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Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

STEPHEN KALINCH: Shortcuts to infinity

I have just been sent this, and although it has nothing to do with Gonzo Multimedia, it is so monumentally groovy that I am sure that I shall be forgiven. Anybody who has got both Brian Wilson and Big Star in his CV is all right by me...

The team of Stephen Kalinich and Jon Tiven has an extensive and extremely impressive combined resume, but resting on laurels is something they refuse to do on their upcoming double CD Shortcuts To Infinity/Symptomology being released by MsMusic Productions this coming September 11. Their respective compositions have been sung the world over by Beach Boys both as a group and as solo artists, B.B. King, Paul McCartney, Wilson Pickett, Alex Chilton, P.F. Sloan, and literally hundreds of others.

Kalinich got his start in the mid-60’s supplying thought provoking lyrics to the Beach Boys as they sought to mature as a group and began to establish themselves as solo artists. More recently, he’s collaborated with the legendary but reclusive L.A. songsmith P.F. Sloan. It was P.F. Sloan who initially introduced Kalinich to Tiven.

Jon had started out as a rock journalist, then embarked on a songwriting/producing career that would find him connecting with most of his heroes. “I grew up on the Rolling Stones,” explains Tiven, “so I took their lead and became good friends and musical partners with Don Covay, Arthur Alexander, and Wilson Pickett. So their musical spirit informed mine first-hand.”


Tiven made his professional stage debut in 1974 with Big Star at Max’s Kansas City (“Alex wanted another guitarist”) and his recording debut the following year performing on The Rolling Stones’ Metamorphosis album and Major Lance’s “I’ve Got a Right To Cry.” In the years since, Jon’s had his songs recorded and performed by countless Blues, R&B and rock giants. More recently, he’s performed with the Alabama Shakes, Bettye LaVette, Warpaint, Plan B, and Steve Cropper among many others.


Kalinich and Tiven became fast friends early in the last decade, traveled to India together on a spiritual quest and wound up writing their first song together, “Everything’s Exploding.” Stevie had made a series of spoken-word albums, one produced by his old friend Brian Wilson who wrote the music for it. In putting together the California Feeling album which featured performances by Carnie & Wendy Wilson, The Honeys, David Marks, and many other Beach Boys-related artists singing his lyrics Kalinich included his collaboration with Jon -- the first time Tiven had sung lead on a record since the late 1970s. When “Everything’s Exploding” attracted a lot of positive notice, Stevie floated the prospect of doing an entire album with Tiven.


This pair wrote and recorded over 200 songs together and having narrowed that down to the cream of the crop turned the recordings over to the brilliant producer/mixer Mark Linett who’s also worked with Brian Wilson and his associates for many years.


When they delivered the first five tracks intended for Shortcuts to Infinity to MsMusic Productions CEO Carol Schofield, she was so impressed she insisted that they expand the project to a 2 CD set. But rather than just double the length of the project already underway they chose a radically different tactic: “We decided we had to do something completely different,” illuminates Kalinich, “so we invented two characters in their late 20s to do our dirty work, the ‘Rev. Stevie Nobody’ and ‘Jack #ashtag.’ They are a little ruder and cruder than us, they lack the ability to edit themselves or hold back what would embarrass Jon or myself. And that’s a good thing!”

Between the two CDs’ there are 30 songs in all, and although they were created by the same creative team Symptomology and Shortcuts to Infinity are two very different albums. Symptomology may superficially seem more boneheaded with songs like “Cul De Sac” and “Once My Zits Go Away,” but then “When I Leave My Body” embraces the transcendental as is illustrated by the David Masnato-created video.


The dual album also features collaborations: Queen’s Brian May co-wrote and played incredible guitar on the 7-minutes plus “Out of the Darkness”; the legendary Steve Cropper’s co-composition “Time Bomb” bears his inimitable stylistic stamp as well as some deliciously greasy guitar; Detroit’s first Soul Singer Willie Jones (of The Royal Jokers) lends his unmistakable pipes to “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves.”


“We know there’s a lot to absorb here,” Tiven explains, “this is not an album for the mentally lazy. When you get a great book, or DVD, you want to spend some time with it, and we wanted to give that experience. There are some songs that you’ll catch on first listen. But Stevie’s lyrics are profound and there’s a lot hidden that you’ll have to dig deep to get the full benefit of. And we’ve got more, stay tuned.” Indeed.


www.yomamamusic.net

http://www.foothillrecords.com/

http://www.stephenjohnkalinich.co.uk/
http://www.jontiven.com/

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