Cross Country (SD 7024) (1973)

SAM_0772Post-sixties folk-rock on ATCO heavily indebted to CSN. Only been through side one, but it’s not nearly as weedily soft-rock as I’d feared.SAM_0773

There’s a startlingly delicate take on ‘In the Midnight Hour’ which seems to typify Cross Country’s approach: begin with gentle finger picking, add whispy three-part harmony, then gradually build the instrumentation to a mellow climax. It’s generally effective, and in a way designed not to inflict any harshness on the THC-enhanced brain.
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Apart from session guys Hugh McCracken and Eric Weissberg, I didn’t recognise any of the participants in Cross Country.SAM_0770

Vintage inner bags for this US edition of the trio’s lone Lp, a gatefold cover no less.

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This cost an incredible £2 in Hythe yesterday.

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Published in: on October 18, 2015 at 9:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Jackson Browne – Running On Empty (AS 53 070) (1977)

From the 1977 Thrifty Vinyl Archives SAM_0458JACKSON BROWN INVENTS ‘EARTH TONE-ROCK’

(Laurel Canyon, California) – We’ve had folk-rock, jazz-rock, and country-rock, never mind a score of other -rocks. Now, thanks to Jackson Browne, we’re got ‘Earth Tone-Rock’. With a musical and lyrical colour scheme that draws from a palette of browns, tans, warm grays, and greens, the California singer-songwriter seeks to comfort his listeners after the unsettling, revolutionary popular music of the past decade.

“I suppose with my name,” the duskily monikered musician joked, “It was inevitable that I’d invent ‘Earth Tone-Rock!”

Music fans who like to be warmed by subtle observations of the human condition, a cheery, burnished tenor voice and smooth harmonically rich melody should find much to admire in Jackson Browne.

Those who require something more aggressive and nihilistic should seek out what some have called “Shocking Pink Rock” as recently exported from the UK, such as the Sex Pistols, the Clash and the Buzzcocks.SAM_0461Editor’s Note: I always liked JB back in the day, though this was the only of his records I owned. I’d lost my original copy of Running On Empty years ago, so I was happy to replace it with this one, replete with booklet (pictured), last week. SAM_0460I had the chance to see Browne around the time of this record; in fact, my 12-year-old self had misheard my friend and thought he was inviting me to see James Brown (I didn’t actually know who Jackson Browne was) and so when I asked if I could go see the Godfather of Soul, my mother said absolutely not.Unknown

In other news, years later, I ruined the song “Rosie” for a friend’s girlfriend when I explained it was about self-pollution. That’s enough Jackson Browne anecdotes.

Published in: on July 17, 2014 at 10:00 am  Comments (4)  

Gryphon (TRA 262) (1973)

GryphonProggressive Rock with a difference. For while Gryphon emphasised the tricky time signatures and flashy ensemble polyphony so common amongst its proggy brethren, the band favoured a folky medieval flavour, both in instrumentation and repertoire. The overall effect is cute, maybe too cute, but would perfectly suit a children’s documentary about the Middle Ages. Gonna hafta be in a peculiar mood to listen to it.Inner GryphonQuality textured gatefold cover and stunning full-colour label highlight this VG+ first edition of Gryphon’s début found in the same batch of bootfair Lps as most of the recent posts.

Transatlantic

Published in: on June 17, 2013 at 10:39 am  Comments (2)  

Laura Nyro – New York Tendaberry (63510) (1969)

Nyro WolfGod, Lucifer, New York City and someone known only as the Captain. These are the images, filtered through the  prism of Laura Nyro’s imagination, that crop up again and again on New York Tendaberry, the singer-songwriter’s third Lp, making it a concept album of sorts, but one so opaque as to defy clear description. It presages early Bruce Springsteen (et al.) in its obsession with The City as a romantic vehicle for character and dramatic (as well as personal) exploration.

As with Eli and the Thirteen Confession, one is jaw-dropped by the musical and lyrical audacity constantly on display. Therein lies a unique problem. So talented and creative, one gets the feeling that, with fewer histrionics/eccentricities, Nyro could have been a lot more popular than she was. Instead, she swoops and jives, the music slowing down and speeding up as the drama requires it, unconventionally alluding to R&B, Tin Pan Alley and Broadway, sometimes within the same song.

Even if Tendaberry is at times more stark (and piano led) than its immediate predecessor, this is not an easy listening record; I get self-conscious and can’t listen to this with other people around, it demands too much attention.

SAM_1445I got this record this morning at Age UK when I was running errands for the family in Folkestone. Well, I had to get something out of the trip.

Published in: on April 11, 2013 at 1:52 pm  Comments (4)  

Neil Young – Harvest (1972)

Not the actual cover, but one 12" x 12" section of a fold old contained inside.

Not the actual cover, but one 12″ x 12″ section of a fold out contained within.

Danger Quoting, Being Quoted By Singer/Songwriter MUSICIANS WARNED ABOUT ‘THE CURSE OF NEIL’ BY LOCAL STONER 

(Columbus, OH) — Musicians were today being warned  by area pothead Jeff “Sativa” Bernstein not to make any references whatsoever to Neil Young. While totally baked on Maui Wowie, Bernstein identified what he called a “curse” associated with Young and has made it his mission to advise “all musician not to allude either by name or lyric” to the Canadian singer-songwriter .

“Think about it, like, just for a second,” Bernstein burbled, eyes darting to and fro. “[Lyrnyd] Skynyrd disses ol’ Neil and the next thing…Bang!…half of ’em die in a plane crash.”

“Same with [Kurt] Cobain, man,” he went on, oblivious to the fact that he was late for his south campus pizza delivery job. “He quotes ‘Hey Hey, My My’ in a [suicide] note and sure enough, he blows his head off with a shotgun.”

Speaking from a reclined La-Z-Boy, the lank-haired hippie continued, “That’s some seriously freaky-ass shit.”

Citing Richard Nixon (“Ohio”) and the Beach Boys (“Long May You Run”), Goldstein also pointed out that the veteran rocker can actively curse a subject as well. “It wasn’t but a year or two after ‘Ohio’ that Tricky Dick has to resign ’cause of Watergates,” he explained. “And all of the Beach Boys have either drowned, got cancer, went mental, gone bald or had their daughter screwed by one their cousins.”

“The ‘Curse of Neil’,” he added ominously, shaking his head. “It can’t just be coincidence.”

Lyric sheet. Fold out of the above.

Lyric sheet. Fold out of the above.

NB: One of my earliest ever thrifts. From the Goodwill in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Still sounds great.

Detail of the gatefold.

Detail of the gatefold.

Published in: on March 28, 2013 at 10:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mickey Newbury – Live At Montezuma Hall/Looks Like Rain (7E-2007) (1973)

MickeyWither the live album? Time was when the live album wasn’t a mere souvenir, a wallet liner for some dinosaur’s mega-tour or superfluous bonus disc on an album’s deluxe CD edition, but a genuine re-imagining of an artist’s oeuvre in front of a concert audience. Such is the case with Mickey Newbury’s genial, solo acoustic Live At Montezuma Hall.

ElektrikPerhaps slightly less eccentric musically than its follow-up, ‘Frisco Mabel JoyLooks Like Rain is a likewise acoustic guitar-led slow-burn that shares with that record a thoughtfully burnished musical and world-weary coherence. In fact, another gem. Purchased yesterday from Demelza House in Hythe, this issue comes as a twofer alongside the live Lp.

Originally released by Mercury, the rights to Rain were picked up by Elektra who released two more studio Lps before appending it to the live collection–I don’t think Montezuma Hall is available on vinyl by itself.

The generic Elektra four-color inner sleeve of the time hints at Alan Aldridge-style whimsy.

The generic Elektra four-color inner sleeve of the time hints at Alan Aldridge-style whimsy.

This leaves me two-thirds of the way towards thrifting Newbury’s American Trilogy with just Heaven Help the Child to pick up. Go Asbo!

 

Published in: on March 17, 2013 at 12:17 pm  Comments (2)  

Paul Simon – There Goes Rhymin’ Simon

Rhymin'THE DANGLING PHONE CONVERSATION

ARTIE: (picks up ringing phone) Hello.

PAUL:  Hi, Artie. We need to talk. I think we should stop making records together.

ARTIE:  This is so sudden. Have you thought this through? Are you sure?

PAUL:  I’m absolutely sure. Actually, I’m going to do a solo album.

ARTIE:  (long pause) I understand. (another long pause) Have you decided on a title for your solo album?

PAUL: Yeah, it’s called There Goes Balding Paul-ding.

ARTIE: (yet another long pause) Hmmm.

PAUL: What, don’t you like?

ARTIE:  It’s fine, but I was just thinking that maybe you should just call your first solo album simply Paul Simon, it makes a more definitive statement, that way you can save There Goes Balding Paul-ding for your second one.

PAUL: Perhaps you’re right, I’ll think about it.

ARTIE: Okay, see you later.

PAUL: Or not. (hangs up)

Published in: on February 26, 2013 at 9:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Joni Mitchell – Blue (K44120) (1972)

Note the textured cover. I believe that means it's a first UK edition.

Note the textured (gatefold) cover. I believe that means it’s a first UK edition.


News In Brief                                                                                    JONI MITCHELL INSPIRES LOCAL GIRL TO WRITE SELF-OBSESSED POETRY

(Columbus, Ohio) — Anna Gadd, 14, has been inspired to write solipsistic verse after listening to Joni Mitchell’s masterpiece Blue. The 1972 Lp, which features stark revelations about the Canadian singer-songwriter’s personal life, has galvanised the Clintonville teen into believing that she, too, should creatively dispense intimate secrets that really should be kept private. To that end, Gadd has begun posting her whiny, self-obsessed poetry on a blog called All About Me.

“If I learned anything from Blue,” Gadd shared, “it’s that people need to hear my private thoughts, fears and hopes.”

“And of course loads about my love life,” she winked.

Her first poem, “Why My Mom Is Such A Bitch”, has already received two likes. Gadd’s mother could not be reached for comment.

Editor’s note: Another of those records perpetually on Top 100 lists that has thus far failed to charm me. But it was only a pound at Cats’ Protection this afternoon and I figured maybe I’ve matured enough to get it by now. A first listen has so far not put me off.

Published in: on January 12, 2013 at 6:25 pm  Comments (6)  

Cloud – Free To Fly (Dove 16) (1975)

This is the sort of album from which Jonny Trunk would glean one track (I nominate “Search Me”) as part of a good Wimpy Ass 70s English Folk Gospel compilation. In the case of a whole Cloud Lp, no matter how well-played and sung it is or how clever the arrangements are, the lyrics, which are obvious and seem entirely scriptural based, offer little insight into the writers’ interpretation of the Word and staid, a-little-too-pleased-with-themselves performances tender none of the ecstatic release often associated with the best gospel.

Free To Fly caught my eye by dint of its packaging. Good photographs, artfully arranged. Lovely water-colour cover. Lyric insert and more snaps inside. A lot of care went in to the production of this album.

Published in: on September 5, 2012 at 4:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Gordon Lightfoot – Back Here On Earth (UAS 6672) (1968)

I’d read that Dylan was a big fan of the man and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” was a huge, dramatic hit a few years later, at least in North America, that I really liked, so I thought it was just possible Back Here On Earth might be some sort of minor gem. Okay, strictly speaking, this isn’t Wimpy Ass 70s Folk Rock, but given two years it would have been, so that’s as near as dammit for Categorization purposes. And Geeze-Louise, how much more sensitive can one guy get? When not inhaling the scent of a just picked twig, or writing poetry in which the narrator “see[s him]self as a child”, Gordo is indulging in a finger-picking guitar style so delicate it recalls nothing so much as the beating of butterfly’s wings, or summat.By turns wistful and resigned, Lightfoot’s inoffensive, literate country-folk is observational and likeable; but without the surreality of the best folk, the kitchen-sink drama of proper country or pop’s enchanting hookiness. And so, after a while, his warm, mellow voice (which recalls the Byrds’ Gene Clark), the same-y arrangements for guitars and bass and too-consistent tempi remind the listener of the vapor trail left by a jet high in the sky, it intrigues for a short while before disappearing leaving little trace.

Of course, one of the pleasures of thrifting are the occasional personal artifacts one comes across stuffed inside the jacket. Reviews, doodles, ads and other ephemera have all been emptied from 12″ square vessels past. In this case, lifted from another tabletop sale at the Tayne Centre in the village, I hoped I’d discovered an original piece of heartfelt doggerel on the inner sleeve: but no, it turned out to be a painstaking lyrical transcription of one of the tunes on the album. Still, kinda cool.

Published in: on June 25, 2012 at 1:07 pm  Leave a Comment