City Boy questions

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Laurelei
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City Boy questions

Post by Laurelei » Fri Dec 28, 2007 7:03 am

Hi Max,

Hope you had a lovely Christmas, and that all is well with you guys. I pray '08 is a better year.

I wanted to take another run at getting an answer to my Ambition question (I think it got lost at the end of an old post). Is there some back story to the two middle sections? They hold together differently than the rest of the song, and I get the feeling there is a story to the nightmarish quality of Me And My Tarot and the anticipation and excitement of Rev On. I'm thinking they were (very loosely) inspired by an old actress' suicide.

Also, at the risk of ending up the first recipient of the Max Thomas Award for the Most Clueless Fan, you are going to have to take pity on me and tell me which one is your voice. You did not come obligingly color coded like Steve and Lol did on YMGW and I wasn't filling out crib sheets at the live shows. I think I know, but would like a definitive answer.

Ok, you all have my permission to laugh at my expense now. :wink:
Jo Ann
Last edited by Laurelei on Wed Jun 11, 2008 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Coventry Dave » Mon Dec 31, 2007 7:10 pm

Oh we wuz larfing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Post by Germain » Tue Jan 01, 2008 3:52 am

Well I'm not laughing. Ok, just a little. You have gone ahead and asked some of that which I have wondered. The songs that you mentioned are among my favorites and I would very much like to know those same details. I have always found that suite of music strangely compelling. Thanks for opening up that can of worms, Jo.
Germain

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Me and My Tarot, Rev On, and Max Thomas vocals!

Post by Max Thomas » Thu Jan 03, 2008 8:36 am

Well, Laurelie, I'm going to have to try to keep this short....Let me deal with the last two items first....

Regarding my vocals, no, I don't think my solo voice occurs on any of the songs from any of the albums. I did a fair amount of backing vocals on the first three albums, but when Roy arrived, I was seldom needed. Yes, I'm here and there singing a fourth or fifth harmony along with the other guys, and obviously when we played live I would have to sing in many of the harmonised sections on many of the songs, but on the albums...I'd have to listen carefully and think very hard to remember!

Rev On...I can't even remember how that all came together. I know we were very happy with the way that the synth appears to be going one way, and then suddenly the band comes in and the beat is not where you expect it to be...I seem to remember that most of it came together quite late - as compared with all the other songs which were completed well in advance of the actual recording.

Me and My Tarot...now that is a long story...

I'll start it now but I might have to finish it later.

In the Autumn of 1971 I was suffering from manic depression and I was in a psychiatric unit in Birmingham. I was on this particular medication which was designed to stop you from concentrating on anything for more than a few moments. Part of my condition at the time involved paranoia, and such a drug obviously prevented you from becoming drawn into fear or anxiety by repeatedly breaking your concentration. But imagine, I couldn't play the guitar because I couldn't even get it tuned before my mind went to something else. I would sit down to write a letter and just forget what I was writing mid-sentence. Even holding a conversation was hard, especially for the person trying to talk to me. I was beginning to hate it though I hadn't fully realised at the time that it was the medication causing these problems.

Then one day I recall takng some clothes from another guy's drawers and putting them into my own. I was actually stealing! At this point, I decided I'd had enough of all this, and I told them I was leaving. They threatened that only two doctors' signatures were needed to detain me. I told them to f___ off; I emptied my bank account and took a train to Milan where I had met someone the previous summer. I stayed with her for a while and then she arranged for me to house-sit for a friend of hers for a few months. I even got some work there translating French to English!

It wa around this time, in that apartment, that I had a dream that I will never forget. It came with words and a melody:

Verse 1
Once I had a dream, I was in a dark place
There were many people, born of every race
All at once this darkness was transformed into light
Blinding all our sight, so powerful and bright

This was about as far as the words went at that time. In this dream, I'd been on some raised platform - stage, I guess, though I didn't realise this at the time. I seemed to be sitting on a stool and looking out over the people. That's when this bright, bright light appeared, and that's when I woke up. It was very powerful, almost like a vision. Virtually all the music came at that time, and I recall going to someone's house and working it out on the piano there, though it may not have been till I got back to the UK that it was finally finished, but no more words were to come for many years.

I knew it was a very powerful piece, and Lol knew of it, so when the construction of Ambition was under way, I was persuaded, slightly unwillingly, as it were, to part with this so that Lol obviously competely rewrote the words to fit in with the concept.

When I became a Christian some years after the band broke up, I reclaimed the song, and it is now entitled "Peace, Joy and Love." The vision was of Christ, I am now convinced. The words continue....

(end of verse 1)
Can't describe that feeling, peace, joy and love....

Chorus:
Dark was the morning when I woke up crying
Deep was the sadness in my heart realising
Gone, was this perfect vision..peace and joy and love...

Verse 2
Once I had a dream, many years have gone by
Many times I wondered, tried to reason why..
Why the vision haunted me, from where that power came
The brightness of that light, the glory in those flames
No more doubt about it, Our Lord Jesus Christ!

Chorus:
Bright, every morning now I wake up smiling
Deep is my happiness, my heart realising
Gone, is the mystery of Our One Lord Jesus Christ!

You can sing along with it, try!!!

June's voice is perfect for it, so it is one song that we hope to record properly very soon.

I think I'll end here. I hope you've found this interesting.

Love in Him,
Max

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Post by Max Thomas » Thu Jan 03, 2008 8:49 am

By the way, when I got back to the UK, I looked up that drug in a medical dictionary. I can't quite rememer its name, but it was something like trimiprazine. At the end of a long list of side-effects, it said: kleptomania!!

Incidentally, I am now convinced that my periods of mental instability during my early 20's were very much tied up with my fairly excessive use of cannabis during my late teens. It's now very well documented that overuse by teenagers can lead to many types of psychoses. Any of you who have teenagers whom you suspect of smoking dope should confront them, as the genetically modified stuff that's around nowadays is much stronger than that back in the 60's and early 70's. Or tell them to write to me. I'd be happy to share my experience and try to set them straight in a completely non-confrontational way.
Max

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Post by 1after2 » Fri Jan 04, 2008 1:22 am

Max Thomas wrote:.... Or tell them to write to me. I'd be happy to share my experience and try to set them straight in a completely non-confrontational way.


A very generous offer Max.
I don't hope I'll ever need to make use of it (until now all clean) but I'll keep it in mind... thanks.
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Post by PerG » Fri Jan 04, 2008 2:51 am

Thanks! Interesting read Max! :D

I wish you'll have a great 2008 and that all your musical dreams come true!

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Re: Me and My Tarot, Rev On, and Max Thomas vocals!

Post by Laurelei » Fri Jan 04, 2008 6:37 am

Max Thomas wrote:I think I'll end here. I hope you've found this interesting.


Max Thomas wrote:Regarding my vocals, no, I don't think my solo voice occurs on any of the songs from any of the albums.

Hi Max,

Very interesting, thanks. I always love to hear your CB stories. Thanks for sharing what was obviously a very meaningful and personal memory. It means a lot.

Thanks, too, for answering my half-serious question about your voice. Not heard solo, huh. Well, I wonder who did da screamin' at the end of Bad For Business then. I thought I knew which was your voice, sort of by process of elimination (a little deeper, a little gravely). This is rather mbarrassing that I've been listening to you guys for 30 plus years, and I'm still getting the details wrong.

I remember that in your testimony or maybe another old post you said you had done your first song writing in Milan. Was that your first song?

That's really amazing that such a powerful song, one of if not your very first, came giftwrapped and and pointing you down the road... How awesome is that!

Max, please stop by whenever you can. I know I'm not the only one who enjoys hearing your stories, and it means a lot to us when you post them.

Jo Ann
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Post by man who ate his car » Mon Jan 21, 2008 12:47 pm

I've always figured that Max's voice is present in the back up vocals of some CB songs. We may not hear him sing separately as an individual, but he's there in the back up role.
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Re: City Boy questions

Post by Robin_Shadowes » Mon Oct 13, 2008 11:34 am

I want to know who came up with the oddball rag and the circumstances why you added such a strange intermission to the song? I'm also curious to how Van der Graaf Generator came to be involved and guested on DATR?
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Re: City Boy questions

Post by 1after2 » Wed Oct 15, 2008 2:07 am

Robin_Shadowes wrote:I'm also curious to how Van der Graaf Generator came to be involved and guested on DATR?


Sorry for not being Max :uhhuh: , but I think this may answer it :

"Guest sax or flute appearances by Mr. Jaxon (see also VdGG VIb): Dinner At The Ritz by City Boy (Vertigo 1976) with extra vocal revelry by some of the VdGG boys (who recorded "World Record" in the next-door studio)"

http://www.fuzzlogic.com/vdgg/jaxon.htm

My conclusion is that VdGG's sax-player David Jackson was hired to play sax on the DATR title track, while at the same time VdGG were recording their album "World Record" in one of the other studios of the Rockfield premises. Guest vocals by VdGG may have come spontaneously into existence, for fun, on the spur of the moment so to say.
Funny thing is that the credits in the liner notes of the "World Record" album quite obviously refer to this situation, as it reads :
"Thanks to some CB's for watching us".

By the way, for those who like progressive rock with a complex, unorthodox touch, this album "World Record" by Van der Graaf Generator is a real treat.
"Godbluff" is another gem by VdGG.
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Re: City Boy questions

Post by Robin_Shadowes » Wed Oct 15, 2008 12:15 pm

Thanks! That sounds very likely if they recorded simoultanesly just door to door. Did any CB-member appear on the VdGG album?
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Re: City Boy questions

Post by propylaen » Thu Oct 13, 2011 4:55 am

Robin_Shadowes wrote:Thanks! That sounds very likely if they recorded simoultanesly just door to door. Did any CB-member appear on the VdGG album?
Hmm, that's quite an old post which I have read now for the first time.
Since the question remains unanswered to this day, I'd like to bring it up again because I'm really curious about this issue:

Max, can you possibly shed a light on this?

Best
Joerg
...seen CITY BOY in Hamburg (Germany) on March 16, 1978 in support of Manfred Mann's Earth Band

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Re: City Boy questions

Post by Robin_Shadowes » Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:28 pm

propylaen wrote:
Robin_Shadowes wrote:Thanks! That sounds very likely if they recorded simoultanesly just door to door. Did any CB-member appear on the VdGG album?
Hmm, that's quite an old post which I have read now for the first time.
Since the question remains unanswered to this day, I'd like to bring it up again because I'm really curious about this issue:

Max, can you possibly shed a light on this?

Best
Joerg
I had also forgot about it since it was so long ago. I know a DJ on Second Life who happens to be a VdGG-fan. I don't know much about the group myself but I can ask her if she knows anything about the World Record-sessions. Funny, she's also from Germany. Was VdGG huge in Germany back then?
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Re: City Boy questions

Post by propylaen » Sat Oct 15, 2011 3:23 am

Robin_Shadowes wrote: I had also forgot about it since it was so long ago. I know a DJ on Second Life who happens to be a VdGG-fan. I don't know much about the group myself but I can ask her if she knows anything about the World Record-sessions. Funny, she's also from Germany. Was VdGG huge in Germany back then?
Hmm, they do have quite a fan base here and also did have back then. But as far as I know, they were especially huge in Italy at their prime time!
...seen CITY BOY in Hamburg (Germany) on March 16, 1978 in support of Manfred Mann's Earth Band

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