Eye-catching covers/Ear-waking music

04-197208XX 10The Eagles : Asylum SYTC 101
Roxy Music : Island ILPS 9200
Fritz the Cat (Original Soundtrack Recording) : Fantasy V4U6

Although the musical styles on these three albums are completely different, there is one thing that connects them. Each has a fairly spectacular cover, depending of course on your own particular taste that is. Great, album covers should be pictorially and colourfully interesting; we pay for them don’t we, along with the slim pieces of plastic inside.

Unfortunately, some record companies exploit the fact that some people will buy records whatever their covers look like, thus the first album by an American group called The Eagles has a double cover and an interesting inner sleeve but we are charged an extra 26p for the pleasure of listening to the group and having something pretty to litter the carpet whilst the disc is playing. Strangely enough though. Island Records can present us with the fascinating and as expensive sleeve that the Roxy Music record is encased in, but charge us no more. Now it seems to me that if the record companies have enough sense to realise that a graphically successful cover receives, in time, more attention and acclaim than an uninspired one, then they should surely bear the cost. They make a big enough profit on a successful ‘product’ anyway, and wrapping doesn’t fool anyone anymore, it’s the ‘goods’ inside that matter. Eventually this exploitation of well designed sleeves will fall flat on the record companies that indulge in this practice; and also will damage the chances of new groups trying to find an audience, especially unknown foreign groups. People will get fed up with having to fork out so much money, and it’s the disc firms, as well as the groups, that will suffer.

Back to the music. The Eagles, a new band on a new American label (Asylum), have produced a well-balanced, not over-ambitious album. Musically they are a step above most other groups into the soft/heavy rock style that is very much a part of the 70’s pop scene. The band play and sing well, using a mixture of their own and other people’s material. The Jackson Browne songs, and the Gene Clark/Bernie Leadon classic from the first Dillard and Clark album, ‘Train leaves here this morning’, are very fine, whilst their own material varies from excellent to just passable. But the goodies well out-weigh the near misses. Repeated listening brings out the many striking moments of harmonising and faultlessly layered back-up playing.

Roxy Music, sounded at first to me like the return-of-the-son-of-King-CrimsonThat’s a little unfair to say now perhaps, but first listenings to this album proved difficult and the music remained slightly inaccessible, much like the recent recordings of King Crimson. Maybe it has something to do with the producing of ex-Crimsonite Peter Sinfield. But after hearing the album a number of times, the originality and strengths of the group begin to emerge from the multi-styled and influenced world of sound that they work in.The varied and unusual vocal styles are at first a little hard to take, but they do eventually fit into the overall sound. One continuing grumble I have though is that the group do not use more of the late fifties/early sixties influenced material that they demonstrate on the last short track of this album. I think it’s likely though that we shall hear more of this on future albums. Sales of the record are good, being in the bottom thirty of the album charts, so seeing 1 am not alone in my liking and excitement for this record, I would suggest that you have a listen, it’s sure to turn some of you on.

Roxy Music’s cover is one of the year’s best, using model Kan-Ann in a striking lengthwise pose across the double cover. The inside reveals the group in poses and clothes best left for you to discover. (Grinspoon’s fallen in love with both Paul Thompson and Eno.)

The soundtrack recording from the first full-length X-rated animated feature ‘Fritz the Cat’ seems to be of interest primarily to those who have seen the film. The music is a good reminder of scenes from the cartoon along with the colourful cover depicting characters and events from the film’s story.

The music is a mixture of styles and artists. A number of tracks are hip/soul pieces, others are cinematically psychedelic, complementing action and moods. There’s a track from the late Billy Holiday, a Bo Diddley rock classic, and the camp ‘You’re the only girl (I ever really loved)’ sung by Jim Post. The album is a good cohesive jumble of sounds, but the music is best heard in the context of the movie before forking out any cash.

He’s Where He’s At

04-197208XX 10Fritz and Cat (X) — based on characters created by Robert Crumb
Directed by Ralph Balshi 78 mins, cut.

If you don’t like the underground, after this film you will hate it. If you do, then you’ll find you and your friends sent up rather cruelly. The Daily Express will have it’s worst suspicions confirmed. Mary Whitehouse won’t see it for fear of having an orgasm. Whatever else this film is it’s certainly real – a bit too real at times. It took me a whole evening afterwards to realise that the straight world caricatured the same way would be absolutely unbearable, unfilmable.

Police really are pigs here, and rather dumb ones too – everyone else is some sort of nasty animal. Fritz the Cat is a kind of naive college-kid revolutionary. There’s a sort of mix-up in the usual cartoon conventions – people really do fuck, they do die when they get shot, but Fritz escapes virtually unhurt from the centre of a massive explosion (though he is hospitalised first). It’s really a horror movie to out-horror anything Lee or Price could contrive.

It’s also truly funny – if you can remember it’s a cartoon. I forgot.