Classic Rock

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Pink Floyd has released a Post-Rock record. It’s claimed to be a throwback to their psychedelic roots, and even an album of throwaway tracks from their last album, 1994’s Division Bell. As throwaway tracks, they demonstrate the early creative process of a Pink Floyd album and that they’ve never abandoned their signature sound. There is plenty of guitar and percussion accompanying the posthumous contribution of Richard White. Most Pink Floyd fans wouldn’t agree, but I’m happy that The Endless River was made of mostly instrumental tracks. Pink Floyd is cosmic and as I once had an epiphany while listening to “Shine on you Crazy Diamond,” these tracks evoke the same feelings of universe and sprituality that I’d experienced then.

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Past, Present and Future Was released in 1973-74 and is considered Al Stewart’s defining album. Each track is historical and attempts to crack the boundary from previous, more folksy tracks to a more brooding progressive style. There are at least 28 contributing musicians on this album, resulting in a lush acoustic guitar harmony throughout.

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The Earth Band was the 3rd iteration of South African, Manfred Mann’s fronted efforts.  He was on the scene in the early 60’s with the hits, “The Mighty Quinn” and “Do Wah Diddy Diddy”, and followed that with Manfred Mann Chapter Three, a Jazz Fusion effort.  Manfred Mann’s Earth Band formed in 1971 and produced some of the earliest progressive rock efforts.  This current version of the band found their stride with the 1973 release Solar Fire.  It was a planetary concept album with progressive keys, cinematic vocals, and classic guitar solos.     I’m going to post three tracks from the record that best represent it’s essence.  BTW, the first track is a Dylan cover, done much better by Manfred Mann.

 

 

 

Take the children and yourself
And hide out in the cellar
By now the fighting will be close at hand
Don’t believe the church and state
And everything they tell you
Believe in me, I’m with the high command

 

Swear allegiance to the flag
Whatever flag they offer
Never hint at what you really feel
Teach the children quietly
For some day sons and daughters
Will rise up and fight while we stood still

All, always the same.
But there appears in the shades of dawning,
Though your eyes are dim,
All of the pieces in the sky
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Every so often I’ll revisit one of my old albums and listen with a more seasoned palate. Genesis’ Nursery Cryme isn’t one of my favorites from the Peter Gabriel era and I was only really interested in one track, The Musical Box. Listening to it now, I understand that almost half the band had been replaced and they were still growing comfortable with the new lineup. I’d also come to appreciate the slow, pretty songs on the LP. Songs I’d dismissed when I was younger because they lacked rock hooks. Most of the songs on this album tell a story, which was a trademark of the Gabriel era. Harlequin was one track I always skipped, but now, with a renewed appreciation for instrumentation and subtlety, it strikes me as a beautiful, three part harmony, hymn about hope.

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The Lamb is Gabriel Era Genesis‘ swan song. Probably the best Rock Opera written and arguably the best album in their catalog. Gabriel’s lyrics accompanying these tracks are stunning and masterful. Everything fits on this album. There was a lot of controversy during the album’s creation and subsequent tour. Gabriel insisted on writing the vocals in seclusion, and the band felt that he’d undermined their creative contributions. There was also resentment in that Gabriel was considered the essence of Genesis by their fan base and the rest of the members merely his backing band.

This is one of the most sorrowful tunes on the album and I’ve turned to it often since my teen years when experiencing depression and hopelessness. The Lamia is a poetic masterpiece.

Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats…

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Revolver changed everything! This seventh release (1966) marked a significant shift in Beatles music. More electric, more psychedelic, and more experimental, it ushered in the classic rock era and set them on a path to unequaled creativity in the music world. Some say that this also marked a shift in the leadership and creative force of the band. Lennon was the leader of The Beatles up to this point, with McCartney directing the creative direction of the band going forward. The Beatles experimented with timing signatures, feedback, and intentionally straying from predictive tempo and rhythm. This track is my favorite on the LP and is well ahead of its time musically.

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Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs was the only studio album released by this talented ensemble. It was released in 1970 and features Eric Clapton and Duane Allman on guitars. During this project Clapton made monumental efforts to stay out of the limelight and play down his role so the band could concentrate on “being a band.” Many of the tracks on the LP were said to have been written as a proclamation of Clapton’s deep, unrequited love For George Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd. After years of addiction and pain he eventually married his muse.