7.08.2015

THE MAKING OF THE MARTIAN BOOGIE: BROWNSVILLE STATION


So, there was this band from Ann Arbor - you know where that is, right? 
Just head west out of the D, on either I-94 or US23 about half an hour, you'll be there.

by Bruce "Beezer" Nazarian - former member of Brownsville Station

From May 1975 to May 1979 I was proud to be a part of this group of musical asylum escapees, called Brownsville Station, and especially proud and honored to have known and been befriended by one Michael "Cub" Koda, the talented lead singer guitarist with the wacky glasses and referee shirts.

Brownsville Station - on Private Stock records - audio masters lost for all time ;-( 
Along the way, we hit some extraordinary highs and lows, and ONE of those high points was the recording of the legendary "Red Album" (in official album review speak, the "eponymous" LP called Brownsville Station).

You can look this up on Discogs.com and it will say:    
"Recorded at the Cenacle-Mt. Kisco, NY by Record Plant Mobile Studio..."
What is DOESN'T say is how we TOOK OVER the Cenacle during our time there, and how this was nirvana for a bunch of delinquents from A-square - just give 'em a big mansion in New Yawk, the Record Plant Mobile recording truck parked outside in the driveway, and wires and snakes going into literally EVERY room within 200 feet of the truck - this was Recording Paradise!

Anyway, back to "The Martian Boogie" - the subject of our little story herein; this was actually a jam tune and sometime set-closer, the culmination of way too many road shows where we would artfully mix the entire history of American blues into a sexy cocktail of a strong 4/4 backbeat (thanks to H-Bomb). screamin' guitars, and whatever song we did for an encore that night!

Yours truly in the studio at Cenacle, 1977
As Cub said on BrownsvilleStation.com: 
"The Martian Boogie" was a seven-minutes-barn-burning set-closer recorded live in one take, spaceship noises and all. The tune started out as a pastiche of various John Lee Hooker-Junior Parker boogie riffs, then was promptly corrupted into a whole different ball of wax when the band was stuck in a hotel room in Canada watching a lousy sci-fi movie called Not Of This Earth. By the time we recorded the version, It was  road-tested classic that we were sure was going to be our next hit, even bigger than “Smokin”
Well, Cubmaster, that might have been JUST a little bit of an exaggeration, but all is forgiven. As I recall today, "Martian" was recorded with the entire band tracking - Michael on Bass, Cub & I on guitars, H-Bomb on Drums. I forget now what exact notion got into our heads about WHY we though this would be a perfectly amazing addition to an otherwise rockin set of originals and loving remakes -  oh yeah - I remember now - it was a SMASH live tune - and we wanted to record it for posterity. So we decided to do it, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

The Brownsville boys doing their famous line dance during "Martian"

A little inside info - the actual track we recorded (all in one live take, as I recall) starts when Henry hits the intro drum fill on the record (this is actually about 54 seconds into the full 7 minute track). The entire 54 seconds leading up to the explosion and drum fill was carefully crafted by little ole me, on my trusty ARP 2600 synthesizer... and, boy howdy - THAT took a lot of time! 

When you listen to the track,  the LEFT rhythm guitar is me, the RIGHT rhythm guitar is Cub. First solo is me on slide - LIVE, second solo is Cub - LIVE. 

After the solos, we did the track just like we would do it live - Cub was doing the spoken bit while I kept the guitar rhythm comp going.   Cub did the guitar solo after "Boogiein' Capital of the USA", Michael and I joined on vocals when we hit the harmony parts, and from 6:20 on the track becomes pure SONIC MAYHEM. 



One thing about this tune - it NEVER failed to kick ass live - just like it was supposed to ;-) 

I have many wonderful recollections from the years spent with BrownSta - but perhaps none is better than the time the Martians landed in Mt. Kisco, New York - at Cenacle - with Martian cigarettes - and we captured it LIVE (pretty much) in the studio - in all of its kickass glory ;-) 

By the way - big credit to our crew - Lurch, Philly Joe Lower, and Donn Nelson, for keeping us all out of jail, and special thanks to the "unexpected assistant engineer" Rod O'Brien, who I met again ten years later, and continues as a close friend to this day. Rod knows the story about Eddie Kramer and my switchblade, but we're not tellin' ;-)  Hats off to Eddie Kramer, who managed to get one of my best vocal performances EVER, when he recorded "Lady Put The Light On". You rock, KranMar.

and finally - here's to you Cub - 
a great musician, a great musicologist, and a great friend until his dying day. 

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