70 FROM ’70 — PART 6

Continuing the countdown of Vinyl Connection’s seventy favourite albums from 1970. The first part is here.

 

60 ERIC BURDON & WAR — Eric Burdon Declares War

Born in the industrial north of the UK, Eric Burdon disbanded The Animals (by this time pre-fixed by his name) and in late 1969 teamed up with US funk-rock band War. This, their first album, is and ambitious but unfocused amalgam of funky grooves, jazzy interlude and lots of quasi-psychedelic noodling. In addition to the slightly unsettling cover, it also includes the single “Spill the wine”, a slightly bizarre but insanely catchy song that is worth the price of admission on its own. Well, almost. 

59 COLOSSEUM — Daughter of Time

There is powerful music on UK progressive outfit Colosseum’s third album. Big sound and big arrangements. There are also the mighty lungs of singer Chris Farlowe (who also sang with Atomic Rooster). Play when you’re having it large.

58 TIM BUCKLEY — Starsailor

If you have ever swooned to the heartbreakingly beautiful “Song to the Siren”, performed either by This Mortal Coil or by the song’s writer Tim Buckley, then you might be tempted to seek out the album on which it appeared: 1970’s Starsailor. Be warned: this is not an album for the faint-hearted. Having started as a fairly straight-forward American folkie, Buckley incorporated jazz influences (try the excellent Blue Afternoon) then kinda got weird. Experimental. Uncompromising. Avant-garde, even. His phenomenal vocal range is fully explored here, with results that are sometimes jaw-droppingly awesome, sometimes put-a-pillow-over-your-head. Not the easiest place to start with Buckley Snr.

Footnote: Your correspondent imported this CD from the US (for a silly sum of money) to get one indecipherable line from one song. Yes, I know. It was pre internet.

57 JOHN RENBOURN — The Lady and the Unicorn

Something of a pair with his previous album, this gorgeous LP showcases John Renbourn’s wonderful guitar playing and eclectic influences. It is an instrumental album of elegant beauty, showing that although Bert Jansch was the more lauded guitarist in Pentangle, Renbourn was a master too. If I have a slight preference for its predecessor, the extravagantly titled Sir John Alot of Merrie Englandes Musyk Thyng & Ye Grene Knyghte, the extra points are mostly for first creating such a pleasing mix of traditional folk, medieval melodies, blues, and jazz. Thirty-five minutes of guitar bliss, with bonus glockenspiel, harmonium and recorder.

56 VASHTI BUNYAN — Just Another Diamond Day

Ethereal folk music stylings and whimsical lyrics give this unusual album a sparse beauty and a beguiling simplicity. It is like a bucolic sprite materialising from mystic Avalon. Featherlight and delicate as an origami swallow.  

55 CARAVAN — If I Could Do It All Over Again I’d Do It All Over You

Caravan’s twee 1971 single “Golf Girl” pops up on  compilations now and then. It was also covered, with due gravitas, by Neil of The Young Ones. But the Canterbury band were much more than that silly song. This was their second album, and showcases the clever musical constructions, fabulous playing and cascades of ideas that characterise Caravan. Not many progressive bands managed to combine such appealing melodies with complex composition. “Hello Hello” is an example of the former, what became known as the “For Richard” suite exemplifies the latter. Cheerful, entertaining and accessible prog.

54 FUNKADELIC — Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow

Man, this is stretchy stuff. Funky, edgy, stoned and ecstatic, all at the same time. Without doubt one of the best album titles ever, the LP—despite being very short—lives up to the promise of the cover. At times sounding like a collision between an experimental rock outfit and a feverish funk band, recorded and spliced together by an engineer out of their gourd on acid, Free Your Mind is sometimes unsettling but eccentrically exciting. Part Mothers of Invention, part Faust, this and Maggot Brain really are worth investigating.

53 JOHNNY JENKINS — Ton-Ton Macoute!

As electric-swamp-funk-blues albums go, this one is an overlooked classic. Johnny Jenkins once hired Otis Redding as his singer, and around 1968 was going to work with Duane Allman on a solo album, but Allman instead formed a band with his brother Gregg, leading to Johnny Jenkins recording new vocals and putting out his own LP. It’s a corker. Opening with a cover of Dr John’s “I walk on gilded splinters”, there is plenty of feverish swampy grooving and sweaty blues rock. Duane stars, but the whole ensemble is tight and sexy. Highly recommended.

52 DAVID BOWIE — The Man Who Sold The World

As a transitional album between the innocent folk-rock and whimsy of David Bowie (aka Space Oddity) and the developing songwriting of Hunky Dory, TMWSTW might be expected to be uncertain. Not so. Confidence and bravado abound, particularly in much of Mick Ronson’s guitar work, which bristles with attitude. “She shook me cold” is heavy as fuck while “All the madmen” points towards Bowie’s developing personas and, indeed, towards Ziggy. And don’t forget the marvellous title track, famously revived by Kurt Cobain for MTV Unplugged.

51 JETHRO TULL — Benefit

Jethro Tull’s third album is often overshadowed by the one that followed it. Aqualung was a hit at the time and is still making converts to Tull’s folk-influenced progressive rock. But Benefit is a terrific album, chock full of strong songs, robust arrangements and invention that never sounds indulgent. The US first release substituted “Teacher” for “Inside” while some CD re-issues also include the marvellous “Witch’s promise” and “Singing all day”. If you never really went beyond Aqualung and Thick As A Brick, try this one.

*

Are we enjoying this, folks? Do tell.

40 comments

  1. chris delprete · · Reply

    Great work. I discovered Colosseum by working backwards from Greenslade- a great little prog combo! Chris Farlowe’s voice is a powerful thing indeed. Funkadelic was bought, almost embarrassingly, by teenage me for the cover. I stayed for the music. I could they that record into its record shop back quick enough. Then spent a few years hiding from mum in my record collection.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad it’s going down well, Chris. No surprises that we share a fondness for Greenslade. What’s not to love about twin keyboards and dark twisted lyrics?

      Like

  2. chris delprete · · Reply

    Okay so what I meant was getting the record into its shop bag needed to be quick before I got too embarrassed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep. Your words were harried and flushed like the young you was at the time.

      Like

    2. And a Freudian-Typo all these years later?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. In 1970 I had no idea who Funkadelic were but, boy, was I into Caravan and Jethro Tull while I got the Buckley, Bowie and Jenkins albums just a few years later. Ton Ton Macoute is indeed a classic and probably my most played of the albums I’ve got mentioned above. Looking forward to part 5.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Super, Paul. I’m stoked that someone knows and loves the Johnny Jenkins. Big props if you got it on vinyl! I only discovered it in the 90s.

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      1. I have it on vinyl, Capricorn records, a cheap cut out with no info on who played on the album and that cheesy portrait on the front but as it had I Walk On Gilded Splinters on it I thought I’d take a punt. Glad I did.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Excellent. Cut-outs were great for “taking a punt”. If you would like a scan of the CD booklet I’d be happy to oblige.

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  4. … lives up to the promise of the cover.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nudge nudge wink wink say no more.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d like to see that booklet, thanks. Email is paulk.blabbernsmoke at gmail.com

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Seems a bit harsh on Eric Burdon Declares War to me, but as I’ve noted before, what would ‘me, an overfed long-haired, leaping gnome’ know?
    Boy what a list to explore –
    Corona Heaven (or is that too soon?)
    Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. And the list goes on…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Without a doubt I am enjoying this. It freeing my mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Can’t wait to see what follows, Yahooey!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Perhaps a donkey.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. that Bowie title track is indeed marvelous – i don’t own any of these yet, that Funkadelic one will likely be my first stop. Another one where for the vertical album art in this case, only the vinyl copy would suffice!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t tell anyone Geoff, but I reposted the same image I used in the vertical gatefold series for the Funkadelic album… and I got that online. I only have the CD. SHHH!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You only have CD…so far. I’m sure if we see the LP (for a non-silly sum), problem solved!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I’d love to know the one indecipherable line that prompted your Buckley purchase…?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wondered if that might catch you attention JDB. The answer lies back in time, in the early days of Vinyl Connection; a time where stories rambled…

      Like

  11. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    Totally enjoying it. Funny about that Eric Burdon album, I can imagine the drifting and noodling. But I like that early War and Funkadelic, definitely a fixed place in time. I had a maggot brain button for my jean jacket but I think it’s gone missing. That’s a good image, that one…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maggot Brain is one of the most extraordinary LP covers. Ever. Still gives me the creeps. Perfect for a denim jacket.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    Oh and agreed on Starsailor. God some of that is like bad vinegar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ha ha ha. it’s predecessor is similarly challenging. then, after catching his breath, he went sex-funk with “greetings from l.a.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. pinklightsabre · · Reply

        But it seems there’s often enough gems on each LP to make it worth it. Well worth it. In general. I think.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. OK… I think all fans of Eric Burdon know this album.”Spill The Wine”, “The Vision Of Rassan” is beautiful and “Tobacco Road” is also impressive, although it is light years from The Nashville Teens’ version, which also is good. If you’ve listened to every Colosseum album since 1969’s “Valentyne Suite” then you know the wonderful “Daughter of Time”. They had also had a brilliant comeback album in 2014: “Time on Our Side”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like you enjoyed the noodling parts of EB declares War more than me, Hottie. Tobacco Road was quite a popular tune for covering in those days.
      As for Colosseum, I prefer the first two albums, I must confess. Though the high points of Daughter are great, particularly “Theme from an Imaginary Western”.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Very good Bruce. Again a few I have and a few I want to get to (trusting your tastes again). Every time I see TB it sends me. I love the guys music and especially when he went the route you mentioned with this album. That early Tull is just … well, real good.
    The 3 new listens are going to be Coliseum, Johnny J and Bunyan. Thanks for the reminders and nudges.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Always a pleasure, CB.
      Isn’t Buckley Sr extraordinary? Do you recall which album you first heard of Tim’s?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup. ‘Greetings From LA’. Instantly grabbed my ear and has never let go. I think it was one of the first takes I did.
        Our friend catchgroove found a vinyl copy after the take and absolutely was blown away. He also did a take on it.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It sure is a potent LP. I recall being stoked to find a US pressing in Aus, with the removable post card intact.

          I want to do Happy Sad or Blue Afternoon some time. I love the looser, jazzy inflections.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I will look forward to those Bruce. Nice to hear some other folks takes on the effect of his music (Did I mention, I really like the guy?). Like I said, just hearing his name makes me want to go on a listening jag. I have a take on ‘Buzzin Fly’ in the queue. Ear candy.
          I will get to the others you noted. You are trusted in CB’s music house.

          Liked by 1 person

  15. Benefit is one of my Tull faves, certainly my favourite of the first three. I’ve got Renbourn too… I like it but I really have to be in the mood for it. It’s a bit too academic or something.

    I’ve got Bowie too and a few of the Johnny Jenkins songs on a Duane Allan box set. Good stuff.

    Think Robert Plant did Song Of The Siren. I liked that but I’ve never heard any Tim Buckley. Will definitely buy Vashti Bunyan at some point… been meaning to get that for a while.

    Enjoying these posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s beaut, HMO. Thanks for responding. I’ve never seen the Vashti on vinyl, but its delicate spaciousness (like a dewy morning) kind of suits the CD format.
      Knowing you have quite a strong interest in UK folk, perhaps consider Tim’s wonderful live double ‘Dream Letter: Live in London 1968’? (Danny Thompson on bass and Lee Underwood on guitar). I reviewed it eons ago, here.

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      1. Cool. I’ll check that out thanks. I’ve seen a reissue of the Vashti on vinyl here but I think the CD has an extra song or two so that would do me.

        Most my folk stuff is CD. I’ve got a couple of Martin Carthy and Anne Briggs things on vinyl but that’s all.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Meant to add, that Duane Allman box sounds worthwhile. Seems they dipped into the two wonderful double albums selecting the best of DA’s session work. I have one on each format. They are such fun!

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        2. I only had the first DA Anthology but I totally worshipped it! The box set is great but there’s a lot of stuff on there that I don’t like as much. Just cause of the variety of artists and styles. It’s not something I can just sit and listen to like I did with the Anthology.

          Liked by 1 person

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