Why is avant-garde music so bad

+++ If you want to find out more about the 70s, dedicate yourself to the Musikexpress issue 10/2020 including a large 70s special and a book about 140 favorite records from the 70s. We also produced a podcast episode for this. +++

Paul Williams
SOMEBODY MAN

(1970)
Songwriter Paul Williams is behind songs like David Bowies "Fill Your Heart" or "Rainy Days And Mondays" from the Carpenters. The man worked as a chord writer, but retained his belief that he could become a pop star himself. Wishful thinking, because even Williams ’first and best own record went under. A shame! Williams oscillates elegantly between soft rock and opulent pop. He can never make up his mind, that was a problem back then. Today we know: More touching songs than "Time" are hard to imagine. Daft Punk recognized this - and hired Williams as a lyricist and singer for their last album.
André Boße


Rodriguez
COLD FACT

(1970)
Rodriguez was building houses in Detroit and had no idea that the South Africans adored him as a late superstar. Big eyes on both sides when they got to know each other, a great film tells about it. COLD FACT is the album that started the boom - and that nobody in the US was interested in. Rodriguez plays a psychedelic version of Dylan, or a folk version of Hendrix. The dealer's ode "Sugar Man" is his most famous song. Rodriguez also sings about political grievances, the South Africans learned these songs by heart in the apartheid state. Rodriguez, hidden champion of globalization.
André Boße


Tim Buckley
STARSAILOR

(1970)
What can Tim Buckley do for the fact that many years later one of the worst Britpop bands named itself after this album? The man had already presented a series with five brilliant records in the early 1970s, and his pace was breathtaking. He started out as a sensitive songwriter who sang in opulently arranged songs about the sea and the mountains. STARSAILOR doesn't want to have any more about it. Buckley grins sweetly from the cover, but the piece "Come Here Woman" is comparable to the kind of anti-pop that Scott Walker plays today. Jazz, Dadaism, avant-garde - and right in the middle the breathtaking one "Song To The Siren". Not from this world.
André Boße


Comus
FIRST UTTERANCE

(1971)
Even in the early 70s, which were not poor in absurd music, Comus are an aberration, a British folk band far from the ethereal lightness of leading bands like Fairport Convention, which on their first album sounds like no group before. Or after that. Or at all. If the occult shocker “The Wicker Man” had nightmares, he could sound like this bunch of scattered Velvet underground fans from Bromley: music on the verge of a nervous breakdown: scratchy, disintegrating, sniffing, threatening, pagan and time and again of captivating beauty. Accompanied by a foldout cover drawn in a ballpoint pen by band leader Roger Wootton with a creature writhing in pain, FIRST UTTERANCE plumbs shoals that rob you of your mind. Bowie was a fan. Good Bowie.
Chris White


Gil Scott-Heron
PIECES OF MAN

(1971)
If you listen to this record, you think that Scott-Heron single-handedly invented a good part of what we mean by black music today. Among many good records, PIECES OF A MAN is his great masterpiece, glowing with energy: a furious mixture of jazz and funk, poetry and anti-establishment protest. Not only because of the famous opening track, the frenzied proto-rape "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". Only after ("Home is Where The Hatred Is", "Or Down You Fall") he goes from spoken word to soul man who can compete with the greats - Sly, Marvin, Curtis.
Annett Scheffel


Judee Sill
JUDEE SILL

(1971)
She had drugs, prostitution and prison behind her and emancipated herself from temporary jobs in showbiz: Californian convert Judee Sill made her debut in her mid-twenties. Music that, although promised to the folk, refers to Johann Sebastian Bach, finds its way through gospel to soul and even manages the panoramic beauty of the Carpenters. A jewel of the art of arranging that never turns away from Judee's guitar and her voice, which strives for pure beauty. Their message is the good news, without their texts being naive. But there was no rescue for Judee Sill: At 35 she died of an overdose.
Oliver Götz

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtaZKPRyhro


Bill Fay
TIME OF THE LAST PERSECUTION

(1971)
Four years ago, the spiritual 70s singer appeared out of nowhere, and suddenly we realized where Spiritualized had stolen their religiously charged mantras. Bill Fay's second album covers the big themes: Christ and Antichrist, Faith and Heresy. But don't let yourself be fooled, Fay is not a weirdo, not an evangelical. His strength lies in breaking down biblical language into the topics of the day, for example in the title song the Kent State massacre, in which four students were shot on an anti-Vietnam war demonstration. Fay versus Nixon. Good versus evil.
André Boße


The New Rotary Connection
HEY LOVE

(1971)
Between 1967 and 1971, Rotary Connection from Chicago released five albums of angelic chamber rock music, whose increasingly theatrical wide-screen sound was then dismissed as gimmicky pounding. Only later was the group around Minnie Riperton duly celebrated by the acid jazz scene as a visionary act that fills the gaps between David Axelrod and Eugene McDaniels. The best album is the last, not least because of it "I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun" contains, immortalized in the version of Masters At Work.
Chris White


Kevin Ayers
WHATEVERSHEBRINGSWESING

(1971)
For his third solo album, the Soft Machine founder descends from the Prog Rock summit, makes himself comfortable and reflective in a valley hut. He chooses the orchestral, psychedelized ballad as the narrative form. For the reef rocker only "Stranger In Blue Suede Shoes" - Blueprint for the Dandy Warhols - he ends up in the next bar. Supported by members of his backing band The Whole World, the spacer rockers Gong, his soft machine colleague Robert Wyatt and Mike Oldfield's Ratatat guitar, nothing upsets Ayers: not even the marching music that "Champagne Cowboy Blues" taken by surprise.
Stephan Rehm



Pan & Regaliz
PAN & REGALIZ

(1971)
If you want to watch seasoned record collectors begin to drip from their mouths, you have to hold an original press of Pan & Regaliz's only album under their noses. Not only because the record released during the Franco regime was only pressed in an extremely small number of copies, but also because the music is as good as idiosyncratic. The short-lived group from Barcelona replaces the usual bombast of common progressive acts of the era with sparsely orchestrated sound that lives from its driving groove that flirts with jazz rock. And a dehumanized flute surfing over the songs, which makes Pan & Regaliz seem more remote than the simple songs would suggest: "Waiting In The Monster’s Garden" is the big track - psychedelic funk out of this world.
Chris White


The O’Jays
BACK STABBERS

(1972)
Does anyone still know the term Philly Sound? The hyped Soul offshoot from Philadelphia flooded a young invention called a discotheque. And was quickly forgotten again. Perhaps because it was mainly the club kids in sequin flared pants and platform shoes who fell for his grooves - and who over the years traded discos for semi-detached houses. BACK STABBERS reflects the feeling of a generation that some millennials might consider the effeminate humanity, that's how cute and funky it sounded when the foundation stone for disco and modern pop music was laid.
Jördis Hagemeier


Curt Boettcher
THERE'S AN INNOCENT FACE

(1972)
At the beginning of the 1970s, the paradigms had shifted for Curt Boettcher. The times when he was considered a producer who was named in the same breath as Terry Melcher and Brian Wilson were over, his fine-grained psychedelic finger exercises with The Millennium and Sagittarius remained unsuccessful. THERE’S AN INNOCENT FACE also rushed past all possibilities with its radio-friendly melodies between soft rock, country and sunshine pop. It's a shame, because his core competence - the hyper-careful, multi-layered, polished arrangement - carries the album through.
Jochen Overbeck