Possibly the biggest noise Central Park has ever heard was the cheering of approximately 125,000 fans at the Beach Boys’ free concert in honor of WNEW-FM’s tenth anniversary. For an hour and a half, mid-Manhattan rocked to the California sound of America’s most venerable musical institution. The effect on New York’s surrounding luxury hotels and Fifth Avenue residents has yet to be assessed.
The band behind Robert Gordon and Link Wray at their Bottom Line date featured Rockin’ Rob Stoner (of Rolling Thunder Revue fame) on bass. Stoner’s new band. Topaz, is stirring up some excitement among the locals here: they play real rock ‘n’ roll.
Speaking of real r&r, Patti Smith is now in the studio with producer Jimmy lovine recording her next Arista Ip. Also preparing albums are formerly-Dead Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia. Garcia’s self-produced solo effort is tentatively titled, Cats Under The Stars. Both Ips are due in November, as is Lou Reed’s next one (being produced by rock writer Richard Robinson). “Underground” singer-song-writer star David Forman is in the studio with the formidable Jack Nietzsche at the controls. Nietzsche, for the uninitiated, has a mind-bottling list of credits (including the Stones) and has been a top-ranking music bizz crazie since his days with Phil Spector.
Not only Ray Davies, but half of New York, it seemed, turned out to hear Phoebe Snow in Central Park the night after Bonnie Raitt’s show galvanized even those in the farthest bleachers. Davies, sans limousine or entourage, showed up at the press gate on foot, dapper in black suit and tinted shades and utterly befuddled as to the procedure of locating his hosts (promoter Ron Delsener’s office). Ray, temporarily unnoticed by security and backstage hangers-on, presented this writer, of all people, with his “credentials” (a handwritten letter to the effect that “Mr. Douglas” and guest were to be admitted), and began explaining the situation rather like a kid with a not-quite-bona-fide absence note approaching the school principal. He probably would have carried on his incognito act all the way to Phoebe’s trailer if I’d been able to keep a straight face and call him “Mr. Douglas.” As it was, people were beginning to stare (after all, who on earth goes to a midsummer concert in the park, a rock concert, no less, in a well-tailored three-piece suit?); yours truly whispered politely that he’d better get inside pronto before everyone figured out who he was, and tried not to laugh. Relieved, Ray broke out the infamous gap-toothed grin and obediently followed my instructions to go immediately through the gate and keep walking, quickly. Once inside, he was safe for a while, till heads started turning and he was recognized. Query: If they’d a known he was coming, would they have baked him a cake?
The ever-charming boy-next-door Dean Friedman opened that night with a pleasant set most memorable for his very contemporary paean to true love, “Ariel.” Then came Phoebe, and oh, what a night! Snow’s voice is surely a freak of nature; there’s probably no other (white) singer around with her stratospheric range, exquisite control and goosebump-producing power. With a stellar band featuring Mike Brecker (sax), topflight session man Will Lee (bass), Chris Parker (Stuff) on drums, and the rambunctious Rev. Michael Gray
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