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Baker's Dozen

The Unspoken Magic: Greg Graffin Of Bad Religion's 13 Founding LPs
Ian Winwood , April 5th, 2017 08:38

As US punk rock hero Greg Graffin releases a new solo album he guides Ian Winwood through some classics of old time Americana, alongside albums by Elton John and former collaborator Todd Rungren


Manassas – Manassas
Manassas is a band and album that features Stephen Stills, who of course is known under the Crosby, Stills & Nash moniker, and it is what I consider to an archetype for Millport, in the sense that Manassas is named after a place – it's named after a famous town in Virginia in which the Civil War started, effectively – but the album has nothing to do with the Civil War and in fact sounds like the stuff coming out of Laurel Canyon. This is an album that people should definitely pay a lot of attention to because if it's not something you're familiar with, it is something that you should become familiar with. Of all the material that Stephen Stills put his name to, this is probably the best. It's him putting together a group of virtuoso players, many of whom were inspired by old-time music, but it's really gritty sounding rock album with fantastic songs and beautiful harmonies. For anyone who's never been, Laurel Canyon is a famous canyon in Los Angeles. Those that don't know the geography of Los Angeles don't realise that LA is a city kind of separated by a mountain range. The mountain range is no more daunting than a five to 10 mile span of gently winding canyons and pretty steep topography. So picture Los Angeles with this big barrier between the side on which the beaches lie, and the other side on which is the San Fernando Valley. Now one of the ways to get from Hollywood, which is on the beach side, to the Valley is to cut through one of the different canyons, and one of these is Laurel Canyon. So when things were really happening in Hollywood in the 1960s, a lot of people retreated to Laurel Canyon because it's kind of more rural in its feel. It appealed to hippies, and when these hippies matured their kids became musicians. The legend would be that you'd hang out at the Whisky or the Rainbow on Sunset Boulevard, and then retreat back to your home on Laurel Canyon. Of course, by the late 70s this had become a stereotype. But I would guess that right up to the 80s there was a higher concentration of recording studios in and around Laurel Canyon than anywhere else in the world. It was around here that Frank Zappa used to record, too.