Showing posts with label FiftyYearsOfMusic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FiftyYearsOfMusic. Show all posts

Monday, October 10, 2022

Fifty Years of Music • October, 1972

My "Fifty Years" listening dive every month never tires as I rediscover familiar albums I experienced as a young person, or today hearing albums I didn't pay much attention to when they were released. 

If you know that I grew up on the central coast of California, you may also know that Loggins and Messina were a very popular band in the region and were smart to book many college campuses early on up and down the coast. I first saw them in San Luis Obispo at the Cal Poly gym and wrote about it along with friend Paul Hobbs in an earlier blog this year

In 1973, I saw them a second time at the UCSB gym in Santa Barbara as it was a fantastic show and one of my favorite concerts of all time. The band was on fire that night and the crowd just loved every minute of it! Listening to the songs on this second L&M album not only takes me back to high school, but reinforces my lasting appreciation of their musicianship as a rock 'n' roll band. 

Jim Messina is often overlooked with his singing, songwriting, guitar playing and producing skills. His early contributions to Buffalo Springfield and Poco built his reputation as a musician and then producer inside the music industry, but many fans didn't know who he was until Loggins and Messina. Even then, Messina quietly let the star shine on it's handsome frontman Kenny Loggins. As a partnership and friendship that has stood the test of time, it's safe to say that Jim Messina greatly enhanced Kenny Loggins eventual solo career, and even made it possible. It's great to see them on tour together again celebrating that 50 year partnership and I would love to certainly see them live again. 

Pure Prairie League's second album, Bustin' Out came out in 1972, but really didn't catch on until 1975 when the song Amie became a huge hit for them. I purchased that album as a student at San Diego State during this time and really enjoyed the band's lead singer and songwriter, Craig Fuller. In 1975, I had no idea that Craig Fuller was actually forced to leave the band in 1973 due to the government refusing to accept his conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War. Fuller was required to perform two years of community service in a hospital in Kentucky. In 1975, Fuller received a pardon from then President Gerald Ford.

I don't know the band dynamics of Pure Prairie League, but for whatever reason Craig Fuller did not come back right when the band was just breaking famous. It just seems weird that he wouldn't return as the leading founding member of a band who just hit the big time? Fuller would go on to form the band American Flyer in 1976 and released a couple of albums with some success until they broke up in 1978. I do faintly remember Fuller making a record with Eric Kaz in 1978, Craig Fuller Eric Kaz, so it looks like I got American Flyer on my radar for some future listening.

Nevertheless, I think Bustin' Out is one of the best country rock albums ever made due in large part to Craig Fuller who is still alive today. Kind of weird nobody has done a remaster of this classic album for digital streaming services? Fuller actually has played in Pure Prairie League over the years from 1970–1973, 1985–1988, 1998–2002, 2004–2012. He even sang and played for Little Feat from 1987-93 as the lead singer in essentially Lowell George's position.

I looked up all the former and present band members of Pure Prairie League and that number was an astonishing 26 former members (including Vince Gill from 1978-82), and 5 current members (not including Fuller). I Wish I knew the whole backstory of this band and a little bit more knowledge of Craig Fuller himself? Fame is often elusive for talent such as Fuller, but maybe he just did things on his own terms and I certainly can respect that.

My surprise album of October, 1972 is Alvin Lee's Blues Band, Ten Years After and the release of their seventh studio album, Rock & Roll Music to the World. What a great rock 'n' roll album that I never heard before. I guess it's easy to appreciate so much more today as the rock 'n' roll genre is long past the center of attention in the current media. This blog exercise just reminds me, there's a ton of rock 'n' roll treasure out there on the Internet Tubes just waiting to be found!

I'll finish with more treasure already discovered years ago with Pete Townshend's, Who Came First, but have you heard all the extra tracks from the 2006 Bonus Tracks and 2018 Deluxe Edition? 

Enjoy the playlist... Arrr, there's gold in there mates!

Monday, October 18, 2021

Fifty Years of Music • October, 1971

Did you write the book of love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so?
Now, do you believe in rock 'n' roll
Can music save your mortal soul
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?
–Don McLean, American Pie

October, 1971 has a couple of wonderful albums, Teaser And The Firecat by Cat Stevens, and American Pie by Don McLean. 

Also, released during that month was The Who's compilation album of most of their singles up to that point, Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy. Now I normally don't include compilation album songs in my chronological 50 Years series playlists, but this one's special to me as it came out only two months after their smash rock album, Who's Next. What Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy did for me as a teenager was connect me to my childhood mid-sixties years of The Who, which was probably their record label's (Decca) marketing intention, and got me even more into the band.

 The album is named after the members of the band: "Meaty" is Daltrey, who was quite fit at the time; "Beaty" is Moon, for his drumming; "Big" is Entwistle, who was a large person, often referred to as "The Ox" (lending his nickname to the instrumental of the same name); and "Bouncy" was Townshend, who jumped about quite acrobatically during performances. Wikipedia

Teaser And The Firecat is what I would call an "in my room" album that I would typically listen to by myself as I would think about life and my teenage self in my parent's world. I would say the same for American Pie as the songwriting in both albums speaks to a young soul's yearning and sensibilities, and maybe another option within rock 'n' roll as just folk versions of rock's "teenage wasteland." Regardless, I was in both camps!

In listening again to the American Pie album this past week I'm reminded how good all the tracks are and often overlooked because the 8 minute 33 second playtime of American Pie itself was such a monster #1 hit song. It must have broke AM/FM play time records for an individual song as it was often played in its original length and eventually shortened by many radio stations. The first time I heard the line, "The day the music died" on radio, I was wondering if McLean was talking about The Beatles break up the year before? After hearing the song several times, I did learn to appreciate the symbolism within each verse as it's really a mid-20th century America history lesson. However over time, it would became one of those Great Songs Ruined By Radio and by the mid-seventies would be joined by another emblematic #1 song, Hotel California. The other big hit from American Pie is Vincent, one of the most beautiful songs ever written. 

In the playlist this week, I have reserved the full-length version of American Pie for last, complete with YouTube commentary (lonestarsound) as they did a nice job with the video. 

I also included three movie trailers from October, 1971 that really take me back to seeing these movies in the Santa Maria Theater. One of the movie trailers is from The Last Picture Show Directed by Peter Bogdanovich.

The Last Picture Show is a classic movie made at a time in the late 60's and early 70's when both movies and rock 'n' roll were in golden period of creativity. 

Watching the clip makes me want to watch the movie again, and in my mind I can weave the The Last Picture Show with American Pie as two mediums of art look back to paint poetic Americana portraits of our culture in the mid 20th century.

Enjoy my friends!... Hey, he didn't say a word about Cat Stevens and Van Morrison, wonder why?