It’s hard to believe he can sing it like that live.
As a child, KISS was one of my favourite bands, and it makes perfect sense.
The makeup, the simplicity, the hyperbole, they were perfectly designed to appeal to a young, small-town kid looking for something fun.
And it was this very song and performance, this appearance on Midnight Special in 1975 that put this series on my radar and made me want to stay up late on Friday nights. The show aired on NBC right after The Tonight Show, and one of the most amazing things about it was that most of the bands came on and actually performed their songs live.
That’s right. They didn’t lip synch.
So when you watched Midnight Special, most of the time, you were watching bands perform live on the TV.
And this is a time when you didn’t have music videos, Youtube, the Internet, concert DVDs or anything like that. If you wanted to see KISS or Alice Cooper or ABBA, you had to go see them in concert yourself. But if you were a kid in living in rural Ontario, Canada, guess what? You aren’t going to any concerts.
So Midnight Special was one of the very few opportunities I could have to see any bands at all, except maybe for my dad’s band, The Bluetones. They were pretty good, but when you’re a KISS fan, listening to your dad sing Rhinestone Cowboy isn’t exactly what I was looking for.
As at least four people know, I am obsessed with the performances from the old TV show Midnight Special. And I mean obsessed. Truly, heavily into them.
I get this way about songs.
There was a week long period in 2005 where I was deep into a Little Richard song called The Girl Can’t Help It and the more I listened to it, the more information I was pulling out. I was hearing deep into the song, finding layers and structures in there that I don’t even remember now. I would play it over and over again walking back and forth to and from work, just picking up all this extra stuff in the song that was blowing my mind. It was like I was inside Little Richard’s head as we was writing it, playing it and recording it. I could isolate all the different instruments and hear their parts perfectly clearly, hear exactly what they were doing and somehow, I knew their process and intentions.
Note: I am not crazy. I realize that this is purely a function of my own perception.
Well, one day, not too long after that, I was having some lunch at my desk and I suddenly realized that Youtube might have some old live footage of some bands that you never got to see when you were a kid in the 70s. At this time, I wasn’t even remembering Midnight Special. One of the bands I wanted to see was Steely Dan, and I kicked it into the search and BOOM – Midnight Special and a searing version of Reeling in the Years.
I went nuts, and watched song after song after song by incredible bands from the Good. Old. Days.
This period of Midnight Special intensity is ongoing, and I am really digging into these performances, slipping into levels of understanding that transcend daily existence, finding powerful internal structures and meanings that resonate on some deep level in my brain.
And I have finally gotten to the point where I need to document some of the best of these videos that absorb me, and hopefully, you will be able to get a taste of what is happening somewhere in the denser folds of my thinking and you too will enjoy these amazing songs.
Hocus Pocus by Focus
And this next version is a little cleaner, a little better visually, and a lot longer, with an awesome prog-style prelude and some mind scraping rock flute that blows my mind.
Why are these awesome?
Searing, blistering guitar part, groovy everything, insane vocalizations, the song tears forward with a kind of manic energy with these bizarre breaks for yodeling. Yodeling!
The organ sounds perfect, the drummer doesn’t try to do too much in his breaks, the band is perfectly balanced and it’s something that you simply couldn’t hear today.
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