Random Access Vinyl: Night on the Town

Rod Stewart

Hello once again, and welcome to another installment of Random Access Vinyl, where I go through the collection and randomly pick a record to share. Hope everyone had a good week, I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I last did one but I have just been so busy with family and baby things. I’m back tonight though and tonight I will be reviewing Rod Stewart’s “Night on the Town”.Rod Stewart is a renowned singer-songwriter who has sold something like 100 million copies of his albums since his career started. Born Roderick David Stewart on January 10th 1945 in North London, he came onto the musical scene in the late 1960’s, and has had a successful career not only with bands but also as a solo artist.

In 1967 a guitarist by the name of Jeff Beck was looking for a new lead singer to join his group after leaving The Yardbirds. Beck asked Rod Stewart, he agreed and the group were quickly off making their debut album. “Truth” was released in August of 1968. Stewart found himself singing everything from rock n roll to folk, he even co-wrote three tracks on the album which later he said really helped him find his voice as a songwriter. During this time he met another guitarist Ronnie Wood, the two started sharing their musical ideas and quickly became friends. Stewart left The Jeff Beck Group after their sophomore album “Beck-OLa” because of conflicts growing between him and their manager, plus his own solo career was starting to take off.

By the early 1970’s Rod Stewart was making a major name for himself as a singer-songwriter and with  Ronnie Wood helped form a new band known as “Faces”. The band came out of another group called “The Small Faces” which both Stewart and Wood where not a part of. The groups first album “First Step” had Rod Stewart singing in much the same style as he had with The Jeff Beck Group, singing mainly rock blues tunes. Rod Stewart continued to see success not only with “Faces” but also on his own but by the end of 75 the group called it quits. Rod Stewart has since become a superstar who left the rock scene to cover 30’s and 40’s American Standards, however this year saw Stewart returning to his rock roots with his new album “Time” which consisted of all new material written by him.

“A Night on the Town” is Stewart’s seventh album, it was released on Warner Bros. Records in 1976 and in my personal opinion is one of his last truly great rock n roll albums. Rod Stewart and Elton John have always reminded me of each other because when both of their careers started they were phenomenal in what they each did but as they progressed their styles just became two much for me. Elton John with his over the top dramatics and style and Stewart with his kind of wishy-washy love songs, this album however is not one of those. “A Night on the Town” is broken up into two very different styles of music, Side One or the “slow side” as it is referred to is full of soft more mellow tracks while Side Two or the “fast side” is full of fast rock songs.

Side One even though it is slow and I prefer my Stewart fast is still a great start to this record and in fact I’m glad it is done this way, had the album been reversed I think I would have found myself a little bored by side two. This way the record starts off a little slower but allows the listener to really get in the mood before it rocks your socks off. The opening track “Tonight’s the Night” is definitely the most noticeable track on the album, I had heard it many times as a child before I had ever really known it was by Rod Stewart. This track deals with putting everything else aside and making sweet sweet love to that special person in your life, it also kind of gave me a feeling like this is this person’s first time, maybe not Stewart’s but the person he plans to you know. After that is an amazing version of Cat Steven’s song “The First Cut is the Deepest” in which Rod Stewart really makes this song his own, his voice on this track really lends something to it. You don’t really hear the Cat Steven’s version very much and I have heard the Sheryl Crow cover so much that it makes me sick, but this version was kind of refreshing and I really enjoyed it. The other really memorable track on this side is “The Killing of George (Part I and II)”. This song is about a man who is forced from his home as a child after his parents discover he is gay, he then moves to New York City where he is excepted and liked by all. The song ends with him being killed by a gang and during “part II” Stewart goes in to this almost blues style with his voice and keeps repeating the line “George please stay”. I liked this song a lot and I liked that it was at the end of this side, it puts you in a kind of sad state which only makes the “fast side” that much better.

Side Two leaves nothing for the imagination and lets you know right away what kind of music you are about to hear, the opening guitar rift to “The Balltrap” is pure 70’s rock and Stewart’s raspy voice gives you a hint of Led Zeppelin for me. This song is about being hung up on a girl after having a one night stand and being putty in the girl’s hands. I don’t know if the title is actually referring to your testicles being in some sort of trap but that’s kind of the impression I get. this song also has this really cool honky tonk piano at the end of it that I really liked. One thing that differs from this side to the other is that “Balltrap” is the only song written by Stewart on this side, the rest are written by other artists. “Big Bayou” written by Gib Gilbeau has a rockabilly feel to it with a really strong horn section and fiddle in the background. “The Wild Side of Life” is another song that feels like a Zeppelin or more of a Rolling Stones song. The guitar and piano in it really do remind me of “Honky Tonk Women” and with Rod Stewart’s voice it just fits. The only song I didn’t care for on this side and really on this album was “Trade Winds” which closes out side two. This song unlike the other songs on this side is not a rock song of any sorts, it’s a really drawn out slow ballad, but unlike some of the slower songs on side one, this song really just does nothing for me. It sounds like a Kenny G. song and the background vocals and the lyrics themselves just don’t do anything for the song, Stewart sings fine on the track but its just not a great track. It’s basically about how at that  specific point in time humanity was going through a hard time, talking about bad things happening in the world and how everything feels so confusing. I guess the same still holds true for today but really just not a great song.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this album, like I said before it seems like unless it’s early Rod Stewart (which this kind of is) its either hit or miss with me and even though I wouldn’t say this is a great record, its not bad. I was worried at first when the opening track was “Tonight’s the Night” because its not really a great song plus you hear it all the time but after that I really enjoyed this album. You have a lot of what I really loved about him playing with Jeff Beck and Faces on this record, I mean say what you will about the guy, I understand if not everyone likes him but the guy can sing and back in his younger years you’d be hard pressed to find a better blues or rock singer, I mean to me personally his voice reminds me a lot of Robert Plants, not identical but there are a lot of very similar qualities. All in all this record only cost me 50 cents so I think it was well worth every penny, I’ll catch you guys next week.



Random Access Vinyl: None

King CrimsonHello everyone, it’s Friday night and usually that means another addition of Random Access Vinyl, where I randomly pick a record out of  my collection and do a deeper review of that album. Unfortunately, earlier this week my stylus(or needle) broke so I had to order another one to replace it. I was hoping that it would be here by tonight so I could do this, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to get here until sometime next week. Obviously this means I can’t listen to records which also means I can’t review them.

Now, I know I could just as easily pick out an album and then listen to it either on Cd or on Youtube and then write a review but I thought that would take away from the whole experience of this which is VINYL.

However, on a much higher note, this week is my community garage sale and my wife was looking in the paper the other day and found a house in our area that supposedly has some 8,000 records, now I don’t know if this is true and don’t know where the house is but if this is true it could very quickly turn in to one of the best weekends so far this year.

So again sorry for no review(not like anyone reads these, I don’t blame you) hope to have one next week and depending on how this weekend goes I hope to have a recent finds blog as well, Have a good one.

Random Access Vinyl: Passion Play

Passion Play

Good evening everyone, hope you all had a good week. Mine wasn’t horrible but it could have been better I guess, just working a lot of hours. Anyways, welcome to another Random Access Vinyl, where tonight I am going to be talking about Jethro Tull’s Passion Play. Tonight I am going to keep it kind of short because I am exhausted but I wanted to talk about this album because it and this band are well worth it.

Jethro Tull is a progressive rock band that was formed in Luton, England in 1967, fronted by Ian Anderson who provides the vocals as well as much of the direction of the band. Along with Anderson, Jethro Tull consists of Martin Barre on guitar, Doane Perry on drums, and David Goodier on bass. Although Anderson has been with the band from the beginning the other three members came in after the fact.

Jethro Tull started as a blues rock band where Anderson played the harmonica, he also tried his hand at guitar but quite soon after because he felt he would never sound like Eric Clapton. The band had many different names playing the local clubs of England until one of the hired hands who was also a history buff came up with the name Jethro Tull, who was an 18th Century agriculturist. Soon after picking the name Anderson picked up the flute which would then become his signature instrument. He claims that every time the band took the stage in the early years that is was like having a  practice session. Even still, just a year later the band put out its first studio album “This Was” in 1968 on Island Records.

Passion Play is the bands 6th studio album and was released in 1973 on Chrysalis Records. It like their album before(Thick As A Brick) is a concept album that tells the story of a man who journeys through the different stages of the afterlife. Because this plays like an actual play there are many tracks that don’t have any lyrics but the music gives the listener and idea of what is taking place. There is one line that gets repeated four times throughout the album, “there was a rush along the Fulhan Road” once close to the beginning and another time at the close of the record where it is the last line spoken.

Passion Play for me is like listening to “The Divine Comedy” had it been made in to a musical. Act One starts with Ronnie Pilgrim who dies at the start of the album and watches his own funeral as a ghost. He then reflects on his own life and hears how others who knew him felt about him. After the funeral, Pilgrim then explores a frozen wasteland that is purgatory. He comes across an angel with a beautiful smile who leads him into a movie theater with a giant screen.

Act Two begins as Pilgrims life story begins playing on the screen, Pilgrim finds his life being judged by two unknown characters. After some deliberation the two characters decide that Pilgrim should be allowed in to Heaven. At this point there is an instrumental song known as the “Forest Dance” that gives the listener a feeling of happiness. I imagine it is how Pilgrim feels being allowed in to Heaven.

Now what play would be complete with out an interlude, well this play has one. After the “Forest Dance” a comical story is told about some animals helping a hare who has lost his glasses. All the animals think they know what happened to the hare’s glasses, some think he ate them thinking they were a carrot, others think they were stolen, and some feel they were lost by the hare. After debating what the hare should do to fix this problem, the hare decides it is none of the other animals business and remembers he has another pair.

At the start of Act Three, Pilgrim is in Heaven with all the other people but finds himself feeling bored and annoyed. All the spirits do is talk about the living and the lives they use to have. Pilgrim searches out help at the office of  G. Oddie and Son(get it). There he asks if he can be reassigned to Hell instead. Agreeing to Pilgrim’s terms he is sent to hell to meet Lucy(Lucifer) and discovers that Hell is an even worse place then heaven. Pilgrim runs for his life and avoids Lucy’s grasp.

Act Four finds Pilgrim asking for help once again, but this time from a character believed to be a magician named Magus Perde’. Pilgrim explains that neither Heaven or Hell is a suitable place for him because he is neither good nor evil and asks to be returned to the land of the living. Granting Pilgrims wish, Magus sends him to Stygian shore where he finds himself surrounded by other people and animals awaiting to return to Earth. During this part there is a song that talks about how Pilgrim doesn’t care what he comes back long as he gets to come back. The play ends with the line “there was a rush along the Fulhan Road” where you get the sense that Pilgrim is returned to the living and the listener is left with this feeling of eternal rebirth or resurrection.

I have to admit I have never been one for concept albums, other than Pink
Floyd’s “The Wall” and maybe one or two more I just don’t care for them. I would rather have an album full of really good songs then one that are all centered around a single story. When I heard this the first time I didn’t really care for it, sure it kind of had the signature Jethro Tull sound but it was no “Aqualung”. After listening to it a few more times and really understanding whats happening throughout the whole album, I have to say I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a cool idea and the way it was written was really good. I also liked all the characters and the way Anderson chose to name them(G.Oddie and Son and Lucy).  My copy has the original program in it that not only has all the lyrics but also gives an in-depth description of the actors and the director. In it it shows that the author of Passion play is Rena Sanderson which is an anagram for Eean Anderson. This and other little things in the album made it very enjoyable for me. Now after realizing how good it actually is I feel I need to find a better copy since mine skips a lot towards the end of side two. If you are a Jethro Tull fan or just like a good concept record, give this one a listen I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Random Access: Daylight Again

Crosby   Hello again, and welcome to another Random Access where I randomly pick out an album from my collection and do an in-depth review of the album. Hope everyone had a good 4th of July, I know I did,I got to see some fireworks, eat some good food, and drink some beer, whats more American than that right.

Anyways tonight I have picked Daylight Again by Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Crosby, Stills and Nash is the folk-rock supergroup that came out of the late 1960’s. Comprised of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash, the group came together after all three members other bands fell apart. David Crosby had been in the popular group the Byrds, but due to disagreements within the band he was kicked out in 1968. Stephen Stills from the band Buffalo Springfield was also let go in the late 60’s and began playing and writing songs with Crosby. Their first song “Wooden Ships” came about after jamming on Crosby’s boat. Graham Nash who was in The Hollies decided to leave in the summer of 69 and after meeting Crosby during a tour in the UK decided to join the other two members. With all three making it big in previous bands the trio soon realized that they had something special. Their rich harmonies and deep personal songwriting made it easy for the group to come up with material and after failing to be picked up by the Beatles label Apple Records, the group was snatched up by Atlantic and by May of 1969 their first album “Crosby, Stills, and Nash” was released. The three decided to go with each of their individual names rather than a band name so as not to complicate the situation. With both Buffalo Springfield and The Hollies continuing to record after the departure of Stills and Nash, the group wanted to makes sure the same didn’t happen here. With their first album and two Top 40 hits under their belt the three brought in a fourth member Neil Young. Young being a former member of Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills was almost passed up because of the two’s continued animosity towards one another, however the two were able to put aside their differences and make some incredible music together.

Daylight Again is the bands 4th studio album and is without Neil Young, coming out in 1982 it peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums list and was the last one since.  Although this album ranked rather high when it came out and spawned 3 singles on the Billboard Top 100 list, this album is a far cry from the well written folk songs of the groups past. The album starts off with “Turn Your Back on Love”, written by Stills and Nash this song is the embodiment of 80’s music. The music on this track is way over produced and the lyrics(you guessed it) which are about turning your back on love just don’t do anything for me. I mean these two are well established songwriters and this sounds like it was written by some up and coming pop artist. However, with the song “Wasted on the Way” which peaked at number 9 on the Top 100 list, I was brought back in. This is an acoustic tune that reminds me more of the CS&N that I know and love. Written by Graham Nash this song deals with getting older and looking back on the life you’ve wasted. Although I don’t think the lyrics on this particular track are all that great it’s a step up compared to the opening song, I feel like at least in this song he had something to say and both musically and lyrically Nash makes me want to pay attention. By track three I was starting to feel that maybe my initial reaction of this album was a little to harsh. “Southern Cross” peaked at number 18 and is really the only so-called hit on this album for me. Although two other songs made on the Billboard list, this was the only song I recognized and in my opinion the best song on the album. Written by Stephen Stills, this song talks about a man who is sailing the world looking for a lost lover. The title describes a constellation sailors use to navigate in the southern part of the hemisphere. Again this is another acoustic song that has very soft pop elements and a very good storytelling quality to it.

unfortunately, after “Southern Crossing” this album takes a huge dive. Aside from a few good songs at the very end of the record, the album becomes a collection of  bad love songs with the occasional song about the water. One such song titled “Delta” which is the first and only other song written by David Crosby on the album, is yet another track that uses rivers as metaphors for roads not taken or times that have drifted by. This song like many of the others on the album just doesn’t do anything for me, the music is awful with its piano like ballad and the lyrics are even worse. I do however feel for David Crosby, it must have been difficult for him on this record. “Daylight Again” was originally supposed to be a Steven Stills and Graham Nash production, but because Atlantic records wanted that familiar CS&N sound they opted to have David Crosby on the record for a couple of tracks. Although most of his parts were added in later after the other two members laid down theirs.
Love must have been on Stills and Nash’s minds during the writing process for this album because it is definitely a recurring theme on this album. The second half of this record is all about the love. Songs like “Since I Met You”, “Too Much Love to Hide” and “Song for Susan” deliver yet again bad over produced music with cheesy, and unimaginative lyrics. I can’t stress this enough I don’t know how such three talented songwriters could come up with these songs, they just seem uninspired. I mean even Bob Dylan has written bad songs, but even his worst songs usually don’t leave you disappointed lyrically. Maybe it was just the 80’s and everyone was still coming down from their cocaine high and the neon lights were having some sort of chemical reaction in their heads.

After almost drowning in bad pop music and lyrics with no substance, the album once again starts to get its footing back, unfortunately it doesn’t happen until the final two tracks on the record. On “Might As Well Have A Good Time” David Crosby is given a chance to redeem himself and we see the group doing what they do best for the first time on the whole album, harmonizing. On this track all three musicians lend their voices at the same time, whereas before Crosby was usually left out of the loop and forced to record his harmonies at a later time. “Might As Well Have a Good time” once again is a song about being close to the water and compares the sea to an old man playing the piano. The chorus, I belong on the shore/Hustling nickles and dimes/Because it ain’t long/Before it’s gone/Might as well have a good time describes how nothing lasts forever and if you’re gonna live have a good time. The closing track on this record is definitely my next favorite song along with “Southern Cross”. “Daylight Again,” written by Stephen Stills is a story about a solider coming back to camp just as the daylight is breaking, he lays down for some rest and starts thinking about the consequences of war. For me this song is very familiar too a lot of CS&N’s earlier songs that were very political and antiwar. The line, I think I saw a valley/Covered with bones of blue/All the brave soldiers that cannot get older/Been asking after you describes this soldier maybe dealing with all the life he as taken and what kind of man this will make him. My only real complaint about this song is that it’s just too short, I mean on an album that was really lacking in substance and storytelling ability this last track was a real refreshing way to end this record. It also pissed me off because these guys are great and this could have been a much better album then it was, but I guess not every record an artist makes is going to win over everyone.
When I bought this record for 50 cents at my local antiques mall and saw the cover with UFO’s and mountains with weird-looking buildings on them, I knew that this wasn’t going to be an album that was going to change my life but it was by a respectable group who have done amazing things in the past so I thought why not. I am sorry to say that although it was worth the money, this album is much worse than I was expecting it to be and after the second and third songs were so good I was disappointed at how bad it got after that. Aside from a handful of decent songs this whole thing was a wash and I wonder looking back on it now if the band might feel the same way. When space begins to become a real issue in my collection, this album might be one of the first to go. I’ll hold on to it for now but doubt if it ever gets spun again except to hear “Southern Cross” or Daylight Again.

Random Access: Legalize It

Peter Tosh

Hello everyone hope you had a good week and have an even better weekend, I myself found out I will most likely be working, bummer. Well its Friday, time for some vinyl. Tonight I have randomly chosen Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It” 

For those of you who don’t know, Peter Tosh was one of the founding members of The Wailers which included reggae heavyweight Bob Marley as well as Bunny Wailer. Born Winston Hubert McIntosh in Grange Hill, Jamaica on October 19. Tosh who was raised by his aunt, taught himself guitar after watching a stranger perform the same song over and over for almost a whole day. Tosh learned every note and every chord until he was able to play the song himself. After his aunt died in the early 60’s, Peter Tosh moved to Trench Town Jamaica, where he was introduced to Bob Marley and the rest of the Wailers. At the time Peter was the only member of the band who could play a musical instrument and began going to a vocal coach who gave free lessons to the young kids of Trench Town. Peter then began teaching the other members in the band how to play music including Bob Marley on guitar. Soon after the band was formed and picked up by Island Records and in a short while started growing in popularity. During this time Peter Tosh and the other Wailers produced many hit singles and a handful of albums like their debut record “Catch A Fire” and “Burnin”. Unfortunately in 1973 while driving with his girlfriend, Peter Tosh was in a car accident that killed her and fractured his skull in several places. After the accident Peter Tosh and the Wailers never really got along again and when the owner of Island Records told Peter that he would not put out his solo album he left the label and the band.Bunny Wailer however went with Peter and helped him on his debut solo album “Legalize It”

This album which musically sounds very similar to the earlier Wailer’s albums is a far cry from Bob Marley’s “One Love” sort of anthem. Peter who having just left his former band and basically being forced out of his record label appears to be in a very dark place. The song “No Sympathy” talks about being alone, and how even these people he considered friends are no longer there for him. “Why Must I Cry” also deals with hurt and heartache and includes the line ” I never fall in love again”. This is also apparent on “Till Your Well Runs Dry” which describes a women who is constantly doing him wrong but continues to come back to him. The closing track “Brand New Second Hand” deals with the idea that all the nice clothes and makeup can’t cover up what a person is really like on the inside. I like the line “not everything you see glitter is gold” There is one song that I have no idea what the actual meaning behind it is and that is “Ketchy Shuby”. This could be a song about some sort of dance or smoking pot, but what I believe it to be is a song about getting down and dirty( you know having relations). Whatever it is I know that mama and daddy don’t like it.

As different as this album is from earlier Wailers records there are a few reoccurring themes. “Whatcha Gonna Do” deals with the struggles of growing up in Kingston, Jamaica and the battles of getting out of poverty. “Burial” deals with the state of the country and the idea that even though there are different classes people are basically the same. Rich or poor, no one is above Jah. Just like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh was a huge advocate for the Rastafarian movement.  The song “Igziabeher” which translated means “let Jah be praised” is a Rastafarian incantation  about Jah and how he is responsible for everything from the water in the ocean to the animals on the land. It almost reminds me of a bible hymn. There is however, one part of this song that I find a little disturbing. Those who are not with Jah seem to be against him and therefore should be burnt and destroyed, the line “kill them dead before them spread” I found to be a little on the violent side. It’s definitely not a lyric you would hear in a Marley song. Of course with Rastafarian comes smoking marijuana and the title track to this album leaves nothing to the imagination. “Legalize It” is a song about just that, making pot legal and it became a pot anthem of sorts to those who advocated for it. It is also one of Peter Tosh’s better known songs and was a huge hit at his live shows.   

 Unfortunately, Peter Tosh was murdered in his home in Jamaica on September 11 1987 by a gang trying to extort money from him. He had many dark times in his life and his music reflected those times. I find this to be one of the most interesting things about this album, how dark it is for a reggae album. Bob Marley had a way of describing the trials and tribulations of Jamaica but always with an underlining feel of love and hope. Peter Tosh saw it and dealt with it in a much different way. Not only does this album tell about the struggles of growing up poor but is also deals with the idea that friends can betray you and people you thought cared about you can leave. I will always be a Bob Marley fan because I respect the way he viewed the world and the spirit he brought to music but with out Peter Tosh their would have been no Bob Marley.

Random Access: Synchronicity

Synchronicity        I have decided that starting tonight and every Friday after I am going to pick a random record from my collection and do an in-depth review of it. I have decided to do this for two reasons, one I want to share my thoughts and opinions about these records and two it allows me to dive deeper in to some of the records I own. My selection for tonight is “Synchronicity” by the Police.

The Police were an English band formed in London in the late 70’s. Fronted by bassist Sting the band made their mark by helping bring reggae into the main stream. Along with Sting was Andy Summers on guitar and Stewart Copeland on drums. “Synchronicity” is the bands 5th album and last studio release before breaking up in 1986. The album’s title was inspired by a book called “The Roots of Coincidence” by Arther Koestler. Sting who was a huge fan of Koestler’s also got the title to “Ghost in the Machine” by some of his work. Synchronicity finds the band leaving their reggae infused sound for a more worldly one. The whole album gives the listener a feeling that everything is connected or synchronized in some way. Songs like “Walking in Your Footsteps” and “O my God” talk about how there was life before humans and how there will be life after we are gone and that perhaps God isn’t necessarily as involved as we think. While Sting lends his voice and writing ability to most of the record, the other two members but in their two cents as well. “Mother” written and sang by guitarist Andy Summers talks about his relationship with his mother and how every women he meets ends up being his mother. I shouldn’t say he sings on this track because it is more like him talking in a creepy voice instead. Drummer Stewart Copeland also writes a song on this record called “Miss Gradenko” which talks about this person and whether or not she is safe. The title tracks on this record “Synchronicity I” and “Synchronicity II” are my favorite tracks on the record, both have a strong beat and the more traditional sound of The Police. With hits like “Every Breath you take” “King of Pain” and “Wrapped Around my Finger” it’s no wonder why this album not only went to number one in the UK but also in the states.

All in all The Police were a great band in my opinion but I just don’t like this record nearly as much as their first “Outlandos d’ Amour”. That album for me is by far the best work The Police ever did, songs like “So Lonely” “Roxanne” and “Can’t Stand Losing You” not only deliver the great reggae sound that I love but also adds an element of garage rock as well. “Synchronicity” however, just doesn’t offer the same kind of power as that album or really any of the other three. Basically what you get on this album is a handful of hits, and some creepy tacky songs and if you hate the hits you are left with just a sour taste in your mouth. I’m not sure if this was due to problems in the band or if this was just simply the direction they were wanting to go but for me they had a good thing going so why change.

Like I said I am a big fan of the Police, I thought they did great things for reggae and had a really interesting sound and even though I wouldn’t ever pick this album over any of the other four I’m glad I own it.

Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band is a Great Find Right?

This weekend my wife and a friend of ours were out checking out some local garage sales, baby clothes and vinyl for us and furniture for the friend. We happened upon one just a couple blocks from our house that had two but not all three of what we were looking for. Vinyl and furniture, I was so excited mainly because this was the first one I had been to that actually had vinyl. I ran to the boxes like a little kid and started tearing through them. I got a little discouraged at first glace because I started seeing a lot of Christmas albums and Chet Atkins, not to say there is anything wrong with Christmas or Chet Atkins, just not my taste. Anyway about half way through the first box I came across a Yes and Rush record, unfortunately neither had the jacket but the records themselves were in pretty good shape so I said why not. I also found a pretty nice three record set of what I thought was a collection of  singer-song writers but later found out it was just a symphony of guitars doing other peoples songs. Then I found it, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Now this is not the infamous Beatles record that has gone down in history as one of the most influencial albums ever made ( in fact Rolling Stone magazine has it ranked as the number one record ever) but in fact a soundtrack to a movie by the same name. Apparently back in the late 1970’s a Broadway musical was made using the Beatles record as the soundtrack for the play. From what I have read it was about a group who fights with the music industry as well as evil forces who are trying to take the musicians instruments. I don’t know I have never seen it but it doesn’t sound that good, apparently there are only a couple of lines throughout the whole play. Anyways I picked it up because on the cover I saw the name Peter Frampton and on the back acts like Aerosmith, Earth Wind and Fire, Alice Cooper and even the Bee Gees. I remembered seeing people talk about this album online but couldn’t remember what they said about it. The album was only a dollar and with a line up like that I thought it was a pretty safe bet. I was wrong. 

I took it home cleaned it up a little and could tell by the first track which is the title track by the Bee Gees that this wasn’t going to be for me. I should of known by the year and the fact that this was the Bee Gees that this record was going to be very disco infused. It’s like they took classic songs from this album and “Abbey Road” and said “lets do that but only with a little disco flare to it”. I couldn’t believe it, even the groups like Alice Cooper and Peter Frampton who do so much that I love couldn’t get it right. Now I’m not some Beatles snob who thinks that anyone trying to cover the Beatles has committed some sort of act of sacrilege, in fact I have heard many covers that I really enjoy. This however, did not work, they didn’t change up the songs themselves enough to really feel like they were experimenting or doing  their own version of the song. In many cases it sounded just like the original but with bad harmonies or just cheesy music. On  “I want you” which is a great song the vocals are just being spoken in a real creepy voice that does nothing for the song. Actually this album reminds me of a more current take one Beatles work that copied and used their music in a feature film called “Across the Universe”. It was basically the same idea, using  Beatles songs as a background for a musical. Although I liked these versions a little better, I felt while I was watching it that I just wanted to hear the originals rather then these counterfeit versions.

There were a couple of decent songs though but not many. One was Aerosmith’s version of “Come Together” and the only thing that really saved this one was the fact that it sound so similar to the original, although I was surprised how boring  Steve Tyler’s vocals were. His voice just didn’t pack a punch like you’re use to hearing with him. “Strawberry Fields Forever”  by Sandy Farina was another one that wasn’t great but on an album that had so many bad songs was a welcomed version. I have to say that this is one of my absolute favorite Beatles songs so I am a little bias. Other then those two and maybe a couple that were okay but not really worth mentioning the whole album was a big flop. It’s not surprising though since most soundtracks in my opinion rarely make there mark that this was such a bad album. I guess I had high hopes because of the material and the the line up but it just goes to show that when you have a good thing like the Beatles it takes something really special to make it better then what it was.