Archive for Henry Badowski

Holy Grail Alert: We Found Henry Badowski’s “Life Is A Grand” In A Digital Format

Posted in Music with tags , , on May 20, 2017 by johnbuckley100

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In June 2013, we asked a simple question: Is Henry Badowski’s Life Is A Grand THE great lost album of all time? After all, this perfect gem of an Eno-esque solo album, released by IRS Records in 1981, had defied the near universal jukebox reality we have lived in since the dawn of the CD era, when record companies, hot to sell everything a second time, brought virtually all vinyl records into a digital format.  It never came out as a CD.  It couldn’t be found as a legal digital download.  Unless you had the vinyl, or paid up for it, you would have to take the word of people like me: this was about as close to the Holy Grail of record collecting as a modern power-pop fancier could get.

Over the years, a fair number of people have read that post, linked to it, and commented.  Every once in a while, there is some spike in Tulip Frenzy’s traffic and it quite often comes from some diehard finding the piece and linking to it.  Henry Badwoski’s fans may be fairly few, but they are devoted.  As they should be.

I’d like to think that some people have learned about Henry from that piece.  After all, we said “the record is like a mix of Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy and Bowie’s Low –– though it is so endearingly sweet, you have to imagine Bowie on ecstasy, not blow.  It is almost entirely upbeat, and the rhythm section could easily have been the Moxhams from Young Marble Giant — minimalist, spare — underneath Farfisas and simple keyboards.  All we see of Badowski from the album cover is a fey, Bryan Ferry head of hair posed near a hedge on one of those great British country gardens.  And that’s all we’ve seen of him for 30 years or more; he disappeared, at least on this side of the pond.  And the record?  It disappeared too.”  Who wouldn’t want to know more, to track it down, to hear it?  What self-respecting rock’n’roll fan wouldn’t be intrigued?

A few weeks back, someone commented on Tulip Frenzy that they’d found the record as a digital download on this here Internet thing.  And sure enough!  You can download “Life Is A Grand” here!

Now, let us say, we are opposed to artists not getting paid for their work, and have never participated in illegal fire sharing.  But there is no other way to get a digital file of this record.  And we justify posting a link to the site where you can download the record thusly: we bet that, if Henry is not going to be able to get royalties from his 1981 masterpiece, he would want people to listen to it.  To remember him.  To recognize that he produced The Great Lost Album of the post-punk era.

Happily, it’s lost no more.

With The Live Material From 1971 Included, The “Sticky Fingers” Re-release Gets Us Closer To The Promised Land

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 9, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Bardists, as they like to be called, dream of finding an unpublished Shakespeare play.  Our needs are simple: we’ve only been waiting for 40+ years for a decent live album from the greatest tour of all time — the Rolling Stones’ 1972 foray across the U.S. — to emerge from the gauze of bootlegs and into the bright shimmering light of an official release.  As of today, we’re very, very close.

For those who signed up for the Extra Super Duper release of Sticky Fingers, or whatever it’s called, last night came a happy email: all 33 tracks had, like the Midnight Rambler himself, vaulted our hedge and hidden away deep in our iTunes collection.  Yeah, yeah, an acoustic version of “Wild Horses,” and all that.  As far as we’re concerned the release of the Eric Clapton version of “Brown Sugar” simply drives down the value of our red vinyl pressing we’ve carried us with everywhere since 10th grade. The good stuff is the 18-songs worth of live material, recorded on the Stones’ 1971″Farewell Tour” of England, prior to loudly going off as exiles on the main street near St. Tropez.

It’s not the ’72 tour, but it’s the same band with the essential sidemen: Mick Taylor on guitar, Nicky Hopkins on piano, and Jim Price and Bobby Keys on horns.  We call Taylor a sideman, and that’s not really fair, but let us just posit that these four, added to Jagger, Richards, Watts, and Wyman completed what is unquestionably the greatest rock’n’roll live band of all time — a band that could swing, and turn on a dime, and kick at the stall all night.

Some weeks ago, a friend sent us someone’s long rave about how the version of “Midnight Rambler” on the officially released “Brussels Affair” is, I don’t know, the Stones’ most transcendent moment.  Yeah, but that had Billy Preston on it, playing organ! These tracks have Nicky Hopkins.  On piano.  Game over.

It’s weird that we have a partial album recorded at the end of the tour at the Roundhouse in London — “Live With Me,” “Stray Cat Blues,” “Love in Vain,” “Midnight Rambler,” and then “Honky Tonk Women.”  Where’s the rest of me?   Then there is what we assume was the entire set of a concert at Leeds University — “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Live With Me,” “Dead Flowers,” “Stray Cat Blues,” “Love In Vain,” “Midnight Rambler,” “Bitch,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Little Queenie,” “Brown Sugar,” “Street Fighting Man,” and “Let It Rock.”  (An aside: whomever was student music coordinator at Leeds U in the ’70/’71 school year deserves to be knighted, for he/she booked, in the same year, the Stones and The Who, out of which came Live At Leeds, and now this. But we digress.)

We’ve heard much of the Leeds set on the bootleg Get Your Leeds Lungs Out, but the sound here is just: So. Much. Better.  We always knew what that show musta sounded like, because the version of “Let It Rock” has been around forever: it was what they had to press onto the Spanish release of Sticky Fingers after the Franco government banned “Sister Morphine.” Here everything is to that level, though perhaps not at a Get Yer Ya-Yas Out level of fidelity.

On both collections, the Stones have some ragged moments, as of course they did: Keith singing off key, Mick Taylor missing his entrance.  But all in, these are fantastic performances by a band approaching its peak.  A song like “Stray Cat Blues” isn’t improved over what came out of the ’69 live recording — you don’t need piano and horns on this relic.  And of course on the ’72 tour, and subsequently over the years, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” came near the end of the set, and Taylor had developed an entire vocabulary of tricks to work into his leads as the show climaxed.  But what’s apparent here is how quickly the Stones incorporated horns and piano into what would become the ephemeral, yet greatest sound of their career, rambling on, as it has done, for 50 years and counting.

We can see why they included the Roundhouse set — it’s better, the band a little crisper, the sound a little warmer.  And after listening to, oh, two dozen boots of different shows from the ’72 tour — such that we can tell you, definitively, the version of “All Down the Line” recorded in New York on July 24th was better than the version they’d played in Ft. Worth — we really don’t mind having versions of “Live With Me” to choose between.  If you are downloading songs one by one, start with the Roundhouse versions.

Last year, when Reprise, or whomever controls the Captain Beefheart estate, released the full Lick My Decals Off, Baby, we checked off one of the key missing pieces of our musical collection.  I guess we can say we are still living for the digital release of Henry Badowski’s 1981 masterpiece, Life Is A Grand.  But honestly, now that we have heard Nicky Hopkins tickle the ivory while the greatest Southern horn duo ever backs up the Stones on a non-bootleg version of “Bitch,” we are just that much closer to the Promised Land.

An Update On Henry Badowski

Posted in Music with tags , on June 29, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Last night, after writing about Henry Badowski and his great, lost album, Life Is A Grand, we wrote him an email, addressed to the Gmail account listed on the only official website for him we could find.  We asked him to send some reply letting us know whether there were any plans, at long last, to get the album released digitally.  Apparently, we wrote quickly and called the album Life Is Grand.

This morning we got a reply from Henry. “My LP is called Life Is A Grand.”

Well, there now.  He’s alive and answering email.  Let’s hope he’s well, and fervent prayers go out to both Henry and to record labels, hoping he has new music we can hear sometime.

Is Henry Badowski’s “Life Is A Grand” THE Great Lost Album of All Time?

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , on June 28, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Gather my children, and you shall hear, of possibly the greatest record from the post-punk era that you can’t find on iTunes, can’t find on Spotify, can’t find anywhere but in the vinyl stacks of… mature people who have record players.

Back when Miles Copeland was leveraging IRS Records and using his power base as manager of his brother’s band, The Police, to bring good new music to an audience — succeeding with R.E.M., less so with The Fleshtones — one of the British acts whose record — there was only one — that he released to the world was Henry Badowski.  Life Is A Grand came out in 1981, and in the States at least, was discovered by approximately three people.  Happily we were one, and it brings a certain joy to tell you that just today, for the first time since the early Reagan years, we have dusted off the record, ascertained that our phonograph works, and put it on.

It holds up!  With just James Stevenson on guitar and bass, Badowski sang, played keyboards, programmed the drum machine, and played sax.  The record is like a mix of Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy and Bowie’s Low –– though it is so endearingly sweet, you have to imagine Bowie on ecstasy, not blow.  It is almost entirely upbeat, and the rhythm section could easily have been the Moxhams from Young Marble Giant — minimalist, spare — underneath Farfisas and simple keyboards.  All we see of Badowski from the album cover is a fey, Bryan Ferry head of hair posed near a hedge on one of those great British country gardens.  And that’s all we’ve seen of him for 30 years or more; he disappeared, at least on this side of the pond.  And the record?  It disappeared too.

If today you heard on the radio “My Face,” which leads off the album, you’d think it was a contemporary band that owed a debt to Eno, which is never a bad thing.  “My Face” was a minor British radio hit, but it’s “Henry’s In Love” that has kept spinning in our head for lo these many years, a gorgeous British pop song with a melody XTC’s Andy Partridge would have made too angular, would have stripped it of its languorous charm.  “Swimming With The Fish In The Sea,” has a bass line programmed by Bach after one too many lagers and is another song that you’d swear was an Eno outtake; if I put it on and claimed it was the lost Eno single, “Seven Deadly Finns,” you’d take it at face value.  “Silver Trees” sounds like it could have been sung by Wire’s Graham Lewis on a champagne bender.  “This Was Meant To Be” is somewhere between Berlin Trilogy Bowie and Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark.

We could go on and describe each song lovingly.  Let’s stop here and posit this: if you have dirt on an executive at Rhino Records, if you have compromising pictures of one of the Copelands dropping off those CIA guns to the Syrian rebels, ask them, nicely, to figure out a way to get Henry Badowski’s Life Is A Grand into a digital second life.  It will make your day, as rediscovering it today made mine.

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