Episode #169 – Zephyr – Going Back to Colorado

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Deep Dive Podcast Network:

Lead up to the Album:

  • David Givens met Jimmy Page in Boston when they were opening for Led Zeppelin.  Page recommended seeking out Eddie Kramer. Givens called Kramer when they were in New York and dropped Jimmy Page’s name so Kramer told him to come to the studio.
  • They were in the middle of building Electric Ladyland when they arrived and Givens described Kramer crawling around among wires when they walked in.
  • Kramer went to see the band when they were back in Boulder and liked what they did so agreed to produce the album.
  • They were on ABC’s label at the time and the president wanted them to go with Bill Szymczyk to produce. He said that Kramer was hyped up and got too much credit for Hendrix’s success.
  • Givens didn’t agree and they were dropped by their label as a result.

Core Band:

  • Bass – David Givens
  • Drums – Bobby Berge
    • Johnnie Bolin: “Robbie Chamberlin–Tommy never did like him. He got rid of him, and that’s when he got Bobby Berge.”
    • David Givens: “Tommy said, ‘I know this guy from South Dakota, Bobby Berge.’ So we brought Bobby out. Bobby was this really weird, un-hip, backward guy. He had a really domineering wife. HE was a really sweet guy, but we picked on him.”
    • David describes the band as “sort of snotty hippies” and says that Bobby really didn’t fit in. He said Robbie was very hard to get along with.  Robbie’s feelings toward Tommy were mutual.  Robbie thought tommy was arrogant, and Tommy thought Robbie was stuck up and a stickin the mud.  David says, “They were both right.”
    • Bobby said Tommy’s playing on the first Zephyr album blew him away so he was excited to join the band.
  • Organ, Piano, Soprano Saxophone, Flute – John Faris
  • Piano [Occasional], Clavinet, Percussion – Eddie Kramer
  • Piano, Vocals, Harmonica – Candy Givens
  • Steel Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Twelve-String Guitar, Vibraphone [Vibes] – Tommy Bolin

Additional Personnel:


Album Art & Booklet Review

  • Cover – Ed Thrasher
    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Thrasher
    • Stared his career as an art director with Capitol Records.
    • Then moved to Warner Bros. where he worked from 1964 thgrough 1979.
    • HE worked on hundreds of projects including Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced?” and Doobie Brothers “Toulouse Street.”
    • He continued to work through the 80’s and did the poster and artwork for Prince’s “Purple Rain.”
    • Also worked on art for Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, and many more.
    • Sadly he passed away in 2006.

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Album Tracks:

Side One:

  1. Going Back To Colorado (C. Givens, Tesar, Bolin)
  2. Miss Libertine (C. Givens, D. Givens)
    • Backing vocals by David Givens
  3. Night Fades Softly (D. Givens)
  4. The Radio Song (D. Givens)
  5. See My People Come Together (Bolin)
    • Tommy played his guitar through a Leslie for this song and “Showbizzy.”
    • Givens says this is one of the few songs they’d worked out and played live before recording.
    • Tommy created the outline of the song, David worked on the arrangement, and Candy reworked the words.
    • Givens says Tommy’s solo was the first or second take.

Side Two:

  1. Showbizzy (Bolin)
    • Was recorded in Studio B with the guys from Lothar and the Hand People helping them.  Givens describes it as “sort of self-produced.”
  2. Keep Me (Tesar, Bolin)
  3. Take My Love (Faris)
  4. I’ll Be Right Here (Tesar, Bolin)
  5. At This Very Moment (C. Givens)

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Bustin’ Out The Spreadsheet

Reception and Charts:

  • Despite working with Eddie Kramer and the trajectory it looked like the band was taking, the album was not a success commercially.
  • Eddie Kramer: “I only knew [Tommy] for a very short period of time, which was the Zephyr album – one of the first albums he ever did. I remember they said, “You’ve got to hear our guitar player, he really loves Jimi,” as a lot of guitar players do. I thought he was a really good guitar player.
  • Eddie goes on to say the album went fairly well but he remembers there was some difficulty with some of the songs not being as well formed as they could have been.
  • Eddie says Zephyr opened up for Jethro Tull and he got up on the stage with the band, the first time he ever did and was terrified.  He played keyboard but said he’d never do it again and he felt more comfortable on the “other side of the glass.”
  • David Givens said that the day Hedrix died [September 28, 1970] Eddie called to say, “We won’t be recording today – Jimi’s dead.”
  • Givens was the one who told Tommy Jimi had died and he was in shock.  They were about to meet him.
  • Not sure how this ties into the story of Tommy having Jimi’s ring.
  • Also, the famous story of Tommy telling someone that Jimi Hendrix did drugs as an excuse for his drug use.
  • David says they went into the studio wanting to play some of Jimi’s tunes as a sort of tribute.  When they went in Jimi’s black strat was there and Tommy picked it up and they played “Hey Joe” and “Foxy Lady.”  They were kicked out by one of the engineers.
  • Kramer says the loss of Jimi and knowing his career was in turmoil was a lot to try to keep things going so he doesn’t have much of a memory of doing the Zephyr album.  Things would turn out soon after that when he began producing for Carly Simon.
  • David Givens said that the record was “a mess” because Kramer was very distracted after Jimi’s death.  He became preoccupied with working on “Cry of Love” an album of songs Jimi was working on at the time of his death.  Hendrix had been very involved in the mixing and Givens said they were even asking them for help.  He remembers one of the songs was “Belly Button Window.”
  • Givens says Bolin and Berge were playing more abstractly at this point and he said that he wanted their music to be more accessible.
  • Karen Ulibarri said that at this point Candy was just wailing and Tommy was trying to get in as many licks as possible to get people to hear them.   Karen described the band’s style as “very unsophisticated–as far as performing and as far as recording was.”
  • Berge says that David and Candy wanted Robbie back in the band and Tommy didn’t want to play with Robbie and that’s the main reason for the breakup.
  • The album came out in early 1971 and by summer time they had broken up.  They only played a few shows in support of the album but David Givens said “The fun was gone.”
  • Givens said they had high hopes for the album but that it never got finished as far as vocals and guitars and it was “half-assed from top to bottom.”  They even had a friend take the pics that ended up in the album.
  • Billboard review in February 1971:
    • Going Back to Colorado gets this new rock group off to a breezy start. The quintet (David and Candy Givens, Bobby Berge, Tommy Bolin, and John Faris) has a lot on the ball and they show it off well in songs like “See My People Come Together”, “Miss Libertine”, “Take My Love” and “The Radio Song.”
  • Cash Box review in February 1971:
    • It shows they’ve come a long way since first appearing on the recording scene . . . (Candy Givens) has, at last, learned how to harness the intense power of her voice. The group’s writing has improve considerably also . . . Tommy Bolin is now writing excellent songs.
  • David Givens on Candy Givens:
    • “I understand why people don’t like her at all if all they ever heard was that first record, or even “Going Back to Colorado.” Early on-and particularly the first record, because they’re all ‘take 500’–she sounds really stupid and over-amped. She was in some ways ‘the female equivalent of Robert Plant’ in the beginning. If you listen to ‘Sunset Ride’–the Zephyr album we made after Tommy–you can hear that she can actually sing beautifully.
  • Tommy left Zephyr shortly thereafter where he formed the band Energy with Bobby Berge, Jeff Cook, Stanley Sheldon, and Tom Stephenson.

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