection as disco icons, stay off the pop charts.

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Reprise/Rhino Records puts their usual magical touch to this release by not only replicating the red flocked cover, but by including 3 cds worth of music and extra materials to create a superb deluxe version box set of this previously little know gem. Outstanding in every way possible.