Tag: 1971

Elton John – Friends

ARTIST: Elton John                        Friendsalbum

TITLE: Friends

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: #36

SINGLES: Friends (#34)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No, this one’s buried for good reason.

LINEUP: Elton John, Caleb Quaye, Dee Murray, Nigel Olsson and session vocalists.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A slight film soundtrack to a slight teen-romance that’s all but forgotten.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Elton John’s creative burst (or the release of songs he had cooking up when he got signed) hit a speed bump with this album, a goopy soundtrack for a forgotten teen sex drama.

Like soundtracks, there’s some instrumental tracks (or mostly instrumental – variations of themse and all that), and then there’s a lot of sentimental fluff here.

I exiled all but three – “Can I Put You On” is the track that’s most like other John tracks from the time.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This isn’t streaming alone – it’s part of the Rare Masters collection.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: C-: It’s probably best to just skip this one.

 

Elton John – 11-17-70

ARTIST: Elton John                                                     220px-171170UK

TITLE: 11-17-70 (17-11-70 for most of the world…)

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: #11 US, #20 UK

SINGLES: Not from this album

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Take Me to the Pilot and Burn Down the Mission, though this draws from his 2nd and 3rd records.

LINEUP: Elton John, Dee Murray, Nigel Olsson

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Taken from a live radio broadcast in a recording studio, John and his band run through a set of his early work.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Elton John was an ascending star, with two charting albums and a big hit single. He and his band meshed into a tight trio with bass and drums supporting the piano man (no doubt inspiring Ben Folds later on).

Most of the performances are sharp, with John displaying his piano skills and evocative singing. Murray’s bass work provides a great counterpoint to the piano, and Olsson’s drumming is sharp and propels the songs forward.

His cover of “Honky Tonk Women”, and the covers thrown into “Burn Down the Mission” (extending that song to 18 minutes) don’t seem necessary, and throw me off a bit. John also uses those opportunities to show off a bit more. Yet this is a great performance of his originals.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The original radio broadcast had thirteen songs but is only out on bootlegs and as vinyl released on Record Store Day.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: They added the fantastic “Amoreena” on the CD issue, and the new vinyl issue has the entire concert (keeping the original running order and just adding the other songs on side 3 and 4), but the entire concert, in order, hasn’t been released.

GRADE: A-: A few points off for the covers, but the band cooks through his originals and John sounds fantastic.

Earth, Wind and Fire – The Need of Love

ARTIST: Earth, Wind & Fire     Theneedoflovealbum

TITLE: The Need of Love

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: #89, #35 R&B

SINGLES: I Think About Lovin’ You (#44 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Really…no.

LINEUP: Sherry Scott, Verdine White, Maurice White, Wade Flemons, Chet Washington, Alex Thomas, Michael Beal, Don Whitehead, Doug Carn, Yackov Ben Israel, Oscar Brashear

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album by large horn-based soul ensemble is disappointing, and led to a breakup and a re-formation.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first track on this record is called “Energy”, and while it may have been interesting to play and conceive, it just seems more of a jazz jam session than a concise tune, which would have confused some expecting slow jams like their R&B hit.

That hit, “I Think About Lovin’ You”, is a sweetly sung ballad (penned and voiced by Sherry Scott) that deserved to be a hit, and the closing track is nice, but the jam was pointless, and the two other tracks were bleah and moored in their own sentimentality.

It seemed the band could go into many directions and either go jazzy or straight R&B, and what they did do was break up for the most part, leaving the White brothers with the name, and an idea.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They also recorded the soundtrack to the Blacksploitation movie Sweet Sweeback’s Badass Revenge.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: C-: Redeemed, barely, by the last two tracks. It’s probably good that this version blew up in 1971.

If – If 3

ARTIST: If                     If_3_(If_album_-_cover_art)

TITLE: If 3

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: #171

SINGLES: Forgotten Roads, Far Beyond

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nnnnooooopppppeeeee

LINEUP: JW Hodkinson, Dick Morrissey, Dave Quincy, Terry Smith, John Mealing, Jim Richardson, Dennis Elliott

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Third album by jazz-rock combo sounds like a repeat of their first two albums, and it seems flat and same-old when compared to the others.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s some nice playing here and some decent arrangements, but this third record from If is about as imaginative as the title. The vocals and lyrics don’t always seem to the fit right, and even though guitarist Terry Smith does good work (especially on “Here Comes Mr. Time”), it all sounds pretty similar to what’s come before.

There’s more vocals here than on past albums, but moving to a more concise structure doesn’t do much for the album or the group. I’ve moved their catalog into my jazz folders for the most part.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Here Comes Mr. Time” was featured on a United Artists sample album

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with the single mixes.

GRADE: C+: Three records in two years may have spent the ideas for the band. Exiled their catalog to jazz.

Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells a Story

ARTIST: Rod Stewart                                            220px-EveryPictureTellsaStory

TITLE: Every Picture Tells a Story

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: #1 US, #1 UK

SINGLES: Reason to Believe (#62 US, #1 UK), Maggie May (#1 US), (I Know) I’m Losing You (324 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Mandolin Wind

LINEUP: Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Martell Brandy, Sam Mitchell, Martin Quittenton, Pete Sears, Micky Waller, Danny Thompson, Andy Pyle, Lindsay Jackson. The Faces were on (I Know) I’m Losing You, and Long John Baldry and Maggie Wood sang on the title track.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Stewart’s solo career hits its apex, musically.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This is peak Rod Stewart. His raspy voice was well suited for all of the material. He and Faces running mate Ronnie Wood and his ‘second band’ of studio musicians constructed great arrangements and showcased their versatility and musicianship. It’s mostly an acoustic album, with just enough electricity to add to the various classical guitars, pedal steels, and mandolins.

The impressive note is that Stewart covered songs by Dylan, Tim Hardin, and Elvis and wrote songs to their equal. “Maggie May” has been played to death, but in this context, with the Martin Quittenton intro, and right next to “Mandolin Wind” in the running order, it sounds fresh and of a piece with the album.

Stewart would really never reach this artistic level again, succumbing to the ease of ready-made fame. This one is for everyone, critics and fans.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The opening to “Maggie May” is officially “Henry” written by Martin Quittenton.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A+: Even the most obscure cut (“Seems Like a Long Time”) is a winner

Earth, Wind & Fire – Earth, Wind & Fire

ARTIST: Earth, Wind & Fire     Earth,_Wind_&_Fire_-_Earth,_Wind_&_Fire

TITLE: Earth, Wind & Fire

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: #172, #24 R&B

SINGLES: Fan the Fire, Love Is Life (#93, #31 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: My Baby Don’t Dance to Nothing but Ernest Tubb, Too Many Nights in a Roadhouse, Hillbilly Hula Gal

LINEUP: Maurice White, Verdine White, Michael Beal, Leslie Drayton, Wade Flemons, Sherry Scott, Alexander Thomas, Chet Washington, Don Whitehead, Doug Carn, Phillard Williams

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut album sounds more like a conglomeration of Sly Stone, Chicago, and Santana.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Maurice White’s first formation of Earth, Wind & Fire had the funk and the sensibility, but unlike his later incarnation, this was more of a collaboration of voices, led by Sherry Scott and others like Wade Flemons, instead of White taking more of a solo vocal turn.

The group does have a swing, but it sounds derivative at times. The late 60’s Sly and the Family Stone come to mind, with some influences by Chicago in the horn charts and the percussion effects of Santana.

That’s not to say it isn’t enjoyable – it’s a fun listen except for the interludes (which really distract from the music) – it’s just not so original.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Maurice White and two other members (Flemons and Whitehead) were The Salty Peppers before forming EWF.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B-  Derivative, but well-played funk/soul for the time. The interludes knock it down a bit.

Little Feat – Little Feat

ARTIST: Little Feat                                       220px-Littlefeatalbum

TITLE: Little Feat

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Truck Stop Girl, Willin’

LINEUP: Lowell George, Bill Payne, Roy Estrada, Richard Hawayrd. Ry Cooder, Sneaky Pete Kleinow and Russ Titelman guested on tracks. They had strings and horns, too.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First Little Feat album is a showcase for Lowell George’s guitar playing and he and Bill Payne’s songwriting.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: From the first notes of Lowell George’s slide on “Snakes on Everything” to the concluding madness of “Crazy Captain Gunboat Willie”, Little Feat’s debut is mostly a joy, and mostly a showcase for the band’s instrumental chops and great, yet off-the-wall, songwriting.

The first side, especially, is a celebration of sorts. While “Truck Stop Girl” and “Willin’” (here in an almost solo performance by George in an oddly low voice), are the best known, “Brides of Jesus” is the track that’s their best showcase. A slow introspective number that builds as it goes, that track is the hidden gem.

Side two opens and closes fine, but a couple of slower tracks kill the momentum. Little Feat’s more of a party than anything, and most of the album definitely is.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This allegedly sold just 11,000 copies on its release.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-:  The record runs out of steam a bit, but it’s a fun ride for the most part.

Pink Floyd – Meddle

ARTIST: Pink Floyd                         MeddleCover.jpeg

TITLE: Meddle

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: #70 US, #3 UK

SINGLES: One of These Days

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Echoes

LINEUP: David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Rick Wright, Nick Mason

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After being in the weeds for a few years, Pink Floyd capitalizes on their strengths and create a record that fulfills the potential of the band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: With the first ‘pings’ on side two, Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” moves from a moody instrumental theme, to a meditation on life on the planet, to one of the best psychedelic jams and David Gilmour guitar solo. Then, it gets weird, with the seagulls or albatrosses in the lyrics being heard. Back to the original themes with a dramatic ending.

This song is the precursor for every Floyd song in the 70’s and for better or worse overshadows the first side.

Yet, the first side is definitely an improvement over any studio record in 1969 or 1970. Every song is varied, and while they don’t 100% work all of the time, they make a nice cornucopia of the band’s styles – and the songs are better, as a whole, than anything since A Saucerful of Secrets.

All of the band members make excellent contributions, but this is really Gilmour’s album, with Rick Wright also shining. This is a must listen.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Echoes” was the centerpiece of the Pink Floyd at Pompeii film.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A:  A couple of cuts on side one aren’t as strong as they could be, but you gotta have this.

Paul & Linda McCartney – Ram

ARTIST: Paul and Linda McCartney       RamMcCartneyalbumcover

TITLE: Ram

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: #2 US, #1 UK

SINGLES: Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey (#1 US), The Back Seat of My Car (#39 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Really, nothing else shows up on the radio radar.

LINEUP: Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, David Spinozza, Hugh McCracken, Denny Seiwell.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Lennon vs. McCartney feud goes musical, at least on some tracks. Otherwise, it’s a Paul McCartney album that’s charming and annoying at times.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The album starts with an off-kilter guitar, and a broadside at John and Yoko called “Too Many People”. At first he denied it was an attack on John, then kind of admitted it, and then basically almost fully said it was. He was being coy.

At least three tracks on the first side are veiled attacks at his former partner, and John thought more of them were. Those songs were kind of petty, though there’s some really good work on “Too Many People” by guitarist Hugh McCracken. The rest of the album is your basic Paul McCartney album platter. Annoying pop songs, rock-and-roller to prove he’s still got it, a song sounding like it could have been recorded in the 20’s, love songs to Linda, weirdness, and a reprise.

At times I’ve liked this album a lot. At times I wanted to throw it out of the window. That’s McCartney for you.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: At these sessions, held in New York over six weeks in 1970 and six weeks in early 1971, came this album, a single, three B-sides, and tracks from the next Wings albums. Not a bad output

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, the “Another Day” (#5 US, #2 UK) single and B-side, other B-sides and a lot of unreleased stuff polished up and remixed.

GRADE: B-:  It’s inconsistent, for sure. Some critics are in love with it. As I said, sometimes I see why, and other times I agree with Christgau and other contemporary haters.

The Doobie Brothers – The Doobie Brothers

ARTIST: The Doobie Brothers    the_doobie_brothers_-_the_doobie_brothers

TITLE:  The Doobie Brothers

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: #210

SINGLES: Nobody (#58), Travelin’ Man, Beehive State

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No, this thing’s been buried.

LINEUP: Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons, Dave Shogren, John Hartman

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A totally unmemorable album only in print because of who the band became.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sure, there are some nice moments on this record. But, they all sound like rough drafts for the songs that made the Doobie Brothers famous. “Nobody” has the acoustic guitar drive, harmonies, and guitar solo that would be the Doobie’s formula (pre-Michael McDonald). It’s the only one that really appears on any compilation that’s not a box set.

Even with these prototypes, the songs didn’t transcend the absolute meh of the album. It tries, and yes, it’s tasteful and polished and harmonious, but it doesn’t trip any triggers.

There was enough here to get them another album, which they made the most of. But unless you’re a diehard, skip this one.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They cover a Randy Newman song (“The Beehive State”), which is…interesting.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: C:  It’s just…so meh. EXILED.