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Fifty Year Friday: August 1970

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Carpenters: Close To You

As a fifteen-year old, discovering near-death-of-the-universe rock like King Crimson’s first album and exploring any other early progressive rock I could find on the FM radio, it doesn’t seem a bit surprising to me that I paid little attention to any of the songs from the consummately well-arranged, and impeccably performed second Carpenter’s album.  Sometime around the end of my freshman year, the single “Close To Me” started climbing its way to number one, incessantly played on AM radio, followed by “We’ve Only Just Begun” taking off shortly after the start of my Sophmore year.  Repeatedly exposed to the latter on the bus ride to and from school, I couldn’t help but love the clever harmonic modulations and upbeat vocals. Later when visiting my cousins in Oregon, I even listened to the whole album on their father’s stereo.

Now fifty years later, at the age of sixty-five, and with a wife who grew up listening to and loving the Carpenters, I feel not the least shame in admitting my appreciation for this album, particularly when played on fine audio equipment, so much better than the sound of the school bus whining speakers or my uncle’s console nominal stereo system. 

Born and raised in Connecticut, the Carpenters family moved to Downey, California in June 1963,  a few months before my family moved out of Downey to Orange County: Karen soon to start Downey High at the age of 14, with Richard eventually studying music at the relatively close state college in Long Beach.   When I later went to live in Downey a second time to shorten a commute to Los Angeles, I lived within walking distance of the pair of apartments named after those two hit singles from this second album, reminding me of how proud Downey was to have Richard and Karen Carpenter as their residents.

The first side, which includes both “Close to You” and “We’ve Only Just Begun” is the strongest side, but side two, with its original Richard Carpenter wistful ballad, “Crescent Noon”, is also worth repeated playing.  Throughout, Karen Carpenter’s voice is in top form with masterful shaping the phrasing and dynamics to support her lyrical interpretation.  I may not listen to this album often, but whenever I do, I am always glad I did.

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Stevie Wonder: Signed, Sealed & Delivered

Another one of my favorite vocalists from the seventies is Stevie Wonder, who continues his ascension to legend status with a transition album of sorts, as we see a balance between the interpretation of others’ music and including original compositions.  And though his composing still has a way to go, his vocals are consistently expressive and nuanced throughout the album.  And clearly, if there is a Stevie Wonder album from the 1970s you could omit from your collection with limited impact, this might be the one, it’s Wonder’s amazing vocals that would make you think twice about doing so.

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Moody Blues: Question of Balance

I still remember when I first heard “A Question of Balance” at my next door neighbors in late 1970 or early 1971 when one of their friends had loaned them this album.  It is haunting and delicate, caressing and comforting, each track gracefully blending into the other except, of course, for the last track on each side. And though not a concept album, like the earlier “Days of Future Passed”, it has a concept feel, each individual track contributing to a unified experience. There is a good balance between acoustic and electric, a variety of vocal and timbral hues, and though none of the songs are essential music or particularly memorable, this is part of what provides the strength and consistency of the album as a whole.

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Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention: Weasels Ripped My Flesh

Whereas A Question of Balance is notable for its consistency, Frank Zappa and the Mother’s of Invention is more a smorgasbord of exotic dishes. Pieced together (after the band’s initial 1969 breakup) from both studio “vault” recordings and live concert recordings, the album successfully captures the wide spectrum of capabilities of Zappa and his musicians showing off the group’s mastery of mixed meter, wild improvisation, rock-and-roll (Little Richard’s “Directly from My Heart to You”) and Zappa’s extensive range of musical theatrics.  Though my first exposure to this was before much awareness of contemporary “classical” music of the mid-twentieth century or the free jazz of the 1960s, in later life I can hear how those influences are incorporated and re-presented with a fresh and simultaneously affectionate and irreverent spin — and although music no longer has to spin, like LP’s, tape reels, and CDs once did, this music still can have its own place in a modern listener’s musical rotation.

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Beach Boys: Sunflower

I am generally so much more interested in music than lyrics, that I often forget the importance of lyrics in the musical experience.  Marginally good lyrics are usually enough to work for any strong song, and particularly effective or revelatory lyrics will carry even the weakest musical material.

Musically, Sunflower is pretty impressive, but lyrically it is generally weak, particularly on the first side of the album. It is not particularly surprising that when Reprise released “Add Some Music” as a single in February of 1970, that AM disc jockeys were not particularly enamored to repeatedly play it.  It’s always a challenge to write a song about music itself, and the lyrics fell short of the promise of the music.  That along with a prevalent perception of the Beach Boys as an artifact of the sixties contributed to the song not rising past the 64th spot, despite Reprise pushing the single with retailers, which although resulted in it being the fastest selling single for the label, was just not enough. When the album was released later that year on August 31,  without exposure from AM radio for any given song, and without the album being deemed appropriately alternative or progressive enough by FM rock stations to get much airplay there, the demand was weak, and the sales were the worst for any Beach Boys album up to that time.   Good quality music was just not enough: without more relevant lyrics, less conventional material, or a more modern image for the group (which had even considered changing their name for that reason), the album was doomed to fail, and so it did, commercially.

Getting back to the balance between music and lyrics: the amazing thing about even weak lyrics is that eventually one accepts them if the music is good enough.  That is the case for side one of this album. Side two provides better lyrics, most touching upon unrequited love or ended relationships — and includes some of the best music of the album, with some strong contribution by Brian Wilson.   Perhaps lyrically, the most successful is the last song “Cool, Cool Water” since the door is left open to interpreting them past their face value, but one could argue that is a bit of a stretch.  All in all, this is not Robert Frost or Emily Dickenson (or Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchel or Leonard Cohen) and though the music is not in the same neighborhood as the last of the Beatles, or newer groups like King Crimson or Yes, it is delightful and bubbling, crisply fresh, and generally satisfying.

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Eric Clapton: Eric Clapton

Released on August 16, 1970, Eric Clapton first solo album provides a variety of well-performed and well-written music, including a commercially succesful version of J.J. Cales “After Midnight.”   Artists on the album include Delaney and Bonnie, Leon Russell, Rita Coolidge,  and Stephen Stills who provides a guitar solo on “Let It Rain.”

The album shows off Eric Clapton skills as a songwriter with the beautiful heartfelt ballad, “Easy Now” of particular note.  If you are checking out this album for the first time since the 1970s, then the version to listen to is the 2006 Deluxe Edition which has the mix provided on the original album and an earlier Delaney mix as well as the original version of “Let it Rain”, different musically and with a different, perhaps more sexually-implicit set of lyrics, of a nature akin to those in “Easy Now.” The Deluxe album also includes a B-side of a Delaney and Bonnie (with Eric Clapton) single, “Groupie (Superstar)” which was later covered by the Carpenters as “Superstar”, and from the Delaney set of mixes, a more lively mix of “After Midnight” which from the opening brings in the horns that were somehow lost in the original mix.

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Hawkwind: Hawkwind

It seems that starting in 1970, the most interesting album covers were a reliable indication of the most interesting bands.  And so it was in 1971, having started to learn about this correlation, that I spotted this above Hawkwind album with its sci-fi cover as the outermost album calling for my attention in the used bin of our local record store.  I picked it up, flipped it over, and found the back side as intriguing.  The fact of it having a song divided into a Part One and Part Two as well as other interesting looking content seemed to support taking a chance on a $1.99 price sticker and so I did — and so I had one of the earliest space rock albums, early on in the genre of space rock.

Although the first track is more traditional, things begin to get eerily spacey with the second track, which sounds like the background music to a suspenseful science fiction scene. This is followed by the repetitious “Be Yourself” which further establishes the space rock qualities of the album, and distinguishes its sound pallete and sound architecture from the closely-related contemporaneous post-sixties psychedelic rock genre.  “Paranoia Part One” is a simple repeated riff, similar to the “We Need Him Crucified” motif from the album Jesus Christ Superstar that was released a month or so later, and which dissolves with a sound mimicking the progressively slowing speed of a stopping turntable platter, and quite effectively, as I still vividly remember the surprise from almost fifty years ago that first time I heard this end of side one sound effect.

SIde Two continues with part two of Paranoid and a transformation of the original six note motif to one note, then two, replaced with the original six notes reclaiming their initial contour, slowing down again, but with no turntable ending sound effect.  The next track, “Bring It On Home”, lasting for 10:48 provides additional space-rock material and is followed by the more accessible “Mirror of Illusion”, providing symmetry to the album’s opening number.  One of the features of the best space rock is the sense of architecture and direction to the music, successfully pulled off here between the more traditional starting and ending tracks.  For many fans this first Hawkwind album is their best.

Fifty Year Friday: July 2020

July of 1970 continues the 1970 theme of musical diversity with progressive rock, hard rock, blues rock, country rock, funk, folk-rock,  jazz-based rock, and even early punk rock! Traffic 1

Traffic: John Barleycorn Must Die

With the July 1, 1970 release of John Barleycorn Must Die, Traffic provides an excellent jazz-based partly progressive rock album with the first side being particularly strong.  Having disbanded in 1968, with Steve Winwood and Dave Mason pursuing their individual musical interests, the band reformed without Dave Mason for this Winwood-dominated album.  Highlights include the upbeat jazzy instrumental “Glad”, “Freedom Riders”, the progressive English rock styled “Empty Pages” and the wonderfully arranged and executed acoustic-folk “John Barleycorn.”  One of the finest albums of 1970.

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Dave Mason: Alone Together

Dave Mason, formerly of Traffic, released “Alone Together”, named for this being a solo album with support from numerous fine musicians including Leon Russell, Rita Coolidge, Jim Keltner and Traffic drummer Jim Capaldi.  The album is all original material (all from Dave Mason with some collaboration with Capaldi on the last track) with leading towards country and folk rock.  Highlights include the song “Couldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave” and the 2/4 ballad with its 3/4 verse “World in Changes’, the dreamy “Sad and Deep As You”

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Fairport Convention: Full House

Fairport Convention, now without Sandy Denny releases their fifth folk-rock, Full House, the first with only male vocals.  Half of the album’s eight tracks are originals with three well-arranged traditional numbers. “Dirty Linen” bounds into progressive rock territory as, to a lesser extent does the more traditional  “Flatback Caper.”  “Sloth” is also notable for its change of moods and styles, its epic tone condensed into a little over nine minutes, and Dave Swarbrick’s (violin) and Richard Thompson’s (guitar) virtuosic soloing.

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Supertramp: Supertramp

Supertramp releases their self-titled debut album, on July 14, 1970, an early progressive rock album with a hint of pop sensibility and emphasis on beautiful melodies, similar in some ways to the second and third Genesis albums released later that year and in 1971.  Despite the music being instantly appealing and the generally high quality of the compositions, this first Supertramp album was not initially released in the U.S. and garnered limited sales in the U.K.  Recommended for fans of early progressive rock, but maybe not for fans of the more famous Supertramp albums.

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Firesign Theatre: Don’t Crush  That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers

Firesign Theater started the on-air antics in 1966 on the L.A. radio station, KPFK-FM, on the far left side of the dial. KPFK-FM was based in North Hollywood and its signal (when being listened to in North Orange County, where I lived) was generally weak.  A station with an interesting history (license withheld in 1962 for an investigation into possible affiliation with the Communistic Party and being closely associated with the first Renaissance Fair in 1963 which raised funds for the station) it was a great place to hear a variety of music. Despite its unreliable and never totally acceptable reception, this was one of my favorite radio stations from the late sixties through the mid-seventies, listening to album rock, folk music,  and comedy often through a curtain of varying levels of static and sometimes intruding signals from neighboring stations.

Soon after their initial appearances on KPFK’s radio “Radio Free Oz”,  Firesign Theater was signed in 1967 to Columbia records releasing their first spoken comedy album in 1968, Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him, followed by How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You’re Not Anywhere at All in 1969.  Soon my two of my friends from my neighborhood would imitate and quote lines from their first four albums, of which the third, Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers, was released on July 22, 1970.  The title slyly refers to the admonition of not crushing the last bit of a marijuana cigarette but using the roach clip — with the narrative of the album centered around their character, George Tirebiter, and his watching of late night TV. The band, or comedy troupe if you prefer, studied the production techniques of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and effectively applied them to Don’t Crush That Dwarf taking advantage of the binaural soundstage available for a stereo LP.

Though the album is ultimately more style than substance, it is often considered their best album, and their fast-paced, ironic delivery and influence on other comedy groups earned Firesign Theatre the nickname, “The Beatles of Comedy.”

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Yes: Time and a Word

Though not without flaws, the gem of July 1970, was Yes’s Time and a Word, receiving as low of a rating by allmusic.com as any in this post with only two of five possible stars.  Yes was still in formation mode, with Peter Banks yet to be replaced by Steve Howe due to Banks’ tendency to improvise not only in concert but during studio rehearsals and sessions, shying away from playing a complete set-in-stone repeatable, memorized part — clearly, this improvisation mindset was acceptable for psychedelic rock or many proto-prog bands, but not what Jon Anderson envisioned as something that would align with a tightly-organized, critically composed set of material.

The group, against Banks’ and Tony Kaye’s preference, incorporated orchestration into this album, significantly reducing both Banks and Kaye’s contributions.  The orchestration, judiciously used, usually works, particularly on the two covers, the first of which is Richie Haven’s “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed” which opens dynamically with Kaye’s Hammond organ quickly followed by driving strings giving way to the full band and includes orchestration on the theme of the movie “Big Country” that is used prior to a return to the beginning material, followed by a snippet of musical development and then the return of the main material. The second cover track is Stephen Stills ‘Everydays” which opens up with bluesy organ and a dash of strings, with a thoughtful wistful treatment that includes pizzicato strings and a hard rock section showcasing Peter Banks on guitar and, Tony Kaye on organ, some orchestra contributions, and a brief, but well-integrated reference to Bach’s “Jesu.Joy of Man’s Desiring” from Banks.

The original material works well, even with intonation issues from the strings and Jon Anderson on “Clear Days.”  “Then” and “Astral Traveller” solidly stand out as does the bass work of Chris Squire which is mixed so that it stands out palpably throughout the album.  One may notice the similarity of some of the instrumental episodes to what we will hear later in Peter Banks’ next group, Flash, as well in later Yes albums.  Though those later Yes albums, at least the next three, would be notably superior to this one, any prog-rock fan would be remiss not to have heard Time and a Word on a good audio system, multiple times.

Credence Clearwater Revival: Cosmo’s Factory

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CCR hits their commercial and musical peak with the release of their fifth album, ‘Cosmo’s Factory”, the title a reference to drummer Doug “Cosmo” Clifford’s name for the warehouse they practiced regularly at, like workers working in a factory. The album has some fine originals by John Fogerty and some rock and roll covers all adding up to an album grown from American roots.  I remember visiting my cousins once in the early seventies and when my older of the two cousins mentioned she was going to purchase a new album or two, her dad sympathetically entreated her for “no more Credence Clearwater” and the daughter readily, and actually most heartily, agreed. Perhaps she was tired of them, or perhaps having this album in her collection she really didn’t need any of their later albums.

For me, this is not the type of music I am particularly attracted to, though I admire the passion of the playing on this album and the craftsmanship of the original numbers, particularly the four hits on this album, “Travelin’ Band”, the evocative, plaintive, “Who’ll Stop the Rain”, “Up Around the Bend”, and “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” as well as their rendition of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” which also received ample airplay in an abbreviated single version. If you want true American rock, or more specifically earthy, swamp rock, or an album that reflects the shift that many late sixties bands took away from psychedelic influences towards blues, rock and roll roots and country-rock, this album, reaching number one on US, Canada and UK charts almost half a century ago, and generally highly rated by traditional rock critics, certainly would be a good place to start.

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Osmium and other albums released in July 1970

In other music, George Clinton and associates release two unconventional albums in July 1970. The first is the Parliaments’ debut, “Osmium”, brimming with a variety of musical styles centered around a foundational psychedelic soul sound with a healthy sprinkling of humor.  George Clinton and Ruth Copeland provide most of the musical material. highlights include Ruth Copeland’s “The Silent Boatman”, use of bagpipes, and a cover of Phil Trim’s original “Oh Lord, Why Lord” for the Spanish rock group Los-Pop Tops, which is possibly the first pop song to be based on Pachelbel’s canon. The second album is Funkadelic’s “Free Your Mind … And Your Ass Will Follow”, which is even more adventurous, rich in funk and psychedelic rock elements with some solid guitar work and no scarcity of imagination or creativity.

Also included in the July 1970 releases is another early punk album by Iggy Pop and The Stooges, “Fun House”, exhibiting something closer to musicianship than their first effort. Humble Pie provides a solid album with the third album, Humble Pie, with album cover by Aubrey Beardsley.  Spooky Tooth release The Last Puff which was for a while seemed like their last album until Mike Harrison reformed the group in 1973 with all new band members, except himself.  Perhaps the best-known track from this album is their cover of John Lennon’s “I Am the Walrus” handled similarly to the better known Joe Cocker treatment of “A Little Help From My Friends.”

 

 

 

 

 

Fifty Year Friday: Thanks and apologies

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First my apologies for last week’s post which was posted half-finished.  I thought I had scheduled it for late Friday, but discovered the incomplete post was published  Friday morning.  It must have read like I was on hallucinogenic drugs!

More importantly thank you for continuing to visit this blog.  It has been very busy for me lately, and I am sure the quality of the writing has suffered as I have such a short window to write and proofread.  Thanks for continuing to visit and read. I welcome any suggestions on improving these posts given the limited time I have right now to write them.

Will eventually delete this post after a few weeks or more, but will certainly take any comments about improving this blog to heart.

Fifty Year Friday:King Crimson, Arzachel, Zappa, Kinks, Carpenters, Moondog

” When you want to hear where music is going in the future, you put on a King Crimson album.”  – Bill Bruford, 1995

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King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King

There is no album that I quite look back on with the same pride of purchasing as King Crimson’s “In the Court of the Crimson King.” None of my friends had previously ever heard of the band and many of them were seriously impressed when they listened to it on my dad’s stereo or even on a cassette copy I made for them. Quite simply there was no other music available that was even remotely similar to the sound of this first Crimson album.

Released on October 10, 1969 (and purchased by me about a year later in 1970), some may debate if this was or was not the very first progressive rock album chronologically, but in my mind, it’s the first in terms of overall rank and importance.  It incorporated jazz and hard rock elements into a refinement of the hard rock, soft rock and psychedelic rock music that had been available prior to October 1969.

The album opens up with “21st Century Schizoid Man” — and it sounded back in those very early seventies as if the music did belong to the 21st Century.  I had never heard any rock harder edged than this — music that makes Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith easy listening or  adult contemporary.

The contrast between the psychotically intense “21st Century Schizoid Man” and the languidly melodic, cool and relaxed “I Talk to the Wind” that follows, with its beautiful flute accompaniment, is comparable, yet different in scale, to the contrasting nature of the opening Sonata Allegro movement of a classical symphony and the following Adagio or Andante.  “Epitaph” which then contrasts effectively with the second track, successfully concludes the first side of the LP.

The second side seems to start afresh, with the soft and sensuous “Moonchild” which, to a musically uneducated fifteen year old (such as I was when I bought the album) sounded like undisciplined musical “noodling” to fill in some time on the second side.  When I recorded it on tape or cassette, I would leave this instrumental section out.  Today, I can listen to this “jam” section and now relate why there was a reference to “Surrey With The Fringe on Top” (that this was jazz influenced if not directly inspired by Miles Davis and John Coltrane) as well as enjoy this music as a listening experience.  Would the album had been better off with a strong composition replacing this jam section? — I still think so today, though not as strongly as I did when a freshman in high school.  That said, all is forgiven with the return of the original melody and then the beginning of the classic title song that ends the album as effectively as a final movement of a symphonic work. Taken together, “21st Century Schizoid Man” and the closing “In the Court of the Crimson King” even without anything in between, made this album a masterpiece — with the other material being subordinate to the first and final track much like the inner movements in a classical era (Haydn, Mozart, early Beethoven) symphony.  Despite its influence on other later bands and their music, and the evolution of rock  over the years, the album still sounds fresh and original, and much like long-lasting love,  remains wonderful, relevant and something to be particularly thankful for.

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Arzarchel: Arzarchel

Arzarchel was an alternate name for Uriel, before Uriel became Egg, a name change brought about be record executives discomfort with the phonetic quality of the name of Uriel, and to hide the identity of Uriel/Egg which had now signed with Decca but had the opportunity to record for the much smaller Zackariya Enterprises.  The album, recorded in June 1969 and released sometime later in 1969, not only renamed the band, but the band members: Simon Sasparella, Njerogi Gategaka, Basil Dowling and Sam Lee-Uff were the unusual names credited in place of the actual artists — guitarist and vocalist Steve Hillage, bassist and vocalist Mont Campbell,  drummer Clive Brooks, and keyboardist Dave Stewart.  Hillage, only 17, had left Uriel for college, but was up for the one-day recording session that may have started as a bit of a lark, bit ended up as a quality album.

Though mostly psychedelic, there are elements of heavy metal and progressive rock that intertwine with the psychedelia to make this album a mix of the past, present and future.  Dave Stewart was familiar with The Nice and this is evident in various aspects of the album as well as some apparent familiarity with Pink Floyd.  The album starts off strong with the “Garden Of Earthly Delights”, followed by “Azathoth” and then the excellent instrumental, “Queen St.Gang.”  “Leg” is blues-based heavy metal tracks somewhat anticipating the sound of Black Sabbath despite the vast differences in Hillage’s vocal delivery and Ozzy Osbourne’s and the general musical approach, and raised to a level well above the ordinary with Hillage’s guitar work.

Side two has two long songs, “Clean Innocent Fun”, another blues-based number that provides an appropriate platform for organ and guitar, and “Metempsychosis” with its space rock ambiance.  Now on CD, this is more than just an album for Steve Hillage and Dave Stewart fans, but anyone wishing to experience psychedelic rock at its apex.

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Frank Zappa: Hot Rats

Recorded in July and August of 1969 and released on October 10, 1969, Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats is an amazing mix of classical, jazz and rock elements.  Only reaching #173 on the US album charts (compare this to #30 for We’re Only In This for the Money), the album did much better in the UK climbing to the #9 spot and apparently influencing musicians in both the UK and Europe.  Notable is the use of overdubs of sped up instruments — Zappa plays some bass lines, for example, which then are mixed in at double speed.  The same is true of for some of Ian Underwood’s wind passages. When I first heard “Peaches and Regalia” I thought it included a synthesizer, but no — this is Underwood on sax at double speed.

I first heard the Hot Rats album around 1970 or 1971, seeing it at my local public lending library, checking it out and then recording it to reel to reel to play repeatedly.  I had heard quite a sampling of Zappa and his Mothers of Invention albums at my cousin’s apartment in the summer of 1969, and so expected much of the same, but was blown away by the general consistency and quality of the album, an album exhibiting what I considered to be greater control and seriousness. To this day, this is my favorite Zappa album.  I never get tired of the first track “Peaches and Regalia”.  This was also my first introduction to Jean Luc Ponty who plays on the very last track, “This Must Be a Camel.”

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The Kinks: Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)

On October 16, the Kinks, not deterred by the lack of commercial success of their critically acclaimed The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society, release another impressive concept album, “Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire.)” Long time and original Kinks bassist Peter Quaife, who had left to start Mapleoak, was replaced by John Dalton, who had filled in previously for Quaife after Quaife’s auto accident in June 1966.

The first track, “Victoria” provides an narrative context for the album.  Though the strength of the album is more in the lyrics than the music, Ray Davies certainly is adept at crafting tunes that work with those lyrics.  The music in Victoria provides a dramatic opening, with the straightforward dominant and tonic based chorus and the melodic handling of “Victoria” — rising, falling, rising, falling, rising falling, rising falling.  The lyrics provides the social setting and establishes the time effectively — at the beginning of the 20th century, after the Victorian era.

It’s quite impressive how the narrative is put together from each individual track and how the nature of each track builds up that narrative.  After providing context for the social environment, the second song drills down to the nature of that social, class-based, order at the personal level: “Yes, Sir, No, Sir.”  The third song, “Some Mother’s Song” switches to the bleakness of World War I, where Arthur loses his brother.  This followed by “Driving”, an optimistic song capturing the magic of the family outing. The album continues with songs like “Brainwashed” which comments on the oppression of the working class and their acceptance of their place, “Australia” which sounds like a promotional jingle (“Australia, the chance of a lifetime; Australia, you get what you work for”), the classic Ray Davies’ bleak ballad, “Shangri-la”, and “Mr. Churchill” which takes us into World War II.  The sharp irony of “She’s Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina” takes us into the post WWII era of consumption. “Sweet and Innocence” covers the reflective nostalgia of older age. The torch is handed to the younger generation in “Nothing to Say” which mirrors the thoughts of both Arthur and his son. The album ends with “Arthur”, an epilogue summarizing Arthur’s life.

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The Carpenters: Offering

Richard and Karen Carpenter release their first album, Offering on October 9, 1969.  The first and last tracks are the most impressive, showcasing their a capella capabilities via overdubs and Richard Carpenters solid compositional techniques.  The album also includes a fine arrangement and rendition of “Ticket To Ride” with solid vocals and interpretation from Karen Carpenter.  Being born in Downey, California, I had more affection for The Carpenters than the typical prog rock fan, but that aside, one also has to acknowledge that Karen was one of the best pop vocalists of her era.

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Moondog: Moondog

Moondog deserves a special place in musical history for both the quality of his music and as the progenitor of the minimalist movement.  His compositions transcended any single genre, bringing together classical, jazz, world/folk, pop and animated soundtrack elements into his music.  Philip Glass has written that both he and Steve Reich took Moondog’s music “very seriously and understood and appreciated it much more than what we were exposed to at Juilliard”.

Moondog released a number of 78s, than 45s and EPs of his music in the 1950s followed by several LPs including three on the Prestige label and a set of songs for children for Capitol records featuring then Broadway My Fair Lady star, Julie Andrews. Over a decade transpired before his next album, simply titled “Moondog” and produced by Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears producer James William Guercio, was released in 1969.

The combination of fine musicians and quality compositions results in music that really is more relevant, dynamic, alive, exciting and much more part of its time than anything written by the famous “academic” classical composers of the fifties and sixties. There is a variety of styles — but all of it quite distinct from other music of 1969 or earlier — some of the compositions use imitative counterpoint, some have traces of romantic, impressionism, renaissance and baroque styles and much of the compositions use what we would later identify as minimalist-repetition — one can hear the DNA that would soon be found in much of Philip Glass’s works and some of John Adams’s material.   Clearly, this music deserves much more study and listening than it gets today — for it is true mid-twentieth century music representing the vibrancy of the late 1940s up through 1969!

Fifty Year Friday: Extrapolation, More, Audience

 

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John McLaughlin: Extrapolation

Recorded on January 18, 1969 and released later that year, this very well could be the first true fusion album.  The electric guitar of one of the finest electric guitarists in the generation after Grant Green and Jim Hall (how is it John McLaughlin is listed only at 68 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists list and Grant Green and Jim Hall are not on the list?) is featured prominently and emphatically throughout along with English sax jazz musician, John Surman, who incorporates his free-jazz experience seamlessly within the scope of the album’s intent.

The first composition is the Thelonious Monk sounding “Extrapolation”, setting the tone for a dynamic, musically extroverted album. Each track runs into the next, except for the side change (originally on LP, of course), creating a greater sense of mood and material continuity. The last track showcases a solo, acoustic McLaughlin, bringing a sometimes wild, but always musically accessible, stellar, and leading-edge jazz album to a thoughtful conclusion.

Album is produced by Georgian/Swiss/Italian/UK producer Giorgio Gomelsky, who also had produced and managed the Yardbirds and later worked with The Soft Machine, Gong, Magma, Bill Laswell and Laswell’s band, Material, and one of my favorite groups, Henry Cow. Album is engineered by Eddie Offord who later engineered the first four ELP albums and co-produced and engineered several of the Yes albums.

Track listing [From Wikipedia]

All tracks written by John McLaughlin.

Title Length
1. “Extrapolation” 2:57
2. “It’s Funny” 4:25
3. “Arjen’s Bag” 4:25
4. “Pete the Poet” 5:00
5. “This Is for Us to Share” 3:30
6. “Spectrum” 2:45
7. “Binky’s Beam” 7:05
8. “Really You Know” 4:25
9. “Two for Two” 3:35
10. “Peace Piece” 1:50

Personnel

  • John McLaughlin – guitar
  • John Surman – baritone and soprano saxophones
  • Brian Odgers – double bass
  • Tony Oxley – drums

Pink-Floyd-More

Pink Floyd: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack from the film More

Pink Floyd’s first full album after Syd Barret was a movie soundtrack, More, recorded from January to May 1969, and released in the UK on June 13, 1967, a couple of weeks after the premiere of the movie More.  Though the music is meant to support the movie, and is a collection of basically unrelated tracks with a significant breadth of musical variety, the album holds together nicely, like a well-conceived sampler LP.

The music ranges from the dreamy “Cirrus Minor”, to the eerily pre-grunge-rock track, “The Nile Song”, to the exquisitely harmonically and melodically simple “Crying Song” to music that anticipates space rock and Kraut Rock. This is virtually a catalog of some of the adventurous musical styles that would become popular in the coming years.  Not hard to imagine why this is many listeners favorite Pink Floyd album.  It is hard to imagine why Allmusic.com gives this two and a half stars or Rolling Stone Album Guide gives it two stars.   More is more than just a movie soundtrack, it is an instruction manual of future musical styles.

Track listing [From Wikipedia]

Side one

#

Title

Writer(s)

Length

1.

Cirrus Minor Waters

5:18

2.

The Nile Song Waters

3:26

3.

Crying Song Waters

3:33

4.

Up the Khyber” (instrumental) Mason, Wright

2:12

5.

Green Is the Colour Waters

2:58

6.

Cymbaline Waters

4:50

7.

Party Sequence” (instrumental) Waters, Wright, Gilmour, Mason

1:07

Total length:

23:24

Side two

#

Title

Writer(s)

Length

1.

Main Theme” (instrumental) Waters, Wright, Gilmour, Mason

5:27

2.

Ibiza Bar Waters, Wright, Gilmour, Mason

3:19

3.

More Blues” (instrumental) Waters, Wright, Gilmour, Mason

2:12

4.

Quicksilver” (instrumental) Waters, Wright, Gilmour, Mason

7:13

5.

A Spanish Piece Gilmour

1:05

6.

Dramatic Theme” (instrumental) Waters, Wright, Gilmour, Mason

2:15

Total length:

21:32

Pink Floyd

Additional personnel
  • Lindy Mason – tin whistle (5, 7)

 

AudienceAudience (2)

Audience: Audience

Audience recorded and released their first album in 1969, though it is not easy to find out exactly when. The band formed in 1969 and within weeks after their first rehearsal they had a record deal with Polydor and were playing at the famous Ronnie Scott’s in Soho, London, also site of the 1969 premiere of the Who’s Tommy.  Polydor, though quick to sign the band, was not so efficient at promoting them or their album.  The album had insignificant sales, not helped by the puzzling album cover, a dim negative of the band members, and shortly after its release was discontinued.  Meanwhile during live performances, the band drew critical praise for their performances and material, and soon, while the backup touring band for Led Zeppelin, was signed to the Charisma label.

The first two songs on this album are unquestionably progressive rock.  The tracks that follow, though more traditional rock, are still catchy and showcased the nylon-stringed acoustic-electric (fitted with an electric pickup) classical guitar  of Howard Werth and the sax, clarinet and flute of Keith Gemmel, the latter using echo and wah-wah pedal to fill in some of the role of the traditional rock guitar.  The album is worth listening to more than once, and the musicianship and arrangements are very good.

Track listing [From Wikipedia]

Unless noted, all tracks credited to Werth, Williams.[2]

Side one

  1. “Banquet” – 3:47
  2. “Poet” – 3:05
  3. “Waverley Stage Coach” (Williams) – 2:59
  4. “Riverboat Queen” – 2:57
  5. “Harlequin” – 2:35
  6. “Heaven Was an Island” – 4:18

Side two

  1. “Too Late I’m Gone” – 2:37
  2. “Maidens Cry” (Gemmell, Richardson, Werth, Williams)- 4:47
  3. “Pleasant Convalescence” – (Gemmell, Werth) – 2:30
  4. “Leave It Unsaid”
  5. “Man On Box” (Gemmell, Werth) 
  6. “House On The Hill”

Audience

 

Fifty Year Friday: Crosby, Stills and Nash

CSN 1

The first generally-recognized rock “supergroup” was the blues-leaning Cream with Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker.  Prior to that, Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Stevie Winwood had formed Powerhouse, originally to have included Ginger Baker, but with only an output of three songs, and with two lesser-known members, Powerhouse could hardly have been considered the first supergroup. When Cream formed, Eric Clapton was already considered an established guitarist, Jack Bruce had survived the Graham Bond Organisation and made a name for himself in Manfred Mann, and Ginger Baker had established his credentials as a skilled drummer in the Graham Bond Organisation before founding Cream in 1966.

The second rock supergroup was formed during the initial stages of the inevitable rise of country-rock and country-folk-rock by three talented and recently “released” artists: David Crosby, was given the boot by the Byrds, mainly due to Crosby’s vision of the direction the Byrds should take not aligning with Roger McGuinn’s and Chris Hillman’s views, Stephen Stills was now free with the break-up of the Buffalo Springfield, and Graham Nash was now seeking new opportunities — Nash, the effective leader of the Hollies, had grown dissatisfied with the Hollie’s aggressive touring schedule and was also no longer interested in having to navigate the gap between Nash’s more creative and musically adventurous aspirations and the other Hollies’ members tendency towards more traditionally pop-oriented music.

Story goes that at a party in July 1968, either at Mama Cass’s or Judy Collin’s home, Nash had asked Stills and Crosby to sing Stills’ “You Don’t Have To Cry” and at some point Nash joined in, harmonizing on the spot.  The three then realized that had something, and soon determined to form a group — but not a group that would continue without any of them — and so they determined the best way to equate the group with the founding members was to name that group after those founding members: “Crosby, Stills and Nash.”

The trio reached out to the management team of Elliot Roberts and David Geffen who signed them with Atlantic, which then had to basically work out a trade for Graham Nash, sending  Richie Furay and his new band Poco to Epic.  (Note that Poco fit nicely into the rising popularity of country rock, releasing their first album, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, on May 19, 1968, only ten days before the release of Crosby, Stills and Nash. I ran out of time last week to review, but for those that like country-rock, this is a very solid country-rock album.)

Recorded in February and March of 1969, and released on May 29, 1969, Crosby, Stills and Nash album became almost instantly popular, with “Marrakesh Express”, a song Nash originally intended for the Hollies, getting airplay on AM radios in the middle of July, eventually reaching number 28 spot, soon followed by Suite Judy Blue Eyes peaking at number 21.  FM radio stations embraced the entire album, playing a number of the other fine tracks.

Excellency is really the hallmark of this album. Even if someone is not a fan of folk-rock, the effervescent and transparent blend of vocals and acoustic guitar work has to resonate with even the most selective of listeners.  If somehow you missed growing up with this classic album, or have otherwise not heard it, seek it out, for it is one of the most enjoyable country-folk rock albums ever recorded, so much so that I include this as another valid entry in my list of non-progressive-rock progressive rock albums!

Track listing [From Wikipedia]

Side one

#

Title

Writer(s)

Lead vocals

Length

1.

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes Stephen Stills Stills

7:25

2.

Marrakesh Express Graham Nash Nash

2:39

3.

Guinnevere David Crosby Crosby with Nash

4:40

4.

“You Don’t Have to Cry” Stephen Stills Stills with Crosby & Nash

2:45

5.

“Pre-Road Downs” Graham Nash Nash

2:56

Side two

#

Title

Writer(s)

Lead vocals

Length

1.

Wooden Ships Crosby, Paul Kantner, Stills Crosby with Stills

5:29

2.

Lady of the Island Graham Nash Nash

2:39

3.

Helplessly Hoping Stephen Stills Stills with Crosby & Nash

2:41

4.

“Long Time Gone” David Crosby Crosby with Stills

4:17

5.

“49 Bye-Byes” Stephen Stills Stills

5:16

 

Personnel 

Fifty Year Friday: Joni Mitchell, Clouds; Sly & The Family Stone, Stand!

Joni Mitchell Clouds

Released on May 1, 1969, Clouds, is the second album from singer/songwriter extraordinaire, Joni Mitchel.

With impressive blend of strong songs including the likes of “Chelsea Morning”, “I Don’t Know Where I Stand”,  the musically radiant ‘Songs of Aging Children Come” and the lyrically emotive “Both Sides, Now”,  Clouds is one of those classic albums that appeals to casual and thoughtful listeners alike.   By the middle of the 1970s, it seemed as if almost every baby boomer young woman between 18 and 25 had a copy.  The acoustic guitar work sparkles, and the lyrics range from solid to perfection.  To this very day, I consider “Both Sides Now” to be one of the best examples of simple, accessible, and straightforward,  yet significantly meaningful, lyrics seamlessly blended with the equivalent level of music into one of the most memorable pop songs ever.  What are some of your favorites from this album?

Track listing [from Wikipedia]

All tracks written by Joni Mitchell.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. “Tin Angel” 4:09
2. Chelsea Morning 2:35
3. “I Don’t Know Where I Stand” 3:13
4. “That Song About the Midway” 4:38
5. “Roses Blue” 3:52
Side two
No. Title Length
1. “The Gallery” 4:12
2. “I Think I Understand” 4:28
3. “Songs to Aging Children Come” 3:10
4. The Fiddle and the Drum 2:50
5. Both Sides, Now 4:32

Musicians

 

stand1

Everything came together for Sly Stone and his group in the all-out, upbeat, funkadelic Stand! album, released on May 3, 1969. Sly Stone scores big musically and lyrically including the most funky music recorded up to that point in time and a relevant social consciousness befitting a late sixties album.

Track listing [From Wikipedia]

All songs written, produced and arranged by Sly Stone for Stone Flower Productions.

Side One

  1. Stand!” – 3:08
  2. “Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey” – 5:58
  3. I Want to Take You Higher” – 5:22
  4. “Somebody’s Watching You” – 3:20
  5. Sing a Simple Song” – 3:56

Side Two

  1. Everyday People” – 2:21
  2. “Sex Machine” – 13:45
  3. “You Can Make It If You Try” – 3:37

Sly and the Family Stone

Fifty Year Friday: The Pretty Things, S.F. Sorrow; Led Zeppelin

s.f.-sorrow-front

Pretty Things: S.F. Sorrow

Recorded from November 1967 to September 1968 in Abbey Road Studios, The Pretty Thing’s S.F. Sorrow, initially largely ignored but now generally considered a classic, was released in the UK in December 1968, and then not released in the U.S. until the middle of 1969.  Panned by the Rolling Stone’s Lester Bangs as an “ultra-pretentious” concept album, the album received limited attention for years. Its poor reception and lack of sales precipitated founder and lead guitarist into leaving the band for a period of nearly a decade.

There seems to be many contributing factors to the album’s commercial failure: the lack of promotion, the late release of the album in the States (coming out after, rather than before, The Who’s superior, more opera-like concept album, Tommy), bad reviews, and the dark, despondent subject matter, allegorical and tragic, with its primary character named Sebastian Sorrow.  Also, heavily influenced by the Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers and “Fool on the Hill”,  its musical language is that of the psychedelic rock of late 1967 and 1968, now losing much of its mass popularity.  By the time of the album’s release, the major proponents, adherents, and imitators of psychedelic rock were moving on to hard rock, progressive rock, or heavy metal.  These and other reasons caused the album to be pretty much ignored until reissued by Edsel records in the late 1980s on vinyl and then on CD in the early 1990s.

I purchased a S.F. Sorrow CD around 1992 and set it aside for some time, coming back to it recently, taking the time to appreciate what it had to offer and its historical significance — not so important as an early concept album — remember Nirvana’s 1967 album as well as other concept albums, including Sgt. Peppers, Days of Future Passed, and The Who Sell Out preceding it — but as one of the last carefully-crafted psychedelic albums of the sixties — and one that looks forward towards hard rock, progressive rock, and heavy metal — three of the most prevailing, and commercially viable, offshoots of the psychedelic rock era.

The Beatles’ influence, particularly from Sgt Peppers and singles like “Fool on the Hill”, is strong — the second track borrows elements from “Norwegian Wood” through “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite”, and the third track, “I am the Walrus” and “Good Morning” — yet, this is an album that incorporates and absorbs those influences more than mimics.

More to the point, is the quality of the album which starts out strong and builds to the end without weakness or filler; even the somewhat musique-concrete “Well of Destiny” (possibly influenced by the transitional section of “Day in the Life” ) serving its purpose in the musical narrative.  The arrangements, variety, and appropriateness of instrumentation further elevates the quality of the album, and in fact are usually of greater interest than the melodic/harmonic content of the songs themselves. (Perhaps the best song on the album, is the most simply arranged one, the poignant, “Loneliest Person”)

Though this album is very much a product of  1967 and 1968 sensibilities and styles, there are passages and techniques that anticipate other works of 1969 and the early seventies.  One can hear hints at later music from the Beatles-influenced Electric Light Orchestra (especially in “Trust”) and Badfinger to Benefit-era Jethro Tull (“Private Sorrow”) to the Who’s Tommy (“The Journey” and the intro to “Old Man Going”) to Queen.  The most remarkable similarity is to the heavy metal, bass-dominated style of Black Sabbath in “Old Man Going”  which also includes a short hard-rock electric guitar.

The CD release includes some notable bonus tracks, including “Defecting Grey” , a commercially unsuccessful single from this time period.

Track listing [from Wikipedia]

Side One

1. “S.F. Sorrow Is Born” Phil May, Dick Taylor, Wally Waller 3:12
2. “Bracelets of Fingers” May, Taylor, Waller 3:41
3. “She Says Good Morning” May, Taylor, Waller, Twink 3:23
4. “Private Sorrow” May, Taylor, Waller, Jon Povey 3:51
5. “Balloon Burning” May, Taylor, Waller, Povey 3:51
6. “Death” May, Taylor, Waller, Povey, Twink 3:05

Side Two

7. “Baron Saturday” May, Taylor, Waller 4:01
8. “The Journey” May, Taylor, Waller, Twink 2:46
9. “I See You” May, Taylor, Waller 3:56
10. “Well of Destiny” May, Taylor, Waller, Povey, Twink, Norman Smith 1:46
11. “Trust” May, Taylor, Waller 2:49
12. “Old Man Going” May, Taylor, Waller, Povey, Twink 3:09
13. “Loneliest Person” May, Taylor, Waller, Twink 1:29
Bonus tracks

14. “Defecting Grey” May, Taylor, Waller 4:27
15. “Mr. Evasion” May, Taylor, Waller, Twink 3:26
16. “Talkin’ About the Good Times” May, Taylor, Waller 3:41
17. “Walking Through My Dreams” May, Taylor, Waller, Povey 3:35
18. “Private Sorrow” (Single version) May, Taylor, Waller, Povey 3:50
19. “Balloon Burning” (Single version) May, Taylor, Waller, Povey 3:45
20. “Defecting Grey” (Acetate recording) May, Taylor, Waller 5:10

Personnel

The Pretty Things

  • Phil May – vocals
  • Dick Taylor – lead guitar, vocals
  • Wally Waller – bass, guitar, vocals, wind instruments, piano
  • Jon Povey – organ, sitar, Mellotron, percussion, vocals
  • Skip Alan – drums (on some tracks, quit during recording)
  • Twink – drums (on some tracks, replaced Alan), vocals

CFP National Championship - Alabama v Clemson

Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin

With the semantic essence of heavy metal captured in the group’s name, its hard to dispute that Led Zeppelin forged a new path down the nascent arena of hard rock and heavy metal. With a name remarkably similar to Iron Butterfly, and a similar, but more promising, blues-based musical DNA, we have the beginnings of what would soon be the quintessential hard rock group influencing predecessors like Free to countless successors like Aerosmith, Metallica, Queen, Alice Kooper, Guns N’ Roses and countless emulators that never landed a major recording contract.

From the opening guitar and drums in the opening track, “Good Times, Bad Times”, there is a focus, crispness and intensity not present in many of the blues-based rock albums immediately preceding this one.  My first experience with this album was when my next door neighbor brought it over for me to capture on my reel-to-reel tape deck for my own, limited music library.  Based on my friend’s direction, I recorded the tracks he thought worth putting on tape, securing the more accessible tracks, like”Good Times, Bad Times”,  “Babe I’m Going to Leave You” and “Communication Breakdown” but leaving out a couple I would not listen to again for decades — the last two tracks of side two.  Fortunately, since my friend had fairly good taste, we recorded all of side one, including the mysteriously dark and heavy, “Dazed and Confused”, a well-written composition, starting with, and repeating, a chromatically-descending chord sequence. Though credited to Jimmy Page on the album, the work is mostly based on a song by the same name on a 1967 album by Jake Holmes, which the Yardbirds (a group that included Jimmy Page for a while) had originally “borrowed.”  If you haven’t heard the Jake Holmes version, do yourself a favor and take the time to listen to it below.

Side Two of Led Zeppelin starts with a majestic organ solo by John Paul Jones as part of the captivating beginning of “Your Time Is Gonna  Time.” Unfortunately, the verse is much stronger than a weak, almost annoying, chorus that detracts from the rest of the work.

The next track, one which we also recorded for my repeated listening pleasure was “Black Mountain Side” based on an arrangement of the Irish folk song “Down by Blackwaterside” taught to Jimmy Page by Al Stewart.  This is followed by “Communication Breakdown”, later to become an AM radio hit.  For me, this title always brings to mind that famous phase in Cool Hand Luke — “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

The last two tracks are probably what my friend would have referred to as the band just jamming, but listening to these again, I appreciate the quality musicianship and the  overall mood.  That said, I can’t particularly bemoan not having grown up with these two tracks as part of the musical soundtrack of my high school years (1969-1973.)

Though I have mixed feelings about this album, which has many strong points, but is certainly guilty of not properly crediting others, a common enough practice in the Renaissance and Baroque days of music, but not so acceptable in the late 1960s,  I would pick this in an instant over contemporary albums by Steppenwolf and Iron Butterfly.  Do I regularly, or, on average, once-a-decade listen to this? Not really; I find the later Led Zeppelin albums more appealing — and I pretty much don’t listen to those due to all the more interesting jazz, rock and classical music that contends for my limited listening time.  However, that said, prior to posting this Fifty Year Friday entry, I did truly enjoy listening to this first “L-Zep” (modern transformation of their name) once again (and then a second time), forty-nine and a half years later after first hearing all of it, and  making a copy of it for my own use, just as Jimmy Page had made a copy of both “Dazed and Confused” and “Down by Blackwaterside” for Led Zeppelin’s own use on their very first album.

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. Good Times Bad Times 2:46
2. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You

 

6:42
3. You Shook Me 6:28
4. Dazed and Confused Page, inspired by Jake Holmes[c] 6:28
 

Side two

No. Title Writer(s) Length
5. “Your Time Is Gonna Come”
  • Page
  • Jones
4:34
6. Black Mountain Side” (instrumental) Page 2:12
7. Communication Breakdown
  • Page
  • Jones
  • Bonham
2:30
8. I Can’t Quit You Baby Dixon 4:42
9. How Many More Times
  • Page
  • Jones
  • Bonham
8:27

 

Led Zeppelin

Additional personnel

 

Quote

SHARED POST: The posthumous John Coltrane release puzzle — Jazz Desk

Expectations is high on the new release of a previously unreleased 1963 studio session of saxophonist John Coltrane’s quartet called ”Both Directions At Once: The Lost Session”. It is yet another possible piece of the musical jigsaw puzzle that Coltrane left for his fans to discover after his early death in 1967 at 40 years […]

via The posthumous John Coltrane release puzzle — Jazz Desk

Also: https://www.udiscovermusic.com/news/lost-john-coltrane-both-directions-at-once/

The 2CD/2LP Both Directions At Once deluxe edition tracklisting is:

Disc One:
‘Untitled Original 11383’
‘Nature Boy’
‘Untitled Original 11386’
‘Vilia’
‘Impressions’
‘Slow Blues’
‘One Up, One Down’

Disc Two:
‘Vilia (Take 5)’
‘Impressions (Take 1)’
‘Impressions (Take 2)’
‘Impressions (Take 4)’
‘Untitled Original 11386 (Take 2)’
‘Untitled Original 11386 (Take 5)’
‘One Up, One Down (Take 6)’

 

 

 

Fifty Year Friday: Temptations, Wish it Would Rain; Eric Burdon & The Animals, The Twain Shall Meet; ABA and NBA finals

temptations 83f94624515f0bb222e19a861787f9cd059dfaa1

This excellent album captures the Temptations’ smooth, soulful, and often passionate sound. It is the last album produced by Smokey Robinson and the final album with Ruffin, Kendricks, and bass singer Melvin Franklin taking turns on lead vocal: Mr. Ruffin being dismissed due to disruptive behavior, including insistence on the group’s name being changed to “David Ruffin and the Temptations” mimicking the name change of the Supremes to Diana Ross and The Supremes.

Besides the excellent vocals, we have the Motown studio musicians, named at the time as the Soul Brothers by Motown CEO Berry Gordy, Jr, but not credited on this album or other such albums of the era, and historically referred to as the “Funk Brothers”, in top form.

 

A1 I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)  3:33
A2 Cindy  3:08
A3 I Wish It Would Rain  2:48
A4 Please Return Your Love To Me  2:26
A5 Fan The Flame  2:44
A6 He Who Picks A Rose  2:28
B1 Why Did You Leave Me Darling  2:11
B2 I Truly, Truly Believe  2:44
B3 This Is My Beloved  2;13
B4 Gonna Give Her All The Love I’ve Got  2:46
B5 I’ve Passed This Way Before  2:43
B6 No Man Can Love Her Like I Do  2:16

Personnel

AnimalsTwainShallMeet

“If you want to find the truth in life, don’t pass music by.”  — Eric Burdon

Eric Burdon and the Animals were effective performers at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.   They recorded “Monterrey”, written about the festival’s performers.  Perhaps this was the first rock song written about a concert event (before Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” or Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.”) The lyrics are weak, and Burdon even gets Ravi Shankar’s name wrong (“Shanknar”) but there is something special to this song that barely made it to the fifteenth spot on the US pop charts.  It opens up with solo koto (or perhaps a similar instrument like the Chinese guzheng) and includes snippets of instrumental sound-painting as some the musicians that performed at the festival are described. In addition, woodwinds and  strings are added. It really is a celebration of the time, helped by the lyrics general naiveté and the song’s relentless, expanding energy, as it picks up tempo as it progresses.

The album containing “Monterrey”, The Twain Shall Meet, was released in May of 1968 and is a solid and capable mixture of hard and psychedelic rock, and has much in common with the first albums of harder rock groups and some of the progressive rock groups that followed soon after.  If one ignores the weakness in the lyrics and focuses on the music, this album provides a intriguing historical perspective on the early days of hard rock and provides insight into the transition from hard rock to what is commonly labelled as progressive rock.

Track listing [from Wikipedia]

Side one

  1. Monterey” (4:18)
  2. “Just the Thought” (3:47)
  3. “Closer to the Truth” (4:31)
  4. “No Self Pity” (4:50)
  5. “Orange and Red Beams” (3:45)

Side two

  1. Sky Pilot” (7:27)
  2. “We Love You Lil” (6:48)
  3. “All Is One” (7:45)

All selections written by Eric Burdon, Vic Briggs, John Weider, Barry Jenkins, & Danny McCulloch except “Orange and Red Beams”, written by McCulloch.

Personnel

 

conniehwkins

Connie Hawkins and the Pittsburgh Pipers defeated Larry Brown and the New Orleans Buccaneers in the seventh game of the very first ABA playoff in front of 11,000 fans, up considerably from their average attendance of around 3,000.  Worth mentioning is the price paid for the New Orleans Bucs franchise: exactly $1000.

In other basketball news, the Los Angeles Lakers beat previous Western champion, the San Francisco Warriors, and the Boston Celtics defeated previous NBA champions, Wilt Chamberlain and the 76ers (with Wilt’s getting 34 rebounds in game 7 but his teammates shooting poorly and Wilt receiving limited touches on offense) to meet in the finals where the Lakers (with Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Archie Clark, and Gail Goodrich) lost the seven game series for the fifth time in seven years to the Celtics, this time in six games.

Wilt Chamberlain, perhaps still upset about the 76ers previously withdrawing a verbal commitment to give Chamberlain part ownership of the team, would demand a trade, indicating the possibility of going to the ABA, and soon Chamberlain would be sent to the Lakers for Archie Clark, Darrall Imhoff, and Jerry Chambers.

This was the first and last year of the ABA Anaheim Amigos,  purchased for $30,000 and sold less than a year later for $450,000, renamed to the Los Angeles Stars, and moved from the Anaheim convention Center to the LA Sports Center.

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