Archive for the ‘The Electric Light Orchestra’ Category

Tir Na Nog

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

tirnanogstronguk, Tir Na Nog, Chrysalis, Matthew Fisher, John Martyn, Nick Drake

Listen: Strong In The Sun / Tir Na Nog
Strong In The Sun / Tir Na Nog

I was desperate to see Tir Na Nog when they toured the US in ’72. It never happened.

Although being the college concert chairman at the time, having pushed through Rory Gallagher, Chicken Shack, Savoy Brown, Colosseum, Atomic Rooster, The Electric Light Orchestra, The Pretty Things and The Incredible String Band against everyone’s “who the fuck are these people” stances in one school year mind you, it didn’t really allow me any more puts. By then, the budget was spent anyways. Otherwise, they’d have been there.

Tir Na Nog’s second and third albums were released in the States, and I particularly loved that third one, STRONG IN THE SUN. It was, well still is, a seminal recording, right up there with the best from Tyrannosaurus Rex, John Martyn and Nick Drake. Indeed the album includes a cover of his ‘Free Ride’, itself worthy of 7″ status. Tracks like ‘Cinema’ rivaled some of Pink Floyd’s tracks from MEDDLE for being…cinematic, funny enough. If you’d told me Norman Smith, Denny Cordell or Peter Asher had produced some of this stuff, I’d have believed you. The album is that good.

Indeed, Matthew Fisher from Procol Harum was in charge of production, and as with similar duties on Robin Trower’s BRIDGE OF SIGHS, did an A+ job.

When I up and headed for London during summer ’73, I took a night off from The Marquee to see them play a small, sit-down-cross-legged room, God knows the name of it now. But the show remains a vivid memory.

There was a time, around ’85, and Howard Thompson was looking at cover songs for 10000 Maniacs. I guess as a potential single, possibly a one-off film submission or something. I recommended ‘Strong In The Sun’. I thought Natalie Merchant would have done it some beautiful justice and Tir Na Nog could have gotten some well deserved recognition. Didn’t happen. ‘Peace Train’ was chosen instead, against the band’s wishes. Years later, turns out Natalie insisted it be removed from that album. Elektra complied..

There has to be someone out there in need of a great song to revive their sagging career: Nelly Furtado, Jewel, Anna Nalick, Five For Fighting, Vanessa Carlton, Paula Cole or wait, Natalie Merchant.

Amon Duul II

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Listen: Pigman / Amon Duul II

Back when Rich Fazekas oversaw the college promotion department at United Artists Records with Marty Cerf, the label was pretty much my favorite. I was nuts about Family and anything Roy Wood had involvement with. That meant The Move, The Electric Light Orchestra and Roy Wood’s Wizzard, all on the roster. Then there was Hawkwind, Brinsley Schwarz and their distributed labels too, especially Blue Note, with Bobbi Humphrey and Marlena Shaw. He and I were on the phone daily, literally daily. Rich at the label’s Sunset Blvd office in Los Angeles, me at my college radio station’s pathetic office in Rochester New York, fairly desperate for a way to trade up, out and to a label job located in a real city.

Rich meanwhile, always tried to convince me about some of the German acts they had too. Occasionally he’d slip one of the UK pressings he’d been serviced with by bands like Neu or Can, and often pounded me on the US released albums from Amon Duul II. I was clearly more in pocket with the pop singles by Roy Wood’s projects or even Family 7′s, as opposed to six or eight minute meandering album tracks.

Then one afternoon, Rich called to say he’d just overnighted me a new Amon Duul II release, but this time it was a 7″. Well alright, a single by any prog rock act, usually sliced into three minutes from something much longer, had always been a form of collectibility. I never needed much justification to horde a 7″, and still don’t.

When ‘Pigman’ arrived the next day, the title alone had me interested. After all, it put everyone else at the station off immediately, a good initial sign. Although not what I was expecting, having aligned them more with Kraftwerk or Faust, I still wanted to like this, the label copy looked great. The band’s name being one I’d never seen on a 7″. These things excited me.

Those ahead of the curve college radio programmers never gave their albums much of a break with airtime, and ‘Pigman’, the band’s first and only US single, didn’t change the shut out. And I don’t understand it any more clearly now than then, given the record had tongue in cheek country verses with hard rock chorus riffs. Seems it should’ve been eaten up.

Oh well, a nice 7″ pressing to have. I never see it around much these days either.


Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Listen: Are You Ready To Rock / Wizzard
Are You Ready To Rock / Wizzard

My guess is when you can play every instrument under the sun, most get boring. Combine that with the option your competitors don’t have: the ability to pull a real musical curveball out of your hat, and you’ve unexpectedly just described Roy Wood.

Not totally mind you. Don’t forget that Roy Wood could write hooks and choruses seemingly in his sleep, and decorate the whole thing with an over the top visual to match the over the top audio.

So was the case with his band Wizzard. Not content with having masterminded The Move in ’66, then The Electric Light Orchestra in ’70, Roy Wood outglammed glam via Wizzard in ’72.

Yes, the rainbow haired frontman whipped up a rockabilly meets Beach Boys/Neil Sedaka pop stomp recipe with every Wizzard single. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why the US hadn’t come to their senses and jumped on this train back in ’73 and ’74, when ‘Are You Ready To Rock’ continued a by then, British chart Top Ten onslaught, this one peaking at #8. Really tried convincing every last person in earshot pay attention to this UK national treasure but to no avail.

In hindsight, I understand. The American consumer’s musical tastes were sterilized by lazy, laid back radio programmers, all leaning to southern boogie noodle doodle or California soft rock to fill their playlists, and the future WalMart shoppers were no brighter then than now, hence limping along behind like injured lemmings.

A true multi decade damaging setback for our country. They were not ready to rock, and certainly not to bagpipes.

T. Rex

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Listen: I Love To Boogie / T. Rex
I Love To Boogie / T. Rex

Everyone loves Marc Bolan. If you don’t, then you are not being honest with yourself. He made so many great records, never stopped trying in the early rejection years, and became a advocator for punk as it overtook glam in the later years. He didn’t get into that us-against-them frame of mind. Instead, he found love and warmth for the new voice of youth. He was never going to grow old. Did any of his peers invite The Damned on tour? We all know the answer.

‘I Love To Boogie’ was called throwaway by singles critics in the weekly UK music press. But critics tend to try dragging you into their poor, frustrated and unpleasant misery….if you let them.

‘I Love To Boogie’ has stood the test of time. It’s simplicity now a greater power than the most produced, orchestrated and probably commercially more successful tracks at the time by the likes of, say, Queen, The Electric Light Orchestra and Toto too.

Just as with Prince’s ‘Sign Of The Times’ or ‘Kiss’, less is more. Way, way more.