Tag: 1970

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.

Bloodrock – Bloodrock

ARTIST: Bloodrock                                          Bloodrock

TITLE: Bloodrock

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #160

SINGLES: Gotta Find a Way

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nooooo

LINEUP: Jim Rutledge, Ed Grundy, Stephen Hill, Lee Pickens, Nick Taylor

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Managed by Terry Knight, the brother band to Grand Funk Railroad isn’t the worst rock band of the 70’s, and that’s about it.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The song “Castle of Thoughts” kind of sums up Bloodrock. Half decent guitar riffs and drumming, including cowbell, a keyboard player noodling during the breaks between verses, and lyrics which probably sounded deep on the fourth doobie of the night, but really are inane.

Bloodrock was shaped by manager Terry Knight as the brother band to his wunderkinds Grand Funk Railroad, but while GFR had some personality, and a little bit of complexity and power, Bloodrock sounds thin. Singer Jim Rutledge tries, but doesn’t convey much except shouting the lyrics in a gruff monotone.

There are a couple of highlights, and the only reason I’m reviewing this album is that they don’t have a collection, and they have some ‘infamous’ songs that they’re known for coming up in their career.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They had backward masking on “Gotta Find a Way”

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE:C-: Mediocre playing, bad lyrics, most exiled.

Crabby Appleton – Crabby Appleton

ARTIST: Crabby Appleton     crabby

TITLE: Crabby Appleton

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #175

SINGLES: Go Back (#36)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Uh-uh

LINEUP: Michael Fennelly, Felix Falcon, Casey Foutz, Hank Harvey, Phil Jones

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Grabbing a singer from the Millennium, the band Stonehenge becomes Crabby Appleton and record a great debut that saddles them one-hit wonder status.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Crabby Appleton’s debut’s single, “Go Back”, is a great piece of 70’s rock with enough pop that it should have been cranking out of radios all over the country in 1970, but stalled at #36 somehow.

The album met the same, mystifying fate. Great reviews only gave it mediocre sales, and to this day, when listening to the record, one wonders why.

Sure “Go Back” is their poppiest tune, but the rest of the record is good-to-great rock for the era, with varied styles and textures that don’t rely on a formula nor “hit plus filler”.

Who knows, man. Maybe it was the name, but it was recognizable since Crabby Appleton was a villan on a cartoon shown during Captain Kangaroo. Ah, well. Listen to it now; it’s good.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Michael Fennelly met the drummer, Phil Jones, at an LA Club, and soon joined the band.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: You really could do worse, especially in 1970 one-hit wonders.

Ringo Starr – Beaucoups of Blues

ARTIST: Ringo Starr             220px-BeaucoupsBCover

TITLE: Beaucoups of Blues

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: #65

SINGLES: Beaucoups of Blues (#87)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not really

LINEUP: Ringo and lots and lots of Nashville Cats

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Ringo goes country, which shouldn’t have been a surprise, really.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Several of the songs that Ringo sang for the Beatles have their roots in country or rockabilly, so the fact that Ringo went country for a solo album shouldn’t have been a surprise.

It was a run-of-the-mill country album for the time, with some decent songs (the title cut and “$15 Draw” especially) and expert playing by the Nasvhille session players. Ringo’s voice is well suited for this.

It’s worth keeping in the catalog more as a curio than anything. Ringo’s solo work is spotty, but this is decent enough.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The songs were all written for Ringo. This also wasn’t the first solo album for Ringo. Early in 1970 Ringo released Sentimental Journey, an album of standards he recorded ‘for his mum’.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A B-side and a jam.

GRADE: C+: Not bad, really, but not exceptional and more for fans than anything.