Do you believe in angels?
Well, it's a long story. That question came to my mind after re-reading William Blake's work (holy him!). One day I asked that question to somebody and that person responded so beautifully, that I think I'm a happier person now. I'm on my way sweet angel!
So, it's all about questions, not right or wrong questions, but simply questions. Raw questions. Wild ones.
Today we're going to talk about one of the most unknown characters of the late sixties, a young man (back then) that had very precise questions and metaphysical answers – questions and answers that he wanted to transmit to us through music, the magic of music - his music. His name is F.J. McMahon.
“F.J. McMahon is an artist with something to say and he says it in a simple earthy style.”
F.J. grew up in Santa Barbara, California, it was the end of the fifties and the beginning of the sixties, F.J was laying in his room and dreaming about being a writer, but as soon as he saw an Elvis Presley fan mag he decided to play guitar instead of getting a summer job at a grocery store. He started playing in surf rock bands such as The Cordels, The Golden Guitars and The Checkmates (amazing names don't you think?).
It was a wild time to play guitar, back then people had very little information about how to play properly, but everyone wanted to play that concrete instrument, so they just got along with what they had at the time.
First thing he got into was an album called Guitar Boogie Shuffle by The Ventures, but soon names like Scotty Moore, Duane Eddy and Hoyt Axton became some of his favorite musicians.
Like lots of young American men in that century he joined the army air forces, because it was the only way to go, you had no choice - war or jail, soldier or prisoner and I'd rather be a soldier in prison, but I know it's not that easy.
After a period of time when he came back from Southeast Asia, he graduated from high school and one day two guys from a company called Tigereye Productions encouraged him to record a solo album. He had enough stories to tell and everything that was happening outside made him think about it. He came back to his grandma's house and started writing what years later would become his best-known work.
In 1969, the bassist Jon Uzonyi (from the band Peacepipe), the drummer Junior Nichols and F.J. himself recorded the album “Spirit of The Golden Juice”, in a period of a day and a half - they recorded various takes for each song, first day at PD Sound in Los Angeles and second day - vocals and lead guitar – at the Accent Studios in Hollywood.
Funny fact here, I remember checking the lyrics of one of my favorite songs from the album which is “Early Blue” and reading at some point
– Solo with an awesome instrument.
That awesome instrument is an organ with a ton of verb - played by the label owner Scott Seely, and this was one of these last minute decisions that sometimes makes things kind of more interesting.
I don't know the name of the person who did the shot of the cover album, but I do know that it was taken at the well known Chateau Marmont in Hollywood. A place where many wonderful things happened.
When the album came out, F.J. started playing in several places – you could see him in bars, in the streets of California, a few hotels, bowling alleys,... but the album didn't have all the success that it is having now, and then the seventies came in and a whole new world begin.
“I suppose the down side is the songs seem relevant because the world is still so screwed up.” - F.J. McMahon
And you may wonder, why is this fella not talking about the music? Well, I must admit that i'm terrible at describing music and I rather prefer talking about the hidden stories and let the music speak for itself. I know I repeat myself, but this is my mantra Johnny!
Any other questions?
What's the golden juice, mister? Here you go:
The Spirit Of The Golden Juice is getting reissued on Anthology Records and it comes out next week in a beautiful vinyl edition. Buy it HERE.
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