by Steev Riccardo
Hello Rock fans!
Let me start by apologizing for the long hiatus from writing this column, which is by far my favorite column to write. I have heard from the fans, none of whom were born after 1990, by the way, asking for more stories about Steve Marriot, Roger Waters, and Chrissie Hynde, and it’s awesome that there other rock fans out there to dig the music and to read about it.
Enough with the trivial stuff lets talk rock! Little things get me really excited so when my friend Alvan Long, who runs the Cambridge Mass.- based Curve of the Earth record label and New Alliance Recording studios handed me a January 1971 copy of Circus Magazine, I was extremely happy.
Circus wasn’t exactly my favorite magazine from that era (no, it wasn’t Rolling Stone either), that would be Creem Magazine and the legendary Lester Bangs, of course, but still, when you look at a copy of Circus from that time now, it’s like the coolest thing. The seventies are so underrated. What a brilliant time for music that was.
This particular issue featured Grand Funk Railroad on the cover and contained a pullout 1971 rock calendar that was still intact. Even though the magazine and the calendar weren’t exactly in mint condition, they were in good enough shape to more than enjoy.
The articles were amazing, from the main Grand Funk feature to pieces on Lee “Do You Know What I Mean” Michaels, Eric Burden (the Animals), a Patti Smith tribute to Janis Joplin, Steppenwolf, and an interview with the Doors’ Jim Morrison, who died later in 1971. There are also greats photos throughout and interesting reviews like a brilliant record review of The Guess Who album “Share The Land,” and if you have read this column before you know how much we love The Guess Who.
I realize that this excitement might a little too much for some of you to understand, but if you do get it, you too are a rock n roll warrior like myself. That was a special time and even though I was young, I was very aware of rock’s impact. It was a special time, which is captured in films like Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous,” which will never be matched. It’s over now and there is zero chance that rock will ever be that cool again.
Seriously, check out this line from The Guess Who review by Jonathan Eisen, “The Guess Who are a great consolidation band, merging all styles that could fit between the sleeves and making a great vinyl sandwich.” It doesn’t get much better than that for a rock n roll fanatical junkie like me who appreciates not only good music, but good journalism as well.
The pullout calendar, which is only four pages long, is a piece of art in itself. There are fantastic photos of Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, Alvin Lee, Donovan and his band, and lastly, the back cover is a close-up shot of a young Stevie Winwood.
Also in a cool section of the magazine called “Hot Wax” they have listing of the top five records at the top radio stations around the country. The late great WBCN was one of the stations and this was its top five records at the time:
The Band “Stage Fight”
Free “Fire And Water”
Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young
Joe Cocker “Mad Dogs And Englishmen”
The Rolling Stones “Get Yer Ya Yas Out”
Now tell me how cool is that? As you know radio, like the recording industry, has died a long terrible death, but luckily we have plenty of history to keep the rock alive.
One more observation I made after going through the whole magazine was that pretty much every artist was vital at that time in history. It was all about quality back in those days, not quantity, a problem that started to happen in the 80’s when recording labels became overzealous and started signing every band that came along, a trend that only worsened over the years. Back then it was about true artistry from the recording to the artwork to the live presentation.
Yes indeed--the good ol' days..