Friday, December 29, 2017

It's A Beautiful Day - 1969 "It's A Beautiful Day"

It's a Beautiful Day is the self-titled debut album by San Francisco Records psychedelic band It's a Beautiful Day. This album's song "White Bird" was the band's biggest hit. The album rose to #47 on Billboard's Top LPs American albums chart.

The cover, designed by George Hunter and painted by Kent Hollister, was based on the 1912 painting Woman on the Top of a Mountain by Charles Courtney Curran. The design used an old version of the Columbia Records logo that George Hunter felt fitted better with the feel of the rest of the cover. The album cover is number 24 on Rolling Stone's list of 100 greatest album covers. The Girl can also be seen in the background on the cover of Happy Trails by Quicksilver Messenger Service.

A 1972 reissue of the album in the Netherlands on CBS used a modern painting of a beach scene as the front and back cover because the original cover art of the first two It's A Beautiful Day albums became the sole property of San Francisco Records. IABD was formed by Matthew Katz and the group had a record contract with San Francisco Sound Records. Katz settled with CBS where in it was agreed that "In No Event Will CBS Duplicate The Cover Art or Duplicate The Same songs as included in those two albums." The same is true of the first two Moby Grape albums which are all part or the same court settlement. The only legal source for those IABD and Moby Grape albums are from San Francisco Sound.

The group's signature song "White Bird" was inspired by the experiences David and Linda LaFlamme had while living in Seattle, Washington. For a few weeks in December 1967 the group members lived in the attic of an old house while playing and rehearsing at a Seattle venue originally known as The Encore Ballroom. The band's manager Matthew Katz had recently assumed control over the club and renamed it "San Francisco Sound". In an ironic twist on the band's name, the song was partly inspired by Seattle's rainy winter weather. In a later interview David LaFlamme said:

Where the 'white bird' thing came from ... We were like caged birds in that attic. We had no money, no transportation, the weather was miserable. We were just barely getting by on a very small food allowance provided to us. It was quite an experience, but it was very creative in a way.

A substantial part of the theme and arrangement of the song "Bombay Calling" was used by Deep Purple as the basis for their song "Child in Time".

Although they are not one of the better-known San Francisco bands to have emerged from the ballroom circuit of the late '60s and early '70s, It's a Beautiful Day were no less memorable for their unique progressive rock style that contrasted well with the Bay Area psychedelic scene. Led by David LaFlamme (flute/violin/vocals) and his wife, Linda LaFlamme (keyboards), the six-piece unit on this album vacillates between light and ethereal pieces such as the lead-off cut, "White Bird," to the heavier, prog rock-influenced "Bombay Calling." One of the most distinct characteristics of It's a Beautiful Day is their instrumentation. The prominence of David LaFlamme -- former violin soloist with the Utah Symphony and original member of Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks -- adds a refinement to It's a Beautiful Day's sound. Likewise, the intricate melodies -- mostly composed by the LaFlammes -- are structured around the band's immense virtuosity, a prime example being the exquisitely haunting harpsichord-driven "Girl With No Eyes." The noir framework, as well as lyrics such as "...she's just a reflection of all of the time I've been high," point rather candidly to the hallucinogenic nature of the song's -- if not the band's -- influences. The same can be said of the languidly eerie "Bulgaria." The almost chant-like quality of the track slowly crescendos into an hypnotic and dreamlike sonic journey -- led by LaFlamme's brilliant violin work. By virtue of being a Bay Area fixture in the late '60s, It's a Beautiful Day could also easily double as a hippie dance band -- which they can also execute with great aplomb -- as the wildly up-tempo "Time Is" amply proves. It's a Beautiful Day remains as a timepiece and evidence of how sophisticated rock & roll had become in the fertile environs of the San Francisco music scene.

Track Listing:

  1. White Bird
  2. Hot Summer Day
  3. Wasted Union Blues
  4. Girl With No Eyes
  5. Bombay Calling
  6. Bulgaria
  7. Time Is


David LaFlamme – violin, flute, lead vocals
Linda LaFlamme – acoustic piano, electric piano, organ, celeste, harpsichord
Hal Wagenet – guitars
Mitchell Holman – bass, harmonica, backing vocals
Val Fuentes – drums, backing vocals
Pattie Santos – percussion, bells, backing vocals
Bruce Steinberg – harmonica



  2. 'White Bird' head often in the TV series 'Knightrider'