“The Grateful Dead at their most American and beautiful. It says so on the album cover (if you look closely). It’s 1970 and the drugs aren’t so much wearing off in the land of the Dead as imposing a desire for something a little more grounded, relevant to the reality of things like gravity, the ground itself, the stuff we’re standing on (unless there’s concrete in the way). Anyway, Box Of Rain is just a beautiful song. Even my mom likes it. Don’t know what it’s about and I don’t really care. The sun is shining and the dark star has crashed. What more do you need?” (Philip Random)
“It’s 1970, there’s a new decade on the world, and with the Beatles officially broken up, there’s no more important band on the planet than Crosby Stills Nash + Young. At least that’s what Rog thought (boyfriend of my best friend’s big sister), who actually read Rolling Stone magazine and stuff like that. Their album of the moment was Déjà Vu and I guess eleven year old me liked some of it (the hits mostly). But the title track eluded me. Too smooth, I guess, and complicated. But jump ahead a few years, maybe halfway through high school, and it finally got me – so much happening in terms of shades and harmonies and changes, the music itself like a restless, living creature. Marijuana was involved.” (Philip Random)
“Bobby and Shirley Womack wrote It’s All Over Now, and the Rolling Stones scored a big early hit with it, but Rod Stewart owns it here (from back when he was still good). Just a gritty and fun (if unremarkable) pub rawker for the first few minutes, but then it just refuses to end, the guy refuses to give up, making it the perhaps greatest, truest break-up record ever. Or more to the point, it’s an aftermath record best grasped via too much alcohol, self-pity etc. Because it’s true, endlessly true. Just keep telling yourself. You don’t love her (or him or them) anymore. All this misery is just chemicals, or whatever.” (Philip Random)
“We’re listening to Who Knows from Band of Gypsys, the Jimi Hendrix 1970 New Years live album. Two guys are arguing about the relative quality of his backing magicians. The Experience versus the Band of Gypsys lineup of Buddy Myles and Billy Cox. A third guy finally pipes in, ‘Hey, if they were good enough for Jimi, they’re good enough for me. Now shut the f*** up and listen.’ Which, in the case of the Band of Gypsys, should drive home the point that barely eight months before his death, whatever may have been going down in the man’s personal life, Jimi Hendrix was anything but in a creative rut.” (Philip Random)
“A big dumb love song c/o the Captain (Beefheart, that is) who had no tolerance for fools, or straights, or normals, or anybody anywhere that couldn’t grasp The Strange. But he clearly had a heart. A friend of mine used to insist that if he ever got married, I Love You, You Big Dummy would be the first dance. He did eventually get married but no, it didn’t get played first, last or anywhere in between. The divorce papers got filed less than a year later.” (Philip Random)
“1970’s Remedies found Dr. John in full-on Night Tripper mode, particularly on side long Angola Anthem, which someone once told me was pure evil. To which I now say, nah, but it is about an evil place, Angola Prison, Louisiana (the Alcatraz of the South), the kind of place that hardened criminals would break down at the mere mention of, because doing time at Angola was a journey to the nightmarish past, the days of slavery. I don’t think Dr. John (aka “Mac” Rebennack) ever did time there himself, but a little research reveals he did do some federal time in Texas, so the feeling is he must have heard some stories. So yeah, welcome to those nightmares.” (Philip Random)
Second of two in a row from the same King Crimson 7-inch single, though Philip Random first heard both Groon and Cat Food via the 1976 compilation Young Persons Guide to King Crimson. “I still get a chuckle at the thought of a track like Groon being allowed anywhere near a record with pop ambitions. Not that it actually charted or anything. Just the idea of it. And the execution. King Crimson being not just one of the brainiest outfits ever (care of main man Robert Fripp), but also one of the best in terms of pure chops and articulation, regardless of who was in the line-up at the time. Subsequent live versions of Groon would prove to be longer, deeper excursions, but I’ve always preferred the original’s tighter, sharper, more compact assault.”
King Crimson were a mess come 1970. A year earlier, they were tearing up the zeitgeist with their debut album, re-framing the very definition of so-called rock music. But one North American tour later, almost everybody had bailed – for reasons of love, sanity or, in the case of singer Greg Lake, greater fame (and riches) with the outfit that would come to be known as ELP. Though he did stick around long enough to deliver a few vocals for the second King Crimson album, including the oddly cut-up attempt at pop glory Cat Food, which, of course, failed in the unit-shifting department, but only because it was (and likely still is) at least half a century ahead of its time.
In which Joe Cocker and crowd unleash the other Give Peace A Chance – the one that brings down the house toward the end of maybe the greatest hippie movie ever made. No, not Woodstock. There was too much mud, way too many people. Mad Dogs + Englishmen had a tighter focus, which was a useful thing in those rather wasted days. Just one hot band (a big one mind you) and the wild and colourful tale of their one and only tour together. That’s Leon Russell in the top hat by the way, the maestro holding it all together.