Archive for November, 2008

The Byrds “Younger Than Yesterday”

If Mr. Tambourine Man, Notorious Byrd Brothers, and Sweetheart of the Rodeo are acknowledged Byrds’ masterworks, Younger Than Yesterday isn’t far behind.  There’s a few tracks that haven’t held up, Mind Gardens – Crosby’s psychedelic folk-rock opus is a bit unfocused but not as terrible as the critics make it out to be.  C.T.A. 102, a track that must’ve sounded cool when this album was released in 1967, has dated space-age sound effects.  These are interesting experiments by all means but the 9 remaining cuts were prime mid 60s Byrds.  At this point Gene Clark had been out of the group for some time, knowing this Hillman and Crosby pitched in big time with some of their best ever compositions.  Younger Than Yesterday is one of the great American rock classics, very close in sound to the Beau Brummels Triangle, Moby Grape’s self-titled debut, and Buffalo Springfield’s Again

The two hits that anchored the lp were pretty great.  So You Wanna Be A Rock N Roll Star blasted out of radio speakers in 1967 sounding unlike anything else with a strong latin feel, great lyrics, and a killer groove.  The other major hit off the album was a cover of Bob Dylan’s My Back Pages.  This was one of their best Dylan covers yet and had a trademark, classic McGuinn twelve-string guitar solo.  Crosby offered up one of his best songs, Everybody’s Been Burned, a masterpiece of psychedelic folk-rock highlighted by his exquisite, crooning hippie vocals and drowsy acid guitar work.  Renaissance Fair was another Crosby psychedelic folk-rocker with strong acid imagery and shifting time signatures plus some more fine 12-string from McGuinn.  McGuinn and Crosby contributed great material to Younger Than Yesterday but for me it was Hillman’s contributions that have stood the sands of time best.  Hillman’s Have You Seen Her Face, Time Between, Thoughts and Words, and The Girl With No Name were all superb songs.  Have You Seen Her Face saw the Byrds in garage mode while Thoughts and Words was one of their best straight-up psych numbers.  Prior to Younger Than Yesterday the Byrds had flirted with a kind of proto country-rock sound on Mr. Spaceman and Satisfied Mind.  With Time Between and The Girl With No Name, that flirtation came to fruition.  Hillman had played in bluegrass bands prior to the Byrds, so the said experiments were just an extension of his roots – no gimmicks, completely genuine stuff here.  Both tracks rock pretty nicely and feature some fine guitar work by Byrd-in-waiting Clarence White.  Time Between and GIrl With No Name do not have a heavy Nashville sound but so what, this was the Byrds version of country music and probably a purer fusion than anything else they have done ever since.  Just as the Byrds had broken new ground with psychedelia a year earlier, their move into country represented an advancement of musical frontiers.  The album ended with McGuinn’s Why, a great rocker with a riveting space guitar solo.   This track had been released much earlier as the B-side to Eight Miles High in 1966. 

In the mid 90s Columbia rehauled the entire Byrds catalog, reissuing all their classic albums with plenty of extras.  The Younger Than Yesterday reissue includes two lost Crosby gems, It Happens Each Day, which is an outtake, and Lady Friend, one of their best mid 60s non-lp tracks.  Younger Than Yesterday is an important part of the Byrds evolution.  It’s a classic album that saw the group at the forefront of pop music – The Byrds were always three steps ahead of the game. 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“The Girl With No Name”

:) Vinyl Reissue | Mono | Sundazed | buy from sundazed ]
😉 MP3 Album | download at amazon ]

PODCAST 8 Gospel

Running Time: 45 Minutes | File Size: 62.5 MB | 192kbps
Download: mp3
To subscribe to this podcast: http://therisingstorm.net/podcast.xml

PLAYLIST

Clip from Elder Charles D. Beck “Rock & Roll Sermon”

Love “I’ll Pray For You”

Solomon Burke “The Price”

Steve Young “Love In My Time”

The Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama “Living For My Jesus”

The Velvet Underground “I’m Set Free”

Clip from Elder Charles D. Beck “Rock & Roll Sermon”

Jim Ford “Under Construction”

Blind Willie McTell “I Got To Cross The River Jordan”

Dillard & Clark “I Bowed My Head And Cried Holy”

Link Wray “Black River Swamp”

The Staple Singers “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!”

The Louvin Brothers “The Kneeling Drunkard’s Plea”

Congregation Of St. Luke’s Powerhouse Church Of God In Chri/His Sons/Rev. Louis Overstreet “Yeah, Lord! Jesus is Able”

Clip from Elder Charles D. Beck “Rock & Roll Sermon”

CLOSER

The Rolling Stones

Can “Delay 1968”

Along with a handful of tracks featured on Unlimited Edition, Delay represents some of Can’s earliest recordings from 1968 when the band’s lead singer was sculptor Malcom Mooney.  According to legend these tracks were supposed to form the backbone of a Can debut album which was tentatively titled Prepare To Meet Thy Pnoom.  It never happened but thankfully these prehistoric gems were rescued from the vaults and officially released in 1981 – well after the group’s prime.

The Mooney era tends to be forgotten by most casual fans but I think Monster Movie is just as good as any of the Damo Suzuki era classics.  Delay is less polished than Monster Movie but also a really swell garage avante-garde psychedelic album.  Some of their early works even have strands of distorted R&B – listen closely and you can hear this.  Early Can looked to the Velvet Underground for their primary influence, especially the feedback laden monster that was 1968’s White Light/White Heat.  Free Jazz was also a vital reference point as heard on the brief 26 second PNOOM and the deranged Man Named Joe.   So if experimental German rock is your bag, these recordings are an absolute must, something that enriches the legacy of this most illustrious band.  I’ve never heard anything like Uphill.  It churns and twists violently while Malcom Mooney nervously spits out lyrics as if someone’s breathing fire into his ass.  There’s a nice thick, stinging guitar solo midway thru and the group locks into one nasty groove that’s really hard to beat.  Check out the lyrics too,  Mooney rants away and goes on a memorable lyrical journey in which he mentions “hot rods” and a certain “velvet touch,” this is classic 60s rock at its finest.  Butterfly hits the same kind of emotional nerves and is just as good but sounds very mechanical and frost bitten.  Another killer is Thief, a track that Radio Head regularly plays in their live set and possibly Can’s greatest stab of pure psychedelia – space trance with fabulous melting fuzz guitars and tribal rhythms.   These performances are loaded with high energy, aggression and  experimentation – this music was meant to be played loud.

Back in the 60s and early 70s Can used to blow people’s minds on a regular basis.  When I hear records like Delay, Monster Movie, Future Days and Tago Mago I can understand why.  Can outtakes and aborted albums are better than most band’s best material.  Delay is very worthy stuff.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Uphill”

😀 CD Reissue | 2006 | Mute | amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1981 | Spoon | search ebay ]
😉 MP3 Album | amazon ]
😎 Spotify link | listen ]

The Damned “Machine Gun Etiquette”

The Damned were one of the first British punk bands to release singles and albums. They got a headstart over rivals the Sex Pistols and were a group full of volatile personalities who could explode at any given moment – musically and emotionally! But unlike the much overrated Sex Pistols, The Damned could actually play their instruments and write catchy tunes. They excelled at the art of creating good ole fashion sloppy rock n roll and when they did actually get along with one another, the Damned were capable of making some outstanding music. Captain Sensible, Rat Scabies, and Dave Vanian were all rock n roll wildmen and contributed greatly to the Damned’s unique sound and group concept. Alongside their debut Damned Damned Damned, Machine Gun Etiquette is one of two Damned classics and a must own for fans of popular punk rock.

Machine Gun Etiquette was released by Chiswick in 1979, a year in which many punk artists were simmering down, writing more pop friendly material. The group had briefly broken up only to rejoin again without the help of guitarist Brian James. Saints (another fantastic group) bassist Alby Ward was brought in to fill in the missing gaps and give the group a fuller sound. I think Machine Gun Etiquette is a much stronger effort than 1977’s Music For Pleasure – an album that was produced by Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason. Etiquette seems to pay homage to many of the Damned’s classic rock heroes, most notably the MC5 and the Doors. So in this sense Machine Gun Etiquette has more of a classic rock feel, notable for its strong garage rock and psychedelic influences. They cover the MC5’s Looking At You and while not as good as the original, the Damned’s version still packs a visceral punch to the gut. These Hands has some cool fuzz guitars but also recalls the Doors’ carnival organ sound of Alabama Song – even the vocals sound like a punked up Lizard King. Another track, I Just Can’t Be Happy has that vintage American garage ethic, right down to the cheap organ sound and classic handclaps – great song, should have been a hit. The first two tracks on the album, Love Song (check out that thick, dense bass work) and Machine Gun Etiquette are a bit more original, both being breakneck punkers of the highest order. Vocals and searing guitar solos create a pile-driving intensity, this was some of the most exciting music the Damned had ever laid to wax. Anti-Pope, Melody Lee, the experimental Plan 9 Channel 7, Liar and Noise, Noise, Noise (there’s some nice feedback on this tune) were just as good and furious garage punk-rockers in their own right. The whole album is very consistent and possibly the best disc this group has ever recorded – depending on your point of view. Machine Gun Etiquette has lots of pounding drums, angry vocals, inventive guitar solos and even a few weird experiments. It’s an album that’s bound to please both garage and punk fans.

The 80s were very unkind to the Damned as they suffered a major downward spiral. The group plunged headfirst into the New Wave/Post-Punk scene and while doing so lost all credibility with the underground rock community. Their true forte was rock n roll and during the early to mid 80’s the group released a series of half-baked goth-rock albums. In terms of quality, none of these later albums came close to their 1977 debut or Machine Gun Etiquette. The great thing about Machine Gun Etiquette is that it’s rock n roll pure and simple, hit home straight as an arrow. There are no MTV pop or reggae tracks that plague this album, just straight up rock n roll. Groups like the Clash, the Jam, and PIL were notorious for sticking a few awful reggae or soul experiments on their albums – you could call this branching out but it definitely diluted the impact of a punk record. So it is with these two early albums that the Damned’s reputation rests firmly as one of the most visionary punk rock groups ever. This is a great record similar in style to Wire’s equally good 154 lp – try playing these two scorchers side by side!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Machine Gun  Etiquette”

😀 CD Reissue | 2007 | Chiswick | Machine Gun Etiquette ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1979 | Chiswick | search ebay ]
😎 Spotify link | listen ]

Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen “Lost In The Ozone”

Certainly one of the classic country-rock records, Lost In The Ozone was Commander Cody’s first disc released back in 1971 (MCA). The original group formed sometime around 1967 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Eventually they would relocate to San Fransisco and become a major live phenomenon. The group were led by pianist George Frayne (Commander Cody), vocalist/harp player Billy C. Farlowe, pedal steel player Don Bolton and lead guitarist John Tichy. At the time of the above debut other members included were guitarist Billy Kirchen, drummer Lance Dickerson, bassist Bruce Barlow and fiddle/saxophone player Andy Stein.

Lost In The Ozone was recorded during Commander Cody’s peak, which began in the late 60s and carried over til about 1976. During this period they gave the rock community many legendary live performances and left behind a handful of classic studio recordings. This debut sounded like nothing else in 1971, freewheeling, full of humor, great performances (some fine steel playing) and that special something that only comes around every so often, honesty. Included on the lp is their classic top 10 hit Hot Rod Lincoln, an outlaw anthem that’s still played on radio today and a song that has stood the test of time remarkably well. Cody’s strong point was melding old fashion 50s rock n roll with the emerging outlaw sound. By doing this they came up with a unique fusion of roots, country, soul and rock, a sound that became all their own.

The album is full of strong moments, whether it be group originals or well chosen covers. One song, Midnight Shift, sounds like a vintage Gene Vincent rockabilly side while the humorous title track became an anthem of sorts for the Airmen. Slow weepers Seeds and Stems Again, Family Bible, Wine Do Yer Stuff and Daddy’s Gonna Treat You Right are all Commander Cody classics that will give any other country-rock group a run for their money. The last three tracks of the album are live numbers in good fidelity showing the group in top form with their patent country-swing sound intact – What’s The Matter Now is a highlight in this respect.

Lost In The Ozone is really a neglected gem from the early 70s. It has a reckless, ramshackle feel that’s hard to describe to newcomers but still a very warm, friendly record that will not alienate its listeners. The Airmen had more punch and style than some of the more popular or critically acclaimed groups of the era. Their appeal was wide, rednecks, hipsters and hippies could relate to the Airmen’s music and their live shows were always a major production. If you’re into sounds like the Sir Douglas Quintet or Shiva’s Headband you need to check these guys out.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Daddy’s Gonna Treat You Right”

Here’s a great early track from around 1969/1970. This hard riffing country-rocker comes from the compilation Early Years 1967 – 1970:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“I’m Gonna Burn That Woman”

😀 CD Reissue | 1990 | MCA | Lost in the Ozone ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1971 | Paramount | search ebay ]
😎 Spotify link | listen ]

John Prine (self-titled)

John Prine has had a long and distinguished career as a songwriter working the line between folk and country. As is so often the case, he made his biggest mark with his first album, released in 1971. After a stint serving in the army (always a great source for song ideas) Prine began playing open mic nights in his native Chicago. He comes from the same folk scene that produced Steve Goodman (“Ridin’ on the City of New Orleans”). The first review of his work was penned by Roger Ebert, then a young Chicago critic. Other early supporters included both Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan.

It’s not hard to see why Prine so quickly won the respect of great songwriters. His own talents put him in the same ballpark. The All Music Guide describes Prine’s debut album as “a collection of standards,” which isn’t much of an exaggeration. The first song, “Illegal Smile,” is a clever and endearing tribute to smoking marijuana—not necessarily an easy feat. (“A bowl of oatmeal tried to stare me down, and won. And it was twelve o’clock before I realized I was having no fun.”) “Spanish Pipedream” is another gem. It’s Prine’s daydream about running off to the country with a sly exotic dancer to blow up the TV and eat a lot of peaches. (“I knew that topless lady had something up her sleeve.”) “Hello In There” is a melancholy song about the loneliness of aging. What’s amazing is how it rings so true despite being written by a 25-year old. (“So if you’re walking down the street sometime and spot some hollow ancient eyes, please don’t just pass ‘em by and stare, as if you didn’t care, say, ‘Hello in there, hello.’”) “Sam Stone” is a classic tune about the hopeless struggles of a veteran returning from the war to his family. (“There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes. Jesus Christ died for nothing, I suppose.”)

My favorite track on the album is “Paradise,” Prine’s loving tribute to the “backwards old town” in Western Kentucky where his parents were raised. The song combines his fond memories of visiting as a kid (“Where the air smelled like snakes and we’d shoot with our pistols, but empty pop bottles were all that we killed”), with realization that the place is now gone forever, “hauled away” by “Mr. Peabody’s coal train.” (“Then the coal company came with the world’s largest shovel, and they tortured the timber and stripped all the land.”) While it contains a strong environmental-protection message, it never sounds preachy.

The album has many more high points. “Pretty Good” is sort of an anthem to resignation. (Refrain: “Pretty good, not bad, I can’t complain, actually, everything is just about the same.”) “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” is an amusing anti-war song about empty patriotism. “Angel From Montgomery” is a classic tune which later became a hit for Bonnie Raitt. Musically, the album sounds great, with some nice pedal steel and organ in just the right spots. It’s a classic.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Illegal Smile”

😀 CD Reissue | 1990 | Atlantic | John Prine ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1971 | Atlantic | search ebay ]

The Cowsills “II x II”

I never thought I’d be recommending a Cowsills album here on the Storm but I guess stranger things have happened. II x II is considered the group’s finest album along with 1968’s We Can Fly. This lp was a concious attempt to get away from the Cowsills pop image and create something a bit more original and experimental. I think they succeeded marvelously as II x II is a great folk-rock album that saw the band writing more mature, reflective material.

Unlike a lot of sunshine pop groups, the Cowsills could actually play their own instruments. They did this well, along with writing most of the album’s material. Bill and Bob Cowsill wrote a lion’s share of this material, much of it in a gentle, lilting folk-rock style. Father best exemplifies this new approach being a beautiful folk-rocker with a lite psych mellotron touch – this track floats in the air like the best sun pop gems should. Some of the tracks like Signs and Anything Changes even rock hard in spots, much closer to power-pop in spirit but successful any way you slice it. Highlights are really hard to point out on such a consistent and varied album. Don’t Look Back, an early morning country-rocker with a strong CSNY influence is a real gem in the Cowsills catalog while The Prophecy Of Daniel And John The Divine is more abstract and easily their most advanced album cut – a mini masterpiece of lite psychedelia.

This lp should have proven to the world that there was much more to the Cowsills than great singles like The Rain, The Park & Other Things. The sound is very homespun and where the earlier albums relied heavily on studio technology this one doesn’t. When II x II was released the group was suffering a major commercial downfall. The album should have remedied this and repaired their critical standing amongst the rock world. Sunshine pop fans should not miss this near classic album. II x II has been reissued on cd in its entirety along with earlier album tracks under the title Painting The Day.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Don’t Look Back”

😀 CD Reissue | 2006 | El Records | Painting the Day: The Angelic Psychedelia of the Cowsills ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1970 | MGM | search ebay ]

Q65 “Revival”

Along with the Outsiders this was one of Holland’s top groups. They predated the MC5 and Stooges by a few years, their sound was powerful blues derived garage rock with a nasty edge. Willem Bieler’s vocals were spit out with venom and in Frank Nuyens they possessed one of rock’s great underrated guitarists.

Revival was their second lp released in 1968/1969. Prior to that Q65 had released a superb 1966 debut, plenty of great non-lp singles and an outstanding blues rock ep titled Kjoe Blues. It was a time of transition for the group, Bieler was tired of the club circuit and opted out for military service. Other members were making new music under the name Circus. These new tracks reflected the psychedelic era but it wasn’t long before Circus folded and Hans Van Hemert released a new Q65 album titled Revival. Revival was made up of earlier singles, stray album tracks and Circus material. Much of the music had more of a psychedelic vibe but still bore many of the classic hallmarks of Q65.

Revival opened with Cry In The Night. This was one of the Q’s greatest punk rockers, a pulverizing monster that stood out for it’s vicious, out of control guitar breaks and Bieler’s deranged vocals. So High I’ve Been, So Down I Must Fall is similarly excellent but more in an acid punk style. This track has more mental guitar work and a brilliant outsider feel – a very intense, emotional track. The album’s variety could be considered it’s strength. One track, World of Birds covers the exotic folk-rock spectrum and is notable for some fine psychedelic guitar work while It Came To Me is fast and furious blues-rock. Ridin’ On A Slow Train may be the best of the 3 Circus tracks, it’s overloaded with guitar effects and distortion. The other two, Fairy Tales of Truth, a nice psych pop number highlighted by mellotron and Sundance, a bizarre psychedelic instrumental are also very worthy.

Q65 would go on to make two more albums in the early 70’s, Afghanistan and We’re Gonna Make It. These are generic hard rock albums that are nowhere near as good as their 1965-1969 peak. During their peak I would say that Q65 recorded just one bad song, a cover of Otis Redding’s Mr. Pitiful (on their debut album). The rest of their catalog is ace, a strong body of work that stands up to the best the Yardbirds, Pretty Things and Outsiders have to offer. While Revival may not be a cohesive listen, this is because many of the tracks were recorded during different periods within the group’s lifespan. Each track is strong though and you could proudly stand this along side CQ or S.F. Sorrow as one of the classic acid punk albums.

There are great cd and vinyl reissues of Revolution and Revival that are somewhat hard to find but preffered. Rev-Ola’s best of Nothin’ But Trouble is recommended but omits a few essential tracks. During their heyday Q65 were one of the best rock groups around.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“So High I’ve Been, So Down I Must Fall”

😀 CD Compilation | “Nothin But Trouble | 2008 | Revola | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1969 | Decca | search ebay ]

Mountain Bus “Sundance”

Mountain Bus is the kind of band you get into after you’ve exhausted all your major label heroes. They were one of Chicago’s great underground bands who were dealt a bad deck of cards. Mountain Bus were frequently cited as Chicago’s answer to the Grateful Dead, and indeed some of their songs on the above album sound like San Fransisco’s most cherished sons.

Mountain Bus’ roots extend way back to the early 60’s when Ed Mooney was fronting a band called the Moons and the Stars. Tom Jurkens was in another local group called Jurk & The Bushman and upon their demise formed a group with Mooney called Rhythms Children. This group took in Steve Titra, Joe Wilderson and Steve Krater. Eventually Rhythms Children dissolved when Wilderson left for Canada avoiding the Vietnam War draft. Bill Kees had formerly been in Fantasy and Hearts of Soul when he joined the struggling Rhythms Children. They began calling themselves Mountain Bus and playing as many live gigs as possible around the Chicago area. Mountain Bus never made alot of money during their day and always had low paying jobs. Their jobs funded the band’s equipment, activities and eventually, legal costs. Some of the group members worked at local record stores. One of the record stores, Round Records, ended up becoming the groups headquarters while owner David Solomon assumed Mountain Bus’ manager role.

In 1971 independent label Good Records released Mountain Bus’ only album Sundance. Good Records goal was to release good quality local music that could be sold to the public at reasonable prices. They also aimed to give the musicians a greater slice of the profit, unlike the major labels. Mountain Bus’ end was unfortunate and came very suddenly in November of 1971. Windfall Music slapped an ugly lawsuit on Mountain Bus and Good Records claiming that both entities were infringing on the established trade marks of Mountain (Leslie West’s band). Windfall Music demanded that all record sales, promotions, air play and so forth be halted and that such activities had hurt the sales of Mountain lps. Roger Maglio of Gear Fab records summed it up best, “It was a plain and simple matter that the major record labels at this time (Columbia owned Mountain) were not going to allow nor put up with upstart companies like Good Records or any others that offered good quality music at an affordable and lower price than the majors. Mountain Bus had never reaped any significant profits over these years – the band were paid very small wages and many of their performances were for benefits and other non-profit organizations. A record company founded with the express purpose of providing people with good quality music was run out of business. And a great band broke up as a result of these bully actions.” It’s funny to note that Mountain Bus had been together some years before Mountain had formed – 2 years to be exact. I guess it was a loss for the public and a big gain for the greedy record company executives.

These legal disputes should not overshadow the music though, which is often excellent and full of stunning guitar solos. Tracks like Sing A New Song and Rosalie are what the late 60’s Dead should have sounded like in the studio – they capture a good live outdoor sound. Rosalie is a superb jam rocker with lots of great melodic guitar work that is at once trippy but also laced with a C&W accent. Sundance is an awesome psychedelic folk-rocker that hits the 7 minute mark but never succumbs to any formless jamming – it’s a track that reminds me of 5th Dimension Byrds crossed with Live 69 Dead. Other highlights are a long but very good country-rock version of I Know You Rider and the psychedelic instrumental Hexahedron. “Deadheads” and fans of great rural rock sounds should not miss this mini classic. In the late 90’s Sundance was reissued by Gear Fab records with additional outtakes and live cuts. This package offers lots of good music for a cheap price.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Sundance”

😀 CD Reissue | 1999 | Gear Fab Records | buy from amazon
:) Original Vinyl | 1971 | Good Records | search ebay ]

Quicksilver Messenger Service “Comin’ Thru”

A band known for their formation during the sixties with helping the onset of the psychedelic scene, Quicksilver Messenger Service’s seventh album (first with keyboard player Chuck Steaks), Comin’ Thru is brain child of guitarists Dino Valente and Gary Duncan. Although the band’s most notable albums such as their self-titled album (1968-) and Happy Trails (1969) show progressive notions of San Francisco’s psychedelic scene, Comin’ Thru shows more of the band’s musical influences of blues, jazz and folk. This album doesn’t follow a typical Quicksilver song montage of jamming then losing your mind for an allotted amount of time, but don’t get me wrong, it holds true to the psychedelic rock ideas of say the Dead or Jefferson Airplane.

The album’s front runner, Doing Time in the U.S.A., a song chronicling different themes regarding the law being broken has an almost Dicky Betts southern rock feel to it. Doing Time in the U.S.A. has somewhat of an ode to the Rolling Stones when Dino Valente recites in his most Jagger-esque voice, “…I can’t get no, satisfaction;” this being ironic seeing as how the band’s former organist, Nicky Hopkins, was doing work with the Rolling Stones at the time. Whether or not this is an actual response to the Stones classic is unknown, but in a genre where underlying song connections run wild, one can only imagine. Quicksilver’s jazz influences are recognizable within moments of the first horn solos found on Chicken. Sonny Lewis (saxophone) and Pat O’hara lay down a dueling solo of lows and highs that make this soulful jam extremely tight. As always twang blues guitar riffs are found throughout, most present on Mojo and Changes. Mojo, a song about what else than a man’s swagger/libido, has that psychedelic song formation found in their earlier albums. Ending the song via a line-up of solo’s starting from guitar to trumpet to bass then on to keyboard the band obtains a type of “jam feeling” usually only found in live performances. Stressing the difference between this album and their popular titles is the production of keyboard player Chuck Steaks. His approach to keyboard is much more up tempo and “wild” compared to a more classically trained Mark Naftalin. The albums organ solo’s reflect this greatly with a Bernie Worell style to them, most recognizable on Doing Time in the U.S.A and Don’t Lose It.

Many regard Comin’ Thru as a lesser work of Quicksilver Messenger Service since the band would fall apart near the end of the decade and many of the original members were not part of the album’s production (John Cippollina, David Friedberg & Jim Murray). An album that holds two sides of the love/hate spectrum: Some feel the horn work is used to compensate for a less talented band, then others feel it was innovative thinking (the band looking for a new sound). Some feel as though the use of a less classically trained pianist was by default (due to the band is disarray), while others feel it adds an element unknown style (coming from the school of thought that, the less classically trained you are, the more unique your style is). Let’s not hang signs, just listen.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Doin’ Time In The USA”

😀 CD Reissue | 2002 | Beat Goes On | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1973 | Capitol | search ebay ]