Friday, July 22, 2016

Old Fear, New Fear, Black Fear, Brown Fear, White Fear, Yellow Fear, Masculine Fear, Feminine Fear by Peter Reum

If the title of this blog entry sounds like a Dr. Seuss kids'  book, I assure you that it is meant to cause such a reaction. It is election season again. The high priests of the conservative and liberal bandwagons are telling voters what a disaster electing Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton would be, and what they and other candidate/s would take away from you or the religion or foreign country that wants to conquer you. Why anyone would want to lead the United States as President is not understandable to me. It takes a certain amount of self-worshipping and self-loathing to slog through the two years before a Presidential General Election in the USA. Often the people who would not touch running for President are the very people who are sanest and would do the best job (Dwight Eisenhower for example...yes, he was a Republican). Political Science is no longer discussed between friends, as civil discourse is no longer practiced.

After a dirty General Election, the wounds and bites Conservatives and Liberals have inflicted upon each other fester and make for a toxic  swill that prevents bipartisanship. People who are elected nationally are  running for re-election right after they take the oath of office for which they were elected. Newly elected Representatives and Senators are immediately courted by people and especially corporations who prostitute themselves in the hope that their point of view becomes national policy. Citizens United polluted the policy making process to an almost unfixable level of dysfunction.

As it stands now, we have two people nominated by the major Parties whose abilities to build consensus are questionable. Mr. Trump has no public service to speak of, and Ms. Clinton has put herself in a position where her posture vis-à-vis policy making looks like a child playing that old game Twister, where players become so contorted that eventually they inevitably collapse. There seems to be no energy anywhere to remediate this huge pastiche of the enactment of legislation and policy-making relationship with other countries. When cockroaches are more popular than the United States Congress, there's a problem. A group of baboons is called a congress...kinda makes me think....just sayin'......

When someone emerges as a new leader, such as President Obama, his or her initiatives are sabotaged by snipers from both sides of the political spectrum. Never mind that the political process of the United States was designed to build consensus and also weed out toxic decisions made by the Congress or Executive branches of the federal government. Quite candidly, I am now persuaded that the process of electing public servants (note the oxymoron here) is sufficiently polluted and compromised that the only remedies to solve the issues outlined are to abolish political parties, set limits on how long a public servant may be in office, and to finance elections through a transparent public process. That process would set limits for the funds the candidates desiring to run would receive through grants of a certain capped amount of money, depending upon the level of office to which such candidates would hope to be elected. The money would be awarded by a non-partisan board who serve under the condition that they will not run for office for a period of years after their period of service ends.

The State of Montana has limited the length of legislative sessions to approximately four months every other year, in the odd numbered year following State of Montana elections. Montana suffered extreme grift after the Copper Barons locked up the Montana Government with bribes and under-the-table disbursements of dirty money in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. The citizens of Montana overhauled the election and policy-making process so that the governmental arms of Montana would function with a minimum of dirty lobbying, with disciplinary processes to prosecute or remove politicians and policy-makers who  violate the rules enacted by citizens or the citizen legislature.

This has not lessened the ambition of rich fat cats to run for office in Montana. This year we have several millionaires running for legislative and executive positions in Montana government. The citizens of Montana have generally rejected the attempted bullying and subversive elements in various towns, counties, and regions of Montana. The most notorious of these types of organizations, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are funded directly from private money sources to provide model legislation that directly supports private interests with no beneficial outcomes for the public-at-large. 

Some of the proposals that have been proposed to combat the oligarchy that is the U.S. Congress and subterfuge by billionaires and corporations opposing legislation that is in the best interest of our families and future generations (e,g, Climate change denial) are included in a wonderful fact sheet put together by the Campaign for America's Future. This is a public interest group seeking to reduce the pap and propaganda such billionaires and corporations develop to pollute the political process, our nation's environment, and healthcare, amongst the vast amount of legislation, policy-making, and regulation that is not in the public's interest. If all you do is write a letter, sign a petition, or call a lawmaker or a policymaker, or visit their office, you will have learned more about the process of how legislation and policy-making regulations operate and directly touch you and your family, and the generations of your family to come.

Here is the link to the two page fact sheet to which I am referring, please copy it and place it in your chosen browser:

My best wishes to those of you who are still willing to try to fix what is broken in our political process, and my thanks to those of you who are already fixing what is broken.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Squandering Spirit by Peter Reum

There is no peace I can see
If not accompanied by humility
The fear of losing arguments
Must be replaced post haste
No one wants to be viewed as waste

It is hard to accept failures in life
Inner turmoil foreshadowing strife
Fear, what was then inner soil
Shame, making my blood boil
Anger filled a dreadful hole
Inside myself, a shrinking soul

Living free awaiting  climbs
Humbled by redemption sublime
Self-trust restored by reliance mine
Becomes faith attached to the divine
Sacred wishes begin to unfold
Making friends again and a wife to hold

Frightened by death, being frantic to cope
Hanging by a string,  I wonder, should I elope?
Trusting Higher Power greater than myself
Restores inner Spirit left on a shelf

Is it wrong to allow my life to extend
Once waiting to die, my prayers now depend
Upon finding the Spirit in each person I meet
Lowering walls my faith is now complete

Monday, July 11, 2016

Beach Boys Catalog Projects by Peter Reum

Roughly 4 years ago, I published an article in this blog advocating for an active catalog program that would do The Beach Boys music justice, but that would not include tapes  that would prove embarrassing for Brian and the group. In that time, we have seen an excellent boxed set, plus numerous downloads available through ITunes and Amazon. Nearly all of the studio projects I mentioned in the article have been released, as copyrights expire each year. The clan at Omnivore Records has licensed the Hite and Dorinda Morgan sessions for release in the next few months. After all of the false starts, the sessions will be released in their entirety, according to Brad Rosenberger of Omnivore. This fills a hole in the timeline for Beach Boy music that was historically empty.

As consumers of Beach Boys music, those of us who go beyond a casual interest have had a satisfying if not sequential opportunity to fill in the missing titles in the list of tracks that we know are around due to Capitol having paid for the sessions. The first seven years of the Beach Boys' recording history are generally either available now or will available be as each year's work needs to be released to save exclusive rights to those recordings. What was available from those 1962 to 1969 sessions was already in circulation due to the various Sea of Tunes sets from the late Nineties and early 2000s. In many ways, the Sea of Tunes sets showed the sheer volume of takes for major Beach Boys studio work for each song. Listening can be maddening. Personally, an example that drove me nuts was the 50+ takes of Christmas Day on the first Christmas Album. Alan probably was weary after trying to please Brian so many times.

For myself, the jewel from this program was the vocal sessions for The Beach Boys Party Album without the party noises. This reissue truly altered many people's opinion regarding the Party album. For myself, I found the package a delight. It helped me see how much planning went into making Party an informal sounding recording. That the sessions were so productive may rest in the less directive tone Brian took as producer with the other group members, relaxing them and thereby helping them REALLY relax and enjoy the informality the Party project demanded.

The restructuring of the Pet Sounds Box was probably inevitable. We know that the notation on that project unfortunately caused a negative reaction on the 1993 Box, thus delaying its release for several months. This is unfortunate because those notes were outstanding. The current box is a beautifully designed book form set, that somewhat brings a few new ideas content wise to the project this year.  The live tracks are an excellent addition to the set, and help the discerning listener understand how the Beach Boys' approach to live presentation of the Pet Sounds songs evolved through the years. I'll cover this in more detail in another article.

Conceivably, there could be an issue of sessions from Good Vibrations as it hits 50 years this Autumn. The vocal session tapes have never been found. It is scary to say, but they could either be in a very quiet collector's home, or worse yet, deteriorating in a land fill. The set from Sea of Tunes is instructional, but the sheer repetitiveness of that sort of unauthorized set makes listening a difficult task due to redundancy. The Smile material was issued in many formats in 2011, and this makes reissuing such a huge set of tapes daunting. There are a number of shows from 1967 that could be put together to supplement the Lei'd In Hawaii shows and also more from the Autumn of 1967.

Obviously, there are ways of helping people dive into the Wild Honey, Friends, and 20/20  periods. These recordings could be presented as tracks and vocals just like Pet Sounds. Both shows from the Live in London tapes would be a great addition to the late Sixties Beach Boys live scene.

Moving into later work, Sunflower as mixed by Carl and Stephen Desper would be a great addition to the reissue program, perhaps with some illustration as to how the track lineups changed through 1970.  The first Add Some Music lineup could be contrasted with the final track lineup. There are demos from Brian for the Sunflower and Surfs Up sessions that need to be released. This could be accomplished by reworking the existing releases into a format with  bonus tracks. Session tapes from the 1972 sessions for Carl and the Passions and Holland would be intriguing. There was a single album version of the Beach Boys Live in Concert album that had a number of songs that were removed from the double album we know and love from 1973. Similar albums could be put together from the 1971 New York television show. There are numerous live shows from this period that could be issued as downloads.

A few other things that are welcome begin with the addition of We Got Love to the Holland Acoustic Sounds cd. This is an excellent move. Blondie and Ricci's Flame album is owned by Brother Records, and needs to be rereleased. Carl produced the album with Flame, and it is a nice recording. There is a second Flame album in the can that should be released. The release of Dennis's albums as a double set years ago cries for addition of the earlier Seventies Dennis material. Thankfully, one of the requests from my article three years ago has come to pass. Carl's two solo albums are now available on cd for the first time in many years, and though uneven, are well worth a careful listen. 

With respect to The Beach Boys' concert presentations, I will step out on a ledge and say that the group would make money on concerts they played throughout their 50 year history if they are made available as downloads. The bootleggers are currently making money selling cd-rs of this stuff, and I would like to see the artists make money on their  live show tapes instead.

There is probably more I could say, but that will happen another day. It's summer, I'm sleepy, so I'll head for the park and take a nap.

Copyright 2016 by Peter Reum-All rights reserved

The Beach Boys: The Family Business and Brian's Mental Health by Peter Reum

People who are long term Beach zbs and Brian Wilson fans tend to focus on the artistic side of things Beach Boy, and forget that American Entertainment was a BUSINESS employing an entire family. These 3 brothers, their cousin, and Al were all sustained by a recording contract and personal appearances. Their father and mother published their songs. Brian was fairly avant garde in his commercial instincts, and also SOLD records. What I love about Jules Siegel's piece from 1968 is he recognizes this immediately. He talks about GENIUSES, people who are hip, avant garde, and who sell records.

Brian had an idea. He wanted to take the Beach Boys into fm album recording. He saw it coming, correctly intuited that albums would be the new sales vehicle for music in the late 60s, and did Pet Sounds. He came up with an idea to do an album on humor and music to God. He called it Dumb Angel. He conceived it in movements. He engaged Van Dyke Parks to help write lyrics. Van Dyke introduced the idea of a theme of moving across America from Plymouth Rock to Hawaii. The theme of Americana was born.

Brian was deeply concerned with his family and how they interacted. He saw the insanity first hand and recognized it as such. He also was impressed by how some families could function "normally" and be loving, and how some were like his...he saw how from generation to generation how things such as mental illness and chemical dependency get passed down. He wanted to change his family's manner of his generation. He wanted his kids to grow up feeling loved unconditionally. This is one factor in how how  Smile's Cycle of Life came into creation.

The Elements was more troublesome, and how to express that feeling of spiritual searching and spiritual thirst quenching was more difficult. There is a reason it was not done. In early December buildings burned down in Hollywood, and in Brian's amphetamine influenced mind, that meant he felt he was involved with primal spiritual forces he had no business pursuing. Scratch the Elements.

Van Dyke Parks helped Brian in writing lyrics and also recording Smile songs, but did not remember any session for The Elements except Mrs. O'Leary's Cow. That would make sense if Brian scratched the Elements. That Van Dyke would not necessarily know possible sequences is plausible. Brian as a producer often kept these options close to himself for fear of his ideas being copied. I don't think he mistrusted Van, but I don't think he trusted some others that Van knew.

The American Entertainment business meetings were not recorded. The votes are in the memories of those who were there. Several people have described the meetings of American Entertainment (AEI) to me as "brutal."  Before he passed away a few years ago, I had the chance to interview Michael Vosse, who described the group's business meetings as "argumentative."  Some other sources describe the meetings after Pet Sounds did not supposedly "sell" as "especially brutal." There was a struggle for the direction of the family business. Brian lost.

Brian then, as a family business member, tried to go on as best he could, feeling uncertain of his Smile decisions, partially unsupported, obsessively confused, exhausted, and isolated. Whether those feelings were what actually happened, they were his perceptions and his reality, and he acted on them. The Beach Boys did not realize the seriousness of his auditory cross-talk, his growing untreated mental illness, or his sensitivity to their "minor course corrections" that  were instituted. In his mental state at the end of the Smile Sessions, Brian possibly saw other AEI Board Members as having staged a coup d'etat. Yet, conversely, in some major way, he was relieved to collaborate on producing records with Carl, and his instincts regarding Carl were right on the mark.

The group's trouble playing some of the more elaborate productions Brian did caused them to express the need to ask Brian to produce in a manner that allowed the live Beach Boys' touring group to sound more like the record they were playing live. To be fair to the touring group, there were several press articles that derisively criticized the touring Beach Boys as "Brian's puppets."

As time went on, Brian's condition both improved and worsened. As do many chemically dependent families, some of the Beach Boys thought by going along (smoking pot or hash with him) they could modify his behavior. Thousands of families do this every day. The result was more addled confusion, and a stoner's masterpiece Zen flavored album, Smiley Smile.

Brian, slowly was getting more and more chemically dependent and mentally off kilter, and, to some degree, he gave up trying to work producing The Beach Boys, because in his mind, the touring Beach Boys got more and more demanding, and controlling, which is usually characteristic of  family members with chemically dependent relatives. In the substance abuse field, we call this  behavior "co-dependence." When the AEI group members tried to control his output, while he tried to produce Redwood, Brian was angry.  He was cut off financially, from using AEI money to produce acts outside the Beach Boys, and Brian in turn stopped producing Wild Honey, including several works in progress, like Can't Wait Too Long and Cool Cool Water. Carl stepped in and helped finish the album.

Probably to reduce family tension, Brian came back to try one more album with the group, Friends, (which is why it is titled that title), and actually did a few tracks, with Carl again finishing what Brian had leftvastated. undone. By this time Brian had less of an attention span. His ability to focus was impaired, and his ability to concentrate was reduced. After Friends was released, Brian's obsession with the song known as Old Man River frustrated  the rest of the Beach Boys. Brian was devestated. He broke down emotionally, and was hospitalized due to the mental illness he was experiencing. The psychotropics began. He was misdiagnosed as being paranoic and schizophrenic when he was in fact schizo-affective and severely depressed and anxious. The Beach Boys had a tour with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi that was expensive to stage, and the Maharishi left the tour early on, and the Beach Boys were on the hook for tour expenses that dwindled because, right or wrong, the group was no longer considered "hip" by the rock music press and the fans who once had followed their every move.

From there, things went down the toilet, because Brian did not always stay on the meds he was prescribed, correctly perceiving they were not helping, and in fact were causing serious side effects due to misdiagnosis. Instead, he began to experiment with going out and scoring cocaine, which would let him feel normal for 30 minutes until that feeling went away. Brian got the reputation of not being able to finish anything  musically. This is because when the cocaine wore off the horrible, crippling feelings of depression and the voices from his schizo-affective disorder returned. In my opinion, that's where Til I Die came from.

As is customary with symptoms of chemical dependence, Brian's use began to change from using small doses of stimulants to mood alter to larger  and larger amounts of stimulants as his body habituated to them. His time in the "bedroom" was largely to isolate from his family, who were getting more and more worried about his health. He would conversely leave the Bellagio home to score stimulants and depressants, trying to self-medicate.

Four events seem to have hastened this rapid exacerbation of Brian's mental health and chemical dependence. First, Brian preferred to spend time with people who had the stimulants his chemical dependence demanded, leading to larger and more dangerous chemical ingestion, supplied by people who were also chemically dependent. Second, Brian appeared to have had very mixed feelings about his affiliation with AEI and The Beach Boys, hence in 1971 and 1972, he named his "group" as American Spring in a few interviews. He did not seem to want the pressure and burden of composing and occasionally producing The Beach Boys. Third, my friend Jasper Dailey, was at the ceremony where Brian was to sign with other group members the new extended recording contract between Brother Records and Reprise Records and witnessed Brian crying about having to be the subject of a clause in the Reprise contract requiring that he write and/or produce a certain percentage of each album in the Reprise contract.

Perhaps most telling, and the fourth and most conflicted reason was that Murry Wilson died suddenly of heart failure at his home in Whittier. Brian, like many first sons, had wanted to have the approval and respect that defines father/son relationships that are healthy and emotionally supportive. The suddenness of Murry's death caught Brian by surprise, and sent him into such deeper despair and grief that he would not emerge from until he was legally detached from Eugene Landy, and found a woman who fulfilled all of the needs Brian did not have after his first hospitalization in 1968.

This is not a criticism of any of the family members who loved Brian throughout his descent into serious mental illness and chemical dependence.  Brian is a master at deflecting interactions with persons he perceives as demanding something from him he does not want to do. Second, the field of dually-diagnosed chemical dependence and serious mental illness was in it's infancy when Brian needed help. It would be the mid Eighties before any cogent form of dual diagnosis treatment would become accepted.

Brian's separation from Landy was essential to his survival. A number of Brian's friends and admirers facilitated his transition from Landy to an unconditionally supportive environment in which his music has been once again a gift from himself to the world-at-large. With a correct psychiatric dignosis and the right medications for that diagnosis, he has responded to the love in ways no one would have ever imagined. Since 1993, he has shared his music with the world, which is a development no one could have ever anticipated.

Copyright 2017 by Peter Reum -- All Rights  Reserved 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Peter Lacey's New Way Lane by Peter Reum

My friend and colleague in both the musical and literary worlds, Peter Lacey, has recorded a new album, entitled New Way
Lane. I have taken time to get to know this album, hoping to have the time to absorb it.

In a recent interview, Peter said that once long ago, an English band, The Beatles, had captivated the UK with their music, and that he remembered walking around his neighborhood and hearing Beatle music in nearly every home coming out as he walked by.

This lp has  a distinct charm because it is so very English. Peter has, at the same time explored some new themes, with lyrics celebrating a number of English persons, some that are quite moving.

The first side offers several highly melodic tunes beginning with "The Star of My Own Show." This track strikes me as a celebration of the ability to make life fun, even when alone. We are the creators of our own view of our world. Musically, the tune shadows Paul McCartney's late Sixties work in the Beatles.

The title track, New Way Lane, is a stately track which recalls God Only Knows musically, as  well as Penny Lane. Peter's vocal here is quite satisfying, recalling Paul's laid back tunes.

Laundro Matt, a soulful track, bounces along with a Booker T and the M.G.s feel. The tune offers a nice contrast from the first two tunes. Lyrically, the tune has a remedy to everyday vexation, and that is to get stoned at Matt's house. Phi Slamma Jama...relieve the stress with a head clearing from Matt...a laundromat for your everyday stress.

Jasmine (Blooms Tonight) is a departure for Peter from his previous tunes. Over a ska/reggae beat, the story unfolds slowly. Jasmine has discovered freedom in her soul as she dances. The tune's narrator calls the play by play as a young woman embraces her sexual side.

Peter's Bella Donna explores obsession. The music perks along like a coffee pot, the piano being used as a rhythm keeper. The nature of Bella Donna is subtlely disclosed early on, as the tune's storyteller looks at himself in the mirror and sees himself wasting away, the result of too many goodies at Matt's place.

A hypothetical return of God is God Send's theme. The return of God to Earth is highlighted by an unexpected prosperity equals reality theme which rankles the old church. This tune could have been written by Randy Newman.

The Afternoon Nap is a tune that brings  a sense of contentment that might be a reminder of some of Brian Wilson's work on the Friends and 20/20 albums. The tune is gently jaunty at first, leading into a lovely tag that Brian would be proud of that you absolutely HAVE to hear.

Home Free is a song that seems to express both grief and relief. Perhaps the person sung about in this ballad passed away, or is gone and never heard from again. This is a highlight of New Way Lane.

Desperate Dan is a tune that can be heard in many ways. It is one of the lesser songs here, but offers some tasty guitar ala Joe Walsh.

Old Fashioned Cafe, like many of the songs on New Way Lane, offers a picture of life in a small town or neighborhood that is frequented by a group of characters who hang together, clinging to the one social center that this village or neighborhood has had for years. It is a place these folks protect because life without the cafe would be unbearable. The simple track, highlighted by a ukelele, provides the frame for this postcard of a way of life that is nearly gone.

Here, Out West, we have a saying that essentially means that its time to leave. We say "I think its time to head out." The album's final track is called Better Make Tracks. Of course, the other interpretation of this saying, using musical nomenclature would be....its time to begin the next album. The melody here is extremely catchy. It would be hard NOT to hear it bouncing around your brain for days after listening to it!

Okay, I'll give you the bottom line...New Way Lane is the best album Peter has released. Unless there's a Smile equivalent lurking in Peter's instrument closet, this is the most consistently satisfying album Peter has cut. It is catchy. It is lyrically clever, and it hangs together extremely well as an album. You will be glad you grabbed it while its hot! It can be found at

Copyright 2016 by
Peter Reum-All Rights Reserved