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Listening have to be the most underappreciated group in the
whole scene. Instrumentally and vocally they were tops. Michael Tschudin
who seemed to be the leading force was an accomplished piano player and an inventive
organist utilizing his Hammond B-2 with adroitness. Bassist Walter Powers
started with The Lost and ended up in many Boston groups up to the punk era.
We used to wonder at guitarist Peter Malick. "He's how old?', we would ask in
jealousy. He was much too good to be in his teens. The album shows him in a
good light. You can hear those blues riffs he would build on in his career playing
with some blues legands (Otis Span, John Lee Hooker) and eventually 'discovering'
Nora Jones! This is a supprise offshoot to this whole story. You can
read about that at Peter Malick's own website.
Peter Malicks Website.
There's a good story in the Music Museum of New England. It tells of his audition with Listening.
Song structures in their 1968 LP are complicated. No three chord songs for these guys. They sound like they could be Berkeley grads. Lots of blues and jazz influenced riffing. They also had a latin rhythm thing going at times and actually get into Santana style grooves once or twice. They also get into some spacy grooves. Always tasty and controlled even in their 'stoned' jams. There is 'phasing' on some cuts. I love the songs but I have to admit I have listened to this LP so many times that I have lost all critical impartiality . Now there's something you don't hear people admitting. Coming at this new you might have to listen to it a few times before it sinks in.
Local legend Willie 'Loco' Alexander from the Lost gets on a cut.
The album cover is another reminder of the Bosstown Sound days. It is a picture of them playing at the Esplanade's Hatch Shell in Boston during a Bosstown Sound rock concert. I never hear people talk about this but this was a big deal, at least it seems to me. I can't remember the Hatch Shell having a rock event ever before this. The Shell is where the Boston Pops would play. The Pops would do the Fourth of July concert there. It was all about the fuddy duddys. All of sudden we had about 10 rock groups playing. The place looked packed to me as I walked around and wondered where all these people came from. I think there was about 14,000 people. I seem to remember reading that in the paper the next day. In any case, they had trouble, of course, and vowed to never have rock there again. This has happened now and again up to the current day. The last time was a Green Day concert that got out of hand. Long live rock n' roll.
The album was rereleased in 2007 on CD by Akarma Records but as far as I can tell now that's stopped. Some of those CD's can be bought second hand if you check the web.
Most songs writen by Tschudin.
Vanguard Recordings - VSD-6504
The 1970 LP is a jazzier affair with no guitarist. He does reprise The Listening song
Walter Powers and ? at the Middle East show
with Reddy Teddy and Willie Loco. 2/2/2009.
Billboard Review - Dec 21,1968