Some record labels are as intriguing as the music they released. Let's find out why while hearing some great music from the WFMU archives.
Vertigo released progressive rock that was more risky but less garish than the arena-prog most know. The swirl covered the A side of the LP label: a spinning vortex for fixated listeners. Listen to 1969's "The Kettle" by Coliseum, played by Brian Turner. On The Long Rally, Scott McDowell played "My Heaven" by Clear Blue Sky, which sounds like grunge twenty years before Nirvana. Evan "Funk" Davies played "Four Horsemen" from Aphrodite's Child's double 666 album, one of the most daring in the Vertigo catalogue. All tracks require a Real Player.
Hold any 1960s ABC Impulse! gatefold pressing in your hand. Feel the weight and gloss. Look at the sturdy black and hot orange spine; strong and fiery as the day these pungently inventive albums were released with creative limit-testing, civil rights and black power as a backdrop. Listen to Frank O'Toole playing Archie Shepp's 1965 sound riot, "Hambone" from Fire Music. Listen to Dan Bodah on Airbone Event playing John Coltrane's "The Father And The Son And The Holy Ghost. from Meditations. If you think Impulse! was just for free jazz, listen to Bob Brainen playing Max Roach's 1962 protest track, "It's Time." All from when the implications of jazz freedom had a wonderfully dangerous edge.
Even the Beatles Apple Records, which the group aspired to run as an artistic incubator, had little known artists. The Fabs signed Liverpool buddy Jackie Lomax. Listen to "Sour Milk Sea.'written by George Harrison with various Beatles backing Lomax. Terre T. played this on Cherry Blossom Clinic. It is a simple rock song, but listen to the sliding bass and the dynamics of the instrumental interaction. Late Beatles mastery as its finest.
We can only stick our pinky toe in a ten foot pool on this blog. Next week we'll stick in the other pinky toe, exploring more modern music that emerged as small labels proliferated in the 1970's, 80's and 90's.