In August 1966 a small San Francisco fanzine came out reporting on the local rock scene: the Mojo Navigator R&R News. Most of it was written by Dave Harris & Greg Shaw (with some later pieces written by Mike Daly & Gene Sculatti). It went through 14 issues - 12 in 1966, one in April '67, one in August '67 - before burning out.
The issues were mostly downloadable here:
(However, many issues are incomplete, or have pages out of order.)
You can also find a general index here:
http://www.lysergia.com/LamaWorkshop/lamaZinesBody.htm (with some scans of issue 13)
It's an excellent source for the Bay Area rock scene, with many mentions of the Dead and other local (and not-so-local) bands, along with interviews of a few groups. (Mojo would always avidly ask them what the music scenes in other cities were like.)
I've already posted the big Dead interview from issues 4 & 5. Here I've transcribed all the other Dead references, along with some other tidbits of interest, enough to give a flavor of the zine. (The "News, Gossip & Rumors" columns and show listings are much longer than what I quote; I generally just selected news about the big SF names, and whatever grabbed my eye.) I thought it would also be useful to make a detailed list of contents.
Someone should really transcribe all the issues at some point; there's no substitute for reading the full original issues to immerse yourself in the SF rock world of 1966-67.
ISSUE #1 – 8/8/66:
Our plans for the future are to keep a regular weekly schedule and feature reviews of new records that appear, interesting events that happen, and articles we feel will be of interest to rock & roll fans. We will also have a series of ‘special reports’ in which we will in the next few issues have in-depth studies of some of the local r&r groups, or maybe interviews with them. We will also try to keep you posted on everything of interest that is happening in the Bay Area.
a page-long article on the Wolf Man’s radio show -
various news & gossip about rock bands -
review of Grass Roots show (“well worth hearing”) -
record reviews – Peter Paul & Mary (“disappointing”), the Byrds’ 5D (“the best album the Byrds have produced”), Yardbirds (“good, but to me disappointing in that both their previous albums were far better”), & Travis Wammack singles; and a complaint that more singles aren’t included on LPs.
SMOKE-FILLED RUMORS: [a representative sample]
Howlin’ Wolf is coming to the Avalon in 2 weeks – Jefferson Airplane will have an album out August 15 on RCA – Country Joe and the Fish have released an E.P. which is available from them at P.O. box 2233 in Berkeley for $1 – The San Francisco Calliope Company is developing into an interesting promotional group which may soon rival the original Family Dog. Right now they are doing mostly out-of-town dances – their next dances will be in San Jose and Seattle this month. The Calliope Co. are providing lights, atmosphere, and S.F. groups. – Bob Dylan was involved in a motorcycle accident in upstate New York last weekend – his press people are not commenting beyond saying he will be out of action for awhile. – Big Brother and the Holding Company have not signed a recording contract with Mercury Records or anyone else as of yet – although they have had offers from many companies they are in the tentative stage. – The Great Society has lost its rhythm guitarist David Miner – most of the singing that he formerly did is done by the bass player now – Darby Slick also sings on one song. – The Charlatans may soon record with Kapp Records – apparently they no longer have any connection with Kama Sutra. – One of the best new groups in the bay area are The Only Alternative and All Its Possibilities – they play at Prince Charley’s Inn in Tiburon – contact them there. – It’s rumored that Dino Valente is out of jail – if so someone should put him on stage because several groups have done things by him which turn out to be their best songs – his Hey, Joe put the Leaves on the map, Dino’s Song (All I Ever Wanted To Do Was Love You) is a standby for Quicksilver, and the We Five’s best record was his Let’s Get Together – someone should record him. – The Beau Brummels new album is out on Warner Brothers, called ’66, it looks like total schlock.
Happening this week: At Fillmore…Jefferson Airplane with the Grateful Dead this weekend… At Avalon, Bo Diddley with Big Brother & the Holding Company.
* * *
ISSUE #2 – 8/16/66:
a report on plans for the Straight Theatre (not yet open) -
News & Gossip (“The San Francisco Calliope Company’s San Jose dance has been temporarily postponed because they cannot get the use of Civic Auditorium; there’s some kind of law against long-haired people there… The lead guitar and bass player of the Great Society are studying under Ali Akbar Khan… Hit Parader magazine is an interesting publication because it serves to inform people on the West Coast about the very lively rock scene in and around New York… One of the worst publications to read if one wants to dig New York happenings is Sing Out! Magazine, which consistently has mis-information and argumentative propaganda (musical) in its so-called news columns…”) -
report on local DJs (“mostly unthrilling... The soul DJs are something else totally. Sly Stone has a good knowledge both of the straight soul records and of rock - he's also an excellent musician (not above stealing one song from the Stones)... Tom Saunders deserves a special mention, for it is he who more than anyone else has made the radio scene worthwhile. Some of his shows, especially the Sunday night ones, have been classic and he really knows what's happening.”) -
an editorial on problems with the SF rock scene.
The rock scene in San Francisco is now suffering from a financial, musical, and social hardening of the arteries which could conceivably kill it off despite a fantastic level of ability among the bands and a large and responsive audience.
Just about everyone involved in the scene is in a band. The musicians are burdened down with expensive equipment payments, plus the normal human costs of living. Some promoters seem to want to do different things, but they lack either the intelligence to formulate shows which are unique and lucrative or the guts to take a loss on a good show. For example, why hasn’t someone brought back the Rising Sons from L.A.? Their appearance here in May was the most interesting dance to happen since the early Mime Troupe parties. Instead of hearing them again we get repeat appearances every three weeks by Love, in my opinion an excellent, but imitative and limited group.
Finally, some journalists seem to care, but even they get hung up on talking about the same things every day – Ralph Gleason has written at least ten different columns on somewhat different things about the Jefferson Airplane, yet he has never to my knowledge specifically mentioned Big Brother and the Holding Co. in one of his pieces although they land in the Ad Libs quite regularly. Which group is saying more, Big Brother or the Airplane? …Perhaps Gleason won’t write about anything which the mass audience could not relate to in even the most basic way. How does the mass audience start relating to something? They read about it in Gleason’s column.
…A good review of Big Brother a few months ago might perhaps have prevented their recent changes in repertoire and instrumentation, most of which were not for the better…
The only answer will be promotional groups who are willing to present good and different bands in San Francisco – and take a loss if necessary. It was this sort of courage that produced the original Family Dog dances and the Mime Troupe parties; in other words, produced the whole basis for today’s less interesting, in fact rather bloated scene. (I suspect that the musicians are getting much less than their rightful share in the fat of this bloated scene.)
HAPPENING THIS WEEK:
…At Fillmore Fri. and Sat. the Young Rascals with the Quicksilver Messenger Service. At Avalon the Grateful Dead with the Sopwith Camel, and Howlin’ Wolf still scheduled for the week after.
Not to be missed this week is the Mod Hatter’s soiree at Fillmore Wednesday the 17th, from 8:30 till 1. Music will be provided by The Only Alternative and His Other Possibility, one of the best new groups around, the Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane, and Mimi Farina (and don’t be surprised if Joan Baez shows up). The other part of the event will be a fashion show utilizing light and sound collages, presented by the Calliope Co., which means it will be good…
* * *
ISSUE #3 – 8/23/66:
a report on a new newspaper, the Oracle (to appear next week) -
Rumors, News & Gossip (“The Jefferson Airplane is currently playing in a club in Chicago. – Big Brother and the Holding Co. are leaving for the same city today, with the Quicksilver to follow in two weeks. – The Jefferson Airplane’s album is selling very well in the Bay Area. – The Beatles are being given a hard time in the east and south – a large group of people in Memphis tried to drive them out of town.”) -
review of the Mod Hatter fashion show (the Only Alternative are “developing a truly individual style, though it is the lead guitarist who carries the group…they need a good singer. Mimi Farina, for instance. When she sang with them, it sounded to me like what Richard and Mimi might have sounded like by now if he hadn’t died.”);
recommended event of the week (“the second rock & roll party at 1090 Page… The basement of 1090 is a groovy place for a party; admission is 50 cents (musicians free) and well worth it… We are trying to ‘push’ Freedom Highway because it is one of the finest of the new groups…”) -
editorial complaining that Bill Graham presents too many schlock top-40 bands at the Fillmore to “attract the teeny-boppers,” including the "atrocity" Paul Revere & the Raiders -
review of the rare alternate edition of Dylan’s Freewheelin’ (“If you wish to dub a copy of this tape, bring your recorder and a dollar to our editorial offices.”) -
an ad for ID Magazine’s Bay Area Band Book -
record reviews – Jim & Jean’s Changes, Dylan’s Just Like Tom Thumb B-side (“truly fantastic”), and Jefferson Airplane Takes Off (“This LP was recorded about six months ago…since then they have improved immensely;” notes that they play much better live, and complains about A&R interference in the recording).
HAPPENING THIS WEEK:
Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band with the Charlatans at Avalon – the 13th Floor Elevator with the Sopwith Camel and the Great Society at Fillmore – the Wildflower at the Matrix – the Yardbirds in a shlock performance with the Harbinger Complex, Peter Wheat & the Breadmen, and Just VI at the Carousel Ballroom…
COMING UP: the 13th Floor Elevator next week at Avalon and Howlin’ Wolf the week after. Fillmore will be presenting Paul Revere & the Raiders, Martha & the Vandellas, the Yardbirds, Paul Butterfield…and Muddy Waters still rumored to be appearing with Butterfield, though it’s hard to believe.
The Grateful Dead are looking for a place to live where they can practice without bugging anyone; some secluded spot, preferably in Marin.
The Grateful Dead are coming in an exclusive interview! In the next issue of the Mojo Navigator R&R News. Don’t Miss It!
* * *
ISSUE #4 – 8/30/66:
Grateful Dead interview (most of the issue) -
editorial praising new Country Joe EP (“sensational…a revelation…the best record issued by anyone this year”) -
another editorial on Bill Graham presenting too many bad bands at the Fillmore (“Graham has been the single most important innovator in the SF rock scene, and the most courageous if not quite the most creative promoter around. The Mime Troupe parties which were the epitome of the SF dance happenings; Lenny Bruce; the Beard; the recent 10-hour Day Camp benefit for which he was generous enough to donate the use of the Fillmore. This month, with the projected appearances of the Yardbirds, Butterfield, and Muddy Waters, he will have the corner on interesting shows. Our point was not that Graham does not present interesting shows, but that he sees fit to intersperse them with rotten shows… I object to mere entertainment being presented at the Fillmore.”) -
another notice boosting the rock & roll parties at 1090 Page with the Freedom Highway (“extremely enjoyable…the newest and most interesting thing happening musically in San Francisco”) -
News, Rumor, Gossip (“The 13th Floor Elevator failed to show at the Fillmore last Saturday night due to contractual obligations with the Avalon – Quicksilver Messenger Service filled in… The Charlatans will soon release a single on Kapp – currently there is some hangup delaying it…”) -
record review – Manfred Mann’s Pretty Flamingo (positive).
HAPPENING THIS WEEK: at Fillmore, Fri. and Sat. the Jefferson Airplane, the P.H. Phactor Jug Band, and Andrew Staples. Sunday is the Grateful Dead, the Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Country Joe and the Fish (don’t miss this one!) and, believe it or not, on Monday, Martha & the Vandellas, Johnny Talbot & the Tangs, and Sam Soul & the Medallions. Next week is the Mothers and the Oxford Circle…
* * *
ISSUE #5 – 9/7/66:
Grateful Dead interview continued -
an editorial scorning the Oracle’s “indo-rock” article (see below) -
News, Rumors, Gossip (“Bill Graham says Paul Revere & the Raiders will not be appearing at Fillmore and that he will not book any more rotten top-40 shows… The Jefferson Airplane has returned from Chicago; apparently they were well received and the scene there is pretty groovy; they played L.A. too…”) -
review of the Outfit’s show (“a good group…soon the Outfit should be one of the best and most commercial rock bands in the city”) -
another article praising the rock parties at 1090 Page. (“The Freedom Highway put on a performance the like of which is seldom seen anywhere in this city. They were in top form last Wednesday, and the tapes of them that we made are so good that we are seriously considering putting out a record… The Freedom Highway is playing rock harder and faster than any other group I know of right now.”)
The Oracle wrote an article on the SF rock & roll scene, which is quoted:
“The music played by groups such as the Grateful Dead, the Great Society, Big Brother & the Holding Company, and the like…is a rhythmic music played by people who are essentially musically illiterate… These bands for the most part don’t swing. They pound, they hammer, they chug along like freight trains. The beat is closer to German beer hall music than to jazz – cowboy music with a loud drummer.”
“And what does the unnamed writer of the article wish to see in local R&R bands? “The gentleness of Clifford Brown, the quick nuances of Bird, the exaltation of Coltrane.” In other words, this article constitutes an attack by a jazz buff on a music which he doesn’t understand, for anyone who has been listening to and understanding the music can feel those nuances, that gentleness, that exaltation in the music of “illiterates” like Darby Slick, Jerry Garcia, Jim Gurley, or for that matter in the music of anybody in the three groups that he specifically put down… Care to name anybody on the local jazz scene who plays better guitar than Jerry Garcia, anyone who sings better than Grace Slick, or perhaps someone who plays better drums than Bill Sommers or Jerry Slick? …One cannot write a criticism of a music which alienates one from the outset; it is absurd for someone who doesn’t seem to like rock ‘n’ roll to try to evaluate the merits of various bands.” (Dave Harris)
The Grateful Dead are now in the process of cutting a single, with an album projected to be out around the beginning of November.
At Avalon this week, the Great Society and the Quicksilver Messenger Service. At Fillmore, the Mothers and the Oxford Circle. Coming up is the Byrds next week, and then Butterfield, Muddy Waters, the Airplane.
* * *
ISSUE #6 – 9/18/66:
a review of ID Magazine’s San Francisco Band Book (a directory with photos of all the SF groups, in which “the bands designed their own material…an extremely useful magazine”) -
News, Rumors, Gossip (“The Velvet Underground has released a lousy single on Verve Records – Andy Warhol produced it, Nico sings (hah-hah) on it. It’s the musical equivalent of a painted Brillo box which sells for $400… The Great Society has broken up… The reason why the Jefferson Airplane’s album sounds so relatively poor as compared with their recent live performances is that RCA Victor remastered [it.]”) -
report on the New York radio scene -
review of the Both/And benefit show (see below) -
an ad for Berkeley’s new poetry magazine -
record reviews – Troggs’ Wild Thing (“the worst album I’ve heard”), Donovan’s Sunshine Superman (“holds one’s interest”), Lovin’ Spoonful’s What’s Up Tiger Lily (“a second-rate Spoonful LP…can’t really recommend”), and the Butterfield Band’s East-West (“The music is quite different here than it was at the Fillmore…Bloomfield seems much more restrained here” – he was better on the first album, though the rest of the band is better here – East-West “is a 13-minute mind-blower on which Bloomfield puts together what will probably become a classic R&B solo.”)
BOTH/AND BENEFIT AT THE FILLMORE
Last Sunday night’s benefit dance at the Fillmore Auditorium to raise money for the Both/And was a resounding success both in terms of the music performed and the audience turnout. Not since the Mime Troupe parties has any audience at the Fillmore reacted with such enthusiasm to the music, nor have the musicians played with such fire and brilliance. Perhaps because a benefit is less of a commercial venture, some bond is made between an audience which is essentially contributing to a cause, and a group of musicians who are contributing their talent to the same cause. At any rate, everything swung well.
The jazz which occupied the first five hours on the bill was excellent music and well-worth listening to, but the packed and hot atmosphere of the Fillmore was not the place in which to listen to it. Once the rock bands came on the audience, which up to that point had been desperate to dance, relaxed somewhat and made moving around the auditorium a bit easier.
The Wildflower sounded better than ever before; although I must admit they have never been my favorite group. It will be interesting to see them on the same bill with the Byrds. The Jefferson Airplane and the Great Society turned in the two best performances by either of those groups which I’ve witnessed in the last month or so.
The Grateful Dead, who were not billed, closed the show with a set played on other people’s equipment. The first few songs were a bit loose, but the Dead rounded into form with a good version of “Happy Home,” then did one of the best “Midnight Hour”s I’ve ever heard by them. Pigpen was in excellent voice, as was Bob Wier. With their own equipment, they might have put on a classic show; as such it was good.
In short the Both/And benefit was a complete gas. I wish that the same sort of thing could happen more often. For some reason Fillmore benefits are always a stone groove; regardless of whether they’re held on a Sunday or any other night of the week.
HAPPENING THIS WEEK:
Fri & Sat, Sep. 16 & 17 –
Fillmore: the Byrds, the Wildflower…
Avalon: Grateful Dead, Oxford Circle.
Matrix: the Second Coming…
Pauley Ballroom: (Sat) Quicksilver Messenger Service, Loading Zone.
* * *
ISSUE #7 – 9/27/66:
short interview with Tommy Saunders (an SF DJ) -
News, Rumors, Gossip (“The Quicksilver Messenger Servive may soon record for Vanguard… Country Joe and the Fish’s E.P. has gone through two pressings and a total sale of 2,000 copies to date… Big Brother and the Holding Co. have signed with Mainstream Records…[and] may have a single out soon… Grace Slick of the Great Society may soon join the Jefferson Airplane…”) -
a review of the Unquenchable Thirst show (formerly known as the Grass Roots – “an excellent, solid dance beat…well worth going to see”) -
a strange letter to the editor & a reply -
a new Tolkien fan magazine, Entmoot, is available -
record review – Tom Rush’s Take a Little Walk With Me (recommended).
BIG BROTHER & THE HOLDING CO. HAVE RETURNED:
They “were in Chicago for the past few weeks playing a gig at Mother Blues. Apparently they were poorly received…” They played “last week at Avalon and “sounded better than they had at any time previously… The whole sound of the group has in fact undergone a radical change since the inception of the band last January, and in the long run this change has been for the better. As Jerry Garcia prophesized a few issues ago in our interview with the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Co. have returned from Chicago with a tighter, more organized sound than they had before they left.”
HAPPENING THIS WEEK:
Friday Sept. 30 –
Avalon Ballroom: the 13th Floor Elevators, the Quicksilver Messenger Service.
Winterland: the Butterfield Blues Band, Muddy Waters, Jefferson Airplane
S.F. State College: 48-hour happening beginning at 3:00 P.M. which will include a dance in the Women’s Gym with the Grateful Dead, Mimi Farina, and the Only Alternative & His Other Possibility. $1 for students, $2 others.
Friday, Oct 7 –
Avalon Ballroom: Jim Kweskin
Fillmore Auditorium: Butterfield Blues Band, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane.
* * *
ISSUE #8 – 10/5/66:
Big Brother & the Holding Co. interview (most of the issue) -
Los Angeles News & Gossip (“The Doors, a former Whiskey house band and good local group, are recording a single and an album for Elektra… L.A. needs the Grateful Dead”) -
Local Gossip (“Darby Slick of the Great Society has left for Calcutta to study under Ali Akbar Khan along with Peter, bass player”) -
an ad for the October 6 rally in the Panhandle (“The date that the California law prohibiting the possession of L.S.D. comes into effect, the day of the fear-produced legislation against the expansion of consciousness…we will gather IN A LOVE-PAGEANT RALLY – to affirm our identity, community, and innocence from influence of the fear addiction of the general public as symbolized in this law… Bring Toys.”) -
record reviews – the Seeds’ Web of Sound (“a decided improvement over their first LP…this is a very good album”), Slim Harpo’s Baby Scratch My Back (“not as good as much of the material in the Excello catalogue [but] pretty good”).
[The long Big Brother interview is mostly about their stay in Chicago, with horrifying descriptions of the Chicago scene – they talk about their reception in Chicago and mention a newspaper review they got.]
JANIS: They said we weren’t as ugly as the Grateful Dead but we were pretty ugly.
MOJO: Heh heh heh. Have they seen the Grateful Dead out there?
PETER: No, they’ve heard about them… As far as I know the Grateful Dead will be out there. We were trying to discourage them but… Pigpen was horrified.
MOJO: Oh really?
PETER: Yeah, he doesn’t want to go, I think.
JANIS: I don’t think anybody’s going to go.
PETER: No, they’re gonna go for sure, they’ve got the contracts.
JANIS: No shit? They’re gonna…?
MOJO: When we talked to them they were very… “Let’s go out to Chicago and spread our music around.”
JANIS: I don’t know. I can’t see…
[This is the kind of thing that would’ve dismayed the Dead - ]
PETER: The kids were supposed to dance, but the teenagers would not dance…they’d just sit there, and they wouldn’t cheer…or hoot or holler or anything, they just sat back and clapped.
JIM: Nobody gets stoned.
JANIS: They don’t get stoned. Nobody was having any fun, man, they were all just drunk.
JIM: It was like they were watching television or something…
PETER: No dances whatsoever.
JANIS: They don’t have any big dances at all.
PETER: …A couple of people said that they were going to put on a dance but nothing ever came of it.
JANIS: It’s really different than here.
[Back in the Dead interview, Mojo had asked Garcia what he thought about Jim Gurley – he’d first heard them at the Trips Festival and said he was “in no condition to comment” – now it’s Gurley’s turn.]
SAM: Ask Jim Gurley what he thinks of Jerry Garcia’s guitar playing.
(Great laughter from all.)
MOJO: Jim, what do you think of Jerry Garcia’s guitar playing? Or were you too bombed the first time to understand it?
JIM: Yeah, something like that…
[There’s a lot of talk about not getting paid for shows – “we’ve gotten burned more than any other band in San Francisco” – and problems with going through the union for money.]
MOJO: What are the bands around here that you find interesting?
PETER: Let’s start with you.
DAVID: Start with me? Let me think for a second. The Dead are real good. They’re really very good. The Quicksilver for certain reasons. It’s hard to explain like, they turn me on sometimes really heavy. Their songs are so nice.
MOJO: Sam, what bands do you like?
SAM: Same two.
JANIS: Oh, Sam.
MOJO: Sam, what’s your comment for the interview? Say something. You would really complete the interview by saying one thing that would stand out, like Pigpen’s comment.
SAM: What was Pigpen’s comment?
MOJO: ‘Fuck it.’ The only thing he said.
JANIS: He’s a good blues singer but he has terrible taste in wine.
HAPPENING THIS WEEK:
Friday, Oct. 7 –
Avalon Ballroom: Jim Kweskin Jug Band, Big Brother & the Holding Company, the Electric Train, 9 PM $2.50
Winterland: Butterfield Blues Band, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, 9 P.M. $3 in advance, $3.50 at door.
The Matrix: Lightning Hopkins
* * *
ISSUE #9 – 10/17/66:
[The scan of this issue is out of order, has missing pages, and page 5 is in the scan of issue #8.]
Jim Kweskin interview -
News & Gossip (“There’s a new version of Hey Joe out which is by far the best yet recorded. It’s by a cat named Tim Rose… Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse have split up – Eric and the bass player, Jack Bruce, who by the way is the best on his axe in England, have formed a group with the fantastic drummer Ginger Baker called “The Cream”. This should be one of the most interesting English bands very soon as all three of these cats are almost legendary on their respective instruments... Bob Dylan is not dead, hairless or decapitated. He will play the Festival of Roses in New York City with Joan Baez in the near future…”) -
more praise for the scene at 1090 Page and a new band, the Flying Circus -
record-collector’s article on Dootone R&B records of the ‘50s -
record review – Chuck Berry’s latest (“quite lacklustre…one of Berry’s least interesting albums”). [Chambers Brothers Live album review is missing.]
AN INTERVIEW WITH JIM KWESKIN –
MOJO: How do you feel about the San Francisco scene from what you’ve seen of it?
KWESKIN: I think it’s great, I think it’s fantastic, I think it’s developing, but it’s still got a ways to go. I think most of the music is right now not as exciting as I like music to be, but I think the whole scene is a fantastic scene.
MOJO: What bands have you heard so far?
KWESKIN: I’ve heard Jefferson Airplane, Blackburn & Snow, the Electric Train, Big Brother & the Holding Co., the Butterfield Blues Band, Muddy Waters, and Country Joe & the Fish.
MOJO: What are your individual impressions of some of the local ones?
KWESKIN: Well, I think that each one is into their own thing, and most of them have not completely developed to the point that pleases me… The one I enjoyed most was Muddy Waters… Most of these bands are still developing and don’t quite know what their own thing is yet…
MOJO: How does what’s going on around here compare to the way things are in Cambridge?
KWESKIN: Nothing like this anywhere in the country. I’ve been all over the country, and the closest thing to this is fancy discotheques in New York, and that isn’t even close.
MOJO: How do you feel playing a large dance?
KWESKIN: I dig it here. It’s a little hard for us to get into our more subtle things because people are so used to really loud music, and lots of distracting strobe lights and color shows, that it’s very hard for us to get into our things, you know to work with an audience. But nevertheless I still find that I have a good time on the stage.
MOJO: …Have you had a chance to hear the Grateful Dead yet?
KWESKIN: Why, do they do one of our songs?
MOJO: Yeah, “Viola Lee.”
KWESKIN: Oh they do, huh?
MOJO: Yeah. Wild version of that. If you get a chance to pick up on it…
There have been a lot of exciting things happening on the scene in the last couple of weeks. Paul Butterfield has been at Fillmore, and has finally gone. The last weekend there, with Big Mama Thornton (who brought down the house), the show ran over until about 3:00 AM, with the Butterfield & Airplane jamming. At Avalon, Big Brother has been playing just about every week and sounding better every time. The group is sounding tighter and cleaner, and they are adding new songs every time they play. The Jim Kweskin Jug Band was at Avalon and will be returning in a couple of weeks.
On the 6th of October there was a rally in the Golden Gate Park Panhandle with the Grateful Dead, Big Brother & the Holding Co., and the Wildflower, followed last Sunday by another Panhandle festival, the Artists Liberation Front’s Free Fair. Bands appearing were the Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Grateful Dead, Country Joe and the Fish. It was a fine affair on a warm afternoon and a good crowd of people was present. Free food was given out and large walls were put up and paint provided for people to express themselves artistically. The music came across fairly well, though the sound system was poor, and this weekend the Free Fair will continue at Hunters Point.
After the Fair, the Family Dog held its first anniversary dance at Avalon, with Big Brother & the Holding Company, sounding great, the Sir Douglas Quintet, sounding terrible, the Oxford Circle, the 13th Floor Elevators, and a couple of jam-groups. Jerry Garcia played one song with the Holding Company, which came off extremely well, then a group called “The New Peanut Butter Sandwich” composed of Pigpen and Garcia of the Grateful Dead, David Getz of the Holding Co., David of the Messenger Service, and the rhythm guitarist from Sir Douglas, later joined by Gary and John of the Messenger Service, and a Negro blues singer. They did a very long and boring pseudo-Butterfield blues instrumental.
The most interesting group musically was the 13th Floor Elevators. They are a really freaky group. They look strange, they sound strange, and they are all good musicians, doing all original material. The lead singer, whose voice is truly odd, also plays lead guitar pretty well. The drummer is excellent. They have one guy who does nothing but boop-boop-boop with a jug. The songs they do are new and different, though they tend to have a sameness because of the unchanging quality of the jug sound and the singer’s voice. They will have a new single out soon and an album.
There is a place called “The Barn” in Scotts Valley near Santa’s Village which has been putting on some weekly happenings lately with the New Delhi River Band and a couple of others. They have light shows too and the cost is $1.50… This week on the 22 and 23 of Oct. the S.F. Mime Troupe will be there. I think the place is actually a barn…
The Calliope Company, which helped to put on the Free Fair, will be putting on another dance on Halloween with the Dead, the Messenger Service, and others…
NEWS & GOSSIP:
The Grateful Dead are about to sign with Warner Brothers – currently the contracts are being worked out; plans are for the group to record in L.A. during November, with an album and a single following the sessions.
The Grateful Dead now have a fan club, send goodies to P.O. Box 31201, San Francisco, Calif. I’m sure all of you will be happy to learn that the Dead will soon market a fantastic new item: the Pigpen sweatshirt. Available on October 21 & 22 at the Fillmore Auditorium. Friends, buy one and love it.
Avalon Ballroom: Oct 21 and 22, Country Joe and the Fish, the Daily Flash…
Fillmore Auditorium: …Fri. and Sat. Oct 21 and 22, the Grateful Dead, Lightning Hopkins, and the Loading Zone. Sunday, Oct 23, the Yardbirds and Country Joe and the Fish. $3. 2-7 PM.
The Matrix: The Only Alternative & His Other Possibility, Oct. 18 through Oct. 22, Jefferson Airplane, Oct. 23 through Oct. 27.
* * *
ISSUE #10 – 11/8/66
Mystery Trend interview, part one -
Bill Graham bans the Mojo staff from the Fillmore! -
an editorial on Graham (see below) -
Gossip (“There is a long article with photos in the current issue of San Francisco magazine all about Bill Graham and the Fillmore Auditorium – There will be an article in Newsweek which will attempt to cover the whole SF rock scene and present it to the general public in a favorable light.”) -
record-collector’s article on Little Richard’s ‘50s Specialty records -
New Fish E.P. Due Soon – an article about Country Joe recording their next EP & other activities -
record reviews – S&G’s Parsley Sage Rosemary & Thyme (“doesn’t come across as strong as ‘Sounds of Silence’ did”), Big Brother’s new single Blind Man/All Is Loneliness (“excellent”).
On Friday, October 28, the editor of the Mojo Navigator…[was] banned from Fillmore Auditorium by Bill Graham. Graham took this action after terming the paper “a rag” and screaming for several minutes in a rather incoherent fashion, all the while insisting that “I’m not mad, you are beneath my anger.” When explictly asked by the editor…whether he would be allowed to enter the Fillmore Auditorium after purchasing a ticket in the future, Graham replied, “No, I won’t take your money.” [ … ]
There are certain people in this scene…who are here not because of any sincere interest in the music or the enjoyment of the beauty of the scene itself, but only for the opportunity to wheel and deal and play politics. Such a man is Bill Graham. If a band in an interview says something derogatory about some people they noticed in an audience at Fillmore once, Graham takes it as a personal affront and threatens not to hire the band again. If a newspaper gives one of his dances a bad review, he withdraws advertising from that paper for a few weeks. This kind of power-wielding is the spice of life for Bill Graham…
Because we do not fawn on him and wax rapturous about the scene at Fillmore every week, Bill Graham evidently feels it necessary to see us [as] a malignant force opposed to him, an enemy to be attacked, another power threatening to exercise its influence against him. So Graham has to start a childish feud, to satisfy his own psychological deficiencies. It is regrettable that we should have to become involved in a silly hassle like this, since we are not in the least interested in this kind of shit. There are too many good, positive ways of occupying our time… If you want to talk to the Mojo men at a dance you can come to the Avalon, and we suggest you do. You’ll have a better time anyway. (Greg Shaw)
At Avalon Ballroom this weekend is the 13th Floor Elevators, with Moby Grape. I saw Moby Grape at the Ark last week and they are fantastic. The Ark, in Sausalito, has been holding all-night jam sessions lately, from 2-6 AM on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s a good place to go after Avalon. Admission is $2. Last week when I went Moby Grape, the Oxford Circle, and the Holding Company played in various combinations…
Sunday there will be a special benefit dance at Avalon with the Grateful Dead, the Quicksilver Messenger, and Big Brother & the Holding Company.
“Save the grass and fuck the people!” –Phil Leish
“Did you know that George Washington had wooden teeth?” –the Grateful Dead
(There's a picture of Garcia playing live on a Record Reviews page.)
* * *
ISSUE #11 – 11/22/66
Country Joe & the Fish interview -
Mystery Trend interview, part two -
letters to the Mojo about the Sunset Strip “riot” in LA & the oppressive police crackdown, and comparing LA to SF (“The music is far from weak in Los Angeles…[for instance,] the Peanut Butter Conspiracy…this band should be heard in the Bay Area. Somewhere in the area of the Jefferson Airplane yet entirely different... Another band, now doing a New York date and greatly improved, The Doors, are scheduled for an Elektra release.”) -
a mysterious open letter from Bill Graham to Chet Helms, offering to discuss their differences in public, & Helms’ opaque reply -
News; Events (notes the “rather dull radio scene… KFRC airs about three new things a week, KYA maybe four or five…the time is growing close for a new element to make itself felt on the local radio scene… The Oxford Circle’s single is out…it’s Foolish Woman/Mind Destruction. The latter is five minutes long – one of the all time longest 45 sides… The Sopwith Camel’s record “Hello Hello” on Kama Sutra is a stone smash after three days of KFRC airplay; the single is well-arranged and well-recorded and looks like the first national breakthrough for a local band… John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers (with Eric Clapton on lead) recorded an album for English Decca which shocked the music industry over there by bouncing into the top 10 albums… Mayall’s band has since broken up. American release of the L.P. is uncertain… Dylan may start his own record company soon to escape from the pressure which Columbia puts him under… Dylan’s TV special which was scheduled to be shown this month will not be shown at all – the network claims the tapes have rotted, or something like that… Boston’s Crawdaddy magazine is an excellent publication for Mojo freaks to subscribe to… New York’s Lothar and the Hand People are currently in S.F….”) -
record reviews – Dr. West’s Medicine Show jugband single (“amusing, but not particularly impressive”), the Remains (“a really interesting foray into a kind of total hard-rock sound”), the Blues Magoos’ Psychedelic Lollipop (“fairly decent”), the Blues Project’s Projections (“an advance over their last piece…essential”).
“It seems that record companies feel much more confident about taking a chance in releasing an L.P. of an unknown group if that group is from the East or L.A. rather than San Francisco; witness the release of only one L.P. from an S.F. based group... As in the case of the second Butterfield L.P., the band does not come across nearly so well here as they did in person; I think some of the A&R work and sound mixing is at fault… The work presented on these L.P.s is uneven when compared with the sounds which a local rock freak is used to hearing in person. Much of this must be blamed on the production of the records…[the groups] all probably come off better in person.”
LETTER FROM LOS ANGELES –
Talking with a record company scout: “The S.F. bands are overly impressive on first hearing. They are so pulled together and professional that you are bowled over at first. On repeated hearing, you realize that one tune sounds like the next and nothing of an individual nature is happening. You can’t record on togetherness.”
No comment on this, but maybe San Francisco’s contribution to the music scene might be the total scene, bands, light shows, posters, auditoriums, the way people look and most of all, the intelligence of the audience.
THE MYSTERY TREND ON BILL GRAHAM –
LARRY: It seems pretty obvious to me he started out with like a benefit for the Mime Troupe, and all of a sudden he saw like these thousands of people, man, and thousands of dollars…and he put two and two together and said, “Shit.” And then all of a sudden he went into some other area. And in his head, too, as far as dealing with anybody, whatever kind of love went into the original things went out real fast when he saw the dollar signs. That’s pretty obvious. And accordingly his relationship with us was based on that.
JOHN: The main thing I think he was always bugged about was the time factor. He always said, “Keep your sets short” and if we played a little longer he always got uptight…
MOJO: [One time] it was like 19 songs you guys played…and Graham was like tearing his hair out… A few times he’s tried to do that to other groups. I remember one time with the Grateful Dead…
LARRY: I remember the first dance at the Fillmore, the second Mime Troupe thing, we played with those guys, and it was really a weird thing, they’re so like different, just personality-wise, and like that.
MIKE: That was when they were the Warlocks. And also Sam Thomas was there, and the Great Society. The Gentlemen’s Band.
MOJO: Yeah. They used to get the people moving. They’d play like two hours at the beginning and people would be just jumping. The cats that sang with them would be like they just walked out of the audience and got on stage.
[This would be referring to the Gentlemen’s Band.]
FROM THE COUNTRY JOE INTERVIEW –
JOE: We haven’t started to do what I want to do yet, but it amazes me, the musicians, the hippy musicians that make rock ‘n’ roll music came out of their houses where they have Ravi Shankar records and Allen Ginsberg poems and articles by Timothy Leary and all kinds of other stuff that’s very thoughty, and they get up on the stage and perform teeny-bop songs and folk songs which they don’t have anything in common with really… We all used to be folkies, but we changed to rock because we found folk wasn’t our music… So the words and the music should be a total experience, and it should be a hippy experience… What we’re doing now is just like a hint of what I think should be done, and when the performer comes on the stage, the rock ‘n’ roll musician, the hippies gave the rock ‘n’ roll musicians the chance to be the gurus of their generation, and they’ve in a sense blown it… When you go on the stage you should take the audience with you on a trip, so to speak, and…you can teach them something, you can educate them, more than entertain them. Eventually it should be a total experience in light, sound, movement, everything, from the time you get on the stage to the time that you get off the stage should be a religious pageant…
BARRY: People come up to us all the time and they’re stoned on acid when they watch us play, right? So I figure that the rock ‘n’ roll bands are now the psychedelic guides, man.
[This quote isn’t really representative of the interview, which overall is quite fun & humorous.]
California Hall – Wed & Thurs, Big Brother
Matrix – through Thurs, James Cotton & the Wildflower
Avalon Ballroom – Quicksilver, Big Brother, Country Joe
Fillmore – Fri & Sat, Jefferson Airplane, James Cotton, Moby Grape
Sunday – nursery school benefit with Quicksilver & Country Joe
(There's a picture of Bob Weir playing live on a Record Review page.)
* * *
ISSUE #12 – 12/22/66
(The last page of this issue, with part of the News column, is missing.)
British Blues Scene – an article on early ‘60s English R&B bands (mostly Alexis Korner, the Stones & Yardbirds – this was meant to be Part One, but never completed) -
Country Joe interview, part two -
Mystery Trend interview, part three -
News (“The Beatles are not breaking up at this time. At just about the time you read this they are cutting their new single in London… The Beach Boys are happening in just about every respect. “Good Vibrations,” in my opinion one of the most brilliant records in recent years, has opened up a new spectrum for the group… England’s The Cream, with Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker, are touring the U.S. very soon… The Doors from L.A. are currently playing Ondine's in New York and doing very well there... Country Joe & the Fish have just signed with Vanguard. Their contract guarantees them two LPs a year, the first to appear this coming April. Sales of the Fish’s EP are booming. 3000 more are being pressed… The Holding Company recorded six songs in L.A. last week. Their next single, out in a few weeks, will be “Ball and Chain.”) -
short summary of the San Diego rock scene (what there is of it) -
record reviews – The Real Donovan (“‘Hey Gyp’ alone makes it worth it”), Hums of the Lovin’ Spoonful (“varied and interesting…the songwriting has improved immensely…the first really fully realized L.P. from the Spoonful”); the Stones’ Got Live If You Want It (“not particularly well done…really inferior”); the Charlatans’ single ("very good").
FROM THE COUNTRY JOE INTERVIEW –
MOJO: What’s your favorite group, David?
DAVID: My favorite group in the area is the Grateful Dead. They are really a tight group. They’re good musicians and they’re good people.
JOHN: But they’re not saying anything new. They’re a tight group and they’re really good musicians and they’re really groovy people and they’ve really got it down pat, and it all sounds good, but it’s been done before.
DAVID: So what? It doesn’t matter if it’s been done before.
ED: Of course not.
DAVID: It’s done in a new way. And that’s why I disagree with Joe about rock ‘n’ roll groups getting up and doing folk songs. Cause we do songs that other people have done. We do songs like “30 Days” and “My Gal”.
MOJO: Who do you think the best group is, Bruce? …
BRUCE: I think the best group or the group I’ve liked the best is the Dead. I think that instrumentally, they individually make it. Garcia plays really beautiful guitar, and I really like the bass player’s bass.
JOHN: The drummer’s a boss drummer, man.
BRUCE: Also they work very well from whatever structure they have, they’re very free. And you can tell it. And they communicate very easily and they pull you into whatever they’re doing. I think they should be doing other things. They do songs I’m surprised they do.
MOJO: Like which ones?
BRUCE: They rely mostly on folk music, and some of the songs are just a basis around which to play the instruments, you know, the words are meaningless. I’ve heard them stick two verses together which don’t rhyme; sort of half of one and half of the other. Cause you know it doesn’t really matter what you sing. Usually I have a terrible time judging when I go see a rock band what’s good and what’s bad. [ … ] I’ve enjoyed almost every band I’ve heard. So it’s almost irrelevant to say what’s better.
BARRY: I think the best group in the area doesn’t exist. I think there is no best and better. A lot of people in a lot of different bags. There’s some people that don’t make it but I can name any number of people from the Dead and the Airplane, etc., who do. I would say that most of the people who get hired in the Fillmore or the Avalon are pretty good. [ … ]
MOJO: Who’s your favorite group, Tom?
TOM: Well, loyalty would compel me… I know which side my bread is buttered on. I think Country Joe’s the best group. They’re doing the most exciting things. The Great Society used to do some very exciting things too, but they aren’t doing them any more. [ … ]
ED: I don’t think there’s a good group in the Bay Area… This group is the only group I’ve seen that’s got the potential to make any music. Most of the other bands, frankly, I don’t think they’ve got any musicians in them… I don’t think they know what music is… There are a lot of people who can play blues; they don’t play it that well; I’ve listened to a lot of these bands try to do that Chicago stuff and most of them are not as good as the records they’re copying. The Muddy Waters Blues Band, decrepit as it is, is still the best blues band playing in town. And if they can’t come up to Muddy Waters ten years after his thing is over, you know they’re just wasting their time.
[The rest of the group praises the Butterfield Band for “doing things that jazz solos weren’t doing five years ago;” Ed says local rock bands don’t turn him on.]
MOJO: Okay, how about Big Brother and the Holding Company, they’re not doing Chicago blues.
ED: No, they’re doing 1920’s blues. I mean, it’s another dead end. I like that guitarist…[Jim] Gurley – I like what he’s doing with the guitar… But, looking at the national scene as a whole, the best band instrumentally is the Blues Project. The best band as far as making songs is the Lovin’ Spoonful. [ … ]
MOJO: Joe, who’s your favorite band?
JOE: […] I don’t know, I like the Grateful Dead, the Quicksilver Messenger Service… I like the Daily Flash… We did a gig with them. I thought they were good. […] I listen to the Jefferson Airplane too, but they don’t give me what I want. My music gives me almost what I want, but not yet. Eventually I hope it will. So when you’re really into your own thing, you listen to other people’s stuff, and I get ideas from almost every band in the area.
MOJO SPEAKS OUT
According to all who attended, Bill Graham’s Thanksgiving-eve party at the Fillmore Auditorium was a big success. The Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Grateful Dead played; the admission was free by invitation and there was a lot of good food, also free. Regardless of past happenings on the so-called “scene,” I think that Graham deserves the thanks of all who attended and the compliments of those who didn’t for what must have been a pleasant affair.
FROM THE MYSTERY TREND INTERVIEW:
MOJO: Around the time of the first few Mime Troup benefits all the bands with the exception of the Mystery Trend were playing at such a terrific volume that their sound was just a blur of notes…
RON: One of the things that wasn’t obvious at the time was that everybody was playing with a tremendous amount of indiscretion… I think a lot of bands even now have a lack of subtlety; no subtlety, no sensitivity, no lacework of parts.
Plans are underway for a travelling Family Dog-type road show, which will take San Francisco bands around the country and present them in an SF-dance-like environment with lights, etc. New, young bands are needed.
The Airplane will have another album out soon which should be very good. They are now doing many old Great Society songs. Jerry Garcia, incidentally, is technical advisor on that new Airplane album.
Why did Ken Kesey want 5000 people to sit down in chairs and listen to the Grateful Dead at the Acid Test Graduation?
* * *
ISSUE #13 – APRIL 1967
(Page scans on the Lama Workshop site.)
editorial on the rock scene (“The past year has seen an amazing growth in rock & roll, not only in popularity but in the quality of the music itself. Recording companies have drastically changed their policy regarding rock groups, and a band now can put just about anything they want on their records, no matter how far-out it may be. We are at the point now where virtually every group in existence, even those formed only within the past month or so, have recording contracts. In short, it’s become a field day for rock musicians, and the situation shows every sign of continued escalation in the coming year.” – also criticism of Crawdaddy magazine, Ralph Gleason & other rock reviewers) -
record-collector’s article on Phil Spector -
Blues Magoos interview -
article on the Lovin’ Spoonful’s participation in a drug bust -
Record News (mostly on the latest releases – “Country Joe and the Fish will release their first LP on Vanguard April 1… Big Brother and the Holding Co.’s new single on Mainstream “Call On Me”/”Down On Me” has been released and is doing pretty well… The Steve Miller Blues Band from Chicago have decided to remain in San Francisco. They’re an incredibly good band and a welcome addition to this city… Newsweek reports that in one month 57,000 Wes Wilson posters were sold. SF dance posters are being sold now all over the country, the usual price is $1 here, $2 outside SF. By now every house in the Bay Area that contains a kid age 12 or older also contains several poster reprints. By the time every kid in the country has as many of the hundred or more that are available as he wants, everyone connected with the poster scene will be a millionaire several times over. First editions of the posters and copies of posters that were never reprinted are bringing fabulous prices from fanatical collectors here. It’s really too much.”) -
a survey of local FM rock stations (KPFA is the best, KMPX a close second) -
notice of a new rock fanzine, the Electric Frog -
record reviews – the Doors (“the whole music world should soon be talking about them…perhaps the best group to come out of Los Angeles, and this album is certainly the finest yet by any West Coast group”), Youngbloods (“a very worthwhile first album from one of New York’s best groups”), Buffalo Springfield (“very high quality…reminiscent of Moby Grape”), the Byrds’ Younger Than Yesterday (“this is a modern symphony…an album you should not let slip by”), the Electric Prunes (“Dave Hassinger, former L.A. hero engineer, ought to be awarded a medal for making a fairly minor band sound good”), the Psychedelic Sounds of the13th Floor Elevators (“fairly unique, if not always appealing…not that interesting,” with the sound but not the talent or appeal of the Great Society & the Seeds), the Kinks’ Face To Face (“the Kinks’ Rubber Soul…a new Kinks music which is softer, infinitely more textured, and stylishly more sophisticated”), Tim Buckley (“unlistenable…Mr. Buckley can’t sing”), Love’s Da Capo (“a great advance over the first LP…a very fine musical achievement”), the Stones’ Between the Buttons (an advance on Aftermath; “everything here is brilliant, classic, worthwhile”), Bobby Darin’s If I Were A Carpenter (“pretty bland…at best tolerable”).
The most important recording event so far this year is the release of the Grateful Dead album on March 20. We will probably review it in depth next issue. – In case you weren’t aware, the Grateful Dead almost released a single last year on the Scorpio label, “Stealin’”/”Don’t Ease Me In”. This side is destined to be a really rare item, since the only copy that we knew of to date (the Dead hated the cuts and didn’t allow the record to be released) was in our possession. Not so. Eight more copies have turned up in a junk shop near Ukiah. Apparently a syndicate was formed for distribution up there, and after buying out the entire remaining stock of this extremely rare non-masterpiece at 10 cents a copy, the Ukiah locals have begun to jack up their friends for the exorbitant prices that this 45 can bring – the first few went for 2-3 dollars apiece.
Their music has a tightness, a solidness, a totality of sound that is unequaled on the West Coast except perhaps by the Grateful Dead… “Light My Fire” features a five minute instrumental break, consisting of first and organ and then a guitar solo. The effect is similar to that achieved by the Grateful Dead in such songs as “Viola Lee” (the live performance of it), and is indicative of some of the trends toward use of jazz techniques in recent rock albums, best exemplified by the Blues Project’s Projections album and Butterfield’s East-West album. An extremely exciting song.
(Then the reviewer raves about The End, “an amazing song… a breakthrough in the development of rock music,” for a whole column.)
(The Blues Magoos mostly talk about the LA and NYC music scenes, and ask about San Francisco – they predict that the SF scene will be ruined once national magazines start writing it up.)
PEPPY: Too much of it is going to screw up the whole thing.
MIKE: It’s getting national attention out here, and that’s not what you want, really… As soon as you have a centerpage thing in Life, you’re through.
MOJO: No, I disagree, because there’s a real audience for this music, almost like a cult of thousands and thousands of people. The time is right for this thing to spread, to get nationwide attention. There’s no limit to how big this thing can get.
MIKE: It’s gonna be nationwide in 10 years, maybe five… You’d be surprised. You go into a town, and no matter how small it is, say 300 people, you’ll find a group of hippies.
RONNIE: You go across country, you run into a lot of weird people.
MIKE: Right here you have the topless thing, that’s the commercial branch-off of the LSD thing.
MOJO: Yeah, that’s really catching on here.
MIKE: Are there any groups out here that really psych-out electronically?
MOJO: Big Brother & the Holding Co. The Oxford Circle. The Sparrow.
MIKE: Do they have all kinds of gadgets, or what?
MOJO: No, nobody uses the gadgetry. They’re really fast out here, that’s the emphasis. The guitar players are fast.
MIKE: What about feedback?
MOJO: Yeah, they use it a little bit. It’s not so much feedback as the ‘fastest guitar in town’ bit.
MIKE: I noticed that. Everybody tries to outdo each other. I went to the Matrix the other night and there was a guitar player sweating because there were about five other guitarists watching. They all have one fast run and they do it about a million times a night. It shouldn’t be that way. It looks like a very friendly thing. On top it looks like “wow, they’re really digging each other.” But it’s not that at all. You can’t get away from the envy thing; everybody out here is good musically, they concentrate on it. But they concentrate on it not to better themselves but to be better than the next guy.
MOJO: Yeah, but there’s a terrific amount of friendly jamming that goes on.
MIKE: Are the bands around here just interested in making it locally or nationally?
MOJO: Many of them don’t particularly care about national.
MIKE: That’s what I thought. They just want to play. You see, it’s an entirely different thing in New York…[He talks about NY bands getting record contracts immediately.]
MOJO: Around here most of the groups are skeptical about how they’ll be treated by the record companies.
MIKE: A lot of the groups around here are writing great things. They should…
RONNIE: I don’t think they’re really good enough.
MIKE: The groups? They’re all concert groups.
RONNIE: That’s not where it’s at. A group has to be good enogh to listen. Otherwise they’re no good at all.
MIKE: I found most of the groups that we heard very listenable.
RONNIE: No, I’m talking about them listening to other people… The groups here just haven’t got what it takes. It takes an awful lot to make a national hit.
MIKE: Well, it’s all underground, cause the underground reaches New York, it reaches everywhere. It’s amazing, I heard about the Airplane and the Holding Co. a long time ago. A year ago.
(This issue has the full-page Egyptian-themed Grateful Dead ad.)
* * *
ISSUE # 14 – AUGUST 1967
(Cover of Hendrix playing in the Panhandle. Mislabeled #13 on the Rockmine site.)
Doors interview (Jim barely says anything – the rest of the band does the talking) -
worshipful all-caps article on Chuck Berry -
Monterey Pop Festival review (see below) -
article on The Powerhouse Guitar of Eric Clapton (“The guitar playing of Eric Clapton is currently the topic of much praise thanks to the long-awaited American release of Clapton’s two most recent recorded endeavors, John Mayall & the Blues Breakers and Fresh Cream. Clapton’s work has long been the object of a cult of both avid fans and imitators on both sides of the Atlantic, for although to my knowledge he has never appeared in this country, several records featuring his guitar playing have managed to sneak into release here… [He has] relatively the same spot in the United Kingdom which Mike Bloomfield holds here.”) -
record reviews – three SF albums (see below); West Coast Love-In (a “piece of trash”), the Left Banke’s Walk Away Renee (“powerful…the highest quality”), Gene Clark (“worthwhile”), the Blues Magoos’ Electric Comic Book (“less effective than their first LP…basically dull”), the Who’s Happy Jack (“excellent”), Kaleidoscope’s Side Trips (“pleasant, well-recorded, and somehow not deeply interesting”), the Mothers’ Absolutely Free (a long, ravingly positive review), the Mystery Trend’s single (“excellent”), Are You Experienced (another long, awestruck review; “superb…must be heard to be believed”).
[News, Gossip, Rumors section missing.]
If there is one thing which links together the San Francisco groups it is not a specific or definable sound to which they all cling, but rather a common approach to music, a common style of digging and responding to music. There is only one generalization that can be made about the top San Francisco bands and that is that, regardless of any one group’s featured style (say the Dead’s special proclivity with blues, or Country Joe’s affinity for the koto music of Japan), they all listen to a wide variety of different kinds of music from all over the world, they all listen to each other, and they all try to constantly incorporate fresh ideas gathered from their listening into the music. I would say that the San Francisco bands have most effectively demonstrated that different styles of music can blend and co-exist with each other; it is this very quality of unity or tightness of performance within a compositional structure of duality which I think has been both the most misunderstood and in many ways the most valuable thing to emerge from the scene.
All three of the albums in question are works of art of high merit. They are the best three American albums to be released this year, without question. All three are also flawed in some small ways.
The Grateful Dead album sounds by and large as if it were an attempt to recapture the sound of the band in person. This is an admirable pursuit, since the Dead have perhaps the all time great band sound on their hot nights. However, it does not work completely in the recording studio. While the music on this record is of real quality, I think that the Dead’s next album, on which they will hopefully do more overdubbing and use more esoteric production techniques will be much better than this one.
The best things to my mind on this record are “Cream Puff War”, “Morning Dew”, “Cold Rain and Snow” and “Sittin’ on Top of the World”. On these particular tracks the whole ensemble sound of the band shines, especially the amazing rhythm section work of Phil Lesh and Bill Sommers and of course Jerry Garcia’s lead guitar. Some of the other tracks are less effective. On “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” Pigpen’s voice isn’t recorded properly at all – sounds too quiet and strained at the outset. “New, New Minglewood Blues” lacks an element of drive which it should gave, and in “Viola Lee Blues” the end of the instrumental jam should have been done a bit more cleanly. Other than that I have no complaints – even those minor criticisms are tifling compared to the real quality and high artistic level of the music on this record.
Country Joe and the Fish have issued an L.P. which presents to me almost precisely the same problems in reviewing as did the Dead album. Overall the music on this record is brilliant in conception and performance; a few tracks that particularly impressed me were “Death Sound”, “Porpoise Mouth”, “Flying High”, “The Masked Marauder” and “Grace”. I think that the Fish projected their musical identities onto this record very well – I think that working at Sierra Sound in Berkeley puts them in an advantageous position in the recording field since they’ve used this studio often in the past and they know how to make it record their sound properly. I have only one objection to these sides – I wish that rather than whispering “LSD” at the end of some of their tracks they had instead recorded their acid commercial – gets the point across much more audaciously and effectively.
I found the Moby Grape album to be really tasty, especially considering the P.R. campaign which Columbia launched, one of the themes of which was “Moby Grape…does not scream distasteful lyrics or go off into uncontrolled, so-called psychedelic binges of electronics.” … The overall feel of the L.P. is tight, well-produced and somewhat fast. The accent in the choice of material was most definitely toward possible chart tunes in that 10 of the 13 cuts on this side were also issued on various singles. … This does not hurt the sound of the group in the least; Bob Mosley’s bass lines are very well constructed and are executed with a technical proficiency which is at most frightening. The same could be said for Jerry Miller’s lead guitar patterns. The vocal sound of the group, which is superb in person, comes across as extremely warm and harmonious on the record, but without the distinct clarity in enunciation which one would hope for. When Moby Grape eventually get around to recording “Jerry’s Blues”, they will immediately attain the status of classic performers; until then this album will provide many high times.
Of course, it should be obvious to all concerned that these three albums are so ridiculously essential to anyone who digs music of any sort that any minor criticism of them I might make is made with the recommendation that you immediately go and buy all three…
INTERVIEW WITH THE DOORS:
(Mojo asks about how audiences are in different cities, and most of the interview is devoted to discussion of how the LA, NYC, and SF scenes differ.)
ROBBY: I think the San Francisco audience listens a lot more…
RAY: L.A. hasn’t been our best audience…up here it’s a much better audience.
(Mojo asks about whether audiences appreciate both jazz and rock, and all the Doors agree they don’t.)
MOJO: Around here you find generally avant-garde jazz groups will be playing, like at the Fillmore. Mostly in benefits, like you’ll have Elvin Jones playing, then the Grateful Dead will play.
ROBBY: But you’ll find that when Bill Graham puts a jazz group in there, or even John Lee Hooker, that he’ll always have a big drawing group with them, cause he knows they aren’t gonna draw. He puts the jazz group in there for prestige among the hippies, mainly.
(They feel jazz & rock have entirely different audiences, but Ray says that in SF, “It’s a sophisticated audience up here, I think they understand jazz a little bit…there’s some appreciation of the music. But, the jazz people…I don’t know any of them that are digging rock, really.”)
MOJO: Which groups around here have you heard, and what’s your judgment of them?
RAY: I like Country Joe and the Fish. I like some of their stuff.
ROBBY: And we really liked Big Brother.
MOJO: What’d you think of the Grateful Dead?
JOHN: They weren’t too good, the night we saw them. Like, they’re really good musicians, and they’re tight, but so’s Wilson Pickett, you know?
[In return, Garcia loathed the Doors.]
… The Dead were really a gas – doing about four or five long numbers, the major part of each being a fantastically tight instrumental excursion with each guy just using his axe to cut in and out of and around and through what the other guys were doing – like watching the insides of a watch working. …
[Most of the Monterey review is transcribed here:
[Note: This issue was about 40 pages, but the scan cuts off on page 32 - it's missing most of the Clapton article, the end of the Monterey article, and all of News & Gossip. If anyone has the end of this issue, please contact me.]