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January 1, 1971 – It’s About the Music, Maaan!

Happy 1971, friends! This is the fourth year for my blog, chronologically speaking, but since I mostly skipped the year 1969 it’s basically my third. If I were a baseball player, I’d be a streaky hitter and semi-reliable fielder. When it comes to my blogging I’m either all in or struggling to turn on my computer. I don’t know why I’m so consistently inconsistent, but writing helps keep my brain synapses firing and I mostly enjoy the process. I continue to love music from the now mostly bygone era of 50 years ago, and I’m still hearing some recordings from that era (and earlier) for the first time, so I’ll continue to babble about them in these pages.

Ted Sizemore – Society for American Baseball Research

By 1971, most of the dayglow optimism of America’s youth as found in popular music had been scraped off and painted over in various shades of gray. Songwriters were creating more introspective music reflective of that come down. Vietnam still raged on, and America’s racial and economic divide showed no sign of improving despite earlier socio-political efforts to that end (I found that filed in a folder labeled “The more things change…”). Hard drugs were taking a toll everywhere, from everyday young folk to soldiers returning from Southeast Asia, and of course on the music scene. As Joni Mitchell would lament in June of that year, “Acid, booze, and ass, needles, guns, and grass, lots of laughs…”

John Kerry

Some of the most popular music of the still new decade – often forgettable in any era – was vapid bubblegum dreck for people who didn’t want to know “what’s going on” in the first place.* As depressing as all this may sound, 1971 is the heart of my favorite ten year span of music. And beginning with album releases at the end of the second month of that year I can finally say I was alive when they came out. Let’s set the stage, shall we?

Bands that said sayonara in 1971: Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Country Joe & the Fish, Derek & the Dominos, Fotheringay, Free, The Mamas & the Papas, The Monkees, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, and Sounds Inc.

The Monkees - CBS News

New acts in 1971: Big Star, Billy Joel, The Charlie Daniels Band, The Eagles, Foghat, Jo Jo Gunne, Loggins & Messina, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Manassas, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, The Motels, New York Dolls, Paul McCartney & Wings, Roxy Music, Sister Sledge, Split Enz, and Vinegar Joe (Robert Palmer).

Cosmic American Blog: Split Enz: Two Finns From New Zealand

There’s really nothing earth shattering about the first collection of bands listed above. Booker T. & the M.G.’s ended up re-forming, Derek & the Dominos & Fotheringay were basically one-off groups anyway, albeit with very well-known leaders who continued on, and a couple members of Free would form one of the biggest acts of the 70’s with an updated Free sound. The new acts contained part of the origins of glam, punk, disco, and new wave (and a former Beatle who dabbled in some of those genres at various points in the ensuing years), not to mention one of the most influential groups of all time when it came to future bands, yet who remain one of the most underappreciated groups ever to enter a recording studio when it comes to the masses.

So, here’s to 2021 being a better year than 2020. I hope you continue to stop by for a reminder of what was good in music 50 years ago as we once again ring in the new year of 1971. Cheers!

-Stephen

*Sometimes I don’t mind vapid bubblegum dreck.

February 22 – Croz’s Solo Debut

2/22/71: David Crosby – If I Could Only Remember My Name

I’m currently mired in another winter writing motivational slump, but after letting a couple of key release dates slip by recently I wanted to get something down about one of my favorite albums, David Crosby’s solo debut If I Could Only Remember My Name, released this day 50 years ago.

If I Could Only Remember My Name... | 500 Square Music Album Covers

I only learned about this album about twenty years ago, and I don’t recall how. I’d heard the live cut of Laughing on CSNY’s 4 Way Street album, but it didn’t occur to me to find out what album it’s from, and it didn’t resonate with me as the studio version would. This song, with Joni Mitchell’s beautiful backing vocal and Jerry Garcia’s haunting pedal steel guitar, is just one of the great songs on this release. While this is a solo release with the majority of its songs credited to Crosby alone, he enlisted the help of a number of friends in the studio.

If I Could Only Remember My Name by David Crosby free ringtones for Android  & iPhone phones | Melofania

Paul Kantner was concurrently recording his concept album Blows Against the Empire at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco where Crosby was working, as were The Grateful Dead, who were laying down tracks for American Beauty. Kantner had help in the studio from a group of SF musicians loosely named the Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra. This included Crosby, plus members of the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Santana, and Jefferson Airplane. Many of them also found their way into Croz’s studio to support his effort, and they were joined by Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Graham Nash. The result was an eclectic group of songs that form a record I find to be cohesive in some spots and beautifully disjointed in others. Either way, it works.

CROSBY, DAVID - If I Could Only Remember My Name - Amazon.com Music

The dynamics at play here with the various relationships among the album’s musicians are interesting to me, including the fact that CSNY were in one of their “off” modes after the release of Déjà Vu, yet Neil Young co-wrote and played on the opening tracks to both sides of Croz’s album, including the angry and still relevant What Are Their Names. The autobiographical Cowboy Movie, written about the breakup of CSNY (which of course wouldn’t be complete without a reference to the “sweet little Indian girl,” a.k.a. Rita Coolidge), is another standout. Neil Young and Jerry Garcia trade guitar licks while the rhythm section features Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, and Phil Lesh. Cowboy Movie sounds like an early Grateful Dead track with Croz on vocals. It’s definitely a song to crank up to eleventy.

David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name - WOW! | Page 3 | Steve  Hoffman Music Forums

There are a couple of instrumentals on the album, but far from sounding like filler, they lend beautifully to the vibe of If I Could Only Remember My Name. That vibe to me is the come down from the 60’s and perhaps some somber reflections had by David Crosby about his own life and relationships at the time. Comparisons can be silly, but for the sake of this post I’ll share that I rate this album snuggly next to CSNY’s Déjà Vu, just behind the first Crosby, Stills & Nash album. It’s a little embarrassing that it took so long for me to “discover” it for myself, but it’s a keeper that cuts deeply some days.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Music Is Love
  2. Cowboy Movie
  3. Tamalpais High (At About 3)
  4. Laughing

Side Two:

  1. What Are Their Names
  2. Traction in the Rain
  3. Song with No Words (Tree with No Leaves)
  4. Orleans
  5. I’d Swear There Was Somebody Here

Bonus:

Kids and Dogs

-Stephen

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/david-crosby-if-i-could-only-remember-my-name/

https://www.allmusic.com/album/if-i-could-only-remember-my-name-mw0000196679

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_I_Could_Only_Remember_My_Name#Track_listing

https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/david-crosby-if-i-could-only-remember-my-name/

February 1971 – Crazy Horse Debuts

February 1971: Crazy Horse – Crazy Horse

Some of the most enjoyable discoveries for me as a music fan are the ones that come about by chance. With Crazy Horse, it happened a number of years back while wading through used discs in a store I no longer recall. There appeared before me a title which simply read Crazy Horse. I wondered to myself, “As in Neil Young & Crazy Horse?” It hadn’t occurred to me that the group had recorded albums without Neil, but here was evidence they had. Noticing the release year and recognizing two of the track titles as songs performed with Neil (Dance, Dance, Dance & Downtown) it was an obvious purchase, and I was not disappointed. The core band that emerged from ashes of The Rockets – Danny Whitten, Billy Talbot, and Ralph Molina, plus Jack Nitzsche and Nils Lofgren – first as backing band to Neil Young on Everybody Knows This is Nowhere and in a more limited role on After the Gold Rush, released their eponymous debut 50 years ago this month.

Crazy Horse (band) - Wikipedia

One thing that stands out to me when perusing the liner notes is that the name Neil Young appears only twice, first with sole songwriting credit on Dance, Dance, Dance, and then with a co-credit along with Danny Whitten on Downtown – a song that would eerily reappear on Young’s Tonight’s the Night album a few years later as a live track featuring Whitten, who’d passed away in 1972. From a music standpoint, Crazy Horse is a damn fine rock album from start to finish, and I wonder if the band’s best-known status as “one of Neil’s bands” helps or hinders the album’s place in the pantheon of albums from the 1960’s and 70’s.

Neil Young News: A Conversation with Ralph Molina | North of the Internet
Molina & Talbot

I’d known about the sad demise of Danny Whitten strictly within the context of his involvement with Young but listening to this album brings home just how talented he was, especially as a rock vocalist. He wrote five of the eleven tracks, and all but three feature him as lead singer. Among my favorite Whitten vocals are the opener Gone Dead Train (subtly driven by Jack Nitzsche’s piano), Look at All the Things (which could’ve been a blueprint for much of their work with Neil), Nitzsche’s Carolay (which hints at Jack’s experience as conductor/arranger for the now late Phil Spector), and his signature song, the sad ballad I Don’t Want to Talk About It – a track made somewhat famous when recorded by Rod Stewart in 1975. This original is enhanced by the sweet slide guitar work of guest player Ry Cooder, who also appears on Whitten’s Dirty Dirty and Nitzsche’s Crow Jane Lady.

Whitten
Lofgren

Then-nineteen-year-old Nils Lofgren contributed two tracks, including one of my favorites on the album, Beggars Day, which features a much more gravelly, experienced sounding vocal than might be expected from someone so young. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Joe Walsh in his James Gang days. Even the guitar solo is familiar in that regard. Crazy Horse is a no-frills rock band, and saying anything else about this album would just be unnecessary hyperbole. If you like the Horse with Neil Young, listen to this album. The louder the better.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Gone Dead Train
  2. Dance, Dance, Dance
  3. Look at All the Things
  4. Beggars Day
  5. I Don’t Want to Talk About It

Side Two:

  1. Downtown
  2. Carolay
  3. Dirty, Dirty
  4. Nobody
  5. I’ll Get By
  6. Crow Jane Lady

-Stephen

https://www.allmusic.com/album/crazy-horse-mw0000113305

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Don%27t_Want_to_Talk_About_It

February 1 – When Ginger Baker Battled Elvin Jones

2/1/71: Ginger Baker vs. Elvin Jones

Nothing happenin…Cat’s got delusions of grandeur with no grounds. They should make him an astronaut and lose his ass! – Jazz great Elvin Jones on Ginger Baker

In an industry teeming with characters, Ginger Baker stood out. Whether it was his trademark red lion’s mane back in the day or his pissed off at the world countenance as seen in the fantastic 2012 documentary Beware of Mr. Baker, one could never rightly suggest he lacked self-confidence or balls or however you want to put it. Baker always considered himself to be a jazz drummer who played in rock bands – although he did consider Cream to be a jazz group – and he aimed to prove that as fact with his post-Blind Faith project Ginger Baker’s Air Force, which combined rock, western jazz, and Afro-jazz influences. Word of Baker’s jazz bravado seeped into the jazz scene.

When a journalist played the lengthy Blind Faith track Do What You Like for jazz great Elvin Jones, a veteran drummer who spent a career as side man for the likes of Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Bud Powell, and perhaps most notably John Coltrane, Jones was not impressed and he made it known. As chatter between the two increased and a “battle” was on the horizon, Jones is alleged to have told an audience at one of his shows that “Baker had better put his drums where his mouth is.”

Ginger Baker vs Elvin Jones, Lyceum 1970 – SMART

The great drum-off took place at London’s Lyceum Theatre during the Air Force tour on this day 50 years ago, when Jones joined the ensemble on Aiko Biaye and a thirty-two minute Do What You Like (YouTube link above), trading drum licks with Baker. On the latter track, the soloing begins at roughly the nine-minute mark. When the drums ceased to pound, there were smiles and an embrace. Jazz journalists called it a Jones victory while rock scribes felt Baker more than held his own. Perhaps as much as anything, the “challenge” further cemented the legend of the jazz drummer in the wrong genre where, by the way, Baker was also the greatest – at least in his own mind.

image

Baker would later challenge another jazz great, Art Blakey, but late in life would scoff at the notion of the events being anything other than duets which took place in the spirit of mutual respect and admiration. Either way, the colliding of two worlds certainly spiced up the music scene.

Ginger Baker and Art Blakey in 1973:

-Stephen

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/ginger-baker-elvin-jones/#:~:text=Ginger%20Baker%20never%20wanted%20to,no%20small%20amount%20of%20bravado.

https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/rock/8532290/ginger-baker-dead-jazz-drummer-rock-reputation/

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

https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/famed-drummer-ginger-baker-talks-about-playing-alongside-legends-getting-older-and-his-cantankerous-reputation/Content?oid=1834231

Closing Out January 1971 in Music

1/11/71: Chicago – Chicago III

In this digital age it hadn’t occurred to me that this was Chicago’s third consecutive double album in two years. Their first three albums! While it contained none of the mega hits they became known for, III reached number two on the Billboard 200. These early Chicago albums – let’s call them the Terry Kath Years – evoke very good childhood memories for me. It wasn’t until college when I was acquainted with some band students who were big fans that I learned just how complex some of these arrangements are. Not your typical rock band.

ChicagoIII.jpg

1/13/71: Poco – Deliverin’

This was Poco’s first live album and third release overall. It’s considered a highlight of their catalog, and was the final Poco album to include Jim Messina, who would soon join forces with Kenny Loggins.

POCO DELIVERIN'.JPEG

1/14/71: The Temptations – Single: Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)

Another Motown gem written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. Just My Imagination reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, the Billboard Pop Singles chart, and the Billboard R&B Singles chart. It was also the final Temptations single to feature Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams.

Just-my-imagination-tempts-45.jpg

1/16/71: ZZ Top – ZZ Top’s First Album

Texans ZZ Top released their debut album – their bar room stage show with a bit of overdubbing – on the 16th. It was onward and upward from there.

ZZ Top - ZZ Top's First Album.jpg

1/20/71Questlove turned 50 on the 20th.

Questlove to make directorial debut with 'Black Woodstock' documentary -  REVOLT

1/30/71: Ike & Tina – Single: Proud Mary

CCR’s original version is what I grew up with, but once I heard Ike & Tina’s take the original sounded quite pedestrian. Tina made it her own.

Proud Mary - Ike & Tina Turner.jpg

January 1971: B.B. King – Live in Cook County Jail

B.B. King released his legendary Chicago prison performance 50 years ago this month. The set list mostly consisted of warhorses from his career up to then, plus a relatively new song, The Thrill is Gone, which became one of his most popular songs of all. Perhaps most significantly, his performance at the jail put a spotlight on the horrible conditions there, leading to reform. King would go on to perform at over fifty prisons.

Liveincookcountyjail.jpg

January 1971: Mountain – Nantucket Sleighride

Mountain is one of those bands that got lost in the shuffle in my music education growing up. Bands like Cream, Zeppelin, Sabbath, and Deep Purple ruled the heavy rock kingdom as far as I knew. I had no idea how renowned lead guitarist Leslie West was (West passed just shy of Christmas last month). I assumed Mountain was about Mississippi Queen and little else. I was wrong. They released their second album 50 years ago this month, and while some critics felt it sounded a bit too much like their debut, that could be taken as a compliment as well.

Nantucketsleighride.jpg

-Stephen

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deliverin%27

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_My_Imagination_(Running_Away_with_Me)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZZ_Top%27s_First_Album

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

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

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

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

January 1971 – Little Feat Debuts

January 1971: Little Feat – Little Feat

“Sooner or later, every committed rock ‘n’ roller finds his or her way to Little Feat, which has been described as everything from ‘bluesadelic’ to ‘funky Americana,’ and all of which really means an eclectic bunch of styles that long ago melded together in a bluesy, boogieing, baked-smile stew. Their influence is wide — not least on Phish, moe. and many other stalwarts of the jam scene.” – contributing writer Chad Berndtson of JamBase

Today we’re celebrating the debut of arguably one of the greatest, yet possibly one of the most underappreciated, American bands of all time. Their eponymous Little Feat is not a typical debut. Recorded late in the summer of 1970 and released 50 years ago this month, it sounds closer to a group that had been around a while, honing their songwriting and production.

One of the remarkable aspects of this album is that it’s not one or maybe two of the band members who stand out; it’s a full team effort, beginning with the first track, Snakes on Everything. That’s Bill Payne on keyboards and lead vocals, though you might be forgiven for mistaking his singing for Leon Russell – and that’s no slight. The songwriting is fantastic throughout, as is the musicianship. The sorely missed Lowell George’s slide and lead guitar work, as well as his vocals, shine throughout. The original version of Truck Stop Girl is here. I’m equally familiar with latter day Byrds’ version, but this one can’t be beat. Richie Hayward’s drums pop.

Faces in the Crowd: Lowell George

My favorite Little Feat song is on this album, yet it’s not my favorite track on it. Huh? It’s true. Lowell George wrote and demoed Willin’ when he was with the Mothers of Invention, which prompted Frank Zappa to suggest George start a band of his own. He did just that, and the song found its way onto Little Feat’s debut. Though guest Ry Cooder’s bottleneck guitar on this original, more up-tempo version makes it an enjoyable listen, I’m glad it was re-recorded for their follow up a year later. It became the definitive version I’ve always known and loved with its more soulful vocals.

Willin': The Story of Little Feat by Ben Fong-Torres

Forty-Four Blues/How Many More Years is an honest tribute to its writers Roosevelt Sykes and Howlin’ Wolf and the era in which they thrived, right down to the distorted vocals. Ry Cooder makes his second appearance on the album on bottleneck here. George’s I’ve Been the One features the sweet pedal steel playing of Sneaky Pete Kleinow. That man played on some mighty fine albums in those years. The weakest link in my opinion is the goofy Crazy Captain Gunboat Willie, thought I don’t consider it a throwaway on this otherwise wonderful, polished album.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Snakes on Everything
  2. Strawberry Flats
  3. Truck Stop Girl
  4. Brides of Jesus
  5. Willin’
  6. Hamburger Midnight

Side Two:

  1. Forty-Four Blues/How Many More Years
  2. Crack in Your Door
  3. I’ve Been the One
  4. Takin’ My Time
  5. Crazy Captain Gunboat Willie

-Stephen

https://www.allmusic.com/album/little-feat-mw0000653350

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willin%27_(Little_Feat_song)

January 15 – John Lee Hooker & Canned Heat

1/15/71: John Lee Hooker & Canned Heat – Hooker ‘n Heat

The past thirty or so years have brought us so many collaboration albums, they’ve almost become passé. Some have been quite commercially successful, while others seem rather unnecessary. The first collaboration album I recall owning is John Lee Hooker’s 1989 album The Healer, which includes the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Charlie Musselwhite, and surviving members of Canned Heat, among others. I don’t remember what made me buy it – I’d probably heard the outstanding title track with Santana – but I certainly wasn’t familiar with Hooker’s music (I plead being a teenager at the time). Subsequently I heard some of his classic recordings and was able to understand why The Healer made sense. But that wasn’t Hooker’s first collaboration. Twenty years prior, he teamed up with the classic Canned Heat lineup for one of the great joint efforts in the blues.

Hooker ‘n Heat, released 50 years ago today, was the final Canned Heat recording to feature harmonica player, guitarist, and songwriter Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson, who died the previous September between the album’s recording in May 1970 and its unveiling. His photo hangs on the wall behind the band on the album jacket. Canned Heat vocalist Bob Hite is credited as a producer and is present with the band on the cover, though he did not sing on the album. All the songs but one were written or co-written by Hooker, who is also the only featured vocalist.

To me, Hooker ‘n Heat is a perfect combination of styles. It doesn’t sound forced, which is due in part to the length of the album. There’s plenty of room for all involved. The first six tracks feature Hooker and his guitar unaccompanied, and it’s vintage John Lee Hooker. The main difference to my ears is the sound itself. It’s much more powerful than his early recordings, which alone doesn’t necessarily make it better than his music from the late 1940’s up to the 1960’s, just different. It sounds like I’m in an empty barroom with him in 1970. This of course makes sense because that’s also how Canned Heat’s studio albums sound – live. The studio chatter between tracks adds to the intimate, in-the-moment feel.

Canned Heat & John Lee Hooker HOOKER 'N HEAT - Liberty Records 1971 - USED  DOUBLE Vinyl LP Record - 1971 Pressing MCA-27005 - 17 Songs - Boogie  Chillen No.2 - Drifter - Let's Make It - Alimonia Blues - Amazon.com Music

Tracks seven through twelve are Hooker accompanied by Alan Wilson on various instruments. It’s fitting that this was Wilson’s final album considering his reverence for the original bluesmen. Along with American contemporaries such as Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield, Wilson incorporated their influence into the music of the Woodstock Era just as Brian Jones, John Mayall and a well-documented number of other Brits did a few years earlier during the height of the British Invasion. The final five songs include all of Canned Heat (sans Hite), and the results are as loose as might be expected. Hooker ‘n Heat helped introduce JLH to a new audience as well as to begin to benefit financially from some of the great music he’d written but not been given songwriting credit for as a result of bad deals early on.

If it’s been a while or you’re unfamiliar with this album, grab a beverage of choice some Friday evening after work and crank it up.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Messin’ with the Hook
  2. The Feelin’ Is Gone
  3. Send Me Your Pillow
  4. Sittin’ Here Thinkin’
  5. Meet Me in the Bottom

Side Two:

  1. Alimonia Blues
  2. Drifter
  3. You Talk Too Much
  4. Burning Hell
  5. Bottle Up and Go

Side Three:

  1. The World Today
  2. I Got My Eyes on You
  3. Whiskey and Wimmen
  4. Just You and Me

Side Four:

  1. Let’s Make It
  2. Peavine
  3. Boogie Chillen No. 2

-Stephen

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/canned-heat-john-lee-hooker-hooker-n-heat/

https://www.allmusic.com/album/hooker-n-heat-infinite-boogie-mw0001957288

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hooker_%27n_Heat

January 11 – Janis Joplin’s Best & Last

1/11/71: Janis Joplin – Pearl

The loss of Janis Joplin in October 1970, which occurred between the deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, would eventually signal part of the symbolic end of 1960’s idealism. And sadly, from a musical standpoint, fans discovered she was possibly just getting started when her final studio album, Pearl, was posthumously released on this day 50 years ago.

The Best Songs From The Album “Pearl” By Janis Joplin | Society Of Rock

As a Gen Xer, I discovered her music the same ways most of my peers did. Me and Bobby McGee was probably one of the first songs of hers I heard, as it’s one of her more “radio friendly” tunes. But what got my attention as a sixteen-year-old were tracks like Piece of My Heart and Down on Me with their crashing drums, grungy guitars, and unbridled soul emanating from those vocals. Then I became enamored with the film clips of her performances at Monterey Pop and Woodstock – especially the former – and that was all I needed to confirm I was a fan. Unfortunately for me, I kind of stopped there. Her hits and the bits of her on film were plenty until I realized a few years later that there was more, as in, arguably her best.

Pearl is a strong album for a number of reasons, including a new, much tighter backing band known as the Full Tilt Boogie Band, whom she had performed with on stage a number of times before recording sessions began. It was widely known in the music world at the time that Big Brother & the Holding Co., as well as her next group, the Kozmic Blues Band, were holding her back in the studio. With the new group, and especially with Paul Rothchild as producer, a more polished (in a good way) sound was achieved. The best known songs, which are also the singles issued from the album (Me & Bobby McGee, Cry Baby, Get It While You Can, & Mercedes Benz) come alive even more in the context of this album, beginning with the first track, Move Over. Again, the new band and producer were just as crucial as the star on this one.

Janis with producer Paul Rothchild

What would’ve been, we’ll never know. What could’ve been? Maybe this album would’ve helped her overcome some of the self-doubt/esteem issues that plagued her as she neared her 30’s. Maybe Janis would’ve settled into a better place in life where she was comfortable in her own skin. Perhaps she would’ve let go of some of that pain with its roots back in Port Arthur. Supposedly her overdose came as a result of not realizing what she took that night was much more powerful than what she normally would’ve, and that she wasn’t even using as regularly at that point. Maybe her life would’ve changed due to the more mature musical direction she was just beginning to embark upon. Maybe too much damage had been done to her long-term health by then.

A bio authored by Janis’s sister, Laura Joplin

Musically, she left us with a smile. The a cappella Mercedes Benz, recorded during her final session just three days before her death, is a funny commentary on consumerism. Nothing in it or the rest of this fantastic album suggests the end was closing in. But the otherwise upbeat Buried Alive in the Blues, left as an instrumental because she died before the vocal was recorded, became an odd reminder that that’s exactly what was happening.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Move Over
  2. Cry Baby
  3. A Woman Left Lonely
  4. Half Moon
  5. Buried Alive in the Blues

Side Two:

  1. My Baby
  2. Me and Bobby McGee
  3. Mercedes Benz
  4. Trust Me
  5. Get It While You Can

-Stephen

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/janis-joplin-pearl/

https://www.allmusic.com/album/pearl-mw0000190564

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_(Janis_Joplin_album)

December 31 – My 1970 Year End Top 30 Album Ranking

Greetings, and welcome back to the end of 1970! This list is not an attempt to claim which albums are the “best” in terms of any number of criteria. My ranking is nothing more than an attempt to share my favorites in loosely accurate order based mostly upon the ones I’ve played and enjoyed the most over the years, and it ain’t an easy exercise. Releases by the Flying Burrito Brothers, James Taylor, The Doors, Rod Stewart, David Bowie, and Jethro Tull did not make my top 30. Also edged out were really good albums by the likes of Syd Barrett, MC5, The Stooges, Band of Gypsies, King Crimson, Free, Clapton, Paul Kantner, Todd Rundgren, and others.  I did extend the list by five from the first time I did a year end ranking, but we’ve now entered the most bountiful years of music as far as my favorites go and it’s hard to narrow my list.

If interested in what I have to say about my top 30 and more, I invite you to look back through my posts from this year.  The date I published them is in parentheses. I’ve covered most of them, but a few albums slipped by due to time constraints or just plain laziness. That said, thank you all for coming along for the ride with me.  I hope you keep checking in as we move forward-yet-backward into 1971.  Happy New Year!

-Stephen

30. Brewer & Shipley – Tarkio (12/30)

Tariko album cover.JPG

29. The Allman Brothers Band – Idlewild South (9/23)

Idlewild South cover.jpg

28. Canned Heat – Future Blues (8/3)

Future Blues - Canned Heat.jpg

27. Stephen Stills – Stephen Stills (11/16)

Stephen Stills sitting outside in the snow and playing a guitar, with a toy giraffe nearby

26. Leon Russell – Leon Russell (5/29)

LeonRussellAlbum.jpg

25. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Cosmo’s Factory (7/16)

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Cosmo's Factory.jpg

24. The Grateful Dead – Workingman’s Dead (6/14)

A black-on-sepia image of men in Stetson hats standing along a road.

23. Dave Mason – Alone Together (7/11)

Alone Together.jpg

22. Delaney & Bonnie & Friends – On Tour with Eric Clapton (6/1)

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21. Bob Dylan – New Morning

A black-and-white photograph of Bob Dylan

20. Joni Mitchell – Ladies of the Canyon

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19. The Velvet Underground – Loaded (11/15)

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18. The Moody Blues – A Question of Balance (8/7)

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17. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin III

A collage of butterflies, teeth, zeppelins and assorted imagery on a white background, with the artist name and "III" subtitle at center.

16. The Rolling Stones – Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! (9/4)

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15. Elton John – Elton John (6/6)

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14. Cat Stevens – Tea for the Tillerman (11/23)

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13. Paul McCartney – McCartney (6/16)

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12. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Déjà Vu (6/1)

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Deja Vu.jpg

11. Santana – Abraxas (9/23)

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10. Van Morrison – Moondance

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9. Traffic – John Barleycorn Must Die (7/1)

Traffic-John Barleycorn Must Die (album cover).jpg

8. The Grateful Dead – American Beauty (11/1)

A woodgrain panel with a circle in the middle—inscribed is a rose surrounded by the words "American Beauty".

7. Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water

Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge over Troubled Water (1970).png

6. The Beatles – Let It Be (5/25)

A black cover with four square photos of the band members' faces

5. Elton John – Tumbleweed Connection (10/23)

Elton John - Tumbleweed Connection.jpg

4. Derek and the Dominos – Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (11/9)

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3. John Lennon – Plastic Ono Band (12/11)

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2. Neil Young – After the Gold Rush (9/19)

After the Gold Rush.jpg
  1. George Harrison – All Things Must Pass (11/27)
All Things Must Pass 1970 cover.jpg

R.I.P. Dawn Wells

For males of a certain age range which includes me, a great conundrum and common question has been this: Ginger or Mary Ann? This midwestern boy’s honest answer has always been Mary Ann, whose character on the 1960’s sitcom Gilligan’s Island was played by Dawn Wells. Wells has passed away due to Covid-19. In moments of self-deprecation in my adult life I’ve often said that if I’d read a book for every fifth time I’d seen the same episodes of that goofy show I’d be a very well read individual. Like many others, I spent many an after school half-hour watching reruns of the castaways and their bumbling ways. When I was in college I had a chance encounter with Ms. Wells when she dined with her friend Marcia Wallace (The Bob Newhart Show, Match Game, the voice of Mrs. Krabappel on The Simpsons, among others) in the restaurant where I was employed at the time (she liked her onion rings). Rest in peace, Dawn, and thanks for the silly memories.

Forever Mary Ann: World of Wheels features Dawn Wells of 'Gilligan's  Island' fame | Chattanooga Times Free Press

-Stephen