Monday, 29 February 2016
Playboy's Ivory from 1973, USA
Mentioned in the Michael Jarrett post, this was the best record Playboy put out-- though in my life I've listened to fewer than three, two to be exact. It was positively reviewed by Tom in the cd reissue wishlist here. To me it completely makes sense they would have produced a progressive record as this was certainly the zeitgeist in the early seventies.
"Here we go again, another album that is about half excellent, half dreadful. Starts out promising enough with a heavy organ rocker that wouldn't be out of place on a Uriah Heep album. This then leads into three full plain old woman-done-me-wrong rock songs that are... well... they're terrible. No redeeming value whatsoever, no matter how you try to rationalize it. So of course, from there on out it's prog rock heaven. Get out the organ, Moog and piano and let's play us some complicated ELP style music shall we? Heck, some of the riffs even recall the Italian interpretation of the English famous trio (think Alphataurus, L'Uovo Colombo here). And so it goes throughout Side 2, complete with an Indian bit with sitar, tablas and the works. Sigh. Any chance there's a full archive of this style sitting in a vault somewhere? Like the Yaqui album we have in the main list, this album was released on Hefner's Playboy label. "
Their opening (with hammond as mentioned above) 'Morning Song' is the Roger Kellaway instrumental which appears on his 1971 masterpiece, "Cello Quartet" (a gorgeous album I've played thousands of times and can never get tired of), with lyrics by the singer, Grant Gullickson. A nice introduction to the record, clearly.
It's important to note that the majority (so far as I can tell) of songs were not written by the performers. It's for this reason I think that it winds up being such a mixed bag, with even an electronic-synthesizer track at the end of side a. I'm not so convinced that the b side is really progressive heaven, more like purgatory? Note for ex. they trot out Jack Bruce's famous Song for an imaginary western, without necessarily improving on his version, which I don't think is even humanly possible. (If by chance you don't know about Jack's solo albums I urge you to check them out, his work with Cream was a tiny part of his artistic output-- shockingly he is not known for that at all. Another total and criminal oversight I blame the music/radio industry for, and it's hard to understand why Eric Clapton, whose solo recordings are clearly inferior to Jack's, was treated differently.)
The closer, 'Time After Time' is a really nice composition though, written as a band effort apparently:
Not bad, overall?