August 1970 Loose Musical Notes

It’s time for another end of the month blog cleanup, and we here at introgroove are not happy with ourselves I’m not too happy with myself. There are definitely some items here that deserved dedicated posts during the course of this month, but I just didn’t get it done. I’ll let you decide which ones they are. Let’s do this and move on to September, where slightly cooler temps and another batch of classic album anniversaries await.

8/10/70:  Mothers of Invention – Weasels Ripped My Flesh

This was the Mothers’ seventh album. It’s a mix of studio and live recordings, and is chock full of Zappa improvisation. Retrospective reviews are quite positive. A contemporary review in Billboard called it “far out.” It’s in my collection, and while I enjoy it and find it more accessible than, say, Freak Out!, it has yet to fully click with me.

Frank Zappa Weasels Ripped My Flesh.jpg

8/14/70: Hawkwind – Hawkwind

Hawkwind released their self-titled debut on the 14th, and the album is considered a pioneering recording in the space rock genre. It was recorded live in studio. I own the album. I like the album. I think I know what is meant by “space rock,” but I couldn’t really begin to explain it. I mean, like, you know? Yeah. Spacey. As with the Mothers cover above, this one is also far out. Lemmy would appear on their second through fifth albums.

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8/17/70: The Band – Stage Fright

We continue with our colorful August 1970 album covers with The Band’s third release, Stage Fright. If not for the legendary status of their first two albums, this one would most likely be thought of in the same light. As it is, Stage Fright is highly regarded to this day, regardless of the fissures that were beginning to appear within the group. The title track and The Shape I’m In are its most well known songs.

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8/28/70: The Jackson Five – Single: I’ll Be There

This was the Jackson Five’s first single from their third album (Third Album). It was their fourth number one single in a row, making the group the first to have their first four singles reach the top of the charts. I think Motown was on to something. Great track.

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8/26-8/30/1970: Isle of Wight Festival

At the time, this was the largest music festival in history. Estimates range from 600,00-700,000 attendees, dwarfing Woodstock. Some of the many notable performers included Taste (Rory Gallagher), Chicago, Procal Harum, Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis, Ten Years After, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, ELP, The Who, Sly & the Family Stone, Kris Kristofferson, Donovan, The Pentangle, The Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Joan Baez, Leonard Cohen, Richie Havens, and a brand new group, Supertramp, among many others.

How 1970's Isle of Wight Festival Became 'Britain's Woodstock'

This was the third consecutive year for the festival on the island, and by that time many of the locals who were opposed to the event taking place there had become organized to the extent that the only location made available to festival planners was at Afton Down, with its large hill overlooking the festival ground which created various issues. The festival spawned a number of individual album and concert documentary releases over the years. For the 75th anniversary perhaps I should do a proper write up of the event.

8/31/70: The Beach Boys – Sunflower

The Beach Boys have been a nice surprise in my music appreciation evolution. There was a time when I assumed all I “needed” was Pet Sounds, Smile Sessions, and a definitive greatest hits compilation for the earlier stuff. I enjoyed those releases for some time before discovering the group hadn’t exactly become passé by the turn of the decade. Well, perhaps they had to the masses, but critically speaking, no. This is a critically acclaimed, very enjoyable album which features songwriting by the entire band, still including Brian Wilson. Its followup a year later, almost to the day, has also aged very well. But for now, yeah, Sunflower.

 

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August 1970: Neil Diamond – Single: Cracklin’ Rosie

Cracklin’ Rosie was Neil’s first number one song on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also his breakthrough in the U.K., where it reached number three. It was written by Diamond and recorded with the Wrecking Crew. I’ve no problem acknowledging the greatness of Neil Diamond’s earlier work. The man can write a song, and he still sells out arenas. I also like his latter day albums that were produced by Rick Rubin.

Cracklin Rosie.jpg

August 1970: Sugarloaf – Single: Green Eyed Lady

I’ve aways liked this song, particularly the longer version that sometimes reaches the airwaves. It reached number one in Canada and number three in the U.S. It’s a good song to have on while driving down the highway.

Green-Eyed Lady - Sugarloaf.jpg

-Stephen

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

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

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27ll_Be_There_(Jackson_5_song)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isle_of_Wight_Festival_1970

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunflower_(Beach_Boys_album)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cracklin%27_Rosie

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green-Eyed_Lady

Young, Talented, & Free: Laurel Canyon in the Late 1960’s

Is there a historical time and place you’ve ever thought might’ve been great to have been around for whatever reasons?  The combination of the lens of history and the imagination can make the grass appear quite green in different bygone scenes.  For me, Paris in the 1920’s, Greenwich Village in the late-1950’s/early 60’s, and Swinging London in the mid/late 60’s are a few which stoke my imagination.

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Another is Laurel Canyon for that brief moment in the late 60’s when the music world was shifting faster than people could keep up with.  Thankfully there were artists and record company executives willing to take chances.  Granted, the “free” in my title is subjective; artists enjoyed leeway to record and perform as they liked, but massive egos are a hinderance to freedom in the spiritual sense, and there was no shortage of those in the Canyon.

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But it was a snapshot in time just before the money got absurd and the drugs too hard,  and it’s not likely to ever be repeated.  Today it’s snapshots I’d like to share in a manner which deviates from my usual format.  Rock photography became a major art form itself and crucial to the music industry around this time, and in L.A. Henry Diltz, among others, was a major contributor among the emerging folk and rock glitterati.  Perhaps I’ll explore that topic another time.

For now, picture yourself in a canyon in 1968 L.A., with tangerine trees and smoggy skies…

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Frank Zappa with daughter Moon Unit.  Getty Images
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The unofficial hostess of Laurel Canyon, Mama Cass.  Henry Diltz photo

Mama Cass may have been the unofficial hostess, but pictorially and musically speaking, to me the most interesting road in the canyon led to Joni Mitchell’s house:

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Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, Eric Clapton, and Mama Cass’s baby.  Henry Diltz photo
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Crosby, Stills, Nash, Dallas Taylor, Young, and Greg Reeves.  Henry Diltz photo
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Jim Morrison, standing outside his Laurel Canyon home.  Paul Ferrara photo
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Jackson Browne in his ’57 Chevy.  Henry Diltz photo
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Linda Ronstadt, then of the Stone Poneys.  Henry Diltz photo
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Stephen Stills and Peter Tork.
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Judy Collins and Joni in Mitchell’s Lookout Mountain home, Laurel Canyon.  Rowland Scherman photo
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James Taylor and Joni.
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John Mayall
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The Canyon Country Store, where the ladies (and gentlemen) of the canyon gathered.

I recommend the following books to anyone interested in learning more about the Laurel Canyon scene in the 1960s and 70s:

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Laurel Canyon:  The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood – by Michael Walker
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Canyon of Dreams:  The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon – by Harvey Kubernik
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Hotel California:  The True-Life Adventures of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Mitchell, Taylor, Browne, Ronstadt, Geffen, the Eagles, and Their Many Friends – by Barney Hoskyns

-Stephen

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/laurel-canyon-michael-walker/1100946905/2660582144646?st=PLA&sid=BNB_New+Marketplace+Shopping+Textbooks&sourceId=PLAGoNA&dpid=tdtve346c&2sid=Google_c&gclid=Cj0KCQiA2o_fBRC8ARIsAIOyQ-nUr5rGOVMQysznRYWWeGKw0AyV9FYd9GtYNVJnKKuhsr4oNzFz474aAumGEALw_wcB

https://www.abebooks.com/Canyon-Dreams-Magic-Music-Laurel/30110395251/bd?cm_mmc=gmc-_-used-_-PLA-_-v01&gclid=Cj0KCQiA2o_fBRC8ARIsAIOyQ-kNGadghEctBnpcpBkIc6ZO4citQKhM2YH4GY7xmO6i_oF5PT47dmAaAmowEALw_wcB

https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-471-73273-0

 

March 4 – The Mothers of Invention

The Mothers of Invention – We’re Only in It for the Money

With Frank Zappa, I’m entering territory where no matter what I say there’s always somebody who could claim I completely miss the point.  Satire, musical experimentation, comedy, it’s all here.  And I think it’s wonderful.  Perhaps this opinion is an indication that I never would’ve been more than a wannabe hippie poser had I been alive and on the scene in 1968.

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Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, 1968.

Or maybe not.  And this is where a hard-core Zappa snob might say the joke’s on me when I ask the following:  While this album is a dagger to heart of the Counter Culture (as well as the political right), was Zappa really above and beyond it all?  Yes, he was most likely a musical genius, and no, he did not partake in drugs and alcohol like his contemporaries.  However, did he not live in Laurel Canyon with many of those artists whose genre and lifestyles he’s making fun of here?  Isn’t that Eric Clapton contributing a spoken word bit on the first track?  Is his friend Jimi Hendrix not on this album cover?  Can he not been found collaborating with the Monkees for jeebus’ sake?  Whatever.

We’re Only in It for the Money was released fifty years ago today, and it’s a hilarious parody on the Beatles and practically everything else going on at the time on both ends of the societal spectrum.  And, for what it’s worth, one of my favorite albums of all time by anybody is a Zappa album that will see its big 50th in 2019.  As critic Robert Christgau wrote, “Cheap sarcasm is forever.”  But when I’ve finished listening to this for the second time today I’ll probably pop Rubber Soul into the changer.

Tracklist:

Side One:

  1. Are You Hung Up?
  2. Who Needs the Peace Corps
  3. Concentration Moon
  4. Mom & Dad
  5. Telephone Conversation
  6. Bow Tie Daddy
  7. Harry, You’re a Beast
  8. What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body?
  9. Absolutely Free
  10. Flower Punk
  11. Hot Poop

Side Two:

  1. Nasal Retentive Calliope Music
  2. Let’s Make the Water Turn Black
  3. The Idiot Bastard Son
  4. Lonely Little Girl
  5. Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance
  6. What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body? (Reprise)
  7. Mother People
  8. The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny

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

-Stephen