Melanie- Candles In The Rain

This gem of a record was only $1.  One freaking dollar.  Are you crazy people?  Anyway, looking at the cover and listening to this, I had a hard time believing this came out in 1970 (and was in great part, a product of the 60’s).  It looks and sounds like a much more modern record.

But this did come out in 1970 and was Melanie’s third album.  With the lead single “Lay It On Down (Candles In The Rain)” based on her experience performing at Woodstock (in which a bunch of spectators light up candles while see played).  I probably mentioned this on the last post I wrote on her, but you really do not hear much about Melanie’s performance at Woodstock which is probably a shame.  Anyway, this record and that single in particular, brought the artist her first Top Ten hit in the US.  “Ruby Tuesday” as well as “What Have They Done To My Song, Ma” were also hits.  The album sold well in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.

Overall, I think this is an excellent album and really showcases Melanie’s talent. With the exception of “Ruby Tuesday”, the rest of the songs are written by the artist.  She is also backed up vocally in places by the Edwin Hawkins Singers.

For a sample, I decided to go with “Left Over Wine” which was one of the songs I picked from the live album I posted last year or so but did not use. I think because it skipped.

Great little record.  Satisfactory.

Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group- Live

This was $2.80 and purchased to inject a bit of rock into the blog which I like to do on Saturdays.  I saw Jeff Beck live at Sam Houston Coliseum.  He was a split bill with Stevie Ray Vaughn,  The year was 1989.  I was still in high school and was 15.  Terry Bozzio played drums.  Tony Hymas was on keys.  I remember being pretty stoked about “Freeway Jam”.  That is about all I remember.

Set List to said show

Interview with Beck and Vaughn and crew

Well, there is this live album, with a similar set up with the Jan Hammer Group.  Hammer best known for his work with the Mahavishnu Orchestra and the Miami Vice theme. Recorded somewhere on tout in 1976 (sources say the Astor Theater in Reading, PA on August 31) and released in 1977, this record features 7 songs which highlight Beck’s guitar skills as well as the interplay with the group.

For a sample, I went with “Full Moon Boogie”, solely because it had vocals, provided by drummer Tony Smith.  Just to round out the personnel, Fernando Saunders plays bass and Steve Kindler plays violin.

Good little album.  Satisfactory.

Peter Gabriel- ST (Car)

This album was $3.  I got it to play on a Saturday as I try to save the best albums for the weekend.  I originally had a Dean Martin album slated for today but recent events led me to this record.  I had the sample song in my head and realized I had this album in my unposted pile.

This was Peter Gabriel’s first solo album after leaving Genesis.  It was released in 1977 as a self titled album.  Gabriel’s first three albums were untitled so this one became Car, obviously.  Produced by Bob Erzin, the album also featured Tony Levin on bass as well as Steve Hunter and Robert Fripp on guitars. It contained his first single “Solsbury Hill” which was quite autobiographical in describing his departure from Genesis, in perhaps oversimplified terms.

And despite not liking to post popular songs from popular records, that is what I am doing as like Gabriel, I have been in a rut as of late.  Or perhaps another rut in a long series of ruts.  But before I feel too sorry for myself, ruts do present good opportunities to get out and try something new, like Gabriel did.  So here is “Solsbury Hill”.  

Great little album with other good songs such as “Modern Love” and “Here Comes The Flood”.  Satisfactory album.  As far as you humble narrator goes, well don’t feel too badly, I am more than positive that he will bounce back.

The Monkees- Headquarters

This was $2.  I liked the Monkees when I was young.  Still do to an extent. Why you may ask.  I may have answered that question on this site before but for the sake of this post, I will answer it again.  Because on the TV show, they always stuck together.  Mostly through the bad times.  And on the show, they were always one step away from making it.  Despite always falling just one step short, they stuck together.

This was a huge album for the band.  After fighting hard to write and perform their own music, the Monkees got their break with this album.  It is kind of funny how it played out.  Mike and Peter wanted to be musicians.  Mickey wanted to be a director.  All Davy wanted to do was make money and as shown in the made for TV movie about the band, he appeared frustrated with his bandmates’ ambitions.

But here this is, the Monkee’s third album, with music performed by the members, rather than the session musicians used on the previous two records (the main exception was Chip Douglas for provided bass among other things).  The Monkees also contributed a good chunk of song writing to this album although others such as Boyce and Hart are present as well.

It is Mike Nesmith’s influence that gives the album a country-folk-rock sound, but one particular exception is Mickey Dolenz’s “Randy Scouse Git”, which is a British slang that is quite unpleasant.

This was meant to be the Monkees’ crown achievement and they were rewarded with a #1 record spot upon its release in May of 1967.  However, as fate would have it, Sgt Peppers was released the following week, changing music as it was known at the time, knocking Headquarters to an eleven week run at the #2 spot,overshadowing the accomplishments of the made for TV band. IN a way, it was very fitting and followed the TV show’s plot lines; the band fought so hard to make this great little album, just to fall a tad short in the end to one of the most important albums of the 60’s.

Anyway, here this is.  For a sample, I was torn in several directions but ultimately went with the Nesmith penned/sung country flavored “You Just May Be The One”.

Great album.  Top rated.

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.

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 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 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.

Rare Earth- Ma

When I first started this blog, it became evident to the folks I ran into around my apartment that I was hoarding records.  Naturally, I would strike up conversations with random stranger who saw me carrying a handful of albums. It was one such conversation with one of the maintenance staff of my apartment where I as asked about this album.  The person I was talking with told me that if I ever find a copy of Rare Earth’s Ma, to make him a CD copy.  Naturally I was on the look out for it when I found a copy. Paid $4 with discount which is a bit on the high end. Since I bought this, I have found a few more copies at lower prices.

Rare Earth was probably the most successful white artists on Motown.  Formed in 1960 as the Sunliners, the band changed its name in 1968 and signed to Motown a year later after a dismal first album.  Originally from Detroit, the band gained fame in the 1970’s.  Their biggest hit was most likely “I Just Want To Celebrate”. An incarnation of the band continues today, led by Gil Bridges, who seems to be the band’s only constant.

This was Rare Earth’s sixth studio album, released in 1973.  It was produced by Motown’s Norman Whitfield, who also wrote the songs. The title track as well as “Smiling Faces Sometimes” and “Hum Along and Dance” were previously done by the Temptations.  However , Rare Earth provides extended jams with their version of these songs. Good album that showcases a great mix of soul, funk, and rock. Some consider this the band’s best work.  Regardless, it did not sell well at the time.

For a sample, I went with “Hum Along and Dance”, a good hard rocking number. As opposed to the Temptation’s version, this one has no vocals.

Overall, a pretty good record. Satisfactory.  Getting back to the original narrative, I have been sitting on this for a year since at the time of purchase, my backlog of records started to get out of hand as well as the fact that I started working again. So I am going to make a copy for the maintenance man tonight like I originally promised.

Eric Mercury- Electric Black Man

This month, we on the blog have been highlighting contributions to music from African Americans or in this case, African-Canadians.  I bought this at a record show for $3 from a Canadian chick.  It was a pretty up front cover and title.  At the time, I was greatly looking to diversify the records on the site and this title seemed to underscore this.

Eric Mercury is a Canadian singer/songwriter from Toronto, who gained some fame in the 60’s and 70’s.  Coming from a musical family, Mercury performed in several groups up North before going solo in the late 60’s and moving down south to the US of A.

He released a few albums as well as a few acting roles.  In the 80’s, he moved to more behind the scenes roles, such as producing and song writing.  I believe he is still alive today.

This was Mercury’s 1969 debut solo record. I believe it was his most popular effort as well.  It is kind of a soul/ rock and roll mix.  Four songs are written by Mercury.  There is also a cover of Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man”. The album is ok.  I think, given the title, I expected more out of it, perhaps more electric guitar. There is a lot, but I guess with the title, I was expecting the album to be drowning in it. Ah, subtlety. Never one to believe in this.  Anyway, despite this, the album does a great job of showcasing Mercury’s vocal talent, which I really enjoyed.

I really went back and forth with this album with liking it, not liking, etc.  Well, the last time I listened to it, I really liked it so I am going to stop there.  The opening track, “Long Way Down” is pretty cool with a nice fiddle part.  I also really liked “Night Lady” which I felt was finely arranged.  But for a sample, I decided to go with the title track.

Decent enough record and since he is Canadian, I am going to say Satisfactory.