1971 COUNTDOWN: #15 — #11

#15  FLEETWOOD MAC — Future Games

Mick Fleetwood described Danny Kirwan as “an exceptional guitar player”, and so he was. Kirwan joined the band in August 1968 and appears on the albums from Then Play On to Bare Trees, contributing many excellent songs. One of his absolute best opens Future Games, the shimmering, mesmeric “Woman of a 1000 years”. You can hear Kirwan’s influence on new boy Bob Welch on the latter’s keening “Future games”. All three songwriters—Kirwan, Welsh and Christine McVie—turn in top class songs. Overall, this is a very strong Mac album that deserves more accolades than it receives. Highlights: “Woman of a 1000 years”; “Lay it all down”. [Released September 1971]

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#14 VAN  DER GRAAF GENERATOR — Pawn Hearts

Dense. Complex. Philosophical. Dark. Challenging. Mysterious. Intense.

Comprising just three pieces (two around 11 minutes and the 23 minute epic “A plague of lighthouse keepers”), Pawn Hearts is considered by many to be Van Der Graaf’s pinnacle. As with King Crimson, simply labelling VDGG “prog” is an absurd reduction, but like all the best progressive rock, this album repays…nay, requires… repeated listens to unpack. Highlight: “A plague of lighthouse keepers” (What else?). [Released October 1971]

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#13  CAT STEVENS — Teaser And The Firecat

The hits jostled for attention on side two of Teaser And The Firecat—”Morning has broken”, “Moonshadow”, “Peace Train”—yet the first side is far from shabby. Opening songlet “The Wind” (1:42) is a delightful overture, “Rubylove” dances with Greek instrumentation, “Changes IV” has rock muscle. And that’s without even mentioning another favourite, “Tuesday’s Dead”. Highlights: Too many to choose. In fact, but this stage of the countdown, each album is a highlight. [Released October 1971]

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#12  FAUST — Faust

If Can were emerging from a smoking crater, Faust dropped the bomb. This album freaked people out when it was released and it remains a monumental head fuck to this day. With cut ups, musique concrète, quotes (Hello Beatles!) and wicked humour, Faust’s debut does indeed sound like they have made a pact with the devil. 

Clocking in at barely over half an hour, you’re still likely to arrive at the end bathed in sweat. But it’s not volume or density that powers this extraordinary album, it’s the sheer don’t-fucking-tell-us-what-to-do energy that still explodes from the speakers. Faust scared me the first time I heard it (coming from the much more accessible Faust IV) but I’ve come to both love and revere it’s sheer audacity and unique vision. More purple prose on the album here. Highlights: Doesn’t work. Put headphones on and just hold on to your seat. [Released December (?) 1971]

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#11  PINK FLOYD — Meddle

“Echoes” is epochal and was a major signpost towards Pink Floyd’s future. (I’ve written about it from a personal perspective, here). Yes, a couple of the songs on the first side are lightweight—neither “San Tropez” nor “Seamus” add much to the catalogue—but “One of these days” became a signature piece and “Echoes” is perhaps the most satisfying side of music the band ever created. [Released November 1971]

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Comments welcome. I can easily imagine that this list might produce some head scratching. 🙂

31 comments

  1. Like the first Cluster album I am still coming to terms with that Faust album. I think it’s still ahead of it’s time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Early K(C)luster can be, um, testing, can’t it?
      Agreed re the Faust debut too. Truly avant-garde.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A few I didn’t expect to see so high this week – Pink Floyd excepted.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Where else does Teaser… vie with Faust? Faust might be an album for the times with it’s don’t-fucking-tell-us-what-to-do attitude. Will it make my day if I listen right now? Or perhaps I just earmark it to background a play off between Djokovic and Nick Kyrios for the Australian Open title.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hm. Not sure whether Faust’s debut is cut out for either soundtrack duties or making one’s day. If, however, a brain enema is required…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “Meddle” and “Teaser and the Firecat” are longtime favorites. Fleetwood Mac’s transitional period from their early blues rock stage to their ’70s pop rock is intriguing. I’ve yet to explore it in greater detail. “Future Games” surely looks like a good album.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Obviously I’d recommend ‘Future Games’, Christian!! But ‘Bare Trees’ is also really good. I did a pretty thorough survey of this ‘mid’ period ages ago. The ratings seem just a little harsh!
      https://vinylconnection.com.au/2014/11/14/mac-attack-fleetwood-mac-1970-1974/

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, I’ve definitely heard some tunes from ‘Bare Trees’ and will revisit/check out further.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I listen to Future Games on a regular basis – it never grows old! As always, thanks for the interesting and informative details on all the artists on your lists.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A fellow ‘Future Games’ fan? How excellent. Thanks for your kind words too, Jadi.

      Like

  6. pinklightsabre · · Reply

    Yeah this is exciting…must be in a sense for you, to wrap this project up! I love what you said about the Faust album. I think that Cat Stevens album is the one my dad had on 8-track which I destroyed, as a toddler. I pulled all the tape out and it just kept coming…out…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perhaps a metaphor for the endless reissue cycle of classic rock albums? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Intriguing – although 4 of the 5 artists have albums on the 1001 list, these records weren’t among them. Which is why such a list I guess is designed as a starting point, rather than a comprehensive collection!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Probably any/all lists should be considered a starting point. Having just been outraged by the Rolling Stone (AUS) list of ‘The 200 Best Australian Albums of All Time’ I’m inclined to think that so many factors influence an album’s inclusion in such documents that we should probably take all book/magazine lists (ie. group efforts) with several grains of sodium chloride! 😅

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Plenty of NaCl indeed, Bruce!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. So very glad to see “Future Games” so high on your list. It’s without question my favorite Fleetwood Mac album, an under-appreciated gem.

    Of course, there’s a tragic aspect to it, given Danny’s long-term mental health issues, and what happened to Bob Welch, i.e. . . . .

    https://jericsmith.com/2012/06/10/future-games/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great, J.Eric. Always delighted to find other Danny-era fans!

      Like

  9. I don’t subscribe to the idea that art should be disturbing – it should be at least moderately pleasing and strive to be truly beautiful. By those criteria, Faust fails the test, I’m afraid. Sorry. I can’t say VDGG make the cut for me, either, but I understand why some would disagree there. With you on the others here, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think it ‘should’ or has to be disturbing, Phil. That would be unnecessarily self-punishing. But we’ll have to agree to disagree on art only striving for beauty. The world is certainly not uniformly beautiful, so why should art live in a fantasy?
      I’m drawn to witnessing an artist’s insight, evocation and being (at least occasionally) challenged to see or think differently. Sometimes what was disturbing eventually opens into something quite wonderful (I’m thinking Bitches Brew here, which I imagine you are not fond of?).
      So by those standards you will see why Faust’s unsettling debut is ranked so highly. I do, however, greatly appreciate you sharing your thoughts and catalysing some reflections in response. Thank you.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. No head scratching here. I know, when I come here, that I will be introduced to new-to-me things, as well as reminded of things I oughta play again. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lovely. Thanks Aaron. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Ive listened Meddle a couple times over the tears. Who’s ear is that anyways?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dunno. But they’ve been holding their breath underwater for fifty years. Gotta come up for air soon, doncha think?

      Like

      1. That gave me a quick little chuckle. I hear some mobsters can hold their breath for decades.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Not if they’re wearing concrete shoes. 🤔

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Oooh. You are right fella. I never thought of that. I come for the music and get all angles covered at Vinyl Connection.

            Liked by 2 people

  12. Teaser and the Firecat is a longtime favorite, discovered in college. Favorite cuts are Tuesday’s Dead and Bitterblue. It’s time for me to check out early Fleetwood Mac; I only know the post-Kirwan/post-Welch offerings and I guess I need to remedy that.

    Like

  13. I have “Future Games” on a CD, and a couple times every year it’s the perfect late night album.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is! Or (to bring thins into the present here in Melbourne) a hot summer morning!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. – 4.5 C here tonight, pretty balmy for Milwaukee!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yikes! Well below zero in Milwaukee and catastrophic bushfires in Colorado. (Shakes head in wonder and consternation)

          Like

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