Various Artists – Big Ball


Artist: Various
Genere’: Jazz, Pop, Rock, Country, Folk, Spoken Word
Title: Big Ball
Released:1970
Label: Warner Bros
Format: Vinyl

In the bygone days before multinational corporate mergers and acquisitions left the record industry a smoldering husk of its former self, Warner Bros. Records launched a series of bargain-priced label samplers dubbed Loss Leaders: available via mail order for two bucks or less, these remarkably generous compilations often featured B-sides and other non-LP tracks, but what’s most notable is the sheer consistency of the listening experience — Warner and its affiliated labels housed a veritable murderers’ row of rock & roll legends, and only rarely does a disappointing track squeak into the mix. The Big Ball represents the first Loss Leaders release of the 1970s, and it’s a corker, spotlighting a veritable who’s who of legends including Van Morrison (the heart-stopping “Caravan”), Neil Young (“The Loner”), Joni Mitchell (“Big Yellow Taxi”), and the Grateful Dead (“Turn on Your Lovelight”) alongside cult favorites like Randy Newman (“Mama Told Me Not to Come”) and Tim Buckley (“Happy Time”). This is music that celebrates the creative spirit at its most daring and realized — and proves a stinging reminder of how calculated and tame major-label rosters have become in the decades since.

The copy I have is on the Warner Bros olive green label, which is noted for being good pressings and this one is no exception.

From inside the jacket: “We’re proud and happy to introduce our third double sampler album. Our ulterior motive behind these samplers, as we’ve confessed many times before, is the profit-motivated desire to instill in you, through these introductory tracks, the compelling urge to rush forth and buy the full albums by the artists you want to hear more of and from….it goes on, but suffice it to say, now you know partly why I like these things.”

Record one, Side one: (More notes from the LP and my own descriptions)
1)The Fifth Avenue Band- Nice Folks = This is a jazz/pop, positive, feel good song. The Fifth Ave Band were a six piece group who’s debut LP was produced by The Lovin Spoonful. Their music was all group written.
2) John Sebastian- Red-Eye Express = Title track from the LP of the same name. John Sebastian used to be the lead singer and writer, autoharpist and rhythm guitarist with The Lovin Spoonful.
3) The Beach Boys- This Whole World = For some reason I never was much for The Beach Boys despite the fact that my aunt dated Mike Love for two years back in the day. This song is taken from the LP Sunflower.
4) Geoff* & Maria Muldaur -New Orleans Hopscop Blues = You have probably never heard of this artist(s), well, neither have I until I picked up this record. This is one of the fun things about purchasing sampler or various artists records like this, you discover stuff. It’s also educational. This song is taken from the LP Pottery Pie. Geoff & Maria were a twosome that used to be integral parts of Jim Kweskin’s noted Jug Band. (Yeah, never heard of that either). Geoff used to be called Mole and Maria used to be acclaimed as two of the best vocalists in contemporary music (according to the liner notes).
5) Arlo Guthrie -Coming In To Los Angeles = This song taken from the LP Running Down The Road was popular for a time and still occasionally gets air play. This song is obviously about drug running and was part of a soundtrack to a film of the same name as the LP.
6) Eric Andersen- I Was The Rebel, She Was The Cause = This guy actually had 16 albums, but again, I never heard of him. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Andersen Eric Andersen is an American folk music singer-songwriter, who has written songs recorded by Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Linda Ronstadt, the Grateful Dead and many others. Early in his career, in the 1960s, he was part of the Greenwich Village folk scene. After two decades and sixteen albums of solo performance he became a member of the group Danko/Fjeld/Andersen. Since the late 1990s, he has resumed his solo career. Andersen is still recording and performing live in Europe, Japan and North America. This song typical country song while written in 1970 sounds more like what is supposed to pass for Country music today, unfortunately, with the same distasteful subject matter such as being a trashy anti-women song. It is claimed though that this song was just Eric Andersen having a bit of fun.
7) Norman Greenbaum- Jubilee = If I never hear his song “Spirit In The Sky” again, I will be the better for it. Fortunately, while taken from the LP of the same name, this is not that song.
8) Savage Grace – Ivy = Yet another group I have never heard of until I got this LP. Savage Grace hailed from Detroit who mostly toured bars and church basements and if this song is what was the usual, it is not hard to see why. This is a standard rock song that was poorly recorded and is not all that good either.

Side Two:
1) Van Morrison-Caravan = I was never that much for Van Morrison,but of course I do respect his art. Van Morrison was originally with the band,Them. He was also the composer of the song “Gloria”, which has been performed by,….well, everybody. He is also famous for composing “Brown-eyed Girl”, both songs which can be easily and officially known as rock classics.
2) Fleetwood Mac -Oh Well = This track is 9 minutes in length here and it is mono as opposed to stereo. It is one of the better songs on the LP. What is another point of interest in this track is that it is an entirely different version than the one they settled on for radio. It is a harder rock version, quite interesting. Fleetwood Mac was originally a blues group later they would be known for bone-rattling blues rave ups (which I have not heard yet) and the three chord rock stuff and fragile melodic stuff.
3) The Pentangle*- Sally Go Round The Roses = This is another band in likes of It’s A Beautiful Day and Lighthouse, only more acoustic.
4) Jethro Tull- Nothing Is Easy = Hardly needs introduction, it’s Jethro Tull.
5) Small Faces- Flying = This is the group Rod Stewart was in before going solo. This is almost a prog-rock style song, but isn’t.
6) Family – No Mule’s Fool = While I have never heard of this group, they were touted as a progressive rock group. Judging by this track though, I would have to say that someone has a funny idea of what Prog-Rock is. They sound far closer to Folk-Rock to me. They do have an interesting, unpredictable sound though.
7) The Kinks*- When I Turn Out The Living Room Light = This previously unreleased track in mono again has some funny lyrics and is fun to listen to.

Record Two, Side Three
1) The Everly Brothers- I’m On My Way Home Again = I was never a fan of The Everly Brothers, but this song is ok in my opinion.
2) Tim Buckley- Happy Time = While I had never heard of this artist, I find this song somehow relaxing.
3) Joni Mitchell -Big Yellow Taxi = Ok, show of hands who have never heard of Joni Mitchell, just as I thought, no hands. This song from the LP “Ladies Of The Canyon”, is one of many hits she wrote.
4) Neil Young- The Loner = Equal in popularity is Neil Young. This is one of many of my favorite songs by him.
5) Gordon Lightfoot -Approaching Lavender = Another Canadian singer/songwriter and whom brought us “The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald. I have a nice collection of his LPs, but this rather good song is not on any of them. Supposedly it is from his album titled, “Sit Down Young Stranger”, which I do not have.
6) –Randy Newman -Mama Told Me Not To Come = You may be familiar with the Three Dog Night version of this song, but it was penned by Randy Newman. I will say though that I like the Three Dog Night version better.
7) –James Taylor -Fire And Rain = Don’t tell me you are not familiar with this one.
8) –Dion – Sit Down Old Friend = I was never a fan of Dion in his early rock days and as a folk artist he is just ok in my opinion.

Side Four really only has three tracks, but is listed as many songs. However, they are not songs, but rather bizarre spoken word, too bizarre to give much of a listen to in my opinion.
1 –Ed Sanders- The Illiad
2a –GTO’s- Kansas And The BTO’s
2b –GTO’s- The Captain’s Fat Theresa Shoes
2c –Captain Beefheart -Ella Guru
2d –GTO’s -The Original GTO’s
2e –The Mothers Of Invention*- WPLJ
2f –Wild Man Fischer -The Taster & The Story Of The Taster
2g –Pearls Before Swine -Footnote
3 –The Grateful Dead- Turn On Your Love Light

MUSIC: I gave the music rating 4.5 stars despite side 4 because the first three sides are that good.
SOUND:

Fleetwood Mac -Oh Well (both parts) https://youtu.be/uBH3kPfDq4k

3’s A Crowd – Christopher’s Movie Matinee

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Artist: 3’s A Crowd

Title: Christopher’s Movie Matinee
Genre: Folk-Rock
Released:1968
Label: Dunhill
Format: Vinyl
Musicians:Lead Guitar, Vocals – Trevor Veitch, Rhythm Guitars, vocals – Brent Titcomb, David Wiffen, Bass – Ken Koblun, Drums – Richard Patterson, Percussion – Richard, Donna & a cast of thousands, Strings  & Horns arranged by Jimmie Haskell
Producer: Mama  Cass Elliot & Steve Barri

3’s a Crowd was a folk rock band originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, that existed from 1964 to 1969 and rather obscure. I had to dig for info and found this from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3’s_a_Crowd_(band) The group had some moderate Canadian chart success, but is particularly notable for the wide range of Canadian musicians who passed through its ranks and would later establish successful music industry careers of their own, including Bruce Cockburn, Colleen Peterson, David Wiffen, Trevor Veitch, and Brent Titcomb. 3’s A Crowd is also remembered for its association with Cass Elliott, who co-produced the group’s sole album release.

The group initially consisted of Donna Warner, Trevor Veitch and Brent Titcomb. In 1966, the group moved to Toronto, released two singles, and acquired new members Richard Patterson, David Wiffen and Comrie Smith. Smith was later replaced by Ken Koblun. In 1967 and 1968, 3’s a Crowd played the folk music clubs in Southern California.

In 1968, they recorded this LP: Christopher’s Movie Matinee, their only album. The band broke up shortly after its release. The album was produced by Cass Elliot and Steve Barri. Bruce Cockburn, who briefly joined a later version of the group, does not perform on the album, though four of his songs are included. Fellow Canadian folkie/rocker/musician Murray McLauchlan also contributed one song, “Coat Of Colors” which was his first recorded songwriting credit. Donna Warner was the primary singer, but other band members, particularly David Wiffen and Brent Titcomb, also sang lead. They did a slow, military rendition of “(Let’s) Get Together” by Chet Powers, and had a minor hit with their own song “Bird Without Wings”.
The bass player,  Ken Koblun, was an associate of Neil Young during his early career and sometime bass player with Buffalo Springfield. Koblun had chosen to join 3’s a Crowd rather than continue with an early version of the Buffalo Springfield.

A related documentary, Christopher’s Movie Matinee, under the sponsorship of the National Film Board of Canada, was released in 1968,[5] using some of the same songs and some of the same musicians. The film is about 1960s Canadian counterculture.

I consider this album to be “an average, melt-into-the-crowd pop-folk-rock album, somewhat similar to We Five rather than The Mamas & Papas in spit of being produced by Mama Cass. (They do not have anywhere near the harmonies the Mamas & Papas were able to do for one thing).

Sonically, this LP is slightly thin dynamically, but not terrible.

Side one opens with a little 17 second overture ditty and goes into “Let’s Get Together” by American Singer-Songwriter Chet Powers aka: Dino Valenti. The song was originally recorded as “Let’s Get Together” by the Kingston Trio and released in 1964. In 1967, the Youngbloods released their version of the song under the title “Get Together”. Female lead (Donna) presents a strong vocal for the song sounding a little like Joan Baez only an octave lower. Of course the group adds its own flavor and it is a pretty good version they do.
The second song, “Coat Of Colors” is a catchy sixties pop song sounding slightly like something The Association might do.
“The Way She Smiles” is the third song and a sixties pop ballad with a male lead vocal which is not that good.
The fourth song is “Wasn’t It You” – This one has kind of a Broadway musical aftertaste but is mainly pop. Female lead vocals are a good match for it. Noticeable throughout this LP is the bass, which sounds like what was done in the Mamas & Papas LPs, etc. The bass line is more forward than in back.
The last song on this side is “Gnostic Serenade”. In spite of expecting some sort of sociological statement it is really a ballad with male lead vocal that blends nicely. It is more a serenade.

Side two starts with “Bird Without Wings” which is the best song on the LP in my opinion. It is very well structured and has a strength found in good songs.
The second song is “I Don’t Wanna Drive You Away” and has a good rock feel to it.
The third song on this side is “View From A Pompous Head” and is interesting to a degree in that male voice is lead and the song is kind of a whimsical ballad. It sounds to me like something The Who might do trying to sound rather beatlesque. There is harpsichord and strings in this lending to that feel as well.
“Don’t Mess Up A Good Thing/ Bring It With You When You Come” is the fourth song and the first half is a rhythm and blues feel and then goes into a up tempo gospel like style. Kind of a cute song.
Next to last is “Cotton Candy Man”, which is not whimsical as the title may suggest. It is a rather poorly done pop ballad with a male lead that is disappointing. The lyrics are also poor.
The LP finishes with the theme of “Christopher’s Movie Matinee” for two minutes as an outro, if you will.

MUSIC:5_Star_Rating_System_3_and_a_half_stars
SOUND:5_Star_Rating_System_3_and_a_half_stars

Here is the only film of them live that I have come across. The sound is not good of course due to the technology of the time and deterioration, but you get to see what they were like:

The Traveling Wilburys – Vol 1

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Artist: The Traveling Wilburys
Genere: Folk, Folk-rock
Title: Vol 1
Released:1988
Label:Wilbury Records
Format: Cassette
Musicians:Nelson Wilbury (George Harrison) – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, slide guitar, backing vocals, Otis Wilbury (Jeff Lynne) – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards, backing vocals, Charlie T. Wilbury Jr (Tom Petty) – vocals, bass, acoustic guitar, backing vocals, Lefty Wilbury (Roy Orbison) – vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica, backing vocals, Lucky Wilbury (Bob Dylan) – vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica, backing vocals, Additional personnel: Buster Sidebury (Jim Keltner) – drums, Jim Horn – saxophones, Steven Gwyther Jones – saxophone,Ray Cooper – percussion, Ian Wallace – tom-toms
Producer:Otis and Nelson Wilbury (Jeff Lynne and George Harrison)
Engineer: Bill Bottrell, Richard Dodd, Phil McDonald, Don Smith

The Traveling Wilburys (sometimes shortened to “The Wilburys”) were a British-American supergroup consisting of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty. The band recorded two albums, the first in 1988 and the second in 1990, though Orbison died before the second was recorded. You can read more and about how the name came about, etc. here:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traveling_Wilburys
Official website: http://www.travelingwilburys.com/

The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 is the debut album by the supergroup Traveling Wilburys and was recorded and released in 1988 to commercial success and critical acclaim.
I have the cassette version which I transferred to CD. Continue reading