Phantom's Divine Comedy


Band members               Related acts

- Phantom (aka Tom Carson) -- vocals, guitar, keyboards
- Gary Meisner -- guitar
- X (aka John Badanjek) -- drums, percussion
- Y (aka Dennis Craner) -- bass
- Z (aka Mike DeMartino) -- keyboards 

 

 

 

- Detroit (John Badanjek)

- The Happy Dragon Band 

- The Rockets (John Badanjek)

- Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheel (John Badanjek)


 

Gerne: psych

Rating *** (3 stars)

Title:  Phantom's Divine Comedy Part 1

Company: Capitol

Catalog: ST-11313

Year: 1974

Country/State: Detroit, Michigan

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: minor ring wear

Available: 2

GEMM Catalog ID: 4829

Price: $100.00

 

Formed in Detroit, singer/guitarist Tom Carson (aka Phantom), guitarist Gary Meisner, former Detroit Wheels drummer John Badanjek, bassist Dennis Craner and keyboard player Mike DeMartino originally started out as Walpurgis. Signed by Punch Andrew's Hideout label, they were quickly advised to opt for a more mainstream name - hence a change to Phantom's Divine Comedy (not Phantom as shown in some reference guides).

Hideout's interest was probably not hurt by the fact Carson sounded uncannily like the late Jim Morrison.  Released in 1973, the single "Calm Before the Storm" b/w "Black Magic, White Magic" did little in terms of sales, but attracted the attention of Capitol, which financed 1974's "Phantom's Divine Comedy Part 1". With Carson writing all 8 selections, the set was surprisingly good. Occasionally a bit on the pretentious side (check out the laughable spoken word intro to "Merlin"), material such as "Tales from a Wizard", "Calm Before the Storm" and "Spiders Will Dance (On Your Face While You Sleep)" was uniformly strong and well executed. Depending how you felt about The Doors, the fact that Carson and company bore an uncanny resemblance to Morrison was either an unexpected bonus, or a major irritation. Still, taken on it's own and overlooking the band's penchant with mystical themes, "Black Magic/White Magic", "Devil's Child" and "Stand Beside My Fire" were all first rate slices of mid-'70s guitar rock. Curiously, backed by bizarre liners notes which failed to identify the participants, Capitol's initial marketing effort claimed this was a Morrison product. Needless to say the surviving Doors and Jac Holzman's Elektra label were less than thrilled, leading to a quick end to the marketing campaign and effectively killing album sales. (Since the original LP goes for a sizable chunk of dollars, you might want to know that the in the mid-1990s the One Way label reissued the album in CD format.)

"Phantom's Divine Comedy Part 1" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Tales from a Wizard (Phantom) - 
2.) Devil's Child (Phantom) - 
3.) Calm Before the Storm (Phantom) - 
4.) Spiders Will Dance (On Your Face While You Sleep) (Phantom) - 

(side 2)

1.) Black Magic/White Magic (Phantom) - 
2.) Merlin (Phantom) - 
3.) Stand Beside My Fire (Phantom) - 
4.) Welcome To Hell (Phantom) - 

 

As a side note, the English music magazine carried an article on the late Jim Morrison.  The article included an interview with Ray Manzarek where he actually talked about his brief run-in with Phantom's Divine Comedy.  "[The Phantom was] a guy named Ted something-or-else, from Detroit, and he sounded like Jim.  He was a weird guy who dressed in black and would only wear silver jewelry".  Manzarek even played a couple of songs with Phantom and company at a July 1974 Jim Morrison memorial concert hosted at L.A.'s Whiskey.

 

I've never seen the interview, but apparently in a 1992 press release it was
revealed that Morrison friend Iggy Pop handled the vocals on the LP.  Is it true? Beats me ...

 

 

 

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