I‘ve been blogging long enough now that I’ve pumped out a lot of tunes. The ones I like best wind up on massive Spotify playlists. I’m still enjoying the shit out o them so why shouldn’t you? So herewith, we open the freaking vault and take a trip down memory lane. And to save myself anything even remotely approaching work, I will just quote myself.
In 1972 Procul Harum released an album called Procol Harum Live: In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. It’s been ages since I heard the whole thing. But I still frequently listen to the song “Conquistador.” This song totally rocks and it has that “when will the band and orchestra hurtle off the cliff?” urgency. This is textbook for the way a rock band and orchestra should play together. (YouTube starts at about :50).
Conquistador there is no time, I must pay my respect
And though I came to jeer at you
I leave now with regret
And though you came with sword held high
You did not conquer, only die
In 1985 R.E.M. released Fables of the Reconstruction which was recorded during a cold winter in England where the band came close to breaking up. Neither fans nor the band loved it but it’s grown in reputation over time.
I love this song, “Can’t Get There From Here.” For when the world is a monster:
In 1970, Curtis Mayfield released his first solo album, Curtis. This album predated Marvin Gaye’s What’s Goin’ On by at least a year. Filled with socially conscious lyrics about race relations, the song “Move On Up” is clearly talking to African-Americans. And besides that, it is just a funky good party tune. Curtis liked to have it both ways.
This is the long version with some nice sax work. This is my favorite Curtis Mayfield tune. I couldn’t possibly love it more and I could listen to it all day:
By 1980, Los Lobos were opening for Johnny Rotten’s latest band, Public Image Ltd. Slowly but surely in the time-honored way of bands everywhere, they built a following. They got better-known, opening for bands like U2 and the Grateful Dead. (They do a nice version of the Dead’s song “Bertha.”)
By the time I first heard of them, on their 1984 album, How Will The Wolf Survive, they had already become Angeleno favorites and won a Grammy for Best Mexican-American/Tejano music performance.
None other than the ubiquitous T-Bone Burnett produced Wolf, plays on it, and co-wrote this smokin’ tune, “Don’t Worry Baby.” The guys who share lead vocals and guitar duties in the band are David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas:
Wishbone Ash formed in 1969 in Torquay, Devon, UK. And they are, apparently, still very much around. But their heyday was clearly in the Seventies. Here in the States, I wouldn’t say they were anywhere near massively popular. But my friends and I dug them and they had some level of following.
Like the Allman Brothers, they had a twin-guitar sound, in this case, Andy Powell and Ted Turner. But that’s pretty much where the similarities ended. Where the ABB were blues and jazz-based, Wishbone Ash leaned more towards prog-rock. (I barely knew who the Allmans even were at the time, frankly.)
This tune, called “Sometime World,” is from their mega-popular Argus album. It just takes off at one point and despite the great, fierce guitar playing, I found myself getting off on Martin Turner’s bass. Try to sit still when this one gets going:
Last but certainly not least is the amazing Blue Oyster Cult. Even though all the guys play guitar, the band’s ace is guitarist Donald Roeser, AKA Buck Dharma. Their manager wanted the guys all to have cool stage names. Most of them resisted, Buck dug his. It stuck. He rocked. This was the era when guitar was king. (Please let it come back.)
Buck wrote a song called “Then Came The Last Days of May,” supposedly a true story about a drug deal gone horribly wrong. I find this song to be sad and at the same time, understated and beautifully evocative: