The Epic 2017 Project #180: 170629
Mountain – Avalanche (1974)
Mountain formed on Long Island, New York in 1969 and originally comprised vocalist and guitarist Leslie West, bassist/vocalist Felix Pappalardi, keyboardist Steve Knight and drummer N. D. Smart, the band broke up in 1972 but reformed in 1973 and has frequently reunited ever since.
Best known for their cowbell-tinged song “Mississippi Queen”, as well as for their performance at the famous Woodstock Festival in 1969, Mountain is one of many bands to be commonly credited as having influenced the development of heavy metal music in the 1970s.
Avalanche was the band’s 4th studio album and the first after the 1973 reformation. It featured the return of drummer Corky Laing, was the band’s only recording with guitarist David Perry, and the final album to feature bassist/producer Felix Pappalardi.
‘Last of the sunshine days’ is the final track on the album and, to this day, remains one of my favourite R&B (12 bar) tunes of all time; it’s certainly up there in the top 10 (where it’s always been and probably always will be). To my mind, this is everything a 12-bar stomper should be; right down to the closing simper from Leslie West…
….mmmmm. That’s for John. For the doctor; for the doctor…
The Epic 2017 Project #167: 160616
Mahogany Rush – What’s Next (1980)
Francesco Antonio “Frank” Marino (born November 20, 1954) is an Italian Canadian guitarist, leader of Canadian hard rock band Mahogany Rush. Often compared to Jimi Hendrix, he is acknowledged as one of the best and most underrated guitarists of the 1970s.
Mahogany Rush had its peak of popularity in the 1970s, playing such venues as California Jam II together with bands including Aerosmith, Ted Nugent and Heart.
Best known for Marino’s soaring lead guitar, long term members of the band include bassist Paul Harwood and drummer Jimmy Ayoub, and Frank’s brother Vince on guitar. Frank Marino, though, is the sole continuous member of the band.
What’s Next was their fifth studio album, released in 1980 under Columbia Records.The bonus live tracks on the CD edition were recorded in Salinas, California, during the Juggernaut tour of 1983.
The Epic 2017 Project #166: 170615
Lynryd Skyryd – One more from the road (1976)
One More from the Road (Styled as “One More For From The Road”) was the band’s first live album. A double and a double gatefold, it’s the only live album from the “classic” era of the band (1970–1977) prior to the plane crash that killed lead singer/songwriter Ronnie Van Zant, as well as band members Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines. The album was released in September 1976. It was certified gold on October 26, 1976, platinum on December 30, 1976 and 3x platinum on July 21, 1987 by the RIAA.
The original 14 tracks include a cover of Jimmie Rodgers’ “T for Texas” and a 13:30 version of “Free Bird”.
The first CD release (1986) was a single disc missing two tracks, “T For Texas” and “Travelin’ Man”, due to time constraints.
The second CD release (1996) was a two disc set with all 14 songs plus three bonus tracks: “Sweet Home Alabama”, “Gimme Back My Bullets” and “Simple Man”. The two disc set put the tracks in order of the appearance of the original concert.
The Deluxe Edition, released in 2001, is thoroughly remastered and contains additional performances from the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. The bonus tracks are also available separately on a “Rarities Edition”.
The live version of “Sweet Home Alabama” from this album was used as a track on the music rhythm video game “Guitar Hero World Tour.”
Here’s the 12:55 version of Freebird from a 1975 edition of ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’ introduced by Whispering Bob Harris. There were tears this morning as I re-lived that long moment, I can tell you!
The Epic 2017 Project #160: 170609
Led Zeppelin – Coda (1982)
Coda was the ninth and final studio album from Led Zeppelin, released in 1982. It’s a collection of unused tracks from various sessions during the band’s twelve-year career and was released two years after the group had officially disbanded following the death of drummer John Bonham. The word ‘coda’, meaning a passage that ends a musical piece following the main body, was therefore chosen as the title.
Chapters #152 through #159 of the Jem Tunes ‘Epic 2017’ series feature each of the band’s studio albums. The only one missing from those years is the 1976 double live album ‘The Song Remains the Same’. The recording of this and the film of it took place during three nights of concerts at New York’s Madison Square Garden, during the band’s 1973 North American tour. However, I’ve not included it here as this was all about the studio releases and the charting of the band’s 11 year career.
The Epic 2017 Project #159: 170608
Led Zeppelin – In through the out door (1979)
Ld Zeppelin’s 8th was their final album of entirely new material. It was recorded over a three-week period in November and December 1978 at ABBA’s Polar Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, and released by Swan Song Records on 15 August 1979. In Through the Out Door was the band’s eighth and final studio release to reach the top of the charts in America, and was the last released by the band before the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980.
The album is a reflection of the personal turmoil that the band members had been going through before and during its recording. For example, frontman Robert Plant and his wife had gone through a serious car accident, and their young son, Karac Plant, died from a stomach illness. All four band members also felt weary of dealing with record companies and other associates. Despite this, the release wound up being a huge commercial success, particularly in the United States (sitting at the No.1 slot on Billboard’s chart in just its second week on the chart).
The Epic 2017 Project #158: 170607
Led Zeppelin – Presence (1976)
I got my first copy of Presence from Julian Scobie. He’d bought it on release in on release in March 1976 but decided that the wasn’t that keen on the blues. Pity really because, essentially, that’s what Led Zeppelin was all about. But it suited me because I now had a mint copy of Led Zeppelin’s 7th for half the price I’d have paid in the shops
Perhaps because of the album’s heavy blues influence – side 2’s epic ‘Tea for One’ at just shy of ten minutes – or (and more likely) the band’s increasing notoriety, made it an immediate commercial success. It reached the top of both the British and American album charts, and achieved a triple-platinum certification in the United States, despite receiving mixed reviews from critics and being the slowest-selling studio album by the band (other than the outtake album Coda).
It was written and recorded during a tumultuous time in the band’s history, as singer Robert Plant was recuperating from serious injuries he had sustained the previous year in a car accident. Nevertheless, guitarist Jimmy Page describes Presence as the band’s “most important” album, proving they would continue and succeed despite their turmoil
And so they did.
The Epic 2017 Project #157: 170606
Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti (1975)
I purchased my first (and of course still owned) copy of Physical Graffiti in the week of its release (February 1975) from Virgin Records in North Street, Brighton. I was going on 16, had grown my hair out long and breathed music like it was my lifeblood. I couldn’t get enough of it, listening at every opportunity, devouring Radio Luxembourg every evening and buying whenever pocket month savings allowed.
Physical Graffiti was the band’s first double album and the first on February their newly founded imprint label Swan Song Records. The band wrote and recorded eight new songs for the album at Headley Grange, which stretched the total time of the record beyond the typical length of a single LP, so they decided to make Physical Graffiti a double album by including unreleased tracks from earlier recording sessions: one outtake from Led Zeppelin III, three from Led Zeppelin IV, and three from Houses of the Holy, including the unused title track from the latter album.
Physical Graffiti was commercially and critically successful upon its release and debuted at number one on album charts in both the US and the UK. The album was later certified 16x platinum in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 2006, signifying shipments of over eight million copies
Custard Pie remains in my top three Led Zeppelin tracks (along with ‘In my time of dying’ and ‘Four Sticks’).