Quick hits of the 1970s: Brief music reviews!
Terje Rypdal, After the Rain (1976)
Is this what people think Phish sounds like? This album is essentially a 38-minute guitar solo with bits of synth, piano, sax, and actual tubular bells, all played by the maximally Norwegian neoclassical/fusion guy, Mr Rypdal himself. (There’s also a singer, Rypdal’s wife Inger.) Because there’s next to no movement of any kind — this is the Platonic ideal of the ‘ECM album,’ down to the title and cover photo — the guitar ruminations bear sole responsibility for sustaining interest. If you can find time in your busy day for David Gilmour, make time for this; if like me you’d rather have your arm hair pulled out slow than listen to David Gilmour for more than three minutes at a time, give it a listen just to know what the platonic ideal of the ECM album sounds like.
Bruce Palmer, The Cycle Is Complete (1971)
Rick James(!!) plays percussion and improvises some vocals. A cast of hippie-bluesy sorts improvise some grooves. Random sound effects are tipped in, including what sounds like a mandolin and violin being pleasurably misused. This goes on for some time, and is as interesting as it sounds.
Earth and Fire, Atlantis (1973)
If you heard Jesus Christ Superstar and thought to yourself, What this shit needs is fewer gorgeous melodies and more hippie-folksy mystical nonsense about Atlantis! then have I got the album for you!
Ramsey Lewis, Sun Goddess (1974)
Even middle-of-the-road jazz/funk/soul fusion has an intrinsic pleasantness — clav, Rhodes, and bass-bop will always get you to a place if you let them. This is better than that. Most of Earth Wind & Fire are in the band, burbling along funkybreezylike without ever coming to a full boil. ‘Jungle Strut’ gets porny, ‘Hot Dawgit’ stays cool, and the six-minute closer ‘Gemini Rising’ bites some of Herbie’s early-70s moves (including a bit of free percussive noisemaking up front) before jazzing out. Not exactly worldshaking, this, but how much shaking can your world really take? Bedroom music for moderns with a sense of humour.
Lonnie Liston Smith & The Cosmic Echoes, Reflections of a Golden Dream (1976)
‘Get Down Everybody (It’s Time for World Peace)’ is the most 70s song title of all time. They really mean it. I like the insistent Parliament-ish polyrhythms of ‘Peace & Love’ better than the disco-era moves of the next track, ‘Beautiful Woman,’ though I prefer the latter title. ‘Inner Beauty’ could be an Alice Coltrane track; ‘Journey Into Space’ could be Hassell/Eno. I hope world peace and sexual liberation are inextricably linked like Smith and the Echoes seem to think; rather a waste of 39 minutes of fine psych/soul erotica otherwise.
Scientist, Scientist Rids the World of the Evil Curse of the Vampires (1981, but who’s counting)
So, ummm…is all dub boring?