Posts Tagged ‘Atlantic Records’

Houdini

The Melvins had been playing for years before the word “grunge” came into fashion to describe the intense, sludgy alternative rock they helped pioneer, so it’s only fair that when Nirvana hit, the band got offered a major label deal. Released 25 years ago today, HOUDINI, the first Melvins album for Atlantic and their fifth overall, was partially produced by longtime fan Kurt Cobain, who also contributes a bit of guitar to “Sky Pup.” These dozen originals (plus a version of Kiss’ “Going Blind”) are loud, heavy and lumbering, and the massive riffs and weird twists of “Honey Bucket,” “Lizzy” and “Hooch” are still overpowering. Featuring iconic Frank Kozik cover art, HOUDINI is the Melvins‘ most successful album to date, and an ideal introduction to the work of King Buzzo and company.

“Houdini2  is the fifth album by Melvins, which was released in 1993 through Atlantic Records.

Track List : 01 Hooch – 0:00 02 Night Goat – 2:50 03 Lizzy – 7:31 04 Going Blind – 12:15 05 Honey Bucket – 16:48 06 Hag Me – 19:48 07 Set Me Straight – 26:56 08 Sky Pup – 29:22 09 Joan of Arc – 33:12 10 Teet – 36:49 11 Copache – 39:41 12 Pearl Bomb – 41:48 13 Spread Eagle Beagle – 44:34 All rights reserved to The Melvins and Atlantic Records.

Third Eye

With a love of trash culture and a sound that encompasses hair metal, glam and power-pop, Redd Kross are among L.A. rock’s greatest unsung heroes. “Third Eye” was the band’s third album of original material and their first for a major label (Atlantic Records), and the 1990 collection captures the group near its peak.

Brothers Jeff and Steve McDonald and guitarist Robert Hecker serve up a wide variety of styles here, and though there’s a sense of humor at work on the soundtrack cuts (“1976”), J-pop tributes (“Shonen Knife”), sugary songs (“Bubblegum Factory”) and Alternative charters (“Annie’s Gone”) heard here, the trio backs it up with serious musical chops.

Packed with hooks and memorable melodies played with joyful abandon, Third Eye never blinks. The naked masked woman on the cover of the album is Sofia Coppola.

Image result for Sam Samudio ‎– Sam, Hard And Heavy

Best known as front man and lead singer for Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, following the band’s late-1960s collapse, Domingo “Sam” Samudio signed a solo deal with Atlantic Records. Released in 1971, in case you couldn’t figure it out from the cover photo with a somewhat ragged Samudio striking a standard born-to-be-wild poise on a nice lookin’ chopper, “Sam Hard and Heavy” was a clear attempt to update and modernize his sound and image. Teamed with famed producers Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd, the set was quite different from his Sam the Sham garage moves. Fairly diverse listen, the ten track album offered up a mixture of Samudio originals and interesting covers. Musically the LP bounced all over the spectrum. ‘Lonely Avenue’ opting for a conventional hard rock sound, while the Tex-Mex ‘Don’t Put Me On’ and bluesy ‘Key To The Highway’ harkened back to his frat boy roots. Elsewhere the collection featured support from guitarist Duane Allman (‘Going Upstairs‘ and ‘Relativity’), Also featured The Dixie Flyers and The Memphis Horns.

Covering John Lee Hooker’s ‘Going’ Upstairs’ as an acoustic blues number wasn’t the most original decision, but having Duane Allman provide Dobro was a great choice. The result was to turn what would have been a mundane cover into a snarling, threatening slice of the blues.

This was recorded during the Layla sessions at Criteria Studios in Miami~Sam was recording in Studio B~We were recording in Studio A~ Duane Allman is backing Sam Samudio…you know Sam the Sham and “Woolly Boolly?” This is actually real nice. Sam should have continued doing this type of material with other greats like Duane. The voice is excellent. released on his album Sam Hard and Heavy in 1971

The Dixie Flyers consisting of: Jim Dickinson, Mike Utley, Charlie Freeman, Tommy McClure & Sammy Creason
The Memphis Horns consisting of: Wayne Jackson, Andrew Love, Ed Logan, James Mitchell, Roger Hopps & Jack Hale. 

By the early-1980s Samudio was completely out of the business, working in the Gulf of Mexico as a deck hand on boats running supplies to drilling rigs. He didn’t reappear until 1982 when Ry Cooder sought him out as a collaborator on the soundtrack to the film “The Border”. Samudio reluctantly agreed to participate, playing organ and contributing a pair of songs to the package (‘No Quiero’ and ‘Palomita’).

Matt maltese bad contestant album packshot %281%29

British but born to Canadian parents, and a focal point of the vibrant South London scene which includes Shame, HMLTD and Goat Girl to name but a few, Matt’s acerbic, witty songwriting brought attention from The FADER, The Guardian, Interview Magazine, NME, DIY, The Line Of Best Fit, and a score of other titles both online and in print throughout 2017.

The Berkshire don helped to create a genre this year: schmaltzcore, caramel-smooth jazz-pop whose purveyors include Tom Misch and Rex Orange County. Sounds like Jamie Cullum, but cool, you know? On his damn fine debut album, Maltese has crafted near-perfect piano pop with whip-smart lyrics (“Some people think the Earth is flat / But if it were / How come I don’t see you anywhere?”) and the occasional boogie-woogie flourish (we heard Jools Holland smashed up his Steinway in a jealous rage when he heard the funky final 30 seconds of ‘Guilty’). ‘Bad Contestant’ is smooth as silk wrapped around a razorblade.

21 year-old South London artist Matt Maltese brings his debut album Bad Contestant – set for release on 1st June via Atlantic Records.

The record, a culmination of 12 days spent in Foxygen instigator Jonathan Rado’s Los Angeles studio and many hours of sessions with Londoner Alex Burey, displays a no-less-than stunning leap forward in songwriting confidence from the already critically acclaimed young musician.

Credited with steering the lush sounding debut albums from Whitney and the Lemon Twigs, as well as Father John Misty’s forthcoming material, Jonathan Rado has helped drench the record with Californian atmospherics, drawing out Matt’s sweetly drifting vocals over a swell of jubilant guitars, brass and drums. Featuring reworked versions of fan favourites and previous singles ‘Strange Time’ and ‘As The World Caves In’ amongst nine beautiful new tracks, Bad Contestant is a grand coming-of-age album packed with Matt’s typically complex, witty melancholy and uplifting melodies.

Dock of The Bay Sessions
Otis Redding was born in Macon, Georgia, on September 9, 1941. Macon is located near the center of Georgia, and today has a population of around 150,000 people. Despite being unremarkable, it was somehow the birthplace for three pillars of soul and rock ‘n’ roll—Little Richard, Otis Redding, and James Brown— and the Allman Brothers of the Allman Brothers Band.
Redding’s career started early. As a 19-year-old, he joined guitarist Johnny Jenkins’ band the Pinetoppers as a singer. The band toured the Chitlin Circuit, and Jenkins had a small, but devoted audience. In 1962, Redding drove Jenkins to Memphis, where the older singer had scored a recording date at Stax Studios, a nascent label taking on a variety of soul and R&B clients across the south in an effort to throw a bunch of singles and singers at the wall and see what stuck. Jenkins spent the better part of a day trying to record a couple songs, and didn’t do so well in that endeavor—most of the Stax house band (including Booker T. and the M.G.’s, and the Memphis Horns) begged off for the day by the time he finished, knowing there wasn’t a hit present. When there was time left on the session, someone and reports vary on this, though apparently Redding may have asked for himself suggested letting Jenkins’ driver cut a record. After failing as bad as Jenkins while trying to record a cover the band members that stayed remember being furious enough to want to leave themselves  Otis Redding sang his “These Arms of Mine,” and the rest was history. The band and label boss Jim Stewart heard and loved the song, released the single, and off Redding went.

The poster for Otis' missed show in Madison. It sells for hundreds of dollars.

His recording career only lasted 62 months, from October 1962 when he recorded “These Arms of Mine,” to December 1967. Here’s the math: Redding released five solo albums, one duets album, one live album, and 79 songs before his plane went down in Lake Monona. Four posthumous albums with 46 more songs followed over the next 31 months. Various compilations, live albums, rarities, and alternate takes have been unearthed since, but for all intents and purposes, that’s Otis Redding’s body of work. 11 albums, 125 songs in 62 months. The most famous of those songs is by far-and-away “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay,” a song recorded in the studio three days before Redding died. It’s almost too on the nose, a too perfect swan song; a singer writes his career defining single, his own “A Change Is Gonna Come” or “Blowin’ In The Wind,” about worrying that the social change the ‘60s was seemingly bringing wouldn’t go far enough and help everyone, only to die in a plane crash before it was released. But that isn’t the whole story: Redding never considered the song “done;” he was worried it was too poppy, was considering adding the Staples Singers as backing vocalists, and hadn’t even properly recorded the now famous outro (the whistling you hear is Sam “Bluzman” Taylor), which might have just been a placeholder until Redding could add another verse.

In the summer of 1967, promoter Lou Adler and Mamas and the Papas member John Phillips had the radical idea to stage a concert at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, California. This was before Woodstock, and before bands like Led Zeppelin were touring hockey arenas; the gigantic American festival infrastructure was more or less invented in order to pull off Monterey Pop Festival. Tickets ranged from $3 to $6.50, somewhere between 25,000 and 90,000 people came each day, and the lineup was meant to reflect a who’s who of young-people popular music: the Who—making their most major U.S. performance to date Jefferson Airplane (technically “the draw” of the fest), the Grateful Dead, and the Mamas and the Papas. But three artists more or less made their careers at Monterey Pop: Jimi Hendrix who memorably lit his guitar on fire and publicly executed every hotshot guitarist on earth Janis Joplin, and Otis Redding who closed out the fest’s second night, reportedly because some of the Airplane had seen him and didn’t want to try to follow him. And what’s more, Redding didn’t even want to perform at Monterey Pop. In 1967, Redding was making bank touring America, and had even started nurturing young artists on his own label. He successfully helped launch Arthur Conley, and was rumored to be a target for Atlantic Records, who would seek to to buy him out of his Stax contract and make him a mega star with their major dollars behind him. So, when his manager came to tell him he wanted him to play a pop festival with a bunch of white rock bands, and, furthermore, expected Redding to do it for free—like the other bands on the bill—he was reluctant. But the opportunity to perform to a crowd that was different than the typical one packing out his club dates was too good an opportunity to pass up.  Watching video of the performance released as part of Criterion Collection’s release of the documentary on Monterey Pop is like watching video of Picasso painting,  It’s his live masterpiece. He comes out and says “This is the love crowd, right?” and then goes into a straight take of “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” before stopping and starting it in the middle; he has them eating out of his hand. He then did a soulful take of “Satisfaction.” You can’t watch the sweat fly off of Redding during this performance and not want to own every album and single, and not want to follow him into war.

It was a cold and foggy day in Cleveland, on December 10th, 1967. Redding and his band had played some shows at a club called Leo’s Casino the night before, and despite freezing rain across the Midwest, they never missed shows, so Redding and his band piled into the plane and headed to Madison, where they were due that night. Two of the band members always rode commercial since Redding’s plane only sat eight. They would find out about the crash at the Cleveland airport.

Around 3:25 p.m., four miles out from the Madison airport at Truax Field, the pilot radioed in to ask for permission to land. Sometime after that call, the plane came out of the clouds, and crashed into Lake Monona. Some residents living around the lake later claimed to have seen or heard the plane come in close to the ground. Police made it out to the wreckage relatively quickly; they were able to find trumpeter Ben Cauley who couldn’t swim shivering and holding onto a seat cushion. Police couldn’t search much that first day, because the water was so cold. They resumed their search after the sun came up on the 11th. They found the other seven passengers during that morning.

Otis Redding was officially pronounced dead on December 11th, 1967. His funeral was a week later, in Macon. Jerry Wexler, the Atlantic Records executive who was grooming Otis to become Atlantic’s next big star, gave the eulogy.

“Otis Redding was a natural prince,” Wexler said, according to Gould’s book. “When you were with him, he communicated love and a tremendous faith in human possibility, a promise that great and happy events were coming.”

“(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” would be released as a single less than a month later. It was Redding’s only number one hit.

Led Zeppelin 1

Whether you mark the genesis as the death of  The Yardbirds, the Scandinavian tour by The New Yardbirds or the band’s first show under the new name, Led Zeppelin’s birth, however gradual, takes place in 1968, on way to its crowning moment, the release of the band’s self-titled debut not two weeks into the new year, January 12th of 1969.

The story arguably begins back in 1966, when Jimmy Page joined The Yardbirds, first on bass as replacement for Paul Samwell-Smith, but then switching to guitar, where he shares those duties with Jeff BeckBeck was soon to depart, in October that year, Jimmy’s thoughts wandered off to bigger things, a supergroup of sorts, while he bides his time for nearly two more years with an act proving to be somewhat directionless. The Yardbirds would play their final show, a Bedfordshire gig, in July of 1968. At this point Jimmy is already in possession of most of the riffs and song ideas he would need in his next incarnation.

“We were a vehicle for what Jimmy wanted to do when he came in,” explains Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty. “He had a pretty free rein, as all the guitar players did and he pushed The Yardbirds sound into more of a heavy metal context. He really was the master of the riff.”

Everyone was paying attention to the band’s star axeman. Recalls Steve Lyman, of legendary Michigan rockers SRC, who caught the band just before their demise, “The first British group that I actually saw perform live was The Yardbirds, at a small club in Ann Arbor, Michigan called The Fifth Dimension. I already had two albums by The Yardbirds at that time, so it was a real thrill for me to see this British group performing live. Jimmy Page was the guitar player at the time, because The Yardbirds went through various incarnations. Eric Clapton was their first guitar player, Jeff Beck and then Jimmy Page. I was mesmerized by that Yardbirds show. I was the lead guitar player in a band The Fugitives, which became the SRC, so seeing Jimmy Page play became a real thrill for me because I had been listening to these Yardbirds records on my record player and trying to figure out what they were playing.”

But in the summer of ’68, The Yardbirds, now splitting up, but nonetheless still committed to a Scandinavian tour. A new lineup to fulfill these dates was called for. After Chris Dreja bows out to begin a career as a photographer, session stalwart John Paul Jones is recruited. In the all important vocal slot, Jimmy had wanted on the team Terry Reid, but Reid demurs, suggesting a young Birmingham singer named Robert Plant. Robert is the one who brings along local drummer and hard-hitter John Bonham. Before the new foursome would hit the road, they perform a session for the P.J. Proby album Three Week Hero. A track there called “Jim’s Blues” would live on as the band’s first session together, on the technicality that Robert is present blowing some harmonica.

Original Judas Priest vocalist Al Atkins happened to be there to watch the formation of what would be called The New Yardbirds, the makeshift name the band used to fulfil those Scandinavian dates.

“I used to know Robert,” says Atkins. “We used to go for a beer together, and sometimes he’d borrow my microphone because he couldn’t afford one, if I wasn’t playing. We had one mic between the two of us. I had the best one. And a buddy of mine, ‘Are you playing tonight?’ ‘No, oh go on.’ It was great times. Robert’s roots have always been blues. He’s a very intelligent guy when you’re talking to him about the blues stuff. He knows everything about that. You can’t argue with him about anything on that subject. But I saw him before Zeppelin, when he was playing at Henry’s Blues House and Alexis Korner was playing on his own, a solo gig he got there, like a one-man band thing or something, and Robert got up and played harmonica and sang along with him.

Image result for led zeppelin led zeppelin 1st album images

“And then with Jimmy Page, they joined The Yardbirds, went over to Europe, came back, and next thing they were called Led Zeppelin. I went to see them play at Mother’s in Erdington. They were supporting Blodwyn Pig, and I think they got 75 quid or something. But when I saw him with Jimmy onstage that night I was totally blown away. And Bonham was absolutely out of his head. He was drunk, I think. And they did a set, and it was very mixed, including a lot of stuff that was going to be coming on the new album. They were loud, but they were brilliant. Robert’s voice had just changed overnight. I couldn’t believe the difference in his voice. Fantastic vocalist. And yeah, John Bonham, he couldn’t come back onstage. They did the encore and the drummer from Blodwyn Pig came on and played this blues thing with them and they just jammed the encore. The good ol’ days.”

Jimmy had made his mind up that they were going to blow everyone off the stage,” adds (now deceased) engineer Andy Johns, soon to be working closely with the band. “That’s what my brother told me. This is when Jimmy still had The Yardbirds thing going. Glyn said, ‘I was with Jimmy the other day, and Jimmy said, I’ve got this new lineup now, and we’re going to blow everyone offstage.’ So that was an intentional thing, to be as dramatic and as riff-conscious as possible. And Jimmy was a fabulous writer, and had a lot of great ideas in the studio, and was just wonderful to work with.”

But in August of 1968, even before the band’s dates in Scandinavia, Jimmy’s Yardbirds mate Jeff Beck would release his album Truth, which many a rock historian debate as the blueprint for what Led Zeppelin would become.

“Well, it was right around the same time,” explains Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. “I was on that Jeff Beck album and Jimmy was with The Yardbirds at the time, so my influence on the Jeff Beck album would probably be similar to my influence on the Led Zeppelin album, just like Jimmy. I don’t know, I suppose. You can come to the same conclusion with any number of blues-based rock bands. But it soon took off from there. Most of the songs we had done on the first album had been done by Jimmy and The Yardbirds as well. It was only things like “Good Times Bad Times,” which was a riff I brought in, that I wrote in the studio. That’s got John’s famous drum part, of course. John never used double bass. He did in fact bring in a double bass drum for rehearsal, and we played a couple of songs with it, but then we hid it when he went for lunch. When he came back it was gone.”

“We loved Zeppelin,” says Nazareth guitarist Manny Charlton, also there to watch the band being born. “They were just an extension to what was going on with the guitar bands like The Who, on from The Beatles. It went from The Beatles to The Who and then into that blues boom thing, with the Jeff Beck Group. The Yardbirds and Cream, really, initially, we were doing the electric blues thing. The Yardbirds moved from that blues thing to another area, where they kept the same sound but they started writing what you would call riffs, and in some cases, like pop songs. A pop song but played with that power-trio lineup. Because initially when Cream started, they were doing ‘I Feel Free’ and stuff like that, basically writing pop songs to get away from the blues, to get away from ‘You Shook Me.’ But the Jeff Beck Group took it to another level, and then Led Zeppelin obviously did as well. But their first album was basically electric blues songs.”

Into the fall, The New Yardbirds would play their first date, September 7th, 1968, at the Gladsaxe Teen Club in Gladsaxe, Denmark, following up with another 10 days around Scandinavia. Significantly, the band have in their set  “Communication Breakdown,” which is recorded as soon as the band get back, in October of that year. It’s a small thing, but one might also call the recording of this bedrock Zeppelin track as the birth of the band. Indeed the song is a step up in intensity, away from other songs in the set at this time such as “Hush,” “The Hunter,” “Somethin’ Else” and “Train Kept A-Rollin’.”

In any event, 1968, as it pertains to the birth of the band, is next marked by the first show on British soil, October 4th at the Mayfair Ballroom, Newcastle upon Tyne. Conducting a brief British tour, the next benchmark is the band’s first show under the new name — Chris Dreja had issued a cease and desist order on the use of The Yardbirds moniker — on October 25th, at the University of Surrey in Battersea. And for the record, as the story goes, the band chose for its new title Led Zeppelin, because John Entwistle had suggested to Jimmy that his new “supergroup” would go down like a lead balloon. Into November, rough and tough manager of the band Peter Grant negotiates a $143,000 advance for his boys from Atlantic Records and the hype machine lurches into operation, never to wane across a full decade of dominance.

“We didn’t move into a style; I think we kind of created it,” muses John Paul Jones, on what the band brought into being over the nine-day burst of creativity in late 1968 that would result in the band’s debut album. “And if you would have asked me in 1969, as people did, what sort of band I was in, I would have said a progressive rock band. But then that became to mean something else. There you go banging up against categories again. That came to mean something else entirely. And then it was just sort of like blues rock, because the band was quite blues-orientated. And it was just the style, the way the members of the band played together. But in terms of actual riffs, well, anything with notes, lots of notes, like ‘Black Dog,’ ‘Good Times Bad Times’… those were my riffs. And anything that was kind of lurchy and chordy were Page’s riffs. That’s how you tell them apart.”

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The impact of the band’s first album would be felt far and wide. “Led Zeppelin had just come out,” remembers Blue Cheer’s Randy Holden. “They were doing something entirely different. I went to see them at their gig at the Whisky, which was their first gig in California as far as I know. I liked their album; I thought they got a really heavy sound on the album, but then live they used these Rickenbackers and they’re the most god-awful sounding amps I ever heard, which really surprised me. But the record really came off great.”

Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover, “Led Zeppelin influenced me a lot because I was in a pop group called Episode Six and we were trying to get heavier and weren’t making it because we were just playing the same music but louder. When the album first came out, you could tell it wasn’t the loudness so much as a feeling, what you felt about the music rather than how they played it. Episode Six, as we were, weren’t the right combination of people to be heavy, and I gradually gained the impression that heavy music wasn’t for me because I didn’t like what we were playing — loud pop music. And I decided for a time to go into folk music. I’ve never been so struck by an album as I was by Led Zeppelin. It really left me open-mouthed. What they were playing was very simple stuff, loud and exciting, and it moved me. I suddenly wanted to be in a club playing that music — loud, straightforward, with simple guts. And by pure coincidence, just about that time I was offered a job with Deep Purple! But for Zeppelin, I might never have been in Deep Purple.

“I remember Jimmy played me the first Led Zeppelin album,” chuckles Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty. “There was ‘Dazed and Confused’ and there was a Howlin’ Wolf-type thing, ‘How Many More Times” which is very similar to the stuff we’d been playing; it was similar to ‘Smokestack Lightnin’,’ I thought. And then there was another one which was similar. It was very well done, the first Zeppelin album; I thought it was very good. You can see the links, how easy it was to go from us to them.”

And like so many others that were there to bear witness to the birth of this great band, Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones had also found himself impressed with what Jimmy had put together. “At the time, I was cutting my teeth in France,” explains Jones. “Don’t ask me how, but I’d become sort of the musical director and producer of Johnny Hallyday, who you’ve probably heard of. He was sort of the French Elvis, as it were. And so we would go over to England to record, and we ended up with an engineer named Glyn Johns, who at that time, he worked with Steve Miller Band and later the Eagles. I think he had been working with the Eagles even before their record came out. But he had worked a lot with John Paul and Jimmy when they were session musicians.”

“And they happened to be session musicians on the stuff that I was doing for Johnny Hallyday. And so I was fully aware of who they were. And every time I was playing with Jimmy Page, he blew me away every time we went into the studio. I had so much respect for him as a guitar player. So that’s where our friendship developed. He would even come over to Paris with Glyn Johns and cut tracks over there. In fact, some of the music that we were doing with Johnny Hallyday provided the opportunity for Jimmy to work closely with Glyn Johns in preparing the first Zeppelin album. And I remember the day that Glyn took me into the studio, the back of Olympic Studios in London, and he said, ‘I’m going to play you a couple things on Jimmy’s project.’ And he sat down and played me ‘Communication Breakdown’ and it just blew me away. Just blew my mind. I couldn’t believe it. I had never heard anything as mean and powerful in my life. It just left me staggered.”

Millions across the planet were soon to feel equally staggered, but again, the groundwork and indeed so much more, was set in 1968, and really, much of it packed into the back half of the year. The breakdown in communication that caused the demise of The Yardbirds to the recording of “Communication Breakdown” takes no more than an astonishing four months, and by the end of the year, is a record that will forever change rock ‘n’ roll. Fully 50 years later, the impact of Led Zeppelin is still reverberating.

Words By Martin Popoff

Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin - 1st [B] - Uncorrected - G vinyl LP album (LP record) UK ZEPLPLE672541

Various Artists (Label Samplers) The Age of Atlantic album cover

The Age of Atlantic is the second in a series of rock music samplers released by the Atlantic label in the UK. The compilation is credited to Janet Martin. Issued at a budget price of UK £0.99, ($US 2.00 approx in 2007), the album was for many an inexpensive introduction to new rock acts, and was one of the earliest samplers of “progressive” or “underground” music. 

The gatefold’s exterior was modelled in plasticine and, on its front, showed the logos or punning representations of the featured bands, whose album covers were depicted in the interior. The rear features the track listing scratched into a flattened layer of plasticine. The design is credited to Hamish & Gustav.

The track listing is wildly eclectic illustrating the diversty of Atlantic’s roster at the time. You get some fun rockers (Zep, Vanilla Fudge), some white boy blues (The Allman Brothers) and Prog (Yes, Iron Butterfly) and leftfield Americana (Dr John, Buffalo Springfield and Delaney and Bonnie).

Side One

  1. “Comin’ Home”  – Delaney & Bonnie (with Eric Clapton)
  2. “Tonight”  – MC5
  3. “Black Hearted Woman”  – Allman Brothers Band
  4. “Survival”  – Yes
  5. “I’m a Good Woman” – Cold Blood
  6. “Whole Lotta Love”  – Led Zeppelin

Side Two

  1. “Termination” – Iron Butterfly
  2. “The Last Time”  – Dada
  3. “Communication Breakdown” (Page/Plant/Jones/Bonham) – Led Zeppelin
  4. “Wash Mama Wash”  – Dr John
  5. “Need Love”  – Vanilla Fudge
  6. “Broken Arrow”  – Buffalo Springfield

Déjà Vu might be the preferred choice of critics, no doubt due to the presence of Neil Young, but CSN, the trio’s glorious debut is arguably a much superior representation of their sound, and certainly a much purer one. And while some have described CSN as the ‘60s first true ‘supergroup,’ the same title could also be applied to Cream, who’d already formed and broken up long before Crosby, Stills and Nash had even made their first recording.

David Crosby, having been kicked out of The Byrds during recording sessions for 1968’s The Notorious Byrd Brothers, loitered around Laurel Canyon, pondering over his next move. It wasn’t until he hooked up with GrahamNash (ex-Hollies) and Stephen Stills that the idea of forming a new band became a real possibility.

Nash remembers: “We were in Joni’s living room – or was it Cass’s kitchen? – and David and Stephen began singing “You Don’t Have To Cry.” I asked them to sing it again then I added my harmony to it. The heavens opened: it was an unbelievable sound and we knew we had to make music together.”

In England they approached Apple, the independent label founded by The Beatles, but were rejected after hearing what they were given. CSN returned to America where, thanks to the enthusiasm of David Geffen and AhmetErtegun, CSN were subsequently offered a contract with Atlantic Records, the same label that would soon sign Led ZeppelinStills dominated the recording of the album. Apart from drums, handled by Dallas Taylor, he played nearly all of the instruments on the album. Nash played acoustic guitar on two tracks and Crosby rhythm guitar on a few. Stills played all the bass, organ, and lead guitar parts, as well as acoustic guitar on his own songs.

Recorded at Wally Heider’s Studio III in Los Angeles in early 1969, and released in May that same year, Crosby, Stills & Nash would go on to eclipse anything by The Byrds, The Hollies, or even BuffaloSpringfield. Also, by employing their surnames in the band’s title, instead of adopting an actual name, such as The Zombies, Jefferson Airplane etc, meant that CSN were already destined to stand out.

Right from opening Acoustic Guitars of “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” (written about Judy Collins) and when those magical three voices blend – you realise you’re in the presence of something very special. Although the song is 7:24 minutes long , Its a marathon-like ode to his failed relationship with singer Judy Collins. Progressive-folk, raga, country-blues, even Spanish lyrics, “Suite” is an opus that takes the listener on a personal and deeply moving journey, and remains the one song that CSN should be best remembered for. Nash’s catchy “Marrakesh Express” might seem a bit twee now, at least to modern ears, yet back in the day, even a title such as that meant it was fully loaded with all manner of connotations. It’s followed by the stunning ethereal beauty of “Guinnevere” sashaying into your living room with a softly plucked Acoustics. Then you get hit with the full harmonious power and beauty of those three voices as a wall of one. When the trio first got together in Joni Mitchell’s house – they noticed the ‘timber’ of the combo.

Stills’ “You Don’t Have To Cry” is the song which started it all, and is a delightful country-blues number complemented by some exquisite three-part harmonies, followed by the trippy “Pre-Road Downs,” written by Nash, and which closed side one of the original record.

Flip the disc, and we begin with the iconic “Wooden Ships,” which would turn up on the Jefferson Airplane album “Volunteers” in November of 1969 (it was a co-write with Paul Kantner) and I’ve always loved both versions – a strange hybrid of Soulful Rock that seemed to belong to California in 1969. CSN’s original take is shorter and amps up the Guitar and Organ . The bass and rhythm section is so warm and sweet but it’s the Stills vocal followed by Crosby and back again that impresses . The lyrics describe a handful of survivors living in a post-apocalyptic world. The song was included in the Woodstock movie, thus helping to propel the group’s popularity ever further. The gentle “Lady Of The Island,” written by Nash, is a delicate love-song devoted to JoniMitchell, while “Helplessly Hoping” picks up where “You Don’t Have To Cry” left off, full of delicious harmonies and subtle acoustic guitar.

Henry Diltz - Crosby, Stills & Nash 1

Crosby’s “Long Time Gone” had been floating around David’s head for a while, before nailing the master (a very early demo was included on the Voyage box set). Stills explained the process: “So with a song like “Long TimeGone,” I’d say, ‘Cros, go home.’ David would come back in the morning, and I’d say, ‘So, how do you like your song?’”

Clearly, Stills’ experience working in various studios over the years, meant that he knew exactly what to do when it came to overdubbing his instruments, as evidenced on “49 Bye-Byes,” a tune practically built from the ground up thanks to Stills’ knowledge of recording technology.

On the cover the members are, left to right, Nash, Stills, and Crosby, for no particular reason, the reverse of the order of the album title. The photo was taken by their friend and photographer Henry Diltz before they came up with a name for the group. They found an abandoned house with an old, battered sofa outside, located at 815 Palm Avenue, West Hollywood, across from the Santa Palm car wash that they thought would be a perfect fit for their image. A few days later they decided on the name “Crosby, Stills, and Nash”. To prevent confusion, they went back to the house a day or so later to re-shoot the cover in the correct order, but when they got there they found the house had been reduced to a pile of timber

Dallas Taylor can be seen looking through the window of the door on the rear of the sleeve. In the expanded edition, however, he is absent. The original vinyl LP was released in a gatefold sleeve that depicted the band members in large fur parkas with a sunset in the background on the gatefold (shot in Big Bear, California), as well as the iconic cover art. A long folded page inside displayed the album credits, lyrics, track listing,

The truly dedicated listener will likely want the 2006 HDCD expanded edition, which includes early takes of “TeachYour Children,” “Song With No Words,” “Do For The Others,” a tender folk ballad by Stills, and a cover of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’.” the group continued recording that year and the HDCD disc has four bonus tracks come from those sessions. “Do For The Others” would eventually show on “Stephen Stills” – his debut solo album from late 1970. The second it opens – you can hear why its been included on this Expanded CD Edition – not only is this song gorgeous to listen too – it’s beautifully recorded – essentially a Demo with Stills on Lead Guitar while the other two harmonise. It’s a genuine wow. Second up is another harmony winner in “Song With No Words” where they “dah dah” the melody that would eventually appear on David Crosby’s magnificent “If I Could Only Remember My Name” debut solo album in 1971. Truly beautiful is the only way to describe the Trio doing Fred Neil’s classic “Everybody’s Talkin'” made famous by Nilsson’s cover as used in the movie “Midnight Cowboy”. Crosby describes it in the liner notes as “Stills at his best…” There’s a demo of the “DéjàVu” classic “Teach Your Children” which is nice but nothing as good as the magical trio that preceded it. Fans will know that there are five other ‘outtakes’ from the period on the “Carry On” 4CD Box Set (1991) – one day we might get a Deluxe Edition 2CD set covering the event in its entirety.

While Crosby, Stills & Nash can never betray its hippie, idealistic origins, the record itself provides a timeless window into the lives of three young men whose unique, creative chemistry would inadvertently give rise to a whole new musical genre, one that included Poco, America, and most famously, The Eagles.

Years afterwards, Crosby would go on to sum up that special chemistry: “For whatever reasons, I think you get very few records like that in your life, which you can put on twenty years later and they still hold up. To this day, that first record comes on, and you don’t want to take it off or skip a tune. You just want to let it run.”

  • David Crosby – vocals; guitars on “Guinevere”; rhythm guitar on “Wooden Ships” and “Long Time Gone”
  • Stephen Stills – vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion all tracks except “Guinevere” and “Lady of the Island”
  • Graham Nash – vocals; rhythm guitar on “Marrakesh Express” and “Pre-Road Downs”; acoustic guitar on “Lady of the Island”
  • Dallas Taylor – drums on “Pre-Road Downs,” “Wooden Ships,” “Long Time Gone,” and “49 Bye-Byes”
  • Jim Gordon – drums on “Marrakesh Express”
  • Cass Elliot – backing vocals on “Pre-Road Downs”

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Atlantic

On November. 8th, 1971, Led Zeppelin released their fourth album. There was no title printed on the album, so it is usually referred to as Led Zeppelin IV, following the naming sequence used by the band’s first three studio albums. The album has alternatively been referred to as , Four Symbols, The Fourth Album (those two titles each having been used in the Atlantic catalogue), Untitled, Runes, The Hermit, and ZoSo, the latter of which is derived from the symbol used by Jimmy Page for the album sleeve. Page often had the ZoSo symbol embroidered on his clothes.

The album contains many of the band’s most famous songs, including “Black Dog”, “Rock and Roll”, “Going to California” and the band’s signature song, “Stairway to Heaven”, Led Zeppelin IV was a commercial and critical success. The album is one of the best-selling albums worldwide

To celebrate its 46th birthday of Led Zeppelin‘s masterful fourth album, which of its songs are the best and worst,
there’s hardly a wasted track on the fourth album release. Is it the best rock ‘n’ roll record ever made and, at the same time, not even the best Zeppelin album, Its amazing, emblematic of the band, but not their best work.
Maybe the ultimate testament to Led Zeppelin’s greatness is that an album as colossal and widely worshiped as IV actually has three or four legitimate challengers for “Best Album” within their amazing catalog. But if IV is not their best for groundbreaking reasons, Its influential, mould-setting reasons then whichever of Led Zeppelin’s first seven albums is playing on your stereo right now is the best record that’s ever been made. But I’d give IV the silver medal and save the gold for Physical Graffiti, which has even more range, weight and sophistication.

The best song on the album?
It changes all the time. The opening rush of “Black Dog” is one hell of a way to kick off an album, and “Stairway to Heaven” is such an expertly structured song. But “When the Levee Breaks” is the one that most often has me turning up the volume. Those drums!
“Stairway to Heaven.” has become synonymous with Led Zeppelin you’ll find it’s astounding. Also, like the album itself, it’s emblematic of the band. It shows off what they do best:: creepy, Celtic folk, cryptic lyrics paired with haunting vocals, a bombastic crescendo with evil blues guitar and drum fills that define perfection. That said, the first 10 seconds of “Four Sticks” is probably the best thing they’ve ever done. that said, the first minute of “When the Levee Breaks” is probably the best thing they’ve ever done. which closes the LP with so much power and atmosphere, and maybe the heaviest drum sound ever captured, from the bottom of that stairwell at Headley Grange. I suppose, too, because it’s fundamentally a blues, it can represent Led Zeppelin’s musical bedrock in its most epic form , “Black Dog.” So powerful, so sexy, so smart. We’ve all read about the hard work and creative genius that went into making the song work, but it’s impossible to think of it as anything but purely instinctual when it’s playing.

“Four Sticks” is the only song that consistently feels sub-par when I listen to IV. The fact its named that way because Bonham played it with a pair of drumsticks in each hand doesn’t say much about the lyrics, which I’ve heard described by Jimmy Page as being abstract, and to me that sounds like another way of saying, “This was filler and we couldn’t even be bothered to tidy up the lyrics, so yeah, it’s so abstract, man.”

Led Zeppelin

The hipster record clerk at my favorite record store insisted on calling it Zoso. Atlantic Records had it listed as Four Symbols or Led Zeppelin IV. If they wanted to break the pattern established by the numerical naming of their first three albums, they should have given it an actual title. it’s perfectly acceptable to occasionally and judiciously refer to it as “Zep IV.”

Yes-close.jpg

“Close to the Edge” is the fifth studio album by progressive rock band Yes, released on 13th September 1972 by Atlantic Records . Following a tour in support of their previous album, “Fragile”  Yes returned to the studios in London to record their next album. Produced by the band and audio engineer Eddy Offord , the album consists of three tracks: “Cloase to The Edge” on side one; “And You And I” and “Siberian Khatru” on side two. When recording for the album finished, drummer Bill Bruford who was frustrated by the band’s style and laborious recording in the studio, left to join Robert Fripp’s King Crimson . His replacement was Alan White of the Plastic Ono Band and part of Terry Reid’s group.

Close to the Edge became the band’s greatest commercial success at the time of its release, reaching number a chart position of 3 in the United States and number 4 on the UK Albums Charts .

The combination of Anderson’s psychedelic, wide-eyed lyrics and anthemic vocal melodies fit perfectly with some of the fiercest, most intricately layered instrumental passages in the history of rock music. Those passages came courtesy of Bruford’s jazz-fusion finesse, Wakeman’s classical-tinged elegance, Howe’s spidery eclecticism, and Squire’s surging, muscular thud.

Another reason this album remains a touchstone is that it never lapses into the noodling or show-offy antics that plagued so many prog-rock albums during the genre’s peak. Instead, Close to the Edge (particularly the four-part, 18-minute title suite) is incredibly nuanced, composed with such masterful flow and economy that every solo or lyric or riff feels connected in a cosmic, over-arching fashion. Even at its most complex (the deceptively tricky “Total Mass Retain” section), the simplest ideas shine through. Howe’s sublime guitar theme (which runs throughout the entirety of the title-track) is one of the most elegant in the prog cannon.

But while “Close to the Edge” may be the album’s inevitable stand-out, two other excellent tracks round out the disc:. “And You And I” is a mini-epic, utilizing Howe’s most melodic and emotional 12-string work and a spine-chilling Anderson lead vocal, while “Siberian Khatru” closes the festivities with an instrumental workout that blends funky full-band riffing with jazz-fusion-styled interplay, pitting Wakeman’s bubbling organ against Howe’s soaring leads (co-arranged by Bruford, in a classic example of the band writing for each other’s instruments).

“We were on top of the world when we made “Close To The Edge” says singer-songwriter Jon Anderson, recalling the early months of 1972 when he and his Yes band mates (guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire, keyboardist Rick Wakeman and drummer Bill Bruford) holed up inside London’s Advision Studios to record the follow-up to their breakout hit, Fragile, which was released a year earlier.

Comprised of just three songs – the title track along with And You And I, both four-movement epics, plus the relatively short (at eight minutes, 55 seconds) Siberian Khatru – Close To The Edge was the result of the progressive rock band’s musical impulses running on full, a broad canvas of dizzying instrumental exchanges supporting Anderson’s sublime, mystical poetic vistas.

“It’s very representative of what I think is the Yes style,” Anderson says. “We experimented a lot, but we also had the talent to back it up – it wasn’t just solo after solo. We told stories and created moods. It was all very daring and wonderful.”

The group eschewed making demos, preferring to work on rough ideas while co-producer Eddy Offord rolled tape. After several weeks, concepts were sewn together into elaborate song structures. “We’d get the basic sketch of something, and then it was a matter of refinement,” says Anderson. “A piece would start to feel complete, but then I’d look to Steve and say, ‘We need a very poignant 12-string guitar introduction.’ He’d come up with it, it would be great, and we’d be off.”

Anderson looks back at the writing and recording of Close To The Edge, offering his insights into the record track-by-track (and, more specifically, movement-by-movement). “It was the beginning of my musical journey in terms of really understanding structure,” he says.

CLOSE TO THE EDGE – THE SOLID TIME OF CHANGE

“The idea of the chant was key to the song. [Sings] ‘A seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace/ And rearrange-da-dada-dada-dada-da-da-daa.’ It’s a rhythmic thing. I worked that out with Steve.

“The band started playing, and I said, ‘Guys, maybe you should be doing something more syncopated instead of a straight-on beat.’ So while Bill and Chris worked on a drum and bass thing, I looked at Rick and said, ‘OK, how fast can you play?’ And, of course, he could play very fast. The whole idea was to make it musically entertaining even before we put the voices on.

“For lyrics, I did a rough sketch of the whole piece, but as the sections came together, that’s when I rewrote the words. It took about three or four revisions till everything was there. It’s all metaphors. Simply put, ‘A seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace’ – that means your higher self will eventually bring you out of your dark world.”

CLOSE TO THE EDGE – TOTAL MASS RETAIN

“We’ve laid the foundation of where we’re going to go, and now we’re into the second part. This is about the relaxation of life and being close to the edge of the realization of our universal experiences. That’s what the song is starting to explain.

“This part flows. It shows you that you have to let music guide you. It’s best to open up and not force the situation. Everything will come to you.

[Sings] “’Sudden cause shouldn’t take away the startled memory/ all in all, the journey takes you all the way.’ The idea is that life is an ongoing journey, and you have to enjoy it, you know?”

CLOSE TO THE EDGE – I GET UP, I GET DOWN

“We have the ‘the I get up, I get down’ part before it goes into a beautiful ocean of energy. You’ve gone through nearly 10 minutes of music that’s very well put-together, but then you want to let go of it. You relax a little bit.

“The song came about because Steve was playing these chords one day, and I started singing, ‘Two million people barely satisfy.’ It’s about the incredible imbalance of the human experience on the planet.

“The vocals came together nicely. I’m a big fan of The Beach Boys and The Association – such great voices. Steve and I were working on this, and at one point he said, ‘I have this other song…’ And I said, ‘Well, start singing it.’ And he went [sings], ‘In her white lace, you could clearly see the lady sadly looking/ saying that she’d take the blame for the crucifixion of her own domain… ’

“When I heard that, I said, ‘Wait. That’s going to be perfect! You start singing that with Chris, and then I’ll sing my part.’ We have an answer-back thing.

“I heard a record with a church organ. I can’t remember what the album was, but I remember that it really woke things up. Going into the end, we needed something really big. Sonically, it changes all the textures.”

CLOSE TO THE EDGE – SEASONS OF MAN

“The arrangement had gone to where Rick was doing a solo. We’d always tried to give Steve a solo, then Rick a solo… Chris and Bill were working out the drum and bass parts. I said, ‘There’s got to come a time where I can get back in with [sings] The time between the notes relates the color to the scenes.’ Because the band is just cookin’ away, so I knew we needed a crescendo, and that’s where I came back in singing. They rehearsed it a few time, and this phrase then came out of the keyboard-organ solo.

“The line that goes, ‘Then according to the man who showed his outstretched arm to space/ he turned around and pointed, revealing all the human race’ – I’d had this dream where I was up on a mountain. This man was holding me around the shoulders, and he was pointing and saying, ‘That’s the human experience.’ And I smiled because I realized that it was true.”

Steve Howe Playing the Guitar

AND YOU AND I – CORD OF LIFE

“And You And I” was written in maybe five different sections, and then we put them all together. The idea was very straightforward at first. It was going to be a very pretty folk song that I wrote with Steve. Soon we decided that it was to be surrounded by very big themes.

“’A man conceived a moment’s answers to the dream/ staying the flowers daily, sensing all the themes’ – I love singing this song on tour. In fact, I still sing it.

“When we were writing in those days, it was ‘Here’s the verse, here’s the verse, we’ve gotta get from the verse to the bridge.’ We had to make the bridge very, very different. ‘And you and I climb over the sea to the valley, and you and I reached out for reasons to call’ – and then we’re going to hold that note, and the theme is going to come back in.

“I would always record Rick when he was writing music. He was working on something at the time, and I said, ‘Let’s develop this theme.’ It felt really good.”

AND YOU AND I – ECLIPSE

“You work on a solo section, and it gets to the point where you feel it’s finished, and maybe it’s time to get back to that part that we sang at the end of the second verse – and just double up on it. That’s how we brought this section back in.”

AND YOU AND I – THE PREACHER THE TEACHER

“It goes to a totally different song and feel. Steve is a magical guitar player, and he could switch to a new style so easily. I said to him, ‘It’s got to be have a real country feel to it.’ He knew just what to do, and then Chris, one of the greatest melodic bassists ever, came in, and right there the song sat together so sweet.

“We wrote this section in one afternoon, but it probably took about a week to put the whole piece of music for And You And I together.”

AND YOU AND I – APOCALYPSE

“Nearly all of the music we ever made had one thought behind it: what will it sound like on stage? We liked to make records, but our main reason for doing what we did was to perform live, surrounded by a sound system and under the lights.

“I remember when we did And You And I at the Spectrum in Philadelphia for the first time. The whole room was so alive with the music we were making – it was really overwhelming – and when we were finished, the audience cheered and clapped for 15 minutes. I’m not kidding.

“That’s what I think of when I remember the end moments of And You And I. It was one of those times in your life that you never forget.”

Chris Squire Playing the Bass

SIBERIAN KHATRU

“I was playing this on acoustic guitar the other day. ‘Khatru’ means ‘as you wish’ in Yemeni. When we were working on it, I kept singing the word over and over again, even though I had no idea what it meant. I asked somebody to look it up for me, and when they told me the meaning, it worked for the song.

“I had already written most of it, but I needed help with some of the sections. I started playing it on guitar for the band, and then I realized that it needed a strong riff. Steve really helped out with some of the parts and, of course, the riff. The song could work with the riff and the vocals alone.

[Sings] “’Even Siberia goes through the motions… ‘” The idea is that Siberia is so far away. The Iron Curtain still existed, and Siberia was like this no man’s land. Russia is such a huge country, and the thought was that life still happens there as it does here.

“The verses have a different rhythmic feel. We had a lots influences and elements going on. Before Yes, I was in a band in the ‘60s, and we did all the R&B songs that were on the charts. I loved singing those songs, but I didn’t want to write about the same things subject-wise. ‘My babe don’t love me no more, what am I gonna do?’ – why should I compete with people who were writing those songs so damn well?

Steve’s guitar playing is brilliant. I’ve always been amazed at his incredible talent. Even on the last tour I did with him, I’d come off stage and say to him, ‘How do you do that?’ But the great thing about his playing here is that he’s always aware of the structure. He’s not just playing to play.

“The song builds and builds and builds and builds – you’re taking the audience on an epic adventure. People think it can’t get bigger, but it does. The vocalization I was doing – ‘Bluetail, tailfly, Luther, in time, suntower, asking, cover, lover’ – it builds and builds, too, and then it goes into the solo, and everybody goes crazy. A very cool song.”

Jon Anderson in Concert

Yes supported the album, with its release three months into the band’s with their 1972-73 World Tour their biggest since their formation.  Recordings from the tour, both film and audio, were included on the band’s 1973 live album, “Yessongs” The filmed performance was recorded at the December 1972 shows at the Rainbow Theatre in London

It was reissued in 1994, 2003, and 2013, the latter included unreleased tracks and a new stereo and 5.1 Surround sound mix on the reissues remastered by Steven Wilson . Critical reception was mixed on release, though the album is retrospectively regarded as one of the band’s best works, and a landmark recording in progressive rock.

Yes Keyboardist in Concert

It doesn’t get more prog than this: Three songs, none less than nine minutes. Plus, two of those tracks are split into four movements each. Pretentious? Oh yeah. But when the songs are this good – “Close to the Edge,” “And You and I” and “Siberian Khatru,” .