Wednesday, September 30, 2015

J.D. Blackfoot - 1970 [1996] "The Ultimate Prophecy"

J.D. Blackfoot's first LP -- recorded when future Pure Prairie League member Craig Fuller was in the lineup -- was a curious affair that very much reflected prevalent trends in the world of album-oriented rock in 1970. The songs were diverse enough that they sounded as if they could have been the work of several bands, and emulated more famous acts in both good and bad ways. The first side of the album was definitely the more song-oriented one, and while the better tracks are derivative, they're pretty good derivations. Fuller's "One Time Woman" is very much in the mold of journeyman Creedence Clearwater Revival; "Angel" quite credibly approximates the kind of light, wistful folk-rock that Jesse Colin Young sang with the Youngbloods; and "I've Never Seen You" brings to mind the lightest, sweetest material of the young Neil Young. The second side, however, takes a turn for the more bombastically progressive, offering a song suite of sorts with much of the pretentious lyricism-mysticism to which this genre was particularly prone. The multi-movement structure used by some British art rock bands of the time is dusted with some West Coast psychedelic-influenced guitar arrangements, and the lyrical vision dragged down by such passages as (in "Cycles") "for my mind is but the sperm, and this earth be the womb," spoken à la some of the Moody Blues' portentous narrations. 

The Ultimate Prophecy album was recorded in 1970 on the Mercury label and received a spotlight pick in Billboard, Cashbox, and Record World magazines.
It was a huge selling album in markets like St. Louis, MO and Columbus, OH, staying at the #1 position for nine straight weeks on the WCOL- AM Columbus chart. It was released in 22 countries and had great success in Germany and several other European countries.
The title track “The Ultimate Prophecy” is comprised of 5 songs that tell a philosophy of our life, death, and rebirth back into this universe. In his book, titled “Stairway to Hell”, music critic Chuck Eddy listed “The Ultimate Prophesy” at number 374 of the top 500 heavy albums of all time.  This cover art was discontinued when the CD version was re-released on the Yonder label in 2007.

Not sure about all the different releases brought up in this listing, but mine is the original 1970 release with the Rene Magritte looking cover design with the guy in the bowler hat. This has long been a favorite album of mine. Pure 70's rock with a country rock flavor and some psychedelia thrown in for good measure.

Twangy guitars in a somewhat rough-edged garage band sound. The songs are all pretty good if not downright interesting. Side one is a collection of standard sounding rock songs all nicely presented with enough intricacy to keep the listener's attention. Side two is a wild pseudo-religious excursion into a mind tripping musical display. I'm not sure what the connotations of this song cycle epic are since there is no specific religious dogma espoused, but it's an "Ultimate Prophecy" so I guess it's supposed to be profound.

Profound or not, this is all fun listening with a ton of energy behind. I can imagine this group probably put on a terrific live show in their day. The vinyl release that I have doesn't include the live set that's described for the CD, but I'll bet that's worth hearing as well.

This is an excellent rock release from an artist/band that I suppose has a certain amount of cult status, but never made it to the really big time. Though the line-up includes Craig Fuller who appeared later with Pure Prarie League among other groups. His song "Angel" on this album later was released with Pure Prarie League.

Fans of psychedelic music should be highly appreciative of what J.D. Blackfoot has to offer on "The Ultimate Prophecy".

" The Ultimate Prophecy " is a must buy. This C.D not only comes with the original album release, but a full live rendition of "the Ultimate prophecy " all movements, complete with keys, slide bar guitar and backing vocals. Full color multi page insert, chock full of information about the making of the album, and live show. Fantastic. If you have not heard this, and enjoy a concept, album that combines fantastic music with brilliant lyrics , like the Who's " Tommy", Pink Floyd's " Dark side of the moon", Yes's "close to the edge" , Rush's " 2112", "hemispheres" , & "fountain of Lamneth" , just buy this. It stands side by side with all those great albums. Not only that, but you will be directly supporting the artist, as J.D Blackfoot bought back all the rights to his music.

 Track listing:

1     One Time Woman     3:42
2     Angel     3:47
3     We Can Try     4:06
4     Good Day Extending Company     4:41
5     I've Never Seen You     3:15
6     The Ultimate Prophecy     4:57
7     Death's Finale     3:38
8     Cycles     3:29
9     Waiting To Be Born     5:03
10     Pink Sun     5:20

Personnel:

J.D. Blackfoot     Primary Artist, Vocals
Warren Dewey     Engineer, Remixing
Dale Frashuer     Drums, Producer
Craig Fuller     Guitar
Sterling Smith     Organ
 

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