Tuesday, September 22, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."The Notorious Byrd Brothers" - The Byrds (1968)

"The Notorious Byrd Brothers" - The Byrds (1968)

"The Notorious Byrd Brothers" is a very, very good album and way more psych-dusted than I expected.  Apart from the opening track that I've yet to warm up to and "Old John Robertson" which is a good song but sounds jarringly out of step with the rest of the more strange and floaty guitar passages, it is gold.  Mostly though, everything moves along as it should in a wonderful heady hippie bong-tipping flair.

And my gosh, what a delicious flock of Byrds shenanigans that were going on during the recording.  David Crosby was sent packing 3 months before the record dropped.  He was upset about many, many things.  As was the band, with him. (Wiki it.)  Halfway through the sessions, drummer Michael Clarke took off for a little while...to mend his mind, perhaps...and then returned.  He was immediately cut loose after the record was finished.  Even Gene Clark, who had left the band long ago, hooked up with The Byrd’s again...for three weeks anyway...and then ran for the hills.  When The Byrds album finally dropped and the smoke had finally cleared...only Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman were left standing.  The making of this album sounds like a complete impossibility, and yet after all the ducking and jiving...their 5th album, "The Notorious Byrd Brothers" turned out to be very nearly a masterpiece.  At the very least, it is one fantastic spin.

"CBS  CBS  Stereo"
"Can Also Be Played On Mono Equipment" 

Favorites are the mostly David Crosby penned “Draft Morning”...a war protest that drops in on the listener, getting all the i's dotted, but without sounding at all preachy.  It's nice and trippy and has some cool bass dancing underneath.  The song “Wasn't Born To Follow" which was immortalized in the biker film, “Easy Rider” is found here, as well.  The psych gem "Tribal Gathering" ...written by Crosby and Hillman...is the lost treasure with its mix of floaty harmonies, odd time-signature, and edgy fuzz guitars.  Wonderful, but all too short.  

The album was ranked #171 on RS list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" and was rescued at the A-OK Record Swap in Wichita.  I could not find this particular pressing on Discogs.  Any help appreciated. 

"The Notorious Byrd Brothers" (back)

CBS label

Side A Matrix:
o XSM-119703-1D  [etched]  
Side B Matrix:
o XSM119704-1G 1  [stamped]  

"Tribal Gathering" - The Byrds / "The Notorious Byrd Brothers" (1968)

TRACKS:
A1  "Artificial Energy" 2:18
A2  "Goin' Back" 3:26
A3  "Natural Harmony" 2:11
A4  "Draft Morning" 2:42
A5  "Wasn't Born to Follow" 2:04
A6  "Get to You" 2:39
B1  "Change Is Now" 3:21
B2  "Old John Robertson" 1:49
B3  "Tribal Gathering" 2:03 
B4  "Dolphin's Smile" 2:00
B5  "Space Odyssey" 3:52

PERSONNEL:
Roger McGuinn – vocals, lead guitar, Moog
Chris Hillman – vocals, bass, guitar, mandolin
Michael Clarke – drums (A1, A4,  B2,  B3, B4)
David Crosby – vocals, rhythm guitar, bass
Gene Clark – b-vocals (A2, B5...possibly)
ADDITIONAL:
James Burton, Clarence White – guitars
Gary Usher – Moog, percussion, b-vocals
Barry Goldberg – organ
Jim Gordon – drums (B2, B3, B5) 
Hal Blaine – drums (B6, A1
Curt Boettcher – b-vocals
Firesign Theatre – sound effects on "Draft Morning"
others...

Good stuff.

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Friday, September 18, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."The Merry-Go-Round" (1967)

"The Merry-Go-Round" (front)

I passed on The Merry-Go-Round on a few occasions simply because I thought the music would be a little too bubbly for my taste.  Too sweet.  But I was way off base.  The Merry-Go-Round made a tasty pop-flavored...folk-rock album that offers up the kind of attention one might expect from Lennon-McCartney.  And yet, The Merry-Go-Round pull off their own vibe.  Emitt Rhodes, who just recently passed, was writing and singing good stuff even as a teenager.  There's nothing jaw-dropping, but the songs do have a maturity that impresses especially for the times.  This, their lone album is not a must-own, but it can still be found cheap and I recommend picking up your own copy.  A bonus is that the record sounds better with every new spin.

Favorites are "You're A Very Lovely Woman" which was a minor hit for the band...and way too good for Top 40.  I love the dark, brooding flavor the song offers and it bears no small resemblance to another song released later that same year by psych legend Love on their "Forever Changes" album.  What does that mean?  Only that music is a funny thing.  This is by no means a psych album, but the unusual track, "Time Will Show the Wiser" is a smart song to fall in love with.  I also really dug the gorgeous "Had To Run Around" with great harmonies and a neat arrangement. Good stuff.

My copy is an unexpected white promo label and looks like it's been played only a handful of times.  On the back cover, there is an "AUDITION RECORD" stamp.  I was lucky to rescue this square from one of my favorite go-to sources out in the wild affectionately known as "Garageman G” and for only one machine-washed Hamilton.

"The Merry-Go-Round" (back)

"AUDITION RECORD" stamp

A&M RECORDS PROMO label

Side A Matrix:
A&M-4163-16 (MR circle) △10865  
Side B Matrix:
A&M-4164-16 (MR circle) △10865-X  

"You're A Very Lovely Woman" - The Merry-Go-Round / "The Merry-Go-Round" (1967)

TRACKS:
A1  "Live" 2:32
A2  "Time Will Show The Wiser" r2:25
A3  "On Your Way Out" 2:29
A4  "Gonna Fight the War" 2:00
A5  "Had To Run Around" 3:34
A6  "We're In Love" 2:22
B1  "You're A Very Lovely Woman" 2:45
B2  "Where Have You Been All of My Life" 2:14
B3  "Early In The Morning" 2:05
B4  "Low Down" 2:57
B5  "Clown's No Good" 2:18
B6  "Gonna Leave You Alone" 2:16

PERSONNEL:
Emitt Rhodes - guitar, keyboards, vocals
Bill Rinehart - guitar, vocals
Rick Dey - guitar
Gary Kato - bass
Joel Larson - drums

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Friday, September 11, 2020

TCCDM Dig and Flip: "The Great Escape" - Paul Brickhill (1950)

"The Great Escape" by Paul Brickhill
(1950)
Softcover, 264 pages

“The Great Escape” is an intensely detailed account of prisoners held in a German POW camp known as Stalag Luft-III.  The camp was made to hold the riskiest of war prisoners.  Author Paul Brickhill, who takes us into this camp, was himself a prisoner.  The guards were constantly on the lookout for any escape tricks.  Scrutinizing every movement they made.  Tunnels were not unheard of, but they were almost always unsuccessful and extremely dangerous.  And, as you can imagine, digging one is a ton of hard work and just one snafu and...pffft!  For the prisoners to have their best chance of pulling this off, the tunnel has to be deeper.  The tunnel has to be longer.  And the tunnel, of course, has to be dug in absolute incognito.  And not just one tunnel this time...but three!  And with prison guards constantly eyeballing them...well...that's a lot of major awesome chutzpah.  Somehow, and this is not a spoiler,  they succeed.  The amazing resourcefulness and incredible fortitude and courage these guys showed was...jaw-dropping.

There is no Steve McQueen...famously motorcycling over and through fences here, but apart from a few liberties, the action movie based on this story follows pretty close.  And make no mistake, this does not have a happy ending.  Only 76 prisoners actually made it through the tunnel,..and nearly all were recaptured.  And a huge number of those escapees were put to death by guards under Hitler's order.  Later, those same guards were arrested as war criminals.  Author Paul Brickhill's retelling of this incredible escape may not be as flashy as the star-studded film, but then again, the truth here cuts much deeper.

"Escape" - Alice Cooper / "Welcome To My Nightmare" (1975)

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Friday, September 4, 2020

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."I'm Still In Love With You" - Al Green (1972)

"I'm Still In Love With You" - Al Green (1972)

For whatever reason, I seldom see any Al Green albums in the wild.  Nice copies are just scarce and hard to come by.  For a guy who hit the sacred trifecta in the early 70s...well...those albums be hiding.  But hey, I finally have one now.  "I'm Still In Love With You" was his 5th studio album, but it was the middle child in his powerful trilogy of albums squeezed between "Let's Stay Together" (1972) and "Call Me." (1973)  Each considered one of his masterpieces.

Everybody should know Al Green by now, but for those who haven't the pleasure, Green's vocals are very distinct.  Beautifully unique.  Warm and romantic, and funky when funk is necessary.  And on this album...mercy!  The horns and drums absolutely pop.  And in just the right measure.  Just enough to let you know they are in the house but they have no plans of moving in.

Al Green wrote seven of the nine songs and four of them charted.  The other two songs were covers.  One is the Kris Kristofferson penned "For The Good Times" and is especially nice.  Absolutely kills it.  There is plenty of love and happiness and occasional heartbreak found here and it is all good.  I've yet to stumble upon Al Green's other two monster albums from his sacred trifecta, and many think they are even better.

"I'm Still In Love With You" (back)

All should be familiar with the hits here, but deeper track favorites are "One of These Good Old Days" and "For the Good Times."  Surprisingly, the classic "Love and Happiness" failed to grab me on the first lap.  Even though it ranked 98 on RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, I had to go back for a second and third helping of the album...before I got it.  It was where the song was placed on the album that bothered me.  I think the epic "Love and Happiness" would have been better served as the closing track on side one or side two rather than squeezed into the middle.  I was still trippin' on the catchy pop-soul that was tearing my heart out and I just wasn't ready to answer the other door.

"I'm Still In Love With You" is on the smaller Hi Records label out of Memphis and was distributed by London Records.  My copy was found at a local Wichita record swap for $9 simoleons.  And it was the only Al Green I saw that day.

Hi Records

Hi Records company sleeve

"One Of These Good Old Days" - Al Green - "I'm Still In Love With You" (1972)

TRACKS:
A1  "I'm Still In Love With You" 3:12
A2  "I'm Glad You're Mine" 2:54
A3  "Love And Happiness" 5:00
A4  "What A Wonderful Thing Love Is" 3:37
A5  "Simply Beautiful" 4:08
B1  "Oh, Pretty Woman" 3:22
B2  "For The Good Times" 6:27
B3  "Look What You Done For Me" 3:04
B4  "One Of These Good Old Days" 3:15

PERSONNEL:
Al Green - vocals
Jack Hale - trombone
Wayne Jackson - trumpet
Ed Logan - tenor horn, tenor sax
Andrew Love - tenor horn, tenor sax
Charles Chalmers - b-vocals, horn and string arrangments
James Mitchell - tenor horn, baritone sax, string and horn arrangments
Mabon "Teenie" Hodges - guitar
Leroy Hodges - bass
Charles Hodges - drums, organ, piano
Howard Grimes - drums, rhythm section
Al Jackson Jr. - drums
Ali Muhammed Jackson - drums
Sandra Chalmers - b-vocals
Donna Rhodes - b-vocals
Sandra Rhodes - b-vocals

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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