August 3 – The End of an Era for Canned Heat

8/3/70: Canned Heat – Future Blues

For two or three years around the turn of the 1970’s, a handful of artists stepped away from the trend of heavy, self-important music to record albums that get the listener up off the couch and into boogie mode. A couple days ago we turned the spotlight on Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen, which I described as loose and sounding like a party taking place on stage. That album had counterparts in the blues rock idiom at the time such as Delaney & Bonnie: On Tour with Eric Clapton and Canned Heat’s Future Blues, the latter released 50 years ago today.

6 - Canned Heat - Future Blues - D - 1970--- | Klaus Hiltscher | Flickr

Future Blues was the band’s fifth album, and the last to feature most of the classic lineup. Larry Taylor and Harvey Mandel left the group after its recording and just before its release. Co-founder Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson passed away a month after its release, an unfortunate founding member of the 27 Club.

Alan Wilson of Canned Heat - Rockers Who Died at Age 27

This is widely considered to be one of their best albums. Future Blues was to critic Robert Christgau what Life Cereal was to Mikey… The band eschewed the extended jams they were also known for, sticking with more concise tracks mostly under three minutes long. The whole thing clocks in under 36 minutes as originally released. Future Blues is also noted for its stylistic diversity, from 1940’s jump blues on Skat (with horns arranged by Dr. John), to the darker London Blues (featuring Dr. John on piano) and heavy guitar of its most well known track, Let’s Work Together. This is not to say it’s a dark album, not by a long shot.

Canned Heat - Titel & Alben : Napster

Favorite tracks of mine include the straight forward blues of Sugar Bee and So Sad, both sung by Bob Hite, Charlie Patton’s Shake It and Break It sung by the Blind Owl, Arthur Crudup’s That’s All Right, Mama with Hite’s gravely vocal, as well as Wilson’s rolling but eerily prophetic My Time Ain’t Long and John Lee Hooker-influenced London Blues. When I think of American bands from that time, the “Woodstock Era,” Canned heat is one of the first to come to mind. Their combination of blues n’ boogie was unmatched to my ears. The vocal styles of Bob Hite and Alan Wilson couldn’t have been much more different, yet it was unquestionably Canned Heat regardless of who sang or how long the track was.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Sugar Bee
  2. Shake it and Break it
  3. That’s All Right (Mama)
  4. My Time Ain’t Long
  5. Skat
  6. Let’s Work Together

Side Two:

  1. London Blues
  2. So Sad (The World’s in a Tangle)
  3. Future Blues

-Stephen

https://www.allmusic.com/album/release/future-blues-mr0000098435

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_Blues_(Canned_Heat_album)

August 1970 – Mad Dogs on the Loose

August 1970: Joe Cocker – Mad Dogs & Englishmen

One of the many unique elements of the late 60’s/early 70’s music scene was emergence of artists who established their solo careers as interpreters of others’ songs. Even more interestingly to me, many of these weren’t fresh takes on 20-30 year old tunes, but contemporary ones. Richie Havens and Rod Stewart come to mind, as does Joe Cocker. The latter released his loose and rollicking live album Mad Dogs & Englishmen from his tour of the same name 50 years ago this month.

File:Joe cocker 1970.JPG - Wikimedia Commons

The tour and album were put together on short notice to meet a contractual obligation, with Cocker assembling his band very quickly and Leon Russell serving as musical director along with his duties on guitar, piano, and vocals. The band was another mix ‘n’ match grouping of usual suspects who appeared in those days on different projects with musicians such as Delaney & Bonnie, George Harrison, and Eric Clapton.  Besides Russell they included Don Preston (guitar), Chris Stainton (keyboards), Carl Radle (bass), Jims Gordon & Keltner (drums), Jim Horn, Bobby Keys, and Jim Price (brass), Rita Coolidge (of course) and a large cast of others on backing vocals.

Sam Recommends: “The Letter” by Joe Cocker//Leon Russell | by Samantha  Lamph | Memoir Mixtapes | Medium

Mad Dogs & Englishmen captures the seat of the pants live music scene of 1970 perfectly. It sounds like a party taking place on stage. It also highlights how crucial Leon Russell’s contributions were in those years. The album is comprised of covers of well known contemporary rock and soul tracks, along with some written by Russell. Favorites of mine from the original release include The Letter, which was recorded during tour rehearsals and released as a single before ultimately finding its way on the album, Cry Me a River, Dave Mason’s Feelin’ Alright, Ashford, Simpson & Armstead’s Let’s Go Get Stoned, Lennon/McCartney’s She Came in Through the Bathroom Window, and Leon’s Delta Lady. A deluxe edition was released in 2005 with about an hour’s worth of additional music, and a year later a six-disc box with four full Fillmore East shows appeared. A concert film from the tour was released in March of 1971.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Intro
  2. Honkey Tonk Women
  3. Intro
  4. Sticks and Stones
  5. Cry Me a River
  6. Bird on the Wire

Side Two:

  1. Feelin’ Alright
  2. Superstar (Rita Coolidge)
  3. Intro
  4. Let’s Go Get Stoned

Side Three:

  1. Blue Medley – a) I’ll Drown in My Own Tears b) When Something is Wrong with My Baby c) I’ve Been Loving You Too Long
  2. Intro
  3. Girl from the North Country
  4. Give Peace a Chance

Side Four:

  1. Intro
  2. She Came in Through the Bathroom Window
  3. Space Captain
  4. The Letter
  5. Delta Lady

-Stephen

https://www.allmusic.com/album/mad-dogs-englishmen-mw0000679117

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/joe-cocker-mad-dogs-englishmen/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mad_Dogs_%26_Englishmen_(album)

 

July Music Wrap Up, Pt. 2

Let’s wrap up this, uh, wrap up of July 1970 tunes. Pt. 2 is a little more singles-centric.

7/16/70: Diana Ross – Single: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

I think just about any Motown artist could’ve done a successful rendition of this classic Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson-written song. A few of them certainly did. This is the third version behind Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s original which was followed by the version recorded by Diana and the Supremes with the Temptations. Diana released her solo take 50 years ago this month, and it reached #1 on both the pop and R&B charts. She earned a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

July 1970: Humble Pie – Humble Pie

Humble Pie released their third album overall and their first on A&M this month in 1970. It’s considered a transition album toward their heavier sound, and it received a middling grade at the time. I don’t know, Marriott, Frampton, Ridley, and Shirley were just a damn solid band to my ears.

Humblepiealbumcover.jpg

July 1970: Funkadelic – Free Your Mind, Your Ass Will Follow

See my comments on Parliament’s debut in my July Music Wrap Up, Pt. 1.

Funkadelic free your mind g.gif

July 1970: Grand Funk Railroad – Single: I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home)

One of those classic rock radio staples that seems on the verge of being forever squeezed out of ever-shrinking playlists these days in favor of more newly christened “classic” songs such as Pour Some Sugar on Me. Ugh.

I'm Your Captain (Closer to Home) - Grand Funk Railroad.jpg

July 1970: James Brown – Single: Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine

Brown released this as a two-part single 50 years ago this month. What can be said, other than he truly was the godfather of soul. I heard a funny interview with Bootsy Collins recently where he was asked if it was true that James fired him for taking acid trips during performances. He responded in the affirmative that while people might’ve been shakin’ their moneymakers in the aisles, he was soaring across the galaxy while somehow playing these funky bass licks.

GetUp(IFeelLikeBeingA)SexMachine.jpg

July 1970: Smokey Robinson & the Miracles – Single: Tears of a Clown

For some reason I’ve always thought of the R&B and soul songs mentioned in this post as being from a few years earlier. This classic from Smokey and the Miracles is no different – it sounds like a companion track to The Tracks of My Tears dating to 1965. It’s irrelevant, but a realization I just had. It goes to show how cool the variety of music overall was in 1970. It wouldn’t be long before Stevie, Marvin and others took soul and R&B in a more serious direction.

Tearsofaclown45.jpg

-Stephen

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Your_Mind…_and_Your_Ass_Will_Follow

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27m_Your_Captain_(Closer_to_Home)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Get_Up_(I_Feel_Like_Being_a)_Sex_Machine

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

July 1970 Music Wrap Up, Pt. 1

With everything that’s going on out there these days on top of it being my least favorite time of year, to refer to them as dog days is an insult to dogs everywhere. But the music plays on. If I haven’t said so in the past, these end of the month wrap up posts aren’t simply what I deem to be “leftovers” not worthy of dedicated posts. In many instances they’re an acknowledgement of my ignorance. In other words, I know what I know, but there’s so much music I haven’t absorbed in my 49.5 years, yet I continue to play catch up.

Three cheers to the first person to correctly name the band in that rather nondescript featured image at the top…

7/7/70: Parliament – Osmium

See, this is what I’m talking about. I could spend a year in a Parliament and Funkadelic 101 course and barely scratch the surface. Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain (1971) and Eddie Hazel’s Game, Dames and Guitar Thangs (1977) are in my rotation, but that still leaves, what, thirty or so albums? Anyway, Osmium was Parliament’s debut album, released 50 years ago this month. Osmium is the chemical element of atomic number 76. Duh.

Osmium (album) - Wikipedia

7/8/70: Beck Hansen born

Beck released his first album about 27 years ago, and he’s been doing things his own way ever since. He’s one of the more innovative musicians out there, and is certainly one of my favorite contemporary artists. I tend to gravitate toward albums like Sea Change and Morning Phase. He turned 50 earlier this month. Seems like yesterday that the McCartneys and Jaggers of the world hit the half-century mark.

Beck Hansen Contact Info | Booking Agent, Manager, Publicist

7/14/70: Supertramp – Supertramp

Supertramp’s eponymous debut album was released 50 years ago. It (as well as their second album, Indelibly Stamped) is an album I “should” be more familiar with than a couple of YouTube listens. It’s a bit more on the prog side of life than what they came to be known for, which is why I never heard the album as a kid. I’m a fan of the Roger Hodgson/Rick Davies combo, and I love every release within their five album stretch from 1974’s Crime of the Century to 1980’s live Paris. 1982’s …Famous Last Words has its moments as well. It’s inevitable that I’ll absorb this and its follow up a bit more, probably in the near future.

Supertramp - Supertramp.jpg

7/20/70: The Doors – Absolutely Live

This was the first live Doors album, and it contains performances from mid-1969 to spring of ’70. It received rather poor reviews, but with the Doors one never knows what personal ax a writer might have had to grind with that band. The Doors were a group that people either seem to like or dislike without middle ground. Maybe it was the Celebration of the Lizard that sealed this album’s status among Rolling Stone writers and their ilk. Live at the Hollywood Bowl was my live Doors listening experience during my formative years. Come to think of it, that might be the show they got the Absolutely Live album cover photo from. It’s certainly not representative of the bearded and slightly bloated Jim of 1970. I’m still a fan.

DoorsAbLive1970.jpg

July 1970: Fairport Convention – Full House

Fairport Convention is a band that I’ve raved about, and in a way I’ve patted myself on the back for having discovered them for myself despite my rural Midwest American 1970’s-80’s upbringing. But the reality is I only know and love the albums they did with Sandy Denny, which comprise three of the first four Fairport albums. Full House was their fifth. This was Richard Thompson’s last appearance with the band, and it’s apparently a very good album which follows in the vein of Liege & Lief but without Sandy, who had moved on to form Fotheringay. I just haven’t heard it. Perhaps you can see the dilemma I face when trying to decide what direction to take with my music education: Funkadelic or post-Denny Fairport Convention? Have I reached a point where there’s just not enough time to devote to all the sounds I’ve yet to explore?

Fairport Convention-Full House (album cover).jpg

-Stephen

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

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

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolutely_Live_(The_Doors_album)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_House_(Fairport_Convention_album)

 

 

July 24 – A Second Offering from Yes

7/24/70: Yes – Time and a Word

Yes’s second album, released on Atlantic 50 years ago today, was recorded during the band’s touring breaks and continued the evolution of their classic early/mid 70’s sound (and lineup). A small brass and string section was employed on most of the album which sets it apart from Yes’s other albums, a move which guitarist Peter Banks did not approve of and which hastened his departure from the group before Time and a Word‘s release. He was replaced by Steve Howe, who was added to the group photo on the album’s jacket which was released in the U.S. because the original U.K. jacket was deemed inappropriate for release across the Atlantic.

Original US cover featuring Steve Howe (far right)

There’s simply no doubt who you’re listening to from the opening notes of Tony Kaye’s Hammond organ on No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed, a very interesting take on Richie Havens’s original which is also notable to me as a Havens fan because Richie was known better for being an interpreter of others’ tracks rather than the one being covered. Yes’s version has an Aaron Coplandesque bombast of strings and brass, giving it a bit of an American flavor. Other favorites of mine include their reading of Stephen Stills’s Everydays, which starts out spacey before kicking into an extended jam before returning to where it began, plus Jon Anderson & David Foster’s Sweet Dreams, which points the way to future Yes albums, and Anderson’s Astral Traveller, a standout track for drummer Bill Bruford. Dear Father is probably the only song on this album that doesn’t really do anything for me.

Yes

Time and a Word is considered by prog and specifically Yes aficionados to be the weakest of their 1970’s albums. I consider myself to be a casual Yes fan, and I find it to be a very enjoyable listening experience despite its status as a transitional work. The Yes Album, Fragile, Close to the Edge, and Relayer it is not. Probably not Tales from Topographic Oceans, either. But to me that says more about their depth of quality albums in those years. Take away the occasional overuse of strings and it would probably be more on par with those others.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed
  2. Then
  3. Everydays
  4. Sweet Dreams

Side Two:

  1. The Prophet
  2. Clear Days
  3. Astral Traveller
  4. Time and a Word

-Stephen

https://www.allmusic.com/album/time-and-a-word-mw0001948160

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

http://www.prog-sphere.com/specials/yes-time-word/

 

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