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Prog? Really?

I was watching “Prog at the BBC” last week. It featured the usual suspects – except for me Soft Machine always tipped too far over into seemingly improvised tootling to be prog.

But they also showed Atomic Rooster.

Atomic Rooster?

Fair enough their drummer Carl Palmer went on to become a member of those highpriests of the overblown, ELP, but Atomic Rooster themselves were more or less straightforward rock (even if the Wiki link above does say they were a “progressive” rock band.)

As witness Tomorrow Night, the track played on the programme (by which time Palmer had already left):-

Atomic Rooster:€“ Tomorrow Night

Reelin’€™ In The Years 2: Vehicle

This is one of those songs from the cusp of the 1960s/1970s.

The Ides Of March never made much of an impact in the UK where Vehicle was only a minor hit. The song’s composer, Jim Peterik, later became a member of Survivor, though, and co-wrote Eye Of The Tiger, which ever since the film Rocky III has been the obligatory music to accompany anything at all to do with boxing.

I liked Vehicle‘s blending of brass and rock. As I recall, Blood, Sweat And Tears and Chicago (Transit Authority) were mining a similar vein around that time.

The song has an undertone of menace (“I’€™m the friendly stranger in the black sedan/Won’€™t you step inside my car?”) but had a more innocent genesis. Peterik wrote it about an old girlfriend who wasn’t that into him but used him as a taxi service. I vaguely remember reading, though, that after being apart for a while the pair later married.

The Ides Of March: Vehicle

Not Friday On My Mind 4: Somebody To Love

Not a suggestion of psychedelia or strange substances on this one; just Grace Slick belting out a thumping rock track.

Jefferson Airplane: Somebody To Love

We Used To Know: Jethro Tull. Hotel California?

While looking for Ring Out Solstice Bells on You Tube I came across this.

Not having bought nor even listened to Stand Up beyond any singles it spawned, I had no idea this similarity existed.

Ian Anderson is very magnanimous about it all, isn’t he?

But then again, who owns E flat?

Jethro Tull:We Used To Know

The Small Faces: Tin Soldier

Almax* recently featured this song on his blog – which for legal reasons (he’s a lawyer) is sadly restricted to only a few readers.

I was moved to comment that Tin Soldier surely has the single best musical intro to a pop song ever.

It deserves wider hearing. This version has the added benefit of P P Arnold on backing vocals, as did the recording.

As a result of his posting another of Alastair’s readers recommended this, Song Of A Baker, for which embedding is disabled. But you can follow the link.

*Almax’s The Defibrillator blog – on my sidebar – is open to all but he tends not to post new stuff there.

Nirvana (3)

This is the real Nirvana‘€™s track, Rainbow Chaser, their third single, which is said to be the first to utilise throughout what became almost a trademark of musical psychedelia, phasing.

I must confess that, to me, the verses seem to be without phasing.

This alternative version (not the one I remember) does seem more phased but otherwise its arrangement is more conventional.

The Man In The Mirror

It’s been hard to escape Michael Jackson over the past couple of days. The coverage has been almost wall to wall. The press and media just love something like this – but they take it too far.

I must confess I wasn’t much of a fan of Jackson’s music though I’ve heard lots of it of course.

I don’t know what he saw when he looked at his reflection (I suppose very few of us do like what we see in the mirror) but he was clearly a troubled soul.

Life in the showbiz spotlight can’t be fun; plus he had no childhood to speak of. With all that fame and money it must be difficult to find true friends. It’s no wonder he began to act out his hype.

It would be interesting to find out if Jarvis Cocker had mellowed towards him any. I suspect not.

Michael Jackson 1958-2009. So it goes.

The Trouble With Kurt Cobain and Nirvana (2)

Apart from calling his band Nirvana I once thought that Cobain’s use of the song title Smells Like Teen Spirit was pretty cool, a nice metaphorical touch. Then I found out Teen Spirit is actually some sort of American deodorant.

Not so cool at all, then. (Except under the arms of course.)

Here is the real Nirvana‘s track, Pentecost Hotel, their second single.

The Trouble With Kurt Cobain and Nirvana (1)

The trouble with Kurt Cobain was that he named his band Nirvana.

This means that whenever I mention the original Nirvana, the true Nirvana, I have to explain I don’t mean a grungy bunch from Seattle.

The earlier (1960s) Nirvana’s mainstays were Patrick Campbell-Lyons and Alex Spyropoulos. Together with producer Chris Blackwell they produced a series of idiosyncratic singles with classical/orchestral influences and also released what was probably the first concept album, The Story Of Simon Simopath, which had a quintessentially 60s psychedelic cover – complete with blocky unequal sized lettering.

This is their first single, Tiny Goddess, which has more than a hint of Pachelbel.

Reflections Of Charles Brown

This is one of my favourite relative obscurities from the sixties. It is by a group called Rupert’s People. The band was actually cobbled together from various elements to make the single.

I think one of the reasons I like this is because of the classical influence. As the above links note, the song itself was adapted from an earlier version (which I would love to hear sometime) to fit the tune of Air On A G String.

It had the great misfortune to be released just after the similarly inspired A Whiter Shade Of Pale began sweeping all before it.

Unlike Whiter Shade Of Pale, though, the lyrics of Charles Brown are not laden with obscurity even if they do perhaps constitute a bit too much of a downer to have become a big hit.

I also like the “cracked” quality of the singing voice. I believe it was the song’s composer, Rod Lynton.

I’m not quite sure why whoever posted this on You Tube used pictures of a construction site.

Edited to add:- the original video is no longer available. The one below is a replacement.

The B-side, Hold On, was more or less a straight forward rocker but it’s a storming track in its own right.

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