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Music, history, and meaningless trivia: These are a few of my favorite things. They won’t earn me an early retirement, but I derive enjoyment from them nonetheless. As I grow older, the opportunities have become fewer and further between for sitting around the shack with a buddy over a six-pack, dissecting various albums or comparing/contrasting the multitude of live performances of Like a Rolling Stone available through official and bootleg releases. Thank goodness my wife likes or at least tolerates my musical interests, not to mention the fact that she has introduced me to sounds I probably never would’ve learned of had I not met her.

This past spring (of 2017) my fascination with the radical transformation of popular music 50 years ago was rekindled. Not that my interest ever went away, but I had long ago begun taking much of it for granted even though there was much I had yet to discover. Often referred to as the soundtrack to the fabled Summer of Love of 1967, that musical and social revolution had already been in motion for a year or two prior and even earlier than that on the US coasts and in European cities. But by Sgt. Pepper, “psychedelia” was becoming mainstream culture, at least as mainstream as possible pre-24 hour news cycle and social media when the war du jour was still a relatively popular one (at least for a few more months). Even some straights tried to look hip. I probably would’ve been one of those nerds hopelessly trying to look and act groovy, as evidenced by my adolescence in the 1980’s when I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be preppy or a hippie, but ended up just another hum drum Midwesterner with a mullet.

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Back to 1967: In the midst of becoming acquainted with Country Joe and the Fish’s Electric Music for the Mind and Body for the first time last spring and trying to get past the Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request as nothing but a Pepper satire or bad rip-off (or a good one), the thought came to me: Oh man, what about 1968? To me, that’s the year the music scene really took off in terms of both quantity and quality. The latter element for me probably didn’t peak until 1970 or ’71, the year I returned to life as we know it as Stephen. But I had to push ’68 to the back burner, lest I overlook the brilliance of Love’s 1967 release Forever Changes or Captain Beefheart’s Safe as Milk. Now the 50th anniversary of that crazy, tumultuous year of losses of great American leaders, riots, trips to India, another Cardinals World Series, and of course the music, has inched its way to the front of the stove, bringing with it something a little heavier for the next twelve months and beyond.

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So, how to keep these interests fresh and stimulating when I’ve waxed poetic ad nauseam about that lost, out of print Van Morrison classic from 1974 I’ve only recently discovered for myself by cobbling the pieces together from various YouTube sources into a playlist to the point where my wife is repeating my blathering to her co-workers? Some people (o.k., my therapist) say I should write about it. Maybe create a blog. A blog? What could I possibly say that hasn’t been said a bazillion times before by Boomers who were actually alive when these albums were current and the big news stories of the day were unfolding?

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“Traffic’s self-titled album was released on October 25.” “MLK and RFK were assassinated.” “The Tet Offensive occurred, causing Walter Cronkite to opine that the U.S. should honorably vamoose from Vietnam.” These are facts that can easily be found on Wikipedia timelines should one be interested enough to do a simple search. But to me, this is the most fascinating period of culture and history in general, and the core of my favorite music has always been the period from roughly 1965-1975. So, to any Baby Boomers who might read this, I say relax, I’m not trying to encroach on the era you rightfully own. I just have my own relationship with the music as a Gen X-er just as my 17-year-old son or the two teenage girls I overheard in my local record shop (yep, I’ve got one of those right around the corner!) the other day asking the owner for Jethro Tull recommendations have theirs. It’s a beautiful thing!

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To understate it slightly, stuff happened in 1968. Much of it looked really cool and exciting from the distant land of 1988 (“when I was young…”), and much of it even now. At times I’ve thought it would’ve been great to have come of age in the mid-late 1960’s. Alas, I probably would’ve died in the muck of Southeast Asia (maybe I did, but that’s a topic for another blog). My hope is that this might stir some thoughts for you and that you might in turn occasionally share some of your own musings on these things: where you were and what you were up to (if you were alive), and of course any opinions on the music, positive, negative, or otherwise.

For now, I’d like to offer an occasional reminder of some of the many 50th anniversary milestones in music from the year 1968, subjectively handpicked by yours truly, as well as occasional thoughts on music from other eras when the urge arises. I’ll focus on albums, but sprinkle in the occasional notable single from albums not otherwise mentioned. Many of these albums have specific release dates I’ll stick to, others only have the release month available. Some are apparently so forgotten that only “1968” is given as their release date. Some are obvious choices that most of us know and many of us love.

Other albums I’ll list because I’m aware they’re “important,” but I really don’t know much about them other than maybe a track or two that ended up on greatest hits compilations (see most Motown and country). Occasionally I’ll throw in a side tidbit that relates to the music, or a historical factoid to add perspective. If I leave out an album or song you feel I should have included, you can let me have it for my ignorance or for being such a snob. Sorry, but the 1910 Fruitgum Company and the early works of the Bee Gees probably won’t make the cut – unless you want them to. And by all means, please let me know of any factual errors. Without further adieu, Happy New Year, and welcome back to 1968 (and beyond). May we all be Bold as Love.

-Stephen

November ’68 – The Nice and the Shape of Prog to Come

The Nice – Ars Longa Vita Brevis       

Progressive rock, or prog – how to discuss it?  It’s a sub-genre most folks seem to have their minds made up about one way or the other.  Preconceived notions such as “It’s music only musicians like,” or “It’s music only dudes like,” are common.  There’s probably a lot of truth in that, but why?  Women enjoy rock, jazz, and classical, so why not prog?  Granted, as one who was not introduced to this music at an early age, I’ve had to dive in head-first with a few albums on which I had no idea what I was listening to.  But it’s paying off.  I’ve even reached a point where I’m exploring more current prog (i.e., from the last 20 years), some of which, as I’ve discovered, my wife has owned and liked all along.  Funny how that works.  Back to the topic at hand…

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The Nice formed in the UK in 1967 and soon released their first LP, The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack.  Their style, as was that of prog in general, was an outgrowth of the psychedelic genre with more classical and jazz elements.  On the heels of a couple of followup singles, including their controversial take on Leonard Bernstein’s America which Emerson described as an “instrumental protest song,” they released their second album, Ars Longa Vita Brevis, 50 years ago this month.  The title is an aphorism of Hippocrates’ which translates as “Art is long, life is short.”

The band entered into these sessions as a quartet consisting keyboard madman Keith Emerson, bassist Lee Jackson (who also handled most of the vocals), Brian Davison on drums, and guitarist David O’List.  Tension between O’List and the rest of the band led to his dismissal or to his quitting during the sessions, depending upon who is asked.  O’List would go on to join the first incarnation of Roxy Music.  Steve Howe was auditioned to replace him, but when he declined their offer to join, they decided to move forward as a trio.

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Clockwise from left:  Keith Emerson, David O’List, Lee Jackson, and Brian Davison.  O’List departed the group during recording.

On this album, which AllMusic’s Bruce Eder considers groundbreaking, we hear and glimpse what Keith Emerson would become famous for:  his flair for the dramatic.  The music itself was dramatic, as was the way Emerson would sometimes violently play his Hammond organ.  On this disc, there’s a little something for every prog fan, with classically themed shorter songs on the first side, and the Ars Longa Vita Brevis suite on the flip side.

The record has an exuberant beginning on Daddy Where Did I Come From?, which is dominated by Keith’s keyboards and a Davison’s drums.  It’s heavy psych-rock that rolls into the jazzy second song, Little Arabella, which is almost on the cheesy side but which works in the context of the album.  The band lets loose on the next track, Happy Freuds.  As Dave Swanson notes on ultimateclassicrock.com, Syd Barrett’s influence is quite evident here, and that the following song, the band’s take on Sibelius’ Karelia Suite (1893), was the seed of what would ultimately be Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s calling card.

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And then there were three.  (Photo by Jan Persson/Redferns)

Side two is, to me, an over the top affair consisting of the nearly 20 minute Ars Longa Vita Brevis, complete with a prelude, four movements, and coda.  Perhaps it’s simply the drum solo which squelches my interest.  I do find the “3rd Movement,” Acceptance (Brandenburger), and “4th Movement,” Denial, to be rather enjoyable.

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Ars Longa Vita Brevis, and prog in general, is not everyone’s cup of tea.  The core of what is liked and disliked about the genre can be found on this album:  It’s teeming with Emerson’s virtuosity and creativity on keyboards in a manner not heard before.  It can also be heard as bloated and pretentious, which, to me, isn’t always a bad thing.  With this album, and later with ELP, I find the shorter songs to be more interesting as they were able to pack a lot into four minutes.  It’s not that I don’t like any longer works, but they tend to be the ones by King Crimson and Yes.  Either way, along with early Pink Floyd, this is what I imagine underground London sounded like.  If you aren’t familiar with it, give it a listen and let me know what you think.

Tracklist:

Side One:

  1. Daddy, Where Did I Come From?
  2. Little Arabella
  3. Happy Freuds
  4. Intermezzo from the Karelia Suite
  5. Don Edito el Gruva

Side Two:

  1. Ars Longa Vita Brevis
  • Prelude
  • 1st Movement:  Awakening
  • 2nd Movement:  Realisation
  • 3rd Movement:  Acceptance “Brandenburger”
  • 4th Movement:  Denial
  • Coda:  Extension to the Big Note

Here is the aforementioned second single for the Nice, America.  When they played it at the Royal Albert Hall, Emerson set an American flag on fire, earning the band a permanent ban from the venue.

-Stephen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ars_Longa_Vita_Brevis_(album)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nice

http://ultimateclassicrock.com/the-nice-ars-longa-vita-brevis/

https://www.allmusic.com/album/ars-longa-vita-brevis-mw0000198046

November ’68 – John Mayall’s L.A. Holiday

John Mayall – Blues from Laurel Canyon

It seems I’m in a Laurel Canyon state of mind.  By 1968, an artistically idyllic diaspora had developed in L.A. which would shape much of the popular music world for the next decade or so.  One name I wouldn’t normally associate with that scene is John Mayall, but he had visited L.A. earlier in the year and subsequently moved from his native England to Laurel Canyon the following year.  Mayall lived there for ten years (a brush fire destroyed his home and much archival material in 1979).  Fifty years ago this month he released his acclaimed Blues from Laurel Canyon, featuring 19-year-old guitarist Mick Taylor.  It was his first album after the breakup of the Bluesbreakers earlier in the year.

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Mayall handles the vocals throughout.  He also plays guitar, harmonica, and keyboards.  Mick Taylor, who would soon join the Rolling Stones, plays some blistering lead guitar as well as pedal steel on the album.  Steve Thompson, all of 18, plays bass, and Colin Allen is on drums.  Peter Green, late of Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and at the time the leader of Fleetwood Mac, added guitar to the track First Time Alone.

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Mayall

The album is considered innovative in the blues genre, as songs segue into the next or otherwise stop on a chord just before the next song begins.  We also hear a tabla – not an oft-employed instrument in blues music but one which fit well pretty much anywhere in the late ’60s.  The tracks tell the story of Mayall’s visit to L.A. prior to his move there, which actually makes it a bit of a concept album.  But there’s nothing to do with flower power or the burgeoning singer/songwriter genre on this record.  It’s all blues, and it only took three days in August of ’68 to record.  At the age of 35, Mayall was a senior citizen in the music world by that time and wasn’t going to be swayed much by what the younger musicians were doing.

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Mick Taylor

There are some really good moments on this record.  The opening track, Vacation, begins with the sound of a jet landing (like another opening track to a major album release that same month), i.e., Mayall’s arrival in L.A., and features a more-accomplished-than-his-years solo by Mick Taylor.  Taylor also plays some tasty slide on 2401, which was inspired by Mayall’s visit with Frank (and daughter Moon Unit) Zappa and also features nice keyboard work by Mayall.  Someone’s Acting like a child is a classic blues track with great guitar and harmonica.  The Bear, with Mayall’s great boogie piano track, is based upon his meeting with Canned Heat (it opens with a riff from On the Road Again), and Taylor plays some outstanding improvisations on the song about Mayall mentally preparing to go home to England (before permanently moving to Laurel Canyon for the next decade) on the aptly titled Fly Tomorrow.

At a time when white blues guitar players like Clapton and Page were stretching their playing into heavier forms, Mayall stayed truer to traditional blues than most.  It’s interesting to me that L.A. appealed to him at that point in his career.  But then again, what wasn’t to like from a perch in Laurel Canyon, looking down over the Sunset Strip and its happening venues?  Warm, sunny days, an exploding music scene in the late 1960s, etc.  Good times.

Tracklist:

Side One:

  1. Vacation
  2. Walking On Sunset
  3. Laurel Canyon Home
  4. 2401
  5. Ready to Ride
  6. Medicine Man
  7. Somebody’s Acting Like a Child

Side Two:

  1. The Bear
  2. Miss James
  3. First Time Alone
  4. Long Gone Midnight
  5. Fly Tomorrow

-Stephen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blues_from_Laurel_Canyon

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Mayall

https://www.elsewhere.co.nz/essentialelsewhere/834/john-mayall-blues-from-laurel-canyon-1968/

https://www.allmusic.com/album/blues-from-laurel-canyon-mw0000204935

 

 

Young, Talented, & Free: Laurel Canyon in the Late 1960’s

Is there a historical time and place you’ve ever thought might’ve been great to have been around for whatever reasons?  The combination of the lens of history and the imagination can make the grass appear quite green in different bygone scenes.  For me, Paris in the 1920’s, Greenwich Village in the late-1950’s/early 60’s, and Swinging London in the mid/late 60’s are a few which stoke my imagination.

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Another is Laurel Canyon for that brief moment in the late 60’s when the music world was shifting faster than people could keep up with.  Thankfully there were artists and record company executives willing to take chances.  Granted, the “free” in my title is subjective; artists enjoyed leeway to record and perform as they liked, but massive egos are a hinderance to freedom in the spiritual sense, and there was no shortage of those in the Canyon.

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But it was a snapshot in time just before the money got absurd and the drugs too hard,  and it’s not likely to ever be repeated.  Today it’s snapshots I’d like to share in a manner which deviates from my usual format.  Rock photography became a major art form itself and crucial to the music industry around this time, and in L.A. Henry Diltz, among others, was a major contributor among the emerging folk and rock glitterati.  Perhaps I’ll explore that topic another time.

For now, picture yourself in a canyon in 1968 L.A., with tangerine trees and smoggy skies…

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Frank Zappa with daughter Moon Unit.  Getty Images
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The unofficial hostess of Laurel Canyon, Mama Cass.  Henry Diltz photo

Mama Cass may have been the unofficial hostess, but pictorially and musically speaking, to me the most interesting road in the canyon led to Joni Mitchell’s house:

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Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, Eric Clapton, and Mama Cass’s baby.  Henry Diltz photo
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Crosby, Stills, Nash, Dallas Taylor, Young, and Greg Reeves.  Henry Diltz photo
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Jim Morrison, standing outside his Laurel Canyon home.  Paul Ferrara photo
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Jackson Browne in his ’57 Chevy.  Henry Diltz photo
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Linda Ronstadt, then of the Stone Poneys.  Henry Diltz photo
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Stephen Stills and Peter Tork.
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Judy Collins and Joni in Mitchell’s Lookout Mountain home, Laurel Canyon.  Rowland Scherman photo
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James Taylor and Joni.
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John Mayall
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The Canyon Country Store, where the ladies (and gentlemen) of the canyon gathered.

I recommend the following books to anyone interested in learning more about the Laurel Canyon scene in the 1960s and 70s:

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Laurel Canyon:  The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood – by Michael Walker
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Canyon of Dreams:  The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon – by Harvey Kubernik
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Hotel California:  The True-Life Adventures of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Mitchell, Taylor, Browne, Ronstadt, Geffen, the Eagles, and Their Many Friends – by Barney Hoskyns

-Stephen

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/laurel-canyon-michael-walker/1100946905/2660582144646?st=PLA&sid=BNB_New+Marketplace+Shopping+Textbooks&sourceId=PLAGoNA&dpid=tdtve346c&2sid=Google_c&gclid=Cj0KCQiA2o_fBRC8ARIsAIOyQ-nUr5rGOVMQysznRYWWeGKw0AyV9FYd9GtYNVJnKKuhsr4oNzFz474aAumGEALw_wcB

https://www.abebooks.com/Canyon-Dreams-Magic-Music-Laurel/30110395251/bd?cm_mmc=gmc-_-used-_-PLA-_-v01&gclid=Cj0KCQiA2o_fBRC8ARIsAIOyQ-kNGadghEctBnpcpBkIc6ZO4citQKhM2YH4GY7xmO6i_oF5PT47dmAaAmowEALw_wcB

https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-471-73273-0

 

November 8 – Dusty Springfield

Dusty Springfield – Single:  Son of a Preacher Man

This classic, written by Muscle Shoals composers John Hurley and Ronnie Wilkins, was originally intended for Aretha Franklin.  Franklin did record it, but producer Jerry Wexler determined it wasn’t the right fit for her album.  Wexler, Tom Dowd, and Arif Mardin then produced Springfield’s version, released 50 years ago today, and it was a major international hit from her album Dusty in Memphis.  The song reached #10 in the US and #9 in her native UK.  It’s considered one of the all-time greatest singles by a number of music publications.  It’s also quite popular with sorority girls, as I found out a number of years ago when working as a party-pic photographer in a college town.

Side A:  Son of a Preacher Man

Side B:  Just a Little Lovin’

-Stephen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son_of_a_Preacher_Man

November 1968 – The Incredible String Band

The Incredible String Band – Wee Tam and the Big Huge

By the time the Scottish psychedelic folk group the Incredible String Band began recording their fourth album in the spring of 1968, their audience was growing both in the UK and US having completed successful tours and selling out venues such as the Fillmore and the Royal Albert Hall.  Their March ’68 release, The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, was met with critical acclaim.  With the double album Wee Tam and the Big Huge, released 50 years ago this month, Robin Williamson and Mike Heron honed their creative process, and the result is considered by many, along with their previous album, to be their apex.

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L-R:  Mike Heron, Rose Simpson, Robin Williamson, and Christina “Licorice” McKechnie

Williamson and Heron became more involved in each other’s songwriting.  They also became more of a band as opposed to a duo, as girlfriends Christina “Licorice” McKechnie and Rose Simpson took on more significant roles.  Of the fifteen or so instruments played on the record, McKechnie and Simpson contributed on the violin, Irish Harp, percussion, and bass guitar during live performances in addition to their hippie siren backing vocals.  Though not quite as much as its predecessors, Wee Tam is experimental to the point of avant-garde in some places.  Its lyrics are full of allusions to self-awareness, religion, and pagan mythology (they were indeed an influence on Robert Plant).  This was mostly Williamson’s contribution, whereas Heron wrote more simplistically about nature.

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The following summer at Woodstock, (L-R):  Simpson, Heron, McKechnie, and Williamson

The title is an allusion to a small human (Wee Tam) contemplating the vastness of the universe (the Big Huge), and that theme plays out on the album’s four sides.  Unfortunately, Elektra Records released it simultaneously as two separate albums in the US, using the front and back covers for each release.  The result of this decision was the disruption of the work’s continuity, as well as negatively impacting sales.  Off the top of my head, I cannot think of another such example other than Bruce Springsteen releasing two different albums on the same day.  But those were never meant to be a double album, and time has shown they would’ve been better as one single record.  I digress.

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The contrasting approaches of Heron and Williamson mesh really well on this release.  With each listen, I notice different instruments or vocal dynamics I hadn’t heard before.  The songs continue to use a Western folk structure, but are complimented with Eastern sounds of the sitar and sarangi.  The lyrics and backing vocals are exotic instruments in themselves.  The opening track, Job’s Tears, is surreal and serene with Williamson’s vocal intertwined with the backing vocals.  You Get Brighter is another favorite of mine.  Along with its guitar and harpsichord track, I hear a beautiful melody with simple, repeated lyrics:  “Krishna colors on the wall, You taught me how to love you…”  And, the sprawling Maya, which opens the second disc, sets the tone for the remaining tracks which are mostly dominated by Williamson’s surreal lyrics.

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The Wee Tam portion is considered more accessible than the second disc, but to me it’s a cohesive, four-sided,  aery and dreamlike sequence.  It’s considered less ambitious than The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, but not to my ears.  One minute you’re at a ghat in Varanasi hearing sitars wafting in the wind, the next you’re sitting in an ancient Scottish church with a pipe organist playing a mournful dirge.  It takes an investment of time and attention to hear all there is to absorb with it, but not in the same vein of, say, Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica, other than to say these guys were from some place else, artistically speaking.  As Tony Hardy wrote in his appreciation on consequencesofsound.net:

As much as the playing shimmered with virtuosity, there was also a coy, amateurish side to the band, which was endearing to fans and annoying to everyone else. Their ramshackle approach, particularly on stage, was a real part of the band’s charm and what made them one man’s meat… It is nature’s roller coaster ride. It’s green before its time, haunting and plaintiff, spiritual and uplifting, funny and sad, baffling and informed, and it should be in everyone’s record collection.

Tracklist:

Side One:

  1. Job’s Tears
  2. Puppies
  3. Beyond the See
  4. The Yellow Snake
  5. Log Cabin Home in the Sky

Side Two:

  1. You Get Brighter
  2. The Half-Remarkable Question
  3. Air
  4. Ducks on a Pond

Side Three:

  1. Maya
  2. Greatest Friend
  3. The Son of Noah’s Brother
  4. Lordly Nightshade
  5. The Mountain of God

Side Four:

  1. Cousin Caterpillar
  2. The Iron Stone
  3. Douglas Traherne Harding
  4. The Circle is Unbroken

-Stephen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Incredible_String_Band

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wee_Tam_and_the_Big_Huge

https://www.allmusic.com/album/wee-tam-the-big-huge-mw0000623666

Guilty Pleasure: The Incredible String Band – Wee Tam and the Big Huge

November 1 – Sophomore Success for the Pentangle

The Pentangle – Sweet Child

Continuing a busy day of significant 1968 album releases, British folk rock group the Pentangle released their second album of the year and second overall on this date fifty years ago, and on it they proved they were no one-album wonder.  Sweet Child is a double album; half of it was recorded live at the Royal Festival Hall, London, in June of ’68, the other half in the studio.

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L-R:  John Renbourn, Danny Thompson (standing), Terry Cox, Jacqui McShee, Bert Jansch

In addition to the folk and rock element, the Pentangle added experimental jazz and blues to their repertoire – something which set them apart from contemporaries Fairport Convention.  To illustrate how prolific they were at the time, the live half of the album on the original release contains only one song from their debut earlier in the year, with the rest of it and the second disc being completely new material.  Its tracks’ origins run the gamut, from traditional songs, to jazz and blues from the likes of Charles Mingus and Furry Lewis, to originals by the group.  The album jacket was designed by Peter Blake, of Sgt. Pepper fame.

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In his AllMusic review, Matthew Greenwald calls Sweet Child “an awesome and delightful collection, and probably their finest hour.”  It’s also an hour for which I’ve arrived quite late.  When it comes to British folk rock groups, I’ve always favored Fairport Convention while giving short shrift to the Pentangle.  My only explanation is that I prefer Sandy Denny’s vocals to Jacqui McShee’s.

But I’m acquiring a taste for her singing, and there’s so much more to this group anyway with dual virtuoso guitarists John Renbourn and Bert Jansch (not to mention the latter’s vocals), as well as Danny Thompson’s jazz-infused stand up bass.  I’ve been enjoying solo Renbourn and Jansch for a while now, so it’s a no-brainer.  I’m finally waking up to this amazing group.

Tracklist:

Side One:

  1. Market Song
  2. No More My Lord
  3. Turn Your Money Green
  4. Haitian Fight Song
  5. A Woman Like You
  6. Goodbye Pork-Pie Hat

Side Two:

  1. Three Dances:  a) Brentzel Gay b) La Rotta c) The Earl of Salisbury
  2. Watch the Stars
  3. So Early in the Spring
  4. No Exit
  5. The Time Has Come
  6. Bruton Town

Side Three:

  1. Sweet Child
  2. I Loved a Lass
  3. Three-Part Thing
  4. Sovay
  5. In Time

Side Four:

  1. In Your Mind
  2. I’ve Got a Feeling
  3. The Trees They Do Grow High
  4. Moon Dog
  5. Hole in My Coal

-Stephen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_Child

https://www.popmatters.com/pentangle-sweet-child-turns-50-2601840684.html

https://www.allmusic.com/album/sweet-child-mw0000206628

November 1 – Canned Heat’s Blues (and Flower) Power

Canned Heat – Living the Blues

Why do I continue to take Canned Heat’s music for granted?  Every time I listen to them I’m blown away at their combination of simplicity and virtuosity.  As with other well-known artists of the day, Canned Heat paid homage to the greats with their style of blues ‘n boogie.  But theirs was a uniquely American sound.  And as the world found out the following summer, they were just as at-home in front of massive audiences as they were in bars.

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The classic lineup’s double LP Living the Blues, their second album of 1968 and third overall, was released on this date with guest appearances by John Mayall (piano on Walking by Myself) and Dr. John (Boogie Music).  And with it, they continued to make their mark on the late-60’s music scene while bringing a classic American genre to the fore.

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They also showed on this release that they could stretch it out and jam with the best of them.  While Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson’s Going Up the Country, along with his On the Road Again from Boogie with Canned Heat earlier in the year, are their trademark tunes with a permanent place on the Counter Culture’s Greatest Hits, Canned Heat were so much more.  The 20-minute Parthenogenesis which takes up nearly all of side two, and the 41-minute Refried Boogie, which consumes the entire second disc of the album, showed they could bring serious crunch to the blues.  Other great tracks here are Charley Patton’s Pony Blues and Blind Lemon Jefferson’s One Kind Favor, both powerfully delivered by Bob Hite.

AllMusic’s Lindsay Planer writes, “Living the Blues stands as a testament to Canned Heat’s prowess as modernizers of the blues and recommended as one of the most cohesive works from this incarnation.”  It’s pure, unpretentious, joyful music.

 

Tracklist:

Side One:

  1. Pony Blues
  2. My Mistake
  3. Sandy’s Blues
  4. Going Up the Country
  5. Walking by Myself
  6. Boogie Music

Side Two:

  1. One Kind Favor
  2. Parthenogenesis:   I. Nebulosity  II. Rollin’ and Tumblin’   III. Five Owls  IV. Bear -Wires  V.  Snooky Flowers   VI. Sunflower Power (RMS is Truth) VII. Raga Kafi  VII. Icebag  IX. Childhood’s End

Side Three:

  1. Refried Boogie (Pt. 1)

Side Four:

  1. Refried Boogie (Pt. 2)

-Stephen

https://www.allmusic.com/album/living-the-blues-mw0000006464

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Living_the_Blues

http://ppcorn.com/us/canned-heat-living-blues/