October 2 – Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother – Almost There

10/2/70: Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother

It must be a mark of an extraordinary band to have created such a legendary collection of albums that noncompletists like myself actually make a point of trying to like the portions of their catalog that are almost universally disliked, or at least overlooked, including by the musicians themselves. Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother, released 50 years ago today, is one example.

Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, this was Pink Floyd’s fifth release, and the follow up to the sprawling, disjointed double LP Ummagumma. Nick Deriso, in an ultimateclassicrock.com review, summed up the album rather concisely: “Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother marks the final signpost for a period of broad and sometimes aimless experimentation following the departure of Syd Barrett.” One result was that it was also the final Floyd album produced by Norman Smith, as the band sought more control over their recording process. Nevertheless, it became the band’s first number one album in the U.K., presumably due to their status as an an underground live act. Despite the initial commercial success, contemporary print reviews were mixed, and neither Roger Waters nor David Gilmour look back upon the album favorably.

Pink Floyd stream live 1970 San Francisco set at 5pm this evening | Louder

Pink Floyd were coming into their own in terms of expecting more artistic freedom, and this is represented on the album’s jacket. The cover, designed by Hipgnosis (artist Storm Thorgerson drove out into the countryside and took a photo of the first cow he saw), is notable for being their first without their name or any photos of band members – a practice that they would continue throughout the 70’s. The band’s idea was to have a cover that didn’t reinforce their placement in any particular genre or sub-genre, such as “space rock.”

The Witchwood Records: RE-UP Pink Floyd - Leeds 1970

Recording presented difficulties due to restrictions placed on them at Abbey Road concerning new studio equipment, one result being that Mason and Waters had to play the entire 23 minute rhythm portion of the Atom Heart Mother suite – which consumes the entirety of side one – rather than create a loop. The suite, which I have yet to develop a taste for, is interesting for the fact that its orchestration, composed by Ron Geesin, takes the lead melody lines while the band provides the backing track – a reversal of the norm in pop/rock recording. As with Ummagumma, the second half of the album features tracks written by individual members Waters, Wright, and Gilmour before closing with the Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast suite. This latter track, with three different “segments,” is really just their roadie Alan Styles talking about and consuming his breakfast. Frankly, this is treading into John and Yoko territory.

Pink Floyd - Live At Paris Theatre, London - 1970 - Past Daily Backstage  Weekend - Past Daily: News, History, Music And An Enormous Sound Archive.

So where does this leave us? There are undoubtedly many fans who find every second of Atom Heart Mother to be among the greatest sounds ever put on vinyl, and more power to them. This is not a very accessible album to me, yet there are elements (even on side one) that I do enjoy which keep me returning from time to time to reevaluate. The easier solution, though, was to put the first three songs from side two on a playlist with some tracks from the first five albums (though I’ve grown to really like the entire Piper…, Saucerful…, and More albums). Their next release, Meddle, was the breakthrough. With Atom Heart Mother they were almost there.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Atom Heart Mother: I. Father’s Shout II. Breast Milky III. Mother Fore IV. Funky Dung V. Mind Your Throats Please VI. Remergence

Side Two:

  1. If
  2. Summer ’68
  3. Fat Old Sun
  4. Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast: I. Rise and Shine II. Sunny Side Up III. Morning Glory

-Stephen

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/pink-floyd-atom-heart-mother/

https://www.allmusic.com/album/atom-heart-mother-mw0000195290

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

September 1970 Music Housekeeping

Another month of a most bizarre year has come and gone. Time to tidy up and move on…

9/4/70: Caravan – If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You

Caravan released their second album this month 50 years ago. It was received relatively well, but their next album would become their most acclaimed. I enjoy the psych/jazz blend of some of the so-called Canterbury Scene groups such as this one and Soft Machine, but it’s been an acquired taste that I’m still developing.

Car-IfI.jpg

9/8/70: Neko Case born

Canadian born Neko Case, one of my favorite singers from the past 20-plus years, turned 50 this month. Random memory: David Letterman once introduced her as “Necko.” Ugh.

Neko Case Pictures, Latest News, Videos.

9/9/70: Macy Gray born

…and so did the great singer/songwriter/producer/actress, Ohio-born Macy Gray.

Macy Gray Filmography, Movie List, TV Shows and Acting Career.

9/12/70: Carpenters – Single – We’ve Only Just Begun

A fragment of this Paul Williams/Roger Nichols written tune first appeared on a bank commercial, sung by Williams. The full song ended up spending seven weeks at number one for the Carpenters.

We've Only Just Begun (Single).jpg

9/14/70: The Byrds (Untitled)

The Byrds released what really is a fantastic double album – one studio album, one live – 50  years ago this month. Their early glory years were way behind them at this point, and it’s silly to even use pronouns such as “them.” Other than McGuinn, this was an entirely different band. But they cooked, especially live, and ironically this version of the group  with McGuinn, Clarence White, Skip Battin, and Gene Parsons was together longer than any of the others. Maybe it’s only my perception as a second generation Byrds fan, but I wonder if a band name change after Chris Hillman’s departure following Sweetheart of the Rodeo would’ve given the latter years albums the attention they deserve. From the live portion, the sixteen minute Eight Miles High is a highlight, though it’s a bit of a letdown when Roger only sings the first verse when all’s said and done. Chestnut Mare is the standout from the studio sides.

The Byrds - (Untitled) album cover.jpg

9/19/70: Performance soundtrack

An interesting soundtrack to a good if somewhat dark period piece film. Names on the album include Randy Newman, Merry Clayton, Mick Jagger (who stars in the film), Ry Cooder, Jack Nitzsche, and  Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Performance-soundtrack.jpg

9/23/70: Ani DiFranco born

Another important artist from the 1990’s-onward turned 50 this month.

Ani DiFranco: Embracing Stability, Remaining Outspoken : NPR

9/25/70: Ringo – Beaucoups of Blues

Ringo released his second solo album on the 25th. His third album would be the breakthrough (with a little help from many of his friends).

BeaucoupsBCover.jpg

September 1970: Curtis Mayfield – Curtis

Mayfield released his post-Impressions solo debut, which he produced, 50 years ago this month. It spent five weeks atop the R&B charts, and reached number 19 on the Billboard Pop albums chart.

Curtismayfield-1970lp.jpg

September 1970: Johnny Winter And

The Texas blues guitarist delivered another butt-kicking album this month in 1970, his fourth studio album.

Johnny Winter And.jpeg

-Stephen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_I_Could_Do_It_All_Over_Again,_I%27d_Do_It_All_Over_You

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

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We%27ve_Only_Just_Begun

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Untitled_(The_Byrds_album)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Performance_(soundtrack)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ani_DiFranco#Discography

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curtis_(Curtis_Mayfield_album)

September 23 – Album #2 for The Allman Brothers Band

9/23/70: The Allman Brothers Band – Idlewild South

It hadn’t occurred to me until reading a bit of background on this album just how pivotal it was in the development of the Allman Brothers Band. The group was simultaneously and constantly touring while ducking into studios when time permitted and, in a way, that was just as important an element of the album as these studio tracks themselves. The album was recorded mostly live during sessions which took place intermittently  over a five month period in NYC, Miami, and Macon, GA. Idlewild South, the band’s second album, was released this day 50 years ago. Much of its contents would form part of the core of the band’s live repertoire for years to come.

The Allman Brothers Band: Idlewild South: Super Deluxe Edition | Sound &  Vision

Though I’ve always liked the album opener, Dickey Betts’ gospel-tinged Revival, lyrically speaking it’s kind of atypical of this band, who weren’t exactly a flower power group. Perhaps it’s no coincidence then that the song was originally an instrumental. But that groove is infectious, and along with In Memory of Elizabeth Reed it brought Dickey Betts to the fore as a crucial songwriting contributor. The latter song was written for a woman of a different name who Betts was involved with (Boz Scaggs’ girlfriend). Elizabeth Reed was a name Betts spotted on a headstone in the cemetery where the band liked to hang out and write.

Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers wearing it high and proud! :  Highslingers

The Willie Dixon track Hoochie Coochie Man features Berry Oakley’s only vocal performance with the Allmans, sounding an awful lot like Johnny Winter. This one rocks harder than anything else on an album full of blazing guitar licks. Along with In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, Gregg’s Midnight Rider is my favorite track on this record. Roadie Robert Kim Payne received a co-credit for a lyric assist. It was released as a single, but didn’t fare well until recorded by others including Gregg on his 1973 solo album, Laid Back. I like this version as much as Gregg’s solo take. Please Call Home features his typically soulful vocals, and should probably be a better known song.

Gregg Allman to Be Buried Next to Duane Allman at Funeral - Rolling Stone

Contemporary and retrospective reviews have always been quite positive, yet the album initially sold only slightly better than it’s debut predecessor. The band would really make their name through relentless touring which, after this release, would lead to arguably their greatest album the following year, At Fillmore East.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Revival
  2. Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’
  3. Midnight Rider
  4. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed

Side Two:

  1. Hoochie Coochie Man
  2. Please Call Home
  3. Leave My Blues at Home

-Stephen

Idlewild South

https://www.allmusic.com/album/idlewild-south-mw0000196446

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

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/allman-brothers-band-idlewild-south/

September 23 – Simon Finn’s Cult Classic Turns 50

9/23/70: Simon Finn – Pass the Distance

“Madness” “…songs unravel lysergically” “sinewy guitar” “snarling vocals” “catharsis” “raw merriment” “hypnotic” “nocturnal” “nightmarish” “creepy” “beautiful” “poetic” – These are some of the words I’ve come across in reviews of Simon Finn’s Pass the Distance. I’ll go ahead and add “harrowing” to the list. This is a bit of an unorthodox blog entry for me, as Pass the Distance is not a well known album, not by yours truly, anyway. But it’s really quite fascinating to listen to at least once, maybe twice if you enjoy staring over a ledge into the abyss.

SIMON FINN/ “Pass the Distance” 50 anni dopo, la salvezza in una canzone

I discovered this album for myself sometime in the last ten or so years, and if I didn’t find it in the suggested music column on YouTube then I have no idea how I learned of it. In the spirit of Skip Spence’s Oar meets Syd Barrett and maybe Tim Buckley’s more experimental albums, this one is “out there,” a quintessential cult album. I’ve come across a couple of dates given as its release date, including 50 years ago today, so today it is.

Rare inserts: SIMON FINN Pass The Distance

Finn made his professional debut opening for Al Stewart at London’s Marquee Club in 1967, but spent the following two years busking and updating share prices on the London Stock Exchange’s blackboard until presented with the opportunity to record this album with David Toop on guitar and Paul Burwell handling percussion. Besides love and sex, he places heavy focus on Christian themes, redemptive and otherwise. The feature track is titled Jerusalem, in which he equates the Crucifixion with the ideals of the 1960s counterculture. He’s calling out the hypocrites, and there are many. Indeed, if you’re going to sample one song on this album, check out Jerusalem.

The Wire - Pass The Distance: A Portrait Of Simon Finn by Gianmarco Del Re

As Finn shared with a journalist in 2004, “The songs were about alienation and loneliness. Jerusalem came to me in one shot. I wrote it on mescaline and was playing it over and over and one of my flatmates wrote it down.” Due to legal issues the album was withdrawn from circulation in the early 70’s, and Finn relocated to Canada where he disappeared from the music scene completely. He taught karate before taking up organic farming, unaware that Pass the Distance had become a cult classic until it was remastered/re-released in 2004, after which he performed the album on stage on a handful of dates. He has since released a few more albums and toured with Current 93, Graham Coxon, Thurston Moore, and others.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Very Close Friend
  2. The Courtyard
  3. What a Day
  4. Fades (Pass the Distance)
  5. Jerusalem

Side Two:

  1. Where’s Your Master Gone
  2. Laughing ‘Til Tomorrow
  3. Hiawatha
  4. Patrice
  5. Big White Car

Simon Finn – Pass The Distance LP

https://www.allmusic.com/album/pass-the-distance-mw0000636661#:~:text=Pass%20the%20Distance%20is%20not,and%20strange%2C%20oblique%20love%20songs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Finn_(musician)

September 23 – Listen How it Goes, My Rhythm: Abraxas at 50

9/23/70: Santana – Abraxas

We stood before it and began to freeze inside from the exertion. We questioned the painting, berated it, made love to it, prayed to it: We called it mother, called it whore and slut, called it our beloved, called it “Abraxas”…. – from the Hermann Hesse book, Demian.

There are examples throughout all music genres of bands or individual artists who get into a groove where they can do no wrong in the studio, on stage, or both. In 1970, Latin/blues/jazz/rock fusion band Santana was one such group. It had been just over a year since their breakout performance at Woodstock, followed by the release of their self-titled debut album a couple of weeks after the festival. Santana’s followup was recorded with the same lineup over a period of two weeks in the spring of 1970, and Abraxas was released on this date 50 years ago. It reached the top of the Billboard album chart in the U.S. while featuring three prominent instrumental tracks.

Santana On 'Black Magic Woman,' A Pioneering Cultural Mashup : NPR

The star singles from the album were covers: Black Magic Woman (Fleetwood Mac) reached number four in the U.S. (after leaving Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green derived significant royalty income from Santana’s version), and Tito Puente’s Oye Como Va hit number thirteen. But after many years and many plays, the tracks that keep me coming back are the non-hits, such as the instrumentals Incident at Neshabur with its heavy jazz inflection, and Samba Pa Ti. Carlos’s inspiration for this song was a heavily drinking saxophone busker outside his NYC hotel window. Two of my other favorites were written and sung by keyboardist Gregg Rolie, Mother’s Daughter and Hope You’re Feeling Better. The former maintains much of the Latin flavor of the rest of the album, while the latter features more of a straight forward rock sound. Carlos’s searing guitar licks are the common denominator along with Rolie’s vocals.

Santana - Hope You're Feeling Better - 8/18/1970 - Tanglewood (Official) -  YouTube

While the first three Santana albums have been stuffed into the classic rock pigeon hole over the years, this band perhaps more than anyone carved out a unique niche. The Latin rhythms which form the backbone of Santana’s music just feel good to listen to, and the band must’ve felt an immense sense of freedom when playing it. It could be a bitter cold winter day, but with Abraxas playing it’s always sunny and 75. For many including me, this continued into their lesser known (commercially speaking) fourth album, Caravanserai, before Carlos shifted into a different but also very interesting phase of his career.

Though Carlos and the Latin element of these albums understandably garner the most attention, I feel Gregg Rolie doesn’t receive the praise he deserves. Maybe he has and I’m just not aware. However, it’s no coincidence that Santana and later Journey (who he co-founded with Neal Schon, who also played on the third Santana album) were markedly different bands after his departure. His vocals and signature Hammond B3 were crucial ingredients to both.

rolie

Bonus Blurbs:

  • Oye Como Va, translated to English, means listen how it goes, my rhythm.
  • The album was added to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry in 2016.
  • The album cover art is a painting titled Annunciation, by Mati Klarwein. His distinctive style would be found on later albums by Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Gregg Allman.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Singing Winds
  2. Crying Beasts
  3. Oye Como Va
  4. Incident at Neshabur

Side Two:

  1. Se Acabó
  2. Mother’s Daughter
  3. Samba Pa Ti
  4. Hope You’re Feeling Better
  5. El Nicoya

-Stephen

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/santana-abraxas/

https://www.allmusic.com/album/abraxas-mw0000191745

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

September 19 – After the Gold Rush at 50

9/19/70: Neil Young –  After the Gold Rush

Today I’m celebrating one of my favorite albums of all time. Albums the caliber of Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush, released 50 years ago today, are what inspired me to start this blog. Yet ironically with albums such as this I have to overcome the constraints of my “What can I possibly say about it that isn’t already known?” mentality. Then I recall that it’s a mighty big world out there, and not everyone worships at the altar of (insert applicable band or artist name). In this case, it’s Neil Young arguably hovering around his creative peak. And that’s saying something considering the overall quality of his output over the past 55-ish years.

Neil Young Releasing 1970 'Cellar Door' Concerts - Rolling Stone

The album was inspired by a Dean Stockwell-Herb Bermann screenplay of an unmade movie of the same title. Neil was going to produce its soundtrack with the title track and Cripple Creek Ferry being written specifically for it. Most of the recording took place in the basement studio of Young’s Topanga Canyon home with the perfect combination of musicians for this particular collection of songs. Jimmy McDonough suggested in his bio of Neil, Shakey, that Young intentionally wanted to combine the folk rock of CSNY with the heavier sound of Crazy Horse, hence an album roster which includes Stephen Stills and Greg Reeves from CSNY, Ralph Molina, Billy Talbot, and a fading Danny Whitten from the Horse, and Jack Nitzsche. But to me the most interesting personnel decision was the inclusion of 18 year old Nils Lofgren, mostly on piano – an instrument he didn’t even regularly play. It all worked, and Nils obviously made the most of the opportunity.

Neil Young's former house in Topanga for sale for $1.45M - Curbed LA

Thinking of the various times over the years in which Neil has changed his mind about what musicians to work with (or what album he wanted to work on or release) – sometimes in mid-recording or even mid-tour – After the Gold Rush sounds like the perfect melding of musicians and styles that have helped him create his best music over the years. I don’t know if it was as harmonious as all that, but that’s how I like to think of it. The various styles are evident from the start: Tell Me Why could be a CSNY song, as could Only Love Can Break Your Heart. The title track hearkens back in my mind to his Buffalo Springfield days (think Expecting to Fly or Broken Arrow).

Then we have driving Crazy Horse-sounding rockers When You Dance… and Southern Man, the latter song deserving a post of its own if not a book. And with tracks such as Don’t Let it Bring You Down,  Birds, I Believe in You, and his cover of Don Gibson’s Oh, Lonesome Me, we hear a warmth in his music that was a bit sparse during his turbulent-to-dark songwriting which was soon to follow in his “Ditch” years. Yet despite the diverse styles, these songs form a very cohesive album.

▷ ACORDES de NEIL YOUNG: Todas sus canciones

Neil Young’s music – especially his singing voice – is not for everyone, that’s understood. But as with his kindred spirit Bob Dylan, for those of us who are touched by his music, it can cut deeply at times. After the Gold Rush is a perfect combination of songs which display his personal and societal angst, along with reminders that things can also be o.k. All in a shade under 35 minutes. And while I’m not an audiophile, this album has always just sounded damn good from a production standpoint, whether it was my first listens on cassette, or later on CD or LP. Perhaps it’s simply one of the better examples of Neil’s “less is more” approach in the studio.

After the Gold Rush by Neil Young (Album; Reprise; M 56383): Reviews,  Ratings, Credits, Song list - Rate Your Music

Extrees:

-The album reached number eight on the Billboard Pop Chart. Only Love Can Break Your Heart and When You Dance I Can Really Love were issued as singles, reaching 33 and 93, respectively.

-The original Rolling Stone review referred to the album as dull, but within a short number of years considered it a masterpiece. Numerous magazines now rate After the Gold Rush among the top 100 albums of all time.

-The solarized album cover photo of Neil passing an elderly woman next to the NYU Law School campus originally included Graham Nash, who was cropped.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Tell Me Why
  2. After the Gold Rush
  3. Only Love Can Break Your Heart
  4. Southern Man
  5. ‘Til the Morning Comes

Side Two:

  1. Oh, Lonesome Me
  2. Don’t Let it Bring You Down
  3. Birds
  4. When You Dance I Can Really Love
  5. I Believe in You
  6. Cripple Creek Ferry

-Stephen

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/neil-young-after-the-gold-rush/

https://www.allmusic.com/album/after-the-gold-rush-mw0000192439

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

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/111265/shakey-neil-youngs-biography-by-jimmy-mcdonough/

After The Gold Rush

September 18 – Black Sabbath’s Second

9/18/70: Black Sabbath – Paranoid

Wrapping up a rather interesting day in 50th music anniversaries, Black Sabbath dropped their rather frightening second album on that bleak Friday in 1970.

Black Sabbath - Wikipedia

This band, as well as Ozzy the solo artist, is a bit of an odd case for me. I’m not going to pretend to be a knowledgeable longtime fan. Osbourne went from being the dark lord of metal from my youth to the amusing caricature of himself on modern “reality” TV. Growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s, the kids who were into this music were the ones who self-tatooed “OZZY” on their knuckles with a ball point pen and seemed to miss school more often than most. You know, the “bad” kids. I always knew and liked a small handful of their songs, mainly from Paranoid, but during my adolescence Led Zeppelin and the departed-on-this-very-same-day Jimi Hendrix were the heaviest sounds emanating from the speakers in my basement bedroom. KISS for a few years of grade school. But Black Sabbath might’ve gotten me thrown out of the house. However…

The older I get, the more I like this music. And more importantly, it’s been a classic since the day of its release. Hence, it gets my 50th anniversary salute.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. War Pigs
  2. Paranoid
  3. Planet Caravan
  4. Iron Man

Side Two:

  1. Electric Funeral
  2. Hand of Doom
  3. Rat Salad
  4. Fairies Wear Boots

-Stephen

Paranoid

https://www.allmusic.com/album/paranoid-mw0000600570

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

September 18 – Fleetwood Mac, Phase Two

9/18/70: Fleetwood Mac – Kiln House

The winds of change were blowing in 1970. From a purely musical standpoint, this date 50 years ago stands out, especially in the realm of blues rock. Most significantly and sadly, Jimi Hendrix passed away in the early morning hours. And when Fleetwood Mac’s fourth studio album went on sale that day, it was the band’s first without blues guitar master Peter Green. There are still some heavy moments on Kiln House with guitarists Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer, the latter making his final appearance with Fleetwood Mac, but we also hear a group trying to find a new direction with elements of blues, folk, 50’s retro, and soft rock mixed together. The album also marks the first appearance of Christine McVie, though she was not yet an official member of the group. She also designed the album cover.

Fleetwood Mac - Kiln House - D - 1970--- | Upper left : Dann… | Flickr

Kiln House – named for a hops drying building that the band and their families lived in communally at the time – lacks cohesiveness yet contains some very good music. Danny Kirwan’s Station Man is my favorite track. It’s a grungy goulash in the vein of early-70’s Stones, Delaney & Bonnie, and Little Feat. Jeremy Spencer’s take on Big Joe Turner’s Hi Ho Silver is a rocker, as is the mostly instrumental Jewel Eyed Judy. Kirwan’s instrumental Earl Gray is a nice interlude after the kitschy Buddy Holly tribute, and the guitar work on Tell Me All the Things You Do suggests the drop off with Green leaving was nowhere near fatal. As for the subjective negatives, I could do without Spencer’s 50’s tributes such as This Is the Rock and Buddy’s Song.

Kiln House, Truncheaunts Lane, Alton © Oast House Archive :: Geograph  Britain and Ireland

That sense of searching for a sound seems to have plagued the group for a six album stretch starting with this one and lasting through 1974’s Heroes Are Hard to Find, yet that may be due in large part to the high standard set during the Peter Green blues years as well as those of the most widely known Fleetwood Mac era of Buckingham and Nicks which followed Bob Welch’s departure. In other words, there’s some really good music on the 1970-74 albums that deserves much wider reappraisal, and Kiln House is but the first of them.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. This is the Rock
  2. Station Man
  3. Blood on the Floor
  4. Hi Ho Silver
  5. Jewel-Eyed Judy

Side Two:

  1. Buddy’s Song
  2. Earl Gray
  3. One Together
  4. Tell Me All the Things You Do
  5. Mission Bell

-Stephen

Kiln House

https://www.allmusic.com/album/kiln-house-mw0000193528

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/fleetwood-mac-kiln-house/

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

September 18 – The Passing of Jimi Hendrix 50 Years On

Like many Gen X-ers, I discovered the brilliance of Jimi Hendrix for myself in the mid/late 80’s, probably due to the numerous twentieth anniversaries at the time in music and pop culture in general. His death fifty years ago today is usually presented as just a given, and in the grand scheme that’s what it was. As with some of his contemporaries who died young, it’s hard for me to imagine Hendrix as a septuagenarian, but who knows? I wasn’t even aware until recently of the concern that extreme negligence of others if not foul play may have been involved. It never occurred to me that there might be more to it than the generic narrative of the overindulgent musician who had one too many pills, drinks, or both.

These are the last known photos of #JimiHendrix taken before he died |  bluesyemre

As with other artists I’ve listened to most of my life, my interest in Jimi’s music has shifted and evolved. While I still love his three core albums, I’ve begun to hear his posthumous releases such as the tracks on First Rays of the New Rising Sun in a much more enjoyable light (pun not really intended). Where would he have gone with his music? Would anything have come of his developing association with Miles Davis? What if he were alive today?

At the same time, now when I watch his performances such as at Monterey Pop or Woodstock, I’m hearing the magnificence of his renditions of Wild Thing and The Star Spangled Banner, performances which to me in the past were overshadowed somewhat by his showmanship. A handful of songs and his persona drew me in as a fifteen year old, but the substance of the music keeps it fresh for me as I approach my own fiftieth anniversary of life. Now that Hendrix poster which adorned my various teenage/early adult bedroom walls has its place in my son’s apartment at college. And on it goes. It may be hard to imagine Jimi Hendrix at seventy-seven, but it’s unfathomable to think of the music world without his incalculable contributions.

-Stephen

https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Scuse-Me-While-I-Kiss-the-Sky/David-Henderson/9780743274012

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/27_Club

September 8 – Desert Island Album Draft, Round 7: Tom Petty – Wildflowers

I’m participating in an album draft with nine other bloggers, organized by Hanspostcard. There will be ten rounds, with draft order determined randomly by round. I’m leading off Round 7 with my favorite Tom Petty album.

Well here it is, my one and only “contemporary” selection in the draft. I just finished peeling off that last annoying bit of tape from the top edge of the CD case (had to wait until my fingernails grew out a little). I wonder how much staying power this album will have… Kidding aside, Wildflowers sounds to me as though it could’ve been released in the last decade and not 26 years ago. Much of that is most likely due to producer Rick Rubin, whose work tends to sound fresh yet timeless. But for the most part, that’s just the nature of Petty’s music. This particular album is officially a solo release, though all members of the Heartbreakers except Stan Lynch played on it.

BangShift.com BangShift Tune-Up: "You Don't Know How It Feels" by Tom Petty  and the Heartbreakers (1994) - BangShift.com

I confess that I didn’t fully appreciate this album as a singular work until years after its release. Petty’s songs were all over contemporary rock radio in the 90’s, and for a while I kind of lost track of which albums the various singles were on from Into the Great Wide Open onward. I eventually bought it, and when I dropped it into the player I was stunned at the quality from start to finish. Late to the party once again. Of course I knew the tracks that received radio play, my favorites being You Don’t Know How it Feels, It’s Good to be King, and You Wreck Me. However, there’s not a weak song among the 15 on this rather sprawling release, with some just as strong as the singles including Time to Move On, Honey Bee, Don’t Fade on Me, House in the Woods, Crawling Back to You, Wake Up Time, and the title track.

Wildflowers is a great collection of songs – hard rockers and wistful acoustic numbers – which compliment one another perfectly. In that light, of the 30 or so songs he had written for it before recording sessions even began, some equallly strong material that didn’t blend with the rest to Petty’s ears was left off the record after he was talked out of releasing it as a double album. Many of those left behind songs will see the light of day on the upcoming Wildflowers & All the Rest. Listening objectively as a detached music fan, it’s a beautiful masterpiece of a rock album.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Full Concert - 10/02/94 - Shoreline  Amphitheatre (OFFICIAL) - YouTube

But there’s also a bit of sadness attached to Wildflowers. First, it marked the end of Petty’s working relationship with drummer Stan Lynch after years of increasing personal and professional differences (enter Steve Ferrone as the new drummer). Second, he had spent close to two years in the studio working on it, a time which Warren Zanes, author of the authorized biography Petty: The Biography, describes as a period when Tom was also avoiding the inevitable at home. Wildflowers was Tom’s self-described divorce album.

As Petty’s daughter Adria describes in the book, the family gathered at their Florida home to listen to the finished album as was tradition, and she knew when she heard it that her parents’ long strained marriage was finished, starting with the lyrics in the title track: Sail away, kill off the hours, You belong somewhere you feel free… Down the line, Tom’s therapist suggested he’d written that song to himself, and Petty agreed. As Zanes puts it, there’s an “almost unnerving openness” to the songs on Wildflowers. There was so much discord in Petty’s personal and professional life, but as is often the case in the art world, some wonderful creations came from it. 

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers Announce Tour « American Songwriter

Tom Petty went on to release eight more studio albums including those with the Heartbreakers and the reunited Mudcrutch before his passing. We’re coming up on three years, and it’s still hard to believe he’s gone. You can add that as a third reason why there’s melancholy attached to Wildflowers. Sometimes it’s just not possible to listen as an indifferent fan to the great music pouring from my speakers. It’s time to move on, it’s time to get goin’…

Tracklist:

  1. Wildflowers
  2. You Don’t Know How it Feels
  3. Time to Move On
  4. You Wreck Me
  5. It’s Good to be King
  6. Only a Broken Heart
  7. Honey Bee
  8. Don’t Fade on Me
  9. Hard on Me
  10. Cabin Down Below
  11. To Find a Friend
  12. A Higher Place
  13. House in the Woods
  14. Crawling Back to You
  15. Wake Up Time

-Stephen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wildflowers_(Tom_Petty_album)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23848010-petty