Posts Tagged ‘ 1974 ’

Skyhooks “Living In The 70’s”

Living In The 70s

One of the hallmarks of truly great albums is that they document the moment of their creation but sound as though they could have been recorded at any time; they transcend the era of their conception but record it perfectly. Skyhooks’ “Living in the 70’s” is such an album.

Straight ahead rock and roll with an eyeliner of glam, “Living in the 70’s” sheds a small but unblinking light on what it was like to be an inner-suburban post adolescent in Melbourne circa 1974. The opening lines of the album sum it up pretty well. “I feel a little empty, I feel a little strange. Like I’m in a pay-phone, without any change.”

Dislocated, disassociated, dissatisfied and slightly disillusioned, the songs on “Living in the 70’s” touch on the emergence of youth sub-culture that was just gaining a foothold at the time. The children of the sixties were waking up, and for the first time they had the guts not to listen to their parents or authority. It’s not the cry of an anarchist punk, but more the shout of “I’m getting my ear pierced and I don’t care what you say!” by a rebellious teenager. Mild, oh so mild, but still beyond what their parents were capable of. This album helped forge a youthful national identity.

Produced by Ross Wilson (ex Daddy Cool) and put out on the emerging Mushroom records label, the production is clean and crisp and captures the state of the songs much as they were when Skyhooks performed them live. Wilson reportedly fought for production duties on “Living in the 70’s” so that the content was not deliberately watered down to suit the “mature” taste of the times.

Filled with sex, drugs, and rock and roll, six of the ten tracks were banned by the Federation of Australian Commercial Broadcasters, which dictated airplay on the commercial stations, but rather than hinder sales, the attraction of contraband was too hard for the kids to ignore and they sent the album to No. 1 on the Australian charts for 16 weeks.

In retrospect it seems hard to comprehend what all fuss was about, but in the political context of the times songs like “Smut” and “You just like me ‘cos I’m good in bed” were never going to be passed by the censors. The ambiguity that 1974 could give birth to the material, yet try to immediately abort it, was due more to the hangover of 20 consecutive years of conservative Government than anything else, but the country would quickly get over its headache and go in for another round of binge drinking at the party of which “Living in the 70’s” was the soundtrack. An Aussie classic!

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“Living In The 70’s”

:D CD Reissue | 2005 | Mushroom | amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1974 | Mushroom | ebay ]

Leonard Cohen “New Skin For The Old Ceremony”

New Skin For The Old Ceremony

In 1974, Leonard Cohen hired producer John Lissauer to help him create the new sound for his songs. Moving away from the heavily reverberating, simplistic arrangements of Songs of Love and Hate (1971), Cohen uses large vocal ensembles, banjos, jews harp, heavy percussion, strings, and woodwinds to create a palate that is, in my opinion, finally equal to the depth of the writing itself.

The album opens with one of my favorite Cohen songs, “Is This What You Wanted.” The record is probably worth its weight in gold for the horn arrangements alone during the first verse (listen, kids, right channel). Once the chorus kicks, with the broken, funky backbeat and the monotone call and response chorus, you know you have stumbled upon something brilliant. Although Rolling Stone called this record “not one of his best,” I feel that it must be considered a classic. Coming in at track 2 is the controversial, beautiful, sex charged new york anthem, Chelsea Hotel #2. One of the few songs Cohen co-wrote, this track details the alleged sexual encounter between our Hero and the one and only Janis Joplin. Songs like “There is a War” bring out the louder, more politically charged side of this artist. While “Who by Fire” is a stunningly beautiful octave charged and simplistic male/female duet which borrows from traditional jewish prayer to ask the question of how will we all die.

Still want to listen? Good. Me too. Full of good funky 70’s folk-rock production with a knack for the depressed and the overly beautiful, this record sings about all the necessary topics you need to get you through the end of march and bursting into the spring. Also, the cover art is so awesome that Columbia refused to press it on the first release of the record. And if Angels want to screw to this music, it can’t be half bad.

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“Is This What You Wanted”

:D CD Reissue | 1995 | Sony | mp3 Download | Buy from Amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1974 | Columbia | search ebay ]

Double Zappa |FZ| 1973-74

Over Night Sensation (left) Apostrophe (right)

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.

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“Camarillo Brillo”

:) Vinyl Search | Over Nite Sensation @ eBay ]
:D CD Reissue | 1995 | Over-Nite Sensation ]

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.

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“Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow”

:) Vinyl Search | Apostrophe @ eBay ]
:D CD Reissue | 1995 | Apostrophe (‘) ]

Note: serious fans won’t want to miss the new Classic Albums Series DVD: Apostrophe / Over-Nite Sensation.

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Simply Saucer “Cyborgs Revisited”

Cyborgs Revisited

Quite simply, this is one of the best proto-punk albums out there. Cyborgs Revisted is equal parts Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd garage psych raunch and early Velvet Underground art-rock sophistication, sounding well ahead of the game and almost too good to be true. It’s a fabulous record that few people have heard, and will appeal to adventurous listeners who are tired of today’s top 40 garbage.

Simply Saucer formed in Hamilton, Canada (Ontario), releasing just one single in 1978 and playing live shows throughout the region. I don’t think Cyborg’s Revisited was officially released during the mid 70’s. I do know that in 1989 an lp version appeared featuring 9 songs. In 2001/2002 a cd version of Cyborg’s revisited was reissued, containing the full album as well as live cuts, their lone single and raw demos. Most of the cuts featured on the 1989 lp (which are the first 9 tracks of the cd) were recorded in 1974. Edgar Breau was the brains behind Simply Saucer writing all the band’s material, singing lead vocals and playing guitar.

Many of these songs are highly experimental within a garage rock format using theremin, audio generators, and other primitive electronics. Electro Rock showcases this experimental aspect of the band with great results and also highlights some exceptional guitar work. Instant Pleasure is a great, brief track as well, with Syd Barrett type vocals and guitar noise mayhem. On Bullet Proof Nothing the band pulls off a great acoustic rocker that sounds like a Lou Reed Loaded era outtake. I can’t see anyone into early Pink Floyd, the Stooges, the Velvet Underground or Can not liking this record.

Simply Saucer has also proven to be influential to popular artists such as the Dream Syndicate’s Steve Wynn who quotes the She’s A Dog 45 as one of his all-time favorites. Other bands of this ilk worth checking out are Debris’, George Brigman, the Electric Eels, the Mirrors, Styrenes, and Rocket From The Tombs.

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“Instant Pleasure”

[ Cyborgs Revisited | Search eBay ]

Electric Light Orchestra “Eldorado”

Eldorado

If any album cover has begged/hinted to its listeners to watch the “Wizard of Oz” while listening to the record it’s this one, right? I haven’t done it but I bet it’s awesome. Why? Because anything involving “Eldorado” is awesome. Also check out “The Wizard of Oz”, it’s about this girl who gets caught in a tornado and well I don’t want to spoil the rest…..

Jeff Lynne considers “Eldorado” the first album that accomplished the sound he had set out to make when starting ELO. Some even call it the Sgt. Pepper’s of their career. For me, it’s their best album, if you twist my arm, I might say, “Face the Music” but since you’re not I’m sticking with “Eldorado.” It’s start to finish fantastic, it even has a reprise at the end which always makes us think we’ve come full circle and that we may have missed the bigger picture. It marks the beginning of ELOs string of super albums (Eldorado, Face The Music, New World Record).

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“Boy Blue”

Eldorado at Amazon

Electric Light Orchestra - Eldorado