Hours by David Bowie

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Hours by David BowieFor the 21st studio album of his incredibly eclectic career, David Bowie forged a collection of songs written as the soundtrack for a new video game. Hours was released in October 1999 and features tracks co-written by guitarist Reeves Gabrels for the adventure game Omikron: The Nomad Soul. The material on this album ranges from soft, lush acoustic ballads to poignant, layered classic riff-driven rock with the slightest moments of reflection to Bowie’s early 1970s heyday.

During much of the 1990s, Bowie’s output focused on electronic music. 1993’s Black Tie White Noise made prominent use of electronic instruments while this the soul, jazz, and hip-hop influence album reunited him with producer Nile Rodgers, who had helped forge great success a decade earlier with Let’s Dance. Another reunion took place with 1995’s industrial-laden Outside, as Bowie once again worked with Brian Eno, who had collaborated on each of the late seventies “Berlin Trilogy” albums. This was followed by the experimental 1997 album Earthling, which spawned a couple of Top 40 singles, proving David Bowie remained commercially viable as he bypassed his 50th birthday.

Spawned from dedicated writing sessions, Bowie and Gabrels had actually recorded much of the material for Hours twice, with the original rough cut of the album being rejected. Beyond the 10 album tracks, Gabrels also wrote and recorded over 3 hours of instrumental pieces exclusively for the video game.

In September 1998, BowieNet was launched as an Internet service provider which offered exclusive content for fans. This would soon be the exclusive home of Hours for two weeks before the album was released elsewhere, making this album the first by a major artist available to download on the Internet.


Hours by David Bowie
Released: October 4, 1999 (Virgin)
Produced by: David Bowie & Reeves Gabrels
Recorded: 1998–1999
Track Listing Primary Musicians
Thursday’s Child
Something In the Air
Survive
If I’m Dreaming My Life
Seven
What’s Really Happening?
The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell
New Angels of Promise
Brilliant Adventure
The Dreamers
David Bowie – Lead Vocals, Guitars, Synths
Reeves Gabrels – Guitars, Synths
Mark Plati – Bass, Guitars, Synths
 
Hours by David Bowie

 

Smooth to the point where it feels like elevator psychedelia, “Thursday’s Child” opens the album with lush, synthesized orchestration and fine backing vocals by guest Holly Palmer. This also acted as the album’s first single. The interesting “Something in the Air” is fashioned much more like a classic Bowie song, highlighted by Gabrels’ various guitar tones and a thumping bass by Mark Plati. The acoustic ballad “Survive” is slightly melancholy with beautifully layered electric guitars added strategically throughout, while the slow rocker “If I’m Dreaming My Life” features vocals which seem to be interjected intentionally off time.

Rich, strummed acoustic guitars highlight “Seven”, a track which is musically steady throughout. The lyrics and overall feel of this song has a definitive Pink Floyd vibe with ethereal sustained electric guitar layers added on top. A similar vibe is continued on “What’s Really Happening?”, albeit with all electric and electronic instrumentation and featuring lyrics by Alex Grant, making this the only track not composed solely by Bowie and Gabrels.

David Bowie

“The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell” is like proto-punk for older folks, with plenty of new wave effects over some simple and steady guitar riffs and a song title which suggests a sequel to “Oh! You Pretty Things” from the 1971 album Hunky Dory. “New Angels of Promise” begins with synth flutes and other orchestration before settling into a Boomtown Rats-like rock screed with a psychedelic backing to the later guitar lead, Following the short, jungle-influenced instrumental “Brilliant Adventure”, we reach the closing track and initial title for the album, “The Dreamers”. Here, some rich synths back Bowie’s deep crooning before the song eventually picks up with various sections getting more rhythmic and melodic before we reach an abrupt ending to the song and album.

While infamous for being first David Bowie studio album to not reach the US Top 40 since the early 1970s, Hours was (on balance) a worldwide hit as it reached the Top 10 in more than half a dozen nations. As the new millennium began, Bowie continued his experimentation with a planned 2000 album called Toy, which was intended to feature new versions of some of Bowie’s earliest pieces. However, that album was never released and Bowie moved on to produce a new album of original songs with 2002’s Heathen.

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1999 images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of 1999 albums.

 

Pink Floyd in 1969

Buy More
Buy Ummagumma

Pink Floyd 1969 albumsThe recorded output by Pink Floyd during the year 1969 was ubiquitous, original, creative and disjointed. During the year, the group released the LP soundtrack to the film More and the double length half live, half studio record Ummagumma, and also recorded material which would appear on future projects. The group’s musical transformation became clear as they moved from the psychedelic pop that defined the group earlier to a more refined style which would bring the group their greatest success in years to come.

The group found success with their first two albums, The Piper At the Gates of Dawn in 1967 and A Saucerful of Secrets in 1968, even as they had vastly different styles due to the departure of chief songwriter and vocalist Syd Barrett. As that year ended, lead vocal duties were shared among three of the group members while bassist Roger Waters began to emerge as primary composer. Early in 1969 the band developed a pair of multi-part suites called “The Man” and “The Journey”, which included the earliest carnations of songs which would appear on More, Ummagumma and other projects. In total, about a dozen future tracks originated from “The Man” and “The Journey”, which would not find its way to the public until the 2016 box set, The Early Years 1965-1972.

Released in June of 1969, More became the third studio album by Pink Floyd on the EMI label and it was recorded during the same months as the live performances used on Ummagumma during the Spring of 1969. Used as the soundtrack for the 1969 film of the same name directed by Barbet Schroeder, More features a mix of acoustic folk ballads, several instrumental tracks, as well as some heavy rock tracks. More also has the distinction of being the only Pink Floyd album with all lead vocals by guitarist David Gilmour until A Momentary Lapse in Reason in 1987.

Getting its name from a Cambridge area slang word, Ummagumma was completed by the end of June 1969 but not released until November. The album contained two sides of live material and two sides of studio recordings subdivided into four sections of solo compositions by each of the group members. The album’s live recordings were recorded at clubs in Birmingham and Manchester while the studio portion was recorded at Abbey Road Studios and co-produced by Norman Smith.


More by Pink Floyd
Released: June 13, 1969 (EMI Columbia)
Produced by: Pink Floyd
Recorded: Pye Studios, London, February–May 1969
Side One Side Two
Cirrus Minor
The Nile Song
Crying Song
Up the Khyber
Green Is the Colour
Cymbaline
Party Sequence
Main Theme
Ibiza Bar
More Blues
Quicksilver
A Spanish Piece
Dramatic Theme

Ummagumma by Pink Floyd
Released: November 7, 1969 (Harvest)
Produced by: Norman Smith & Pink Floyd
Recorded: Mothers Club of Birmingham, Manchester College of Commerce, & Abbey Road Studios, London, April-May 1969
Venue
Side One Side Two
Astronomy Domine
Careful with That Axe, Eugene
Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
A Saucerful of Secrets
Side Three Side Four
Sysyphus
Grantchester Meadows
Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict
The Narrow Way (Parts 1–3)
The Grand Vizier’s Garden Party
Part 1: Entrance
Part 2: Entertainment
Part 3: Exit
Group Musicians (Both Albums)
David Gilmour – Guitars, Percussion, Vocals
Richard Wright – Piano, Organ, Vibraphone, Vocals
Roger Waters – Bass, Guitars, Tape Effects, Percussion, Vocals
John Bonham – Drums, Percussion

 

A long intro of bird sound effects gives way to the dark acoustic descriptive landscape of “Cirrus Minor”, the opening track on More. Later on, Richard Wright’s inventive, overdubbed organ chorus is featured in the coda. Much unlike the opening track, Wright is absent on “The Nile Song”, a driving hard rocker, which had some “punk” tendencies many year before that genre was coined. Considered to be one of the heaviest songs that Pink Floyd ever recorded, this track features a chord progression that repeats through six different keys, giving it a sinking. swirling effect overall. Next “Crying Song” pleasantly fades in as an acoustic ballad with a repeated verse and no chorus with only Gilmour’s ending guitar lead providing a break from the repetition.

More by Pink FloydDrummer Nick Mason supplies animated jazz drums for the instrumental “Up the Khyber”, joined only by some slight piano and organ improvisation by Wright. In contrast, “Green Is the Colour” is a bluesy acoustic sans drums but with an interesting dual lead by Wright on piano and Farfisa organ. Nick’s wife Lindy Mason also provides a tin whistle to complete the effect. The smooth yet intense “Cymbaline” is, perhaps, the most cohesive recording on this album and one that strongly forecasts the group’s stylistic compositions later in the 1970s. Waters lyrics tell of a nightmare while Wright’s organ and piano gain full control as song enters its long fade.

Most of the second half of More is comprised of instrumentals, including Mason’s chorus on percussive bongos encapsulating “Party Sequence”, the hip, spacey quality of “Main Theme”, the reverb-laden “More Blues”, the improvised extended piece “Quicksilver” and the rotating bass riff accompanied by Bosa Nova drums and whining guitar for the closing “Dramatic Theme”. Aside from Gilmour’s frivilous “A Spanish Piece” where he spouts gibberish through a poorly exaggerated Spanish accent, the only other sng with vocals on the second side is “Ibiza Bar”, a hard-driving song with pre-punk impulses.

The first two sides of Ummagumma consisted of two extended live tracks each. The best of these is the opener “Astronomy Domine”, the only composition by Barrett in the collection, and an excellent update to the original version from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. This version really highlights the group’s discipline and tightness live and, most especially, Gilmour’s guitar work (he was not present on the original studio version). “Careful with That Axe, Eugene” follows where the repeated two bass notes provide a steady heartbeat for this haunting instrumental led by Wright’s organ-based motifs, which was originally released as a single ‘B’ side in late 1968. “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” provides more hypnotic consistency, this time held by Mason’s tribal toms and Wright’s Eastern-favored keyboards, with the piece getting more and more intense until Gilmour comes in for a wild psychedelic jam. Finally, “A Saucerful of Secrets”, the most unsatisfying live cut on Ummagumma with its only real redemption being the wild drumming section by Mason.

Ummagumma by Pink FloydThe studio album portion of Ummagumma was done at Wright’s suggestion as each of the four members created solo work with no involvement from Pink Floyd members. Wright’s section come first with “Sysyphus”, a four part instrumental suite composed on piano and various keyboards, synths and effects mechanisms. Like the story of the Greek character this was named after, the piece ends exactly where is begins. Waters wrote two separate pieces for his section, which closes side three. “Grantchester Meadows” is an atmospheric folk song with slow picked acoustic laid onto a backdrop of electronic nature effects topped with poetic lyrics of a pastoral bliss from his childhood. In contrast, “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict” is a totally Avent Garde piece performed solely by overdubbed, inventive use of voice and hand effects. The closing gibberish rant by the “Pict” is a real masterpiece of artful sound unparalleled in rock music.

The final side commences with Gilmour’s three distinct parts of “The Narrow Way”. The first part is a musically satisfying instrumental as overdubbed acoustic guitars and slight, piercing electric groove on with an occasional rotating sound effect passing through the scene. Part 2 has a doomy electric which seems to forecast the soon-to-come-sounds of King Crimson and/or Black Sabbath, while the third part features a full song arrangement with vocals, piano, mellotron, drums and guitar all performed by Gilmour for an overall decent ballad. Nick Mason’s contribution is “The Grand Vizier’s Garden Party” where repeated reverb effects on tympani are slowly joined by extra repeated effects and a background mellotron to add some counter-melody. The heart of this three-part suite is bookmarked by two short flute melodies, performed by Lindy Mason, including the overdubbed piece which concludes the album.

Pink Floyd

While neither resembles a popular music album in any way, amazingly both More and Ummagumma were Top Ten hits in the UK, with the latter album eventually selling over a million copies in the US. Further, with both albums fully recorded and mixed by mid year, Pink Floyd moved on to other projects later in 1969.

In early July, they recorded the song “Biding My Time”. Once a part of “The Man and the Journey”, this jazzy track written and sung by Waters is a fine showcase for the band’s talents and versatility. Each member has room to shine from Mason’s drumming to Wright’s piano and trombone playing to Gilmour’s jazz guitar in the verses and later extended heavy rock lead to close out the track, With so much other material being released, this fine song was held back until it appeared on the 1971 compilation album, Relics. On July 20th, Pink Floyd performed a live televised jam entitled “Moonhead” with actors Ian McKellan and Judi Dench also starring on the special. In October, the group was filmed for another television documentary entitled Music Power, which included Frank Zappa joining the group for a rendition of “Interstellar Overdrive”.

Pink Floyd next recording project began in mid-November, where they traveled to Rome for the soundtrack to director Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Zabriskie Point. Three of the group’s songs (“Heart Beat, Pig Meat”, “Crumbling Land” and “Come in No. 51, Your Time Is Up”) were ultimately included on the 1970 soundtrack, while several more were rejected by the filmmaker and unreleased. Among the rejected pieces was a Richard Wright instrumental called “The Violent Sequence”, which was later re-purposed as “Us and Them” on the group’s 1973 blockbuster The Dark Side of the Moon. This project closed out the prolific year for the group.

1969 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 45th anniversary of 1969 albums.

 

Motörhead’s 1979 albums

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Buy Bomber

Motorhead 1979 albumsDuring the year 1979, Motörhead released their second and third albums, Overkill and Bomber, two records that put this hard rock trio on the map. Overkill was an unexpected success and has gone on to be considered a major leap forward in both style and critical acclaim. Led by bassist and vocalist Lemmy Kilmister, the group forged a raw and heavy but somewhat melodic and accessible sound which forged elements of heavy blues and punk rock.

Kilmister joined the group Hawkwind in the early 1970s, which spawned some successful albums and a Top 5 single in the UK. However, he was fired by the band in 1975 after being briefly jailed on drug charges when entering Canada and forcing the band to cancel some scheduled shows. Lemmy immediately decided to form a new band and named it Motörhead after a song he had recently written. The band quickly found success and a contract with United Artists. Material for the eventual album On Parole was recorded but the label initially refused to release it because they were dissatisfied with the sound (it was ultimately also released in 1979, after Motörhead’s breakthrough success). Drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor and guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke, both of whom would remain as the group’s core trio as some original group members departed in coming years. In August 1977, the group’s self-titled debut record was released and it spent a brief time on the UK Albums chart. In 1978, the group signed with Bronze Records and released a cover of the Kingsmen classic “Louie Louie”, followed by a tour to promote the record.

With the minor success from this single, the group commenced recording for a new album in December 1978 with producer Jimmy Miller. The resulting Overkill album became a Top 30 album on the charts and it sparked a tour and a quick follow-up record, Bomber, which was also produced by Miller.


Overkill by Motorhead
Released: March 24, 1979 (Bronze)
Produced by: Jimmy Miller & Neil Richmond
Recorded: Roundhouse and Sound Development Studios, London, December 1978-January 1979
Side One Side Two
Overkill
Stay Clean
(I Won’t) Pay Your Price
I’ll Be Your Sister
Capricorn
No Class
Damage Case
Tear Ya Down
Metropolis
Limb From Limb

Bomber by Motorhead
Released: October 27, 1969 (Bronze)
Produced by: Jimmy Miller
Recorded: Roundhouse Studios and Olympic Studios, London, July-August 1979
Side One Side Two
Dead Men Tell No Tales
Lawman
Sweet Revenge
Sharpshooter
Poison
Stone Dead Forever
All the Aces
Step Down
Talking Head
Bomber
Group Musicians (Both Albums)
Lemmy Kilmister – Lead Vocals, Bass
Eddie Clarke – Guitars, Vocals
Phil Taylor – Drums

 

Overkill begins with its fine title track, a song of genuine energy and release. Notable for Taylor’s an early use of double kick pedals the track employs minimal overdubs through its head banging parade. The next track, “Stay Clean”, has an almost punk vibe to it along with some electronic treatment on Kilmister’s vocals along with his cool buzzy bass and slight bass lead while “(I Won’t) Pay Your Price” has a Southern rock feel blended with straight-ahead energy and layered guitar textures by Clarke.

Overkill by Motorhead“I’ll Be Your Sister” returns to the pop/punk energetic rock, but with a bit different and interesting twist. “Capricorn” begins with drum rhythms and a dramatic guitar build up, later culminating with some of the later reverb-drenched guitars have a Hendrix-style effect. The album’s second side starts with the crisp rock riffing of “No Class” then returns to the punk style of “Damage Case”, with just enough classic rock swing to make it interesting and anthemic. “Tear Ya Down” releases more energy, “Metropolis” features slightly bluesy riffing and some harmonized vocals and the album closer “Limb From Limb” is built on a hypnotic, rotating riff between each verse line.

Motorhead in 1979

Less than four months after the release of Overkill, Motörhead began working on their next album, Bomber. Without having much opportunity to develop the songs and with Miller struggling with substance abuse during the sessions, this third album turned out to be less edgy and more formulaic. The album is bookmarked by, perhaps, its strongest songs. The opener “Dead Men Tell No Tales” is both refined and energetic as a slightly raw hard rocker, while the closing title song is an obvious classic track with the energy and freshness of much of the material on Overkill, making for a hit Top 40 single on the UK singles chart.

Bomber by Motorhead“Lawman” features some cool chord changes while basically hitting on main riff and lyrical hook which scoffs at the police. “Sweet Revenge” changes things up as methodical sludge rocker with a cool, bluesy slide by Clarke during the choruses. “Sharpshooter” again returns back to riff-rock, while “Poison” and “Stone Dead Forever” trend towards a fusion of punk and metal. “All the Aces” revives the definitive Motörhead sound while “Step Down” reverts to a real classic Black Sabbath vibe, making it one of the better tracks on the album.

In spite of being a bit rushed and underdone, Bomber peaked at #12 on the UK albums chart, making it their strongest showing on the charts up to that point. A tour of Europe followed, complete with a spectacular aircraft bomber-shaped lighting rig, as the group headed into the new decade of the 1980s with the promise of more success.

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Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of 1979 albums.

1979 Images

 

George Harrison

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George HarrisonReleased in early 1979, George Harrison’s eponymous studio album is a light and breezy work of bliss and contentment by the ex-Beatle as he started a new family in his late 30’s. Adding to the overall atmosphere, much of this record was composed while on an extended hiatus in Hawaii, which followed a full year away from any activity  in the music industry. Since it’s release 40 years ago, George Harrison has generally been received well as may be considered one of this artist’s top solo releases.

Harrison had immediate post-Beatles success with the 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass and, to a lesser extent with 1973’s Living In the Material World. Late in 1974, Harrison became the first ex-Beatle to tour North America in conjunction with the release of the album Dark Horse. However, Harrison considered this the least satisfactory of his three post-Beatles studio albums and this, combined with the demise of the Apple Records label, led Harrison to launch his own label called Dark Horse Records. The 1976 album, Thirty Three & 1/3, became the first album release for this label, and it produced a couple of minor hit singles; “This Song” and “Crackerbox Palace”.

Harrison spent much of 1977 following Formula 1 racing and traveled to Hawaii in early 1978 to begin writing for this album, which he would co-produce with Russ Titelman. Recording for the album took place at both Harrison’s suburban home studio and London’s AIR Studios and the sessions included cameos by contemporary artists Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood and Gary Wright.


George Harrison by George Harrison
Released: February 20, 1979 (Dark Horse)
Produced by: Russ Titelman & George Harrison
Recorded: FPSHOT, Oxfordshire & AIR Studios, London, 1978
Side One Side Two
Love Comes to Everyone
Not Guilty
Here Comes the Moon
Soft-Hearted Hana
Blow Away
Faster
Dark Sweet Lady
Your Love Is Forever
Soft Touch
If You Believe
Primary Musicians
George Harrison – Lead Vocals, Guitars, Dobro, Mandolin, Sitar, Bass
Neil Larsen – Piano, Keyboards
Willie Weeks – Bass
Andy Newmark – Drums

The album begins with the single “Love Comes to Everyone”, a nice fusion of styles between Harrison’s signature slide guitar of the early seventies and the bass-driven bright pop of the late seventies led by Willie Weeks. The whole vibe of this song is accented nicely by Winwood’s sharp synth lead. “Not Guilty” is a track originally written for the Beatles’ White Album a decade earlier with lyrics referring to Harrison’s ever-straining relationship with his band mates following the failed pilgrimage to India to follow the Maharishi. Due to the tense subject matter, the original 1968 completed recording was not included on the Beatles’ double album. The late seventies version features a jazzy electric piano Neil Larsen and an overall feel that justifies giving this one ten years to mature.

George Harrison 1979

Another nod back to his Beatles’ years, “Here Comes the Moon” acts as a natural sequel to “Here Comes the Sun” from the Abbey Road album. This subtle, acoustic track features fine methodical accompaniment including vocal effects and a vocal chorus. Inspired by the hallucinatory effects of some Hawaiian “magic mushrooms”, the good-timey ragtime tune “Hard Hearted Hannah” features a fine acoustic lead and some call and response vocals. Perhaps the finest overall track, “Blow Away” features an exquisite combo of electric piano and slide electric guitar in the lead in along with a very catchy chorus hook and great guitar link back from chorus to verse. The song was the lead single from the album and became a hit in the United States and Canada.

The album’s second side starts with “Faster” an upbeat, celebratory tribute to Formula 1 racing which also served as the early title for this record. Next comes two subtle love songs, “Dark Sweet Lady” with a beautiful Caribbean style and the methodically strummed acoustic of “Your Love Is Forever”. A leftover from Thirty Three & 1/3, “Soft Touch” was re-written in Hawaii with a tropical theme and musical arrangement, while the closing track “If You Believe” wraps things up with an upbeat and positive message.

The feeling of bliss demonstrated on George Harrison would be shocked by reality during the production of Harrison’s follow-up album Somewhere in England, with the murder of former band mate John Lennon in December 1980. Harrison rewrote a track to pay tribute to Lennon and invited the remaining Beatles to play on the track “All Those Years Ago”, a Top Ten hit in 1981.

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Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of 1979 albums.

1979 Images

 

Deep Purple’s 1974 albums

Buy Burn
Buy Stormbringer

Deep Purple 1974 albumsIn 1974, Deep Purple released their only two albums with the “Mark III” lineup, Burn and Stormbringer. With these records, the group not only replaced vocalist Ian Gillan (who quit) and bassist Roger Glover (who was fired), but also made a stylistic shift towards the popular early seventies style funk rock. Critical response to this new endeavor was mixed (Burn generally received more favorable reviews) while commercial sales remained strong for both albums worldwide.

After Gillan and Glover joined Deep Purple in late 1969, the group’s popularity exploded with each of the initial three “Mark II” albums – Deep Purple In Rock (1970), Fireball (1971), Machine Head (1972) – being more popular and better received than the last. An extensive world tour in 1972 resulted in the double-live album, Made in Japan, which went on to become one of rock’s highest selling live-concert recordings. The 1973 studio album Who Do We Think We Are was an instant gold record but ultimately is a less than spectacular record overall. Exhausted with the frantic pace, Gillan requested a break, but was pushed by management to complete another tour. The resulting tensions ultimately led to Gillan quitting Deep Purple in the summer of 1973, shortly followed by the dismissal of Glover.

In August 1973, former Trapeze bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes joined the group, originally intended to take on the duo roles vacated by Gillan and Glover. However, the band came close to bringing in former Free vocalist Paul Rodgers, before he decided to start Bad Company. The idea of remaining a five-piece but with dual lead vocalists persisted and, after several auditions, the group chose David Coverdale, a then-unknown vocalist from Northeast England.


Burn by Deep Purple
Released: February 15, 1974 (Warner Bros.)
Produced by: Deep Purple
Recorded: Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, Montreux, Switzerland, November 1973
Side One Side Two
Burn
Might Just Take Your Life
Lay Down, Stay Down
Sail Away
You Fool No One
What’s Goin’ On Here
Mistreated
‘A’ 200

Stormbringer by Deep Purple
Released: November 1974 (Warner Bros.)
Produced by: Martin Birch & Deep Purple
Recorded: Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany & The Record Plant, Los Angeles, August-September 1974
Side One Side Two
Stormbringer
Love Don’t Mean a Thing
Holy Man
Hold On
Lady Double Dealer
You Can’t Do It Right
High Ball Shooter
The Gypsy
Soldier of Fortune
Group Musicians (Both Albums)
David Coverdale – Lead Vocals
Ritchie Blackmore – Guitars
Jon Lord – Keyboards
Glenn Hughes – Bass, Vocals
Ian Paice – Drums

 

The self-produced album Burn was recorded in Montreux, Switzerland during November 1973. All members of the group participated in the songwriting but Hughes was not initially given any credits due to past contractual obligations. The title track kicks things off as a hyper-paced mini-epic which frequently returns to the signature riff by Ritchie Blackmore, who later trades off leads with keyboardist Jon Lord. “Might Just Take Your Life” was the lead single from the album and it starts with Lord’s sloshy organ riff before settling into a fine rock groove topped by Coverdale’s soulful vocals.

Burn by Deep Purple On the upbeat “Lay Down, Stay Down” Coverdale and Hughes trade off lead vocals resulting in a heavy Doobie-Brothers-like song, while “Sail Away” is a clavichord-driven rocker with contrasting vocals by the two singers and a later psychedelic-type synth by Lord. “You Fool No One” features a wild drum and percussion ensemble by Ian Paice before it breaks into a pure classic rocker with some sixties influence.

The album concludes with three songs of very differing styles. The blues rocker “What’s Goin’ On Here” features thumping rhythms, a generous use of piano by Lord and crisp guitars by Blackmore for an overall effect that should’ve made this track a hit. “Mistreated” is an extended, droning song that only really comes to life later with another fine guitar lead. The odd, synth driven instrumental “‘A’ 200” closes things out with a rhythm making this sort of a more modern adaptation of the Jeff Beck classic “Beck’s Bolero”.

Burn sold over a million copies worldwide and fared well on the charts, hitting the Top 10 in the UK and the US and reaching #1 in several European countries. In April 1974, this lineup of Deep Purple co-headlined the California Jam festival in Ontario, CA, which drew an audience of more than a quarter million and was broadcast on national Television in the US.

Stormbringer by Deep Purple-Following another world tour, the group returned to the studio in the late summer of 1974 to record Stormbringer. Co-produced by Martin Birch, the album was recorded in both Munich, Germany and Los Angeles and it musically displays Deep Purple even more fully embracing soul and funk elements with Hughes and Coverdale exerting much more influence and Lord providing an exceptionally strong and versatile effort.

The title track “Stormbringer” opens the album strongly as a perfect junction where Coverdale’s and classic Deep Purple’s styles intersect. The song features heavy rhythms, judicious synths, a soaring guitar lead and doomy lyrics to make it a mid-seventies metal classic. The second track, “Love Don’t Mean a Thing”, offers a sharp contrast to the first with duo lead vocals and a cool, bluesy vibe overall. The next two songs are the only not to include Blackmore in composing and they show this stylistically. “Holy Man” is, perhaps, furthest away from Purple’s core – a pleasant enough ballad with plenty of mid-seventies ear candy – but it sounds nothing like traditional Deep Purple. The keyboard-driven “Hold On” closes the original first side by displaying Lord’s skills at both electric piano and clavichord.

Deep Purple 1974

Side two starts with a return to thumping hard rock on “Lady Double Dealer”, along with some funk elements in the bridge. “You Can’t Do It Right (With the One You Love)” is so funk that it is almost pre-disco, while “High Ball Shooter” is a hybrid of harder blues rock and soulful vocals along with a fine extended organ lead and “The Gypsy” features harmonized guitars and lead vocals. The album concludes with the straight-forward acoustic ballad “Soldier of Fortune”, a quiet and haunting way to wrap things up.

Unhappy with the stylistic shifts in the band he co-founded and named in 1968, Blackmore left Deep Purple following the subsequent Stormbringer tour in 1975. Blackmore then formed Rainbow with Ronnie James Dio while Deep Purple replaced him temporarily with guitarist Tommy Bolin and recorded the forgettable Come Taste the Band. They called it quits in early 1976 and would not reunite for nearly a decade to come.

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1974 images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 40th anniversary of 1974 albums.

 

The Final Cut by Pink Floyd

Buy The Final Cut

This guest album review is provided by Merry Mercurial, a writer of fiction, essays, reviews, and the “highly subjective” music blog which you can read at her website, The Music According to Merry.

The Final Cut by Pink FloydPink Floyd’s 12th studio release, The Final Cut, debuted on the heels of a hit-heavy album that had the nerve to recruit schoolkids to chant, in heavy British accents, about not needing “no education”. The Wall would go 23 times platinum in the US, fuel a bizarre but beloved movie, and become a capital-m Moment in rock. In a way, fallout from The Final Cut makes perfect sense. If the titular wall of Floyd’s 11th and best-selling album had been a maximum-security border – penning the narrator in with every last fear passed down from his own mother and Mother England – it came to have more in common with the high, dangerous structure from Humpty Dumpty. There really was nowhere to go but down, a bad break was coming, and nothing would put Pink Floyd, as the world knew and loved them, together again.

The Final Cut was conceived of as soundtrack for the 1982 movie adaptation of The Wall, but a different event in ’82 changed its direction. The UK responded to Argentina’s play for sovereignty of the Falkland Islands with a military assault that many – including bassist and primary songwriter Roger Waters – considered trigger-happy. The themes of war and loss that had been scattered throughout The Wall became the focus of The Final Cut. Of Pink Floyd’s albums dating back to The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (’67), this one may have offered the clearest message: the past blood shed by soldiers, including Waters’s father, had been spent like water. The post-war dream was dead.

Production efforts were bruised in the melee of a band that would eventually be known nearly as well for their friction as their giant pig float that lumbered over concertgoers. Guitarist David Gilmour protested that several of the songs had originally been trimmed from The Wall; he couldn’t imagine they’d become album-worthy with time. Tensions between Waters and Gilmour escalated until the two would or could no longer work together. They largely recorded like divorced parents communicating through their children. Completed in the latter months of ’82 across eight studio locations, The Final Cut is the only LP on which all writing is credited to Waters and the only to not feature founding keyboardist Richard Wright.

 


The Final Cut by Pink Floyd
Released: March 21, 1983 (Harvest)
Produced by: James Guthrie, Michael Kamen & Roger Waters
Recorded: Mayfair Studios, RAK Studios, Olympic Studios, Abbey Road Studios, Eel Pie Studios, Audio International Studios, and The Billiard Room, London, 1979-1983
Side One Side Two
The Post War Dream
Your Possible Pasts
One of the Few
The Hero’s Return
The Gunner’s Dream
Paranoid Eyes
Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert
The Fletcher Memorial Homee
Southampton Dock
The Final Cut
Not Now John
Two Suns in the Sunset
Group Musicians
Roger Waters – Lead Vocals, Bass, Guitars, Keyboards
David Gilmour – Guitars, Vocals
Nick Mason – Drums

 

The album opens with and continues incorporating the faintly disorienting effects Pink Floyd is known for. While the music is as accomplished and mood-appropriate as ever, there are no hooks, no shower singalongs, no delightful sonic montages to show the fun side of Floyd’s dead-serious subject matter. Furnished by Raphael Ravenscroft, even the saxophone – perhaps the instrument most frequently described as “smooth” – sounds throaty and raw in a way that matches Waters’s vocals.

Waters did some singing on The Wall as well – sometimes to powerful effect – but with him taking lead on 12/13 songs, The Final Cut makes it clear that his abilities lie more in conception, composition, and bass. Which isn’t to say his singing was a bad idea altogether. While Gilmour’s voice transitions liquidly from peacenik lullabies to screw-the-man power anthems, it doesn’t simmer with quiet rage the way Waters’s does. He has a way of sounding as volatile when he whispers as when he belts.

What’s more, there’s something about his untrained voice that works on an album that appears to be purposefully unsmooth – sometimes downright uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable that you can hear the movement of Roger Waters’s mouth during spoken-word sections of songs such as “Paranoid Eyes” and “The Fletcher Memorial Home.” It’s uncomfortable that the music bows so low in deference to his undecorated but also unflinching voice: there’s absolutely no place for the political frustration and depression and fury to hide. But that’s likely the point.

Pink Floyd in 1980s

The musical restraint exercised on most of the songs is effective in exposing subtleties of mood. On “Paranoid Eyes,” for instance, the music feels like a brew being stirred in the background. Things reach a boil with the airplane sound, explosion, and jarringly jaunty opening of “Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert,” a short (1:16) song that keeps up an album-long indictment of Margaret Thatcher.

The title song is perhaps the most emotional of a very emotional collection; it’s wisely arranged to give way to “Not Now John,” which besides being the most swear-laden of all Pink Floyd’s songs, reintroduces a bigger and more traditionally Floyd sound: prominent guitar, energetic female chorus, and David Gilmour’s voice. And while it’s a relief by this point to hear him, there is little sense of harmony between his and Waters’s vocals.

Though The Final Cut did well in England and climbed as high as number six in the US, it was also the group’s lowest-selling since Meddle, released in ’71. Its lyrics deserved and received praise.  Its overall sound, execution, and very existence were subject to bitterly mixed reviews. This is the last studio album Roger Waters would make with Pink Floyd. The others would continue under the Floyd mantle, against his wishes, without him. They would not come together again until the Live 8 concert at Hyde Park, London, in July 2005. At the time, drummer Nick Mason would emphasize that the performance was a one-time thing. It didn’t spell reunion. He would also, however, make it clear that if the band were to reunite properly, his bags were already packed.

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1983 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 30th anniversary of 1983 albums.

 

Dire Straits

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Dire Straits 1978 debutBritish quartet Dire Straits launched their fruitful career in 1978 with an impressive self-titled debut studio album. This album features nine tracks composed by guitarist/vocalist Mark Knopfler who blended elements of American roots music with a distinct guitar style and a reserved, husky vocal for an appealing overall style which found receptive audiences worldwide. The multi-platinum selling Dire Straits topped the album charts in several countries and reach the Top 5 in several more, including the US and the UK.

The group was formed in the mid 1970s by Mark and his younger brother, rhythm guitarist David Knopfler. Originally from Newcastle, England, the brothers migrated to London where Mark was working as a teacher while performing with pub bands at night. Bassist John Illsley and veteran drummer Pick Withers were eventually recruited and the band was formed with a name that referenced to their current financial situation. The band borrowed money to record a five-song demo tape, which was well received by a local disc jockey and the airing of “Sultans of Swing” led to a recording contract with the Vertigo Records division of Phonogram Inc.

The debut, Dire Straits, was recorded in early 1978 with producer Muff Winwood. Following its recording (but months prior to its release), the group began heavily promoting the songs with a European summer tour which created much anticipation for the album.


Dire Straits by Dire Straits
Released: October 7, 1978 (Vertigo)
Produced by: Muff Winwood
Recorded: Basing Street Studios, London, February-March 1978
Side One Side Two
Down to the Waterline
Water of Love
Setting Me Up
Six Blade Knife
Southbound Again
Sultans of Swing
In the Gallery
Wild West End
Lions
Group Musicians
Mark Knopfler – Lead Vocals, Guitars
David Knopfler – Guitars, Vocals
John Illsley – Bass, Vocals
Pick Withers – Drums

 

“Down to the Waterline” features a methodical entry to the album before the full band arrangement kicks in with a bit of a western swing and direct, narrative vocals with ever-present guitar licks. Right from the jump, the rhythm and lead dynamics of the Knopfler brothers is established as a dynamic on this album. Withers introduces “Water of Love”with some methodical percussion. Soon the rootsy, acoustic song proper arrives with methodical vocals for an overall pleasant effect. “Six Blade Knife” is a rhythm-fronted textural song which seems to draw much influence from Fleetwood Mac rhythms on their then-recent Rumours album. Released as a single, this song actually charted on Country charts in both the US and Canada. The Southern rock influenced “Southbound Again” completes the original first side with a repeated riff motif played much during its short, less than three-minute duration.

Dire Straits in 1978

“Sultans of Swing” is the best and most popular track on the album, a true masterpiece from beginning to end. Each group member is at top form in support of Knopfler’s mastery on lead guitars and vocals with variety, movement and distinction between verse licks and solo leads. The song became the group’s first international hit in 1979 with its descriptive lyrics inspired by Knopfler witnessing a jazz band playing in the corner of a deserted pub in South London, and is uniquely delivered as they describe a musical genre much unlike the excellent, rhythmic rock song, right up to the rather ironic lyrics;

they don’t give a damn about any trumpet playing band, it aint what they call rock n’ roll…”

The duration of the album features three quasi-jam tracks of differing sub-genres. After a pleasant intro, “In the Gallery” morphs into a quasi-reggae beat for the verses with interesting drum fills and lyrics written as a tribute to Leeds sculptor/artist. “Wild West End” is a pleasant acoustic ballad with a repeated riff under the verse and chorus hooks, along with some sparse vocal harmonies. The closer “Lions” has a walking rhythm guitar and a bluesy lead guitar above a strong, rhythmic rock storyteller.

Dire Straits spent no time enjoying the success of their debut record. Soon after its release, they jumped on the circuit with Talking Heads on their first North American tour and before the end of 1978 they traveled to the Bahamas to begin work on their second album, Communiqué.

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1978 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 35th anniversary of 1978 albums.

 

Who Are You by The Who

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Who Are You by The WhoThe Who‘s eighth overall and final studio album with drummer Keith Moon, 1978’s Who Are You marks a notable transition for the rock quartet. Here, the music is built on layered arrangements which heavily utilizes synthesizers while multiple styles are explored among the album’s ten tracks. Further, some of the lyrical themes draw from defunct theme albums from earlier in the 1970s such as Pete Townshend‘s Lifehouse and John Entwistle‘s 905.

Through a five year span in the mid-1970s, the band recorded and released only one studio album, The Who by Numbers in 1975. This era was marred by disagreements among the band members over musical direction and the approach to live touring. However, they did work on several peripheral projects over this span, such as the Tommy motion picture in 1974 and the documentary film The Kids Are Alright in 1977 and 1978.

Recording of Who Are You began in London in January 1978 with producers Glyn Johns & Jon Astley. During production there were several personnel clashes as well as some issues with Moon’s playing and lead singer Roger Daltrey underwent throat surgery. Ironically, this was perhaps the strongest album vocally for Daltrey while being one of the weaker outputs by Townshend, the band’s traditional composer.

Classic Rock Review
Who Are You by The Who
Released: August 18, 1978 (Polydor)
Produced by: Glyn Johns & Jon Astley
Recorded: Ramport Studios, Olympic Studios, & RAK Studios, England, October 1977 – April 1978
Side One Side Two
New Song
Had Enough
905
Sister Disco
Music Must Change
Trick of the Light
Guitar and Pen
Love Is Coming Down
Who Are You
Group Musicians
Roger Daltrey – Vocals, Percussion
Pete Townshend – Guitars, Piano, Keyboards, Vocals
John Entwistle – Bass, Keyboards, Brass, Vocals
Keith Moon – Drums, Percussion

 

It is obvious from beginning that this differs from any classic Who album with heavy synth presence from the jump on the opener “New Song”. Still, the multiple theatrical parts of this Townshend song show that there are still complex rock compositions on this Who album. The next two tracks were originally intended for a defunct attempt of a rock opera by Entwistle. “Had Enough” has a synth-guided melody with steady, thumping bass and slightly animated drums by Moon. Released as a single from the album, the song features a full string orchestra arranged by Astley. A wild synth arpeggio gives way to strummed acoustic guitar and a steady rock beat on “905”. Here, Entwistle provides smooth and melodic lead vocals with a slight country/rock feel during the choruses, while employing a heavy sci-fi feel elsewhere.

“Sister Disco” is the first song to lean towards classic era Who (or at least as far back as 1973’s Quadrophenia). This is also the first track to feature Townshend’s vocals as a co-lead vocalist while the music features moderate rock riff and beat with rapid, high string synths before the song dissolves with an extended solo acoustic outro. “Music Must Change” is a theatrical piece with many interesting changes. Here, Daltrey’s vocals show fantastic range on this jazz, Broadway blues track which completed the original first side of the album. Entwistle’s third songwriting contribution, “Trick of the Light”, may be the most straightforward rocker on the album with a hypnotizing, rotating rock riff accented by Moon’s mobile drumming and more strong vocals by Daltrey.

The Who in 1978

Another highlight on the album, “Guitar and Pen”, has a straight-forward main riff in contrast to the odd-timed beats followed by much building to strong crescendos throughout. The song also features virtuoso piano playing by guest Rod Argent along with some generous but judicious use of synths throughout. “Love Is Coming Down” is a ballad with call and response vocals and some complex string orchestration. The album concludes with its climatic title song, which kicks off with a jazzy synth, slow dance beat and harmonized hook. The verses of “Who Are You” resort to pure rock with Moon exploring the rapid drum rolls and Daltry providing his most straining yet melodic vocals, while the bridge middle section explores many little musical minuets, including a slight piano lead by Argent. Released as a single, “Who Are You” reached the Top 20 in both the US and UK.

During a break from recording this album in May 1978, The Who played live on a sound stage for a sequence in the upcoming documentary The Kids Are Alright, which turned out to be the final performance by the classic quartet which was formed in 1964. Moon died on September 6, 1978, about three weeks after the release of Who Are You.

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1978 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of 1978 albums.

 

Truth by The Jeff Back Group

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Truth by Jeff BeckThere probably has never a debut album like Jeff Beck‘s 1968 solo debut, Truth. This album, of unique interpretations of diverse covers, introduced the talents of future superstar Rod Stewart on lead vocals as well as bassist Ronnie Wood, pianist Nicky Hopkins and the combo future Led Zeppelin members John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page. Further, the choice to focus on hard-edged, guitar-centric, blues-based rock on this debut album pivoted from Beck’s previous solo output which focused on pop-based singles.

Beck was introduced to R&B by Rolling Stone Ian Stewart in the early 1960s, which set the course of his young music career. Through 1963 and 1964 he played in several groups around London, including the Rumbles and the Tridents, while also scoring some gigs as a studio session player. Following the sudden departure of Eric Clapton from The Yardbirds in early 1965, Beck was recruited on the recommendation of Page, a fellow session musician. Beck was present for The Yardbirds commercial peak, including several successful singles and the albums For Your Love in 1965 and the untitled album which became known as “Roger the Engineer” in 1966. Beck launched his solo career with a series of pop singles through 1967 and early 1968 which resulted in three Top 40 hits in the UK.

Aside from the session for the Page-composed track “Beck’s Bolero” in May 1966, recording sessions for Truth took place over just four days in May 1968 with producer Micky Most. The ten-song album features three blues-based original tracks composed by Beck and Stewart.


Truth by The Jeff Beck Group
Released: August, 1968 (EMI)
Produced by: Micky Most
Recorded: Abbey Road Studios, Olympic Sound Studios & De Lane Lea Recording Studios, London, May 1968
Side One Side Two
Shapes of Things
Let Me Love You
Morning Dew
You Shook Me
Ol’ Man River
Greensleeves
Rock My Plimsoul
Beck’s Bolero
Blues De Luxe
Ain’t Superstitious
Primary Musicians
Rod Stewart – Lead Vocals
Jeff Beck – Guitars, Bass, Vocals
John Paul Jones – Organ, Bass
Nicky Hopkins – Piano
Ronnie Wood – Bass
Micky Waller – Drums

 

The album commences with an interesting hard rock remake of The Yardbirds’ 1966 hit “Shapes of Things”. Here, the drums of Micky Waller really stand out throughout as the song features deliberate sections including a unique, the mid-section jam. A definite Cream influence is heard on the original heavy blues rocker, “Let Me Love You”, with a quick turn of co-lead vocals by Beck during the first chorus. Towards the end of the song, Beck’s guitar and Stewart’s vocals do call and response, a technique later borrowed by Page and Robert Plant on Led Zeppelin’s early albums. “Morning Dew” is an oft-covered track by folk singer Bonnie Dobson, with this album’s version focusing on Wood’s thumping bass and a subtle wah-wah-laden guitar throughout.

Next comes Willie Dixon‘s “You Shook Me”, a song first released by Muddy Waters in 1962. This happy-go-lucky version finds Beck, Jones and Hopkins all competing for lead instrumentation during its short duration, in contrast to a more extended Zeppelin cover recorded later in 1968. “Ol’ Man River” is a composition which dates back to the 1920s, with this version showcasing Stewart’s vocals better than any other track n the album, while “Greensleeves” has roots back to the 1500s. This second side opener offers a nice acoustic break to add warmth to the album and further showcase Beck’s diversity as a guitar player. “Rock My Plimsoul” is another original of authentic multi-textured electric blues.

Jeff Beck Group 1968

The hauntingly beautiful “Beck’s Bolero” was recorded while Beck and Page were active members of the Yardbirds and it offered a glimpse into rock n roll’s future back in 1966. Joining the guitar duo on this instrumental was Hopkins, Jones and Who drummer Keith Moon as they re-create a Spanish ‘bolero’ with a highly electric feel led by the Beck’s ethereal Les Paul riff in the main theme. Later, a second part is introduced by Moon’s thundering drums leading to section exemplifying the earliest form of heavy metal music. “Blues De Luxe” is an extended, half jocular original complete with canned studio applause and an impressive, extended piano lead by Hopkins. The album concludes with an indelible cover of Dixon’s “I Ain’t Superstitious” featuring a wild wah-wah guitar which is showcased through strategic stops. After Beck does much indulgence, Waller gets the final album thrill with a short drum solo before the collaborative crash which concludes the album.

Truth peaked at number 15 on the Billboard charts and its influence on future music is immeasurable. A 1969 follow-up album called Beck-Ola was recorded and released by much of this same group before the members went on to other musical endeavors. Despite being offered a slot with The Rolling Stones following the death of Brian Jones, Beck decided to re-form the Jeff Beck Group with new members into the 1970s.

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1968 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 45th anniversary of 1968 albums.

 

Living In the Material World
by George Harrison

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Living In the Material World by George HarrisonLiving in the Material World was the fourth overall studio album (and second pop/rock release) by former Beatle George Harrison. This long-anticipated 1973 album is distinct in both Harrison’s initial major role as a record producer as well as for its strongly spiritual and philosophical lyrics. The themes were driven by Harrison’s strong devotion to Hindu spirituality in general and to Krishna consciousness in particular, with some songs contrasting the need for inner peace while being a musician with worldwide popularity.

Following the tremendous critical and commercial success of his 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass, Harrison embarked on a humanitarian aid project to raise money for the people of Bangladesh, culminating with two Concert for Bangladesh shows and a subsequent live album. During this same time period (1971-1972), Harrison also produced a few singles for fellow Beatle Ringo Starr and helped promote Raga, the documentary on Ravi Shankar. Finally, in late 1972 he was ready to start recording his next studio album.

In contrast with its predecessor, Living In the Material World featured scaled down production by Harrison. He had originally planned on bringing in Phil Spector to co-produce but once recording sessions got under way, Harrison had gathered a core backing group and was the project’s sole producer. While Harrison performed all the guitar parts on the album, he employed pianist Nicky Hopkins, keyboardist Gary Wright, bassist Klaus Voormann and drummer Jim Keltner for most tracks. These recording sessions in London took a bit longer than expected, resulting in the intended release date being pushed back.


Living In the Material World by George Harrison
Released: May 30, 1973 (Apple)
Produced by: George Harrison
Recorded: Apple Studios & Abbey Road Studios, London, October 1972-March 1973
Side One Side Two
Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)
Sue Me, Sue You Blues
The Light That Has Lighted the World
Don’t Let Me Wait Too Long
Who Can See It
Living in the Material World
The Lord Loves the One
(That Loves the Lord)
Be Here Now
Try Some, Buy Some
The Day the World Gets ‘Round
That Is All
Primary Musicians
George Harrison – Lead Vocals, Guitars, Dobro, Sitar
Nicky Hopkins – Piano
Gary Wright – Organ, Harmonium
Klaus Voormann – Bass
Jim Keltner – Drums, Percussion

The album commences with the pleasant hit “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)”, which features a simple, repeated verse that is expertly accented by Harrison’s lead guitar and a gentle but potent piano by Hopkins. With lyrics he described as “a prayer and personal statement between me, the Lord, and whoever likes it” this track became Harrison’s second #1 song in the US and also reached the Top 10 in several other countries. “Sue Me, Sue You Blues” is much in contrast with the opening track, built on loose piano honky-tonk backing lyrics inspired by Paul McCartney’s lawsuit to dissolve the Beatles’ joint partnership, Apple Corps.

“The Light That Has Lighted the World” is a melancholy piano ballad with weepy lead vocals, acoustic strumming and a fine lead over top, while “Don’t Let Me Wait Too Long” is a bright, upbeat pop love song written for Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd. “Who Can See It” returns to the melodramatic devotional featuring a subtle, Leslie guitar lead. The original first side concludes with the upbeat, happy-go-lucky title track with Hopkins’ piano again holding things together along with the thumping bass/drum rhythm. “Living In the Material World” also features strategic stops for slower breaks with much instrumentation including a sitar section and an extended sax lead.

George Harrison in 1973

The second side opens with the excellent composition, “The Lord Loves the One (That Loves the Lord)” with melodic vocals and musical flourishes, leading to climatic slide lead to end the track. Lyrically, Harrison sought feedback about Krishna philosophy, which encouraged him to develop such themes that are unorthodox in popular music. “Be Here Now” is a quiet and surreal acoustic ballad with some earthy and ethereal sounds, as “Try Some, Buy Some” (a leftover from 1970 co-produced by Spector) is a musical waltz built on a descending riff and it reaches for grandiose heights with horns and other “wall of sound” production techniques. Next comes the Beatlesque acoustic ballad “The Day the World Gets ‘Round”, short and sweet but with rich production. The album concludes with the aptly titled “That Is All”, a forotten classic filled with melancholy emotion and musical aptitude, where Harrison really stretches his vocal range with high-pitched sustained notes.

Living In the Material World topped the charts in the US and reached #2 in the UK while achieving Gold record certification. In a continuation of his charitable work, Harrison donated his copyright for most of the tracks to his Material World Charitable Foundation, which ultimately ensured a stream of income for the charities of his choice. Following the album’s release, Harrison became the first ex-Beatle to tour North America when he toured with a large ensemble of musicians starting in 1974.

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1973 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of 1973 albums.