Saturday, August 22, 2015

Retro Favorite Albums: 1973

1973, a year where progressive rock seemed to be flourishing and many bands made double albums and noteworthy live records.

Also many debut albums came out. Many in the jazz-rock style, which is closely related to progressive rock which is understandable.

1973 I suppose doesn't include a high number of all-time favorites for me, but it does have a lot of records I would rank high among the bands/artists respective catalogs.

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Bruce Springsteen - Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ
rel January 5, 1973
The Springsteen debut record, which I have a fondness for the 70's Springsteen, and while this was hardly his best record even from the 70's, I do recall enjoying a lot of this. It does include "Blinded By the Light" which of course Manfred Mann later covered and made famous.

Also "For You" "Spirit in the Night"and "Growin' Up" more notably.

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Rick Wakeman - The Six Wives of Henry VIII
rel January 23,1973

Rick's solo debut album that honestly, I have meant to check out for awhile now, but have yet to. If I'm not mistaken, this is the 1st of the Yes-members solo records. And among Rick's solo albums, this is considered by many his best.  Bill Bruford, Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White among many others, all play on this.

I guess musically, it does go into more symphonic/classical/classically arranged instrumental music.

A prism refracting white light into a rainbow on a black background
Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon
rel March 1, 1973

Maybe the most famous record in Rock and Roll history, sans for maybe Sgt Peppers. I have a love/overrated relationship with Dark Side. On 1 hand, it's constantly mentioned as Floyd's best record, and maybe the most influential album in Rock history, or at least of the 70's. On the other hand, I can't help but still love a ton of it, even though more or less all of it ended up on the radio. And overplayed.

I guess at face value, I can't deny I have teared up while listening to it, and have a huge amount of nostalgia for it. "Time" probably remains my favorite track. The vocal harmonies from Clare Tory on "The Great Gig in the Sky" are perfectly sang and composed. The emotion is through the roof.

And I'll not deny, as coincidental as it is, The Wizard of Oz sync thing is, it is cool and the fact Oz is my favorite movie doesn't hurt.

"Us and Them" "On the Run" "Brain Damage" "Breathe" "Any Colour You Like" all work in terms of the music and especially how they segue from 1 part to the next.

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King Crimson - Larks' Tongue in Aspic
rel March 23, 1973

I waiver, but sometimes I regard this as my favorite Crimson record. It is the 1st album with both Bill Bruford and John Wetton (and David Cross I believe). The Title track/suite which bookends the album,is quite the multi-part piece, that Crimson maybe never composed better.

David Cross's violin and mellotron do add a lot.

"Easy Money" and "Talking Drum" are also highlights.

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Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy
rel March 28, 1973

From memory, this was the very 1st Led Zeppelin album I bought, on cassette tape of course, sometime during the Fall/Winter or Spring of 1990-1991, as it was around that time I first heard Zeppelin.

And I do still to this day, love a lot of this album, and totally know why it was a gateway to Classic Rock and progressive rock for me.

Track wise, the entire A-side I love."Song Remains the Same" "The Rain Song" "Over the Hills and Far Away" (this one I've found to be an overlooked gem, and a lot better than many of the radio tracks on LZ IV. "I live for my dreams and a pocket full of gold") and even "The Crunge" which was originally a song I was annoyed by, but totally grew to love.

The 2nd-side I find is hit and miss. "No Quarter" is an awesome, epic, proggy track, that actually sounds more like Pink Floyd, than Zeppelin in a lot of ways, and totally features Jonesy.

"Dancing Days" I suppose is a bit like "The Crunge," in that I don't love it, but find it holds up enough to still like. "Dyer Maker" and "The Ocean" much to do with radio play, I'm not as crazy about. "The Ocean" I used to love, and still can listen to, but I grew a little tired of. And "Dyer Maker" is just an odd number for Zeppelin, slow, and the whole "oh oh oh oh oh oh ohhhhh, you don't have to go" etc.

In a rather deep year and approaching the peak of progressive rock's 1st wave, this record certainly compares and likely would find my top 10-15. And for nostalgia sake, it was the 1st album from the 1st band I ever loved, which adds some extra value for it.

Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds of Fire
rel March 29, 1973
The 2nd Mahavishnu record, at least under the classic lineup. I do enjoy this record, and find it to be close to as enjoyable as their previous LP., The Inner Mounting Flame. But I'll admit to not listening to it in many years (although I do have a copy on vinyl of course).

The highlights from memory are the title track and the 2nd number "Miles Beyond (Miles Davis)" which was dedicated to Miles Davis. Also the 2 tracks that open the 2nd side "One Word" and "Sanctuary."

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Yes - Yessongs
rel May 18, 1973

A triple live album from Yes, which captured much of what many regard as their peak, and their peak live.

Some fantastic live arrangements of many of The Yes Album-through-Close to the Edge material. "Heart of the Sunrise" "Siberian Khatru," "Perpetual Change," and "Yours is no Disgrace," among my favorites.

I remember when I 1st heard this album and questioning if I'd enjoy the live versions as much or more, and I concluded they are actually better and more adventurous.

And it does include Bill Bruford on "Perpetual Change" and "Long Distance Runaround"/"The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)."

This is definitely one of my favorite live albums ever, from a band who I revere the work they did in the studio.

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Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells
rel May 25, 1973

A classic debut album, that most associate with the soundtrack to the film The Exorcist of course. I remember enjoying it a fair amount when I checked it out from the library. It does work as one (or two) flowing pieces of music. Rather trippy and dreamy, but also dark at times, per why it works so well with the film.

Hardly an album I ever got addicted to, but at the same time, its notoriety and influence is very understandable.

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Gong - Flying Teapot
rel May 25, 1973

Gong are a band I know of, and have heard music from here and there, namely per my friends John and Tom being huge fans. I found a copy of this a number of years ago at Cheapo in Minneapolis and knowing it was Gong and the way it looked, I couldn't pass it up. I'm not sure how rare it was then or still is now, but I ended up selling it to Tom from memory, given how much he loves them and desired to own this album.

But I did give it a few go's I recall and recall is was pretty cool and trippy. Sort of in the spacerock vein from memory.

Notably, Daevid Allen and Steve Hillage were on the Gong roster at this point (I know they've had an assortment of lineup changes throughout their history).

Jethro Tull - A Passion Play
rel July 6, 1973

Probably the 1st Tull album I ever loved. They went from just a classic rock band who I knew some of their hits, to a full-fledged awesome progressive rock band once I got to hear this album.

I adored it for awhile, and considered it their best, until hearing Thick as a Brick. Which now I would put APP just slight below TAAB, but still as a 5-star work.

I do see it like TAAB, as just one extended piece, but among my favorite parts, "The Silver Chord" and "Flight from Lucifer." Even "The Hare that Lost His Spectacles" has its charm and does not get tiring.

Great use of Saxophone again on this record among many of Tull's trademark dynamics and layers of sound.

Would it be my album of the year for 1973? I'm not sure, but as some other bands also put out some fantastic records, but I'm not sure there are too many other 5-stars.

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Queen - Queen
rel July 13, 1973

The Queen debut album, which is one of a handful of Queen records I've grown to love over the years. I guess I usually think of "Keep Yourself Alive" as the big hit from this album. But also songs like "Great King Rat" "Son and Daughter""Liar" "My Fairy King" and even the ending instrumental for "Seven Seas of Rhye" foreshadowing the full version that came on their follow-up LP.

The early Queen I love, and maybe 1 reason for that is they seemed to include elements of Led Zeppelin with a sort of theatrical approach. And of course not only Freddie Mercury's amazing voice, but the vocal lines and harmonies that were so distinct (despite a band like Sweet using them in a similar way, a tad before them).

Carlos Santana, Mahavishnu John McLaughlin - Love Devotion Surrender
rel July 20, 1973

I own this on Vinyl from memory, and by many accounts, it's a great instrumental record. Somewhat in the vein of what Mahavishnu were doing, per even Billy Cobham and Jan Hammer played on some of it.

But how it compares to the Mahavishnu stuff, or Santana's work from that period, I can't say per not having heard it yet.

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Genesis - Genesis Live
rel July 20, 1973

The 1st live Genesis record that is kind of like The Who's Live at Leeds, in that it's really just a sample of their live shows.

The track list includes "The Musical Box" "Hogweed" from Nursery Cryme, and "Watcher" along with "Get em Out By Friday" from Foxtrot. And a live staple from that period in "The Knife" from Trespass.

I do prefer it in a lot of ways to Seconds Out or even Three Sides Live, in that it sounds more raw. But at the same time, having seen The Musical Box (the recreation band), I do feel like I could go for more after hearing it. Especially by comparison to Yessongs which came out just a few months before.

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Styx - Styx II
rel July 1973

Styx's 2nd record, which when I started to get into Styx in the mid-late 90's, was one of my favorites. This record of course features their earliest hit "Lady" which is always a song I've liked, even as much as Classic Rock has played it to death.

But the rest of the record has some others I think of, namely "Earl of Roseland" and "You Need Love" which is quite a catchy track.

Not my favorite Styx record, but certainly one I've always enjoyed and consider one of their better albums.

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Stevie Wonder - Innervisions
rel August 3, 1973

I think of this album for a couple of things. For 1, I recall it was one of the records that was in that Rolling Stone Top 100 Albums 67-87 issue (along with Talking Book I think). Also it was the 1st Stevie record I checked out from the library some a dozen or more years ago.

Its biggest hit being "Higher Ground" (which many have covered, namely the Red Hot Chili Peppers).

"Living for the City" and "Missta Know-It-All" are among the other highlights. From memory, this album includes a fair amount of jazz-jazz-fusion influence, which go figure with the likes of Miles Davis and the spin-offs like Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever doing that kind of stuff as well. Also Herbie Hancock's Headhunters record just a couple months later.

Bruce Springsteen - The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle
rel September 11, 1973

While I enjoy a fair amount of Asbury Park, this record I found to be a pretty decent step-up for Bruce. It includes the addictive and infectious hit "Rosalita (Come out Tonight)" which with its narrative lyrics, flow and melody, I still enjoy to this day. Clarence Clemons has a terrific sax solo on that track of course.

The rest of this record though, I totally grew to love, with some of its almost jazz-rock elements.
The highlights including "Kitty's Back," "Wild Billy's Circus Story" "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" "Incident on 57th Street" and "The E Street Shuffle."

Even the closing ballad "New York City Serenade" has a lot of charm to it.

I find this album underrated by many and overlooked. Even though it's not my favorite Bruce record, I sometimes lean towards it as a go-to. It includes jazz-rock virtuoso David Sancious and Danny Federici among many. The use of keys and piano on Bruce's 70's work has always been a big part of why I enjoyed his music.

And the Summer of 1995 I was totally falling for Springsteen and this album was certainly one of the records I had in regular rotation then.

Gentle Giant - In a Glass House
rel September 1973

Another Gentle Giant album I know as one of their better albums per reputation, that I've meant to check out, but have yet to.  A concept record of sorts about people living in a glass house.

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Billy Cobham - Spectrum
rel October 1, 1973

After 2 Mahavishnu albums and guesting on the Santana/McLaughlin record, Billy put out his 1st solo record, which I do own and enjoy quite a bit.

"Quadrant 4," "Stratus," and title track are my favorite parts.

Among the guests, Tommy Bolin, who had played with James Gang and went on to Deep Purple briefly before he died in 1976.

Jan Hammer (from Mahavishnu), Ron Carter and Joe Farrell, who I know for his work on the early Return to Forever albums.

One of the classic Jazz-Rock albums of the 70's.

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Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
rel October 5, 1973

Probably Elton John's most well known and influential record. I remember nearly buying the deluxe edition on CD like 13 years ago, and putting it back on the shelf at Cheapo, and later regretting it as it includes a lot of extras and a documentary I think.

It does have a number of hits that I still enjoy. The title track and it's nahhhhh nahhhhh nahhh vocal lines and the "dogs of society howwwwwwwwwl. To stuff like "Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" which features the guitar work from Davey Johnstone. Elton's songs always are driven by piano and his vocals, but on the opening suite on this album, Johnstone kind of steals a lot of the thunder. It rocks rather hard, which was not typical for Elton, but also follows why both Dream Theater and Toy Matinee both covered it live.

This is a double album,so like many, it includes a lot of tracks I don't have much memory about. But among the ones, radio hits like "Bennie and the Jets" and "Saturday Nights Are Alright for Fighting," and "Candle in the Wind" which of course became more well-known when it was played for Princess Diana when she died in the mid 90's.

Genesis - Selling England By the Pound
rel October 12, 1973

Another classic progressive rock record from Genesis and the Peter Gabriel period. I do love this record (and actually am currently sporting the t-shirt right now as I type this). I find this album the most accessible Gabriel record i.e. a good starting point to get into the Gabriel-Genesis (like Fragile from Yes).

From the wonderful opening track "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight" and its crescendo and Steve Hackett's signature tapping, to maybe the poppiest Gabriel-Genesis track ever in "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)"'s 1 o'clock, time for lunch, dum-dee-dum......Getting better! in your wardrobe! stepping beyond your showwwwww"

I sometimes used to play that tune before lunch, lol.

"Firth of Fifth" might be the signature progressive rock composition for piano and even for guitar in some ways. Iconic piano lead, and soaring guitar solo.

And the lyrics are both narrative and poetic.
The path is clear
Though no eyes can see
The course laid down long before.
And so with gods and men
The sheep remain inside their pen,
Though many times theyve seen the way to leave.

The 2nd side includes 2 of the best tracks Genesis ever recorded. 1 being the odd "The Battle of Epping Forest" which initially I struggled with, but like many, I grew to appreciate. The whole story and narrative about the different people or members of 2 rival gangs I guess. There's a lot of character-driven vocals/voices from Peter Gabriel, which was really odd to hear at 1st, but somehow ends up working.

One passage:
With his kisser in a mess, Bob seems under stress,
but Jones the Jug hits Len right in the mug;
and Harold Demure, who's still not quite sure,
fires acorns from out of his sling.
(Here come the cavalry!)

Tony Banks has quite a cool, soothing keyboard lead right after that line about the cavalry.

The other is "The Cinema Show" which I can honestly say could have been the track that made me a Genesis fan (after initially not taking all that much to the Gabriel stuff, sans for "In the Cage" per starting with The Lamb).

I adore The Cinema Show. The way it glides along gracefully. Mid-tempo. Gabriel's vocals and less-is-more poetic words.

Take a little trip back with father Tiresias, 
Listen to the old one speak of all he has lived through. 
I have crossed between the poles,
for me there's no mystery. 
Once a man, like the sea I raged, 
Once a woman, like the earth I gave. 
There is in fact more earth than sea.

and then the leading to the keyboard/guitar doubling. The climax is godly. Tony Banks has never used harmonics better and the patches are some of my favorite keyboard tones in rock history.  In some ways, this is maybe my favorite song they ever recorded, and one of my favorite songs period. I would put it along side the likes of "Heart of the Sunrise" from Yes and "Natural Science" from Rush as being perfect progressive rock songs. Every second works and is in it for a reason (good reason).

Overall, Selling England is one of my favorites and I do rate it at 5-stars, although within '73, it's really tough to say if it would have beat out A Passion Play and some others. But it certainly adds to the strength and depth of 1973.

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Herbie Hancock - Headhunters
rel October 26, 1973

Very cool, funky jazz-rock record. This is really the only Herbie record I have ever spent much time with and enjoyed. I knew "Rockit" from the 80's of course. But this album is a trip and a jam. "Watermelon Man" is probably the song it's most known for. That ear-worm with the funky fat synth is infectious.

The opening 15+ minute piece "Chameleon" is excellent. "Sly" and "Vein Melter" also feature some wonderful moments.

Always been a favorite among my taste for jazz-rock and certainly 1 of the better albums of '73.

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The Who - Quadrophenia
rel October 28, 1973

Quadrophenia is my favorite album from The Who. Their 2nd double LP if I'm not mistaken. It is 4-sides, each side supposedly representing 1 of the members of the band.

When I 1st checked it out, I think maybe the biggest thing that stood out were Pete Townshend's use of synthesizers. There's a fair amount of cool, melodic, symphonic synths used on many tracks on this album. It really seemed as 1 newly emphasized element to The Who's sound, which almost reminded me of progressive rock.

My favorites:
"The Real Me" and its great groove-led bassline along with the horn parts.
"The Punk and the Godfather"
The Townshend featured "I'm One"
"Sea and Sand"
"Bell Boy" even as odd as the Keith Moon voiced dialogue can get.
"Doctor Jimmy"
"Love Reign o'er Me" which as epic as The Who ever got. It's really an anthem and very spiritual. Daltrey and Townshend never complemented each other better.

Where Tommy seemed to take and emphasize the *Opera* part of "Rock-Opera," to seem almost like a play and rather melodramatic, Quadrophenia seemed to work better in that telling a story but not creating songs so narrative and dialogue-based.

The whole Mods vs the Rockers and Jimmy and the motorcycle-gang culture he gets mixed up in.

And I actually do like the film adaptation which came out many years later, which included among others, Sting..

John Lennon - Mind Games
rel October 29, 1973

Another John Lennon record, that I know almost entirely from the title track, which is one of his best.

Renaissance - Ashes Are Burning
rel October 1973

The 2nd Renaissance record with Annie Haslam, and certainly the 1st one where they seemed to truly dive into progressive rock. This is not my favorite Renaissance album, but it is certainly one of my favorites.

My favorite tracks being the opening 9+ minute "Can You Understand?" and the closing epic title track. Love the basslines on that one especially. "Carpet of the Sun" was a semi-successful pop number; "Let it Grow" and "On the Frontier" I enjoy the folk-rock elements especially.

And "At the Harbour" also adds more to this record.

Not likely an album of the year, but definitely a top 10 record for '73, a year that included a ton of favorites.

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Premiata Forneria Marconi - Photos of Ghosts
rel October 1973

This may be the most well-known and successful PFM record, and Italian prog album of the 70's, likely due to the popularity of probably PFM's most well known tune, "Celebration."

The rest of this record I know somewhat from memory when I checked out PFM over 10 years ago. And I do own a copy on Vinyl in fact, but more revisiting would be good for me to do at some point.

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Michael Nesmith - Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash
rel October 1973

One of if not Nez's most unknown/undermentioned records, but for those who know it, many like it. It does include "Some of Shelly's Blues" which was written while in The Monkees.

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Billy Joel - Piano Man
rel November 9, 1973

Billy Joel's 2nd album, that of course features the title track, which I do like, although I liked it more when I 1st heard. It does come across kind of as a beer-guzzling tune, but it works on a melodic level still. That one and "Captain Jack" I know and enjoy.

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Mahavishnu Orchestra - From Nothingness to Eternity
rel November 16, 1973

A 40+ minute live album, that much of it includes material that was unreleased. I do enjoy this, as I find it is some of the best music Mahavishnu ever wrote, but I'll admit to favoring the studio version on both The Lost Trident Sessions which were released decades later, and of course "Sister Andrea" and at least 1 or 2 passages from "Dream" I think, were used on Like Children from Jerry Goodman and Jan Hammer.

But I'll admit, 1973 saw some pretty good live records with Yessongs, Genesis Live and this.

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Emerson Lake and Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery
rel November 19, 1973

This was the 1st ELP record I remember getting. The cover art was appealing and curious and I still feel is as appealing a part of this album, as the music.

The music though, I mainly think of it for the "Karn Evil 9" Suite.

Come inside, the show's about to start
Guaranteed to blow your head apart
Rest assured you'll get your money's worth
Greatest show in Heaven, Hell or Earth
You've got to see the show, it's a dynamo
You've got to see the show, it's rock and roll, oh

The whole thing works pretty well as a suite, even though I don't lean towards it as much as Tarkus, as far as ELP epics go. But overall, the dynamics and longer sections don't meander too much for my taste.

It also does include some of their better shorter tunes like "Toccata" and especially "Jerusalem."

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Nektar - Remember the Future
rel November 23, 1973

Like Tull and some others like Oldfield even, this is another 2-piece, 2-sides LP. A suite very much in the progressive rock tradition, or at the time, standard/almost trend.

I know among Nektar's catalog, this is 1 of the more favorable albums, and I've seen them live a few times, so it's certainly likely includes some stuff I've heard before. But like many of Nektar's records, more time is required for me.

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Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
rel December 1, 1973

The title track is 1 of my favorite Sabbath tracks, and quite progressive. This album does also include the services of Rick Wakeman, which maybe suggests why there may be an extra prog element to it.

"Spiral Architect" is among the other notables songs, of course I always think of the late 90's prog metal band of that name, who must have been pretty big fans.

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Paul McCartney and Wings - Band on the Run
rel December 5, 1973

Like Billy Joel and John Lennon, this album I guess I think of for the title track, which seems to be played on KOOL 108 about every 3rd hour, but be it as that may, it's still a terrific tune and progressive in a lot of ways.

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Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans
rel December 14, 1973

4 songs, 20-minutes a piece, approximately. Soft Machine did more or less the same thing with Third a couple of years earlier. I'm not sure how much or if I prefer the Soft Machine record more or even enjoy it as much as Tales, but I will say, the best moments on this album, are some of the best Yes music ever created.

And this actually was the 1st Yes album I ever checked out, and for that reason, I was turned off and it took a few years before I fully got to enjoying Yes.

But as this album is, of the 4 20-minute epics, I enjoy 3 of them more or less start-to-finish. "Revealing Science of God," "The Remembering," and especially "Ritual."

"Ritual" has that amazing chorus with the hook "doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo-doo-doo-doo...doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo-doo-doo-doo...doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo-doo-doo-doo"

"Nous Somme Du Soleil..We love when we play"..also is memorable on it, along with the extended drums/percussion solo.

Revealing Science has those verses that go back and forth which I usually think of. Also for some reason a lot of Steve Howe's guitar work reminds me of some of the music on the original Star Trek series, namely when Kirk is trying to woo some alien woman.

"The Remembering" I guess I enjoy each time I hear it, and it does flow well, but doesn't have quite as many standout sections. But still, a piece I grew to really enjoy.

"The Ancient" though, I have tried and tried to like, and I do enjoy some of, but mainly because not only how odd tonally and the structure of so much of it, it just meanders and comes across as an unfocused mess. Almost like Free Jazz in some ways.

I do own a DJ vinyl copy of Tales with movement breaks, and I ought to try listening to "The Ancient" per that version and just edit out the extensive/long boring sections, and put it with the other 3 and Tales would probably rank among my top 3 Yes albums.

Chick Corea and Return to Forever - Light as a Feather
rel 1973 (recorded October 1972)

One of a couple of RTF records from '73, that I'm unable to find an actual release month for. This is still from the pre-Bill Connors period, so my guess was this was released sometime in the Winter or early Spring.

It does have some notable Chick Corea pieces though in "500 Miles High" "Captain Marvel" and wonderfully charming "Spain."

No guitar, but vocals in fact. from Flora Purim who was married to drummer Airto Moreira at 1 point.

Kind of an underrated record, but RTF without guitar is definitely different.

Return to Forever - Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy
rel 1973 (recorded in August)

As the artwork shows, this is the 1st and I guess only album with guitarist Bill Connors, who I do enjoy and appreciate, but I also can't say I prefer over the amazing Al Di Meola, who came in the next year..

This also is the 1st album with drummer Lenny White, which actually looking at Wikipedia, Steve Gadd was the original drummer RTF had for this stuff, but when Gadd told the guys he didn't want to tour with them, they decided to re-record the music with Lenny White.

"Captain Senor Mouse" is probably the signature track as it's become a staple for Chick Corea and RTF. Love the playful-ness on it among other things.

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Carmen - Fandangos in Space
rel 1973

Another jazz-rock album that the information online does not seem to include an actual release month or date. But this is a record that I enjoy and has a bit of a cult-following, at least among progressive rock and fusion fans.

It's really like latin jazz-rock I suppose. I recall when I 1st heard it and read some stuff about it being Flamenco, which I guess it could be described loosely that way.

Among the members of this band, one is bassist John Glasscock who would later go on to join Jethro Tull.