Monday, December 21, 2009

Andrew Loog Oldham

"What's is going to be then, eh?" ALO and KR contemplate a bit of the old ultra-violence.
Andrew in the studio with protege Vashti, from Let's All Make Love In London Tonight (dig that board!) Andrew Oldham talking about hepatitis C Mick and Keith talk about Andrew
"(This is THE STONES new disc within. Cast deep in your pockets for the loot to buy this disc of groovies and fancy words. If you don't have the bread, see that blind man knock him on the head, steal his wallet and low and behold you have the loot, if you put in the boot, good, another one sold!)"-- Andrew Loog Oldham, liner notes for The Rolling Stones No. 2 (Decca, U.K., 1964).
I'm glad Andrew Loog Oldham has never been sentenced to that retarded institution of senility, the so called Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. I guess it's nice that they finally decided to ordain the Stooges. For this, along with a $2 Metro Card will allow any of the Stooges to ride the subway in New York City from the Bronx Zoo to Coney Island, one way. They can sit along side such rock and roll greats as Art Garfunkel, James Taylor and (also inducted this year) David Geffen. I have long expressed my hatred for that ill conceived and corrupt institution. If it truly represented rock'n'roll Andrew Loog Oldham (and the Stooges, not to mention never will get ins like Link Wray, Art Rupe, MC5, Wild Jimmy Spruill, Mickey Baker, Jack Nietzsche, and the Bihari Brothers) would have been in there by the second year. But they will never induct Andrew Loog Oldham, even though his achievements have been far greater than those of Abba (whom he once co-authored a bio of, he must have needed the cash that day), Metallica, and Tito Jackson, for he was never one for respectability, and he may have beat the shit out someone on the nominating committee at some point past. It's not likely he gets invited to Jann Wenner's place in the Hamptons. But isn't this is just another reason to love him?
Well, let's not mention that hollow institution again, let us take this time to honor Mr. Oldham, who truly deserves great honors and more, for without his life, ours would have been much duller. For Andrew Oldham was every bit as important to what would become the "Greatest Rock'n'Roll Band In The World-- The Rolling Stones", transformed from a much better than average R&B cover band known as The Rollin' Stones, as Mick, Keith or Brian, and probably more important than Bill Wyman. And better looking. If you don't believe me, just ask him. Or better yet, read his two-volume autobiography-- Stoned: A Memoir Of London In The 1960's (St Martin's Press, 2000) and 2Stoned (St. Martin's Press, 2002). These book(s) shine a 1000 watt light bulb on the man who was perhaps the only really mysterious figure in the orbit of the Rolling Stones (unless you count that strange looking Count and alchemist offspring of Balthus, a one time member of Vince Taylor's Playboys, whose is one of Keith's best friends, and Brian's former roomate, who has always fascinated me-- Stanislas Klossowski). My old pal David Dalton was originally brought on board to help Oldham write the book(s) but soon left the project (he would go on to help Marianne Faithful with her autobiography, which is excellent), and whenever I ask him about Oldham a look comes over his face that is commonly referred to as the "thousand yard stare", then he changes the subject. Andrew Loog Oldham is not a name that brings a lukewarm response, people either love him or loathe him, the sure sign that he's done something right. I never want to meet him.
What's left to be said about the Rolling Stones? Andrew's take on their personalities, at least in print, is what you might've guessed-- Keith and Charlie are basically likable, what you see is what you get types, Brian was an ogre, Bill somewhat dislikable but harmless, and deep, down, inside, Mick is quite shallow. Of course Ian Stewart hated Andrew's guts, and could you blame him? What more do you need to know, or rather, have reinforced? Let's face it, the life of a musician is mostly pretty boring to read about. They spend their lives getting to and from "the gig", and the rest of it in the recording studio. Once in a while they go on vacation, or fall out of a tree. While it's certainly more fun than anything this side of leading armies into battle, playing three chords, having sex with nubile Lolitas and taking lots of drugs, is pretty much all there is to it. Fun to do, getting dull to read about. Can you stand to read another book about the Stones? (If somehow you've avoided such things, the best is Stanley Booth's The True Adventures of The Rolling Stones, back in print as a Vintage paperback). Oldham's life is another story. He had the vision that turned a bunch of blues fans into a Clockwork Orange fantasy set to music. Younger than the Stones themselves, he lived his life with more reckless abandon than any musician this side of Charlie Parker. And he not only remembers most of it, he remembers what he was wearing while he was doing it. Really, I don't think my description is doing these books justice, but they're easy to find, and well worth your time and money. Keep in mind it was Andrew's little touches, like hiring David Bailey to shoot their first two album covers, the classic "would you let your daughter go with a Rolling Stone" hype, and of course, locking Mick and Keith in a kitchen until they wrote an original song, that pushed the Stones to the level of success they could have only dreamed about when they were learning to play Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley tunes. Without Andrew they would probably still be playing Jimmy Reed covers on Sunday nights in a pub with the Downliners Sect and the Bo Street Runners.
A couple of tunes to help pay tribute to our subject-- one is the Stones, Gene Pitney, Phil Spector along Alan Clarke and Gram Nash of the Hollies (also in R&RHOF this year) jamming out a tribute to the man-- Andrew's Blues , it was recorded at Regent Sound, Feb. 4, 1964. The other tune is familiar from Metamorphosis. It is one of the few early tunes not credited to Jagger-Richards, but Oldham-Richards, so it's safe to say Oldham wrote the lyrics to this pop nugget, his take on the girl group sound-- I'd Much Rather Be With The Boys, I've always dug it. It's not the Stones, just Mick and some studio musicians (Andy White, Joe Moretti and John McLaughlin supposedly) on this demo, but it would have sounded right at home on Between The Buttons, or even U.S. only early compilations December's Children or Flowers. The place-- Decca's studio in London, date is usually sited around Feb. of '65. I remember Johnny Thunders and Wayne Kramer's band Gang War used to do a cover version of it.
While I'm on the subject, when will they get around to re-issuing the U.K. versions of the Stones albums? Vinyl only would be fine with me. In those beautiful, laminated Decca covers, without the ugly graphics that marred the American LP's. I've always preferred them (I'm listening to Rolling Stone No. 2 right now, since I had to pull it off the shelf to get the liner note quote right, it still sounds great, clicks, pops and all). Why did their American label-- London screw with the track line ups? Actually, I can explain that. The UK versions didn't contain the tracks that were already released on 45's or EP's, giving the fan maximum value, the US versions were always a hodgepodge of LP, EP and 45 a and b sides. I think the first album that didn't mess with the track listing was Satanic Majesties Request, one of their most underrated discs, don't you love Citadel and 200 Light Years From Home? I'm really not much of a fan of psychedelia except for the 13th Floor Elevators and the Chocolate Watchband and a dozen or so 45 rpm singles, but when it comes down to it, the Stones were the best psychedelic band of all time, think about it, in addition to those two tracks add Please Go Home, She's A Rainbow, Dandelion, Have You Seen Your Mother Baby, Goin' Home, Paint It Black, Child Of The Moon, Gomper, I'm missing a few I'm sure but you could put together an album (or, since this is the 21st century, playlist) and make the greatest psychedelic album of all time from it. I'm getting way off the track I guess, except of course that Andrew Oldham produced all those records, which counts for something, in fact, counts for a lot. He was a great record producer, manager, conceptualist, fashion plate and all around nut in the greatest tradition of British eccentrics. His non-Stones productions, mostly on his own Immediate label deserve a separate posting, which I may get around to some day. Not today.
These days Andrew Loog Oldham lives in Bogota, Columbia, and of course, like all shut ins, he has a blog, it's called Everyone Must Get Stoned. I won't bring up Scientology or Sirius Radio, eerrr....except I already did.
Addendum: There's an interesting aircheck of Mick and Keith playing blues dj's on a Danish radio station circa 1970 posted over at Hardluck Blueschild blog. They play some obvious choices (Robert Johnson, Little Walter, Muddy Waters), and some surprising ones (Barbecue Bob and Laughing Charlie, Bertha "Chippie" Hill). It's a lot of fun to listen to.
Addendum #2: As an afterthought I think I should throw in this one, it's from The Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra plays the Rolling Stones Songbook LP, yes, it's the version of The Last Time that the Verve sampled for Bittersweet Symphony (one of the best singles of the 90's). Allen Klein made plenty of trouble for the Verve, forcing them to give up 100% of the publishing and writing (even though the Stones only wrote the verses and the opening guitar riff to The Last Time, the tune itself is a gospel standard that had been recorded by everyone from the 5 Blind Boys Of Alabama to the Staple Singers to James Brown, Bittersweet Symphony is now credited to Jagger-Richards with lyrics by Richard Ashcroft, despite the fact that Ashcroft wrote the entire tune, and cleared the sample with Oldham before the disc was released). Klein came close to having the single and the LP pulled off the market just as the record was topping the U.K. charts in 1997. Still, it seems appropriate to include it with yesterday's post. I also really like the version of Play With Fire from that album. In fact, I like the whole album. If you want the whole thing try here.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

So Andrew is a Scientologist?

Tosh said...

I love the man!

Olaf said...

If I'm not mistaken you can buy U.K. versions of the Stones albums at amazon. I bought there Aftermath and Between the Buttons.

Johnny Pierre said...

Enjoyed your thoughts on Andrew Loog. Looking back, I think out of all those Brit invasion managers, he was the only one who liked the music (awright, maybe you can throw Giorgio Gomelsky in there too...)

The Hound said...

"If I'm not mistaken you can buy U.K. versions of the Stones albums at amazon. I bought there Aftermath and Between the Buttons."

But those are the only ones, you can't buy the first three albums (Rolling Stones, No. 2 and Out Of Our Heads or the UK singles collection High Tide...in their original, superior UK versions except as bootleg cd's (w/bonus tracks). I still think those are their best albums and the original UK Decca versions look and sound best.

Donna Lethal said...

I love his first book for so many reasons, not only because of the detail he goes into around the beginnings of the London fashion scene, working for Mary Quant. His girlfriend at the time was really ahead of everyone with her looks, too - this was all before the Stones. Fascinating stuff.
Love Dalton's bio of Marianne. Her description of being on LSD is probably the best ever written! I did love Andrew's show during the short while that I had sirius.
Yes please don't discuss the hall of shame anymore. Thank you.

Olaf said...

Along with Stanley's Booth's book about the Stones, I really liked Old Gods Almost Dead from Stephen Davis. A fun read.

The Hound said...

" I did love Andrew's show during the short while that I had sirius."

But even he, not to mention Kim Fowley, have to choose 90% of their songs from a playlist. Who is it that thinks they know better what music should be played on the radio than ALO (or K.F. for that matter)?
That's why I dislike Sirius, and why it'll probably go out of business. It's 90% the same old shit. One of the things that really brought on the demise of rock'n'roll and is never discussed is how lame things got when DJ's were no longer allowed to pick their own tunes. It's now done by computers that depend on "marketing research", or some such tripe. Radio is a castrated medium. If you want to play great music on the radio, music that people haven't heard before and aren't totally sick of, then you're forced to work for free. Very depressing.....
I'd love to hear Oldham do a show where he could play whatever he wanted, I might even pay for it, but I'll be damned if I'll pay to hear anyone pick songs off a playlist. Maybe it's time for a pirate radio resurgence?

The Hound said...

"Along with Stanley's Booth's book about the Stones, I really liked Old Gods Almost Dead from Stephen Davis. A fun read."

Fun, but lots of factual errors.I love the part about Keith stealing the geek's guitar. I really liked Jimmy Phledge's book-- Nakering With The Stones, also fun to read are Robert Greenfield's Stones Touring Party, Bill Wyman's Rolling With The Stones, Tony Sanchez' trash fest Up & Down With The Rolling Stones, and Marianne Faithful's Faithful. Finish that reading list and you'll really be sick of them.

Olaf said...

"Fun, but lots of factual errors.I love the part about Keith stealing the geek's guitar. I really liked Jimmy Phledge's book-- Nakering With The Stones, also fun to read are Robert Greenfield's Stones Touring Party, Bill Wyman's Rolling With The Stones, Tony Sanchez' trash fest Up & Down With The Rolling Stones, and Marianne Faithful's Faithful. Finish that reading list and you'll really be sick of them."

I read first "Old Gods" and right behind it "True Adventures of The Rolling Stones" (it was my Rolling Stones phase) and I got really sick of them after I read these two books, at that time I ordered the Bill Wyman's books "Rolling with the Stones" and "Stone Alone" but these two I haven't read until now and I think there may be some years going in the land (as we say in Germany) before I read the Wyman books.

Right now I'm reading Peter Guralnik's Dream Boogie about Sam Cooke and last week I finished Don Felder's book about his time in the Eagles (I read it in two days).
It's quite interesting but I didn't get that much new information.
Great are two pics from the "baddies" (Glenn Frey and Don Henley) were they make faces. They look really dislikable on these pictures and I think that's what they are in real life.

Tosh said...

Is that true about Sirius? There is a playlist that they have to go to? Bob Dylan surely doesn't have to do that right?

i am also a mega-fan of the ALO orchestra. Love those recordings. I am trying to find his tribute album to Lionel Bart. Actually I don't have a record player -so I guess i am looking for a 3mp.

The Hound said...

"Is that true about Sirius? There is a playlist that they have to go to? Bob Dylan surely doesn't have to do that right?"
Yes it's true, Dylan started out on Sirius' competition--XM before the merger, of course he produces the shows himself then leases them so no one tells him what to play, but he's probably the only one.

Olaf said...

James, do you know any good book about the Rolling Stones were the main point is their music? After the gossip and smut from "Old Gods" I really would like to read something about their music.

I'm looking for something kind of like Jimmy Guterman's biography for Jerry Lee Lewis which focuses on Jerry's music instead of smut etc.

Thanks

Tosh said...

Olaf that is a good question! I only know the well-known trashy book on the Stones. Very rare to find a book that separates the music from the image with respect to the Stones.

Which comes to mind can one separate the image from their music? Over the years (except for the last decade or so) it overlaps in great detail. Is it their music or is it what we think of them? There needs to be a book that really focus on the music than say the image of Keith, etc.

Paul said...

Interesting post - I've not read Oldham's books as I thought it would be the same old self-aggrandising shit, but I'll definitely read them now.

Hound, if you want to know more about 'Stash' Klossowski, here's a link to a BBC radio documentary that my friend Mark Paytress recorded about him, you're right, he's the most intriguing character from their whole strange menagerie.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00h6xlm

Ah - looks like the show isn't available to listen to - I'll try to find out if it's anywhere else online.

Tosh said...

With respect to Stash, anyone who played bass with Vince Taylor is ok with me! As well as being the son of Balthus. That's too good!

The Hound said...

"James, do you know any good book about the Rolling Stones were the main point is their music? "

Yeah, Chuck Berry's autobiography.....

Fast Film said...

The first British import CDs, back in the Pleistocene when cds were spankin' new, had entirely different and CLEARER mixes of all the Stones' LPs than the US cds. I ordered them at the time through a music store.

Loog Oldham, whom I photographed this last decade, is quite genial.
Scientology, supposedly, because it presented agood working model for a cleanup program.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear you have Hep C Jim, maybe now it's time that you got in touch with the people you've maligned and apoligized to them.
You know who they are.

Marc said...

I dunno -- I listen to ALO's radio show while driving to work in the morning, and he seems to be picking out a fair percentage of the tunes -- other than all the stuff he plays from Little Steven's record label. At least, he plays a lot of the kind of stuff I imagine he'd choose. He plays more new music than you'd expect from a guy in his 60s, and more old music than you'd expect if he were just trying to sell CDs. I completely agree with you about radio in general having gotten totally lame, and Sirius-XM is only a little better than terrestrial radio, but that's enough to keep me subscribing. FWIW, I think Tom Petty chooses the songs for his show too -- he doesn't venture as far afield as Dylan, but still brings in some obscurities.

The Hound said...

"Hound, if you want to know more about 'Stash' Klossowski, here's a link to a BBC radio documentary that my friend Mark Paytress recorded about him, you're right, he's the most intriguing character from their whole strange menagerie."

I heard it last year when it was still on BBC online, I love the part at the end when he tries to pick up the producer. I even ordered some of his books (on alchemy) after that....

"Sorry to hear you have Hep C Jim, maybe now it's time that you got in touch with the people you've maligned and apologized to them.
You know who they are."

Errr...you want me to apologize to Bruce Springsteen? If I haven't apologized already, chances are I thought the person (you) deserved it...your choice of words make it obvious who you are, why not have some balls and sign your name if you really think I owe you an apology?

Anonymous said...

Wha happened with Bruce? :)

The Hound said...

Wha happened with Bruce? :)

Springsteen? I sorta outed him in a past comment section (can't remember which one) but it was a story that t a Thai drag queen told me about him.

Donna Lethal said...

Tosh - both Sirius and XM (w/the exception of Dylan) both have playlists. I keep the soul station on for my dog (my pit bull loves it) when I'm out, and the same tunes are on when I get home.

Anonymous said...

I love the Stones' US LPs of the mid-sixties (even Flowers). The British Beatles albums were the ones to get, but I've always felt that the Stones, Kinks, Yardbirds and Who were better served by their US labels. Weird, I know. Andrew's a true hero of mine; there ought to be more manager/producers in r 'n' r history, but other than Bumps Blackwell/Liittle Richard there are very, very few...

Anonymous said...

Thai drag queen......cool :)

Serena WmS. Burroughs said...

I took my daughter to McDonald's yesterday, and the current merchandising tie-in for Happy Meals is "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel"...I was sitting there looking at the box, and there was this trivia question:

What's the name of the person Alvin & the Chipmunks live with?
a) Brian Epstein
b) Dave Seville
c) Andrew Oldham

Wow. I will probably end up seeing the "Squeakquel," because my daughter wants to, but if the movie featured choices a) or c),
I'm sure that I would have seen it already; it's just that I don't know what currently active filmmaker could do a credible job with it...maybe Fassbinder could have. If the Alvin producers read this, they may also want to consider the Chipmunks with Joe Meek or Kim Fowley (they could get Bill Hader to play a younger Kim).

The Hound said...

" If the Alvin producers read this, they may also want to consider the Chipmunks with Joe Meek or Kim Fowley (they could get Bill Hader to play a younger Kim)."

The Chipmunks original producer Ross Bagdasarian once made an album called I Hate The Beatles, he was convinced they stole the Chipmunks audience and ruined their career.....

JOHN, IM ONLY DANCING said...

really great. i'm following.

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