Yet More...

That show, the middle of a two- or three-night run at the Carousel, seems to be the only known time that the first side of Children of the Future was played (more or less) in its entirety. A glance at the recorded-concert listing at Wolfgang’s Vault reveals nothing before 1973, a pity, since it would be interesting to see how the band handled the transition from the recorded versions to the stage.

Side two starts with acoustic guitar and harpsichord for Scaggs’ Baby’s Callin’ Me Home. It’s a pleasant little number with delicate touches, simple straightforward lyrics and a timeless charm. There’’s an up-tempo fade in that takes the listener into Steppin’ Stone, another Scaggs contribution with a chugging rhythm and interesting guitar lurking behind the vocal, and one of the albums relatively rare guitar solos. Steppin’ Stone segues nicely into Miller’s Roll With It, which in turn morphs into another up-tempo number, Junior Saw It Happen and a cover of Fanny Mae before the tempo drops for a languid Key To The Highway with lazy harp and delicate organ from Peterman.

What’s on display is a tight rhythmic musical unit turning out interesting music without instrumental frills or extended solos, which probably raised their heads in live performance. The result, far from the full-on psych-out you might have expected, is tasteful sixties pop of a very high order, an almost seamless whole where the album is more than the sum of its individual parts. 

Unfortunately, despite the presence of a number of tracks that may have worked well in a commercial radio format it failed to sell massive numbers, possibly (at least this is Hughesy’s theory) because the individual tracks didn’t work as well away from the context of the album.

Regardless of sales, Children of the Future was an impressive debut effort, and the first side of the follow-up, 1968s Sailor, is another exploration of the same musical territory.

There aren’t many albums where the first two minutes consist of fog horns over a gradually swelling instrumental background, but Sailor is one of them. The sound effects in Song For Our Ancestors give way to moody atmospherics, a little percussion bubbling under a guitar and organ that weaves its way through a fairly straightforward theme. 

There’s a short burst of drums before Dear Mary, a soft slow ballad with delicate breathy vocals from Miller. Classy chamber pop, understated, refrained and quite lovely in its own right, with a little trumpet and guitar passage at the end that gives way to the album’s first rocker, My Friend, written by Davis and Scaggs, sung by Miller. Clean guitar, driving drums, a passage of handclaps that takes the listener into the first heavy guitar on the album.


B© Ian Hughes 2012