Lizard is not only my favorite King Crimson album; it’s their only album that I listen to in its entirety anymore. Whereas their first two albums proposed an unsteady balance between tight compositions (“Epitath”, “Cat Food”) and diffuse atmospherics (“Moonchild”) which they devalued through redundancy – most evidently through the recycling of thematics from “21st Century Schizoid Man” into the (dubiously superior) “Pictures of a City” – Lizard harnessed both strengths into a dazzlingly unique and overwhelmingly satisfying whole, with a majestic title-suite that secured their knighthood in the maximalist pantheon comprising ornate prog rock, eclectic art rock, and lavish pomp pop for all this world over.
Archive for the ‘1970’ Category
Trifle – Trifle (1970): Here’s a one-off that I actually thought had been an American artifact. It must have been the funky elements – traits of an idiom yet to cross the Atlantic. Anyway, another fine entity of British brass rock, where tasty horn backing compliment a Meters-like frontal line of scratchy, funky chord progressions. And now that I think about it, they do sound rather Angloid when the singer gets to that “Alibi Annie” vocal hook.
Hey you prog/pomp/AOR/fusionoid maximalists, did you think the name Dave Edmunds would never register a modicum of interest to your lavish listening appetite? Well here’s a bit of history to consider, as recently discussed in a thread concerning his early blues rock outfit Love Sculpture, in which Endmunds played some firey fretwork in advance of John McLaughlin, Bill Nelson, Tommy Bolin, Bill Connors and a host of other lightning virtuosos. As one progressiveears inquirer wrote: “I like both the Love Sculpture albums-but think Forms and Feelings has the edge and yes I think its all as good as The Land of the Few with just 1 track I dont like much.” My response:
Well, I just gave Forms and Feelings another twice-over.. could the fellow above have been referring to the rockabilly thrash of “You Can’t Catch Me”, or to the Mersey-style balladry of “People People” as the track he didn’t like?
In any case, the first side of the album – including the heavy psych waltz of “Nobody’s Talking”, the rupturous syncopation of “Why (How Now)” and the lightning-fingered frenzy of “Farandole” – are as equally compelling as the two well-known tracks. I’d sum up Love Sculpture‘s sound on Forms and Feelings as a cross betwixt the ominous psych of early Spooky Tooth and the proto-speed metal of the Gurvitz brother’s Gun.
Progressivewits of yore wrote: “Supposedly, Edmunds has disowned his Love Sculpture work…
If I was him I’d disown the later rockabilly stuff.”
Brass rock pages are all being updated to six songs, or even more with the addition of video clips, such as with the If page, which now includes two highlights from their third album:
A few impressions: Galliard‘s second album, New Dawn (1970), has the clear advantage over their 1969 debut, Strange Pleasure. The former hears them weaving elements of jazz, blues and folk into a cohesive tapestry on par with the likes of early Jethro Tull and Pete Brown and Piblokto! On the other hand, Strange Pleasure betrayed an affinity for jingly horn blasts of the show tune pop caliber with only a tentative grasp on rock, ultimately pinning that album to the lighter side of the ’60s. This could have been down to the age of the members, a couple of whom looked old enough to have been kickin’ it with Acker Bilk at some point. Kind of like the professorly yet progressive-minded Dick Heckstall-Smith, once the oldest musician on the British rock scene (RIP.)
The Greatest Show On Earth, meanwhile, put their best foot forward on their debut, Horizons, which mostly focused on their main strength of crafting catchy, solid, four minute rock songs stuffed with horns. And they had so many such gems that the page is still hurting by a few absentees, such as “Day of the Lady”, on which they ably mustered a pleasing little folk ditty in waltz time.
Grandfather, the 1970 sole outing from England’s Dear Mr. Time, is a concept album in which the finest elements of popsike and music hall – shades of The Move and “Paperback Writer” linger in the stately piano and distorted vocal treatment of “Out of Time” – are interspersed with an advanced degree of symphonic elements, as on the breathtaking “Prelude (To Your Country Needs You)”. Meanwhile, the strident “Make Your Peace” sounds like the doppelganger of “Fighting Cock” by Raw Material. Overall, a diverse yet cohesive set of spellbinding songs.
Dear Mr. Time
With their bristling 1970 debut, England’s Cochise served up a brand of country rock which could graciously court the country-hater. Think not of Creedence or the Allmans; imagine instead a gritty Free or Patto-style unit who sprinkle their dish with a tasty dash of twang, thereby spicing their forays into dissonant aggression (“Moment and the End”) and giving zest to their exercises in compound song structure (“Painted Lady”.)
From the unearthed recesses of English pop’s past comes this 1970 one-off by a mixed-gender hippie combo named Justine. And what do they sound like? Well, the sexy sighs of “Flying” make for the most erotic of acid folk numbers to have penetrated these ears, whilst the harmonies and arrangements betray a striking affinity for the departing stateside sunshine sound (think: Eternity’s Children or Free Design.)
Considering how poet/singer Pete Brown’s prior role in the world of rock had been confined to that of non-performing lyricist (namely for Cream), I’m amazed at how melodic and instrumentally complex his own musical endeavors – Pete Brown & His Battered Ornaments and Pete Brown & Piblokto! – turned out to be. “Things May Come and Things May Go, But the Art School Dance Goes on for Ever” and “I Walk For Charity, Run For Money” foreshadow punk with their speed and buzzsaw aggression, yet balance the thunder with a degree of buildup, tension and release which would mostly be lacking from that later idiom. Other tracks vary between Anglo-centric folk and jazz rock styles, evocative of Traffic (with better songwriting) and Jack Bruce’s early solo albums (with denser arrangements.) Delivering on its vintage, the enormous riff of “Aeroplane Head Woman”, from Piblokto!‘s 1971 Thousands On A Raft LP, will submerge your aqualung as it blows out the smoke on the water!
Pete Brown & Piblokto!
The eponymous 1970 one-off LP from England’s Goliath delivered jagged, propulsive blues (or is that ‘jump’ blues) rock with shards of brass and metal, played with a contrapuntal intensity which alternately empowers and submits to the tough and salacious belting of Linda Rothwell, perhaps the most sexually aggressive (and demanding) British female singer of her generation. I’d like to say that this album was ahead of its time, yet only one later band, Fusion Orchestra, seemed to have picked up the gauntlet laid down by this frantically intertwined unit.
Here are my blurbs for the two Dutch entries in my ever-evolving Top 30 Albums of 1970:
Mr. Albert Show – Mr. Albert Show. Punchy, melodic, jazz-imbued pop rock which indeed puts on quite a show by alternating male and female vocals amidst a backdrop of fuzzy guitar/organ (often of the “which is which?” variety) and sax interplay. The rebop and the estrogen would sorely be missing on their plodding follow-up, 1971’s Warm Motor.
(P.S. My views regarding their second album have evolved somewhat since writing that initial blurb. Whilst deprived the cathartic immediacy of its eponymous predecessor, patient persistence does reward with Warm Motor when revved up without the excess stowaway tracks.)
Earth & Fire – Earth & Fire. A Dutch band that didn’t Americanize and, hence, missed the Spring 1970 Neaderbeat Invasion. The flat, androgynous vocals of Jerney Kaagman may fall short on emotion, yet her direct and often strident delivery ignites the raw propulsion of this band’s simple yet anthemic style of organ-based, martially driven melodic pop.
(warning: lame profile)
Earth & Fire
Here’s a blurb I once posted on Usenet regarding an old fave:
If you ask me, the finest band ever to hail from the Netherlands were Kayak, who purveyed that curious hybrid of late 60’s Anglo pop and early 70’s symphonic prog which has (for lack of a better term) been labeled by some of us more probing pop aficionados as *pomp pop.*
The most squarely symphonic Dutch band (as in Yes/Genesis sounding) was Flyte, who emerged with one album, Dawn Dancer, towards the end of the 70’s (sorry, no link.)