Tag: 1970

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.

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.