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Category Archives: 1974

I grouped these two together because Curtis Mayfield wrote and produced these soundtracks in the space of a year! And who doesn’t love Pops Staples and Gladys Knight? I haven’t seen CLAUDINE but LET’S DO IT AGAIN is a great movie. -Ian!

The Claudine movie soundtrack sported the jammin’ million-selling single “On and On” by Gladys Knight & the Pips. Written and produced by Curtis Mayfield and featured in the classic 1974 family drama starring Diahann Carroll, James Earl Jones, and Lawrence Hilton Jacobs (Welcome Back Kotter, Alien Nation, Cooley High), it parked at number two R&B for four weeks, going to number five Pop on Billboard’s charts in 1974. Claudine is the least celebrated of songwriter/producer Mayfield’s soundtrack albums (Superfly, Sparkle), though it’s the most poignant of them. “Mr. Welfare Man” lays out the dehumanizing effect of being on welfare, while still being enticing and majestic in its dynamic arrangement. As much airplay as the track garnered, oddly it was never released as a single. “To Be Invisible” spoke to a child character’s need to escape her depressing surroundings. Originally recorded by Mayfield on his Curtis LP, “The Makings of You” is a heart-tugging, strings-cushioned ballad that Knight sings wonderfully. Other LP tracks that received airplay are the upbeat, beautiful title track and the sweet “Make Yours a Happy Home,” which curiously wasn’t issued as a single until 1976. Claudine went gold, hitting number one on the R&B charts in summer 1974.

This is a must-have cd for fans of Curtis or the Staples Singers. It is a slight detour from most SS albums, in that this one is all about love, lust, and funky good timing. Curtis really teases out beautiful performances here, highlights include the smooth title track and the sexy workout “Funky Love.” I really love “New Orleans,” and was hoping it would get remade or re-noticed in the wake of Katrina. The song where it all works, though, is “I Want to Thank You,” where Curtis’s groove, funk, backbeat, and production meet the overtly spiritual nature of the lyrics (more traditional SS territory). A great album.

Ed Hogan, allmusic.com and some guy on amazon.com

DOWNLOAD:
Gladys Knight & The Pips – CLAUDINE (1974 OST)
The Staple Sisters – LET’S DO IT AGAIN (1975 OST)
320kbps

Actually thought I uploaded these already. This is the ground floor for Tangerine Dream, the goto stuff. Before the digital 1980s film score stuff like LEGEND that I think irrevocably tied them to cheesy sword-and-sorcery imagery for an entire generation of would-be fans. -Ian!

Phaedra is one of the most important, artistic, and exciting works in the history of electronic music, a brilliant and compelling summation of Tangerine Dream’s early avant-space direction balanced with the synthesizer/sequencer technology just beginning to gain a foothold in nonacademic circles. The result is best heard on the 15-minute title track, unparalleled before or since for its depth of sound and vision. Given focus by the arpeggiated trance that drifts in and out of the mix, the track progresses through several passages including a few surprisingly melodic keyboard lines and an assortment of eerie Moog and Mellotron effects, gaseous explosions, and windy sirens. Despite the impending chaos, the track sounds more like a carefully composed classical work than an unrestrained piece of noise. While the title track takes the cake, there are three other excellent tracks on Phaedra. “Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares” is a solo Edgar Froese song that uses some surprisingly emotive and affecting synthesizer washes, and “Movements of a Visionary” is a more experimental piece, using treated voices and whispers to drive its hypnotic arpeggios. Perhaps even more powerful as a musical landmark now than when it was first recorded, Phaedra has proven the test of time.

The members of Tangerine Dream continued to hone their craft as pioneers of the early days of electronica, and the mid-’70s proved to be a time of prosperity and musical growth for the trio of Chris Franke, early member Peter Baumann, and permanent frontman Edgar Froese. The three of them had been delivering mysterious space records on a regular basis, and their growing confidence with early synthesizers (the best that money could buy at the time) made them virtuosos of the genre, even as they kept things organic and unpredictable with gongs, prepared piano, and electric guitar. Rubycon has aged gracefully for the most part, making it a solid companion (and follow-up) to their 1974 album, Phaedra. The somewhat dated palette of sounds here never overshadow the mood: eerie psychedelia without the paisleys — Pink Floyd without the rock. “Rubycon, Pt. 1” ebbs and flows through tense washes of echo and Mellotron choirs, as primitive sequencer lines bubble to the surface. “Pt. 2” opens in a wonderfully haunted way, like air-raid sirens at the lowest possible pitch, joined in unison by several male voices (someone in the band must have heard Gy├Ârgy Ligeti’s work for 2001). Rising out of the murkiness, the synthesizer arpeggios return to drive things along, and Froese weaves his backwards-recorded guitar through the web without really calling too much attention to himself. The piece evolves through varying degrees of tension, takes a pit stop on the shoreline of some faraway beach, then ever so gradually unravels a cluster of free-form strings and flutes. The rest are vapors, your ears are sweating under your headphones, and the smoke has cleared from your bedroom. This is a satisfying ambient record from the pre-ambient era, too dark for meditation, and too good to be forgotten.

-John Bush, Glenn Swan, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
PHAEDRA (1974)
RUBYCON (1975)
320kbps

“Ignored upon its release in 1974 and celebrated upon its reissue in 2001, Shuggie Otis’ fourth and last album Inspiration Information exists out of time — a record that was of its time, but didn’t belong of it; a record that was idiosyncratic but not necessarily visionary. It was psychedelic soul that was released far too late to be part of any zeitgeist and it was buried at the time.

Yet no matter what Luaka Bop’s grand poobah David Byrne claims on the sticker — he says Shuggie’s “trippy R&B jams are equal to Marvin’s and Curtis’, but somehow more contemporary sounding…closer to D’Angelo meets DJ Shadow” — this isn’t revolutionary. It can occasionally sound modern, such as on the rolling head trip “XL-30,” but only because it’s the kind of groove Shadow would sample and build on; the slow, liquid instrumental head trips sound the same way. Perhaps that’s why it can seem more contemporary — contemporary ears are more attuned to these relaxed, warmly trippy soundscapes.

Otis crafted all of this essentially alone, playing each instrument himself, and it’s quite clearly a reflection of his inner psyche, and no matter how much it floats and skates upon its own sound, it’s a welcoming, inviting sound. But, no matter how much the partisans claim — and their effusive praise is plastered all over the liner notes, with Sean O’Hagan claiming that it shocks you out of a rut, Stereolab’s Tim Gane says it is “almost like a new style of music that could’ve developed but never did” — this isn’t revolutionary, even if it’s delightfully idiosyncratic. So, don’t fall for the hyperbole.

This isn’t an album that knocks your head off — it’s subtle, intricate music that’s equal parts head music and elegant funk, a record that slowly works its way under your skin. Part of the reason it sounds so intriguing in 2001 is that there just aren’t that many musicians that doggedly pursue their individual vision while retaining a sense of focus. But it isn’t a record without precedent, nor is it startling. It’s a record for people that have heard a lot of music, maybe too much, and are looking for a new musical romance.”

-Allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
Shuggie Otis-Inspiration Information
320kbps MP3, ripped from vinyl (sounds great)