Joni Mitchell’s fourth album, ‘Blue’, celebrates its half century this week. Considered one of Joni’s most essential works, the songs helped usher in an era of confessional song writing, and tracks like ‘River’ (as covered by Heart, Linda Ronstadt, and more recently Sam Smith) and ‘A Case of You’ (later covered by Tori Amos and Prince) are considered classics.
The late 60s and early 70s were a great time for experimentation and free spirited sounds. From within the psychedelic scene came various bands who were less enthralled with rainbows and being “home in time for tea”, preferring instead to stretch blues origins into dark and heavy places, inspiring a generation of guitar heroes. Others took a mod and freakbeat approach and ladled on the distortion thus creating a more inventive take on a garage rock sound, something which arguably helped to spawn punk. By cranking their amps and embracing an artistic freedom, there were a whole spectrum of bands slowly changing the musical landscape. The original ‘I’m A Freak Baby’ box set (released by Grapefruit Records in 2016) gave a solid overview of the era for the curious listener. Although it featured a lot of material that keener rock fans would already own, it still played well as a compilation in its own right. Popular tunes by Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac could be found alongside cult numbers by Pink Fairies and The Groundhogs, as well as a few genuine obscurities from Barnabus, Sweet Slag and Cycle. A second triple disc set released in 2019 offered more gems, but dug even deeper for rarities with unreleased tracks from Natural Gas, Thor, Tarsus, and more besides.
Following two excellent reissues (a four disc ‘Reformation! Post-TLC’ and equally extensive ‘Imperial Wax Solvent’), the sixth instalment of Cherry Red’s Fall Sound Archives reissue series turns its attention to 2001 and The Fall’s 22nd LP, ‘Are You Are Missing Winner’, an album which seems to gather more criticism than praise. Although very much an album geared towards the fan rather than the casual admirer, there’s still a lot to enjoy. The material has a rough and ready feel, almost certainly a reaction to the more commercial path the band had taken over the 90s – or at least more “commercial” by Fall standards. It was also recorded on the quick and the cheap, an approach that wouldn’t suit all bands but, in this case, it sort of helped The Fall achieve a factory reset and capture a little of the old ‘Dragnet’ era spirit whilst simultaneously looking to the future with a brand new line up.
Along with Herbie Hancock, Dexter Gordon and Sonny Clark, Lee Morgan was one of the jazz musicians from the sixties who could often be relied upon for a strong melodic root. His albums ‘The Sidewinder’ and ‘The Rumproller’ are considered classics for a reason, and even when digging a little further into his work, ‘Candy’ (1957) and ‘Lee-Way’ (1960) are just as chock-full of great and accessible material. Miles Davis might get most of the credit when it comes to classic jazz trumpeters, but most of Morgan’s albums are just as rich. The bulk of his studio work is terrific, very much something jazz novices should gravitate towards after exhausting the usual routes.
Originally touted for a 2020 release, the long rumoured massive Caravan box set will finally be released in August 2021. The wait has been long, but there’s good news: what was once scheduled to be a 30 disc set will now come with a further seven discs’ worth of rare material, including 11 discs of previously unreleased live cuts.
The Madfish release seems as if it will rival the similarly extensive Gentle Giant box set. In addition to a wealth of music – bringing together all of Caravan’s official studio recordings, a much praised Steven Wilson 5.1 mix of ‘In The Land of Grey & Pink’ and far more besides – fans will get the opportunity to lose themselves in a massive 144 page hardback book. A second replica fan club booklet and a signed photograph are also included. The contents can be seen in the unboxing video, which can be seen below along with a full track listing.