1971 COUNTDOWN: #55 — #50

55  ROY HARPERStormcock

Roy Harper could aptly be described as a poet-troubadour, a storyteller and wordsmith who uses music as the carrier wave for his images, thoughts, and observations. This fascinating album consists of four extended songs in the progressive folk style and is considered amongst his best works. Listeners may hear connections with the Incredible String Band and the folkier aspects of Jethro Tull. The (occasional) orchestrations are by David Bedford while guitar parts are augmented by one Jimmy Page. That latter’s appearance suggests, correctly, a depth to Harper’s epic work, making this an album to return to. Highlight: “The Same Old Rock”. [Released May 1971]

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54  BONNIE RAITTBonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt’s debut album has so much to enjoy. As well as her fabulous voice and great guitar playing, there are many quality guests. Song styles cover all the bases she became rightly renowned for: steamy blues, acoustic ballads, rollicking blues-rock. I reckon her back catalogue is ripe for rediscovery and there’s no better place to start than here. Highlights: “Finest lovin’ man”; “Walking blues”. [Released November 1971]

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53  SERGE GAINSBOURGHistorie de Melody Nelson

What an unusual—even unique—album this is. Despite shifts in tone and musical texture, despite Serge’s sprechgesang vocals, despite an appalling story line (rich middle-aged bloke knocks (very) young woman off her bicycle then seduces her) it manages, against all odds, to retain a beguiling, ‘of its time’ French charm. Part of the appeal is the deft way it navigates the shifts in musical style and the surprisingly funky arrangements (particularly the jagged, dirty electric guitar, which, come to think of it, evokes Serge’s physiognomy and attitude rather well). Not everyone’s café au lait but definitely worth half-an-hour of eartime. Highlights: As this is a twenty-eight minute concept album, just cue up the whole thing. [Released March 1971]

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52  JOHN MARTYNBless The Weather

Following two solo efforts in 1967 and 1968, then two with wife Beverley in 1970 John Martyn’s fifth album was his most successful to date. Martyn was a major figure on the UK folk scene, admired for his incorporation of jazz elements into his music and also for a restless probing of folk idioms and their contemporary resonance. All of that is beautifully presented on this LP; Martyn’s playing is crisp and his singing rich. He is well-supported by bassist Danny Thompson and guests including Richard Thompson. The album also features the first major appearance of Martyn’s legendary Echoplex guitar sound, it’s pulsing reverb heard to great effect on “Glistening Glynedebourne”. Other highlights: “Head and heart”; “Bless the Weather”.  [Released November 1971]

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51  LUCIO BATTISTIAmore e Non Amore

The title translates as “Love And Not Love” (at least according to google) and that’s the only thing I can tell you about the lyrics, other than there being a song about a Supermarket. Nor can I explain why I bought it, other than the intriguing cover. Yet I’m very glad I did, as this is a magic album full of interesting melodies, terrific playing and great variety. Interplay between, say, guitar and organ is simpatico while the orchestrations (when they appear) are top class. Some songs rock out like an Italian Rodriguez, others unfold with shifts and changes. The rough edge to Battisti’s voice makes his vocals seem very intense; certainly they are delivered with conviction. A number of the pieces are instrumentals (often with long descriptive titles, such as “7 Agosto di Pomeriggio, fra le Lamiere Roventi di un Cimitero di Automoboli Solo Io, Silenzioso Eppure Straordinariamente Vivo” which roughly translates as “August 7 in the afternoon, among the scorching metal sheets of an automobile cemetery, only me, silent yet extraordinarily alive”. Or this: “In front of a flower vending machine at Brussels Airport I am also closed in a glass bubble”. Romantic and impassioned, this is a fabulous album that could easily have been ranked way higher. Highlights: “Did Mio No”; “Davanti a un Distributore Automatico di Fiori…”. [Released 1971, month unknown]

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50  HAWKWINDIn Search Of Space

In which the mighty Hawkwind, Masters of Space and Heroes of the Galaxy, begin to forge their particular brand of pummelling, chanting, stardust-on-anvil progressive rock. We have the sci-fi poetry of Robert Calvert, Nik Turner’s restless, squalling sax, Space Captain Dave Brock on vocals and guitars plus two purveyors of analog squelches and squeaks, Del Dettmar (synths) and Dik Mik (audio generator). There’s even a short story enclosed in the wonderful centre-opening LP sleeve. It’s called The Hawkwind Log and signals the first entry in an epic chronicle. Highlights: “Master of the Universe”; “We took the wrong step years ago”. Note: Re-issues such as the 1996 CD (below) add tasty bonus tracks such as the first single “Silver Machine” (featuring Lemmy) and the single edit of “Born to go”. [Released 8th October 1971] 

 

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Other posts in this series:

1971 COUNTDOWN: #60 — #56

1971 COUNTDOWN: #65 — #61

1971 COUNTDOWN: #71 — #66

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Lots more vinyl photos at Vinyl Connection – Instagram

29 comments

  1. […] Next in this series: #55 — #50 […]

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  2. I love Stormcock – would crack my top ten.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow! That sure is ‘love’! Nice one G.

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  3. Stormcock. My No. 1 for sure. Martyn and Hawkwind oh my. In Search of Space is such a great album early tribal music.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your #1 of this lot, or of 1971 in total, Neil?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Stormcock may be my #1 of all time. It’s a fascinating album that I have never got tired of.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Of the artists you featured here, I’m mostly familiar with Bonnie Raitt. IMHO opinion, she’s the total package – an amazing guitarist, a great vocalist and no BS! I guess you can count me as one of her fans – as much as it gets for somebody who generally doesn’t believe in worshipping artists or anybody else for that matter!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All that you said, AND she’s managed a fifty year career in rock!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Then there’s that. And she still sounds great. I finally saw Bonnie Raitt in August 2016 with Richard Thompson opening for her. Bonnie later invited him to join her on stage for a song. Very cool!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. What a great gig. Wonderful.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Raitt’s back catalogue is definitely worthy of another listen. And that Serge album… it shouldn’t work, but it totally, totally does.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can but imagine how it feels if you can speak French. 😎

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      1. After taking classes right through high school, and living in Quebec for two years, I speak just enough French to get by (I wouldn’t starve) (and many would say Quebec doesn’t count as ‘real’ French lol) and even my little minimal understanding agrees with you – the power would be in the original understanding.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The consolation prize is how expressive his (limited) voice is.

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          1. Abslutely. It’s also aided by the story of it all. Even if the music sucked it’d still be interesting.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Well said about Serge – grim subject matter but 28 minutes well worth hearing.
    I hadn’t realized Bonnie Raitt has had a 50-year career, that’s impressive!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    Yes to that Roy Harper. Gosh how I’ve enjoyed him over the years. I have one of those sad, “almost saw him perform” moments too about 5 years ago I think. Better left to the imagination perhaps. One of my favorite autumn go-to’s, though not that record as much. But that era for him is so good. And like many probably, I never knew who Roy Harper was when I heard that song on Led Zep III.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Zepp lads certainly provided a career booster for Roy. He and Page even made an album together.
      It’s been interesting to hear how many people know and highly regard his music, too.

      Can we expect the sad ‘almost’ story at some point? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. pinklightsabre · · Reply

        There’s not much to the almost story. I ran into a guy wearing a Roy T-shirt and he told me he’d just played near where we were, and I had no idea. Sigh. Stormcock doesn’t appear to be on Spotify, and I like that…that’s cool.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Right. He sure seems to have plowed a solitary furrow, Mr Harper. Hats off, eh?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. pinklightsabre · · Reply

            Hats off for sure.

            Liked by 1 person

          1. pinklightsabre · · Reply

            Thank you!

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  8. God bless the ‘Wind. I own a beautiful copy of it and am on my second T-shirt of the cover too. It’s a beautiful artefact.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is. An early example of a complete and wonderful LP package. Now if you ever seen an orphan copy of the log floating around…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Are you missing one? Or are you possessor of a beat up log?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Have a s/h UK copy, but it did not have the log. ☹️

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Well hello, Melody Nelson! So glad the unfortunate adventures of ‘la petite garçonne’ have secured a spot in this great 1971 countdown! #53, not bad at all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Guy. It is a most unusual album!

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