In the summer of 1970 I was working at Eatons, in the Hardware Dept. Before going back to school, my chum Les and I decided to take a trip to New York City. We stayed at my Aunt Marge's house in Brooklyn. Every morning we would take the subway into Manhattan and spend a LONG day touring a different part of the city. We hit the MoMA (where we saw Picasso's "Guernica") , the Guggenheim, and a couple other museums, we wandered through Central Park where we were accosted by a semi-naked jogger. We were offered sex by a prostitute on 42nd Street, dope by a dealer in the Village, and were sent on a wild goose chase blocks out of our way by a doorman when we asked for directions to the subway. Ah...what a holiday. But we also went to see John Phillips at the Bitter End, in what was to be one of his only live solo shows ever. Heroin took control of his life, and he vanished from the music business. Well the last few years saw the release of his final album called Phillips 66 and the long awaited release of the lost Pay Pack and Follow album (recorded with Mick and Keef!). Then last year Varese Sarabande put out his classic Wolf King of LA on CD, with bonus tracks. And now they have issued Jack of Diamonds, a different take on his 2nd album. It sounds more like Wolf King than Pay Pack...and features many of the same California session guys who played on the Mamas & the Papas (and on Wolf King). There are a couple of duplicated (but very different) tracks, but this is a darn good album. Wolf King has been a favourite of mine since I bought it (and I recall, they did a fine job performing it live at the Bitter End that night long ago.) I should say that The Chapins opened the show that night. They were good too, although they left us no recorded proof. I watched Papa John's hands as he played, and have always said, "Hey, Papa John taught me how to play the opening to "California Dreaming" one night in NYC!" Well...it's true, sort of.
Here we are a couple of days before I head back to Manhattan for a vacation. This time it's a Broadway show, a jazz/dinner cruise, and maybe, just maybe...a night at the Iridium to see Les Paul. I'll let you know.