I'm hoping some of you vinyl-heads out there well-schooled in rare rock records will be able to help me out with some information on a record that my step-dad gave to me some years ago. It was mixed in with a whole bunch of pretty standard fare for a fan of radio rock growing up in the late 70s, early 80s (Foreigner, Journey, etc) but there was a couple of oddball selections tossed in. The oddest one was this record credited to Everyhead, called A Rock Opera. It is on Stanza Records, 1975. I googled it at the time he gave it to me, but very little information came up and I pretty much forgot about it.
Today I came across this weird press-release thing, which gave me more information than I'd really found before. An excerpt:
The Everyhead two-disc 26-song album, also recorded in 1975, was immediately banned from American radio airplay because of three controversial songs, including the protest anthem "Iffa Wanna", "America is a Pig" and "The Ballad of the F***ing Trees" as being too obscene and sexually explicit for United States broadcasting moral standards and guidelines, thus forcing the album to be withdrawn from distribution.
Everyhead, which captures the human experience of every man literally from womb to tomb, "finds its historical status as one of the very first rock music expressions of anti-establishment attitudes of the eventual "punk rock" movement at least one year before the term "punk" was even coined or used anywhere."
The Everyhead album features the lead guitar work of famed Steppenwolf band guitarist Michael Monarch, and was originally mastered by Kent Duncan, who mastered albums for such notable recording artists as the Jefferson Starship, Joe Cocker, Reo Speedwagon, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, the Doobie Brothers, the Isley Brothers, among others.
Now, it appears that this record is going for upwards of $75 to $80 on eBay, but, honestly, I'm not really concerned about selling it. It isn't in the best condition but certainly playable enough for me. I won't have a working record player back until this weekend, so I'll have to wait to hear it then. In the meantime, I'd love to see what you guys know about this band? xhukx? scott? anyone?
(Search doesn't even turn up a solitary post about this band)
― "I am a fairly respected poster." (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Tuesday, 30 November 2010 04:47 (ten years ago) link
Just realized that post made it sound as if I never listened to it, not true, it was given a spin when I was plowing through the whole pile he gave me - I remember it being really weird and something I wanted to drop back in on, but I never got around to it.
― "I am a fairly respected poster." (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Tuesday, 30 November 2010 04:50 (ten years ago) link
So it turned out that my turntable was returned today, rather than later this week, so I'm giving this a spin right now and figured I would liveblog (sort of) the results.
Before I get started, a little rundown on the liner notes. Each of the four sides is labeled with a season (side 1 = spring, side 2 = summer, etc), then each song is set up like the setting for a play. It lists "Scene" and "Character". It appears our main character is Everyhead, but we also get a Everymommie, The Girl Next Door, The Boy Across The Street, The Hustler, The Night Club Singer, and The Angel of Deliverance among others. These characters are shared among about nine different vocalists, many taking double-duty.
Musician credits (unfortunately nothing to note when which guy is playing on which song):Britton Chandler Derby, Gary Gossett, Dan Klapp - DRUMSJoe Monroe, Michael Monarch, Rick Armond - GUITARSBruce Spiegel, Rick Soo - BASSKenneth Cottrell - KEYBOARDS, SYNTHESIZER, MELLOTRON (this is also the guy that provides the vocals for Everyhead)
― one pretty obvious guy in the obvious (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 1 December 2010 04:14 (ten years ago) link
Side 1: SPRING
"Overture" - pretty much what you'd expect given the opera and prog signifiers, a slow building instrumental that takes a quick turn to the baroque and features loads of mellotron, kind of reminds me of this record I have that recreates Bach with loads of harpsichord, drums kick in and we get lots of rolls and fills in lieu of anything really steady, but then a sudden shift into a pretty straightforward rock rhythm, back to some more baroque playfulness as we slide into the second song...
― one pretty obvious guy in the obvious (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 1 December 2010 04:16 (ten years ago) link
"When Your Soul Is Your Own" - really short song, sub two minutes, basically a piano driven 1975 take on the power ballad with "uplifting" lyrics about how great things will be when your soul is your own,
― one pretty obvious guy in the obvious (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 1 December 2010 04:17 (ten years ago) link
"Ballad of the Fucking Trees" - wishing I knew who was drumming on this track because it sounds pretty great, we get lyrics about how "playing house" isn't fun when its for real, basically one of those woe is suburban married life things, this is pretty upbeat with lots of guitar and when the piano kicks in I get a really brief sniff of a Springsteen epic coming - but it pretty quickly veers away from that, things settle into a chug-a-lug boogie thing - something certainly not in short supply in this era but kind of surprising for a band so intent on being this epic prog thing, flashy guitar work and a catchy chorus that could have worked better if it had been repeated more than once
― one pretty obvious guy in the obvious (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 1 December 2010 04:21 (ten years ago) link
"The Garage" and we finally get introduced to Everyhead here, with a song that can't be read as anything but a three-way between our main character, The Girl Next Door, and The Boy Across the Street - contains the line "we can explore in the garage/we've got our own menage", at first I thought it was just going to be a typical boy and girl fooling around while mommie is away song - but the addition of the third character clearly joining in adds another twist, again we get pretty close to a Southern boogie, as an instrumental this wouldn't have been too far away from Skynyrd or something, Wendy Knoppe as the girl next door is ridiculously over the top with her delivery though and sort of ruins the song
― one pretty obvious guy in the obvious (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 1 December 2010 04:24 (ten years ago) link
"Mommie Love" - remember how the last one had a little bit of an OTT vocal thing going on? got nothing on "Everymommie" on this one, she is giving it her best opera voice while clearly never being trained to be such, pretty much what you picture when someone makes fun of the typical opera voice, the rhythm is loping and bordering on country while Everyhead and Everymommie express their different views on the son growing up and pulling away from his mother, ends on an unfortunate run of "you gotta give your mommie love every day", the first really WTF moment on this record so far
― one pretty obvious guy in the obvious (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 1 December 2010 04:27 (ten years ago) link
"Saturday Night" - pretty much right away I can tell that this one is going to be much better, there is this really cool dual guitar thing going on here - the main melodic lead is doing its thing over a rumbling fuzzy drone sort of thing, might be bass but I don't feel like it is, really cool tone though, as the title indicates this is your obligatory Saturday Night song about makin' a score and gettin' the lead out with a very nice reference to Humble Pie in the tape deck, more flashy guitar work here too
― one pretty obvious guy in the obvious (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 1 December 2010 04:30 (ten years ago) link
Alright, this is probably boring you guys and I have some work to get done before bed, so three more sides to go later this week.
― one pretty obvious guy in the obvious (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 1 December 2010 04:31 (ten years ago) link
Okay back at this again tonight, but I was having internet connection difficulties so these are c+p'd from a Word doc. They're also much more rambling tonight and very much free-flow braindump as I listened. This record is so weird.
Side 2: SUMMER
“The Dream” – another fairly typical prog sounding tune with a lead piano line and some martial drumming, another song with a baroque feel, a drum fill leads into the vocal part of the song and we’ve got “Girl Next Door” singing – she really doesn’t have a voice that works with prog-rock at all, whoa – the backing vocals join in and this is a straight up Broadway tune for the chorus, this is less like Yes and more like a Godspell outtake – particularly when it gets to the “and we sailed away” bit towards the end, some trickery with the synths taking on the guitar solo part complete with oscillating U.F.O. sound effects to reinforce the “sail away”, again – the instrumentation is pretty solid but I’m not liking the stage musical direction this is leaning towards, the outro again takes us firmly back into Yes-lite territory
― one pretty obvious guy in the obvious (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Thursday, 2 December 2010 05:04 (ten years ago) link
“The Nightmare” – starts out like a slightly off-kilter lullaby to set up Everyhead falling asleep before plunging into the titular nightmare, could see this intro bit soundtracking an 80s horror film before it starts to get a little too sparkly and show-offy with the mellotron, weirdly reminds me of Sufjan Stevens, now the strongly strummed acoustic guitar takes over and is quite at odds with the mellotron below – just a weird and off-putting juxtaposition, now we get chattering voices in the distance and more of the “computerized” synth tom-foolery – this must be the true descent into the night terrors, this presages bits of the interstitial pieces on Pink Floyd’s The Wall, whoa, now we get some pretty intimidating and genuinely creepy sounding synth and this all gets very claustrophobic, probably the most interesting sounding track on the album so far, I could see wanting to return to this again, I sincerely think Sufjan must have heard bits of this before beginning The Age of Adz – a bit of the same folksy melodies bashed around by creepy and stuttering electronics (or, what passed for such back in 1975), this is unsettling stuff
“Iffa Wanna” – back to the off-off-Broadway musical approach, this sounds a lot like an Elton John cast-off that he was embarrassed by, I think we are getting set up to be told that Everyhead wants to be a rebel musician “he can cuss if he wanna / raise a fuss if he wanna”, very reliant on the piano, some pretty great drumming though, oh wait, now we are really getting graphic – Everyhead is an artist that “can paint tits if he wanna / paint those dicks if he wanna”, oh how REBELLIOUS, the liner notes say that this is a scene with the four muses but it only has three verses about musicians, painters, and playwrights, I do really like the extended guitar solo though – if I’m going to listen to epic seven-minute tracks on a supposed rock opera, these are the kind of guitar histrionics I want to hear, this bit just makes me wish they’d stay away from the bits where they want to go for the stage, oooh more rebellion here “they can fuck if they wanna / they can suck if they wanna”, dirty dirty
― one pretty obvious guy in the obvious (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Thursday, 2 December 2010 05:05 (ten years ago) link
Side 3: AUTUMN
Side 3 – AUTUMN:“Hold On To Yourself” – this starts out promising with a pretty steady backbeat that reminds me oh so briefly of the start of “London Calling” but then the whole cast joins in a sing-along for the Broadway show, not sure what this is exactly going for “Murder the band / cut off your hand / pick all your zits”, the title is repeated and then that’s it, another pretty WTF song
“Trying” – the tempo slows back down here and the piano jumps back the forefront, these dudes absolutely love the piano and found it to the backbone of any REAL ROCK OPERA, love that the scene in the liner notes is “On the playing field of life”, apparently this is the part of the opera where Everyhead is flying forward with reckless abandon because he keeps reminding us that he doesn’t care and he shouldn’t go after anything because it doesn’t matter, is this setting up the inevitable fall of Everyhead?
“Daddie Sir” – oh great, now we get the other side of the paternal coin and let’s all hope it’s better than “Mommie Love”, so far not bad – the dueling piano and guitar totally reminds me of Use Your Illusion era GnR, hell, even the vocals sound like Axl when it first kicks in (or maybe I’m projecting) – or maybe not, I can totally see this fitting in with batshit Axl – except for maybe the slightly twangy guitar bit nicked off a Kid Rock album that was nicked off someone else (i.e. it feels really familiar but completely devoid of context), oh how clever the way he asks to have his “father/friend”, you can even hear the SLASH in Everyhead’s voice when he sings that line
“Fidelity” – really moving faster here, stabbing synths and rolling drums propel us ahead into a song in which Girl Next Door admits how she may have had one or two or a few other lovers but that they don’t mean a thing, interesting bit though – this is clearly a guy singing and NOT the Wendy Knoppe that sang her other parts on the album, maybe they wised up halfway through and realized she was kind of dragging the record down by trying so hard, this is pretty fun and energetic though, like the tone of the guitars
“You Stole Away My Head” – another piano ballad, I know these are expected with this kind of bloated concept thing but good god please stick with the rock tunes for a bit – the ratio is totally back-asswards, the piano ballad is to be deployed SPARINGLY guys, I’ve pretty much given up on any kind of storyline here, I mean they are clearly setting up this dude Everyhead struggling with angst, family issues, and girl issues but there is absolutely no EVENTS to make you want to care, although I do have to admit that the “I’m acting like I’m thirteen / and feeling like I’m dead” is oddly poignant (or maybe I’m just searching for something that isn’t here)
“America is a Pig” – this is more like it, a fantastic sleazy riffs drives this along with stomping drums, this is the obligatory “DAMN THE MAN” song set, and I quote, “In the arena of a healthy competitive free enterprise system” and sung by “The corporate heads” – they don’t care if it does someone harm, I mean this is the most basic type rebellion drivel you’d expect but the riff is so undeniable that I can’t help but love this song, sort of like some lost Steppenwolf thing going on here, features the quite exclamatory “America is a pig!”, thankfully they ride the riff for every ounce its worth, a very very wise choice, this song is definitely worth keeping and I could have seen this being a hit given a fair amount of airplay (maybe it was somewhere?)
― one pretty obvious guy in the obvious (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Thursday, 2 December 2010 05:08 (ten years ago) link
Side 4: WINTER
“The Ballet of the Deadly Sins” – I was excited to see a 10-minute mulit-part suite listed on this side because that always means prog excess but holy crap what the hell is this, this is like a bad SNL skit about a lounge singer trying to incorporate the phrase “shoobie shoobie” everywhere, but then a quick turnaround to an organ (close enough) driven thing that sounds more 1968 than 1975, this one is sung by “Local Stud and the gang” (apparently each part of the suite is a different character) and this actually gives some primal urgency here, nothing to take on authentic garage primal urgency but as close as this record is going to get for sure, and another not at all subtle shift into the next portion featuring a secretary drowning her sorrows in a bar, this is like short attention span theater the way it jumps from style to style and character to character with absolutely no (readily apparent) connection to the supposed main story or characters, but we do get another pretty great guitar solo while the faux organ pumps away in the background, now the mellotron is back for a brief little baroque bit and provides us with the smoothest transition yet to a bit with an almost Bee Gees disco rhythm section, the lyrics about selling “tail” and the beat remind me of Scissor Sisters – except for that barrelhouse piano chorus bit, another awkward transition and we get a rollicking Stones-y stomp sung by “The Diesel Dikes” “At the Pit Stop” – stay classy Everyhead, especially with lyrics like “I’m a butch sun of a gun”, although I have to admit that this is pretty fun and gives the band a chance to shoot off another guitar solo <<insert another awkward transition here>> so we can get to some weird thing that sounds like what Jim Morrison would put together if asked to write a song for a Broadway musical about gay sex between old men and a “Young Adonis” in a sauna – seriously, this is what this bit is about, very creepy and accusatory tones to the homosexual references here – not sure how I feel, I mean, this is totally played as camp but there is a mocking undertone that I can’t shake off, anyway – on to another pretty straight-forward, grade-D southern boogie stomp to lead us out of this absolute trainwreck of a suite
“Last Recourse” – a twisted carnival barker twist to this song with the mellotron apparently trying to create a circus feel to represent “Last Recourse’s Fountain of Youth”, apparently our main character Everyhead is facing getting older and not really into it at all – beat into our heads with a final scream as he rushes headfirst towards death
“There Could Have Been More” – oh no, here comes more Everymommie and her ridiculous “opera” voice, she has come to mourn her Everyson at graveside, or maybe not – she might just be here to drive a few more nails in the coffin – “It was your misled persistence / that had kept your existence so bland”, seriously guys – just because it is called a Rock “Opera” doesn’t mean you have to find someone to badly imitate a real opera singer, this is so awful
“Everyman’s Hymn” – guess what, another piano ballad, this time we get to listen to Everyhead embrace death as he sings with the “Holy Ghosts”, this part might be a bit more interesting is the story had ever told us about any real struggle that he might have went through – sure it was implied, but come on, heavy emphasis about returning to “Mother Earth” – so this was one big Oedipus thing? The song lays on the melodrama thick – complete with the host heavenly voices “aaaaaaaah”ing him to the heavens
“Put Away the Masks (Finale)” – the big showstopping number here I suppose, telling us all to “put away our masks and shine out true”, loads and loads of mellotron on this thing that toss back to the heavily baroque intro bit, some decent drum fills I suppose
― one pretty obvious guy in the obvious (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Thursday, 2 December 2010 05:09 (ten years ago) link
i'd buy a copy. if i saw one.
― scott seward, Thursday, 2 December 2010 05:49 (ten years ago) link
I was going to say, this sounds kinda amazing!
― Ned Raggett, Thursday, 2 December 2010 05:53 (ten years ago) link
It is amazing on some level. There is some really good blooz boogie shuffle moments, as well as some pretty solid guitar work, but the more "theatrical" (for lack of a better word) stuff really makes this a struggle to get through at times. But then, I'm not much of a musical guy so that may be partially my baggage getting dragged into it. Either way, a fascinating listen. Maybe once I figure out some good software for ripping from my USB turntable to a Mac I can upload some stuff from it.
scott - I honestly thought you would have been the one to have head this!
― one pretty obvious guy in the obvious (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Thursday, 2 December 2010 15:07 (ten years ago) link
apparently akarma reissued it on vinyl. never seen the reissue either. there is a reissue copy for sale on ebay for 25 bucks. other people trying to sell original copies for 75 bucks, but nobody biting.
― scott seward, Thursday, 2 December 2010 15:38 (ten years ago) link
i've always been a fan of this album as far as obscure rock operas go:
― scott seward, Thursday, 2 December 2010 15:42 (ten years ago) link
That cover looks awesome.
― one pretty obvious guy in the obvious (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Thursday, 2 December 2010 16:02 (ten years ago) link
I hate that I had to pack away my record player while we try to sell our house, I really wanted to listen to this yesterday.
― 'what are you, the Hymen Protection League of America?' (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 6 April 2011 20:52 (ten years ago) link
Looks like the prices have dropped a bit on this in the last decade. Was just thinking about this record again last night, I need to pull it out for a spin.
― a superficial sheeb of intelligence (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Tuesday, 14 September 2021 21:12 (four days ago) link