“It’s 1970 and Elton John is still a ways from superstardom. Which doesn’t mean he may already have recorded the best album of his career. It’s called Tumbleweed Connection and yeah, it’s working a slightly silly concept about the old west, but the songs are so good, who cares? With Love Song a particular standout for me if only because it’s been so overlooked in its understated, ambient lushness. Almost too beautiful. And it’s a cover. Lesley Duncan wrote it.” (Philip Random)
“If you’re British, you’ve likely heard plenty of T-Rex in your time, maybe way too much. But over here in the Americas a track like Ride A White Swan never cracked pop radio back in the day, so it still retains the kind of freshness that turns heads, gets people nodding along, smiling, wondering, ‘Who is this?’ Like it was recorded last week, not better part of half a century ago. Still makes me smile pretty much every time I hear it, Marc Bolan’s oddly spry little ditty about skyways, sunbeams, druids and tatooed gowns. Some say it invented Glam. I ain’t arguing.” (Philip Random)
The band known as Jethro Tull blew things wide open in 1972 with a single 43 minute song/concept album that hit #1 everywhere from Denmark to Australia to the Americas, even Vietnam. Which suddenly meant that Ian Anderson and the band could do pretty much anything they wanted career wise, including the release of a double album of (mostly) unreleased stuff from the previous four years and four albums of their career (so far). Living in the Past it was called and full of odd gems it was including a live version of Dharma For One which initially showed up as an instrumental on their first album but come the concert trails of 1970 had picked up some lyrics and otherwise expanded and evolved into a longer, wilder, more progressive beast indeed. The word gobsmacking comes to mind, though the drum solo does go on a bit.
“Derek and the Dominoes‘ only studio album was a 1970 release, but it didn’t cross my teeny bop consciousness until summer 1972 when they finally got around to releasing Layla as a radio single. Which led to my friend Malcolm getting the album, which mostly went way over our heads – all that loose jamming (and the drugging behind it) being more for the older kids. But I’d eventually come back around to it maybe twenty-five years later, particularly stuff like Key To The Highway where misters Eric Clapton (already well into a heroin addiction), Greg Allman (due for a fatal motorcycle accident), Jim Gordon (fated to go mad and murder his mother) and essential others sort of lay back and go long, delivering the news of what is to be genuinely free (you’ve got the key, you’ve got a vehicle, you’ve got an open road – what more could want?) for almost ten minutes anyway.” (Philip Random)
In which Jesus loses his cool when he discovers the sacred temple of Jerusalem has been taken over by the moneychangers, goes all punk rock on things. But seriously, when this Original London Cast recording gets to humming (not to be confused with the okay-but-just-not-as-good movie soundtrack), it’s as cool as funky as rockin as any dozen satanic offerings. Of course, it helps having Deep Purple’s soon-to-be front man Ian Gillan playing the title role, leaving no sonic scenery un-chewed.
Performance, the movie, needs to be seen. It’s the one where Mick Jagger plays a sort of Satanic rock star who’s messing with the mind of gangster who’s on the lamb, mainly out of boredom, it seems. But that sells it way short. Look no further than the soundtrack and the inclusion of a song like Wake Up N*****s by the Last Poets. It has no particular reason to be in the movie. Other than to be that cool, that on the mark of what was really going down in 1970, with the pulse of revolution very much in the air.
Anyway you look at it, the Guess Who (straight outa Winnipeg) were the closest thing Canada ever had to a Beatles. Hell, they even outsold them in 1970. But this is two long years later. They’ve lost Randy Bachman, ace guitarist, co-founder and key songwriter, but they’re still rockin’ profoundly up and down the north side, working that giddy sense of freedom that only a superlative live band can attain. And they’ve still got Burton Cummings just sober enough on Guns Guns Guns to lay down some of the finest vocals that this planet will ever hear. Godspeed mother nature, Godspeed.
“It’s like that classic Spinal Tap line when it comes to Grand Funk Railroad, there being such a fine line between clever and stupid. And certainly, based on some of their liner notes, there was more than a little stupid in Grand Funk. Yet they do most emphatically nail it with Inside Looking Out. The clever, that is. Actually, call it genius, and note the use of the present tense. Because that’s what genius does. It transcends time, surfs impermanence, negates stupidity. Particularly when it’s delivered as loud and proud as Mark Don + Mel deliver it here. Ass is kicked.” (Philip Random)
“The Strawbs original recording of Where is This Dream of Your Youth? is nice enough, a nifty little bit of folk pop, but it’s Rick Wakeman‘s sustained live freakout on the Hammond organ (found on 1970’s Just a Collection of Antiques + Curios) that hooked me, and keeps on hooking me, just keeps going, going, going through the decades – peaks and valleys and all manner of long haired freaky looking people grooving along in smoke filled rooms, smelling of incense and wacky tabacky. Because groovy still meant something in those days, with a new decade dawning, the revolution at hand. Or so it must have seemed.” (Philip Random)