WITH: Ian Hunter, Mick Ronson AND Felix Pappalardi
Plus special guest appearances by Eric Clapton, Dickey Betts, Leslie West, John Sebastian and Todd Rundgren
"This record is an assortment of secret sessions," says legendary drummer Corky Laing. "It was so secret that at one time the record company couldn't even find the tapes."
Corky Laing, best known as the thunderous drummer behind the dense magnitude of rock icon Mountain needed something of substance to dig his teeth into. And in 1978 it came to him by way of Elektra/Asylum president Steve Wax, who approached Laing with an offer to create a superstar band of sorts, assembling the best of a working all-star line up. Wax suggested Laing give Ian Hunter (Mott The Hoople) a ring in an effort to pair the two and build a nest for song writing. The partnership proved productive, with the song "Easy Money" immerging as the first creation. Its lyrics reflected a loose observation of a society drenched in sinuous overindulgence - a time Laing openly refers to as the "Champagne and Credit Card days."
Rundgren's passion for harmonies had the entire band in the recording studio immersed in vocal calisthenics for days and nights at a time. Some of the secret session's songs sprang from conversations and meetings Laing had during his many years in rock and roll. "I remember one night in LA when Greg Allman came over to my hotel after an argument with Cher. He seemed pissed out of his mind and just kept repeating, the key don't fit that lock anymore." The humor of the incident was the inspiration for the song "The Best Thing."
On another occasion, Laing was jamming with Paul Butterfield late one night when Butterfield started playing the song "Just When I Needed You Most" written by Randy Van Wermer. The secret sessions were eventually flown to Criteria Studios in Miami where they were engineered by Steve Klein. Pappalardi came along to lend a hand and was first to suggest using Leslie West. "When we called, he was ready to roll! He was so ripe; he played some of his best stuff almost to the point of excess", enthuses Laing. In addition to the secret sessions within, two bonus tracks appear on this album that were originally on Laing's first studio effort, "Makin' It On the Street". "On My Way To Georgia", a blues-y number written by Laing and Leslie West, hosted the star studded talents of Eric Clapton and Dickey Betts. A second number, "Growing Old With Rock and Roll" still remains one of Laing's personal themes. In his never ending pursuit of musical creativity, Laing has formed a band with former Spin Doctors' guitarist and writer, Eric Schenkman, who are recording a joint project under the band name Cork.
"Silent Movie", a slow rocker, lyrically told the story of a high school relationship run amuck and confirmed the Hunter/Laing collaboration. To fill in the musical gaps, the two sent out a flood of calls in an effort to bring in added depth and top-notch talent. And it was Mick Ronson that made the perfect fit. The need for a bass player led to Laing calling up his old Mountain band mate, Felix Pappalardi. The superstar cast was now in place. The atmosphere in the studio soon became an open party jam with cases of beer and the thick haze of reefer stoking the album tracks. Laing admits, "Those were great sessions because there were no expectations." Midway through the band's recording, Elektra/Asylum changed upper management. Laing's budget was soon cut short. A new wave of heavy hitters were filling the record racks with names like The Cars and Elvis Costello. "The project was dropped like a bad transmission", says Laing. "We took a couple months off and regrouped in Bearsville, NY in the fall of 1978, which was an exciting place to be." Laing based his operation in Levon Helm's recording studio. To help out with vocals, Ian suggested a call go out to Todd Rundgren, living close by along a narrow wooded path, remember red by Laing as a real life "Sleepy Hollow".
2011 Petrock Records [Floating World Ltd.] FLOATM6 120
Tracklist: from 1978
01. Easy Money
02. Silent Movie - (with John Sebastian)
03. I Ain't No Angel
04. The Best Thing - (with Todd Rundgren)
05. I Hate Dancin'
06. The Outsider - (with Todd Rundgren)
07. Just When I Needed You Most
08. Lowdown Freedom
Bonus tracks from 1977:
09. On My Way To Georgia - (with Eric Clapton/Dickey Betts)
10. Growing Old With Rock 'N' Roll
Corky Laing - vocals, drums
Ian Hunter - vocals, keyboards
Mick Ronson - guitar, backing vocals
Felix Pappalardi - bass, backing vocals
Leslie West - guitar on tracks 4, 6 & 8
John Sebastian - harp on track 2
Todd Rundgren - organ, backing vocals on tracks 4 & 6
Eric Clapton - guitar on track 9
Dickey Betts - guitar on track 9