Posted tagged ‘1976’

Something else for the season

October 8, 2011

A couple of years ago, we offered something for the season as October rolled around.

Tonight on The Midnight Tracker, we have something else for the season as we again revive an old late-night FM radio show on which one side of a new or classic album was played.

Making its way through the blue haze of time and arriving in a most timely manner is “Tales of Mystery and Imagination.”

This is the debut album from the Alan Parsons Project. Recorded over seven months in late 1975 and early 1976, and released in the late spring of 1976, it sets to music the classic stories of Edgar Allan Poe. It has long been one of my favorites.

“The Fall Of The House Of Usher” and “To One In Paradise,” the Alan Parsons Project, from “Tales of Mystery and Imagination,” 1976. This is Side 2. It runs 19:07. It’s only two songs long because the first cut is a five-movement instrumental epic that runs almost 15 minutes.

You might want to call this a bit of click or treat, if you catch my drift.

Tripping with the journey agent

March 31, 2011

If there is a quintessential Midnight Tracker record, this might be it.

It was heard only after 10 p.m., when our local FM radio station dropped its Top 40 playlist and headed off into free-form album cuts. To have heard a record by jazz saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk in central Wisconsin in 1976 is all the more remarkable.

I’m not much of a jazz fan, but this is a record I have had forever, or at least since hearing it late at night in 1976.

The cut they played back then, the noirish “Theme For The Eulipions,” oozes cool over its 9-plus minutes.

Betty H. Neale sets the tone with a spoken-word intro that lasts almost 2 minutes. It casts Kirk as a mysterious busker.

“This is the first time, though, that I’ve seen him at an airport. I know he moves along the piers. Calls himself a ‘Journey Agent,’ a ‘Eulipion.’ Says his friends, the poets, the artists, the musicians are journey agents too.”

All that before you ever hear Kirk’s moody tenor sax. Which gives way to an extended piano/bass/drums jam. Which gives way to a Kirk solo. Which gives way to Maeretha Stewart’s lush vocals. Then it all circles back to Neale’s spoken-word outro.

On the liner notes, Kirk explains how it came to be:

“While I was sitting in an airport on my way to one of my ‘Earthlike’ gigs, I was in a state of meditation with my harmonica and, as usual, was just checking a lot of people out who were around us and this beautiful melody from Eulipia evolved.”

It’s a memorable piece — mind-blowing when you’re 19, as I was at the time — yet the only original among the album’s seven cuts. The rest are covers, a couple of jazz standards, a couple of show tunes and Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You.” The musicians are a who’s who of black jazz greats. Of course, I didn’t know this when I was 19.

My favorite cut follows “Theme For The Eulipions” and couldn’t be more different. It’s a rollicking cover of “Sweet Georgia Brown” with Hank Jones on piano and Milt Hinton on bass, done in a roadhouse style familiar to anyone who knows how the Harlem Globetrotters use the song as their theme.

Tonight on the Midnight Tracker, we have both of those cuts, plus a lovely cover of “I’ll Be Seeing You” with some sweet Hammond B-3 work by Trudy Pitts.

“Theme For The Eulipions,” “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “I’ll Be Seeing You,” Rahsaan Roland Kirk, from “The Return of the 5000 Lb. Man,” 1976. This is Side 1. It runs 19:52.

If there ever was a side to emerge from the haze of time, this is it.

Something for the season

October 26, 2009

Halloween is not my bag.

That said, I’ve long enjoyed what we have for you tonight on The Midnight Tracker. It’s something in the spirit of the season.

It is, of course, “Tales of Mystery and Imagination,” the first album by the Alan Parsons Project. It’s a prog rock concept album based on Edgar Allan Poe’s stories.

In the mid-’70s, Parsons was highly regarded for his work as an engineer on LPs by the Beatles, Paul McCartney, the Hollies and Pink Floyd. He then became a producer and created “Tales of Mystery and Imagination” with Eric Woolfson, who pitched him the idea.

More than 200 musicians played on this 1976 album, which was arranged by Andrew Powell. It was recorded and mixed at Abbey Road Studios in London from July 1975 to January 1976.

Tonight, we feature Side 1 of “Tales of Mystery and Imagination.” Its five cuts:

— The instrumental “A Dream Within a Dream.”

— “The Raven,” the tune everyone has come to know from this album. Though it’s gotten much free-form FM and classic radio play, it wasn’t the single.

— “The Tell-Tale Heart,” with Arthur Brown — yes, as in The Crazy World of Arthur Brown — on vocals.

— “The Cask of Amontillado,” my favorite.

— “(The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether,” which was the single when this was released as summer arrived in 1976.

Hope you dig it.

alanparsonstalesofmysteryandimaginationlp

“A Dream Within a Dream,” “The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Cask of Amontillado” and “(The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether,” the Alan Parsons Project, from “Tales of Mystery and Imagination,” 1976. This is Side 1. It runs 20:34.

The producer was right

July 26, 2009

Tonight’s side on The Midnight Tracker is one that dates to the ’70s, of course, but one I only recently started digging.

Our friends over at Popdose have been publishing a must-read series of memoirs by producer Tom Werman. Among the groups Werman worked with during the ’70s was Mother’s Finest. He wrote about them, and that’s how I came to learn about them.

Werman describes seeing Mother’s Finest for the first time in its hometown of Atlanta:

“I think it’s fair to say that this band, about whom we knew nothing in advance, fairly incinerated the stage. Fronted by a tiny package of dynamite named Joyce Kennedy and her husband Glenn, this was basically a black hard rock band, years before the days of Living Colour. The bass player, Wizard, went on to play bass for Stevie Nicks. He was a tall, grinning man whose physical dominance made the bass guitar appear as a toy in his giant hands. He just slapped that instrument silly. The drummer and lead guitar player were white, but in this band, the music was really dark gray – their main influence was Zeppelin, but with a very high funk quotient.”

Werman wrote again about Mother’s Finest when he listed some “greatest misses,” or songs he produced and liked that weren’t hits. I left a comment, and he wrote back: “It’s good to know that you like it. Decidedly dated at this point, but pretty interesting for its time.”

Never having heard it until now — it’s no surprise that we wouldn’t have heard much black funk-rock in central Wisconsin in the mid-’70s — it’s still pretty interesting.

Fortunately, I found two of their first three LPs for Epic Records while crate-digging earlier this summer. I’m still on the lookout for another highly recommended by Werman and others — their second album, “Another Mother Further.”

Sit back and enjoy, as I did, Side 1 from their first album for Epic, produced by Werman.

mothersfinestmflp

“Fire,” “Give You All The Love (Inside Of Me)” and “Niggizz Can’t Sing Rock & Roll,” Mother’s Finest, from “Mother’s Finest,” 1976. It runs 17:01.

The buy link is to an import CD with two live tracks. It was released last year.

Enjoy also this video clip of “Truth’ll Set You Free,” one of Werman’s “greatest misses.” You’ll see why they were so great live.

Tonight, it’s the lady’s choice

October 13, 2008

Although I heard a bit of Delaney and Bonnie in the early ’70s, I’m late to the party when it comes to really digging Bonnie Bramlett’s voice. I’m catching up, thanks to tonight’s album.

This copy of “Lady’s Choice,” a 1976 release drenched in Southern soul, made the rounds before making it into my collection on Saturday.

It started out as a promo LP from Capricorn Records.

It went to WLFM, the campus radio station at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. (Which is still around, albeit on the Web only.)

It wound up in a used record bin at the Book Cellar in Waupaca, Wisconsin.

And tonight, we have Side 2 of “Lady’s Choice” for you. It’s an album full of covers. It was Bramlett’s third solo album — her second for Capricorn — after Delaney and Bonnie split up in 1972.

“If I Were Your Woman,” “Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby,” “You Really Got a Hold On Me,” “Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go” and “Forever Young,” Bonnie Bramlett, from “Lady’s Choice,” 1976. It runs 16:31.

Those, of course, are covers of tunes by Gladys Knight and the Pips, Jimmy Reed, the Miracles, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters and Bob Dylan.