Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The long run .... the 1970s California music scene

"All alone at the end of the evening, and the bright lights have turned to blue..", "On a dark desert highway..." - yup back to "Take It To The Limit", "One of these Nights" - the limits of '70s soft rock nostalgia, as THE HISTORY OF THE EAGLES unfolded in two parts here over the weekend, as screened by the BBC, along with an Eagles concert, and BBC clips of other 70s stars  - great to see that Tim Buckley clip again where he sings "Dolphins" in 1974, with that elastic voice of his, one had to replay the album again and his GREETINGS FROM LA. Watching these clips, so many of them died of overdoses, like Tim, Little Feat's Lowell George, and Judy Sill.

Tim Buckley, 1974
It reminded me that I had planned to go see Janis Joplin at the Albert Hall in late 1970, but didn't - maybe I thought there would be other opportunities to ... having already seen Joni Mitchell there, and The Band and Blood Sweat & Tears there that year, along with Dionne Warwick and a Peggy Lee evening there. We liked Janis's Big Brother album and her solo "Pearl". (On the soul front we wee also seeing Aretha Franklin twice, Robert Flack and Otis Redding back in 1967, poster below ...). There were several more Joni concerts to see, in 1972 and 1974 when I rushed back from Italy for her new jazzy sound.

The BBC also ran a Doors documentary on the making of their seminal L A WOMAN album, the final as the group with Jim Morrison. The recently departed (RIP label) Ray Manzarek was very engaging here showing how he created those riffs for "Riders On The Storm" and those other classic tracks. (Doors label has my report on their 1968 concert I was at in London..., left).

Back to The Eagles (left) documentary: We liked The Eagles a lot then, and they certainly sold albums by the truckload. a feast of nostalgia seeing/hearing them again - all that hair and denim. Was that really Randy Meisner as he looks now? I will always love "Take It To The Limit", "One of These Nights", that whole "On the Border" album, the "James Dean" song is still rocking ... and yes "The Long Run". We also get tantanlising glimpses of Joni Mitchell, David Geffen, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, J. D. Souther, Carole King, James Taylor and others, as well as the band's fallout and re-emergence as all those egos and lead vocalists collide; that crazy life on the road certainly takes its toll! A nostalgia feast then for those who were in their 20s in that decade.(Joni label has my meeting with her and Jackson Browne in 1972 .... when we were all 40 years younger). 

The Eagles documentary has interviews with the band members past and present, live footage and backstage arguements are in the mix as the band fall apart in 1980 and did not reform until 1994. Don Henley and Glen Frey have a lot to say, and Meisner gets a look in too - I like his solo version of his "Take It To The Limit" on his own album.  Following on from The Byrds and the Burrito Brothers the Eagles were the quintessential '70s rock band, with great harmonies, lyrics and that sound.  And of course again that heyday of the vinyl album with gatefold sleeves - music label. It was the singer-songwriter era which enslaved us, before the arrival of that disco sound .... those 70s Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck albums, Rod Stewart's "Every Picture Tells A Story", Elton's first three including "Tumbleweed Connection", "Madman Across The Water" ("Tiny Dancer"), and of course The Band albums, and that unique sound by Leon Russell, Canned Heat and more ... then Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues and more.
we knew Elton John slightly then too, before becoming an aloof megastar he used to pop into Noel Edmonds' record shop on Kings Road on Saturday afternoons and chat and sign albums, just like Joni and Jackson were strolling down Kings Road, before rock stars and musicians got too paranoid about security ... ah, those early '70s Chelsea years! 
Our BBC4 channel is becoming very enterprising covering all kinds of music, from traditional jazz (loved George Melly on "Smokey Dives" - early jazz clubs) to that 1971 SOUL TO SOUL concert in Ghana, with the likes of The Staples Singers, Santana (bliss to see Carlos playing "Black Magic Woman" again), Ike and Tina and more, as well as covering the '60s, '70s. '80s electro and disco scenes. Now for that documentary "The Joy of Disco".

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