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Archive for July, 2018

Fifty Year Friday: Moody Blues, Buffalo Springfield, Harry Nilsson

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Moody Blues: In Search of the Lost Chord

With their second album, released July 26, 1968, the Moody Blues solidly establish their own style and identity with recognizable, reverberation-enhanced vocals, use of cross-fade between tracks, and a complex, polished production style as realized by Tony Clarke. In the previous album, Days of Future Past, The Moody Blues were backed up by Decca’s house orchestra, The London Festival Orchestra; in this album, the orchestra is replaced by almost three dozen instruments all played by the band members. Mellotron and sitar fans will enjoy the use of those instruments here, part of achieving an effective album. If you don’t have this on LP, consider the CD version with its bonus tracks, two of which provide a glimpse at how good Moody Blues sounded in live performances in 1968.

Track Listing [From Wikipedia]

1. Departure (0:44)
2. Ride My See-Saw (3:38)
3. Dr. Livingstone, I Presume? (2:58)
4. House of Four Doors (4:12)
5. Legend of a Mind (6:36)
6. House of Four Doors, pt.2 (1:47)
7. Voices in the Sky (3:25)
8. The Best Way to Travel (3:14)
9. Visions of Paradise (4:15)
10. The Actor (4:39)
11. The Word (0:48)
12. Om (5:44)

Total Time: 42:03

Moody Blues

– Justin Hayward / acoustic & electric guitars, mandolin, lead vocals (1,4,6,8)
– Michael Pinder / piano, Mellotron, Moog, acoustic guitar, maracas, lead vocals (2,4,9,10)
– Ray Thomas / flute, tambourine, lead vocals (3,4)
– John Lodge / bass guitar, lead vocals (4,7)
– Graeme Edge / drums, percussion, whispered vocal (4)

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Buffalo Springfield: Last Time Around

Tinged with folk and country elements, Buffalo Springfield’s final studio album, released on July 30, brings to a close an early chapter in folk/country rock.  Though the weakest of their three albums, there is much to like here, particularly the even number tracks on side one and the first three tracks on side two.

Track listing [from Wikipedia]

Side one
  1. “On the Way Home” (Young) – 2:25
    • Recorded November 15-December 13, 1967, Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, California. Vocals: Richie Furay, Neil Young; bass: Bruce Palmer; piano: Neil Young.
  2. “It’s So Hard to Wait” (Furay, Young) – 2:03
    • Recorded March 9, 1968, Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, California. Lead vocals: Richie Furay.
  3. “Pretty Girl Why” (Stills) – 2:24
    • Recorded February 26 & May 1967, Sound Recorders, Hollywood and Atlantic Studios, New York City. Lead vocals: Stephen Stills; bass: Jim Fielder.
  4. “Four Days Gone” (Stills) – 2:53
    • Recorded late 1967-early 1968. Lead vocals and piano: Stephen Stills, lead guitar solo: Neil Young
  5. “Carefree Country Day” (Messina) – 2:35
    • Recorded late 1967-early 1968. Lead vocals: Jim Messina.
  6. “Special Care” (Stills) – 3:30
    • Recorded January 3–20, 1968. Sunset Sound, Hollywood. Lead vocals, pianos, B3, guitars, bass: Stephen Stills; drums: Buddy Miles.
Side two
  1. “The Hour of Not Quite Rain” (Callen, Furay) – 3:45
    • Recorded late 1967-February 1968. Lead vocals: Richie Furay.
  2. “Questions” (Stills) – 2:52
    • Recorded February 16, 1968, Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, California. Vocals, guitars, bass guitar, Hohner clavinet: Stephen Stills; drums: Jimmy Karstein.
  3. “I Am a Child” (Young) – 2:15
    • Recorded February 5, 1968, Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, California. Lead vocals: Neil Young; bass: Gary Marker.
  4. “Merry-Go-Round” (Furay) – 2:02
    • Recorded February 16-March 1968, Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, California. Lead vocals: Richie Furay; bass: drums: Jimmy Karstein. Harpsichord, calliope, bells: Jeremy Stuart.
  5. “Uno Mundo” (Stills) – 2:00
    • Recorded February–March 1968, Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, California. Lead vocals: Stephen Stills.
  6. “Kind Woman” (Furay) – 4:10
    • Recorded February–March 6, 1968, Atlantic Studios, New York City & Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, California. Lead vocals: Richie Furay; pedal steel guitar: Rusty Young; bass: Richard Davis.(not Dickie Davis)

Personnel

Buffalo Springfield
  • Richie Furay – guitar (1,2,3,8,10,11,12), vocals (1,2,3,5,7,10,12)
  • Dewey Martin – drums (1,2,3,9,11)
  • Jim Messina – bass, vocals (5,12)
  • Stephen Stills – guitar (1,2,3,4,6,8,10,11), piano (4,6,8), B3 organ (6,8,11), bass (6,8), clavinet (8), vibes (1), percussion (11), Handclaps (11), background vocals (1,5,8,10), vocals (3,4,6,8,11)
  • Neil Young – guitar (3,4,9,10), harmonica (9), piano (1), background vocals (1), vocals (9), appears in some capacity on (5)
  • Bruce Palmer – bass (1)
Additional personnel
  • Buddy Miles – drums (6)
  • Jimmy Karstein – drums (8,10)
  • Gary Marker : bass (9)
  • Jeremy Stuart – harpsichord, calliope, bells (10)
  • Rusty Young – pedal steel guitar (12)
  • Richard Davis – bass (12)
  • unidentified – horns (1), saxophone, clarinet (2), drums (4), bass, drums, harpsichord, orchestra (7), piano, drums (12)

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Harry Nilsson: Aerial Ballet

Released sometime in July 1969, Aerial Ballet, provides another set of cleverly crafted pop tunes, very much influenced by Paul McCartney songwriting and the production approach on Beatles and Beach Boys albums.  With his third album, Nilsson provides all original songs with one exception: a song called “Everybody’s Talkin'” written by Fred Neil, who would later drop out of music to focus on an organization he founded, The Dolphin Research Project, dedicated to stopping the mistreatment and exploitation of dolphins around the world.  When Nilsson’s version was released as a single in July 1968, it failed to break into the top 100, but after its inclusion as the theme song in the film Midnight Cowboy in 1969, the song was re-released as a single and became a hit, peaking at No. 6 on the Billboard pop chart and No. 2 on the Easy Listening chart.

The gem of this album is “One”, a song that sounds as unassuming and catchy today  as it did in 1968.  Many will be familiar with the Three Dog Night’s version, but it is this original version that is the definitive, and by far the best, one.

Track listing [from Wikipedia]

All tracks written by Harry Nilsson, except where noted.  Arranged by George Tipton.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. “Daddy’s Song” 2:19
2 “Good Old Desk” 2:22
3. “Don’t Leave Me” 2:18
4. “Mr. Richland’s Favorite Song” 2:12
5. “Little Cowboy” 1:22
6. “Together” 2:08
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
7. Everybody’s Talkin’ Fred Neil 2:41
8. “I Said Goodbye to Me” 2:13
9. “Little Cowboy” 0:52
10. “Mr. Tinker” 2:41
11. One 2:50
12. “The Wailing of the Willow” Nilsson, Ian Freebairn-Smith 1:57
13. “Bath” 1:44
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Fifty Year Friday: Family, Music in a Doll’s House; Miles Davis, Miles in the Sky; Progressive Rock Radio

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Family: Music in a Doll’s House

Just as there is a distinction between the commonly used term “classical music”, which includes European music as early as the 12th century (and even earlier), and the “classical style” or “classical period” of music starting at around 1750 with composers like young Franz Joseph Haydn, and ending around the 1820’s and 1830s as composers follow Beethoven’s lead of creating more expressive and extreme music, there is a distinction between “progressive rock music”, music that stretches and extends the vocabulary and significance of the rock music prevalent at the given time, and “progressive rock style” or “prog rock”, music that generally defies a simple definition, but generally borrows elements from classical and jazz, and often deploys complex time signatures, mixed meters, classical-period chord modulations, use of arpeggios (broken chords), lengthy instrumental sections, flashy displays of instrumental technique, musical contrast (including contrasts in tempo, texture, instrumentation), dramatic effects, and sharp angular rhythms.  Generally prog rock musicians have had some classical training or jazz background and influences to their music often include twentieth century “classical music” composers like Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Bartok, Janacek and Ginastera and be-bop and cool jazz.

Released on July 19, 1968, Family’s debut album, Music in a Doll’s House, was created during a category-five hurricane of “progressive rock music”, being contemporaneous with progressive music from Hendrix, Zappa, the Beatles, and many others.  Such is the breadth of the late-sixties music revolution that even established jazz players are pulled into this vortex, ultimately embracing electronic instruments and playing to audiences that frequent both rock and jazz concerts.   And, in 1968, we find more occurrences of jazz and classical instruments in rock music than ever before.  With Music in a Doll’s House, we have three vocalists that play multiple instruments: the electric bass player plays violin and cello, the lead vocalist plays tenor sax and harmonica, and the third vocalist plays tenor sax, soprano sax and harmonica — to which is added trumpet and mellotron  Much of the music on the album sounds notably different than anything else released in July of 1968 and even though the are several blues-based numbers, most of the music is only remotely related to music of either American rock and roll or the music of the British Invasion.  In short, this is a distinct rock album carving out is own identity, establishing a level of musical excellence and character much in the way of such albums as Pet Sounds, Revolver, Sgt. Peppers, Odessey and Oracle, Are You Experienced and other landmark albums of 1966, 1967 and 1968.

So its appropriate to place Music in a Doll’s House in this first progressive rock category of “progressive rock music.”  More significant historically, is that it is the earliest album one can unequivocally place in the second category of “prog rock” due to a majority of the album sharing those “I can’t define it, but I know it when I hear it” qualities of the progressive rock style.

The album is far from perfect: it suffers from some of the excesses of progressive rock including over repetition, whereas a group like the Beatles, for example, whether influenced by George Martin or due to their collective sensibilities, or even their individual maturity as composers, rarely repeated a verse or a chorus one too many times — the most notable exception being “Hey Jude” which appears to somehow have become a blueprint in the progressive rock genre for overextending the repetition of a chorus or other musical section.  And so we find a little of this excess on this first Family album. We also find some blues-based numbers that are certainly not classifiable as being in the prog-rock style.  However the first four tracks of the album, including Dave Mason’s “Never Like This”, are solidly both progressive and in the progressive rock style.

The impact of this album is also significant, from forcing the Beatles to abandon their planned title of A Doll’s House for their upcoming 1968 two LP White Album, to Roger Chapman’s extreme vibrato vocal delivery influencing others prog vocalists such as Bernardo Lanzetti of Acqua Fragile and PFM.   The style of these first four tracks will influence, directly or indirectly, Genesis, Hoelderlin, and Marillion.

There is a surge of emotional excitement I get when I hear the best prog-rock music, similar to the feeling when I hear Thelonious Monk, Bach, or Beethoven. I get caught up in the music, and if I started listening with the intent to stop in a few minutes to watch something on TV or do some specific task, I find that once caught up in the music, I cannot pull myself away for something as relatively unimportant as PBS’s Nightly Business Report, tending to chores, or eating dinner.  Music is often classified into genres, but the main measure of any music is its quality and how vital it is, both in its own time and generations later. Music in a Doll’s House does sound dated in parts, but those opening four tracks still retain some of the magic they had when first released in July, 1968, heralding the beginning of the prog rock era.

Track Listing (from progarchives.com)

1. The Chase (2:14)
2. Mellowing Grey (2:48)
3. Never Like This (2:17)
4. Me My Friend (2:01)
5. Variation On A Theme Of Hey Mr. Policeman (0:23)
6. Winter (2:25)
7. Old Songs, New Songs (4:17)
8. Variation On A Theme Of The Breeze (0:40)
9. Hey Mr. Policeman (3:13)
10. See Through Windows (3:43)
11. Variation On A Theme Of Me And My Friend (0:22)
12. Peace Of Mind (2:21)
13. Voyage (3:35)
14. The Breeze (2:50)
15. 3xTime (3:48)

Total time 36:57

Family

– Roger Chapman / lead vocals, harmonica, tenor saxophone
– John ‘Charlie’ Whitney / lead & steel guitar
– Jim King / tenor & soprano saxophones, harmonica, vocals
– Rick Grech / bass, violin, cello, vocals
– Rob Townsend / drums, percussion

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Miles Davis: Miles in the Sky

Released on July 22, 1968, with it’s title and cover acknowledging the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and the psychedelic rock movement, Miles in the Sky is as much or more of a forerunner of an entire genre of music as is Family’s In a Doll’s House. And as the case with Music in a Doll’s House, Miles in the Sky sounds different than any other album from the summer of 1968.

Miles Davis’s previous album, Nefertiti, began hinting at elements of the yet-to-come jazz fusion, but Miles in The Sky moves forward even further and begins to coalesce the necessary elements to produce this new mixture of jazz, rock, funk, and R & B soon to be known as fusion.  Most music historians will identify In A Silent Way as the first Miles Davis fusion album, with some giving a nod to Filles de Kilimanjaro, but Miles in the Sky is at least a transitional album. This is not due to the inclusion of the electric piano and electric bass on the first track, “Stuff”, or the inclusion of George Benson playing a relatively traditional jazz electric guitar on “Paraphernalia”, but is based on the creation of a different type of post-bop that has incorporated funk and a modal style a step closer to the psychedelic rock improvisation of 1968.

Musically there is a lot to assimilate here. The level of diversity is high, with funk rhythms alongside semi-impressionistic harmonies.  Each track takes a different tact and the length of the first side at close to 30 minutes is rather impressive for the time contrasted to the average of less than twenty minutes a side for most jazz and rock albums.

The first track, “Stuff” is an intriguing composition incorporating points of musical color into a larger structure that drives relentlessly forward. Miles Davis interest in twentieth century classical music is evident — the emphasis is on the overall character and experience with individual musical events functioning more as points in time, providing commentary and coloration rather than having impact or influence to the overall scope and direction of the piece. This is not only common in many classical music works of the academic composers of the 1960s, but is a prevalent trait in some of the best psychedelic and progressive rock of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

There is also the electric nature of “Stuff” which not only incorporates Herbie Hancock’s colorful contributions on electric piano and Ron Carter on electric bass, but also captures an amplified Wayne Shorter recorded from a studio speaker to create a more resonant, forward sound such as produced by an amplified sax in a large concert hall.  Add to this the funky, vibrant character of the much of the piece and the result is a very early, but clear-cut example, of jazz fusion.

The second track, “Paraphernalia”, recorded about four months earlier than the rest of the album, opens up with some effective rhythmic displacement similar to classical music “hocketing”  followed by somewhat disparate solos.  The third track, “Black Comedy”, despite its variety of meter is the most traditional in the set and the theme is reminiscent of Thelonious Monk.   The fourth and last track, “Country Son” is again quite different, being episodic and free with tempo and texture changes.  It’s a shame that no recorded rehearsals of this piece exist, though there is an alternate take available on CD.

This album also is the first Miles Davis studio album with just four tracks continuing a trend of longer compositions in both jazz and rock album: soon, one or two selections per side would become a more common occurrence in fusion jazz, psychedelic rock and progressive rock.

Miles in the Sky sometimes is treated like a middle child, between the two more impressive Miles Davis studio albums immediately before and after it, but it is still quite good and historically important — providing the necessary groundwork for not only for the fusion phase of Miles Davis, but also for number of future jazz-fusion groups as distinct and different as Weather Report, Brand X, and Nova.

Track listing [from Wikipedia]

Side one

Title

Writer(s)

Recording session

Length

1.

Stuff Miles Davis May 17, 1968

17:00

2.

Paraphernalia Wayne Shorter January 16, 1968

12:38

Side two

Title

Writer(s)

Recording session

Length

1.

Black Comedy Tony Williams May 16, 1968

7:26

2.

Country Son Miles Davis May 15, 1968

13:52

Total length:

50:56

Personnel

Progressive Rock Radio

Two important trends in radio may not have changed the face of music but certainly assisted in clearing some of the fodder from the pathways.

The first was the trend away from playing only singles and music selected by the station manager, program director, or some selection board, to including album cuts in the mix, sometimes selected by the DJ, themselves, particularly in the case of college radio stations.  This opened up the range of music and took part of the control away from the record executives that were determining what album songs would be released as single.

The second trend was to devote time to more adventurous and progressive music.  At first, for some stations this may have been only one segment a week, but eventually. driven by an attractive demographic, ages 17-34, such segments were expanded, or more were added, or in some cases the radio station became a full-time progressive rock station sometimes playing full albums upon their release.

The term “progressive rock” also came into use, referring generally to rock music that was of a higher quality or containing a progressive or culturally relevant social message.  In the October 26, 1968 issue of Billboard, WNEW-FM (102.7 in New York, the same FM radio station that helped gain the Nice attention playing “Little Arabella”) general manager, George Duncan, was quoted as follows: “The exciting thing about progressive rock music (is) it’s the medium young people are using to express themselves and their feelings … because they’re doing it in music rather than literature…. The premise is that music is being played because it’s good.”

And playing good music had the impact of drawing larger listening audiences.  There was no internet, no streaming services, no torrent-sharing sites in 1968, but there was FM progressive rock radio, and it changed not only what music consumers could hear, but, ultimately affected the decisions of record company executives determining what bands to sign and what music to release.

Billboard, July 20, 1968, Classical music in rock

(“www.nyradioarchive.com/images/radioscans/classical_BB19680720.jpg”)

 

 

Fifty Year Friday: Herbie Hancock, Speak Like a Child; The Web, Fully Interlocking; Deep Purple, Grateful Dead

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The Web; Fully Interlocking

Released by Deram sometime in 1968, The Web’s debut album, Fully Interlocking, is both an early jazz-rock album and an early progressive rock album. Though no home run is scored under either of these uniforms, credit must be given for the moments of sophistication and the early foray into the two new styles of rock music that would soon surge in popularity. In accordance with the title, the music is interlocking with no silence between tracks.  Track 4, Green Side Up,  is particularly notable as a fully-formed prog rock instrumental, with King Crimson-like rhythmic punctuation (this before King Crimson’s first-ever rehearsal in January 1969), a Robert Wyatt-like second theme, and effective saxophone and bass guitar lines. No progressive rock fan should miss hearing this.

The band included two guitars, two percussionist, an electric bass, and Tom Harris who played sax and flute. There was one American, their dedicated vocalist, John L. Watson, who was quite good, but sounded more like a lounge singer than a rock or progressive rock vocalist. (Later Watson would be replaced by singer and keyboardist Dave Lawson who would eventually join Greenslade.)

Some of the music sounds dated, such as their attempted single, “Wallpaper”, and some doesn’t live up to its conceptual promise such as the “War and Peace” suite, but this generally ignored album contains much of interest, both musically and historically.  Three bonus tracks are available on CD, and the first two of these are not to be missed.  “I’m A Man”, predates Chicago’s version on the first album, and works perfectly for Watson, who provides a strong rhythm-and-blues delivery.  The similarities between this and the later Chicago version, are striking, and one wonders if someone from Chicago or Columbia records had somehow heard The Web’s version first.  The second track, is Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child”,  also sounding strikingly similar to the Blood, Sweat and Tears’ version that was recorded in October 1968.

This album, only obtainable as a used LP in previous decades, is available as a CD, mp3s, or from a streaming service. It’s worth checking out for anyone that has an interest in rock, jazz-rock, or progressive rock history.

Tracks Listing [from progarchives.com]

1. City of Darkness (2:55)
2. Harold Dubbleyew (3:10)
3. Hatton Mill Morning (3:37)
4. Green Side Up (2:02)
5. Wallpaper (2:40)
6. Did You Die Four Years Ago Tonight? (2:20)
7. Watcha Kelele (3:57)
8. Reverend J. McKinnon (2:55)
9. Sunday Joint (2:03)
10. War or Peace (9:56) :
– a. Theme 2:11
– b. East Meets West 2:39
– c. Battle Scene 0:38
– d. Conscience 2:00
– e. Epilogue 2:28

Total time 35:35

Bonus tracks on 2008 remaster:
11. I’m A Man (3:33)
12. God Bless The Child (5:00)
13. To Love Somebody (3:29)

Line-up / Musicians from progarchives.com

– John L. Watson / vocals
– John Eaton / guitar
– Tony Edwards / guitar
– Tom Harris / sax, flute
– Dick Lee-Smith / bass, congas
– Kenny Beveridge / drums
– Lennie Wright / vibes, congas, claves

With:
– Terry Noonan / orchestra direction & arrangements

 

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Recorded in March 1968 and released a few months later, this is Herbie Hancock’s first album as a leader since his classic Maiden Voyage, recorded 3 years earlier.  The album starts out with a calmer version of “Riot” than that recorded on Miles Davis;’s Neferiti, and ends with “The Sorcerer”, a composition on Davis’s 1967 “Sorcerer” album.  In between these tracks we have compositions relating to childhood, three by Hancock and one by Ron Carter — the Ron Carter piece being different in character and not including the alto flute, flugelhorn and bass trombone present on the  rest of the album.

Track listing[from Wikipedia]

All compositions by Herbie Hancock, except as indicated.

Side A:

  1. “Riot” – 4:40
  2. “Speak Like a Child” – 7:50
  3. “First Trip” (Ron Carter) – 6:01

Side B:

  1. “Toys” – 5:52
  2. “Goodbye to Childhood” – 7:06
  3. “The Sorcerer” – 5:36

 

Personnel

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Shades of Deep Purple

 

Deep Purple: Shades of Deep Purple

In their debut album, recorded in three days in May of 1968, and released on July 17, 1968, Deep Purple comes out swinging, providing exuberant hard rock with multiple glimpses of early heavy metal and progressive rock.

This album didn’t do well at all in the UK, but due to the single, “Hush”, which received significant airplay in the States, and reached the #4 slot, Shades of Deep Purple sold fairly well in the U.S., staying for 23 weeks on the Billboard top 200 album list and peaking at #24 in November, 1968.

The arpeggiated keyboard-led opening, interlude, and return included amongst the garden- variety chord progressions of “One More Rainy Day” is historically notable as this simple, but effective, compositional technique soon becomes a significant part of the musical vocabulary found in 1970s progressive rock.  Also, common to early progressive rock, is the quoting of classical music — in this case, Rimsky-Korsakov’s  Scheherezade, which provides the material for “Prelude: Happiness”, followed by Deep Purple’s take on Cream’s “I’m So Glad” based on the Skip James 1930’s tune.

Deep Purple would tour the U.S. while their album was climbing the charts, making a name for themselves, and establishing the appeal of this new style of rock music.  Below is a replica (from Dirk Kahler’s Deep Purple Tour Page) of the Oct. 18 ticket for their engagement as an opening act for Cream’s two night appearance at the Fabulous Forum.

deep purple ticket

Tracks Listing [from progarchives.com]

1. And The Address (4:38)
2. Hush (4:24)
3. One More Rainy Day (3:40)
4. Prelude: Happiness / I’m So Glad (7:19)
5. Mandrake Root (6:09)
6. Help (6:01)
7. Love Help Me (3:49)
8. Hey Joe (7:33)

Total time 43:33

Bonus tracks on 2000 remaster:
9. Shadows (Outtake) (3:38)
10. Love help me (Instrumental version) (3:29)
11. Help (Alternate take) (5:23) *
12. Hey Joe (BBC Top Gear session, 14 January 1969) (4:05) *
13. Hush (Live US TV, 1968) (3:53) *

* Previously unreleased

Line-up / Musicians

– Rod Evans / lead vocals
– Ritchie Blackmore / guitars
– Jon Lord / Hammond organ, backing vocals
– Nick Simper /bass, backing vocals
– Ian Paice / drums

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Grateful Dead: Anthem of the Sun

A day after the release of Shades of Deep Purple, Grateful Dead’s second album, Anthem of the Sun, was released on July 18, 1968.  Very different than their first album, which was mostly rock and roll and blues rock, this second album has more folk-rock, bluegrass,  psychedelic and progressive elements including a suite-like first track. Micky Hart’s addition to the band as their new percussionist appears to extend their boundaries as does their bold approach of mixing live and studio versions for the content of each track, focusing on achieving an overall aesthetic product that delineated the separate instruments but also achieved a sense of immediacy and freedom present in live shows. Throughout, there is an interesting mix of studio segments and additions with live material and improvised passages like the quote of Donovan’s “There is a Mountain” on side two’s “Alligator.”  Note that there are two versions of this album: the original mix from 1968 and a 1971 more commercial, and more commonly available, remix.  Released earlier this week, the 50th anniversary edition of Anthem of the Sun includes both the 1968 and 1971 mixes, remastered, on the first CD,  with additional live tracks from a 10/22/1967 concert at Winterland, San Francisco.

Track listing

Side one

#

Title

Length

1.

That’s It for the Other One” (Jerry GarciaBill KreutzmannPhil LeshRon McKernanBob WeirTom Constanten)

  • I. Cryptical Envelopment (Garcia)
  • II. Quadlibet for Tenderfeet (Garcia, Kreutzmann, Lesh, McKernan, Weir)
  • III. The Faster We Go, the Rounder We Get (Kreutzmann, Weir)
  • IV. We Leave the Castle (Constanten)

7:40

2.

“New Potato Caboose” (Lesh, Robert Petersen)

8:26

3.

Born Cross-Eyed” (Weir)

2:04

Side two

#

Title

Length

4.

“Alligator” (Lesh, McKernan, Robert Hunter)

11:20

5.

“Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks)” (Garcia, Kreutzmann, Lesh, McKernan, Weir)

9:37

Personnel

Grateful Dead

Additional personnel

Production

  • Grateful Dead – producers, arrangers
  • David Hassinger – producer
  • Dan Healy – executive engineer
  • Bob Matthews – assistant engineer

Fifty Year Friday: Tyrannosaurus Rex, Charles Tolliver, The Doors and more

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Tyrannosaurus Rex: My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair… But Now They’re Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows

After the collapse of John’s Children, Marc Bolan hastily formed a new group to play at the Electric Garden club in Convent Garden, London, interviewing band members just a few hours before it was time to go on stage.  The band was booed off, and Bolan dropped the bass and guitarist, keeping drummer, Steve Peregrin Took, and busking in the tube stations as an acoustic guitar and bongos duo, until, championed by famous DJ John Peel, they recorded their first album, which included John Peel reciting Marc Bolan’s prose on the last track of side two.

Released on July 5, 1968, Tyrannosaurus Rex’s debut album, My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair… But Now They’re Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows, starts off with a basic blues number, a composition from Marc Bolan’s earlier days, but still sung with an authenticity hearkening back to blues 78s from the 1920s.  It is after that point in the album, excepting another earlier song, “Mustang Ford”, that the duo of Bolan (assumed last name based on Bob Dylan) and Peregrin Took (yes, assumed last name from the novel, The Hobbit) embark on their own path, a concoction of folk, blues, and sidewalk musicianship that has an otherwordly, mystical flavor and just enough dissonance to make the music sparkle.

Give some credit, also, to producer Tony Viscounti, for capturing the general spontaneous and naturalness of the duo,  yet delivering a polished, finished product.  Viscounti had been working as an in-house producer for the Richmond Organization which produced music by the Weavers, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie,  Georgie Fame, and Anthony Newley as well  as other folk and jazz artists.  Just as one can hear some similarities with Anthony Newley on David Bowie’s first album, there are moments in this T. Rex album that are very much folk, with Viscounti working his magic to create a freshness, vitality and clarity to the music, keeping intact the beauty of the acoustic guitar through this wonderful album.

Track listing [from Wikipedia]

All tracks written by Marc Bolan.

Side A

No.

Title

Length

1.

“Hot Rod Mama”

3:09

2.

“Scenescof”

1:41

3.

“Child Star”

2:52

4.

“Strange Orchestras”

1:47

5.

“Chateau in Virginia Waters”

2:38

6.

“Dwarfish Trumpet Blues”

2:47

Side B

No.

Title

Length

1.

“Mustang Ford”

2:56

2.

“Afghan Woman”

1:59

3.

“Knight”

2:38

4.

“Graceful Fat Sheba”

1:28

5.

“Wielder of Words”

3:19

6.

“Frowning Atahuallpa (My Inca Love)”

5:55

Tyrannosaurus Rex

Also, John Peel, narration on “Frowning Atahuallpa (My Inca Love)”

 

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Charles Tolliver: Paper Man

Recorded on July 2, 1968, Charles Tolliver first album as a leader, Paper Man, seems to be one of those overlooked gems of jazz, not easily available today as a CD or LP, though accessible via Amazon streaming or downloadable from Amazon as mp3s.  Tolliver is supported by pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, drummer Joe Chambers and, for part of the album, altoist Gary Bartz.  Herbie Hancock is particularly inventive, providing diverse accompaniment and soloing, and Charles Tolliver sounds great!  The title track, perhaps intended for radio air play, is the most conservative, and potentially most commercial of the tracks and ends the album, with the first five tracks all being more adventurous and compelling.  The production quality of this album is very good for 1968, with clear definition of Joe Chambers’ excellent drum work on the left channel and Hancock acoustic piano on the right.  Well worth the effort to track this down, and an album that deserves repeated listening.

Track listing [from Wikipedia]

All compositions by Charles Tolliver

  1. “Earl’s World” – 4:23
  2. “Peace With Myself” – 9:37
  3. “Right Now” – 5:47
  4. “Household of Saud” – 6:06
  5. “Lil’s Paradise” – 7:05
  6. “Paper Man” – 6:11

Personnel

Waiting For The Sun

The Doors: Waiting For the Sun

Recorded mostly in the first five months of 1968 and released on July 3, 1968, this third Doors’ album continues along the same path as their second,  however with all but one of Morrison’s cache of original material previously recorded, Morrison and the band had to rush to come up with new music.  Initially, the were going to include a composite piece of earlier Morrison fragments (a version of this can be heard on side four of their live album released two years later), but for whatever reason this was abandoned.  The hit from this album “Hello, I Love You”, was written by Morrison a few years earlier, and was previously recorded in 1965 with an earlier version of the band named Rick & The Ravens. This 1968 version was promoted as the first rock single released in stereo, and it climbed to number one on the pop charts in both the U.S. and Canada.

The album is generally pretty good with Ray Manzarek’s keyboards and Robby Kreiger’s providing interest and substance.  For fans of West Coast jazz, Leroy Vinnegar plays bass on track “Spanish Caravan.”

Track listing [from Wikipedia]

All tracks written by The Doors (Jim MorrisonRay ManzarekRobby Krieger and John Densmore), except as stated.

Side A
No. Title Length
1. Hello, I Love You” (written by Morrison) 2:14
2. Love Street” (written by Morrison) 2:53
3. Not to Touch the Earth” (written by Morrison) 3:56
4. “Summer’s Almost Gone” (written by Morrison) 3:22
5. “Wintertime Love” 1:54
6. The Unknown Soldier 3:23
Side B
No. Title Length
7. “Spanish Caravan” 3:03
8. “My Wild Love” 3:01
9. We Could Be So Good Together 2:26
10. “Yes, the River Knows” (written by Krieger) 2:36
11. Five to One” (written by Morrison) 4:26

The Doors

Additional musicians

 

Southern Rock from Canada and California

Rock was a child of many parents including Rock and Roll — and Rock and Roll was mainly the child of rhythm and blues, but often with some country thrown in, absorbed, stolen, or otherwise incorporated. One permutation of the more traditional rock-and-roll and blues-based rock music family offshoots that had been influenced by country music was what would later be labelled Southern Rock.  In contrast the progressive exploration and aggressive, rebellious pushing of the envelope taking place in 1968, we see an opposite trend in Southern Rock: a more conservative approach to music generally using a limited set of chord progressions, reverting back to a more homophonic or chordal texture, with solo guitar lines providing a large portion of the musical contrast or musical interest.

Amazingly enough, two of the early commercially successful representatives of this style were a California band sounding as if they had come from Louisiana, and a Canadian band that had first provided backup in Toronto for Arkansas-born Ronnie Hawkins and then later served as Bob Dylan’s touring rock band.

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Credence Clearwater Revival: Credence Clearwater Revival

With their three youngest players, including John Fogerty, together since their junior high in Los Cerritos,California, and the fourth being John’s older brother, Tom, who they soon joined up with, the Blue Velvets, played basic rock and roll, eventually signing up with Fantasy Records in 1964, with the unfortunate name of The Golliwogs being thrust on them — which, thankfully, was changed to Credence Clearwater  Revival when Fantasy Records changed ownership.  1960’s rock and roll, blues, rhythm and blues, and country music all contributed components to their first album, titled after the name of the band.

And though this is not the type of music I turn cartwheels over, I have to admit it is pretty good. John Fogerty’s guitar solos are interesting, the production of the album provides clear distinction of the basic rock instruments of drums, bass, rhythm guitar and lead guitar, and music is well crafted and well performed.  The album provided three singles for airplay,  including”Suzie Q”, a “swamp-rock” classic originally recorded and co-written by Dale Hawkins in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1957.  The remaining tracks are also interesting, with the bass and rhythm guitar on the last track, “Walk on Water”, a remake from the earlier days as the Golliwogs, being particularly notable.

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The Band: Music from the Big Pink

It’s easy enough to forget how much bad music was on the AM airwaves in 1968.  When we ask a streaming music assistant like Alexa to play music from the 1968, the fare provided is generally some of the better music, the classic tracks, the music that has survived the more critical scrutiny that occurs over time, as opposed to some of the least palatable numbers that found their way to the charts and on to the portable turntables of some of the teenyboppers that had lesser developed musical tastes.  One of the many annoying singles in 1968, was “The Weight.”  Listening to this again in 2018, I still cringe, despite the high audio quality of the track on the Mobile Fidelity SACD release of The Band’s debut album, Music from the Big Pink.  Listening to the album as a whole,  I hear much that is good, but nothing that excites me musically.

I realize that this album is considered a true rock classic by many, and though I don’t deny its historical influence, I don’t particularly celebrate that influence either.  To my ear these songs seemed to have started with a sequence of chord changes,  fairly ordinary chord changes, on which lyrics where imposed with the melody derived from the meter of the lyrics and the underlying chords.  Or perhaps, the lyrics were written first in some cases, perhaps in the case with the three Dylan songs on this album, and the music was something provided to support the lyrics.  However, this was put together, it doesn’t strike me as carefully crafted final set of music and lyrics, but something produced from the output of a series of casual jam sessions consolidated into shorter songs.

That first CCR album and this first album by The Band, along with a few other albums of 1968, such as the August 1968 Byrds album, “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” and the two 1968 albums by Canned Heat, are early examples of country rock and more blues-based rock bands that would become more popular and prevalent in the 1970s, possibly as an alternative to the apparently less-accessible and more complex progressive rock that it would co-exist with.  One should also consider the influence of The Grateful Dead, Country Joe and the Fish, psychedelic rock, blues rock and hard rock on this genre.  As always, pasting labels on music is perhaps effective for display or marketing purposes, but does little to further the enjoyment or understanding of such music. Never let anyone else’s opinion of something influence your innate desire to explore the vast expanse and richness of music left to us by previous or current generations of composers and musicians.

 

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