Tuesday, September 14, 2004


For Wednesday I'm finally going to get around to the early jazz/rock band The Free Spirits, so today, in preparation, I'm re-running a couple of Larry Coryell mp3s that I posted a while ago.

One thing that amazes me is that if I had discovered Larry Coryell via about 95% of his albums, I wouldn't have been interested and probably wouldn't have investigated further. Things like that scare me.

I can be amazingly ignorant about jazz, so when I first found a copy of his Coryell album (pictured above) in a used record store I had no idea who Larry was. It looked to me like some intriguing psych-folk album from the late 60's so I snapped it up 'cause it was cheap.

When I got it home, I popped it onto the turntable and was immediately blown away by the song Sex, and thenceforth set about buying Larry Coryell albums. As luck would have it, my first two choices were:


Lucky choices, because now that I've had time to check out a bigger chunk of his discography I realize that those three albums are just about the only ones that really appeal to me (with the possible exception of an odds 'n' sods collection called Basics that presents alternate, inferior, but nonetheless interesting versions of some early Coryell tracks).

Briefly, Larry Coryell was one of the early people dealing with Jazz Fusion, but on the albums that I mention above he often (not always, by any means) seems to approach from the rock side rather than the jazz side.

I'm convinced that the current consensus about those albums (e.g. the dumping on The Real Great Escape, the idea that The Jam With Albert is the reason to buy Coryell, the theory that side two is where Lady Coryell gets good) is wrong, or at least skewed because the records are usually reviewed by jazz fans. I'd like to see more people who listen to The Velvet Underground or Krautrock or even Chicago talking about this stuff. Simply put, you don't need to like fusion or jazz to like these records.

I know that in the 60's and early 70's Coryell was known to rock fans, and there was a whole "who's better, Larry or Jimi" thing going on. But for some reason, with the exception of maybe some old Christgau reviews, I can barely find anything from the rock contingint on the internet.

I can't stress enough how great The Real Great Escape is, and how annoying it is to see it talked about as a failed sell-out attempt, marred by horrible singing. Resisting the urge to post the whole thing (it's all good, baby) here's the first track The Real Great Escape, which builds up to a peak and then just stays there and stays there and stays there. Yeah, there's singing. It's through a talk-box type thing, and it's just fine.

I was going to post the amazing instrumental Lady Coryell, but it is kind of long and I have posted it before. Instead, here's the version of Sex from the Basics album. It's not in the same league as the other version, but the differences between the two are instructive.

So anyway, more about Larry's early jazz/rock fusion tomorrow...

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