Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Albums of 1973: Faust: Faust IV

Release Date: September 21, 1973

Members: Werner "Zappi"Diermaier (drums); Hans Joachim Irmler (organ); Jean-Herve Peron (vocals, bass); Rudolf Sosna (vocals, guitar, keyboards); Gunther Wusthoff (synthesizer, sax)

Produced by Uwe Nettlebeck

Side One: Krautrock; The Sad Skinhead; Jennifer

Side Two: Just a Second; Giggy Smile/Picnic on a Frozen River/Deuxieme Tableau; Lauft . .Heibt Das Es Lauft; Oder Es Kommt Bald . . .Lauft; It's a Bit of a Pain

Experimental German band Faust released their fourth album in 1973, appropriately titled, Faust IV

"Krautrock" opens the album with 12 minutes of drone, synth, and tape loops in a collage of electric noise. "The Sad Skinhead" is more of a pop song and a strange one that. "Jennifer" is both hypnotic and epic with its minimal lyrics (and a surreal fadeout to a Western piano). "Just a Second" is a medley of sound collages, "Giggy Smile" moves from art pop into free jazz (ends with shattering guitar solo). The one with the long German title blends together folk and closes out with a meditative synth/organ piece. "It's a Bit of a Pain" is a pretty cool song.

Faust IV must've offered a breath of fresh air in its stretching of the album. Neither indulgent (or downright cheesy) like much of prog-rock, it offered a sonic experience for the mind, ready made for repeated plays.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

The Albums of 1973: ZZ Top: Tres Hombres

Release Date: July 26, 1973

Members: Billy Gibbons (vocals, guitar); Dusty Hill (bass, vocals); Frank Beard (drums)

Produced by Bill Ham

Side One: Waitin' For the Bus; Jesus Just Left Chicago; Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers; Master of Sparks; Hot, Blue and Righteous

Side Two: Move on Down the Line; Precious and Grace; La Grange; Sheik; Have You Heard?

The third album by the Texas trio ZZ Top is a solid 33 minutes of blues-based tock. The riffs are razor sharp; the tracks get right down to business. 

"Waitin' for the Bus" and "Jesus Just Left Chicago" are banded together to start the record, are both straight up blues, the latter a sort of hip gospel. I imagine "Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers" is about playing some of the toughest joints in Texas, certainly not Led Zeppelin country. "Master of Sparks" is allegedly a true story about some crazy driving around the highways of Houston. "Hot, Blue, and Righteous" ends Side One on a soulful note.

"Move on Down the Line" sounds like a lost track from Exile on Main Street, followed by another road rocker, "Precious and Grace." "La Grange" was inspired by a John Lee Hooker groove and became one of ZZ Top's first hits and a staple of FM radio. "Sheik" features more intricate guitar work with a swampier sound. "Have You Heard" is another synthesis of the spiritual and the blues.

Tres Hombres sounds refreshing in 2023, as most of the tracks are around three minutes, while the production and playing are air tight.

The Albums of 1973: The O'Jays: Ship Ahoy


Release Date: August 1, 1972

Members: Eddie Levert; Walter Williams; William Powell

Produced by Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff

Track List: Side One: Put Your Hands Together; Ship Ahoy; The Air I Breath; You Got Your Hooks in Me

Side Two: For the Love of Money; Now That We Found Love; Don't Call Me Brother; People Keep Tellin' Me

The O'Jays returned in 1973 with Ship Ahoy, a powerful follow-up to their classic recorded the year before, Backstabbers.

"Put Your Hands Together" opened the record with a call for unity, gospel infused with the bold horns, strings, and vocals.

An epic at nine minutes "Ship Ahoy" is a recounting of the Middle Passage, following a slave ship from Africa to the Americas. Originally intended for the soundtrack for the 1973 film Shaft in Africa, the track is a marvel of production, a haunting and essential meditation on the past and present. "This Air I Breath" is ecologically themed, a call for cleaner air. "You Got Your Hooks in Me" is a romantically themed pledge of devotion.

"For the Love of Money" gained a life of its own in many movies about greed (and a certain reality show). "Now That We Found Love" muses over the challenges of a relationship. "Don't Call Me Brother" is another nine-minute track, calling out phony friends, the takers of the world. 'People Keep Tellin' Me" ends the record on a note of faith and persistence in the face of turmoil. 

Ship Ahoy is an album of conflicting moods reflecting on the early 1970s, the current state of the world, and relationships, a classic of 70's Soul. 

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers #1

Release Date: November 9, 1976 Members: Tom Petty (vocals, guitar); Mike Campbell (guitars); Benmont Tench (piano, organ); Ron Blair (bass);...