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Author Topic: Lead Vocals on 1970's The Flame  (Read 1721 times)
Wata
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« Reply #25 on: August 25, 2019, 12:53:04 AM »

I wonder if any of the Chaplin-Fattar songs recorded for The Beach Boys (Hold On Dear Brother, Here She Comes, Leaving This Town, Hard Time) has anything in common with the tracks on 2nd Brother album.
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Stephen W. Desper
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« Reply #26 on: August 25, 2019, 10:56:26 AM »


Wouldn't Ricky Fataar have been at the sessions and still able to comment today?   

COMMENT to marcella27:  Of course, you're right.  I don't do social media, so don't usually consider it, but I guess Blondie, Rickie and Steve Fataar would all have a Facebook presence. Don't know if they answer questions or not -- but I do, here.  ~swd
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Stephen W. Desper
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« Reply #27 on: August 25, 2019, 12:11:53 PM »

Well, sure: I'll throw a couple things out there.  I am curious to know your opinion of Carl's abilities on guitar.  I read a lot about how his ability was stifled by the group's image and having to play the hits in concert.  In the studio would he ever just wail on the guitar and try different things outside the group's image?  And in regards the to Flame album, would you say that the band had a clear idea of how they wanted the record to sound and Carl as producer just facilitated, or did he have more of an active creative push that guided the sound?

COMMENT to pickupthosesticks:  When you say "just wail on the guitar" I think more of other guitarists I've worked with like Hendrix and Zappa. Both of them could wail on the guitar for extended periods, so that's what I would call wailling. To answer your question, Carl was not a Guitarist with a group, rather a guitarist in a group. And as you observed, most of his playing was framed by the composition's structure and did not make room for extended vamps.

If you ever listen to the music of the Baroque period (Bach, Vivaldi, Scarlotta, Teleman) at points in the music the orchestra seems to kinda come to a rest or the orchestra just plays a couple of notes, then moves on. In classical music this is called an ostinato, in hip hop and electronic music it is the loop and in rock music it's the riff, and in jazz or free-form rock the term is vamp. When modern performances of Baroque music come to the ostinato, they do not improvise, but just play the holding notes and move on with what is written. But in the 17th century, Bach may have written structured notes for the orchestra (where he was playing the harpsichord) but when the written music came to the ostinato, Bach would "wail" on the harpsichord (at least in a 17th-century style). Today it's just skipped over as no one would presume to improvise on Bach. So the vamp is nothing new. Zappa's music is full of vamps. His band played structured music, but at a vamp point, he would usually treat everyone to three to five minutes of guitar improvisation. Or he may point to someone else to "wail" on the keyboard or vibs, or trumpet. Typical jazz format. Same with Hendrix. But Brian's music is not so loosely structured, even in concert. I've seen Ed Carter play vamps once in a while, but Carl stuck to the general architecture that Brian had intended.

I have heard Carl improvise in the studio, but not go on and on and on. Usually, he would be looking for the run of notes he wanted to play, but that run was only a few bars long. Not that he couldn't, but that it just wasn't his thing.

To answer your second question, again the word structured comes to mind. It is not a structured environment, it's more fluid and free-form. Unless you are a hired "side-man" or musician for hire, the interaction is much looser than you may think. Even with hired side-men, the musical ideas flow freely. Just listen to some of Brian's sessions on those box-sets. Some ideas come from Brian, and some from the hired players. So, although Carl was the producer, he was not a director. His guidance was directed toward bringing out the talent invested within the group, and not to layer his own talent within the group. First of all, The Flame was its own entity. They had been a band for many years. Developed their own style and egos -- and that was the point. It's not Carl and The Flame.

Although new to the Hollywood rock scene, the group had been playing together for some time before Carl came around. They had recorded albums before and performed in South African and London clubs. They had an established following. They came with many, many original compositions. And they had their own ideas of how their songs would unfold from top to bottom. They were unique. That was why they were given a recording deal. But like everyone, they had to start their big-time recording sessions somewhere, and so needed a guide, more like a den-mother. Maybe two members of the group would have different ways they thought a section should go, this way or that way. So, it may be that Carl decided between two ideas, but it would be their idea, not his. He did not come up with a third idea that circumvented their ideas. His decision would be made so that the integrity of the group was maintained, not subjugated with his own version
. ~swd
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Stephen W. Desper
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« Reply #28 on: August 25, 2019, 01:42:36 PM »

Quote
Here's a non-musical question for Mr. Desper.   In pictures and film footage from that era, I've noticed that Carl and Ricky often seem to be hanging out together.  Were they particularly friendly?  I always imagined that they would have gotten along well, both of them seeming to have personalities that didn't demand being the constant center of attention, but a quiet, dry sense of humour. 
COMMENT to marcella27:
Contrary to the popular notion, it was Alan Jardine who discovered The Flame while making the rounds of underground London pop clubs. He heard them one night and was impressed enough to think they might be a good act to sign onto their newly formed record company, Brother Records. He encouraged Carl to check them out, and so Carl went the following evening and that was the start.

A month or so after returning from that European tour, word was that Brother Records had signed a rock group from South Africa, and Carl was going to produce an album of their songs with them performing. So picture this scene . . .    Brother Records arranged for the group to fly over to the states and record. Everyone had visas and "green cards." But that was about all they had. They were all from poor backgrounds, were just over being teenagers, but their music was outstanding. BRI rented them a large house on a hill overlooking Sunset Blvd, in the heart of Hollywood, California and a car. I think it was Steve that had a license. They were in the thick of the action. Culture shock for certain. Soon they came to the studio with Carl, who introduced everyone -- we all hit it off. It was great! Each one of those guys was my favorite. We had the best times together, and not just in the studio. It was one continuous party. Lots of laughing and kidding around. I was the serious engineer, but they brought the lighter side out of me and made my life so much more enjoyable. Along with Parks or Korthof, I would take them places, go eat out, shopping, stuff like that. I was seeing Hollywood through the eyes (wide open) of youthful newcomers. Everyone would get high together Cool Guy and that only make it more  LOL . Oh, things could get serious in the studio when the record button was pressed, but it was a blast!

I remember taking them to Studio Instrument Rental, a department store size of a rental company that rented all manner of musical instruments to both recording studios, motion picture studios and groups on tour. In the drum area, Ricky found many African drums he had only heard about, and around every corner, they were in heaven.  I recall another time I was driving, we were all in the car, and they were passing a joint around. Evidently, some cop saw this. Soon I saw flashing red lights in the mirror. Quick, I said, roll down the windows and hide the joint, don't throw it out. At the time Steve Fataar looked like this,  Afro, so he doused the joint and stuck it deep in his hair. We got pulled over, but the car seemed fresh enough and no evidence was found as the cop looked into the car. No longer had he motorcycled away, I saw much commotion in the rear seat. It seems the joint had re-ignited and Blondie or Brother was frantically trying to remove it from Steve's hair. You could smell that unmistakable odor of burning human hair. Someone found some leftover coffee in a cup and doused his head with old coffee. We all laughed and laughed on the way back to the studio.

Carl spent a lot of this time over at their house. They would present various songs for his review, finally deciding on what would be recorded. They had their ideas, but Carl would lend a practical word with an eye to the commercial aspect. (As I've said many times, this is the music BUSINESS.) At the beginning, the group would stay together wherever they were. But as time marched along, confidence in this new life encouraged each to do more of his own thing and become more independent of the group. Yes, Carl and Rickie were the laid back types, and so liked to be together more often. It was less of a challenge for each of them. Carl was not that comfortable in the spotlight, but rather liked being in the shadow of the spotlight. And Rickie was not on the front-line, he was behind his drums. However he was developing his writing skills, which Carl could give advice about. That was their common bond. After the first album was in the can, Rickie started drumming on other studio dates and developed a reputation around town. Blondie was noticed too. Steve was homesick and Brother started having health issues. So after the second album, the group fell apart and Blondie and Ricky came into their own carriers. Steve and Brother returned to their home and families. And you know the rest.
~swd
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Stephen W. Desper
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« Reply #29 on: August 25, 2019, 01:44:38 PM »

I wonder if any of the Chaplin-Fattar songs recorded for The Beach Boys (Hold On Dear Brother, Here She Comes, Leaving This Town, Hard Time) has anything in common with the tracks on 2nd Brother album.

COMMENT to Wata:  I'm sorry, I do not know.
~swd
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CenturyDeprived
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« Reply #30 on: August 25, 2019, 02:08:43 PM »

These are such fascinating recollections. Thank you Stephen.

I feel like there's a great documentary or scripted movie here. What a fascinating story those guys lived through, being taken under the wing of this band.

With the international South African part of the story, I can't really think of any parallel story in American pop music. Very unique.
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Pretty Funky
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« Reply #31 on: August 25, 2019, 04:18:32 PM »

I do hope all these stories are being archived somehow. It has been known for whole websites to be lost every so often, even here from memory. It would be a shame for SWDs tales to disappear one day. Thanks Stephen for posting about this little known period as you have been.
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Don Malcolm
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« Reply #32 on: August 25, 2019, 04:25:13 PM »

Thanks, Stephen--here's hoping that the frustrating logjam that has impeded the Flame's material from re-emerging on CD can somehow be overcome...

And let me echo CD's words of gratitude for those vibrant memories you shared. One can feel the years melting away, particularly WRT the anecdotes about hanging out in Hollywood with them. The story about the troublesome joint is hysterically funny!

I know that this question touches into an area that was likely outside your purview at the time--but was there a reason why Reprise was unwilling to handle admin and distribution for the non-BB Brother projects? It always seemed rather odd that it was handled in that way.
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pickupthosesticks
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« Reply #33 on: August 25, 2019, 05:01:40 PM »

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer the questions, Mr. Desper.  One of the fortunate by-products of the internet is that it allows for communication such as this.  When I asked about Carl 'wailing' on guitar, I guess I meant did he ever mess around with stuff outside the BB structure that would surprise us fans if we could hear it.  Carl's evolution on guitar has always greatly interested me.   I have read several quotes by people hinting that he wanted to be more of an improvisational guitarist, so I wondered if he did this in the studio when it wouldn't affect the GROUP's sound or expectations.

Anyhow, you answered my questions.  Thanks again!
« Last Edit: August 25, 2019, 05:43:00 PM by pickupthosesticks » Logged
Stephen W. Desper
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« Reply #34 on: August 25, 2019, 05:25:36 PM »

Thanks, Stephen--here's hoping that the frustrating logjam that has impeded the Flame's material from re-emerging on CD can somehow be overcome...

And let me echo CD's words of gratitude for those vibrant memories you shared. One can feel the years melting away, particularly WRT the anecdotes about hanging out in Hollywood with them. The story about the troublesome joint is hysterically funny!

I know that this question touches into an area that was likely outside your purview at the time--but was there a reason why Reprise was unwilling to handle admin and distribution for the non-BB Brother projects? It always seemed rather odd that it was handled in that way.

COMMENT to Don Malcolm and everyone:

Thanks to you all for your nice words.

To your question,  I'm not certain this is correct, but it was my understanding that StarDay King was the distributor. That's how the label reads. Actually, it reads: Brother Records, Distributed by StarDay King Records, Nashville Tenn. I know Brother Records and Reprise also had a deal, but I think this extends to Beach Boy material. The Brother Records issue of The Flame did not involve Reprise. Problem was, StarDay King was underfunded and did not promote the record as promised.  Perhaps BRI went to Reprise for help, but I do not know. However, it does not strike me as odd being handled this way. Not all record labels are in the distribution chain. The ones that are will sometimes make deals with smaller labels for distribution only. It's a secondary income for them. Perhaps they wanted too much of a cut -- who knows? other than Nick Grillo.

Had the LP had a full-color cover, better promotion, and a good advertising company behind it -- and given the musical content -- it should have done much better. IMO
~swd
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Stephen W. Desper
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« Reply #35 on: August 25, 2019, 05:49:33 PM »

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer the questions, Mr. Desper.  One of the fortunate by-products of the internet is that it allows for communication such as this.  When I asked about Carl 'wailing' on guitar, I guess I meant did he ever mess around with stuff outside the BB structure that would surprise us fans if we could hear it.  Carl's evolution on guitar has always greatly interested by. I have read several quotes by people hinting that he wanted to be more of an improvisational guitarist, so I wondered if he did this in the studio when it wouldn't affect the GROUP's sound or expectations.

Anyhow, you answered my questions.  Thanks again!
COMMENT to Pickupthosesticks:  Now that I understand your question the answer is yes.  Carl would improvise all around melodies from BB songs. He was really a frustrated jazz guitarist, bounded by his success in a surfing band.  Whenever a group or even two musicians get together, all they wish to do is jam. In the studio before and after the take, they will play something completely unrelated to the music at hand. Once in a while, the music that comes out of the impromptu jam is better than the stuff they were paid to record. And Carl was no exception to this behavior. This is true on the road as well -- the instrument must speak!  and the player must join in!

Anyone who's been around Carl will tell you he didn't just sit there waiting on his part to come along. Well if that was his role, he would. But Carl was innovative and creative. He loved to play and was very good at playing. Carl had, long ago, mastered the guitar. Once the technical part of playing comes without thinking and the instrument becomes an extension of your creative being, baby there are no limits.
~swd   
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Wata
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« Reply #36 on: August 25, 2019, 06:58:17 PM »

I wonder if any of the Chaplin-Fattar songs recorded for The Beach Boys (Hold On Dear Brother, Here She Comes, Leaving This Town, Hard Time) has anything in common with the tracks on 2nd Brother album.

COMMENT to Wata:  I'm sorry, I do not know.
~swd
Sure. Thanks for answering my question, Mr. Desper!
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marcella27
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« Reply #37 on: August 25, 2019, 07:40:43 PM »

Thanks Mr. Desper, not only for answering my question, but for sharing these fantastic stories.  I just loved reading about the band coming to the US for the first time, imagining what that must have been like and hearing about the hijinx that took place.  I know others have said it before, but thank you again for sharing all this history! 
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