Hammond B-3 organ, Fender Rhodes,
acoustic & electric basses
1. Dr. Demento
2. Moby Dick
Craniac Trilogy, Part 1: Transport
5. Swamp Stomp
Craniac Trilogy, Part 2: The Extraction
7. First Thing This Morning
9. Craniac Trilogy, Part 3:
12. Happy House
13. Cranial Meltdown: Dementia
Blow Fish Blues
15. Sitting Ducks
16. Once in a Lifetime
Produced by Vital Information
Recorded at Neverland Studios, Marin
County, CA, from April 24 to May 3, 1997
Engineered by Wally Buck and Jim
Mixed by Eric Valentine at
H.O.S. Studio, Redwood City, CA
Mastered by Scott Hull at Masterdisc,
Liner Notes for Where We Come From
The concept for this
recording started to develop while I was
preparing for the Journey album Trial By Fire. I
researched the roots of rock and roll so I could
have a much greater knowledge of the development
of the music and gain insights into the role of
drumming in that evolution.
I read books,
watched videos, talked to everyone that I could
who was knowledgeable about early blues, R&B,
and rock. Then I bought CDs, tapes, and records;
dozens of reissues of early blues, jump blues,
R&B, soul, funk, Cajun, early rock, and
surf...everything I could find. Most of the
music had a great feel. It was swingin' and
loose, played with an attitude that was playful
At this point, I
began to rediscover some of the great
instrumental rock of the 60's and 70's. My two
favorites were Booker T and the MGs, and the
Meters; both bands were quartets featuring the
Hammond B3 organ, and had the same
isntrumentation as Vital Info. I then remembered
that the B3 was Tom's main instrument; however,
since leaving Santana, he rarely played it.
Instruments - The Sounds
I talked to Tom about using the B3 on
this project, and he was excited about the idea.
Not only did I want to capture the vibe and
inspiration of the older groove instruments, but
also highlight our own personal musical roots.
For Tom, that also meant the accordion, since
that was his original instrument. The other
instrument I wanted to hear was the Fender
Rhodes. When Tom and I first played together in
his band, about 17 years ago, the Rhodes was one
of his main keyboards. The way he used the
Mutron, wah-wah pedal, and the ring modulator
was so hip I asked him to dust off his old
Rhodes and bring it to rehearsal.
on our way to reinventing the sound and concept
of Vital Info. I love the sound of the acoustic
bass and how it blends with and grounds the
sounds of the more electric instruments. Jeff
was into using his upright on as many of the
tunes as appropriate. Jeff has been playing
upright for quite a while, but he has not been
recorded on the instrument very often. As for
electric bass, he decided to go with his
four-string Fender style Yamaha, feeling it
would be more in keeping with the new (old)
concept, rather than the five- or six-string
basses he had been using.
already been deep into exploring the nuances of
his hollow body George Benson Ibanez guitar,
having played his entire last solo recording
Thinking Out Loud on it. He was glad to play
that instrument on every tune and get into his
own blues, country, rock and surf roots.
For myself, I brought out of storage, one of my
old Sonor Phonic drum kits, with all traditional
sizes (toms: 8x8, 10x8, 12x8, 14x14, 16x16 and a
20x14 double headed bass drum). A combination of
old and new K Zildjians were used, and about
five or six vintage snare drums. Around the kit
were mounted various cowbells, woodblocks, a
tambourine and I topped it off with a ching-ring
on the hi-hat for a few tunes.
rediscovering the beauty of the music of the
50's, 60's and 70's, I saw that we had become
very self-conscious of the imperfections in our
playing. We had developed the ability to play
virtually perfect "tracks" but in doing that we
had homogenized a lot of the soul, spontaneity
and fun right out of the music. By
underestimating the openness and intelligence of
the listeners, we had deprived them of a vital
experience, the true expression of ourselves as
a group and as individuals.
recording, we are letting it all hang out, this
is where we live, this is Where We Come From.
the ideas for this project was "What if we went
back to the late 60's and early 70's when
electric jazz was just getting started and
altered the recipe a little bit?". We'll keep
some of the main ingredients that the early
"fusion" pioneers used; blues, be bop, modal
jazz, R&B and rock, but we'll add a dose of New
Orleans, Memphis, James Brown, Ornette Coleman,
Jimmy Smith and a pinch of surf music (sorry,
Many of the tunes developed from
jamming on grooves in rehearsal. 'Dr. Demento'
(dedicated to the wacky DJ we grew up listening
to), 'Swamp Stomp' (dedicated to the funkiest of
the funky drummers, Zigaboo Modeliste), 'Take
Eight' (dedicated to Joe Morello for his
inspirational playing on 'Take Five' and to the
memory of one of my teachers who also played
some great drums on 'Take Five', Alan Dawson),
and 'Bob' (dedicated to Bob) were created in
Listen Up is one of Tom's tunes
inspired by the work of Eddie Harris and First
Thing This Morning is Frank's nod to George
Jeff came up with the idea and
arrangement of 'Moby Dick', a potential New
Standard. Jeff also brought in 'Blow Fish
Blues', a composition written by Jaco Pastorius
that he gave to Jeff, and has never been
recorded until now.
I wanted to record
the Ornette tune 'Happy House', since the
quirkiness of the melody seemed to fit our
direction, and it's such a nice drum feature. On
a recent gig with my friend Jeff Richman, we
played his tune Sitting Ducks, which I thought
would be perfect for this recording.
There are also five "inserts" on this CD. They
are obviously the results of the idea "Let's
just roll tape and see what happens." As they
were sequenced into the album, Frank discovered
they tell a little story, and it goes something
Some aliens come to Earth and snatch a hapless
victim, Bob, and carry him off to their
In order to conduct some kind bizarre
experiment, they remove his brain.
Craniac #3: Now they insert a
new brain into the space where the old one was.
This seems to be a bit traumatic.
Cranial Joy: The experiment is
going well and Bob is experiencing some real
trouble. The experiment has run amok and old
Bob's mental state has deteriorated, big time.
Thanks for the interpretation Frank,
we'll make sure your therapist gets a copy of
As if all this music isn't enough,
there's more. When we listened back to our
improvisations, we decided to include two in
their entirety. 'Once in a Lifetime,' which is
dedicated to the memory of one of the greatest
musicians of our time, Tony Williams, for his
innovative drumming and bold new directions in
music, especially his work with John McLaughlin
and Larry Young. And then there's '008' .
Forgive us but this is a one time only
spontaneous performance of Vital goes surfing.
With that you have Where We Come From...a
recent summation of who we are now, all the way
back to our earliest influences, musical and
otherwise. This is by far the most natural and
fun recording we've ever made. We hope you
groove on it, baby!
Thanks for listening.
-- Steve Smith
to return to the Vital Information
here to return to the top
of the page.