45 TULLY — SEA OF JOY
Australia and beaches seem to go together. Probably something to do with being an island continent. With endless coast and hot summers come beach culture, including the beguiling but not-so-easy-to-master sport of surfing (read about the writer’s efforts here). In the early 1970s a number of iconic surfing films were made, all needing appropriate contemporary soundtracks. Morning Of The Earth was one, and Sea Of Joy another. But whereas the former was a set of excellent songs written by a range of artists, Sea Of Joy was the work of Sydney band Tully. Formed in 1968 and landing the gig as the pit band for the Australian production of Hair the following year, Tully produced a shimmering record as restless and inviting as the ocean on a hot January morning. Unlike previous surf films, there was no aggression or bombast in their music. Clarinet, acoustic guitar, organ, a single female voice… the music is unassuming yet engrossing and at times moving. While original copies of the LP will require some serious money, CD and vinyl re-issues are not hard to find.
We’ll cede the final word to the film-maker. “The decades have passed, but the hypnotic sounds and images of this idealistic search for nirvana just keep playing to new people and audiences — as a record of an era when the surfing world was young and idealistic and filled with hope. This is the core meaning of the film and the beautiful score.” (Paul Witzig, Director. Liner notes to the 2015 Chapter Music CD re-issue). Highlights: “Sea of joy (Part 2)”; “Pseudo-tragic-dramtic”; [Released early 1972]
44 CARAVAN — WATERLOO LILY
Caravan always had a strong sense of melody. Their particular style of progressive rock (sometimes labelled the Canterbury sound) has plenty of tunes you can sing along to. It also has inventive arrangements, extended pieces, and great playing: the triple crown of prog. If you are not especially familiar with Caravan’s catalogue or progressive music generally, this is a pretty good place to start, inviting the listener to join the pilgrims on a sunny journey along the road to Canterbury, sharing beguiling tales along the way. Highlights: Non-proggers should try the first two tracks, “Waterloo Lily” and “Nothing at all / It’s coming soon / Nothing at all (Reprise)”. The initiated should head straight for the centrepiece, “The love in your eye / To catch me a brother / Subsultus / Debouchement / Tilbury kecks”. [Released May 1972]
43 POPOL VUH — HOSIANNA MANTRA
If there is such a thing as spiritual chamber psychedelia, this Popol Vuh album nails it with electro-acoustic aplomb. Piano, guitar, violin, oboe, ethereal vocals… the elements float and dance across a tableau that is both relaxing and colourful. It took me ages to warm to Hosianna Mantra, possibly because (visually dominated chump that I am) the ‘old fashioned’ cover and religioso title distracted me from the rather glorious music within. When the album was re-issued on CD as Tantric Songs, paired with a selection of music from two film music albums, the booklet offered an alternative cover, as you can see above. Highlights: “Kyrie”; “Hosianna Mantra”. [Month of release unknown]
42 TERRY RILEY — PERSIAN SURGERY DERVISHES
Although a minimalist composer, Terry Riley crossed over to a sizeable rock audience during the psychedelic era. Some of those converted to his droning, circular compositions by A Rainbow In Curved Air doubtless purchased this two LP set as a result of attending one of Riley’s happenings. Indeed, this album presents two live performances by Riley using just an electric organ and feedback. In fact, the two pieces are the same base composition, with the recording demonstrating how improvisation is a core component of Riley’s music. This is music to accompany lying on the floor with a paisley cushion supporting your head, the synapses possibly being tweaked by psychotropic substances. It is well described by the title. More on Persian Surgery Dervishes here. Highlights: A meaningless concept for this music. [Recorded April and May, 1972]
41 LOU REED — LOU REED
After leaving The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed opted to record his first solo album in London. The session players include Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe of Yes, plus Caleb Quaye (notably Elton John) and the sound is fuller and more polished than might have been expected by those only familiar with early Velvets. Although Lou was still finding his feet—there is some filler here—there are also several very strong songs. Opener “I can’t stand it” has plenty of VU energy while “Walk and talk it” is pure Rolling Stones. I’ve always loved “Berlin”, the song that appeared in truncated form on 1973’s album of the same name. Two songs that appeared on post-breakup Velvet Underground albums 1969 Velvet Underground Live and VU, had solo studio outings on this LP.
Lou was not done with 1972, not by a long shot. He had some wild walking to do and released a second LP in November, one that made his name as a solo artist. Highlights: “Berlin”; “Wild child”. [Released June 1972]