Friday, April 13, 2007

259. David Ackles - American Gothic (1972)

Track Listing

1. American Gothic
2. Love's Enough
3. Ballad Of The Ship Of State
4. One Night Stand
5. Oh California
6. Another Friday Night
7. Family Band
8. Midnight Carousel
9. Waiting For The Moving Van
10. Blues For Billy Whitecloud
11. Montana Song


Another one of those rare discoveries from the list. Have you ever heard of David Ackles? No? I thought not, neither had I. Still, it is a pretty outstanding album, but one which never got an audience... it's a bit late now seeing as Ackles died in 1999. If you like the albums by Scott Walker and Randy Newman which I reviewed here already, you will really like this.

The first time you listen to this you might think it derivative, particularly in the similarities to Scott Walker, but after a while you start understanding how this album has its own particular identity. Firstly, all songs here are originals, unlike in Scott Walker. Secondly, David Ackles has an amazing vision for the epic and operatic quality of music. The arrangements are less Casino music and more modern composer style, from Aaron Copeland inspired music like Midnight Carousel to the operatic Montana Song.

This guys lyrics are really beautiful and well crafted, and his arrangements are just amazing enough to fit the lyrics. And then he has a great voice. At first the album might seem really weird, but it soon gets under you skin. This is one of those albums you really need to let grow on you, of course from the first time I put it on I immediately tohugh: "I'm going to like this, I just don't know when"... it was about 4 plays of the album later that I really made the epistemic shift into a higher state of counsciousness in what regards this album.

This is a masterpiece, an unknown and unrecognised masterpiece, but one nonetheless, I am going to get this on CD even though it's available on Napster for you to stream! Also you can get it form Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. Montana Song
2. Midnight Carousel
3. Ballad Of The Ship Of State
4. One Night Stand

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

His first album, the eponymous David Ackles (1968), did not achieve commercial success, but was influential among singer-songwriters. This and his follow-up 1969 release, Subway to the Country, featured songs that melded strong theatrical influences with piano-based rock. His songs reflected the views of their characters-narrators, many of whom were societal outcasts. In this way he presaged many of the songs of Bruce Springsteen and Steve Earle.

His best known work was his third album, American Gothic, released in 1972, which was produced by Elton John's lyricist Bernie Taupin. Though it did not enjoy big sales, the album was highly acclaimed by music critics in the US and UK. The influential British music critic Derek Jewell of the UK The Sunday Times described the album as being "the Sgt. Pepper of folk". Alone of Ackles four albums, it was recorded in England rather than in America. Taupin and Ackles had become acquainted when Ackles was selected to be the opening act for Elton John's 1970 American debut at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. Elton John referred to his admiration for Ackles' talent in the booklet for his 4-disc retrospective box set To Be Continued released in 1990.

I wanted the Montana Song from youtube, but there's not a single David Ackles video on the site, so... there's another good thing from Montana which isn't the Montana song, it's Montana himself:

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