1974

 

 

Year: 1974

Genre: Folk Jazz Soul

Preceded by: Hard Nose the Highway (1973)

Followed by: A Period of Transition (1977)

Related to: Van Morrison – Astral Weeks

 

 

I already ran into him on the first day of my stay, during a short hike around the guest house, the first evening after arriving. It approached me against a background of nightfall and lush broadleaf trees, this bowed silhouette with large, black hat. I politely saluted him ‘Good evening.’ (greeting passers-by is always one of the first social corrections a city dweller makes after leaving his natural habitat), and it grumbled something incomprehensible.

I saw him again the next morning, when he shuffled into the breakfast room. He queued up, decorated with black sunglasses, looked down when the waitress was serving his British delicacies, and growled something when she asked if the gentleman would prefer two or three sausages. He seated at the table next to mine and started the processing of his plate carbohydrates. A short break was inserted halfway, when he took a sip of his coffee and asked me without giving a look: “Here for hiking?”. “Mainly for the pretty women”, I said while nodding towards the table opposite to ours, where a number of devouring creatures had plumped down, whose ancestors were at the time wisely left behind on the island by the Vikings. He looked at me, as far as that was possible from behind the sunglasses, and something that could pass for a smile appeared on his face. “If you would like to make a long hike, I leave one hour after breakfast”, he said.

One hour and eighteen minutes later, I was waiting at the entrance of the guest house in my comfortable hence completely tasteless outfit, when the former shadow appeared. The black hat, dark sunglasses, long coat and black boots passed me by without a word and after a brief moment of astonishment I started to follow him. The glorious woods of the Green Country were reached quickly due to his high pace, and I took the risk of asking a question. Yes, he was indeed well acquainted with the area, already coming here in his youth, lying around the river on cool summer nights. I was still trying to paint that picture in my head, constantly walking one meter behind him, while he deliberately told more. How he kept returning here with friends and women, offering them the perfect setting for endless conversations about literature and poetry. Countless times had he walked these tracks with a girlfriend of that time, who he had met during one of his sparse social escapades at Miss Lucy’s. I’d already read about this place and its notorious binges in the brochure that the owner of the guest house had given me, being mentioned as one of the main attractions in the region. However, she left for the US to pursue a career in show business and he’d never seen her since.

After a while we arrived at a small crossroads, where he decided to have a short break, not fully to my dismay considering the shape I was in. He asked where I was from. “From the city”, I said. He repeated those last two words, but this time accompanied by a cynical undertone, while he offered his whiskey flask. “I also lived in the city for a while. Never liked it. Too many people that I actually didn’t want to get to know, in an environment that is completely constructed on reason and ratio. Never a proper view at the stars, too much light.”… “I always remained a stranger in my own town, got the feeling that I could no longer trust anyone after some affairs. Danish or sandwich?”. I opted for the danish, we carefully ate our lunch in silence, he blew his nose and grumbled “Geronimo” before taking off again.

I was taking in the astonishing nature and asked my guide after the length of our undertaking, initially answered by some silence. “People waste too much time by asking too many stupid questions. Just make sure you reach a point where you learn something you’ll remember the rest of your life. What’s your greatest sin?”, he asked.  “A general disappointment in the entire humanity”, I said. The Hat remained silent, while The Boots drudged on through a long mud trail. The next hill (up and down) was also consumed in silence, he just looked behind him once, and like if he was amused by the visibly weary look on my face, he started to whistle while accelerating just a tiny bit.

He sipped another time in the valley and he actually started to talk again. “When distrust becomes destructive, it manifests itself as the impossibility to appreciate anything at all. Those people end up as collector’s items in museums that nobody visits.” We walked on and I hoped for another short break when he opened up his bag again, but that proved to be wishful thinking when he handed over a last snack while carrying on. “Always remember that you’re part of humanity yourself too, so there must be something good about it.”, he said while our path met the river again. He stopped and spoke: “We’re at your point. To get back home again, you just keep walking alongside the water for about four miles. It’s not the shortest way, but the river doesn’t mind.” He shook my hand, tipped his hat and wandered back into the woods.

 

 

Year: 1974

Genre: Hard Rock, Glam Rock

Preceded by: Berlin (1973)

Followed by: Sally Can’t Dance (1974)

Related to: The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground

 

 

Not many albums out there that ravished me immediately from the start, but The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967) from the same band and singer was one of them. The droning guitars and the strange, fascinating lyrics made this album incomparable to any other album I knew at that moment. It didn’t take long before I started to explore all other works of the band, and I loved it without an exception. However, it somehow took me way more time to appreciate the solo work from one of its main members: Lou Reed.

Reed comes from Brooklyn, New York, where he met his Velvet partner John Cale (bass guitar and other instruments) in 1964. Cale liked Reed’s guitar playing, as he heard him playing ‘Heroin’,  one of the songs that would appear on the debut album (mentioned above) of the band those guys would soon form together with Sterling Morrison (guitar) and Maureen Tucker (drums). As a band they quickly drew the attention of pop art guru Andy Warhol, who added his protégé Nico (a German fashion model and singer) to the line-up. The resistance of Reed against this change resulted in the title of the debut album.

The Velvet Underground would continue to make albums with that revolutionary sound on it, as would Reed do as a solo artist. But in fact there’s no better way to run over these most successful years of this man than by listening to his magnificent live album from 1974: Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal. The original version of this album contains five songs stemming from different periods of his career, all performed in a blazin’ glam/hard rock set at Howard Stein’s Academy of Music (New York). Just like artists as David Bowie and Roxy Music, Reed was in the middle of his androgynous period back then, wearing leather clothes and nailed leashes and having his face greasepainted. But above all: Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal would become his best-selling album.

The album kicks off with a delicious, elaborate guitar intro. After only one minute you will already catch yourself playing the air guitar as if you were Reed himself. After a while you will recognize the tones of ‘Sweet Jane’, one  of the Velvet’s greatest hits, from the album Loaded (1970). Reed was the only songwriter on this album (Cale had already left the band) and would leave the band before the album was even released. The goal of this album was already to get some airplay on the radio, but it turned out to be even completely edited without the consent of Reed. Maybe this is the reason that Reed chose two songs from the album and played them in adjusted style, with ‘Sweet Jane’ being a real hard rocker here.

After this 8 minute opener Reed continues with a pumping glam rock version of ‘Heroin’, adding 6 minutes to the original 7 minutes track on The Velvet’s debut. As the title more or less predicts, this song is about the use and misuse of heroin. As Reed did on more songs on this album that handle with themes like drugs and sadomasochism, he gives an objective description without taking a moral position on the subject. The song is also live still characterized by its phenomenal (gradual) increase in tempo till it reaches a tearing crescendo.

On side B we proceed to the second Velvet album White Light/White Heat with the eponymous track. Nico is meanwhile exiled from the band and they continue to make ‘songs’ about controversial themes like travesty and trans sexuality. The band also keeps searching for ways to renew their sound, well portrayed for example by the song ‘The Gift’, which contains the recital of a short story told by John Cale on the left speaker channel while an instrumental rock song is played at the same time on the right channel. The song played here by Reed is the fast, aggressive opener of the album, about the sensations provided by the use of methamphetamine.

What follows is the only track from one of Reed’s solo albums: ‘Lady Day’, which is the second track from his third solo record Berlin. Reed had his break-through as a solo artist with his second album Transformer. A great role on this album was foreseen for Mick Ronson, the guitarist of David Bowie, as co-producer (next to Bowie himself) and session musician. It brought Reed lots of international success, but he wasn’t fulfilled with this. That’s why he declined to make another album with Bowie, followed by the release of Berlin as follow-up to Transformer. This album is a kind of concept album about a drug addicted couple from Berlin, characterized by its heavily orchestrated parts and contributions by top musicians like Jack Bruce (Cream) on bass and Steve Winwood (Traffic, Blind Faith) on organ and harmonium). ‘Lady Day’ is told from the prospective of Jim, one of the characters on the album. He tells us about his concern about the fact that he’s losing control over the life of his girlfriend Caroline, who’s going on a razzle in the obscure Berlin bars.

The final track is another extended (10 minutes) version from a former Velvet hit: ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’. The song is also from the album Loaded and is a true ode to rock music. Reeds tells the story of a girl named Jenny whose life was saved by Rock and Roll, in a version full of improvisational guitar licks. During this track you really can’t keep sitting still and you absolutely have to grab your air guitar for the last time before throwing it in the delirious crowd.

Top Tracks:
1.    Intro/Sweet Jane
2.    Lady Day
3.    Rock ‘n’ Roll

Progressive rock, a genre to love or hate.  It originated in the late sixties thanks to heavy psychedelic rock influences and was pioneered by bands that wanted to go beyond the standard verse-chorus  based song structures.  As a result, often complex instrumental songs were bundled on concept albums with epic pretensions. It’s well possible that you once caught yourself asking what the hell one of these bands was trying to tell you while listening to one of their albums. The answers are provided here, in Prog Albums Explained. All you need  is the album, a comfortable couch and some good headphones.

 

 

Year: 1974

Genre: Progressive Rock

Preceded by: Selling England by the Pound (1973)

Followed by: A Trick of the Tail (1976)

Related to: Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon

 

 

Side 4: (continued from Side 3)

Track 1: The Colony of Slippermen (The Arrrival – A Visit to the Doktor – Raven) + Track 2: Ravine

After an intro full of strange sounds, the propelling keys and drums kick off the closing side, starting with an absolute highlight. After escaping from the snakes, Rael runs into a bunch of mutilated entities called the Slippermen. They tell him that the same thing happened to them with the snakes and that Rael will end up the same way: Don’t be alarmed at what you see, you yourself are just the same as what you see in me. Amongst the creatures Rael recognizes once again his Brother John, who tells him that the life of the Slippermen is devoted to satisfying the never-ending hunger of the senses, which has been inherited from the Lamia.

So we’re getting more and more indications that the criminal activities of Rael have something to do with sexual misbehavior. Certainly when John tells Rael that they’ll have to go to Doktor Dyper to remove the source of the problem, castrating that is. After getting it done, they receive their testicles in a little tube. But the brothers don’t get the time to walk home safely, as a black raven flies by (represented by the haunting synths), stealing Rael’s tube and dropping it in the water below. Rael runs behind it while his brother fears this sign of bad luck, leaving his brother behind once more: Now can’t you see, where the raven flies there’s jeopardy. The track merges into Ravine, an instrumental piece representing the wind across the cliffs of the ravine.

Track 3: The Light Dies Down on Broadway

As the title already presumes, this track shows some similarities with the opening track of the album. But to the contrary of the rest of the album, the lyrics of this track would have been written by Banks and Rutherford and not by Gabriel. However, Rael is searching for his testicles when he suddenly sees a glimpse of reality, as if there was some kind of portal to NYC in one of the cliffs. He sees the streets he’s so familiar with and runs to the way out. But at that point he hears John, screaming for help while he’s drowning in the water below. Rael now has to choose between returning to reality or saving the brother that left him so many times… Hey John!

Track 4: Riding the Scree

So Rael has decided to go after his brother and during this track he’s running along the ravine, chased by the synths. But.. If I want John alive, I’ve got to ditch my fear – take a dive… Here I go!

Track 5: In the Rapids

So Rael’s in the water now, trying to grab his brother. Although the lyrics describe a fairly exciting scene, the track is sung in a very calm way. Rael succeeds to get John out of the water and tries to reanimate him. But then he notices something remarkableSomething’s changed, that’s not your face. It’s mine!

Track 6: “It”

So we arrived at the closing track now, just having discovered that John is actually Rael, in some kind of split personality. As the title of the last track already gives away, it was all the time about ‘it’. It is chicken, it is eggs, it is in between your legs. You should really read the lyrics of this last track yourself, to experience the brilliance of it. And like Peter Gabriel says on the very end of it: If you think it’s pretentious, you’ve been taken for a ride..

Progressive rock, a genre to love or hate.  It originated in the late sixties thanks to heavy psychedelic rock influences and was pioneered by bands that wanted to go beyond the standard verse-chorus  based song structures.  As a result, often complex instrumental songs were bundled on concept albums with epic pretensions. It’s well possible that you once caught yourself asking what the hell one of these bands was trying to tell you while listening to one of their albums. The answers are provided here, in Prog Albums Explained. All you need  is the album, a comfortable couch and some good headphones.

 

 

Year: 1974

Genre: Progressive Rock

Preceded by: Selling England by the Pound (1973)

Followed by: A Trick of the Tail (1976)

Related to: Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon

 

 

Side 3: (continued from Side 2)

Track 1: Lillywhite Lilith + Track 2: The Waiting Room

Another case of two songs merging into each other, with the second one being another instrumental. Rael is still in the middle of this chaos, when he suddenly hears a blind lady (Lilywhite Lilith) asking him to help her out of the crowd.  In return she will lead him out of this place. So Rael follows her but instead of escaping he’s left behind disillusioned in the darkness:  Then she sat me down on a cold stone, carved in jade. A bizarre noise is approaching now while he stays in ‘the waiting room’. Those sounds originate from unused compositions of the band from 1969, resembling the experimental parts from Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother.

Track 3: Anyway

This seems to be some kind of stream-of-consciousness experience from Rael in which he’s confronted with his death. Death seems to come much faster than Rael expected  (Anyway, they say she comes on a pale horse, but I’m sure I hear a train) and when the piano-driven song is at its highest orchestrated point, Rael looks Death right into the eyes…

Track 4: The Supernatural Anaesthetist

Death is impersonated by the supernatural anaesthetist. He approaches Rael, but it appears that he didn’t come to claim his soul and as such he disappears again.  This is the reason there are few lyrics in this song, which is mainly driven by Hackett’s guitar playing, including a beautiful outro. However, the anaesthetist left a charming impression on Rael: he’s such a fine dancer.

Track 5: The Lamia (+Track 6: Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats)

This track is really reigned by Tony Banks’ keys. Rael is tired of having this schizophrenic flashes in the middle of the rubble, so when he suddenly smells a strange scent, he decides to follow it to see where it comes from. It leads him to a hole in the wall and he succeeds to crawl through it. Now he witnesses the strangest thing: a pool filled with snakes all having female heads and breasts. The entities are seducing him to join them in the pool. Has this something to do with Rael’s criminal record? However, Rael stands astonished doubting his sight, struck by beauty, gripped in fright. Rael enters the pool and the Lamia start to devour Rael’s body but they end up dying because of his poisonous blood! The track flows over to ‘Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats’, a very calm interlude with a zooming mellotron, a sinister warning of what’s to come on side 4…

-Continue to Side 4

Progressive rock, a genre to love or hate.  It originated in the late sixties thanks to heavy psychedelic rock influences and was pioneered by bands that wanted to go beyond the standard verse-chorus  based song structures.  As a result, often complex instrumental songs were bundled on concept albums with epic pretensions. It’s well possible that you once caught yourself asking what the hell one of these bands was trying to tell you while listening to one of their albums. The answers are provided here, in Prog Albums Explained. All you need  is the album, a comfortable couch and some good headphones.

 

 

Year: 1974

Genre: Progressive Rock

Preceded by: Selling England by the Pound (1973)

Followed by: A Trick of the Tail (1976)

Related to: Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon

 

 

Side 2: (continued from Side 1)

Track 1: Back in N.Y.C. + Track 2: Hairless Heart

These tracks are also treated as one as the first song smoothly fades into the second instrumental one. As Rael has now seen something and some people he is familiar with, he’s thrown in into a flashback that takes him back to the streets of New York City. He’s contemplating the times he had there together with the gang. How he gained their respect by misbehaving in several ways:  I’m the pitcher in the chain gang, we don’t believe in pain. In this way, this song gives the listener a first glance at the distorted mind of Rael which was discussed earlier in the title track. The music is creating some panic at this point, before fading into the instrumental interlude. No time for romantic escape, when your fluffy heart is ready for rape.

Track 3: Counting Out Time

Despite this warning from the last track, everything is becoming much more brighter in this song where Rael has his first experiences with love. We are now confronted with the softer sides of his character in what’s probably the most accessible song on the whole album. It has a catchy melody with a lot of synths that will stay in your head for days after hearing it, but the lyrics are probably still way too odd to become a mainstream hit (Erogenous zones I love you. Without you, what would a poor boy do?). Perhaps we should be happy about that. In fact, this song is the prelude to the next one, as the album is now reaching its melodic peak. Move over Casanova.

Track 4: The Carpet Crawlers

We are now at another absolute highlight of the album, musically (this would be one of the melodies that Gabriel has written)  as well as lyrically. Rael witnesses a bunch of people that fail to reach the top of a spiral stair, where they can escape from their misery. While the dreamy keys and synths that are producing some harp-like sounds certainly add a great part to the atmosphere, it’s above all the great mix between Gabriel’s lead vocals and Collins’ backing vocals that portray the helplessness of the people so well. Mild mannered supermen are held in kryptonite.

Track 5: The Chamber of 32 Doors

As we learn (after a great guitar solo) in this song, Rael has succeeded to reach the top of the stairs. Pity for our hero, the escape from his misery is still far away as he now ended up in a huge room containing no less than 32 doors (Are you listening, Moody Blues?). The room is filled with a large crowd that are all pointing to different doors, as only one door leads out. Rael is becoming desperate and begs for someone to show the right door. I’d give you all of my dreams, if you’d help me find a door that doesn’t  lead me back again. Take me away.

 -Continue to Side 3

Progressive rock, a genre to love or hate.  It originated in the late sixties thanks to heavy psychedelic rock influences and was pioneered by bands that wanted to go beyond the standard verse-chorus  based song structures.  As a result, often complex instrumental songs were bundled on concept albums with epic pretensions. It’s well possible that you once caught yourself asking what the hell one of these bands was trying to tell you while listening to one of their albums. The answers are provided here, in Prog Albums Explained. All you need  is the album, a comfortable couch and some good headphones.

 

 

Year: 1974

Genre: Progressive Rock

Preceded by: Selling England by the Pound (1973)

Followed by: A Trick of the Tail (1976)

Related to: Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon

 

 

Introduction:

Genesis was one of the true pioneers of prog rock during the seventies, together with bands like King Crimson, Yes and Pink Floyd. The band was founded in 1967 by Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and some others who would be gradually replaced during the following years. Gabriel started as a drummer in his first bands before becoming the lead singer and theatrical frontman of this new band. Tony Banks contributed with his elaborate keyboard arrangements to what would become the typical Genesis sound, while Rutherford became the fanatical bass player of the group. They were joined in 1970 by Steve Hackett and Phil Collins (after having drummed for George Harrison on his solo track ‘The Art of Dying’), replacing respectively the former guitarist and drummer of the band.

In 1974, the band was at the peak of their popular and critical success, having released their epic masterpiece Selling England by the Pound the year before. But something bigger had to follow, so Gabriel designed a great project, just like Paul McCartney had done before with Sgt. Pepper’s and Roger Waters would do five years later with The Wall. At the same time it was the last album of the group with Gabriel, who contributed almost all the lyrics to the album. Those lyrics tell the story of Rael, a delinquent from NYC who is plunged into some surrealistic underground world that derived from Gabriel’s dreaming brain. The other guys came up with the music, but it’s the mind-blowing symbiosis of this music with the lyrics that produced an album that could impossibly ever be outbidden, even if Gabriel would have stayed with the band. Off we go.

Side 1:

Track 1: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

A frantic and fast piano-intro launches us right into the album, after which Gabriel officially declares that the lamb lies down on Broadway. However, the title track doesn’t have the goal to clarify the role of this lamb, but to introduce us to Rael. Rael just comes out of the subway, where he sprayed some graffiti on the walls to keep up his reputation with his gang. Not the most outrageous violation of the law, but the ominous distorted bass throughout the song from Rutherford tells us there’s more behind this, but what? He’s forgotten what he did…Lord knows what have I done?

Track 2: Fly on a Windshield + Track 3: Broadway Melody of 1974

I treat those tracks as one as they really merge together perfectly. In a threatening quiet way, Gabriel announces the coming of the ‘wall of death’, which attacks Rael. Totally being in the magic air that’s always above Broadway, the reality dies right there for Rael when the dust settles on his skin and he’s being alienated from other people: They carry  on as if nothing was there. Rael is now captured inside this wall (represented by a bombastic wall of sound, an improvisational idea by Rutherford), where a stream of strange images reaches him as if it was one big psychedelic trip.

Track 4: Cuckoo Cocoon

From the chaos we return to serenity with this track, in which Rael wakes up again. Suddenly he’s captured in some cocoon, where he has never been before. But the panic from a few minutes ago is totally gone, as Rael is at ease on his new location. This is beautifully illustrated by the soft guitar sounds and the fairy-like voice of Gabriel, who proves once again what a splendid vocalist he is. And I feel so secure that I know this can’t be real, but I feel good.

Track 5: In the Cage

However, the serenity is just temporary, as this cocoon has suddenly transformed into a cave in this track. Rael is surrounded by cages formed by stalactites and stalagmites, which are capturing him also. Being caught in this cage, this is the first time that his Brother John appears. Rael cries for help, but John doesn’t seem a bit interested. The marvelous dynamic between the thrilling music (especially the manic keys from Banks and the tambourines from Collins) and Gabriels stressed voice (My headaches charge, my earaches roar. In the pain, get me out of this pain…) makes this song an absolute highlight on the album. Eventually, John leaves and Rael’s cage dissolves at that very moment…  Keep on turning. Keep on turning.

Track 6: The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging

Being able to escape from his dissolved cage, Rael finds himself now in a building he seems to recognize from the real world. But how can you be sure that this is reality when you just came from such a surrealistic world? Well, Rael sees how persons are lined up in a Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging, ready to be used for the consumer society: Stamped, addressed, in odd fatality. That evens out their personality. With profit potential marked by sign, I can recognize some of the production line. Scenario’s like these are too cruel to be made up in some surrealistic dream, so this must be our common reality. As cited, Rael recognizes some people and he even sees his Brother John again, labeled as No. 9! Is this the final explanation for John Lennon’s riddle from 1968?

-Continue to Side 2

Jukebox

Vol-1_1988 darksideofthemoon1973 itstillmoves2003 afterbathingatbaxters1967