Thursday

WELCOME TO BLITZ MAGAZINE'S WEB SITE!


SIGNS THAT WILL NEVER CHANGE: Ash Wells' Teensville label has once again thought outside of the box for maximum impact with the release of Wish You A Wish, a superb collection of cover versions of original compositions by the Hollies by nearly thirty of their esteemed colleagues, including the Everly Brothers, Keith, the Up-Set, the Twilights, the Buckinghams, the Searchers and others. Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell has the story in the Reissues / Anthologies section of The Shape Of Things To Come column.  (Click on the Reissues And Anthologies link under the Previous Posts heading at right for the full story). (Click on the above image to enlarge).

WELCOME TO THE INTERNET HOME
FOR BLITZ MAGAZINE
SINCE 1975 -
THE ROCK AND ROLL MAGAZINE
FOR THINKING PEOPLE

Welcome to the official web site for Blitz, The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People. Since 1975, Blitz has been the leading voice for the discerning music enthusiast. Blitz Magazine was also one of the first magazines of its kind to embrace the internet, having also been online since January 1996.

Here you will find news and updates about all of the key artists essential to the growth and development of rock and roll music and related genres, including rhythm and blues, country and western, jazz and easy listening. For highlights from recent past editions of the Bits And Pieces and Shape Of Things To Come columns, click on the archival postings on the right hand side of this page. Be sure and check back frequently for regular updates.

If you have any questions, please e-mail us at BlitzMcD@aol.com.


Michael McDowell
Editor/Publisher
Blitz Magazine
Since 1975 - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People

E-Mail us at BlitzMcD@aol.com for a list of available back issues.


Be sure to follow Blitz on Twitter:
@BlitzMagazine
and
on Facebook at:
Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People

AUDREY'S MUSICAL JOURNEY:

Follow the fascinating and unfolding tale (through her favorite music) of the life and times of Blitz Magazine's late and beloved Photo Editor, Audrey McDowell, as told by her husband, Blitz Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell. A Facebook exclusive! "Like" us on Facebook at Blitz Magazine - The Rock And Roll Magazine For Thinking People, and watch for further installments.

IN THE BITS AND PIECES COLUMN:

2019 got off to a sad start, musically speaking with the passing of MARMALADE front man DEAN FORD on New Years Day and the death of keyboard virtuoso DARYL DRAGON of the CAPTAIN AND TENNILLE on 02 January from renal failure.

We pay tribute to vocalist, philanthropist, evangelist and wife of veteran musician Pat Boone, SHIRLEY BOONE, who succumbed to a lingering illness on 11 January.

Dozens of musicians and industry veterans gathered to film a video tribute to the late Giovanna Aron, wife of Balancing Act and Thee Holy Brothers co-founder Willie Aron on the evening of 25 December at the annual Christmas gathering held at the suburban Los Angeles home of former Rhino Records exec Gary Stewart.

In a free standing interview, actress / vocalist Jen Lilley discusses with Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell her extensive work in television (Days Of Our Lives), film (Hallmark's Mingle All The Way) and her forthcoming classic rock and roll and rhythm and blues-inspired album and King Of Hearts single, as well as her unwavering faith in Jesus Christ and its resultant altruism (Click on the Jen Lilley Interview link under the Previous Posts column at right for the full story).

Legendary vocal virtuoso Mel Carter has taken a giant leap forward by weighing in on the topic of gun violence in his most recent single, Raise The World - Sing Louder Than The Gun. Exclusive commentary by Carter himself here. 

IN THE REISSUES / ANTHOLOGIES SECTION OF
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME COLUMN:

Ash Wells' vaunted Teensville label puts a decisively fresh spin on the overly familiar with Wish You A Wish, a collection of rare cover versions of original material by the Hollies.

Fifty-three years in the making, the beloved Bayonne, New Jersey-based quintet the Ad Libs has finally seen their 1965 debut album (originally intended for release on the vaunted Blue Cat label) now available at last via the venerable Memphis, Tennessee Sun Records.

Among the many recipients of lavishly produced half century anniversary box sets is Electric Ladyland, the 1968 third album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Blitz Magazine takes a closer look at this landmark reissue from the musicologist / record collector perspective.

Roger Maglio's prolific Gear Fab label has made a significant contribution to the world of first generation garage rock with the release of the ambitious,two CD collection, Complete Recordings, which features the entire body of work to date of the Galveston, Texas-based Countdown Five.

The psych phase of the still very much active veteran rocker Marty Wilde's six decade career finally sees proper documentation with Abergavenny: The Philips Pop Years 1966 - 1971, an all new CD anthology, also on Ash Wells' Teensville label.

The late Lee Hazelwood knew no such thing as genre myopia in a career that spanned several decades. The Light In The Attic label has made available for the first time anywhere the 1964 sessions that produced the Cruisin' For Surf Bunnies album by the enigmatic instrumental outfit, Lee Hazelwood's Woodchucks.

Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell takes an in depth look at the eight volume WJBK Hits Various Artists anthology series, which chronicles a wealth of essential and obscure singles from the weekly charts published by that legendary Detroit radio station from 1956 to 1964. 

IN THE NEW RELEASES SECTION OF
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME COLUMN:

The ad hoc supergroup, Mod Hippie (featuring the Beach Boys' David Marks, the Germs' and X's D.J. Bonebrake and Dragster Barbie's Teresa Cowles, as well as renowned world traveler and label president Adam Marsland) presents a musical travelogue of sorts based on the career ups and downs of front man Doug McGuire in their latest Karma Frog release, Wannabe Nobody.

Veteran greats Tony Bennett and Diana Krall have once again joined forces for a salute to brothers George and Ira Gershwin in their latest Verve/Columbia release, Love Is Here To Stay.

Pennsylvania cousins Sharon Lee and Karen Lynn comprise the Bookends, whose all new Far Away But Around album for the Otto Raw label is generating considerable enthusiasm among musicologists and record collectors, as well as enthusiasts of first and second generation garage rock.

Composer, vocalist, keyboardsman and Late Night show bandleader Jon Batiste embraces a wide variety of material (both original and from outside sources) on his Verve Records debut solo album, Hollywood Africans.

Also on Verve is Combo 66, the latest album of original material by acclaimed guitarist John Scofield, augmented by the remarkable keyboard stylings of Gerald Clayton.

The Nashville, Tennessee-based husband and wife duo, the Smoking Flowers are once again all over the musical map with a rich variety of inspirations in their latest Bandaloop Music vinyl LP release, Let's Die Together

Multi-instrumentalist and former Sunflower label recording artist Les Fradkin joins such thinking outside the box veterans as Jeremy Morris and Question Mark And The Mysterians lead guitarist Bobby Balderrama in taking an otherworldly musical journey with his latest Bongo Boy Records release, Escape From Earth.

Blues legend John Mayall continues in peak form with the release of his most recent live album (recorded in 2017), Three For The Road on the Forty Below label.

Moving Sidewalks co-founder and guitarist Billy F. Gibbons takes the blues to a much needed next level with this second solo release, The Big Bad Blues for Concord Records.

Tuesday

PERFUME NORTH AMERICAN TOUR 2019


SPRING OF LIFE: Major superstars at home for nearly two decades, the beloved and visionary vocal trio, Perfume (pictured above in August 2018) is now preparing to conquer North America, highlighted by an appearance at the sold out Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California in April. Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell has the story below. Pictured left to right: Yuka "Kashiyuka"  Kashino, Ayaka "A-chan" Nishiwaki and Ayano "Nocchi" Omoto. (Photo courtesy of Universal Music) (Click on above image to enlarge).


DREAM FIGHTER:
PERFUME POISED TO
CONQUER NORTH AMERICA 
By Michael McDowell

The United States of America has no idea what is about to hit it, musically speaking.

For nearly two decades, the visionary vocal trio Perfume (Ayano "Nocchi" Omoto, Ayaka "A-chan" Nishiwaki and Yuka "Kashiyuka" Kashino) has enjoyed unprecedented major superstar status at home. The group is now prepared to take their mission statement to a global level.

Formed in 2000 while they were students at Actors School Hiroshima, the group joined forces with long time producer Yasutaka Nakata and debuted with a pair of ambitious singles for the Momiji label in 2002. They relocated to Tokyo in 2003, and have since been on an upward trajectory that is nearly unparalleled in the history of the recording industry.

To that effect, Perfume has enjoyed regular sold out performances in major venues at home. Nearly each successive new release (initially on the Tokuma Japan label, and more recently via Universal) has been a chart topper, selling hundreds of thousands of units in the process. Moreover, their numerous videos routinely draw unprecedently high numbers of hits, often in the tens of millions.

But music is timeless art, not a byproduct of statistical performance. And to that effect, Perfume has established a formidable recorded legacy that reflects the benefits of consistently thinking outside of the box.

To be certain, theirs is one of the most original and unique catalogs in all of music. In part, credit must go to producer Yasutaka Nakata, who composes the trio's material based upon their accounts of events and circumstances that shape their ever evolving perspective on life.

Where Perfume remains a cut above the herd is by incorporating unlikely elements into their work for the most challenging and productive of results. To that effect, their format of choice for the bulk of their recording career has been the much maligned technopop and electronica sub-genres.

Keenly aware of the limitations of those formats that are often voiced by musicologists, purists and record collectors, Perfume consistently and decisively counters by bringing to the basic template the unlikely (and seemingly incompatible) attributes of heart and passion, augmented by a strong cerebral approach that gives even the most deceptively basic examples of their material an extraordinary depth.

To underscore the point, Perfume routinely augments their material (both on stage and in their videos) with unique, complex and uniformly brilliant choreography. Their efforts are showcased to maximum impact via lavish, inventive and invariably high tech video productions, occasionally bringing to mind the enduing works of Pink Floyd in that capacity.

Indeed, theirs is a body of work with few peers and even fewer comparisons. If there are any artists with whom Perfume can at least share the common ground of visionary thinking in those capacities, it would be with such like minded pioneers as the Blue Comets and Haruomi "Harry" Hosono.

But while the Blue Comets' and Haruomi "Harry" Hosono's respective catalogs often carry with them a slight (albeit often unintentional) element of tension, Perfume's works benefit overall from a relentless optimism that occasionally belies the seriousness of the subject matter at hand. It is a perspective that has served them well from the onset, as demonstrated in such catalog highlights as Sweet Donuts, Monochrome Effect, Vitamin Drop, Linear Motor Girl, Computer City, Electro World, Polyrhythm, Chocolate Disco, Dream Fighter, Spring Of Life, Pick Me Up, Hurly Burly, Tokyo Girl and their utterly stupendous 2012 monster classic signature single, Spending All My Time.

Perfume also hopes to showcase some of their side projects in the coming months, highlighted by their well received original clothing line. Kashiyuka concurrently oversees a thriving arts and crafts business, featuring a number of well received original works.

And in 2019, buoyed by the August 2018 release of their acclaimed Future Pop album, Perfume is preparing to bring their well defined and formidable musical mission statement to North America. The group will be featured at the sold out Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California on the 14th and 21st of April, appearing alongside Ariana Grande, Bad Bunny, Dermot Kennedy, Soccer Mommy, Razorbumps and others. Throughout April, various dates are also scheduled for appearances across North America, including stops in New York City, Chicago, Toronto, Dallas, Seattle, San Jose and Los Angeles.

Given the inevitable limitations of some of the venues, Perfume has expressed some concerns about maximum impact in terms of presentation, given that not all facilities will be equipped to handle the demands of over-the-top hi tech productions. In such cases, the group has resolved to draw from the attributes that have endeared them to ever growing legions of devotees from the onset; that is, the pure heart, passion, vision and charisma that will pretty much guarantee them a whole new faction of ardent supporters upon completion of the tour.

You read it here first.

BOB SEGER HIDEOUT / CAMEO REISSUE



VERY FEW: People imagined that this collection would ever see the light of day. But thanks to the due diligence of ABKCO Records, the entire Cameo Records output of first generation garage rock visionaries Bob Seger And The Last Heard (pictured above in a 1966 Cameo promo photo) is at last available on both CD and vinyl LP. Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell spoke with Project Producer Teri Landi, Art Director Steve Stanley and Michigan Music History CEO Mike Jackson about this landmark collection below.  (Click on above image to enlarge).

EAST SIDE STORY:
ABKCO'S MIRACULOUS REISSUE OF
BOB SEGER AND THE LAST HEARD'S
HIDEOUT AND CAMEO SINGLES
By Michael McDowell


It was the reissue that many people said would never happen.

For decades, the vaunted catalog of the legendary Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based Cameo/Parkway Records (which also included such ambitious affiliate labels as Lucky Eleven, Sentar, Windy C, Wyncote, Fairmount and Vando) remained largely out of print and under the jurisdiction of ABKCO Records. But in recent years, ABKCO has begun addressing the situation in earnest, returning to print everything from Clint Eastwood's western-themed album and highlights from Bobby Rydell's vast contributions to the label to Dee Dee Sharp's Gospel collection and the two Lucky Eleven label albums by first generation garage rock legends Terry Knight And The Pack. Some of those projects were done in tandem with the UK-based Ace/Big Beat conglomerate, while others were part of a short lived agreement with the now defunct Collectors Choice label.

ABKCO has continued to make amends with the multitudes who have awaited the return to print of the work of so many of the label's vaunted alumni, whose numbers also included such greats as Chubby Checker, Charlie Gracie, the Storey Sisters, the Mike Pedicin Quintet, the Tymes, the Dovells, the Applejacks, John Paul Jones, the Orlons, the Kinks, Screaming Lord Sutch, Sounds Orchestral, Candy And The Kisses, the Ivy League, the Rationals, the Ohio Express, the Three And A Half, Bunny Sigler, Eddie Holman, Pete Best, the Rag Dolls, the Hep Stars, Jamie Coe And The Gigolos, Question Mark And The Mysterians, the Yellow Payges, Frankie Beverly, the Five Stairsteps, the Bossmen, the New Colony Six, Chris Bartley, Maynard Ferguson, Evie Sands, the Olympics, Bobby Marchan, Jimmy Velvet and Tony Orlando, to name but a few. 

There is one particular artist whose work for the label continues to be held in the highest regard by both his original audience and connoisseurs of first generation garage rock. However, that artist has been reported to have steadfastly taken exception to its ongoing availability.

The artist in question is vocalist, composer and Detroit, Michigan native Robert Clark "Bob" Seger. He both disillusioned and disenfranchised a significant percentile of his original audience by continuing to disavow not only his earliest singles for the Punch, Are You Kidding Me, Hideout and Cameo labels with the Omens, the Beach Bums and the Last Heard, but his late 1960s - early 1970s releases for Capitol with the Bob Seger System, as well. 

Bob Seger And The Last Heard have long been highly regarded as being in the upper echelons of the first generation garage rock movement developing in Southeastern Michigan at the time. The genre's ranks also boasted such giants of the idiom as the Rationals, Tidal Waves, Underdogs, Unrelated Segments, Shy Guys, Wanted, Human Beings, Capreez, Thyme, Bossmen, Terry Knight And The Pack, Tim Tam And The Turn-Ons, Question Mark And The Mysterians, Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels and the Lazy Eggs.

The reasoning behind this perspective varies from source to source. But the only other even remotely similar set of circumstances concerns the massive and essential catalog of the Dave Clark Five (originally issued in the United States on Rust, Jubilee, Congress and Epic), with band co-founder and drummer Dave Clark (one of two surviving members of the band, the other being guitarist Leonard Arthur "Lenny" Davidson) denying almost all overtures to maintain catalog availability.

Along the way, others have attempted to make amends with regards to the early Bob Seger material, with only minimal success. To wit, a contributor to one installment of the acclaimed All The Hits Various Artists collections on the CamPark label (which feature rare singles from the Cameo/Parkway vaults) even took the extraordinary step of mixing Parts One and Two of Bob Seger And The Last Heard's 1967 Heavy Music single into one continuous track with a cold ending, rather than the fade that appears on the original 45. In turn, ABKCO itself did its part to help rectify the situation by including the band's 1966 signature single, East Side Story and Heavy Music (Part One) on a four CD overview of the label's history, Cameo Parkway 1957-1967, released in May 2005. ABKCO had also kept several of the Bob Seger And The Last Heard 45s in print on their own label during the early 1970s.

But with the release of the ten track Heavy Music anthology, it appears as though ABKCO has finally succeeded where earlier attempts have failed. 

"We do our best with every release to reach out to an artist to see if there is enthusiasm on their part and (to see if they) want to be involved", said ABKCO's Teri Landi, who served as Reissue Producer for this project.

"We did so here. Punch Andrews was very eager for us to worth with mastering engineer Robert Vosgien at Capitol Studios, who has done a lot of mastering work on Seger's recordings, (both) vintage and more current".

While nothing on ABKCO's Heavy Music will be unfamiliar to Bob Seger And The Last Heard's original audience, all who have been clamoring for its ongoing availability will nonetheless have considerable reason to rejoice, including some recent converts to the cause.

"I was familiar with a couple of these early singles, and I have a copy of his first Capitol LP", said Now Sounds Records CEO Steve Stanley, who served as Art Director for this ABKCO project.

"But I must admit that I was unaware of exactly how revered this material is for diehard Seger fans. Heavy Music has been a great learning experience for me. I'm honored to have worked with the ABKCO crew on this historic project".

Prior to his affiliation with Cameo, Seger recorded for offshoot labels under the parent umbrella of the Birmingham, Michigan based Hideout label. Long regarded as one of the front runners in first generation garage rock, Hideout's artist roster included such visionaries as the Underdogs, the Pleasure Seekers, the Four Of Us, the Talismen, the Mama Cats and Ron Coden, and later the Brownsville Station, the Phantom and Jim Freeman. 

In 1965, Seger joined forces with Doug Brown And The Omens to record the acclaimed T.G.I.F., which saw release on Hideout's Punch subsidiary. The following year, in the wake of the release of Barry Sadler's enormously successful The Ballad Of The Green Berets single for RCA Victor, the Omens with Bob Seger recorded a parody of Sadler's single, entitled The Ballad Of The Yellow Beret. With composer credits listed on the label as "D. Dodger", Seger and the Omens replaced Sadler's opening lyric, "Fighting soldiers from the sky, fearless men who jump and die" with the decidedly different, "Fearless cowards of the USA, bravely here at home they stay". Seger's "You can't take me! I've got a bad back, I'm allergic to everything" vamp at the fade closed out the proceedings. 

Such variations on that particular theme were not uncommon at the time, in light of the Spokesmen's The Dawn Of Correction single for Decca and Jan Berry's solo The Universal Coward 45 for Liberty. Nonetheless, Seger and the Omens opted to bill themselves as the Beach Bums for this release, with the single issued on the yellow Hideout affiliate label, Are You Kidding Me? Records. 

On the flip side of that Beach Bums single was the inspiring and endearing Florida Time, a straight ahead rocker that takes its cue from the work of such bands as the Tigers, the Rip Chords, the Sunrays and the Four Speeds. Interestingly enough, Florida Time would see reissue in late 1966 on Cameo as the flip side of Sock It To Me Santa as Bob Seger And The Last Heard.

Given the circumstances in which this collection came to fruition, some sacrifices were in order. Not included are the Punch label T.G.I.F. single, nor the Beach Bums' The Ballad Of The Yellow Beret. And while it was reported at the time that the late Barry Sadler initially took umbrage with the Beach Bums' variation on his familiar theme, their lack of inclusion here could just as easily be attributed to the fact that neither track ever saw release or reissue on Cameo.

Such is not the case for the ten tracks that did make the cut, though. Foremost among them is the single that put Bob Seger And The Last Heard at center stage in Michigan's formidable first generation garage rock movement.  

That Bob Seger And The Last Heard single, East Side Story first saw release on Hideout. It had been out for several months until finally being added by the area's (and concurrently the nation's) premier radio station, Dearborn's WKNR Keener 13 on 19 September 1966. Appropriately enough, WXYZ in neighboring Southfield followed suit. East Side Story eventually peaked at #3 on WKNR's weekly music guide (behind Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels'' Devil With A Blue Dress On and the Surfaris' Wipe Out). 

Bob Seger And The Last Heard further endeared themselves to their rapidly growing audience via multiple appearances on Robin Seymour's Swingin' Time series in neighboring Windsor, Ontario. Thankfully a video clip has survived of that Swingin' Time performance, in which the song's stark lyrical account of gang violence set to one of the most perfect first generation garage rock backdrops in the genre overall resonated with all concerned. 

And while organist Brown and drummer Bob Evans participated in that landmark recording, both opted out of the band after the release of that single, leaving the Last Heard lineup to Seger (vocals/guitar), lead guitarist Carl Legassa, bassist Dan Honaker and drummer Pep Perrine (who also recorded a solo album for Hideout). East Side Story was picked up by Cameo in early October 1966, although both the Hideout and Cameo pressings remained readily available in most hometown record outlets for the remainder of the single's run.

With Cameo's Neil Bogart diligently seeking to expand the label's roster during that most productive period, Bob Seger And The Last Heard opted for a Cameo-only release with their late 1966 Christmas single, Sock It To Me Santa. A playful re-write of James Brown's Papa's Got A Brand New Bag, Sock It To Me Santa has remained a staple each Christmas season over the past half century, despite its general lack of availability for much of that period.

However, in early 1967, Bob Seger And The Last Heard returned to form (and Hideout) with the powerhouse original, Persecution Smith. The track more than made its mark by its one-two punch delivery, coupled with a rapid fire lyrical name check of a variety of socio-political concerns that deftly straddles the fence in terms of editorial perspective. The flip side, Chain Smokin' is far less subtle, with Seger and the Last Heard lamenting the health concerns indigenous to tobacco usage. WKNR Keener 13 again rallied to the cause, with Persecution Smith peaking at #9 on the WKNR Music Guide on 20 February 1967 and Cameo once again reissuing the single for national availability. 

Bob Seger And The Last Heard issued two additional singles in 1967, both of which were exclusive to Cameo and both of which are included in this collection. A masterpiece of high drama with some world class guitar work, Vagrant Winter suggested changes in musical direction that would indeed manifest themselves the following year when the band became the Bob Seger System. The flip side, the compelling ballad Very Few was potent enough to inspire a cover version by fellow area veteran rocker George "Jamie Coe" Colovas on the Enterprise label. Curiously, it was Coe who premiered the song on Robin Seymour's Swingin' Time, although in one particular appearance on the program, Coe seemed curiously and uncharacteristically reticent in the process of doing so.

But by mid-1967, Bob Seger And The Last Heard would cut what would ultimately become their most successful and acclaimed single for Cameo. That track, Heavy Music celebrates the best of all that music had to offer during that most productive of eras, with Seger even demonstrating a bit of bravado in Part Two via his proclamation of, "NSU, SRC, Stevie Winwood got nothin' on me!". Heavy Music finished at a very respectable #2 on WKNR Keener 13 on 04 September 1967, behind the Box Tops' signature Mala label single, The Letter. 

Interestingly enough, in early 1969, WKNR conducted a listeners' poll and published a listing of what the station's faithful voted as the top 113 singles of all time. Heavy Music finished at a most impressive #2 on that list (behind the Association's Cherish at #1), although the single was erroneously credited on that commemorative chart to the Bob Seger System.

For that matter, after Heavy Music, Bob Seger And The Last Heard's affiliation with Cameo was no more. In early 1968, after most impressive showings with new releases by the Ohio Express, the Olympics and Evie Sands, Cameo/Parkway ceased operations. In the process, their extraordinary artist roster was scattered to the winds. Evie Sands headed for A&M, the Ohio Express and Chubby Checker followed Neil Bogart over to Buddah, Chris Bartley embarked upon a brief sabbatical before re-emerging with Musicor, and both the Pack and Terry Knight (each of whom were recording separately by that time), as well as the Rationals, Question Mark And The Mysterians and Bob Seger And The Last Heard all headed for Capitol. The Last Heard then became the Bob Seger System, and their remarkable streak continued unabated with such landmark singles as 2+2=?, Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, Ivory, Innervenus Eyes and Noah enabling them to finish out the 1960s in world class fashion.

Since that time, attempts by Capitol and other labels to keep such consistently in demand Bob Seger System and Bob Seger solo albums as Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, Noah, Brand New Morning, Mongrel and the utterly stupendous Back In '72 (the title song of which is the most hard hitting and fitting assessment of all that went wrong in music and mainstream culture during that most unproductive of years) available have been thwarted, reportedly at least in part by the artist himself. 

Thankfully, for the time being, the situation has been partially rectified with this most welcome ABKCO collection, which is newly remastered and in mono, in keeping with the original 45 releases. In his accompanying essay, Jim Allen has provided what is certain to be a highly scrutinized account of the proceedings, although there is little in his observations with which even the most discerning purist can take exception. The bases are well covered, including rare label scans and photographs.

True to form, Steve Stanley (whose recent work also includes the Warner Brothers-inspired cover design for the great Lisa Mychols' Sugar album on the Strataplastic label) followed suit in his capacity as Art Director for the Heavy Music collection.

"Maintaining the aesthetic integrity of the era from which a project is borne is what I always strive for when working on archival releases", Stanley said.

"I've spent entire days working on disc labels! When working on a reissue, I like to study the original Art Director. Their font preferences, their color preferences. Anything I can gather. I'll investigate other releases they did during the era. If I can reach that 'feel' place with a design, where people aren't sure whether something is new or a period design, that's always the goal with a project like this".

Diligent research was also a key component of Landi's contributions in her capacity as Project Producer.

"Growing up in the 1970s, I was a big fan of Seger's Silver Bullet Band recordings", she said.

"Then I discovered Smokin' O.P.s and was completely blown away. After that, I worked my way back to the earlier Detroit nuggets with the Bob Seger System and finally the Last Heard. 

"So when I came to work for ABKCO and started archiving the Cameo-Parkway catalog of tapes, I was eager to find the Last Heard masters, just to hear them in all of their crunchy first generation glory. I've been prepping for this set for a while now".

Michigan Music History CEO Mike Jackson concurred.

"I'm just glad that we now have the ability to listen to first generation versions of Persecution Smith, Heavy Music and East Side Story", said Jackson, whose site has long championed the reissue of these Hideout and Cameo singles.

"It sure beats the battered condition 45s or the bootlegged CDs that were taken off of vinyl".

To be certain, the Heavy Music anthology is a triumph of diligent research, tempered with a modicum of artistic license without sacrificing the integrity of the project. 

"For Heavy Music, I was given some initial instruction, but had a lot of freedom to explore possibilities", said Stanley

"I'm really pleased with the way the album turned out. I'm equally thrilled that fans can finally hear this material in the best fidelity ever offered".

Even the most discerning and demanding of collectors and musicologist concurred.

"I never thought this would be available", said Jackson.

"But since the passing of Allen Klein, much of the material from the Cameo/Parkway catalog is seeing the light of day again".

While not specific at this juncture, Landi assured that there is more to come.

"I can't really comment on future Cameo-Parkway projects", she said.

"But there is definitely more is coming down the pike. Stay tuned!"

Meanwhile, with regards to the project at hand, although the artist himself may see the renewed availability of this material as (to invoke a cut from his 1970 Mongrel album) Leanin' On My Dream, for the many who have learned to separate the art from the artist out of necessity, this collection is the start of a Brand New Morning.

JEN LILLEY INTERVIEW


LILLEY THE PINK: After establishing a formidable legacy in film (The Artist, Yes I Do, The Book Of Esther) and television (General Hospital, Days Of Our Lives), veteran actress and Roanoke, Virginia native Jen Lilley has returned to her first love - music - with a vengeance. Her new single, the Adrian Gurvitz-produced King Of Hearts has been released to widespread acclaim, with an album to follow in February 2019. Lilley spoke at length with Blitz Magazine Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell in October 2018 about the music that inspires her, as well as her ongoing role as Theresa Donovan on NBC television's Days Of Our Lives, her various film projects for Hallmark, and her unwavering faith in Jesus Christ (and its resultant altruism). (Click on the above image to enlarge).


PERFECT:
JEN LILLEY TALKS
MUSIC, FAITH, FILM, DAYS OF OUR LIVES
AND THINKING OUTSIDE OF THE BOX
By Michael McDowell
In the world of Major League Baseball, those who excel in multiple disciplines are often referred to as five tool players. The term reflects an individual's acumen with regards to hitting for power, hitting for average, speed, fielding and their ability to throw. Musically speaking, there is also an equivalent of the five tool player. It is one in which a given artist has demonstrated a high level of competence as a vocalist, composer, arranger, producer and instrumentalist. However, as a musician, the veteran actress Jen Lilley has given a whole new definition to the concept of the five tool player. With her sublime new single, King Of Hearts, the Roanoke, Virginia native has brought to the table five attributes that make her both an instant and formidable front runner in the world of music. They include world class vocal ability, extraordinary intelligence of the wisdom and discernment variety, relentless optimism, an extensive and impressive resume on stage, screen and television, and (most importantly) strong and unwavering faith in the Lord. It was that latter attribute that has guided Lilley's mission statement from the onset. A magna cum laude graduate of the University Of Virginia, Lilley had initially aspired to more conventional careers in medicine and academia. Nonetheless, the Lord had other plans. A portion of that directive also stemmed from her passion for music, which had initially manifested itself in her formative years. Lilley was drawn to the work of such diverse and influential artists as Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, the Ronettes, the Supremes, the Temptations, the Four Seasons and others. She also developed a strong appreciation for Northern Soul; an attribute that avails itself in her own work via subtle asides to the influence of Linda Jones, Lorraine Ellison and Aretha Franklin, both intentionally and unintentionally. Although she did not initially envision the entertainment industry as her calling, Lilley nonetheless eventually relocated to Southern California to pursue a career in film and television. Along the way, she landed a starring role in ABC Television's long running General Hospital series, replacing Kirsten Storms (who ironically preceded Lilley at NBC Television's Days Of Our Lives, where Storms portrayed Belle Black for several years before being succeeded in that role by Martha Madison) in the role of Maxie Jones during Storms' sabbatical from the ABC series. Lilley also amassed a diverse portfolio in film, with key roles in such productions as The Artist and Revelation Road. Most notably, she starred in the title role of 2013's The Book Of Esther, based on the story line of the Old Testament account. Interestingly enough, in that production, the role of the notorious villain Haman was played by fellow Days Of Our Lives veteran Thaao Penghlis, who for several years was featured in the dual roles of the ill-fated brothers, Andre and Tony DiMera. Indeed, it was Days Of Our Lives that ultimately put Jen Lilley's name on the map on a larger scale. As a testimony to her formidable acting skills, Lilley was cast against type. In July 2013, she was introduced as the prototypical rebel, Theresa Donovan, the daughter of recurring character and ISA secret agent Shane Donovan. The elder Donovan occasionally works alongside Drake Hogestyn's John Black character in that capacity. In turn, Theresa soon found herself in a relationship with series mainstay (and John Black's son) Brady Black, portrayed by Eric Martsolf. The couple eventually become parents of their own son, Tate, only to have Theresa's past catch up with her as she feigned disdain for her family in the face of threats from a Mexico-based drug czar (and former boyfriend), who took her captive in his compound. When Theresa finally escaped more than a year later, she returned to the couple's hometown of Salem, only to learn that Brady in the interim had taken up residence with her sister, Eve (a role currently overseen by fellow vocalist Katherine "Kassie" DePaiva). To be certain, the role of Theresa Donovan would seem on the surface to be the antithesis of the precepts for which Jen Lilley stands. But it is not a set of circumstances without precedent. To wit, would be Wizard Of Oz Tin Man, aspiring rockabilly artist and veteran actor Christian "Buddy" Ebsen was seemingly destined to forever be inexorably linked with his portrayal of Jed Clampett in CBS Television's The Beverly Hillbillies. But a mere two seasons after that show wrapped production, Ebsen went on to even greater acclaim in the starring role of the network's detective drama series, Barnaby Jones. On a similar tangent, the late Carroll O'Connor professed to be the antithesis on a personal level of the character that brought him his most enduring acclaim, that of Archie Bunker on CBS' All In The Family and Archie Bunker's Place. By her own account, it was both a gift and directive from the Lord that enabled Lilley to excel in a role that seemingly contradicted the precepts for which she stood on a personal level. But like Ebsen and O'Connor, Lilley brought to the role a "dissuade by example" perspective that ultimately enabled many an observer to profess solidarity with her character and learn from her mistakes. With those Days Of Our Lives commitments came multiple blessings for Lilley. One such blessing manifested itself in the form of starring roles in such endearing Hallmark motion pictures as Eat Play Love, Harvest Love and the wonderful Yes I Do. In the latter, Lilley is seen as Charlotte Bennett, a successful entrepreneur in the confectionary industry who (in a manner not unlike that articulated by the legendary Gino Washington in his 1964 monster classic single, Gino Is A Coward) faced challenges in successfully carrying over that resolve into matters of matrimony. Lilley will also be featured in the forthcoming Hallmark production, Mingle All The Way, as part of the network's Christmas season celebration. The resultant exposure also afforded Lilley an ideal platform for her ongoing witnessing as an ambassador of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Lilley has tirelessly availed herself in that capacity via her work in combatting homelessness and human trafficking. She and husband Jason Wayne have also taken an active role in foster parenting. And in a fulfillment of sorts of Matthew 6:33 ("Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you"), her prolific work in film and television has at last enabled Lilley to pursue her first love as an artist, which is music. Although she did release a Christmas album, Tinsel Time in November 2015 (which included a duet with Eric Martsolf, covering Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban's Frank Loesser-penned Baby It's Cold Outside), her forthcoming, self-funded studio album marks her first such venture in which she truly commemorates her musical vision. In pursuing the achievement of that goal, Lilley has done her homework well. She began by enlisting the services of Adrian Gurvitz as producer. As co-founder and lead guitarist with Gun (whose 1968 Race With The Devil single remains an acclaimed prototype of Christian rock) and the Baker Gurvitz Army (with former Graham Bond Organization/Cream/Blind Faith drummer, Peter Edward "Ginger" Baker), it was Gurvitz who helped bring Lilley's inspirations as an aspiring musicologist to fruition as a musician. To her credit, having not personally lived through the era in which her professed inspirations were at their respective creative pinnacles, Lilley is not encumbered with the cultural baggage of the era that often circumvents uninhibited artistic appreciation on the part of many of the observers who actually were a part of it. So as a diligent student of the art, Lilley in turn called upon such proven composers as Diane Warren (co-author of the late and much missed Laura Branigan's Solitaire) and solo artist Lauren Christy (who also worked in multiple capacities on Avril Lavigne's Let Go album) to test their own creative parameters and provide material commensurate with her vision. The resultant album (scheduled for February 2019 release) is rife with such triumphs as the playful and Walk On By-inspired On The Street Where You Live (not to be confused with the 1956 Vic Damone classic of the same name), the prototypical high drama, Bert Berns-like production, Leave While I'm Not Looking, the equally dramatic Love Somebody, the inspiringly optimistic Perfect, the Northern Soul vibe of Ever Lonely, and the utterly stupendous (complete with pizzicato strings) King Of Hearts. Lilley executes with a determination and resolve that not only suggests a thorough understanding of the various inspirations that avail themselves throughout the proceedings, but with a sense of candor and vision that brings to the table the crucial attribute of individualism. King Of Hearts has already been released as a single, to both considerable acclaim and as a fitting testimony to God's grace and mercy. Proceeds from the single have gone to underwrite life saving heart surgery for a eleven year old named John, who resides in Uganda. Blitz Magazine's recurring relationship with Days Of Our Lives has been a long and fortuitous one. As chronicled in early installments of our ongoing Audrey's Musical Journey series (which for the moment appears exclusively on Facebook), Blitz's late and beloved Photo Editor, Audrey McDowell also served as the Office Manager of the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission at the turn of the century. Among the mission's regular volunteers at that time were various Days Of Our Lives cast and crew members, whose selfless efforts were instrumental in leading to Audrey's pivotal role in the mission's official PSA, which aired regularly on various Southern California television stations for several years. As such, when Lilley announced that she was augmenting her film and television work with a return to music, given her professed inspirations in that respect, it was inevitable that a meeting with Blitz Magazine was in order. The resultant following exchange transpired in October 2018, in which Lilley spoke at length with unabashed enthusiasm about her goals, challenges and triumphs on television, in film and in the recording studio, and (most encouragingly) her unwavering faith in Jesus Christ and its resultant blessings.

BLITZ: You are from Roanoke, Virginia. Did the culture and environment there or anything extraneous to your family life factor in to your decision to pursue music?

LILLEY: Yes and no. I'm not really sure.

You know, when I was little, being from Virginia, we had really solid family morals, which I appreciate. My parents had raised me to believe that I could be anything that I wanted to be.

When I was about four, my parents told me that I could be anything that I wanted to be when I grew up. I said, "I can be anything that I wanna be?" And they said, "Yes!"

Then I said, "I'm gonna be a bird!" But they said, "You can't be a bird!" And I said, "But you just said I could be anything!" So they said, "Why would you want to be a bird?" I told them, "Well, then I could sing all day!"

Not that it's not everywhere, but that's the sort of thing that I attribute to a Virginia upbringing. Really strong family. And as is common in Virginia, I grew up singing in church. That led to it a bit, too.

BLITZ: Do you recall either the first records you ever bought or the first artists you heard that prompted you to say to yourself, "I like this" or "I really want to do this"?

LILLEY: Oh man, sure. Frank Sinatra! I was that weird kid that just loved Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald.

And then I loved the sixties music, because I grew up listening to it with my dad in the car.

BLITZ: In terms of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, Capitol or Reprise era?

LILLEY: All of it! But probably even more Reprise.

BLITZ: In one of your video promos, you mentioned listening to at that time and being impacted by My Girl by the Temptations. That song is about as iconic 1965 as you can get.

LILLEY: That song was actually my father-daughter dance at my wedding!

BLITZ: So Motown in general also inspired you?

LILLEY: Oh yeah, profoundly. In fact, my whole album is sixties-inspired. That is for several reasons. One reason is that in the conception of it, my record producer, Adrian Gurvitz was very much thriving in the sixties as an artist.

His favorite singer of all time is Dusty Springfield. We were writing at the piano, and figuring out what direction we wanted to go. He was trying to figure out my voice, and then he just stopped.

He said, "Do you know who you sound like?" And I said, "No". And he said, "Other than sounding like Duffy, you sound like Dusty Springfield". And I said, "No way!"

That kind of led us to do something more in a sixties vein. He said, "Everything about you is sixties!"

So we started going in that direction. I love the Supremes. I love the Ronettes. And I love Aretha Franklin. The Temptations, the Four Seasons. I could just go on and on!

That's one of the main reasons we took that direction. But as we were going along, I thought, "For the same reason that I and most of America love Hallmark Channel is because it is an ode to the original form of escapism".

I started thinking more about it. It's not political, as I don't like to get political. But just in general, as a feel of how the whole world is overall, there are a lot of parallels between the sixties and 2018. The reason that Motown and the music overall in the sixties was so wonderful is because it was feelgood music.

That really supported what I wanted to do. I always want my music to be uplifting. A source of empowerment and encouragement for people.

BLITZ: During the 1960s, the changes happening in music were so rapid, particularly between 1964 and 1969, that if you hear a given record from that period, it is often possible to pinpoint the release date right to the month.

But at that same time, it eventually got to the point that certain factions became so immersed in the "next big thing", that a perceived dichotomy may have arisen amongst some of those observers between the likes of Dusty Springfield and Adrian Gurvitz.

To that effect, you are of course aware that Adrian at that time was a member of the band Gun, who in late 1968 rose to prominence with their single, the prototypically Christian-themed Race With The Devil.

From the perspective of those certain factions, by the time that Race With The Devil came out, Dusty Springfield would have had to clamor to get their attention. She did do so at that same time with the release of her Son Of A Preacher Man single.

That can of course be attributed in part to those changes that were happening so rapidly in music. However, as having not lived through it, you don't have that baggage. Therefore, you can appreciate it on its own level, as art. Does that resonate with you?

LILLEY: Yes, for sure. Because one thing I do know is that there were so many things that we just so terribly sad about the sixties. First of all, there was Vietnam. And when were the Watts riots?

BLITZ: August 1965.

LILLEY: There was just a lot of tension. Very similar to our current day, right now. There is tension around so many issues now, just like Vietnam in that there are so many people who don't know why we're at war..

That's not political. It's just that there's more division. At least more than I have seen in my lifetime in our country.

That really hearkens back to the sixties. So I'm hoping that my music makes people feel good! But you're right. Since I didn't live through it, I don't have the baggage.

BLITZ: What you do bring to the table is a blessing, and that is your faith. How does that resonate with others when you present it within the industry, be it recording music or reading for another part?

LILLEY: It's everything! I can almost cry just talking about it.

With every project that I do, I ask the Lord, "How can I love on these people in a genuine way? How can I show them You? Is there anybody that You want me to speak to?"

When I decided to play Theresa on Days Of Our Lives, I can't even practically say that "I decided". I was praying about it. I didn't want to do soaps.

I had done General Hospital. I came from the sitcom world. I was actually told when I moved to Los Angeles, "Don't ever do soaps or try to meet anybody in the soap opera world. You're too awkward. You're not pretty enough.”  I thought, "Well, that's fine. Soap operas are a little too dramatic for me, anyway".

So I fell in to General Hospital, because they needed someone who was comedic. It was such a trying time!

I was replacing Kirsten Storms, playing one of the most beloved soap characters of all time. Being able to navigate the initial fan backlash with grace was only because of my faith and genuine love for people.  

But, when I got the offer to do Days Of Our Lives, I thought, "Absolutely not! I can't do it! On soaps, you’re memorizing forty pages a night! It's just too much. I can't survive that again".

But I distinctly remember God saying, "This is your role". And (in John 10:27), it says, "My sheep will know me by My voice".

So I thought, "Okay, Lord. I know this is You. And I'm not allowed to say 'no', Lord". That's an oxymoron!

But we are allowed to say why, right? The Scripture does say it's okay to test the Spirit!

So I said, "God, why do you want me to play this role? Why do you want me to be Theresa on Days? She's addicted to coke. She has one night stands.  She's everything that I'm not.  I don’t know how to even play her. I was never that girl. And how could I justify playing it?  I mean, I just played Esther in The Book Of Esther!”  

I heard Him say to me, clear as a bell, "Because Theresa is the exact condition that the world was in when I sent My Son to die for them. The audience needs to know that there is no pit so deep that they can fall into that My love cannot find them still. And I really need a Christian to play this role".

You need a Christian to play this role? What? Why? Because there are unscripted moments, when the guy leaves, and she's acting like she's so cool. You can play that unspoken moment, where you show that void in her has not been filled. Like the sex did not satisfy her. The highs came back down. She is still alone. And she is still empty. And she's not beyond redemption, because God still loves her.

I would do interviews, and there were hundreds of fans who would say, "Wow. I started going to church again because of you. Now I know that it was okay for me to go to church still because God still loves me!"

I even had one fan who was going to commit suicide. For whatever reason, and I believe that it was the Lord, he read an interview with me. And he said, "I guess I won't kill myself tonight". The next day, he read another interview with me and said, "I guess I won't kill myself today, either".

That went on for like a month. And then he went to church and fully gave himself to Jesus. Like it says, there is no pit so deep!

So my point is, everywhere is a mission field, because you never know who you are going to impact. Be obedient! When the Lord requires you to do things, be obedient. Obedience requires immediate action.

BLITZ: On the other hand, your Yes I Do film for Hallmark was magnificent. You are one of a trio of artists who pursue music, yet who have also done films for Hallmark; the others being Alicia Witt and Debbie Gibson. To a limited extent, Alicia's films have made peripheral references to music. And by definition, Debbie has emphasized music in her films, since hers are semi-autobiographical. Do you see the possibility of approaching music in film in future projects?

LILLEY: I certainly hope so!

BLITZ: There were a couple of interesting asides in the story line of Yes I Do, which sound as though they might have been ad libbed. For example, there was an exchange between your Charlotte character and her friend, where they invoked the lyrics to Johnny Nash's I Can See Clearly Now. There is another one where Charlotte is talking with the character Nicole, and her departing greeting to Charlotte was, "Toodles!" That of course was a signature line used by Sally Field when she portrayed Gidget.

LILLEY: That was not ad libbed. But the script was written for me by two writers who know me very well!

BLITZ: Do you have any other Hallmark projects in the works?

LILLEY: Yeah, I have one called Mingle All The Way. It will be airing on December first for Christmas month.

I'm really excited to be doing the Christmas edition of the Hallmark Channel. It's about a girl who creates a dating app that is not for romance. It's for networking, where when you get invited to a holiday party and they say, "Bring a plus one", you don't have to awkwardly go around trying to round somebody up. There's an app for that!

That was fun! I'm actually reading a script now for the next one. But I don't know what it's about just yet.

BLITZ: Presumably Hallmark has no problem with letting the real you shine when possible in a movie, then.

LILLEY: Yes, that's correct. They've been great!

BLITZ: Have you ever considered carrying that into your records? In other words, recording a Gospel track?

LILLEY: Maybe. I love worship. That's what I pretty much listen to 24/7. That's up to the Lord. It's not up to me! I just do what He asks.

BLITZ: If the opportunity ever opened up for you to minister, speak or lead worship at a church, would you be amenable to that?

LILLEY: Oh, a hundred percent! I would absolutely love it. Yes! Like it says in Psalm 119, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet". I pray about everything. Every role that I do. I will go wherever He leads me.

BLITZ: Do you play any musical instruments?

LILLEY: I dabble in ukulele and guitar. But I'm a novice.

BLITZ: For the moment, only your single, King Of Hearts is available, but the album won't be out until February.

LILLEY: Correct, but the album is available for pre-order now. One hundred percent of the proceeds are going to charities supporting orphans and children in foster care.

BLITZ: Do you envision yourself as being involved to a greater degree in the writing process on future projects?

LILLEY: Absolutely! I'll always be a part of the writing process. That's important to me.

BLITZ: The intro on your single, King Of Hearts is a real Bert Berns moment. Bert Berns was responsible for a wealth of classic singles in the sixties, and that intro is straight out of his work. In terms of execution, did any other such artist factor into your thinking when you were recording the album?

LILLEY: I often thought of Amy Winehouse and how she would approach a lyric.  And of course everyone I mentioned before from the classic and Motown era.

BLITZ: Second generation perhaps, as she was inspired by those artists, as well.

LILLEY: Exactly! And then there was Adrian’s comparison to Dusty Springfield.

BLITZ: Well, Dusty Springfield was all over the map musically. She started out as part of the folk group, the Springfields. Hence her stage name. She went on to sing R&B. She thought outside of the box. There seems to be a bit of that in you, as well.

LILLEY: My album is sixties-esque in that encompasses many of the people who inspired me on a personal level.

BLITZ: To take it a step further, you have done your research. There have been others who have invoked similar inspirations, but your approach is far more authentic. You got it right!

LILLEY: Thank you!  I like music that’s the real deal. Though, admittedly, there were times I wanted to use autotune at least once or twice, but Adrian Gurvitz wasn’t having it.

That's why it took me two and a half years to record the album! Adrian was like, "I'm not auto tuning a single note!" And I would say, "Everybody auto tunes these days. I can't hit that note!" And he said, "Well, I guess you'll have to come back until you get it!"

I put my blood, sweat and tears into this album. When I was little, I didn't want to be an actress. But I just wasn't confident as a singer. Adrian really championed me into an artist.

The whole album is a story about vulnerability and fleeting love. Each song is a chapter of that story. I just hope that people will feel love from me when they listen!