Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 14. July 21, 1971
If Only I Could Remember My Name Atlantic.
Serenity - it's something found infrequently in popular music, being rather a characteristic of age and maturity. Very few performances are truly serene: the only notable example so far this year would be the soprano/ organ duct in Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother. One of the former leading groups in this field was the Byrds. While other people were marketing catchy commmercial material, this group was one that concentrated on the ethereal nature of music, that induced a catharsis so overwhelming it left you exhausted. It is this ability to propagate an emotional response that David Crosby brought from The Byrds to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
Since the release of the CSN&Y albums the members have indulged in a session of own-thing-doing. Neil Young produced his collection of classic delights After The Goldrush, and Steve Stills displayed himself in his all-stars assembly. For our pleasurable perusal is now presented David Crosby's gathering of friends on his debut album.
The lineup is rather impressive, although individual performing credits for the tracks are not given. Present are Graham Nash, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, also Jefferson Airplane (now Starship) personnel Grace Slick, Jack Casady, Paul Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen, with Grateful Dead members Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, not to mention Santana sidemen Gregg Rolie and Michael Shrieve. And a few others.
Most of the numbers are Crosby's own composition, and in the rest he had a share in the writing. All are characterized by a radiant but lethargic tranquillity - the CSN&Y immediacy is not as strong but the serenity I spoke of earlier is all there, in a collage of spiritual musical experiece.
Not all of Crosby's music is as ethereally light as the general CSN&Y-style numbers like Tamalpais High (At about 3) and Laughing on this album. Indeed, on Cowboy Movie he builds up the intensity until he ends up screaming the lyrics. However, the CSN&Y-like songs with their incredible lush blend of soft voices are wonderfully beautiful, emitting a slowly rotating charisma of sustained calm and peacefulness.
Traction In The Rain uses what sounds like an electrified autoharp to back Crosby's gently sensitive, lilting lyrics:
It's hard enough I know
To find the strength to go
Back to where it all began
It's hard enough to gain
Any traction in the rain
You know it's hard for me to understand
Hard to find a way
To get through another city day
Without thinkin' about
The intimacy achieved on this track is a superb example of the child-like simplicity and beauty of Crosby's music.
Song with No Words (Tree With No Leaves) is far from bare. Voices and piano interweave with a quiet guitar lead in a low relaxed mood. The traditional song Orleans is sung entirely in French with a couple of acoustic guitars as backing. The treatment is reminiscent of The Byrds.
To cmplete the album, I'd Swear There Was Somebody There, reverts to the wordless vocal treatment, unaccompanied. This mystical sound conjures up images of a choir of monks shuffling through an ancient monastery.
Serenity - elusive, undefinable, and greatly desired - includes the music of David Crosby in its realm.
The Cry of Love.
So here it is, the last release of the first non-Top Twenty superstar, capturing all the grace and power of the part Cherokee Indian, part Mexican, part Negro from Seattle. The relaxed feeling and the overpowering twilight that this record engenders serve as a beautiful, poignant testimonial to the intense craft of Jimi Hendrix. The master of special effects, who used electricity in a way that was never obvious as mere volume, took his bag of tricks - the fuzz-tone, the wah-wah pedal, the stack of Marshalls - and used them as a series of stepping stones to create wave upon wave of intense energy. The fluid-fingered picker who could ripple off runs with an unexpectedly perfect style burst out with phrases that filled every loose chink in a song.
In the sense of a breakthrough The Cry of Love is not anything that might not be expected from Hendrix. Still, the songs are all uniquely his, styled his way, and after so long an absence they are more than welcome. The album opens with Freedom a pyrotechnic display of classic Hendrix. From the hard-driving chords at the opening, it's solid gold. His quieter side is exemplified by Drifting, a slow pretty piece that manifests Hendrix's talent for moulding his music superbly to the lyrics (remember Manic Depression) It is a ghostly track of lovely images of "Drifting/On a sea of forgotten teardrops/ on a lifeboat...," one of the most moving pieces he ever created.
My Friend, with its tinkling glasses and party noises is notable for a set of lyrics which Hendrix almost casually injects. The style is slightly surrealistic, a lot of friendly nonsense, and some very aware, deeply personal lines;
And, uh, sometimes it's not so easy
Specially when your only friend
Talks, sees, looks and feels like you
And you do just the same as him.
Straight Ahead and Astro Man are routine rockers that make good listening in stereo. The deathlike images of salvation and resurrection in Angel provide an appropriately memorial touch. It's a beautiful piece of work that moves nicely into the frantic In from the storm. This is Hendrix at his most furious, charging like a proud stallion before the wind.
The final touch is saved for Belly Button Window a kind of slow and mellow blues which Hendrix performs accompanied only by his guitar. It's in this pensive, nostalgic mood that Hendrix's last album ends. Now that he's gone, it has something precious, something to savour slowly, because there'll be no others. It does him justice and I don't think we could have ever wanted anything more than that.
Chunga's Revenge Reprise
"....after following my client's advice and disguising myself as a female member of the "G.T.O.'s" (whom I later discovered to be a subversive group of transvestites and nymphomaniacs - with the sole function of feeding Mr Zappa's apparently endless and perverse sexual appetite), I gained easy access to the household, a multi-million dollar mansion in Beverley Hills, complete with 300 bedrooms (all, as far as I could tell, occupied), a private zoo and a heated phallus-shaped swimming pool set in four acres of plastic 'syntho-jungle' and not-so-syntho giant marijuana plants.
Various longhaired, bearded young people of both sexes wandered and lounged aimlessly naked among the tropical plants and closed circuit televisions, showing endless images of the most disgusting and lewd kind -apparently filmed the night before at one of the routine 'group-gropes'. A sinister person in a morning coat and wearing a fish's head mask, (referred to, I believe, as 'The Captain', led continual community singing, obviously of a communist, black magic nature, which included the Iyrics to the hymn, 'We Plough the Fields and Scatter....' sung backwards to the melody of The Star Spangled Banner.' At this point my automatic slipped from its holster attached to my daisies' and fearing that discovery was imminent I attempted to make my 'excuses' and leave."
(from Oz 31)
At last - Zappa has made music! His new, tenth album is a shameless sellout to the forces of harmony and diction. Admittedly, some of the material on it is a rehash of earlier pop music styles, but there is also some fine music, in terms of construction and style. The musicians work well together under Zappa's inevitable leadership to produce an album that will possibly be unrecognizable to Zappa freaks.
There is a great variety of styles, from fifties' rock 'n' roll through cool jazz combo to hard rock. Zappa's humour pervades his lyrics, incorporating satirical elements and bold eroticism. However, there is not much new here insofar as rock in general is concerned, and Zappa's attitude to this album seems to be well expressed in his early morning bedraggled yawn on the front cover. Ho hum.
Fans will be pleased to know that Ian Underwood is still playing saxes and keyboards with him. Aynsley Dunbar, once with John May all, is on percussion. The other sidemen include Jeff Simmons (bass) and George Duke (organ and trombone).
The album opens with Transylvania Boogie, a powerful rocker with some attractive guitar phrases. Road Ladies is a remarkably effective blues about touring;
Don't it ever get lonesome, don't it ever make a young man wanna go back home
......and the band plays some of the most terriblest shit you've ever known.
Zappa's guitar figures are well backed up by the organ, and the voices are strong. There's a cool little instrumental number called Twenty Small Cigars with Zappa double-tracked on harpsichord and guitar, and an acoustic bass in the backing. Piano by Ian Underwood is soft background for Zappa's lead.
The Nancy & Mary Music was recorded live in Minneapolis before an incredibly responsive and alert audience. There's some good guitar leads, an electric piano break, some drum solo, and some particularly striking vocal effects by George Duke, all making pretty good listening. On the title track. Ian Underwood uses an electric alto sax with a wah-wah pedal - it's about the only innovation on the album. The tone sounds like a blend of a crow's cawing and a strangled cat's last cries. This track is more in the classic Zappa and Mother fuckers style than the rest of the album.
The Clap, in which Zappa performs a short percussion solo, leads into Rudy Wants To Buy You A Drink a rock 'n' roll song for the unions;
Hi, and howdy-doody
I'm a union man, you can call me Rudy
And you boys not paid up on your cards?
You know I'm pleased to meet you
Been trying all day to reach you
The union's here to help every one of you rock 'n' roll stars.
Finally Sharleen, fine stuff for the Everley Brothers, though the backing is somewhat stronger.
And that's it. Something old, a little new, perhaps something to please you. Regardless, Zappa has the last laugh.