#punkrock #memories #troubadour #losangeles #1978 #darbycrash #germs
#punkrock #memories #troubadour #losangeles #1978 #darbycrash #germs
It felt fine being a retired record pirate. We hit the market when it was hot, launched some music that got on people’s radar and avoided contact with the law. Being underage had its benefits. My albums were on display in any shop I patronized yet few knew I was the guy responsible for their existence. Other bootleggers chased press attention and notoriety. Being LA and all, it was second nature. But I was happy as an unknown instigator. I liked the idea of being the smart guy, on background.
So I hung around my partner’s shop at night, watching folks pick through the merchandise. And on one such night an exotic looking fellow walked in, a rock star-type wearing blinding satin and standing tall in high platform boots decorated with tiny painted stars. I don’t think I’d seen a guy wearing high heels before (‘manly’ or otherwise) except Joe Cocker in Woodstock.
The starry guy found our new Bootleg Section, front and center of the store. He looked around to see who was watching, then immersed himself in the albums displayed, studying each record that he held. I stood by the counter until he finally turned, approached and started asking questions.
He was an English fellow, a London boy (“his flashy clothes were his pride and joy” – David Bowie 1969). He knew of these illicit products, had heard about them back home. He was intrigued that they could be freely peddled in the marketplace here, with so few ramifications and so little punishment. This would never happen in England! Finally, lowering his voice, he wondered aloud if it were possible to learn how to do such a thing, to make your own records. You see, he had these tapes..
Remember Paul McCartney in Help? “I can say no more” a moustached Paul would whisper conspiratorially, as the spies leaned on him for information. The English guy’s name was Alan, and at first he wouldn’t tell me what he possessed, though he made sure to play up their mystery and desirability. Alan wasn’t sure we should even be talking (“I can say no more”). But eventually we laid our cards on the counter: I was an experienced record bootlegger, and “English” Alan had possession of first-rate recordings of the rock stars, unreleased music he’d plied from studios in the UK. He had unfinished albums, demos by The Who and live performances by Led Zeppelin, Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl, on and on, a most extensive and intriguing batch of recordings. English Alan had tapes of the sort that legends and fortunes might be made.
Alan was staying with a photographer friend named Bob up on Wonderland Avenue in Laurel Canyon. He invited me to the house the following night, where I’d become the first American to hear a Bob Dylan concert recording that I soon would give the title: “The Royal Albert Hall”.
I hated them all. Well… ok not the early ones. Not the girls who burned bras and incense and and dragged blankets to the love in, total strangers at Griffith Park who threw beads around your neck and told you that they loved you. I liked them. It’s later hippies that I came to disdain. Radicals and potheads and all their rules of conduct. I remember a Charles Manson lookalike ripping into a group of us kids sitting at the beach, calling us sellouts because we came from the suburbs and had girlfriends. Not hip enough for the revolution, I guessed.
I wasn’t hip enough for the pot either. Too much laughter. Does anybody remember laughter? I’d rather not. Unfortunately my tokin’, stick-it-to-the-man friends were the ones with a car, and if my (sellout) girlfriend and I wanted a ride to the Jethro Tull concert it was their way or no highway.
So lacking other options, when concert night arrived we sucked it up and piled into my friend Ben’s big blue Pontiac; three teenage couples heading onto the 405 and a Friday night out. We’d barely reached freeway speeds when Ben pulled out the baggie and the joints. Hurrying us to roll up our windows, he carefully fired up a fat one. Like a labor of love. I sat shotgun and kept a nervous eye out the passenger window as the car filled with smoke. I wanted to be anywhere else.
Back and forth they passed the weed, bypassing my girlfriend and me. The chatter got giggly and the driver distracted, foot backing off the accelerator as his mellow took hold. Slowing down, down. Our travel speed had dipped below 35mph when flashing lights behind us went off. “Police! Shit! Eat it!” Everyone grabbed a joint and started chewing. The siren rang in our ears. There was too much to eat! What were we gonna do?
Suddenly everything got tossed to me. “Throw it out the window Mike!” somebody yelled. “Hurry!” So I did.
And who do you think was the only person to be hauled away?
By age seventeen I had put out four pirate albums, each a bigger seller than the last. I had also stopped going it alone. Success with my first Dylan album, the now notorious Basement Tapes, had brought me a new partner. Ed K was owner of The Auditory Odyssey and one of my very best customers. Intrigued every time I carted records in from the trunk of my car, Ed had offered to let me use his store as a base of operations and pay me cash if I dreamed up more projects.
My Basement Tapes album had got ripped off fast by the Great White Wonder guys, and Ed and I decided to return the favor by duplicating their newest booted effort, one that had just come in the shop’s door, a rush release of the very recent Rolling Stones LA Forum concert. Titled “LiveR Than You’ll Ever Be”, it was recorded with a handheld microphone and gotten on the market within a month. It sounded bad and looked ugly, another rubber stamped cover, but it sure sold.
Before they could get to a second printing I had it copied and pressed up by a couple thousand. Ed enlisted two hippie friends to be our sales reps so now we had distribution, i.e. Cheech and Chong moving inventory in a VW van, chugging it up the Cali Coast from San Diego to Berkeley.
Though money was surely changing hands, I never saw much myself. I didn’t worry though, I had other things to savor. I was working, taking orders and moving units. I had an operation. What seventeen year old wouldn’t be happy with that?
Cue hippie radio once again, and cue The Beatles. A tape of their forthcoming (and soon cancelled) album, Get Back, had leaked to KPPC and in a bit of the tried and true, the station again sneaked several unreleased songs into the post-midnight airwaves: “Let It Be”, “I’ve Got A Feeling”, etc. This, just as the avalanche of music piracy got intensified press coverage, uncovering all the legal loopholes.
It seemed there wasn’t yet a copyright law in place that protected ownership of unreleased songs. In other words, if I wanted to be the first to put “Dig A Pony” into the marketplace there was nothing to stop me. So I did as before. I called the radio station, pestered people, traded away a handful of records and viola, a future Beatles album was in my hands.
If you’re going to make records, they might as well be by The Beatles, The Stones or Dylan. Because they’ll sell. We discovered a new pressing plant in Inglewood called Lewis Records. Isolated (and ignorant) enough to let us do our work, Lewis was small and out of town, catered to spoken word and religious music and was off the legal radar. Other bootleggers found Lewis too, including the Great White Wonder guys. Together our presence gave Lewis a vibe of being at the center of something exciting, a ground zero in this “other” recording industry.
Helen was the desk lady at Lewis Records, and usually by lunch she’d had a few. She seemed happy to have us around, her new clients, the nice looking young men who milled about the plant, chatting her up, running in and out of her office at all hours. We felt like we owned the place. We were pirates, arrr!
We moved fast with The Beatles. Piles of records pressed, two weeks of sales, up and down the coast, hit and run. By the time Get Back was inevitably duplicated we had already declared our retirement and closed up shop. We were done.
I emptied out my savings account and pulled my cherished Wollensak reel-to-reel off the shelf, detachable speakers and all. I needed $400 to press five hundred copies of my Bob Dylan album and I didn’t have enough cash. My friend Clay (with the car) picked me up, and off we went to a pawn shop where my tape recorder got me the needed funds.
I took the Dylan tape up to Dave’s little studio on Laurel Canyon, told him it was my friend’s band and asked him to make me a master. But Dave said his studio’s machinery was suitable only for making cheap reference discs. If I wanted a proper album he’d need to take the tape to his day job at Capitol Records and cut it there. Heh, my bootleg was gonna be mastered at Capitol.
I asked Dave’s advice on where to get records pressed and he told me to go to Monarch Records, a gigantic pressing plant in L.A. He said their work was second to none. Nothing but the best for me!
The finished records were a beautiful sight. White labels, white covers, just like Great White Wonder (if you can’t beat ‘em..). We dropped the boxes into my friend’s trunk and drove straight to Aron Records where they purchased 250 copies without hearing a note. I was riding the wave. Within a week all my copies were sold and I’d got back my tape recorder.
It never occurred to me that Monarch Records came so highly recommended because it was the largest pressing plant in Los Angeles, with ties to every record label, and that caution was possibly in order. All I knew was I had product in the stores, money in my pocket and all was good. That is until I got home from school a few nights later and was intercepted by my mom. She’d been waiting for me and she looked very, very afraid. “Lawyers from Columbia Records have been calling the house all day.” she said in a voice spiked with worry. “What have you done? They’re saying you’ve stolen recordings and broken federal law!” Huh? What?
The phone rang. You couldn’t ignore the phone. I picked it up and it was Monarch Records. Specifically, it was the president of Monarch Records. Oh… “Are you Michael Olsen?” Of course I was, my mom had already spilled it. He asked me what was on my record, the one he was holding in his hands.
“Uh?” I hesitated. “It’s music.. and singing?”
Not good enough. He wanted to know if this was the voice of Bob Dylan. “Could be.” I allowed. Was that a good enough answer? Can I hang up now? No. In a threatening voice he told me to round up all five hundred copies of my album and bring them back to the plant by week’s end or he’d call the FBI.
The next day after school I made my rounds to the record shops, to find they’d all sold out. Only Aron’s had copies remaining, a hundred or so, and I paid dearly to buy them back.
Late Friday afternoon my uncle drove me into the city with my box of records. He told me not to worry about the law because I was only sixteen. But he hadn’t talked to the guy, hadn’t heard his voice. I thought my life was ruined. “Can’t they send me to juvenile hall?” I felt even worse when we got to Monarch. The receptionist hardly looked up from her typewriter, gesturing towards the hallway where we were supposed to sit and wait. I could hear the murmuring of men talking and then a door opened. “Come in.” someone said.
It was a dark office, big desk and a big chair. Whoever’d been participating in the conversation was gone. My uncle and I sat down across the desk from one large, cigar smoking man. He asked me questions. He wanted to know: Who were my partners? Who made all these bootleg albums? Were we a team? A band of hippie criminals? But it was just me and my tape. I tried to tell him but between nerves and anger I mostly sputtered and stalled.
My uncle did the talking. He told them I was just a little kid, I didn’t understand what I was doing, what were they going to do, lock me up? And anyway, didn’t they pay attention to what comes into their plant? They were the manufacturers after all, their reputation could be fried by this. Don’t they have a fucking clue? Nice one. It sank in at that moment that they just wanted their records back. Nothing bad was going to happen to me.
I’d like to say this is where I learned my lesson, got up and left quietly. Instead I got a dose of teenage courage and went off on the guy. Damn them for giving me trouble. Music was for the people! I told him he was the evil establishment, making money off the work of the artists. I said music was too important to be merchandised by fat guys smoking cigars (I actually said that, and he really was a fat guy with a cigar). I said music was gonna change their crass, ugly world. I gave him the what for, and then I asked if I could have my records back. He said no. Damn.
I knew one thing. I’d never use Monarch Records again.
My idea of putting out a Bob Dylan album by myself got ridiculed by everyone I talked to. You’re no record company, the naysayers said, it’s illegal. Buzzkillers, the lot of them. No vision. I got talked out of my grand scheme.
Then I was beat to the punch. The first underground album appeared. “Great White Wonder” was a double album of unreleased Dylan songs packaged in a blank white cover with blank white labels and a title that was rubber-stamped across the front. An enigmatic looking thing, GWW popped out of nowhere, filling the racks of newly cool – was there any other kind - record shops and emporiums. Displayed front and center, it blew off the shelves.
I don’t know what you were doing in 1969 but I was checking out the head shops along Hollywood Blvd. Quality time spent in these places gave me an education, showed what other hip people were thinking and feeling, where heads were at. Blunt-huffing store clerks slid me culture clues like secrets. They told me what was happening. And at that moment GWW was the happening thing. It was an event, a perfectly radical retail item, in stores now. It felt revolutionary.
Appearing perfectly timed, six months after John Wesley Harding, GWW was rumored to have been engineered by the big guy himself. “Dylan is sticking it to the man!” the shop hippies said. “He’s sick of the record companies telling him what to do. He’s taking his music to the people!” It’s what we wanted to believe, that the world was changing and here was the ultimate proof: Bob Dylan was checking out of the system.
We believed it for about a week. Then a more pedestrian reality made its presence clear. Somebody with a stash of Dylan tapes had decided to turn them into records and make some bucks. This was musical pillage and rape. It was unauthorized and illegal. It was a freaking bootleg.
Wait. That was MY idea!
Dammit all to hell. I had let myself be talked me out of doing something revolutionary. Adding insult, the tapes used for Great White Wonder were in terrible shape, sounded awful, couldn’t compare to the great sounding tracks I had worked so hard to get. And the song choices were a mixed bag too, nothing as cohesive as my Basement Tapes. Well, wait a minute. Since they hadn’t used the songs that I had in my possession, my tape was still unique.
I wasn’t out of the game. I could make my own album.
LA’s mainstream punk radio KROQ-FM Radio was once 1960s freeform hippie radio KPPC-FM. And man, did they play some crazy shit. Especially after midnight.
I’ll say this about the hippies, they liked their radio inscrutable. I set my reel-to-reel to its slowest speed to get eight hours of recording and ran it all night long, catching everything they played and giving myself a glimpse into the counterculture. I’d wake up to a tape filled with the sounds of early Pink Floyd, Nico, Indian raga, maybe the Woody Woodpecker theme song. Once in awhile they’d shock me by throwing in some unreleased Bob Dylan. Whoa, we craved new Dylan songs.
Backtrack with me for a minute. You have no idea the commotion that was raised when Bob Dylan started having hits. What do parents make of a performer whose music you can’t dance to, whose cryptic interviews you can’t decode or translate? In a lineup with other skinny rockers in their tight trousers and jungle boogie, Bob Dylan was the scariest of them all. He forever looked and acted as though he was On Drugs and in the 1960s, my brothers and sisters, that did not fly.
Radio was forced to play Bob Dylan, and Bob Dylan made radio change. Across the next year his music, and music influenced by him, ruled the airwaves. Then the man himself had a motorcycle accident and disappeared into seclusion. Quit touring. Vanished. Damn.
Eighteen months passed. Hippies were born. The culture shifted to accommodate earnest new folksingers who arrived in Dylan’s wake as well as the trash rockers who emulated Dylan’s asshole side. How does it feel, bitch? Hair got long and messy, San Francisco became a drug destination for runaways and the Hollywood Teenage Fair became a psychedelic circus, inducing underage kids into lightshows and staged freakouts and I am telling you this all happened because of Bob Dylan and the way he looked like he was On Drugs.
Dylan’s accident was followed by months of clever silence as the man and his undisclosed condition were made mythological. The silence was broken when KPPC obtained a batch of unreleased Dylan songs that had slipped from the grasp of his management, and began sneakily airing them in post-midnight broadcasts. These were just demos, “basement tapes”, but we didn’t know that and assumed they were simply poor sounding copies of a brand new upcoming album. Catching bits and pieces in the late night hours, the music’s stark rootsy sound was unexpected and gave glorious hints of another musical changeover. This was Bob Dylan after all. It could herald nothing less.
But it wasn’t his new album. That turned out to be John Wesley Harding, which took another six months to appear and contained none of the foggy, swampy sounds we’d heard on KPPC. John Wesley Harding wasn’t a new direction at all. It was more of a retreat… like a quiet goodbye to wild times. It wasn’t mysterious. It was no fun at all.
But what had become of the songs I’d heard on the radio? They were off the air now, replaced by Dylan’s properly released record album. But those lo fi tapes had the feel of the moment, 1968 captured in time. I was afraid that they were going to be lost. I called KPPC to find out if anyone knew what happened to that album. Hippies were an accommodating lot; I found a sympathetic soul who informed me it wasn’t an album I was hearing, it was just a tape someone had got ahold of. Ok fine, could someone put me in touch with that person? I was eventually given the number of a downtown LA music store called Records & Supertape. The clerk there sold me my first reel-to-reel copy of the Bob Dylan Basement Tapes for $5.00.
As the tape unwound on my Wollensak I nearly got down on my knees, somewhat in awe that the reel was spinning forty-five minutes of cherished new music that I now possessed, and few others did. Did I deserve to keep this all to myself?
Wait a minute. I knew how to make a record. If Bob Dylan wasn’t going to give up this music why couldn’t I? Why not press up some copies and share it with the world..
Jerry Garcia liked to joke that the Summer of Love really only lasted about two weeks. He said it was as if someone opened up a window, and suddenly we could see a whole new world in front of us, big and bright and free. Filled with rhythm and peace, and oh! the love was gonna flow. Then the window slammed shut. And that was the end of it.
If that’s the case, I’d peg the beginning at June 16, 1967: night one of the Monterey Pop Festival. Things maybe peaked a week later with The Beatles on live TV premiering “All You Need Is Love”. Another week of afterglow followed as we awaited our new world. And the remaining summer months existed only to let us watch it all fizzle out.
Monterey Pop was a source of angst for my friend Tom and me. We crazily wanted to go. We knew all about Monterey, starting with the fact that The Who was playing. But we were only fourteen years old, there was no way we’d get permission. We didn’t even bother to ask. They’d laugh us out of our dining rooms.
Not that we couldn’t get there. All you needed was an outstretched thumb. Seemingly every freeway onramp had a hippie or two standing, hand out, headed northward, Monterey or bust. Hippies. We’d seen cliques of them at the Teenage Fair, now they were all over the city. School warned us about them, told us not to be seduced by their devilish ways. But they were in full force at the Teen Fair and they didn’t seem so bad. Their social dictum was to be nice to all, even a kid like me, and their behavior made the Fair feel like an oasis of goodwill, a zone of no judgement. Plus the clothes they wore broke all kinds of rules. First time I saw a girl without a bra I almost dropped my ice cream.
They’d probably be at Monterey too, all of them. But not Tom and me. We mollified ourselves, vowing that nothing would keep us from Monterey ’68. And we moved on to the next culture moment: The Beatles’ upcoming TV appearance. Nobody would have to miss that. The whole world would be watching.
To have caught The Beatles four years earlier on Ed Sullivan was to be inducted into a tribe; a huge, music-loving, global tribe of eleven year olds. You knew it, too. Everyone was thinking what you thought, singing what you sang. My own tribe was at school, in Campbell Hall sixth grade. We swapped comments the day after the Sullivan show, united in excitement. And we continued to monitor and discuss everything The Beatles did for weeks, months, into years.
But now my tribe was gone. Vanished with my middle-school graduation and the coming new world of high school. I distracted myself with the events of this very vivid summer.
My stepdad had sold his Pasadena house and relocated to the sterling new community of Carson. I spent alternating weekends there. There wasn’t much to do but I liked hanging out with my stepsister Victoria. She and her boyfriend had gutted her bedroom, covering its walls with testimonials to Haight-Ashbury and free love.
Her centerpiece was the requisite kama sutra poster, with its cartoons of sexy stick figures locked in different stages of fervor. It drove my mom apoplectic, and she tried to forbid me from entering Vic’s room, but I didn’t see the big deal.
“Our World”, The Beatles upcoming TV venue, was some kind of milestone. A first-ever worldwide satellite livecast, showcasing artists from every continent. A party for the planet. But the schedule was screwy. The Beatles’ zero hour was Saturday LA time: noon. I barely woke up.
I watched it in Carson. It was an inauspicious place to witness a major event, and the prospect of no school pals to bounce it around, come Monday, made me feel a little lonely. But my stepdad had PBS, that’s what mattered. My kid brother and I set up the tape recorder so I’d capture everything. And we waited and watched.
It was a new world all right. And The Beatles were the leaders. How could anyone doubt it, seeing them again on live TV? John’s guileless confidence, Paul’s leading of the band (and orchestra!) with a wink and a gum-chewing nod. George’s cool. And, you know, Ringo. Mick Jagger and Donovan sat crosslegged on the floor, singing along. That’s what we did, we sang along.
I took the tape down to my studio guy and cut a record of “All You Need Is Love”. I spun that puppy for weeks before anyone else had it.
I’d lost my tribe but my stepsister helped me find a new one. Vic was always ready to get out of Carson, and I’d tag along with her and her boyfriend to Hollywood, where we’d walk the boulevard. And right there on the street were my fellow travelers; the newly groovy street kids and the flower power hip.
We were launching a new unified community. You could feel it in the wind. Every fifth or sixth person walking by gave a knowing look. Eyes met and you’d get a small smile, a nod of recognition. The freak parade. We were the instigators of the new. Everyone was friendly. Even the Jesus freaks were ok, not yet out of hand. They still preached love, not the fire-and-brimstone harangue that was to come later, after church leader Tony Alamo got hold of them. Why not google his name right now, see what he’s up to?
The street dealers sized us up and provided stuff to puff. I demurred on that but couldn’t say no to my first amphetamines. Whoa. We usually ended up at Wallach’s Music City, holed up in the listening booths with a stack of records. Sunset and Vine baby!
The lessons I took from all this was that gentle souls would inherit the earth. Peace would surely come. And I’d never actually need to hold a job. Because we were all in this together.
When The Doors’ album came out it pulled our attention away from Love, who to that point had been the favorite band of my eighth grade homeroom.
The Doors was the first band I saw perform as a live act before they had an album out, and now hearing the difference between the two was startling. At The Cinnamon Cinder they’d been a little boring, if riveting to look at. Their debut album made them riveting to hear. That was reason enough for me to study the record more than usual and I noticed, for the first time, a credit for producer: Paul A. Rothchild. What would a record producer’s job entail, I wondered? Well for one thing he made The Doors not boring. I could hear it with my own ears.
Love’s newest album got released in the same time period and it too stated a production credit of Paul A. Rothchild. The guy got around. It’s hard to say why I gave it so much attention. Maybe because I “was there” (cry of the boomer) or maybe just because The Doors’ own album sounded better than they themselves had. Whatever, Rothchild’s name was one I now noted, a reason to think about recorded music in a different light. I never again listened to the radio without imagining smart, unnamed people working behind the music.
When, two decades later, the very famous Mr. Paul Rothchild introduced himself to me, volunteered his services and ended up working at my side for a year-and-a-half recording The Brat, I would often have to take synchronicity breaks and go outside to look at the stars. But anyways…
Love mattered because the band was just the latest evidence that racism was going by the wayside. Love was Arthur Lee and another brother, backed by a band of whites, and my crowd liked ‘em a lot.
The racism thing mattered a lot to me. My private school had not a single dark face, nor did the entire San Fernando Valley as far as I could see. Growing up I don’t think I ever saw ‘those people’ anywhere but television and even that was rare. Most people I came across appeared to be bigots, judging by the comments that they made, which were often nasty and gave me a real headache. So much energy spent beating up on the little guy.
Now in 1967, to a kid, racist crap looked to be on the wane, pushed to the side by us in the new gen. Evidence was everywhere. Love ins were proudly multiracial. Hugh Masekela jammed with The Byrds. Otis Redding was a headliner at the upcoming Monterey Pop Festival. Jennifer Thaxton’s friends partied with Arthur Lee. Maybe not the best example. Anyway back to Monterey. Ah, Monterey. The dawn of a new age, represented by people like The Mamas & The Papas’ John Phillips, all showing us the way to a brighter tomorrow.
All of this buzzed in my brain as eighth grade came to an end. One more school dance before we checked out for another summer. This night would be unique. My youngish history teacher, Mr. Andrews, had promised us a surprise.
Andrews had arrived at Campbell Hall that year from Texas. He was a cool character, more like a hip uncle than a teacher. Andrews liked The Beatles, laughed when Day Tripper’s lyrics went by (“She’s a big teaser, she took me half the way there”). He was from the South but he wasn’t conservative. I was savvy enough to take note of that and I really looked up to the guy.
The Spring Dance came and my friend’s band performed, playing the hits as best they could. When they came to a break Mr. Andrews stepped forward and announced his special guest, a friend from the South. Would we please welcome Solomon Burke.
Later we learned a lot about Solomon Burke - that he was the real deal, a blues and soul man with songs that had been covered by The Rollin’ Stones – information that made the night’s memory iconic. But that night all we knew was Mr. Andrews brought forward this large black man. There was no stage, no spotlight, just a band setup on the gym floor and the twinkling of dance lights all around.
Solomon Burke plugged his guitar into my friend’s amp (which had just been put to stellar use playing Happy Together) and we all sat cross-legged on the gym floor as Mr. Burke gave us a couple songs, just him and guitar; a quick moving jaunt and then a slow blues dirge sung in a deep quiet voice that gave us the chills. Two songs and then he was gone. Outstanding.
With that we were off for the summer. The Summer of Love.
Here it is, the cradle of Los Angeles’ Anglophilia (the love of all things British and Rawk).
Lewin Record Paradise was the only LA shop that sold the rarest of musical treasures, English import albums. They stocked music you couldn’t find anywhere else, every obscure band you could possibly think of, memorabilia, displays, records and posters and a Carnaby Street sign hanging on the wall.
From the middle of Hollywood Blvd it was hard to imagine Carnaby Street, but you could read about it in magazines. It had pubs and fashion and all kinds of interesting music-making people and here at Lewin’s it was as if you could feel those vibrations. You walked in the door, you were in England. Old man Lewin and his wife filled their tiny storefront like a crazy couple’s garage, packed floor-to-ceiling with those wonderful shiny English albums, all skinny laminated covers and groovy artwork.
Lew was a ruddy (as they say), pink-cheeked Cockney raconteur. He looked like someone who’d lure bad boys to Pleasure Island. He gave us shit. Once he told me not to get too close to the Rubber Soul I was coveting. Pointing to the druggy looking cover he told me, “Don’t inhale, they put English POT in there, they do!”
“Aftermath” was difficult to keep in stock. Fortunately Lewin’s would take reservations by phone. All you had to do was call them at their number: HOllywood 4-8088.