Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Horns on “Lady Madonna”

by The CS Team, Culture Sonar:

There are plenty of interesting tidbits associated with “Lady Madonna.” It was the final single on the Parlophone label (future releases were on Apple Records). It was inspired in part by Fats Domino, who did a version of it later that year in 1968 (it’s also been covered by a slew of other artists such as Elvis Presley, Richie Havens, and Barry Gibb). But what might be most interesting about this tune is its brass section. 

While the Fab Four were known to try on different instruments on occasion - Lennon on bass, Harrison on sitar, McCartney on drums - “Lady Madonna” probably marks the only time all four were responsible for the horns … in a manner of speaking. Watch this clip from 

Deconstructing The White Album for further details.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Blind Faith Jars Rock Out of Its Doldrums

by John Morthland, Music Aficionado:!/article/Original_Blind_Faith_Review_by_rocksbackpages

The year 1969 has not been a very good one for rock and roll. Outside of Tommy and the Band's decision to go on tour, we haven't had much to get excited about.

But the other arts have suffered as well. Like Jim Morrison in Miami and John and Yoko on their album cover, the 'best' of the novel—Portnoy's Complaint, film—I Am Curious (Yellow) and theatre—numerous examples, have practically had to jerk off to their audiences in order to draw attention to otherwise-undistinguished products.

Art theorists have hypothesized that artists are usually most inspired in times of crisis, that the forces of history push them to greater personal achievements. Perhaps the reason this does not hold true today is that while crisis is one thing, times are getting out of hand. With scientists calmly packing away quart bottles of nerve gas that can kill fifty people with one drop, military helicopters staging air attacks on their own populations, and atrocities bizarre beyond the imagination, the artist, too, must eventually feel the strain. Art suffers at the hands of Reality.

Blind Faith can be viewed as an attempt to jar rock out of these doldrums. The group is based on the idea that if you take three of the best soloists around and form them into a single smooth-functioning unit, the result will be one incredible rock band. Ego conflicts must be kept at a minimum; solos are taken not because someone feels like flashing for a while, but because the song calls for a solo at that point.

The formula works nearly perfectly on this album—when it is followed. The music is phenomenal in places, weak in others. Unfortunately, the weakest song on the album is fifteen minutes long and takes up almost a whole side.

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By far the best song is Presence of the Lord, an Eric Clapton hymn which explains in part how Blind Faith ever came to be. The majesty of the organ even makes it sound like a church song, until Clapton wah-wahs off on a quick solo that's so good it makes me want to apologize for every snide thing I've ever said or thought about him. The first time I heard this song, it brought me out of my listening chair, mouth wide open in awe. It still does. Never has a guitarist said so much so beautifully in such a short time. The solo is so inspirational it can't help but make the lyrics that much more believable.

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In fact, it's so good it tends to overshadow two other very fine cuts on the album. Had to Cry Today goes through several interesting changes, Clapton always bringing it back to the main theme. The choice of Rick Grech, heretofore almost unknown, as bassist is fully justified by his work on this song. Can't Find My Way Home, a pleading Stevie Winwood tune, features Ginger Baker's highly innovative percussion and the delightful line, 'Well I'm wasted and I can't find my way home.'

Blind Faith

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Do What You Like is a fine five-minute rock song which is destroyed when it is dragged out ten extra minutes by solos for the sake of solos. Baker's lyrics state the Blind Faith formula ('Do right use your head/Everybody must be fed/Get together break your bread/Yes together that's what I said.'), but the music then proceeds to obliterate it. Winwood's solo is the only one worthy of remaining in the song; he is the most consistent musician on the album. Clapton's is perfectly competent, but nothing new or exceptional. Baker confuses quantity with quality; his solo starts out nicely enough, but quickly falls apart despite his insistence on continuing. Poor Ginger is bound and determined to someday match the original version of Toad; he is, at this rate, destined to retire a very frustrated drummer. The bass solo is sheer self-indulgence.

I don't know what the explanation for this cut is, but I could venture a calculated guess. Atlantic President Ahmet Ertegun was recently quoted as saying, 'If we'd known they were going to do this well (on the American tour), we wouldn't have rushed the album'. I wouldn't be surprised if this song falls into the throwaway solo rut because Blind Faith didn't have enough new material to fill an album in time to meet Atlantic's deadline, and resolved the problem by extending a song they already did have. If so, add avaricious businessmen to the list of handicaps the artist must face.

This album is better than any of Cream's and about as good as any of Traffic's. On the basis of the potential shown in the best cuts, and writing off "Do What You Like" as a fluke mistake that won't be repeated, I'm already anxious for the next Blind Faith album. If they ever get it together all at once, rock and roll will never be the same.