Friday, September 07, 2007

They Only Come Out at Night - Here's why

Playing right now: "Little Melonae" from the Miles Davis/John Coltrane box....

The following post was started almost a month ago, before the Max Roach post. I fell asleep while writing it, saved it as a draft and didn't get back to it till now....

Playing right now: Cecil Taylor - Indent (solo LP for Arista Freedom)
I've been getting back into Cecil a little bit lately. I got this record from that guy w/the massive LP collection, plus there's a '70s live album and the duets w/Max Roach that I all just bought recently.


A few weeks ago at work, they were playing the cool AM hits of the '70s satellite station and all of a sudden "Hangin' Around" by the Edgar Winter Group came on. That was surprising because, as good as that song is, I figured it was too deep a cut, following in the footsteps of "Frankenstein" and "Free Ride." ("Frankenstein" was played a few hours later, and two more times over the next couple days.)

That night I had to pull out They Only Come Out At Night, the EWG album that includes all over those songs. And it made me wonder why that album isn't held in higher regard. What a band -- for starters, you have Edgar, but his cowriting and singing partner was none other than Dan "Several years before 'I Can Dream about You'" Hartman. On top of that, guitar duties were handled by none other than Ronnie Montrose, who sounds like a killer axeman who never got much credit (aside from this album) except for being the guy who had Sammy Hagar is his band before Sammy went solo and later hit it big in Van Hagar. Just goes to show you how your career will tank when you call your album Jump On It and you put a picture of a woman's crotch on the cover.

But I digress....

Chuck Ruff was the drummer on They Only Come out and while he never went on to fame and fortune (as far as I know) he did have the long hair and dreamy eyes that could make a '70s girl swoon. With Rick Derringer producing, this album can't miss! And it really doesn't. Even Dan's sappy songs are pretty good. In "Autumn" the way they all chime in with the bridge does give it some degree of pathos: "Well I lost my looooover/ and my summer too." Kinda like when the Turtles sing a dumb lyric and those harmonies make it sound like poetry. You can hear the roots of "I Can Dream About You" if you listen hard, but the big really kicks it up.

Music geek tidbit: The mix of "Free Ride" on the album is different than the single. The latter has more wah-wah and a better guitar solo. I think the percussive, whacka-whackas have inspired some of my lead bass playing moments over the years.

So you need to own They Only Come Out At Night. It's great. Edgar's been trying to recapture that ever since and he's still trying. My friend Mike said he saw him at a Rib Cookout or some such event and it was really awful.

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