The Funeral Jam in the Court of the Crimson King is the Jam That Never Ends

When I first really found my footing in popular music listening, it was in the vast soundscape of 1970s progressive rock. I didn’t really understand what exactly I was hearing when I listened to Yes or Emerson, Lake & Palmer (or, later, when venturing into darker waters with King Crimson), but it truly captured my imagination. On Wednesday, one of the pillars of that genre, Greg Lake, lost his battle with cancer. With Robert Fripp, a childhood friend, Lake founded King Crimson, the ur-band of progressive rock. Lake then took his considerable vocal talents, along with his bass guitar, and joined on with (the recently late) keyboardist Keith Emerson and later drummer Carl Palmer in ELP, “progressive rock’s first supergroup.” The band’s two-CD live compilation, King Biscuit Flower Hour: Greatest Hits Live, was in heavy rotation in my car stereo and, once I expanded my radio-format horizons at WHCL, on the airwaves. The second disc contains only one song, and I used a portion of it for the intro to every show. The full version, recorded at a live concert performance in Anaheim in 1974, constitutes today’s Jam:

Silent Film Series: Halloween Edition

Over the weekend, I decided it was time to start transitioning my music listening into the autumnal mode, and rather than go straight to Harvest on the vinyl, I decided to ease into things with Jerry Garcia’s second solo album, a 1974 release known as Garcia (Compliments). The version I have comes from a Garcia boxed set, which means it has a number of bonus tracks appended to those songs that comprised the original release. Like a lot of Garcia’s solo work, there are plenty of cover tunes on this album, and while I generally like the release more than the two-star rating it received from AllMusic, there’s one song in particular that’s stuck out to me since my first listen.

The tune is one of the bonus tracks, an R&B-type cover entitled “(I’m a) Road Runner,” written by the hit-making Holland-Dozier-Holland Motown songwriting team, and first recorded by Junior Walker and the All-Stars in 1965. Of the versions I’ve heard, I like Garcia’s the best– it’s the most complete, to my ear– but Bo Diddley got ahold of it too, and it’s his version that prompted this post.

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Two things you might think would happen in this space are not going to happen. First, this being the continuation of our Silent Film Series, you might expect discussion of a video clip best viewed without sound, since that’s the premise of the Series. Second, this being a post about Halloween, videos, and music, you might expect me to go with this, which, if this was a Friday, is what I would’ve done.

Instead and in light of the above, I’m appealing to the common notion that, on Halloween, things that were dead take on an impressively lifelike quality (e.g., ghosts, mummies, zombies, vampires, etc.), and applying that concept to the notion of “silent” films as I’ve conceived it here. In other words, when a “silent” film takes on lifelike qualities on Halloween, you can hear it as well as see it. In other words, I was watching the selection, below, with the sound on, quickly reached the definite conclusion were the visuals of the sort that would make the clip a good feature in this spot, and then reached the probable conclusion that everyone would like watching it better with the music playing too. In still other words, turn up your volume, and enjoy a minor spectacle of live-action sight and sound:

To what we’re (sort of) listening during the Derby: Stephen Stills and Jerry Garcia

Plenty of people have made good listening suggestions for Derby day (HT: @amention, who also gave us yesterday’s timely jam), but two of the musical selections I most associate with horse racing are strikingly mediocre offerings by two top-tier musicians.

First up is Stephen Stills’ Thoroughfare Gap, a 1978 release that is the lowest-rated of all Stills’ albums on AllMusic. Usually thorough (sorry), AMG’s review is a mere two sentences long: “A rather poor attempt of Stephen Stills’ to adapt to the disco/dance craze. Includes lame covers of Buddy Holly (‘Not Fade Away’) and Gregg Allman (‘Midnight Rider’) along with the semi-hit title track.” Click here for a live take of that title track in which the Texan sounds alternatively tired and British, although his acoustic guitar is expectedly dexterous.

Jerry Garcia’s 1982 Run For The Roses received a few more lines in its AllMusic review, but it really isn’t any more glowing, beginning by noting that it’s the last release for the Jerry Garcia Band and “sadly, it is also Garcia’s most lightweight effort as a bandleader,” and including adjectives like “marginal,” “impotently executed,” “underachieving,” and, with respect to the cover art (pictured above, right), “disconcerting.” Like Thoroughfare Gap, the title track is the best-regarded selection on Run For The Roses. Here‘s a lazy live version from an undated JGB performance.

What’s playing in the background of your Derby party?