The Jimmy Carl Black Story — Jon Larsen

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Recorded prior to Jimmy’s passing from cancer in 2008, The Jimmy Carl Black Story is a double CD from Jon Larsen‘s label, Zonic Entertainment/Hot Club Records. Joined by Zappa alumni Tommy Mars (keyboards), along with Knut Reiersrud (guitar/harmonica), Ola Kvernberg (violin), Rob Waring (marimba) and Jon Larsen (guitar) — the first CD is “Part One: The Surrealistic Space Odyssey”, one hour of music inspired by Jimmy’s life:

The music is groove based R&B, laidback spacerock, and zappaesque jazz/rock, and even with some glimpses of Django. Here is also the 20 minutes adventure of Capt. Zurcon and his crew onboard the Spaceship BigEar III, on their way to the red planet Mars, and their problems with the sexually frustrated Martian (the Guacamole Queen), the mutant fromage, and a lurking whale (depicted on the cover).

The second disc is “Part Two: “The Rockumentary”, an 80 minute documentary about the “Indian of the group”. We hear about Jimmy’s start at the reservation, growing up in Texas with a racist father, The Soul Giants, Frank Zappa, The Mothers of Invention, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, mafia connections, and years of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, but also moving stories from a long, and unusual life in music. Jimmy Carl Black is the born storyteller. An intriguing and unique addition to the oral history of rock music, with an insider’s view of life in the “Mothers”. Jimmy’s stories have a measured, thinking-out-loud quality to them as he remembers details and clarifies contradictions among seemingly muddled recollections. A must have in any Mothers of Invention collection.

Jimmy Carl Black has always held a special place among fans of the original Mothers, myself included. Jimmy might not have been the most successful of musicians, yet he always managed to live the life of a true troubadour. In his own words: “I’m famous, but I don’t have a pot to piss in,” he was fond of saying.

Although famous for his avant-garde work with Zappa, he was really more of a roots musician and worked extensively in blues, Tex-Mex, and country-rock. He came from a generation of musicians for whom working in a rock & roll band meant playing for strippers, four or five sets per night with more than one version of “Wooly Bully.”

For Black, being impoverished wasn’t just a private matter. His former boss, Zappa, had recorded band meetings and arguments, inevitably about money and the lack of it, and had edited these spoken word bits into several Mothers releases. But no matter how hard times became, Black always remained involved in some kind of musical project … He moved around the Western United States, almost always having to work at some job other than music in order to survive and support his five children.

Always an inspiration, Jimmy’s life seemed as deeply rooted as the blues he sang and played so well.

The following excerpts from The Jimmy Carl Black Story:

Hi Boys And Girls, I’m Jimmy Carl Black

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California In 1964-In Walked Roy Estrada-The Soul Giants

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Then We Went To Hawaii-LSD

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Back To L.A-Frenchy’s A Go-Go-The Original Suzy Creamcheeze

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New York City-Absolutely Free-Off-Off-Broadway At The Garrick Theatre

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Miami Pop Festival-Freak Out at the Cast Away Hotel-Arthur Brown

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4 Responses to “The Jimmy Carl Black Story — Jon Larsen”

  1. Roland says:

    From the early Mothers JCB had the most character, blessed with a very characteristic voice. And when I listen to these excerpts, I know why. His down to earth attitude impresses me most. And these snippets about lack of money and going to California on “Uncle Meat” always brought a normality to the situation of a so called “Rock star”.

    And to me it was so very nice to hear his voice again on “Harder than your husband”. He still is my favourite Redneck!

    Wah Wah Wah!

    Very nice post, urbangraffito.

  2. Trodolf says:

    For an interview CD, this is an extremely buyable product. Yours to rumble and fetish!

  3. Steve says:

    One of the most wonderful things was an email reply from JCB. I had sent him an email, thanking him for his music and comparing him to Al Jackson. He was very gracious in his response. He was a sweet man.
    “Drums are too noisy and you got no corners to hide in.”

  4. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Steve:

    One of the most wonderful things was an email reply from JCB. I had sent him an email, thanking him for his music and comparing him to Al Jackson. He was very gracious in his response. He was a sweet man.
    “Drums are too noisy and you got no corners to hide in.”

    Whether out of necessity, or out of sheer love of music, JCB was a working musician up until the end. Thankfully much of this unique man’s music has been recorded and is still available. The two Mothers (Don Preston, Roy Estrada) I had the opportunity to speak with were both completely open and gracious. I suspect, like JCB, their love affair with music will never end.

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