“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.
In which the the Sunshine Superman (aka Donovan) sees which way the wind is blowing at the dawn of the 1970s, ditches the flowers and patchoulie, straps on an electric guitar and gets to rocking, celtically, with a murky tale from times of old about real trolls, the kind that live in caves or under bridges, sometimes giants, sometimes dwarfs, always very ugly and keen to grab unsuspecting travelers (it’s actually about the Industrial Revolution). And it’s not just a one-off. The whole Open Road album is a keeper, its raw, rather elemental sound reminding us that before he was anything else, Donovan Leitch was a folk singer, a minstrel, traveling alone through hollow lands, taking notes, telling the truth.
“Speaking of ear worms, call this Eric Clapton number one of mine, always just lurking there, ready to slip into my consciousness if I’m feeling sorry for myself. Not that I’ve ever been a huge Eric Clapton fan (Jimi Hendrix was always better, and Jimmy Page, Steve Howe, Neil Young, Duane Allman, Peter Green, Pete Townsend even). Nor have I been perpetually lonely, and where the hell is home anyway? “It’s back there somewhere,” as my friend Steve used to say, thumb pointed over his shoulder and far away, “Always in the rear view.” (Philip Random)
“Speaking of darkness, I would’ve been eleven when George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass hit the world (and hit it did). The Beatles had just broken up and it was the first serious indication that all was not lost. The big singles were My Sweet Lord and What Is Life, but I got to hear the whole sprawling six-sided thing because my cousin got it for Christmas. I wouldn’t say I understood a song like Beware of Darkness but I got it anyway. That is, who cared about the specifics of the words? The title and mournful tone were enough, speaking volumes about the nature of a messed up world, all that hungry darkness floating around, wanting a piece of me.” (Philip Random)
“Eric Burdon took his whiteman-slumming-in-blackman’s-world thing all the way to the edge (and beyond) on his second (and last) album with the band known as War, with the epic take on one of the great Rolling Stones songs a definite (and definitive) highlight. It was released in 1970, but I didn’t hear until 1994. A moment I remember all too well. Kurt Cobain had just offed himself, everybody was fumbling around in shock at my friend Steven’s place. Suddenly some guy whose name I forget said something like, ‘F*** you, Cobain. There’s always something to live for. I bet you never even heard this.’ And then he slapped side one of Black Man’s Burdon on the turntable.” (Philip Random)