7.7.15

10 More Lost Rock Records from the 1970s

People keep buying my Lost 100 records thing. Sure, it's more like a dribble these days, but it pays for a few LPs. I thought I'd make a little addendum of rock albums I have stumbled upon in the past few years since I published it.

Having fondled my way through the darker crevices of that decade I have found these are albums which have "stood out". Chiefly, though all good recordings, these are records that I believe have some significance in the discourse surrounding seventies rock. That pertains to how records were received critically, how certain records ended up gaining further significance and where players slotted in significantly with their peers. So for example, a record might have received a rave review by a "classic-era" journalist, it might have had a disproportionate influence to its low sales or the musicians might have gone on to record culturally significant things. And of course there are other criteria. That was something I didn't really emphasise in the book, probably owing to being too close to the coalface.


Michael Chapman: Fully Qualified Survivor (Harvest 1970)

If you like those spaced-out, melancholy, drunken singer-writer albums by Roy Harper and Bill Fay, then you'll love this. Not really folky, thank goodness. The folkier those LPs get the worse. In fact, come to think of it, what's folky about Nick Drake and John Martyn? Nothing. Oh, and some great "licks" by Mick "Future Spider" Ronson.


Rick Derringer: All American Boy (Blue Sky 1973)

Simon hipped me to this. When I was out in Los Angeles three years ago I picked up a copy in Long Beach. It's a nifty, slightly anglophile power-pop LP. Great, snappy production - they spent some cash on it because they thought Derringer would make it. He didn't - the blame for which was attached to the overly-retouched artwork! If you read the fine print you find that "Hold" was written by Rickster and a young Patti Smith.


Michael Hurley and The Unholy Modal Rounders: Have Moicy (Rounder 1976)

A Robert Christgau favourite. He says (with concision): "The greatest folk album of the rock era". Originally spinning out from the Grenwich Village jugband scene that spawned the The Fugs. This is tinged with country, deceptively well-played in its ramshackle way, and is unfailingly tuneful.


Jandek: Ready For The House (Corwood 1978)

Ah come on! This is great! It's actually very musical, though I imagine (truthfully) Jandek finds it incredibly hard to listen to it himself. I know this from having made a similarly inept (though less musical) singer-songwriter LP, which I find impossible to listen to.

Jandek plays one out-of-tune chord all the way through. When each song finishes you think, actually you expect, that you'll get a different chord - it would be SO entertaining. But nope. Actually, come to reflect on it, there are slight differences. I have this filed in my No Wave section beside my John Gavanti LP. But, 1978! That's pretty amazing in itself.


Johnny Moped: Cycledelic (Chiswick 1978)

Here's a very good example of how digital can kill music. If you heard this on Spotify you'd absolutely hate it. This seemingly crude punk LP acquires its je-ne-sais-quoi from the grimy, spacious fingerprint of its original production. You can literally feel the damp studio walls, hear the rats scurrying. Although it's dirty, bollocks-out, rock there's a critical distance which has been completely destroyed in remastering which presses it down your earhole. On most other LPs this would not matter. This, to me, is like Position Normal - gutter, home-counties psychedelia. Lots of great tunes, entirely addictive chord sequences ("Darling, let's have another baby") and some surprisingly gentle passages. Great Barney Bubbles cover too.


Pyranha: Pyranha (Flow Motion 197?)

I picked this up in Switzerland from Belair records in Lausanne who reissued it. It's a Swiss Psych-Kraut-ish private pressing thing. Slightly clumsy but basically good gear.


Jesse Winchester: Jesse Winchester (Bearsville 1976)

This and the next LP are recommended by Geoff Travis in the Rough Trade book. Very interesting because largely the fans who enabled Punk were those open to what I'd call "Roots Rock". That's basically Rock'n'Roll that never grew up; Rock which stayed in the bars, stuck with the Blues or Soul and shunned the stadiums and the fancy production.

The Clash, for instance, are a band that originated from and steered increasingly close to "Roots Rock". The stylistic homogeneity that characterises all Roots music - the way it pairs up Reggae (or one stylistic incarnation of it best represented by Toots' records), New Orleans Funk and Country - that's a real figure of "Roots Rock." And of course the way it goes on to absorb Zydeco, Gumbo and like Paul Simon on into South African music. It's reductive, often silly, but not bad as aesthetics go.

This is really nice little album of funky bar-room rock. Tight band interplay. Rock-hard bass and drums. Stellar contributions from The Band's Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson. Alumni of who also, not coincidentally, also play on the Bobby Charles' LP and the Garland Jeffreys one...


Garland Jeffreys: Garland Jeffreys (Atlantic 1973)

Garland is in a terrain somewhere between Bill Withers, Terry Callier and Dr. John. Again, it's a slice of soulful Roots Rock haunted by the Stones of "Sticky Fingers". "Bound to get ahead someday" is a great surprise, recorded at Dynamic Sound, Kingston with a crop of top session musicians (Geoffrey Chung, Neville Hinds, Winston Wright). I've checked and this was after Paul Simon's "Mother and Child Reunion", still very weird to hear. Definitely worth experiencing.


Maggie and Terre Roche: Seductive Reasoning (CBS 1975)

I'm a big fan of The Roches debut - so imagine my surprise when I found out that two of the sisters had put out an LP earlier in the decade. In spite of Paul Simon's presence it bombed. Him again! Come to think of it I saw the movie again recently and Paul's splendid in Woody Allen's "Annie Hall". He's a much-maligned character nowadays. Like Eric Clapton and Phil Collins. This LP is a lovely, more muscular offering than their later stuff. Exquisite, high, keening harmonies in an Everly Brothers' style over rolling grooves.


Crack The Sky: Crack The Sky (Lifesong 1975)

This was recommended to me soon after the book came out. Rolling Stone made this "debut album of the year" when such a thing was presumably a big deal and the signpost to massive success. But it looks like they never broke out of Baltimore. The story of a thousand bands unfortunately. It is a little bit Proggy (as much as anything American was ever Proggy), a bit little bit Glam and a little bit Rock'n'Roll-ish; perhaps not anything distinctive enough? It's OK.