Friday, February 06, 2009

Musical Theatre - A Revolutionary Revelation (1970)

The 1960's (and yes 1970 is part of the 1960's) produced plenty of weird records and plenty of cheesy records, but those musical excursions that combine the weird & cheesy are a rarer lot. This is certainly one of them. So what is the record about? Well according to thel liner notes, "This album attempts to explain in musical form, not only what the youth of today are against but also what they are for....It is a musical expression against the war, racism, violence, poverty, the destruction of our natural environment, inequality, puritanism, and the imbalance of power." Now listening to it for the first time you might miss this. You might mistakenly believe that the record was made to cash in on disgruntled youth who might be fooled into thinking this album expresses their concerns, such as their desire for a "love pill" and their belief that a lack of compassion for minority groups caused Lee Harvey Oswald to become an assassin. And so you might think that what you're hearing is the counterculture filtered through the psyche of an aging, pseudo-hipster, record producer who assumes the voice of a nameless, all-wise, Socratic questioner. But you'd obviously be wrong, or maybe not. It is really difficult to capture the weirdness of this one in a couple paragraphs, so you should really listen to it yourself and decide how serious of a piece of musical theater (I'm sorry, theatre) this is.

Admist all this weirdness and between the spoken word exchanges, there are some pretty cool songs here. Computer World is probably my favorite (sort of a watered down version of Lothar & the Hand People's "Machines") and the Lee Harvey Oswald montage, Reflections in the Life of an Assassin is pretty cool too. The band, made up of some competent session musicians plays it with a straight face (although not as straight as the Mystical Voice & the Revolutionists). Here's the personnel listed on the record:

  • Written and conceived by Jay Darrow
  • Paul Griffin - Organ/Piano
  • Al Gorgoni, Dave Spinozza, Bill Snyker - Guitars
  • Jimmy Johnson - Drums
  • Chuck Raney - Fender Bass
  • Jack Jennings - Percussion
  • The Musical Theatre - Revolutionists
  • Howard Newhouse - Mystical Voice

Jay Darrow is the main instigator of this fantastic excursion into teen angst & desire. In addition to writing the script he's cowriter on most of the songs (in most cases along with G. Shayne). I don't know much about him, though, other than the fact that he is also listed as a producer on a number of pop/rock singles during the late 60s by bands like the Harbingers, the Plebian Rebellion, & that counter-culture icon Anita Bryant.

Because the spoken interludes fill up the space between the songs I have not seperated the tracks the way I usually do. Also, this is still a pretty noisy recording and my attempts at noise reduction don't seem to have worked as well as they usually do. Unforunately I think this is because my crappy turntable has gotten crappier. I'm going to try to get a new stylus sometime soon, which will hopefully help. I hope you enjoy this weirdness released in 1970 on the Metromedia label.

And here's the tracklist:

We Want
Computer World
You Only Reap What You Sow
Reflections in the Life of an Assassin
There Must Be a Better Way of Life
A Love Pill
Before the Apple
I've Seen God in Many Places
A Revolutionary Revelation