Traffic- John Barleycorn Must Die

Here’s a really good one dollar record for a Saturday.  

This was the fourth album from the UK group Traffic but the first without guitarist Dave Mason.  In his departure, and after some side projects, Steve Winwood, Chris Wood, and Jim Capaldi put together this album which was released in 1970.  Critics were a bit hard on this album noting Mason’s absence, but it sold well both in the US and the UK , eventually going gold.  Most of the record is very jazz/blues oriented with the exception of the title track, which was a nod to the rising influence of bands like Fairport Convention on the UK scene. 

“John Barleycorn” (Round 164) is an English folk song dating back to the Age of James I.  The earliest copy is from the 1400’s.  There is also around 140 versions of the tune according to the back cover.  On the surface, it seems like a pretty nasty song.  Three men have decided that John Barleycorn must die.  He is mowed down and left in the sun to dry.  He is then cut down at his knees, rolled into a cart, smashed between stones ground up.  The songs concludes that many men can’t function without the death of John Barleycorn and that his blood is consumed by many from all walks of life.

Pretty gruesome until you realize that John Barleycorn is not actually a person and is instead barley and malt, the main ingredients in beer and whiskey.  The song in fact is a description of the harvest of these cereal crops and the production of alcohol.  It remains popular today and versions as shown above exist in both minor and major tones.

Anyway, I found Traffic’s version to be quite interesting.  Thus, here it is as the sample.  It should be noted that the rest of the record does not sound like this.

Good record. Satisfactory.

Bonzo Dog Band- Beast of the Bonzos

This was not marginally $5, but I had the clerk assign the extra amount to a $1.  I got this as I really wanted to feature this band on this blog as they have two tie ins to pop culture.

The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band (later shortened to the Bonzo Dog Band) was an English trad-jazz band formed by art students who were swept up in the early 60’s 1920’s sound spearheaded by the Temperance 7 and The Alberts.  As they started to move thier sound into rock, they got two big breaks.  First Paul McCartney asked them to appear in the Magical Mystery Tour where they performed “Death Cab For Cutie”.  This is where the band of the same name got said name (pop culture tie in #1).

Second, around the same time, they got a gig on the TV for the children’s show Do Not Adjust Your Set in which they were the resident band.  Along with David Jansen and Denise Coffey, the show also featured Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, and the occasional cartoon by Terry Gilliam.  Two writers from The Frost Report, John Cleese and Graham Chapman, were fans and from there, Monty Python was born.  Bonzo’s Neil Innes also appeared on a few episodes as well as movies. (Pop Culture tie in #2).

This album is a collection of hits of sorts.  It has some of my favorite tunes which showcase the British wit and humor that is the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.  Pretty good little album which if there is any complaint, is too short. If you want to learn more about the band and its members, well here is a link.

“It May Be Rubbish- But by Golly, it’s British Rubbish”

For samples, I went with three.  First off, to start is the “Intro/Outro”.  It should be noted that this track actually does contain a snipet of Eric Clapton playing ukulele. Also, if you are curious, the first seven or so members are actually in the band. The band plays an abridged version the very beginning of this episode complete with members of the show.

Second, I went with what is probably one of my favorite tracks and one that throws back to the group’s original sound, “Hello Mabel”.

Finally, I am ending it with a distortion heavy ode to self-help ads and body building, “Mr Apollo”.

Great little record.

The Moody Blues- Days Of Future Passed

This was unbelievably only a dollar,  which is strange to me considering it was in pretty good shape.  I mean it was one of the biggest records of its period, at least the biggest one for the Moody Blues, I believe.  At the time of writing this, I am watching Game 7 of the Oilers-Ducks so I may be in and out of this post.

This was The Moody Blues’ second album. After not finding a lot of success as a R&B band, a few members shuffled and a new larger sound was formed with a more symphonic edge. Essentially, it was the beginning of prog rock. In order to capitalize on this sound as well as payback the debt the band owed the Decca on advances, the band agreed to make a record of Dvorak’s “Symphony No 9”.  It would be released on new subsidiary, Deram and used as a model to showcase the new Deram Studio Sound format.

The band was given creative control of the project but decided to abandon it for a different project, a pop record with orchestral interludes based on the concept of a day(Note”:  this story has been disputed). Anyway, the band recruited Peter Knight and the London Festival Orchestra to provide the interludes.  The result was this record, which was a huge success for the band.  “Nights in White Satin” also became a massive hit and was the only instance of interplay between the Blues and the orchestra.

Pretty good album.  Kind of dated concept now, but in 1967, I imagine it was pretty radical.  I liked the album.  I went with “Lunch Break: Peak Hour”, mainly because it is brief, but also because it is a good example of both Orchestra and band.

Good album. Satisfactory. Well, the Oilers, sadly enough did not make it.  I know to a reasonable person, just making it as far as the did was a big accomplishment, given their record in recent years. Well, I guess I was just expecting a Cup this year after the way they played.  Losing Game 5 hurt.  But, still, got to give credit to a good young team who will be a force to reckon with next year.

Lloyd Price-Come To Me/ Misery

Hey it is Saturday.  This was $5.  I got it a Vinyl Edge.  The clerk did not think it would be $5 or under when he was looking up the price but surprise , surprise.  He might have also shaved a buck off the price and applied it to a $2 record.  Hey that counts.

Lloyd Price was born in Kenner, Louisiana in 1933.   He is best known for “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” and one of the more violent songs of early rock and roll as well as one of my favorites, “Stagger Lee”.  He is still alive and was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.  That is all I want to say on  a Saturday.

This was released sometime in the 1960’s on Guest Star recordings.  I am unsure if it was new material or a culmination of previously recorded tracks and quite frankly, I am too lazy to look into this any further.I am guessing it is the latter.

To make up for my shortcomings today, here are two samples, “Lonesome Valley” and “Come to Me”.  You are welcome.

Satisfactory Record

Steeleye Span- All Around My Hat

I sort of cheated with this album.  I asked the clerk to take a dollar off this and apply it to one of the dollar albums I was getting the same day.  After explaining how I needed to buy this record for under $5, he agreed to help.  This was therefore, $5.

I have posted about  4 or 5 Steeleye Span records to this site.  They are among one of my favorite groups.  There 1970’s electric take on traditional English folk music still makes them unique today.

This album represents the high water mark for the band, at least commercially.  Released in 1975, it was their eighth and highest charting album in the UK.  It was also the first album to chart in the US.  The title track with the B-side “Black Jack Davy” became a #5 single in England.

The album features a weird peek-hole insert, used to give some normality to the portraits on the cover.The decide is known as Anamorphic projection.  I thought it was pretty stupid the first time I looked at it but after a few stares, I have backed off that statement some.

Anyway, this is the pure rock-folk music that the band was known for.  Real good album.  For a sample, I went with the second single from the album, “All The Hard Times of Old England”. It dates from around the Napoleonic Wars.  A Newfoundland variant, “Hard, Hard Times” has also existed since the Great Depression era. Either way, Steeleye Span’s version hit home with 1970’s England.

Top Rated Record

The J Geils Band- Hotline

  1. Guitarist J Geils, the name sake of the J Geils Band was found dead yesterday at age 71 in Groton Mass, most likely of natural causes. I believe I paid a dollar for this.

Born in New York in 1946, he formed the band in the late 60’s while attending Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  The band had a good following in the 1970’s as a touring band.

Obit on CNN

Obit on Variety

Obit on Billboard

 

The band’s biggest hit (and 1980s’ staple), “Centerfold” brought them the commercial success which proved a bit elusive in the prior decade.  Most people assumed J Geils was the singer.  He was not.  That was Peter Wolf.

This album was the band’s 7th studio effort, released in 1975. This was another DJ promotion copy, stamped with not for sale, yet here it is purchased on the secondary market. Decent record.  Kind of rock, rhythm and blues.  Side two really has more of the guitar work, but regardless, this album definitely showcased the band and stood out from the other music of the decade.

In tribute to J Geils, here is with “Mean Love” with a blistering guitar solo.

RIP J Geils

 

The Beach Boys- Beach Boys’69

My folks had this album when I was a kid.  I remember listening to it in the car quite a bit.  It was only a dollar so I bought it.  At the very least, I felt it would be an easy listen as I am pretty much familiar with it.

This album is from a live performance in  1969 in London.  By this point (as evidenced by the postcards on the cover), Brian Wilson had had his breakdown and no longer toured with the band.  I believe the line up at the time for this performance was Al Jardine, Mike Love, Bruce Johnston, Carl Wilson, and Dennis Wilson. Dennis, at the time, had ended his casual relationship with Charles Manson.

I don’t know how true this story is but who cares about truth these days?  This is what I heard and I find it entertaining enough so that makes it true to me.  Take that, journalism.  Anyway, according to what I heard, while Manson and a few of his girls were living at Dennis’s house, Dennis was having a party with several big wigs and influential people from the business of show.  During this party, Manson approached Dennis and gave him a bullet.  When asked what it was for, Manson replied that Dennis could keep it in his pocket and think about how lucky he was it was in his pocket and not in his children.  Well apparently, Dennis did not take to threats well and proceeded to beat the living tar out of Manson.  According to sources, he brought Manson to tears, all in front of some of the hippest people in the music industry. I mean to make a grown adult cry in front of other adults.  Apparently, Dennis did not play.

Back to this, I remember being disappointed by it as a kid.  I still feel the same now.  By this point in their career, that initial shine was missing from this effort from what I had enjoyed from their studio releases.  Maybe that missing Brian Wilson vocal made all the difference. At the time when my parents had this, I was a pretty big Beach Boy fan but probably did not understand the who Brian Wilson saga. Released in 1970, the album was actually recorded in 1968.  I believe the by the packaging I got that this is a re-release, from somewhere in the mid seventies.  I guess I should also add that the record was in pretty poor shape.

When I was listening to this, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” was playing on the Simpsons.  However, the version on this record skips too much.  I can tolerate a skip or two but not more than three.  So I went with what was my favorite song on the album when I was a kid, “Barbara Ann”.  Again, when I was a kid, I felt the studio version was way superior to this.  I still stand by that statement.

This is the first time I used an album I felt was meh on a Saturday but after two years, why not.  Meh.

The Osmonds- Crazy Horses

This post is all about to factions of my life coming together in the last month or so.  When I got a bin of records from my pal Micahl, he noted the high content of Osmond albums in the mix.  This was also duly noted by myself at the time of receivership.  Flash forward to a couple weeks ago on Thursday in the locker room during my Over 40 hockey league.  A fellow I play with who I am sure has a proper name but I only seem to know affectionately as Booger, and who normally brings a diverse mix of songs into the locker room (from Sinatra to the Dead Kennedy’s and things even weirder than that) played a song from this album.  At the time, he asked, neigh, he dared anyone to name the artist.  When no one could answer, he said it was the Osmonds which promoted me to go home and dig thru the newly received collection of their catalog to find this gem.

So then there is this, the 10th studio album, released in 1972.  Most definately the hardest rocking of the Osmond’s output, the record spawned to hit singles, the title track and “Hold Her Tight”.  Also, the record marked a reduced role on vocals for Donny as he was starting to go thru puberty at the time.  As a result, brothers Alan, Wayne, and Jay took over more of the singing on the album along with Merrill.

According to Merrill, at the time, the Osmonds were much still a successful boy band, recording material that the label brought to them.  The group wanted to experiment with its own music.  The result was this record.  I would also be remiss not to mention that the Osmonds were the model Joe Jackson used for the Jackson 5.  This was pointed out to me by the same Booger mentioned in the first paragraph.

And it is quite an interesting album.  All the songs musically are quite edgier than the rest of their output.  Lyrically, still pretty tame however.  One of the highlights is what I believe is the only rock and roll song about “Utah” and perhaps the only song I can think of that describes the state as a rocking place to be.

For a sample, I went with the song that got me here, the title track, “Crazy Horses” which was one of the first environmentally conscious song as the crazy horses “smoking up the sky “refer to the big gas guzzling cars of the last century. I also decided to go with “Julie” which I think was my favorite song of the album.

When I first saw the pile of Osmond records Micahl gave me, I did not think I would post one so soon to the blog.  I also did not think I would ever give one something more than meh, but it is a pretty decent album and I got a lot out of it.  Satisfactory.

Rick Wakeman- The Six Wives of Henry VIII

This was 80 cents when I got it.  After reading about it, I was not going to pass this up.  Plus I had much fun with the other post I did so long ago on Rick Wakeman.  I actually saw Yes (perhaps Wakeman’s most famous work) in 1991 on the Union tour.  They had the two camps of Yes (Wakeman, Howe, and Bruford vs Rabin, White, and Kaye) with Anderson and Squire being the only constants.  Both sides did play a number of tunes together.  It was a pretty good event but it was also my first and last trip to Cynthia Mitchell Woods Pavilion.  I made a vow not to go back for reasons that now seem foreign to me.  I believe everything about getting there, going there, and leaving there was a hassle.

This is my second post on Yes keyboardist Rock Wakeman.  The first post was on his concept album on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.  It was a good album but I could not get over the fact that Wakeman performed the album in concert with ice skating.  Not a very rock and roll thing to do…. or is it the most rock and roll thing to do?

More on that story with this post complete with video

This was Wakeman’s first solo album, released in 1973, after his initial success joining Yes.  While on tour with the group in the USA, Wakeman had read a book on Anne Boleyn.  This prompted him to write a piece of music for each of King Henry VIII’s six wives, as the title of the album probably indicated.  For his work, Wakeman got members of Yes as well as his previous band, The Strawbs to contribute.  For example, the first track , “Catherine of Aragon” features Yes’ Howe, Squire, and Bruford.  Pretty good instrumental album that does not feel limited to the confines of progressive rock.  The album also sold well at the time and was overall successful both financially and commercially.

The sample I used for this album is “Anne of Cleves”, Henry VIII’s fourth wife.  Born in Dusseldorf in 1515,, Anne married the King in January of 1540.  She did not enjoy the finer arts that the King found entertaining such as books and music.  She was also not much of a looker.  The King himself complained of her “sagging breasts” and “bad body odor”. Before the marriage, Henry VIII felt that he had been misled about her appearance.  Despite buyer’s remorse and  after trying to back out, the pair were wed although they did not consummate the marriage on the wedding night.

Eventually, the King got an annulment on the grounds of non-consummation six months later.  He would marry his fifth wife, Catherine Howard the same day.  Thomas Cromwell, the King’s chief minister who urged him to marry Anne, was executed.  For her part, Anne got the best deal of any of Henry VIII’s wives.  First off, she got to live. That is always a plus and more than three of his wives can say. Secondly, she got to live well as the “King’s Sister”.    She lived the rest of her life in comfortable obscurity  and even got to see Howard executed as well as Henry VIII in the ground for 10 years before her death in 1557.

The accompanying song is pretty good as well.  Overall, I liked this album and could have gone a number of ways with it.  Plus there were shorter tracks on here which I usually favor for samples (this song is 7:30).  However, I picked “Anne of Cleves” for one reason:.  At the 3:35 mark, Wakeman lifts a line straight from “El Cumbanchero” which I posted last week. When I heard that line, I knew this was the song I was going to post. Why Wakeman choose to incorporate a Latin tune into his interpretation of the musical characteristics of the German born Anne of Cleves, I do not know but I do know I like it.

Good album.  Satisfactory.

 

The Ventures- On Stage

This was one dollar.  Great buy for that price.  Been moderately busy as of late.  I am getting a bit caught up on posts but not as caught up as I would like. However, I have posted many Ventures’ albums on this site so there is not much expository stuff I can add at this time.  This album was once property of PVT E-1 Gilbert Pera.  PVT E-1, by the way, is the lowest rank in this man’s army.

This is a live album from 1965.  It features songs recorded live in Japan, England, and the US.  Pretty good track listing with a lot of their big hits at the time. Sound quality is pretty good.  The performances are pretty lively.  Overall good album.

For a sample, I went with one of my favorite songs “Caravan” as well as a medley of hits including their perennial number “Walk Don’t Run”, “Perfida”, and “Lullaby of Leaves”.  I posted “Lullaby” a couple months back from a different group.  I always liked the Ventures version and I like it here in this medley even more because it contrasts well with “Walk Don’t Run”.

Top Rated album.  Need to get some excitement back in my life to spice up these posts a bit.