FEBRUARY 1971 — PART TWO

Continuing our trawl through Vinyl Connections holding from February 1971, and beginning with an absolute classic. [Part One here]

Pretty much everyone agrees that Carole King’s second LP is a flawless album that boosted singer-songwriter artists towards the top of the first division. And not just in the US and Canada where the LP was a #1 hit. It reached #3 in Australia and #4 in the UK and did extremely well in other places too.

About a year ago I posted an article originally commissioned by Discrepancy Records here at Vinyl Connection. You can find it here.  🔆🔆🔆🔆🔆 [5 stars]

The Laurel Canyon lifestyle must have been pretty good in the early seventies. When David Crosby wanted to record his first solo album, he invited friends and neighbours around to contribute. So, on this genial, laid back LP we have appearances by Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead), Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash, Santana drummer Michael Shrieve, and others. The result is a very pleasant, slightly stoned LP with some great playing and singing and few enough references to “Almost Cut My Hair” to not distract excessively.

Harry Nilsson was the recipient of much peer acclaim, but it didn’t seem to do him much good. Despite being named by The Beatles as their favourite US artist (in 1968), and forming abiding friendships with both John and Ringo, Nilsson struggled with demons and the curse of patchy albums. This is one of them, a sweet, light-weight story-fable with a beautiful package, released to accompany the extended cartoon of the same name… but there is little that zings, musically speaking. The hit was “Me and My Arrow”.

In 1971, however, the best was still to come for Nilsson; in November he released his most consistent and by far biggest selling album.

Although once owning all the early Barclay James Harvest LPs on vinyl, I let most of them go. BJH are one of those progressive bands I just haven’t been able to really connect with*; to me they are the prog rock equivalent of Dan Fogelberg. The melodies are pretty, the arrangements (often using a real live orchestra) are competent but it just doesn’t rock my boat. The word that fits is anodyne. However, the Best Of pictured above contains half of BJH’s 1971 album Once Again and that’s a good enough coverage for me. Standout song is the eight minute “She Said” achieving something above an MOR canter. Once described, somewhat acidly, as “a poor man’s Moody Blues”, BJH have grown and retained a goodly crop of fans throughout their long career. But what about the original gatefold sleeve? Superb!

* Renaissance are another, Rush a third.

A spoken announcement opens the debut LP from the under-appreciated Ghanian/Caribbean band Osibisa: “Criss-Cross rhythms that explode with happiness”. It’s a wonderful description of the world—jazz—rock hybrid outfit who were amongst the earliest champions of multi-cultural rock. This 1971 self-titled album is a joy and a delight — it has brought me both for over forty years.  Largely instrumental with vocal chants and exclamations thrown in, this is a jazz album for those who don’t have a clue about jazz and a world music album for those who get spooked by the wildlife in a city park. Lots of percussion, as you would expect, but all of it varied and lively. Some neat guitar solos, too. And a cover by Roger Dean. Really, a disc you should hear at least once in your life.  🔆🔆🔆🔆🔆 [5 stars]

Although the opening cut on this collaboration between two jazz legends has an almost country feel, the LP overall is a tight, inventive and very accessible piano—vibes dialogue. High class early career music from two living legends.  🔆🔆🔆🔅 [3 ½ stars]

Miles adventures into jazz rock began in earnest with Bitches Brew (1970; more here in the 70 FROM ’70 series). On Jack Johnson, producer Teo Macero again works and re-configures the open-ended recordings into a cohesive, compulsive, epic whole. It may not be dinner jazz (unless, perhaps, you are holding a summer ‘come as a caveman beatnik’ barbie in a firelit forrest glade somewhere) but it is extraordinarily energetic, full of changes of mood and nuance, and an LP that gives more with repeated listenings. Featured at Vinyl Connection here, Jack Johnson is Miles you can groove to and grow with. 🔆🔆🔆🔆🔆 [5 stars]

*

Apologies for the delayed posts. Quite a lot going on at present.

 

19 comments

  1. I’m partial to Son of Schmillson. He is inconsistent though.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Agreed on both, Graham. Some terrific players/guests on Son of S. and it’s a rather fine LP package (if that’s yer format).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Trawling through my in no way OCD album collection database, so many of the the records I Iove from 1971 don’t make the February cut (Love It To Death arrived 9 days too late!) but it sure was a fabulous year for music. Anyway, how about the first Crazy Horse album, which did indeed arrive in February 1971, to be heard by no-one? I discovered it years later, and I think it’s a lovely piece of work.

    Regards, Dave

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dave. Thanks for sharing your responses. Yes, the Crazy Horse album is great – a worthy February contender… but this year I’m only sharing albums in the VC collection and that’s one I don’t have.
      Streaming? Never heard of it!

      Like

  3. No apologies for life getting busy, it happens. That Carole King record was massive. I love the Jack Johnson Miles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Reckon we align pretty closely on a lot of jazz, Aaron. Along with colleague CB as well. Great stuff.

      Like

      1. Yessir, those in the know, that’s us! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re a brave man for admitting your prog biases here, Bruce. Far too many times I’ve nearly had beers poured on me (or worse) for my views on Rush. I appreciate the musicianship of all three, but I just have never been big fans of their songs. Renaissance also, there was an intense crush on Annie Haslam at one time.

    It took me years to really appreciate this David Crosby album. It’s very self-indulgent, but definitely a timepiece for the era. A worthy keeper in anyone’s collection.

    I agree about the Harry Nilsson release. What I recall about that album was how short every song was — all barely over 2:00 minutes, I think. It never really went anywhere, though I guess as a “soundtrack” it served it’s purpose. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d never admit those band biases in a fb prog forum, Marty. Instant flaming!

      Almost identical story with the Crosby for me, too. It really is smug and ‘look at all the cool friends I have’, but there is also a charm (of the narcissistic kind). The Cros. He’s a one-off.

      Nilsson. So talented, so inconsistent. Still, we have his 1971 masterwork to come in 2021.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You know I’m on board with a few of these. A friends older brother had the Osibisa album. That was my intro. Where else would a kid like CB find that music. Total fluke. I was sucker for Roger Dean covers. You prompted a revisit (as usual). Who’s that Miles guy you’re on about?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL. Delighted you are also an early Osibisa fan, CB. I think the cover was the lure for me too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think Ill live in Osibisa land for a while. Thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. You saved the best for first! Tapestry = timeless. If you haven’t seen it, you might enjoy the movie “Echo In The Canyon”….a look at the Laurel Canyon music scene in the 1960’s. I was interested to see that Brock Peters was the voice of Jack Johnson on the Miles Davis LP. Useless trivia: he played Tom Robinson, the wrongly accused man defended by Atticus Finch in the film To Kill A Mockingbird. And I remain grateful for your introducing me to Osibisa back in 2015, when we collaborated on an Art On Your Sleeve entry!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And I forgot to admit–a bit sheepishly–that I really like Dan Fogelberg! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m a big fan of a few of these, Bruce – Tapestry, Jack Johnson, and… The Point. I was chatting with my brother a few days ago about David Crosby and we got talking about that album…. I was sure I had it around here, but seems not. Possibly one I moved on when I moved (and I think I might need to obtain a further copy).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, some love for The Point. Good to hear, J. Nilsson makes a return later in the year, with ein totale Klassic!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m expecting the full 5 star treatment, Bruce.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Flawless, an apt description of Tapestry, Bruce!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Geoff. Nothing threadbare about that album!

      Liked by 1 person

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