sexta-feira, 3 de janeiro de 2020

Arlo Guthrie - Alice's Restaurant 1967

Although he'd been a fixture on the East Coast folk circuit for several years, Arlo Guthrie did not release his debut album until mid-1967. A majority of the attention directed at Alice's Restaurant focuses on the epic 18-plus-minute title track, which sprawled over the entire A-side of the long-player. However, it is the other half-dozen Guthrie compositions that provide an insight into his uniformly outstanding, yet astoundingly overlooked, early sides on Warner Bros. Although arguably not 100 percent factual, "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" -- which was recorded in front of a live audience -- is rooted in a series of real incidents. This decidedly anti-establishment saga of garbage dumps closed on Thanksgiving, good ol' Officer Obie, as well as Guthrie's experiences with the draft succeeds not only because of the unusual and outlandish situations that the hero finds himself in; it is also his underdog point of view and sardonic delivery that maximize the effect in the retelling. In terms of artistic merit, the studio side is an equally endowed effort containing six decidedly more traditional folk-rock compositions. Among the standouts are the haunting "Chilling of the Evening," which is given an arrangement perhaps more aptly suited to a Jimmy Webb/Glen Campbell collaboration. There is a somewhat dated charm in "Ring-Around-a-Rosy Rag," a sly, uptempo, and hippie-friendly bit of jug band nostalgia. "I'm Going Home" is an underrated minor-chord masterpiece that is not only reminiscent of Roger McGuinn's "Ballad of Easy Rider," but also spotlights a more sensitive and intricate nature to Guthrie's craftsmanship. Also worth mentioning is the first installment of "The Motorcycle Song" -- which was updated and discussed further on the live self-titled follow-up release Arlo (1968) -- notable for the extended discourse on the "significance of the pickle." AMG.

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The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - Gorilla 1967

Gorilla was the 1967 debut album by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, who would thereafter drop the "Doo Dah" from their name and establish themselves as the greatest satirical British pop band of all time. Their first effort is far more tentative and tamer than their second and third albums, when they hit their stride by expanding their musical and topical recklessness. The Bonzos, after all, did not begin as a rock band, or even a pop band, but as a somewhat vaudevillian comedy outfit that owed a great deal to British music hall traditions. This album may be low-key, but that's not to say it doesn't retain a good deal of charm. The humor is extremely dry, subtle, and British, leaning more toward their trad jazz roots than the churning London pop/rock scene. It nonetheless includes a few great moments: the deadpan jazz vamp "The Intro and the Outro" (wherein a smarmy MC introduces a bevy of historical figures in a show band, including Adolf Hitler on vibes), the film noir satire "Big Shot," and their vicious send-up of "The Sound of Music." It's not recommended as a starting point, but those who already appreciate these wonderful British eccentrics will find this an enjoyable document of the band's more restrained roots. AMG.

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quinta-feira, 2 de janeiro de 2020

The Rolling Stones - Their Satanic Majesties Request 1967

Without a doubt, no Rolling Stones album -- and, indeed, very few rock albums from any era -- split critical opinion as much as the Rolling Stones' psychedelic outing. Many dismiss the record as sub-Sgt. Pepper posturing; others confess, if only in private, to a fascination with the album's inventive arrangements, which incorporated some African rhythms, Mellotrons, and full orchestration. What's clear is that never before or after did the Stones take so many chances in the studio. (Some critics and fans feel that the record has been unfairly undervalued, partly because purists expect the Stones to constantly champion a blues 'n' raunch worldview.) About half the material is very strong, particularly the glorious "She's a Rainbow," with its beautiful harmonies, piano, and strings; the riff-driven "Citadel"; the hazy, dreamlike "In Another Land," Bill Wyman's debut writing (and singing) credit on a Stones release; and the majestically dark and doomy cosmic rocker "2000 Light Years from Home," with some of the creepiest synthesizer effects (devised by Brian Jones) ever to grace a rock record. The downfall of the album was caused by some weak songwriting on the lesser tracks, particularly the interminable psychedelic jam "Sing This All Together (See What Happens)." It's a much better record than most people give it credit for being, though, with a strong current of creeping uneasiness that undercuts the gaudy psychedelic flourishes. In 1968, the Stones would go back to the basics, and never wander down these paths again, making this all the more of a fascinating anomaly in the group's discography. AMG.

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quarta-feira, 1 de janeiro de 2020

Mad River - Paradise Bar & Grill 1969

The band chills out considerably here, largely eschewing the creeps for lazing-by-the-country-stream picking. Laurence Hammond's vocals are still uniquely pained, and cuts like "Equinox" and "Academy Cemetery" show traces of their facility for haunting guitar lines, but it doesn't come close to the impact of their debut. Countercultural hero Richard Brautigan makes an appearance on "Love's No Way to Treat a Friend." AMG.

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Procol Harum - Procol Harum 1967

Procol Harum's self-titled debut album bombed in England, appearing six months after "A Whiter Shade of Pale" and "Homburg" with neither hit song on it. The LP was successful in America, where albums sold more easily, but especially since it did include "A Whiter Shade of Pale" and was reissued with a sticker emphasizing the presence of the original "Conquistador," a re-recording that became a hit in 1972. The music is an engaging meld of psychedelic rock, blues, and classical influences, filled with phantasmagorical lyrics, bold (but not flashy) organ by Matthew Fisher, and Robin Trower's most tasteful and restrained guitar. "Conquistador," "Kaleidoscope," "A Christmas Camel," and the Bach-influenced "Repent Walpurgis" are superb tracks, and "Good Captain Clack" is great, almost Kinks-like fun. Not everything here works, but it holds up better than most psychedelic or progressive rock. AMG.

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Kaleidoscope - A Beacon From Mars 1968

Kaleidoscope's second album is the best non-compilation showcase of their legendary eclecticism and versatility. It takes in a blues-rocking cover of Willie Cobbs' "You Don't Love Me"; Doug Kershaw's Cajun "Louisiana Man"; a scary old folk song ("Greenwood Sidee," about a woman who kills her two babies); a hilarious country-ish indictment of marriage ("Baldheaded End of a Broom"); two good acid-folk originals ("Life Will Pass You By" and "I Found Out"); and two completely dissimilar ten-minute-plus originals: the Middle Eastern "Taxim," and the psychedelic workout "Beacon from Mars." Every one of these disparate styles is performed with authority and commitment, and the result still has the power to amaze. AMG.

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The Doors - L.A. Woman 1971

The final album with Jim Morrison in the lineup is by far their most blues-oriented, and the singer's poetic ardor is undiminished, though his voice sounds increasingly worn and craggy on some numbers. Actually, some of the straight blues items sound kind of turgid, but that's more than made up for by several cuts that rate among their finest and most disturbing work. The seven-minute title track was a car-cruising classic that celebrated both the glamour and seediness of Los Angeles; the other long cut, the brooding, jazzy "Riders on the Storm," was the group at its most melodic and ominous. It and the far bouncier "Love Her Madly" were hit singles, and "The Changeling" and "L'America" count as some of their better little-heeded album tracks. An uneven but worthy finale from the original quartet. AMG.

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Traffic - Mr. Fantasy 1968

Since Traffic's debut album, Mr. Fantasy, has been issued in different configurations over the years, a history of those differences is in order. In 1967, the British record industry considered albums and singles separate entities; thus, Mr. Fantasy did not contain the group's three previous Top Ten U.K. hits. Just as the album was being released in the U.K., Traffic split from Dave Mason. The album was changed drastically for U.S. release, both because American custom was that singles ought to appear on albums, and because the group sought to diminish Mason's presence; on the first pressing only, the title was changed to Heaven Is in Your Mind. In 2000, Island reissued Mr. Fantasy in its mono mix with the U.K. song list and five mono singles sides as bonus tracks; it also released Heaven Is in Your Mind, the American lineup in stereo with four bonus tracks. Naturally, the mono sound is punchier and more compressed, but it isn't ideal for the album, because Traffic was fashioned as an unusual rock band. Steve Winwood's primary instrument was organ, though he also played guitar; Chris Wood was a reed player, spending most of his time on flute; Mason played guitar, but he was also known to pick up the sitar, among other instruments. As such a mixture suggests, the band's musical approach was eclectic, combining their background in British pop with a taste for the comic and dance hall styles of Sgt. Pepper, Indian music, and blues-rock jamming. Songs in the last category have proven the most distinctive and long-lasting, but Mason's more pop-oriented contributions remain winning, as do more light-hearted efforts. Interest in the mono mix is likely to be restricted to longtime fans; anyone wishing to hear Traffic's first album for the first time is directed to Heaven Is in Your Mind. AMG.

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Pink Floyd - A Saucerful of Secrets 1968

A transitional album on which the band moved from Syd Barrett's relatively concise and vivid songs to spacy, ethereal material with lengthy instrumental passages. Barrett's influence is still felt (he actually did manage to contribute one track, the jovial "Jugband Blues"), and much of the material retains a gentle, fairy-tale ambience. "Remember a Day" and "See Saw" are highlights; on "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun," "Let There Be More Light," and the lengthy instrumental title track, the band begin to map out the dark and repetitive pulses that would characterize their next few records. AMG.

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The Moody Blues - To Our Children's Children's Children 1969

The 1997 remastering of this disc somewhat improves the sound on the band's most personal album, although the difference is less dramatic than on the other classic seven albums, and fans may miss the lyrics that were formerly included. Oddly enough, this was also the group's poorest-selling album of their psychedelic era, taking a lot longer to go gold -- for all of their presumed connection to their audience, the band was perhaps stretching that link a little thinner than usual here. The material dwells mostly on time and what its passage means, and there is a peculiar feeling of loneliness and isolation to many of the songs. This was also the last of the group's big "studio" sound productions, built up in layer upon layer of overdubbed instruments -- the sound is very lush and rich, but proved impossible to re-create properly on-stage, and after this they would restrict themselves to recording songs that the five of them could play in concert. There are no extended suites on this album, but Justin Hayward's "Watching and Waiting" and "Gypsy" have proved to be among the most popular songs in the group's history. The notes in the new edition also give a good account of how and why the Moody Blues founded their own Threshold label with Children's Children and their growing estrangement from Decca Records. AMG.

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terça-feira, 31 de dezembro de 2019

Happy New Year!

One more year is gone, and more to come yes!!! Thanks to B., Miles, Snakeboy, Alfred, Antonio,
Spunkie, Mr.Radio, Mauro Filipe, Purpledog, Juan Manuel Munoz, T.G., George, Bill (24hrDejaVu), Bob (bamabob), Lawrence David, Zapata, and so many more, and to all this blog followers,....thanks for sharing life around!!! Happy New Year 2020!

Country Joe & The Fish - Together 1968

TogetherCountry Joe & the Fish's third album, was the group's most consistent, most democratic, and their best-selling record. Unlike their first two albums, which were dominated by Country Joe McDonald's voice and compositions, Together featured the rest of the band -- guitarists Barry Melton and David Cohen, bassist Bruce Barthol, and drummer Chicken Hirsh -- almost as prominently as McDonald. That's usually a formula for disaster, but in this case it gave the album more variety and depth: McDonald tended to favor droning mantras like the album-closing "An Untitled Protest," which worked better when contrasted with the likes of Melton's catchy anti-New York diatribe, "The Streets of Your Town," and the group-written "Rock and Soul Music." Songs like the latter cast the group as a soul revue, true, and they couldn't quite pull that off, but Together had the charming quality of unpredictability; you never knew what was coming next. Unfortunately, what came next in the band's career was a split. Barthol was out by September 1968, Cohen and Hirsh followed in January 1969. Thereafter, McDonald and Melton fronted various Fish aggregations, but it was never the same, even when this lineup regrouped for Reunion in 1977. AMG.

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The Chambers Brothers - Feelin' The Blues 1970

Musical siblings George Chambers (bass/vocals), Willie Chambers (guitar/vocals), Lester Chambers (harmonica/vocals), and Joe Chambers (guitar/vocals) were raised on rural gospel in their native Mississippi before switching over to folk and then soulful blues and R&B-fueled rock. The Chambers Brothers' recordings issued by the Los Angeles-based Vault label were nearly four years old when Feelin' the Blues hit the streets in 1970. The band's style had changed quite drastically from old-school blues, soul, and pop to the longer psychedelic jams heard on their international hit "Time Has Come Today." Although the mixture of live and studio selections gives the collection an odds-and-sods vibe, several of the performances are among the best of the Vault Records-era material. Somewhat contrasting with the album's title, the Chambers actually cover a wide spectrum of music on Feelin' the Blues. Their roots can be heard throughout the flawless interpretation of the sacred standards "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" and the excellent "Travel on My Way." Similarly, the midtempo reading of Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman" offers the Chambers an opportunity to subtly return to their gospel origins with call-and-response backing harmonies. The proceedings are far from being pious, however, as the quartet harmonizes the chorus of "Too Fat Polka" during one of the instrumental breaks. Perhaps wishing to remove some of the sting from the real storyline, the reworking of "House of the Rising Sun" -- according to the spoken introduction -- is told from the point of view of the receptionist (huh?) at the infamous bordello. Had the Chambers Brothers decided on a more straightforward translation, the song could easily have been one of the album's best. Other tunes worth spinning include a version of Bobby Parker's "Blues Get Off My Shoulder" -- in a longer form than on 1968's The Chambers Brothers Shout! -- and the comparatively brief but effective update of the jazzy "Undecided." In 2007, Collectors' Choice Music licensed all four of the Chambers Brothers' Vault Records releases, marking the first time they have been available in over three decades. AMG.

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Laura Nyro - New York Tendaberry 1969

Although New York Tendaberry was nearly as strong a record as its predecessor, Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, it wasn't as accessible. In large part that's because, unlike her first two albums, it didn't have three or four songs that would become instantly recognizable hits in the hands of other artists. But it was also because the mood of the record was considerably darker and the production quite a bit starker. It was hardly a gloomy affair, but the emphasis was on soulful laments and arrangements that often featured, in part or whole, nothing but her voice and piano. Without at all sounding blatantly derived from gospel, it often sounded very much in the spirit of gospel in its fervid passion, though using melodies from a wide pop/blues-soul canvas and addressing concerns far more secular and personal. There were crafty, dramatic punctuations of orchestration, yet these were far more subdued than they had been on the more jubilant Eli and the Thirteenth Confession. "Save the Country" (along with the upbeat section of "Time and Love") is really the only song here that has the immediate uplifting impact of her most famous early tunes, and even that track could have benefited from a less-bare setting. It's a rewarding album, but one that takes some effort to fully appreciate. The 2002 CD reissue adds two bonus tracks: the mono single version of "Save the Country," which has a far fuller arrangement than the album take, and the jaunty, previously unreleased "In the Country Way." AMG.

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David Peel & The Lower East Side - Have a Marijuana 1968

At first, second and third listen the debut record by New York street musician and John Lennon protégé David Peel seems pretty ridiculous. Recorded live on the streets of New York, the production is patchy, yielding more of a "recorded live in someone's bathroom" vibe than anything else. Then there's the lyrics, all of which are juvenile, dated and delivered in an erratic Tiny Tim-meets-Cheech & Chong style. But somewhere around the fourth or fifth listen Peel and his merry band of misfits begin to grow on you. By the six or seventh spin songs like "I Do My Bawling in the Bathroom" and "I Like Marijuana," with their dumber than dumb choruses and out of tune folk-rock progressions, actually become charming. Perhaps it's because Peel, a marginal figure born to be a cultural relic, is a much more interesting, exciting and entertaining '60s icon than all the overblown, bloated characters like David Crosby and Grace Slick. Unlike them, Peel never came in from off the streets. In fact, he can still be found singing these songs in New York's Tompkins Square Park to this day. And while that's mildly pathetic, it's also heartening. When he sings about smoking some grass and getting harassed by lame cops (the topic of just about every track) you tend to believe him. AMG.

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