Three Sundays on the shoreline

For someone who lives fifteen zig-zag miles from the shores of Saco Bay, Maine, I sure don’t visit said shores enough. Now that the true summer season has passed, I’m doing what I can to rectify this situation. 

Here’s’ the final Sunday of summer 2017, a socked-in evening of about 63 degrees:

The first Sunday sunset of the autumn of 2017 resembled a late summer’s day at about 72 degrees (a swim was had moments after this was taken):

And this sunset, moments ago, presided over a far less crowded but no less brilliant 58 degree evening:

I’m on a self-imposed social media break for the month of October, a little tradition of mine. Here’s hoping it’s a month with more moments like these.


From the archives: Leif Erickson interviews Bob Welch

In March of 2004, I had an opportunity to interview former Fleetwood Mac singer/songwriter Bob Welch, known for his “caretaker” tenure in the band between their pioneering Peter Green era and the hit-machine Buckingham/Nicks era. He then achieved multi-platinum success on his own with his “French Kiss” album of 1977.

This interview originally aired on my old “Beyond and Before” radio show on WHDQ (“Q106”) in Claremont, New Hampshire. At the time, he had recently issued some re-recordings of his old Fleetwood Mac tunes. He was gracious, friendly, and in good humor throughout our conversation. It was great to talk to a guy who I always thought was incredibly underrated. Sadly, Welch would take his own life in June of 2012.

With hindsight (and age/wisdom) I probably would have asked better, deeper questions, but I was still happy how the segment turned out for my show. Enjoy.


Leif Erickson:          It’s Beyond and Before on Q106, and that familiar drumbeat, that familiar guitar, familiar voice, Bob Welch with Fleetwood Mac and a song called “Hypnotized,” from “Mystery to Me,” one of the great albums from his era in Fleetwood Mac. And joining us right now, hello, is it rolling, Bob? From under the Nashville skyline somewhere, it’s Bob Welch. How are you tonight?

Bob Welch:        How’re you doing, Leif?

LE:          I’m happy you’re on the show with us, and taking some time, hopefully we’re not interrupting dinner or anything.

BW:        No, actually, I was optimizing a hard drive on my computer, isn’t that exciting?

LE:          There are worse ways to spend your time, right?

BW:        Yeah! (laughs)

LE:          Okay, we’re going to talk about all kinds of different things here, first of all, I want to let you know I enjoyed the new project that you have, it’s called “Bob Welch: His Fleetwood Mac Years and Beyond,” sort of new spins on old favorites. Tell us a little bit about that.

BW:        Well, I had just sort of, as an experiment, started re-recording some of the songs I did with Fleetwood Mac and from my solo albums, just for fun, and they started turning out pretty good, so… and then I got a call from a fella at a record company who was doing another project, a remaster thing from some of my old Capitol stuff, and I mentioned, “oh by the way, I have this stuff, take a listen to some of it,” and I sent a couple of things, I think it was “Sentimental Lady” and “Hypnotized,” and then he said “do you have any more of these? Let’s put it out.” So, I took another few months in the studio… it was something I wanted to do… the sonic quality that you can get today is much, much better than what you could get in the early Seventies…

LE:          Yes, the sound is very crisp on it.

BW:        Yeah, and essentially what I wanted to do was I wanted to re-create the songs, I didn’t want to radically jumble them up, or I didn’t want to do the rap version of “Hypnotized,” or something, I basically wanted to stay faithful to what was originally on the record, except expand it out with the 2000 technology. I never particularly loved how my voice was recorded back in the old days, and so I had the time and the luxury at home to be able to do it, so I got everything the way I wanted it, and I’m pretty happy with it… What really surprised me is that some people like it better than the originals, which is a real compliment.

LE:          Yeah, put it on a good high-fidelity system these days, what a difference.

BW:        Yeah, that is the difference, you know, the old stuff, I mean, the performances were what they were, they were fine, but, it just doesn’t open out and people have so much more high quality sound systems today, you know, all digital and the subwoofers and everything, and when you play one of those old records and you use a subwoofer, all you get is a bunch of noise and, woof, it sounds like you’re sitting on top of a subway station. So I wanted to bring everything up to spec, and actually it’s done so well that I’m probably going to do another volume of that type of thing.

LE:          We’d certainly look forward to it, based on the results of this one. Why don’t we go back to your roots, of course, you ended up in Fleetwood Mac in 1971, but you were in a few bands before that, one called the Seven Souls, I believe out on the West Coast, then you ended up in Paris for a while, just give us a little chronology of right before you ended up in Fleetwood Mac.

BW:        Well yeah, the Seven Souls was a show band, and we almost got signed, they either were going to sign Sly Stone or us, and they picked Sly Stone, that’s the genre it was, you know, exciting, kind of soul stuff… but that disbanded and we went to Europe, it was the late Sixties, a lot of turmoil (in America), you know, the ’68 Chicago convention riots, you know, it was just… Europe was a wonderful way of life, we could play in a club, we had the same gig for three months, we didn’t have to go anywhere, we could get up at two in the afternoon, great! So we took our trio over there (called) Head West, and Head West almost had a deal, again, a lot of “almosts” here, with Stax/Volt records before they went under in Memphis. We were gonna get signed, but then everybody basically gave up on that, they wanted to go back to California, their wives were miserable living in Paris (laughs), they didn’t speak the language. So I kinda wound up sitting on my own in Paris with no money and really no prospects, and I had a friend in England, Judy Wong, who was an ex-girlfriend, who at that time was married to Jethro Tull’s bass player Glenn Cornick, and she called me and said “what are you doing?” I said “nothing, I’m sitting in my underpants, broke,” and she said “why don’t you come over and try out for Fleetwood Mac, they’ve just lost their second guitar player in nine months.” So I said “I’d be glad to if you’d get me a plane ticket,” that’s how broke I was! (laughs)

LE:          Living the life of a starving artist, you could say.

BW:        I was literally a starving artist, I didn’t know what I was gonna do, you know, if I was gonna go back to Los Angeles or what. So, I got on the plane and flew to London, and went out to Hampshire and met everybody in Fleetwood Mac, and then two months later, it turns out I was gonna be in the band. So that solved my problem.

LE:          That’s definitely a good solution to the problem of being a starving artist, ending up in Fleetwood Mac. The band at that time had phenomenal success throughout Europe, and kind of made a little inroads in America, playing clubs and such, what was your first impression of the group when you first came into that meeting, did you sense some turmoil or uncertainty about the future?

BW:        Well yeah, I had been real familiar with Fleetwood Mac because while I was playing in France, “Oh Well,” the Peter Green song was all over the jukeboxes in France, and it was a pretty big hit in Europe, a lot of people don’t realize they were very, very big in England and Europe. So I was real familiar with them, I’d read about them in the magazines and stuff. When I first met up with everybody they had lost their two main guitar players within nine months of each other, Peter Green, the founding guy, and Jeremy Spencer. And they were pretty much drifting. They were in shellshock, I have to say, when I met them, because you know, they lost the leader of the band! So they kind of didn’t know what they wanted to do, it was a little confusing for me because I didn’t have any ambitions to come in and, you know, (be the) hip-swinging, gun-slinging, take-over guitar player. I knew I couldn’t replace Peter Green because he was so unique. And they really wouldn’t tell me what they were looking for, we just sort of rehearsed and played and finally it evolved, they had liked some of the songs I had written, and it turned out I was gonna be in the band. But it was not real cut-and-dry, they were paranoid at that point.

LE:          So you eased on into the situation.

BW:        I eased in, yeah, without being pushy, and just kind of getting to know everybody, and gradually it turned out, “hey do you wanna join up,” and I said “you bet.”

LE:          Now at that time, still based in England at this point, there was really sort of a communal setup. Everybody lived in the same house, ate together, worked together, wrote together, how do you think that influenced your writing around that time?

BW:        Well that was a wonderful experience, especially at the age I was, I was 25, 26, and it was a big house, about 50 miles south of London in Hampshire, which is a real pretty part of England, wooded, rolling hills, it kind of reminds me a little bit of Nashville actually. And we were all living there, the band, the road crew, it was like a three or four story, what you’d have to call a mansion or mini-mansion, and the communal thing was great, you never lost track of each other, there was a rehearsal room downstairs, I think it probably contributed to the feel, maybe not so much the writing strictly in a words sense, but the feel of the music that I wrote, because most of it, of course was written at the house.

LE:          I picture it surrounded by “Bare Trees.”

BW:        Well, it was! Beautiful in the winter, there was an old abandoned tennis court, it had been a religious retreat for some years, but that was all overgrown. It was really kind of weird! It was really cool in the winter, with a full moon out, it was really spooky. In fact that album, “Bare Trees” has John McVie’s photograph of the trees just outside the house.

LE:          We’re going to spin something off of “Bare Trees” as we talk to Bob Welch, formerly of Fleetwood Mac, a solo artist for years, and we’re going to play the original conception of a song that became a hit for you in 1977 called “Sentimental Lady,” this is Beyond and Before on Q106.

LE:          Beyond and Before on Q106, and a couple of Bob Welch compositions from his Fleetwood Mac days, of course Bob Welch joining us on Beyond and Before on this Sunday. “Miles Away,” that one from “Mystery to Me,” we also heard “Sentimental Lady” back there, from “Bare Trees.” “Miles Away,” you name-drop Andy Warhol, Hare Krishnas, what’s that song all about?

BW:        Well, it was me, you know, getting bugged about what I just saw as the mindless decadence, and just directionless, aimless youth, I mean punk rock hadn’t quite started, I don’t know if that movie “Clockwork Orange” by Stanley Kubrick had come out yet, but I was sort of longing for the old days in music, basically, which is kind of ironic because if you look at what’s going on today, I mean, woof! Talk about longing for the old days, it’s gotten really sparse out there. But, you know, Andy Warhol was the guy who said everybody’s going to be famous for fifteen minutes, and you know, I pretty much think what he said thirty years ago has come true now. You know, I don’t want to name any specific names but it’s all infotainment, and y’know, even the news is entertainment, everybody is famous for fifteen minutes.

LE:          I heard a recent quip that they’ve reduced it to ten minutes now.

BW:        Ten! (laughs) Yeah, yeah! Your fifteen minutes has been reduced! So… and “Don Juan goes up in a cloud of smoke,” really what that refers to, I mean, I like people to be able to use their imaginations but I was reading a lot of Carlos Castaneda books, which were popular with my generation back then, it was all about Indian sorcerers, you know, and medicine men, and the key character is Don Juan. So that is just supposed to mean… I guess the whole attitude is that, ahh, it all turns out to be B.S., and everything’s just a hustle… it’s a cynical song.

LE:          I’m going to ask you something about the song “Hypnotized.” You listen to it, of course there’s great guitar work throughout it, I like the vibe of it, but you listen to the drumming, and you would think it was a drum machine, but that is Mick Fleetwood in real time, isn’t it?

BW:        It sure is! The human drum machine! One of the things that was so valuable about drummers like Mick Fleetwood, and there’s many others from our generation, Don Henley was another one, Sly Stone’s drummer Greg Errico was another, Phil Collins, another, was their timing, and in the days before computers or drum machines or anything like that, a drummer’s timing was everything. Now it’s real easy for a kid to go push a button and get an absolutely steady beat, you know, that you can dance to. But Mick was one of the very excellent, and was and is, one of the steadiest timekeepers… and only he, I don’t think anybody’s ever done such a metronomic beat as (on “Hypnotized”). You ask any drummer to try to play that, give ‘em about three minutes and they’ve had it (laughs), they have to go home and take a hot bath, it’s almost impossible. So that’s really him!

LE:          After this album, “Mystery to Me,” you went out on tour, it was a very well-received album here in America, and you sold incrementally more albums each time you got out here, but then the tour ran into some trouble, and, well, I guess we’re kind of lucky Fleetwood Mac is still around today! If you could describe some of the circumstances on how it all fell apart, how you ended up on the disabled list…

BW:        Well, the “Mystery to Me” tour was doing very well, and it was starting to build momentum, and then unfortunately what had been occurring was, Bob Weston, our other guitar player who we got from Long John Baldry’s band, was having an affair with Mick Fleetwood’s wife, or HAD been having one ongoing. Mick found out about it, we all kind of found out about it, and we tried to stay on the road for a couple weeks, but Mick was having difficulty getting up on stage every night with the guy that was having an affair with his wife (laughs), and so we called the manager, who said “if you (halt the tour) I’ll make life miserable for you,” but Mick said “well, I can’t take it,” so the tour broke up, and we all went back to our separate places. And that started the beginning of the nightmare period where we had to sue the manager over who had the rights to use the (band) name, and he put a phony band called Fleetwood Mac on the road. And I have to say, and I think even Mick would probably admit, if that particular version of the band had stayed on the road, we might have achieved the success that they later did with “Rumours.” The momentum was building, and we cut that tour short, we had another four months’ worth of gigs booked, and we just chopped it all off. But that’s fate, you know.

LE:          But you did regroup, we’re going to talk about that after a short break, we’ll also talk about your solo career, and we’ll also talk about your brand new CD, “Bob Welch, His Fleetwood Mac Years and Beyond” which is in stores now, I’ve seen it around some of the area record shops, so if you’re looking for a new slice of Bob Welch, well, there it is. Bob, thanks for joining us, sit tight and we’re going to come right back, listen to more music, and chat for a bit!

BW:        Okay, Leif, sounds good.

LE:          This is Beyond and Before on Q106, we’ll be right back with Bob Welch.

LE:          Beyond and Before on Q106, and one of my favorites from the “Heroes are Hard to Find” album, “Silver Heels,” and of course joining us right now, Bob Welch, the guy who wrote and sang that song, and, well, if you HAD to pick one, could you sing like Paul McCartney or get funky like Etta James? Tough decision, huh?

BW:        Ah, yeah, back then it was, certainly a tough decision, and I can’t do either, so… (laughs), I couldn’t do either! In the remake I changed Etta James to a more current reference, just to be silly. I changed “Etta James” to “Kurt Cobain,” which is a little bit darker. I think we’re moving into a darker period, you know. The Seventies was very light hearted, at least that’s the way I feel things to be now.

LE:          In “Heroes are Hard to Find,” one of my favorite albums from your period in the group, you were down to a foursome at that point. Basically you lost Bob Weston and then you had the ensuing battle with the band’s manager, and then you moved to Los Angeles so you could be closer to the record company headquarters to re-establish yourself. “Heroes are Hard to Find” really had this cool, kind of airy, mysterious vibe, especially with your songs, and that was also evident in songs like “Hypnotized.” Who were your biggest songwriting influences whether literary or musically or what have you?

BW:        At that point, and especially, even now, all the Motown stuff. Stuff like Eddie Kendricks. If I had my druthers, that’s the music I admire the most, Motown, Marvin Gaye, Eddie Kendricks, Temptations, stuff like that, I really love that stuff, and that’s kind of what I had been playing before Fleetwood Mac. And so I was kind of always aspiring to go there.

LE:          So you had “Heroes are Hard to Find,” it was a success again, it was selling more, I think it was your highest charting album to date in America, and Mick Fleetwood decided to shop around for another guitar player, and you decided to didn’t want to hang out anymore. Why quit Fleetwood Mac when they’re kind of on the upswing?

BW:        Well, don’t think that I haven’t asked myself that question long and hard for many years! But at that point, I was, believe it or not, I felt like I was getting older, time was running out, and I needed to make a move, I wanted to go in a heavier rock direction, and I didn’t feel the other people in Fleetwood Mac wanted to do that. And I really did hem and haw for about a year over whether or not I was going to leave. At one point Mick had said he’d found these people, who turned out to be Stevie (Nicks) and Lindsey (Buckingham), and I said, “well maybe I’ll stay, maybe I won’t leave, maybe we can add some people, we’ll add them and I’ll stay, and (maybe) I can do a solo album,” and I went up and down but I ultimately decided to leave. I found a producing partner who had been working in one of the studios, and we got all jacked up about how (our new band) were gonna be the next Led Zeppelin, so I confirmed it, and Christmas of 1974 was my last show with Fleetwood Mac, and that was it, you know. Mick had already told me about Stevie and Lindsey, and six months later they had a number one record!

LE:          The band that you formed after leaving Fleetwood Mac was called Paris, and you had a few people who had been veterans of other prominent bands, correct?

BW:        Yeah, the original drummer was Thom Mooney from Todd Rundgren’s outfit The Nazz, and Glenn Cornick from Jethro Tull, Jethro Tull’s bass player, it was only a trio. Paris only did two albums, and the second drummer was Hunt Sales, Soupy Sales’ kid, who played with Tin Machine and Iggy Pop…

LE:          Another guy that also played with Todd Rundgren.

BW:        Yeah, he did play with Todd Rundgren too, right. Absolutely right.

LE:          So you did the Paris albums, at what point did you decide “hey, I’m going to put MY name on MY record and have my own hits,” where did the inspiration come from at that point?

BW:        Well, that was an evolution over six or eight months, what happened was we had made the second Paris album, it did all right, we were on the road opening up for groups like Foghat, and then Hunt Sales came down with Bell’s Palsy, from overwork. It’s this virus thing you get and what happens is your whole face and right side of your body gets paralyzed, so he had to come off the road, he couldn’t play drums. And I was just sitting around, and while I was sitting around I started writing all these songs because I basically had nothing to do, and I’m writing, writing, writing, and I took the songs to our A&R guy at Capitol who had been Paris’s A&R guy, John Carter, and he said “man, they’re all hits, let’s go into the studio and cut ‘em.” Well at that point, Paris was inactive, and he said “well, we’ll get a drummer and go in (to the studio),” so we got Alvin Taylor who had been Barry White’s and Elton John’s drummer, and just eventually wound up with these ten tracks and said, “well, I guess it’s a solo album!” I can’t remember whether it was me or Capitol Records that suggested it become a solo album. Paris just sort of dissolved, faded away like the Cheshire Cat…

LE:          So pure happenstance, really.

BW:        Yeah, it really pretty much was.

LE:          Well, let’s play one of my favorite tracks from this album, “French Kiss,” I’d say at least half of these songs were hits, a number of them hitting the Billboard charts, a big successful album, and you had Fleetwood Mac’s current “Rumours” album to compete with at the time, but you did quite well even with that in mind. Let’s listen to one called “Hot Love, Cold World,” we’re talking with Bob Welch on Beyond and Before on Q106.

LE:          We’re talking with Bob Welch on Beyond and Before on Q106, and one of his big hits right there, from the “French Kiss” album, “Hot Love, Cold World,” and Bob’s talking with us from his home in Nashville, Music City.

BW:        Yes!

LE:          What brought you to Nashville?

BW:        Well, really, my wife is from Memphis originally, and we lived in Arizona for a couple of years, we really wanted to get out of Los Angeles, and Arizona was very very nice, but really not much music business there. So we drove through Nashville one day, and I remembered it from being on tour, vaguely, but we both said “hey, this is alright,” plus it was close to Memphis where her parents lived, so we moved here I think in 1992. I love it, it’s very rural, I mean when I go to the store I drive to the store, I go to the Kroger, I guess I can mention the name of the chain because it’s the only one we’ve got…

LE:          We don’t have any Krogers up here (in New Hampshire) so don’t worry.

BW:        Okay (laughs)! But I drive to the store and every day on the way I pass cows, you know, cows come up to the fence on my little five-minute drive, yet we’re twelve minutes from Downtown Nashville, so, I love it. And it’s got four definite seasons even though there wasn’t much of a winter this year, so it’s great. Plus, the good thing about Nashville is that musically, it has a huge musical infrastructure, all the writers, guitar players, guitar repairmen, music shops, all that stuff, record companies, it’s all here.

LE:          Back to “Hot Love, Cold World,” that’s taken from the “French Kiss” album, you had a good run of successful albums around that time, and I’ve gotta ask you, “French Kiss” and “Three Hearts,” you had the whole “Ladies’ Man” thing going on on the front cover, was that your idea? Somebody elses? Own up, here!

BW:        Well, yeah, it was my idea and the way the “French Kiss” cover evolved was, the girl on the cover was the wife of Capitol Records’ promotion guy who I was good friends with, Michael Seibert, who’s no longer in the business, but her name was Ellie Seibert. And she was a model for Niemann Marcus at that time, and we were messing around, taking some pictures, and we got this one picture and it turned out so good, it became the cover. And then when “French Kiss” was a success, then I had the idea “well, let’s continue this, see how long we can do it.”

LE:          You had a whole persona going on there!

BW:        Oh yeah, it would have been fun if I had have… my plan was, you know, if we got real lucky I’d do one girl on “French Kiss,” two girls on “Three Hearts,” then three girls on the next album, four girls, keep it going til we can’t even fit them on the cover!

LE:          Until it becomes “Electric Ladyland” right?

BW:        Exactly! (laughs) Unfortunately we didn’t do that well but at least we got up to two girls. And I just thought it was funny. The two girls on the “Three Hearts” cover, the one girl is Mick’s ex-wife, the other girl’s a friend who was a model named Lindy who was from New Zealand. And they were both good friends of the band. So we were just going to keep it going, you know, and wind up with everybody’s mother and aunt and uncle on there, but, didn’t happen!

LE:          You had a few more solo albums into the early Eighties for Capitol, and a couple for RCA… what have you been up to since? We talked about you moving to Nashville, what have you been involved in over the last couple of decades?

BW:        Well, mostly songwriting, of course, I always do that, I did host the TV show “Hollywood Heartbeat,” and all that stuff, in the mid-80s, then I had a band called Avenue M for a while, which was my attempt to do a hard rock thing, a la Aerosmith, so I did that for a couple of years, then we moved to Nashville, I got heavily back into writing, some of my old stuff has been used in films a lot these days, like “Sentimental Lady” was in “About Schmidt,” and “Future Games” was in “Almost Famous”…

LE:          That was a nice surprise for me!

BW:        Yeah!

LE:          When I saw that movie I was just picking out song after song after song, and then all of a sudden yours popped up and I was like “wow, I like this film!”

BW:        It’s a cool movie! It really is, and I’ve also done quite a bit of writing with some Nashville writers just to see if I could do it, and I got some cuts on Kenny Rogers’ records, and a lot of film-use things, and then this thing came up about doing the re-dos a couple of years ago, and that’s kind of mainly what I’m doing now, and it looks like I’m going to do another volume of re-recordings, since this (current) one has done so well, and so believe it or not I’m going to re-do some Fleetwood Mac material that I was not associated with like, “what if I had stayed in the band and done this song” and stuff like that, so I’m gonna do some real off-the-wall stuff, it’s gonna be fun.

LE:          How’s your relationship with members of the Fleetwood Mac? Of course they’re out there touring behind their new album (“Say You Will”), I know you and the others had some rocky years in the Nineties, but you’ve kind of rebuilt the bridge so to speak, haven’t you?

BW:        Yeah, we’re all back on good terms, I mean, Wendy, my wife, and I went to see them when they played Nashville, whenever it was, six, eight months ago, and I saw and talked to Mick, saw Lindsey, didn’t see Stevie or John, they were off already, but we’re on great terms, and everything’s back fine, which is the way it should be.

LE:          That’s good to hear. We’re going to talk one more time about this new album, you have a lot of great cuts here, again we discussed how you re-recorded them with today’s technology, and at the end you put on one brand new song, tell us about the song “Like Rain.”

BW:        Yeah! Well, I am still writing new material for myself, although in between doing the re-recordings of older things, and I just thought it fit the flow and so did the guy at the record company, we thought, “well, this is a song that could have been on one of the old Fleetwood Mac or solo albums,” it fits, you know, sonically, everything else, subject matter.  It’s a love song, it’s keeping in my “Sentimental Lady” sound of sort of… whatever it is that I do, it fits, you know? So, we decided to put it on there just for the hell of it. A lot of people do like that song, so thanks for mentioning it.

LE:          Yeah, I was listening to it a little while ago and I almost thought you could have squeezed it on “Heroes are Hard to Find.”

BW:        Yeah! It really could be, so, it makes a nice home there, on the (new) album.

LE:          Well, we’ll let the people judge, we’re going to play “Like Rain,” and this is off the new CD, it’s in stores now, it’s “Bob Welch: His Fleetwood Mac Years and Beyond.” We’ll come back and wrap things up with Bob Welch after this, it’s Beyond and Before on Q106.

LE:          Beyond and Before on Q106, a brand new Bob Welch song from “Bob Welch: His Fleetwood Mac Years and Beyond,” a lot of Fleetwood Mac songs re-imagined, a lot from his solo career, but that one is brand new, and the song that wraps up the album. It’s called “Like Rain,” and it is available in stores on One Way Records, that’s the label, right?

BW:        Yeah, One Way Records.

LE:          We mentioned a little while ago that you’ve met up with Mick Fleetwood, you’ve caught the band live, are there any aspirations of you getting back on the road yourself, or getting up and jamming with Fleetwood Mac? You know, you go to all the fan sites and they’re all like “oh, if only Jeremy Spencer could get back with them, or Bob Welch, and just have a whole big family reunion,” do you see anything like that happening down the road?

BW:        Something like that will happen eventually. I don’t know under what circumstances or exactly when, because they’re still touring with the four-piece with Stevie and Lindsey, and doing very well, and I must say they’re playing their rear ends off, I mean, they’re just fabulous, you know. I mean, I was really impressed, they were great, especially considering everybody’s over fifty, too (laughs), they really kicked butt, I must say. But yeah, eventually, some type of reunion thing will probably happen, but I don’t know if I’ll ever go out and do… I might go out and do some dates, uhh, the thing is, it really takes a lot to get me out of the house, and get me doing one-nighters, you know. If there was a way, like in the old days if we could play for, like a month, at the same club, that would be perfect, so you didn’t have to go to a new city every night. That’s the part that I really, intensely dislike, the one-night thing.

LE:          It’s all about high turnover now.

BW:        Yeah, you know. But yeah, eventually there definitely will be some sort of Fleetwood Mac thing or other, and I may do a show here and there, I don’t know. Right at the moment I’m concentrating on finishing up some of these… I like what you said, “re-imagining.” Re-imagining my past, rewriting history (laughs).

LE:          Well, I like how it sounds!

BW:        Thank you, I appreciate it.

LE:          Let’s talk about your website, briefly. One thing that I think separates you from a lot of different artists is that your Bob Welch dot com is truly interactive, you actually get on there and answer questions from your fans.

BW:        Yeah, I try to! The one problem I’m having lately is somebody posts something, I try to answer as soon as possible, if you email me on the website, I gotta get a good spam filter, a better spam filter… I just say to anyone that’s listening, if you want to write me, please put something in the subject line that’s not like “Hi, hey,” you know, put something like “Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks, Bob Welch, French Kiss,” something identifiable because there’s so much spam, it’s all “hey, hi, hey, ho,” you know?

LE:          Don’t offer to refinance your mortgage or anything.

BW:        You know, among what other things, let’s not talk about what else, you know, like, increase the size of your, uh, little finger…

LE:          (laughs)

BW:        … I mean, my God, but anyway, that’s all I have to say about that, but I do like to keep in touch, if somebody writes me something, and I feel like I can respond to it, I’ll definitely answer it. And it is me, it’s not an employee or somebody.

LE:          It’s not Bob Welch, the pitcher, reliving his 27 win season from 1990 or whatever.

BW:        No, although what a great he was, I met him once, it seemed like he was six feet taller than me!

LE:          A summit of Bob Welches.

BW:        Oh yeah, I mean, what a hell of a guy he was. Nice guy, too.

LE:          Well, you’ve proven to be a pretty nice guy yourself, Bob Welch, not the pitcher, but the musician… many, many years of great music, and it was great that you were able to come on and share some stories with us, and we’ll put out the reminder one more time… the new CD is “Bob Welch: His Fleetwood Mac Years and Beyond,” it is available in stores, you can order it on most of the internet sites from what I’ve seen, and of course you can always go to Bob Welch Dot Com, and don’t say “hey,” say “Bob Welch,” something or other in the subject line.

BW:        Yeah!

LE:          Thank you very much for joining us, Bob!

BW:        Leif, good to be here, nice talking with you, thanks so much to you.

LE:          And you have a good one. It’s Beyond and Before on Q106.

Daily* Deep Track: Spirit “Like A Rolling Stone”

If you know me well, you know one of the groups I’ve championed for years is Spirit, the eclectic California act that made four classic albums for Ode/Epic in the late 60s, culminating in their masterpiece “The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus.” Sadly, Spirit is not one of the groups of the era that’s really translated down through the generations. Their sole Top 40 hit, “I Got A Line On You” has pretty much “demoed out” of classic rock radio playlists (in spite of my own professional efforts). Following “Sardonicus,” a major personnel shakeup occurred, a one-off new lineup recorded an album only to be followed by a complete dissolution, and then one last stint with a major label (Mercury) got the band back together in the mid-to-late 1970s with varying lineups.

Spirit hasn’t existed as a group since the mid 1990s, following the drowning death of guitarist/songwriter Randy California. Since then,  keyboardist John Locke and drummer Ed Cassidy have also passed, leaving only bassist Mark Andes and vocalist/songwriter Jay “Thunder Island” Ferguson as the surviving original members.   In fact, if Spirit is known for anything these days, it’s the band who’d dare drag Jimmy Page and Robert Plant into a courtroom (which they should have done years ago, but that’s a topic for another day.)

After diving head-first into their easily available 1968-1970 recordings, for a long time I never much bothered with anything Spirit recorded after “Sardonicus.” Years ago I did pick up 1972’s “Feedback,” their last Epic album, which sounded like a little like classic Spirit on some tracks, and Spirit after being locked in a room with nothing but Doobie Brothers albums on others. I really ought to give it a few more spins.spirit

One “wilderness years” track that I did get acquainted with was their cover of “Like a Rolling Stone.” The first time I heard it was in the summer of 2004, during the brief time I had a satellite radio receiver in my vehicle. I must have been listening to the late George Taylor Morris on the XM Deep Tracks channel, now that I think of it. I wasn’t aware at the time, but this recording was basically the centerpiece of an album I’ve really grown to appreciate, 1975’s “Spirit of ’76.” This was something of a reunion album for Randy California and Ed Cassidy, who recruited only a bass player named Barry Keane to round out the lineup.

I found a cheap copy of this double LP effort on vinyl last year, and though 70s Spirit has a reputation for being a bit all over the road, there’s a really unique psychedelic vibe to this album that none of the others have. Certainly that sort of sound was long out of fashion by 1975, and the album didn’t create a whole lot of new fans (and didn’t sell all that well). I gave this album a spin for the first time in a while over the weekend, and again today. There’s a lot of washy, phasey guitar, which is perfectly fine to my ears. The Spirit take of “Like A Rolling Stone” stretches the already long song by an extra couple of minutes, and it’s recast as a hazy, dreamy meditation. It seems to go well with warm, slightly muggy mornings, which we’re finally starting to experience here in Maine.

I’ll never tell you “Like A Rolling Stone” is the best recording by Spirit. As much as I like “Spirit of ’76,” it’s almost a different band when stacked up to the works that defined them. It’s still an intriguing listen all the same. And I’ll never tell you Spirit’s “Like A Rolling Stone” is the best Dylan cover, or even one of the 500 greatest Dylan covers, it’s become one of my favorites in recent years (stiffest competition being Kooper/Stills’ “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” and The Byrds’ “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”).

In any case, looking forward to those Led Zeppelin IV reissues that will have to attribute “Stairway” to Page/Plant/California. I like the looks of it.

Daily* Deep Track: Blue Jean Committee “Catalina Breeze”

Have you ever heard a song or album that changed your life in the space of a weekend? It’s happened a handful of times in my life. The first time I heard Yes’s powerful “Awaken” at age fifteen, I was transfixed. “Buffalo Springfield Again” knocked me on my side in September of 1995 when I first purchased it. That winter, I received George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” as a Christmas gift, and it was a game-changer. When I pulled The Zombies “Odessey and Oracle” from the Q106 CD library and gave it a listen in the production studio one weekend in the early 2000s, it tugged at my heartstrings right away.

Now that I’m in that jaded pushing-forty place, for a record to have the same impact, it’s gotta be pretty damn good. I mean, DAMN good. Well, being an unashamed fan of most Yacht Rock-flavored music, I finally discovered one of the subgenre’s benchmark records over the Memorial Day Weekend, and it seems it was just hiding in plain sight all this time. Enter The Blue Jean Committee, and “Catalina Breeze.”

I gave it one listen via a Youtube link (how we all preview music these days). I listened again. I immediately downloaded “Catalina Breeze” so that I’d have it to crank full volume in my car. The Seventies California Vibe is perfectly embodied in the 2:15 title track. You might even argue it’s the missing link between Seals & Crofts and Steely Dan; the puzzle piece that connects Brewer & Shipley to England Dan & John Ford Coley.

Smiles that scream “simpler times.” We should all try to get to this place once in a while.

I’ve never been to California, and though I’m a child of the Carter administration, I’m far too young to remember the Seventies, let alone to have lived through it. This delightful two minutes is the only time machine I’ll ever need. It’s all there: the blissful harmonies, the gentle Fender Rhodes, the tasteful twin-lead soft-rock solo, and the lyrics conjuring up images of champagne-filled coconuts. That’s two minutes without a care in the world. Two minutes where all your dreams and fantasies come true. Two minutes drunk on champagne-filled coconuts. This is summer sunset music. This is classy dinner party music. This is top-down-in-your-Chrysler Cordoba music. This is The Blue Jean Committee: legends of the Gentle and Soft. It’s a shame they never properly followed this one up.

Pour yourself your favorite drink, put this on your hi-fi, open your windows, and I guarantee wherever you are, you’ll feel that Catalina Breeze on your skin and in your senses.


Daily* Deep Track: Brinsley Schwarz “Shining Brightly”

Most of my Daily* Deep Tracks are rooted in a listening experience from the past twenty-four hours. I must honestly admit that today’s occurrence came merely from the fact that the song was stuck in my head for no apparent reason, and just wouldn’t exit my brain. I hadn’t committed the act of physically hearing Brinsley Schwarz’s “Shining Brightly” for at least a month or so, but this one seems to populate my brain frequently.

Brinsley Schwarz, if you didn’t know, were an English group featuring a dude named Brinsley Schwarz on guitar, and another dude named Nick Lowe on bass and lead vocals. Yes, the same Nick Lowe who, much later in the 70s, would crank out tasty power-pop nuggets like “Cruel to Be Kind,” “And So It Goes” and the hilariously gruesome “Marie Provost.” This 1970 version of Nick Lowe seemed to be in thrall to American CSN-esque harmony sounds, with a splash of light prog-rock to flesh it all out (most notably on early tracks like “Lady Constant” and “Ballad of a Has Been Beauty Queen”).brinsley

There’s nothing complicated about “Shining Brightly,” just a catchy sing-along for acoustic guitars, basic percussion and three harmony voices: but that’s precisely the point. It’s so damn catchy, that it really is no surprise that Nick’s knack for seemingly effortless hooks and melodies appeared long before he became a “name” musician. I was quite impressed the first time I heard it, purchased on reputation alone in a long-gone vinyl shop in downtown Gardner, Massachusetts (in a building that’s now condemned, last I knew). I still have the Brinsley Schwarz first-two-albums twofer in my vinyl collection, and upgraded (downgraded?) it to CD a number of years back.

I even listened to Beck’s “Morning Phase” and The Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” in their entirety in my travels today, but it was Nick Lowe and Brinsley Schwarz that kept reverberating in my head. Well-played. (Don’t worry, “Sway,” you’ll get DDT honors someday.)


Daily* Deep Track: Santana “Waves Within”

As sunsets go, tonight’s was pretty impressive. Since I was at work until about quarter of eight, tying up a lot of loose ends, I briefly debated a detour over to Portland’s Western Prom to watch the sun go down, but I know I’m big enough a tool that I would have just taken 58 pictures of it with my iPhone just to get the right capture for Instagram. Plus, this week is a busy one, so any time I can grab at home, away from everything and everyone, will be fully taken advantage of.

That said, before the colors of the evening’s sunset truly exploded in the skies west of Portland, I bounced around my collection looking for an album to play when I settled upon Santana’s “Caravanserai.” If I had to name a favorite Santana album, I’d probably start to tell you the self-titled debut, before pulling back on that thought and submitting 1972’s

Greatest album cover with camels not by the band Camel

“Caravanserai.” This was the Santana Band’s fourth album, and an album that had one foot in two different group eras: this would be the last to feature both guitarist Neal Schon and organist/lead singer Gregg Rolie for 44 years, and the first to really start to explore jazz/fusion textures. This album would act as a gateway for me for the sprawling, decidedly non-commercial Santana releases to follow, like “Welcome,” “Love Devotion Surrender” and “Borboletta.”

I could have picked a number of tracks for today’s DDT, as the first four songs basically act as the album’s opening suite.  “Waves Within,” with its cascades of Hammond, was the track that accompanied the moment when the burnt orange sun aligned with my path of travel, surrounded by dark purple and bluish clouds. The scene matched the music perfectly, in ways I can’t explain. I wish I had been in a position to grab a photo, but there will be plenty more spectacular sunsets as summer approaches.

I then remembered I could just substitute the album cover of “Caravanserai” for the evening’s sunset, and I wouldn’t be too far off. Except for the camels, of course.

Daily* Deep Track: Beach Boys “All I Wanna Do”

It’s pretty easy to pile on Mike Love, perhaps the most vilified performing musician in rock and roll history. He’s sued his own family numerous times, he’s been named as the
“stopper” when it comes to projects like “Smile” or anything involving oblique lyrics and complex musical structure.

To be fair, the Beach Boys probably still exist today as a performing act and business entity because Mike Love didn’t get lost in a haze of substance abuse, and always has had keen commercial instincts: he’s like that radio consultant that predictably says “you have to play the hits and nothing else,” and like them or hate them, they more often than not are right. We can’t have the Beach Boys without Mike Love, and he’s made sure of it.

That said, given all of the evidence floating around, Mike Love seems like the sort of person I’d rather not be around. He is not completely useless, however, as he is out front on some of my all-time favorite Beach Boys tracks, including today’s DDT.

One Beach Boys song that seems to slip on through the cracks in the conversation on Great Beach Boys Songs (see what I did there?) is a transcendent cut from the 1970 “Sunflower” album, “All I Wanna Do.” Mind you, this is not to be confused with the earlier Dennis Wilson-penned track “All I Want To Do” from “20/20,” nor is it the Dennis/Mike co-write from 1972’s “Holland,” “Only With You” (“All I wanna do/is spend my life with you”).

The Beach Boys, a couple years away from becoming The Beard Boys

I woke up to the strains of “All I Wanna Do” this morning (well, technically I woke up to the damn cat wanting in/out/in/out of the bedroom within an hour of sunrise) as I somehow inadvertently set the song as my wake-up tone on my iPhone alarm.

“All I Wanna Do” is a Brian/Mike co-write, a song shrouded in an ever-so-slight psychedelic shimmer. The key element to this song, at least for my ears, are the ghostly backing vocals throughout. Certainly harmony is a Beach Boys trademark, but there’s a certain something to this particular backing vocal arrangement: When I hear the constantly building backing vocals in Fleetwood Mac’s 1979 hit “Sara,” I can’t help but think this particular track was a direct inspiration to Lindsey Buckingham, who was chiefly responsible for production of the “Tusk” album.

I’m going to see Brian Wilson next month when he plays “Pet Sounds” at Merrill Auditorium here in Portland. Certainly there will be other legendary tracks played: after all he has Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin in tow. I’m not counting on hearing “All I Wanna Do,” as it’s a pretty minor work considering the staggering Beach Boys canon; maybe I’ll hold out hope for a “Sunflower” tour, if Brian et al are up to it.