Thursday, September 30, 2010

After the Gold Rush

This is the last day of September, and my final post from 1970, which is Neil Young's After The Gold Rush.

Here's a video of a Neil song that doesn't come from that album.

And I just made an 8tracks mix with most of the songs I've posted this month. Next month brings another year.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Live At Leeds

Next up from 1970, flying in the face of my anti-live album prejudice, is the Who's Live At Leeds.

This is an album that should be played LOUD to scare the neighbors. Frankly, I could do without the 10+ minute "extended" versions of "Magic Bus" and "My Generation" on side two, but the first side is some of the best live music that's ever been recorded.

I finally heard Mose Allison's original version of "Young Man Blues" a few years ago, and it's pretty sweet. but I'd like it even more if it had Keith Moon on drums!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Next up from 1970 is the VU's Loaded

I discovered the Velvets and the MC5 via the 1980 movie Rock N' Roll High School, which prominently featured their songs "Rock & Roll" and "High School". All their albums were oop then, so my first VU "album" was disc one of Lou Reed's Rock & Roll Diary comp.

My two favorite songs from the album were "Rock & Roll" and "Sweet Jane", so I picked up Loaded as my first official VU album. This was the final Velvet Underground album (except for that Squeeze thing that most people don't count) and Lou Reed had left the band before it came out, so it was a pseudo-posthumous release like Let It Be.

It doesn't sound much like their other albums, but stands up fairly well as a Lou Reed album, with some of his best songs. The first side ("Who Loves The Sun" thru "Cool It Down") is really good, but my favorite song on Loaded (and maybe my favorite VU song) is "I Found A Reason", buried on the middle of side two.

1970 also brought John Cale's post-VU solo debut Vintage Violence, a nice little album that more people should hear.

Forty years on, I think VV holds up better than Loaded.

Monday, September 27, 2010

In the Garden of Jane Delawney

Next from 1970 is In the Garden of Jane Delawney by Trees

I discovered Trees a few years ago, when I was looking for more albums that sounded like Liege & Leif and Basket Of Light (which would both be on my 1970 list except they came out in 1969) and my fried Tim asked if I'd heard of Trees.

After that, I downloaded both of their albums (both ca-1970) from here , and found that I liked this first one Garden Of Jane Delawney better than the second one On The Shore, which seems to be a contrary opinion on the internet.

Actually, there isn't a lot of Trees info on the net. Their AMG site consists of a snarky bio and by R. Unterberger and their wikipedia site is pretty sparse as well.

In fairness, most Trees songs aren't that noteworthy, singer Celia Humphris is no match Sandy Denny or Jaqui McShee or Maddy Prior, and guitarist Bias Boshell is no Richard Thompson or Bert Jansch, so they're kind of a poor man's Fairport Convention. But if you like Fairport and Pentangle and Steeleye Span, you'll probably also like Trees.

Here's their "Matty Musgrave" song, "Lady Margaret".

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mona Bone Jakon

Next from 1970 is Mona Bone Jakon by Cat Stevens.

This was the first album of Cat's "second career" as a singer-songwriter, and the first of two albums he made in 1970. Tea For The Tillerman is probably more well known, but I think Mona is the better record.

In the 1980s, Cat Stevens started his "third career" as an Islamic fundamentalist, changing his name to Yusuf Islam and and disowning his earthly career, but he's softened up a bit in recent years. Here's a recent performance of "I Think I See The Light".

Anton Barbeau and the Loud Family (all of them, including Alison & Gil) covered this song on What If It Works?, which was one of the songs on that album that definitely "worked"!

Friday, September 24, 2010


Next from 1970 is Todd Rundgren's Runt.

Just like Emitt Rhodes, Todd Rundgren was a wunderkind and an auteur who left his band (Nazz) and went out on his own in 1970, forming the "band" Runt with Tony and Hunt Sales (Soupy's kids who later played with Iggy Pop and David Bowie) on bass & drums.

Runt is considered Todd's solo debut, because even though it's credited to "Runt", it's essentially Rundgren with the Sales brothers backing him up. Todd was pretty comfortable in the studio by 1970, and had started producing and engineering other artists, but he was still all over the place stylistically.

Every song on Runt sounds like it's by a different artist, but Todd's genius shines through on the best ones like its big AM radio hit "We Gotta Get You A Woman".

This song always gets tagged as sexist for ".. things about with that special one / They may be stupid but they sure are fun", but I think the plural pronoun in the second line suggests that the "things" that may be stupid. YMMV.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Emitt Rhodes

Next from 1970 is Emitt Rhodes

This is one of my favorite unheralded albums, and this song ("Fresh As A Daisy") is my favorite song from the album. Emitt Rhodes was the leader of the Merry Go Round, but he played every instrument on this solo album, and recorded it at his home studio. A completely homemade album that ended up making the top 30 when it was picked up by a major label.

Because of his studio prowess and resemblance to Paul McCartney, Emitt Rhodes was called a "one man Beatles". This description later became the title of an Italian documentary about ER.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


My next 1970 album is Tecnicolor by Os Mutantes.

I love this album, but have two reservations about listing it. First, I have Os Mutantes filed under O, but feel like I should honor the Portugese definite article and file it under M (for Mutantes). Also, even though it was recorded in 1970, it didn't come out until 2000, so it doesn't qualify as a 1970 album.

Tecnicolor was supposed to introduce Mutantes to the English speaking world and includes some of their early Tropicalia songs re-recorded with English language vocals and standard rock arrangements which in 1970 meant "total psychedelic freakout". Very trippy and very fun.

Here's another one of my Tecnicolor faves.

"Smelly happiness"??

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Christmas and the Beads of Sweat

My next 1970 album comes from the third of the three N's I discovered via Three Dog Night (after Newman and Nilsson).

It's Christmas and the Beads of Sweat by Laura Nyro.

This is not a Christmas album, despite the title, but I've still been tempted to put this song ("Christmas In My Soul") on one of my holiday mixes.

Maybe this year? The live version from Fillmore East is only six minutes long!

I've been a Laura Nyro fan for a long time, but Christmas.. is one of her more "difficult" albums for me. I loved the songs when I saw her do them live in the early 90s (I had no idea that she "played for the other team" and was surprised that the audience was 90% female), but the album seems more dated and less timeless than her first two albums. Every song is at least two verses too long, and Duane Allman and Laura Nyro are two great tastes that don't taste great together!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nilsson Sings Newman

My next 1970 album is Nilsson Sings Newman

This album makes a nice companion to Randy Newman's 12 Songs, since it features Harry Nilsson singing some of the same songs ("Caroline", "Yellow Man", etc) with Newman backing him up on piano. Nilsson is a much better singer than Newman, and his vocals make the songs more accessible, but Nilsson Sings Newman was just as much of a commercial dud as 12 Songs. It's gained a lot of cachet over the years, and has become a favorite for lots of Nilsson (and Newman) fans over the last forty years.

Both albums are really short (the original 12 Songs + Nilsson Sings Newman could fit on one side of a 90 minute tape) and the combination makes for a nice Sunday morning listen. Here's my favorite song from the album, "Living Without You", where Harry does to Randy's original what he did to the similarly-titled Badfinger song -- turning a nice little song into a masterpiece.

I wish there were more Nilsson performances on youtube,
but he wasn't really into "performing".

Saturday, September 18, 2010

12 Songs

Next from 1970 is Randy Newman's 12 Songs

Even though 12 Songs wasn't a big seller, I think it was the album that "made" Randy Newman. The title says it all, one dozen songs performed with sparse musical backing to showcase Randy's songwriting talent.

It contains some of his best songs like "Have You Seen My Baby?" (later covered by Ringo and the Flamin' Groovies) and "Mama Told Me Not To Come" (which Three Dog Night covered to put Randy Newman on the map), but my favorite song on the album is "My Old Kentucky Home", a song that the Beau Brummels did a few years earlier on their fabulous album Triangle.

Randy Newman updates Stephen Foster for the late 20th century.

Since I'm doing these alphabetically, my next album is a companion to 12 Songs, with a few of the same songs with the same arrangements, just sung by a different guy, and it's probably not that difficult to guess what it is!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Magnetic South

My next album from 1970 is Mike Nesmith's Magnetic South

Some people claim (as I'm claiming right now) that Mike Nesmith is the true father of country rock. I used to say that Gene Clark's first solo LP was the first country rock album, but Nesmith did "Papa Gene's Blues" on the first Monkees LP, many months before that.

And continued to do country-rock songs for years after that. Nez released two albums in 1970 (Magnetic South and Loose Salute) which I've got on a 2-fer CD, but the former album seems to be a lot stronger than the latter one. It has a handful of songs that Nesmith wrote for the Monkees that they never put out, and his contributions were the best things on those post-'67 Monkees albums.

Here's a latter day performance of his big hit single "Joanne"

Did you know that Mickey and Davey released a "Monkees" album in 1970 with Jeff Barry & Andy Kim after Pete & Mike left the band? It's called Changes, and not surprisingly, it's .. not very good.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Back In The USA

Next up from 1970, it's Back In The USA by the MC5

I'm not the biggest MC5 fan, but this record is great! Despite their reputation as anarchist revolutionaries or whatever, Back In The USA is a straight-up rock-n-roll record, from the starting cover of "Tutti Frutti" to the ending cover of Chuck Berry's title track.

It's ending sequence from "The American Ruse" (a refutation of American foreign policy circa-1970, Vietnam, etc,) to "Back In The USA" (a celebration of America from the coast of California to the shores of Delaware Bay) seems like they're saying "our USA may be really eff'd up now, but it's still the greatest country in the world!" Words that ring true even forty years later!

Here's "Shakin Street", where all the kids meet.

I've loved this album since I heard "High School" on the soundtrack to Rock N' Roll High School. That movie was mostly known for the Ramones, but it also exposed 80s high school kids on to the MC5 and the Velvet Underground. "Rock & Roll" + "High School" get it?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Led Zeppelin III

My next 1970 album is Led Zeppelin III

This is my favorite Zeppelin album by far, from the hard rock on side one to the quiet acoustic folky stuff on side two to the shout out to Roy Harper at the end. It's like the lost gem of their catalog, especially if you include "Hey Hey, What Can I Do", Led Zeppelin's only bona fide rarity.

Here's the famous viking kitties video for the A side of that single. This comes from 2005, before youtube or even LOLcats! It's hard to find a version with both the audio and the flash animation.

I like "Immigrant Song" because it's the shortest Led Zeppelin song in my iTunes library (which doesn't have all their songs). Just two minutes and twenty five seconds!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lola Versus Powerman

Next up from 1970 is the Kinks' Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One.

I thought about doing the Incredible String Band's U, but that would entail actually listening to the damn thing!

Anyway, Lola is mostly known for its title track, which returned the Kinks back to the top of the pop charts after a few year absence. Here they are performing the song on "Top Of The Pops".

I didn't own this album for a long time, and only knew "Lola", "Apeman", and "Get Back In The Line" via the wonderful Kink Kronikles. Someone gave me a copy of the reissued CD a few years ago, and those are still my three favorite songs on Lola, but the album is full of others. It doesn't flow as well as Arthur or Village Green, but it's probably the best Kinks album of the 1970s.

Here's "Apeman" from the same episode of "Top Of The Pops". They should've played "Top Of The Pops" on TOTP!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hot Tuna

My next (final) SF album is the self-titled debut by Hot Tuna.

Hot Tuna were a Jefferson Airplane spinoff started by bassist Jack Casady and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, initially playing acoustic country blues that sounded nothing like the Airplane. This debut album was recorded live in Berkeley while the Airplane were on hiatus, and showed a different musical side of Jack and Jorma. Here's the opening track, "Hesitation Blues".

I'm a lot more affable to "jamming" when it's on acoustic instruments, and Hot Tuna is amazingly easy to listen to. Forty years and countless album later, the Jefferson Airplane are long gone, but Kaukanen and Casady are still playing acoustic and electric shows as Hot Tuna, and Jorma still sings like he did in 1970!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

American Beauty

My next SF album from 1970 is American Beauty by
the Grateful Dead.

The Dead's two studio albums from 1970, American Beauty and Workingman's Dead, are their two best albums and their only studio offerings that casual fans need to own. They're both organic, and song-based, and completely antithetical to any preconceived stereotypes of what you think the Grateful Dead sound like (unless you learned about them from 70s and 80s FM radio)!

I like both albums, and had them on a double-length cassette for awhile, but if forced to choose I'd say that American Beauty is the Dead's masterwork. It has most of their best known songs ("Friend Of The Devil", "Sugar Magnolia","Truckin'"), a couple of stellar contributions from Phil Lesh ("Box Of Rain") and Pigpen McKernan ("Operator").

AB also has my favorite Grateful Dead song ("Ripple"), which I discovered via this performance from the Dead Ahead concert film.

After watching this film in high school, I picked up the Dead Reckoning acoustic live album and two 1970 albums which put me on the golden road to limited devotion.

I rediscovered this album a few months ago when the Bye Bye Blackbirds started covering "Till The Morning Comes", and since then, I've picked up the bonus reissues of American Beauty and Workingman's Dead and downloaded a bunch of Reckoning live tracks from emusic. But those three albums are the limit of my Dead devotion circa 2010. And I never inhaled!

Friday, September 10, 2010


My next S.F. album from 1970 is the Flamin Groovies' Flamingo.

Didn't I write about this album last year?? Yes I did.

Jack White likes this album, so you know it's a good one.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Candlestickmaker

My next 1970 album is The Candlestickmaker by Ron Elliott

Elliott was the lead guitarist and principal songwriter for the Beau Brummels, who had a couple of hits in the mid-60s ("Laugh Laugh" and "Just A Little") followed by a couple of underappreciated masterpiece albums in the late 60s (Triangle and Bradley's Barn) before they broke up and faded into permanent obscurity.

I didn't know about this album until it was mentioned a few years ago in a Beau Brummels profile in our local free weekly, right after it was reissued on CD. I picked up a copy at Amoeba, expecting another Triangle, and it's a good album, but not up to that masterwork, mainly because Ron isn't as distinctive a singer as Sal Valentino. For better or worse, it sounds like a solo record.

My favorite track on The Candlestickmaker is "The Candlestick Maker Suite", a fifteen minute suite that took up the second side of the original record. It's like five three minute songs strung together, and can be yours for just 68 cents at amazon. It's also $3.89 for the entire album! It's also on emusic, but they charge 12 credits for 5 songs, which isn't that great a deal.

All the Beau Brummels albums are also on emusic, and Triangle rules! There aren't any good videos of Candlestickmaker songs, but I never get tired of this Flinstones clip!

This is the start of what may be four San Francisco albums in a row.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bryter Later

Today's album from 1970 is Nick Drake's Bryter Later.

This is one of my favorite albums ever, but I still need to be in the right mood to listen to it. And today was one of the days I was in that mood. It's a nice middle ground between the pastoral folk of Five Leaves Left and the starkness of Pink Moon, and none of its songs have been used in any car or phone commercials.

Anyone who calls Nick Drake's music "depressing" (because he suffered from depression?) has either not heard Bryter Later or focused on the lyrics instead of the music. It's one of the most uplifting records I own. I still don't know why "Hazey Jane II" comes before "Hazey Jane I", but the tracks flow together better than either one of Drake's other albums.

Drake made the album with Joe Boyd producing, and John Cale and 3/5ths of Fairport Convention (Richard Thompson and two Daves, Pegg and Mattacks, but not Swarbs) backing him up, and it sounds like an English version of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. Boyd even got Doris Troy to contribute her distinctive voice to "Poor Boy", just like she did in "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and Dark Side Of The Moon.

Apparently the title refers to a BBC weather report saying it would be "rainy early and brighter later", which gives a good description of what it sounds like. Unfortunately there's no film of Nick Drake, but here's a homemade video of the greatest English love song of modern times.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Deja Vu all over again

Found a C album from 1970. It's CSNY's Déjà Vu

Was this the first album by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young or the second album by Crosby, Stills, & Nash? I have this record filed under Y (always suspected that they listed the names in increasing order of importance), so I'd forgotten about it.

Haven't played it in a long time, but between So Far, Neil's Decade, CSN's Greatest Hits, and many years of rock radio play, I'm familiar with most of the songs. There are a bunch of famous ones (Neil's "Helpless", Graham's "Teach Your Children" and "Our House", Stephen's "Carry On", David's title track and "Almost Cut My Hair", their verson of "Woodstock"), but I'm more partial to the last three songs that haven't been played and performed to death.

Here's Stills' "4+20" from the Big Sur movie (aka Naked Joni).

And here's Neil's "Down By The River" from the same movie, filmed during the idyllic months between Woodstock and Altamont.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Just Another Diamond Day

Just another 1970 album from Vashti Bunyan

I picked up the CD reissue of this when it came out in the early 2000s, and was astonished that I hadn't heard about it for thirty years. It was produced by Joe Boyd with instrumental backing by members of Fairport Convention and the Incredible String Band, and sounds a lot like another Boyd-produced album from 1970 that might be next on my list if I can't find any C artists worth discussing.

Just Another Diamond Day is a gorgeous album, but the most refreshing part of the Vashti Bunyan's revival was that she (unlike Nick Drake and Judee Sill) was able to experience it. Vashti even cut a new album in 2005, which wasn't quite as wonderful as Diamond Day but was still nice to hear.

Have a happy Labor Day, and let your freak folk flag fly high..

Sunday, September 5, 2010


My next album from 1970 is Black Sabbath's Paranoid. The first side of this album is like a single disc version of Black Sabbath's greatest hits, with all their best known songs, from "Paranoid" to "War Pigs" to "Iron Man".

But my favorite song on the first side of Paranoid, and my favorite Black Sabbath song is "Planet Caravan", which is one of their least Black Sabbathy songs.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Next up from 1970, the Beach Boys' Sunflower

Sunflower came out on August 31st 1970, so it's 40 years old this week. It was the first Beach Boys album of the 70s, and their first release for Brother Records after they left Capitol. With the change in label and the band profile at an all time low, Sunflower sold poorly and didn't have any hits, but over time it's become a favorite for Beach Boys believers.

Brian Wilson wasn't really involved in the recording of Sunflower, but his brothers Carl and Dennis picked up the slack with some of the best songs of their careers. Here's Dennis performing "Forever" (one of his many gems from Sunflower) live at Central Park.

And here's another great one, "It's About Time", sung by Carl at the same show. A great performance, and I just wish the video and audio were better quality.

I used to put "It's About Time" at the end of mix tapes without listing the artist and let people guess who it was. Most people were surprised to find out it was the Beach Boys since it doesn't sound anything like a "Beach Boys song". The only songs on Sunflower that sound like Beach Boys songs are "Add Some Music To Your Day" and "Cool Cool Water", which segues flawlessly into "Don't Go Near The Water" on the Sunflower/Surf's Up two-fer CD.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Continuing my 1970 odyssey with Barrett by Syd Barrett

Syd Barrett's entire career came in two calendar years, 1967 and 1970. Everything Syd did with Pink Floyd (except the one song from Saucerful of Secrets) came out in '67 and both of his solo albums came out in 1970, The Madcap Laughs in January and Barrett in November.

Like most people in the USA (pre-CD era), I picked up both solo albums on the specially priced double album Syd Barrett. that EMI put out after DSOTM became a monster hit. They also reissued the first two Pink Floyd albums on the Nice Pair double album, and I picked them all up because they were double albums for $8.99. I developed a preference for Syd-era Floyd and solo material mostly because I was a frugal record buyer.

Of the two Syd solo albums, I prefer the second one Barrett because it seems a little more focused. The Madcap Laughs sounds like a crazy dude with an acoustic guitar, while Barrett sounds like a crazy dude with guitar and other folks backing him up. Dave Gilmour produced both albums, and changed the focus on the second one to just let Syd do his thing and overdub other things over it rather than trying to record everything live. The results are more listenable and less disturbing tha they were on the first one.

When I started listening to Robyn Hitchcock in the mid 80s, I surmized that he based his entire career on Barrett. Here's Robyn covering "Dominoes" for a Syd Barrett documentary.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

No Dice

My year of the month for September is 1970, which was more of an "album year" than a "song year". This month, I'll be providing capsule reviews of some of my favorite albums from MCMLXX AD, alphabetically by artist until I run out of days or records.

First up is Badfinger's No Dice.

Badfinger were pigeonholed as Beatles copycats early on because they recorded for their label (Apple), had a direct link with three of them(they backed up George on All Things Must Pass, backed up Ringo on "It Don't Come Easy", and their breakthrough hit was written by Paul for Ringo's movie). Their songs also sounded a lot like early Beatles updated for the Abbey Road era.

No Dice was Badfinger's first proper album, since their first one Magic Christian Music was a hodgepodge of a few songs from that film and a few leftover songs under their previous incarnation as The Iveys. The album is probably best known nowadays for "No Matter What" and "Without You", which was later a huge hit for Harry Nilsson, but the entire first half of the album is pretty solid.

All four bandmembers contributed songs for the album, but Pete and Tom were better songwriters than Joey and Mike, whose songs drag down the second half. The album also seems a little underproduced and their skeletal version of "Without You" pales next to Nilsson's version, but I think No Dice holds up as well as Let It Be or McCartney. Here's a pseudo-live version of "Better Days".

Next month Apple will be reissuing the first four Badfinger albums(including No Dice) on CD, vinyl, and download. I already have the earlier CDs of first three, but this is the first time that A*s (as it will be listed on iTunes) will be available in the USA.