The Collected Thoughts Of The Chairman

  • Clean Up Your Room
  • Beach Boys The Capitol Years
  • Beach Boys The Warner Years
  • A Tribute To Micky Jones

Get Up Off The Floor Of Your LIfe

The Problem:

records on the floorThe last few years have been particularly good for a record hound like myself. The local thrift shops offer up a few choice items every week. The occasional collection always seems like it must be the last one we will ever see. Trips this summer to Billings, Denver and Boulder yielded stacks of unexpected treasures. Prices are good, so it's easy to fill in gaps, and explore new avenues.

The original 16 crates have been with me since the mid 70's. A record shop I worked at used them in the warehouse. I've built 12 more over the years to accommodate the unavoidable growth. In the last couple of years, it seems there is a chronic stack of albums on the floor "to be sorted and filed". There are also boxes of albums in the cupboard. Some are duplicates, and things to sell, but there are some gems that have never been put into the main library. Last week, I attempted to clean up the mess, but gave up after a couple of futile hours.

The Solution:

When I originally laid out the studio, after the big remodel, I left a space between the two columns of crates. It was intended to be some space to hang headphones, but quickly attracted a lot of unused gear, and a few odd records. I finally figured if I moved the left stack over, closer to the piano, I could fit a 20 inch wide stack of crates. 4 crates, 80 inches more shelf space.

the solutionThe process is pretty simple. The concern is that I don't have transport for a  4' x 8' sheet of plywood. I had to ask a friend for help, when I build two roll around carts for KGLT. I didn't want to impose again. On Sunday, I was determined to attack this problem, but wasn't sure if I could round up the materials. Before I headed to the local Home Despot, I figured I had better take a walk through the garage to see what might be found in the piles of scrap lumber. Eureka! There was still most of a big wooden shipping box I had dismantled. The two 1" x 12" pieces of pine would be enough for the eight end pieces. That was incentive to crawl over the pile of household stuff, to see if there was a sheet of 1/2" ply to be found. I had salvaged one sheet to trim the radio station media carts. Alas, there was still the second sheet from the shipping crate, and it seemed to be in good shape, Nearly every square inch was usable. Another piece of 1/2" wasn't a full sheet, but would help. I now had to put pencil to paper to see exactly what I would need. In the end, I had to cheat on the back pieces a little, but this wouldn't make a big difference to the structural integrity.

The Workshop:

the workshopI don't consider myself a carpenter of any great skill. I was taught some basics as a kid, and can get by with out looking stupid. It would be fantastic to have a shop, and all the necessary power tools, but I don't. A SkilSaw and two little saw horses are about it. For what I'd be doing today, that is more than enough. In the end, my total expense was $1.08 for a bag 'o nails.

If you want to see how it came out, have a look at the slide show. You can measure the progress. I took some photos of a few of the gems in the collection.

...in the end, it all worked as planned. It is possible to get stuff on and off the shelf. There is plenty of room for growth, and it cleand up the clutter, for now.

Micky Jones - Pound for pound, the greatest guitar player to walk this earth..

A fan's look at an amazing career
by RS photos by Karen

As some of you know, the Welsh band, Man have been close friends for over thirty years. I was introduced to them by Andrew Lauder, who was running their label, UA at the time. So it's with a heavy heart I have to write this tribute to Micky Jones. A few years ago, Mick was diagnosed with a brain tumor. At the time is was deemed benign, and is was hoped that with surgery, he would make a full recovery. This seemed to be the case. Sadly, at the end of last year, Micky returned to the hospital for further treatment, as the tumors had returned. Despite the efforts to treat Micky, he's been in serious decline. Micky is currently living in a nursing home, where he is well cared for. The most recent reports from his friends and family are not encouraging. Rather than wait for the inevitable end, I thought I say a few words about this wonderful human being, and extraordinary guitarist.

micky jones and ron sanchez at eggThe history of the Manband is well documented, so I won't attempt to retell that complex story here. Not the whole story anyway. In the mid 60's Micky was a member of the Bystanders. They were a harmony group, well into the 4 Seasons and Beach Boys. A long string of singles appeared on the Pye label, with only small success. From what I gather, they were a popular band in Wales, and are still fondly remembered. In 1968, they decided to change direction. Mick and three of the others; Clive John, Jeff Jones, and Ray Williams asked Deke Leonard to join the group. This new band was able to convince label and management to let them try something new.

The two albums recorded for Pye, Revelation and 2 Oz Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle never sold in big quantities, they did lay the foundations for what was to come over the next eight years. Looking back at them now, they hold up very well, and would fall under the pop/psych umbrella. Their signature tune, Spunk Rock makes it's first of many appearances on 2 Oz's. After the release of the second of these two records, the band began the tradition of the ever shifting line up. For the rest of the band's career Micky was the only constant. Deke left, then returned, Martin Ace came in, then the original rhythm section was fired. Terry Williams took over the drum stool, and over then next two years, what is often considered the "classic band" hit the road and recorded two studio albums and appeared on two amazing live LPs.

Right from the start it was clear Mick was a guitarist of amazing skills and originality. He also possessed a distinctive soulful voice. Micky's father had played Hawaiian lap steel guitar and had inspired the young Michael Jones to pick up the guitar himself. Like most of his generation, Micky was well schooled in American rock and roll. The mid 60's saw a growing interest in West Coast sounds. From talking to Mick, it was clear people like Jerry Garcia, Steve Miller, Cipollina, Zappa, and Zoot Horn Rollo were the big influences. The resulting sound that Micky produced was highly original, fluid, and sometimes aggressive. You could always expect some serious fretboard explorations when he stepped up to solo. The version of Spunk Rock from the Greasy Trucker live album is often cited as one of his landmark performances.

Through a series of coincidences I heard their music, and was put in touch with the UK office of UA records by the legendary Greg Shaw. This resulted in Man coming to the Bay Area in 1974, with Hawkwind. That was the famous 1999 Party Tour. Bill Graham took a liking to them and kept them busy on their next two visits. All this was dream come true for them. The ultimately hooked up with John Cipollina which resulted in a tour and live album.

micky jonesRight about now, I guess it's a good time to offer up some live examples of Micky's guitar styling with the Manband.

The Welsh Connection (mp3)

Recorded at the Savoy Tivoli, their last night in San Francisco, 10 August 1976. With Phil Ryan back in the band, they were playing some of the most complex music they would perform. This song shows off some of the great ensemble playing they band developed for the album of the same name. Micky's solo is a masterful piece of technique and tone. Phil, Deke and Mick work together very well on this one. The five part harmonies are spot on.

Hard Way To Die (mp3)

Deke wrote this one for the Slow Motion album. It's a showcase for Micky's slide playing. This is the best performance of this song I've heard. Considering the lyrical content, the heavenly solo is a fitting contrast.

After the US tour, things began to unravel for the Manband. With the early rumbling of punk on the horizon, and the inability to move up to the next tier of success, they decided to call it a day.

Deke resurrected his band, Iceberg, recorded an album, and once again hit the road. Micky assembled "The Micky Jones Band" with bassist Al McClane, drummer Steve Dixon, Steve Gurl on keyboards and old pal Tweke Lewis on guitar. By the time I got to London in the summer of '78, Tweke had left the group, but the four piece had a full gig schedule and a solid set of mostly original material. I followed the band around the UK and got to see several great show. The best of the bunch was at the Hope And Anchor. The next two songs are from that show.

Too Hard To Handle (mp3)

I wasn't familiar with this Ike and Tina Turner number before I heard the MJB play it. Despite the stripped down presentation, this, the opening number jumps right in and smokes.

Welsh Boy (mp3)

One of the new numbers is an autobiographical song about Man's visit to Detroit. This has a feel that was typical of most of the material Micky was playing at the time. In the end, this band folded due to lack of label interest. There are no official releases from this band.

Do The Turkey (mp3)

 

Much to everyone's surprise, Man regrouped in 1983 with Martin returning to the fold, and John "Pugwash" Weathers stepping in as the new drummer. A live document of their appearance at the Marquee was followed by a steady gigging schedule that continues even now. An album was recorded for a German label, which has never been released. A couple of the songs were carried over from the Micky Jones Band set list.

micky jones at eggIt wasn't until 1993 that they released an album of new material, The Twang Dynasty. The next year Man returned to the US for the first time in nearly 20 years to record an album in Seattle. The photos on this page are from the sessions at Egg Studio, where Call Down The Moon was recorded. Not only did the band perform for the first time in the States since 1976, the album was released here as well. Unfortunately there was never a chance to return to support the record. The logistics of touring had become far too expensive and their 20 year absence from these shores had dissipated the audience needed to support such a venture.

So it was back on the road for another ten years. When Micky was taken ill, his spot in the band was filled by his son, George. This assured the Jones presence in the band. When Micky was able to return to the band, Deke decided it was time to hang up his hat, so Man continued on with father and son taking over the guitar positions. In the end this line up proved to be short lived, when Micky took ill again. In a very curious move, his replacement was Martin's son Josh. A twang dynasty indeed.

There is no shortage of Micky Jones recordings. A dozen albums recorded during between 68 and 76. Three more studio albums from the reformed band, as well as countless live albums, fan club releases, and bootlegs. Surprisingly, outside of the Bystanders and the Manband, there is virtually no other Micky Jones material to be heard.

So where does this leave us. Those of us who spent time with Micky will remember his sly sense of humor and his humble love of life. On a good night, one could expect some great playing. On those rare nights when it was all experimental, it was something to behold. While working on the Call Down The Moon album, Deke and I sat in the booth while Micky worked on guitar solos. We both agreed we could sit there all day listening to Mick try out ideas and explore possibilities. We were almost giddy considering our lucky place in the world as Micky dazzled us with lick after lick. In the end, we both knew there would be a moment when it was perfect. It always reached that point, and we would collapse in tears knowing that we'd just seen a bit of magic conjured up by the most proficient of all the Welsh Wizards. It saddens me to know that that era has now passed us, and there is a good friend I'll never have the chance to share a top shelf drink with again. Cheer Micky Jones....

Micky Jones left us on March 10, 2010

micky sig

mickyjones.co.uk