Sunday, September 6, 2015

Retro Favorite Albums: 1974

1974, a very deep year for albums, like pretty much every year in the early and mid 70's.

On the surface, there's a couple of all-time favorites of mine from Yes and a derived project from Mahavishnu Orchestra. It also saw Rush finally put out their debut record, the last record with Peter Gabriel in Genesis, 2 of the better King Crimson albums, and another excellent record from Renaissance. Also 2 of the early Queen records, which are among my favorites in their catalog.

Genesis and Yes albums came out within 10 days of each other in November. And the Rush debut album came out the same day as one of Camel's best records.

It also seemed the prog thing was reaching its peak and jazz-rock also seemed to be really big. Quite a few albums came out with only 2-4 tracks on them, featuring side-length suites of course.

Also there seemed to be a fair amount of rock/pop and art-rock coming into fold, with bands like ELO, Supertramp, Sparks, and 10cc putting out some of the best records of their career in 1974.

Overall, I wouldn't consider '74 quite as top-heavy as '73, but maybe as if not having more depth in quality.

Joni Mitchell - Court and Spark
rel January 1, 1974
I know this album mostly by reputation. I do recall checking it out from the library some 10 or so years ago and enjoying it. I recall with my love for Annie Haslam and Renaissance, I once posted a question to some friends about who the queen of progressive rock is, and while Kate Bush and Annie come to mind, some others like Annette Peacock and those outside of prog circles like Joni and Sandy Denny also came to mind.

This record, and Blue I guess I recall being regarded as her finest works, at least from the early-mid 70's. But my memory of it is vague as I can't name a lot. The track "Help Me" was a top 10 chart hit I guess and in sampling it again, I do recognize it, but maybe not her most well known track.

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Steely Dan - Pretzel Logic
rel February 20, 1974
This is the record that opens with "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" which is one of the better Steely Dan tracks. I guess this is one of those records that has a cool name and cover art, that I've always been curious about, but never gotten around to, even when seeing used copies on vinyl at Half Price Books once in a blue moon.

I suppose like a number of other 70's bands, I like their hits, but could probably enjoy more of their music at the point I get around to hearing their records, and for Steely Dan, Pretzel Logic is likely one (as well as their previous LP Countdown to Ecstasy).

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Deep Purple - Burn
rel February 15, 1974

The 1st Deep Purple record with David Coverdale and I think bassist Glenn Hughes. I know the title track mainly, and I'll admit that I don't prefer Coverdale to Ian Gillan. But this is a record I could go for hearing more from out of curiosity, just for the lineup changes alone.

Tangerine Dream - Phaedra
rel February 20, 1974

Tangerine Dream have a vast and incredibly lengthly catalog of records, and I have never really invested much time with them I'll admit. But Phaedra is by many, regarded as their finest studio work, even for a band who I've always sensed were best experienced live. Ambient, space rock of a sort, that is as much about mood and relaxation, as tone and texture.

The 17+ minute title track makes this record, although I guess the 2nd track "Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares" was released a 7" 45 single as an excerpt (being the full track is nearly 10 minutes).

A record I probably respect more than I love at this point, but I do own a copy on vinyl and consider it their most notable studio album.

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Rush - Rush
rel March 1, 1974
The debut record from Rush, which was the accumulation of about 5 years or more of work and the time Geddy and Alex started playing together. And of course this album had John Rutsey, who shows his talents throughout this album.

I always have enjoyed this album, and when I checked it out, I remember it appealing to me per my love of Led Zeppelin. The heavy blues rock that had a lot of energy and in your face riffs.

On paper, I enjoy every track, even "In the Mood." I guess over time, my favorites became "What You're Doing" "Here Again" and it as a heavy methodical seguing ballad. "Take a Friend" and "Need Some Love."

Along with the 2 staples "Finding My Way" and "Working Man" that I knew from owning Chronicles, the compilation I got from the BMG  music club from memory. I do love the twanging on the solo on "Working Man", and the crescendo. Both of those tracks just rock hard, and are raw yet still sound unique.

My favorite Rush albums did come later, but I have always still loved this album and the early, more Blues-Rock/Zeppelin-like Rush. Even without Neil. Where it compares in '74, not a top 5, but still would have received regular rotation had I been around then.

Camel - Mirage
rel March 1, 1974

Maybe Camel's most iconic record, just for the cover art I suppose, and the cigarette company and packaging similarity. From memory, I have meant-to, but never gotten to this one as well. Although Camel, like some of the other somewhat popular, but still obscure 70's progressive rock bands, I have never been highly impressed by. I'm not sure why, but it's kind of a little soft and many of their ideas I have heard similar things from other bands and enjoyed like Pink Floyd of Genesis.

That being said, I have still felt I should try and give them more time, and this record would likely be 1 of the obvious titles. "White Rider" and "Lady Fantasy" per Wikipedia, this record is known for as well anything else they ever did.

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Queen - Queen II
rel March 8, 1974

This is one of my favorite Queen records, and I find to be a step-up from their debut. It has one of my favorite tracks, and among their most progressive in the 6+ minute "March of the Black Queen." I love the gradual build and the use of falsetto harmonies of course. Probably the best section is the bridge with the

"Aah ah aah
La la la la laa
Ah ah ah ah aah
Ah la la la laa
I reign with my left hand, I rule with my right
I'm lord of all darkness, I'm Queen of the night
I've got the power - now do the march of the Black Queen
My life is in your hands, I'll fo and I'll fie
I'll be what you make me, I'll do what you like
I'll be a bad boy - I'll be your bad boy - I'll do the march of the Black Queen

Ah aah ah aah
Ah aah ah aah
Walking true to style
She's vulgar 'buse and vile
Fie-fo the Black Queen, tattoos all her pies
She boils and she bakes, and she never dots her "I's"

But even beyond that, this record includes the full "Seven Seas of Rhye," 'White Queen (as it began)," "Father to Son," "Ogre Battle," and even "The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke" which features some cool harpsichord.

This is not my favorite Queen record, but it definitely is one I hold in high regard, and was clearly showing a band who was developing their distinct sound from their 1st album, and then where they would go with their next couple of albums especially.

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Frank Zappa - Apostrophe (')
rel March 22, 1974
Some consider this one of Zappa's best records, and I guess per Wiki, it was his most successful studio album in the States.

"Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" is the one track I recognize among the track list. "Watch Out Where the Huskies Go, Don't Let Them Eat That Yellow Snow" which in just sampling, has a suite and segues nicely into "Nanook Rubs It" and then "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast" and basically all of Side A.

I would imagine, like many of his records, this is one I could grow to love. Very much less and more is more, as he was still doing enough of the clever fusion stuff.

Weather Report - Mysterious Traveller
rel March 24, 1974

This is I know, considered one of the better Weather Report records, including the title track. Even though Jaco Pastorius had not joined the band yet. Alphonso Johnson was no slouch.

"Cucumber Slumber" is a track I know best from the Live and Unreleased record which didn't even come out until 2001, and does include Jaco.

Although in sampling it, it seems much of it is more methodical and almost ambient at points. I suppose Joseph Zawinul was driving the band's sound more in that mid or slower tempo mode, and less dynamic as they would get with Jaco.

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King Crimson - Starless and Bible Black
rel March 29, 1974

The 2nd album with Wetton and Bruford, and I do own this record on vinyl, but do not know it incredibly well. I do recognize tracks like "The Great Deceiver" and "The Night Watch" for what I recall are live bootlegs and/or boxed sets or compilations. I forget.

It also includes the title track, which is instrumental, and I recall has a connection with the track "Starless" at least, which came later in 1974 on Red of course. And actually, it probably shares as much if not more in common with "Red" the song in it's subtle dynamics.

In Sampling: I do know "The Night Watch" as it's one of the better Wetton-era pieces. In fact, I recall rather enjoying it as much as most of my favorite Crimson tracks. Love the narrative with Wetton vocals and Fripp's sad and melodic guitar lines. And David Cross's violin refrains are a great complement.

"Fracture" is another track I recognize the title, but am not highly familiar with. And in sampling, the other tracks don't grab me as much as the rest of the record, but I could also see enjoying them with more play. But for now, I would probably rank this 3rd among this era of Crimson, but still a record with a lot of good work.

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Kansas - Kansas
rel March 1974
The debut Kansas record, that I honestly probably know better than I realize and I do own on Vinyl. A lot of it was covered in the new documentary I saw a few months ago, even just how they found the cover art.

But from a name standpoint, "Journey From Mariabronn" is the standout track on here. Great interplay between the fiddle and keyboards namely. And one they frequently played live, that was probably even better.

I own the Singles Boxed Set, and I'm sure it includes "Can I Tell You" and "Bringing it Back" and likely "Lonely Wind," it's just been years since I played that thing.

Also the last 2 7 and 9-minute plus tracks "Apercu" and "Death of a Mother Nature Suite" stand out in some ways, as more extended pieces.

Not my favorite Kansas record, but still a good one, which I consider all their 70's albums quite good.

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Triumvirat - Illusions on a Double Dimple
rel March 1974
German band like ELP.

This is I guess considered Triumvirat's best or at least many see it as their most well-known record. I know this band, mainly per name as they have been name dropped off and on within progressive rock forums for years.

They are more or less Germany's answer to ELP, but like some of the Italian progressive rock bands of this time especially, regarded as pretty good and enjoyable, even if their sound may not be incredibly original.

This record is 2 20+ minute pieces, that I don't have time right now to even sample. But this is on my wishlist and one I think I will try and check out in the near future.

Renaissance - Turn of the Cards
rel May 1974

Another great Renaissance record, and like Led Zeppelin, supports them being one of the most consistent bands in the 70's. It is filled with favorites, from the dreamy and almost gothic "Black Flame" which includes what sounds like an oboe part (although it may just be a keyboard patch).

"Running Hard" and "I Think of You" as well, as I always like the rhythms and lead bass-lines from Jon Camp on those.

And "Mother Russia" is very much a suite of sorts, with of course I always think of Winter and the grandiose, epic nature of a symphony or a journey within the snow; possibly a blizzard or something, journeying up to a castle or something.

It's a great closing piece. Annie sounds wonderful of course.

The only track not ringing a bell is the 9+ minute "Things I Don't Undetrstand" for some reason, but I remember enjoying every track on this album, the last time I listened to it. But a revisiting of that one may be in order soon (and possibly an edit, as it very easily could be one of those album-based tracks I love, but don't recall as well because I don't remember it being played live or on 1 of the compilations I have).

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Sparks - Kimono My House
rel May 1974

I guess this album and the one they released later in the year Propaganda, are among the best Sparks records. I'm sampling it right now and I must say, I hear a lot of things to like with it. Poppy, and energetic. The Apes and Androids comparison does fit at points, although it does sound of its time in there is a clear 70's rock vibe.

The opening track "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us" is almost like Queen meets T-Rex or something, and I could totally hear someone like Amanda Palmer covering it. I would say the same about the 2nd track "Amateur Hour." Catchy, energetic, playful, and glamorous style vocals. Like Bowie or Freddie Mercury.

I could see myself becoming a much bigger fan of Sparks, I just have never gotten around to it,. But this along Propaganda seem to be as good of places to start.

10cc - Sheet Music
rel May 1974

Like Sparks and many others (ELO, Dire Straits, Supertramp, Squeeze) 10cc are a band I've known about vaguely for many years. Ever since my friend John compared House of Fools to them, I've been curious about them, but never spent the time to hear their stuff.

And then recently I read in article about Jellyfish in PROG magazine, and Andy Sturmer mentioned being a big fan (along with ELO and some others..ironically, I don't think he mentioned XTC).

But this is considered one of the best 10cc records, so it is one I mean to seek out. I'm sampling it right now and songs like "The Worst Band In The World" and  "The Wall Street Shuffle" I can hear the influence certainly.

I kind of wonder if they ever toured with ELO as their style seems to be somewhat similar. Vocal harmonies, clean guitar lines, and soaring melodies. I suppose they sound a bit like Supertramp as well.

But their lead vocalist is definitely a little different than both Jeff Lynne and Roger Hodgson.

I dunno, I think I could potentially enjoy all 3 of those bands a ton, even though I'm not sure if their sound varies a lot within each record. But the songwriting seems still rather good. And Sheet Music very well could become one of if not my favorites from 10cc.

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Stevie Wonder - Fulfillingness' First Finale
rel July 22, 1974

Of the 4 or so records in Stevie Wonder's classic period, this is definitely the least well-known. And I honestly don't even recall if I got to hear a lot of it.

"Boogie on Reggae Woman" features a lot of fat synths and an extended harmonica solo.

"You Haven't Done Nothin'" almost sounds like "Superstitious" part 2 in some ways. Similar rhythm and keyboard patch.

Interestingly, this album did rather well at the time, as it won a grammy for Album of the Year and was Stevie's first album to top the Pop Albums Chart.

I guess in sampling some of it, it seems like the clear transition album between Innervisions and Songs in the Key of Life.  Some energetic pop/funk, some ballads and some jazz. Although it does seem a lot of the deeper tracks on it are more slowjams and mid tempos. Which having seen all of Songs in the Key of Life live last March, that album does include a fair amount of as well. Those tracks also feature a lot of gang or choir vocals, almost in a gospel way. "It Ain't No Use" maybe being my favorite, as the outro is very uplifting.

Unlikely a favorite Stevie record of mine, but I also follow why it falls into his best period of making albums. Could be a grower.

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Herbie Hancock - Thrust
rel September 6, 1974

Herbie's follow-up to Headhunters, as much as I love that album, I probably owe it to myself to check this one out. It has a similar structure, having 4 tracks between 7 and 11+ minutes.

I guess it has mixed reviews. Some see it as better than Headhunters, but also many found it a step down. I'll have to give it a go at some point to know how I feel.

"Butterfly" I guess was on the live record Flood.

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Gentle Giant - The Power and the Glory
rel September 20, 1974

I do have this on Vinyl, and know it vaguely. Why I say that is I distinctly recall my friend Creighton bringing his copy down to KFAI and playing at least 1 cut off it on the air. And I think he regarded it as his favorite Gentle Giant album. And I have noticed some comments about it at least being one of if not their most underrated album, if not their best.

From the track list, the 1 track that rings a bell is "Cogs in Cogs" from memory.

I dunno, as much as I know some of their others better, my time with GG is still in its infancy, and this could end up becoming a favorite in due time. I've always like the cover art anyway.

Supertramp - Crime of the Century.jpg
Supertramp - Crime of the Century
rel September 1974

This is I guess considered by some, Supertramp's most prog-like record. Although it does include 2 of their biggest hits in "Bloody Well Right" and "Dreamer"

It also has songs like "Rudy" "School" "Asylum" "Hide in Your Shell" and the title track which all clock in well over 5 minutes, which is by pop standards, too long.

I've meant to pick this up, even just on cassette tape soon, just to try and spend some time with this album. Just from sampling it on YouTube, it seems to still include a lot of the Supertramp sound, with harmonica and saxophone, and Rodger Hodgson's vocal lines. Perhaps it uses piano more prominently? ..I guess why it may stand out more than some of their others, I'll have to follow-up this at some point.

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Todd Rundgren's Utopia - Todd Rundgren's Utopia
rel October 4, 1974

I own this record on Vinyl, which is the debut album from Utopia. And it is at least on paper, of the progressive rock ilk, only consisting of 4 tracks, 1 being the closing 30-minute "The Ikon"

Interesting though, as the 1st track, the 14-minute track "Utopia Theme" is actually live.

I've always thought of this record as sharing qualities with Zappa and other jazz-rock, so I should and probably could love it. Time may tell, and it may totally rank alongside other great 70's prog albums and even for 1974 which had a number of other classics in this style.

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King Crimson - Red
rel October 6,1974
This is the 1 Crimson record I have yet to pickup on both vinyl and cd. But I have listened to a lot of it per other sources. And I do love some of the tracks.

"Starless" first and foremost, as I think it is their best song, and one of the best rock epics ever recorded. The saxophone solo is incredible, and the way it gradually builds and crescendos. I don't find a second of it boring.

The title track which is instrumental, I guess I also think of this album for. It's quite rhythmic and dissonant, but has kind of a catchy element and the build works quite well.

"One More Red Nightmare" I know, although I think I will always associate most with my friend Creighton trying to play a version of it on a Celtic instrument, late 1 night at KFAI with my friend John. The stringed instrument did channel David Cross's violin work quite well I recall.

"Fallen Angel" and the live "Providence" I honestly don't recall too well, but probably have heard.

As for 1974, this certainly is among the better albums, although strange to say that even though I don't even know the whole thing. I also look at this as the end of the 2nd era of Crimson of course which is sad, but a great way to go out.

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Jethro Tull - Warchild
rel October 14, 1974
Given this album followed 2 of my favorite albums of all-time in A Passion Play and Thick as a Brick, it really doesn't compare too well. And I have listened to it, but nothing really stands out a lot from memory.

I guess they made this record as they did, as a response to not be doing progressive rock so blatantly, and just doing rock music.

"Bungle in the Jungle" being the 1 single from it, and oddly enough, on many of the Karaoke setups at bars and things, it is the only song they have from Tull for some reason. (and not "Living in the Past" or "Locomotive Breathe" for example).

Many of their other 70's records I grew to enjoy, but this one, especially considering when they released it, kind of sticks out like a sore thumb. But maybe I need to revisit it again and my mind may change.

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Electric Light Orchestra - Eldorado
rel October 1974

I own a copy of this album on Vinyl. And the cover is sort of iconic. And ELO, a band who I know a few of their radio hits, but have meant to listen to some of their records, and this was one that was recommended I think.

"Can't Get it Out of My Head" and "Boy Blue" were the 2 singles from Eldorado. The former, I do recognize as 1 of their less known radio tracks.

I mean this album has the ELO sound of the strings, falsetto vocal harmonies, and such. But how if differs from some of their others, I'm unclear having not listened to it in full.

I guess it's a concept album, and the track "Mister Kingdom" was acussed of sounding like The Beatles, specifically "Across the Universe."

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Queen - Sheer Heart Attack
rel November 8, 1974

Queen II was released in March, and then 8 months later they followed up with Sheer Heart Attack. The 2 records are pretty close in quality, but I suppose I'd be lying if I didn't say I found this album slightly better.

While it was/is a radio hit, I still love "Killer Queen" in its playful quality. The falsettos are magical, and Brian May's guitar solo is one of his best.

It also includes favorites like "In the Lap of the Gods,"+ "In the Lap of the Gods Revisited," "Flick of the Wrist," and the incredibly fast and riffy rocker "Stone Cold Crazy"

I suppose with each early album, Queen kept getting better and more interesting, and what would come next followed that pattern/progression.

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Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
rel November 18, 1974

This was the 1st Genesis album I heard, back in the late 90's after seeing it suggested. And while I did buy it and liked some of it, I remember struggling with it. It really took me a few years later to revisit it after falling in love with their previous records.

It's 100 minutes long and 23 tracks, and I guess overall, it is pretty cohesive and flows pretty well. I guess one thing that allowed me to appreciate it more, was hearing Kevin Gilbert's band Giraffe cover most of it at ProgFest 1994. Songs like "The Lamia" "The Colony of the Slipperman" I certainly got more into.

I mean I still regard this as the worst of all the Gabriel-Genesis records (sans for the debut album From Genesis to Revelation), but I suppose that is only a half-true statement. I say that, because I see it as their most ambitious record certainly, and unlike Pink Floyd's double album The Wall, there is still way more good music, than not. And I also would put it above every record after Gabriel left.

My favorites?

-"Back in NYC" ..I love so much about this song, but maybe my favorite part is the line "No Time for Romantic Escape. When your fluffy heart is ready for rape, no. Off we go, off we go, off we go, off we go. "

-"Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist"  absolutely love the Steve Hackett guitar melody.

-"Riding the Scree"..some of the harmonic use is magical.

-"In the Cage" this was the 1st Genesis song I ever loved, and many people like it, even who don't like this album. The keyboard solo is fantastic and a trademark of both Genesis and progressive rock.

-The opening title tack and "Fly on a Windshield"

-"Lilywhite Lilith" which opens the 2nd half or 3rd side.

-"Carpet Crawlers" as much as this was maybe the token pop single from this album, it's still a wonderful and gorgeous ballad. "You've got to get in, to get out" 

"It" the closing track, which is as catchy or almost dance-able a tune as they ever wrote. Also the lyrical nod/reference to the Stones with the "It's only knock and knowall, but I like it" Which has this great upllifting, end-of-a-journey feeling, like with many concept albums.

The concept itself? I do like the story or narrative that the album includes, and I've spent time trying to understand the story, which not unlike many others, I still am mystified by a lot of it. But the jist of it to me is the story of Rael, a young Puerto Rican man who is in New York City and wanders into the sewer system when he either gets separated from his brother John, or in the time he comes to NYC, his brother is missing (or he is just looking for his brother). And the different entanglements and adventures he experiences in trying to find him.

I guess I like to think of, maybe per the way it does sync so well with the movie Dark City, that the story/adventure/experience is similar to that of that movie. I mean it is SciFi I suppose, and not without many angles you can interpret it. I know Peter Gabriel has had at one point, tried to pursue an actual Stage Adaptation aka "On Broadway" or maybe off it. Maybe it'll happen someday, and some of the concept and story may be more clear. But I suppose part of the charm of this album and the story is how ambiguous and mysterious it is.

And to think, it was released just 10 days before my favorite Yes album in November of 1974. Listening to those 2 records for the 1st time, at the same time, seems almost mind blowing.

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Yes - Relayer
rel November 28, 1974
This has been and still is my favorite Yes album. I went into a lot of it as many details can be found HERE.

"The Gates of Delirium" is just a trip I never get sick of. Moraaz is so good on that, and the interplay between all the members. The battle section probably being my favorite. It's really as good as progressive rock can get in terms of adding so many different tracks that complement each other so well. And everything and the kitchen sink in terms of a non-stop assault of musicianship.

"Soundchaser" I grew to love, even as odd as it can be.

"And To Be Over" every moment is gorgeous.

This is likely my 1974 album of the year, but given when it (and many others) came out, it would have likely swooped down and grabbed the throne in the last few weeks, although it's amazing how many other records that showed up at the end as well. It's almost like 1974 was a year when bands wrote and recorded great records, and got them out at the last minute.

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Sparks - Propaganda
rel November 1974

An odd choice or band I suppose for myself, but given my love for Apes and Androids, I saw their name suggested multiple times, thus I've wanted to get into them ever since, but haven't gotten around to it. They were sort of a glam pop/rock band, but perhaps given it was in the mid 70's when this album came out, they also had some art rock or prog in their sound I guess.

And this was 1 of 2 albums I wishlisted back in 2008 or 2009. It included 4 singles I guess "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth" maybe being the most successful. In sampling that one, yeah, it's pretty cool. Symphonic in a way.

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Gryphon - Red Queen to Gryphon Three
rel December 1974

This is my favorite or even just the 1 record I know somewhat well from Gryphon. Back when I went to Nearfest in the early 2000's, not only some people at the festival, but a couple of my friends I attended Nearfest with would not stop talking about these guys. And they played some of their music for me there I recall, this likely being the album.

And I'm pretty sure my friend Creighton played something off this album on KFAI with me back around that same time.

Gryphon are one of the token Canterbury bands, and this is probably their most popular record. It's all instrumental rock, which has almost a classical-like or chamber/baroque tone and texture to some of it. The synth patches and the use of recorder, bassoon and krumhorn seem to be a distinct part of their sound.

This album, like some other records from 1974 on this list, only includes 4 songs, all between 8+ and almost 11 minutes. In just sampling some of this again, the 2nd track "Second Spasm" has this very cool driving rhythm on guitar and bass that now I remember why I enjoyed these guys.

Also noteworthy how Gryphon went on tour, supporting Yes on the Relayer tour in North America that November and December, and the final show I recall, was in St.Paul per this link. They even joind Yes on stage for the 2nd encore for "South Side of the Sky." I've always wanted to hear that show and that encore Gryphon did with Yes. Maybe someday.

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Stanley Clarke - Stanley Clarke
rel December 1974

Stanley Clarke's 2nd solo LP, that I think I own after finding a cheap copy a few years ago. I guess I think of his solo albums 1st and foremost with School Days, but this album includes some of the same ilk. "Vulcan Princess" almost makes me wonder if he brought some of the ideas from that tune,to Return to Forever with "Vulcan Worlds" since the song came out around the same time. Perhaps they are connected in some way?

Bill Connors, Jan Hammer and Tony Williams are among the personnel on this record, so it's kind of a cool blend of jazz-rock allstars like many of the fusion albums of the 70's were it seemed.

The 13+ minute "Life Suite" which is a 4-part suite, closes out this album as a highlight.

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Jerry Goodman and Jan Hammer - Like Children
rel 1974
Many details can be found HERE as this album became an all-time favorite. It is partially a product of the transition Mahavishnu Orchestra went through after Birds of Fire . I'm not sure what all went down, but per Wikipedia, Everyone left M.O. after the live album Between Nothingness and Eternity, sans John McLaughlin.

Like Children does include some of the music that was on BNE, from memory, the ending piano part from "I Wonder," which also ended up on The Lost Trident Sessions which came out in 1999.

I guess to not rehash exactly what I wrote on that entry a couple of years ago, this is just one of those records that I had never heard fusion quite like it. And the production and compositions just are so tight and clean. It is one of the greatest examples I've heard of less being more, but also including a ton of ideas crammed concretely into each song.

And "Country and Eastern Music" has such a funky ear-worm, I love it each time I hear it.

Certainly one of the best from 1974, which what bugs me for 1974 at a glance, when it actually was released is not clear.My guess would be it came out sometime in the Spring or Summer just given Apocalypse from Mahavishnu was released in March.  So McLaughlin got a new lineup for the band either late in '73 or early '74. Goodman and Hammer likely started making this album around that same time.

But that's just hypothetical guessing. But just in terms of 1974, stuff like Red and Relayer came out much later in the year, so this could have been on top of the mountain for quite awhile.

Return to Forever - Where Have I Known You Before
rel Fall/Winter 1974

I have this record on Vinyl of course, but like so many others in my collection, haven't spent the time with it. But among the RTF catalog, it's considered one of their better albums. It is of course maybe most known as Al Di Meola's 1st record with the band, and he was only 20 years old in fact, which makes his performance all the more impressive.

In looking at the track list, it includes "Vulcan Worlds" which I know and is one of my favorite RTF tracks. The interplay between Corea and Di Meola is awesome. And the patches Chick uses are very distinct, 1 section resembles a bass.

"Beyond the 7th Galaxy" is I guess a sequel or follow-up to the title track off their previous record Hymn of the 7th Galaxy.

The closing 14+ epic "Song to the Pharoah Kings" has a lot of minor key and use of darker tones, but overall it works and is one of the best lengthly compositions RTF ever did. The patch used in much of it does remind me of that majestic texture on a lot of No Mystery. I suppose it does kind of sound egyptian in some ways, hence the *Pharoah* in the title.

Marvin Hamlisch - The Sting Soundtrack
rel early 1974 (film was December 25, 1973)

I'm including this as something noteworthy from 1974. The cover/arrangement of Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" I heard quite often growing up, as some friends of mine in grade school would play it sometimes when a piano was in the room. Little did I realize it was not Joplin's but Marvin Hamlisch whose it was. Plus I did catch at least parts of this film over the years on local tv, and always associated "The Entertainer" with it.