November 1971: the record producer

Ken Scott went from tea boy to engineer with the Beatles, Jeff Beck, Pink Floyd and Elton John.

Long before reading Never A Dull Moment: 1971, the Year Rock Exploded by David Hepworth, I knew the role of the producer of popular music was changing during the late 1960s. Famously, “George Martin left EMI’s studios in Abbey Road to start his own studios… in order to command” a more lucrative salary.

Before being the collaborator, Martin had been the “company man,” trying to get the artist to record the type of music the label had sold most recently. At his insistence, the Beatles reluctantly recorded “How Do You Do It,” but it was shelved in favor of Lennon-McCartney music. (The song shows up on The Beatles Anthology 1.)

When record labels were not involved in the creation of albums, sometimes this allowed for great creativity. But it could also lead to expensive experimentation, such as on Pink Floyd’s Meddle, when the musicians often couldn’t hear each other, “capturing the sounds made by household items.”

Brooklyn-born Richard Perry produced albums for people as varied as Tiny Tim, Harry Nilsson and Barbra Streisand. “He knew you had to capture the performance before the artist thought it was perfect, at which point it was actually stale. (See Hank Green’s vlog post, The Secret to my Productivity; it’s related.)

Ken Scott went from tea boy to engineer with the Beatles, Jeff Beck, Pink Floyd and Elton John, among others. While His session with David Bowie was very quick, with the vocals usually done on the first take, and no drugs or alcohol required by the artist.

“The producer that the bands asked for by name in 1971 was Glyn Johns.” He nearly passed on one group, who thought they were rockers, but when he heard their harmonies, he produced the first two albums by the Eagles.

Although Johns is listed only as ‘associate producer,’ he was the one we have to thank for what may be the best albums of 1971.” He honed downed Pete Townsend’s Lifehouse project, was eager to figure out what would work – a Lowery organ fed through a synthesizer – and created the distinctive sound of Baba O’Riley, the opening cut of Who’s Next.

Listen to the full album:

Meddle – Pink Floyd

Nilsson Schmilsson – Harry Nilsson (Japanese import)

Hunky Dory – David Bowie

Who’s Next – The Who

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Chopped liver

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In the Court of the Crimson King I played a great deal in high school AND college, preferably very loudly

fragile.yesYeah, another Rolling Stone list, this time of “progressive rock” albums that I own. I’m not sure what the term “prog rock” means, precisely, but I hope, now that Rush has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013, that Emerson, Lake & Palmer; King Crimson; and especially Yes get in one of these years.

17. Mike Oldfield, ‘Tubular Bells’ (1973): 45 weeks on the charts, getting to #3

I never actually SAW the movie The Exorcist, yet I associate the album with the film’s foreboding theme. There’s so much more to the album.

My favorite part is that weird section “where ‘master of ceremonies’ Vivian Stanshall mock-pretentiously introduces an array of instruments — ‘glockenspiel!’ and ‘two slightly. . .distorted guitars’ — à la the Bonzo Dog Band,” which I think is a hoot. And Oldfield wasn’t even 20 yet!

LISTEN to Tubular Bells intro.

12. Emerson, Lake and Palmer, ‘Brain Salad Surgery’ (1973): 47 weeks on the charts, getting to #11

That first ELP album, the one with Lucky Man, whose synthesizer I could replicate, I listened to A LOT in college. I haven’t heard this album in a while, though, as I have it on vinyl. For years, my secret fantasy was to have ELP play ‘Jerusalem’ at my former church, which has a fine organ.

LISTEN to Jerusalem and
Still You Turn Me On.

10. Yes, ‘Fragile’ (1971): 46 weeks on the charts, getting to #4

I also listened to this album A LOT at college, probably once a week during my freshman year. It was/is hypnotic. I didn’t know, or particularly care, what the lyrics were.

LISTEN to Roundabout and
Long Distance Runaround.

7. Jethro Tull, ‘Thick as a Brick’ (1972), 46 weeks on the charts, getting to #1 for two weeks

This album I didn’t play very often, though I love that introductory narrative. Not nearly my favorite Tull album, as I preferred Aqualung and especially Songs from the Wood.

LISTEN to Thick As A Brick intro.

5. Yes, ‘Close to the Edge’ (1972), 32 weeks on the charts, getting to #3

Actually, I much prefer ‘Fragile’. This album consists of only three very long songs that were so exhausting to record that “when recording for the album finished, drummer Bill Bruford had grown tired of the band’s style and songwriting methods and left to join King Crimson.”

LISTEN to Close To The Edge, which took up all of Side 1 on the LP.

2. King Crimson, ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ (1969), 25 weeks on the charts, getting to #28

Now, THIS album I played a great deal in high school AND college, preferably very loudly. I especially loved the first song, and the title track, the two songs my friend put on a six-CD set of 1960s music.

I also related to the sentence in another song, “Confusion will be my epitaph.”

A few years ago, around Christmas, I heard Power by Kayne West, which samples the vocal from “Schizoid Man”; I thought was DREADFUL. The original version, incidentally, was dedicated to Spiro Agnew, Vice President of the US under President Richard Nixon.

LISTEN to Side one of the album In the Court of the Crimson King: 21st Century Schizoid Man, I Talk to the Wind and Epitaph (including March for No Reason and Tomorrow and Tomorrow)

1. Pink Floyd, ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ (1973): 741 weeks on the charts!, only 1 week at #1

The group’s eighth LP was one of the best-selling albums worldwide, ever, with an estimated 50 million copies sold. It was on the Billboard charts from 1973 to 1988. It’s often considered one of the greatest albums of all time.

But I didn’t buy it right away. In fact, I may have purchased The Wall in 1980 or 1981 before finally picking up Dark Side. I liked the single Money (#13 in 1973) but was turned off by the album’s seemingly cultish admiration. But I DO like it.

As Rolling Stone noted:
“From its sync-up with The Wizard of Oz (press play after the lion’s third roar) to the Flaming Lips and friends’ track-for-track covers project to Krusty the Clown’s lost Dark Side of the Moonpie to the endless hawking of the prism-and-rainbow logo, the album has endured as a pop-culture touchstone since its release.”

LISTEN to the whole album HERE or HERE or HERE.

I own albums by FM, Electric Light Orchestra, Kansas, Renaissance, Supertramp, Genesis, and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, but not the ones listed.

R is for Roger, redux

I’d been a fan of Roger Moore since I watched him as Beau Maverick on the television show Maverick.

As I’ve undoubtedly noted, the name Roger comes from the Germanic roots meaning spear bearer, specifically “famous with the spear.”

When you think of the first name Roger, who are the first people you think of? (I mean besides me, of course.) That was the question in this segment of the TV show Family Feud; I’m sorry it is incomplete.

Here’s a list of celebrities whose first names are Roger. The ones that immediately came to mind are some I mentioned three-and-a-half years ago when I last did R is for Roger, plus these that I inexplicably left off:


Roger Clemens – in 24 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, and Houston Astros, he won the Cy Young as the best pitcher in his baseball league a record seven times and pitched a perfect game in 1994. He would have been a lock for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013 except for allegations of him using performance-enhancing drugs.


Roger Federer – the tennis player from Switzerland had spent 237 consecutive, and at this writing, 302 total weeks at number 1 in the ranking and has won 17 Grand Slam singles titles. He’s considered by many to be the greatest player of all time.


Roger Staubach – in an 11-season career, all with the Dallas Cowboys, the quarterback out of the Naval Academy had a Hall of Fame career. I wasn’t much a Cowboys fan, since they were/are rivals with my New York Giants; nevertheless, I always liked him personally.


Sir Roger Moore – I’d been a fan since I watched him as Beau Maverick on the television show Maverick, then as Simon Templar in the TV series The Saint. But, of course, he’s best known as Bond, James Bond, in seven movies. See his other credits.


Roger Waters – he was a founder member of the rock band Pink Floyd, serving as bassist, vocalist, and principal songwriter. In the 1970s and 1980s, the album Dark Side of the Moon spent years on the charts; Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall were other hit albums. He has been performing The Wall all over the world without his former bandmates.


Roger B. Taney – he was the fifth Chief Justice of the United States (1836-1864), and the first Roman Catholic to sit on the Supreme Court. While he dealt with many other cases, I know him for just one: writing the majority opinion in Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857), that ruled that black people, who were considered inferior at the time the US Constitution was written, could not be considered citizens of the United States, whether slave or free.


Roger Williams – the theologian who left England, only to knock heads (figuratively) with the Puritans, and eventually founded the state of Rhode Island as a place of religious tolerance.


Roger Rabbit – he is the frantic, neurotic title cartoon character of the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The film also starred the live human Bob Hoskins, and Roger’s animated human wife Jessica, who is not bad; she’s just drawn that way.
***
My review of the late Roger Ebert’s autobiography.

ABC Wednesday – Round 12