Tuesday, June 6, 2017

June 1970 Playlist | Lefsetz Letter

June 1970 Playlist

“Easy Now”
Eric Clapton

From the initial solo LP, right after Delaney & Bonnie’s “On Tour” and “Comin’ Home.” This is the first track that resonated with me.

Clapton didn’t become a superstar until 1974, when “I Shot The Sheriff” became a cultural staple, on all radio bands and formats.

Oh no, don’t get your knickers in a twist. I know, I know, you’re a hipster who was listening to the Bluesbreakers. And of course, we all went to see Cream, didn’t you? But that was a band. And sure, “Layla” was a monster, but the band name was Derek and the Dominos, and it was all about the FM, which not everybody was listening to, but by ’74, the two band radio had infiltrated most cars and there were aftermarket units galore and they did.

“Let It Rain”
Eric Clapton

The closing cut from that magical initial solo LP when Eric sang all the songs instead of Jack Bruce. The sound of the intro, the changes, it’s hard to believe this was the sound of the day back then when you listen to what passes for success today. Furthermore, the rockers that are left are either playing something harder or more obscure. Being lyrical and melodic, somehow that’s gone out of fashion.

“After Midnight” and “Blues Power”
Eric Clapton

I preferred the latter, but it’s the former that had more impact, more staying power, this was before we had any idea who J.J. Cale was.

“Only You Know And I Know”
Dave Mason

The opening cut from “Alone Together,” an unheralded masterpiece instantly purchased by fans of Traffic’s second album, you dropped the needle and could not believe how solid it was. This song was on the aforementioned Delaney & Bonnie album, “On Tour,” but this take far exceeded that one, it’s the acoustic guitar and the subtlety.

‘Cause you know that I mean what I say
So don’t go and take me the wrong way

Such a jaunty track with such chiaroscuro lyrics. But as Dave sings:

I don’t mean to mislead you
It’s just my craziness coming through
But when it comes down to just two
I ain’t no crazier than you

Remember when it was a badge of honor to admit your flaws?

Don Henley said it even better, years later, in “Not Enough Love In The World”…

I’m not easy to live with
I know that it’s true
You’re no picnic either, babe
That’s one of the things I loved about you

From back when our rock stars gave us insight into life.

“Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave”
Dave Mason

The best cut on “Alone Together,” it’s six minutes and two seconds long and it never drags, you never want it to be over, it’s hypnotic, the kind of stuff we loved sitting in our bedrooms listening to over and over and over again.

“World In Changes”
Dave Mason

As I said, there’s not a clunker on “Alone Together,” be sure to listen to “Look At You Look At Me” as well as “Waitin’ On You” and “Sad And Deep As You,” hell, listen to the whole thing.

But it’s the mood of this number that eats at your soul.

“Empty Pages”

The last song on the first side of what was supposed to be a Steve Winwood solo album, it’s the changes and the organ that penetrated me, this is the number I got into first, you can still see Winwood live, and he’s as good as he ever was.

“John Barleycorn (Must Die)”

When every song didn’t sound the same, when bands showed breadth, seeing Steve sing this at the Fillmore was TRANSCENDENT!

“That Would Be Something”
Paul McCartney

“Band On The Run” is McCartney’s best solo album. But the forgotten underrated initial LP is the second best. Overlooked because it coincided with the breakup of the Beatles, with “Let It Be” on its heels, the intimacy will haunt you.

“Every Night”
Paul McCartney

My favorite song on the LP, it’s the vocal. It’s subtle and meaningful.

“Teddy Boy”

A story song, like the ones on the White Album.

I missed this LP, and then I went with a co-counselor to his fraternity house at Cornell and toked up an listened to this over and over again and got it. If you’ve never listened to “McCartney” put it on and let it go a couple of times and you’ll be sold.

“Days Of 49”
Bob Dylan

From the excoriated “Self Portrait,” this is the cut I needed to hear from the double LP, it wasn’t even written by Dylan, but it sounded like it was.

“Hesitation Blues”
Hot Tuna

From the initial LP, the opening cut, the best, even though the act really hit its stride with its third album, “Burgers.” This got a lot of attention, after all they were in Jefferson Airplane!

“I’ve Got A Feeling”
The Beatles

The opening cut on side two of “Let It Be,” it’s my favorite track on the LP, it seems to be made without worrying about the rough edges, as a band, trying to capture the energy, knowing that’s more important than perfection.

And as good as McCartney’s emotive vocals are, and the stinging guitar, what puts it over the top is Lennon in the bridge…

Everybody had a hard year
Everybody had a good time

How many times have I sung this in my head? It’s the world-weariness of John, the all-knowingness, the wisdom, the resolution, he’s so comfortable in his skin!

“See My Way”
Blodwyn Pig

The ethereal vocal, the horns, the changes, this is a one listen get.

“Dear Jill”
Blodwyn Pig

The best track on “Ahead Rings Out,” but I must say I didn’t really get it until I heard it in “Almost Famous.”

“Love Like A Man”
Ten Years After

The best cut on “Cricklewood Green,” the band’s best album, which coincided with their triumph in the Woodstock movie, for a moment there they were superstars. This is an indelible riff, with a great change, do young kids get this?

Great marijuana music.

“50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain”
Ten Years After

You either got the memo or you didn’t, either you smoked dope and listened to albums or you didn’t. All these years later, this is my favorite track on “Cricklewood Green.” Alvin Lee is dead and forgotten, but when I listen to these tracks he seems totally alive, in their own way they don’t seem dated at all.

“Morning Morgantown”
Joni Mitchell

The opening cut off “Ladies Of The Canyon,” from before she was a star, this was a quantum leap beyond her two first LPs. This number literally sounded like waking up in the morning.

“The Arrangement” and “Rainy Night House”

At this point, these are my two favorite cuts on “Ladies Of The Canyon,” somehow you got the notion you were stuck in the middle of Joni’s story, and it was just you, her and the person she was singing about, you truly felt like you knew her.

Joni Mitchell

Ever been in love with someone who’s involved with someone else?

I’m not talking from a distance. I mean the two of you are friends, even more than that. You touch a bit, but what you really want to do is reach over and kiss them. They complain about their relationship, you share intimacies they don’t, but you’re paralyzed, you feel the way Joni does in this song, elated and frustrated all at the same time.

“Country Road”
James Taylor

The first cut that got me on “Sweet Baby James,” from back when he was still a cult artist, when I saw him at the Capitol in Port Chester and there were a hundred or so people there, when he still played solo, before “Fire And Rain” became ubiquitous on the radio.

“Delta Lady”
Leon Russell

From the initial solo LP.

He’s gone now, but once upon a time, in the spring of ’70, this was a revelation, it took Joe Cocker’s version up a notch. And when you saw him lead “Mad Dogs & Englishmen” it was a revelation! But although those gigs were in the spring, the double live album didn’t come out until the end of the summer…

“Coming Into Los Angeles”
Arlo Guthrie

It was the summer of Woodstock.

The festival happened in August ’69, but the movie didn’t come out until April 1970 and the triple album the following month, but the film played all summer, people went multiple times, to revel in not only the music, but the culture.

It was a turning point, the final division between the oldsters and the youngsters. We had our music, our dope and each other.

Coming into Los Angeles
Bringin’ in a couple of keys

Either you knew what Arlo was singing about or you didn’t.

“Sgt. Pepper” came out in 1967, but it wasn’t until the seventies that albums truly triumphed, when singles died and everybody shifted over from AM to FM.

June 1970 wasn’t the apex of the transition, but a head of steam was being built, it was happening.

The deal was sealed with “Stairway To Heaven.”

But that was eighteen months away.

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