Aquashow

Polydor Records

Record Details

1973
Genre:
Rock
Elliott Murphy - Aquashow

Aquashow is the 1973 debut album by singer-songwriter Elliott Murphy. It was reviewed by Paul Nelson in Rolling Stone along with Bruce Springsteen’s The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle under the headline “He’s the Best Dylan since 1968”, which earned both artists the “New Dylan” tag. When Aquashow was released on CD in 1988 it was reviewed by Robert Hilburn in the Los Angeles Times under the headline “A Compelling Aquashow”, and in 2006, thirty-three years after the original release, the album was called an “Album Classic” in a full-page review in UNCUT magazine.

Tracklist

  1. Last Of The Rock Stars -:-- / 3:43
  2. How’s The Family -:-- / 4:24
  3. Hangin’ Out -:-- / 4:20
  4. Hometown -:-- / 4:34
  5. Graveyard Scrapbook -:-- / 3:00
  6. Poise N’ Pen -:-- / 2:39
  7. Marilyn -:-- / 4:20
  8. White Middle Class Blues -:-- / 3:01
  9. Like A Great Gatsby -:-- / 3:13
  10. Don’t Go Away -:-- / 4:03

LAST OF THE ROCK STARS

Naked telephone poles can’t describe
The way I’m feeling about you tonight
And a feeling on my back like an old brown jacket
Like to stay in school but I just can’t hack it
And I’m out on the street feeling like dirt
I’m afraid to get married because I know its gonna hurt
And I say

Oh oh oh – there’s the last of the rock stars
And me and you
Oh oh oh – rock ‘n roll is here to stay
But who will be left to play

Well I dreamed I saw the king in a fifty three chevy
Had a band on his mind and his hands looked heavy
And he rolled down his window I guess to say hi
I couldn’t see his face ’cause of the purple haze inside
And he was born to be the king – he was born to be the man
And he died though he was holy – although I doubt he’d understand
When I say

(chorus)

Adolescent predrug habit – if it means guitar you gotta have it
And you got your axe and you got your group
And your old man thinks its a waste of loot
And you wait all week for a Sullivan show
And you know that’s just where you wanna go
And you homework now is never complete
You don’t care – cause you have got that beat

So a highdy hi and a heydy hey
And a girls that home on Friday night and a boy that’s out to play
And some of us are masters and some or us are slaves
And than there’s that boy who knows he’s gotta play
And a messy desk drawer full of broken strings
You know these kids and you know of those things

(chorus)

Come on mama please don’t cry
Don’t you know how I feel inside

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HOW’S THE FAMILY

How’s the wife with the husband
Who doesn’t understand
Why she starts to cry each morning
And the coldness in her hands
And the cold cold ballerina
Whose thoughts of love and life
Have split her down the middle
Till she’s cracked like walked on ice
And the prince of fifteen years
With no roof over his life
Cause his parents don’t know of his meaning
Or his needle and his knife

And how’s the family
How’s the family

How’s the tired widowed grandmother
Who has lost half of her life
And the overweight aunt from nowhere
Who can cook but is no wife
And she thinks its so disgusting
About the movies that are made
And she sleeps with just a pillow
And a memory that fades
Of a husband who had tried
To do everything so right
Till his heart screamed and stopped beating
As he made love one last night

And how’s the family
How’s the family

How’s the boy and the girl
And the lives that lie ahead
And from two they join as one
They say we’ll love till we are dead
And the babies come and grow
And the mothers laugh and cry
And the men know who they’re working for
And what’s more they know why
Cause its happy to be said
When tears can laugh at pain
And if you love the thought of love
Your birth will never end and how’s the family – how’s the family

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HANGIN’ OUT

Well after baby comes around we’re gonna go downtown
And see what it is we should know
Don’t matter about the city
Cause the girls and boys are pretty
And like leaves in the fall they will blow
Into the place where there’s a scene and a screaming machine
They will go
And you can laugh you can stare but we’re all in the same damn show

Na na na na na

You might find yourself in Paris in a burning drugstore
And Rome’s Spanish steps are just around the corner
You can be in London in a hard rock cafe
And Max’s Kansas city got the same things to say
And I saw oh now baby
What we doing this for
And she says you better shut up
Cause you know who just walked in the door
Oh baby no no more

Na na na na na
Oh give me something more
Na na na na na
Oh baby what a bore

I’ve been taken and my conscience is aching
And I promise myself I won’t hang out no more
I see the same old faces in the same old dirty places
I say baby I feel just like whore
I said baby is this what living is for
Is there nothing more
Or is it just to score

You know I tried to find a movie or anything that’s groovy
To keep me off of the streets
But those books from nineteen twenty
They don’t really help me any
I guess its always been the same sale of meet
And now I don’t give a good goddamn where it is that I go
Ill be a hooker or a looker but I guess my business is show

Na na na na na

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HOMETOWN

I saw your mother downtown yesterday
She didn’t know me and her hair was gray
She told me all her kids had run away
They called at Christmas time but really what’s left to say
And now the neighbors they don’t talk no more
And late at night she listens to the wind under the door
And the cracks in the floor

Oh guess who I ran into in the waiting room
You know they use to say that kid was born with a silver spoon
He told me that he left his home much too soon
Cause no one ever told him about the power of a real full moon
And than he stopped and just closed his eyes
And whispered please could someone help him get outside

And don’t tell me you don’t hear that hometown calling you
Cause you know what baby your still doing all the same things
You use to do
Wo wo darling you never use to wait till tomorrow
And now you can’t wait at all

Hey what’s the news in the fashion world
Is it long or short
Is it straight or curled
Does it pull all my last years in a different world
Does it tell your mother
How long ago she was a girl
And even churchmen are wearing stripes
And all the hometown girls are getting in much too late tonight
I guess they gave up the fight

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GRAVEYARD SCRAPBOOK

Like a railroad train goes with rock ‘n roll
Like your notes on napkins
And your hooker stroll
Like a big brick wall right across your heart
I won’t be there in your hospital room
And I wont be there with a snow blown spoon
And I wont be there during rainy intermissions

You can make time pass with a deck of cards
You can hold your own with alcoholic rock stars
You can wear gold rings through your hands and nose
But I wont be there in your hospital room
And I wont be there with a snow blown spoon
And I wont be there for the funeral of your new family

And when you find what you’re missing
You better look who you been kissing
Cause the music stops and you’ll start listening
To the sound of your heart
I got a graveyard scrapbook full of sad old news
I got two thousand years of the Christian blues
I see too many gray men waiting to die
So I wont be there when the lights go low
And I wont be there as your habits grow
And I wont be there like some dead fly caught I your lampshade

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POISE ‘N PEN

I got a heart so thick that its tearing me apart
And a baby so sick she can’t tell us apart
And whoever’s in the big house makes no difference to me
And what you see is just a reflection of all the bathroom walls
In the cave where the bus terminal monster falls
Into the head of the golden runaway
Whose heard nothing at all
About the Thursday night crowd
How they live and how they love to see you fall

You can be the queen of hippies and I’m the king of fools
And we’ll have our bed for breakfast and watch the peasants drool
Till you find out that your palace was only their back room
And what you got are giant soup cans that laugh at your life
And a telephone existence and a magazine wife
And a drum that keeps drumming and a brain that’s so white
It goes out into the sun
And you find out why you love the night
Ain’t that a fright

Oh midnight raiders break down the doors looking for
Anti society
Pop city dolls who smoke long cigars
Looking for some notoriety
Who could have known what motion pictures could bring
Pandora’s box didn’t know everything
She’d never been to Beverly Hills

And what you hear is just the dark side of every joke
And the sound of French prostitutes who stare at you and smoke
Under a red neon sign that says god is hope
While all the bleach blond moms
Tell their pimpled bombs
Not to mope
Just use more soap

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MARILYN

I guess you’d say she had what it took
To make most of us take a second look
She stole our eyes but not our hearts
And all the time it tore her apart
Don’t you know she died for our sins
Marilyn Monroe died for us

What a body to make us dream
Our thoughts were dirty though she was clean
On screen we’d watch her tantalize
And with our own we would fantasize
Don’t you know she died for sins
Marilyn Monroe died for us

Marilyn Marilyn I didn’t mean to do you in
Marilyn Marilyn now its too late to start again
Don’t you know she died for our sins
Marilyn Monroe died for us

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WHITE MIDDLE CLASS BLUES

Three guys pass me by all in white t shirts
They’re in a sixty three super sort and they don’t like my looks
I’m in the middle of Brooklyn I can’t see no escape’
They say the south is a bummer
But this isn’t so great

Ain’t life a blast
So low down middle class
From the day you’re born you know you’ll never kiss ass
White middle class blues

Now I’m sitting down to diner there’s so much food on your table
You can throw away your vegetables you can eat till you’re not able
And you veins fill with butter and the blood won’t flow through them
And your kid ods on goof balls and gives the finger to you

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LIKE A GREAT GATSBY

Waiting for some dream lover like a great Gatsby
And then I look in the mirror and its only me
And hey now baby what’s on your mind
Do you ride on ancient ships under doctor Ekelbergs eyes to heaven
Ticket nineteen twenty seven
Hey baby I think you break hearts like an ice man

You know too many pictures gonna make you feel sad
Gonna make you think of all the good times
You thought you never had
And hey no baby use to follow you home
Hold on to you at dancing school and call you on the phone forever
But now your world begins with never
Hey baby you can’t even feel I’m breathless

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DON’T GO AWAY

When the sun in the morning and the stars means nothing new
To you what are you gonna do
And the moon and its man just make you feel so sad
Too bad better think of something new
Cause minds are breaking and hearts are aching
And I’m just sitting anticipating
About all the good things we can do
Just to try not and think about you

Don’t go away

Sit back lady gonna be a long long time
In line the people all want their say
So why not give me some of this and that old time grind
Who’d mind while we’re out anyway
And some dog is barkin’ an old time love song
And I keep finding your shirts in my drawer
SoI guess there’s nothing for me to do
But to paint your story blues

Don’t go away

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All songs by Elliott Murphy ©1973
Published by Elliott Murphy
Lyrics reprinted by permission

Aquashow
Polydor Records PD-5061
1973

Produced by Peter K. Siegel
Recorded at Record Plant East, N.Y.C.
Recording Engineer: Shelly Yakus
Tape Operators: Ed Sprigg and Rod O’Brien
Sequence: Shelley Snow
Disk Mastering: Robert C. Ludwig, Sterling Sound Inc., N.Y.C.
Cover Photo: Jack Mitchell
Album Design: Paula Bisacca

Musicians:
Elliott Murphy: vocals, electric guitar, harmonica, piano on “Poise ’N Pen”
Matthew Murphy: bass
Gene Parsons: drums
Rick Marotta: drums on “How’s the Family”
Teddy Irwin: acoustic guitar
Frank Owens: piano, organ
Pat Rebillot: piano and organ on “Hometown” and electric piano on “Marilyn” and “Like a Great Gatsby
Background Vocals: Elliott Murphy, Matthew Murphy, Dennis Ferrante, Jim Mason, Eddie Mottau, Linda November, Gene Parsons, Maeretha Stewart, Tasha Thomas, Dick Wagner

Record By Record, Murphy By Murphy: Aquashow

On January 2,3 & 4, 1973 we played a three-night stand at the Mercer 194 Arts Center in New York with my band Elliott Murphy’s Aquashow and somehow my brother Matthew and I got the Variety magazine critic to come to the show. He gave us a great review that I showed to Paul Nelson, the legendary rock critic who went to school with Bob Dylan, and was now working for Mercury Records. On Jan 14 & 15 we played two more nights at the Mercer Arts Center and Paul Nelson was there, bringing writer Bud Scoppa with him. Bud wrote a great review of the show for Penthouse magazine and sometime after that Mercury offered us a record contract, although not a very good one. We auditioned for Peter Siegel, head of A&R at Polydor Records and told him we were about to sign with Mercury Records and so he offered us a slightly better deal and we took it. By April I was in Los Angeles trying to record my first album but finally we recorded at the Record Plant in New York City (The New York Dolls were downstairs in another studio recording their second album). Of all the great musicians who played on Aquashow I was mostly impressed with Frank Owens who played piano and organ and had played on “Like A Rolling Stone.” But I never thought I sounded much like Bob Dylan until the famous Rolling Stone Review came out calling me “the new Bob Dylan” and then the shit hit the fan and everybody in the music business wanted to know who I was. My hero Lou Reed came to see me play one night at Max’s Kansas City and said I needed a new record company and introduced me to his manager Dennis Katz who arranged for RCA to buy my contract from Polydor for over one hundred thousand dollars. In nine months my life had changed completely and the hopes and dreams I expressed in “Last of the Rock Stars” had become reality.

Taken from Crossroads magazine.

Liner Notes

The title came from my father’s 1950’s watershow extravaganza “Elliott Murphys Aquashow” (I’m a jr.). The seeds for many of these songs were planted in Europe where I busked for spare change and written soon after in Garden City, Long Island where I formed a band. It was my brother Matthew’s idea to try Polydor and it was Shelley Snow who first listened to our demo tape (later sequencing the LP) and immediately set up an audition in front of Peter Siegel, head of Polydor A&R at the time. I tried to record in Hollywood but nogo and returned to NYC where Peter Siegel resigned himself to the task of production with insight and sensitivity particularly in choosing ex-Byrds drummer, Gene Parsons and Highway 61 Revisited organist Frank Owens. There were others whose considerable talents helped shape the sound as well: Nashville rhythm guitarist Teddy Irwin, jazzy Pat Rebillot on Fender Rhodes, drummer Rick Marotta on “How’s the Family” and especially Matthew Murphy’s definitive bass lines. I played the same 1961 Fender Stratocaster that I do today.

We recorded at the Record Plant’s Studio C on West 44th Street where the unflappable Shelly Yakus engineered superbly. My friends The New York Dolls were downstairs in Studio A and when I needed excitement I’d visit. But mostly I was terribly nervous – it was my first album and Matthew and I spent lots of time up on the roof cooling out. I sincerely thank Peter Siegel for the elegant and timeless quality of his production – it has gracefully withstood the test of time. I don’t think anybody at Polydor was ready for the wonderful critical response to Aquashow at he time and I know I wasn’t. There was an extensive poster campaign in the New York subways which quoted the Village Voice: “Elliott Murphy is going to be a Monster.”

Thanks to George Gates, Jerry Burchard & Greg Nickson of the original “Aquashow” band. I am also indebted to Paul Nelson who discovered us playing at the Mercer Arts Center in 1973. He wrote about rock ‘n roll with a sense of romantic integrity which has inspired me to this day and his wonderful Rolling Stone review of Aquashow proclaimed a level of artistry for my work that I have tried my best to maintain all these years since.

About The Cover – “Looking Like A Great Gatsby”

At 23 years old I had a few definite ideas about how the cover should be for my very first album and amazingly enough both the record company and the photographer were generous enough to let me do as I please. You see, I wanted a cover that would reflect my dreams, my history and my heroes very definitely because I didn’t know way back then if this would be my only album. I called the album Aquashow in memory of my late father’s show in the 1950’s and the photo on the back of the cover is really from that show. The photographer was Jack Mitchell who I believe was a friend of Lloyd Gellason who did an incredible job handling my publicity at Polydor Records. Jack is a very well known and respected photographer and very easy to work with like most of the best. I suggested that we shoot in the Palm Court of the Plaza Hotel because that’s where part of The Great Gatsby took place and I also wanted a blurry circular frame to the photo like Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home. And, of course, I wanted my brother Matthew with me. Jack agreed to everything although I had to bring my own Dylan album to the shoot to show him what I meant. Paula Bisacca who designed the cover found the Aquashow umbrella and we shot very early one morning when the hotel was not too crowded. The white suit I had bought not far from Gatsby land on the north shore of Long Island. It was made in France and I still have it hanging in my mother’s closet. Maybe I should give it to the Hard Rock Hotel.

With all the praise accorded every other artist anointed with the “new Dylan” tag, Elliott Murphy burst onto the scene in 1973 wearing the mantle proudly. His debut, Aquashow, came on like the son of Blonde on Blonde, but with the streetwise poetic bent of Lou Reed. And, as is the case with most 24-year-olds armed with pen, paper, guitar, and harmonica, he has plenty to say. There is the tendency to wield a heavy hand when it comes to his takes on love, fame, growing up, and the underbelly of middle-class life, but Murphy, whose insights cut deeper than the majority of writers his age, is successful more often than not. If the irony of “How’s the Family” or the overstated “Marilyn Monroe died for our sins” are a bit much, tracks such as “Hangin’ Out,” “Scrapbook Graveyard,” and “Last of the Rock Stars” more than make up for it, painting a vivid picture of disenfranchised youth — searching yet self-destructive. Still, as good as Murphy can be lyrically, it’s the music that first draws you in. From his own electric guitar, and a rhythm section made up of brother Matthew Murphy and Byrd Gene Parsons, to Highway 61 Revisited pianist Frank Owens’ organ and piano, Murphy creates some of the most convincing Dylan-esque folk-rock to come along since 1966. In and out of print over the years, Aquashow remains a minor classic, thanks to a keen eye, intelligence, and a sparse, straightforward sound that stays clear of trends.

Brett Hartenbach – AllMusic

Click on any red link for images of each release.

Vinyl LPs

US:
Polydor PD-5061 (1st Pressing)
Polydor PD-5061 (2nd Pressing)
*Note: The title of “Like A Great Gatsby” changed to “Like A Crystal Microphone.”

France:
Polydor 2452 007
Polydor 2391 100 (Reissue from 1979)
*Note: Has a “Specialist” banner across the top left corner.

Germany:
Polydor 2391 100
Polydor 2391 100 (Promo Copy)
*Note: White label promo version. Marked “Sample copy not for sale.”

Belguim:
Polydor 2391 100

United Kingdom:
Polydor 2391 100

New Zealand:
Polydor 2391 100

Scandinavia:
Polydor 2391 100 (reissue from 1982)

CDs

US:
Polydor 835 587-2 (Reissue from 1988)

France:
Polydor/PDO POL 889 / 835587-2 (Reissue from 1988)

Japan:
Polygram Records / Polydor KK POCP-2260 (Reissue from 1993)

Lithuania:
Rehoects FM Radio (2007)
*Note: Unconfirmed. Promotional use only. “Like A Great Gatsby” is listed as “Like A Crystal Microphone.” Non-standard size cardboard sleeve with flap.

45rpm Vinyl Singles

“Last Of The Rock Stars” / “Like A Great Gatsby”
US: Polydor PD 14203 (1973)

“Last Of The Rock Stars” / “Last Of The Rock Stars”
US: Polydor PD 14203 (1973)
*Note: White label. Marked “Promotional Copy Not For Sale.” Catalog number indicates one side is Stereo and the other is Mono.

“Last Of The Rock Stars” (Stereo) / “Last Of The Rock Stars” (Mono)
US: Polydor PD 14203 (1973)
*Note: Red label for stereo side, white label for mono side. A “reservice” of the single with custom sleeve. Marked “Promotional Copy Not For Sale.” Includes two paper inserts with quotes from Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times & Newsweek.

“Last Of The Rock Stars” / “Like A Crystal Microphone”
United Kingdom: Polydor 2066 384 (1973)

“Last Of The Rock Stars” / “Like A Crystal Microphone”
France: Polydor 2066 384 (1973)
*Note: Picture sleeve. Says “Formerly titled “Great Gatsby.”

“Last Of The Rock Stars” / “Like A Crystal Microphone”
New Zealand: Polydor 2066 384 (1973)
*Unconfirmed

“How’s The Family” / “Graveyard Scrapbook”
US: Polydor PD 14217 (1973)

“How’s The Family” (Stereo) / “How’s The Family” (Mono)
US: Polydor PD 14217 (1973)
*Note: Red label for stereo side, white label for mono side. Marked “Pormotional Copy Not For Sale.” Name mispelled on both side for the author credit.

Please note: If you have additions or corrections to this discography, please send them to the webmaster.

Elliott Murphy - 1973 Aquashow Press Kit
1973 Aquashow Press Kit
Elliott Murphy - Uncut Aquashow Review
Uncut Aquashow Review
Elliott Murphy - 1973 Rolling Stone Aquashow Review
1973 Rolling Stone Aquashow Review
Elliott Murphy - Aquashow - German Vinyl Promo
Aquashow – German Vinyl Promo Label
Elliott Murphy Is Going To Be A Monster Ad
Elliott Murphy Is Going To Be A Monster Ad