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1.) Its impossible for me to even think about my “favorite” albums. So off the top of my head I came up with 16 albums that were significant to me at different points in my life.

This one by the Union Gap was significant because it was the FIRST album I ever bought. 1968, age 12. I was always a sucker for a cornball unrequited love song. Even at age 12. And the Woman Woman single delivered. The rest of the album was just filler, cheesy cover songs. Though one song had a bit of an edge to it — You Better Sit Down Kids, originally by Sonny & Cher — which is about a parent trying to explain to the kids that Mom and Dad were about to get divorced.

The second album I bought was I’m Getting Closer to My Home by Grand Funk Railroad (everybody sing). Followed by the White Album by them Beatles. And then Led Zeppelin 3.





.Eat_a_Peach_(James_Flournoy_Holmes_album_-_cover_art).jpg2.) This one — Eat a Peach by the Allman Brothers — was significant to me because it was playing over and over at the first “pot party” I ever went to, age 16. Smoking pot from this big water pipe. And it was exciting and dangerous because I was taking that first outlaw step into the “world of drugs.” And i specifically remember grooving on the great guitar lick on One Way Out.

Later that summer (1973) me and my stoner buddies would go to see the Allman Brothers (and the Band and the Grateful Dead) at the Watkins Glenn rock festival. It was even bigger than Woodstock (at least in attendance). And we would go down in history as the Watkins Glenn Generation, man!!




.220px-Trilogy_(Emerson,_Lake_&_Palmer_album_-_cover_art).jpg3.) This is another one I really got into when I was a 16 year old pothead. Trilogy by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. I used to get way stoned, man, and have all sorts of profound revelations listening to this one.

This album was the first time I made the connection: “Oh I get it. These guys are artists and they’re expressing their souls with concepts and shit.” Before that i just considered it rock’n’roll. It was like Art For Tots. Prog Rock as it was called back in the day. But we all just called it Stoner Rock.






4.) This one, Red Rose Speedway, is probably not one of McCartney’s better albums (Paul himself said “I can’t stand it!”). And there’s an unfinished, half-ass quality to a lot of the songs. But there’s one song — Little Lamb Dragonfly — that got me where I lived. I was 17 and really falling in love for the first time. And wouldn’t you know it?? It done didn’t work out. So I played that heartbreak song about a thousand times in a row to try and assuage my sad-sack teenage heart.

I wanted this album so bad I actually tried to shoplift it from the local mall. And got busted. Talk about embarrassing. What a way to start a life of crime. Trying to shoplift a sappy Paul McCartney album. Sheesh.



.5.) This was another favorite my senior year of high school (Class of 74 for those of you keeping score at home). Goat’s Head Soup. Probably not the Rolling Stones’ best album. But we used to like to get really stoned and drunk and drive around the streets of suburban New Jersey in my friend’s Ford Maverick and listen to the 8-track cassette of this album and scream out the lyrics “STAR FUCKER STAR FUCKER STAR FUCKER STAR FUCKER STAAAAAAR!!!” at the top of our teenage lungs. Rock’n’roll ya pukes. Plus. The tender ballad Angie.





.Rundgren_wizard.png6.) This one — A Wizard A True Star — was one of my favorites when I turned into a budding 17 year old acidhead. It was like a psychedelic concept album. And when you listened to it on acid it had all sorts of cosmic ramifications. It was 1974 and it was like my own personal Sgt Pepper album 7 years too late. International Feel. Cosmic, man. I’m seeing tracers!






.220px-MahavishnuOrchestraBirdsOfFirealbumcover.jpg7.) This was the last album I really got into my senior year in high school. Birds of Fire by John McGlaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. I was starting to get arty and develop my spiritual seeker / spiritual cripple side. And this album filled the bill.

Its the only “jazz” album I ever really got into. But to me it was more like a heavy metal album if the heavy metal musicians happened to be really really brilliant musicians. Intense, man!




.The-Moody-Blues-This-Is-The-Moody-Blues-MB-12-LP-Vinyl-Record-281317360598.jpg8.) In 1974 I spent my freshmen year going to this little college outside Cleveland. One weekend I hitch-hiked to Ohio State to visit a high school buddy of mine who was going to school there. On the ride home I got picked up by this old (he was in his late 20s) hippie acidhead from the ’60s generation.

By this point I had become fascinated with all things LSD. And was convinced it was the key to spiritual enlightenment, if I could only figure out how to use it. And this guy seemed to know the secret. As we passed a pipe full of pot back and forth, and I got more and more buzzed, he told me about his experiences as a ’60s acid dealer. He, too, thought that LSD was a powerful spiritual tool. “But the problem was I would get high but I would always come down. I wanted to BE high, not get high.”

And then he got busted for dealing acid and did serious time in the joint. “But then I discovered this guy Ram Dass. He had been Leary’s partner in the LSD research at Harvard. And then later found an Indian Guru who showed him the way. So I started meditating like 10 hours a day in my cell. By the time they released me from prison I almost didn’t want to leave. I was high as a kite.” And I was getting a major contact high just from listening to him.

As he dropped me off near my dorm he recommended I check out Ram Dass’s book Be Here Now. “And check out the music of the Moody Blues. They sing about real love.”

Well sir, the next day I did buy Be Here Now. And this double-album of the Moody Blue’s greatest hits, This is the Moody Blues. And spent many many nights listening to it in search of the lost chord.




Ace Backwords: Master criminal

Exhibit A


I guess I really must have wanted that album.  To risk shoplifting it. I didn’t have the dough to buy it.

An undercover security guard immediately caught me trying to slip the album under my jacket.  Busted.  He escorted me to this backstage area to await my fate as a shoplifting criminal.

“How did you know I was stealing the album?”  I asked the undercover security guard.

“Are you kidding?” he said.  “I was watching you for ten minutes.  You were doing this.”  He did an exaggerated pantomime of a guy looking back and forth, wide-eyed, trying not to get caught doing something illegal.  I guess I was pretty obvious. I thought I was being slick.

They called my mother over the mall PA.  And she came backstage to retrieve me.  “We caught your son shoplifting this Paul McCartney album.”  So that was embarrassing.

I guess it would have been cooler if I had tried to shoplift a Rolling Stones album or something.  But Paul McCartney?


Ace Backwords goes to the Paul McCartney show

For months I’ve been debating whether to go to the Paul McCartney concert in San Francisco. In a way it would make the perfect epilogue to my Acid Heroes book which basically starts in 1964 when I heard the Beatles singing “She Loves You” for the first time on my transistor radio at age 7.

But by the time the day of the show came around it was too late to get tickets. I woke up that morning at my campsite, fed my feral cats, and smoked a joint as I laid in my sleeping bag. 103.7 The Band (the “classic rock” station) was playing their Saturday morning Beatles show from 7 to 9, only they were playing all McCartney songs to get people in the mood for the concert. Played a lot of great live stuff, McCartney doing “Paperback Writer” and “Daytripper” and a great version of “I Got a Feeling,” which reminded me how great even the Beatles minor songs were, Paul singing along with another guy singing the Lennon part (“Everybody had a wet dream, everybody let their hair down . . .”). Even with the millions of Beatles cover bands, Paul still does the best Beatles covers, which is a weird kind of compliment I guess. Then Paul did a live version of “A Day in the Life” which sounded suitably cosmic, segueing neatly into “Give Peace a Chance.” Which annoyed me, because in the “A Day in the Life” song, Paul said he got the “I’d love to turn you on” line as a reference to Timothy Leary’s “Turn on tune it and drop out” line. And John had told Paul that “A Day in the Life” was a “drug song.” So the Beatles were saying a lot more than just give peace a chance in some of those songs. Anyways, by the time the radio show was over I kinda’ felt like I had already experienced Paul’s live show, so actually seeing it would probably be redundant. Plus I was nervous about the whole idea. I’m claustrophobic and hadn’t been to one of those big stadium shows in more than 30 years when I saw the Grateful Dead and the Who at the Day on the Green at the Oakland Coliseum.

But I was curious to get a look at Beatles fans, who I had heard a lot about but had never seen en masse. What kind of person goes to a Paul McCartney concert after all? So I pounded a quick beer and smoked another joint and hopped on the BART train, feeling this weird sense of deja vu. The last time I had gone over to the city to see a Beatle was in 1980 on the day Lennon was shot. I took some acid and went looking for a rumored memorial taking place at the marina. Never found it, but found a lot of other weird and bizarre shit on that trip.

As I rode on the BART train I thumbed through the latest issue of the SFWEEKLY. There was an article about McCartney’s guitarist, this 53 year old guy (the exact same age as me). In the back of the paper was an ad for Deseree Foxxe who was appearing live at the Mitchell Bros Theatre with an all nude revue. I momentarily reconsidered my entertainment options for the day, mulling over the comparative merits of seeing a 68 year old bass player from Liverpool or a bunch of naked 20 year old chicks cavorting on stage. But I figured this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a Beatle, and I’d probably get another chance in this lifetime to see a naked woman (at least I’m hoping). So I soldiered onwards.


The plan was to just hang around outside the stadium and listen to whatever music wafted outside. Or maybe I could talk my way inside. I had my trusty Ace Backwords press pass from 1992 which entitled me to backstage access, VIP treatment, and free buffet privileges, among other things. So perhaps I could dazzle the guy at the door with my credentials, tell him I was working on an exclusive McCartney piece for the Berkeley Barb. He’d no doubt steer me to four burly security guards who perhaps I could intimidate with veiled threats of writing a searingly critical review of McCartney’s live show for a prestigious local newspaper. Or, barring that, a searingly critical blog on my MySpace page. So that stratagem seemed unpromising. But I was up for anything I had a fresh pack of smokes and a 24 ounce can of Old English malt liquor in my pack. So I was ready for action.

But first I had to find the stadium. I had a vague idea where it was located — I knew it was by the water because I used to read accounts of Barry Bonds hitting home runs out of AT&T Park and into the San Francisco bay. So I figured if I just followed the waterfront I would eventually find it so long as I was headed south, which gave me a 50-50 chance which was about the best odds I could hope for these days. I passed two cute young chicks who were talking about the AT&T Park, so I asked them if they were going to the McCartney show, which they were. “Maybe I’ll see you cool cats at the show,” I said. So things were looking up.

I ran into a black guy as I was walking down Mission Street and asked him if he knew how far a walk it was to the stadium. “It’s about a mile walk,” he said. “You looking for tickets? I got tickets for you.” He pulled out two tickets with $99 price on them. “I’ll sell them to you for face value,” he said.

“‘That’s a little too rich for my blood,” I said. “I’m going to try and bullshit my way in.”

“How much you got? I’ll give em to you for 50 bucks.”

It occurred to me at this point that my bullshit hadn’t been working too well lately, and I remembered I had 60 bucks in my back pocket from taking in my recycled cans-and-bottles the previous day. So I gave him the 60 and stashed the precious ticket in my pocket. “Keep the change,” I said (I’m a big tipper after all).

“Enjoy the show,” he said, happily.

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By this time I noticed a swarm of obvious Beatles fans herding along in the general direction of the stadium. Spotted a middle-aged guy with a black jacket with “The Beatles” written across it in the familiar white logo. So I was part of the whole circus now, and quite pleased at how I had pulled off the ticket deal. A vendor called out “Three dollar beers,” as I passed, which got my attention. “How far to the stadium?” I asked. “You can see it from here,” he said. I looked up and their was a billboard photo of Tim Lincecum, the San Francisco Giants pothead Cy Young winner. So just like that I was home. Huge crowds of McCartney fans were excitedly swarming all around the building. A street musician was bleating out a tepid version of “Something” on his trumpet. And a small band of Christians with megaphones were haranguing the Beatles fans with threats of eternal damnation.

I sat down, leaned against the side of the stadium, and smoked a cigarette to orient myself just as a big black stretch limo pulled up to the curve. For just a second I imagined Paul and Linda McCartney getting out of the limo and romping into the stadium “Hard Days Night” style as they’re chased by mobs of screaming Beatlemaniacs. But it was just a nondescript middle-aged couple and their daughter, no doubt having the time of their life. The crowd of McCartney fans were about 99% white and mostly middle-aged, clean-cut, with the look of money and success to them. For some reason I felt my key role in the proceedings was to add a much needed note of degeneracy to the proceedings. I asked one of the women working the door if I could get in with my backpack. She said: “Yes, but no cans or bottles or alcohol.” So now I needed to find a secluded place to quickly pound my can of beer and urinate — no easy task surrounded by 40,000 McCartneymaniacs. But I quickly succeeded in finding a back alley to do my thing. Thus fortified I marched back to the stadium and took my place on line with the throngs. When I got to the front door the woman ticket-taker examined my ticket for some time with some kind of computer scanner. “The ticket don’t scan,” she said. “Stand over there for a minute.” A second guy scanned my ticket with the same negative results. I could see the chosen ones inside the stadium milling around, and here I was right on the verge of success, but now this. “You’re going to have to go out to the box office to the ‘Ticket Issues’ window,” he said.

There were quite a few people waiting on line there with anxious looks on their faces. When I got to the window, I smiled broadly to the guy behind the window, and said: “With a little luck hopefully this ticket is good,” hoping my inside knowledge of McCartney lyrics might somehow sway in my favor whatever decision was coming down. He scanned my ticket and gave me the bad news. Counterfeit. “I have to keep the ticket,” he said, “but I can make you a xerox,” which he did. A rather expensive memento which I’ll probably cherish for not a long time. In the space of one second I went from this hip, street-smart dude, to a total fucking idiot. You could probably hear the air leaking out of my tires.

I wearily trudged off in the other direction, in my usual role of going against the grain of humanity as I fought my was around the thousands of McCartney fans that were flooding towards the stadium. For a moment I considered tracking down the guy who had sold me the ticket and killing him. But I was too tired at this point for direct action.

As I sat on BART on the ride back to Berkeley I pondered what kind of human specimen could so casually take my money, give me nothing in return, and ruin my evening. One thing you gotta give McCartney credit for:  Show biz ham that he was, you knew he was doing everything humanly possible to give the fans their money’s worth and put on one hell of a rock show. Which I, sadly, was not going to see. I tried to rationalize the situation to take the sting out of the sad turn of events that my evening had taken. “Well, at least that guy won’t enjoy that 60 bucks, he’ll choke on it,” I thought. “His bad karma will come back at him.” But then it occurred to me that my bad karma had come back at me. So there was little solace in that gambit. “Perhaps a major earthquake will hit San Francisco causing the stadium to collapse, crushing all 40,000 McCartney fans. Maybe this will turn out to be a blessing in disguise that I missed the show.” And I felt a momentary sense of optimism. “Or maybe McCartney will choke on a tofu sandwich half way through singing “Silly Love Songs” and hack and gag his way through the rest of the concert, causing 40,ooo disgruntled fans to storm out of the stadium demanding refunds.” So I was a force for pure evil at this point. (P.S. If anyone went to the show and gave it a really bad review, feel free to send me a copy.)

For a moment I blamed Yoko Ono for the whole thing. But I couldn’t come up with any logical, rational explanation to back up that contention. So I dropped that idea.

It was nighttime now, so I went to People’s Park and hung out with a bunch of street people. This crazy street chick with a radio lurched at me and asked for a hit of my beer. Of course the song that came on the radio at that exact moment was that song by Beck “I’m a loser baby so why don’t you kill me.” So my life had a soundtrack (sometimes the gods really rub it in, don’t they?).

Ah, what the hell. I can still catch Ringo when he comes to town in a couple months.








Speaking again of the Beatles

A Toot and a Snore in ’74

Posted by JetWaveRadio on YouTube, this is a part of something called A Toot and a Snore in ’74, a Beatleg record with the participating musicians listed as John Lennon (his name is bigger on the album cover), Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Harry Nilsson, Jesse Ed Davis and Bobby Keys. The occasion was a product of Lennon’s “lost weekend.” It was the only time we know of when McCartney and Lennon played together after the Beatles broke up.

“Genius is Pain” from National Lampoon Magical Misery Tour

Tony Hendra as John Lennon is brilliant. He was one of the writers, too. This is about the funniest thing I ever heard. The visuals are great, by Rick Moore.

Did you know there’s a website called SuckMyBeatles?

Speaking of the Beatles

….and we were speaking of the Beatles, because several chapters of Acid Heroes are about them. So here is an official, High-Priestess-Endorsed recommended article:
The Beatles ‘bigger than Jesus’ on Google,” written by Harry Wallop for Telegraph.co.uk

Here on YouTube is 25-year old Paul McCartney being hassled by a journalist about psychedelics.
“I’m not trying to spread the word about this,” says Paul.
“I don’t think my fans are going to take drugs just because I did.”

More Beatles Angles

Filling today’s guest chairs are two appreciators of the Beatles, Mike Webber and David Sims, with observations that fit right in with our themes.

What Beatle George lacked in quantity, he more than made up for in quality. The 4 principal sides of All Things Must Pass comprise the best solo work of any ex-Beatle. This song was a masterpiece – nicely delivered here by Slowhand.  (Eric Clapton – “Isn’t It A Pity?”)

Exactly — and I’d rate All Things Must Pass over not a few Beatles albums, truth be known.  I did read a rather perceptive review, however, stating that George might have been better-served tucking a few of those songs away for later albums.

You can’t blame the guy, though, seeing Lennon and McCartney get away with recording such sub-par material as “Glass Onion” and “Honey Pie” while his own material was left off.  In his shoes I’d probably have gone for the A-bomb statement too.

When you think of John and Paul’s somewhat dismissive treatment of “Isn’t It A Pity” and “All Things Must Pass” when offered during the Get Back sessions, one could easily understand his feeling quite all right about the demise of his former band.  Listening to the 100+ hours of Get Back sessions, the much-maligned McCartney at least continued to engage Harrison’s songs while Lennon just couldn’t have been bothered.  It’s not surprising that George and Paul had their falling out, given the contrast in personalities, but I’ve always thought Lennon’s contribution to the toxicity of those sessions has been swept under the carpet to the detriment of McCartney.  Paul would work tirelessly on his own songs – more than anyone else wanted – but then was equally ready to work on George’s and Ringo’s (Octopus’s Garden) songs.

It jibes with what I’ve heard about Lennon and McCartney’s personalities. John was described to me by the most devoted Beatle fan I’ve ever met as “a thoroughly nasty person.”   I don’t know nearly as much about them as he or you do, but that thumbnail impression seems about right to me. You don’t have to be a good person to produce great art.

I think of him as anything but a nasty person, but he was very human and the truth is probably ill-served by the lionization that has been done to him.  In those last 18 or so months of the Beatles, he was a bit of an anvil – drug-addled and self-absorbed. To his credit, marginally engaged he was still contributing songs like “Come Together” to the band he’d started.  But once Plastic Ono Band was heard, it was easy to understand why the Beatles were no longer the right vehicle for his vision.