Segarini – Part Two: A Short Dissertation on the Cult of Sgt. Pepper and Why I am Totally Sick of The Beatles

A Message from Bob – Thanks to my computer’s ongoing Carnival of Ever Changing Problems, this article has become a three parter instead of two. The pictures for this and the conclusion of the Sgt Pepper and Beatles Dissertation (no longer ‘Short’) will run as soon as possible next week, when this damn machine stays stable…wish me luck.

Let’s see…where were we?

A Slight Recap

The Family Tree had just played a one night stand at Portland, Oregon’s Crystal Ballroom, a beautiful recently cleaned up and renovated dance hall on the 3rd or 4th floor of a landmark bldg, complete with floor to ceiling windows and a ball-bearing sprung dance floor that moved and undulated under the dancer’s feet.

It was the end of the night, and time to head to Hung Far Low for Chinese food, or back to the motel to get high or crash, just as soon as the Fugs (the headliners of the show) cleared their gear off the stage so we could tear down our PA and pack up.

It was just after 1:00am on the 31st of May, 1967

That’s when David Crosby walked into the ballroom with a 10 inch reel of tape under his arm….

Thankfully, most of you already know I am long-winded to a fault, and take an inordinate amount of time to get to whatever point I am trying to make. Don’t think for a moment I am not aware of my own quirks and failings…I could never get a job as a writer. I don’t really ‘write’…I just think out loud on paper.

…and, sorry to say…this article is no exception. If you want to get to the point of it all, set your scroll wheel on stun, and when you see the words, “The Point of All This”, stop, and begin to read.

Those of you who are brave enough, kindly gird yourself for more back-story and digression, and you may want to have a bite to eat, lay in some snacks, or pour yourself a drink or three…you are in for a (hopefully) entertaining and informative slog.

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Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay – Simon Napier Bell

Excerpt from a Review by John Bird

“Popular music in our time bursts out of its historical shell 60 years ago when Sam Phillips of Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee, engineers a renaissance of pop music. Sixty years ago the growth of modern youth-orientated culture finds its figurehead in Elvis Presley. All things flow from him, as he plays black music with an almost white boy’s voice. The rest is history, caught here in all of culture from its figurehead its momentousness by Napier-Bell.

Elvis, though, had to leave the small Sun in his history of 100 Records operation and move to New York’s years of music RCA, and there get well and truly magnified by the pop musical machinery.

I ended up wanting to write this book review because of a piece about the book on BBC radio. It seemed to suggest something that had never occurred to me: that there was a division between rock and pop. I am sure more sagacious musical observers than me have been kicking this division around for a while but it had avoided me. But then it got me thinking: what was ‘love, love me do’? When I first heard it aged 16 I thought it was the usual crap that came out of Tin Pan Alley – Denmark Street. ‘If there’s anything that you want’? What was this all about? What were The Beatles but little more than syrup purveyors, always singing about someone not getting their leg over a certain charming young girl and having to suffer in the process. In fact, sometimes all this was so silly and innocent that the penis actual didn’t even get a look in. The Beatles seemed penis-free, largely because most pop never had an erection in there anywhere.

To me music at the time was all about stiffies. You danced with girls in order to try and wear down their resolve. You got them hot and then hopefully stickily keen. Yet the lyrics were anodyne, suggesting holding hands might be the expected culmination of a good night out. I suppose I might have been the only 16-year-old at the time critiquing The Beatles lyrics and finding them wanting. While at the same time Chuck Berry made one priapic through music and words. You knew that one was rock and roll, and the other, The Beatles, were simply a mess of slops. Napier-Bell says that most pop stars tried to convert to the more earthy, artistically rewarding world of rock. And many succeeded. He maintains, though, that of all the big players, however hard they tried, even with Sgt. Pepper-ing themselves, The Beatles could never get away from the fact that like seaside rock they were pop all the way through. And just as sticky and sickly sweet. However consummate was their musical accomplishments, they just could not make the rock ‘n’ roll transformation.

Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay is a hoard of good thinking, great writing and joyous celebration of more than 100 years of popular music. But without an ounce of self-deceit. Napier-Bell is no outsider though to this repertoire of musical noises made to help us get through another day of Ebola and Isis. A former manager of The Yardbirds, discoverer of Marc Bolan, and one-time manager of Wham! and the George Michael extravaganza, he is up to his neck in pop. His current Las Vegas pop legends show is apparently rippingly successful.

Yet he managed to write this book without a handkerchief to hand to wipe away the sins of sentimentality that normally accompany insiders of this art form; no tears here thank you! Just rock hard info and fun”. – John Bird     

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aaand…who is Simon Napier-Bell?

If you are one of those people that is running out of space for all of your Rock Star Biography’s, tell-all tomes, and music industry books, toss them all out and replace them with these four books. Napier-Bell lifts the veil of bullshit and lets you see the hard white underbelly that drives them all. A colonoscopy of rockstars, rock music, rock legend, and record industry gods. I bring this up because of all the blather (mine included) focused on our current pop culture obsession. I love ‘think pieces’ about pop art/culture. There is a book/article (I forget which) in which Academe’s fall all over themselves explaining the musical forms of Beatles songs in terms used by surgeons and rocket scientists to explain our attraction to puppies and french kissing…indecipherable unless you have a thesaurus, dictionary, and 12 years of University level music theory under your belt. The truth is always much simpler. When you get right down to it, the books, ‘You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me’, ‘Black Vinyl, White Lines’, ‘I’m Coming to Take You to Lunch’ and ‘Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay’, by Simon Napier Bell, and the Rutles’ ‘All You Need is Cash’, boil the entire British Invasion (including the Beatles) down to gay British entrepreneurs throwing money, drugs, alcohol, and promotion behind young men in tight trousers. Every theory can be argued…just like the 1000s of other complicated explanations of a simple (but miraculous) moment in time. For affectionados of all the books about rock and roll stars, these are four you should have in your collections. http://www.simonnapierbell.com/whatpeople_main.htm Still laughing….

Both the link above and the link below are highly recommended reading. Trust me on this.

An actual Bio on Napier-Bell can be found here

Mr. Napier Bell is still at it. Find and watch this documentary.

To Be Frank – Trailer

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Before I finally reveal what was on the tape being brought into the Crystal Ballroom by David Crosby (as if you didn’t know), another side trip I feel obligated to share because I want you to know why I feel qualified to speak of the Beatles in the first place. Regardless of what you think of my seemingly dismissive tone when I write about them, the fact is I am more than in debt to them and their music. My entire recorded history has been connected to them because of how much they affected how I write and what I believe great songs should be. I even published a column that makes it perfectly clear that I am grateful for their influence, and don’t mind admitting that I too, was a fanatic at one time…but we’ll get to that when we ‘get to the point’ further on down the page.  Here’s a link to that column I like to call; The Link to That Column

Just a FEW of the Reviews that link me to The Beatles forever. Not as helpful or welcome as you would think….

Rising Storm Review

http://therisingstorm.net/the-wackers-hot-wacks/

Hot Wacks is unquestionably the Wackers best album. Although at times a bit derivative of Abbey Road era Beatles (there’s even a side 2 suite), Hot Wacks is really a lost power pop gem.

In 1971, the Wackers released a strong debut, lushly produced by Gary Usher. While Usher was no doubt a great producer, some may find his production on Hot Wacks a little too slick. The songs and performances save the day though, and show the band maturing at a rapid rate. Bob Segarini, one of the band’s founders, had been in Family Tree and Roxy prior to forming the Wackers. He’s still on the scene today making albums, and if push comes to shove, I’d say that his other two masterpieces are Miss Butters by Family Tree (1968-) and Gotta Have Pop which is a solo effort from the late 1970’s.

With Hot Wacks, Segarini and the Wackers’ Beatles obsession reached an apex. On vinyl, the side two suite is very good with some superb harmonies and tight songcraft. Anyone who enjoyed Shake Some Action or Now era Flamin’ Groovies will love this album. The early 70’s psych pop (distorted vocals) of Find Your Own Way and the catchy, sensitive accoustic rocker Time Will Carry On are definite highlights of this medley. Side 1 has a power pop masterpiece in We Can Be. It’s everything you would hope from an underground band like this, a great epic guitar riff and Segarini’s wonderfully gritty, soulful vocals. Even the John Lennon self-analyzing classic Oh My Love is a killer cover, performed with care and panache.

Anyone interested in power pop or Beatles-influenced bands should pick this album up and delve a little deeper into the career of Bob Segarini. A critical assessment of this lost figure is long overdue.

Oh My Love

From Wikipedia….

The Wackers were an American Elektra Records group formed in 1970 out of another Elektra band Roxy. Singer/songwriter Bob Segarini and multi-instrumentalist Randy Bishop disbanded Roxy and joined with singer-guitarist-keyboardist Michael Stull to form the new group. Bassist Bill ‘Kootch’ Trochim and drummer Spencer Earnshaw completed The Wackers lineup to record the debut album Wackering Heights, produced by Gary Usher.[1] Following the success of the tracks “Travelin’ Time” and “Body Go Round”, the band toured Canada and the US.

The next year (1972), the band moved to Montreal, Canada around the time that they released their sophomore LP Hot Wacks to very good reviews. The album, recorded at Andre Perry Studios, featured “I Hardly Know Her Name” and a cover of John Lennon’s “Oh My Love”. Billboard, April 15, 1972, had this to say about “Hot Wacks”:

The Wackers have been wackering around for a long time with only a modicum of success; this album may well rectify that state of affairs. Their music is penetratingly electrifying, their songs possessing an unusual built-in compulsion. This album contains some lingeringly lovely efforts, (“Oh My Love” and “Do You Know the Reason”) as well as ripplingly up-tempo numbers (“I Hardly Know Her Name” and “Breathe Easy.”)[2]

Comparing them favorably to the Hollies, the Beatles, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Bill Mann, Montreal Gazette, called The Wackers, “one of the tightest singing groups around,” adding, “theirs is a vocal alphabet soup with a little bit of everything thrown in (with the letters spelling “Sho good listening”).” [3]

Most of side two of the album was the six-song “Time Will Carry On” suite which reminded the listener of side two of The Beatle’s “Abbey Road. Mann says,

The next six cuts on Side Two are a fast-moving melody, and The Wackers’ transitions from one melody to another are the best I’ve heard since Sergeant Pepper’s. . . . [the title cut] is distinguished by a tough slashing guitar line that is the most distinctive and interesting thing on the album.”

Many references to the Hot Wacks LP erroneously refer to songs that do not appear on any Wackers LPs including “Windy Days”, “I Got My Friends” and remakes of “New York City” and “Rock and Roll Circus”, which were songs from the Roxy album in 1970. The third album, Shredder, was released in 1973 and featured “Day and Night” (a chart single) (#50 Can.), “Beach Song”, and “Last Dance”.

Despite Michael Stull leaving the group shortly after the move to Montreal, and April Wine drummer Jerry Mercer and guitarist JP Lauzon playing on several of the “Shredder” tracks, Segarini, Trochim, Bishop, and Earnshaw went on to record an unreleased fourth album, “Wack ‘n’ Roll.” Soon after, Earnshaw returned to California and Randy Bishop began a solo career. The Wackers soldiered on for a time with new additions—Leon Holt, Norman Vosko, and Wayne Cullen—and released one single on Polydor Records, “All I Want To Do Is Love You.” Segarini, Trochim, and Cullen would then form The Dudes, with original April Wine members David and Ritchie Henman, and future April Wine guitarist Brian Greenway for one album. Bob Segarini went on to enjoy a critically acclaimed solo career and later ventured into TV and Radio broadcasting.

References[edit]

  1. Jump up^Unterberger, Richie.“Liner Notes for The Wackers’ Wackering Heights”. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  2. Jump up^“Billboard, April 15, 1972”. RetrievedApril 7, 2013.
  3. Jump up^Mann, Bill. “The Wackers Wax Lyrical in Montreal”.The Montreal Gazette. April 15, 1972.

The group has no connection with an identically named group from Liverpool who released a single called I Wonder Why in 1964. – Wikipedia

How the hell could any band live up to that, or ever cut the apron strings that people justifiably believed existed between my writing and the bands I was in? I am STILL perceived as a ‘Pop’ guy, even though I was, am, and always will be, influenced equally by Country, R & B, and Bolivian Throat Yodeling and Yak Calling….

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THE POINT OF ALL THIS

The Cult of Sgt. Pepper

David Crosby was looking for a tape recorder.

Not just any tape recorder, but a professional model that could play tape wound on a 10 inch reel used in recording studios, not the 7in. reels most home tape machines were built to run.

The Family Tree had one. We used it for ‘tape slap’ delay, echo, and reverb for live performances, and to record home demos. He saw that we were in town, and figured we would at least know where to find one. He was very happy to find that we had one, and further, that it was hooked up to our P.A, 4 Fender Showman speaker cabinets, 2 with 2 16 inch speakers each, and 2 with 6 10 inch speakers each, accessed with a little Shure mic mixer and powered by 4 Fender Showman amplifiers daisy-chained together. It was a formidable P.A for the day.

There were a dozen or so people left in the Crystal when David asked if he could play the tape.

“Sure” I said…”let me ask Whitey.” (Davis, the manager/bossman of the Crystal)

I retrieved Whitey.

“What’s on it?” he asked, after being impressed to find David Crosby in his ballroom, shaking his hand.

“It’s a two-track mix of The Beatles new album right off the master. Brought it back from England with me.” David deadpanned. “Want to hear it?”

Holy fuck.

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Everybody who knows me, or is familiar with my music, knows my stance on Sgt. Pepper. As rivetingly mind-blowing as it was listening to it over and over until the sun came up, laying on the ballbearing dance floor at the Crystal, the surface undulating like a waterbed to the dancing of the sweet young hippie chicks lucky enough to have been there when Whitey locked the door and Crosby fired up the tape deck and pressed ‘play’. There were no words. We all knew it was a game changer. And at that moment, when the Beatles were Gods, and music was evolving, and the acid was great, the downright excitement of hearing something no one else would hear for another 24 hours…you can’t imagine.

But 50 years later…?

I came to my conclusion when I wrote Gotta Have Pop in 1975. The second verse stood then and it stands now. The anger the statement created in some Beatle fans was hurled then, and is still tossed snowball-like at me today.

Here for the first time ever, is All the Young Dudes original recording from 1975. We copied it almost to the letter 3 years later, but this version is far better. Maybe it’s the energy, or the rush you get when you first record a song, I don’t know…but this one has a certain something I will always love. Second verse…then I’ll explain.

The Original Version of Gotta Have Pop

(Editor’s Note – If you keep listening, there are a few more tunes that are Beatle related. Two have never been public before, Two are on my albums.)

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An Oddly Over-thought Not Thoroughly Thought Out Think Piece

OR…

Intellectualizing and Analytically Focusing on the Importance and Impact of Puberty, Gender Bias, and  2 Guitars, Bass and Drums on Society and History because your boss told you to “Deliver several hundred words on this 50 year old record being redone or something and have it on my desk by 5…and find a new angle…EVERYBODY is writing about this damn thing.”

Has anyone ever considered this? I for one, had not, and there may be a valid foundation for this, even though there is proof to the contrary. I am speaking of the perspective on The Beatles offered here….

I had to re-read this article several times when I stumbled across it. I can see how it came to be, but it ignores the other side of the Gender coin, and takes an assumption and wields it as fact.

The Salon/LA Times Sgt. Pepper Interview

http://www.salon.com/2017/05/29/against-sgt-pepper-the-beatles-classic-made-pop-seem-male-nerdy-and-important-and-that-wasnt-a-good-thing/

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Segarini – Part Three: A Short Dissertation on the Cult of Sgt. Pepper and Why I am Totally Sick of The Beatles concludes next week

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Your Comments are Welcome. Please scroll down and let us know what you think

Segarini’s regular column appears here whenever he gets high with a little help from his friends

dbawis-button7giphyBob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.

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