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Record Store Day 2018 Part Four (Final)

June 26, 2018

I have finally worked through my Record Store Day 2018 purchases. This is my final RSD2018 post. It has taken me almost nine weeks to digest my haul. I have had a few record store visits since then – so I have had a few distractions along the way.

David Axelrod – Songs of Innocence

I first got turned on to Axelrod and this album through my son pwelbs. The song “Holy Thursday” was part of his regular rotation on his Sunday night college radio show (Bad Service on Radio DePaul).

Pwelbs discovered “Holy Thursday” because it was sampled on Lil Wayne’s “Dr Carter.” Songs of Innocence has been frequently sampled by hip hop producers. Axelrod was a record producer himself – he also was a composer and arranger. He made his name in jazz and produced Cannonball Adderley’s Capitol releases from 1964-1976.

Songs of Innocence is Axelrod’s debut album under his own name released in 1968. The album was not a success at the time. It became famous in the 90s when hip hop producers discovered it,  It has been reissued several time since then to cash in on its hip hop revival.

Axelrod mixes rock, jazz, funk and classical music on Songs of Innocence. It sounds cinematic – not like a soundtrack – it is its own movie. The “hit song” from this album is “Holy Thursday.” It is the kind of song that if it was playing in a record store, you would ask what it is and buy it on the spot. This album unconsciously foreshadows hip hop.

I had this on CD as a double issue with its follow-up Songs Of Experience. It is a delight to have it on wax. The RSD2018 edition is, according to the label: “…lacquered directly from Axelrod’s original EQ’ed master tapes at Capitol Records by Ron McMaster.”  McMaster is Capitol’s most skilled mastering engineer (he just retired). The album sounds great and is a big improvement on the CD and streaming service versions. Given Axelrod’s epic arrangements it is a treat to have them fully realized. The RSD edition comes with a 28 page booklet with an extensive essay, an Axelrod interview and photos.

The coolest aspects of this album are:

  • The rhythm section: Earl Palmer (drums) and Carole Kaye (bass) of the Wrecking Crew
  • The over-the-top arrangements/charts utilizing 33 players
  • The genre – it is like listening to a symphony – but ultimately it is a rock album
  • The recording: top-notch

https://open.spotify.com/album/7cILxV3NtqDMfjQ0VD8tcs?si=tQEFgn03RQC4sl_CNHoqrw

Chris Robinson Brotherhood- Raven’s Reels Vol. 1

When I heard the Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s debut Big Moon Ritual in the summer of 2012 I was blown away. It was the best Grateful Dead album I had heard in years. I have been a loyal fan ever since.

Over the years the band has augmented their studio albums with live releases recorded by legendary Grateful Dead taper Betty Cantor-Jackson. Those LPs have been titled Betty’s Blends. This RSD release takes a different twist – it is recorded by the band’s longtime engineer Chris “The Raven” Albers.

The four-LP set documents the band’s September 24, 2017 show at the Bijou Theater in Knoxville, Tennessee. Sonically, it is studio quality. The band has always been better live,  so it is great to have an exquisitely recorded document of their Barefoot in the Head tour.  Barefoot in the Head had a bit more country vibe and this show has a lot of that plus the band’s boogie space blues. Overall, it is more of an Allman than a Dead groove.  I never get tired of CRB’s baked version of the Faces.

The set is a nice cross-section of the CRB’s catalog and covers. It puts the most focus on their most recent album at the time of the show: Barefoot In The Head. Here is the set list:

  1. “Lazy Days”- is a song by Gram Parsons which he recorded with three groups: The International Submarine Band, The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers.
  2. “High Is Not the Top” – is from the recent CRB album Barefoot In The Head.
  3. “Roll Old Jeremiah” – is from the Black Crowes’ eighth and final studio album Before the Frost…Until the Freeze.
  4. “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line” is a song written by Jimmy Bryant and made famous by Waylon Jennings.
  5. “Star or Stone” is from the CRB debut Big Moon Ritual.
  6. “Tulsa Yesterday” is a nice long fifteen minute jam, also from Big Moon Ritual.
  7. “California Hymn” is from CRB’ 2016 album Any Way You Love, We Know How You Feel.
  8. “Try Rock N’ Roll” is from the CRB’s 2014 RSD Black Friday release Try Rock N’ Roll EP. It was originally a mid 50s hit for Bobby Mitchell.
  9. “Sail On, Sailor” is a Beach Boys song from their 1973 album Holland. This is good exhibit of what a talented jam band can do with a pop song.
  10. “Good to Know” starts an extended exploration of Barefoot In The Head. This is a good song to come after The Beach Boys song in that it has similar melodic brilliance.
  11. “She Shares My Blanket” – Barefoot In The Head.
  12. “Behold the Seer” – Barefoot In The Head.
  13. “Hark, The Herald Hermit Speaks” – Barefoot In The Head.
  14. “If You Had a Heart to Break” finishes of the Barefoot In The Head section of the show. I liked Barefoot In The Head, but it did not connect with me as much as other CRB releases. Hearing these live cuts has improved my impression of the album. Sometimes, you have to hear songs live to get it.
  15. “New Cannonball Rag” is from CRB’ 2016 release If You Lived Here, You Would Be Home by Now.
  16. “Beggar’s Moon” is from CRB’ 2014 release Phosphorescent Harvest.
  17. “Bye and Bye” is a traditional folk song based on an arrangement by Jim Kweskin.

Musically the band stretches more on this live album than any of their studio albums. The songs sparkle more than their studio versions. This is ultimately a live band, so this is the way to enjoy them.

This concludes Record Store Day 2018.

Raven’s Reels Vol. 1 is not available on streaming services, so I am providing Barefoot In The Head to give you a taste of CRB if you are not familiar with them.

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