The first album by the Moody Blues (Go Now in the US and The Magnificent Moodies in the UK) featured Denny Laine on vocals and guitar and was a fairly good R&B, soul effort. The next album under the Moody Blues name was Days of Future Passed in 1967 and it sounds absolutely nothing like its predecessor. It has an iconic cover and is a must-have item for record collections that even flirt with the psychedelic era. The thing is, it may well be overrated.
Every once in a while the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s retro sounding albums fool you into thinking you are hearing a cover from some band you cannot quite place, but they don’t do covers—and, hell, they don’t need to. The songs that may sound familiar sound that way because the palette is late 60s Stones, Beatles, Kinks and all done without the airbrushing of overproduction. You get drums, bass, guitar, organ, accordion, and tambourine. It’s not derivative though; it’s authentic to the time it reveres. That doesn’t mean that “Caress” from Take it From the Man! doesn’t sound like “The Magic Bus” in a way, in a good way.
When I was in the UK in 1981 it was clear that punk had been co-opted as a fashion statement. Green, spiked Mohawk hair-dos and Doc Martens were so common that no one seemed to notice the “punks” any more than they did the windbreaker set (which I belonged to at the time). Supposedly the safety pins had once really been used by poor people to give needed structure to ragged denim, but by 1981 a pair of new Levis without safety pins would have made you stand out as a counterculture freak. And Adam Ant and the Ants had six tunes in the top 100, including two #1s. Just as the Mohawks and Martens had become fashionable, Adam Ant and the Ants own version of punk-new wave was broadly successful.
I’ve chosen Ozzy Osbourne’s seventh solo album, 1995’s Ozzmosis, as the Then-comparison with Black Label Society’s new Catacombs of the Black Vatican because, as is always the case with an Ozzy album, the guitarist plays such a huge part in the total effect. And because it’s such a flat-out weird album!