Interrupting the musical broadcast to bring you news of new book from Hallelujah The Hills frontman Ryan H Walsh, published by Penguin Random House it’s not out until March 2018 but you can pre-order now.
The untold story of how Van Morrison fled record-industry thugs, hid out in Boston and wrote one of rock’s greatest albums.
A mind-expanding dive into a lost chapter of 1968, featuring the famous and forgotten: Van Morrison, folkie-turned-cult-leader Mel Lyman, Timothy Leary, James Brown, and many more
Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks is an iconic rock album shrouded in legend, a masterpiece that has touched generations of listeners and influenced everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Martin Scorsese. In his first book, acclaimed rock musician and journalist Ryan H. Walsh unearths the album’s fascinating backstory–along with the untold secrets of the time and place that birthed it: Boston 1968.
On the 50th anniversary of that tumultuous year, Walsh’s book follows a crisscrossing cast of musicians and visionaries, artists and “hippie entrepreneurs,” from a young Tufts English professor who walks into a job as a host for TV’s wildest show (one episode required two sets, each tuned to a different channel) to the mystically inclined owner of radio station WBCN, who believed he was the reincarnation of a scientist from Atlantis. Most penetratingly powerful of all is Mel Lyman, the folk-music star who decided he was God, then controlled the lives of his many followers via acid, astrology, and an underground newspaper called Avatar.
A mesmerizing group of boldface names pops to life in Astral Weeks: James Brown quells tensions the night after Martin Luther King is assassinated; the real-life crimes of the Boston Strangler come to the movie screen via Tony Curtis; Howard Zinn testifies for Avatar in the courtroom. From life-changing concerts and chilling crimes to acid experiments and hippie entrepreneurs, Astral Weeks is the secret, wild history of a unique time and place.
Have You Ever Done Something Evil? is the new album from Boston MA. based band Hallelujah the Hills, I was on the Kickstarter bandwagon for this one having already had the HTH’s experience with the bands previous album, the excellent, No One Knows What Happens Next
The band have already picked up some airplay in the UK with the track Pick Up An Old Phone being featured as Mp3 of the day on Lauren Laverne’s 6Music show last month, but hey sometimes Beat Surrender can reach places even the mighty 6Music can’t (maybe wishful thinking?).
So here’s a selection of the many delights that the album brings, and they’re are not even the best bits in my opinion, the whole recording is a glorious angular and ragged affair that you really need to hear – it’s out next week and comes highly recommended.
A tour of Boston’s Rock N Roll Landmarks with the band Hallelujah The Hills.
Here’s the back story from frontman Ryan Walsh (who also looks after the bands Twitter account – you should follow).
I quit my job of 12 years, in part, to see what it would be like if I dedicated myself to writing the new HtH album with the hours one devotes to a full time job. Starting in November 2012, I showed up to our cold, mini-loft-rehearsal-space in Charlestown, MA every single day and wrote songs whether I felt like it or not. I would sometimes go to Brooklyn, NY to stay at my friend Neal’s place, and some of the songs were written there as well. It would be no exaggeration to say I was feeling terrified for the future when this album was written. I eventually had to go back to a day job and had to admit that I couldn’t record the album myself with my old, trusty Boss BR-8 Digital Recorder (I tried).
I had a book idea as well. It was non-fiction and it was about something I was going to try with people who said they were psychic. I got a literary agent and everything (my book proposal remains unsold, contact me if you wanna get this thing into the real world, publishers!). In my research for this book I came upon the story of two girls from Rochester, NY, Maggie and Kate Fox, who began to hear, summon, or clandestinely produce knocking sounds that they claimed were communications from dead people in1848. The Fox Sisters’ claims became a worldwide phenomenon and triggered the Spiritualist movement in America. Imagine the circumstances in which your childhood bedroom mess-arounds escape your parents’ house and change the course of society. Their story made me ask a question: Where did young people put their weird ideas before rock bands became a viable thing for relatively poor people? Maybe, and I know this is a stretch, you had to pretend you were summoning knocks and whispers from the dearly departed to shove your odd ideas out into the world. In Fall of 2013, when we decided to record at 1809 Studios, 12 miles from where the Fox Sisters grew up, the coincidence was too much to bear, and some of the ideas brought up by their story made it into the last few songs written for the record.
We lived at 1809 Studios for five days while recording HYEDSE? in a bunk-bedded living quarters connected to the studio. You could roll out of bed and be in the isolation room, recording guitar feedback in less than ten steps. This intense incubation situation helped get the sounds we got, I am certain. We shopped for our food at the local Kroger’s and attended the T-Rex tribute night at The Bug Jar, just as if we were Rochester locals. On the penultimate evening of recording, when we wrapped for the day, we tried to seek out the memorial obelisk in Rochester dedicated to the Fox Sisters. It was snowing hard, and the directions were poor. We almost gave up several times. Finally, we parked the van and started walking north. Finally, across from a nondescript apartment complex we found the obelisk with its insistent, eerie inscription: “THERE IS NO DEATH / THERE ARE NO DEAD.”
We were all a little taken aback by that. On the final day of recording someone yelled that line somewhere on the record. I won’t say where, I don’t even think it’s fully legible, but know that it’s in there and take that however you wish.
Pre-order at Bandcamp:
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