Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Silhouettes




We had done two fairly lengthy Le Bonx sessions, one with Arlene on the Wurlitzer and later one with a Fender Rhodes. So far all of the songs had been made up pretty much on the spot. By the summer of '78, even though I was still technically working on Won Out, we were seriously (or as seriously as we did anything back then) considering a punk jazz album. I decided that the album would need a couple of cover tunes - songs originally made famous by other artists. My announcement that "we need a 50's style ballad" is still preserved on the original tape at the beginning of the session for this song.

"Silhouettes" was a hit song in 1957 for the group the Rays and again in 1965 for the British Invasion group Herman's Hermit's.  I was very familiar with both versions. We often sang the song at informal musical gatherings - it's one of those songs, like "Happy Together" , that everyone seems to know. It follows the standard doo-wop chord progression and is always fun to sing. Arlene, Steve and I slowed the pace to a crawl and set about utterly dismantling the song. My vocal performance is completely over the top, with shouts, screams, out-of-tune improvisations (I even interject a Tarzan-like yodel at one point) and unintelligible spoken asides. Steve's drumming was, of course, all over the place and the bass and piano - miraculously playing in the same key - were as uncoordinated as a drunk student driver. In other words- a complete success.



At this point my enthusiasm for the Won Out project was waning. I had been "working on it" since early 1975  and had yet to gather enough songs for an album. Progress had been slowed by first ending my friendship with Chris, moving several times and being burglarized.  Arlene and I had tried to interest a couple of local record labels with the tapes that we had - I remember going to Fantasy Records in Berkeley and meeting their A&R guy. We also met with a soul record label called Honey Records that was formed by a couple of ex-Motown people. We were extremely naive about how to approach these companies, but it worked in our favor when it came to getting in the door. We'd just walk in with a tape and say "Hello, we're looking for a recording contract". The answer we usually got was: "Your music isn't right for us". We decided to start our own label. And the first release for that new label was nearly Le Bonx!

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