The Millennium – “Prelude/To Claudia on Thursday”
Last week, I said I’d say a little more about Curt Boettcher, and what I have to say is this: Where have you been all my life? When I recently listened for the first time to his work with Sagittarius and his later group, The Millennium, I began to feel as though I’d discovered a heretofore completely unknown peer to Brian Wilson himself and I was at a loss to explain how, as a lifelong Beach Boys fan, I could reach my midthirties without hearing about this guy.
It turns out I’m not the only one who feels this way. Their mutual collaborator, Gary Usher, claimed that Boettcher was “light years” beyond Wilson as a producer. Wilson himself was reportedly so intimidated by Boettcher that he would literally run away from him to avoid encountering him in the studio (and considering Wilson’s fragile mental state, these reports aren’t hard to believe). Yet, though his own work and his reputation seem to indicate that Boettcher was like the Brian Wilson who just couldn’t catch a break, when he actually did get the chance to collaborate with the Beach Boys as a producer, the results included the much-reviled ten-minute disco remix of “Here Comes the Night” and Mike Love’s Looking Back with Love, often considered the worst solo album by a Beach Boy.
Another mysterious contradiction is that, considering the trouble I have typing “Sagittarius” and “Millennium” with the correct number of gs, ts, rs, ls, and ns, I almost suspect that Boettcher got some perverse thrill out of being in bands with names containing difficult-to-spell double-consonant combinations. Yet, he eventually simplified his own surname, first to Boetcher and then to Becher, so, again, go figure.
With so much mystery and contradiction surrounding Boettcher, I’m hardly surprised that, through he was the mastermind behind the Millennium, he didn’t actually write all my favorite songs by the band. Those always seem to have been written by Michael Fennelly, who went on to lead the band Crabby Appleton. My favorite Fennelly song is this one, “To Claudia on Thursday” (“Prelude” is just what it sounds like — a short intro to the album — but it flows into “To Claudia on Thursday” so well that I thought it appropriate to include as well). Confusingly, the titular Claudia was apparently Boettcher’s wife, rather than Fennelly’s. And yet, according to Emitt Rhodes of the Merry-Go-Round, one of the bands Boettcher produced, Boettcher was “a gay guy” who wanted to “fuck me in the butt.” Go figure.
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