Leon Nahat sat on a pier at Hermosa Beach with his guitar and noted how each wave was different. He saw birds fly above and got a feeling. He went right to a recording studio and put “Saturday Song” down in one take, a touchstone of the sole 1977 album Love Me Crazy by Ilian. However, getting “the feeling” is perhaps the easy part, presenting it in a contagious way is where the talent comes in.
Anybody can throw a bunch of licks at your face. Communicating, telling the story is where it’s at. Ilian was influenced heavily by the concise, innovative guitar moves on the ’60s Yardbirds classics. Every note speaks, adds to the story the song is laying out. You can hear that in both his guitar tracks and the arrangements of his songs on Love Me Crazy. Not one dicey or stale move allowed, no horses beaten to death in pursuit of pop perfection. He moves fast and if it doesn’t happen, he moves on to the next one. Brings ’em back alive.
Beyond the Zephyr adventure, Ilian backed Chuck Berry, Dottie West, recorded with the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, worked with Keith of “98.6” fame, and much more. All the while he was recording his own songs and firing them off to record labels. Sadly, he sent twenty four songs to CBS Records in NYC that are lost forever, as he has no copies.
The songs of Love Me Crazy LP were recorded at different times in different studios. They hang together so well because Illian moved fast and with his virtuosic guitar-playing guiding the way. His music sounds fresh and timeless today because the songs were captured quickly before the magic of inspiration faded.