Our great affluent society produces excess. Just go down to Hudson’s or walk into E.J. Korvette’s and much of what is on display is either an unimportant frill or junk.
The record industry is not unlike that. Most of what is being released is not worth the time it takes to listen to it.
Almost all record companies are signing and recording anybody who has the slightest possibility of selling. The few exceptions seem to be Elektra, Vanguard, and Verve.
“Live” albums are getting to be the “thing”—sometimes it seems to be an excuse to pawn off another record on the teen market which will buy regardless of quality. Of three recent “live” albums by the Kinks, Little Richard, and the Blues Project only one is successful.
The Kinks last album “Face to Face” (Reprise) displayed the talent that makes the Kinks a top English group. There are twelve good cuts which feature some of the group’s most outstanding material. Their latest album “An Orgy For Ears” is an orgy you’ll probably want to stay away from. At this orgy there is a disproportionate ratio-four Kinks and thousands of screaming girls, both of whom get an equal share of the album.
A disadvantage of pop concert going is that sometimes the screams are more prominent than the music. A good record should solve that problem but the ORGY brings you all the fun in living noise. Some of the Kinks’ finest songs—“A Well Respected Man,” “Sunny Afternoon,” “Dandy,” and “You Really Got Me” are included but those can be heard on previous albums.
Little Richard is in prime form on his “GREATEST HITS—RECORDED LIVE.” It is a new Little Richard who has replaced the old crude, screaming style with an equally dynamic live performance. Often the album (recorded at a club) sounds like a gospel meeting. In between songs Richard and the audience have a happy dialogue. The audience is with him, they don’t shout or gape at him. They both seem to be having a marvelous time.
Richard barks, socks-it-to-them, tells them they’re great and he’s great. Some songs are sorrowfully short—“The Girl Can’t Help It,” “Long Tall Sally,” “Tutti Fruitti,” and “Good Golly Miss Molly” are all less than a minute and a half The brass — piano background is successful and most numbers sound better in these renditions than originally.
If you think you like the Byrds, listen to their first three albums for a while; you might change your mind. Their hits are excellent but the rest of their material is so full of the famous “Byrd sound” that they become monotonous. Their latest album, THE BYRDS GREATEST HITS (Columbia) takes the worry out of Byrd buying. It conveniently has all their hits from “Mr. Tambourine Man” to “So You Want to be a Rock and Roll Star.”
THE BLUES PROJECT AT TOWN HALL (Verve/ Forecast) is a good album but it is a disappointment. Two of their best numbers from a previous album “(Electric) Flute Thing” and “Wake Me, Shake Me” are each given over nine minutes. Strange that “Flute Thing-” is prefaced by “(Electric)”. I suppose the “power” is meant to transform its image from a stodgy-sounding classical bit to modern music for the “now” generation. The Project do both numbers as well as they did before, although the added minutes don’t warrant another album.