Thursday, June 10, 2010

Music Notes – Rock Instrumental Classics: The Seventies

Before I ever got into jazz (sort of), I was a rock and roller (sort of), a child of the 70s. And while some of the tunes on this disc I never actually heard during that decade, those that did come through my tiny radio speakers had me thinking there was more to music than folk tunes, disco, and the advent of heavy metal. So when I found this disc for cheap at a Half Price Bookstore, I had to have it.
A couple things do bother me about this little collection of 18 songs. Probably the most noticeable problem is the truncated version of Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein.” Second, while I know that jazz and rock are not the same thing, if a compilation can include “Joy” by Apollo and “The Hustle,” of “rock” music, then surely they could have found room for tunes by Herb Alpert, Chuck Mangione, Spyro Gyra, or crossover sensation George Benson. The seventies were a time when a lot of jazz and rock crossed over, and these artist had some pretty good tunes. I guess, however, that might have taken two discs (so would that be Volume 3b?). To make room, on the other hand, I might suggest cutting “Apricot Brandy” by Rhinoceros, since it was actually released in 1968 and was not a big hit.
But that doesn’t diminish what one has here. The disc is rather uneven, with some real rock songs mixed with some disco and pop novelties, like the aforementioned songs, Walter Murphy’s “A Fifth of Beethoven,” and the quirky “Popcorn” (by, of course, Hot Butter). But we also have classics (dare I say standards?) like Average White Band’s “Pick Up The Pieces,” Deodato’s version of “Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001),” and mega groovy “Outa-Space”by the late Billy Preston (God rest his sweet jammin’ soul!).

There are also some nuggets (at least for me) in some songs, as noted before,  I never heard before putting this in my player. Notable are ELO’s “Daybreaker” and a hearty version of Led Zepplin’s “Whole Lotta Love” played by King Curtis & The Kingpins. The disc also contains some interesting liner notes (something that those who did not grow up in the seventies or before may not remember as part of the listening experience).
Okay, so my misgivings notwithstanding, this is a fun little record, one that should give a good picture of one significant part of one of the richest decades in music history.
[Note: I noticed that this series contains music from the 50s and 60s, but nothing past the seventies. I wonder what statement that makes for music past that time. Just saying…]

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