Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lightning In A Bottle-Robert Ward

Back when I first started on MOG I laid out a few of my all time faves and how I came across them..Robert Ward was one of those. The great R&B guitarist passed away during my MOG tenure. My first post on him came on 12-24-2006 and featured comments from all time classic MOGGERS Crash Pryor , RockNRollPimp, Utah Spike,lemontwist, RobP,and rawkiddoh..

Lightning In A Bottle

About 8 or 9 years ago I used to work at Amoeba records in San Francisco. I was what they call a floorwalker, in charge of putting out CD's, keeping records in stock, pruning and merchandising my sections (R and B/Acid Jazz/Groove), and talking with customers. Musically I learned more in those 9 months than I had in the prior 10 years.At the time Amoeba had about 90 full time employees and every one of them was a crazed music fan or musician. Getting to talk to these folks every day (and to some extent the customers) was a revelation. I consider myself a jack-of-all trades in music, knowing a little bit about everything witout being an expert in anything, but there were many people at Amoeba who were experts in one small sliver in the music universe, so there was a lot to learn.

One guy named Karl, who also worked on the floor, was an expert in rare psych/garage records. He pretty much didn't give a damn about anything else, but he knew all there was to know about psych and garage. He believed the best music could only be made by folks who were unfettered by the business of music, the influences of commerce and other musicians. He believed a band was only capable of 1 good record, achievable only when all the elements of musicianship (or lack thereof), creativity, and vision coalesced and someone was there to capture it on tape.Essentially, he totally believed in the Lightning in a Bottle Theory.I, of course, believe the exact opposite.

I like record labels, house bands, and tight fisted band leaders with time honed chops and hard earned record industry stripes, capable of backing any musician in any style or creating music to fit current trends. I like veterans like Andre Williams, George Clinton, Booker T, James Brown,Al Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, Swamp Dogg,Curtis Mayfield, and the many others who have paid their dues and seen it all. They've been around the block and it shows.To me that comes through in the music, some of which is totally calculated to sell records.
It doesn't turn me off if it sounds good. Studio musicians and industry pros know what they're doing and sometimes, when they let themslves go, they can capture that same magic that garage band one timers generate. I don't think anyone is right or wrong here, but it leads me to an album I truly love.

I didn't know a bit about Robert Ward when I got a promo copy of his album, Fear No Evil, back in 1990. I guess the only reason I checked it out was because it had a Meters cover tune on it, and I'm so glad I did. The notes tell you about a veteran musician (turns out I had heard him before without knowing it) who played guitar with The Falcons on Wilson Pickett's debut single, who started The Ohio Untouchables (later known as The Ohio Players), and who did some sessions over in the snakepit at Motown records. He was a regional guitar hero with a unique style that was legendary among peers and record collectors.

Fear No Evil was his comeback album, his first recordings in over 20 years, and he just slayed me. I gobbled up everything he had ever played on, and grooved on that, but this album, mostly his own originals, has been with me since I got it, and never fails to bring a smile to my face.It is hard to describe, but the sound he got from his guitar was so warm and so unique, it had me from the jump. I went to see him live and there was nothing missing, the amazing guitar lines were replicated live and the warmth of the man himself came through as well. I saw him outside the venue and I just went up and hugged him, thanked him, and welcomed him back.He cut one more record that was decent, but it could never equal what I got out of Fear No Evil.
Surely, one of my top records of all time.
Your Love is Amazing

Born to Entertain

Fear No Evil

Trying My Best Not to Never Do Wrong

Dry Spell

I also did this post on Mr. Ward after I learned that he passed away
There were a few of his original 60's sides there..now they are here..
Forgive Me Darling

Your Love is Real

I Found A Love

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