Saturday, February 25, 2006

Miller Speaks: the 'Life As I See It' LP, 1961

In April 1956, Ben Grauer recorded an interview with Henry Miller while he was in New York for a few months (his mother was dying). The interview was released as a double-album (RLP 7002) on NY's Riverside Records as Henry Miller Recalls And Reflects, part of their 'Modern Voices' series. Five years later, in 1961, parts of the 1956 interview were re-assembled for a single LP and re-released on an off-shoot of Riverside called OffBeat Records (OLP 4901).


Ben Grauer [pictured at left from the back of the Life As I See It LP sleeve] was a notable American media personality of the 40s and 50s (I spoke of him briefly in this post). He also happened to be the brother of Bill Grauer, who co-founded the mostly-jazz Riverside Records in 1954. Grauer wrote liner notes for the Miller recordings, which I assume would enlighten me on the context of the interview, but the scan of the back sleeve (from which I found the photograph) is illegible. Ben interviewed others for the Modern Voices series, including Elenor Roosevelt in 1957.

I have heard neither Recalls nor Life and can therefore not compare the content. However, I do have the track listings for Life As I See It:


SIDE ONE: 1. Morality and modern man; 2. Playing it safe; 3. Pebble in the pond; 4. French prostitutes and German; SIDE TWO: 1. Our insect world; 2. The Paris "houses"; 3. Getting free.

Miller had his first private listen to the album on September 22, 1957: "I was moved myself. Some of it might be improved on, but when I reflect how ti was done--no preparation, damned little time, my mother dying, financial worries of the wrost sort, and so on, I think it's pretty good. If I get another try at this sort of thing I know I will be still better. I have offers all the time, but not with the right guys." --- Henry Miller, in a letter to Eddie Schwartz, Sept. 23, 1957 (qtd from Bibliography Of Primary Sources, Vol. II, p. 365).

This album is available for purchase from a few places on the internet. First, all of my graphics came from scans found on this ebay posting (selling for US $100). Another ebay poster is auctioning a copy until February 27th and is still stuck at his starting bid of US $9.99.

The recording is also available for US $121 along with a digitally remastered CD copy, from Vinyl Revolution. Or get a US $60 copy from The Spin Starts Here.

Click here to read an earlier Henry Miller Blog post about another album that Henry recorded, in 1949.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Tony said...

This is quite interesting. Recently, I have found lots of audio material by authors online in MP3 format (for ex. William Burroughs - some 15 CDs of readings, a Hunter Thompson obscure University lecture from 1977 etc). Naturally a Long shoot: this may be available as MP3 (believe it or not). Does anyone have the LP? If so it is relatively easy to "rip" it to MP3 files...

12:15 pm  
Blogger Charles Kershenblatt said...

I found this double LP in the library of West Chester University, nearly 20 years ago (1989). Unlike any other Henry Miller recording or interview, this one captures Miller's voice at its most mesmerizing -- it is as if hearing Miller for the first time. Almost all of the video & audio recordings we have of Henry date from the late 60s, 70; this one, instead, recorded in the early 50s, simply reveals a far more energetic, primal artist. You had the feeling, listening to it, that Miller was still engaged, still hungry ... It's the BEST recording of Henry out there! I had hoped to one day return to the library, copy the LP to CD, but never managed to pull it off. Someone, somewhere, PLEASE, make a CD copy of this, post it to the Net.

4:14 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe some of it is on-line. See the links on this Miller blog posting about the Pacifica Archives: http://cosmotc.blogspot.com/2007/04/miller-in-pacifica-radio-archives.html

10:43 am  
Blogger Robert said...

I own a copy of the double-album, "Recalls and Reflects," which I purchased as a teenager back in the 60's. I can't believe it hasn't been re-issued in its entirety because it is a marvelous thing to behold.

I purchased the album at a local store where I bought all my jazz albums and for several years would look at the Miller album and tell myself I was going to buy it some day. When I finally purchased it, the album cover was in rough shape and splitting apart just from shelf-wear. I think I paid 4 bucks for it and it is the best 4 bucks I ever spent.

Right now the album is in a storage locker due to a move, plus I am not set up to transfer it to a different media. There are parts of the album where the sound drops out occaisionally and this is how it was when new. I don't know if I got a bad copy or if it is a manufacturing flaw.

The album has been an inspiration to me in my life as a writer for the past 50 years (I write poems).

In fact, I ran across this blog while searching to see if the double-album has been re-issued on CD.

11:58 am  
Blogger Robert said...

Aha! Available on CD.

Search "Henry Miller Recalls and Reflects" on eBay under Books/Audio Books. One person has a 2-CD set in "like new condition" for about 20 bucks including shipping. The auction ends in a couple of days - no bids yet.

It's kind of vague who re-issued it. I do know that Fantasy Records bought the Riverside catalog, but I think Fanstasy was purchased by another company fairly recently - maybe Concord?

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