May 1970, Pt. 3 – King Crimson’s Followup

5/15/70: King Crimson – In the Wake of Poseidon

King Crimson released their second album on the 15th of May, seven months after their striking debut, In the Court of the Crimson King. Most of the band, including Greg Lake, had departed prior to recording the followup, but returned on a session basis for this album. The similarities to In the Court are clear: sometimes erratic jazz fusion, rock, intricate guitar playing, popping drums, and periods of intermittent ethereal instrumentals. And lots of that signature Mellotron. Unsurprisingly, as with many contemporary reviews of bands not called Beatles or Stones, critics were cool to this album. Also not a shock, retrospective reviews consider it a masterpiece.

The Story Behind The Album: In The Wake Of Poseidon, by King Crimson

This band has had so many incarnations and sounds, I’m hesitant to try to write about them as a casual fan/listener. Robert Fripp seems to me a musician’s musician, an audiophile’s audiophile, and quite an intense one at that. My first two King Crimson albums were In the Court and Discipline, and that was it for a few years. Poseidon was the next one I obtained, and my initial thought was that it was a lesser version of the debut. I’ve come around, however. Maybe it took exploring more of there later work to come closer to “getting” this one. I’m sure Robert Fripp would be relieved to know it.

King Crimson - In The Wake Of Poseidon (Vinyl) | Discogs

Interesting (to me) factoid: A still-relatively unknown Elton John, who had released his debut album Empty Sky in the U.K., was hired to perform the vocals on Poseidon before Greg Lake returned, but Fripp, perhaps wisely, changed his mind, deeming E.J. not quite the right fit.

Tracklist

Side A:

  1. Peace – A Beginning
  2. Pictures of a City
  3. Cadence and Cascade
  4. In the Wake of Poseidon

Side B:

  1. Peace – A Theme
  2. Cat Food
  3. The Devil’s Triangle: I. Merday Morn II. Hand of Sceiron III. Garden of Worm
  4. Peace – An End

-Stephen

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/king-crimson-in-the-wake-of-poseidon/

https://www.popmatters.com/137916-king-crimson-in-the-wake-of-poseidon-40th-anniversary-series-2496068598.html

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

January 3 – The Crazy Diamond Goes Solo

Syd Barrett – The Madcap Laughs

This is not an easy one to write about because it’s not an easy album to listen to.  The Madcap Laughs, released on this date fifty years ago, is a portrait of someone in the throes of mental illness and not just some eccentric artist.  John and Yoko were merely crazy self-promoters by comparison.  However, I can say that having gained much more of an appreciation of the early Pink Floyd albums, I now find the first couple of Barrett releases to be much more interesting and enjoyable.

Image result for syd barrett the madcap laughs

Recording began in May 1968 after Barrett was dismissed from Pink Floyd due to his increasingly erratic behavior, with most of the work being done April – July 1969.  From inception to release nearly two years later, five producers participated on the project over the span of recording dates, including Barrett, David Gilmour, Roger Waters, former Pink Floyd manager Peter Jenner, and Malcolm Jones.  In addition to Barrett and Gilmour, other musicians on The Madcap Laughs include Robert Wyatt, Hugh Hopper, and Mike Ratledge of Soft Machine, Jerry Shirley of Humble Pie, and Willie Wilson of Jokers Wild (Gilmour’s band prior to joining Pink Floyd)

Image result for syd barrett the madcap laughs

The first round of recording with Jenner ended in July ’68 when Barrett departed and later ended up in a Cambridge psych ward.  He returned in early ’69 to work with Jones that spring at Abbey Road.  This was a more productive stage, but it too fizzled due to Syd’s unpredictable behavior.  Barrett didn’t communicate effectively with the session players who had no choice but to lag behind Syd’s playing with constant time and key changes.  By this time, Gilmour became interested in helping his friend in the studio.  He and Roger Waters took over in the booth in the summer of 1969 and hurriedly wrapped up recording, re-recording, and mixing.

Image result for roger waters 1969

Interestingly, it’s the Jones produced tracks as opposed to those overseen by Gilmour and Waters that are arguably stronger – a term I use loosely.  Exceptions for me include songs Octopus, Golden Hair (with some lyrics taken from James Joyce), and Dark Globe, the latter described by AllMusic’s Stewart Mason as “horrifying” and “a first person portrait of schizophrenia that’s seemingly the most self-aware song this normally whimsical songwriter ever created.”  Beginning with She Took a Long Cold Look, the final few tracks aren’t as listenable to me, with Barrett seemingly sounding more incoherent as the album winds down.  But the final track, Late Night, is a clear reminder of Syd’s isolation, and as such serves as a reminder of the album’s purpose, suggests reviewer Ric Albano.  For the album cover, Barrett painted his bedroom floor orange and purple.  He was helped by his new acquaintance Evelyn Rose, the nude woman on the back of the sleeve.

Image result for syd barrett the madcap laughs

The elements that make an album one listener’s disaster – disjointed and out of tune playing, stream of consciousness lyrics, as well as unintelligible mumbling – are part of the charm for others, and there is plenty of charm for me on this recording.  I enjoy most of it in fact.  I like Barrett’s vocals and most of the production on the record.  But I can’t listen to it without the reminder of what was unfolding for him at the time.  Let it Be documented the disintegration of a band, but The Madcap Laughs documented the disintegration of a human being.  It was really happening.  The only other albums I can think of off the top of my head where the questionable mental state of the artist was on full display to this extent are Skip Spence’s Oar and Big Star’s Third/Sister Lovers.  Perhaps Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica from the previous year as well.  For me there’s no question as to Syd Barrett’s talent and possible genius.  He simply didn’t make it.

Tracklist

Side A:

  1. Terrapin
  2. No Good Trying
  3. Love You
  4. No Man’s Land
  5. Dark Globe
  6. Here I Go

Side B:

  1. Octopus
  2. Golden Hair
  3. Long Gone
  4. She Took a Long Cold Look
  5. Feel
  6. If It’s in You
  7. Late Night

-Stephen

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

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

https://www.allmusic.com/album/the-madcap-laughs-mw0000193903

The Madcap Laughsby Syd Barrett

 

January 1 – The Good Taste of Rory Gallagher

Taste – On the Boards For my first proper album post of a 1970 release, I present someone in whose music I’m currently immersing myself: Rory Gallagher.  More accurately, it’s the second and final album by Gallagher’s band Taste before he set out on his own (the band continues to this day).  Rory Gallagher is […]

Taste – On the Boards

For my first proper album post of a 1970 release, I present someone in whose music I’m currently immersing myself: Rory Gallagher.  More accurately, it’s the second and final album by Gallagher’s band Taste before he set out on his own (the band continues to this day).  Rory Gallagher is one of those names I heard and read a number of times before finally giving him a listen.  I picked up his live album Irish Tour ’74 a few years back and instantly loved it, but for whatever reason didn’t begin to explore his other albums until more recently.

Image result for taste band 1970

The band, originally a blues rock trio, was formed by Gallagher in Cork, Ireland in 1966, with Rory as the chief songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist.  Eric Kitteringham played bass, and Norman Damery was on drums.  Though they headlined many of their own shows, some of Taste’s higher profile live performances came in support of Cream on their 1968 farewell tour, and later opening for Blind Faith during its North American tour of 1969.  Later in 1970, after On the Boards‘ release, the band played a set on the third night of the epic Isle of Wight Festival.  That performance was released on LP in 1971, and is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.  It was one of the last shows the band did before Gallagher set out on his own.

Image result for taste band 1970
The first Taste album, rel. April 1969

In addition to heavy blues and rock, on this recording they also express their jazz influence with Gallagher on saxophone as well as guitar.  On the Boards, released 50 years ago yesterday (I’ve got some catching up to do…), was received well by critics for its precise musicianship which can be heard right out of the gate on What’s Going On?  Gallagher’s versatility is even more apparent on the jazz-heavy track It’s Happened Before, It’ll Happen Again featuring Rory on sax.

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Rory Gallagher

I do hear hints of other late 1960’s/early 70’s British blues rock bands on this album such as the Jeff Beck Group and Fleetwood Mac.  The guitar sound on Eat My Words is reminiscent of Jimmy Page on Zeppelin tracks such as Traveling Riverside Blues.  But comparisons such as these might be lazy on my part, as Taste and later solo Gallagher definitely had their own heavy but tight, compact sound.  The exception here is the title track with its long, soulful and moody instrumental portion.  There’s not a bad track on this album, which means it’s not a matter of acquiring a taste for Rory Gallagher’s music as suggested in the title of this entry.  It’s simply about waking up and giving it a listen.

Tracklist

Side A:

  1. What’s Going On?
  2. Railway and Gun
  3. It’s Happened Before, It’ll Happen Again
  4. If the Day Was Any Longer
  5. Morning Sun

Side B:

  1. Eat My Words
  2. On the Boards
  3. If I Don’t Sing I’ll Cry
  4. See Here
  5. I’ll Remember

-Stephen

https://www.allmusic.com/album/on-the-boards-mw0000465916

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taste_(band)

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