Album Chart of 1972

<1971 1973>

  • This chart features albums released in 1972 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 85) is summarised, in sortable table form, on the Albums released in 1972 page, which shows the full range of albums in this sites' database, including the “B-list” records.
1972-a-captain-beefheart.jpg

BEEFHEART’S GONNA MAGNETIZE YA

He don’t care who ya are or what size ya are, he gonna magnetize ya.

Aw come on, give the guy a break, he just wants to sell a few more records, buy some food for the band. Sell out? Don’t believe the hype. It’s probably too late to save the Magic Band from death by starvation but, still, you’re missing out on something special if you’re not yet the proud owner of a copy of “Clear Spot”, one of two fine LPs by Captain Beefheart in 1972.

Former Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed surprises everyone, including himself, by coming out of his early retirement with two new albums. The second of these, “Transformer”, produced by David Bowie, reaches Top 20 in Britain and in the States.

David Bowie himself achieves a commercial breakthrough with “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars”, which hits the Top 5 in the UK album charts, re-awakening interest in his preceding LP “Hunky Dory”, which goes Top 3 in the slipstream of Ziggy.

It’s a big year for funk-soul brothers, and the hardest working man in showbusiness, James Brown, places 2 sets in my Top 10. They reckon he’s due $4.5 million in back-taxes at this stage mind you, so I guess he’ll need to work a bit harder yet. War, Curtis Mayfield and Al Green are also digging deep-funk grooves – even whitey’s such as Tim Buckley are getting in on the act!

In entirely contrasting ways, Steeleye Span, The Dubliners and Nick Drake keep the folk flag flying high, whilst Prince Buster and Laurel Aitken seem to be at the end of an era, as the fastly-evolving reggae scene on the mother island boils and bubbles. Jimmy Cliff stars in the Jamaican gangster film “The Harder They Come”, which has a soundtrack that is soon to work wonders for popularising reggae in the US.

The Rolling Stones spend a year recording in Southern France and emerge triumphantly with a double album, “Exile on Main Street”, which goes to to number one on both sides of the Atlantic.

Roxy Music and Neu! go down as the years’ greatest pioneers, sowing seeds for the New Wave era which will blossom later in the decade.

There are no fewer than ELEVEN nations represented in the Top 32. Yay!

p.s. He also gonna booglarize ya. Yu bin warned…

The Jukebox Rebel
17-Apr-2016

TJR says:

8.65 “A classic”

BEEFHEART IN BRASS SECTION, FEMALE BACKING SINGERS AND SOULFUL GROOVES SHOCKER! Purists who paid attention to such things may have been horrified to hear that their hero was in bed with the MOR team of producer Ted Templeman and engineer Donn Landee for this October ’72 release. In his career game of pontoon he was sitting on 18… twisted… and hit 21. The clash between his lunacy and their normality seems to find a balance which still sits left-of-centre but is, by Beefheart standards, accessible to norms. I’d be the first to complain if these tunes were Doobie-fied, but even the pop-cuts such as “My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains” and “Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles” retain enough Beefheart gruff to remain on the right side of the fence. That said – I wouldn’t want to hear an album full of them. The general sound of the LP sees Memphis Soul meet the Delta Blues with plenty of whackyness, Psychedelia, Pop and Rock n Roll, all stirred into one glorious big melting pot. These are imaginative and inventive well-driven rhythms, with superb vocal performances at every turn. Early doors, “Nowadays A Woman’s Gotta Hit A Man” lives up to its great title with a killer groove to go. Upfront, it’s full of Bo Diddley’s rhythmly goodness and Van Vliet’s humourous lineage: “Men you been lookin' all around for the women, But they always been right there, Nowadays a woman has to haul off and hit a man, T' make him know she's there, Other night a woman came up 'n hit me, Like I wasn't even there, Yeah, mmm dawned on me, man, That a man been doin' a woman unfair”. When you get a good groove AND a good laugh you really can’t go wrong! The humour helps the deeper message – Van Vliet was one of the first male rock artists to make an unequivocal stand against man's mistreatment of women. He castigates men in general for their habit of ignoring women and putting them down, and in doing so distances himself from that type of guy. He claims that “none of my women have tears in their eyes” – although I don’t think Mrs. Beefheart will be best-pleased at his mischievous use of the plural. Closing side 1 of the album is “Sun Zoom Spark” which surely demonstrates the quintessential essence of a great Captain Beefheart record – it’s a funky-rock loose-caboose beast oozing with charisma, every bit as gruff as it is humourous. The Magic Band famously boasted that they were into “anti-music sound sculptures”. Listen to that rhythm – how do you dance to THAT? The majestic “Big Eyed Beans From Venus” is probably the finest example of a “halfway-house” compromise working best within the Beefheart fraternity. Here, the “anti-music sound sculputures” give way to “guitar arrangements of orchestral complexity”; where Beefheart had once seemed hell-bent on avoiding the beat, on this album everybody, guitarist Zoot Horn Rollo included, was part of a topsy-turvy, funk rhythm section. And who could resist the charm of THAT particular moment when the good Captain turns to his sidekick and begs of him “Mr. Zoot Horn Rollo, hit that long lunar note and let it float”… what follows is surely the greatest single guitar note in Rock n Roll history! In the final analysis, “Clear Spot” is more approachable than ever, yet is still loaded with creative character in abundance – ultimately a much more satisfying experience for me, although it still wasn’t all that popular in the stores. This is clearly Captain Beefheart’s best album and I thoroughly recommend it to any musical adventurers. Luckily, in art, the general greatness of a performance is not measured by public popularity.

The Jukebox Rebel
23-Mar-2007


TJR says:

8.35 “Excellent”

By the standards he’d set with the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed’s self-titled debut LP in April ’70 was, as good as it was, a bit of a plain-Jane affair, literally recorded with Yes men. By sheer contrast, the follow-up, “Transformer”, out just 6 months later, was way-ahead in every department – production, quality of songs, invention and delivery. So perfect is the first side of this LP, it probably stands in my All-Time Top 5 of album sides. Again, Lou recorded this one in London, but this time he chose his cohorts wisely, falling in with David Bowie and Mick Ronson – the album’s co-producers – who were into Lou’s work and also had loads of their own ideas to bring to the party. The Warholian influence remains strong throughout the LP, and is apparent from the off on “Vicious” with a brilliant throwaway lyric straight from Andy’s head: “Vicious, you hit me like a flower” juxtaposed with the threatening proto-punk assault from the guitars of Lou and Mick. The sublime “Perfect Day” can be taken innocently as an ode to a beautiful romance or sinisterly to a deadly dalliance; adjust as per your mood of the moment. Mick Ronson’s string arrangements showcase a master craftsman at work; clearly, he’s not your average filthy Rock n Roll animal. Talking of which, “Hangin’ Round” gets the punk action back on track immediately. It’s a super-cool cut – a pop “Waiting For My Man” if you will. On the surface Lou sounds bugged by the presence of an unwanted old friend – I wonder who was “hangin’ round?” The buoyancy of this track is underpinned by some of that “Zimmerman humour” that he’s got running throughout his work – check these lines: “Harry was a rich young man who would become a priest, he dug up his dear father who was recently deceased, he did it with tarot cards and a mystically attuned mind”. Brilliant! “Cathy was a bit surreal, she painted all her toes, and on her face she wore dentures clamped tightly to her nose, and when she finally spoke her twang her glasses broke”. No doubt, somewhere there is a real-life Cathy wincing and, if she has a good sense of humour, smiling. Closing side 1 is the radically different “Walk on The Wild Side”, as Lou once again reaches to Warhol’s New York scene for inspiration as trans-genders, hustlers, drug dealers and users are immortalized in song. As if the brilliant lyrics and vocals weren’t enough, the stunning framework provided by Herbie Flowers (double bass); Ronnie Ross (baritone sax) and Mick Ronson (strings) raise the work to “masterpiece” level. And, of course, who can forget all the colour girls going “doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo”. Incidentally, Dari, Karen and Casey (collectively known as the vocal trio, Thunderthighs) were as white as English snow (I do love a bit of trivia). The second side of this LP was always going to be up against it, but has a great go, and in a completely different atmosphere. Campy cabaret abounds, clearly with a nod and a wink to the burgeoning UK glam-scene. “Make Up” and “Goodnight Ladies” are great additions to the album’s overall ambience. With “Transformer”, Lou Reed’s baffling and unjust run of commercial failures came to an end. For once, the public showed great taste, as the album went Top 30 both in the States and in the UK. Thankfully, his typing jobs at $40 a week were now consigned to the past…

The Jukebox Rebel
27-Apr-2007


TJR says:

8.00 “Excellent”

“Hunky Dory” had given David Bowie a wide-eyed fan-base, dead-keen on the next episode – the hazy cosmic jive of “Ziggy Stardust” didn’t disappoint. Bowie was on a creative roll here, and with his trusty producer Ken Scott and the Spiders from Mars – Mick Ronson (electric guitar, backing vocals, keyboards, piano); Trevor Bolder (bass, trumpet) and Mick Woodmansey (drums) – they were out of sight maaaan. Like some sort of modern-day Flash Gordon, Ziggy, a struggling Rock n Roll star played by Bowie, is out to save our souls; the Earth only has 5 years left apparently, and our Zig has been chosen by back-hole jumping extra-terrestrials to communicate news. The album tells of Ziggy’s rise and fall – a thrilling journey without a happy ending. On “Starman” Ziggy sings: “There's a starman waiting in the sky, he'd like to come and meet us, but he thinks he'd blow our minds, There's a starman waiting in the sky, he's told us not to blow it, cause he knows it's all worthwhile, he told me: ‘Let the children lose it, let the children use it, let all the children boogie’” Starman sounds alright to me. By the end of the album Ziggy begins to believe his own hype and that is the undoing of him as the tale unfolds with a classic end-trilogy of “Ziggy Stardust”, “Suffragette City” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide”. I don’t usually approve of “rock opera” – but for Ziggy's Pop I’m prepared to make an exception. Let all the children boogie indeed…

The Jukebox Rebel
08-Sep-2005


TJR says:

7.84 “Brilliant”

At the medieval food table, salt (an expensive and rare commodity of the time) was placed at the centre of the table. Above the salt sat the family and intimates of the household, below the salt sat the servants and dependants. A Steeleye Span album is an education! So consistently brilliant is the fourth set from these British Folk revivalists that it’s a wonder I have only one of theirs in my collection – a wrong which will hopefully be righted in the fullness of time. They’ve had a changing line-up since their formation in 1969, with only Maddy Prior and Tim Hart still being in place by the time of this one. “Below The Salt” was their first on Chrysalis; thankfully there are no commercial concessions as they continue to mine the traditional books for songs which date back anywhere between 100 to 700 years. They line up: Maddy Prior (25, vocals); Tim Hart (24, vocals, appalachian dulcimer, guitar); Peter Knight (25, violin, viola, mandolin, banjo, piano, vocals); Rick Kemp (30, bass, drum, vocals) and Bob Johnson (28, guitar, vocals). Opener “Spotted Cow” is as English as they come, as chivalrous gent assists helpless maid to find her lost cow. It’s very charming and easy to hear why it was a great live favourite at the time. “Royal Forester”, the lyrics of which date to 1293, comes from a long tradition of folk songs where men deflower young maidens and then run, although, here, the female protagonist gets the upper hand in the end, forcing the bad lad into marriage thus elevating her status. The LP goes from strength to strength as “King Henry” opens up side 2, as Maddy steps aside from lead vocals and Rick Kemp steps up. In this ballad, the king must appease the loathly (ugly) lady as she demands sexual favour from him; in fear of his very life he agrees. “Her teeth were like the tether stakes, her nose like club or mell, and nothing less she seemed to be, than a fiend that comes from hell” The next morning, he is surprised as he awakens with a beautiful woman; a curse has seemingly been broken and his beast has become a beauty. The mesmerizing brilliance is maintained on “Gaudete”; of all the sacred Christmas carols which have been sung A Capella entirely in Latin this is, undoubtedly, my favourite. Amazingly, it became a massive Festive hit, reaching number 14 on the UK charts. When it was performed on Top of the Pops, Pan’s People (the show’s resident dance troupe) walked onto the set in medieval-style robes, holding candles, followed by the members of Steeleye Span. There’s not many like them around; this is a bedazzling gem.

The Jukebox Rebel
02-Jan-2011


TJR says:

7.56 “Brilliant”

I guess this is why they call him the godfather? This is a screamer from start to finish with an irresistible groove at every second turn, whether it’s hard driven or quietly insistent. The album’s highlight is the socially conscious “King Heroin”, where the band sets mood music to Manny Rosen’s chilling poem while Brown raps the story. He added an intro to start the piece off, referring to heroin as “one of our most deadly killers in the country today” and, towards the end, he noted “This is a revolution of the mind” – referring to the title of his 1971 live concert album recorded at the Apollo Theatre in New York. Delights are to be found all over this LP – check “Talkin’ Loud, Sayin’ Nothing” as JB chants down his loud-mouth black critics. The breakdown at 5:24 where Brown orders all the band members to temporarily stop playing, while he and Bobby Byrd maintain the song’s rhythm using their voices alone, is truly inspired; a million and one soul brothers were encouraged hereon to break it down mid-flow. It’s simplistic genius. The album’s closer “Never Can Say Goodbye” is another highlight, channelling Isaac Hayes version of the Clifton Davis song, but heavily reworking it (so much so that Brown credits himself as sole writer) with a meaner, cooler bassline, a sweetly repetitive rhythm guitar, and a laid-back talk-vocal. It’s way ahead of its time – and serves as an excellent finale to a brilliant album.

The Jukebox Rebel
19-Apr-2012


TJR says:

7.40 “Really good”

At the end of 1971, Can relocated their studio to a nearby village, renting an old cinema which was now out-of-use. This would now serve as a part-working, part-living space. The walls were naturally sound-proofed by 1,500 military mattresses! Said Holger Czukay: “We could achieve an excellent dry and ambient sound in there and the interior submitted a cosy landscape feeling with all possibilities of spontaneous recordings. EGE BAMYASI was the first album made in this new environment and reflects the group being in a lighter mood than it was in Schloss Nvrvenich”. Continuing where “Tago Mago” left-off, the album opens densely with “Pinch”, a masterclass in progressive-funk – it now seems clear that the desire to trance-out and the rhythmic intensity are the only traits which will remain from the aggressive rockers of ’69. “Sing Swan Song”, a slow-paced synth-heavy ballad pushes the group in a New Wave direction, a feeling which is furthered with the futuristic-sounding “One More Night”, a 5-minute robotic rumble, with the group and their mumbling vocalist coalescing as one atmospheric whole. “Vitamin C” opens side 2 and finds the quintet in upbeat funk-pop mode, with cracking bendy bass lines, and drums which force a forward-march out of all players. Damo’s vocals are in line with the outward-looking track; clearer than ever he repeats the phrase “Hey you! You're losing your Vitamin C”. The accessibility of the LP is put to the test on the 10-minute avant-garde freak-out “Soup”, which wanders into all sorts of proggy territories, alternating between funk, jazz, noise and minimalism, with a suitably dramatic Damo completely wired. He has a sixth sense for Can sound in all its weird and wonderful forms. The upbeat “I'm So Green” once again finds the group jangling with that funky futurism thing, by now perfected. Completing what seems to have been a food-themed side 2 to go with the album cover, “Spoon” finishes the set off, and, in accordance with the pioneering feel of the whole album, introduces a drum machine alongside the super-human Jaki Liebezeit, surely a man beyond machine. The contrast sounds wonderful, especially in 1972 terms. By the time of Ege Bamyasi’s release, this was a well-known song to virtually all Germans. It had been the signature theme of the popular German television thriller “Das Messer” and 30 million people would regularly hear this when they switched their TV on; it came as no surprise when the single went Top 10 in their homeland, shifting in excess of 300,000 copies. I do love to hear a well-deserved success story.

The Jukebox Rebel
13-May-2016


TJR says:

7.37 “Really good”

The second LP on their own label was a gem – perhaps against all the odds, what with the chaotic background of being exiled in France and being distracted by matters of the hedonistic variety. By this stage, Mick and Keith are pushing 30 and although darker and denser, a youthful swagger remains, perhaps with more panache than ever. Both men, however, saw it quite differently. At the time of release, Jagger said: “This new album is fucking mad. There’s so many different tracks. It’s very rock n roll, you know. I didn't want it to be like that. I'm the more experimental person in the group you see, I like to experiment. Not go over the same thing over and over.” Richards was more pleased with the end-result: “Exile was a double album. And because it’s a double album you’re going to be hitting different areas, including ‘D for Down’, and the Stones really felt like exiles. We didn't start off intending to make a double album; we just went down to the south of France to make an album and by the time we'd finished we said, ‘We want to put it all out.’ The point is that the Stones had reached a point where we no longer had to do what we were told to do. Around the time Andrew Oldham left us, we'd done our time, things were changing and I was no longer interested in hitting Number One in the charts every time. What I want to do is good shit—if it's good they'll get it sometime down the road.” I’m with Keith – there’s plenty of “good shit” to unpack here. Record one has all the best action; the intoxicating debauchery of “Rocks Off”, an excellent cover of Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips”, the sexy-cool of “Casino Boogie”, the classy-groove of “Tumbling Dice” and the down-home beauty of “Sweet Virginia”. If there's anything which could remotely described as filler it appears on record 2, with the likes of “I Just Want To See His Face” and “All Down The Line” being a tad formulaic. Not bad for a bunch of “drunks and junkies” ; - )

The Jukebox Rebel
21-Oct-2007


TJR says:

7.34 “Really good”

From out of nowhere in the summer of ’72 came the self-titled debut LP from Roxy Music – the new art-rock sound of now. At once, it managed to sound chic and futuristic, whilst retaining the raw charms of rock n roll past. Front-man Bryan Ferry said at the time: “Most of the band have this approach of inspired amateurism, and as long as we retain that we’ll be alright.” Discussing the music, saxophonist Andy Mackay later said: “we certainly didn't invent eclecticism but we did say and prove that rock n roll could accommodate – well, anything really”. Making the magic happen were: Bryan Ferry (26, vocals, piano, pianet, mellotron); Graham Simpson (28, bass guitar); Brian Eno (24, synthesizer, tape effects, backing vocals); Andy Mackay (25, oboe, saxophone, backing vocals); Phil Manzanera (21, electric guitar) and Paul Thompson (21, drums). It’s fresh and exciting stuff in most places, although “Would You Believe?” fires an MOR warning shot on side 2. They have convinced long before that though; “Re-Make/Re-Model”, inspired by Derek Boshier’s 1962 painting Re-Think/Re-Entry, opens with the sound of a cocktail party and proceeds to herald the new wave boldly and bizarrely with an off-kilter beat which revels bizarrely in a chant of CPL5 93H, being the car registration plate of the girl he’d like to get to know. Straight away, we’re on the hunt together, and we’re rooting for our man. Our modern-day Casanova continues to be enraptured by the fairer half of our species on the other-worldly “Ladytron”, as Brian Eno’s modulations attempt to journey way beyond Bowie’s Mars attack. “If There Is Something” introduces the wholly unique wavering tremor from the lead singer; it’s clear there is character in abundance at play here. The Art-Rock creativity of side 1 gives way to a more contemplative, proggy approach on side 2, which fails to excite quite as much. Best of the side appears at the very close as “Bitters End” finishes the set-off in a hitherto unheard style of 50s doo-wop, with the intriguing final line “should make the cognoscenti think” It leaves me thinking what was THAT and gets me reaching for the repeat button. The crafty devil…

The Jukebox Rebel
17-Jun-2007


TJR says:

7.34 “Really good”

The final LP to be released on John Peel’s Dandelion Records was a little beauty; all recorded in a single afternoon’s work in a modest Twickenham studio. After a few years of working with ex-Bonzo-Dogger Dave Clague (as Coyne-Clague then Siren), the 28-year-old Kevin Coyne stepped forward with his first true solo statement in “Case History”, although his good pal Dave remains present on occasional bass and production duties. Main producer Clive Selwood would later look back on “Case History” fondly as “the finest album I ever produced and which still moves me to tears. Kevin Coyne was an extraordinary performer.” The Derby-born musician would become noted for his unorthodox style of blues-influenced guitar composition, the intense quality of his vocal delivery, and for his relentless championing of the underdog – most especially the mentally ill – all traits which are in evidence throughout this debut set. Said Coyne himself: “The album reflects my work in Whitingham psychiatric hospital and as a social worker for the Soho project in London. The intensity of it all reflects my concern and passion for the problems of the underdog. It's dedicated to the unfortunate among us. One of the songs, 'Uggy's Song', is about a black tramp who was teased and eventually murdered by, I think, the police in Leeds in the early 70s. I read about this case and decided to write the song. The memory of the event still haunts me today.” Stylistically, he’s in a world of his own – consistently strumming and wailing with an instantly recognisable trademark sound. His self-proffered influences include Ben E King for the soul, and Buddy Guy and Elmore James for the raw guts; all of these make perfect sense. Although the LP is consistently good, the very best tracks are to be found at the beginning and the end. The unrepresentative “God Bless The Bride” gets the album off to a jaunty start, as if luring the listener in for a carefree whistle before the untreated starkness hits. Even by the end of this supposedly cheery opener, Kevin pipes up “God bless the future, I hope it’s not too dim” Hee-hee, the happy tone lasted less than 3 minutes. As early as track 3 Coyne is positively raging, “why should you care?” snaps Coyne, looking down on society and putting his arm around Uggy, the beaten-down black tramp. Anyone who walks over a homeless person after hearing “Uggy’s Song” is not human. Towards the end of the set, “Message to the People” seems to further confront his stated enemy, society at large: “don’t tie me to your steeple, don’t put me in the stocks in your market square… watch me now because into the tangles I go”. He will tackle the taboo; deal with it. I’m with him. Coyne, the social worker, casts his mind back to Whitingham for “Sand All Yellow”, the excellent closer which recounts a disturbing psychiatric case where an evil-minded Doctor and a caring nurse, Miss Faversham, have different ideas on how best to administer help to the patient. Coyne plays both roles, using a hilarious Beefheart-esque voice to portray the baddie and a more plaintive tone to represent our lovely Miss. The tense atmosphere is underlined by a film-score-esque production which enhances the story. I wouldn’t want to be that patient. It’s his willingness to let go with all sorts of wild vocal mannerisms, and to touch on subject matters usually shunned, that endears him to punk adventurers. Clearly, he doesn’t really give a fuck what Radio 1 might think of these songs.

The Jukebox Rebel
02-Apr-2016


TJR says:

7.27 “Really good”

Stripped-back with a distinctive sense of ye-olde-tymey, John channels Jimmie Rodgers, The Carter Family and Luke the Drifter on his second LP; that it’s a John Prine record is never doubted for a second though, as his doleful melodramas unfold accompanied by his trademark dry humour. Accompanying John on vocals, guitar and dobro are: Steve Goodman (guitar, harmony vocals); David Bromberg (guitar); Steve Burgh (bass, drums) and his brother Dave Prine (dobro, mandolin). Greatness oozes from the beautifully picked “Souvenirs”, a poignant song lamenting the loss of precious memories. “The Late John Garfield Blues” is another typically great Prine offering, undoubtedly in the slipstream of Dylan’s modernist interpretations of 30s and 40s folk music, evocative of a time and period without necessarily being specifically about John Garfield. “The song is not so much about the actor, and more about a feeling” said Prine. See? Told you. Disillusionment with America during the Vietnam War era fuels the album’s highlight, “The Great Compromise”, where his dis-loyal girlfriend and some meat-head in a foreign sports car are used to depict his disgust at his fellow Americans. He would later remark: “I really love America. I just don't know how to get there anymore.” The album ends with its sole cover-version, “Diamonds In The Rough”, a song which had been recorded by The Carter Family way back in 1929. It’s delivered A Capella, and serves as a fantastic closing statement for the whole set – he’s a no-frills, down-to-earth folkie, organic and heartfelt.

The Jukebox Rebel
16-Mar-2011


TJR says:

7.25 “Really good”

3 back-album tracks get a reworking – “Cold Sweat” (Cold Sweat, 1967), “Please Please Please” (Please Please Please, 1959) and “Lost Someone” (The Amazing James Brown, 1961). I’ve kept it as a discretionary “A-list” status album by the skin of its teeth, especially given that it’s a sprawling double LP set. Long before the Punks and the Rastas got together there were the long-haired hippies and the afro-blacks… soul brothers one and all… count me in… the message is delivered loud and proud on album highlight “Funky Side Of Town” (9.4). “Nothing Beats A Failure (But A Try)” (9.4) takes a different approach, channelling the balladeering side of Otis Redding to stunning effect. On the remake of “Please Please Please” (8.9) JB is Mr. Entertaiment ALL THE WAY for 12 minutes… love his improv… the man’s a joy to listen to… Despite its daunting 66 minutes length, “Get On The Good Foot” is another big scoring winner…

The Jukebox Rebel
20-Apr-2012


TJR says:

7.24 “Really good”

Bright and breezy, Van’s 6th release was a bounce-back after the disappointing “Tupelo Honey” from last year, and fuses many different styles and moods from the worlds of pop, soul, folk and jazz. Album opener “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile)” is a straight pop smash in anybody’s musical language, and pays tribute to one of Van’s influences whilst serving as a joyous opener for the album. Closing side 1 is “Listen to the Lion”, where Van revels in the art of repetition in a song which is all about him, his “love come tumbling down”, his subsequent soul searching and his quest to find the lion inside. It’s pure gospel in all but choir. Van’s unique brand of soulful warmth continues straight away on the flip, with the 6½ minute title track which, amongst many things, expresses a longing for peace in the town of his birth. “I'd been working on this song about the scene going down in Belfast. And I wasn't sure what I was writing but the central image seemed to be this church called St Dominic's where people were gathering to pray or hear a mass for peace in Northern Ireland. A few weeks later I was playing at a gig in Reno, Nevada. I picked up a newspaper, and there in front of me was an announcement about a mass for peace in Belfast to be said the next day at St Dominic's Church in San Francisco. Totally blew me out. Like I'd never even heard of a St Dominic's Church.” There’s another 10 minute epic at the close of play, with “Almost Independence Day” another of his trademark stream-of-consciousness lyrical deliveries, with a group which pulse in harmony with the front man and moog synths making a notable appearance in Van's work. In a 1984 interview, Morrison recalls that he took a cue for the first line from the following incident: “I picked up the phone and the operator said: ‘You have a phone call from Oregon. It's Mister So-and-So.’ It was a guy from the group Them. And then there was nobody on the other end. So out of that I started writing, ‘I can hear Them calling, 'way from Oregon.’ That's where that came from.” When he’s in full-flow like this, you get the feeling he could make a meal of beans on toast sound like a life-changing event.

The Jukebox Rebel
26-Jun-2007


TJR says:

7.23 “Really good”

Recorded at Trend Studios, Dublin and Spot Studios, London. Produced by Phil Coulter. First issued in 1972 as “Double Dubliners” on EMI, and also known as “Alive and Well” on its 1973 Irish issue on Ram. The classic quintet is in place for this one: Ronnie Drew (vocals, guitar); Luke Kelly (vocals, 5-string banjo); Barney McKenna (tenor banjo, mandolin); Ciarán Bourke (tin Whistle, harmonica, guitar, vocals) and John Sheahan (fiddle, tin whistle, mandolin). An original composition, “Free The People” opens up the album in a most contemporary fashion; it’s a surprise, but not an unpleasant one, to hear the group flirt with a folk rock style. An ominous tone clouds “The Springhill Disaster”, as Luke mourns the loss of 75 miners lives from the 1958 earthquake in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia. Following the disaster (the third to strike the colliery), the operator permanently shut its mining operations in Springhill. The ballad had originally been done by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger in 1960. Further contemporary covers are included on side 1 as Ronnie sings an ode to the unsung truck-driving heroes, “Champion At Keeping Them Rolling”, penned by Ewan MacColl. This is followed by Luke’s poignant reading of “The Sun Is Burning” (originally done by The Ian Campbell Folk Group in 1963) which fears the nuclear apocalypse. For all of these new-found stylings, it’s a good auld pub stomper, “The Gentleman Soldier”, which steals my utmost affection on this LP; a good-for-nothing good-time-Charlie takes advantage of his uniform, leaving a baby in tow in yet another port. Poor Polly! Another standout track here is a recitation by Ronnie Drew of Pádraig Pearse’s poem “The Rebel” which foretold events to come in Ireland: “Beware of the risen people, who shall take what ye would not give. Did ye think to conquer the people, or that Law is stronger than life and than men’s desire to be free? We will try it out with you, ye that have harried and held, ye that have bullied and bribed, tyrants, hypocrites, liars!” Pearse would go onto take a leading role in the Easter Rising of 1916, for his part he would be executed by British forces. On a slightly more light-hearted note, “Smith Of Bristol” offers a late album highlight. The traditional, about a brutal Pirate who came to a violent end, re-uses the tune from their classic “Nelson's Farewell”. The auld admiral even gets a wee mention at the point where Smith’s demise is told. As always, there’s never a dull moment when Ireland’s famous five are in action.

The Jukebox Rebel
13-Mar-2016


TJR says:

7.18 “Really good”

This album rounds up recent single sides on CBS, all themed by being predominantly instrumental and being led, melody wise, by saxophones. 7 of the cuts are billed to Bra Sello – real name Selby Mmutung – a popular saxophonist of the South African Jive scene. 3 tracks are credited to The Big Four; 1 to CBS All Stars and 1 to Abafana Bentuthuko. Saxophone as lead melody is certainly the key feature of the album; only a couple of tracks have any vocals and, even at that, they are only momentary snips of spoken word. There’s very little between my 3 favourites on this set, but they are split between 3 of the 4 accredited artists. “Mr Music” by The Big Four is best from side 1 – it is distinguished by an odd backbeat and an extraordinary 15 seconds burst of Sax which almost wails like an old Zulu Warrior ready to do battle. “Mthembu Nonzimande” by Abafana Bentuthuko takes top spot. The track is named after Abafana Bentuthuko's leader, Hansford Mthembu. They were the often the backing band for Bra Sello, allowing the saxophonist to take the initiative. As I previously noted, this is the only track on the compile to be credited to Abafana Bentuthuko, so possibly Hansford was the writer for this one. Perhaps Brother Sello plays on the tune. I quite like the languid / mellow vibe here – there's some great character at play. Listen out for the key-change near the end – it’s very unusual for the genre and just goes to prove, Sax Jive wasn't all about the 150 BPM foot stompers! “Siyanyawuka Nzimande” by Bra Sello immediately follows – it’s a bit more upbeat, with more of a choppy rhythm and features some spoken-word. Brother Sello’s Sax is smooth and sweet, as always seems to be the case with him. This LP was made available by the culture preservationists, Electric Jive. You can read more about it and download a copy here.

The Jukebox Rebel
08-Dec-2014


TJR says:

7.07 “Really good”

Straight away with “The Spotlight Kid” something different was going on. Check that front cover! Rhinstone crooner alert? And no Magic Band billing? Smells like marketing PR to me. And who could blame them for extending an olive branch to the mainstream? The group had made virtually no money during the previous three years – at the time of recording, the band members were subsisting on welfare food handouts and remittances from their parents. Van Vliet later stated that he “got tired of scaring people with what I was doing… I realized that I had to give them something to hang their hat on, so I started working more of a beat into the music.” The subsequent results veered from occasional session-jam boredom to outright career-zenith monsterdom. As a whole, the LP is commercial to a certain extent, but still weird and unique in the Beefheart way. For my sensiblities, "Spotlight" is dominated by three killer tracks. “When It Blows Its Stacks” is a classic, veering from a menacing brand sludge-rock to a light-hearted marimba-boogie in the space of the same song. “Grow Fins” is completely perfect – it’s steeped in delta blues of the deepest variety, with some awesome harmonica action from the main man himself, as good any exponent anywhere from Mississippi to Chicago. The improbable story involves the good Cap’n as some sort of half-man half-fish character. His “land-lubbin’ woman” is giving him the blues. If she doesn’t “get it back together” he’s “gonna grow fins ‘n go back in the water again” ultimately to “take up with ah mermaid, n’ leave you land-lubbin’ women alone.” Hilarious! With the same slung-low blues inflections, “There Ain’t No Santa Claus” immediately maintains the greatness, and the message is clear: this Rock n Roll biz ain’t no fairytale. Colman Andrews, writing in Phonograph Record Magazine, described the album as evidence that Van Vliet was “the greatest white blues singer in America today.” I don’t think there’s the slightest bit of doubt about that.

The Jukebox Rebel
23-Mar-2007


TJR says:

6.86 “Good”

The 62-year-old Howlin’ Wolf was on great form for what was, surprisingly, his first live LP. The set, mostly featuring material which was new to his discography, was recorded January 26, 1972, live at Alice's Revisited, Chicago. There was a lot of love in the house that night. Said the big man: “Thank you very much, I really appreciate you. You're my people and I'm gonna howl for you”. Cue the whoops and hollers! They lined up for this one: Howlin' Wolf (vocals, harmonica); David Myers (bass); Hubert Sumlin (guitar); Willie Williams (guitar); Eddie Taylor (tenor sax); Albert Luandrew (piano); Fred Below (drums). After some deliberation, I have labelled this LP in his “A-list” discography, although two of the eight tracks have featured on previous albums; “I Didn't Know” (“Going Back Home”, 1971) and “Sittin’ On Top Of The World” (“The Real Folk Blues”, 1966). Six originals are included as well as two covers; “Mean Mistreater” (Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell, 1934) and “Sitting On Top Of The World” (The Mississippi Sheiks, 1930). The overall vibe is mean and deadly, exemplified on “Call Me The Wolf” as the Wolf calls out all those mistreaters who would “put you down lower than a dog”. This is a blues master at work, absolutely in command of the house.

The Jukebox Rebel
12-Mar-2016


TJR says:

6.79 “Good”

The debut album from the 23-year-old was the crowning glory in his breakthrough wonder-year. Last year, the toaster rose from the relative obscurity of occasional sound system appearances, becoming, in March 1971. the lead DJ for one of Kingston's top sound systems, Tippertone Hi Fi, taking over from Jah Stitch. Tippertone was, by now, the only serious rival to King Tubby's Home Town Hi Fi, with I Roy as the regular deejay. Following this new high-profile status, a bewildering string of singles were produced bearing his name in 1972, including his first No.1 in the Jamaican charts, “S90 Skank”. The mechanic / cabbie / labourer could now concentrate on a music career, and this he did with great aplomb for producers many and varied. His big breakthrough hit came courtesy of the up and coming 19-year-old producer, Augustus “Gussie” Clarke. Gussie came from the same rough downtown district as Big Youth and was far more in tune with the vibe on the street. Gussie tuned in to Horace Andy’s “Skylarking” which was doing great business for Studio One, and re-made the rhythm with his own touches, giving Big Youth a fresh base to work with. The formula of fresh but familiar worked a treat and the single was a big success for the pair. Spurred on, somehow Gussie managed to procure the use of the very finest roots rhythms of the day and the voices of Gregory Isaacs, Leroy Smart and Dennis Brown graced Big Youth 45s as well as this debut long play set. The full track and source list reads: “Screaming Target” (working KC White’s “No No No [version]”); “Pride and Joy Rock” (working Leroy Smart’s “Pride & Ambition [version]”); “Be Careful” (working Dennis Brown’s “In Their Own Way”); “Tipper Tone Rock” (working The Simplicity People’s “Rhythm Style”); “These Fine Days” (working Gregory Isaacs’ “One One Cocoa”); “The Killer” (working The Society Squad’s “Skylarking [version]”); “Solomon a Gunday” (working The Simplicity People’s “Anywhere But Nowhere”); “Honesty” (working Lloyd Parks’ “Slaving [version]”); “I am Alright” (working Gregory Isaacs’ “I Am Alright (aka Loving Pauper)”) and “Lee a Low” (once again working The Simplicity People’s “Anywhere But Nowhere”).

The Jukebox Rebel
02-May-2016


TJR says:

6.74 “Good”

Buckley abandoned the progressive jazz textures which had been at the core of his “Starsailor” LP of 1970 and, indeed, dumped the band that had worked on that album. By sheer contrast, the motifs which form “Greetings From L.A.” are deeply entrenched in the new funk-rock sound, placing him firmly in line with Sly Stone and George Clinton, occasionally tinged with psychedelic overtones. The set was recorded in June 1972 at Far Out Studios, Hollywood and was issued in October. Best of these new funky janglers is “Get on Top” which is absolutely cookin’, and comes complete with that incredible Buckley vocal which stretches out acrobatically all over the octaves. His new style was commonly referred to as “Sex Funk” and the lyrics here certainly leave no room for misinterpretation. For all the funky fun, it’s a good ol’ bluesy picker, “Hong Kong Bar” which emerges as my favourite; again Buckley’s extraordinary vocals are to the fore, as is his hungry sexual appetite which seems to have no continental boundaries. Album closer “Make It Right” is another big highlight; magnificent, classy and soul-stirring, where strings and rhythm create a heady dancefloor excitement, with kinky vocal snips like “beat me, whip me” adding to the tangible hedonism. His ’72 crew sure could play some. Nice reinvention from Tim.

The Jukebox Rebel
28-Jan-2016


TJR says:

6.61 “Good”

After quitting the Velvet Underground in August 1970, Reed took a job at his father's tax accounting firm as a typist, by his own account earning $40 a week, proclaiming that he’d never play rock n roll again. Clearly, that sorry state of affairs couldn’t continue for long. The retirement lasted about a year, by which time the Velvet Underground’s “Loaded” had made an impression on many, including David Bowie. It seems Lou was enticed out of his short-lived dalliance with domesticity, crossing the Atlantic to London where he signed a deal with Bowie’s RCA label. In his back-pocket, he had several unreleased songs from the Velvet Underground days, together with a couple which were brand new, namely “Going Down” and “Berlin”. The big problem for Lou is that his mighty reputation had been forged with the Reed-Morrison-Cale-Tucker quartet; that sort of chemistry simply cannot be manufactured on demand. Instead, what we have here is a much paler imitation of past glories. The album screams SESSION MUSICIANS as conventional pop-rock beats and pub-rock guitars strum along agreeably with Lou’s vocals. Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe, from prog rockers Yes, were two of the men who had been drafted in to play. How did we get from “Sister Ray” to this point I can’t help but wonder? Recording sessions took place over several weeks between December 1971 and January 1972, with the LP being issued in April 1972. Again, the album was overlooked by many critics and did not sell well. As for my thoughts on the actual content, well, actually, the album is a good one, despite the relative disappointment that would surely be shared by any committed Velvet Underground fan. Side 1 is incredibly low-key and borders on the bland – these songs deserve better treatment. The potential drama lurking within “Lisa Says” has had the life sucked out of it, albeit without being completely ruined. Things take a turn for the better on side 2 with the fantastic “Wild Child” and the excellent “Love Makes You Feel” as the band FINALLY seem to wake up and get with some sort of creative programme. “Ride Into The Sun” and “Ocean” see the album out in fine fashion – but, again, I get the feeling these songs have so much more potential.

The Jukebox Rebel
08-Oct-2007


TJR says:

6.58 “Good”

This was Mellodisc out with their second Prince Buster LP of 1972. As with “Wreck-A-Pum-Pum” (Blue Beat BBLP-821, 1968), it’s dubiously themed around the rude reggae genre, seemingly beloved by many. Rude words are ten-a-penny and are blanked out in a variety of annoying ways with beep machines, trumpets and keyboards. Frankly, these horrific obtrusions are way more offensive than the actual expletives could ever be. The LP mostly consists of recent productions from 1970-1971, excepting the final two tracks; “Pum Pum A Go Will You” (mistitled here as “Tonight”) and “Wine or Grind” (mistitled here as “Wash The Pum Pum”), both of which are recompiled from the aforementioned “Wreck A Pum-Pum” LP in 1968. The slack tone is set from the off on “Big Five”, a tune named directly after a hotel in Kingston, known locally as “the Fuck Shop”, which was notorious for DJs, singers and n’er-do-well rude boys to take their bit on the side. In 1970, Brook Benton popularised “Rainy Night In Georgia”, and Lord Tanamo latched on with his reggae cover. Buster’s “Big Five” is a lascivious reinterpretation of these, as “a rainy night in Georgia” becomes “a wet wet night in Big Five”: “Today I smoked an ounce of weed, tonight I am going to plant a seed in her womb alright.” Great tune but dear-oh-dear, those lyrics. And so it continues with no let up. Clearly, this is a subject close to the man’s heart. In that classic way that only Jamaicans can, the supposedly religious man serves up the hymn “At the Cross” with new lines such as “At the cross, at the cross, where I worked her in the grass, ‘til the stiffness of my dick passed away”. This one doesn’t work out too well though as “now she is nine months in the way”. As he did with “Rainy Night”, the Prince turns to “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” for inspiration, having no doubt learned it via Roberta Flack, before producing John Holt’s 1970 reggae version. It’s retitled here as “The Virgin” and features lines such as “You should have told me, it was your first time my love, I would play around the hedge, tickle the little thing and make you sing…” His bed-sheets are blood-red by the end of the dirty deed – this is a long way from Ewan McColl’s 1962 original. Musically, the songs are all very well played, but the subject matter is a big turn-off. Who wants to hear about blood-stained sheets while they skank? There is very little inspiration on show here although, to be fair, I would doubt that Buster himself conceived these tracks as being a part of any themed LP. Tellingly, the only 2 tracks which shine as Buster tracks should, are the two oldies from ’68. It’s been a blast, but this album screams DESPERATION in the Buster story…

The Jukebox Rebel
22-Jan-2012


TJR says:

6.56 “Good”

The ever-dependable T. Rex continue as the acceptable face of pop music in 1972, and Tony Visconti’s tasteful arrangements assist as always. As with the preceding “Electric Warrior” LP, “The Slider” is notable for strong crunchy riffs, high quality string arrangements and some cracking vocals from Marc, who somehow manages to strongly reference Gene Vincent without being noticed, mainly due to his wholly unique Bolan-isms. The sheer catchiness of this material is perhaps explained best by the front-man himself: “I like my songs to be durable to the ear and exciting to the mind. My lyrics always come before the music. Repetition comes into my songs a lot because I think my lyrics are so obscure that they need to be hammered home. You need to hear them eight or nine times before they start to make sense. I don't see anything wrong with that” I dig repetition, so he’s talking my language. The album was launched in a blaze of glory in the summertime, with both of the lead singles (“Telegram Sam” and “Metal Guru”) having conquered the very summit of the UK Pop Charts. The album leads off, in fact, with the current # 1 single, “Metal Guru”, pure T.Rexstacy which swirls around the membrane long after it’s gone. We never quite learn just who the Metal Guru is, but on this evidence he sounds like he’s a joy bringer. I’m gonna guess he wears leather pants. Is it Gene Vincent? “Spaceball Ricochet” is another side 1 highlight: “With my Les Paul, I know I'm small, but I enjoy living anyway”. Hey Marc, you’re number one in the charts, what’s small about that? Side 2 boasts the marvellous rocker “Telegram Sam”, the intriguing ballad “Ballrooms of Mars” (seems everyone’s going on about Mars these days) and the sheer epic sexiness of “Chariot Choogle”. By this stage, there is absolutely no danger that the bloke on the Les Paul could be described as small. Bolan likes to rock now, oh yes he does.

The Jukebox Rebel
24-Dec-2007


TJR says:

6.46 “Decent enough”

Dogg’s third features seven originals and three covers. His interpretation of John Prine’s “Sam Stone” is stunning. It’s a song about a drug-addled war veteran with a Purple Heart (a U.S. military decoration) and his death by overdose. When Dogg sings “There’s a hole in daddy’s arm, where all the money goes” it’s like a fatal dagger blow to the human heart. The song can be interpreted as a reference to heroin addiction among Vietnam War veterans, a phenomenon of the time, but equally strikes a chord as a reflection of worsening social conditions in the inner cities of America in the early 1970s. Even more striking is the cover of Joe South’s “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” – southern soul with strings, touches galore and an ace vocal from the front man, especially in the second half of the song which has a crazy outro that seems to last forever and ever amen, existing in a constant state of bliss. Covering The Beatles “Lady Madonna” is less affecting – it’s very much the session jam. Elsewhere, one or two of the “jokier” elements of the artist’s personality start to wear thin – I could really do without the faux-orgasmic heavy breathin’ on “If It Hadn’t Been For Sly”. All in all, this registers as the third decent album in three years from the talented non-conformist…

The Jukebox Rebel
14-Jan-2010


TJR says:

6.41 “Decent enough”

America’s best-selling album of 1972 has plenty going for it. The usual brand of agreeable head-nodding Americana is present early doors on tracks like “Out on the Weekend” and “Heart Of Gold”. The mid-section has “A Man Needs A Maid” and “There’s A World”, both of which benefit enormously from the accompaniment by the London Symphony Orchestra and the arrangements by Jack Nitzsche. Neil gets into trouble with many in “Alabama” as he takes a covert dig at racism. It’s right-on, even if a bit boring musically. Much more appealing as a performance is “The Needle and the Damage Done”, which Young elects to be represented by an acoustic version recorded live in concert back in January 1971. It’s all the more poignant for being delivered so starkly. The song is inspired by the heroin addiction of his friend, and Crazy Horse bandmate, Danny Whitten; he loves the guy but can’t stand to watch the debilitating effect the addiction is having on his talent. In a horrible twist of fate, Whitten would be dead before the year was out on a drugs-related misadventure. “Words (Between the Lines of Age)” closes the album gloriously, as the slow-paced rocker meanders for almost 7 minutes on pure vibe and feeling, with fantastic contributions from Ben Keith (pedal steel guitar) and Jack Nitzsche (piano). Right here, the philosophical dreamer is in fine form.

The Jukebox Rebel
03-Feb-2016


TJR says:

6.39 “Decent enough”

Eschewing the production embellishments of his previous works, Nick decided that he would take the old fashioned singer-songwriter approach for his next release and “Pink Moon” was as basic as basic could be, just he and an engineer, John Wood, recorded in next to no time at all, over the course of two late night sessions at the tail end of October 1971. Pretty melancholia rules the roost, but “Pink Moon” is not a patch on his first two LPs in terms of being uplifting and filling the soul. In short, he sounds hopelessly defeated. That said, despite his well-documented battle with the debilitating effects of a depressed mind, the serenity and peacefulness is quite remarkable. The one which stands out most for me is “Know” – it’s a blues-moan which, it seems to me, comes closest to communicating his pain inside: “Know that I love you, Know I don't care, Know that I see you, Know I'm not there” It’s a nothing song on the face of it – but he’s revealing his anguish at his inability to connect. It leads in to two of the albums genuinely great songs; “Parasite”, where the chords and strumming get slightly darker and angrier, and “Free Ride”, another which seems to be more urgent and more agitated than the otherwise languid feeling of the album in general. There’s no doubting Nick Drake’s ability with guitar-picking, language and melody – but depression beat him and he sold himself short on his final long player. Still one of the best albums of 1972 mind… one Nick Drake is worth a hundred Elton John’s.

The Jukebox Rebel
24-Apr-2007


TJR says:

6.35 “Decent enough”

New! From Germany. Damned right. This duo from Düsseldorf were Michael Rother (22, guitar, bass guitar) and Klaus Dinger (26, drums, guitar, koto), both recently departed from Kraftwerk citing that old chestnut, artistic differences. The ubiquitous Conny Plank, with whom they had worked at Kraftwerk, was at the helm on production duties, synths at the ready. The classic “Hallogallo” makes for a glorious starter, a propulsive, repetitive, futuristic groover, delivered at a steady 100 mph heading nowhere in particular in a criminally short 10 minute journey. Who knew efficient musical mechanics could be so blissful? Trivia hounds will be interested to know that “Hallogallo” is a play on “Halligalli”, a German slang term for “wild partying”. Ideal for clearing the party is “Sonderangebot”, which is basically 5 minutes of eerie effect, more suited to film-score work. The lazy “Weissensee” doesn’t exactly set the pulse racing either, although its moody synthesized pulse is not completely charmless. The unaffecting film-score-style is back at the start of side 2, with “Im Glück” needlessly taking up 7 minutes of everyone’s time. And then “Negativland” tears up all the known rule books. How can we have post punk before we’ve actually had punk? Long before Einstürzende were revving up their Black & Dekkers, Neu! were at it in 1972. After several minutes of being pretty vacant, the group are suddenly possessed by the need to double the BPM as we get another taste of that wild Halligalli vibe. Unfortunately, it all comes to an abrupt halt, just when you’re raving to the max. And, once again, they attempt to clear the party with the thoroughly depressing “Lieber Honig”, where the somewhat pathetic sounding vocal spoils any chance that the moody vibe has of resonating with any degree of cool. In summary: when Neu! are hot, they're damn hot.

The Jukebox Rebel
06-Oct-2007


TJR says:

6.35 “Decent enough”

Released in November ’72, “World is A Ghetto” went on to become America’s biggest selling LP of the year in 1973 – no mean feat for these funk soul brothers outta California. The fact that such progressive black music was so pop blows my mind. Harold Brown, who was the drummer and a founding member of War, sums up the feeling behind the work: “We were living around Pomona and different parts, San Pedro, Compton, and so on. And we spent a lot of time out around Malibu, and in Hollywood. Well, one day we started realizing that their toilets backed up. Then we started realizing that rich people, people living in some of those big suburbs and stuff, hey, they got their problems, they got broke down cars and stuff. So we started realizing the world is a ghetto. And it's really up to each one of us how we take and work with our environment. We truly believe that everybody can succeed. We believe that it doesn't really matter who you are, where you come from, or your class situation. But we don't look at it upon the way people say it, 'Well, if I don't accumulate a lot of wealth I'm not successful.' Or, 'If I'm not wearing a certain kind of clothes or driving a certain car,' or 'I gotta have a certain kind of house,' that doesn't mean I'm not successful. Well, through that song, what we're really trying to say, you can be successful, as long as you do unto each other as you're supposed to do, be a good neighbor. Get out and do the best you can. Work with each other. Work as a team. That's what we need in America. We don't need all these different factions: I'm a Democrat, I'm a Republican, I'm Independent. We are righteous, that's what War stood for. It was trying to bring everybody together through our music. That's why I think our music crossed all the different barriers, why it went into all the different nationalities. Why people accepted it, because it was hydrogenous type music.”

The Jukebox Rebel
02-Feb-2016


TJR says:

6.35 “Decent enough”

This was the 4th new-music LP from the 30-year-old Nigerian, delivered in the national style of Jùjú. The form had been around since the 1920s and was deeply rooted in the extremely advanced drumming traditions of the Yoruban people of Nigeria and Benin. Performers brought Jùjú from the rural poor to the urban cities of Nigeria and beyond, and by the mid-60s the modernised style had eclipsed Ghanian highlife as the Nigerians’ party music of choice. Ebenezer Obey was holding his own in the (usually friendly) Jùjú wars, battling with artists such as I. K. Dairo and King Sunny Adé for market share and public affection. He more than held his own, as his prolific output testifies. I find this work to be extremely complex – you could listen ten times over and still not connect with everything that’s going on. Still, it works on many different levels, and is very easy on the ear with even the most casual attention being paid. Content wise, there are purportedly 12 tracks on the LP, but in reality these are best regarded as 2 long suites. It’s nearly impossible to tell exactly where one track should end and another begin, and, as with the jazz world, recurring motifs appear and disappear, adding further weight to the argument for blending six tracks as one. In 1972, Obey would’ve been unheard of outside of his native territory but, thankfully, the world has gotten a lot smaller since then. Thanks to dedicated music fans’ blogs such as the Global Groove in the Netherlands, these out-of-print treasures can be shared across the continents, all these years later. You can download a free copy of this LP here.

The Jukebox Rebel
05-Apr-2016


TJR says:

6.21 “Decent enough”

For the third and final part of her Dandelion trilogy, Bridget was keen to take a much more active role in the production, and this she did working alongside Jerry Boys. Gordon Huntly (pedal steel), and the acoustic guitars of John Martyn and Mike Chapman lend a hand. The album gets off to a strong start with “Nice” and “Thank You For…”, both of which exist dreamily in a folky-psyche-haze. Even better is her version of the old folk traditional “Lazarus”, as Bridget experiments successfully with a bit more attitude, getting both angry and sad for the poor protagonist. Amongst the least affecting moments are the other two covers – “Love Minus Zero, No Limit” (Bob Dylan, 1965) and “Every Day” (Buddy Holly, 1957). Better is “Silver Coin”, as Bridget is “first to market” with the song that would be done by the writers' group, Hunter Muskett on their self-titled LP of 1973. The sheer loveliness of the performance is augmented by some nice steel guitar. Best from side 2 is “Fly High” which excavates fragments of an old Robert Louis Stevenson poem in another dreamy psychedelic setting, ever so gently leaning on Donovan’s wavering “Hurdy Gurdy” vocalisms for further inspiration. For me, this is the least powerful of her 3 LPs to date, but that’s a relative complaint; there’s no denying this is another thoroughly decent set from a very talented lass.

The Jukebox Rebel
04-Mar-2016


TJR says:

6.17 “Decent enough”

This classy brand of deeply-grooved orchestral-funk was ideal for the big screen; so effective was the music, that the OST created greater revenues than the film itself! Mayfield was a smart operator – all releases were on Curtom, a label founded by he and his manager, Eddie Thomas, way back in 1968. He was a funk-soul brother leading by example in many ways. He used his power positively, and his socially-conscious lyrics about poverty and drug-abuse must have made a difference for many, de-glamourizing the whole ghetto drug thing, and dealing with the gritty realities of death through misadventure. “Pusherman” is an early highlight, the one song which gave Curtis and his group a cameo role in the movie itself, as they played on stage in the background. Showing a remarkable degree of understanding, Curtis portrays the pusherman as much a victim as he is a villain, with the line “A man of odd circumstance, a victim of ghetto demands.” The sensational “Freddie’s Dead” laments the death of Fat Freddie, a character in the film who is run over by a car: “Everybody's misused him, ripped him up and abused him, another junkie plan, pushing dope for the man” Despite the gritty subject matter, the song was chosen as the album’s lead single and had charted in the U.S. Top 10 before the album was released in July ‘72. All the best that the LP has to offer appears consecutively on the first side; the dramatic “Junkie Chase” is the third of these and flows with an action-packed 90 seconds which is every bit as evocative as the title suggests. The album spawned two Top 10 hits stateside; album closer “Superfly” is the second of these. It’s crisp and sharp – but doesn’t get to me anywhere near as much as “Freddie’s Dead”. Still, this is a quality album in anyone’s musical language.

The Jukebox Rebel
07-Aug-2007


TJR says:

6.17 “Decent enough”

The smooth ones such as Al Green are usually up against it with me but, by and large, he wins me over here on his 4th LP. Mind you, being produced in Memphis by the legendary Willie Mitchell he had a strong head start, with a supporting cast that had strength in depth. The rhythm section consists of: Howard Grimes (drums); Al Jackson Jr. (drums); Leroy Hodges (bass); Charles Hodges (organ, piano) and Teenie Hodges (guitar). The horn section has: Wayne Jackson (trumpet); Andrew Love (horn, tenor sax); Ed Logan (horn, tenor sax); James Mitchell (bass, baritone sax, arrangements) and Jack Hale Sr. (trombone). Al writes 7 of the 9, the best of which are the mid-tempo soul-stirrer “La-La For You” (co-credited to Willie Mitchell) and “It Ain't No Fun to Me”, a sharp and funky closer, again operating in the cool mid-tempo vibe. Best of the lot is the surprising cover of the Bee Gees big American number one single of the preceding year, “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?” In Al’s hands it’s a completely different song; a masterclass in sensuality. He’s the real deal.

The Jukebox Rebel
30-Jan-2016

chart first published 17 Apr 2016; last edited 14 Oct 2016

Album Charts

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