637. A Passion Play

“It seems insane to think about it now, but in 1972 Jethro Tull conquered the world with a 43-minute-44-second song called Thick as a Brick, which comprised the entire album of the same name. Adventurous, dense, continuous, it even half made sense, both musically and lyrically. So what did Ian Anderson (Tull main man) and his talented crew do for a follow-up? Another album long song, of course, this one called A Passion Play, which proved even more dense and adventurous than Thick As A Brick. And I’m still trying to figure it out. Actually, that’s a lie. I gave up a long time ago, because as a friend concluded, ‘Man, you’ve gotta be Ian Anderson’s f***ing brain to know what any of that’s supposed to mean.’ Which doesn’t mean I ever stopped listening to it, just thinking about it. I guess I just pretend I’m the guy’s brain for a while.” (Philip Random)

JethroTull-1973

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638. musicione

By 1973, The Guess Who were mostly on the wane, certainly as a commercial force. Randy Bachman was long gone, and what had been a outfit that couldn’t seem to help cranking out the hits now seemed more interested in just being an improper rock ‘n’ roll band, drinking and drugging and whoring around. Which doesn’t mean the music was dead – you just weren’t hearing it that much on the radio anymore. Musicione for instance. A smart rocker with a loose jammed-out feel that ends up feeling like a hymn toward something or other. Who makes the music when you die?  Somebody else, obviously.

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643. meadows

Joe Walsh tends to get conveniently filed away as the fun loving stoner guy who eventually got scooped up by the Eagles and then whatever. But that misses the point that The Smoker You Drink The Player You Get is one of the genuinely best American albums of its time, and thus of all time, because albums are where it was at in 1973. The big hit was Rocky Mountain Way (speaking of fun loving stoner rock), but my fave will always be Meadows, one of those songs that sent this very young man wild and free, running through fields, leaping old stone walls. Dreaming about it anyway, as I was mostly stuck in suburbia at the time. Nice melody, killer guitar riff, but it’s the drums that still send me, the way they come crashing in like a flash flood, the kind that saves your life rather than ends it. Hallelujah.” (Philip Random)

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644. swimming song

“In which Loudon Wainwright III waxes poetic about leaping bravely into the river, the lake, the ocean that is all life, the universe, everything … and not sinking. Or maybe it’s just about tossing yourself into a chlorinated pool and working on your strokes. I mean, this is the guy whose monster hit of the previous year was about a dead skunk and how bad it smelled. Great stuff either way.” (Philip Random)

LoudonWainwrightIII

661. muscle of love

“No doubt about it. Alice Cooper, the band, was one of the greatest outfits to ever rock a concert stage, outrage a parent, drive a young boy (or girl) wild. But by late 1973, that was ending. Alice Cooper (the guy) was about to part ways with his band and become just not that interesting anymore (ie: the commoditized showbiz version of the genuine threat he’d once been). But the group still had one rude and strong and sometimes smart album left in them, and no, as was pointed out to me by an older guy at the time, your muscle of love is not your heart.” (Philip Random)

AliceCooper-73-02

662. I’m the slime

In which Mr. Frank Zappa and his Mothers of Invention ditch the Junior High humor for three minutes or so and spit out the necessary truth about all the slime that was oozing out of folks’ TV sets and radios back in the early 70s (and it still is). Not just gross, perverted, vile, pernicious, obsessed and deranged, but a tool of government (and industry too) destined to rule and regulate. So why do we keep watching?

Zappa-overnite

669. law of the land

Masterpiece was the Temptations‘ first album post the mega success of Papa Was A Rolling Stone, and it’s truth in advertising, with producer-writer-arranger Norman Whitfield set free to make the most (in a widescreen sort of way) of the best all male vocal outfit ever. Law of the Land stands out for the way it thunders along, and the tough tale it has to tell.

Temptations-1973

672. future days

“Are Can still the greatest band that most people have never heard? Probably. If you are perhaps one of those, Future Days (song and album) is as good an entry point as any, marking both the peak and the end of their glory days. Not that they didn’t still have some great music in them post 1973, it would just never get back to such a strange and etherea peak. Because singer, vocalist, lead madman Damo Suzuki was slowly fading away, not to return. Like a bittersweet dream of the future that actually came true, because there I was, a good ten or twelve years after the fact, hearing it for the first time myself, and it was perfect, it was exactly what the mid-80s felt like. Living in the future, ready or not.” (Philip Random)

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697. hard nose the highway

“A road weary gem from a time when Van Morrison really could do no wrong (ie: the early 1970s). I definitely heard it on the radio when it was fresh (while FM was still cool) because I caught the Canada reference. But for some reason, I got it in my head that the name of the song was Seen Some Hard Times, which made finding it rather difficult, search as I might. So I finally stopped searching and found it anyway at a yard sale, early 90s sometime, hiding in plain sight as it were as the title track of an album that had been looking at me for decades.” (Philip Random)

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