What's Left - Songs and Stories This information not only helps make sense out of the stories being told in the lyrics on the What's Left CD, but also helps to set up the possibility of a much more complete, informed, and enjoyable experience for the listener. The sounds on What's Left are the closest we can now come to the original intent, and character, of this music. Each piece uniquely sets it's own musical direction. None of them follow a complete 'formula' for any of the standardized 'commercial market' categories, although some of those characteristics obviously are represented. Nearly all of these pieces present a different set of musicians, playing different general types of music. They were all originally recorded in professional grade recording studios, but none of the original multi-track tapes were still available by the time the CD was produced, thereby obviously, causing some production limitations for the overall finished quality. All of the What's Left music was recovered from rough-mix cassettes. Some overdubbing (recording additional sounds 'over' the original tracks), on certain selections, enhances the original cassette material as you will hear. The music was first intended to be performed live and was recorded so that the live audio experience would be replicated as closely as possible in the music's recordings. Therefore, listening can best be enjoyed through earphones, or by using speakers that have been set up so that they approximate, as closely as possible, the stereo array that would be expected in a live performance venue. If the listener sets the EQ for this unusual mix, and then positions directly between the speakers, it becomes possible to listen to the music; eyes closed, and virtually 'see' the musician's relative locations on the stage, using the listener's ears as the 'view' to the audio image. A little additional imagination, used to 'see' the vocalist, in costume, as the song's central character, or sometimes as that character's observer, with song-related sets and lighting for staging effect, can provide a more enjoyable and entertaining experience as well. Here are some bits of detail that I hope will also contribute to the overall experience while offering a better grasp of the original artistic approach along with some previously unknown history. LONELY MAN - I sing this tune as the person the story is being told about so that the song doesn't come across as a bitch-out of the listener, or as a vague reference to some abstract being. In fact, the one being sung about is a conglomerate character representing many different people with the all-too-common character flaws of ego-egocentricity and callousness toward others. The first human model that brought this concept to my mind is one of the most well-known pool hustlers to ever 'take-off' his mother's unsuspecting dinner date (for the poor guy's entire bankroll, betting on golf ball putts in the bedroom hallway), while his oblivious mom is in the bathroom getting ready for her first date in years. When, at long last, she nervously appeared, finally ready for her big date, the poor schlump had already left the house in embarrassment and self-disgust, never to return. This guy's name, of world renown in the pool game, is Keith McCready. He appeared as 'Grady Seasons', along with Tom Cruz, in 'The Color of Money'. He's the guy who taunts Tom with, 'It's a nightmare, isn't it'? And then, 'Just keeps getting worse doesn't it'? Only to have Tom reverse the situation, at the big tournament at the end of the film, by saying the same exact thing back to Keith's character. I've known Keith in the real world for nearly forty years now, and, so far, we've never had a bad word between us. We've always gotten along because we know each others perspective. Part of his definition is that he's always on the hustle, and part of mine is avoiding traps. The other sort that inspired this song is the unscrupulous corporate type, like most of today's music industry executives. As it turns out, they are much uglier pirates than even the most fervently scam-centered of road-hardened pool hustlers. At least with most pool hustlers (the ones who won't set a stake-horse up for a dump), you know they're out to take you off. The music industry sharks, on the other hand, act like they are on the musician's side, just like a low-life pimp turning out a teenager. The last night of overdubbing on Lonely Man included work by Jim Keltner and Jeff Baxter at Kendon Recording, in Hollywood. The mixing session was set for the next day at Kendon. When I showed up to start mixing the album however (the one that already had a relative fortune invested in it, along with my life, and the performances of many great musicians), I was told that the Master Tapes couldn't be found, and were nowhere in the vault. Someone with vault access had stolen the tape. The only recorded music left from these sessions is Lonely Man. And, this is the result of nothing more than simple good fortune. Paul Stallworth brought a small stereo tape recorder to the last night's recording session, and recorded the last playback that night using the tiny mike system built into the recorder. Had this not happened, the thieves would have gotten away with everything, and we wouldn't even have this marginal replication of the original work remaining. As you listen, imagine how big this sound would be if we had been able to mix the CD from the original 24 track Master. Listen to the hook, then pay attention to the progressive variations on theme, and then envision what these great musicians could have done with these variations in live performance. After years of struggle against hard drugs following the rip-off of the Masters, Jessie 'Ed' Davis (quite possibly the greatest natural rock guitarist of all time), died of an overdose, and the chance to hear where this music could have gone was lost to the world forever. Years before though, as I was driving along listening to the radio, I was shocked to hear what, to me, was certainly my music. 'Owner Of A Lonely Heart', by YES, had just come on the radio, for the first time that I had ever heard it. They didn't do as much variation on the theme of the basic hook as I did for the tune, but (credit where credit is due); they did do a great job of arranging on top of it. The title definitely does sound like a response that one might have to my song's Title and Theme. That is, if they were lacking real insight into where the song is coming from. And, of course, they never talked to me at all. They never even returned my all-to-courteous calls to YES' manager's office. The ones I made after hearing their song. I presented a comparison tape of the two recordings to a Hollywood 'music' attorney who supposedly was representing me. He gave me some seemingly plausible reasons as to why we would not be able to prevail in a legal action, and should abandon any quest for redress. My comparison tape showed not only that their entire song was built on my hook, but, it also contained three production moves identical to ones I used on Lonely Man. Soon after this, a new mix was suspiciously released by YES. Conspicuously, this new mix was missing these unique production moves. This is the mix that most people now have, but I'm sure many people still have the original one. The band YES was dead to the market for years before they released Owner Of A Lonely Heart. They had never before recorded anything close to it's musical style. They had never before collaborated as writers. Yet, magically, on the most musically progressive and complex song that they had ever produced, they all shared writers royalties on the song, for the first time ever. It was their biggest hit of all time, and has provided their group and supporters with a solid musical career ever since, along with many, many, millions of dollars. Good job fellas. You certainly rock! Lonely Man is the only song on the CD that presents the full sixteen-piece set up that I prefer for 'Rock/R&B/Jazz' type of sounds. Josh West - Lead Vocal & Acoustic Guitar Jim Keltner - Drums Paul Stallworth - Bass Phil Houghton - Guitar Jessie 'Ed' Davis - Guitar Gordon DeWitty - Electric Piano Mike Cruz - Congas Scotty Page - Baritone Sax Steve Madaio & the Stevie Wonder Horn Section - Horns Carmen and the Girls - Background Vocals A PLAYER - This song is built on the rhythm of a pool shot: And-a-one, two, three, four - And-a-one, two, three, four. The 'and' is the cue tip hitting the ball, 'a' the cue-ball hitting the object-ball, and 'one' the object ball hitting the back of the pocket. When you see the video, it's gonna knock you off the table with sequenced choreographed rhythmic time shots. The idea behind A Player, is that if you can ever shoot any shot perfectly, just once, you can do it perfectly again, and again, and again. All it takes, after the first time, is focus and practice. Most of the things we people do in life are the same in this way. Josh West - Vocal, Keyboards, & Drums Bobby Cochran - Lead Guitar John Bear - Keyboards FLAT BUSTED - I was recognized by Billboard Magazine as the first to be professionally unionized as a 'Computer Instrumentalist', and installed as the first of six, in the new 'Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument' Category of the American Federation of Musicians. I was the one who actually caused this Category to be created through demo auditions and meeting with the Union's Local #47 President and Board of Directors, in Hollywood. This is the one piece on What's Left where I play a CMI. The point of this song is that even 'A Players' go busted sometimes. However, the great ones know they can always come back so loss doesn't break their spirit. The next time they'll simply play with more focus. Josh West - Vocal & Fairlight CMI Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter - Guitar I GIVE YOU MY LOVE - On this piece I sing two lead vocals, rather than a lead with a harmony part, just for the art of it. Josh West - Vocals & Acoustic Guitar Brian Walsh - Bass OUTSIDE - This piece is about the feeling of being totally outside, ready for the next great set, music or surf! Josh West - Acoustic Guitar & Electronic Drums (Finger-pad Triggered) SANDY CASTLES - Southern California Country Music has it's start here. Josh West - Vocal, Acoustic Guitars, Drum Machine & Keyboards A MILLION YEARS - We living creatures are the drops that make up the ocean of the body of life. Our universal body has existed for millions of years (actually 13.7 billion years from the start for our "universal" first molecule, but that doesn't make for a very good lyric line). We lose consciousness of this unity though we can never separate from the rest of the body even if we chose to try. The cycle is unrelenting and infinitive. Josh West - Vocal & Acoustic Guitar Jim Keltner - Drums Paul Stallworth - Bass Phil Haughton - Lead Guitar "Monterrey Phantom" - Grand Piano STEEL MARIMBA - I combine the sound of a Steel Drum, and a Marimba, in the synthesizer's memory to produce the island-style instrumental sound heard on this piece. This instrument cannot be made, or played, in the real world, yet it's sound is deceptively organic and tropical. Josh West - All sounds here are played on the Synthesizer, & Electric Guitar PATIENCE - This affirmation of truth needs no explanation. Warm your heart by it's light. Josh West - Vocal & Acoustic Guitar Paul Stallworth - Bass & Drums JOINT LOW RIDER - This 'Rap' song was recorded in 1977 and 78. Generally accepted "Rap" history says that the first Rap song was recorded in 1983. But wait... As fate would have it, one day while I was walking in Hollywood, a young female magazine writer walking in the opposite direction stopped me to ask a question that, as it turned out, my answer to, may have had far reaching impact. [I never saw her again, or had the opportunity to read her article. (If you ever read this "Miss Writer", I will be eternally grateful if you'll find a way to get in touch with me. I'd love to read what you wrote! )] She said she was working on an article about the next big trend in popular music. She said that she could tell by the way I looked that I was a musician, and could I possibly give her some kind of a clue. She had none. I had recently recorded Joint Low Rider and had high expectations for it (not knowing what was in store for me in the immediate future). I said that my personal style was to avoid, as much as possible, musical trends and commercializing my art, so I probably wasn't the best one for her to ask this question. She said that she still would like whatever input I might give her because she hadn't, up 'til then, been able to turn up any real trend in a new direction, what-so-ever. She had a fast-approaching deadline and simply had to come up with something, anything. So I told her about this new kind of thing I was doing, that I didn't know what to call, where the words were more spoken than sung. I said, 'I guess you could call it Rap Music, but the problem is, if it gets that name, ghetto hoods are going to seize upon it's potentially inferred ethnic distinction for their own legitimization and glorification. Especially if they heard that it's about a prison 'gangsta', but hadn't heard the lyrics yet. Not knowing how long it was going to take to get my music out, I was concerned about the very real downside potentials in using that name. Guess I wasn't wrong. In the intro section of Joint Low Rider, Paul and I are 'doin' the dozens' on each other. This is what the guys of my generation called talking smack about peoples Mamas and such. This song is the first time wherein a 'white' man calls a 'black' man 'nigga' (not nigger), in professionally recorded music. This happened unplanned, and in totally good humor. Paul and I were in front of one microphone, preparing to overdub some background vocals, and waiting for the lead vocal to come in. The tape was rolling, our mike was open, and we were both immersed in the pure fun of 'playing' in the studio, getting off on the intro's feel. A few days earlier, while we were working on a new piece, I sarcastically asked Paul if he could play a very easy bass pattern. His response was to look at me like I was the world's biggest moron and say, 'nigga please'. In that day and age, this statement was so funny to hear that I nearly splintered my joystick. You see, he and I had gotten way past seeing each other as anything other than our music. We didn't even have bodies, much less 'white', or 'black', 'colored' ones. So it was quite natural to give the 'nigga' tag right back to him. After all, we were just playing around, and no one would ever hear it anyway. Right? Not quite. The next day, when we got back to the studio, our engineer was already at the control-board grinning from ear to ear. We had decided the night before that we weren't going to keep our failed attempt at the background vocals, and had directed him to erase them. He played the mix he had set up saying, 'I pulled the background harmony parts, but, just listen to you guys before the lead vocal comes in! This stuff is priceless!' We just had to leave it in. Indeed, this song about a Low Rider, in the penitentiary, who can't seem to understand that he's completely dumped on his own life by 'actin' a fool', is well begun with the kind of trash-talking that filled the prison yards of the sixties. The Joint Low Riders of that day, and their later day counterparts, the 'gangsters' of today, along with all of the other dupes who buy the "Bandini" that just because some people have a higher and harder climb in this world they are fated to never be able to improve their lot in life (without some kind of hand-out, violence, revolution, or unethical scheme), thereby create a self-fulfilling prophecy that actually does doom them to life's refuse heap. Cosby's got it right people. Smart, hard work is the path to success, no matter where-from you start, and no matter who is trying to put a boot-heel on your neck. Far too many 'leaders' of the seemingly disenfranchised and frustrated, want people to feel down-trodden, hopeless, and trapped in pain. They intend that hurting souls will turn to them as their savior. These leaders intend that their followers will pay them directly, or help to generate their pay days. In return, they advertise that they will advocate, organize, and 'guide' the gullible in 'the struggle'. People like this devour the very souls of their victims, along with their lives. Worst of all, many of them do their dirty deeds while cloaking themselves in the robes of righteousness, as they blasphemously feign representative relationships with the Creator. These scamming creep's falsehood and arrogance, is unsurpassed. There actually is a conscious cause of all causes. Creation's matrix will bring these hijackers of human souls into karmic balance. Better than following these Pied Pipers, let your soul stand tall, forever. Use good judgment in your life. Leave final judgments to the Creator. And, always honor that place within, where we are all one, while, at the same time, being the steward of our own individual soul. Josh West - Lead Vocal Josh West & Paul Stallworth - The Dozens Paul Stallworth - Bass & Guitar Jim Keltner - Drums David Foster - Piano Joint Low Rider Co-Produced by Josh West & Paul Stallworth.