The cover for Loosen Up Naturally is as much of a story as the recording.
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Many of the people around the Sons were artists of various types. Many more thought they were. The cover art was the result of giving anyone who wanted to work on it the opportunity of helping with the album cover. At Fred's house there were large square sheets of paper and art supplies at hand, and on any afternoon there might be two or three people sitting on opposite sides of a sheet, covering it with imagination. As sheets were filled, they joined a stack of similar sheets waiting to be sorted through for the cover picture.
At the house in Forest Knolls which Geoff Palmer and Bob Cain shared with two girls, a similar work was taking place on the windowshade. One day, I am told, Bob and Geoff met the Baker sisters Wendy and Patty. Smitten with the beautiful ladies, they brought them home, which incurred some displeasure on the part of one of the resident ladies. She left, and on her way out the door she added one word to the work in progress. She wrote it so small that it went unnoticed for some time.
This of course was the main album cover, and if the censors caught the offending word, at least they missed the abstract gynecologist's eye view in the upper right quadrant. There are a number of small messages buried in the drawing. On the left knee of the gynecologist's patient is a Band-Aid and the message, "We try with a little help from HAL." The arrow points to a computer generated drawing, and HAL is the name of the computer in Stanley Kubrick's "2001 -- A Space Odyssey." On our first trip to Hollywood, we had all seen the film at the Cinerama Theater a few blocks from the Kaleidoscope Ballroom.
There is a recognizable Fred Roth next to the phrase "Desi in the sky with polio." This seems to be a vague reference to Tim, and even now people refer to him as "Desi" as though it was some secret band nickname. It wasn't.
A few phrases are almost trite: "Brothers and Sisters," "Music is Fun," "Follow the Yellow Brick Road," "Love = Music = Love," "S.O.C. Marin," "Once Upon A Time." There is a unicorn and an amoeba and a number of eyes looking at various things. The words "Sons of Champlin" are cropped nearly off the right edge. There is a play on the peace symbol, rendered as an ad for Mercedes Benz. Then of course, there is the Sagittarius and the pointers: "Big Gunner," Big Sign," "Big (fucking) Deal," "Levels," "Ha Ha." The addition to Big Deal is in another hand from the original, added later.
The inside cover features Dave Schallock's touch. There is a phrase that can't really be deciphered. It's a quote from Albert King, one of Dave's favorite sayings at the time, "I play the blues myself." Dave's nickname is written in small letters on it, "Schalloroma," and his daughter Nina's name is written above it.
There are more phrases, "Take a toke off the sky," "Tune In, Turn On, Space Out," "Cliff Hanger," "Feel Good and You Will Be," "Om is Where the Heart Is," "I've been duped," "Blowworm," "Yes, no, go, go, go," "Wonder Chicken," "Buy It All," "Jesus Came Too!!!" There is a map with Turkey, Salinas, Reba, Ireland and the Port of Rheem. A hitchhiker carries a misspelled sign on his suitcase, "Highway Crusier." The lone word, "Occasinallie" floats by itself. As usual, there are a number of eyes staring out of different areas.
The central figure is identified in tiny letters around the brim of the sombrero. It is a child's doodle, a top view of a "Mexican riding a bicycle."
The other inside cover drawing is a Buddha, drawn by Rikki (***), who met the band in 1967 Denver when she was sixteen and they were on the road for the first time. She sent the art in a letter, and it fit the need, so it was used. I doubt if she was ever compensated for it, although seeing it was probably enough for her.
The poem on the inner liner was apparently interpreted by some as a reference to methedrine, since the word "crystal" appears in it. This was unfortunate, and may have been the reason a Rolling Stone reviewer of the first Santana album linked that group with "another notorious speed band, the Sons of Champlin."
Glass swan at the window sill
Stretch your wings and fly
Cool is morning
Eternal are the cascades of creation
Clear are the tears of purity
So bring to me the fragrance of wet earth
Dripping from your crystal beak
So fine an odor for my temple
The poem was written by Steve Tobin, my roadie partner. He is also the Steve Tollestrup who gets credit for writing all the songs. This credit is contradicted by the statement on the original disc label, "All selections composed by B.B. Heavy." This appears only on the old-style Capitol label with the rainbow around the edge. On later releases with the green label, Steven Tollestrup is given credit there also. Dave Schallock has his name spelled wrong in the producer credits "Shelleck."
A color reproduction of a drawing came inside the album. At the bottom are the words, "Give Away." It's unlikely that many were given away. The drawing is a still life created over a long period of time by a friend of Fred Roth, Albert Saijo. It shows the top of his desk with, among other things, a capsule of LSD in a carved wooden bowl, and a roach in a seashell.
The reason for the subterfuge on the writing credits was that members of the band were unsure of the current status of their songwriting contract. There was some speculation that they had signed over some rights with their previous (Trident) contract. The obvious solution, engaging a lawyer to find out, was not the way the Sons of Champlin operated.
There was another question. Song royalties can be a big part of the payoff on a successful album. Bill had written all but two of the songs on the record; the exceptions were "Don't Fight It, Do It," (Tim and Jim) and "Hello Sunlight" (Tim). By normal standards, he would get the bulk of the money if the album did well. The rest of the band felt, with some justification, that the songs were a group effort. Certainly Tim's arranging was a big part of the sound, and the longer pieces were fleshed out with lengthy solos. Would "Get High" be the same song without Geoffrey's vibes solo? Giving Bill all the money would have drawn a line between him and the rest of the group, and they weren't ready for that.
Bill agreed that he would share the royalties equally with the rest of the band, and in later years he would point to this as showing how much of himself he had given the group. The name Steven Tollestrup was chosen because Steve Tobin owned it but wasn't using it. He agreed to its use, and could be counted on never to contest the issue of royalties. Like Yogi Phlegm several years later, the "B.B. Heavy" who gets credit on the original label was a symbolic character. Sometimes he represented the whole band, sometimes just Bill.
The album was released, and we waited for it to hit the charts and then we would all get new cars and new amps and new guitars. and then we found out about the bad word on the cover, a time bomb waiting to happen. Apparently some kid with a magnifying glass was inspecting the cover, and found the offending word. Our stock with Capitol dropped like a cold-air balloon. The situation had no precedent for a band or for a record company. Someone at Capitol made the decision to call them all back and pay a couple of bored temps to scratch it off with a sharp point. Capitol did not see itself as responsible, and the cost of the operation came out of the band's share of the record profits, which hadn't yet materialized.
That ate up ten or fifteen thousand dollars, or a new truck and new amps. It's not as if we never saw any money from the project, but it never seemed like much.