1971 COUNTDOWN: #65 — #61

65 LEAF HOUND — Growers Of Mushroom

Inside half a minute you know exactly where you stand with Leaf Hound’s only LP, Growers Of Mushroom. “Freelance Fiend” opens with a guitar squall, powerful vocals and a blues-rock fusillade that would have made Hendrix grin. If the sound evokes Atomic Rooster, that’s not surprising as Peter French was vocalist for the organ-led heavy rockers for one album after he left Leaf Hound but before this album was released. Other influences are present too, with Cream and Led Zeppelin standing out. Further afield, Leaf Hound are certainly genetically related to Aussie heavy rockers Buffalo. French may not be quite the equal of Robert Plant but he’s pretty damn terrific and powers this quality heavy rock LP admirably. Highlights: “Freelance fiend”; “Sawdust Caesar”. [Released October 1971]

*

64 PETER HAMMILL — Fool’s Mate

The first solo album from the Van Der Graaf Generator singer is accessible and entertaining. This is just a bit surprising, given how uncompromising VDGG were generally and in 1971 in particular (the band will present its magnum opus later in this countdown). Fool’s Mate features the entire Van Der Graaf crew, as well as other guests, including Robert Fripp. It sounds like a recipe for a very intense listen, and certainly there is nothing fluffy about the album. Yet there is much light and shade, including the energetic—ebullient, even—opening track. That’s to a large degree because of the more acoustic arrangements, and the shorter songs. A fine intro to Hammill’s huge catalogue while offering a less daunting introduction to the dark and complex world of Van Der Graaf Generator. Highlights: “Imperial Zeppelin”; “Solitude”. [Released July 1971]

*

63 GRATEFUL DEAD — Grateful Dead

This double album from the legendary Grateful Dead featured in an early Vinyl Connection post. For reasons unknown, this is one of the most visited articles in the VC archive, drawing a trickle of visitors across five years.

So I won’t bang on about the album here, but simply invite a visit to Omar And The Dead. (Feel free to comment, too!). [Released October 1971]

*

62 EMBRYO — Embryo’s Rache

The second album by German outfit Embryo is a huge development from their debut. Full of great jazz-rock adventures and keyboard/synthesiser diversions, it is both progressive and funky as heck. The instrumental jams really groove, often with inventive bass parts underneath. Flute, sax and violin all take turns in the spotlight, though it is the keyboard work that give the album its central character and cohesion. Vocals are in English but don’t figure strongly. Highlight: “Tausendfüßler” (Centipede). [Released 1971, month unknown]

*

61 SLY & THE FAMILY STONE — There’s A Riot Goin’ On

One of those albums where the more you know about the story, the more powerful the work becomes. And in this case, the more saddened by Sly’s substance troubles. In 1969 he wanted to take you higher; by 1971 it was the big come-down. This is an album of of deep funkiness and pointed observation; an album of confused resignation that is also a drug-fucked call to arms. From the provocative use of the American flag (unadorned with words) to the hilarious and somehow heartbreaking “Spaced Cowboy” (yodelling, anyone?), there is much to take in here. A song called “You caught me smiling” that makes you want to cry (and that’s just the dodgy recording/production) exemplifies this frustrating and significant funk-soul album. Haightlights: “Family Affair”, “Just like a baby”. [Released November 1971]

26 comments

  1. I only know Fool’s Mate (never been able to get into VDGG – mainly struggle with Hammill’s voice) and Riot (actually listened to it in the past week, would rank a fair bit higher).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Peter Hammill’s voice is unique, isn’t it? And I believe many would also support an elevation of These’s a Riot Going On. (Which is a good example of why, he says with a grin, I emphasise such lists as favourites not “best”). 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Listening to Embryo’s Rache led me into an ‘experiment’ of kinds. Whilst enjoying it, I also felt a vague sense of being back in time. It was a subtle sensation but enough to make me wonder if that feeling was caused by my prevailing mood, an odd kind of Gestalt induced by the music or something about the music itself. Anyway, I pointedly selected a 1957 Jackie McLean album to follow and that feeling vanished.
    Thanks Bruce, for these very good reviews.

    DD

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think your experiment produced a valid outcome, DD. There is something very “early 70s” about the music and something about early 70s progressive music that evokes a time and perhaps a mood. Hope the overall experience was tolerable and that Jackie waved his magic wand appropriately.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it is a distinctive sound but it would be unfair to call it ‘dated’. Another listen is certainly justified and on a full sized stereo, not the tiddler that’s in the kitchen to accompany cooking.

        Liked by 3 people

    2. PS. Watch/listen out for Solution in a countdown post soon. Would love to hear your response.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. loudhorizon · · Reply

    That’s spooky! I recently bought the Leaf Hound album to review on my own blog – still not opened it, but looking forward to giving it a blast. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ll watch out for your reactions, Mr Horizon. And if you don’t know it, may I recommend the Atomic Rooster LP with Peter French. It’s a corker.

      Like

  4. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    I resisted the temptation last night of blasting more Spotify links at you but realized, in going from a Pentangle album to Dan Hicks, that his live record Where’s the Money? Was released on Jan 1, 1971. So now I’m compelled to ask/tell you to listen to that please. I don’t think you have: but you should Bruce! Okay that’s enough of me putting things on your list, it’s long enough. Mushroom growers, sheesh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No peace until I hear Hicks licks. Got it. 😆

      Liked by 2 people

      1. pinklightsabre · · Reply

        The “Lickettes,” as it were. Have fun!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m a big fan of the Leafhound Bruce, I’d love a Freelance Fiend T-shirt! Or business card!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It would make a terrific t-shirt, Joe. A cottage industry in one of those vacated bedrooms?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Plus There’s A Riot is an LP that’s obsessed me since I first heard it almost 30 years ago, a seriously enjoyable downer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep. (Don’t tell anyone, but I think it probably should have ranked quite a bit higher)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Isn’t it strange, what ends up being the most read on your blog? For me it was a post I did on life insurance (snore!). But I’d never predicted you’d end up having the Dead being your most read post, Bruce. But those Deadheads are a committed lot for sure.

    “Haightlights.” ISWYDT. 🙂 – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry I didn’t respond until now, Marty. TBH I had NFI what ISWYDT meant, and planned to look it up but then forgot. Sigh. Anyway, thanks for picking up on my lil’ wordplay.

      WRT Omar and the Dead, in my imagining, some of the traffic is people being curious about Omar Khayyám. Dreaming, I suspect.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I was just doing the Leaf Hound thing. An actual dance interpretation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Is it on youtube? Pay per view?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was sort of like a Yeti sighting. There and gone. Once in a lifetime occurrence. My Gal kind of glanced in my direction, shook her head and went back to her book.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I had the same reaction as Marty vis-a-vis Haightlights! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Very much enjoying Embryo’s Rache. 👍

    Incidentally, Google Translate agrees that ‘Tausendfüßler’ means ‘centipede’, but shouldn’t it be ‘millipede’?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great, Phil. Thanks for taking the time to ‘report back’. 🙂

      Reckon you’re correct on the vexed question of legs. Milli may come from million, but usually applies to a thousandth of something, like a metre, for example. 😆 But then, a centipede doesn’t have a thousand legs. Oh dear, I need a glass of wine.

      Like

  11. That Sly album is awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

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