Archive for the ‘1970’ Category

‘I Would Be In Love (Anyway)’

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

Here’s what the top ten looked like on the Billboard Easy Listening chart fifty years ago this week, the first week of April in 1970, one of my best-remembered years for music:

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel
“Easy Come Easy Go” by Bobby Sherman
“Kentucky Rain” by Elvis Presley
“Let It Be” by the Beatles
“Temma Harbour” by Mary Hopkin
“I Would Be In Love (Anyway)” by Frank Sinatra
“Rainy Night In Georgia” by Brook Benton
“Long Lonesome Highway” by Michael Parks
“All I Have To Do Is Dream” by Bobbie Gentry & Glenn Campbell
“Brighton Hill” by Jackie DeShannon

Well, six of those I know well, and I clearly remember five of them – the top four and the Brook Benton single – coming out of my old RCA radio during spring evenings in my room. The Gentry/Campbell duet is not as memorable, though I know I heard it.

“Temma Harbour” is one I don’t recall from fifty years ago; I don’t believe I heard it until about ten years ago when I was tipped to it in a comment here by reader David Lenander. I have vague memories of the Michael Parks record, but those memories don’t say “1970” in any way, which tells me I rarely heard it then. And the DeShannon record rings no bells at all, even though I can tell from the visual in the YouTube video that for years, the LP from which it came was in the vinyl stacks.

And then there’s the Sinatra record:

If I lived the past over, saw today from yesterday
I would be in love anyway
If I knew that you’d leave me, if I knew you wouldn’t stay
I would be in love anyway

Sometimes I think, think about before
Sometime I think, if I knew then what I know now
I don’t believe I’d ever change somehow

Though you’ll never be with me, and there are no words to say
I’ll still be in love anyway

If I knew then what I know now,
I don’t believe I’d ever change somehow

If I knew then what I know now
I don’t believe I’d ever change somehow

The single came from Sinatra’s Watertown album, a work I mentioned thirteen years ago:

Watertown [is] a song cycle that’s one of the more idiosyncratic recordings of Sinatra’s long career. The songs on Watertown came from Bob Gaudio – writer of many of the Four Seasons’ hits – and Jake Holmes, the singer-songwriter/folk-rocker who was also the composer of “Dazed & Confused,” which Led Zeppelin appropriated as its own work. The album is, as All-Music Guide notes, Sinatra’s “most explicit attempt at rock-oriented pop.” It’s also a rather depressing piece of work, as the mood throughout is one of unrelieved (and unrelievable) sadness.

And as I listened to “I Would Be In Love (Anyway)” this morning, I recognized the tale Sinatra was telling. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I spent some time in that same bleak emotional place. Eventually (and thankfully), I moved on.

I remember frequently seeing the LP in cutout bins in the early 1970s and in the “Sinatra” bins at used record stores in the 1990s. Even though my buying in the 1990s was pretty indiscriminate, for some reason I never brought Watertown home with me. Somewhere along the line, I acquired a digital copy of the album from which I made the above judgment that its mood “is one of unrelieved (and unrelievable) sadness.” I may take time to again listen closely to the album one of these days, but I’m not sure I need the downer.

As to “I Would Be In Love (Anyway),” it peaked on the Easy Listening chart at No. 4 but got only to No. 88 on the Hot 100. Watertown went to No. 101 on the magazine’s album chart.

Saturday Single No. 682

Saturday, March 28th, 2020

The blank space on the computer screen has been mocking me for about an hour. At least five times, I’ve typed something, looked at it, and then deleted it. For some reason – perhaps because of the madness beyond our walls, perhaps because of a weariness that seems to have found its home in me overnight – I have nothing to say this morning.

Here’s Fotheringay’s take on Bob Dylan’s “Too Much Of Nothing.” It’s from the group’s self-titled 1970 album, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

How Many Clarences?

Friday, March 6th, 2020

I was checking the date of an entry in Clarence Clemons’ discography this morning, so I entered “Clarence” in the search box of the RealPlayer and clicked. And as the program searched, I wondered exactly how many tracks I have by people named Clarence.

It turns out to be seventy.

Almost half of those tracks – twenty-nine – are from Clemons, including three albums: Rescue with the Red Bank Rockers (1983), Hero (1985), and A Night With Mr. C (1989). One track from Rescue – “Savin’ Up” – is duplicated on the 1997 album One Step Up/Two Steps Back: The Songs of Bruce Springsteen, and there are single tracks from the soundtrack to the 1985 movie Porky’s Revenge! (“Peter Gunn Theme”) and from the live album that came out of the 1989 tour of Ringo Starr’s first All-Starr Band (“Quarter To Three”).

But there are other Clarences as well, like R&B singer Clarence Carter. He shows up seventeen times, represented by the 1969 album The Dynamic Clarence Carter and some singles on the Fame and Atlantic labels. Those singles include his two biggest hits, “Slip Away” (1968), which went to No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 2 on the magazine’s R&B chart, and “Patches” (1970), which went to No. 4 on the Hot 100 and to No. 2 on the R&B chart. There’s also a 1969 single, “Snatching It Back,” which peaked at No. 31 on the pop chart and went to No. 4 on the R&B chart, and a duplicate of “Road Of Love” from the Dynamic album because the track also shows up on the first Duane Allman anthology (1972).

Clarence Williams, a jazz pianist, shows up with his Blue Five on four tracks from the 1920s. He and his group backed Sippie Wallace on “Baby, I Can’t Use You No More” (1924), Eve Taylor on “Papa De-Da-Da” (1925), and Ethel Waters on “Get Up Off Your Knees” (1928). And there’s a 1925 recording of Williams and His Blue Five (including Louis Armstrong on cornet) performing “Cake Walking Babies (From Home).”

Fiddler Clarence “Tom” Ashley shows up five times in the late 1920s and early 1930s, performing “Coo Coo Bird,” “Dark Holler Blues,” “House Carpenter,” “My Sweet Farm Girl,” and “Corrina, Corrina.”

There are four tracks from Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, one from 1955 (“Rock My Blues Away”) and three from tribute albums from the late 1990s and early 2000s. On those tracks, the venerable blues and R&B singer takes on Led Zeppelin’s “Rock ’n’ Roll,” the Rolling Stones’ “Ventilator Blues,” and Robert Johnson’s “When You Got A Good Friend.”

I’ve also got a couple of tracks from Clarence “Frogman” Henry: the well-known “Ain’t Got No Home” (1956) and “The Lady With The Hat Box” (1957).

Then there are Clarences I don’t know well who have managed to sneak into the digital stacks: Clarence Garlow, Clarence Reid, Clarence Samuels, Clarence Palmer (with the Jive Bombers), and the duo of Clarence & Calvin.

And somewhere, I ran across the track “Right On” by Clarence Wheeler & The Enforcers. It’s from the group’s 1970 album, Doin’ What We Wanna. I found it on the 2006 four-disc set What It Is! Funky Soul & Rare Grooves, and it’s a good workout for a Friday:

‘Sunrise’

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

I’m up early enough this morning to look through the window near my desk and see the sun just beginning to rise above the welter of branches on the eastern end of the block. This calls, of course, for an investigation into how many times the word “sunrise” shows up among the 79,000-some tracks in the RealPlayer.

The answer is forty-four, but as usual, some of the tracks that show up must be winnowed out, like both sides of a 1968 single by the group The Sunrise Highway and four releases on the Sunrise label from 1929 and 1930: “I’m Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes” by the Carter Family, “New Chattanooga Blues” by the Allen Brothers and two by Joe Stone, “It’s Hard Time” and “Back Door Blues.” We also lose a version of “Lonesome Blues” that Bob Dylan recorded on February 1, 2002, in Sunrise, Florida.

But that leaves us with plenty of tracks to mess around with as the sun climbs higher through the branches down the block, and we’ll look at a few of them. There are numerous duplicates to ponder. For example, there are four versions of “Blues Before Sunrise,” one each from Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton and B.B. King. We’ll pass on all of them.

There are also two versions each of the Broadway tune “Sunrise, Sunset” (from Ferrante & Teicher and John Gary) and the big band standard “Sunrise Serenade (a 1939 version by Glenn Miller and a 1944 cover by Frankie Carle, who originally wrote the melody for the song). We’ll come back to one of those later.

We also find nine tracks titled just “Sunrise,” and we’ll highlight just one of them, the one found on the Grateful Dead’s 1977 album Terrapin Station. It’s notable because it was written and sung by Donna Godchaux, wife of Dead pianist Keith Godchaux. The song has been acknowledged, says Wikipedia, “as a tribute to the band’s recently deceased road manager, Rex Jackson.”

John Gary was a 1960s vocalist whose name rings louder in my memory than it does in the singles charts. He has two records listed in Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles: “Soon I’ll Wed My Love” went to No. 89 in the Hot 100 in 1964 and “Don’t Throw The Roses Away” bubbled under at No. 132 in 1965. They both hit the magazine’s Easy Listening chart as well, reaching Nos. 19 and 21, respectively, and Gary had three other records in that chart during the Sixties: “Don’t Let The Music Play” (No. 24 in 1966), “Everybody Say Peace” (No. 10 in 1967), and “Cold,” which reached the chart in November 1967 and later was No. 1 for two weeks.

But I recall Gary’s name, I think, from the promotional Christmas albums that my dad brought home from the tire stores in many 1960s Decembers. We had none of Gary’s own albums – he had fourteen of them reach the Billboard 200 between 1963 and 1969 – in the house on Kilian Boulevard, so I’m not sure how I would have otherwise known his name back then. Our focus this morning is on his take on “Sunrise, Sunset” from the 1964 musical Fiddler On The Roof. The song was overwhelmingly present in the mid- to late-1960s, and it’s been some time since I’ve actually listened to it. Gary’s version was released as a single on RCA Victor in 1964, and is quite nice.

Gothic Horizon was the British folk duo of Andy Desmond and Richard Garrett from Hertfordshire. Discogs.com calls the group’s output “bright and breezy folk music.” The first of the duo’s two albums – The Jason Lodge Poetry Book – somehow ended on the digital shelves here, no doubt courtesy of a blog offering, and it’s on that 1970 album that we find the delicate-to-the-point-of-being-fey “Wilhelmina Before Sunrise.” I do have a fondness for pale Britfolk of that era, and “Wilhelmina Before Sunrise” falls nicely into that niche.

Survey Digging (February 1970)

Friday, February 21st, 2020

We’re going to knock around in 1970 again this morning, as it’s been about seven weeks since we looked at a KDWB survey from that year, now a half-century in the past. Here’s the top twelve from the station’s “6+30” survey from February 23, 1970:

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel
“He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” by the Hollies
“No Time” by the Guess Who
“Ma Belle Amie” by the Tee Set
“Travelin’ Band/Who’ll Stop The Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Thank You (Falettin Me Be Mice Elf Again)/Everybody Is A Star” by Sly & TheFamily Stone
“Venus” by the Shocking Blue
‘Honey Come Back” by Glen Campbell
“Walk A Mile In My Shoes” by Joe South
“Walkin’ In The Rain” by Jay & The Americans
“Arizona” by Mark Lindsay
“Oh Me Oh My (I’m A Fool For You)” by Lulu

There are a few memories there. The Lulu record is, as readers might recall, tied to my romantic ambitions of the time, and the Guess Who record – as I noted here about three weeks ago – is tied to a trip to see a Minnesota North Stars hockey game.

The thing that comes back when I ponder “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is my purchasing in early February the sheet music for the Paul Simon-penned song and working to master Larry Knechtel’s brilliant piano arrangement. (I became fairly proficient at it, a proficiency I am attempting to resurrect fifty years later, so my young vocalist friend from church and I can perform it some Sunday. It goes slowly.)

Then, there was a classmate named Jill, who sat near me in French class. In the fall, she would be heading off to St. Cloud Apollo, the city’s new high school, while I would remain at St. Cloud Tech. That spring, she signed my yearbook by quoting the Tee Set’s record: “Ma belle amie! Apres tous les beaux jours je te dis ‘merci, merci!’” (I next saw her twenty years later when she played the role of waitress Trudy Chelgren on the television series Twin Peaks.)

The other eleven entries from the top of KDWB’s “6+30” for that week are just records I heard on the radio. Some I liked a great deal – the records by the Hollies and by Mark Lindsay fall there – and others were just okay, like the A-side of the Sly & The Family Stone record (I did love the B-side) and the Glen Campbell record.

In other words, that was a good hour’s worth of listening. So I ask, as I tend to do, how many of those seventeen records matter fifty years later?

Well, fourteen of those seventeen records are in the iPod and thus part of my day-to-day listening. The absentees? “Thank You (Falettin Me Be Mice Elf Again),” “Honey Come Back,” and “Walkin’ In The Rain.” And I see no need to add them.

So what was at the bottom of that long-ago survey? At No. 36, we find “Take A Look Around” by the group Smith, the follow-up to the hit “Baby It’s You,” which went to No. 1 on KDWB in November 1969. “Take A Look Around” didn’t fare as well, peaking at No. 22 on KDWB’s last survey of March 1970.

(Nationally, the pattern followed: “Baby It’s You” peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and “Take A Look Around” got to No. 43.)

Here’s “Take A Look Around.” It’s a decent record.

‘As Time Goes On . . .’

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

Every year, as the middle of February comes by, we musicians at our Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship put together a Sunday program to celebrate Valentine’s Day, about forty-five minutes filled with love songs, poems and readings.

As we plan, the four of us run through our memories and songbooks, looking for tunes that would fit the day. And when I packed up some of my songbooks in preparation for a planning session the other week, I noticed the book for Chicago’s second album, the silver one called just Chicago when it came out and now called Chicago II. And I thought, “Why not?”

So during the meeting, I offered the idea of including the brief and beautiful “Colour My World” for the program. Two of the three others in the group are about my age, and even though they were (and still are) more attuned to folk music than to pop/rock, they both knew the song and rapidly agreed.

Our fourth member, the owner of an astounding soprano voice, is twenty-seven, and she’d never heard the song. The other three of us gave it a quick run-through, and the other two folks decided that she’d handle the vocals on her own, with me on the piano. The next day, I emailed her a lyric sheet and an mp3 of the original version of the tune.

We got together last evening to practice, and after struggling a bit with the start of the vocals after the long piano introduction – we adjusted the vocal entry place from where the transcription showed it (and I have a suspicion that the transcription might have been wrong, which I may or may not check out) – we worked through it enough to feel comfortable performing it this coming Sunday. Sadly, we know no one who plays the flute, or we’d have the flute solo following the vocal, as the original recording does.

As we took a brief break, I told my young colleague that in 1970, “Colour My World” was pretty much inescapable. “It’s the sound of probably a million weddings during the early Seventies,” I said. And then I told her of my connection to the song from back then.

I got the album – with the song tucked into the middle of the long suite “Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon” – in 1970, and a year later, as my piano-playing ambitions grew, I bought the songbook for the album and learned to play most of that long suite pretty well. “Colour My World,” I could nail.

Then, in the autumn of 1971, during my freshman year at St. Cloud State, the guys I knew who lived in Stearns Hall – a men’s dorm – would on occasion walk over to nearby Holes Hall and hang out in the first floor lounge, hoping of course to connect with some of the young women who lived there. There was a piano in the lounge, and on those occasions when I was with the guys and the piano bench was open, I’d sit down and play.

And, I said last night to my young friend’s chuckles, of all the pieces I played during that long-ago autumn, “There was no better chick magnet than ‘Colour My World’.”

‘There’s Really Nothing To It . . .’

Thursday, January 30th, 2020

We started the month (and new year) digging into some charts from 1970, and I have a sense that for the next 336 days, we’ll be in that year a lot, first because it’s a nice round fifty years ago, and second, because it was – as ya’ll know if you’ve been taking notes – one of my favorite years for music.

This morning, we’re going to look at what was hot on the Twin Cities’ KDWB as January turned the corner into February that year. Here’s the top ten from the station’s “6+30” survey that was released on February 2, 1970:

“Venus” by the Shocking Blue
“Arizona” by Mark Lindsay
“I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5
“I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” by Dionne Warwick
“Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin
“Jam Up, Jelly Tight” by Tommy Roe
“Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)” by Sly & The Family Stone
“Don’t Cry, Daddy” by Elvis Presley
“No Time” by the Guess Who
“Early In The Morning” by Vanity Fare

That’s a decent forty or so minutes of listening. I truly like eight of those ten, having always had some mild dislike for the Tommy Roe and Elvis records. If I were hearing them in my room at home, they’d give me a good opportunity to wander downstairs and get another glass of juice or something. But the other eight were fine.

(And as I look at those ten, I see a heck of a segue, if one were counting up, from “Whole Lotta Love” to “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.”)

Back then, my favorites from this bunch were probably “Arizona” and “No Time.” Thoughts of the Mark Lindsay record don’t put me in any specific place, but I always perked up a bit when it came on the radio.

As to “No Time,” my clearest memory of the record comes from a drive back to St. Cloud from the Cities after watching the Minnesota North Stars play the Montreal Canadiens to a 1-1 tie. I was with Rick and Rob and a friend of Rob’s, and we had just left what was then the northwestern limits of urban growth and were driving through farmland that in the next twenty years would become suburban subdivisions. “No Time” came on KDWB, and I recall letting the sound of the introductory guitar riff wash over me as I looked out and saw the moon high over the barren wintertime fields.

(I’ve always put that memory into early February, and a quick bit of digging at the Hockey Reference site verifies that: The Stars and the Habs played to a 1-1 tie on February 7, 1970, just a day after Rick turned sixteen.)

Just because we regularly check, we’re going to see how many of those records are in the iPod and thus still a part of my day-to-day listening. It turns out that the only tracks missing are those by Tommy Roe, Sly & The Family Stone and Elvis, just as I likely would have guessed. (So will “Thank You [Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again]” find its way into the iPod? Maybe.)

And from here, we’ll play some Games With Numbers, taking today’s date – 1/30/20 – and take a look at the No. 20 and No. 30 records in that long-ago 6+30. Sitting at No. 20 is a double-sided single by Creedence Clearwater Revival that I liked fairly well, depending on my mood at the moment. If I felt like bopping, I’d want to hear “Traveling Band.” If I were being reflective, the flip side, “Who’ll Stop The Rain,” would do well. I liked both records fifty years ago and still do. (Both are in the iPod.)

And at No. 30, we find another record I like, one that I recall hearing on KDWB but not very often. It must have made an impression, though, because when I ran across it years later – either during the vinyl madness of the 1990s or during my time in the early 2000s digging through blogs and boards – it was happily familiar. It’s Jefferson’s “Baby, Take Me In Your Arms,” and it, too, has a place in the iPod. And I still love the tympani introduction.

Saturday Single No. 672

Saturday, January 4th, 2020

Having started and discarded in extreme dissatisfaction two posts this morning (my sinus infection and needy cats have been no help at all), I’m just going to punt and do right from the top the same thing we did here two days ago as we noted that 1970 is now fifty years distant:

I’m going to sort the releases in the RealPlayer from 1970 by running time, drop the cursor in the middle, and click on random ten times.

And we fall upon “Rosy Shy,” a track from Jesse Winchester’s self-titled debut album, a work produced by Robbie Robertson of The Band. And it’s today’s Saturday Single. (I hope to have more to say come next week.)

Looking Ahead To 1970

Thursday, January 2nd, 2020

Well, not that it’s a trenchant insight or anything, but the past keeps getting further away from us. For example, stuff that happened in 1990 – a year that still seems recent – now took place thirty years ago. My students from that year at Stephens College, a women’s college in Missouri, are now mostly in their early fifties, many of them likely grandparents. And yet, they remain in their early twenties in my memory.

Then there’s the year of 1970, long a benchmark for me – for both music and life – which suddenly (or so it seems) lies a half-century in the past. But its music – and the music of the years on either side of it, from about 1965 to 1975 – still seems vital to me (and to millions of others, too, based on the things I see and hear in the groves of popular culture).

So I guess we’ll keep digging here – Odd and Pop and I – into the music and times of my youth. And what better way to continue doing that than to look at what the year of 1970 would eventually bring as, we tuned our radios fifty years ago this week.

Here are the top ten records of 1970, as offered by Joel Whitburn in A Century Of Pop Music:

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel
“I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5
“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” by B.J. Thomas
“(They Long To Be) Close To You” by the Carpenters
“My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison
“I Think I Love You” by the Partridge Family
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross
“War” by Edwin Starr
“American Woman” by the Guess Who
“Let It Be” by the Beatles

No surprises there.

But the list reminds me of lying on the sofa at home on January 1, 1971, listening and taking notes as the Twin Cities’ KDWB was counting down its own top hits of 1970. At Nos. 1 and 3 were “Bridge” and “Let It Be.” (And I’m not sure of the order of those two, as the piece of paper on which I took my notes has years ago gone its own way.) But at No. 2, I remember for certain, was the Partridge Family record, and I remember as well rolling my eyes in consternation.

Fifty years later, I’d be unconsterned, if that’s a word. “I Think I Love You” is, as I’ve realized over the years, a great record, so it was no surprise to see it the top ten in Whitburn’s book. (And it’s a record that’s provided me with a more vivid memory than have either “Bridge” or “Let It Be,” a memory I’ve related here before.)

So what do we listen to today? Usually, I’d find the No. 50 record from a year that’s now fifty years in the past, but Whitburn’s book only lists the top forty records of the year. So I think we’ll sort out by time the 4,183 records from 1970 in the RealPlayer, set the cursor in the middle and click ten times.

And we get José Feliciano covering the Beatles, taking on “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window.” It’s from his 1970 album Fireworks, which I used to hear across the street at Rick’s.

Tenth record added after first posting.

The Moody Blues’ Seventies, Part 1

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

Now we come, in our long-term look at the catalog of the Moody Blues, to the hard part, assessing the three albums the British group released during the first years of the 1970s: A Question Of Balance from 1970, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour from 1971, and Seventh Sojourn from 1972.

Those are the albums that made me a fan of the Moody Blues. I heard the first of the three across the street at Rick’s sometime in late 1970, soon after it came out. During my early college days, I heard bits and pieces of the second in dorm rooms and apartments, enough to know I liked it. The third of those came my way in December 1972 as a Christmas present from Rick.

And there were singles from all three of those albums that got airplay during those years as well.

In other words, enough of my youth is tied up into those three albums to make it difficult to assess them dispassionately. But I’ll give it a try, starting today with A Question Of Balance.

After starting their last three albums with spoken word introductions or sound collages, the group shifted gears and started A Question Of Balance with music, the stand-out track “Question,” written by Justin Hayward. A version of the track was released as a single in late April 1970, a little more than three months before the album came out, and went to No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100. By the time the album came out in early August, the track had undergone some changes, perhaps most notably the addition of orchestral flourishes – courtesy, no doubt, of the Mellotron – in its introduction.

About a decade ago, I included the single version of “Question” in the 228-track Ultimate Jukebox, but I like both versions equally, and I recall the sixteen- and seventeen-year-old me listening especially closely during the spring of 1970 to the words of the single’s slow middle section:

I’m looking for someone to change my life
I’m looking for a miracle in my life
And if you could see what it’s done to me
To lose the love I knew
You’d safely lead me to
The land that I once knew
To learn as we grow old
The secrets of our soul

And if I hadn’t ever written anything in this space about my adolescent romanticism, all you’d need to do is read those lines to know a lot about who I was in 1970 (and likely still am).

So I still love the album’s title track. What about the rest of it? How can I separate the music I hear now from how I heard it as a junior in high school (and as a college student and as a young adult and so on)?

Well, first, let’s note that – as was often their habit – the Moodies blended a lot of the tracks into one another, making suites instead of discreet tracks. And that’s how I listen to the album these days: as clusters of tracks. Still, being as discerning as I can, I have noted during my listening over the past few months that some of the songs on the album work less well than others.

The first of those is the one that immediately follows “Question,” Mike Pinder’s “How Is It (We Are Here),” which kind of lumbers along with its commentary about “men’s mighty mine machines” and “concrete caves with iron doors.” The fade-out, repeating the title, works but the stuff that comes before it seems heavy-handed in 2019.

Nothing else on the album is that awkward, but I find two of John Lodge’s compositions a little lacking as well: “Tortoise & The Hare” – appended to Graeme Edge’s “Don’t You Feel Small” – strains lyrically, as does his “Minstrel’s Song,” which one finds between a pair of Hayward tunes: “It’s Up To You” and “Dawning Is The Day.”

And then there’s the final track, “The Balance,” co-written by Edge and Thomas, which starts with a spoken word section that – like those on preceding albums – indulges the worst instincts of the band. Consider this:

And he felt the earth to his spine,
And he asked,
And he saw the tree above him,
And the stars,
And the veins in the leaf,
And the light,
And the balance.
And he saw magnificent perfection,
Whereon he thought of himself in balance,
And he knew he was.

I’m no cynic, but that doesn’t connect with me nearly as well in 2019 as it did in 1970 (or 1975 or 1980, even). Maybe it should, but . . .

There are, though, some tracks on the album that still work for me after almost fifty years. Ray Thomas’ “And The Tide Rushes In,” the two Hayward tunes – “It’s Up To You” and “Dawning Is The Day” – and especially Mike Pinder’s “Melancholy Man” all still speak to me without irony or eye-rolls.

And back in 1970, the album spoke to a lot of people, rising to No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and staying on the chart for seventy-four weeks. From what I can tell, “Question” was the only single released from the album.

So with all that, what letter grade would I give the album, assessing it not as a memory but as I hear it today? Despite the missteps outlined above, it’s got a better selection of songs than most of the group’s albums, and my misgivings with a few of the songs are generally with the lyrics; musically, the album is gorgeous. (Assuming, that is, that the listener likes the wall of sound the Moodies offer; I recall one co-worker years ago at the Monticello Times who refused to listen even once to an album I offered him. The group’s sound was “too busy and heavy” for him.)

So I’ll give it a B.

Here’s a 2017 remastered version of my favorite track (save perhaps “Question”) from the album, “Melancholy Man.”