Tag: 1970

Syd Barrett – The Madcap Laughs

ARTIST: Syd Barrett                    Sydbarrett-madcaplaughs

TITLE: The Madcap Laughs

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #40 UK

SINGLES: Octopus (#11 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Terrapin, Dark Globe

LINEUP: Syd Barrett, David Gilmour, Jerry Shirley, Willie Wilson, Robert Wyatt, Hugh Hopper, Mike Ratledge.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After being excused from Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett records his first solo album in fits and starts, and it’s kind of shambolic, and charming.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Syd Barrett’s story, in fact, the recording of this album, takes a volume or two. So, in short, Barrett took about 18 months to record this, sessions here and there, and finally it took an effort from former bandmates Roger Waters and David Gilmour to get the thing done.

As you can imagine, the albums a bit chaotic. Sometimes, members of the Soft Machine overdubbed onto the tracks. Sometimes it was Gilmour and Jerry Shirley from Humble Pie. Sometimes, it was just Syd.

His voice is shaky at times, the songs seem to be on the verge of breaking apart, and one track shouldn’t have been included at all due to false starts and the like. Still, the songs are charming and playful at times – or at least they sound like it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The Gilmour / Waters sessions had to be fit around their Pink Floyd obligations for touring and recording, so that was some of the delay.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, some alternate takes.

GRADE B: Syd’s solo stuff is probably an acquired taste, though there’s quality here.

Alacrán – Alacrán

ARTIST: Alacrán 

TITLE: Alacrán

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Sticky

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh, hell to the no

LINEUP: Ignacio Egana, Fernando Arbex, Oscar Lasprilla

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Spanish group records a psychedelic blues album ala Santana.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Well, well, well. Listening to obscure compilations helps. This record was kind of big in Brazil, and the single did well in Spain, but it wasn’t released anywhere else and the band soon ended when Lasprilla left to go to London.

What we have here is enjoyable bluesy, psychedelic rock, sung in English, that wouldn’t have been out of place in the playlists of 1970 FM radio here in the US. The single “Sticky” definitely has the certain catchiness that could have been a radio staple.

For crate diggers or compilation weirdos (like me), finding something like this is impressive. This is only six tracks, and it’s not the best thing ever. It’s good enough and entertaining enough that I’m keeping it in the catalog.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Arbex and Egana formed Barrabas, which had some hits in Europe with a revolving lineup and a US record deal.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

 GRADE B: Not a bad find.

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin III

ARTIST: Led Zeppelin               220px-Led_Zeppelin_-_Led_Zeppelin_III

TITLE: Led Zeppelin III

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #1 US, #1 UK

SINGLES: The Immigrant Song *(#16)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Tangerine, That’s the Way

LINEUP: Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, John Bonham.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: One of the least well-known records is amongst its strongest.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Thinking of what “Classic Rock” radio plays of Led Zeppelin III, and I come up with “The Immigrant Song”. That’s it – that’s the list. It’s their loss, really. 220px-Led_Zeppelin_III_volvelle_

This album is rather bifurcated – with Side 1 being heavy duty (“Celebration Day”, “Out on the Tiles”) and Side 2 being of acoustic flavor (not necessarily quiet thanks to “Gallows Pole”). You hear Jimmy Page on banjo and John Paul Jones on mandolin and they’re quite skilled.

The heavy songs crunch, but have more tricks than the band’s earlier heavy tracks. The acoustic songs are a revelation. Sure, Jimmy Page dazzled with a couple of acoustic solos before, but the whole band shows their versatility – even John Bonham dials back the drums somewhat. Somewhat.

Only the experimental last track falls short, a tribute to eccentric’s eccentric Roy Harper. That downgrades the record a tad – until then it as pert near perfect.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The joining of the tracks between “Friends” and “Celebration Day” was due to an engineer accidentally erasing the beginning of the latter. Ooopsy.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes – a second disc with different mixes and a couple of outtakes. One (“Jennings Farm Blues”) became “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp” when done acoustically.

 GRADE A: Underrated by the masses, but it’s one of their best overall.

Badfinger – No Dice

ARTIST: Badfinger         220px-BadfingerNoDice

TITLE: No Dice

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #28

SINGLES: No Matter What (#8 US, #5 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Without You

LINEUP: Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland, Mike Gibbins

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First non-soundtrack album as Badfinger, and a touchstone for power pop fans.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Adding Joey Molland on guitar and vocals may have been the missing ingredient for Badfinger. Molland was another good songwriter, singer, and player, and had a knack for adding distinct textures into their sound – Harrison-esque as it were.

Beatles comparisons followed them again, of course, thanks to them being on Apple and having their first hit penned by Paul McCartney will do that. And yeah, they had a song here called “Love Me Do” (not a cover). Oh, and “Believe Me” sounded like it was a Paul track on Abbey Road.

Still, this had “Without You”, which Harry Nillson took to the stratosphere, but here it’s more understated and thus brings out the emotion. And “No Matter What” – my goodness that’s an All-Timer!

Still, Harrison stair-steps and Beatle harmonies and melodies aside, this is a strong record without a tossed-off or slack track.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Molland joined after they ditched their old name the Iveys.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A couple floating out with various outtakes.

 GRADE A: The worst song on here may be a bit too Beatles derivative, but that’s not always bad. And, damn, “No Matter What”.

Badfinger – Magic Christian Music

ARTIST: Badfinger                      220px-Magic_Christian_Music_(Badfinger_album_cover)

TITLE:  Magic Christian Music

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #55

SINGLES: Come and Get It (#7 US, #4 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not on this one

LINEUP: Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Ron Griffiths, Mike Gibbins. A little help from Nicky Hopkins and Paul McCartney.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Semi ‘soundtrack’ to The Magic Christian adds several other tracks, including some older ones from a pulled album, to the three recorded for the movie. It’s as disjointed as it sounds.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Iveys were one of the first bands singed to Apple, and they released a record in three countries before it was halted. In a few short months, they were commissioned for tracks for Ringo’s new movie, and changed their name to Badfinger. The single from the film, “Come and Get It”, written by Sir Paul McCartney, was a big hit.  Maybe_Tomorrow

Due to some legal shenanigans, the official soundtrack wasn’t readily available, so Apple dug out some Iveys tracks, and some other unreleased songs and, viola, an album was produced.

There’s some good tracks around, such as “Crimson Ship” and “Midnight Sun”. But some tracks are too derivative, or don’t really go anywhere. It does sound like the work of two or three sessions with different motives stuck together. Plus, the songs as the Iveys really are a step behind the others.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Original guitarist Ron Griffiths left after the sessions, but before this was released.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with a lot of the tracks from the original Iveys album. Nothing earth shaking but a couple tracks could have been swapped out with the official album tracks. 

GRADE: B: Not really a great introduction to the band, but there’s some good tracks here.

The Kinks – Lola Versus Powerman and the Money-Go-Round, Part One

ARTIST: The Kinks                                                    The_kinks_lola_versus_powerman_album (1)

TITLE:  Lola Versus Powerman and the Money-Go-Round, Part One

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #35

SINGLES: Lola (#9 US, #2 UK), Apeman (#45 US, #5 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Rats

LINEUP: Ray Davies, Dave Davies, Mick Avory, John Dalton, John Gosling

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Kinks have a commercial comeback on the backs of a single that somehow got airplay due to the subject matter.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Ray Davies and the Kinks had released some great albums in the late 60’s, but they lacked hit singles and their career was on the rocks until “Lola”, a single with the most unlikely subject, got them back on the charts.

The album that accompanied the single was a scathing look at the music business from a weary survivor. Davies blasts publishers, the music union, and the media circus around the pop world. After the group is chewed up and spit out, and the song writers got their measly cut, Davies and the Kinks think about nostalgia and a better life while they’re in the grip of the powerful men of the business.

Yet even though the commercial hopes of the band were revived, some of the songs either belabor the point, or are more about making the point than creating an actual song that propels the narrative. At the high points, this is an album worthy of the Kinks albums released from 1966-1969, and skipping a few tracks is OK.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The issue with the BBC wasn’t the transgender lover in “Lola”, but the fact they used a brand name (“Coca Cola”) in the song. That’s why some versions have “Cherry Cola” instead.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. A few B-sides and instrumental tracks. 

GRADE: B+: It’s probably a must buy for how the single fits into the story, but it’s got some tracks that are more narrative devices than songs.

Grand Funk Railroad – Closer to Home

ARTIST: Grand Funk Railroad        Closer_to_Home

TITLE: Closer to Home

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #6

SINGLES: Sin’s a Good Man’s Brother, Close to Home (#22)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Mean Mistreater

LINEUP: Mark Farner, Don Brewer, Mel Schachter

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The third album (in 10 months!) moves the band into the superstar status (based on album sales and concert attendance). But it’s maddeningly inconsistent.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: At their best (“I’m Your Captain / Closer to Home”), Grand Funk Railroad can create timeless rock-and-roll. Yet, most every other track here has flaws in either lyrics (“Sin’s a Good Man’s Brother” is just full of nonsense), music (they’re not balladeers), or execution (the backing vocals for “Hooked on Love”? Oh, man).

“Aimless Lady” is about the only other track that doesn’t have a noticeable flaw. The songs rock hard enough (except for the ballads) that their flaws can be papered over if you just focus on the rock. Even the sexist tripe can almost pass for acceptable if you just turn off the lyrics.

Still, a record with “I’m Your Captain…” is worth at least a small investment.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The single version of the title track was half of the length, and there’s been at least five or six ways that track has been listed among albums by the band.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, live cuts and a different mix of “Mean Mistreater” 

GRADE: B-: One classic, and a few songs just not all the way there. They’re kind of a frustrating group, to be honest.

Paul Kantner – Blows Against the Empire

ARTIST: Paul Kantner                       220px-JS_Blows-Against-the-Empire

TITLE: Blows Against the Empire

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #20

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Sci-fi hippies may have this somewhere in their collection.

LINEUP: Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, and a bun of friends from the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, David Crosby, Graham Nash, and others.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A sci-fi concept album containing spaceships, baby trees, LSD, and utopian worlds.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: NOTE: This is credited to “Paul Kantner and the Jefferson Starship”, which was not a real group at the time, but merely his collection of ‘stars’ that helped him on the record.

While the Jefferson Airplane was slowing down, Paul Kantner put his creative energies into a sci-fi concept album where drugs, music, and children are the future, and a spaceship will come and take the true believers out of the solar system.

Musically, it’s not half-baked all of the time. It’s mostly acoustic country-type jams that the Grateful Dead was getting into at the time. The storyline is a little out there, even for 1970, especially the whole thing about the baby tree, and that cocaine and acid and free love are the wave of the future.

I’m exiling this, but the adventurous may want to sample.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: It was nominated for a Hugo award.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, demos and a live cut of “Starship”

 GRADE: C:  EXILED. I heard it once, for posterity sake. Too much insane hippie gobbledy-gook.

Hawkwind – Hawkwind

ARTIST: Hawkwind                             220px-Hawkwindalbum

TITLE: Hawkwind

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #75 UK

SINGLES: Hurry on Sundown

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not over here.

LINEUP: Dave Brock, Nik Turner, Huw Lloyd-Langton, John Harrison, Terry Ollis, Dik Mik (aka Michael Davies)

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The pioneers of “Space Rock” (basically prog with psychedelic flourishes) release their debut with a more folky feel than where’d they’d wind up, but it’s still space rock for the most part.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The name Hawkwind brings to mind psychedelics, long meandering songs, and 70’s craziness. Well, they were mostly like that from the get-go, as this debut shows.

Starting off with a basic folk rock song (“Hurry on Sundown”), the band then devotes most of the album to a suite of ‘space rock’, utilizing electronics from Dik Mik (Michael Davies) to add color and texture. The suite is broken up into individual ‘tracks’, as it covered both sides of the album until the final track “Mirror of Illusion”.

It’s an audacious piece, experimental, and never boring – though parts of it seem like weirdness for weirdness’ sake instead of a cohesive musical statement. Still, for the UK hippies in 1970, this was manna from heaven.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They were originally called Group X, and then Hawkwind Zoo

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with some early demos with their original guitarist Mick Slattery 

GRADE: B+:  The suite’s got some really great stuff (like “Be Yourself”), but some things are just too out there – except for the most deranged and adventurous.

Can – Soundtracks

ARTIST: Can                                        Can-Soundtracks_(album_cover)

TITLE: Soundtracks

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Mother Sky

LINEUP: Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli, Jaki Liebezeit, Irmin Schmidt. Damo Suziki sings most, but Malcolm Mooney vocalizes two tracks.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: These were songs Can contributed to film soundtracks over a two year period. One track stands out above all.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Very important filmmakers used very important progressive groups to make soundtracks for their very important films. Can, being a outre progressive group, was tapped for several films.

Soundtrack songs can sound odd out of place. They also can meander, and not make sense without the film in front of you. Can’s contributions to several films (all German) did make sense in a way – well – in a way that Can songs do. Except one.

“Mother Sky”, tabbed for a film not even released when this album was released (the movie was Deep End starring Jane Asher and John Moulder Brown), is the highlight, and may be the highlight for Can as a band as a whole. It’s 14:23 of the band chugging along in a groove, with Michael Karoli going off on his guitar. It’s fantastic.

The rest, well, for Can fans only – and then for background music.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This marked a transition for the band. “Mother Sky” would be the template for further Can explorations

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B: “Mother Sky” is an A++ track and you can be excused for just keeping that one.