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WINTER 2006

 

     
 


JOHN & YOKO / PLASTIC ONO BAND

 
The Dick Cavett Show: John & Yoko Collection


VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR

JAN AKKERMAN

JOHN ENTWISTLE

CRAZY HORSE
 
     
  JOHN & YOKO / PLASTIC ONO BAND
Sometime In New York City
(
Capitol / Apple)

Two distinct musical sides of John Lennon are in abundance on the 2005 remasters of Sometime In New York City and Walls And Bridges. In some ways the proto-type of Double Fantasy, the 1972 release of Sometime In New York City found the ex-Beatle sharing the spotlight with his wife as they put into words and music a range of politically charged subjects including feminism, black activism, unrest in Northern Ireland and more. If you were uneasy with Lennon, the political activist, from either spectrum, then Sometime In New York City makes for a startling and unsettling musical experience. That said, the album’s confrontational lead off track, “Woman Is The Nigger Of The World,” remains one of the most potent, anthemic works Lennon ever recorded while one of the definitive ‘70s rockers, “New York City” still holds up as one of the best ever NYC tribute songs. Originally released on Apple as a double Lp set (and subsequent double CD), the second Lp of the album featured avant gard tracks from Lennon’s 1969 ‘Peace For Christmas’ event with remaining tracks culled from John & Yoko’s surprise appearance at a Frank Zappa Fillmore East show in June 1971. All of the studio album with several highlights from the second Lp—including Lennon revisiting the Cavern Club on “Baby Please Don’t Go”—are included on Capitol’s concise (more commercial) single disc 2005 remaster including A+B side tracks of the “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” single from ‘71. Describing her production on the reissue, Ono adds, “I decided that the Fillmore performance should end here after “Baby Please Don’t Go,” without going into the long avant-garde improvisation that followed, led by Frank and I. I wanted John to have the last voice on the album.”Lennon and Ono briefly separated in late ‘73 and that self-proclaimed ‘lost weekend’ period of Lennon’s life is captured for posterity on his 1974 solo studio set Walls And Bridges. Totally different, yet not quite as groundbreaking as his early ‘70 solo works, the 2005 Apple CD of Walls And Bridges CD—tastefully remixed and remastered with redone front cover art work and bonus demo tracks—features an amazing cast of musical sidemen that Lennon used in the studio including Elton John, Klaus Voorman, Jim Keltner, Harry Nilsson, Nicky Hopkins, project coodinator May Pang and more. www.johnlennon.com

 


 
  THE DICK CAVETT SHOW:
John And Yoko Collection

(Shout! Factory)

You gotta love Dick Cavett. Caught between being a bit older than most of the rock stars who graced his stage and being ostensibly ignorant of progressive rock music in general, Cavett makes a valiant effort to redeem himself with a shot at Beatles legacy material with a double DVD set called The Dick Cavett Show: John & Yoko Collection. John Lennon was always a man too far ahead of the crowd and instead of a musical connection, Cavett plays right into the Lennon lyric, “all I can tell you is, it’s all showbiz.” I do remember seeing Lennon and George Harrison do their interviews with Dick on TV back in the early ‘70s but to my knowledge both Beatles never ever did long in depth interviews regarding the impact of say Revolver or The Beatles white album. By in large these Cavett shows are mostly Lennon at his most sharp-tongued and caustic with Cavett nary mentioning a song classic. Only the third of the 3 shows recorded on 9/11/71, 9/24/71 and 5/12/72 features one song from John doing “Woman Is The Nigger Of The World” and Yoko beguiling with “We’re All Water.” You have to sit through Cavett’s crafty front man humor but just seeing and hearing Lennon performing—especially on the May 12, 1972 show—and never looking better and more relaxed is almost too much to ask for. www.shoutfactory.com

 


 
 

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR
Pawn Hearts
(Astralwerks)

One of the great ‘anti-prog’ rock groups of the early ‘70s Van Der Graaf Generator had a name that was almost indecipherable, yet many music fans of that heady late ‘60s early ‘70s period still swear by them. The group nearly split after their 1969 debut album, The Aerosol Grey Machine, yet they quickly rebounded, recording a series of now classic avant-prog rock albums for the timely Charisma label. Featuring the vocals, guitar and stage antics of Peter Hammill, Van Der Graaf were so out there that they confused fans of big name U.K. prog outfits like Yes and Genesis. Commenting on the group’s strangeness, Hammill adds, ‘We were an underground band, before prog. We had something of a jazz attitude. We were interested in the fundamental chaos that is exciting about jazz, is exciting about blues and soul and is exciting about rock music.’ Three of the group’s now classic early ‘70s works were recently reissued in 2005 with ample bonus tracks on EMI in the U.K. including The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other (1970), H To He Who Am The Only One (also 1970) and their all time classic, Pawn Hearts (1971 - now featuring their glorious instro adaptation of the George Martin classic “Theme One”). Described by drummer Guy Evans as ‘an unstable entity’, Van Der Graaf Generator were a remarkable, disturbing outfit who were also, as these 2005 remasters point out, progressive before it was fashionable. Each CD reissue features a great booklet filled with color photos, original artwork, complete lyrics and period piece bonus tracks. www.vandergraafgenerator.co.uk

 


 
  JAN AKKERMAN
Aranjuez
(Gott Discs)

Although he’s best known for his jazz-rock playing in Focus and Brainbox, guitarist Jan Akkerman is also a devout classical guitar enthusiast. Akkerman admits, ‘when I first visited England in 1966 or ‘67, I heard the original music from the Elizabethan times played by Julian Bream. It was then that I first became interested in the lute.’ In 1978 Akkerman released his most illustrious classical inspired guitar album, Aranjuez, which found him in the studio with noted string arranger Claus Ogerman—a noted composer/producer who worked with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Wes Montgomery. Hearing Akkerman’s guitar backed by the symphonic wizardry of Ogerman—performing masterpieces from Ravel, Rodrigo and Villa-Lobos—was and still is a musical revelation. As one critic pointed out, Akkerman created a conjured a fusion of Bach and rock and his skillful orchestral guitar approach struck a universal chord with the release of Aranjuez. Credit should be given to Gott Discs over in England for reissuing this classic complete with the original artwork and liner notes from 1978 and new sleeve notes from 2004 that bring the Akkerman story up to date. Gott Discs main man, Mike Gott was greatly involved in bringing one of the first major U.K. reissue labels, BGO Records, into the spotlight and he’s doing a super job with Gott Discs. Some of the other 2005 remasters on Gott Discs include reissue CDs from rock legends like Gary Puckett & The Union Gap (a 22 track single disc set pairing their first two 1968 Columbia albums), Adrian Belew (a 23 track CD pairing his 1982/83 albums Lone Rhino with Twang Bar King), Shawn Phillips (a 20 track CD combining his ‘70 and ‘71 albums Contribution and Second Contribution) and a double CD set from prog-rock innovators Third Ear Band pairing their albums Alchemy (from 1969) with Elements (from 1970). All Gott Disc remasters are well worth tracking down for their incredible significance, newly remastered sound and up to date liner notes. www.gottdiscs.com

 


 
  JOHN ENTWISTLE
John Entwistle's Rigor Mortis Sets In
(Sanctuary)

Late, great bass ace John Alec Entwistle always had the knack to work with great guitar players. All those great albums with The Who, with Pete Townshend on guitar, set the stage for the arrival of John Entwistle, solo artist and the 1971 release of his solo debut album Smash Your Head Against The Wall, which was expeditiously followed by 1972’s Whistle Rymes. Both albums featured Entwistle leading some classic rock lineups including an ground breaking electric guitar performance by one time Who roadie Cy Langston on Smash Your Head Against The Wall. The first Who member to release a solo album, Entwistle’s penchant for writing unforgettable songs continued in style on Whistle Rymes, with another amazing lineup of players including Thunderclap Newman guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and guitar ace Peter Frampton. Commenting on working with Frampton on Whistle Rymes, Entwistle adds, “Some of Frampton’s guitar on Whistle Rymes was better then the stuff he did on his own. He had a new guitar—a Gibson Les Paul—on the sessions that he hadn’t played before and was really getting off on it.” Whistle Rymes remains a highpoint of the rock world from the year 1972. For his third album—Rigor Mortis Sets In—The Ox changed direction and jumped into a late ‘50 / early ‘60s kind of vibe kicking off with “Gimme The Rock ‘N’ Roll” and adding in covers of “Lucille” and the Johnny Cymbal classic “Mr. Bass Man.” Backed up by a hot band, including Alan Ross, the fittingly titled RMSI still smokes. All three of these 2005 Sanctuary Records CD remasters feature new liner notes (hey guys, a bigger type size next time!) with the kicker being a bounteous assortment of cool bonus tracks. www.johnentwistle.com


 
  CRAZY HORSE
Gone Dead Train: The Best Of 1971-1989
(Raven)

Much has been written about Crazy Horse, with and without Neil Young. Young basically introduced the group lineup that initiates this 2005, 20 track, 76 minute Raven Records compilation. The year following the band’s appearance back Young on 1969’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, the band recorded their now historic debut on Reprise. Fueled by the energy of the late, great guitarist-songwriter Danny Whitten, the core rhythm section of Ralph Molina and Billy Talbot are primed to perfection with further musical expertise from guitar ace Nils Lofgren and producer Jack Nitzche, who’s greatness is in evidence here. Raven’s Gone Dead Train: The Best Of 1971-1989 features fine selection of various Crazy Horse album tracks from ‘71-89, early cuts with the Rockets and excellent liner notes from Willian Ruhlmann that puts the Crazy Horse / Neil Young connection in perspective. Back in 1985, singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash released a great crossover country-pop album pop album entitled Rhythm & Romance. A pair of tracks from that mid ‘80s classic are featured on a 21 track 2005 Rosanne Cash compilation from Australia-based Raven Records entitled Blue Moons And Broken Hearts: The Anthology 1979-1996 Featuring 11 U.S. country music number ones, a Beatles cover version of “I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party” (1989 from King’s Record Shop), and a ‘95 cover of the Doc Pomus classic “I Count The Tears,” Raven’s Rosanne Cash collection is a great place to start exloring her music. Another 2005 CD on Raven pairs two albums from ‘60s film star turned pop icon Richard Harris. Although he never quite topped the grandeur of his late ‘60s Jimmy Webb-composed 1968 classic “MacArthur Park”, the big voiced Irishman went on to record further albums for the U.S. Dunhill label. Two Harris albums—My Boy (1971) and Slides (1972)—are now joined on a 2005, 28 track double CD set on Raven. “MacArthur Park” was written for Harris by the great Jimmy Webb, and likewise Webb heavily contributes to the My Boy album as well. In addition to fine remastered sound, in-depth liner notes and vintage ‘60s photos, Raven’s double Harris CD adds in four singles-only releases including his famous 1970 single “Ballad Of A Man Called Horse.” Also up and out in 2005 on Raven is a 22 track retrospective from soul music icon Solomon Burke entitled That’s Heavy Baby: Best Of The MGM Years 1971-1973. Culled from three Burke albums, the 78 minute CD features three non-LP tracks and is a fine reminder of Burke’s immense contribution to the ‘60s soul sound. www.ravenrecords.com.au

 



 

 

 
 
 
   
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