Inner Worlds

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(Pictured: the Mahavishnu Orchestra, with John McLaughlin on guitar, second from left, Billy Cobham on drums and Jan Hammer on keyboards.)

If you are sick and tired of my obsession with 1976, this post isn’t going to help any. In my defense, it comes from a different angle than the usual—it’s the survey from KCR, the college station at San Diego State University, dated March 1, 1976. It’s got a handful of the major hits of the moment: Frampton Comes Alive, A Night at the Opera, Bad Company’s Run With the Pack, David Bowie’s Station to Station, and Desire by Bob Dylan. Here are other interesting entries from a list that’s divided between “daytime” and “nighttime,” although there’s plenty of overlap between ’em:

1. (daytime)/8. (nighttime) How Dare You/10cc. This album comes between The Original Soundtrack (with “I’m Not in Love”) and Deceptive Bends (with “The Things We Do For Love”) without a big single, although “I’m Mandy Fly Me” and “Art for Art’s Sake” made the lower reaches of the Hot 100. The band’s sense of humor undercut any pretensions they had to being a serious prog rock band—not that there’s anything wrong with that.

5. (nighttime) Maxophone/Maxophone. Chances are good that if you are able to name one Italian prog rock band, it’s PFM (Premiata Forneria Marconi). Now you can name two. Maxophone was a six-piece band made up of avant-garde classical musicians and rockers. They released their debut album in both Italian and English; the Italian version has been re-released in the CD era. You can listen to the whole dang thing here.

6. (daytime)/9. (nighttime) Paris/Paris. This is how Bob Welch spent his time between leaving Fleetwood Mac and launching his solo career, in a power trio with former Jethro Tull bassist Glenn Cornish Cornick and Nazz drummer Thom Mooney. Welch made two albums under the Paris name (the second with a different drummer, Hunt Sales, son of Soupy and future collaborator with David Bowie in Tin Machine), but the band would be defunct by the end of ’76.

6. (nighttime)/Inner Worlds/Mahavishnu Orchestra. No self-respecting album-rock radio station of the late 1970s would fail to play a bit of jazz fusion, although Allmusic.com notes in its biography of the Mahavishnu Orchestra that the band was considered a rock band in its prime. Inner Worlds was the last album John McLaughlin would make under the Mahavishnu Orchestra name until 1984. Stoners of 1976 would probably have dug “Miles Out,” on which McLaughlin creates various otherworldly noises with his guitar.

7. (nighttime) When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease/Roy Harper. You have heard Roy Harper sing, even if you don’t realize it—that’s him on Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar.” He’s also the inspiration for Led Zeppelin’s “Hats Off to Harper,” and he is in general a lot better known and more influential in the UK than over here. When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease (one of the great album titles of the 1970s) was released in the UK, it was known as HQ. The somber, stately title song is here.

15. (nighttime) King Brilliant/Howard Werth and the Moonbeams. During the early 70s, Werth had been in the British band Audience; according to Wikipedia (so who the hell knows), the surviving Doors asked him if he’d be interested in replacing Jim Morrison. (Spoiler: he didn’t.) King Brilliant was produced by Elton John’s longtime producer Gus Dudgeon, and it’s not hard to imagine its lead single, “Midnight Flyer,” as an Elton hit.

It seems pretty clear that like many college radio stations then and now, KCR was Very Serious About the Music, and in a way you can only be when you’re of college age.

One Other Thing: Radio geeks are mourning the demise of the Loop, the Chicago album-rock station purchased by a non-commercial group that will put a syndicated Christian format on it, perhaps by the time you read this. The Loop was owned by a group that was in over its head and thereby ripe for the kind of picking it got. But in its heyday, it was a station that mattered to people. There aren’t too many stations like that; in every market in the country, half the stations could go dark and in 48 hours, it would be like they never existed. But the Loop was a tastemaker, as Professor O’Kelly put it. It was a special place to work, as Rick Kaempfer noted. And in Chicago, it will be missed.

(The main part of this post was rebooted from one that first appeared in March 2013.)

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5 responses

  1. Here’s a random brainflash: I wonder which surveys in the ARSA database feature albums by the most bands with full-time violin players.
    (Thinking in this case of Mahavishnu’s Jerry Goodman and Dylan’s sidewoman Scarlet Rivera.)

    It’s probably not as rare as I think. ELO, Kansas, Jefferson Starship, Hot Tuna and Seatrain all had fiddlers for some period of time, and in between them, they’re probably on a lot of those charts.
    The list gets larger if you count bands where someone doubled on violin as a secondary instrument: Roxy Music, King Crimson and Blind Faith come to mind.
    I guess violin in the rock world is not as rare as it seems.

    A minor correction: Paris and Jethro Tull’s bass player was Glenn Cornick, not Cornish. I think Tull had somebody who doubled on violin at some point too…

  2. And that religious group tends to own multiple stations in the markets and sends the same damn sat-fed programming to them all. They’re especially egregious in the translator landscape.

  3. Somehow, seeing the Loop go away would be much like K-Love taking over WMMS in Cleveland. Shhh, in today’s radio climate, it could happen.

    1. It absolutely could happen to WMMS, or to any other beloved radio station. Bean Baxter at KROQ–Radio Hall of Famer at one of the top stations in LA–has said for years that nobody should be ever surprised if his show or their station should one day disappear, because that’s how radio works. Ownership groups have no conscience about who they sell to when the time comes to sell, and if they’re publically held, they can’t.

      Regarding the K-Love format: at least one article I read suggested that K-Love would have a harder time making it in Chicago than in some other places because Chicago is more Catholic than Evangelical. Not that it’s going to matter. It’s listener-supported and nationwide, so there will be money enough to keep the Chicago affiliate on the air regardless of how many listeners it has.

  4. Perhaps worth noting: Rick Danko of The Band played violin, maybe most memorably on “Rag Mama Rag.”

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