Posted tagged ‘1975’

An exciting exploration of psycho-acoustics

June 30, 2014

That’s how they billed the record they gave away when you bought a pair of Koss Phase/2+2 Quadrafone headphones in 1975.

So tonight on The Midnight Tracker, that’s the trip we’re taking.

koss perspectives lp

Side 1 of “Koss Perspectives” provided extended instructions in the proper use of your new quadraphonic headphones.

“This album has been specially created by Koss and ABC Records for use with the new Koss Phase/2+2 Quadrafone. The unique application of psychoacoustic design principles into the product in combination with the exclusively mixed program material in this record produce a major milestone in the advancement of musical realism in quadraphonics.”

Side 2 was an extended mix intended to demonstrate the quadrophonic capability of said headphones. It sampled:

Michael Omartian — “Take Me Down”
Dusty Springfield — “Easy Evil”
B.B. King — “Lucille’s Granny”
Rufus — “Tell Me Something Good”
The Crusaders — “Stomp And Buck Dance”
Keith Jarrett — “Treasure Island”
Jimmy Buffett — “They Don’t Dance Like Carmen No More”
Joe Walsh — “Falling Down” (opening section)
John Lee Hooker — “Homework”
The Crusaders — “Whispering Pines”
Joe Walsh — “Falling Down” (closing section)
Bobby Bland — “This Time I’m Gone For Good”

Of course, we have Side 2 from “Koss Perspectives,” 1975. It’s out of print. It runs 19:20.

“The selections contained are the results of extensive consultation between Koss and ABC to choose works of unusual fidelity, dimensional characteristics and psycho-acoustic ‘potential.’ Each selection was remixed from the original multi-track master tapes … to recapture the exciting depth and special qualities of the live recording session.”

If you insist.

I can’t find how much these headphones cost, but I did find this description of how they worked, from Charles G. Hill at

“(They had) horridly complicated cabling, which wanted to come loose from the control box every chance it got. … It was endlessly fascinating for about the first couple of weeks, after which playing with the little switches became more trouble than it was worth.”

Quadraphonics aside, this record is kinda cool, actually. It’s like a flashback to the wonderful nights of free-form FM radio we enjoyed in 1975.

Left off the set list

April 30, 2010

When Elton John played a show across the street from Lambeau Field back in 2003, most folks thought that was a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Two weeks ago, he came back to Green Bay and did it again.

I have no good explanation about why I didn’t go see Elton John the first time. Temporary insanity? Mind you, I’m nowhere near a hardcore Elton John fan, but I wasn’t about about to miss out on a most unexpected second chance to see a legend. So we popped for the mid-price seats and took the binoculars.

A friend told me it would be worth whatever we spent. She was right.

There was no opening act. He started promptly at 8 p.m. — as advertised — and played 25 songs over the next 2 hours, 43 minutes. Picking the highlights is a rather subjective thing. Mine might not be yours. That said, a tour-de-force “Rocket Man” that went almost 14 minutes is right up there.

The lovely Janet kept hoping he’d play “Pinball Wizard.” But no. Why do covers when you have so much of your own material? I kept hoping he’d play “Empty Garden.” But no, he rarely plays that.

Yet for all the hits — and he played plenty — there was nothing from my favorite Elton John record. No complaints, though.

“Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy” came out just as I graduated from high school in 1975. It’s all about writing, and that was pretty appealing to a kid who wanted to be a writer.

It’s all about storytelling, too. Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote the 10 songs in the order they appear on the album. Those songs tell their story, a story of how they struggled as they got started in London in the late ’60s.

Yet only one song from that album charted, and I can understand why Elton John might not want to sing “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.” It’s about how friends — Long John Baldry foremost among them — talked him out of suicide when he was wracked with doubt about having to decide between marrying his girlfriend and pursuing a music career.

Favorite records are rather subjective, too. Mine might not be yours. Regardless, enjoy tonight’s side on The Midnight Tracker.

“(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket,” “Better Off Dead,” “Writing,” “We All Fall In Love Sometimes” and “Curtains,” Elton John, from “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy,” 1975. This is Side 2. It runs 20:24.

The buy link is to a 1996 CD release that is remastered and contains three extra tracks. Two of the extra tracks — “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and “Philadelphia Freedom” — were released as singles in 1974 and 1975, respectively. A 2005 release, also remastered, has two CDs with six extra tracks and a live performance of the original album at Wembley Stadium in London in 1975.

Head East is not REO

January 30, 2009

As we stagger to the end of another month, the idea for another side falls right into our lap. Again, as with Bob Seger in November, the inspiration is our pal Michael over at Fusion 45.

Last week over at F45, Michael served up “Never Been Any Reason” by Head East, saying it was “their one and only attempt to be REO Speedwagon (in terms of popularity, that is).”

Whether that’s so is debatable. It’s entirely possible, though, that Head East was influenced by REO (whose early stuff we dig and whose later stuff Michael digs). They certainly competed. Both were part of a thriving Midwest rock scene in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

In the early ’70s, the best stuff came out of Michigan — the MC5, Iggy and the Stooges, Bob Seger’s early bands and Grand Funk Railroad. By the mid-’70s, though, a bunch of different sounds came out of Illinois — REO, Styx, Head East, Starcastle. They weren’t as crunchy as the Michigan bands.

Still, Head East is not REO. Sure, lead singer John Schlitt brings to mind REO’s Kevin Cronin. Sure, keyboard player Roger Boyd brings to mind REO’s Neil Doughty. And so on. But we’ll let you be the judge of that, once you listen to tonight’s side.

You know “Never Been Any Reason,” so we’ll flip over the record and serve up Side 2 of “Flat As A Pancake.”


“Jefftown Creek,” “Lovin’ Me Along,” “Ticket Back To Georgia” and “Brother Jacob,” Head East, from “Flat As A Pancake,” 1975. It runs 19:00. Three of the four cuts were written by drummer Steve Huston, with “Lovin’ Me Along” by guitarist Mike Somerville.

There’s plenty of tasty organ work by Boyd on the first two cuts, “Jefftown Creek” and “Lovin’ Me Along.” Dig the Mellotron at the end of the latter. The last two cuts are piano-driven, with “Ticket Back To Georgia” seemingly inspired by the Allman Brothers’ quieter stuff and “Brother Jacob” hinting at gospel influences.

I saw Head East play at a festival in Madison, Wisconsin, in the late ’80s, a good decade past their prime. I thought it would be lame, and it was pretty good. You might find this side to be much the same.

Then go see Head East when they come to your town. They’re still out there touring, still playing some of the tunes from this side, with Boyd leading the way.

On the verge of stardom

December 1, 2007


When Bob Seger’s “Beautiful Loser” album was released in 1975, he was 30 and had been working on the Detroit rock scene since his teens.

He’d had several regional hits, with “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” his biggest, reaching No. 17 nationally in 1968. He was well-regarded in Detroit and the Midwest as a hard-working rocker and a fine songwriter. Yet he was not nationally known.

It’s hard to think of Seger that way today because he’s been such a big star for so long. There are those who know Seger only for his work with the Silver Bullet Band. Then there are those of us who listened to Seger before the Silver Bullet Band.

I find early Seger more interesting than Seger the hit-maker. I stopped buying Seger’s albums after this one. What I heard on the radio and on his Silver Bullet Band-era albums seemed too polished, too mannered, lacking the grit and authenticity of his earlier work.

Tonight’s side, from “Beautiful Loser,” captures Seger on the verge of hitting it big. Three of the four cuts on Side 1 also turned up on “Live Bullet,” which came out a year later and was Seger’s breakthrough album.

Seger is backed by the Muscle Shoals rhythm and horn sections on “Beautiful Loser,” giving the harder-rocking tunes plenty of sock.

Side 1 puts two of those harder-rocking tunes — the swamp-rockish “Black Night” and the full-blown rave-up “Katmandu” — in the middle. They’re bookended by a couple of quieter tunes, the piano-driven “Beautiful Loser” and the largely acoustic “Jody Girl.”

“Beautiful Loser” is fine early Seger, so much so that it’s only one of two pre-Silver Bullet albums still in print. The other is “Smokin’ O.P.’s,” a fan favorite from 1972 which features several covers.


“Beautiful Loser,” “Black Night,” “Katmandu” and “Jody Girl,” Bob Seger, from “Beautiful Loser,” 1975. It runs 16:16.