Jackie Lomax: A Lost Classic – Sour Milk Sea

8/26/68: Jackie Lomax – Single: Sour Milk Sea

I had stepped away from my blog for a bit when the 50th anniversary of Jackie Lomax’s 1969 album Is This What You Want? came and went. It wasn’t a great album despite its connections, but there is one standout track that I want to acknowledge. Sour Milk Sea is a fairly well known song to Beatles fans despite the fact that it wasn’t on any of their albums (unless one counts The Esher Demos). I’ve mentioned it before, on the White Album‘s 50th. Written by George Harrison, who also produced the Lomax album for the Apple label after recording his own demo, in my mind its rightful place was on the White Album as a proper full-on Beatles song. Perhaps this post is an attempt at excising the topic from my mind so that I can just enjoy Lomax’s very good version.

220px-Lomax_IsThisWhatYouWant__cover.jpg

Sour Milk Sea was written by Harrison during the Beatles’ retreat with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at his ashram in Rishikesh, India in early 1968. He drew inspiration for the song from a picture depicting a Hindu theme regarding “the geological theory of the evolution of organic life on earth.” The Sour Milk Sea represents a fallow period between Earth’s evolutionary cycles. The point of all of it being, in order to evolve we must seek God through meditation.

MAHARISHI MAHESH YOGI DVD 1968 - "SPIRITUAL ADVISOR TO THE BEATLES."

While the thematic influence is from the East, Sour Milk Sea is not raga rock. No sitar, no tablas. This is straight forward 1968 British blues rock, and what a backing band Lomax had here: Harrison and Clapton on guitars, McCartney on bass, Ringo on drums, and Nicky Hopkins on piano. The Hammond organ is uncredited. This was the first Harrison written song that he gave away to another artist. It’s also the only song to feature more than two Beatles on someone else’s recording.

1727 Sour Milk Sea – Jackie Lomax (1968) | Songs We Were Singing

I wrote ‘Sour Milk Sea’ in Rishikesh, India…it’s based on Vishvasara Tantra, from Trantric art…It’s a picture, and the picture is called ‘Sour Milk Sea’ – ‘Kalladadi Samudra’ in Sanskrit. I used Sour Milk Sea as the idea of – if you’re in the shit, don’t go around moaning about it: do something about it.

-George Harrison, from his autobiography I Me Mine

If your life’s not right, doesn’t satisfy you
You don’t get the breaks like some of us do
Better work it out, find where you’ve gone wrong
Better do it soon as you don’t have long
Get out of sour milk sea
You don’t belong there
Get back to where you should be
Find out what’s going on there
If you want the most from everything you do
In the shortest time your dreams will come true
In no time at all makes you more aware
A very simple process takes you there
Chorus
Looking for release from limitation
There’s nothing much without illumination
Can fool around with every different cult
There’s only one way really brings results
Chorus

Side A: Sour Milk Sea

Side B: The Eagle Laughs at You

An interesting “outfake,” a mashup of the Lomax instrumental track with the Harrison Esher Demo vocal:

 

-Stephen

Sour Milk Sea

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

Mungo Jerry’s Summertime Classic 50 Years On

1970: Mungo Jerry – Single: In the Summertime

I thought that today I’d salute a fun, whimsical tune which celebrate’s its 50th anniversary this year. I’m unable to locate the specific release date other than the year, but I’m going to assume it’s not February or November. Regardless, it’s Friday, it’s mid-July, it’s hot outside, and I need a break from the world’s madness for a few minutes. With that, I  present to you a summertime one-hit wonder classic, Mungo Jerry’s In the Summertime.

So Exactly What Is A Mungo Jerry? – Geezer Music Club

This is one of those tunes that takes me back to childhood, and I still enjoy hearing it this time of year the same way I like hearing Seals & Crofts’ version of Summer Breeze during the dog days and McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime in December. Yes, I’m a bit of a sentimentalist. As for this track, it was written by Ray Dorset, front man for this band which is technically still active with a revolving door of members. The name of the band was inspired by a T.S. Eliot poem, Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer.

Ray Dorset of Mungo Jerry: I spun my No 1 hit into a gold‑disc ...

Besides the carefree days of childhood, In the Summertime also reminds me of a friend and former co-worker of mine from our days at a chain retail furniture store. The company would distribute CDs to its stores to be played on a loop, and one of them had this track on it. Therefore, we usually heard it 2-3 times per shift, and she absolutely hated it, and of course I teased her about it. I dedicate this blog post to you, Cindy. 🙂

Apparently the Mungo Jerry camp takes its copyright semi-seriously, as I’ve not found a clip on YouTube which doesn’t edit out the words “In the summertime.” You probably know how it goes….

Side A: In the Summertime

Side B: Mighty Man

-Stephen

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

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

July 16 – Cosmo’s Factory Hits 50

7/16/70: Creedence Clearwater Revival – Cosmo’s Factory

The year 1970 is exactly in the middle of my favorite ten-year stretch of rock music. When I think of the “biggest” bands or my absolute favorite albums and bands from roughly ’69-’71, admittedly CCR is not the first to pop into my mind. Until a couple of years ago they’d always been a greatest hits band in my mind (and collection) – a very good one, but one whose full albums I hadn’t paid much attention to. Yet, is there really much argument against the opinion that CCR and their album Cosmo’s Factory – released on this day 50 years ago – don’t form part of the core of what makes rock music from that era great?

CCR 1970 – Bravo Posters

The album’s title came from the converted warehouse where the band was known to relentlessly rehearse (drummer Doug Clifford’s nickname is “Cosmo”), and was rather amazingly the band’s fifth album in two years. It is loaded with hits. Cosmo’s Factory spawned three highly rated double A-sided singles. Travelin’ Band/Who’ll Stop the Rain each reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100, Run Through the Jungle/Up Around the Bend reached two and four, respectively, and Lookin’ Out My Back Door/Long as I Can See the Light both climbed to number two. By December it was certified gold, and twenty years later 4 x platinum.

ccr.jpg

CCR weren’t known for creating the most diverse soundscapes. Their niche was straight-forward guitar-driven rock. That is to say, a (swampy) goulash of R&B, country, soul, blues, and rockabilly. Yet their sound is very distinctive. Perhaps it’s their stripped down, no frills brand of rock and roll – not unlike that of The Band and the Grateful Dead beginning with Workingman’s… – that was a major part of their appeal at the tail end of the psychedelic era.

CCR - They Really Did Get To Woodstock - uDiscover

One of my personal favorites on this album is Ramble Tamble, which leads off. It starts off in a rockabilly vein before a sudden turn two minutes in to a heavy, post-psychedelic instrumental for four minutes before returning to the original tune. The original Rolling Stone review refers to this track as “unsatisfying.” Pfft. Run Through the Jungle is as close to the Mekong Delta in 1970 as I’d want to be (though it was great to visit in 2000) – a great track. Their eleven minute version of Heard it Through the Grapevine might be considered monotonous to some, but it’s a groove I can get locked into. Travelin’ Band is always a fun two-minute adrenaline rush, and lastly, Long as I Can See the Light is a perfect, soulful ending to a classic album with no real weak links.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Ramble Tamble
  2. Before You Accuse Me
  3. Travelin’ Band
  4. Ooby Dooby
  5. Lookin’ Out My Back Door
  6. Run Through the Jungle

Side Two:

  1. Up Around the Bend
  2. My Baby Left Me
  3. Who’ll Stop the Rain
  4. I Heard it Through the Grapevine
  5. Long as I Can See the Light

-Stephen

https://www.allmusic.com/album/cosmos-factory-mw0000232241

Cosmo’s Factory

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmo%27s_Factory

Desert Island Album Draft, Round 1: All Things Must Pass

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 was the last to select in the first round, but my #1 choice was still available: George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. I’ll probably end up doing an extended series on this album when its 50th anniversary comes up later this year.

George-Harrison-All-Things-Must-Pass.jpg

Where to start with George’s 1970 triple album opus, and how to explain concisely why this album means so much to me in a manner that doesn’t make me sound full of myself? I’m counting on the fact that we’re all music nuts here and can, at least to some extent, relate. Despite the fact that I have no clue what it’s like to be musically gifted, internationally famous (never mind an ex-Beatle), wealthy, etc., if there’s one artist who I think I can relate to as a person, it’s George. I wear my heart on my sleeve like he did, and if I were ever to experience any degree of fame I’d probably react to it similarly to him. That is to say, “’Hari Krishna,’ now please get off my lawn while I enjoy this piece of cake.” Maybe it’s because I’m a fellow Pisces, I don’t know. And if there’s one album of his which displays his full range of emotions relating to personal relationships and spiritual longing, and is presented in beautifully crafted songs with fantastic musicianship from start to finish, it’s All Things Must Pass.

Due to the limits he faced with regard to his songs making it onto Beatles albums, Harrison had been stockpiling them since roughly 1966. After starting 1968 by staying in India longer than the other Beatles, in the fall of that year George spent time with Dylan and The Band at Woodstock, which was perhaps the final nail in the Beatles’ coffin as far as George was concerned. Their influence is all over this solo debut album, which was an artistic and emotional purging for Harrison.

There are songs of human love for friends, including the Dylan co-written I’d Have You Anytime, and George’s attempt at coaxing Bob out of his self-imposed exile on Behind That Locked Door. Apple Scruffs is his humorous love song to his loyal fans who waited daily outside the recording studio, and What is Life is one of a number of George’s uniquely ambiguous love songs over the course of his solo years which leaves it up to the listener to decide if it’s about human or Godly love.

There are songs of lament over friendships on the wane. Wah-Wah was written when George walked out of the Get Back sessions. It’s a double entendre which refers to the guitar effect as well as the headache John and Paul had caused him. Run of the Mill, too, was written out of his sadness over the Beatles’ slow dissolution. Isn’t it a Pity, to me, is the most powerful track on this emotional roller coaster of an album. I can’t watch Eric Clapton and Billy Preston sing it on The Concert for George without tears. Just thinking about it…

And, there are the songs which focus on George’s spiritual journey. The smash hit, of course, was My Sweet Lord, which includes a Vedic chant for which Harrison took heat from Christian fundamentalists for supposedly trying to subliminally indoctrinate America’s youth into heathen Eastern religion. As with his organizing the Concert for Bangladesh a year later, it took nerve (and Phil Spector’s insistence) for him to put this song out as a single, but it paid off. The Art of Dying had its genesis around 1966 when Lennon’s Tomorrow Never Knows was the Tibetan Book of the Dead-influenced song to make the cut on Revolver. To the uninitiated, it can be a dark or frightening song. It’s not. As with The Art of Dying, Awaiting on You All is Harrison encouraging us to wake up to what’s real and eschew that which isn’t. And lastly, after all the madness, fame, and fortune of his Beatles experience left him emotionally and spiritually frayed, there’s George’s bare bones plea in Hear Me Lord. For such a private man, it doesn’t get any more open and sincere than this.

I know I need to wrap this up despite the fact that I could go on (other tracks, the plagiarism lawsuit, Apple Jam, the session players, the cover, etc.). I would, however, like to comment briefly on Phil Spector’s production. As with Let it Be, this is the version we grew up with, and I love it just like it is. Perhaps when the deluxe 50th anniversary edition comes out this fall, it will include alternate versions and demos with toned down production. Some of it is already available on bootlegs and YouTube.

Thanks for reading.

-Stephen

July 1970 – Dave Mason Alone (Together with a Bunch of Friends)

July 1970: Dave Mason – Alone Together

There are individuals in my world of music interests whose names I heard or read often as a younger adult, who are considered to have made important contributions and are highly regarded musicians, songwriters, etc., yet when it came down to it I knew next to nothing about them or their work for a long time. Dave Mason was one of those artists. Even after I discovered Traffic for myself in the late 80’s and learned Mason was on their first few albums it still didn’t click. His best known Traffic song, Feelin’ Alright?, in my opinion is not in the same league as Joe Cocker’s cover. In my mind rightly or wrongly (o.k., wrongly), Traffic was Winwood, Capaldi, and Wood, period. Fully acknowledging my ignorance, Mason was the guy who sang 1977’s We Just Disagree, and that was about it. Yet there his name appeared in liner notes of albums by Jimi Hendrix, the Stones, Delaney & Bonnie, George Harrison, Crosby & Nash, and many others. It was a long time before I had my “ah-ha” moment with Mason, and it came a year or so ago when listening for the first time to his debut solo album Alone Together, released 50 years ago this month.

Roots Vinyl Guide

The instrumental tracks were of the somewhat standard fare for 1970, with rhythm section, keyboards, and mostly acoustic guitars and just the right touches of electric guitars on top. The best known track on the album is Only You Know and I Know, a song which Delaney & Bonnie covered. Highlights for me include the uptempo gospel influenced Waitin’ On You, the tasty acoustic guitar and keyboards of World in Changes, the acoustic guitar and piano combined on the wistful Sad and Deep as You, and the powerful closer Look at You Look at Me, which combines the best of most everything on the album onto its longest track at 7:38. My favorite track of all is Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave, which closes out side one and, somewhat ironically, harkens back to Traffic. I realize I’ve just listed almost every track on the album, but yeah, it’s one of those releases. It sounds rather organic, straight forward and unfussy. It’s a solid rock album of its time, and it has aged very well.

Dave Mason – Wikipédia, a enciclopédia livre

There was much cross-pollenation on albums around this time among artists such as Delaney & Bonnie and George Harrison (on whose albums Mason appeared that same year), as well as Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, and Leon Russell. Mason had help on this album with a list of well known musicians whose names popped up frequently around the turn of 1970’s, including drummers John Barbata, Jim Capaldi, Jim Gordon, and Jim Keltner. There were also contributions by Don Preston (Mothers of Invention, Plastic Ono Band) on keyboards, bassists Chris Ethridge (Flying Burrito Bros., Gene Clark, and many others), Larry Knechtel (see Wrecking Crew), and Carl Radle, as well as the aforementioned Delaney & Bonnie, Leon Russell and, of course, the then-ubiquitous vocalist/muse Rita Coolidge. But other than the Capaldi co-credit on the closing track, Mason was the sole songwriter. What set the better albums apart during the album rock explosion of the era was just the right batch of songs combined with just the right session players (on solo albums) and production. With Alone Together it all came together for Dave Mason. It was his peak. This one should’ve been on my shelf with those others all along.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Only You Know and I Know
  2. Can’t Stop Worrying, Can’t Stop Loving
  3. Waitin’ On You
  4. Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave

Side Two:

  1. World in Changes
  2. Sad and Deep as You
  3. Just a Song
  4. Look at You Look at Me

-Stephen

https://www.allmusic.com/album/alone-together-mw0000193512

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alone_Together_(Dave_Mason_album)

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

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

July 1970 – James Gang, Independence Day, and American Music

July 1970: James Gang – James Gang Rides Again

It’s the morning of Independence Day in the U.S.A., and it’s such a strange time. I awoke early and stepped out on the back patio to visit with my wild friend Ginny for a bit and enjoy some fresh air before temps reach triple digits later today. I’m pondering what the Fourth of July means to me now with so much uncertainty in the air. It occurred to me that the best way for me to enjoy the day is to indulge in my favorite pastime, listening to music. Today, it’s 100% American music: Gershwin, Copeland, Miles, Bird, Dylan, Willie, Muddy, Bruce…you get the picture.

ginny.jpg

I didn’t have to put this post together today. James Gang’s second album, James Gang Rides Again (a.k.a. Rides Again), was released some time in July of 1970, but I’ve not been able to locate the exact 50th anniversary among my usual sources. I doubt it was released on July 4, but today seems as good a day as any to celebrate it as the album is a quintessential early 1970’s recording by a classic American band.

James Gang Look Back on 'Rides Again' at 45: Exclusive Interview

Rides Again contains one of the band’s two hits, Funk #49 (the other being Walk Away), but every track on it is quality rock music that features Joe Walsh’s fantastic, multidiminsional songwriting and musicianship, as well as that of bassist Dale Peters and drummer Jim Fox. Other than the driving Funk #49, my favorite song is The Bomber. The band ran into a bit of a legal dispute early on over this track due to its unauthorized inclusion of a rendition of Ravel’s Boléro, which was removed after initial pressings. It was restored on recent CD releases.

James Gang, The | Nostalgia Central

The organ on Tend My Garden adds another diminsion to the band’s sound that fades into the mellow folk of Garden Gate. This gives way to the country rock of There I Go Again which features Rusty Young on pedal steel guitar. Walsh has acknowledged that he only sang because the band needed a vocalist after their original singer quit the band and audiences responded well to him. He says he developed a lead/rhythm guitar style à la his friend Pete Townshend in order to allow him to sing effectively. As an aside, and speaking of Pete, James Gang opened for The Who on a few U.S. dates that same year.

James Gang - Wikipedia

*Non Music-Related Editorial Alert*

I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not to do this, but I feel the need to express something on this American holiday that’s supposed to be a cause for celebration. I don’t claim to speak for any other Americans who might read this, but to those of you from other parts of the planet who follow my blog, I’m disgusted with what is happening to my country right now and apologize for any negative impact it’s having internationally. Whether it’s Covid 19 or race-related, the absolute lack of leadership at the highest levels of my government and the shocking levels of selfishness and willful ignorance among much of the American population is sad and unnerving to me. This is not the United States I grew up in, nor is it representative of what I believe to be the vast majority of my fellow Americans.

Happy Fourth of July. Thanks for reading.

-Stephen

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Funk # 49
  2. Asshtonpark
  3. Woman
  4. The Bomber: Closet Queen/Boléro/Cast Your Fate to the Wind

Side Two:

  1. Tend My Garden
  2. Garden Gate
  3. There I Go Again
  4. Thanks
  5. Ashes the Rain and I

https://www.allmusic.com/album/rides-again-mw0000194237

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

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/james-gang-interview-2015/

 

July 1 – The Traffic Album that Made Me a Fan

7/1/70: Traffic – John Barleycorn Must Die

Traffic represents, to me, the quintessential turn of the 1970’s band and sound, especially one originating in the U.K. Today marks the 50th anniversary of the release of my favorite album by that band, John Barleycorn Must Die.

Traffic had dissolved after 1968’s eponymous album, with Dave Mason leaving a second time prior to its completion. Steve Winwood joined Blind Faith, and along with Chris Wood took part in Ginger Baker’s Air Force project. Wood and Jim Capaldi also did session work. Early in 1970, Winwood, still only 22 years old, returned to the studio to fulfill a contract obligation with a new solo album. But before it was completed he’d brought in fellow Traffic alumni Wood and Capaldi, and it became a new Traffic album instead, their fourth. This core trio would go on to release three additional albums.

TRAFFIC - JOHN BARLEYCORN MUST DIE DELUXE EDITION | UNCUT

The music on this album was a vehicle for Winwood’s vocals and instrumental work from keyboards to guitar, and the jazz, folk, and progressive rock influence on these sessions gave them plenty of room to spread out. Four of the album’s six songs which make up the original release exceed six minutes, but do not reach the running time of some tracks by their full on prog cousins. John Barleycorn Must Die peaked at number 5 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold, but surprisingly only reached number 11 in the U.K.

Traffic - 1970 - Nights At The Roundtable - Past Daily: News ...

Dave Lifton, in his 45th anniversary review of the album in Ultimate Classic Rock, notes the similar vibe of the opening track, Glad, to that of jazz great Ramsey Lewis’s 1965 hit The In Crowd, and I can hear it. Glad, Freedom Rider, Empty Pages, and John Barleycorn Must Die are the songs that keep me coming back to this album, but there’s not a weak link. Chris Wood’s reed instruments are a perfect compliment to Winwood’s keyboards and vocals, as well as Capaldi’s percussion, the latter also contributing with four songwriting co-credits. The title track – a traditional British folk tune dating to the 16th century – might be my favorite as it combines all the aforementioned elements. It was covered by many British artists including Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention, and Pentangle. I was unaware until preparing this post that the song is not about a person, but the personification of a type of barley used in brewing beer and whiskey distillation.

Steve Winwood: "I always felt the need to work with the people ...

Showing my age relative to the music I cover as I tend to do, I was a Winwood fan from 1981’s Arc of a Diver onward when I was a kid. But as a youth, though I was familiar with the songs Dear Mr. Fantasy and The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, I was mostly unaware of Traffic until my later teen years. Those were the two songs that got me interested in this band in the late-80’s, but John Barleycorn Must Die was the album that did it for me. It’s a complete package, a great album, and certainly one of my favorites by anyone in 1970.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Glad
  2. Freedom Rider
  3. Empty Pages

Side Two:

  1. Stranger to Himself
  2. John Barleycorn (Must Die)
  3. Every Mother’s Son

-Stephen

https://www.allmusic.com/album/john-barleycorn-must-die-mw0000197791#:~:text=Fantasy%2C%22%20but%20four%20of%20the,typical%20of%20earlier%20Capaldi%20sentiments.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/cfq4/

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/traffic-john-barleycorn-must-die/

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Barleycorn#Versions_and_variants

June 1970 Odds ‘n Ends

I hope everyone is faring at least tolerably during these strange times. Let’s wrap up June of 1970 with a few notable releases…

6/3/70: Stevie Wonder – Single: Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours

This was the first single Wonder produced on his own, and it spent six weeks atop the charts. His early career stuff is great, but it’s when he traded the suits for batik gear that his music gets really interesting in my book.

Swonderssd.jpg

6/3/70: On this day, Ray Davies made a round-trip from New York to London and back in the middle of a Kinks U.S. tour in order to re-record one word on their latest single, Lola. In order to receive airplay in the U.K. he had to change “Coca-Cola” to “cherry cola.”

Lola (song) - Wikipedia

6/5/70: Deep Purple – Deep Purple in Rock

This was the first album by Deep Purple’s “Mock II” lineup, and it put them over the top in Europe. It remained on the charts for over a year.

Deep Purple in Rock.jpg

6/8/70: Bob Dylan – Self Portrait

This album was a major disappointment to fans and critics alike, both for its songs and production. Author, critic, and Dylan fanatic Greil Marcus put it rather succinctly in his review in Rolling Stone: “What is this shit?” Yet when these sessions were revisited on 2013’s Bootleg Series Vol. 10: Another Self Portrait, it was a completely different story. A revelation, one might say. It was to me, anyway.

Bob Dylan - Self Portrait.jpg

6/15/70: Grand Funk Railroad – Closer to Home

Grand Funk Railroad’s third album, relatively well received, is best known for the radio staple I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home).

Closer to Home.jpg

June 1970: Tangerine Dream – Electronic Meditation

This is Tangerine Dream’s debut album. They went on to release eleventy zillion more in the 50 years that followed. That I know of, I’m only familiar with Zeit (1972), Phaedra (1974), and the soundtrack to Risky Business (1984). This music has its time and place for me.

Electronic Meditation.png

June 1970: Elvis – On Stage

The tracks on this highly rated live album were mostly taken from Vegas shows in February 1970. I just can’t get into Elvis’s music from that point in his career though.

On Stage February, 1970.jpg

June 1970: Ides of March – Vehicle

The debut from the Ides of March was released 50 years ago this month. I’m including it because I missed the anniversary in March of the title track single, Vehicle. I’ve never owned or heard the entire album, and I’ve rarely heard the title track on the radio, yet I’ve heard it numerous times overall as its promo film was regularly shown on VH1’s My Generation hosted by Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits back in the late 1980’s. That seems really random to me now. It’s a pretty tight track, but I get all the brass-heavy 60’s/70’s rock I need from Chicago, Blood, Sweat & Tears, and The Electric Flag.

Idesvehicle.jpg

See ya in July.

-Stephen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signed,_Sealed,_Delivered_I%27m_Yours

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self_Portrait_(Bob_Dylan_album)

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

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Stage_(Elvis_Presley_album)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle_(The_Ides_of_March_album)

June 26 – Free’s Breakthrough

6/26/70: Free – Fire and Water

The English rock band Free released their third album on this day 50 years ago. The band, consisting of vocalist Paul Rodgers, guitarist Paul Kossoff, bassist Andy Fraser, and drummer Simon Kirke, found themselves in a make or break situation with this recording after their first two albums garnered little attention. Recorded over the first half of June 1970 and clocking in at 35 minutes, Fire and Water reached number two on the U.K. album chart and 17 in the U.S. The album spawned the single All Right Now, a top five hit on both sides of the pond which remains a classic rock radio staple. Due to the album’s success, Free was invited to perform at the Isle of Wight Festival a few months later in front of 600,000 people.

Free - Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970 - Amazon.com Music

This is a tight, rocking album which critics have favorably compared to Blind Faith, Cream, and Derek & the Dominos. I don’t disagree with that, but to me what stands out is that it was a harbinger of an album rock sound going forward in the 1970’s, whereas albums by those other bands mentioned were (in my mind, anyway), the sound of the end of the 60’s. The obvious comparison would be with Bad Company, and the reason I find that interesting is because Free released three more albums after this one in rapid succession, but didn’t find much acclaim. Yet when Bad Company – including Rodgers and Kirke from Free, Mick Ralphs of Mott the Hoople, and Boz Burrell from King Crimson – released their eponymous debut in ’74 they were off to the races with a sound not unlike Fire and Water – just with better production and presumably better promotion.

Andy Fraser, Free's Bassist, Dies at 62 - The New York Times

The title track could’ve also been the radio hit from the album (though off the top of my head I can’t think of another example of a song fading out to a drum solo). Oh I Wept displays Rodgers’ ability to have a soft touch with his vocal when called for. Remember has a nice, mellow groove with its congas (I can hear a bit of Traffic on this one), and Heavy Load sounds very much like a preview of Bad Company (Ready for Love, for example). And, of course, the enduring All Right Now: To me, this song is a good example of the power of great rock ‘n’ roll guitar riffs and driving rhythm that more than make up for lyrics lacking much depth.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Fire and Water
  2. Oh I Wept
  3. Remember
  4. Heavy Load

Side Two:

  1. Mr. Big
  2. Don’t Say You Love Me
  3. All Right Now

-Stephen

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/free-fire-and-water/

https://www.allmusic.com/album/fire-and-water-mw0000198572

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_and_Water_(Free_album)#Track_listing

 

June 1970 – Fotheringay

June 1970: Fotheringay – Fotheringay

Fifty years ago this month the eponymous debut from the British folk group Fotheringay was released. The band was formed by Sandy Denny after she left Fairport Convention in 1969, and included her future husband Trevor Lucas on guitar as well as Gerry Conway on drums, guitarist Jerry Donahue, and Pat Donaldson on bass. The band’s name was derived from a castle where Mary, Queen of Scots was once imprisoned. It was also the title of a Denny song recorded with Fairport Convention. Fotheringay was the only album they released during their original incarnation. The group disbanded in 1971 during sessions for their second album when Denny chose to pursue a solo career. Fotheringay 2 was finally released in 2008.

Gallery: Unseen Fotheringay Imagery | Features | Clash Magazine

I began to take an interest in the late 1960’s/early 70’s British folk scene in the late 90’s, about the time I, like many others, discovered Nick Drake through a Volkswagen commercial. The first group whose music I explored was Fairport Convention, and I immediately became a fan of the late Sandy Denny’s vocals on their second through fourth albums. It turned out I had heard her sing before; she was the only guest vocalist to appear on a Led Zeppelin album, on the song The Battle of Evermore. As a natural progression I gave this album a listen and found it to be a continuation of the Fairport sound I like, then dove into Denny’s wonderful solo work. She was a brilliant composer and vocalist, but a somewhat tragic figure who passed away in 1978 at the age of 31.

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Fotheringay was produced by Joe Boyd, whose fingerprints are all over recordings from the British folk and underground scene including the aforementioned Drake, as well as The Incredible String Band, Pink Floyd, Fairport Convention, and others. My favorite tracks on the album overall were written and sung by Denny, especially Nothing More (with its Jerry Donahue guitar solo that I wish was about five minutes longer), though Trevor Lucas’s rendition of Gordon Lightfoot’s The Way I Feel is a particularly strong example of the British folk rock I enjoy. They also took a turn at Dylan’s Too Much of Nothing, another song from his 1967 basement sessions with the group that would soon be named The Band that wouldn’t see the official light of day until 1975. Interestingly, Fotheringay wasn’t even the first to release a version. Peter, Paul and Mary had a Top 40 hit with it in 1967, and Spooky Tooth also released it on their debut the following year.

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Below is a live clip of Fotheringay performing perhaps my favorite song of theirs on the German TV program Beat Club, followed by the album itself.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Nothing More
  2. The Sea
  3. The Ballad of Ned Kelly
  4. Winter Winds
  5. Peace in the End

Side Two:

  1. The Way I Feel
  2. The Pond and the Stream
  3. Too Much of Nothing
  4. Banks of the Nile

-Stephen

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

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

http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=10949