Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Wallace Berman Photographs Liner Notes & CD for July 27 at Book Soup


Wallace Berman


1) Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 / i. Ária (Cantilena) –Villa-Lobos/ Victoria de Los Angeles
This is a piece that I remember being played on a consistent basis in our household. It was one of my Dad’s favorite recordings. As for me, I thought it was cool at a young age that there was someone named after a city: Los Angeles.


2) Who’ll Be the Next in Line (Mono) – The Kinks
In my Dad’s studio in Beverly Glenn he would have a small portable record player. He could set up a record to be played over and over again. This particular song by the Kinks, he would play maybe 30 times in a row. Around the 23rd playing of the record this song becomes sort of a trance recording. It was quite hypnotic.


3) Rebel Rebel – David Bowie
My Father had a great admiration for David Bowie. For instance he took me and my Mom to see Bowie at the Santa Monica Civic. It was the first show he did as Ziggy Stardust. When Diamond Dogs came out, my Dad scored some tickets from Toni Basil, a dear and great friend of the family. She choreographed Bowie’s ‘Diamond Dog’ show. It was a fantastic event – Bowie at his most Bowiest. Also we sat next to Steve Allan and his wife the actress Jayne Meadows. Her sister Audrey Meadows is also an actress and is well known for her role in “The Honeymooners.”


4) A Night In Tunisia – Dexter Gordon
It’s no secret that my father was a jazz fiend. Dexter Gordon’s “Our Man In Paris” was a major soundtrack that was played in the afternoons at our household. Why I have a strong memory of this recording being played during the daylight is beyond me. It has that 2:14 P.M. sound, and I just remember my Dad reading the newspaper to this record. Strange image, right?


5) And I Love Her – The Beatles
Nearly impossible not to be affected by The Beatles here in the U.S. say around 1964. My Dad took me to see The Beatles’ film “Hard Day’s Night” at the Bruin Theater in Westwood. The theater was packed with female teenagers and all of them were screaming their heads off. It was the first time I have ever been in an environment where the crowd went crazy. And they were watching a film! I can’t even imagine having the Beatles live in front of me. It is sort of ironic that my father became part of the Sgt. Pepper album cover, but that’s another story.


6) Bongo Beep – Charlie Parker
The Mozart of Bop. Without a doubt Charlie Parker was a major figure in my Father’s life. I think for Wallace’s generation, there was jazz, and Parker was a door to another planet. A gateway to another galaxy. Also Wallace did his first (and last) album cover for a Charlie Parker recording. The Parker cut was part of an anthology of Dial recordings. And if not mistaken it was the first time Parker appeared on disk. So yeah it was Parker’s first as well as the first professional ‘art job’ for my father as well.


7) You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ –The Righteous Brothers
A Phil Spector masterpiece. My father made a portrait of Spector called “You Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’. One day Spector, his wife Ronnie, and their driver/bodyguard showed up at my father’s studio. Spector heard about the artwork and he came by to buy it. My father liked Spector a lot – but he was nuts over the Righteous Brothers recording. Like The Kinks record above, this was played over and over again in the studio.



8)Tell Me – The Rolling Stones

My Dad was a close friend of Brian Jones of the Stones. They would hang out all night in the living room listening to records and drinking wine. When I woke up in the morning I can tell Brian was there by all the records that were laid out on the floor. I remembered he liked Glenn Gould recordings. Also a lot of jazz and blues as well. “England’s Newest Hit Makers The Rolling Stones” was the record that was played a lot in Beverly Glenn. We lost that record with all the other records, furniture, artwork, and personal belongings when the house was smashed into bits by a mudslide.


9) BB Cha-Cha – Brigitte Bardot/soundtrack to “And God Created Woman”

Up to his death one could always see a photograph of Brigitte Bardot on his studio wall. When I was 4 years old he took me to the neighborhood movie theater in Larkspur to see Bardot in Roger Vadim’s “And God Created Woman.” The management refused to let me into the theater because they felt it was only for adults. My father refused to leave the line till they let us in. Finally the manager sold us the tickets and I have to say seeing Bardot on a large screen really affected me deeply. So much that I published one of her ex-boyfriend’s books. Serge Gainsbourg’s “Evguénie Sokolov.”


10) River Deep, Mountain High – Ike and Tina Turner

In the summer of love 1967, my family stayed at Robert Fraser’s flat in Mayfair London. It was the first time I have ever been outside of California and I was just overwhelmed to be in a city that in my heart I thought the Beatles owned. Now I know that is not true. Rolling Stones were co-owners as well as the art dealer Robert Fraser. Sadly Fraser was in prison for a drug offence (he got arrested in the famous Stones bust) but he arranged for us to stay in his flat. What impressed me the most was his record collection. It was there that I first heard The Jimi Hendrix Experience, an actual Who album, Manfred Mann, and Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High.” A major Phil Spector production that was only a hit in the U.K. Ironically enough Tina’s voice was the soundtrack for that trip to London. We played that album all the time. Also Robert had the nasty habit of not putting his vinyl in the right record jacket. It took me a week to find the actual Jimi Hendrix album where it was placed in some classical record cover of some sort.


11) Salt Peanuts - Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker

When I hear this recording I think of my Dad. It has that absurd DADA like title and it is such a great tune. The Diz and The Bird. It doesn’t get any better then that.

I have a deep regret that I didn’t know my father when he was a zoot-suitor at Central Avenue Los Angeles. His love for black culture and the basic “Hipster” quality was something that stayed through out his life.


12) Little Red Book – Love

This to me was the sound of Los Angeles 1966. My parents went to all of the nightclubs on the Sunset Strip at that time. Love was basically the kings of Los Angeles rock. They eventually lost out to the Doors – but to those in the know, Love was THE Los Angeles band. And on record they didn’t disappoint and their first album was glued to the turntable at our house.




13) The Chase - Wardell Gray

Not in Semina Culture with his actual music, but nevertheless a spiritual member if anything else. Wardell Gray is a member of my father’s uber-cool aesthetic than anything else. When you listen to his small combo recordings one comes upon a question ‘did he ever do anything bad?’ The answer has to be no. On top of that he was supposed to be a huge Shakespeare and Sartre fan and very much anti-heroin which at the time was running rampant in the jazz world. Nevertheless he was found dead outside of Las Vegas apparently thrown out of a car in the fuckin’ desert. Not a worthy death for someone who had such an important presence to my Dad and his circle. And of course is music is dreamy beyond belief.


14) The Bogus Man – Roxy Music

I can not count the times I have seen my father lying on the floor in our living room with Koch headphones on listening to this track. He loved it. And he would only listen to “The Bogus Man” with headphones on. This is Bryan Ferry’s favorite album (“For Your Pleasure”) of his, and I have to add that my Dad loved this album. But “Bogus Man” was really special to him.


15) Baby Lemonade – Syd Barrett

My Dad was hip to the Syd Barrett story but never heard him till I purchased the double album package with his first two solo albums. He sat down with the headphones (again) and heard both records straight through. After 80 minutes or so he took the headphones off and said ‘pretty good.” High compliant from Wallace.


16) I’m a Fool To Want You – Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday was not someone you would want to tread on. As a Jazzier both my Mother and my father had a great admiration for this woman. Ms. Holiday like the great Edith Piaf expressed a world that most would never set foot in – yet they did so with great poetry, style, and great artistry. Basically anyone who dislikes Billie Holiday has no right to breathe on the planet Earth. And on top of that my Dad knew her via the club scene of the 40’s in Los Angeles.



17) Trash – New York Dolls

Strange choice? No! My Dad took me to a New York Dolls show at the Hollywood Pladium. I have a photo of us together there. I am wearing a tie and a v-neck sweater and he’s wearing a sweater as well. It may have been the last time I went to a concert with my father.

18) Lush Head Woman – Jimmy Witherspoon and Wallace Berman

An uber-rare recording! A b-side of a 78 disk. My father wrote the lyrics to this song. The Spoon and my Dad were great friends. Wallace probably wrote this when he was a teenager. Even then he knew the adventures of a drunken woman!
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