Archive for the ‘ Concept Albums ’ Category

J.K. & Co. “Suddenly One Summer”

Suddenly One Summer

This is a good, semi well-known psych album, indeed there aren’t too many 60s rock fans that dislike J.K. & Co.’s Suddenly One Summer.  It’s the only album this group would release.  Prior to Suddenly One Summer, Jay Kaye had been in the Loved Ones, though I don’t think this band released any singles.

Jay Kaye was only 15 years old when he recorded this album in 1968.  The lyrics, vocals, songs and musicianship are remarkably advanced for someone who was so inexperienced in the studio.  Jay Kaye made the trip from Las Vegas to Vancouver, Canada to record the lp with top flight session musicians (among them members of noted Vancouver band Mother Tucker’s Yellow Duck).  The album was inspired by recent Beatles’ masterpieces and of course LSD, so it’s not surprising that much of this record is full of orchestral psychedelia and heavy studio effects – music with a spiritual slant.  Another teen, Robert Buckley aided Jay Kaye with many of the album’s arrangements and psychedelic effects.  It was he who created the decaying backward effects on the masterful “Fly,” a track that sounds well ahead of its time and similar in feel to prime-era Radiohead (though 30 years prior).

Suddenly One Summer was conceived as a concept album and briefly featured in Billboard claiming “to depict musically a man’s life from birth to death.”  At least half the album is full of great psychedelia.  “O.D.” features wild guitar playing, great drug addled madness, and soaring vocals, “Fly,” as mentioned before, is an all-time psych classic, and “Magical Fingers Of Minerva” is a great sitar based rocker that usually ends up on trippy compilations.  Other compositions of note are the gorgeous acoustic track “Nobody,” a great pop rocker titled “Christine,” and the dramatic finale, “Dead.”  The LP plays from strength to strength and never falls off into the deep end.

J.K. & Co.’s album was a decent size underground hit in California, leading White Whale to release a single to capitalize on the group’s popularity.  They chose the 36-second album opening intro which at the time was seen as a major marketing disaster.  In the end, White Whale’s terrible management blunder would halter the career of Jay Kaye and also hurt the company’s ability to market J.K. & Co as a serious group.   After the record’s release Kaye had even put together a band with his Cousin John (bass) and friend Rick Dean (drums) to promote the LP’s songs live but success eluded them.  In 2001 Sundazed released this great conceptual acid album through their BeatRocket label.

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.

“Fly”

:) Vinyl Reissue | BeatRocket | 2001 | buy from sundazed ]
:D CD Reissue | BeatRocket | 2001 | buy from sundazed ]

Karen Beth “The Joys of Life”

The Joys of Life is Karen Beth’s best early album which was released off Decca in 1969. Beth was not a popular artist so it was strange when this underground record peaked at #171 in Billboard’s Top 200 in 1969. The good thing about The Joys of Life is that it’s a strong record without a steep price tag and easy to find on vinyl – just check your local record dealer or better yet, ebay.

Beth’s vocals are a mixture of Karen Dalton and Buffy Sainte-Marie and the album is a beautiful blend of rural folk, lite psychedelia, and the more downer elements of the singer-songwriter genre. The album opener It’s All Over Now has one too many horns and is by far the lp’s weakest track. After this, there are no false starts or wasted notes; this album is completely solid all the way thru. The title track is an unsettling acid folk masterpiece that begins to rock about mid way thru and is highlighted by organ and vibes. Song to a Shepard is an impressive, stark vocal that sounds centuries behind, similar to what the English folk-rock groups were doing from around the same time. Other tracks reach into deeper, darker moods, just listen to Something to Believe In and the excellent Nothing Lasts. The former is a disturbing slice of spooky folk-jazz paranoia while the latter is a majestic, melancholy folk-rocker. White Dakota Hill, another great track, is wistful with a slight C&W feel that gives this album variety and substance.

Anyone into Margo Guryan or Linda Perhacs is strongly urged to track this record down. The Joys of Life really deserves a first time cd or vinyl reissue as it’s a pretty unique record that needs to be heard by more people.

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.

“Something To Believe In”

:) Original Vinyl | 1969 | Decca | search ebay ]

Poco “Pickin’ Up The Pieces”

Poco came to fruition after the breakup of Buffalo Springfield. The late Buffalo Springfield masterpiece Kind of Woman (every bit the equal of Gram Parson’s Hickory Wind), written by Richie Furay, had already provided a template for Poco’s sound. Jim Messina (a late Buffalo Springfield addition) and Furay built a group around this new, emerging country-rock sound. The lineup that recorded the above debut was Richie Furay (guitar/vocals), Jim Messina (guitar/Vocals), Rusty Young (dobro/pedal steel/organ/vocals), Randy Meisner (bass/vocals) and George Grantham (drums/vocals).

Prior to the recording sessions Poco had worked on creating a live following, a clear vision, and a strong group identity. Song for song, this 1969 debut is one of the best buys in the country-rock genre. The playing is well above average, and because of the early release date and origins of this group, Poco’s importance was understood from the very beginning.

Many of these tracks are graced with beautiful hickory smoked harmonies and plenty of fine guitar playing. I have noticed that Poco is usually labeled as a good-time effort and while this is only partially true (due to the excellent Pickin’ Up The Pieces) there are plenty of country weepers and superb hard rockers. Tracks like Tomorrow and First Love capture the group in a reflective, mellow buzz mood and are highlighted by excellent lead vocals and great steel playing. Other stellar tracks like Short Changed and Calico Lady rock really hard and give the listener a solid dose of blistering fuzz guitar. The above mentioned Pickin’ Up The Pieces captures the genre’s essence and is one of the great country-rock classics. Another classic, Make Me Smile is one of the most heartbreaking love songs you’re likely to hear, with a great guitar oriented arrangement and plenty of unique twists and turns.

Poco had already developed into a first-rate group by the time of this recording, that’s a rare thing and it’s part of what makes these songs so great and fully realized. Also of note is the group’s strong, varied songwriting. Unlike many of their country-rock/country contemporaries Poco was able to deliver an album full of well written, fully formed originals. Poco would go on to record another 4 or 5 good albums but this is their finest and one of the seminal, early country-rock lps.

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.

“Pickin’ Up The Pieces”

:D CD Reissue | 1995 | Sony | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl |1969 | Epic | search ebay ]
;) MP3 Album | download at amzn ]

The Rascals “Once Upon A Dream”

Once Upon A Dream

After releasing three classic garage blue-eyed soul records, the Rascals felt a need to expand their sound, become a bit more ornate, and take in the influence of psychedelia. In early 1968 they released Once Upon A Dream, a vague concept lp inspired by recent albums Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper’s. The concept is a bit unclear to me but I believe each track is supposed to represent a different dream. The group’s vocal arrangements were some of their most ambitious to date and where the previous three albums had been excellent collections of album tracks and singles, Once Upon A Dream hangs together quite well as an album – a finished product if you will.

Once Upon A Dream opens up with a fairly well known track, Easy Rollin’. Easy Rollin’ is one of the mini classics on this album and stands out from previous Rascal outings in that it’s more roots influenced with edgy acoustic guitars, harmonica, and B-3. The production on this song is remarkable: one can hear birds chirping in the background and the band itself seems to have more space and breathing room. Other tracks like the dreamy Silly Girl and zany Rainy Day are psychedelic pop songs that have strings and horns in the mix. These sweet, confectionery treats give way to harder edged psych rockers Please Love Me and It’s Wonderful. Please Love Me harks back to the band’s mid 60s garage soul period but has wonderful flute and swirling fuzz guitar effects. Other great songs are the soul-blues of Singin’ The Blues Too Long which has a clear Ray Charles influence, and the great, overlooked blue-eyed soul classic, My World. My World is notable for including female backup singers as well as the Rascals’ own excellent vocal arrangement.

The Rascals would release other good albums after Once Upon A Dream but few pop records from the time are as instantly memorable and sophisticated as this. At the time, the album’s production and sound were considered a triumph. This is a true classic and should be part of any serious rock n roll collection. There are a few cd reissues of Once Upon A Dream currently available while the original Atlantic lp is fairly easy to find.

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.

“My World”

:D CD Reissue | 2007 | Collector’s Choice | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1968 | Atlantic | search ebay ]

The Turtles “Present the Battle of the Bands”

Battle of the Bands

One of their very best, the Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands was released in 1968 off the White Whale label. The concept is pretty clear for once, with the Turtles presenting a different band on each track (greasers, a country band, surf rock group, indian tribe, psychedelicists, and so forth). This makes for an eclectic listening experience for sure but somehow the band makes the album gel together quite well.

Battle of the Bands is the kind of record that would have been too eccentric for top 40 fans but not underground enough for diehard freaks. Perhaps this is why Battle of the Bands never found the audience it deserved. It’s a confusing, jarring album at first listen but eventually the band and their songs worm their way into your head like some strange, fatal disease. Elenore and You Showed Me (written by Gene Clark and Jim McGuinn) were big top 10 hits but very worthy in their own right, coloured by a sarcastic sense of humor and gorgeous harmonies. If anything, these tracks prove the Turtles had a genuine gift of melody and a knack for creating 60s commercial pop gold. Other tracks like the semi fuzz guitar instrumental Buzzsaw, the Beach Boys parody Surfer Dan, and the wild, banjo-fuelled Chicken Little Was Right are over the top quirky rockers that are muscially entertaining and overlooked highlights. Food reminds us of the Beach Boys’ Vegetables, a wacky, tuneful psychedelic track with a few primitive snyth stabs and lyrics that recite a brownie recipe. The album closes with an undisputed sunshine folk-pop classic, Earth Anthem, which stands out for its pretty horn arrangement, heavenly harmonies, and sparse accoustic guitars. Earth Anthem, also notable for its ecology theme, was supposedly recorded at 3:00 A.M. by candlelight, to capture the exact mood the Turtles wanted.

Battle of the Bands was a signpost to Flo & Eddie, and is an album where the band let loose creatively and showcased their unique brand of humor. It had all the ingredients that made the Turtles so great: lush melodies, flawless harmonies and fun, pop friendly sounds. The Turtles are one of rock’s most severely underrated groups and anyone doubting this should really consider outstanding early tracks like Grim Reaper of Love, She’ll Come Back, Wanderin’ Kind, Outside Chance, and She’s My Girl – all lost classics. Most of their catalog was reissued by Sundazed back in the early 90’s but has remained out of print for years. Original vinyl lp’s of Battle of the Bands are easy to score but a cd copy will cost you $50+.

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.

“Earth Anthem”

;) MP3 Album | download at amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1968 | White Whale | search ebay ]

Operas That Rock [ part 3 ]

Go to: [ part 1 ] [ part 2 ]

 

THE WHO
TOMMY

May, 1969

Tommy

The Story: When Tommy’s father doesn’t return from the war his mother remarries. Turns out he didn’t die, however, and upon his eventual return Captain Walker shoots the new husband. Tommy is traumatized and loses his eyesight and hearing: “deaf, dumb, and blind” they say. His distraught parents try everything to heal Tommy from the doctor’s office to the shady practices of the Acid Queen. After a run-in with a pervy uncle and his bullying cousin Kevin, it’s discovered that Tommy, despite his disabilities, is unstoppable on the pinball machine. After this, his frustrated mother smashes a mirror that he constantly stares at, somehow bringing back his senses. After this, he becomes a superstar selling out Pinball shows and eventually sets up a camp for his followers. In the end, Tommy demands his followers play pinball with deprived senses and they abandon him.

The Sound: Simply the first album to think of when somebody mentions ‘rock opera.’ Townshend was pushing the Who into conceptual territory as early as their 2nd album with A Quick One While He’s Away, which is sometimes considered a mini rock opera itself. Tommy is an incredible album from the peak of an incredible band. This album approaches the feel of a rock musical more than any other on this list, with its overture and underture, tight storyline, and dramatic moves. I’ve seen the movie and the Broadway play, but let’s just say that nothing touches the original disc. –Brendan

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.

“Sparks”

:D CD Reissue | 2003 | Geffen | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | search ebay ]

 

THE LA DE DAS
THE HAPPY PRINCE

April, 1969

The Happy Prince

The Story: The La De Das wrote originals based around Oscar Wilde’s short fairy tale, the Happy Prince. The story consists of a rich prince and swallow that bring contentment, financial security, and compassion to a poor, nameless Northern European city. In return for their good deeds both the swallow and prince attain heavenly paradise. Throughout the story the La De Das/Oscar Wilde address issues of social injustice, the loss of innocence, and the redemptive power of love.

The Sound: The La De Das started out life as a soul influenced garage band hailing from New Zealand. They released a few classic oz singles and two albums before the Happy Prince album which came out in 1969. The seeds were sown for the Happy Prince well before the Kink’s Arthur or the Who’s Tommy were conceived. Band members Bruce Howard and Trevor Wilson were talking of a rock opera as early as 1966 and started writing material for the lp in early 1967. The band recorded the complete album in demo form for the independent Sweat Peach label. Sweat Peach pulled out of the deal, causing friction between band members. Drummer Bryan Harris was fired and replaced by ex-Wild Cherries stickman Keith Barber. Bryan Harris recalled some years back, “I don’t hold any grudges with the band, in fact I got on extremely well with all the guys, but I thought those early demos sounded pretty crash hot and remember being very surprised by the released version, which had a different feel to it, maybe because I was primarily a Motown style drummer where Keith Barber was more your classic rock drummer.” The band eventually won a deal with EMI Australia and began recording in January 1969.

The Happy Prince was released in April of 69. At the time of release the album was considered a major achievement and hailed by critics for it’s lavish production and unique storyline. The narration in between tracks has dated but the songs themselves still stand up to this day. Highlights included the wondrous psychedelia of Nile Song, the sitar laden Lullaby, and the Small Faces-like rocker Winter Song. After this release the La De Da’s would release Rock N Roll Sandwich (1973), a classic rock lp which many oz fans rate as their very best. –Jason

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.

“Tales Of The Nile”

:) Original Vinyl | search ebay ]

 

THE PRETTY THINGS
S.F. SORROW

December, 1968

SF Sorrow

The Story: “Like Tommy, S.F. Sorrow opens with the birth of the story’s protagonist. Sebastian F. Sorrow is born in a small nameless town to ordinary parents in a house called “Number Three.” The town is supported by a factory of some sort, referred to as the “Misery Factory.” (“S.F. Sorrow is Born”) Sorrow, an imaginative boy, has a relatively normal childhood until it ends abruptly when he needs to get a job. He goes to work with his father at the Misery Factory, from which many men have been laid off. This might make S.F. the object of hate in a sense that he might be a scab in the story, or perhaps the young boy who is taking some older man’s job. (“Bracelets of Fingers”) Sorrow’s life is not yet over, though. Joy still exists for him in the form of a pretty girl across the street. She says “good morning” to him every day, and he thinks about her constantly. This is the factor that keeps him going despite his childhood’s abrupt ending. The two fall in love and become engaged, but their marriage plans are cut short when Sorrow is drafted. (“She Says Good Morning”)…” –Wikipedia (read the rest here)

The Sound: When you open the liner notes to the CD Reissue, it says in very large font “S.F. Sorrow is the first rock opera,” which kind of ends the Tommy vs Sorrow debate for me. Regardless who coined the term or conceived it first, Sorrow is a spectacular blast of garage psych, yet beautiful and melancholy. A psychedelic touchstone, SF Sorrow is widely recognized as the first rock opera. –Brendan

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.

“Private Sorrow”

:D CD Reissue | 2000 | Snapper | buy from amazon ]
:) HD Vinyl Reissue | 2008 | Sundazed | buy from sundazed ]

 

THE FAMILY TREE
MISS BUTTERS

1968

Miss Butters

The Story: Miss Butters was released several months before S.F. Sorrow, sometime in 1968. It has a cohesive story line, so I would guess it’s a pop-rock opera though some consider it a concept album. The album is the story of one person’s life, a fictional tale but based on Bob Segarini’s real-life kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Grady. Miss Butters is born into a showbiz family. She has a failed relationship which leads her to devote life to children and teaching before dying old and lonely.

The Sound: Rick Jarrard produced the album and the arrangements were by George Tipton – and wonderful they are! Harry Nilsson collaborated with Bob Segarini on one of the album’s tunes – Butters Lament – a beautiful pop song with Penny Lane-like horns and melodic Segarini vocals. The album is off the RCA label and was released around the time of Nilsson’s Aerial Ballet – so some of the same session musicians are on both discs – horn and string players – as well as above producer and arranger. Family Tree released some good singles before (more in a folk-rock style – off the Mira label) and after the Miss Butters album as well. The lp was Segarini’s first big-time studio experience which makes the album’s consistency even more remarkable. –Jason

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.

“Butters Lament”

:D CD Reissue | 2007 | Revola | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | search ebay ]

 

Epilogue: So, as a commenter (dk) pointed out, it can be difficult to distinguish between Concept Album and full-fledged Rock Opera. We’ve done our best to stick with rock-nroll albums that go beyond just a vague connection amongst the songs and truly tell their tale. But this list isn’t quite definitive yet. Please do continue to let us know of any glaring ommissions or unnecessary inclusions in the comments section, and maybe we will put together a Part 4. Regards!

Go to: [ part 1 ] [ part 2 ]

Operas That Rock [ part 2 ]

Go to: [ part 1 ] [ part 3 ]

 

THE WHO
QUADROPHENIA

October 26, 1973

The Story: "The name is a variation on the incorrect popular usage of the medical diagnostic term schizophrenia as multiple personality disorder to reflect the four distinct personalities of Jimmy, the opera’s protagonist–each said to represent the personality of one member of The Who. The story covers about five days of the life of a certain Jimmy, a participant in the circa 1964 Mod lifestyle in England. "The story is set on a rock!" announced the composer, Pete Townsend, at one live performance, indicating that the opera represents Jimmy’s looking back at the events of the previous day or two that led him into the gloomy situation where he finds himself at the end of the story. The first half of the opera consists of songs that allude to the frustrations and insecurities that govern Jimmy’s life, including brief glimpses of his home life, his job, his psychoanalyst, and his unsuccessful attempts to have a social life. Halfway through the opera he sings "I’ve Had Enough…" –Wikipedia (read the rest here)

The Sound: The epic Who sound is out in full force. This record echoes the operatic moves of Tommy, but with that powerful Who’s Next arena-melting rock that would carry the Who’s legacy for generations to come. Fine synthesizer work and great songs, especially the album’s memorable closer, Love, Reign O’er Me.

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.

“5:15”

:D CD Reissue | 1996 | MCA | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | search ebay ]

 

DAVID BOWIE

THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS

June 6, 1972

Ziggy Stardust

The Story: "The album presents the story, albeit vaguely, of "Ziggy Stardust", a Martian who comes to Earth to liberate humanity from banality. Ziggy Stardust is the definitive rock star, sexually promiscuous, wild in drug intake and with a message, ultimately, of peace and love; but he is destroyed by his own excesses of drugs and sex, and torn apart by the fans he inspired." –Wikipedia

The Sound: Ziggy Stardust has the loosest story chosen in this set of rock operas, but it has often been referred to as a rock opera inthe past. Plus, its just too damn good to ignore, thanks largely in part to Bowie’s glam reinvention of himself, inspired by Marc Bolan’s T-Rex. This is one of the world’s greatest albums of all time. Enough said.

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.

“Hang On To Yourself”

:D CD Reissue | search at amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | search ebay ]

 

FAIRFIELD PARLOUR
WHITE FACED LADY

1971

The Story: White Faced Lady is sometimes said to be based on the story of Marilyn Monroe. The main character is an enchanting young girl named Angel who finds happiness working in an antique shop. Eventually she is discovered by a film producer who makes her a star and leads her towards her own downfall. Not so different from Ziggy, apparently.

The Sound: The lost opera. This album, actually by a later incarnation of the band Kaleidoscope (UK), was recorded in 1971 but shelved until 1991. I can not understand why it wouldn’t have been put out, considering the choice tunes and excellent production. This is the sound of a sunshine/psych band that had everything together and a well devleoped sound, but sadly no audience to share it with. Currently, editions of this album are ridiculously overpriced and scarce, but those interested are encouraged to keep an eye 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.

“Nursey Nursey”

:D CD or Vinyl | search ebay ]

 

THE KINKS
ARTHUR (OR THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE)

October, 1969

Arthur

The Story: "The story is based on Davies’ brother-in-law Arthur, who emigrated from England to Australia with his wife Rose (Ray and Dave’s older sister) in the early 1960s. The lead character, Arthur, is a carpet layer and he and his family’s plight in the opportunity-poor setting of post-war England is depicted. The songs describe the England that Arthur once knew, the promise of life in Australia for one of his sons, the emptiness of his superficially comfortable life in his home, "Shangri-La", the resolve of the British people in World War II and the death of his brother in World War I, among other things." –Wikipedia

The Sound: After the hazily conceptual Village Green album, Ray Davies strung together a full-fledged opera in the progressive and harder-rocking Arthur. Though not without those wistful, dreamy Kinks moves, the tunes on Arthur are an advanced course in Davies songwriting, and embellished with horn sections and gnarly guitar riffs. A reason to love every song here, and surely one of the top 5 rock operas.

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.

“Brainwashed”

:D CD Reissue | search at amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | search ebay ]

Go to: [ part 1 ] [ part 3 ]

Operas That Rock [ part 1 ]

Go to: [ part 2 ] [ part 3 ]

The Rock Opera is a rare format distinct from the ‘Concept Album’ and ‘Rock Musical.’ The word, opera, is wiki-defined as “a dramatic work in which singers convey the drama.” ‘Concept album’ is a term used for an album of related songs that may not adhere to the format of an opera. So a rock opera is, simply, an opera that rocks.

A ‘rock musical’ is often conceived by an outsider looking in (Broadway producers or filmmakers, rather than a true blue rock band) and merely achieves an emulation of rock & roll. This is not to say that we don’t love the 39-lashes lick from JCS, it’s just that Andrew Lloyd Weber wasn’t the real deal.

So here are what we believe to be the finest albums to master the form of ‘rock opera,’ in reverse chronology, with a summary and a track from each to let you in on the sound.

PINK FLOYD
THE WALL

December 8, 1979

The Wall

The Story: “Pink loses his father as a child, is smothered by his over-protective mother, and is oppressed at school by tyrannical, abusive teachers, each of these traumas becoming “another brick in the wall.” As an adult Pink becomes a rock star, but his relationships are marred by infidelity and outbursts of violence. As his marriage crumbles, Pink finishes building the wall and completes his isolation from human contact.

Pink’s mindset deteriorates behind his freshly completed wall, with his personal crisis culminating during an onstage performance. Hallucinating, Pink believes that he is a fascist dictator, and his concerts are like Neo-Nazi rallies where he sets his men on fans he considers unworthy, only to have his conscience rebel at this and put himself on trial, his inner judge ordering him to “tear down the wall” in order to open himself to the outside world.” –Wikipedia

The Sound: This was the last of the Pink Floyd’s 2nd master work period. Naturally, I am more of a Barrett/Piper fan, but it is hard to deny the excellence of the Floyd albums from Dark Side through to The Wall. Loaded with bits of ear candy and sound effects, The Wall was written by Roger Waters as an expression of disgust with his own band’s experience in the rock business.

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.

“In The Flesh”

;) MP3 Download | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | search ebay ]

FRANK ZAPPA
JOE’S GARAGE

September 17, 1979

Joe’s Garage

The Story: A disjointed tale of Joe, an ordinary young man whose life is turned upside down when he gets into rock & roll. A flying robot, known as The Central Scrutinizer and described in the libretto to be a cheap flying robot with a megaphone snout, ties the songs together with its denouncements and threats to illegalize music. Joe’s life hits all the touchstones of an exaggerated rock career: starting out playing music in the garage, experiencing life on the road, trouble with women (and STD’s), degradation due to band member’s drug use and eventual imprisonment. Bizzare side quests detail Mary’s entry in a Wet T-shirt contest and Joe’s association with The Church of Appliantology. In the end, Joe is released from prison, but music has been outlawed, and his desires to hear music must be confined to his imagination. -Brendan

The Sound: Zappa’s sound by the late 70s had a highly developed, almost inhumanly slick sound, incorporating an orchestra of synths and sfx, trebly fuzz guitar, and lots of reggae inspired rhythms. This album is way too over the top to play for the uninitiated, and by that I mean, DO NOT dare to play this for your girlfriend.

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.

“Central Scrutinizer”

:D CD Reissue | 1995 | Zappa Records | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | search ebay ]

GENESIS
THE LAMB LIES DOWN ON BROADWAY

November 18, 1974

The Lamb Lies Down

The Story: “The album tells the surreal story of a half-Puerto Rican juvenile delinquent named Rael living in New York City, who is swept underground to face bizarre creatures and nightmarish dangers in order to rescue his brother John. Several of the story’s occurrences and places were derived from Peter Gabriel’s dreams, and the protagonist’s name is a play on his surname. It should be noted that in an interview Phil Collins remarked, “It’s about a “split personality”. In this context, Rael would believe he is looking for John but is actually looking for a missing part of himself. The individual songs also make satirical allusions to everything from mythology to the sexual revolution to advertising and consumerism. ” –Wikipedia

The Sound: The last record the by underrated Genesis with Peter Gabriel, this double LP is regarded by many fans as a masterpiece. The first LP is more conventional than the second, which finds Brian Eno adding effects and sound processing to the more atmospheric tracks. The album’s release saw Genesis performing the album live 102 times in a single tour.

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.

“Cuckoo Cocoon”

:D CD Reissue | 1994 | Atlantic | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | search ebay ]

Go to: [ part 2 ] [ part 3 ]

The Speakers “En El Maravilloso Mundo De Ingeson”

En El Maravilloso

There are no doubts in my mind that the Speakers were one of the finest rock bands Columbia has ever produced. Prior to Ingeson they had released 4 albums, the first 3 lps mixed rock n roll covers with two or three beat garage/folk-rock group originals. All of their records are sung in Spanish and by the group’s forth lp they were concentrating exclusively on group originals and experimenting with primitive psychedelia.

Their fourth self-titled album from 1968 was a major advancement for the Speakers, as it was crammed with excellent originals that mixed garage pop and acid rock. Later that year the group released it’s final album, the psychedelic masterpiece En El Maravilloso Mundo De Ingeson (In the Wonderful World of Ingeson). A record such as this could only be released independently as it was too far out for major labels to market. Ingeson was notable for being the first Columbian rock record to use multi channel recording techniques which enabled the band to introduce all kinds of strange sound effects to the record buying public. When the lp was released in 1968 it came in a gatefold edition that included a 12 page full-color booklet with photos of the band by Danilo Vitalini, text, drawings, and even a replica of an acid hit! The album has a very cool lo-fi sound and its only flaw is the out of place Historia De Un Loto Que, a silly blues rocker with sped up alien-like vocals. That being said, the rest of this record is great and as whacked out as any of the early Mutantes records.

I cannot read or speak Spanish but I understand Ingeson to have a concept of some kind that runs throughout the lp and the group never makes any compromises in regards to the album’s lyrics. Some of the songs like Reflejos De La Olla and the beautiful folk instrumental Nosotros display a clear Columbian roots influence but are definite standouts and give the lp a unique flavor. Un Sueno Magico (wild guitar distortion and treated vocals), Oda A La Gente Mediocre (killer brain-damaged psych), Si La Guerra, and Ninos are all outstanding tracks and represent some of the deepest forays into Latin American psychedelia. The cheerful Si La Guerra in particular reminds me of something off the first Os Mutantes album while Ninos has an unhinged fuzztone solo about midway thru. There are also a few good psych folk-rockers in No Como Antes and Salmo Siglo XX that balance out all the madness.

Searching for originals is pointless as this classic is extremely rare and exchanges hands for outrageous sums of money. There have been two reissues of Ingeson though, the best being the pricey limited edition SalgaelSol cd (2007) which replicates the original mini lp gatefold, text, photos and placebo acid hit.

More info:
A few years back Speakers’ drummer Roberto Fiorelli shared some words with 60’s rock fanzine Ugly Things. Of En El Maravilloso Mundo De Ingeson he said, “The version of the Speakers that included Oscar Lasprilla and myself was formed during the last months of 1967. Rodrigo Garcia, group leader, and Humberto Monroy had problems with their drummer, Edgar Duenas and they decided to replace him. We talked to the owner of Ingeson Studio, Dr. Drezner, who said we could use the studio free of charge during the night. In return we would have to use the word “Ingeson” any way we could. Since I was a professional studio drummer who worked there eight hours a day, I asked him: “What if we call the album The Speakers in the Marvelous World of Ingeson?” And Dr. Drezner replied, “You can start tomorrow!” The recordings alone took four months, from June through September of 1968. There was an abudance of percussion instruments, marimbas, xylophones, tabla, glass, bells, indigenous percussion all which were used on “Oda a La Gente Mediocore” (Ode to the Mediocre People). The promotion for this record was enormous: television, newspaper, radio talk shows, we did everything you could possibly do and the critics loved it and the end result…….only 800 copies were sold. Things went downhill after this experience. Rodrigo had enough of Columbia and returned to his native country – Spain (He joined Los Pekenikes and recorded their fourth lp). Humberto and I decided to form Siglo Cero. I worked in other musical ventures until Columbia de Fuego, a band that toured Europe and Russia in 1973. I left Columbia being the number one drummer. I really didn’t want to return again and start from scratch. So I bit the bullet , I remained in my native country of Italy where I truly started again from scratch!”

Roberto continues to play drums professionally in Italy. In regards to band leader Rodrigo Garcia, everyone who knew him in Columbia thought he had died in combat fighting for the guerrillas in Central America during the 1970’s. The elusive, eccentric Rodrigo Garcia was shocked to hear this and called it all “rubbish.” He is still alive and well and has been recording in Spain.

From the Speakers self-titled 4th album:

mp3: Reflexiones

En El Maravilloso Mundo De Ingeson

mp3: Un Sueno Magico
mp3: Nosotros Nuestra Arcadia Nuestra

:D CD Reissue | 2007 | SalgaelSol | purchase ]

Les Sinners “Vox Populi”

Original copies of this lp are fairly expensive, sometimes selling on ebay for a few hundred dollars. It’s worth it though, as Vox Populi is one of the great early concept lps and definitely one of the best French-Canadian albums bar none.

A little history on the band known as Les Sinners: they started out in Quebec during the mid 60s and before Vox Populi released two garage pop albums in 1967, their half French/half English-sung debut Sinerisme was an excellent, defiant effort that combined rowdy fuzz rockers with attractive garage pop numbers. The similarly titled Sinnerismes followed the debut album and while not as strong as the aforementioned record, it was still a respectable slab of garage pop. Vox Populi or “voices of the people” was the group’s highwater mark, a superb concept lp centered around life and people’s attitudes toward everyday situations. This 1968 release was sung entirely in French though it’s interesting to note that a recent English version cd reissue of Vox Populi (25 Succes En Anglais) appeared in the early 1990s! Both versions are recommended and differences between the two are very few. Only the French version of Everything Will Be Fine (Le Fou Du Roi) may have the edge over its English counterpart because it begins and ends with cool, distorted vocals.

Vox Populi bears a strong resemblence in sound to the Who’s Sell Out lp and shares a concept similar to that of the Kink’s Face to Face album. Many of the songs are 2.5 to 3 minute pop-art gems and the album displays a good stoned sense of humor throughout. It’s almost useless to pick out key tracks as Vox Populi is very consistent and individual. Everything Will Be Fine, Nothing Is Happening, and Today, Tomorrow are all strong psych pop tracks with good atmospheric vocals, an “english feel” and a nice, trippy production. Other hard rocking highlights are the muscular, lean rocker Late and the brilliant Don’t You Run Away. Don’t You Run Away is a killer fuzz laden psych punker that sounds similar to a really good cut off the Outsiders’ C.Q. or the Pretty Things’ S.F. Sorrow. Another strong track, The Days Are Gone is a superb melancholy rocker that harkens back to an earlier time in rock history.

Les Sinners would go on to release another album or two during the progressive rock era though none of them matched the greatness of the debut or the legendary Vox Populi.

Early Sinners:

mp3: Sour as a Sidewalk

Vox Populi:

mp3: The Days Are Gone (Anglais)
mp3: Le Fou Du Roi (Francaise)

mp3: Don\’t You Run Away
mp3: Today, Tomorrow

:) Original Vinyl | Jupiter | search ebay ]