Tuesday, December 1, 1970

Ananda Shankar - Ananda Shankar

Ananda Shankar (self-titled)
Reprise Records 6398

1. Jumpin' Jack Flash
2. Snow Flower
3. Light My Fire
4. Mamata (Affection)
5. Metamorphosis
6. Sagar (The Ocean)
7. Dance Indra
8. Raghupati

Nevermind those critics who call this "exploitation"; this is a great album! "Classical" styles of Indian music meet then-modern technology (moog synthesizer!) and rock & roll from the west. Truly far-out! I recommend this to all!

Saturday, November 7, 1970

John Mayall - The Turning Point

John Mayall
The Turning Point
Vinyl Stereo LP
Polydor 24-4004

1. The Laws Must Change
2. Saw Mill Gulch Road
3. I'm Gonna Fight For You J.B.
4. So Hard to Share
(B1) 5. California
6. Thoughts About Roxanne
7. Room to Move

I'd known "Room to Move" for a while; nevertheless, I wasn't really sure what to expect when I put this on the turntable. It turned out to be an almost entirely acoustic sort of "lite blues" with a few surprises. The saxophones add an almost jazz-like dimension to the already surreal, subdued blues sound. The overall result is a very nice, easy, crisp, different sound that's very much worth investigating. It certainly turned out to be exactly what I was looking for this sleepy evening.

Here are John Mayall's nicely accurate words on the back cover:

"The time is right for a new direction in blues music. Having decided to dispense with heavy lead guitar and drums, usually a 'must' for blues groups today, I set about forming a new band which would be able to explore seldom-used areas within the framework of low volume music. This album is the result of this experiment and it was recorded live at the Fillmore East Theater, New York after only four weeks experience of each other's playing."

—John Mayall - July 1969

Wednesday, November 4, 1970

Kaleidoscope (UK) - Faintly Blowing

Faintly Blowing
Compact Disc
Repertoire REPUK 1047

1. Faintly Blowing
2. Poem
3. Snapdragon
4. A Story From Tom Bitz
5. (Love Song) For Annie
6. If You So Wish
7. Opinion
8. Bless the Executioner
9. Black Fjord
10. The Feathered Tiger
11. I'll Kiss You Once
12. Music
*~*~*bonus tracks*~*~*
13. Do it Again For Jeffrey
14. Poem (mono single)
15. Balloon
16. If You So Wish (mono single)
17. Let the World Wash In
18. Mediaeval Masquerade

The "toytown" sound demonstrated on Kaleidoscope's first album has grown up. Be warned, though, that, while the songwriting has indubitably matured, the music seems to lack the catchiness of that of Tangerine Dream. Matter of fact, a couple of songs on here can be downright dissonant at times—especially the album closer, "Music", which I sometimes think could make today's goth types weep.

Monday, November 2, 1970

Synanthesia - Synanthesia

Synanthesia (self-titled)
Compact Disc
Sunbeam Records 5007

1. Minerva
2. Peek Strangely and Worried Evening
3. Morpheus
4. Trafalgar Square
5. Fates
6. The Tale of the Spider and the Fly
7. Vesta
8. Rolling and Tumbling
9. Mnemosyne
10. Aurora
11. Just as the Curtain Finally Falls
12. Shifting Sands (bonus)

Described on the back cover as "a beguiling mixture of folk, jazz and psychedelia." Shall give this another listen later today.

(later today:) Sounds about right. Closest, I think, to medium-medium-soft jazz. There is at least one song with a nice, dissonant sax that would be quite effective in pissing off my mother. Narrow-minded bitch gets on my nerves sometimes.

Sunday, November 1, 1970

The Dragons - BFI

The Dragons
Compact Disc
Ninja Tune ZENCD135

1. Cosmosis
2. Food For My Soul
3. Amplified Emotion
4. Sandman
5. On the Wall
6. Are You There?
7. Sunset Scenery
8. Mercy Call
9. Pop's Bag
10. Big Mike Requiem
11. Your Way Too

This is one of the more interesting records I've played the last few days. It claims to have been recorded in 1969 and not released until 2007. It sounds much more modern than 1969..... It's kind of a bizarre combination of jazz, psych, fusion?, and a couple other genres that fail to occur to me just now. Very different, and very much worth listening to.

Family - Family Entertainment

Family Entertainment
Compact Disc
PUC 702

1. The Weaver's Answer
2. Observations From a Hill
3. Hung Up Down
4. Summer '67
5. How-Hi-the-Li
6. Second Generation Woman
7. From Past Archives
8. Dim
9. Processions
10. Face in the Cloud
11. Emotions

I had put this on my "physical wish list" a long time ago and didn't hear it for a long time. Finally got it this past holiday, and played it yesterday for the first time in a long time, and I was quite surprised at how GOOD this album is. The band's music had very much "matured" since their first album (which is very good in its own right), become smoother and more polished. Describing the actual music of Family is something else entirely.......just keep in mind that they're an excellent, eclectic band in 1969, and you should be groovy.

Gandalf - Gandalf

Gandalf (self-titled)
Compact Disc
Sundazed 6152

1. Golden Earrings
2. Hang on to a Dream
3. Never Too Far
4. Scarlet Ribbons
5. You Upset the Grace of Living
6. Can You Travel in the Dark Alone
7. Nature Boy
8. Tiffany Rings
9. Me About You
10. I Watch the Moon

One of the psych-pop classic albums. Great, original sound, with melodic, kind of atmospheric vocals and a dominant Hammond B3 organ—a treat for the ears. According to the liner notes, it wasn't really intended that way, but it sounds great nonetheless, from their takes on Tim Hardin's "Hang on to a Dream" and "Never Too Far" to the remarkable electric-sitar-laden original "Can You Travel in the Dark Alone."

Principal Edwards Magic Theatre - Soundtrack

Principal Edwards Magic Theatre
Compact Disc
Cherry Red CDM RED 306

1. Enigmatic Insomniac Machine
2. Sacrifice
3. The Death of Don Quixote
4. Third Sonnet to Sundry Notes of Music
5. To a Broken Guitar
6. Pinky: A Mystery Cycle
7. Ballad (Of the Big Girl Now and the Mere Boy) (bonus)
8. Lament for the Earth (bonus)

Sort of a progressive folk-jazz. Think Fairport Convention meets McDonald and Giles.

Mighty Baby - Mighty Baby

Mighty Baby (self-titled)
Compact Disc
Big Beat CDWIKD 120

1. Egyptian Tomb
2. A Friend You Know But Never See
3. I've Been Down So Long
4. Same Way From the Sun
5. House Without Windows
6. Trials of a City
7. I'm From the Country
8. At a Point Between Fate and Destiny
*~*~*bonus tracks*~*~*
9. Only Dreaming
10. Dustbin Full of Rubbish
11. Understanding Love
12. Favourite Days
13. A Saying For Today

In the opening of this compact disc's liner notes, Mighty Baby is described as "Britain's answer to the Grateful Dead". This (to me, anyway; see comments) is basically accurate. They may have had slightly better production than the early Dead records, and of course a slightly more British sense of melody, but, yeah, the Grateful Dead comparison is, to me, fairly apt.

Thursday, October 1, 1970

July - July

July (self-titled)
Compact Disc
Rev-Ola 243

1. My Clown
2. Dandelion Seeds
3. Jolly Mary
4. Hallo to Me
5. You Missed it All
6. The Way
7. To Be Free
8. Move on Sweet Flower
9. Crying is For Writers
10. I See
11. Friendly Man
12. A Bird Lived
*~*~*Bonus Tracks*~*~*
13. My Clown (single version)
14. Dandelion Seeds (single version)
15. Hello, Who's There?
16. The Way (single version)

True psychedelia. 'Nuff said.

The Family Tree - Miss Butters

The Family Tree
Miss Butters
Compact Disc
Rev-Ola 185

1. Birthday/Dirgeday
2. Melancholy Vaudeville Man
3. Any Other Baby
4. Sideshow
5. Mrs. McPheeny (Has Flu in Her Chest and Has Needed a Rest For So Long)
6. Butters Lament
7. Simple Life
8. Slippin' Thru My Fingers
9. Nine to Three
10. Lesson Book Life
11. Nickelodeon Music
12. Miss Butters
13. The Underture
14. Keepin' a Secret (bonus)
15. Do You Have the Time (bonus)
16. She Had to Fly (bonus)
17. He Spins Around (bonus)

The first rock opera? Possibly. "Months before the release of the Pretty Things' S.F. Sorrow," it says on here. I wouldn't call it "rock," though....more Nilsson-esque pop with a touch of psych. Little surprise, though, considering they were very close to Harry at the time. Many personnel in common, in fact, according to this. Whatever the case, nice melodies and fine songwriting here. I just love the particularly psychedelic songs at the end, "Miss Butters" and "The Underture," particularly the latter, which seldom fails to make me shiver.

The Mandrake Memorial - The Mandrake Memorial

The Mandrake Memorial (self-titled)
Poppy Records 40,002
Released in 1968

1. Bird Journey
2. Here I Am
3. Rainy May
4. This Can't Be Real
5. Dark Lady
6. House of Mirrors
7. To a Lonely
8. Strange
9. Next Number
10. Sunday Noon

A wonderfully odd mixture of pop and baroque sounds with just a slight dash of rock. Many of the songs feature a pseudo-harpsichord sound. Although my favorite song on here is the well-paced "Dark Lady," I think that, overall, the softer sounds on this album are the ones that work the best. The vocalist's voice seems especially well-suited to soft sounds. Some of the musical themes seem to reappear throughout the album, as though the whole album were a Beethoven-esque symphony. All said and done, though, this is a nice album. Some soft moments, some odd moments, some songs that run right into each other, and a proper psychedelic ending with voices and a sound effect. Good stuff.

Tuesday, September 1, 1970

Picadilly Line - The Huge World of Emily Small

Picadilly Line
The Huge World of Emily Small
Compact Disc
Lightning Tree Records 004

1. Emily Small (The Huge World Thereof)
2. Sliver Paper Dress [sic]
3. At the Third Stroke
4. Can You See Me?
5. Your Dog Won't Bark
6. How Could You Say You're Leaving Me
7. Gone, Gone, Gone
8. Twiggs
9. Tumble Down World
10. Visions of Johanna
11. Come and Sing a Song
12. Her Name is Easy
*~*~*bonus tracks*~*~*
13. Rosemary's Bluebell Day
14. Gunny Sunside
15. Country Girl
16. No One Else Can See
17. Yellow Rainbow
18. I Know, She Believes
19. Evenings With Corinna
20. My Best Friend
21. Memories Fade
22. I Can Tell You Everything

Essential for fans of British "toytown" pop-psych. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, July 1, 1970

Simon and Garfunkel - Sounds of Silence

Simon & Garfunkel
Sounds of Silence
Vinyl LP
Columbia CS 9269

A1. The Sounds of Silence
2. Leaves That Are Green
3. Blessed
4. Kathy's Song
5. Somewhere They Can't Find Me
6. Anji
7 (B1). Richard Cory
8. A Most Peculiar Man
9. April Come She Will
10. We've Got a Groovey Thing Goin'
11. I Am a Rock

The pseudo-folk legends in 1965. The main thing about this record that struck me is the running theme of crazy alienation. "Somewhere They Can't Find Me", "I Am a Rock", "A Most Peculiar Man"......What was going on in Paul Simon's life and mind during the time when this came out? ("All songs except 'Anji' written by Paul Simon", it says on the back.) In addition to the hits "I Am a Rock" and the electrified "Sounds of Silence" is a curious retelling of Edward Arlington Robinson's "Richard Cory". I only just played this once, a few days ago, so the music itself isn't as fresh in my mind as the ideas presented here.

Monday, June 1, 1970

Peter, Paul and Mary - In Concert

Peter, Paul and Mary
In Concert
Warner Bros. 1555

1. The Times They Are A-Changin'
2. A 'Soalin'
3. 500 Miles
4. Blue
5. 3 Ravens
6. One Kind Favor
7. Blowin' in the Wind
8. Car-Car
9. Puff (The Magic Dragon)
10. Jesus Met the Woman
11. Le D├ęserteur
12. Oh, Rock My Soul
13. Paultalk
14. Single Girl
15. There is a Ship
16. It's Raining
17. If I Had My Way
18. If I Had a Hammer

Nicely representative, I think, of the live sound of the legendary folk popularizers. There’s political moments (“The Times They Are A-Changin’”, “If I Had a Hammer”); there’s comedic moments (“Blue”, “Paultalk”); and there’s sing-alongs (“Oh, Rock My Soul”, which I didn’t particularly care for).