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 4 – Live Raunch from The Rolling Stones

9/4/70: The Rolling Stones – Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert

“Paint it Black, you devils!”

When the Rolling Stones began their U.S. tour in November 1969, it marked their first concert appearances here since 1966. The music landscape had changed quite a bit in that time, including live shows. For the major acts, the venues had become larger and the amplification louder. The non-stop shrill screaming of teenage girls had ceased as the crowds were now slightly older. And stoned. Enter the world’s most famous musical band of outlaws, now flaunting their badness more openly and brashly than ever. It was Mick Taylor’s first tour as a member of the band, and the last one they would embark upon as just the principal band (including Ian Stewart) without additional musicians. The joy and the horror of that month-long tour was captured for eternity on the Maysles brothers’ documentary, Gimme Shelter. The live album from those dates, Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out: The Rolling Stones in Concert, was released 50 years ago today.

Back cover of Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting  Corporation)

The release of this album was largely a response to the bootleg recording Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be from their Oakland, CA show near the start of the tour, which is considered the first major live bootleg album. Ya-Ya’s as originally released contains 10 of the 15 songs which made up their usual set list, including two Chuck Berry covers and one by Robert Johnson. The performances were taken from their November 27th and 28th shows at Madison Square Garden, with Love in Vain from the 26th in Baltimore. Overdubbing of vocals on six tracks and guitars on two took place at Olympic Studios in January 1970. The album reached number one in the U.K., and number six in the U.S.

The Rolling Stones in Chicago: A timeline of the band's 55-year fascination  with the city's blues - Chicago Tribune

I should probably let it go, but if you’ve read my posts in the past you might know I tend to grumble at the self-importance of contemporary reviewers of these albums that have attained “classic” status, but the fact is that the views of scribes for publications such as Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, the L.A. Times, etc., held a lot of weight back in the day. It was no different with this live document. Lester Bangs, in his contemporary review in Rolling Stone – in which he criticized late-60’s live acts for being either too sloppy or too clinical (insert eye-roll emoji) – asked this question at the outset of his album review having seen the show himself:

Sure, the Stones put on what was almost undoubtedly the best show of the year, but did that say more about their own involvement or about the almost uniform lameness of the competition? 

Criterion Channel on Twitter: "Albert and David Maysles's Direct Cinema  landmark GIMME SHELTER captures the Rolling Stones near the end of their 1969  U.S. tour, at a free outdoor concert in San

Their competition aside, I feel there’s everything to like about the album. I put a lot of value on overall context, and the Stones were close to the heart of arguably their wildest and most arrogant years. To my ears, their irreverence is evident from the outset when Charlie’s drumming kicks in seemingly a half beat behind on Jumpin’ Jack Flash (I mean, they could’ve fixed that in the studio if they’d wanted to, right?). Love in Vain is a highlight for me for Taylor’s solo alone (Bangs called the track a low point of the album…). The guitars of Richards and Taylor drive Midnight Rambler to heights not heard on Let it Bleed, which was released the day before Altamont (though I do prefer the studio version of Live with Me from that album over the one on Ya-Ya’s). We don’t really even need the film to visualize Mick prancing around to it, either. It’s a showstopping performance.

The Rolling Stones Fall 1969 Tour - Rolling Stone

They kick into Sympathy for the Devil after the girl in the audience (Bangs refers to her as “an insistent chick”) shouts at the devils to play Paint it Black. It all seems funny and well timed, but it’s hard to listen to without thinking of its place in the Altamont show a few weeks in the future when Keith stops mid-song to admonish the Hell’s Angels. His playing on this one makes up for the absence of “woo-woo’s” heard on the studio version. I used to look at the Chuck Berry covers as throwaways, but now I see them as grittier takes on what were, for the late 1950’s, eyebrow raising songs. This album actually sounds better to me now than when I was younger, with or without the “bonus” tracks added in 2009. And, for what it’s worth, Lester Bangs’s answer to his own question was:

It’s still too soon to tell, but I’m beginning to think Ya-Ya’s just might be the best album they ever made. I have no doubt that it’s the best rock concert ever put on record. The Stones, alone among their generation of groups, are not about to fall by the wayside. And as long as they continue to thrive this way, the era of true rock and roll music will remain alive and kicking with them. 

The Who say hi, but he wasn’t far off the mark.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Jumpin’ Jack Flash
  2. Carol
  3. Stray Cat Blues
  4. Love in Vain
  5. Midnight Rambler

Side Two:

  1. Sympathy for the Devil
  2. Live with Me
  3. Little Queenie
  4. Honkey Tonk Women
  5. Street Fighting Man

-Stephen

Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/rolling-stones-get-yer-ya-yas-out/

https://www.allmusic.com/album/get-yer-ya-yas-out%21-mw0000191518

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Get_Yer_Ya-Ya%27s_Out!_The_Rolling_Stones_in_Concert

August 7 – The Moody Blues Roll On

8/7/70: Moody Blues – A Question of Balance

Jumping back across the pond after celebrating Canned Heat a few days ago, today’s feature is the sixth album released by The Moody Blues, A Question of Balance, which was unveiled 50 years ago today.

How Moody Blues Found New Urgency With 'A Question of Balance'

Recorded between January and June of 1970, this release represents a concerted effort to strip down the production present on their previous works for the purpose of being able to perform its songs more effectively live on stage. This is a bit of a misnomer in the greater context of rock music at the time; it’s really only stripped down compared to their own work. A Question of Balance is still quite lush with the Moody’s trademark elements of Mellotron and layered vocals. There wasn’t any question of balance when it came to everyone in this band having their moments to shine, which is one of the really cool features of the Moodys. There’s no drop off in quality when the vocals shift from one member to another, or when the featured instrument switches from guitar to Mellotron or Moog to flute.

The Moody Blues

Its well known opening track, Question, was recorded months earlier. Coincidentally or not, if any song sounds a bit out of place on this release, stylistsically speaking, it’s this one. Its Vietnam-era themed lyrics, however, were right on time. Album title implications aside, it might’ve fit better as the side two opener or as the album’s closer. Yet Justin Hayward has said that the album flowed from that signature opener, so what do I know? As a single, it reached No. 2 in the U.K. and 21 in the U.S. The album received middling grades by some reviewers, but I listen to it within the context of their seven album stretch beginning with 1967’s Days of Future Passed and ending with Seventh Sojourn in 1972. If that string of releases were one song, A Question of Balance is part of its solid bridge in the middle. I can’t think of another band I think of in that frame of reference.

moody-blues-uk-group-in-1970-A6707T.jpg

My favorite tracks on this release include Mike Pinder’s How Is It (We Are Here), which has a subtle-yet-distorted guitar in the midst of its Mellotron-drenched middle. Ray Thomas’s And the Tide Rushes In features beautiful finger picked guitar work. It’s Up to You is perhaps the most straight-forward rock song on the album, and in a way is a nice changeup in the middle of the album. Dawning is the Day highlights Thomas’s flute among acoustic guitars and Justin Hayward’s tasty mandolin, and the closer, The Balance, has Mike Pinder’s spoken-word harkening back to Days of Future Passed. As with The Moody Blues’ other albums from this era, I enjoy A Question of Balance most of all as whole work. Any nitpicks aside, this album is, as John Mendelsohn referred to it in his Rolling Stone review, unexaggerably beautiful.

Tracklist

Side One:

  1. Question
  2. How Is It (We Are Here)
  3. And the Tide Rushes In
  4. Don’t You Feel Small
  5. Tortoise and the Hare

Side Two:

  1. It’s Up to You
  2. Minstrel’s Song
  3. Dawning is the Day
  4. Melancholy Man
  5. The Balance

-Stephen

https://www.allmusic.com/album/a-question-of-balance-mw0000046519

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/moody-blues-question-of-balance/

http://web.archive.org/web/20080606000834/http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/themoodyblues/albums/album/184173/review/6068352/a_question_of_balance

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

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)

 

November 22 – Hey! the Kinks Released an Album on 11/22/68, Too!

The Kinks – The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society

In an alternate universe, this would be my highly anticipated album anniversary for the month, and one of the most important of the year. But it’s not even the biggest anniversary today! That’s not intended as an insult to the Kinks or to The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, released 50 years ago today (Jan. ’69 in the US). It’s a fantastic record, but it’s also fitting in an unfair kind of way that it was released the same day as the Beatles’ White Album in terms of the Kinks’ station on the British Invasion ladder, and that of the 1960’s rock scene in general.

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Sure, there are fans who can honestly say they’ve loved this album since its release and have owned it on vinyl, eight track, cassette, CD, and now on vinyl once again, and that the releases by the Beatles and the Stones don’t hold a candle to it. But in terms of sheer renown, this album is not on par with the White Album or Beggars Banquet, and that’s a shame. The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society is really, really good. I wasn’t exposed to this album until five or six years ago after reading about it on my favorite music forum, and all I can do is plead ignorance for not having learned, loved, and lived it all along. In the small, flyover burg where I grew up, the only Kinks albums people owned or liked were the hits, and songs from Village Green most certainly weren’t heard on the radio.

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L-R: Pete Quaife, Ray Davies, Dave Davies, and Mick Avory

Village Green was the band’s 6th studio album, and the last to feature the original quartet of lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Ray Davies, lead guitarist Dave Davies, bassist Pete Quaife, and drummer Mick Avory. Nicky Hopkins contributed work on keyboards and Mellotron (he claimed to have played 70% of the keyboards, but that Davies took most of the credit). The album was produced by Ray Davies. Recorded over a period of two years, it’s a very English rock album featuring themes of childhood nostalgia and character sketches of old friends, a hoodlum, a prostitute, and steam locomotives of British Railways. It is, as AllMusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine writes, a lament “on the passing of old-fashioned English traditions.”

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The album is considered one of the best and most influential of the Kinks’ albums, yet it was a failure upon release and didn’t chart. But by 2003, Rolling Stone named it 255 on its top 500 albums of all time, and as of this month it was finally certified gold in the UK. Village Green is their best-selling album. Critics have loved it all along.

Relative to how fast rock music was evolving by ’68, this album seemed out-of-place from the day of its release. Perhaps that’s part of the reason it wasn’t embraced from the beginning. It’s a distinctly Kinks and English album, and one that doesn’t really fit into a loose 1968 musical aesthetic. That it is timeless would be another way of saying it. Mick Avory’s snare pops and the guitars have heavy moments like mid-60’s Kinks, but with an overall slightly updated and even gentle sound.

I like every song on this album, but some of my favorites are rockers Do You Remember Walter?, Picture Book, Big Sky, the whimsical and kind of trippy Sitting by the Riverside, the cool rhythm track of Animal Farm, and the driving tempo of the acoustic-heavy People Take Pictures of Each Other. A five-disc 50th anniversary edition was released this past month, and I’ve texted Santa that I want it.

Tracklist:

Side One:

  1. The Village Green Preservation Society
  2. Do You Remember Walter?
  3. Picture Book
  4. Johnny Thunder
  5. Last of the Steam-Powered Trains
  6. Big Sky
  7. Sitting by the Riverside

Side Two:

  1. Animal Farm
  2. Village Green
  3. Starstruck
  4. Phenomenal Cat
  5. All of My Friends Were There
  6. Wicked Annabella
  7. Monica
  8. People Take Pictures of Each Other

-Stephen

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

https://www.allmusic.com/album/the-village-green-preservation-society-mw0000068713

https://www.spin.com/2018/11/the-kinks-village-green-preservation-society-gold-record/

http://ultimateclassicrock.com/kinks-village-green-50th-album-review/