Posts Tagged ‘1969’

“Nazz Nazz” by the Nazz (1969)

When I was doing more in the way of newspaper writing, I occasionally had the opportunity to interview sundry rock stars.

Several years ago, I called Todd Rundgren at a hotel at which he was staying in Chicago, during a tour that was going to bring him to Pittsburgh. We had a nice conversation going until I asked about a new anthology of his 1960s band, the Nazz.

Todd promptly said something to the effect that he wasn’t particularly thrilled with that part of his career, and I promptly changed the subject to his son, Rex, who was playing minor-league baseball at the time.

I’m sorry that Mr. Rundgren feels that way, because my favorite album in which he’s involved is “Nazz Nazz,” that band’s second album. I first hear it when my college roommate, Mike, bought it after Rhino Records re-released it, on green vinyl, if I recall correctly. (Uh … I didn’t recall correctly. According to Mike, it was on red vinyl.)

Th Nazz is best remembered today for its phase-shifted single “Open My Eyes,” which has become a psychedelic classic of sorts, and for the original version of “Hello, It’s Me,” which gave Todd a top-10 hit several years later as a solo artist. Those tracks appeared on the band’s self-titled debut album for SGC Records.

For the follow-up, the Nazz intended to release a double album, to be called “Fungo Bat,” built around Rundgren’s prodigious songwriting skills. The label preferred to play it safe, releasing a single LP, and Rundgren departed the band shortly afterward for what has turned out to be a durable career as a musician, bandleader and producer.

Despite the acrimonious circumstances, “Nazz Nazz” stands up extremely well as its own entity, with an abundance of pop-rock hooks tinged with the type of experimentalism that would become one of Rundgren’s hallmarks in the future.

“Nazz Nazz” kicks off with what should have been a hit single, “Forget All About It.” The song’s relatively bombastic opening builds to a crescendo that basically urges the listener to relax, a message added by a suitably mellow bridge.

Side One of the LP displayed a variety of styles: the straight-ahead rock of “Not Wrong Long,” which actually was released as a single; “Rain Rider,” a pop-psychedelic gem with its “Ride my chariot, baby!” chorus; “Gonna Cry Today,” displaying Rundgren’s penchant for balladry; “Meridian Leeward,” the bizarre tale of a pig who becomes a man and eats “half of Uncle Fred”; and the heavy-duty “Under the Ice.”

Side Two mixes it up with pop, blues and ballads before melding the assorted elements into the band’s 11-minute magnum opus, “A Beautiful Song,” which lives up to its title with a mixture of instrumental prowess, orchestration and good, old-fashioned jamming.

The remaining part of the would-be “Fungo Bat” appeared later as “Nazz III,” on which keyboardist Robert “Stewkey” Antoni replaced Rundgren’s vocals. (Antoni later played in a band called Sick Man of Europe with future Cheap Trick members Rick Nielsen and Tom Petersson.)

Todd Rundgren went on to make decades’ worth of noteworthy music. But despite his own opinion of his work with the Nazz, some of us still really enjoy listening to it.

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I can’t admit to listening to a lot of what eventually became known as classic rock when I actually was alive during the ’60s. I wasn’t that old when the decade ended, and I certainly didn’t hear any of that type of music through my parents. My dad still is pretty much convinced that anything recorded after World War II is “noise.”

Through a convergence of circumstances, by roughy 1976 I was exploring the music of the previous decade, while my classmates were listening to disco and the like. I remember the stares I got when I brought “The Worst of Jefferson Airplane” to listen to in typing class. Even the teacher, Mr. Wolf, felt compelled to comment.

No matter. They call it classic rock, not classic disco.

At any rate, my music collection from the past 35 years or so is widely varied, but a lot of it does lean toward a certain genre from a certain era. And I think the final year of the ’60s leads the way.

Here’s a sampling of what fans were lucky enough to hear when it came out new in 1969:

  • “The Allman Brothers Band” by the Allman Brothers Band
  • “Phallus Dei” by Amon Duul II
  • “Andromeda” by Andromeda
  • “Argent” by Argent
  • “Arzachel” by Arzachel
  • “The Band” by The Band
  • “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles
  • “Abbey Road” by the Beatles
  • “Beck-Ola” by the Jeff Beck Group
  • “Blind Faith” by Blind Faith
  • “It’s Not Killing Me” by Michael Bloomfield
  • “Live at Bill Graham’s Fillmore West: 1969” by Michael Bloomfield
  • “New! Improved!” by Blue Cheer
  • “Wasa Wasa” by the Edgar Broughton Band
  • “Ballad of Easy Rider” by the Byrds
  • “Monster Movie” by Can
  • “Trout Mask Replica” by Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band
  • “The Charlatans” by the Charlatans
  • “Chicago Transit Authority” by Chicago Transit Authority
  • “Penitentiary Blues” by David Allan Coe
  • “Valentyne Suite” by Colosseum
  • “Bayou Country” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • “Green River” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • “Willy & the Poor Boys” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • “Crosby, Stills & Nash” by Crosby, Stills & Nash
  • “In a Silent Way” by Miles Davis
  • “The Book of Taliesyn” by Deep Purple
  • “Deep Purple” by Deep Purple
  • “Concerto for Group and Orchestra” by Deep Purple
  • “On Tour With Eric Clapton” by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
  • “Through the Morning, Through the Night” by Dillard & Clark
  • “The Great American Eagle Tragedy” by Earth Opera
  • “How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You’re Not Anywhere at All” by the Firesign Theatre
  • “Then Play On” by Fleetwood Mac
  • “The Gilded Palace of Sin” by the Flying Burrito Bros.
  • “Free” by Free
  • “Aoxomoxoa” by the Grateful Dead
  • “Live/Dead” by the Grateful Dead
  • “My Labors” by Nick Gravenites
  • “Blues Obituary” by the Groundhogs
  • “Canned Wheat” by the Guess Who
  • “Halfbreed” by the Keef Hartley Band
  • “Sea Shanties” by High Tide
  • “Two Bugs and a Roach” by Earl Hooker
  • “Yer Album” by the James Gang
  • “Bless Its Pointed Little Head” by Jefferson Airplane
  • “Volunteers” by Jefferson Airplane
  • “Stand Up” by Jethro Tull
  • “I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!” by Janis Joplin
  • “In the Court of the Crimson King” by King Crimson
  • “Led Zeppelin” by Led Zeppelin
  • “Led Zeppelin II” by Led Zeppelin
  • “Four Sail” by Love
  • “Forms and Feelings” by Love Sculpture
  • “Paradise Bar & Grill” by Mad River
  • “Revelation” by Man
  • “2 Ozs. Of Plastic with a Hole in the Middle” by Man
  • “The Turning Point” by John Mayall
  • “Kick Out the Jams” by the MC5
  • “Brave New World” by the Steve Miller Band
  • “Your Saving Grace” by the Steve Miller Band
  • “On the Threshold of a Dream” by the Moody Blues
  • “Astral Weeks” by Van Morrison
  • “Uncle Meat” by the Mothers of Invention
  • “Mott the Hoople” by Mott the Hoople
  • “Sunshine” by Sunny Murray
  • “An Even Break (Never Give a Sucker)” by Sunny Murray
  • “Nazz Nazz” by the Nazz
  • “Accent on the Blues” by John Patton
  • “Soundtrack from the Film ‘More'” by Pink Floyd
  • “Ummagumma” by Pink Floyd
  • “A Salty Dog” by Procol Harum
  • “Happy Trails” by Quicksilver Messenger Service
  • “Shady Grove” by Quicksilver Messenger Service
  • “Get Ready” by Rare Earth
  • “Renaissance” by Renaissance
  • “Let It Bleed” by the Rolling Stones
  • “Karma” by Pharaoh Sanders
  • “Santana” by Santana
  • “Mendocino” by the Sir Douglas Quintet
  • “Loosen Up Naturally” by Sons of Champlin
  • “Oar” by Alexander Spence
  • “The Family That Plays Together” by Spirit
  • “Spooky Two” by Spooky Tooth
  • “Red Weather” by Leigh Stephens
  • “Monster” by Steppenwolf
  • “The Stooges” by the Stooges
  • “Atlantis” by Sun Ra
  • “Hollywood Dream” by Thunderclap Newman
  • “The Aerosol Grey Machine” by Van der Graaf Generator
  • “The Velvet Underground” by the Velvet Underground
  • “Tommy” by The Who
  • “Emergency!” by Tony Williams’ Lifetime
  • “The Progressive Blues Experiment” by Johnny Winter
  • “Johnny Winter” by Johnny Winter
  • “Second Winter” by Johnny Winter
  • “Yes” by Yes
  • “Hot Rats” by Frank Zappa

Associated listening: “The Stooges” by the Stooges