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

Bread – Debut LP


Artist: Bread

Genre: Soft Rock
Title: self-titled
Released:1969
Label:Elektra
Format: Vinyl
Musicians:David Gates – Hammond organ, bass, guitars, percussion, piano, violin, keyboards, RMI electric piano, viola, vocals, Moog synthesizer, James Griffin – vocals, guitars, percussion, keyboards, Robb Royer – guitar, percussion, piano, RMI electric piano, recorder, flute, bass, backing vocals, Ron Edgar – drums, Jim Gordon – drums
Producer: Bread
Engineer: Bruce Botnick

Bread was an American soft rock band from Los Angeles, California.The band consisted of David Gates (vocals, bass guitar, guitar, keyboards, violin, viola, percussion), Jimmy Griffin (vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion) and Robb Royer (bass guitar, guitar, flute, keyboards, percussion, recorder, backing vocals). On their first album session musician Jim Gordon played drums, percussion, and piano. Mike Botts became their permanent drummer when he joined in the summer of 1969, and Larry Knechtel replaced Royer in 1971, playing keyboards, bass guitar, guitar, and harmonica. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_(band)

The album’s cover, with whimsical depictions of the band members photos on paper currency, refers to contemporary slang equating “bread” to money. This LP is an example of “stereo” done right. Very well recorded.

Side One:
1. “Dismal Day” – This was a hit for them. I like this song except for the high note “wooos” at the end of every verse.
2. “London Bridge” – This was a minor hit for the band. David Gates wrote this after reading about the London Bridge being auctioned off and moved to Arizona.
This song marked one of the first uses of a Moog Synthesizer on a Pop record. Paul Beaver of the pioneering synthesizer duo “Beaver & Krause” programmed it, and David Gates played the part on a keyboard.
3. “Could I” – This is one of the few Pop-Rock songs for this group, which falls under the subgenre of “pop-rock”. It has some interesting time changes.
4. “Look at Me” – I like this acoustic ballad, note the flute used in this one.
5. “The Last Time” – This is one of my favorites and one of their harder songs. This song has a really nice flow to it, it is well structured with good lyrics and the band is on point instrumentally. There is a great bridge in this song with an interesting time change to it.
6. “Any Way You Want Me” – This was another hit for the band and it has an interesting time change in it. Not one of my favorites, but a good song.

Side Two
1. “Move Over” – This song sounds like an attempt at as psychedelic flavored song. In my opinion, it isn’t very good and exhibits an over-use of filtered reverb effect, which makes the sound a bit thin. (I’m not deducting a star for this one song though).
2. “Don’t Shut Me Out” – This is another of my least favorite songs. It is well performed, but annoying at the same time, even despite the cowbell.
3. “You Can’t Measure the Cost” – This is a good song with an interesting structure. It starts out as a ballad and then goes up-tempo a few measures in then there is this strange time signature eventually and then it goes back to a ballad and repeats. A very interesting song.
4. “Family Doctor” – This slightly Country flavored song is not the best, but the lyrics are interesting.
5. “It Don’t Matter to Me” – This  song was another hit off this LP. It’s a good song with good lyrics in my opinion.
6. “Friends and Lovers” – This one is just OK. This song is about meeting different people in life and how as time goes on, people disappear from your life, even friends and lovers you’ve known for years.

MUSIC:
SOUND: 

The Last Time: https://youtu.be/I-3bDMzflkc
You Can’t Measure The Cost: https://youtu.be/tH_6oqil9yc

Dead Can Dance – Debut


Artist: Dead Can Dance

Genre: Rock, Gothic rock, Post-punk, World
Title: Self-titled
Released:1984
Label: 4AD
Format: CD
Musicians:Lisa Gerrard, Brendan Perry, James Pinker, Scott Roger, Peter Ulrich
Producer: John Fryer

Dead Can Dance is an Australian musical project formed in 1981 in Melbourne by Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry. Dead Can Dance’s style is constructed of African polyrhythms, Gaelic folk, Gregorian chant, Middle Eastern mantras and art rock. Having disbanded in 1998, they reunited briefly in 2005 for a world tour and reformed in 2011, releasing a new album (Anastasis) and embarking on several tours. Continue reading