Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 16. 1972
We, through the spirit of our ancestors, bring you love.
Our treasured gift of happiness.
Forget your problems.
See beyond the black clouds and be happy'
Your birthright is happiness.
Born from the dawn of time,
A gift to be cherished
Be happy! Be happy!
Such is the message of this second album by Osibisa. It's pretty powerful and by the time you've listened to it you feel like getting up and shouting it: be happy! It's an album to dance to, to sing to, for fun and happiness. Its glee is unpretentious. An album to breathe by, to heave by. It's a hip album, a zap album, an all-time, good-time fuck album.
Which seems to go without saying for Osibisa. These seven West African/West Indian guys pound out an unbelievably beautiful, rhythmically complex noise that occupies your whole brain if you let it. It's full of percussive innovations and multiple accents, though that isn't surprising since Osibisa is an old word from Ghana that means "criss-cross rhythms." No matter how involved these rhythms become, the effect is sustained because they are so well-measured — the acoustic reinforcement is maintained.
I hope I have not implied that Osibisa is a bunch of cheerful niggers rolling their eyeballs and belting their bongos, because Woyaya displays a whole lot of good musicianship and some inspired jubilant instrumental solos. Did I say instruments? If you've never heard voice used as percussion, try listening to Survival the first track on side two, and Longhty Lasisi Amao's incredible performance therein.
There are some remarkable ethereal moments, set against beautiful vocal passages from the chair, and spaced out by Teddy Osea's flute, Extended passages of singular per cussion intersperse the remaining full instrumental noise that pulsates ecstatically. Woyaya, by the way, means "where we are going," and I think Osibisa are going to please you.
"Be happy!" they sing - Oh, fuck, yes!
Anyone who has come up through rock and hasn't any pretensions about it doesn't need any bullshit about this LP. You put the record on your deck, turn it up loud, and move,
It sounds simple, but it's pretty hard to do these days. Of course, choose the rockers first then maybe get into the slower ones if you last that long.
Once you've got out of the rockers you'll probably start to think about the band, and to work out all the good moves these guys have got going for them especially the lead vocalist Rod Stewart. He came from a classic blues background, and developed and perfected his style with the Jeff Beck Group on the LP Truth. After their breakup, Ronnie Wood the bassman joined the Small Faces after Steve Marriot had left them, while Stewart established himself as a singer songwriter in three solo LPs: An old raincoat will never let you down. Gasoline Alley, and Every picture tells a story, backed mainly by the Faces.
The relationship which exists between the Faces and Rod Stewart is that he is basically another member of the band for recordings seen by the number of songs writen and sung by other members of the group) and live dates, and that on (he side he continues his solo career. On dates, songs from his solo LPs are played along with others by the Faces, so there is no need for him to wholly go solo.
Although he claims to be only part of the band everyone knows how he gets the crowd together with his Jagger-type stage act, and that he's a new superstar with some of the old shakes mixed with new ones.
On this album three songs are sung by the Faces while the other six are with Stewart. The songs by the Faces are much gentler in spirit and take their place mainly between rockers.
"My mum she likes you, she thinks you're swell
Got the makings of a dance hall girl
Your low-cut frock and bird's nest hair
Stiletto heels, and the way you swear
She said to take you back to see my folks again on Sunday"
And how are you
Fancy seeing you here."
Debris, written by Ronnie Lane, travels into more serious realms and is probably one of the finest tracks on the LP.
"In the morning don't say you love me
'cause I'll only kick you out the door"
"Have a quick listen, kid, and maybe that's all you need."
Of course the best thing about the LP is the return of the old rock-and-roll and blues riffs and rhythms, the kind Keith Richard has been playing all his life without getting bored. It's good to get back to the roots.
Steve Miller Band
Steve Miller first made an appearance in the Sixties about the same time as Procol Harum and the Byrds. His first two albums Children of the Future and Sailor were two of the strongest strangest rock and roll albums around for a long time. Two or three albums later he had lost his original success and members of the band, But Recall the Beginning is better than anyone could have imagined he was capable of - probably because of the return of a former colleague Ben Sidran, who produced the album and of Miller's new men like Kim Keltner and Jesse Davis.
Despite having written all the songs himself, there is a distinct difference in tone and emotion in every (rack. The lighter, shorter tracks are all on the same side while the deep, dark, longer tracks are on the other. Miller's int-ention to retrieve some kind of the old dark mystery in this album is suggested in the "This recording completed on the full eclipse of the moon, Jan 29, 1972," statement on the cover. It also says the album is devoted to Mahalia Jackson and Junior Parker which could be relevant.
The first track, Welcome, with no vocals heralds in the new emotional, uncool Miller. It's followed by a typical Fifty-ish doo wap, light-hearted, half-sung, half-reuted number. Very nostalgic. From here Miller is on his own Unfortunately the album becomes more and more disillusioned, almost heartbroken (but still good), until by the end of side two you've just gotta turn the record and start again
Barclay James Harvest
This album, the first I think released here by B.J.H., points up the uneasy amalgam of the basic rock line-up and orchestra. This I suspect could have been a design imposed on them in the studio.
The group don't give themselves, or are not given, the chance to show what they are capable of instrumentally and the sound, bass and drum dominated with lots of 'chunky' piano, is swallowed up by the strings rather like Procul Harum on Broken Barricades, Solos are virtually non-existent and the whole thing seems to be on a very tight rem.
The rhythms just escape the charge of being ponderous and though there are nice changes the same ones recur constantly.
They have their troubles finding new melodies too. The effect is nine songs which are pleasant but innocuous sad but above all insipid. The lyrics, intended to be re-flective and melancholic, come across as maudlin. "She walks along the seashore and listens to the sea and I can't say if she ever thinks of me," (Ursula) The great rock groups somehow elicit an emotional buzz. B.J.H. elicit mainly boredom.
"Medicine Man" which kicks things off gains from this as well as having a good melodic line and some nice percussion things happening.
Ursula sounds promising with its opening of woodwinds fambourine and steel guitar, but the whole piece is too consciously lyrical to work.
Little Lapwing also opens nicely with acoustic guitar, of which there is little elsewhere, and breathy vocals nicely harmonised and close to the mike. There are some swooping electric chords in the distance and its nicely suggestive of aerial fancies when for no reason the strings enter and take the song out for the last couple of minutes. Thud!
Song With No Meaning is the only one I'd preserve on side 2, with its suggestions of summer reminding some-what of Grazing in The Grass and The Rascals Island of Lore, then a short and silvery electric solo which is faded out all too soon.
The poet gathers together the defects of the whole album as it unravels a self-pitying plea for understanding against a totally unrelated backdrop of violins and cellos.
B.H.J. have the faults but few of the virtues of Procul Harum and Pink Floyd. Moody Blues lovers might like it. There's nothing bad here, just unmemorable. I don't expect to play it much. —John Crommelin.