If you are a long time reader of this blog you know that I’m a huge fan of everything Canadian. I’ve spent a lot of time in Canada, I love the Canadian people, I love the natural beauty of the country, and most importantly….I love Canadian music. To celebrate that love I have a an amazing Special Performance for you today……Randy Bachman and Neil Young performing two different versions of Prairie Town, one electric and one acoustic and both absolutely great. As a bonus I’ve included a short video from 1987 of a celebration of the music of Winnipeg, Canada that features both Randy, Neil, and Burton Cummings. Enjoy……
As readers of this blog know, Gordon Lightfoot is a honored member of my holy trinity of Canadian Music (Neil and Joni are the other members) so it was an easy choice to feature him in my second Yesterday and Today post.
My favorite Gordon song is probably Canadian Railroad Trilogy, an epic song that he wrote in just three days. It tells the story of the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway and was performed for the very first time on New Year’s Day in 1967 as part of Canada’s centennial celebration. To me this song is Canada!
Each of the three parts of the song has it’s own tempo. The first and third parts have a faster tempo and focus on the progress of the railroad across the continent. The middle part of the song slows to focus on the railroad workers (navies) that did the back breaking manual labor required to lay the tracks. I’ve always heard something else in the tempo changes. If you’ve ever ridden on a steam train, it’s doesn’t take too much imagination to hear the steam train in the tempo.
To kick things off tonight, here’s a great live performance of the song from 1972………
Over forty years after the 1972 performance, Gordon is still singing this great song. He’s older, the voice has changed over time, but the performance is no less amazing. Join with me in celebrating Gordon’s continuing ability to amaze and entertain us at the age of 75.
In 1974 I was 21, a full time college student, working three jobs, and somehow having the time of my life. Music was a major factor in my life and, fortunately for me, there was an amazing amount of wonderful new music every month. Let’s take a quick look at some of the key album releases during the first three months of 1974. By the way, if you are interested, the picture above is Big Star (more about them below).
So get ready, set aside some quality time, and head back to the first quarter of 1974 with me. Enjoy…….
January 1974 Album Releases
The Way We Were-Barbara Streisand
I’m a rocker at heart and it probably surprises many of you that I bought this album when it was released but ……great music is great music! The only comments I have about the album are: What a voice and what an album. It would have been easy to play the title track but here’s one that I like even better……I think you will like it……
What are you doing for this rest of your like? I ask myself that question a lot more now that I’m older…..
Court and Spark-Joni Mitchell
Joni, part of my holy trinity of Canadian music (Neil, Joni, and Gordon), was continuing to evolve her musical style. Court and Spark started to add in some jazz elements but lost none of it’s introspection which is what drew me to her in the first place. I’ve learned a lot of lessons in my years and in 1974 Joni choose to write about one of them in a song…..It’s Down To You……
Everything comes and goes
Pleasure moves on too early
And trouble leaves too slow
Just when you’re thinking
You’ve finally got it made
Bad news comes knocking
At your garden gate
Knocking for you
You’re a brute you’re an angel
You can crawl you can fly too
It’s down to you
It all comes down to you
Foghat was an amazing boogie band from the 70’s and has gotten the respect that they deserve in my humble opinion. Here is one of Foghat’s masterpieces that doesn’t get the respect it deserves……Home In My Hand. If you were lucky enough to see them play it live back in the 70’s, as I was, I guarantee that you were entertained…….
Grevious Angel-Gram Parsons
I’ve written about the sad story of Gram Parsons as part of my Southern California Sound series. Grevious Angel was released after Gram’s untimely death in the fall of 1973. Brass Buttons is a classic (Poco did an amazing cover version that you might want to checkout) and you need to hear it straight from the mouth of the writer…..sing it Gram……
January 1974 was a great month for Canadian music releases with Gordon joining Joni in releasing a new album. The title track was one of Gordon’s biggest sellers but you dig a little deeper in the album to find the real treasure……Seven Island Suite…….
Look around at the morning, guess you’re doing the best you can
Surely you know that when you go nobody gives you a hand
Think of the air you’re breathing in, think of the time you waste
Think of the right and wrong and consider the frown on your face
February 1974 Album Releases
Forty years after the release of their debut album, Kiss is finally going to get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame….it’s about time! This album wasn’t a hit, the band wouldn’t really take off until their release of their double live album, but I’ve got to give it to the boys….they had ambition. Listen to its Kissin’ Time and you will see exactly what I mean……
If you are a reader of this blog you already know that I have a soft spot in my heart for Badfinger and their incredibly sad story. This was the group’s first album after leaving Apple records and unfortunately the end was a lot nearer than anyone foresaw. The song I have for you today from this album was written by Pete Ham, I Miss You………
Damn it Pete….I Miss You! RIP buddy!
Radio City-Big Star
Looking back it seems ironic that Big Star released their second album the same month as the Badfinger release discussed above. September Gurls was maybe the best pop song of the 70’s and to this day very few people have even heard of Big Star…..it’s a fucking tragedy ……
Of course the entire Big Star history is pretty much one big tragedy. I’m reading a biography of Alex Chilton, the band’s lead singer, right now and I’m planning a post dedicated to Big Star’s sad story. Stay tuned for that…..
What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits-Doobie Brothers
The Doobies were going through some significant personnel changes in 1974, and more were on the way, but they managed to put out another great album in 1974. The song that I have for you today makes me want to be floating down a little southern river in a canoe…..laid back without a care in the world….
If you listen closely, you can appreciate some amazing steel guitar added by Skunk Baxter. He would be an official member of the group by 1975 as the band’s sound started to change. More about that next……
A New Life-Marshall Tucker Band
This was Marshall Tucker’s second release and it confirmed that they were not just a one trick pony. The title track from this album highlights everything that makes Marshall Tucker Band one of the best bands from the 70 (great vocals, amazing musicianship, and great songwriting)…..listen and be amazed……
March 1974 Album Releases
I’m a sucker for bands named after the states that they’re from and Kansas is one of the best examples of such a band. This was the debut album for Kansas and if you listen to the lead off song and it immediately let’s you know that you should expect great things from this band……
Bridge Of Sighs-Robin Trower
Jimi Hendrix was gone but we still had Robin to blow our minds. You can’t go wrong with the title track from this album….absolutely Epic……..
On The Border-Eagles
1974 found the Eagles, one of my favorite Southern California Sound bands, starting to move towards a more rock oriented sound. You wouldn’t know it from the song I have for you today, Ol’ 55, one of the few songs on the album not written by the group. The amazing Tom Waits wrote the song and the Eagles performance of it is something to be treasured. It brings back some amazing memories of driving back home from various girlfriends houses as the sun was coming up in my rear view mirror……
Get Your Wings-Aerosmith
On their sophomore album Aerosmith fully hit their stride. It was an amazing album and the start of a string of releases that would make Aerosmith one of my all time favorites. Let’s listen to Track 5 from the album, SOS (Too Bad)……in case you are wondering SOS stands for Same Old Shit…….
Somethin’s Happening-Peter Frampton
In 1974 something was at least on the verge of happening for Peter. The release of Frampton Comes Alive in 1976 would make him a superstar but you could see it coming by listening to this 1974 release. Let’s listen to the title song from the album, Somethin’s Happening……
Today’s post continues our Holiday Music Countdown in Two’Fer Tuesday style. I have two great versions of Joni Mitchell’s song River. First up is a performance by James Taylor which is followed by a performance by Sarah McLachlan. I would be hard pressed to say which is my favorite….they are both great and I think you will enjoy them.
Thanks to Joel Bernstein for the great picture of Joni skating on a river.
So…..as a general rule, I do not go in for the classic rock reunions but I am making an exception for Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman, and the rest of the Guess Who when they were running across Canada once again back in 2000. I saw the Guess Who back in the early 70s (unfortunately without Randy) and they were amazing. I am happy to say the band has not lost a step in the intervening years. Really good stuff from my favorite Canadian band, I think you will enjoy this.
One of the things that I liked best about this concert was seeing the respect that Burton and Randy have for each other. Never thought I would ever see Burton singing a Bachman Turner Overdrive song….miracles never cease!
Gordon Lightfoot is easily one of my top three favorite musicians of all time (the others are Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen….and yes the Canadians outnumber the American on this list). Let me elaborate how strong my feelings for Gordon’s music are……
If I had to give up all of my music except my Gordon Lightfoot library I could still lead a happy life.
I have planned Gordon Lightfoot themed vacations…a train trip through the Canadian Rockies inspired of course by Canadian Railroad Trilogy.
My pick for the most moving song ever written…..The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald
Did I mention he’s Canadian!
So it is with great pride that I bring you this great Gordon Lightfoot acoustic concert performance on BBC. If you aren’t a fan after listening to this concert…..I seriously have to question your musical taste. The set list includes:
This was supposed to be my final post in the Canada Music Celebration. I had planned to publish it on the 4th of July but somehow I got busy with my US 4th of July post and forgot to post this one.
My mom used to say: “Waste Not Want Not” so with that in mind, here is the forgotten post (exactly as I had it written for the 4th).
Welcome to our fourth and final post in our multi-day Canada Day music celebration. Today we will highlight a Canadian group called Five Man Electrical Band.
The Five Man Electrical Band grew out of an Ottawa 60’s group called the Stacattos. As Five Man Electrical Band, the group is mainly known for a single song called Signs but I have to give them credit…it was one damned good song. Let’s listen……..
The group had a few minor hits after Signs but I think I could have safely written about them in my Underachiever series of posts.
Welcome to day three of our multi-day Canada Day music celebration which is combined with the 22nd edition of Long Song Tuesday. Today we highlight a Canadian group called Mahogany Rush.
Mahogany Rush was formed in 1970 by guitarist Frank Marino. I became familiar with them based on their 1975 Album named Strange Universe and it is the title song from this album that we are featuring today. Let’s listen….
I think you will agree with me that this is an amazing song. Clearly Frank’s guitar playing and songwriting were both significantly influenced by Jimi Hendrix. Let’s listen to another track from that album, Tales of a Spanish Warrior, that once again shows Jimi’s influence.
It seemed clear to me that Frank was “the band” and the other members of the group were basically just hired hands. This was made clear to everyone when the group was renamed Frank Marino’s Mahogany Rush before eventually evolving into just Frank Marino in the 1980s.
I bought, and greatly enjoyed, Strange Universe but lost track of the band after that. Their Hendrix inspired sound captured my interest for a moment but they did not have enough originality to hold my interest over the long haul.
Welcome to day two of our multi-day Canada Day music celebration. Today we will highlight a group called Lighthouse.
In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s bands with large horn sections were huge ( think Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Chicago, The Ides Of March, etc.) Canada had its own horn driven band named Lighthouse and they were actually my favorites for this genre of music.
Lighthouse was formed in Toronto in 1968 but I really didn’t get into them until their 1971 album named One Fine Morning. I absolutely feel in love with the title song from that album. Let’s listen……
What an amazing song.
Lighthouse followed up One Fine Morning with a 1972 double album live set recorded at Carnegie Hall. Here is a cut from that album called Old Man that really gives you a sense of of their musical chops.
Their next studio album, Sunny Days, was also released in 1972. This album features some really fine music, including my favorite track called Broken Guitar Blues. I think you will like it…..
Lighthouse and I drifted apart after Sunny Days. The group broke up in the mid-1970s after producing a couple more studio albums. I understand that a version of the band regrouped in the 1990s and still performs live.
Before we end this post, I want to leave you with one interesting footnote about Lighthouse. The band’s original alto sax player was Howard Shore and he went on to do great things after his time with Lighthouse. He was a long time musical director on the Saturday Night Live Show in the 70s and went on to became a composer of film scores. He is probably best know as the composer of the music for the Lord of the Rings trilogy for which he won three Academy awards.
Happy Canada Day! We kickoff our multi-day celebration of Canadian music with a group called April Wine!
April Wine formed in 1969 and initially caught my attention in in 1971 with a very catchy song called Could Have Been A Lady. Let’s listen…….
You have to love that guitar!
I kind of lost track of them for the rest of the 70’s but they once again caught my attention in 1981 with a song called Just Between You And Me. See what you think….
I completely lost track of April Wine after 1981 but based on a little recent research I am happy to report that they seem to still be a major concert draw in Canada. If you haven’t heard of April Wine before I highly recommend that you check them out, especially their early stuff. There are a number of greatest hits type collections that would be a good starting point. More great Canadian music tomorrow.