Tag: 1970

Mountain – Climing!

ARTIST: Mountain

TITLE: Climing!

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION:  #17

SINGLES: Mississippi Queen (#21), For Yasgur’s Farm (#107)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Theme from an Imaginary Western

LINEUP: Leslie West, Felix Pappalardi, Steve Knight, Corky Laing

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Most of the band that backed Leslie West at Woodstock take the name Mountain (after his solo album) and release a record that has a couple of memorable tracks.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Let’s get this out of the way…”Mississippi Queen” has earned a place in the pantheon of riffs and intros. It’s been sampled enough to make it recognizable even if you know nothing else about the song or it.

Then there’s “Theme from an Imaginary Western”, where producer of Cream and now group member Felix Pappalardi had heard when producing Jack Bruce’s solo album and nicked it for Woodstock and this album. Those opened side one. To open side two, he also brought “For Yasgur’s Farm” from that performance as well.

And…meh.

There are a couple of soft throwaways, a few heavy throwaways, and you’re left with a semi-unsatisfying finish to a record that started with a great 1-2 punch. “For Yasgur’s Farm” isn’t anything to write home about, and sounds way too much like “Theme…” to make an impact. Mountain pulled its punches when it could have been a pile driver.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Originally, the drummer for the combo was N. D. Smart (formerly of the Remains and later with Gram Parsons). But other commitments got in the way so Laing stepped in. Also, at Woodstock “For Yasgur’s Farm” was titled “Who Am I but You and the Sunset

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A verison appends the live version of “For Yasgur’s Farm”.

GRADE B-:  The 1-2 punch from the beginning saves the record, but barely.  

The Who – Live at Leeds

ARTIST: The Who

TITLE: Live at Leeds

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION:  #4 US, #3 UK

SINGLES: Summertime Blues (#27 US, #38 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I mean, it’s a live Who album. You’re gonna know the songs.

LINEUP: Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Keith Moon

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: One of the best live albums of all time, and a showcase for the Who in their glory years.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The original Live at Leeds was just a teaser. Only six tracks, and it blazes in with “Young Man Blues’, their cover of Mose Allison. “Summertime Blues” rumbles in the middle, and their workout of “My Generation” dazzles everyne, and it’s over after six tracks.

Of course there was more to that concert, and twice, they’ve delivered more. First, they gave us all of the non-Tommy songs and slotted in two tracks from the live performance of the rock opera. Then, they released every track, putting Tommy on the second disc.

If any live album is worth your streams or CD purchase it’s this one. The Who do justice to their singles, covers album tracks, B-sides, and Tommy. Starting out with John Entwistle’s “Heaven and Hell” is genius, as the song gets everyone’s attention even though it’s a B-side. The best track for me is their live version of “A Quick One (While He’s Away)”, which was a prelude to Tommy. Townshend’s introduction is genius, and Entwistle’s falsetto in the final part of the track is incredible.

 The power and performance and the songs are spot on. There hasn’t been many live albums to surpass this, as all of the elements that make a live performance worthwhile are captured.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: If you really want to be anal about it, you can program a play list with the actual running order by slotting the Tommy songs between “A Quick One” and “Summertime Blues”.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: As listed above, and one of the versions has Live at Hull, recorded the next night. It’s a little more ragged than this performance, but still worth hearing.

 GRADE: A+: If anything should be played loud, this is it.

Van Morrison – His Band and Street Choir

ARTIST: Van Morrison

TITLE: His Band and Street Choir

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION:  #32 US, #18 UK

SINGLES: Domino (#9), Blue Money (#23), Call Me Up in Dreamland (#95)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Maybe Street Choir

LINEUP: Van Morrison, Alan Hand, Keith Johnson, John Klingberg, John Plantania, Jack Schroer, Dahaud Shaar. Judy Clay, Emily Houston, and Jackie Verdell sang some backing vocals. Shaar, Janet Planet, Larry Goldsmith, Andrew Robinson, Ellen Schroer, and Martha Velez were the street choir.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After an aborted vision of an a cappella album, Morrison regroups and releases a loose follow up with a few leftover songs from earlier efforts.

 

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Morrison’s follow-up to Moondance was originally conceived as songs with a small choir backed by acoustic guitar. But as the original recordings went on Morrison was displeased, and then decided to call in his backing band to salvage the songs and sessions.

With some leftovers from his last two albums, and some new ones in the mix, this album of shorter songs felt relaxed. The musicians, most of them having spent time on the road with the singer, knew what he wanted and what he liked, and the feel of the songs is loose yet sympathetic to the melody and lyrics. The album has an R&B feel feel, led off by his tribute “Domino”.

The issue is that some of the songs aren’t on the level as his other two albums. There are some fantastic performances, but some perfunctory. It’s a good record, but not great and after two outtasite ones, a bit of a let down.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The record company renamed the album. It was originally called Virgo’s Fool. That coupled with the aborted a cappella sessions left a bad taste in Morrison’s mouth about the record.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, some outtakes again.

 GRADE B+: Not quite up to the standard he set with his last two albums, but those were hard to follow.

Van Morrison – Moondance

ARTIST: Van Morrison

TITLE: Moondance

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION:  #29 US, #32 UK

SINGLES: Come Running (#39)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: There are so many that are known from this record.

LINEUP: Van Morrison, John Klingberg, Jef Labes, Gary Mallaber, Guy Masson, John Plantania, Jack Schroer, Collin Tilton. Judy Clay, Emily Houston, and Jackie Verdell added backing vocals.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: “…one has to live.” That quote was from Morrison about making of Moondance, which toned down his stream of consciousness and distilled his vision into a jazz-folk-rock concoction that was right in the public’s wheelhouse.

 

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Van Morrison started this project in mid-1969, writing songs in Woodstock, NY, in a distinct effort to make his music more palatable to the masses without sacrificing too much artistic vision. What he came out with was an album that was folk songs with jazz arrangements sung by a rock singer.

Some of his material was still out there, lyrically. It may have taken some sleuth work to determine what “And It Stoned Me”, “Caravan”, or “Into the Mystic” was really REALLY trying to say. But a lot of the album celebrates joy and love; peace and nature. He sounds as happy and joyous as he can in delivering the vocals.

Now, I’ve heard this album a bazillion time (a couple of girlfriends really loved it) but in trying to pick something new out of it I noticed that in simplifying his music he took a bit of the wonder and surprise out of the music and lyrics. Just a little bit, but it knocked it down a notch.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He got out of Woodstock after the concert since everyone congregated there. Also, the vocals were delivered live (for the most part).

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A few outtakes, and there’s a mongo edition that has most of the session tapes.

 GRADE A: A staple of FM rock in the 70’s and a lasting legacy for Morrison.

George Harrison – All Things Must Pass

ARTIST: George Harrison  220px-All_Things_Must_Pass_1970_cover

TITLE: All Things Must Pass

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #1 US, #1 UK

SINGLES: My Sweet Lord (#1 US, #1 UK), What Is Life (#10 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Isn’t It a Pity, If Not for You, Beware of Darkness, Art of Dying

LINEUP: George Harrison and a Phil Spector Wall of Sound including: Eric Clapton, Gary Wright, Bobby Whitlock, Klaus Voorman, Jim Gordon, Carl Radle, Rino Starr, Billy Preston, Jim Price, Bobby Keys, Alan White, Pete Drake, Peter Frampton, Dave Mason, Badfinger, Gary Brooker, Ginger Baker, and others, probably.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The debut ‘true’ solo album from George assembles songs he had written since 1966 forward, and it’s a stunning, stunning album.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: George Harrison’s contributions to the Beatles as a songwriter was limited (though after 1966 the others did acknowledge his improvement) and as a result he had a backlog of songs just waiting to be worked out and released. When the Beatles broke up, he had that chance.

Playing the demos for Phil Spector, the two set about finding the songs that they would begin for this project. It was an immense session, with Spector bringing in huge lineups of musicians and recorded them live, like he did in the old days. Then over time, overdubs and orchestration were added (it took a while due to various issues, such as Spector breaking his arm and being plastered on cherry brandy. Still, with time and patience, the album came together and was released to the world in late 1970.

And what a record it was! Four sides of music, including a co-write with Dylan and a Dylan song he heard during a recording session he was attending. The songs combine so many influences: gospel, ragas, blues, rock, soul to name a few. The lyrics are mostly spiritual (as fitting Harrison) yet not so preachy as to be a harangue, though some are lighter (“Apple Scruffs, “The Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)”) and a track about the Beatles’ situation in 1969 (“Wah Wah”). Even with the Wall of Sound that Spector put on the songs, you can’t mistake Harrison’s guitar work and his vocals are not lost, either.

The 18 tracks on the main album fit together flawlessly and are a testament to Harrison’s songwriting ability at the time. There is a third LP of jams that were recorded during the sessions, and while ‘interesting’ they’re superfluous and Harrison made sure they were packaged separately in the set. (Basically, he didn’t want to lose them but didn’t want them part of the main albuim).

NOTES & MINUTIAE: When re-released in 2001, Harrison added some new artwork to the booklet, created a web site, and sequenced the jam LP as he originally intended.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with new mixes and single versions.

GRADE A+: The jam LP aside, this is one of the most perfect albums released.

Yoko Ono – Yoko Ono / Plastic Ono Band

ARTIST: Yoko Ono  220px-Yoko_Ono_POB

TITLE: Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #182

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Why

LINEUP: Yoko Ono, John Lennon, Klaus Voorman, Ringo Starr. One one track (recorded in concert) Ornette Coleman, Charlie Haden, David Izenzon, and Ed Blackwell appear.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Recorded in one day, Yoko’s solo debut is powerful, but realistically not for everyone.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: John Lennon, Klaus Voorman, and Ringo Starr back Yoko on six of the seven cuts, and they’re a fantastic group to create a base for Yoko’s vocalizations. And what vocalizations they are!

Combining Primal Scream with a Kabuki theatre technique called hetai, Yoko’s screams and wails get to you in the gut. You can really feel it in “Why”, the opener, and in “Greenfield Morning I Pushed an Empty Baby Carriage All Over the City” (which is about her miscarriage). She also treamed up with Ornette Coleman and other musicians in 1968 for a track called “AOS”.

Yet, to be honest and fair, Yoko’s vocals aren’t for everyone, and after a while they can become irritating. So listening to the entire album at once is a chore, but in bits and pieces, it’s a great piece of avant-garde work.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Not on the album, but recorded the same day, was “Open Your Box”, which was the B-side to John’s “Power to the People” in the UK. Capitol Records refused to put it on the B-side. Scandalous, I guess.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with the long version of “Open Your Box” and a long version of “Why” where John complains about his amp.

 GRADE B+: Much better than you think, especially if you can get / understand what Yoko was getting at with her vocals.

John Lennon – John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band

ARTIST: John Lennon         220px-JLPOBCover

TITLE: John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #6 US, #8 UK

SINGLES: Mother (#43 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Hold On, Working Class Hero, God

LINEUP: John Lennon, Klaus Voorman, Ringo Starr. Phil Spector and Billy Preston each played piano on a track.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First true solo album by Lennon is influenced by Yoko and their Primal Scream therapy. It’s a brilliant but draining album.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Music is supposed to affect ones emotions. The first real solo album by John Lennon is full of songs that make you feel exactly what he’s feeling – even after all of these years the songs are powerful, chilling, and poignant.

There’s gentle tracks about love (“Hold On” – with its silly Cookie Monster aside, “Love”) and some gut wrenchers (“Mother”, “Isolation”, “Well Well Well”) where you can tell he poured out his heart into those songs. Lennon can still rock with the best of them (“I Found Out”) and can proselytize his world view effectively (“Working Class Hero”, “God”). What this record doesn’t have is filler.

John and Yoko had just finished Primal Scream therapy and all of those feelings and emotions and grief just poured out of him. His vocal on “Mother” shows the effect of the therapy as his voice is ragged and hoarse at the end.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There was no track listing on the back, nor title on the front.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with two non-LP singles.

 GRADE A+: Powerful and evocative today – as it was at the time.

Deep Purple – Deep Purple in Rock

ARTIST: Deep Purple Deep_Purple_in_Rock

TITLE: Deep Purple in Rock

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #143 US, #4 UK

SINGLES: Speed King

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Child in Time

LINEUP: Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, Jon Lord

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After changing their lineup, and indulging Jon Lord’s symphonic jones, Deep Purple’s classic combo records their first album and, well, it’s good.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Seeing their fortunes dwindle, and their US record company go belly up, Deep Purple jettisoned their singer and bass player – adding Ian Gillan and Roger Glover. The classic lineup was born, and the first thing they did was….the symphonic record (covered in quickie form on the site).

Cranking out of the gate with “Speed King”, and moving through seven tracks that are mostly driving rock with progressive flourishes (especially the epic “Child of Time” – where Jon Lord gets his money’s worth), Deep Purple in Rock established the band once and for all in the UK. Later, the band toured the world and set the stage for their later success, wiping away their former status as the UK’s answer to Vanilla Fudge.

Tracks like “Flight of the Rat” and “Bloodsucker” are prime examples of Deep Purple, and are a developmental step in the music that soon became heavy metal. This record definitely shows that a band can re-invent itself to play off its strengths mid-career, and not have a ponderous pretentious record stall them out.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Black Night” was released as a single apart from the album and was a smash in the UK (#2) and a minor US hit (#66)

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A version with “Black Night” plus outtakes.

GRADE A-: Welcome, Deep Purple! We’ll mostly forget your earlier stuff.

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.