Saturday Single No. 584

A little bit more than two months ago, in my exploration of “When” for our ongoing Journalism 101 project, I wrote:

The short-lived British band McGuinness Flint managed one appearance in the Billboard Hot 100 when “When I’m Dead And Gone” went to No. 47 in early 1971, and as I listen today to that track and to “Malt and Barley Blues,” a 1971 Capitol promo single, I wish I had a lot more from the band on the digital shelves. I have Lo and Behold, a 1972 album by the group’s successor band, Coulson, Dean, McGuinness and Flint, and that’s fine, but I suppose I’m going to have to shell out some cash for the original group’s 1970 album. The group’s tangled history is best left to Wikipedia.

Well, as part of a minispree at Amazon this week, I now have more McGuinness Flint on the CD and digital shelves, as one of my selections was the CD titled The Capitol Years. It pulls together almost all of the group’s first two albums, the 1970 self-titled debut and the 1971 release Happy Birthday Ruthy Baby, along with two sides of a British single (released as a promo here, if I read the tea leaves correctly), and a couple of Brit B-sides.

Why did I say “almost all” in that last sentence? Because the 1996 CD fails to include the track “Brother Psyche” from the first album. I saw a note online somewhere – and I wasn’t bright enough to notice where – that the track had been left off due to time restraints. I snorted and thought to myself that the group would have been better served to leave off the two Brit B-sides, which would have left enough time to accommodate “Brother Psyche.” But I found the missing track elsewhere, so no harm and all that. But I found it an odd decision, and I found it even more odd that the decision wasn’t mentioned at all in the booklet notes, which were written by group founder Tom McGuinness.

So, how’s the music?

Actually, quite good, though I have to agree with Mr. McGuinness that the first album is better than the second. The reason for that, he says, echoing something I’ve often noted about many groups, is that the material on the first album was the result of an extended period of writing as the band coalesced, while the material on the second album was written in a brief time with the goal of recording a second album.

Even with that, it’s all a good listen, and the group has a rootsy sound, with sometimes adventurous instrumentation, that puts me in mind of The Band. Of course, it’ll take some time, some repeated listens, before I’ve absorbed the music (and I doubt whether I’ll ever again absorb music new to me these days the way I did when I was eighteen), but for now, I’m pleased with what I hear.

And we’ll leave you this morning with “I’m Letting You Know.” It’s from the group’s 1970 self-titled album, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

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2 Responses to “Saturday Single No. 584”

  1. David Young says:

    McGuinness Flint were the first artists to record Anna McGarrigle’s “Heart Like A Wheel” which Jerry Jeff Walker brought to Linda Ronstadt. It of course became the title song to her first hit album. Anna and her sister Kate performed and recorded for many years until Kate’s untimely passing in 2008. Kate was the mother of Rufus and Martha Wainwright who have became artists in their own right.

    I’m a huge fan of Kate and Anna McGarrigle. You might want to check them out.

  2. whiteray says:

    Hi David! I love the McGarrigles’ stuff. I did a quick check, and I’ve only mentioned them four or five times over the years, but I do recall writing a piece when Kate passed. It’s probably not available online because it was one of the last things I wrote at WordPress before I got booted from there (and it will be one of the last things posted at the archives site, if I ever get to posting there again). I do have a few of the sisters’ CDs, and I have most of their albums as mp3s. (The vinyl copies went in the Great Selloff a little bit more than a year ago.) Thanks for the note!

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