The Shirelles (1972) S/T (LP) RCA Victor (LSP-4698)

The Shirelles
Shirelles

RCA Victor (LSP-4698)
1972
*** noteworthy

The Shirelles played a huge part in creating the girl group genre and bringing black music to white audiences, but by the time the Beatles covered two of their songs, audiences are opting for new acts. Still, the Shirelles kept at it, releasing singles and albums into the 70s, as this 1972 album shows (which reportedly is better their previous RCA album from 1971).

Their classic songs from the late 50s and early 60s were as much R&B and doo-wop as pop, so it shouldn’t be surprising that this outfit were able to update their sound and fit in with the soul music of the early 70s. This set features Shirley and Micki (who were both there from the beginning) and focuses on soul numbers from 1971.

Not surprisingly, they start the set with a then-recent Carole King number, “Brother, Brother” (not surprising because their relationship with King goes back to the beginning). This version seems to be a mix of King’s 1971 version and The Isley Brother’s version from 1972. Shirelles’ version was also released as a single, with “Sunday Dreaming” as the B-side–the second cut on this album. The first side also includes “It’s Going to Take Some Time” (another number from Carole King’s 1971 Music album) with a solid reading of Bill Withers’ 1971 “Ain’t No Sunshine” and the Bee Gees’ 1971 “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart. Al Green’s 1972 version of the Bee Gees’ song might have inspired the version on this album, especially considering this is followed by an Al Green number to conclude the first side.  (Of course, it’s that the Isley Brothers and/or Al Green were inspired by the versions on this album.)

When you cover classics by the great soul singers (Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” Joe Simon’s 1971 Gamble/Huff-penned “Drowning in the Sea of Love, Mary Clayton’s 1971 Carole King-penned “Walk On In” and Marvin Gaye’s 1971 “Mercy Mercy/Inner City Blues/What’s Going On” the listener can’t help from recalling the sharp bite of the originals, but if one lets go of all that and enjoys all these girls had offer, this offers plenty to enjoy. The band is uncredited but backs them up well, sounding like different line ups were perhaps used on different cuts, some arrangements by bassist David Van De Pitte (who arranged many Motown classics, including the What’s Going On sessions for Marvin Gaye), others by Wade Marcus (who was just beginning to make a name for himself in the worlds of jazz and soul), the set produced by Randy Irwin.

— winch (author of

 

 

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John Martyn (1971 – 1975) So Far So Good (LP) Island Records 9484 (1977)

John Martyn

So Far So Good 

Island Records 9484

**** recommended

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Coming out of the innovative folk from the British Isles in the late 60s, this Scottish musician was perhaps the first white artist to sign with independent label Island Records.  This 1977 anthology houses cuts from the previous Island albums (1971 – 1975) and concludes with a rocking live cut from Martyn’s self-released classic Live at Leeds (1975).  Other than the instrumental “Glistening Glyndebourne,” the album features vocal cuts by Martyn.  Likely bassist Danny Thompson (Pentangle) plays on all the dates, two from 1975 also featuring guitarist Paul Kossoff.

This collection provides an excellent overview of the Island years and showcases Martyn’s skills as a songwriter and a guitarist. The cuts are all teasers, informing the listeners of the quality of this artist’s work, and likely causing most to seek out each and every one of these Martyn albums from Island Records.

— winch (author of

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so far so good LP

Marc Benno (1971) Minnows (LP) A&M 4303

Marc Benno

Minnows 

1971

A&M 4303

Produced by David Anderle

Engineered by Bruce Botnick

*** noteworthy


This was likely the most successful outing  from this Texas musician, likely for several reasons, including the people who helped make this record, including four crackerjack guitarists–Clarence White, Jesse Ed Davis, Bobby Womack, and Jerry McGee.

Of course, Benno himself deserves most of the credit, as he writes all the selections and plays several instruments–guitar, piano, organ and marxophone.  Perhaps most importantly, (fresh from playing on the Doors’ L.A. Woman album) Benno exhibits a fraility on Minnows that doesn’t show on his other outings.

While this recording (and several like it by southern musicians from the early 70s) were overshadowed by the overhyped and more bombastic material by unions of British and American southern musicians, these often forgotten and more low-key recordings by southern musicians alone were often more honest, original, and enjoyable.  While Benno’s Ambush LP, the follow up to Minnows, was likely his most successful outing commercially speaking, this 1971 offering was the closest Benno came to creating a timeless classic.

— winch

author of

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ELP

ELP: Another reason punk had to happen.
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Atlantic (9040)
1970
Producer: Greg Lake
Rating: ** (Mediocre)
Released November 1970, reached #18 (#4 in UK)


Formed out of progressive-rock pioneers The Nice and King Crimson, this band had no problem finding an audience, especially in their own country.  At this point, the sound comes out of those innovative groups, but unfortunately, this also reeks of what would come, with Lake’s contributions stinking of pomp.  The same can be said of Emerson and his keyboard wizardry.  Still, it’s a worthwhile listen for fans.

— winch

Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Tarkus
Atlantic (9900)
1971
Producer: Greg Lake
Rating: *** (Noteworthy)
Released June 1971, reached #9 (#1 in UK)

Apparently the seven-part side-long title track is the story of a battle between the mythical creature Manticore and a tank/armadillo named Tarkus, but side two gets even more absurd when it becomes an excuse for Lake to deliver a heavy-handed sermon.  His lyrics and vocals ruin some of the cuts, but at least this set doesn’t include a Lake-penned ballad, and “Tarkus” has some of this group’s best moments, especially when they hint back to King Crimson and get the thing rolling along like a rock-and-roll song on cuts such as “Manticore.”

While this is another varied set from this outfit, it’s clearly their best.

— winch

Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Trilogy
Atlantic (9186)
1972
Producer: Greg Lake
Rating: ** (mediocre)
Fourth album, released July 1972, reached #5 (#2 in UK)


While this patchy set was a considerable improvement over the third album (Pictures at an Exhibition), that’s not really saying much.  ELP: another reason punk had to happen. 

— winch

Badfinger (1971) Straight Up (LP) Apple 3387

Badfinger
Straight Up
Apple 3387
1971
Produced by Todd Rundgren
(two cuts produced by George Harrison)
Released December 1971 (US & UK) reached #31 in US.  

 

Noteworthy ***

Badfinger’s third album, containing two more top 10 hits, “Day After Day” and “Baby Blue,” both melancholy pop gems that suggested this band was perhaps a bit more than just a Beatles copycat.  The hits helped the band get plenty of airplay and leave behind a legacy that lasted long after they were gone. 


While the rest of the album resonates with the mood of the hits, it also strives to lift out of the gloom without ever really shaking that melancholy that permeates the sound.  The setis fairly consistent, but many cuts sound a bit lacking alongside the stronger ones.  With some clearly coming out of the fab four, this should interest fans of the Beatles.  For fans of this group, this is essential listening.

This was the last outing that sold well in the States.  (For some reason, they never caught on at home.) All of the songs are written by band members, both of the hits penned by Pete Ham.  While they’d continue releasing albums, few took interest.  Ham would hang himself in 1975.

— winch

Catharisis: Volume II Les Chevrons (LP) circa 1971

 

Catharisis
Volume II: Les Chevrons
Festival FLD 651
circa 1971  

Recommended ****

 

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Second set by this French progressive-rock outfit, coming out of the early works of Floyd, Purple, and the Nice, horror-movie soundtracks and classical music, Black Sabbath’s more moody material, all instrumental except chants and yelps and such, the heavy focus on the organ (rather than guitars) giving it the feeling of a mass or a soundtrack for a seance, the rock rhythms running through the dimly lit corridors, the bass slightly understated, the percussion quite pronounced, the music rising out of the sludge for a more airy sound, the instrumentations an integral part of the compositions rather than a reason to show off.

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Recommended set for fans of progressive rock.

— Winch

http://www.eight-track.com