So what of THE BOSS? Is this debut his finest moment? Second to its successor? Was the best of Bruce a ways to come? Is it even worth listening to?
“Blinded By The Light”
So what of THE BOSS? Is this debut his finest moment? Second to its successor? Was the best of Bruce a ways to come? Is it even worth listening to?
“Blinded By The Light”
In 1969 Mickey Newbury’s Looks Like Rain began a string of incredible albums that lasted well into the 1970s. Heaven Help The Child, released in 1973, was one of his very best records. It was also the last of his classic Cinderella Sound Studio Recordings (a garage studio). Produced by Dennis Linde, Russ Miller and Marlin Greene, Heaven Help The Child featured a whole cast of contemporary Nashville musicians: Wayne Moss (guitar) Chet Atkins (guitar), Vassar Clements (violin), David Briggs (keyboards), Buddy Spicher (drums) to name but a few. Many of these talented musicians had performed on Newbury’s prior albums’ Looks Like Rain and Frisco Mabel Joy. Once again Mickey Newbury was up to the task, releasing another hard-to-categorize classic.
“Heaven Help The Child,” the title track, is a soaring American masterpiece that was beautifully produced and featured poignant lyrics about Park Avenue, New York in 1912, 1920’s Paris, and of course freight trains. The lyrics, as always have lots of depth and the overall feel of the song becomes captivating when Newbury sings in his ghostly voice, “We’re all building walls instead of bridges.” “Heaven Help The Child” ended with an air of uncertainty but it goes without saying that this was one of Newbury’s finest creations. Another highlight, “Why You Been Gone So Long,” swings with a confident country-rock swagger and features excellent dobro guitar and Newbury’s smokey vocals which simmer throughout the song.
Four of the songs from Heaven Help The Child had been released on earlier LPs. Here, “Sunshine,” “Sweet Memories,” “Good Morning Dear,” and “San Francisco Mabel Joy” all enjoy definitive reworkings. Great songs from Newbury’s prior discs had become even better renditions for Heaven Help The Child. From my perspective, “Sweet Memories” and “Sunshine” stand out for their dark tone. Here, Newbury shares his pain with the listener and by the end each song you begin to feel it – the vocal performances on all these tracks are flawless. You will never hear any country music like this, it’s experimental but more importantly, the honesty and personal nature of Newbury’s songwriting talents shine through. It’s what makes him such a special, enduring artist. By all means, if you find this album on vinyl, cd or mp3 pick it up, it’s absolutely brilliant.
Mickey Newbury’s music isn’t glamorous or pretentious, he never tried to be someone else nor did he follow any sort of fad (just like country-folk contemporary Townes Van Zandt). Newbury’s appeal was in the song, he brought you back to a familiar place and time. His music, while very complex, is easy to relate to; he was just a regular guy with extraordinary vocals and a unique songwriting talent. As mentioned in a previous post, the Mickey Newbury Collection (Mountain Retreat box set) has been out of print for quite some time. You can purchase a digital download of this album and many other Mickey Newbury classics at the official Mickey Newbury website.
“Why You Been Gone So Long”
The Pink Floyd’s best album… or worst album? Cheezy and overplayed… or undeniably genius?
Even after 10+ Wizard of Oz syncs (yes, I have done it that many times) , I still can’t decide on this one.
What’s your call?
These Trails was an acid folk group who released a very rare record in 1973. The lp was released by Sinergia and is probably one of the best Hawaiian lps along with Mu.
Prominent members of the group were Margaret Morgan (vocals, guitar and dulcimer), Patrick Cockett (guitar, slide guitar and vocals) and Dave Choy (arp synthesizer, recorder, arrangements and final mix). Margaret Morgan handles most of the lead vocals with Patrick Cockett occasionally chiming in. Morgan’s vocals are dreamy and ideally suited for this kind of organic music (acid folk). Comparisons that come to mind are Linda Perhacs, though Morgan’s vocals are more innocent and angelic and the music on this lp clearly betrays a Hawaiian influence. Many of the songs are relatively pop friendly; this isn’t difficult, challenging music that has to be listened to closely – ie folk guitar virtuousos spinning off long, complex guitar solos or intricate passages with finely tuned arrangements – it’s not that kind of record. The synthesizers give tracks like Of Broken Links an otherworldly sound, unlike anything you’ve ever heard. El Rey Pescador is graced by some light sitar touches and close harmony singing.
Each track stands out on its own but Psyche I & Share Your Water is a tremendous favorite. This 5 minute track begins with a calm, soothing folk feel highlighted by some fine acoustic guitar work. Eventually it descends into bad trip territory with ghastly vocals and spooky electronics – an outstanding track, very trippy and worth the price of admission alone. Garden Botanum is another strong hightlight that hits like a ray of Hawaiian sunshine, the arrangements are free and green with lots of interesting twists, the vocals are beautifully exotic. This lp is one of the most relaxing listening experiences I’ve ever come across, an album to savour. The songs are full of simple beauty and the power of the performances will never diminish over time.
If you’re looking for something different, These Trails could be the right tonic. It’s one of the hidden gems from the early 70s and has been reissued on cd but is somewhat hard to come by these days.
“Psyche I & Share Your Water”
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.
“Doin’ Time In The USA”
This was waxed around the time he produced legendary recordings by the Modern Lovers so it’s no surprise that this is one of the best albums from the ubiquitous Kim Fowley. Son of actor Douglas Fowley, he produced the novelty hit “Alley Oop” in 1960, then went on to release some commercially unsuccessful solo albums, produced and wrote more oddities for other artists (including Kiss) and eventually unleashed Runaways on the world. And that’s just to name a few. He even found time to write songs with Skip Battin, which were recorded by the Byrds (Untitled LP) and Gene Parsons.
Those who’ve worn out their copies of Roxy Music/Eno/Bowie albums will be thrilled to exhume this forgotten (or never really even known) specimen of oddball glam. Judging from the cover, he didn’t want to leave anyone guessing about the sound he was shooting for. This platter plays like an instant classic, falling into some no man’s land somewhere between Roxy Music and the New York Dolls. Like Eno, he’s often playing post-punk years before it existed, but Fowley’s songs are looser and more accessible, sure to get you hooked on the first spin. “Something New” is simply a perfect pop song with a great update on a Byrdsian jangle feel. “I Hate You” is a gloomy slice of contempt that’ll leave you feeling good about your shitty mood. There are nice female soul/gospel backings throughout. “Dancing All Night” rocks like a garbage can bound outtake from Sticky Fingers.
International Heroes is another exceptional rocknroll record that is in dire need of CD release. Good luck finding any cheap copies on ebay.
Issued by Reprise in 1973, and not to be confused with several boots bearing the same name, The Great Lost Kinks Album may not be a legitimate release, but it is one of my favorite Kinks albums. Even though I know it’s wrong (Ray Davies knew nothing about it and moved to legally stop production of the record), I can’t help but fall for its charms.
Supposedly, the bulk of Great Lost was intended for a 1969 release entitled Four More Respected Gentlemen. The liner notes for the LP are hard to trust, however, since the ‘kronikler’ spends most of his time deriding the touring behavior of the ’73 Kinks and complaining about the songs on Muswell Hillbillies (by my account, a fine record in every regard). Pretty much all of this material (tracks that didn’t make the cut for Face to Face, Something Else, and Village Green Preservation Society) is available now as bonus material on the essential 2004 Kinks reissues (mostly on the 3CD VGPS package).
The track order on Great Lost Kinks feels like the real thing, and affords that rare pleasure rabid fans are always hunting down: the unreleased masterpiece. Great Lost is to Kinks fans what Smile bootlegs are to Brian Wilson devotees, maybe not a masterpiece, but it’s that extra dip in the Golden Age once you’ve already exhausted the best of their discography. Considering its release date, this was the first chance anybody got at hearing these buried gems, making Great Lost a considerable prize to collectors. If you do find this record out in the wild, pick it up immediately. The bizarre neon cover may have you believe this is a less than stellar 1980s outing or some mediocre compilation, but it truly sounds like that great, fabled record that never was.
There are no skippable tracks, but for me, Til Death Do Us Part is one of the perfect Kinksongs, a humble, laid-back march that sounds sweetly traditional. There Is No Life Without Love is a sleeper Kinks klassic with its subdued and gorgeous groove. I won’t go on. I’ll save the rest for that lucky day you find this for yourself. If you need to hear the tracks before then, get working on your Kinks reissues, they’re all there somewhere.
“Till Death Do Us Part”
“There’s No Life Without Love”
Original Vinyl | 1973 | Reprise | search eBay ]
Throughout the years 1999 to 2003 or so, I collected and devoured just about every official Frank Zappa release. It’s time to let it out of the brain, and hopefully you can use these posts as an introduction to this man’s incredible body of work.
I’ve found that FZ albums tend to come in two’s, so here’s our first double shot of Frank. These years contain his most commercially successful works and act as a fast and bulbous starting point.
Over-Nite Sensation (1973)
Zappa liked a tight band. The players on Over-Nite Sensation (notably featuring George Duke, Ruth Underwood, and the Fowler Brothers) would comprise the cleanest and strictest sounding rock ensemble yet. Nothing shows this more than the insanely detailed changes and synth, horn, and melodic percussion runs to one of my early favorites, Zomby Woof. The gnarly guitar lick and morally condemning lyric to I Am The Slime kinda says it all about his classical/satirical approach to rock music. And the succinct guitar solas throughout this record are both introductions and solid proof of his out-of-this-world modal guitar mastery. Dinah Moe Humm and Montana are bona fide Zappa classics and I remember even steadfast Zappa haters admitted to liking Camarillo Brillo.
Apostrophe (‘) (1974)
Zappa had the extraordinary ability to create unheard new sounds, rhythms, and textures with each of his bands. The opener to Apostrophe, well known favorite Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow, has one of these rare grooves. Turned up loud it’s this killer double guitar riffing that alternates with a fantastic disco hi-hat rhythm. Without changing time signature even, this groove still manages to entrance me today. See, it’s not the goofy, sometimes embarrassing lyrics and jokes tucked away in every Zappa piece that I seek out (though strangely comforting they are); it’s the treasures of complicated movements and studio /conducting genius that made Frank Zappa the transcendental composer and producer we know him as today. Get this one for a perfect development from Over-Nite Sensation, featuring even zanier movements, and of course that sick guitar lick on the title track.
“Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow”
Note: serious fans won’t want to miss the new Classic Albums Series DVD: Apostrophe / Over-Nite Sensation.
Embryo are a brilliant Krautrock band that began in the late 60’s, creatively flourished throughout the 70’s and are still making great music today. While contemporaries the Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk pioneered electronic rock and Can were content exploring the avant garde fringe elements, Embryo favored a jazzy form of space rock with very strong elements of world music.
Christian Burchard has always remained the constant throughout Embryo’s long, varied career. On this recording he is the lead vocalist and also plays mellotron, vibraphone, percussion, drums, keyboards, marimba, mellophonium, bass, guitar, and saz. We Keep On is often regarded as Embryo’s masterpiece, an overwhelming lp mining West African rhythms that reach deep into unexplored regions of your mind. Burchard’s vocals are strange and unconventional in an almost proto new-wave way. The first song, Abdul Malek, sounds like nothing I have ever heard before and should really appeal to psych fans (take note of the acoustic raga riffs) even though this is a 1973 release. Don’t Come Tomorrow is another good trancey song with understated mellotron, piano, vibes, and interesting bamboo flute courtesy of Charlie Mariano.
The lp is divided evenly between instrumentals and vocal tracks (there are 6 songs in total and 2 extra on the recent reissue by Disconforme). No Place To Go features crazed Burchard vocals and some fabulous jazz guitar playing while other tracks like Hackbrett-Dance and Flute and Saz tap into something new and totally original. In 1975 Miles Davis had this to say about Embryo, “That German hippy group where Mal Waldron used to play; they are doing interesting things. You know, man? They are good musicians, just playing good shit!” This was the ultimate compliment coming from a jazz master and a good enough reason to check out this great, lost album.
Roy Wood is one of the architects of ELO and The Move, and possessed some of the most eclectic tastes and interesting ideas of any pop artist in his time. Boulders, his self-produced 1969 (though released 1973) solo-outing combines the hard rock of The Move with Roy Wood’s classical tastes, satisfying pop composition skills, and studio wizzardry.
A fantastic listen from start to finish. “Songs of Praise” might throw off casual ears with layers of harmonized vocals, but throughout the record the dubbed vocals are played almost as masterfully, though more humorously to be sure, as our old friend Nilsson. There’s the brilliantly produced “Wake Up,” with double-tracked acoustic guitars in stereo, flutes, cello, best of all: percussion from a puddle of water! Elsewhere we hear sped up and slowed down vocals, plentiful horns and woodwinds. Delicate sleigh bells and shakers, tiny mistakes, xylophone accents; there are a million precious details. It sounds as if Wood had picked out toys and instruments from the studio like it were a candy store. Additionally, it gives the feel of a fellow finally getting the control over the studio he’s always needed, and just having a blast with it. It is comforting in a strange way to know the record was designed entirely by Roy, making each ornament of sound stand out a bit more.
Despite Roy’s legacy of music in other projects The Move, ELO and Wizzard, I consider Boulders to be his finest work. Roy writes to us on the sleeve of the recent reissue and asks that we not distribute this album illegally online. Boulders is a brilliant listen and is truly worth your money.