Not a particularly high concept, but a concept nonetheless - The Battle of the Bands
features The Turtles posing as a different group for each track. While I don't think the band put much thought into it, the sampler approach was a pretty sharp comment on popular music at the time - bands were concocting psychedelia by tackling a billion genres, yet few ranged as wide as this.
Maybe the album is intended as commentary, seeing as everything is pretty tongue-in-cheek - the LP has pictures of the band posing in various ridiculous costumes, with fitting bandnames like 'The Atomic Enchiladas' to perform the harmless tripped-out "The Last Thing I Remember".
Some of the tracks are polite genre numbers such as the country-n-western "Too Much Heartsick Feeling", or the organ-led soul piece "Buzzsaw", else the goofy "Surfer Dan" by 'The Cross Fires' (actually an early name for the band).
The joke "We're the Royal Macadamia Nuts" openly mocks some of the novelty bands of the era. But The Turtles' strength was pop music, and "Oh Daddy" - a fun Kinks-style rock song - and the album's two hits demonstrate that ...
The first, "Elenore" is openly jokey (gee I think you're swell
) but still the song is catchy beyond belief, aided by the band's vocal harmonies. And the second, "You Showed Me", was an unotherwise unheard Gene Clark/Roger McGuinn song, somewhat reminiscent of The Zombies - built around a slow organ with Kaylan and Volman trading hushed vocal lines. It's goddamn beautiful, and utterly sincere (or so I think). Both songs have also aged really well, partially due to former bassist turned successful Monkees producer Chip Douglas quietly using the then nascent synthesizer on both tracks.
The odd spectrum of songs from deliberately fake to possibly true makes it hard to tell where the final number "Earth Anthem" (attributed to All) falls. It's folky, with something of Simon & Garfunkel to it - acoustic guitars, strings, the works - while the band sings a simple song about Earth. Borderline schlock (it could serve as the basis for a passé mass celebrity singalong), I'm hopeful it's a sincere statement, for it would lose something if it were merely a wry commentary on folk/pop.
A pretty nice album overall, even if the highlights are likely already available on any 'Best of' compilation.
Posted: Saturday 14th Feb 2015 8:46 PM
sees Pink Floyd at their trippy best, as they avoid the pitfalls that befell Atom Heart Mother
. It's effectively the peak of Gilmour's influence within the band, as Waters doesn't place one of his depressed mumbly ballads, and Wright's upbeat psychedelia finally disappears amidst a mixture of relaxed rock and more-experimental instrumentals.
"One of These Days" opens the album with the thumping sound of two basses and the occasional pounding of drums, before Gilmour's guitar arrives. It appears with a strange note-bending intensity, and sounds like a silver-plated chain saw in the hands of a maniac. Topped-off in the middle by Mason's only Floyd vocals ever (the distorted One of these days, I'm going to tear you into little pieces
), the song is manic without being cacophonous.
The rest of Meddle
is different from that. The two best songs are Gilmour/Waters collaborations - the floating dreamy folk of "A Pillow of Winds", which clinches Floyd's record for the most songs featuring the word 'eiderdown', and the uplifting quiet rock of "Fearless". Gilmour contributes most of the vocals, and often multiple guitar parts.
Some tracks smack of filler. "Seamus" is an acoustic-blues number with the titular dog howling along, and not much else, while "San Tropez" is a rather unexpected jazz/lite number by Waters no less, with a pleasant feel. All those songs have a quiet warmth to them, like the embers of a summer fire.
Then there's the requisite long piece - "Echoes" - which occupies the second half of the album. As the band wisely decided not to enlist the services of an orchestra, the track sees their space/rock adopt a shimmering tone, continuing their tradition of long sections of instrumentals and strange noises that get progressively more abstract.
"Echoes" opens with its famous 'ping' noise, which could be either a submarine, or contact with alien life, more likely the latter given the alien soundscapes that mark the song. The opening chorus and verses have a dark jazz feel that foreshadows Dark Side
, before shifting into a blues jam, where Gilmour gets to stretch out and slowly burn up his guitar.
If that sounds familiar, it should - the band tried the same sort of thing with "Atom Heart Mother", but much more slowly, and it backfired. Things get quintessentially creepy / unsettling, with Gilmour making noises, and the band demonstrating their potent atmospheric skills, before returning again to the chorus.
could've been tightened up, the band didn't do anything foolish like ask Wright to solo, so it's a highly effective album, a success and a stepping stone to their future work.
Posted: Saturday 29th Apr 2017 11:18 AM