Thursday, December 9, 2010

All Men Are Brothers All Sisters Are Women

The inspiration for Le Bonx goes all the way back the first time I heard The Mothers' Uncle Meat. There's a cut on side one of the first disc that's a long guitar solo accompanied by seemingly random drums, bass and various percussion instruments. Back in '73 while rehearsing for the Mills College show I came up with an instrumental called "Theme from The Man from Bonkeenie" where I played a solo and told everyone else to play whatever came into their heads. There could be a recording of it somewhere, but I doubt it because in the fall '76. I was seized with paranoia and burned nearly all of the cassettes of my own music I'd made up to that point. The few that survived were the ones I either couldn't find or were deemed, for some reason, no threat to me. Life gets weird sometimes.

Arlene at the Wurly  (note Farfisa in foreground!)
All Men are Brothers (All Sisters are Women) is a 30-second sound check. While I was setting up the mics I asked Steve to play the drums so I could get a level. We used it, in the spirit of the project, to lead off the record. The title is Steve's. Steve had that deadly combination: a deeply cynical sense of humor, great intelligence and a good education. He could always be counted on to come up with a zinger. Throughout the recording of Le Bonx, we would record a song and then name it. It was contest between Steve and I to see who could come up the funniest or weirdest title. Arlene may have named a song or two, but she generally stayed out of it.

Le Bonx was recorded in 3 sessions spread over summer '77 and winter '77 - '78 when Steve was home for vacation. The first session, with Arlene palying the Wurlitzer, produced the bulk of the songs used for the cassette release in '81. By the next session we had sold the Wurlitzer (yeah, and I'm still kicking myself) and bought a Fender Rhodes suitcase model. The Rhodes had a completely different feel and sound - much darker and deeper than the Wurly - and nature of the recordings changed. The songs in the second session were longer and, well, darker (and deeper). For the 3rd, and last, session we only recorded two songs, covers of an old 50's ballad and a 60's folk-rock tune. More of that later.

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