Paul Brett – Clocks (1974)

FrontCover1.JPGHere´s another rarity from my Paul Brett record collection:

By the time I acquired “Clocks” in one of those glorious used LP shops in the 80s, I was utterly smitten by his late 70s unheralded classics “Interlife” and “Eclipse”. Given that “Clocks” originated in the progressive fires of 1974, I expected to herein find his most compelling work. I was roundly disappointed and have only recently accepted that, while this LP cannot compare to Brett’s best work, it is actually pretty decent in its own right.

One must remember that many styles other than prog were big in the early to mid 70s, among them a British take on American country rock, popularized by LINDISFARNE among others. Brett doesn’t embrace this wholeheartedly on “Clocks”, but it’s certainly one of the main focuses of this eclectic work that I had unfairly branded as MOR and relegated to the shelf accessible only by ladder. One need only listen to “Soho Jack” and “One Sunday Morning” to get the gist. Mike Piggott’s fiddles and Dave Griffiths’ mandolin and fretless bass play an equal role to Brett’s guitars on many of the tracks, among these “Explanation Blues”. While Brett focuses on his acoustic playing, “Circles” boasts some fine lead guitar licks. Among the mellower tunes are “Captain Dan” and “What you mean to me”. Nick Sterling’s cello and tasteful orchestral arrangements envelope these tunes with a sweet wistfulness.

“Clocks” has minimal progressive qualifications but it is a perfectly pleasant if somewhat dated set of mid 70s soft rock with Country and folk accents. (by Keneth Levine)

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Personnel:
Paul Brett (guitar, vocals)
Dave Griffiths (mandolin, bass)
Mike Piggott (violin, guitar, drums)
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Charlie Charles (percussion)
Pat Donaldson (bass)
Lyle Harper (bass)
Terry Poole (bass)
John Richardson (percussion)
Nick Sterling (cello)

Jim Toomey (percussion)
Rob Young (piano)

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Tracklist:
01. Clocks (Brett/Piggott) 1.38
02. Soho Jack (Brett/Piggott(Griffiths) 3.25
03. Captain Dan (Brett) 3.36
04. Duellin’ Banjo (from “Deliverance”) (Jayne/R.Dillard/D.Dillard/Webb) 2.53
05. Empty Dreams/Flying Machines (Brett) 3.21
06. Rain From A Clear Sky (Brett/Stirling) 3.07
07. One Sunday Morning (Brett) 3.25
08. Explanation Blues (Brett) 2.28
09. Circles (Brett) 2.47
10. Hunter Of Angels (Brett) 3.05
11. What You Mean To Me (Brett) 2.53
12. Summer Driftin’ (Brett) 4.19
13. Snowbird (Brett) 3.24

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Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – CSNY 1974 (2014)

FrontCover1.jpgCSNY 1974 is the nineteenth album by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, their seventh in the quartet configuration, and their fifth live album, the third as a foursome. Issued on Rhino Records in 2014, it consists of concert material recorded in 1974 on the band’s tour during the summer of that year. It was issued in several formats: a standard compact disc box set consisting of three audio discs and a standard DVD; as one pure audio Blu-ray disc and a Blu-ray DVD; and a more expensively packaged limited deluxe edition consisting of the material on six vinyl records along with the Blu-ray discs and a coffee table book. Two single disc samplers were also issued, one of the acoustic material exclusively available at Starbucks in the United States and Canada, and another at normal retail outlets. Each of the non-sampler sets also contained a 188-page booklet, and all formats were released the same day. The three-disc and DVD package peaked at #17 on the Billboard 200, while the Starbucks sampler peaked at #37 and the selections sampler at #81.

After the split of CSNY in the summer of 1970, through 1971 David Crosby, Graham Nash, and Neil Young released solo albums, while Stephen Stills issued two. All were gold records, as were the three issued in early 1972 by the quartet: Harvest; Graham Nash David Crosby; and Manassas; proving the group to be appealing commercially apart as well as together. Indicative of this commercial clout, only the separated Beatles as a group also achieved gold records with regularity during the same time period, reinforcing the notion of CSNY as the American Beatles. The foursome showed little interest in regrouping given their individual success, but with the real Beatles defunct and Bob Dylan not touring, public enthusiasm remained unabated for CSNY as the new counterculture leaders to record and/or do concerts together, acknowledged by manager Elliot Roberts with his ‘pissing in the wind’ quote.

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Young toured solo in late 1970 and early 1971, Stills undertook his first solo headlining tour with a new band in the summer of 1971, about the same time that Crosby and Nash toured ‘unplugged’, for the first time as a duo. Crosby and Nash toured by themselves again in 1972, while Stills assembled his Manassas band to tour after their Album. There had been sporadic reunions, with Young showing up to Crosby and Nash shows, Young recording a one-off single “War Song” with Nash, and CSN in three different pairs providing backing vocals on Young’s Harvest album.

In 1973, their individual fortunes began to falter. Stills toured again with Manassas, but their second album did not do as well in the marketplace. Young undertook two tours colored by the death of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten; the album from the first tour (with Crosby and Nash on a couple of tracks) Time Fades Away falling well short of the previous year’s Harvest sales-wise. Crosby’s reunion with the Byrds and Nash’s second solo album also did not do very well critically or commercially. An attempt to make the second CSNY studio album in the summer of 1973 after a reunion in Hawaii fell apart.

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Crosby and Nash put together their first electric band tour in late 1973, and Stills continued to tour with Manassas into 1974, but the seed had been planted.[15] In January and February 1974, impresario Bill Graham successfully directed the return of Bob Dylan to the concert stage with a winter tour of basketball and hockey arenas. Manager Roberts proposed to CSNY something more ambitious: a summer tour of baseball and football Stadiums. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young agreed, Graham signed on as tour director, and the tour was set to begin in July. Rehearsals took place at Young’s ranch in La Honda in May and June.

Besides the four principals on guitars and keyboards, supporting musicians had previously worked with different members. Tim Drummond had been the bassist for Young’s Stray Gators band and had recently played on Wild Tales by Nash and On the Beach by Young. Drummer Russ Kunkel appeared on the debut album by Crosby & Nash, and percussionist Joe Lala was part of Stills’ Manassas band.

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The tour commenced on July 9 at the Seattle Center Coliseum and played 30 dates in 23 locations, ending the North American tour proper at the Roosevelt Raceway in Westbury, New York on September 8. A 31st and final show took place on September 14 at Wembley Stadium, with opening acts including The Band and Joni Mitchell.[20] The Beach Boys, Santana, Joe Walsh, and Jesse Colin Young also appeared as support acts during the tour.

Although large multiple-bill festivals such as Miami Pop, Woodstock, and Watkins Glen had taken place, and CSNY, the Rolling Stones, and others had played infrequent stadium shows, no band except for the Beatles had ever attempted a tour of this Magnitude. Whereas the Beatles had done a series of stadium dates over two weeks in 1966, the scope of this tour and its logistics were unprecedented; as a liminal signpost toward the commercial ascent of stadium rock, the tour itinerary also encompassed a smorgasbord of indoor sports arenas, race tracks, and smaller college stadia, including Chicago Stadium, Nassau Coliseum, Boston Garden, the Capital Centre, Jeppesen Stadium at the University of Houston, and the St. Paul Civic Center. (by wikipedia)

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It was, at the time, one of the highest-grossing rock tours ever, grossing over 11 million dollars in an era when such figures were uncommon. Such success camouflaged the chaos behind the scenes — the bitter fights and feuds, the excess and indulgence that led to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young pocketing about a half million dollars each, when all was said and done. Big bucks were the reason the CSNY 1974 tour even existed. Efforts to record a new album in 1973, their first since 1970’s breakthrough Déjà Vu, collapsed but manager Elliot Roberts and promoter Bill Graham convinced the group to stage the first outdoor stadium tour in the summer of 1974, with the idea that CSNY would test-drive new material in concert, then record a new studio album in the fall, or maybe release a live record from the historic tour. Neither happened. The group cleaved in two upon the tour’s conclusion and the live tapes sat in the vaults until Graham Nash decided to assemble a box set of the tour just in time for its 40th anniversary in 2014.

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Nash and producer Joel Bernstein — the driving forces behind the excellent new millennial archival CSN reissues — culled the best moments from the nine recorded shows, sometimes cobbling together composites, then assembled the whole thing as a three-CD set designed to replicate the mammoth three-hour sets the quartet played in 1974. That very length indicates how there was room on the 1974 tour for every aspect of CSNY, giving space to sensitive folk, woolly electric guitar jams, hits, and unheard songs. Several of those new songs showed up on albums by CSNY in various permutations, while a few — mostly written by Young — never got an airing outside of this tour, so the first official release of “Love Art Blues,” “Pushed It Over the End,” and even the throwaway Nixon jape “Goodbye Dick” is indeed noteworthy. But what makes CSNY 1974 a substantial chapter in their legacy is how it captures the band in full flight just as its moment is starting to slip away. Stills and Young play with the burly force they channeled into Manassas and Crazy Horse, providing a startling contrast to both the sweetness of disc two’s acoustic set and Crosby’s excursions into the haze of If I Could Only Remember My Name. Hearing the band pull apart as its members come together is simultaneously thrilling and enervating because Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young remain locked in a battle to outdo one another; it’s fascinating to hear them spar, but also draining. Nevertheless, that messy competition is why CSNY 1974 is a vital addition to their canon. Tales of CSNY acrimony are legend, but this rancor rarely surfaced on record. Here, those brawling egos are pushed to the forefront, with all the pretty harmonies operating as an accent to the main event. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
David Crosby (vocals, guitars, tambourine)
Graham Nash (vocals, keyboards, guitars, harmonica)
Stephen Stills (vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass)
Neil Young (vocals, guitars, keyboards, harmonica, banjo guitar)
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Tim Drummond (bass)
Russ Kunkel (drums)
Joe Lala (percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Love the One You’re With (Stills) 6.02
02. Wooden Ships (Crosby/Kantner/Stills) 6.20
03. Immigration Man (Nash) 3.45
04. Helpless (Young) 4.33
05. Johnny’s Garden (Stills) 5.09
06. The Lee Shore (Crosby) 4.47
07. Change Partners (Stills) 3.24
08. Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Young) 3.28
09. Our House (Nash) 3.20
10. Guinevere (Crosby) 5.51
11. Old Man (Young) 3.57
12. Teach Your Children (Nash) 3.09
13. Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (Stills) 8.33
14. Long Time Gone (Crosby) 5.44
15. Chicago (Nash) 4.46
16. Ohio (Young) 5.37

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Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We’re finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We’re finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.

Dave Evans – Sad Pig Dance (1974)

FrontCover1.jpgThe British guitarist Dave Evans, a real dazzler of a fingerpicker, has been recording since the early ’70s. His first entirely instrumental album was released in 1974. Entitled Sad Pig Dance, it might have attracted only farmers and policemen’s ball attendees, but nonetheless managed to do a great deal to set up Evans’ reputation in a somewhat crowded genre. This player’s compositions, particularly his harmonic frameworks, are quite different than better-known players such as John Renbourn or Bert Jansch; he sometimes sounds as if he is playing all of their guitars at once. What he is actually playing is a guitar he built himself, so any and all compliments for this unmistakably cavernous sound should go to Evans himself.

His great instrumental talents — including techniques involving alternate tunings and percussion-like sound effects — have continued to be an obsession among guitarists from the new age crowd to free improv noise guitar deviates; this fact tends to overshadow Evans’ work as a singer/songwriter. It was in this mode that he first presented himself to the listening public on the 1971 album entitled The Words in Between. It has been correctly pointed out by several critics that those were the days when a songwriter armed with a guitar was expected to really be able to play, not just to be a strum and humbum. It was Evans’ picking, not his singing, that attracted fellow guitarist and record label manager Stefan Grossman who, in the late ’70s, began documenting a variety of guitarists including Evans on the Kicking Mule label. Most of Evans’ best music from the ’70s has been reissued.

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If you consider yourself an expert on folk but aren’t familiar with Dave Evans, it isn’t surprising. The acoustic guitarist never became well known, although not because of a lack of talent–Evans’ talent is obvious on 1974’s Sad Pig Dance, his first session for Kicking Mule. On this unaccompanied solo guitar outing (which was produced by Stefan Grossman), Evans’ focus is instrumental folk that incorporates elements of rock and Mississippi Delta blues. The British guitarist plays with a lot of warmth and feeling on such reflective, earthy originals as “Sun and Moon,” “Morocco John” and “Raining Cats and Dogs,” and he is equally appealing on Bert Jansch’s “Veronica” and jazz improviser Jimmy Giuffre’s “The Train and the River,” which lends itself nicely to a folk setting. Sad Pig Dance was out of print for many years, but in 1999, Fantasy reissued it on CD and added nine bonus tracks from 1976-78–four of them were originally heard on 1976’s Take A Bite out of Life. Unfortunately, recording albums wasn’t how Evans would end up earning a living; the 1980s and 1990s found him paying the bills by building and repairing instruments in Belgium. But the fact remains: Evans brings a lot of charisma to Sad Pig Dance. (by Alex Henderson)

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One way that guitarists expand the harmonic possibilities of their instrument is through the use of open tunings. By tuning the guitar differently than the standard EADGBE arrangement (for instance, to an open chord), a whole new world of sounds and textures becomes available.

New age guitarists were quick to adopt this method to create beautiful melodies that went nowhere. Dave Evans, however, was one who coupled his love for open tunings with his knack for writing good songs and came up with a terrific album in Sad Pig Face, originally released in 1974 at the height of the finger-picking guitar movement. Evans is a minor figure on a scene dominated by Davey Graham, Bert Jansch, and others, and this is about all the recordings of his currently available. However, this is quite an album to rest his legacy upon, a near perfect recording full of strong melodies and nimble playing.

Evans manages to take a slew of diverse influences, from blues to rock to jazz and meld them into a style that never seems disconnected. Evans’ pieces are frequently lyrical and whimsical, form the playful “Chaplinesque” to the unconventional “Morocco John.” “Stagefright” is the rare long guitar instrumental that never wears thin and “Jessica” foreshadows the ambling musing of new age guitarists a decade later (yet in a much more interesting way.) There are twenty-three songs here, all of which demonstrate the vast range of possibilities for folk guitarists to explore. Those who play the guitar will be pleased to know that tablature for eleven of the songs here is included for study.

Sad Pig Dance is a marvel of an album, the kind that is so good it transcends its genre and just becomes good music. It’s an odd title for album so filled with pleasures. (by David Rickert)

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Personnel:
Dave Evans (guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Stagefright 3.44
02. Chaplinesque 1.11
03. The Train And The River 2.29
04. Veronica 2.21
05. Captain 2.37
06. Knuckles And Busters 2.37
07. Medley: Mole’s Moan (The Gentle Man Trap) 3.04
08. Sad Pig Dance 1.34
09. Raining Cats And Dogs 2.51
10. Braziliana 1.48
11. Sun And Moon 3.27
12. Steppenwolf 2.54
13. Morocco John 1.44
14. Sneaky 4.07

Music composed by Dave Evans

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Tim Hardin – Nine (1974 )

FrontCover1.jpgNine is an album by folk artist Tim Hardin, recorded in England and released in 1973. It was Hardin’s final finished studio album.

After the termination of his contract with Columbia, Hardin signed with GM Records. He had previously attempted to record “Shiloh Town” during the aborted Nashville sessions in 1968. The song was based on a traditional song, recorded previously by Richie Havens. The track “Blues on the Ceiling” was erroneously credited to Hardin and “While You’re on Your Way” and “Never Too Far” were re-workings of his songs from his first album. The album was his last complete studio recording and was not released in the US until 1976. (by wikipedia)

Recorded in England during 1973, Tim Hardin’s Nine album — which was actually his seventh or eighth, depending upon how and where one started counting and what one counted — has a most unexpected complement of players, including Peter Frampton, Andy Bown of Status Quo, future Strawbs member John Mealing, Jimmy Horowitz, Lesley Duncan, Sue Glover, and Madeline Bell, and also the most heavily produced sound of any of his records. Tim Hardin 1 and Tim Hardin 2 may have had orchestral accompaniment dubbed on, but here Hardin is working with a full electric band and a coterie of backup singers, and some orchestral and sax accompaniment. The resulting album is not that far from Hardin’s classic Verve Records releases in terms of content, a mix of confessional originals interspersed with a handful of covers, of which the best is a wrenchingly moving interpretation of James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.”

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This proved to be Hardin’s final finished studio album, and there is a real sense — for all of the thick electric band sounds all over this record — of someone singing his insides out. Some of what’s here is a shadow of the kind of writing that he did a decade earlier, although none of it is dull or predictable, and other songs, such as “Person to Person,” possess haunting resonances from those early days. It’s all surprisingly good listening, and that goes double for fans of Hardin, though they may also be disturbed by some of what they hear and read. The album’s original closer, “While You’re on Your Way,” expresses a depth of longing and sadness that could easily have been Hardin’s musical epitaph.  (by Bruce Eder)

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Personnel:
Andy Bown (bass)
Bob Cohen (guitar)
Mike Driscoll (drums)
Tim Hardin (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
Jimmy Horowitz (keyboards)
David Katz (violin, strings)
John Mealing (piano)
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Peter Frampton (guitar on 02. + 03.)
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background vocals:
Liza Strike – Sue Glover – Madeline Bell

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Tracklist:
01. Shiloh Town (Traditional/Hardin) 2.56
02. Never Too Far (Hardin) 3.02
03. Rags And Old Iron (Brown/Curtis) 4.44
04. Look Our Love Over (Hardin) 4.53
05. Person To Person (Brown/Hardin) 3.38
06. Darling Girl (d’Albuquerque) 4.15
07. Blues On The Ceiling (Neil) 3.02
08. Is There No Rest For The Weary (Troiano) 3.11
09. Fire And Rain (Taylor) 4.31
10. While You’re On Your Way (Hardin) 3.28
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Tim Hardin (December 23, 1941 – December 29, 1980)

On December 29, 1980, Hardin was found on the floor of his Hollywood apartment by longtime friend Ron Daniels. He died of a heroin overdose. His remains were buried in Twin Oaks Cemetery in Turner, Oregon.

Charlie Daniels Band – Fire On The Mountain (1974)

FrontCover1.jpgFire on the Mountain is the fifth studio album by Charlie Daniels, released in 1974, appearing on the record label Kama Sutra Records, then later in 1976 by Epic Records. Most of the tracks on the album are studio recordings, while the last two songs are live performances, recorded at the War Memorial Auditorium, Nashville, Tennessee on October 4, 1974. Early pressings contained a three song, seven inch, 45 RPM disc. Side one contains Volunteer Jam Part (1) and side two contains Volunteer Jam contd. Part (2) and Volunteer Jam contd. Part (3). The catalogue number of this disc is KSBS-EP-10. (by wikipedia)

Four albums in, Charlie Daniels — now fronting the Charlie Daniels Band — finally found a way to not just synthesize his various influences, he found a way to streamline them and polish them, turning them into something proudly Southern and redneck yet commercial with Fire on the Mountain. This means that he’s toned down the wild, messy eclecticism that he displayed on his ignored debut in favor of a bluesy, jam-oriented country-rock owing a great deal to the Allman Brothers. The change is brought into sharp relief because he revives two of the best songs from Charlie Daniels — the rampaging rocker “Trudy” and the sweet ballad “Georgia,” both given more direct arrangements here; the originals were ragged and right, but these have more of a rock feel, even if they’re not as loose as those on the debut.

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And that pretty much sums up the difference with Fire on the Mountain — here, Charlie Daniels and his band have fused their Southern-fried country to a rollicking, jam-intensive blues-rock, where it plays like rock but feels like redneck country. It’s a rather brilliant move, because it’s every bit as jam-oriented as Capricorn bands like the Alllmans or the Marshall Tucker Band (the latter are thanked in the liner notes, while Dickey Betts of the former cameos on this record), but the CDB have yet to give themselves over to playing for the sake of playing (which they soon would with Saddle Tramp). Instead, they focus that energy into the songs, which are all top-notch, and the result is probably the best balance of songs and performances that the Charlie Daniels Band ever did. They would wander into longer jams and Daniels would become unapologetically redneck later, but here the mix is just right, which is why this is the quintessential Charlie Daniels Band album. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
Gary Allen (drums, percussion)
Barry Barnes (guitar, vocals)
Charlie Daniels (guitar, vocals, slide-guitar, banjo, fiddle)
Joel “Taz” DiGregorio (keyboards, vocals)
Fred Edwards (drums)
Mark Fitzgerald (bass)
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Richard Dickey  Betts (dobro on 02.)
Jaimie Nichol (congas on 05., 07. + 08.)

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Tracklist:
01. Caballo Diablo (Daniels) 4.29
02. Long Haired Country Boy (Daniels) 4.04
03. Trudy (Daniels) 4.52
04. Georgia (Daniels) 3.07
05. Feeling Free (Barnes) 4.11
06. The South’s Gonna Do It (Daniels) 4.00
07. New York City, King Size Rosewood Bed (Daniels) 3.26
08. No Place To Go (Daniels) 11.24
09. Orange Blossom Special (Rouse) 3.01

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Status Quo – Quo (1974)

LPFrontCover1Quo is the seventh studio album by Status Quo from 1974. Featuring Francis Rossi, Richard Parfitt, Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan. Like the previous album Hello!, it consisted entirely of songs written or co-written by the group. The only guest musicians featured were Bob Young and Tom Parker, who played harmonica and piano respectively on “Break the Rules”.

Despite the band believing the album’s opening track, “Backwater”, was the most suitable candidate for release as a single, the only track to actually be released as a single was “Break the Rules”, in April 1974, and it peaked in the UK at #8.

The album itself was released in May the same year. Its highest position was #2. In retrospect this album is regarded as one of their heaviest, possibly due to the influence of bassist Alan Lancaster, who is credited with co-writing six of the eight tracks.

The UK LP contained a gatefold insert with a picture of the band playing live on one side, backed with the lyrics on the other. (by wikipedia)

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By spring 1974 and the release of Status Quo’s seventh album, the band was already regarded as among the most reliable institutions in British rock, denim-clad purveyors of a rocking, rolling boogie beat that never knew when to quit. And, when “Break the Rules” peeled off the still unreleased LP to give the group its fourth Top 20 hit in little more than a year, it was clear that Quo would be business as usual. Eight tracks followed the now standard format for a new Quo album, a neat division between the two sets of songwriters (Rossi/Young, Parfitt/Lancaster), a final track that went on forever, and — best of all — a couple of intros that sounded nothing at all like Status Quo. Only the intros, though, and it quickly become one of the best games of the age, trying to predict how long it would last before the bandmembers ripped off their disguises and unleashed the boogie.

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“Backwater” keeps the mask on for one minute and eight seconds, but it’s a hallmark of Status Quo’s genius that, all these years later, it can still keep you guessing. “Just Take Me,” too, packs more than its fair share of surprises, rolling in on a drum solo that itself grows out of “Backwater”‘s back end. And if “Break the Rules” contrarily doesn’t break a single one, that’s probably just as well; there have been enough shocks already. Elsewhere, Quo indeed settles down to the status quo, with even the ballad “Lonely Man” holding onto the spirit of the band’s earliest boogie excursions (“In My Chair” and “Gerdundula” spring to mind). The pièce de résistance, however, is the closing “Slow Train,” an eight-minute epic that confusingly drives like an express, then collides with a Gaelic jig. The Chieftains would do such things a lot better — but Status Quo did it louder. (by Dave Thompson)

Singles

Personnel:
John Coghlan (drums)
Alan Lancaster (bass, vocals)
Rick Parfitt (guitar, vocals)
Francis Rossi (guitar, vocals)
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Tom Parker (keyboards)
Bob Young (harmonica)

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Tracklist:
01. Backwater (Parfitt/Lancaster) 4.23
02. Just Take Me (Parfitt/Lancaster) 3.32
03. Break The Rules (Rossi/Parfitt/Lancaster/Coghlan/Young) 3,38
04. Drifting Away (Parfitt/Lancaster) 5.00
05. Don’t Think It Matters (Parfitt/Lancaster) 4.49
06. Fine Fine Fine (Rossi/Young) 2.32
07. Lonely Man (Parfitt/Lancaster) 5.05
08. Slow Train (Rossi/Young) 7.56

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Blue Oyster Cult – Secret Treaties (1974)

FrontCover1Secret Treaties is the third studio album by the American hard rock band Blue Öyster Cult, released in 1974 by Columbia Records. The album spent 14 weeks in the US album charts, peaking at No. 53. It was certified gold by the RIAA in 1992.

In 1975, a poll of critics of the British magazine Melody Maker voted Secret Treaties as the “Top Rock Album of All Time”. In 2010, Rhapsody called it one of the all-time best “proto-metal” albums.

Many songs from this album found their way into BÖC playlists over the following years, including “Career of Evil”, “Subhuman”, “Astronomy” and “Harvester of Eyes”. It is the only Blue Öyster Cult album that does not feature any track with lead vocals by guitarist Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser. The band also did not write any of the lyrics to the album, handing that duty off to producer Sandy Pearlman, rock critic Richard Meltzer and Patti Smith.

 

The cover, with art by Ron Lesser, depicts the band standing beside and sitting on a German Me-262 fighter aircraft; this scene is inspired by the song of the same name.

While the LP cover has the band name in red (a darker red on the Japanese LP), on the CD it is in lime green.

Lyrics to the lead-off track “Career of Evil” were written by future punk poet Patti Smith, a longtime contributor to the band (and, at the time, the girlfriend of BÖC keyboardist and rhythm guitarist Allen Lanier).

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A few changes were made to “Career of Evil” on the single version. The vocals are different: only Eric Bloom is heard for most of the song, instead of Bloom and Albert Bouchard singing together. Also, one verse was removed (“Pay me…” to “…kneeling in the rain”). Part of the bridge was changed also, presumably to make the song more acceptable to radio: “do it to your daughter” became “do it like you oughtta.” The line “I want your wife to be my baby tonight” was changed to “I want your life to be mine, maybe tonight”.

“Career of Evil” was the inspiration for the title of the 2015 novel of the same name written by J.K. Rowling under the pen name Robert Galbraith.[9]

The compilation Don’t Fear the Reaper: The Best of Blue Öyster Cult contains a version of “Flaming Telepaths” without the music box intro. The original version with the complete sound effects is on the collection Workshop of the Telescopes.

The psychedelic folk group Espers covers “Flaming Telepaths” on their CD, The Weed Tree in 2005. (by wikipedia)

BOC02While the speed-freak adrenaline heaviness and shrouded occult mystery of Tyranny and Mutation is the watermark for Blue Öyster Cult’s creative invention, it is Secret Treaties that is widely and critically regarded as the band’s classic. Issued in 1974, Secret Treaties is the purest distillation of all of BÖC’s strengths. Here the songs are expansive, and lush in their textures. The flamboyance is all here, and so are the overdriven guitar riffs provided by Buck Dharma and Eric Bloom. But there is something else, texturally, that moves these songs out from the blackness and into the shadows. Perhaps it’s the bottom-heavy mix by producer and lyricist Sandy Pearlman, with Allen Lanier’s electric piano and Joe Bouchard’s bass coming to rest in an uneasy balance with the twin-guitar attack. Perhaps it’s in the tautness of songwriting and instrumental architectures created by drummer Albert Bouchard, Bloom, and Don Roeser (Buck Dharma). Whatever it is, it offers the Cult a new depth and breadth. While elements of psychedelia have always been a part of the band’s sound, it was always enfolded in proto-metal heaviness and biker boogie. Here, BÖC created their own brand of heavy psychedelic noir to diversify their considerably aggressive attack. Listen to “Subhuman” or “Dominance and Submission.” Their minor chord flourishes and multi-tracked layered guitars and Bouchard’s constantly shimmering cymbals and snare work (he is the most underrated drummer in rock history) and elliptical lyrics — that Pearlman put out in front of the mix for a change — added to the fathomless dread and mystery at the heart of the music. Elsewhere, on “Cagey Cretins” and “Harvester of Eyes” (both with lyrics by critic Richard Meltzer), the razor-wire guitar riffs were underscored by Lanier’s organ, and their sci-fi urgency heightened by vocal harmonies.

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But it is on “Flaming Telepaths,” with its single-chord hypnotic piano line that brings the lyric “Well, I’ve opened up my veins too many times/And the poison’s in my heart in my heart and in my mind/Poison’s in my bloodstream/Poison’s in my pride/I’m after rebellion/I’ll settle for lives/Is it any wonder that my mind is on fire?” down into the maelstrom and wreaks havoc on the listener. It’s a stunner, full of crossing guitar lines and an insistent, demanding rhythmic throb. The set closes with the quark strangeness of “Astronomy,” full of melancholy, dread, and loss that leaves the listener unsettled and in an entirely new terrain, having traveled a long way from the boasting rockery of “Career of Evil” that began the journey. It’s a breathless rock monolith that is all dark delight and sinister pleasure. While the Cult went on to well-deserved commercial success with Agents of Fortune an album later, the freaky inspiration that was offered on their debut, and brought to shine like a black jewel on Tyranny and Mutation, was fully articulated as visionary on Secret Treaties. /by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
Eric Bloom (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
Albert Bouchard (drums, vocals)
Joe Bouchard (bass, vocals)
Allen Lanier (keyboards, guitar, synthesizer)
Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser (guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Career Of Evil (Smith/A.Bouchar/Bloom) 3.58
02. Subhuman (Pearlman/Bloom) 4.30
03. Dominance And Submission (Pearlman/Bloom/A. Bouchard) 5.22
04. ME 262 (Pearlman/Bloom/Roeser) 4.41
05. Cagey Cretins (Meltze/A. Bouchard) 3.14
06. Harvester Of Eyes (Meltzer/Bloom/Roeser) 4.15
07. Flaming Telepaths (Pearlman/Bloom/A. Bouchard/Roeser) 5.37
08. Astronomy (Pearlman/A. Bouchard/J. Bouchard) 6.21

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