Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 38 No. 22. September 11, 1975
Metamorphosis — The Rolling Stones Decca
Your rock reviewer, turned Rolling Stones' weberman, Gordon Campbell, must be kidding about that 1973 tour bootleg. In fact I suspect that he had only had his review copy of 'Metamorphosis" for about 8 days before submitting his copy. Besides that he has certainly made enough blunders (factual ones, too) in the last nine months to have filled a waste paper basket with great scads of half-completed white paper.
The mistakes this gentleman has prepetrated in the last few months include:
One. Using an album that had been released in this country (at that time) for about 18 months, and the best part of three years overseas, "The Haider they Come" to justify a pathetic 400-word potted history of such an obscure section of modem rock as Reggae, and the cultural ethos surrounding it. 400 words, to justify such an astonishingly convoluted milieu.
Two. He then had the audactiy (or so he presumes) to follow this up with another 400-word piece on the Waiters' "Natty Dread" a specimen of the above general mode (a pretty good assumption, that, since the Editor of Auckland's Hot Lick's, Roger Jarret, had named one of their earlier albums the one for 1974). And then he goes on to say that it was, at that stage, enjoying great popular success in this country, which is funny, because it wasn't even released in New Zealand until after that review appeared. But, you know, a lot happens in 18 months prime ministers die, governments rise and fall, the hunter building is saved only to be dealt a second, crueler death and typists go mad typesetting rock reviews.
Three. Then here is Emmy Lou Harris — O.K., by anybodies' standards that was one of the 10 this year. And then what does he do, combine it with another 18-month old antiquity: Gram Parsons: Grevious Angel" — again, possibly justified (simply because of the timeless quality of the music) after all, wasn't he the guy that was asked to replace Brian Jones. And wasn't the Stones own "Wild Horses" written for and about him.
Four, While we're on the subject of the Stones', might I say here that even though I think that Metamorphosis" is not vintage Stones it would probably shred (barring most of 'Exile on Main Street" and patches of "Sticky Fingers") the great majority of the tongue label material. And also while we're on the subject of the Stones doesn't it strike you as peculiar that in Mr Campbell's own personal selection of the 10 best ever, he plumped for "Exile" — understandably, in view of the subjective connotations associated with the title — in preference to "Let it Bleed or 'Beggars Banquet" (about which lime most of the "Metamorphosis" material was taken). Again, despite any subjective qualifications because of the latter of that pair's title, both it and its successor work perfectly well as seminal rock pieces, more so than "Main Street".
So, if he hasn't got all his factual data straight, pray, tell me. Editor Sir, could his audience also be made to think he might not have got "Metamorphosis" in the spirit in which it was intended, either. To say nothing of what this has to say about some of your other writers and reviewers as well. I mean, how the hell can you draw an objective inference from data that's off-base for starters.
"Four Wheel Drive" — Bachman-Turner Overdrive
In various musical publications across the land, you can read this sort of thing all the time: "Randy Bachman runs BTO like a foreman keeps the gas in his bulldozers topped up . . . the business is hard work and the business of hard work is money. Clink - clink."
Until "Four Wheel Drive" — and particularly its little one, "Hey You", which I briefly thought was the Archies first time it came on the radio — I shrugged all that off. Even if what those chip-shouldered reporters wrote was true, I thought, its not doing any ounce of damage to the music.
In lieu of BTO's former zingy, often airy, blend of Canadian pine and Yankee metal, what you get is thirty minutes of thumping bilge, one hugely stifling union of noise and moronism . . . crap.
Occasionally I play "Four Wheel Drive" in search of just one redeemer but the most I can listen to in one sitting is about two-and-a half songs — on side one, for instance, the needle usually comes up midway through "Hey You". I try the other side, too, but that's worse, chogga, chogga bashum, chogga, chogga (same-old) bashum.
Hopeless. Nothing on this perfectly dinosauric record comes faintly close to the precision of BTO's two hit singles ("Let it Ride" and "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet"), most of its is venomously loud and offensive, and all of it at once is a migraine.
The reason why "Four Wheel Drive" sounds like it does is indubitably locked up in the mechanics of business — something like, check your Cash box, mark up the winners and mark up the winners' strategy. What's ironic, even funny about this album is that Randy still hasn't had to come to grips with the old 'win some, lose some' business axiom: "Four Wheel Drive" is platinum and Top 10 here in New Zealand. So much for the masses' meat.
What's pervertedly appealing about this formula flatulence is its contribution toward the most exacting definition yet of "sell-out" not so much mere compromise as complete surrender to the swing-and-coaster of popular music trends.
Bend me, shape me, any way you want me/I gotta million bucks, now (tell me) who needs taste?
— Richard Best
Tonton Macoute — Tonton Macoute
I know absolutely nothing about this album or the group save that they are British, and that this is a re -issue of an album deleted in 1974. Tonton Macoute consists of Chris Gavin (guitars, bass); Dave Knowles (vocals, woodwind); Paul French (vocals, keyboards); and Nigel Reveler (percussion).
The music is unmistakably British. If one had to categorise it; I suppose you could call it "head" music, though its lighter in parts. As with most British music in this category, it is influenced by the usual potpourri of rock, classical, and jazz.
The individual musicians themselves are excellent, and I admire Knowles' flute, and Gavin's acoustic guitar. On first listening, the album struck me as being rather ordinary, which it perhaps is, but the more I played it the more I liked it, particularly side one, with its strong jazz overtones. Its very relaxing music, and great for late-night listening.
Vocally and lyrically they're not hot, a complaint alleviated by the actual music. Its difficult to single out specific tracks as being excellent or otherwise, but for myself, I rather like "Flying South in Winter" and "Natural High". Yeah, a nice record.
— David MacLellan
Midnight Mushrumps — Gryphon
Take Richard Harvey, Brian Gulland, Graeme Taylor, Philip Nestor, and David Oberle. Throw in a toy piano, keyboard glockenspeil, vocals, laugh, and candle-stick rotation. Add acoustic, semi-acoustic, classical and twelve-string guitars, and a raincoat. Flavour with drums, timpani, percussion and headache, and another candlestick. Let it grow on you for eighteen minutes and fifty-eight seconds, while listening gently and you're bound to come up with an attack of the midnight mushrumps. Midnight Mushrumps which occupies the whole first side is entirely instrumental, but what a diverse collection of musical instruments ranging from classical to modern electronic paraphenalia; from recorders to keyboard glockenspeil, from mandolin through to electric piano.
Gryphon — their very name suggests colourful and medieval imagery of the mystical half lion/half eagle beast. Moreover the record cover conjures up romantic associations with the Knights in Black forests, and a whole bunch more of King Arthurish images, with the members of Gryphon in traditional medieval to Elizabethan garb, standing in a glade.
Gryphon have taken the medieval stratum which has been utilised so successfully by Steeleye Span. However, they tend not use the same folk music of the common people as do Steeleye Span, rather that of the medieval and Elizabethan courts. In doing so they have come up with a tremendous sound which echoes that of Mike Old field in Tubular Bells'. The echoes occur in the repetitive but not monotonous nature of the music. The music is developed using the wide range of instruments and diverse sounds, that are blended together. The result is a high quality recording showing clearly that Gryphon is a collection of very talented and professional musicians.
The second side is a more diverse collection of five tracks, still in the same medieval to Elizabethan medium. The arrangements are both traditional and composed by members of the group. The first track is traditional in the style of a medieval court song called The Plough boy's Dream. It tells the tale of a plough-boy who dreams one night that he takes his master's team out ploughing but finds the field hard and dry like fired clay. He whips and abuses the horses until they can plough no more; then an apparition of a youth surrounded by a brightly' shining light appears before him asking the plough boy whether his beasts would plough the ground were it not so hard. He tells the plough boy that there is no use in swearing at his beasts and chides him for doing so — then vanishes. The sky then turns dark and thunder rolls and from the earth a voice booms "I shall soon have thee". With this the plough boy awakes, pledging that he remembers that dream to this day as a lesson for all plough boys.
The other four tracks on this side are instrumental except for laughing (or is it groaning due to the headache?). They are similar to the first side but the repetitive musical theme is not so much present as in Midnight Mushrumps on the first side. This album from Gryphon has a wide appeal, from lovers of Steeleye Span to savourers of Tubular Bells. There is little else to say except beware least midnight mushrumps grow on you!
— 2/4 Ain't Bad
The Best Years of our Lives — Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel
EMI EMC 3068
Steve Harley is yer actual tortured psychopath right out of London's East End — from Bromley on London's outer border, or to be more precise, from Beckenham, a Bromley constituent; whose own self-admitted closest affiliation to rock is Bob Dylan and who says he knows more about Coleridge, Shelley and Keats than the Rolling Stones. Could be just more pop star promo bullshit, for all I know, but on this, his group's third release, he provides articulately and credibly, sufficient evidence to prove that he really means it. Certainly The Best Years of Our Lives' is more than most a little bit intriguing.
— Patrick O'Dea
Really Rosie — Carole King
Heh, heh. Chuckle. Snort. What a peculiar one this is. I don't really know how to look at it. For originality of lyrics? They are not written by Ms King so one can't analyse them in relation to her and her previous work. What about the singing? Well yeah its good, familiar. The music? Again its typical Carole King - plenty of that edgy light-hearted piano, underlining the voice and what is being sung.
But no, this album really has very little to do with the above. Though Maruice Sendak could have chosen very few other composers and singers to interpret his delightful kids book. And that's what "Really Rosie" is all about. Its a beautifully illustrated kids book, adapted for TV, this album being the soundtracks (and yes, the lyrics are the simple imaginative poetry weavers that are the keynote of good children'sbooks).
"I'm really Rosie
And I'm Rosie Real
You better believe me
I'm a great big Deal Believe Me!"
"One was Johnny", Alligators All Around (a alphabet song); Pierre (about a boy named Pierre who didn't care: "The moral of Pierre is — Care!'); the Ballad of Chicken Soup. How can you argue with those (I certainly can't). What really is the mind-warper is to see such things on the cover of an album apparently aimed at teenage or adult C.King fans. Despite the excellence of this ladies vocal chords and music, the star of the show is or at least should have been, Maurice Sendak. Its his visual and lyric conception.
Its such a contrast. I'm more used to the sensitivity of the Tapestry album. Which in strict face-to-face confrontation with the songs on Really Rosie make the latter appear absolutely banal. Though doubtless the use of Ms King, in purely 'cynical and financial terms, has guaranteed at least moderate success for this album.
Carole King's fans, however, may be disappointed with an album which obstensibly features her in the usual role in "True Star", rather than merely as interpreter of another fantasy world.
Having got all of that little critique out, I'd just like to contradict myself completely and say that I like "Really Rosie". Innocent and naive it is, but that I think is what I like most about children (and most disturbing when I see that innocence withering). However I feel my attempt at reviewing it is irrelevant. A child should have been given this record to listen to and comment on.
— Graham Simpson
Rubycon — Tangerine Dream
Tangerine Dream is a well established German group playing their distincitve ideas on electronic music. The three musicians are Edgar Froere, Chris Franke, and Peter Baumann, and they reside between producing albums in England, in Berlin, where they have a very complex music studio for working out new formats, and it was here that previous records 'Ziet' and 'Atem' were made.
'Rubycon' has been likened to the last record Thaedea". Invariably some sequences might sound very similar but the overall perception is quite different. This album was recorded at the English manor, Shipton on Cherwell, and the vocal group of Lisa Strike and others provide the very fairy, airy, background vocals. The instruments played are predominantly moog synthesisers, organs and mellotrons a far cry from the days of Alpha Centauri', when the group had an incredibly active percussion section and guitars. On that record, the drumming would rise in tempo until a crescendo, then a very sterile voice saying the world, the soul rises into the cosmos", and a quiet electronic piece finished it.
'Rubycon' has some enchanting tracks and some subtle nuances to accompany. It is music that makes you very conscious of empty spaces and big open voids and you tend to go very much inside heart and mind to appreciate it, whereas in rock, the reaction and experience is very much external phenomena, this being proven to some extent by the fact the body dances and moves to the earthy rhythms. It is for this reason that it would not make group appreciation possible and be decidedly antisocial.
The music is well structured and has adjoined that which was missing in 'Phaedra' where the moods would change without connection. It is exhilarating in places, especially in Rubycon Part I, and it is because of this that the repetitive pieces tend to disappoint after a lime. Apart from stating personal feelings about electronic music there is little else to say without getting down to irrelevant detail.
— Philip Hay