Thursday, January 05, 2012

2011 album collection part 1

A series of blog posts linking to the albums I uploaded during 2011 in their entirety or near-entirety & why.
Matthew Fisher, Journey's End (1973)
I had this on vinyl. One of the most obscure solo albums by an ex-member of major Brit rock group, whose instrumental & vocal contributions to the band's albums were immediately recognizable. The band was Procol Harum. Fisher could've pulled together some kind of "supergroup," so many notable bands were breaking up or shape-shifting in the early-Seventies. He was better known than Emerson, Lake or Palmer when those guys formed their silly but hugely profitable band.

Instead he opted for a personal project. RCA wasn't Warner/Reprise, it didn't have the same kind of promotional heft, & anyway Fisher for whatever reasons didn't form a band & tour the record. I think he could've built a following in America just following Brit organist Brian Auger's Oblivion Express band around into the same clubs & mid-sized venues. The same Anglophile music fans  would've soaked up Fisher's Leslie speaker driven Hammond organ on both the pop & the more artsy numbers like "Theme from Separation." But they would've demanded "Whiter Shade of Pale" as an encore, & at the time Fisher wasn't even receiving royalties from it, which certainly soured any desire to perform it.

Uploading this attracted the attention of Matthew's Jersey-girl wife. So I'm now 2 degrees of separation from one of my early rock "heroes." It took cojones to quit Procol Harum after producing & co-writing one of the most  critically-acclaimed LPs of the Sixties, A Salty Dog.

Booker T. & the MG's, Universal Language (1977, Asylum). Booker T, Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, Willie Hall replacing the late, great Al Jackson Jr. on drums. Willie had less personality but he knew what he was there to do. I fished this record out of bargain bin a year or two after it was released, featured cuts from it relatively often on my WFMU  radio shows. It was a forgotten record. But Booker T & the MG's weren't an album group; they made  great singles like "Hip Hugger"  & "Time is Tight."  I got three or four of their solid  Stax LPs in the cutout bins, too. Reviewed lukewarm if at all when released, Universal Language has aged very well. Booker T uses synths playfully, there's funk & disco influences, all the songs are originals co-written by band, & all offer up a good lick, hook or twist of rhythm.

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