Thursday, February 20, 2014

Significant Albums: Jerry Goodman and Jan Hammer - Like Children (1974)

File:Like Children.jpeg

Odd enough in the random numbers this record comes up right after another record from 1974 in Yes's Relayer. Maybe 1974 was the year of Jazz-Rock? lol

Anyway, this album I find to be the best thing any of the members of Mahavishnu Orchestra have ever done. Even though a few of the songs were recorded on what ended up as The Lost Trident Sessions, and performed live with Mahavishnu on Between Nothingness and Eternity. The stuff on here, and those versions of "Stepping Tones," "Sister Andrea," and "I Wonder," I prefer. There is something about the less-is-more and clean production on this record which always wins me over.

My friend Creighton once brought this album down to KFAI and played 4 or 5 cuts off of it on the air. He didn't mention who it was until after playing them. And I will never forget how much he stressed in finding a copy of it, at the now long since gone, record store in St.Paul, MN (the store might have been called "One Stop Music Shop"? but I'm not certain). He mentioned how shocked he was to find it, and thought he'd never see a copy after his friend Tim had showed him it years before.

I'm not sure entirely how rare it was, but it certainly is less well known than most of the classic Mahavishnu records.

I guess as much as I love John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham especially, there is something incredibly warm and vintage about the way Jan Hammer and Jerry Goodman not only were featured on their primary instruments (keys and violin), but also Hammer on drums and Goodman on guitars. They fit each piece so well. And the production, both the original and the remaster, I just am in awe how clean and clear it is.

The songs themselves: "Country and Eastern Music" is a rocker that even the vocals stand out in many ways.

Like Children....., they are free to be up or down...
Dance to Country and Eastern Music, Feel the sweet balance of Life!..

I adore not only Hammer's moog synths on this track, but that gunning guitar riff is really ballsy. Also the bass line, which may be from Mahavishnu's Rick Laird, as I know he plays on some of this album, but which tracks specifically? I'd have to look it up.

Some of my other favorites include "Earth Still Our Home," "No Fear," "Stepping Tones," "Full Moon Boogie" and the closing track "Giving in Gently/I Wonder" is a favorite.  The walking piano on "I Wonder" I totally love. And Goodman's guitar part more or less takes some of what McLaughlin did on the Mahavishnu version, and made it his own.

This album can sound a little bit like a 70's hippie record; but with some tight compositions, that are both laden in Jazz and Rock (or prog). But it has its funky side, it's dynamics, its textures. Yet, it always sounds stripped down in a good way.

Maybe it was like if you took Mahavishnu or Return to Forever, and isolated a lot of the great melodic and harmonic ideas, and added some adequate vocal lines. When I listen to it, I feel like I'm living in 1974, hanging out at the lake on a sunny afternoon in July. Looking at a river, or a garden or a meadow or something, and am at peace. It really is a record I find is bright in tone and mood. Could drugs have made some impact on it? sure, perhaps, but what music being made in 1974 didn't?

And while I do enjoy a lot of the other Mahavishnu records and related works, I just find this album stands out as a blend of their sound and other influences in great way. Is it dated? some probably feel that's the case, but the remastering job I find does help alleviate some of that.