And More...

Having found a CD copy, however, I can vouch for the fact that the digital separation into individual tracks enabled Hughesy to add frequent Rounder insertions into Tuesday night's Fools Gold or Sunday afternoon's High Class Music on the local community radio station. The side-long suites might not have been radio-friendly back then, now that they'd been digitally separated the individual tracks worked quite nicely in the environment I was working in.

The radio show was done by plugging my laptop into the board at the station, working from my iTunes library, which also provided the backdrop while I was working, so the basic method when I started assembling a playlist was to keep an eye out for transitions and crossfades between track that sounded good - a nice contrast, perhaps, or a seamless transition in other cases - and it was an environment where some of The Moray Eels Eat The Holy Modal Rounders worked pretty well (once we'd omitted the really strange stuff, which probably wasn't classroom friendly anyway).

All in all, I suspect the album got more than its fair share of airplay, though the actual playlists have long been consigned to lost in a system crash land.

In retrospect, and having read Stampfel's liner notes to the CD reissue, the album's very much a product of its time, largely through large quantities of psychotropic substances that were being consumed. It's worth remembering that 1968 wasn't entirely devoted to flower power, peace, love and understanding.

So, the track by track commentary:

The opening Bird Song (actual title: If You Want To Be A Bird) is, of course, the album's best known cut, thanks to that sequence in Easy Rider, and represented Stampfel's girlfriend Antonia's first attempt at songwriting. 

As far as paeans to personal liberation go, the closing lines (If you want to be a bird it won't take much to get you up there/When you come down, land on your feet) are remarkably down to earth advice as the song sequence segues into One Will Do For Now (Stampfel: one of the best songs Weber ever wrote) with an almost resigned guess I've just about had enough for the moment vocal over tinkling harpsichord that works rather well. The keyboards (played by Richard Tyler) are remarkably prominent throughout, given that the Rounders started as an acoustic folkie duo.


B© Ian Hughes 2012