Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Emerson Lake And Palmer, Lucky Man. Album: Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1970)

Greg Lake started writing this song when he was just 12 years old. “I was round my friend’s house and he had a broken down old guitar,” Lake explained on his Songs of a Lifetime tour. “In fact, it only had one string on it. Luckily, it was the bottom string. With a matchstick, I picked out this tune.

It made me think, you know, perhaps I could play guitar. So it came to Christmas and I said to my mom, ‘Do you think there’s any chance of me having a guitar for Christmas?’ And she said, ‘No.’ You know, we were pretty poor. So that was it. I just accepted it.

But anyway, Christmas came, and there it was, the guitar. And of course I was thrilled. The first four chords I learned were D, A minor, E minor, and G. With these chords I wrote this little song. It’s a kids’ song, really. And it was a medieval fantasy, really. And I never wrote it on a piece of paper. I just remembered the words.”

Arguably Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s best known song, this almost did not happen. On the last day of recording their first album, ELP did not have enough material to fulfill their contract requirements of 21 minutes per album side. Greg Lake explained: “Everybody looked round the studio, you know, ‘Has anybody got any more material?’ And there was deadly silence. So I said, ‘Well, look, you know, I’ve got this little thing I wrote when I was a kid. And if there’s nothing else, maybe that would do.’ You know.

So Keith said, ‘Well, you play it, then, let’s have a listen.’ So I played it, and nobody liked it. So I said, ‘Yeah, but you know, the thing is we’ve got nothing else.’ Keith said, ‘Well, you record it on your own and I’m going to go down the pub.’ So off he went down the pub.

So Carl Palmer and I, we recorded the first part together, just drums and acoustic guitar. And it sounded pretty dreadful. But then I put a bass on it and it sounded a bit better. And then I went and put some more guitars on it, and an electric guitar solo. Then I put these harmonies on, these block harmonies. And in the end it sounded pretty good, it sounded like a record.”

The guitar chords on the chorus: A minor, E minor, D, then Dsus – just play a regular D chord and add a G played on the first string, according to Greg.

The end of this song contains one of the most famous Moog synthesizer solos in rock history. Keith Emerson had just recently gotten the device, and only decided to play on this song after hearing the track Lake and Palmer came up with and realizing it was a legitimate song. “Keith came back from the pub and he heard it and was shocked,” said Lake. You know, it had gone from this silly little folk song to this quite big production. And so he said, ‘Wow, I suppose I’d better play on that.’ And so I said, ‘The thing is, I’ve already put the guitar solo on.’ He said, ‘Look, I could play something at the end.’ He said, ‘I’ve just had this gadget delivered next door. It’s called a Moog synthesizer. I haven’t tried it before, but maybe there’s a sound on there that would work on this.’ So I said, ‘Okay. Why don’t we give it a try.’

And so Keith went out into the next room. And he said, ‘Run the track, then, for an experiment.’ So I flipped it in record and pressed play. And because he was experimenting, we didn’t really listen. In fact, we put the speakers on dim. The track went through and Keith experimented, and when it got to the end I turned to the engineer, Eddie Offord. I said, ‘Was that me or did that sound good?’ And Eddie said, ‘I think it did sound good.’ And we played it back. And that is the solo that’s on the record.”

This song does not have a happy ending. The “lucky man” has riches and acclaim, but he decides to fight for his country, gets shot, and dies. Greg Lake says that even though he wrote the song when he was very young, the story was always the same. “The lyrics never changed,” he said. “But strangely enough, over time the way that people perceived the song changed. Perhaps it was vaguely something to do with the Vietnam War, that period, just at the end of the Vietnam War. Some people associated it with the John F. Kennedy assassination. It had those sort of overtones. So it was connected in a way to an era when there was a lot of war and drama like that. But the lyrics really got interpreted in a way in which I’d never intended them to be, of course, when I wrote it as a young kid.” (Here’s our full Greg Lake interview.)

By Emerson, Lake & Palmer standards, this is a very simple song; they got far more complex on their next albums. “Most tracks recorded by ELP, we would say that the backing track would have to be a killer instrumental before we added any voice, so the music had to stand up on its own without the lyrics,” Carl Palmer said in his Songfacts interview. “A very simple lyric like ‘Lucky Man’ is fine – you can take that, too. But the lyrics did mature as time went by, and I think Sinfield and Lake did a great job.”

Lake was part of the Mandoki Soulmates, a supergroup assembled by the drummer Leslie Mandoki. Of the many famous songs they played, Leslie says this one was the most challenging to interpret.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series. “pump Up The Volume” Edition where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Talk Hard!

Everybody knows you can’t remake it, but you need to rewatch it now!

It’s a common subject of debate among film geeks: can Movie X be remade and how? Often times the conversation becomes especially heated when, to paraphrase the legendary Dr. Ian Malcolm, we delve into studios focusing so much on whether they could remake our favorite movies that they don’t stop to consider whether they should. When stalwart affinity can be placed aside & emotion is not logical & the discussion of whether a movie could be remade is usually a question of that original film’s cultural shelf life.

Henry Rollins, Bad Brains, Kick Out The Jams (Pump Up The Volume)

The signature song of the MC5, “Kick Out The Jams” was also their rallying cry and credo. The phrase was often taken to mean “overcome obstacles,” but it wasn’t written as a song of perseverance. This song was covered by punk band Bad Brains, featuring Henry Rollins for the soundtrack for the film “Pump Up The Volume.”

Bad Brains are a punk band formed in Washington, D.C., USA in 1977. They are widely regarded as among the pioneers of hardcore punk, though the band’s members have objected to this term to describe their music. They are also an adept reggae band, while later recordings featured elements of other genres like funk, heavy metal, hip-hop and soul. Bad Brains are followers of the Rastafari movement.

Originally formed as a jazz fusion ensemble under the name Mind Power, Bad Brains developed a very fast and intense punk rock sound which came to be labeled “hardcore”, and was often played faster and more emphatically than many of their peers. The unique factor of the band’s music was the fact that they played more complex rhythms than other hardcore punk bands, also adapting diverse guitar styles into their songs.

Bad Brains have released nine studio albums (one of which is entirely composed of instrumental versions of their early material). The band broke up and reformed several times over the years, sometimes with different singers or drummers. Since 1994, the “classic” lineup of singer H.R.(Human Rights), guitarist Dr. Know, bassist Darryl Jenifer, and drummer Earl Hudson has reunited, albeit performing sporadically.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series. “pump Up The Volume” Edition where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

By day, Mark Hunter (Christian Slater) is a quiet, studious student at an ordinary suburban high school in Arizona. But at night, Mark creeps down into his basement, fires up his pirate radio transmitter, and broadcasts to the community as Hard Harry, a sexually obsessed social commentator who passes along angry philosophy about the state of teenage life when not blasting punk rock, underground rock or gangsta rap cuts. Hard Harry’s sworn nemesis is high school principal Mrs. Cresswood (Annie Ross), who keeps SAT scores up at the expense of her students’ dignity and individuality by eliminating “troublemakers” from the student body. Hard Harry’s broadcasts, however, have become a rallying point for the school’s misfit underclass, and Mrs. Cresswood is determined to track down the mystery student and bring him to justice (broadcasting without a license, he’s not merely an annoyance, but a criminal). The war against Hard Harry intensifies when he broadcasts data from confidential school board reports; Mark’s father is a school commissioner, but he has no idea what his son is doing in the basement. Meanwhile, Mark gains the attentions of Nora (Samantha Mathis), who has figured out who he becomes at night. More serious and intelligent than the average teen film, Pump Up the Volume was written and directed by Allan Moyle, who previously dealt with disaffected, music-obsessed teens in Times Square and would return to them with Empire Records

Soundgarden, Heretic

Soundgarden once again shares the soundtrack honors with completely unrelated artists, such as Ivan Neville.

Heretic” is a non-album track that appeared earlier in Soundgarden’s career, actually as early as 1985, on the Deep Six compilation. For that recording, however, Scott Sundquist was the drummer, so it was rerecorded in December 1988 at London Bridge in Seattle with the revised lineup (which at that time included Hiro Yamamoto on bass). It was also given a new mix by Steve Fisk. Presumably, this is the version that appears on the Pump Up The Volume soundtrack

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series. “pump Up The Volume” Edition where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Everyone remembers the first album that made them fall in love with music. One of mine was the soundtrack to Pump Up The Volume, a little film that opened up on August 24, 1990 at #15 in the box office—right behind Problem Child, which was in its fifth week. At the time, I was an average teen listening to MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice and whatever else Top 40 radio suggested. But there was something about that soundtrack’s middle-fingered salute—a perfect companion to the film’s plot of a youth-led uprising—that rescued me from ever hearing Too Legit To Quit and Mind Blowin’.

The film is about Mark Hunter (the cool as fuck Christian Slater), a depressed high schooler in suburban Phoenix, Arizona, who hacks his shortwave radio and launches a pirate radio station. Under the moniker Happy Harry Hard-On, Mark slowly earns a cult following amongst his fellow students, doling out bullshit-free advice, dropping graffiti-worthy catch phrases (“So be it,” “Talk hard”) and challenging his school’s questionable expulsions of at-risk students.

Pump Up The Volume went on to earn a modest $11.5 million in the U.S. and earn critical acclaim, not to mention help Christian Slater capitalize on his bad-assery in Heathers and become the hottest young actor in the universe. But perhaps more than anything, the film’s soundtrack introduced unsuspecting viewers like myself to a whole group of artists that were on the verge of bringing alternative music to the masses. On the album were Sonic Youth, Soundgarden, Pixies, and three fantastic covers: Concrete Blonde covering Leonard Cohen, Cowboy Junkies doing Robert Johnson, and Bad Brains with Henry Rollins offering a disorderly take on the MC5’s “Kick Out The Jams.” Artists that weren’t on the album, but appeared in the film included Leonard Cohen, Descendents, Was (Not Was) and Beastie Boys with an outtake from the Licensed To Ill called “The Scenario,” which to date has never received a commercial release.

Pixies, Wave Of Mutilation. Album: Doolittle (1989)

Lead singer Black Francis (Frank Black) described this song as being about “Japanese businessmen doing murder-suicides with their families because they’d failed in business, and they’re driving off a pier into the ocean.”

In a concert in 2004 Frank Black stated half-jokingly, “This song is from about 30 years ago and while I didn’t invent it, I was the first guy to sing about El Niño before it became all popular and everything. I just wanted to take credit for that.”

Pixes drummer David Lovering describes this as a very “un-Pixies-like” song, calling it “gentle and dreamy.” He told MusicRadar: “It’s an easy song to play, but it’s very effective in the way it grabs people. It’s got a very odd, arresting spirit. There’s nothing else that sounds quite like it.”

This song was featured in the film, “Pump Up The Volume.”

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

By the time Eric Clapton formed Cream in 1966 with Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce, he had already logged high-profile gigs with the Yardbirds and British bluesman John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. But his new power trio was bigger, louder and way more popular than either earlier gig. He scored his first No. 1 and first platinum-selling LPs with Cream. Though they released only four albums during their short two-year existence, those records serve as solid cornerstones to blues- and psychedelic-inspired rock of the ’60s.

In their short lifespan, Cream were one of the top album bands on the British, and indeed the world, rock scene. But they also amassed quite a sequence of hit singles, and in the chart week of 14 January 1968, they debuted on the US bestsellers with one of their signature songs, ‘Sunshine Of Your Love.’

‘Sunshine of Your Love’

Before “Sunshine of Your Love,” Cream were basically an album act. The handful of singles they released failed to even dent the charts in the U.S. And then “Sunshine of Your Love” hit in late 1967, and everything changed. The song raced into the Top 10, reaching No. 5 and becoming the band’s biggest hit. But more than that, it anchors Disraeli Gears, one of 1967’s milestone albums.

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The young art director’s idea to photograph as many of the luminaries of the New York jazz scene as possible together for Esquire’s 1959 Golden Age of Jazz edition began his career as a photographer. Police closed the road to all but residential traffic, and 57 musicians duly assembled in Harlem between Fifth and Madison Avenues. The group included Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Thelonius Monk, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan and Count Basie.

A Great Day In Harlem

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Jefferson Airplane: Somebody To Love, Album: Surrealistic Pillow (1967)

This was written by Grace Slick’s brother-in-law, Darby Slick, in 1965. They were in a San Francisco band called The Great Society, which also included Jerry Slick, who was Grace’s husband and Darby’s brother (Jerry played drums; Darby played guitar). The Great Society released the song as a single in late 1965 with another Darby Slick composition, “Free Advice,” on the B-side.

The single went nowhere, and when Darby started exploring Indian music in 1966, the group broke up and Grace joined Jefferson Airplane, which was already established. When she arrived at her new group, she came bearing hits: they recorded a new version of “Somebody To Love” and also did “White Rabbit,” which she wrote as a member of The Great Society.

With royalties he earned from writing “Somebody To Love,” Darby Slick spent years learning Indian music.

San Francisco in the mid-’60s was the epicenter of free love, but Darby Slick saw a downside to this ethos, as it could lead to jealousy and disconnect. This song champions loyalty and monogamy, as the singer implores us to find that one true love that will nurture us and get us through the tough times.

Jefferson Airplane’s first hit song, “Somebody To Love” was also one of the first big hits to come out of the US West Coast counterculture scene. Over the next few years, musicians flocked to the San Francisco Bay area to be part of this scene.

The original version of this song that Grace Slick sang with The Great Society is more subdued. With Jefferson Airplane she sounds far more accusatory and menacing when she belts out lines like “Your mind is so full of red” and “Your friends, baby, they treat you like a guest.”

Jefferson Airplane performed this at Woodstock in 1969. One of the most popular bands on the bill, they got the headlining slot on Day 2, but ended up taking the stage at 8 a.m. the following morning, going on after The Who.

Psychedelic Lunch