Richie Havens – Richard P. Havens 1983 (1969)

LPFrontCover1Born in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, Richie Havens moved to Greenwich Village in 1961 in time to get in on the folk boom then taking place. Havens had a distinctive style as a folksinger, appearing in such clubs as the Cafe Wha? His guitar set to an opening tuning, he would strum it while barring chords with his thumb, using it essentially as percussion while singing rhythmically in a gruff voice for a mesmerizing effect. Havens was signed to Douglas Records in 1965 and recorded two albums that gained him a local following. In 1967, the Verve division of MGM Records formed a folk section (Verve Forecast) and signed Havens and other folk-based performers. The result was Havens’ third album, Mixed Bag. It wasn’t until 1968 and the Something Else Again album, however, that Havens began to hit the charts — actually, Havens’ fourth, third, and second albums charted that year, in that order. In 1969 came the double album Richard P. Havens 1983.

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Havens’ career benefited enormously from his appearance at the Woodstock festival in 1969 and his subsequent featured role in the movie and album made from the concert in 1970. His first album after that exposure, Alarm Clock, made the Top 30 and produced a Top 20 single in “Here Comes the Sun.” These recordings were Havens’ commercial high-water mark, but by this time he had become an international touring success. By the end of the ’70s, he had abandoned recording and turned entirely to live work. Havens came back to records with a flurry of releases in 1987: a new album, Simple Things; an album of Bob Dylan and Beatles covers; and a compilation. In 1991, Havens signed his first major-label deal in 15 years when he moved to Sony Music and released Now. Nobody Left to Crown was issued by Verve Forecast in 2008. Havens died of a heart attack at his home in Jersey City, New Jersey in April 2013; he was 72 years old. (by William Ruhlmann)

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Richard P. Havens, 1983 is a 1968 double album set by folk rock musician Richie Havens featuring a combination of studio recordings and live material recorded in concert during July 1968. The album combined original material with several of the covers for which Havens is known. Notable songs include the singles “Stop Pushing and Pulling Me” and “Indian Rope Man”, the latter of which has been multiply covered under its own name and in retooled identity as “African Herbsman.” The genre-bending album was critically and commercially well-received, reaching #80 on the Billboard “Pop Albums” chart. Initially released on the Verve label, it has been reissued multiple times in various formats, including by Verve subsidiary Verver Forecast/PolyGram and Australian label Raven Records. It has also been compiled with albums Mixed Bag and Something Else Again in multi-cd set Flyin’ Bird: The Verve Forecast Years on the Hip-O Select/Universal label.

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Richard P. Havens, 1983 compiles a number of studio tracks with live material recorded for a concert in July 1968. Musically, it displays Havens’ multi-instrumental approach and demonstrates the influence of several genres, including folk rock, world music and folk blues. As critic Richie Unterberger described it in 2003’s Eight Miles High, the album “worked towards a folk-rock-world-music fusion of sorts, though one grounded in the sort of bluesy folk [Havens]…and others had pioneered in the Village back in the early 60s.”[3] Producer Elliott Mazer said that Havens’ method of playing presented some difficulties to the many musicians who joined him, as “Richie was not very interested in learning the chords for the songs” but “made up his own”.

Described as a concept album, this was Havens’ first experience co-producing one of his albums. Additional production on the album was provided by Mazer and Mark Roth, while John Court lent production to the song “Indian Rope Man.” For the cover, Roth photographed Havens in infrared.

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The album was commercially successful, reaching #80 on the Billboard “Pop Albums” chart,[7] and critically well received. 2004’s Rip It Up: The Black Experience in Rock’n’Roll indicates that this album, along with Havens’ Mixed Bag and Alarm Clock, “should be considered staples of the rock canon.” The Rough Guide to Rock praises it as “an excellent mix of originals and covers, with a darker, brooding feel.” In a more modest assessment, Unterberger’s review in Allmusic summarizes, “As with many double albums, it perhaps could have used some pruning, although in general it was a worthy expansion of his sound as captured on record.”

The album includes several of the covers for which Havens is known, particularly the “imaginative covers” of Beatles and Bob Dylan which Unterberger indicated “he was able to recast as his own”. However, while Rough Guide suggested that the album bears “witness to Havens’ compelling ability as a live performer”, Unterberger discerned on this particular recording “an over reliance on Beatles covers” and felt “the live stuff on side four…seems like an afterthought to push the set to double-LP length.”

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Singles released from the album include “Stop Pulling and Pushing Me”, the B side of a cover of “Rocky Raccoon”, in July 1969, and “Indian Rope Man”, which was released twice in May 1969: as an “A” side with “Just Above My Hobby Horses Head” and a “B” side with Beatles’ cover “Lady Madonna.” “Indian Rope Man” has proved enduring, with multiple covers by Brian Auger, Julie Driscoll and Phaze, among others. It was also retooled and retitled as “African Herbsman”, under which title it was performed by Bob Marley. (wikipedia)

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Havens’ third Verve album was an ambitious double LP, using about a couple dozen backing musicians in various combinations on instruments ranging from conga and sitar to steel guitar and organ. Though recorded for the most part in the studio, it also included several live recordings from a July 1968 concert. As with many double albums, it perhaps could have used some pruning, although in general it was a worthy expansion of his sound as captured on record. Divided almost equally between originals and covers, the music has the moving and melancholy vibe, yet also somewhat rambling feel, typical of Havens’ prime. Certainly his “What More Can I Say John?” is a subtle and admirable anti-Vietnam war song, while his interpretations of Leonard Cohen’s “Priests” and Maurey Hayden’s (aka Lotus Weinstock’s) “Cautiously” are unusual cover choices that are imaginatively done. An Indian influence makes itself heard occasionally, as on “Just Above My Hobby Horse’s Head” and “Putting Out the Vibration, and Hoping It Comes Home”; “Indian Rope Man,” with Jeremy Steig on flute, is one of his better compositions. However, there’s an over reliance on Beatles covers (there are four here). And the live stuff on side four, with its cutesy five-minute version of “With a Little Help From My Friends” (in which Havens wordlessly scats the lyrics), seems like an afterthought to push the set to double-LP length. (by Richie Unterberger)

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Personnel:
Warren Bernhardt (keyboards, clavinet)
Brad Campbell (bass)
Bob Chase (percussion)
Diane Comins (harmonica)
Jim Fairs (bass)
Richie Havens (vocals, guitar, sitar, percussion, ondioline)
Charles Howall (background vocals)
Carol Hunter (bass)
Teddy Irwin (guitar)
Bruce Langhorne (guitar)
Ken Lauber (keyboards)
Donald McDonald (drums)
Arnie Moore (bass)
Weldon Myrick (pedal- steel guitar)
John Ord (keyboards. celeste)
Skip Prokop (drums)
Charlie Smalls (keyboards)
Jeremy Steig (flute)
Stephen Stills (bass)
Collin Walcott (sitar, tabla)
Paul “Dino” Williams (guitar)
Daniel Ben Zebulon (drums)

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Tracklist:
01. Stop Pulling and Pushing Me (Havens) 1.51
02. For Haven’s Sake (Havens) 7.05
03. Strawberry Fields Forever (Lennon/McCartney) 3.40
04. What More Can I Say John? (Havens) 4.40
05. I Pity The Poor Immigrant (Bob Dylan) 3.11
06. Lady Madonna (Lennon/McCartney) 2.00
07 Priests (Cohen) 5.16
08. Indian Rope Man (Havens/Price/Roth) 3.05
09. Cautiously (Haydn) 4.02
10. Just Above My Hobby Horse’s Head (Havens/Roth) 3.00
11. She’s Leaving Home (Lennon/McCartney) 4.07
12. Putting Out The Vibration, And Hoping It Comes Home (Havens/Roth) 2,54
13. The Parable Of Ramon (live) (Havens/Roth) 7.49
14. With A Little Help From My Friends (live) (Lennon/McCartney) 5.20
15. Wear Your Love Like Heaven (live) (Leitch) 4.56
16. Run, Shaker Life (Traditional) 2.11
17. Do You Feel Good? (live) (Traditional) 6.42
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18. Handsome Johnny (taken from “Mixed Back”) (Gossett/Havens) 3.57
19. No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed (taken from “Something Else Again”) (Havens) 2.33

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