Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Favorite Love Songs

OK. This blog has been inactive for almost a year. I gave you the easy stories. Maybe it's time to kick up some of the difficult stories. And as this goes back 20 years, I feel it's time it is told. (Some of these stories I gotta hold back for the book!)

Coming off my debut Love You album, I was in flux. Not unusual. I was plucked out of my DeKalb home to make an album when my heroes TMBG pushed me to send a demo tape to the label they were in the process of leaving. That in itself is a number of blog posts which I may or may not get to.

Love You did a respectable debut. I was told at the time we sold 10,000 copies. A respectable number, yet not enough to recoup expenses. Shocking. The band that I used on the album were great musicians and really good guys, but stuff gets in the way. By the time the album was finally released, I had a new Chains. As far as a rhythm section goes, the finest Chains ever. We did a brief two week tour, which I had to book. One ulcer later, I managed to make it break even. (Again, saving details for the book.) I disbanded this band for reasons that, in hindsight, are absurd. But I was a kid with all kinds of pressure and all kinds of idiot. Happy to say that B&G are still friends and we had a reunion in 2001.

At this point I was approached by a source with conflicts of interest piled upon conflicts of interest about a publishing deal. The interested parties wanted to throw money at me to re-promote the year old album. I refused. I wanted to make a new album and promote that. They said no. I responded in kind. They backed down. They said they would use $10,000 of the publishing deal to record a new album. I was only getting 10% of the deal as an advance, so I really had no financial skin in the game. They met my demand.

I had an interim band I was working with from the band Earth Pig. Artie Reinitz on guitar and Davy Hoskins on drums. I played bass. We did one show at Maxwell's and recorded demos for the album. I love those guys and they were a ton of fun, but the label wanted me to get another band. So I got the rhythm section from Das Damen and went into rehearsals. They also wanted a professional producer and a high end recording studio. On the production end, they procured TMBG's sound man, Paul Angelli, who brought in his friend and partner, Pat Dillett. Two nicer guys and excellent producers you will never find. And I'm both proud and sad to say that they did the whole project for points on the back end.

They also wanted me to do the album at Hobroken's 24 track Water Music, as opposed to DubWay, where the bulk of the first album was recorded. I loved everyone at Water, but I didn't think this project warranted the step up in recording fees. Barn One insisted. So I went along. Long/short, I don't regret it, but we ran out of money before we could finish the album the way we wanted. The last day of the sessions, we crammed as many background vocals as we could and we never did finish guitars on a couple songs. Having said that, I'm really proud of the finished product. It's a far more coherent album than Love You. It was written as an album, as opposed to a collection of songs. (Having said that, there are two covers on the album. Influences that I proudly wear on my sleeve. Cheap Trick's I Can't Take It and The Raspberries - I Don't Know What I Want.)

When the finished product was turned into the label, I was called in to talk about it. I was told that they had a great idea. How did I feel about bringing in a lead singer and I would be the mastermind! Like Rick Nielsen!

Uh ...

The label had been aware of the entire album's progression. They came to the studio and they received working tapes. After the entire project was done, they wanted to call do over? That was the last conversation I had with them about Favorite Love Songs. They had a finished project. Which they choose not to release. Which was a relief. I did not care to work with them either.

So what I am offering you is both the Favorite Love Songs album and another album's worth of demos and recordings post Barn One. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. I've been listening to it while I've been writing this post and I couldn't be prouder. I think it's a far better collection than Love You. I look forward to your comments.

Sorry, folks. You snooze, you lose. But please to enjoy some YouTube videos.


  1. Well, I wrote a really long response comparing "I'm Gonna Love You 'Til I Don't" and "Favorite Love Songs" but the whole thing got lost thanks to my failing to sign in to my Google account first.
    I will tell you I still have a soft spot in my head/heart for "Love You". I think most of the songs are very good, which is why I still have and treasure my cassette of it to this day.
    Unfortunately the sound can't compare to the sound of this album, since it's a cassette and I can only play it on my old boom box or in my pick up. But I agree that the songs here are more consistently well written and performed. (And probably recorded and produced at a higher level too.)
    They also just hang together better as an album. The sequence of songs flows better, and seems more of a set than a mixed bag of tunes. You didn't say what the last song of the album "proper" is, but I tend to think its either track 10 (the Cheap Trick cover) or track 12 (Burn Down The Barn- which is a really great song). If that's the case, tracks 11 & 12 seem like encores, since Fire Needs Oxygen seems to break with the flow that lead up to I Don't Know What I Want.
    I Enjoy Being A Boy, though a good song, has such a "paisley" atmosphere to it that it's hard for me to imagine it as part of the album. Being a little swirly myself as a child of the 60s I dig it quite a bit though.
    All the songs are strong. Good melodies, arrangements, and solid, performances. The covers are also very well done. I happen to love covers- when I was growing up, it was expected that an album would have covers and comparing them to the originals and other covers of the same tune was very instructive to me. (I also was quite surprised and pleased with your cover of Laugh At Me- very good- Sony would be pleased, I think)
    It's a damn shame this album was never released. I think it would have confirmed and established you as a singer/songwriter worthy of note at the time. The idea that Rick Nielson should have done the vocals seems ridiculous to me. (And this is my short version of the comment?)

  2. Welcome back!

    I stumbled across this page a few months ago and was excited to see a new post tonight.

    I was at that fraternity show in Hoboken that you played many years ago. I bought a copy of "I'm Gonna Love You 'Til I Don't" but other than what has been posted here that is all I'm familiar with.

    Looking forward to listening to this one in the car tomorrow...thanks for sharing!

  3. I wasn't snoozing, I just didn't know that this site existed and had the album available. :-( Was just spinning my vinyl of Love You…