Album Chart of 1970

<1969 1971>

  • This chart features albums released in 1970 and is limited to all of the albums in my collection which have “A-list” status.
  • The Top 30 albums are profiled, and the full chart (Top 101) is summarised, in sortable table form, on the Albums released in 1970 page, which shows the full range of albums in this sites' database, including the “B-list” records.
1970-a-nico.jpg

NICO'S ARTISTRY SKY-HIGH

Andy Warhol’s so-called “pop girl of ‘66” seemed like a dim and distant memory by the dawn of the 70s. Nico, a nomadic citizen of the globe, was back on European soil, and was, at this stage, a creative tour-de-force – in 1970 yet another fruitful association with John Cale easily set her apart as the world’s most intense and compelling artist from the alternative music scene. From the European avant-garde, she has cosmopolitan spirits this year in Köln's trance-rockers The Can, as well as Brittany's Brigitte Fontaine who unleashed the astonishing and wholly unique “Comme À La Radio” unto the world.

The many and varied strands of folk music account for no less than 9 of my favourite 15 LPs of the year with artists as diverse as the aforementioned Nico as well as Mr. Fox, Led Zeppelin, Loudon Wainwright III, Nick Drake, The Dubliners, Rodriguez, Simon and Garfunkel and T. Rex.

Laurel Aitken, Desmond Dekker and Bob Marley and The Wailers play key roles in helping to establish an album market for Reggae, whilst U-Roy brings the personality DJ craze to prominence on the LP format, toasting over last-gasps for the rocksteady beat.

The Beatles finally formalised their split and their final LP, the ho-hum “Let It Be”, suggests that was a good decision. Solo LPs are delivered by Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison; Lennon’s is best but fails to excite greatly, bar a couple of tracks. The popular Soft Rock / Adult Orientated Rock / Americana markets have started to spawn bores galore in fact, and the artists formerly known as the Fab 4 are far from being the worst offenders.

Following the tragic demise of 27 year-old Brian Jones in the summer of last year, music fans suffer a traumatic 4 weeks between September and October as Al ‘Blind Owl’ Wilson, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin all die separately aged 27 in similar drug-related circumstances. Just before his demise, Al’s fine parting gift is delivered via Canned Heat’s fifth LP, “Future Blues”.

Special mention must be made of The Last Poets, straight outta Harlem. They took their minimalistic African rhythm and Rap spiel straight to the Top 10 of the American album chart, lambasting white duplicity and black complacency in their key address to the black nation. Elsewhere, funk-soul brother Curtis Mayfield was re-enforcing the same message, encouraging the young, gifted blacks to move on up. With such raw and gritty passion on the agenda, music fans were winners.

The Jukebox Rebel
04-Mar-2016

revised 05-Jun-2016

TJR says:

8.73 “A classic”

High art prevails on the fourth LP to bear Nico’s name, the second of her neo-classical trilogy. Having plundered Wordsworth’s “The Prelude” (1799) for “The Marble Index” 2 years earlier, our cultured heroine was at it again, delving into William Blake’s “Visions of the Daughters of Albion” (1793) for her follow-up: “At entrance Theotormon sits, wearing the threshold hard. With secret tears; beneath him sound like waves on a desert shore, the voice of slaves beneath the sun, and children bought with money, that shiver in religious caves beneath the burning fires of lust, that belch incessant from the summits of the earth.” All of Blake’s mystical imagery was reflected here both in audio and in film, the two subsequent productions being intrinsically linked, I feel. Having fled New York after a drunken altercation which left her fearful for her very life, Nico’s latest musical adventure, recorded in London, was conceived in Rome. Whilst in Italy, she had become romantically involved with French director Philippe Garrel. Her new songs inspired him towards “La Cicatrice Interieure” (“The Inner Scar”), a visually stunning 60 minute avant-garde film, which was shot in 3 barren locations; Egypt’s Sinai Desert, California’s Death Valley and various naturistic landscapes that could only be Icelandic. The film, basically scriptless, had occasional dialogue in three languages; English, German and French (notably, the album matched this tri-lingual presentation). Nico herself had the lead role, her anciently-robed character portraying broken frailties and majestic strengths in various scenes constantly filmed against visually stunning backdrops. Her son, Christian, also got to play a part (the album cover depicts a still from the film where he can be seen leading Nico on the horse) and, for the second album-in-a-row he has a song dedicated to him; “My Only Child”. He even gets to sing one – “Le Petit Chevalier” – cute, but definitely the album’s one slip from greatness. I wonder what the young boy made of it all? My guess is he would have had a great time shooting that film, a chance to spend some memorable time with Mum. Musically, Nico had 6 pieces in the film: “Janitor of Lunacy”, “My Only Child”, “All That Is My Own”, “Abschied”, an “Unknown Instrumental” and “König”. The first four of these feature here on the “Desertshore” LP. I speculate that “König” may have been created after the album was released; note that the finished film was only first premiered in February, 1972, some 15 months after the LP. Nico and her rusty, trusty harmonium are exquisitely accompanied throughout by the amazing John Cale on piano, (some sort of) woodwind, harpsichord and viola, as well as an unidentified trumpet player, possibly procured by co-producer Joe Boyd, who had recently worked similar wonders with Nick Drake’s “Five Leaves Left”. Cale’s beautifully poised embellishments are the epitome of a perfect producer at work. She was lucky to have him. For the second album-in-a-row, all songs come from Nico’s quill; in this regard it’s truly astonishing just how much strength she had gained through Jim Morrison’s encouragement. Her boldness was extra-ordinary, and her singular vision unmatched by anyone, anywhere. There can be very little doubt that she was at her creative peak at this stage. Ancient Viking goddess, or hopelessly lost in the desert? Perhaps, she was both. This work is rooted in medieval angst, where mystical matters dominate souls. It’s understandable that Nico alienated most in her time. Maybe she functioned better that way, distanced from pop pollution. There are some beautiful dreams in here; but deeply dark nightmares seem to cloud them over. Nico dared to venture where no-one else would, or could, and the end results were intensely compelling.

The Jukebox Rebel
01-Mar-2011


TJR says:

8.25 “Excellent”

The ever-brilliant quartet opened the 70s with “Morrison Hotel”, their most muscular set to date. The album is divided in a titular fashion, side 1 being labelled “Hard Rock Café” and side 2 bearing the front-cover title “Morrison Hotel”. The suggestion is that the outright rockers dominate the first half, and the second side is a tad more artful, although that doesn’t bear up in reality; the artfulness seems omnipresent to me. The storming “Roadhouse Blues” gets things off to a surprising start, with Lonnie Mack being drafted in to provide an insistent bass guitar part (unusual for the Doors), the prominence of which proves to be the making of the classic piece. The dramatic “Waiting for the Sun” immediately follows, and recalls psychedelic glories of ’67. The super-funky “Peace Frog” emerges as the killer highlight in every way; musically and poetically brilliant. By the end, I’m as traumatized as the 4 year-old Jim by those Native American ghosts. Well, maybe not quite – but his imagery is potent. “Land Ho” gets side 2 off to a flyer; it’s quintessentially Doors, packed to the hilt with action and adventure; rhythms that ebb and flow, instrumentation that swirls around your head like a rush, and a commanding vocal from the charismatic front man. Almost making a mockery of the “Hard Rock Café” title of side 1, “Maggie M'Gill” ends side 2 with the hardest blues rocker yet, bringing the album full circle from “Roadhouse Blues”. It was a sure pointer that they were ready to fully embrace blues rock as the Doors sound of the 70s.

The Jukebox Rebel
18-Apr-2007


TJR says:

7.83 “Brilliant”

The High Priest Of Reggae? Around about this time it was no idle boast. 1969’s “Scandal In A Brixton Market” was a stormer and the follow up included some of the man’s greatest recordings to date. The album served as a bit of a round-up of a-sides and b-sides from Laurel’s prolific release schedule of the time, and we get a bit of a mixed bag as a result. The pure Jamaican “street reggae” is positively glorious. The “western pop” covers are best described as “a necessary marketing evil”. A semi-mighty LP.

The Jukebox Rebel
24-Sep-2010


TJR says:

7.71 “Brilliant”

Their second album of new music but not an album statement as such, being that it’s a compilation of tracks that they were commissioned to provide for various film soundtracks in the last couple of years. In an era when experimental groups notoriously struggled to make ends meet from live gigs or record sales, The Can were perhaps blessed that they had this separate income stream; however, their talents surely merited this in-demand status and this was a two-way street; the film-makers got some great, highly unique material to grace their underground films. The overall sound here tends towards a more conventional variant of the primal trance rock which had dominated the debut LP, but still burns with a pioneering intensity. In the middle of these staggered recordings, the group’s American lead-singer, Malcolm Mooney, had returned to his homeland, as a result of a nervous breakdown. From the period when he was still with the group, there are two tracks here to feature his vocals. “Soul Desert” (from the film “Mädchen… nur mit Gewalt” in 1970) closes side 1 and finds our man in trademark expressive form, cunningly disguised as half-man half-guitar-pedal – it’s a remarkable sensory experience. Malcolm’s vocals also close side 2; on “She Brings the Rain” (from the film “Ein großer graublauer Vogel” in 1969) he further amazes us all by presenting himself as a finger-clicking jazz singer. When Malcolm left, the remaining members were stuck, in the middle of a four-night engagement as the interlude band for a play taking place in Munich, without a vocalist. Bassist Holger Czukay explained how they recruited his replacement, Damo Suzuki, in the middle of that run: “Jaki and me were sitting outside in a cafe when Damo came near. I said to Jaki: 'This will be our new singer.' Jaki: 'how can you say that, you don't even know him.' I got up from my seat, went to Damo and asked him if he is free for the evening. We were an experimental rock group and we were going to play a concert the night- sold out. Damo said he had nothing special to do, so why shouldn't he sing. The venue was packed that evening and Damo started murmuring like a meditating monk. All of a sudden he turned into a fighting samurai, the audience was shocked and almost everybody left the hall. About 30 Americans were left and got totally excited about what they heard.” As fate would have it, this strange Japanese wanderer was born to sing with Can. The very first piece that he recorded with the group was “Don't Turn the Light on, Leave Me Alone” (from the film “Cream” in 1970) which stands as an instant-classic, with its maraca-shaking, latin-flavoured vitality, an instantly memorable 4 note descending riff, and an enigmatic prayer-like murmured vocal from the new lead “singer”. The album started with 3 tracks from the film “Deadlock” in 1970; “Deadlock”, “Tango Whiskyman” and “Deadlock (Titelmusik)”, the latter of which demonstrated the powerful, dynamic punch that these musicians have in their armoury – it’s little wonder they’re in demand for film work. Damo’s performance on the fantastic “Tango” (another with Latin motifs) demonstrates that they have pop sensibilities when required. Second from last is “Mother Sky” (here premiered and later included in the the film for which it was written - “Deep End” - in 1971) which finds the group in full throttle, rocking it to the max, with an unbelievably skilful blend of punk groove which is way out there in a class of its own; a sound which has not yet been heard on Planet Earth. That hooky high-neck bass and that mega-sharp snare drum would inform 1,000 bands of the future. Damo is right up for it – this is what the signed up for, and he slowly and surely builds up his part in the piece, ruminating on the madness of Palestine in amongst the general cosmic haze of the pulverizing 14 minute onslaught. Not bad for a b-movie extra, eh?

The Jukebox Rebel
12-May-2016


TJR says:

7.71 “Brilliant”

Essentially the group was the husband and wife duo of Bob and Carole Pegg, borne of the Yorkshire Dales, and enticed down to that there London in ’69 with aspirations to make their mark, as Pentangle and Fairport Convention had recently done. The Pegg’s quintessentially English brand of folk found support with Bill Leader, and recording plans were made possible via Transatlantic Records, for whom he was often the producer of choice. The two soon became six, with the recruitment of high quality classically-trained musicians – clearly, this was to be a serious effort. Newly named after one of the songs on the album, the sextet lined-up: Bob Pegg (vocals, organ, melodeon, tin whistle, synthesizer); Carole Pegg (vocals, fiddle); Andrew Massey (cello); Alun Eden (drums); Barry Lyons (electric bass); John Myatt (flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon). The time was right for these folk rockers, and their well-conceived project was very well received. They had a way with them that stood them apart, and pretty much wrote all of their own songs, which revelled in telling tales, as all great folk songs should. They were often merry on the surface, and dastardly underneath. They’re sickos really. I love them : – )

The Jukebox Rebel
19-May-2012


TJR says:

7.69 “Brilliant”

Following two neat albums in ’69, the third Led Zeppelin long player raised the game, and had some wholly terrific bounty, ranging from blues rockers to folk stompers, with even shades of psychedelia on the stunning highlight track, “Friends”. Speaking of the album’s lean towards arrangements which were more acoustic than ever, Jimmy Page shed some light: “After the intense touring that had been taking place through the first two albums, working almost 24 hours a day, basically, we managed to stop and have a proper break, a couple of months as opposed to a couple of weeks. We decided to go off and rent a cottage to provide a contrast to motel rooms. Obviously, it had quite an effect on the material that was written… It was the tranquillity of the place that set the tone of the album. Obviously, we weren't crashing away at 100 watt Marshall stacks. Having played acoustic and being interested in classical guitar, anyway, being in a cottage without electricity, it was acoustic guitar time… After all the heavy, intense vibe of touring which is reflected in the raw energy of the second album, it was just a totally different feeling.” Robert Plant echoed these recollections: “Bron-Yr-Aur was a fantastic place in the middle of nowhere with no facilities at all-and it was a fantastic test of what we could do in that environment. Because by that time we'd become obsessed with change, and the great thing was that we were also able to create a pastoral side of Led Zep. Jimmy was listening to Davey Graham and Bert Jansch and was experimenting with different tunings, and I loved John Fahey. So it was a very natural place for us to go to.”

The Jukebox Rebel
26-Oct-2008


TJR says:

7.68 “Brilliant”

The debut album from the newly-turned 24 year-old arrived in the fall of 1970 and straight away he’s reminiscing about the good old “school days”. What’s the matter with him? The tongue-in-cheek pseudo-grumpy career-tone is set! He proves to be a great character – an imaginative strummer with a lively turn of phrase. One of the rare breed who can simply sit and play his songs with an acoustic guitar and keep you entertained all the way. “Black Uncle Remus” steals the utmost glory on album with many fine moments; I get the impression it’s almost allegorical and if that’s the case then it seems like a fine opening-album choice. “Black uncle Remus got the death letter blues, the hellhound says it time to pay your dues, you really recall the catfish catches, when you're living in the briar patches.” Black is the humour. Get ready for plenty of heart-warming life-tales from a worldly-wise one.

The Jukebox Rebel
03-May-2007


TJR says:

7.65 “Brilliant”

Van’s third LP arrived in January 1970; Eschewing the freeform, often long-drawn nature of the songs on the preceding “Astral Weeks”, Van opted for a fresh approach; more direct songs with more conventional structure, less folky more bluesy. Speaking in regards to this new accessible approach Morrison stated: “I make albums primarily to sell them and if I get too far out a lot of people can't relate to it. I had to forget about the artistic thing because it didn't make sense on a practical level. One has to live.” To my ears, the end results were pretty much the same in any case: soulful and extremely classy. I notice Jelly Roll is back – twice!! Following on from the use on the debut album’s “He Ain't Give You None” (I done more for you, than your daddy has ever done, gave ya my jelly roll, and he ain't give ya none) it appears again here on the two best tracks. On the classic opener “And It Stoned Me” Van sings: “And it stoned me to my soul, stoned me just like jelly roll”. The supreme “Into The Mystic” is memorable in many ways, not least for Collin Tilton's tenor saxophone imitating a foghorn blowing, and, again Van serves: “ I just wanna rock, Just wanna rock! Your jellyroll soul” The man’s obsessed! Above and beyond all of this Jelly Roll tomfoolery, Van’s got a trademark thing going on, for sure. Prose, melody and arrangements are all key elements of his sound and vision – he certainly knows how to use those studios and musicians. I think it’s fair to say that he’s already a master craftsman at the age of just 24.

The Jukebox Rebel
24-Jun-2007


TJR says:

7.55 “Brilliant”

The tone of the second Nick Drake LP is tangibly more hopeful than the preceding “Five Leaves Left” and is a beautifully polished, high class affair – exactly as had been conceived by Nick and his key supporter, producer Joe Boyd. At the core of the record were: Nick Drake (guitar, vocals); Dave Pegg (bass guitar, upright bass); Dave Mattacks (drums); Mike Kowalski (drums) and Robert Kirby (string and brass arrangements). The supporting cast were many and varied, with some illustrious names keen to be associated with Nick’s music: Richard Thompson (lead guitar); Ray Warleigh (alto sax, flute); Paul Harris (piano); Ed Carter (bass); Lyn Dobson (flute); John Cale (viola, harpsichord, celeste, piano, organ); Chris McGregor (piano); P.P. Arnold (backing vocals) and Doris Troy (backing vocals). Upon release in November 1970, rather than being embraced and lauded as merited, the album was wholly ignored. As biographer Trevor Dann puts it: “Island’s marketing was as bad, if not worse, than it had been for his first record. “Bryter Layter” wasn’t so much a failure as a nonentity; no reviews were written or published, no interviews were scheduled, and Drake, now disturbingly reliant on weed, either refused to or was incapable of properly promoting the album. For its first four months of release, “Bryter Layter” languished, unremarked upon, forgotten, unreal.” In March 1971, Island and Witchseason [Joe Boyd’s production company] decided to give Bryter Layter another shot, launching a last-ditch promotional campaign and shipping copies of the album to various media outlets. A small handful of reviews emerged, some positive, some dismissive; Sounds magazine called Bryter Layter “superb”, Melody Maker rejected the record as “late night coffee n chat music”. Still, Drake continued to eschew his promotional responsibilities, failing to show up at scheduled events, avoiding live shows, and murmuring glib answers to reporters. Jerry Gilbert, a journalist who interviewed Drake for Sounds, described Drake as mopey and monotonous, and later said: “You know, of the thousands of interviews I've done over the years, [this] was the strangest.” Gilbert's 475-word feature, “Something Else for Nick?” was published in Sounds on March 13, 1971. The article begins with an observation: “Nick Drake is a shy, introverted folk singer, who is not usually known to speak unless it is absolutely necessary.” It was the first and last interview Drake ever gave.” The quotes from Nick’s one and only interview amounted to just a few negative sentences, all concerned with his uncomfortable experiences with live performances. His debilitating depression did him no favours commercially, but should that really have mattered? His message, after all, was in his beautifully crafted albums. Even the intervention of Fairport Convention, Velvet Underground and Beach Boys members with P.P. Arnold and Doris Troy couldn't help gee up the critics or the record buying public. As most folk aficionados now know, Nick was right all along; his records were criminally under-rated. Despite his illness, he overcame and achieved greatly with his works, and the fact that this was barely recognised in his lifetime changes little. It’s a powerful legacy, shining bryter than ever, half a century layter ; - )

The Jukebox Rebel
24-Apr-2007


TJR says:

7.49 “Really good”

The Dubliners second LP for EMI-Columbia, this time solely produced by Phil Coulter who actually plays some piano on the record as well as adding some string touches. Sharp intake of breath… turns out it’s a subtle enough intervention as to be complimentary… and breathe, relax. The repertoire is becoming ever more varied and complex to boot – the drinking foot tappers and the comic songs are still present but so too are poignant pieces which could be labelled as high art. The traditional “Sé Fáth Mo Bhuartha” is a case in point – a beautiful piece which translates as “Reason For My Sorrow”. The poetry is firstly spoken by Ciaran (in gaelic) and then Ronnie (in English), as Ciaran and John’s tin whistle and flute softly blow in a suitably mournful fashion. The album also features a piece which almost represents a singer-songwriters pop song – “Scorn Not His Simplicity”, a song that producer Coulter had composed about his own son, who had Down’s syndrome. This streak of artistic creativity continues with a poem penned by Luke Kelly entitled “For What Died The Sons Of Róisín?” Good old fashioned traits do remain – on “The Captains And The Kings” Brendan Behan’s words of racial irony are sung here by yer man Ronnie Drew – with tongue planted firmly in cheek! “The Button Pusher”, written by Enoch Kent (an exiled Scot from Canada) is sung here by Luke Kelly to hilarious effect. The pointlessness of nuclear war is laid out perfectly… The UK’s EMI edition dropped the song which has a dig at the East-West cold war. What a lame corporation… It’s a small gripe however – “Revolution” took the Dubliners into a new decade with a new sound and it was just grand…

The Jukebox Rebel
12-Mar-2011


TJR says:

7.37 “Really good”

There’s something quite beautiful about the fact that Otis continues to party on into the 1970s with a great new album. I think the term is “bittersweet”. It’s the third year in-a-row that Otis’s fans have had the comfort of a new music album to help ease the sense of loss, following on from “The Immortal Otis Redding” (1968) and “Love Man” (1969). Amazingly, “Tell The Truth” proves to be the hottest yet – what a treasure trove he left. Alas, there are no ballads on this one – but it’s a shallow complaint, for the party is swinging with numbers which veer from easy and graceful mid-tempos to full on dancefloor stompers. There are 3 covers on-board; “Tell The Truth” (The “5” Royales, 1958), “Out Of Sight” (James Brown and his Orchestra, 1964) and “Slippin' and Slidin’” (Little Richard and his band, 1956). The latter was always a classic song, but I really like Otis’s version – it’s borderline funky and completely different from Little Richard; just what you need from your cover versions. The greatest moments in the set come from the pen of the man himself. The spirited “Wholesale Love” whips up a storm; “I Got The Will” finds the Stax gang at their very sharpest and “Swinging on a String**” finishes side 2 with one of the sexiest grooves team Otis ever laid down. This is a helluva final final statement, sheer dynamite. Way to go Otis.

The Jukebox Rebel
14-Jan-2010


TJR says:

7.33 “Really good”

Sixto Rodriguez was the sixth son of Mexican working-class parents. The Detroit-born lad was 27-year-old when he served up this terrific debut set in the springtime of 1970, but, like so many others in the cerebral singer-songwriter vein, it sunk without trace in his homeland, with several thousand copies still in warehouse shelves several years later. This seems like a travesty, for there was much to discover and love here, especially for Donovan, Cat Stevens and Bob Dylan types. Lack of promotion? Face didn’t fit? Who knows. To be fair, his shyness didn’t do him any favours; there aren’t too many who can get away with turning their back on the audience and barely uttering a word between songs. Such difficulties were easily overcome on the LP though; Sussex Records, at least, recognised the talent, and producers Dennis Coffey (who played electric guitar) and Mike Theodore (who played keyboards and was responsible for the brass and string arrangements) did the man proud in organising a strong studio backing for the sessions held between August-September ’69. In fact, they themselves wrote two of the twelve; the very-fine folk-rocker “Hate Street Dialogue” (which, for some reason, always has me drifting to Al Wilson’s “The Snake”) and the decent blues-rocker “Gommorah (A Nursery Rhyme)” (which starts well but is somewhat spoiled by the bizarre inclusion of an impromptu children’s, er, “choir”). Sixto is, of course, the star attraction. Every one of his songs has something going for it; he pulls you in to his stories of bad drugs, broken dreams and ghetto struggles. On the brilliantly titled “This Is Not A Song, It’s An Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues” Sixto lays down those inner city woes: “The mayor hides the crime rate, council woman hesitates, Public gets irate but forget the vote date… Gun sales are soaring, housewives find life boring, Divorce the only answer smoking causes cancer, This system's gonna fall soon, to an angry young tune, And that's a concrete cold fact.” His delivery is first-class and his message hits hard. My absolute favourite from side 1 is “Crucify Your Mind”, a stunningly arranged strummer where the troubles are more of the personal nature; “Soon you know I'll leave you, And I'll never look behind, 'Cos I was born for the purpose, That crucifies your mind. So con, convince your mirror, As you've always done before, Giving substance to shadows, Giving substance ever more.” The absolute peak occurs on side 2 with the caustic “Like Janis”, a Dylan-esque folk-rocker which sounds at least 5 years out of time if you’re fashion conscious, but is timeless for me. The wolf in sheep’s clothing is on the receiving end of a tongue-lashing: “'Cause emotionally you're the same basic trip, And you know that I know of the times that you've slipped, So don't try to impress me, you're just pins and paint, And don't try to charm me with things that you ain't. And don't try to enchant me with your manner of dress, 'Cause a monkey in silk is a monkey no less, So measure for measure reflect on my said, And when I won't see you then measure it dead.” Poor Janis. She should know better than to mess with Sixto. He’s a smart cookie and easy to love. No tricks necessary.

The Jukebox Rebel
30-Apr-2013


TJR says:

7.31 “Really good”

The fifth and final serving from the duo arrived in January ’70 and proved to be hugely entertaining; packed with vitality and variety. The title-track opens the set and, although it doesn’t move me greatly, I can appreciate the drama. Better immediately is “El Condor Pasa (If I Could)”, with Simon’s new lyrics being set to an arrangement of a Peruvian folk melody, authenticated by the instrumental track being played by genre experts, Los Incas. Lovely. The stomp-pop brilliance of “Cecelia” seems to be underlined immediately, due to the sheer contrast to the preceding tranquillity. Cashing in on the excitement levels, “Keep The Customer Satisfied”, glorious and ebullient on the surface, is weary of the baggage that comes with showbiz. On that same theme, opening side 2 is the album’s lead single, a Top 10 smash 9 months in the public domain afore the LP, “The Boxer”. It’s another fantastic production, fit to be labelled “epic”. Once again, Simon lashes out at the critics, likening himself to the boxer who “carries the reminders of ev'ry glove that laid him down or CUT HIM till he cried out”. The emphasis on CUT HIM is just WOW. Talking of big wows, “The Only Living Boy In New York”, Paul’s melancholic lament over the impending dissolution of his musical partnership with Art, proves to be the duo’s last great song. It would bring tears to the manliest of men and the story was indeed foretold; it signalled the end of a beautiful bromance. They bowed out heads held high, with their magical track record intact.

The Jukebox Rebel
16-Dec-2007


TJR says:

7.03 “Really good”

The Impressions front-man stepped aside for this solo effort which arrived in September, 1970. It gave him the chance to stretch out some, incorporating motifs from the recent psychedelic-era as well as from the future funk. Lyrically, it was a socially and politically conscious set, encouraging African-American pride. “(Don’t Worry) If There’s A Hell Below, We’re All Going To Go” serves as a classic starter; it’s on another level with crisp horns, phat bass and a very exciting funk-groove. “Sisters, Brothers and the whiteys, blacks and the crackers, police and their backers, they're all political lackeys, smoke, the people, and the dope, educated fools, from uneducated schools, pimping people is the rule, polluted water in the pool, and everybody saying, ‘Don't worry’, they say ‘don't worry, don’t worry’”. The great start continues with “The Other Side of Town”, which is effortlessly graceful, belying the core feeling: anger and depression borne of poverty. It ain’t gonna be easy, warns Curtis on “Move on Up”, but his winning positivity roused thousands: //“Hush now child, and don't you cry, your folks might understand you by and by, just MOVE ON UP! toward your destination, though you might find from time to time, complication.” Congas, horns and strings collide in the joyous 9 minute call-to-action culture-clash. “Curtis” was a most-welcome change of direction from the artist. Respect was due to this funk-soul brother. Power to the people!

The Jukebox Rebel
12-Jan-2010


TJR says:

7.00 “Really good”

With Desmond Dekker having taken up permanent residence in England in 1969, it was no great surprise when his third LP was conceived and released on London’s Trojan Records (TBL 146 LP). An unusual arrangement was made whereby Leslie Kong would produce the rhythm tracks in Kingston and then send them over to London where Desmond would lay down his vocals. “You Can Get It If You Really Want” was one of the first singles to be recorded in this way and it gave Desmond another huge hit in the summer of 1970, only pipped to the UK no.1 spot by Elvis Presley’s “The Wonder Of You”. The song was one of only two not to be written by Desmond himself, with Jimmy Cliff having contributed that and “That’s The Way Life Goes”. The overall sound of the album is completely different to what Desmond had been doing in Jamaica. The services of producer and arranger Johnny Arthey had been procured and, although uncredited, he wrote the orchestration that served to frame the lush ska pop feel of this LP. There’s no doubt that this was a move steeped in commercial ambition. It was a dilution to an extent – but one which they got away with as there was enough strength in the rhythm section and a decent set of songs to boot. I don’t think it would be unfair to say that this LP, and Desmond’s relocation to England, was a huge step forward for Desmond Dekker the pop star – but a small step backwards for Desmond Dekker the authentic cultural spokesman for the Jamaican experience…

The Jukebox Rebel
05-Oct-2010


TJR says:

6.93 “Good”

Arriving at the very end of 1970 was the 5th LP from the group which now lined up: Marc Bolan (23, vocals, guitar, bass, organ) and Mickey Finn (23, bass, drums, pixiphone, vocals). It was the second LP from this line up, following on from “A Beard of Stars” in March. In between, they had shortened their name from Tyrannosaurus Rex to plain old T Rex, as heralded by the release of their “Ride A White Swan” single in October ‘70. The move coincides with a slightly more electrified sound, which is noticeably more retro-futuristic than ancient-mystic. As if bridging these outlooks, the album contains reworkings of two old Tyrannosaurus Rex songs, “The Wizard” and “One Inch Rock”. Four of the best – “Childe”, “Beltane Walk”, “Seagull Woman” and “The Wizard” – are new wave before Roxy Music. This is a gentle re-birth, a seamless reinvention. That’s talent for you.

The Jukebox Rebel
10-Jan-2008


TJR says:

6.91 “Good”

Things get proper weird on the formless “Starsailor”. A freeform rampage ranging from the beatless to the 17 to the 13 would usually get me running for the hills but Mnsr. Buckley’s bold approach is at once imaginative and highly entertaining, with way more highs than lows on its 35 minute tripout. “Trout Mask Replica” would perhaps be a reference point of sorts, but with Tim’s voice offering up the extremes more so than the music. From high shrieks to Tarzan-esque yelps, to animal-aping to crooner extensions, it’s a remarkable sensory experience. A deranged loon or a wired genius? Who cares. Je l’adore. Vive l’avant garde…

The Jukebox Rebel
04-Oct-2009


TJR says:

6.87 “Good”

Having been reduced to a quartet in the springtime of ’69 when founding member Pete Quaife had left to pursue his own project, the group again became a quintet for their first album of the 70s. For this one, the Kinks lined up: Ray Davies (26, lead vocals, guitar, harmonica, keyboards, resonator guitar); Dave Davies (23, lead guitar, banjo, backing vocals, lead vocals on “Strangers” and “Rats”, co-lead vocal on “Powerman”); Mick Avory (26, drums, percussion); John Dalton (27, bass guitar, backing vocals) and John Gosling (22, keyboards, piano, organ). For the third album-in-a-row, a common theme emerges; this time Ray’s songs take a satirical look at the various facets of the music industry, including song publishers (“Denmark Street”), unions (“Get Back in Line”), the press and the hit-making machine (“Top of the Pops”), accountants and business managers (“The Moneygoround”) and the road (“This Time Tomorrow”). “Top of the Pops” is best of these: “I've just come in at number 25, I'm oh so happy, so glad to be alive, And everybody says it's going to get to the top, Life is so easy when your record's hot, Go tell my mamma and my sister too, To press my trousers and polish my shoes, I might even end up a rock-and-roll god, It might turn into a steady job.” You can almost see the sneer. A sarcastic humour plays a big part throughout and this is most evident in the album’s two big hit singles; “Lola”, a July release and “Apeman”, a 45 released in conjunction with the LP in November. The former was an unlikely smash about a person who “walked like a woman and talked like a man” – be careful in those dark clubs kids! The latter finds our lead Homosapien tired of the rat race; he’s looking to “sail away to a distant shore and make like an Apeman”. He’s just looking for his Apeman girl. What a pen. Who could possibly resist lines such as “I'll be your Tarzan, you'll be my Jane, I'll keep you warm and you'll keep me sane” or “I don't feel safe in this world no more, I don't want to die in a nuclear war”. Not me anyway : – )

The Jukebox Rebel
08-Aug-2008


TJR says:

6.86 “Good”

No John Cale around for their second LP, this time produced in L.A. by former Kingsmen keyboardist, Don Gallucci. Iggy Stooge is reborn as Iggy Pop. His influences; Howlin’ Wolf, James Brown and Jim Morrison are chewed up and spat out over the course of this provocative 36 minute rock-blast, whooping, howlin’ and snarlin’ his way through the set. It’s a good enough album – the performances are solid from all – but somehow it’s not nearly as exciting as last years’ debut. Compare album closers “Little Doll” (1969) vs “L.A. Blues” (1970). Loosely speaking, route-one catchiness has given way to indulgent extremities. “Fun House” has a strong mid-core though; “T.V. Eye” and “Dirt” close-out side 1 brilliantly and “1970” opens up side 2 (and the decade) with a sax-squalling two-chord thriller. A good ‘un – but, as I say, for me, far below the classic that was the 1969 debut.

The Jukebox Rebel
02-Jan-2008


TJR says:

6.85 “Good”

Martin Luther King and Martin X were dead, black anger was rising. The time was right for The Last Poets who were at the ready with this WAKE UP call. It sold 800,000 copies and hit the Billboard Top 10. The Last Poets were “born in bebop… raised in doowop” and, as we can easily hear with the benefit of hindsight, they “put the hip in hip-hop”. The creative spirits on this ground-breaking debut LP were: Jalal Mansur Nuriddin (26, poet); Omar Ben Hassen (26, poet) and Abiodun Oyewole (22, poet). The three had recently met in prison where they had honed their rap skills: “it was called your spiel… expounding your virtues” as group-leader Jalal put it. Circumstances were favourable in the lead up to the production of the LP. The three had hooked up with Harlem’s East Wind Poetry workshop where they met others working the same tip under the collective term “The Last Poets”, so named after a quote from South African poet Keorapetse Kgositsile which they paraphrase in “When the revolution comes” by rapping: “Guns and rifles will be taking the place of poems and essays” The big-break for the Last Poets occurred when producer Alan Douglas caught them on a local TV show. A born musical-adventurer, he was excited enough to back the LP project and DOUGLAS 3 followed other far out cats such as Dr. Timothy Leary (DOUGLAS 1) and Lenny Bruce (DOUGLAS 2). Completing the line-up was Nilaja Obadi, whose percussive brilliance was an essential component; these were tribal beats connecting African roots and giving brothers a head-nodding base to work from. In “The Rough Guide to Rock” Peter Buckley said it best of this work, when he noted: “White duplicity and black complacency were lambasted”

The Jukebox Rebel
05-Oct-2010


TJR says:

6.78 “Good”

Career turn for the 28 year old producer/songwriter/performer Jerry Williams, dropping his birth name, adopting the Swamp Dogg moniker, and, with it, introducing a healthy dose of eccentricity. Politics of the personal or the social with no boundaries. Jerry’s not the greatest singer in technical terms – but he’s got the all-important key ingredient – character. In an interview on NPR’s Studio 360, Williams stated he was raised on country music: “Black music didn’t start ’til 10 at night until 4 in the morning and I was in bed by then… if you strip my tracks, take away all the horns and guitar licks, what you have is a country song.” Can’t hear country on this set – that’s for sure. This is a soul album all the way – lightly laced with funk or blues riffs. “I Was Born Blue” is a southern soul gem, the boy’s well capable and on “Redneck” (Joe South cover) we hear a good band, driving a Stax-quality sound, “Can’t Turn You Loose” style. Tasty ingredients, well cooked and nicely served…

The Jukebox Rebel
14-Jan-2010


TJR says:

6.75 “Good”

12 versions from creation. For your musical education. “Your Ace From Space” (version of “Broken Hearted” by Ken Parker, 1969); “On The Beach” (version of “On The Beach” by The Paragons, 1967); “Version Galore” (version of “You Have Caught Me Babe” by The Melodians With Tommy McCook & The Supersonics, 1967); “True Confession” (version of “True Confession” by Duke Reid And The Silvertones, 1966); “The Tide Is High” (version of “Tide Is High” by Paragons, 1967); “I Can’t Lose” (version of “Things You Say You Love” by The Jamaicans With Tommy McCook & The Supersonics, 1967); “The Same Song” (version of “The Same Song” by The Paragons, Tommy McCook And The Supersonics, 1967); “Happy Go Lucky Girl” (version of “Happy Go Lucky Girl” by The Paragons, 1967); “You’ll Never Get Away” (version of “You Don’t Need Me” by The Melodians With Tommy McCook & The Supersonics, 1967); “Wear You To The Ball” (version of “Wear You To The Ball” by The Paragons with Tommy McCook & The Supersonics, 1967); “Don’t Stay Away” (version of “Don’t Stay Away” by Phyllis Dellon, Lyn Taitt with Tommy McCook & The Supersonics, 1966); “Hot Pop” (version of “Hopeful Village” by The Tennors, 1970). Young or old, let the good times roll.

The Jukebox Rebel
21-Apr-2014


TJR says:

6.71 “Good”

After three stupendous LPs, the fourth, arriving in November ’70, was a big come-down for the punk-orientated within their following. Straight from the off, “Who Loves The Sun” is a straight pop concession, and the exceedingly bland vocal of Doug Yule does the VU no favours, as good as the tune is. “Sweet Jane” immediately bursts in without pause, offering hope that we might yet have another classic on our hands. The song almost single-handedly sets up the power-pop decade which will blossom fully, post-punk. Aside from the wonderfully exaggerated power chord hooks, it’s quite possibly the coolest vocal Lou ever delivered. My perfect 10 board is up without hesitation. The New Wave jangle that would so influence The Modern Lovers et al is reinforced with the cool jangle of “Rock And Roll”. Here, Lou connects with millions. Writing in Peel Slowly and see he wrote: “‘Rock and Roll’ is about me. If I hadn't heard rock and roll on the radio, I would have had no idea there was life on this planet. Which would have been devastating – to think that everything, everywhere was like it was where I come from. That would have been profoundly discouraging. Movies didn't do it for me. TV didn't do it for me. It was the radio that did it.” Rock And Roll was about Lou. And me. Quite possibly it was about you too. Unbelievably, after these initial highs, the album reveals itself as a thoroughly ordinary affair, with none of the thrills that we’ve become accustomed to on a Velvet Underground; a devastating blow for we punks. Produce an album “loaded with hits” said Atlantic. Groan. John Cale was well out of it. Ironically, so was Lou Reed. He jumped ship 3 months before the album was released, leaving Doug Yule as the group leader. The “straight” Velvet Underground was “weirder” to me than ever-before. It was, by now, all very strange.

The Jukebox Rebel
20-Jan-2008


TJR says:

6.69 “Good”

The second album in seven months from these hard working class kids. And it’s even stronger than the first – I’m living proof that you don’t need to be metallic, nor indeed satanic, to dig their powerful brand of sludge-rock. Opening salvo “War Pigs” tunes in to the vibe of the day, with bassist Geezer Butler saying that the song was “totally against the Vietnam War, about how these rich politicians and rich people start all the wars for their benefit and get all the poor people to die for them”, while Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath’s lead singer has stated that the group, “knew nothing about Vietnam. It’s just an anti-war song.” Whatever the root inspiration, it’s a provocative opener, and the momentum of the album is immediately propelled further still by the proto-punk rumbling of “Paranoid”, an out and out classic that must have sounded great on Top of The Pops for all the young rebels of the day. The album shows a great deal of variety, comes with tunes, and is lyrically though-provoking. At this stage, I’m sure I’d have been a fan back in the day…

The Jukebox Rebel
29-Sep-2010


TJR says:

6.66 “Good”

Into the 70s, and the band were in good shape, notching up another big hit with a classic take on Wilbert Harrison’s “Lets Work Together”. Elsewhere, Al Wilson’s own composition “My Time Ain’t Long” (albeit a variant on “Dust My Broom”) is another super highlight. Spookily, he’d be dead from a drug overdose just 4 weeks later, aged only 27. So sad. Al acquired the nickname “Blind Owl” owing to his extreme nearsightedness; in one instance when he was playing at a wedding, he laid his guitar on the wedding cake because he did not see it. As Canned Heat’s drummer, Fito de la Parra, wrote in his book: “Without the glasses, Alan literally could not recognize the people he played with at two feet, that’s how blind the ’Blind Owl’ was.” That made me laugh. As did Al’s “shooby doob doob bopping” on the track “Skat”. Man, that’s razzmattaz jazz! So long feller, I loved ya, you’re a legend…

The Jukebox Rebel
24-Aug-2009


TJR says:

6.59 “Good”

Earl Hooker and his band backed his cousin John Lee Hooker on a series of club dates in California; afterwards John Lee decided to use them for his latest Bluesway Records session, duly recorded at Vault Recordings, Los Angeles, 29 May, 1969. Great synergy abounds, as cool as you like at every turn, with slow-burning hooks that drill deep-down. The line-up is: John Lee Hooker (guitar, vocals); Earl Hooker (guitar); Chester ‘Gino’ Skaggs (bass); Roosevelt Shaw (drums); Jeffrey Carp (harmonica) and Johnny ‘Big Moose’ Walker (piano, organ). Tragically, Earl died just as the LP was released, the result of a life-long battle with T.B.

The Jukebox Rebel
16-Jun-2012


TJR says:

6.49 “Decent enough”

Following on from “Trout Mask Replica” 18 months earlier, the mad gruff one and his crazy gang began the 1970s with “Lick My Decals Off, Baby” which was in the shops in time for Christmas ‘70. The free jazz complexity of the group is still very much “in their system” unfortunately but, generally speaking, there are more accessible concessions on-board this time around, relatively speaking. It’s the “conventional” rockers which do it best for me – “I Love You, You Big Dummy” is best from side 1 – those riffs sure slam it home. “Quit asking why, I love you big dummy”. Alpha male romance or what? “The Smithsonian Institute Blues (Or The Big Dig)” seems completely wonky, but it reaches depths which are beyond most bands. Despite threatening to fall apart at any given minute, the thing hangs together majestically. To sound this haphazard is an art in itself. His advice to the “Space-Age Couple” is clear and to the point: “Why don’t you drop your cool tom-foolery, ‘n shed your nasty jewelry?” These wild dance rhythms are post-post-punk. The real killer ingredient, as ever, is Don Van Vliet himself; his drawl and his wordplay are a sheer joy. “What this world needs is a good $2 room and a good $2 broom”. Culture-rich and cash-poor is the continuing story.

The Jukebox Rebel
10-Oct-2016


TJR says:

6.49 “Decent enough”

The restless actress from Brittany, by now 31, had branched out into singing and composing several years earlier. Most of the pieces that made up her third LP, “Comme À La Radio” were originally aired in her theatre production of the same name, which also featured her trusted cohort Areski Belkacem, adept in many instruments and an extremely talented percussionist, with special expertise in North African rhythms and motifs. His talents are to the fore on this LP, so much so that he is given co-authorship of all works, alongside Brigitte who is, of course, the most compelling presence of all, with her amazing voice as, itself as capable of free form improvisation as any of the instrumentalists themselves! By sheer chance, they too happened to be playing at the same time and place as the Art Ensemble of Chicago and shared artistic visions were subsequently conceived and played out via this collaborative LP. The 4 Chicagoans were: Malachi Favors (bass); Roscoe Mitchell (flute); Lester Bowie (trumpet) and Joseph Jarman (oboe, sax). Also lending a shoulder to the project were local musicians: Albert Guez (lute); Jean-François Jenny-Clark (bass); Jacques Higelin (guitar); Jean-Charles Capon (cello); Kakino De Paz (zither) and Léo Smith (trumpet). Quite the ensemble! 9 of the 10 pieces were brand new, only the album’s closer, “Lettre À Monsieur Le Chef De Gare De La Tour Carol” had been out previously, first out billed only to “Brigitte Fontaine” (no Art Ensemble members played) as a 45, paired with “Le Noir C'est Mieux Choisi” in 1969. Always weird and often wonderful – this album is a must-listen for the left-field musical adventurer.

The Jukebox Rebel
06-Jan-2016


TJR says:

6.48 “Decent enough”

Following LPs cut by Coxsone Dodd (1965) and Leslie Kong (1970) the Wailers moved on to work with Lee Perry who was, by now, getting deeper into a bass-dominated roots-reggae sound. Recording sessions took place at Randy’s Studio 17 in the fall of 1970, and the LP was out by December. At the time of release the vocal group were: Bob Marley (25), Peter Tosh (26) and Bunny Wailer (23). They’ve yet to truly set the heather ablaze on the album front, but this is the best to date, solid and rootsy throughout, and can boast of a fantastic opener in “Soul Rebels”. Pity about that front cover shot, very unrepresentative of the group and used without their consultation.

The Jukebox Rebel
24-Jun-2007


TJR says:

6.47 “Decent enough”

Syd’s first solo LP was fairly more gentle than his Pink Floyd material, often willing to be exposed barely with his lyrics and acoustic guitar only. Perhaps echoing his haphazard life, the LP was a stop-start affair, with sessions spread over year and a half, and producers various coming and going. Reading about Syd and the illness of his mind, it’s a small wonder that he emerged with a finished LP at all (never mind a second one later in the same year!). It’s nice to read that old pals David Gilmour and Roger Waters were keen to help out and, by all accounts, their intervention helped very much to finalise the work. The album starts with great promise; the woozy prettiness of “Terrapin” knocks me out – 5 lazy minutes oblivious to all and sundry, the sky above you crystal and blue. Somewhat improbably, “No Good Trying” raises the bar immediately, as a fuller-group kick-in, with Robert Wyatt (drums) and Hugh Hopper (bass) working minor miracles to glide gracefully over Syd’s lava-lamp tempos. Alas, the album doesn’t maintain these dizzy heights, and slowly slides backwards until we’re left with nowt but inconsequential demo-grade fare at the end of side 2. Erratic is the buzz-word which follows Syd around for plenty good reason…

The Jukebox Rebel
27-Nov-2005

chart first published 04 Mar 2016; last edited 14 Oct 2016

Album Charts

by year…

1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

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