Harvey Kubernik

Weird Old Man by Charlie Christmas Now Out

By Harvey Kubernik

Charlie Christmas aka Chuck Crisafulli is a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and author of eight books who in December 2018 made available his debut collection of recordings Weird Old Man.

The album was recorded in his Glendale, Ca. home studio. Vocals cut in the bathroom and mix down in his garage.   

Song titles like “Secret Service Pig,” “Gone So Long” and “Put It Away (Sexual Misconduct Song)” are laced with humor, irony and a unique melodic sense.

The musical influence of Brian Wilson and Frank Zappa on Crisafulli, aka Charlie Christmas is apparent. But make no mistake about the audio results available. This character is an original tunesmith.

File this album under “Pleasantly Unsettling Sounds For Slightly Odd Listeners.”    Continue reading

Legendary drummer Hal Blaine passed away at age 90 on March 11th

I (David Kessel) had the pleasure of growing up in the recording studio along with my brother Dan. We worked with Hal Blaine on many,

David Kessel and Hal Blaine

many Phil Spector sessions, as 2nd generation Wrecking Crew musicians.  My Dad, Barney Kessel and Stepmother, B.J. Baker (one of the top background vocalists and vocal contractors in LA) were friends of Hal. Hal once said to me at a session  “The trick is, that if you make a mistake at the beginning of a take, you have to remember the mistake through the whole song.” I asked our Cave Hollywood wordsmith Harvey Kubernik to remember Hal Blaine.

By Harvey Kubernik Kubernik © 2019   

I knew Hal Blaine for 50 years. I did a term paper on him during high school. He invited me to a 5th Dimension session, too.

Hal steered me to Pro Drum Shop on Vine Street. My life changed seeing the sparkle sets and equipment on the wall. I never knew there was a place for drummers and percussionists besides Wallichs Music City and Drum City.

For decades I called him Belsky, his real last name, and he would call me Harvala.  

In the seventies I interviewed him numerous times for domestic and international publications. He once gave me a lift on his motorcycle between a 3 session day and also picked me up hitch-hiking once on Sunset Blvd. when he saw me at a bus stop on Fairfax Avenue when my car was in the shop.  “Take me to Gold Star! I need to see this session.” After it wrapped, Hal’s parting comical advice was: “Harvala. Please don’t get married in California!” Then every Wrecking Crew session veteran started laughing their heads off. I didn’t quite comprehend the reality on display. Just about every cat started running down words I never heard like alimony and visitation… Continue reading

50TH Anniversary of Neil Young Everybody Knows This Is No Where

By Harvey Kubernik © 2019     

In January of 1969 Neil Young began recording his second solo album Everybody Knows This is Nowhere with Danny Whitten on guitar;

Courtesy of Reprise/Warner Bros. Records

Billy Talbot, bass; and Ralph Molina, drums at Wally Heider’s recording studio on Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood.

Young’s new trio had toiled as Danny and the Memories and then shape-shifted into the Rockets, who had done an LP on the White Whale label, pure grunge, a loud, sloppy guitar-driven outfit sounding like an open wound, whose backbeat listed like sailors on leave at Subic Bay.

Young saw the Rockets one night in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard at the Whisky a Go-Go, appropriated some group members and rechristened them as Crazy Horse. They became the blank canvas upon which Neil painted his visceral, unmediated masterworks.  

It was a band only Neil Young could find common cause with, and he went to hell and back with them.

“Danny Whitten, from the day I met Crazy Horse and Neil Young at the Cellar Door in 1969, it was common knowledge, and Neil would be the first to tell you, that Danny was one of his early mentors and influences,” Nils Lofgren stressed to me in a 2014 interview. “Danny had that great deep ‘Bee Gees’ vibrato, with that California soul and lament.”   Continue reading

Leonard Cohen: Songs From A Room

By Harvey Kubernik ©  2019

April 7, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Leonard Cohen’s second Columbia Records album, Songs From A Room in 1969. It reached No.

Courtesy of Sony Music

63 on the US Billboard Top LPs and No. 2 on the UK charts. 

Initially, Songs From A Room felt like a trespass,” suggested writer Marina Muhlfriedel. “How dare Leonard Cohen dilute the sacred incursion his first album, forged into my being? For some reason, I never considered the possibility of a follow-up. Songs of Leonard Cohen was so personal, so monolithic, I assumed it to be a singular event.

“It took a friend planting me on a couch, cranking up the speakers and demanding I listen. Before ‘Bird On the Wire’ was over, tears flowed. It was so damn beautiful — a hymn, a confession, a deep bow of humility striking a nearly unbearable nerve. Leonard seemed a bit older, wearier, less embellished, but once again that trickster sunk right into my soul.”

“Leonard wrote songs because he had to, and because he wanted to get laid,” observed author, record producer and deejay Andrew Loog Oldham in a 2014 interview we conducted. “Later he wrote songs because he wanted to get paid. That’s when I decided he had something to say.”

I was on the UCLA campus in Westwood, California when Cohen debuted in 1970 at Royce Hall. Michelle Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas was one of Leonard’s singers that evening. Mama Cass Elliot had already covered “You Know Who I Am” from Cohen’s Songs From A Room on her 1968 album Dream a Little Dream.        Continue reading

MUSIC’S BIGGEST STARS HONOR “THE KING OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL” IN ‘ELVIS ALL-STAR TRIBUTE’

AIRING SUNDAY, FEB. 17 ON NBC; Elvis Presley ’68 NBC-TV Comeback Special Celebrated with Definitive 50th Anniversary Box Set Release Deluxe 5CD, 2 Blu-ray Disc Set

By Harvey Kubernik © 2019

Elvis Presley’s landmark ’68 Comeback Special, initially aired on NBC-TV in December 1968, was recently celebrated with the retail release


Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment

of a deluxe box set by RCA/Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, on Friday, November 30.

Elvis Presley-’69 Comeback Special (50th Anniversary Edition) is the definitive chronicle of one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll performances ever televised: Elvis Presley at the peak of his powers. For the first time ever, all previously-released audio and newly-restored video from the taping of the special will be available in one package – including unused performances and studio outtakes that spotlight the real Elvis.   The package contains an entire disc showcasing the legendary sessions for the special recorded with Elvis and the west coast members of the Wrecking Crew.

This 5CD, 2 Blu-ray disc deluxe package also includes an 80-page book featuring rare photographs and ephemera and a new oral history on the special, crafted from interviews conducted for Thom Zimny’s 2018 documentary, Elvis Presley: The Searcher.

The anniversary of this electrifying moment in rock n’ roll history further continues into 2019 when NBC-TV and Ken Ehrlich Productions team up for a 2-hour primetime television tribute to the original special which airs Sunday, February 17th from 9-11 p.m. (ET/PT)  on NBC-TV. Continue reading