70 FROM ’70 — PART 3

Vinyl Connection’s countdown of 1970 favourites resumes after a home-organising hiatus. Welcome back folks!

#30 — #21

30  JOE COCKER — Mad Dogs and Englishmen *

The throaty growl of Sheffield born Joe Cocker gave a fresh twist to his rock ’n’ soul stylings, as evidenced by his iconic set at Woodstock. Cocker’s skill was taking songs and making them his own, never more clearly illustrated than in his tearing rendition of the Beatles “She came in through the bathroom window”. Musical director to Joe for the ridiculously-short-notice tour of the US that produced this double LP was Leon Russell, who put together the band and oversaw the whole circus (for such it was). Whatever the tensions and subsequent finger-pointing, this is a rip-snorting live album that reaches out and grabs you by the lapels, pumping you with rough-edged energy.

 

29  HIGH TIDE – High Tide

Need a psychedelic, progressive, stoner folk-rock album from 1970? Then you want High Tide’s second release. A power trio with Simon House (later of Hawkwind) adding violin, this is heavy and light, drifting and surging, mesmerising and occasionally monotonous. The best bits—duelling guitar and violin, eastern touches, folk inspirations marinated in heavy rhythms—make it a great album to explore if you are a fan of heavy prog of the early 70s. My friend Michael refers (in his progarchives review) to the LP’s ‘delicious acid-fried toughness’, which is spot on. It’s a bit like being rolled around by a heavy swell; powerful and a bit dangerous. Meanwhile, if early proto-metal is more your bag, seek out the 1969 High Tide debut, Sea Shanties.

 

28  ATOMIC ROOSTER — Death Walks Behind You

Being the first LP Vinyl Connection bought with his own money, the second Atomic Rooster album was always going to hold a special place on this list. Having written about it here and then, a week later, here, I won’t bang on yet again. Suffice to say, if you are on-board with keyboard driven heavy prog, you’ll love it, if not the expression on the face of William Blake’s Nebuchadnezzar will say it all.

 

27  TREES — The Garden of Jane Delawney

English folk-rock outfit Trees produced two albums, both of them in 1970. This is the second, which for me shows just a little more assurance and adventure than the debut. The ‘rock’ part of the genre label is certainly present, with some wonderful guitar solos. One for fans of electric Fairport Convention or wanting a less refined Pentangle.

 

26  ALLMAN BROTHERS — Idlewild South

The Allman’s second LP is a ripper, as described in some detail in Vinyl Connection’s return-from-sabbatical post, Idle A While.

 

25  BO HANSSON — Lord of the Rings

There is timeless magic in the Swedish keyboard player’s debut. Much of the music is relatively simple… other-worldly keyboard melodies presented sparsely yet hypnotically. Long-time blog friends will know that I have loved the album since my early twenties. It featured in a prolonged LotR inspired series, where the salient post is this one.

 

24  GURU GURU — UFO

Mind-bending psychedelic fireworks from one of Krautrock’s formative bands. The trio are considered one of the progenitors of space rock (whatever that is). What I love is the raw energy of their glorious rambling. With tracks such as “Stone In” and “Der LSD-Marsch” maybe they are exploring inner space—and a disordered one at that—but then, the title-track suggests something else. As does the text inside the gatefold: “Soon the Ufos will land and mankind will meet much stronger brains and habits. Lets get ready for that (sic).”  Yes, let’s.

 

23  MC5 — Back In The USA

Untamed yet considered, in the studio and sweating with attitude, the second album by Detroit’s MC5 is miles away from their full-throttle live debut yet also the perfect partner. Call it high-octane garage or ur-punk, you can absolutely imagine the young Ramones infuriating their parents by playing this LP at max vol. Back In The USA traverses the world of sex drugs and rock ’n’ roll in twenty-eight minutes flat, opening with a blast of Little Richard, pitching in a rather pleasant ballad and smashing out some social comment with “Human Being Lawnmower” before accelerating out of sight with a Chuck Berry cover. If this LP had any bottom end at all, it would be in every rock fan’s collection.

 

22  RODRIGUEZ — Cold Fact

Touted as ‘the new Dylan’ in 1970 (which socially-minded singer-songwriter wasn’t?), Detroit born Sixto Rodriguez had a surprising but well-deserved second coming a few years back with the release of the documentary “Searching for Sugarman”. It was an interesting doco, despite frustrating Australian fans who knew him back then and never forgot. I remember hearing this LP in the suburban record shop where I worked back in the mid-70s. Although not a powerful singer, there’s a commitment and intensity about the songs and singing of Rodriguez that remains very engaging. His observations were sharp and angry and tinged with despair. Yet the album is not a downer despite lines like Garbage ain’t collected, women aren’t protected. The depression kicks in when you reflect on what hasn’t changed.

 

21  PENTANGLE — Cruel Sister

Prodigiously talented, the five members of Pentangle coalesced in the 60s UK folk revival and produced some of the genre’s most delightful and enduring music. Cruel Sister was their fourth LP and although it is quite reasonable to call it folk-rock, the traditional folk elements are quite pronounced here. Having said that, John Renbourn plays a little electric guitar (tastefully) while Bert Jansch sticks to his acoustic. We get vocals from Bert and Jacquie McShee and the pristine rhythm section of Danny Thompson and Terry Cox. There is even some sitar. The album has but five tracks, the centrepiece being the side-long “Jack Orion”, an epic giving everyone room to move and groove during its glorious seventeen minutes. A wonderful album that sounds fresh half a century on.

*

The previous 70 FROM ’70 instalments:

PART 7

PART 6

PART 5

PART 4

INTERIM REPORT

And next, PART 2

* The UK release of Mad Dogs And Englishmen had an impressive four-panel fold-out sleeve. Photos below for those sharing an LP cover design fetish.

 

 

21 comments

  1. I don’t believe any of these albums are on the 1001 – good to see the series return, Bruce!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Geoff. I imagine that as we get into the ‘Top 20’, there might be some overlap with the 1001!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Here was Joe Cocker still one of the big ones. Rocky, rude, with rumbling drums. The fast songs are all pithy cracks, while the ballads are vulnerable and touching. And then this voice. Influenced by drug excesses, this man tortures himself through every single song as if he were afraid it would be his last.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comment nicely captures the passionate, slightly frantic energy of live Cocker back then, hf. I recall being shocked by a live TV performance from around ’71 or ’72; I thought he was deranged!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Joe Cocker was like many other artists (e.g. Rod Stewart) someone who had lost his musical visons at some point on his way. Year after year he made bad, soft-washed albums, which made him look ridiculous like a toothless tiger. It hurts when you hear such a masterpiece like “Mad Dogs & Englishmen”. There is also an amazing video from this tour.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Will search out the vision. Would love to see the circus!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. As ever, I’m humbled by how many of these artists I’ve never heard of: I bow before your encyclopedic knowledge/collection! And, as ever, I’m drawn to some fabulous cover art: High Tide and The Garden Of Jane Delawney. Glad you’re back in the groove of VC (pun most definitely intended) and hope you, Ms. Connection and the boy are enjoying your new domicile!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Trees cover is excellent, JDB. And that for their 1st album just as good (in a different way). I love the High Tide art too, though its psychedelic feel doesn’t really match the music so well. I’d love a copy on vinyl but it’s rare and thus exorbitantly priced.
      I’m sure that as we ascend into the upper echelons of the list you’ll notice an increased hit rate (pun intended!) of recognition. And thanks for your good wishes. Now that some order has been created out of chaos, there is a sense of being able to exhale. Very nice indeed.
      As ever, I am grateful for your engagement. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, I have to say I don’t know the majority of albums you listed here. That’s great from my perspective, since I always love to explore new music. And with the ’70s being one of my favorite decades, it’s even better!

    I also can say I dig the two albums on your list I know: Joe Cocker and the Allmans. Cocker was a master of the cover. While I realize it’s not on Mad Dogs, I still believe his rendition of “With a Little Help From My Friends” is the best rock song remake I know. Frankly, it’s better than the original, and I say this as somebody who considers The Beatles to be the greatest band of all time. But you got to give credit where credit is due, and Cocker truly made that tune his own and kicked it up a notch or two in the process!

    And the Brothers? Can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to gems like “Midnight Rider” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”! The one thing that’s still kind of mind-boggling to me is how long it took me to finally explore this band – until 2014 or so! Luckily, it was just in time to seen them a few months prior to their final show!

    BTW, as I’m writing these clever remarks, I’m listening to “High Tide.” While I find prog rock can be a mixed bag, I like what I’m hearing so far. Maybe, it’s the psychedelic touch! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing those responses, Christian. Lovely to read about both the known and new!
      With Joe, my appreciation of his particular talent has slowly grown over the years – more the early work, granted, but he was certainly a fabulous interpreter.
      Do feel free (but not obliged) to report back in any other of the ‘new to these ears’ spins!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello again, and about time too!

    I don’t own a single one here, the MC5 coming closest, the production is a bit of a joy killer for me on that one, as you point out.

    I rather like the Trees lady Jane Garden-y one, I love that cover.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks fella. Got a lot of catching up to do.
      Search up the Trees first album, ‘On the shore’. Brilliant cover by Hipgnosis.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Good to see you back, Bruce. I never knew about Leon Russell’s association with Joe Cocker! Cool stuff to learn. I grew up in the Detroit suburbs in the sixties and seventies, back when radio was always local; the MC5 were omnipresent along with Motown and Bob Seger, of course. Great selection of albums here. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Did you ever see MC5 live, Marty? Evidence suggests they were mighty energetic on stage!
      Yes, the Mad Dogs tour and album are a juicy story, with a whole tribe of hangers on adding musical contributions of dubious value and considerable tension on and off stage. Would probably make a great film!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Never got to see them unfortunately. I was too young! But I do remember hearing them all the time on the radio. There must be a good book written about Cocker; he’s for some reason someone about whom I’ve tangentially taken any interest over the years.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. The only album here I’ve heard is the Joe Cocker. The Old Folkes have treated me to stories of his concerts, with him getting sick onstage “giving a Hurrah without the H” behind a speaker, after drinking too much, and yet they still appreciated his performances and played songs from that album at their sesquicentennial college reunion, or which one that was. I listened online to some of the Trees songs, a mild but very pleasant folk-rock, Steeleye Span will always be my favorite from that time/genre, but all the tunes are enjoyable and as you said, nice guitar work, I enjoyed all the tunes, except the title track, generally allergic to harpsichords. When I googled Celia Humphris, the first thing to pop up was her doing the “Mind the Gap” and “This is King’s Cross/St Pancras Station” announcements for the Northern & Jubilee tube lines!
    Glad you’ve got your Wayback Machine in working order again, I enjoy your posts.

    Like

  8. You are like this Bigfoot fella we have roaming around the woods over here.. Elusive and rarely seen
    Yup as usual some of the same records and a few that you have turned me onto before. How many of us own the Bo Hansson record? Enough to have a BBQ?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes indeed. Invite all your friends (especially those who are mythical beasts) for a socially distant BBQ. Bo’s providing the soundtrack.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Trolls are bad house quests especially if they’ve had too many.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. […] The count-up continues with an ‘Interim Report’, then comes Part 3 […]

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  10. […] 70 FROM ’70 — PART 3 (#30 —> #21) did arrive eventually. […]

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