My very good friend Alan Merrill (The Lead, Godzilla, Vodka Collins, Streak, Arrows, Runner, Derringer, Meat Loaf etc)
talks about his fascinating life in Rock Music since the 1960s.
Posted to You Tube Jul 10, 2014
Host Producer Phil Fiumano interviews Singer Songwriter Alan Merrill
The son of Jazz musicians Aaron Sachs and Helen Merrill, Alan is an American vocalist, guitarist, songwriter, actor and model. In the early 1970s Merrill was the first Westerner to achieve pop star status in Japan.
You can check out more on Alan & where Alan will be performing next @ his website AlanMerrill.com or on Facebook / Alan Merrill
Alan has written and performed many great songs, but is still best known for writing and originating the song I Love Rock’n’Roll one of the biggest selling rock songs in history, on Mickie Most’s RAK Records in 1975 with his group Arrows.
The song “I Love Rock N Roll” has also been recorded and performed by Joan Jett, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Miley Cyrus, Dragon Ash, Cee Lo Green, Five, The Family Players, Adam Levine, L’Arc En Ciel, Blake Shelton, Guildo Horn, Johnny Hallyday, Weird Al Yankovic, Alvin Stardust, Hayseed Dixie, The Queen Of Japan, Joe Piscopo, Scum Rats, Rosalia, Love & Fitness, Elephant Love, Nitocris, DJ Niko, Joe Christmas, Jive Bunny and the Party People, Aerolineas Federales, Hit Crew, Ghotti Hook, Friction, Forever Young, Reverend Run, French Connexion, Krisenka Finley, Salome Clausen, Hideaki Matsuoka, Angela Bassett, Showaddywaddy, Griva, Anna Abreu, Kizooks, Arno Diem, Dresden Dolls, Hitboutique, Vodka Collins, Les Enfoires, CJ jr, Mami Kubota, The Countdown Singers, Girl Authority, The Lollies, Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin, Harry Truman’s Outhouse, Mighty McFly, Kathy X, Wild, Hello, The Chickz, Lee Da Hae, Melanie C., L.A. Guns, Juliette Lewis and many more.
Excellent album!! I LOVE it.. Great sound. :)
Originally posted on Blabber 'n' Smoke:
This album is somewhat of a summit meeting of two (plus two) of the most interesting characters in Americana music today. Chris Cacavas is of course the keyboard player for the troubled troupe that was Green On Red way back in the eighties before releasing a series of essential recordings with his band Junkyard Love. Edward Abbiati is the UK born leader of Italian Americana band Lowlands who have intrigued since their first release, The Last Call, in 2008 with the essence of Bruce Springsteen, Woody Guthrie and Richmond Fontaine in their DNA. Cacavas guested on Lowlands’ debut album and last year he travelled from his current domicile in Germany to North Italy to record Me And The Devil with Abiatti picking up a crack rhythm section along the way, Winston Watson on drums, one of Dylan’s Never Ending Tour stalwarts (as well as past duties with Giant Sand…
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Rock solid Rock’n’Roll, forty years on….
I’ve been almost completely single since my divorce finalized something like 17 years ago, a couple of years after my marriage ended in disabling violence and terror, when my daughter was still a toddler in her cot.
I think the problem with marriage is that is such an absolutist, totalitarian thing. I think we’d all like there to be room for manoeuvre for ourselves, less easy to deal with our partner wanting the same lassitude. So much of our sense of self is tied up in the identity we assume on marriage, an obvious manifestation is the woman changing her name, discarding the identity she has always had and taking on a new persona. In some cultures she will cut her hair and start wearing a wig, or a veil or a headscarf and she stops being the person she was completely.
Its less defined for us, but there is still a vestigial expectation that you have put away childish things and will somehow magically become… what?
I never knew what I was expected to be when I got married. I hate housework, I can’t or won’t cook and whatever sadist invented ironing can fuck right off. I tried hard. I cooked meals. I could do a mean chicken or turkey curry. I tried to be creative. All the while, somewhere in the back of my head I was like.. what the fuck is this bullshit? But you carry on in the pattern that is set -cooking, cleaning more or less, playing the part. I was doing all the things I seemed to be expected to do, but I was so bored. I loved my child, and I tried hard to be a good parent, like I tried to be a good wife. I’m certain now I was never cut out to be either of those things.. but as my mother would say, what I think or feel is irrelevant, you just get on with it, what else can you do? Who was I any more anyway? Did it even matter? This is not a good state of mind to be in when you are trying to raise a child, and I realise these observations are completely subjective and other peoples experience may be quite different.
I met a woman at the playgroup, the mother of a rather lively little boy. I was very attracted her to as a person. I suppose I had kind of
a crush on her, but it wasn’t a sexual thing. I was lonely and bored, and she was interesting and still seemed to be a person in her own
right, not a drone playing a role; not following a script written seemingly by parents and in-laws, by the mass media, by the TV, by adverts, by Walt Fucking Disney. She was cool. I had a friend, and thats always been a bit of a rarity for me.
Once our husbands were home from work and fed and we had put the kids to bed, we liked to let our hair down by going out, for a walk, or to do photography, or to go to the pub.
She viewed me as some sort of prisoner I think, in my marriage to a man who, it was becoming increasingly obvious, was far from my equal in any respect. There was no meeting of minds. It was a complete mismatch, borne of desperation, loneliness and the fear of never being asked again I suppose.
My friend’s partner likewise, although good looking and a fine musician, didn’t really match his lady’s intelligence or wit and she, seemingly free of the shackles of duty and conscience that made my life so irksome, was determined to have as much fun as possible and soon I was covering for her, concealing her numerous indiscretions as she made a reputation for herself as a good time girl up for all sorts of fun.
It wasn’t long before I was suspected of similar indiscretions of course; once the mud starts flying, some tends to stick. We were “Those girls” because of our friendship. No longer individuals, we were those boundless sluts who were out drinking and dancing when we should have been home looking after our children. More than one person felt it their civic duty to report our public drunkenness back to our partners who were at home looking after their own children (perish the thought that a man should have to demean himself so far) The truth is that I was happy to sit and talk to new friends about the things I had been compelled to put aside to be someone’s wife, someone’s mother. My life had always been mostly about music and that was not any part of my marriage. I was too stupid to realise that that one fact was not a triviality. My parents always regarded rock music as irrelevant, ephemeral, something a married woman with a child would never need to think of again. They didn’t know me as well as they thought. Nor did I.
I can’t say I have ever had enough really good sex to have developed a taste for that the way my friend had, but she was evidently unable and unwilling to live monandrously. I’m straight, so personal interest didn’t affect the way I felt about her addiction as it might if she and I had had a physical relationship. She liked a lot of sex and it was ok. I felt sorry for her partner, who really was falling apart I guess, she even offered him to me, as if that was going to help, but I was already spending a lot of time trying to convince my husband that just because my friend was shagging anything that moved, didn’t mean that I was.
I’m glad I didn’t use anyone as leverage to release me from my situation, people get hurt. In my case, it was me, but I am so glad to not be with my husband now, because we just weren’t right for each other. It’s not enough to be someone’s all-in-all, it really has to be mutual, at least for me it does, and I don’t suppose, now at 50, I will ever find that person who will love me how I would want to be loved, with encouragement and the freedom to enjoy music and have friends of my own without suspicion of sleeping around. Of course there is always that temptation, but opportunity lessens with age anyway, at least for most of us. My friend and I are no longer friends. we’ve not spoken or seen each other for many years. My advice is that if being in a relationship forces you to radically alter the way you live your life in a way you cannot be happy about, that relationship may have run its course and may need intervention and counselling to save it or mutual agreement to dissolve it. It’s better to be alone and free than to be caged and unable to change anything, well I think so at least
Having read this, I am thinking maybe it would be useful to add that people as destructively hedonistic and selfish as my friend there don’t tend to stick around ( and I am aware that some people reading this know the whole story, and of whom I am speaking..) and this story didn’t have a happy outcome for anyone, ……..so there certainly is something to be said for not trying to have it all for yourself. It has to be a balance, and my friend was a destroyer of many people’s worlds
From the classic MERRILL ONE album. which was only released in Japan in 1971, but which would have gone stratospheric had it been given a global release Buy it here https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/alanmerrill9
Everybody knows by now that I am a big @thealeecat Alan Merrill fan. I know a lot of my Weird Al Yankovic fan friends maybe find it annoying that I now post so much of his music, but I’d really love it if they would give it a go.
There is a great deal of it on You Tube, a patchwork of things from various decades of the 50 years he has been a musician, his time in Japan, in England, in the USA; a rich variety of styles. There is something to suit every taste.
I have bought a couple of collections of Arrows (his UK band) and his first album with the Japanese band Vodka Collins. Obviously I am a fan, but when I bought a 2006 CD reissue of Alan’s debut solo album, “Merrill 1″ which came out ONLY in Japan way back in 1971, I really wasn’t prepared for it. I had heard a couple of the tracks “Policy” and “Tranquility” on You Tube, and I had already decided that Policy was very much the sort of thing I like, and Tranquility although it was a slow grower at first… well I love it now.
The thing that shocked me most about Merrill 1 was just how great it is, like the Beatles colliding with Carole King, John Sebastian and David Crosby in a tight sweaty encounter… and then I remembered that Alan Merrill wrote and recorded all these songs when he was only a teenager and if I am honest I was literally overwhelmed with awe at such precocious and astounding talent. It’s no great surprise that only 4 years later he went on to write and record one of the most famous rock songs of all time, “I Love Rock ‘n’Roll” which was covered by Joan Jett and formed the foundation of her long successful career.
Merrill 1 is a phenomenal album as a whole. Every song is so strong and has such energy. I really hope that a few artists and producers take a listen and realise that this is full to the brim with potential hit singles. There are spaced out piano ballads, jingly Macca-esque love songs, trippy psychedelic pop and gritty grinding rock all smashed up together in a box of delights that I will treasure forever.
If this album had received a worldwide release, it would be unnecessary to tell you about it. This album would have skyrocketed Alan Merrill to lifelong superstardom without a doubt, and his name would be as familiar as The Beatles, the Stones, Bowie, Bolan, Springsteen and the rest of the top table of stars. His talent is no less than any of those people, but his story is enigmatic, complex and full of twists and turns of Fate that sent him to some very different places.
I am lucky that he and I have become very close friends and I have got to know a good deal of his extraordinary story and how the circumstances of his life have shaped his career, his music, and his character. He’s working on his autobiography currently. It will be a wild ride for us all when it is done.
In the meantime, please consider that Merrill 1 SHOULD have been one of those iconic pop/rock albums of the early 70s. Buy it, listen twice and I can guarantee by the third time you will be singing along as if you have known these songs all of your life.
It’s hard to pick the stand-out tracks Policy is the song that attracted me initially and I still love its sleazy gritty feel, but another phenomenal effort is Knot Tier, its vocal harmonies orchestrated by the one and only Laura Nyro, Alan’s cousin and very close friend.
Several songs have a very McCartneyish mid/late 60s feel, like so much of that era. They’re great pop songs with potential that is ageless, all the songs on this album are. They feel oddly familiar but escape feeling derivative because of Alan Merrill’s unique natural musical ability.
At first hearing, you think you know what you have, but then you listen a little more closely and you hear the fine tooled craft that has gone into each song. I think you will come away with the impression, as I did, that in the record company’s decision not to give this a worldwide release, (with the appropriate promotion,) we have all been cheated out of something very special that is a lost part of our lives, a lost masterpiece.
It certainly could have changed Alan’s life in a very different way. Please buy it and enjoy ♥
1. Everyday all night stand 3:03
2. Starstruck 2:11
3. Knot tier 3:13
4. First love 2:25
5. Movies 3:11
6. Crazy lady 2:52
7. Policy 2:47
8. Please let me love you 3:15
9. Know yourself 2:24
10. Ferris wheel 2:15
11. Tranquility 3:14
Bonus Tracks included in the 2006 reissue
12. Jacqueline 2:17
13. Daydream believer 2:36
14. Hey Jude 5:03
15. The Drifter 3:10
16. Long hard road 2:27