Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

In Search of the Lost Chord – Moody Blues [#625]

Drugs are bad, or so South Park’s Mr Mackey says. But as anyone who really remembers the sixties will tell you, drugs make the music go weirder and In Search of the Lost Chord pretty much demonstrates this.

The third Moody Blues album. A mix of proto-prog and fully-fledged prog laced generously with that British pop sound synonymous with the late 1960s as heard on contemporaneous bands like the Kinks and The Lemon Tree. Though many will deny they did, young, up and coming youth influencing popsters at this time were experimenting with LSD and other psychedelics, indeed, the music these artists produced was much more multidimensional than the offerings we receive from present-day artists. Moreover, music from the time often made reference to historical and literary characters, furthermore, contemporary popular ideologists and figureheads like Timothy Leary featured prominently and, indeed, hidden, within the lyrics and art produced at the time.

These days the most we can expect from popular music artists is a reference to whichever corporation they’re sponsored by and the mere mention of anything semi-political will just kill your career. Indeed, expecting a teenager these days to have a teaspoon of cultural knowledge is often as ridiculous as expecting a bus full of clowns to pull up outside your house on a rainy day in July.

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Hurdy Gurdy Man – Donovan [#600]

Donovan-The_Hurdy_Gurdy_Man

The Hurdy Gurdy Man by Donovan

So you’re a film producer and you are wanting to set the scene of your hippy fest movie set at the height of the 1960’s hippy movement. Or maybe you’re just a young person experimenting with retro drugs. Or perhaps you’re just old looking, with mad long Gandalf hair and matching beard dressing in army fatigues. Chances are you’re using the title song of this album to project some kind of ennui.

While Jim Morrison was riding on his storm and Hendrix was wanking his guitar. Manson and his family murdering people and John Paul George and Ringo were discovering drugs, Scottish folk artist Donovan was writing far-out folk tunes like some sort of Scottish Bob Dylan.

Legend has it that Donovan wrote the eponymous title track for his pal Mac Macleod and his band Hurdy Gurdy. However other sources, mostly Wikipedia and Donovan himself, say the song was written whilst visiting mystics in the Indian subcontinent with John Lennon, George Harrison, Mia Farrow and possibly every other Tom Dick and Harry from the music and art scenes at the time. Moreover, Donovan has performed the song with a verse he claims Harrison wrote for him so I guess there’s some truth in that.

When I obtained the album I was exploring music from the sixties looking for artists and albums I had possibly overlooked. I was already familiar with the title song so was interested in hearing other works by Donovan to see if there was any “connection”.  Sadly there wasn’t but I’ve kept it in my library purely for the “just in case” option.

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Electric Ladyland – Jimi Hendrix [#419]

220px-Jimi_Hendrix_-_Electric_LadylandDespite dying in 1970, Hendrix has this reputation for being an innovation if not the best guitarist in history. I’ve asked several respected musicians the “Who would you invite for dinner?” question and most of them say Jimi Hendrix.

But hey, guess what, I don’t agree. There are other far more talented non-mainstream guitarists around at the time and in present day who people seem to forget about. In my opinion, if it wasn’t for the whole Woodstock thing, Hendrix would still be seen as a mediocre artist with little but a couple of songs to see him into retirement.

Electric Ladyland is Hendrix’s third and final album. This is the one with all the tracks everyone associates with Hendrix on it, Voodoo Chile, All Along the Watchtower and Crosstown Traffic to name but a few.
At one point in the late sixties/early seventies, to own this album would have held you in high regard amongst your music loving friends, much like how owning a copy of Jeff Waynes War of the Worlds or Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells shows you’re part of an elite music loving club. You might have gathered with friends in your new town home wearing your cheesecloth and manly moustache like some sort of cast line up for the musical Hair or porn film. While congregating with your associates, you might have popped Electric Ladyland onto your gramophone with a mayonnaise like smoothness and smoked Woodbines, talking about socialist politics.

Just before the power cut.

 

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Dream Letter (Live in London) – Tim Buckley [#389]

A live recording of Tim Buckley in London in 1968220px-DreamLetterLive.

Having heard Buckley’s Dolphins and Happy Time at a time when my contemporaries were exploring the joys of Buckley’s contemporaries such as Creedence Clearwater and Airport, I was, of course, going to see what all the fuss was about Tim Buckley.

Drug adulation, tragedy and too much vibraphone, that’s what.

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Original Soundtrack(#268)

Chitty Chitty Bang BangChitty Chitty Bang Bang – Original Soundtrack

As the family film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was out several years before I was born by the time I was old enough to really appreciate it it was being shown on the telly regularly.  Just thinking about the film counjures up evocative memories of laying in front of the telly on Bank Holiday Mondays and Easter afternoons, the precious extra spare time before being back at school again.
 
Like any musical of the time it has a big impressive sound, written to be experienced on the silver screen, and from the style it feels like it could actually have been made any time between about 1930 and 1975.
Despite not having seen the film for about 30 years I found that when I listened to it I could cheerfully sing along with 90%+ accuracy to the entire album, which is just how it should be for a kiddy film.  The songs took me straight back to the feelings it created, fear for the characters – would Truly get found out as she pretended she was a music box figure? Or the rousing chorus of the onomatopoeic title track Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the thrill of seeing this characterful old car fly or float.
 
It is impossible to separate the film from the soundtrack, so I apologise if this seems to have had too much film and not enough music,  but I challenge you not to do the same in my shoes.  
I’ve put the track listing below, why not have a nostalgic little hum along to yourself?
  1. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” – Caractacus Potts, Jemima, Jeremy and Truly
  2. Truly Scrumptious” – Jemima, Jeremy and Truly
  3. Hushabye Mountain” – Mr. Potts and Truly
  4. Me Ol’ Bamboo” – Mr. Potts and chorus
  5. Toot Sweets” – Mr. Potts and Truly
  6. The Roses of Success” – Grandpa Potts and Inventors
  7. Lovely Lonely Man” – Truly
  8. You Two” – Potts, Jemima and Jeremy
  9. Chu-Chi Face” – Baron and Baroness Bomburst
  10. Posh!” – Grandpa Potts
  11. Doll on a Music Box” – Truly
  12. Doll on a Music Box / Truly Scrumptious” – Truly and Mr. Potts
  13. Come to the Funfair

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Music Project–Album #41–A Saucerful of Secrets–Pink Floyd

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A Saucerful of Secrets–Pink Floyd

Album 40 was A Saucerful of Pink one of the many Floyd tribute albums. This, however, is the real deal. The second Floyd album and the first without Syd Barratt, although he did write the track Jugband Blues, which features on this album.

 

It shows as early Floyd. Bizarre lyrics, lots of moog and weirdness. Just my cup of tea.

It’s also interesting to contrast albums from this era of Floyd to later eras such as A Momentary Lapse of Reason.

See, if it was this, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Ummagumma that was my introduction to Floyd, I would have gotten into them a lot earlier. It’s so far away from The Wall it’s practically down the garden path, across the road and under the tree in the neighbouring field. Right up my street.

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Music Project – Album #19 – 2001: A Space Odyssey – Original Soundtrack

2001: A Space Odyssey – Various Artists (Original Soundtrack)

As a child I thought 2001 was boring. Too much talk. Not enough lasers or explosions. And what was that thing about the huge slabs of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk in space about? And why was Rigsby talking with a Russian accent? But hey! Look at all that cool stuff we’ll have in 2001! Holidays in space, floaty pens and Commodore 64s will have huge red lights and be able to kill you. Wow.

As a twenty something, 2001 became the wall paper for mind experiments. Mostly to do with the weird bits at the end. A chap I knew edited the weird trippy hyperspace sequence at the end into a 3 hour stoner flick complete with far out music. Suffice to say, his place was popular with hippies and tourists of the ether on a Friday night after the pubs had closed.

The soundtrack for 2001 is a mix of familiar classical Strauss waltzes interspersed with more unusual Modernist works by Gyorgy Ligeti. Ligeti, you might recall, is a progenitor of the atmospheric style of music. Eerie chanting choirs (they chant “Eeee” and nothing more) are part of the course with Ligeti and sections of his Requiem provide further feelings of unease and suspense. It’s amazing what music can do isn’t it? Some might think of six minutes of people going “eeeeee” discordantly would be torture, while others listen through the surface and deep below feeling the pulses and rhythms on an almost synesthesic level.

On reflection I seem to recall one of my brothers having the 2001 soundtrack when I was a child. I’m certain my mum insisted that he did not play the album when I was around as it might be too scary. It probably was, but I’m sure the continuous playing during my early years, altered my mind on some level, meaning I can appreciate atmospheric, true industrial, noise and rhythmic genres on a significantly different level.

Or perhaps has given me the ability to spout shite.

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