Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World - "Brave New World"

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Friday, January 10, 2014
Jerry Wexler
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Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World - "Brave New World"

"We're driving fast
From a dream of the past
To the brave new world"

I most certainly was.

I made a deal with my parents. I'd go to the Mitzvah Corps if they'd allow me to go to summer ski camp.

You see they wanted to go to Europe, and ski camp was only ten days, and that wouldn't do.

So I did. Spent ten days in Squaw Valley at the beginning of July and then flew with a box of skis to a frat house on the campus of the University of Chicago whereupon I found four guys, five girls, a soon to be famous rabbi and some brothers and a sister living in the basement.

That's fraternity brothers. One wanted to run for governor, not sure if he ever made it, he was a Republican in an era wherein almost no one under twenty five was, and the other was a pre-med student who went on to become...a famous AIDS doctor. A friend was showing me a tape in the mid-eighties and I was stunned to see Paul.

Who lived in the basement with his girlfriend.

And the kind of person who goes to Mitzvah Corps is not exceptionally hip, which I believed myself to be, and I always got along with those more aged, which is how I found myself in the basement listening to Paul's copy of Steve Miller's "Brave New World."

I knew nothing about the Joker, long before he was. But this album with a typically cheap Capitol cover took off with a shot with the above lyrics and never stopped. How could something be so good with so little hype?

There was no hit.

This was long before "Space Cowboy" became a classic rock staple.

Steve Miller was still relatively unknown, but not in the U.K., where Paul McCartney played uncredited on the closing track, "My Dark Hour." Listen, you'll hear him, it could only be him.

And "My Dark Hour" is a great track, but it's a throwaway compared to "Seasons."

This is not the midseventies Steve Miller. "Seasons" is so ethereal, so right, if you're not immediately enraptured you think Johnny Rotten is the greatest rock star in history and you've got no sensitivity and I'm stunned if you've ever been laid.

That's when I knew satellite radio was here to stay, when I heard "Seasons" on XM, any outlet that could air such magic was a friend of mine.

And yes, the album does include "Space Cowboy," with its indelible riff, but my favorite cut on the album was "Kow Kow" (sometimes referred to as "Kow Kow Calqulator").

Oh, listen to that opening riff! It's an artist at work. Back when being able to play the guitar was the height of musical prowess.

And then those magical keys.

And then Steve falls into the groove.

"Kow kow calqulator
Was a very smooth operator"

Credit Ben Sidran, who gave an amazing turn on Marc Maron's podcast a couple of months ago, the keyboards make all the difference. But despite being a band effort, Lonnie Turner positively wailing on the bass, it's truly Miller who holds the track together and puts it over the top.

"Get back in your elevator
Kow kow calqulator
Turn on your love light
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Let it shine"

And that they do, in this Glyn Johns coproduction that ends like a later Stones number, with the piano at the end.

And I became an instant fan.

I went to see Steve Miller at the Fillmore East.

And "Kow Kow" is still my favorite cut.

But the best is "Seasons"...check it out.