Friday, January 10, 2014

It's A Beautiful Day, Live at the Fillmore '68

Anyone who followed rock back in the later sixties with any seriousness or for that matter anyone younger who has a sense of the history knows something about the Frisco band It's A Beautiful Day, I'll imagine. "White Bird" was their most celebrated number and it was played a great deal on the "alternative" FM rock stations then. But there was more to them than that song, of course.

They were one of the first bands to replace electric guitar solos with those of the electric violin, of David LaFlamme, who also happened to be leader, songwriter and lead vocalist for the band. I am trying to think who if anybody had an electric violinist earlier? I believe they predate the Mothers with Harris and later Ponty, the Flock with Goodman, the later Animals, Seatrain, who else? The point is that it was a distinguishing factor with the band and LaFlamme set the pace.

They had two albums on Columbia then faded. But in the interim they made some solid psychedelic period rock music. There's a new unissued recording out, Live at the Fillmore '68 (Classical Music Vault 0220), and it is just that.

The sound quality is very good, the band is charged up, they do their repertoire of the time, originals of note, much of it ending up on the first album (White Bird), some on the second (Marrying Maiden) and a few never recorded in the studio ever, at least in terms of those releases.

What's especially nice is the band has a hard hitting live sound that is perfectly captured, and they venture into expanded jams and contrasting moments pretty often compared to the studio sides. The band is tight and spacy as needed, Patti Santos is there on her Slick-esque vocals in tandem with David, there are the expected violin niceties and at least to me it wears well.

It comes with a bonus DVD disk that catches up with David and the band in later years, the struggle to keep going in changing times, footage of the band in recent years and dialog by LaFlamme about it all. It will likely appeal mostly to confirmed fans of the era and the band and it's certainly nice to see.

If you dug the band then, you'll dig this. It all has immediacy that will appeal to anyone with sympathies to a time that was indeed seminal for rock. There were an awful lot of great bands coming up then. It's A Beautiful Day was one of them.

1 comment:

  1. I just remembered another notable band with elec violin from that era--The Fourth Way with Michael White. Good band! --Grego