Home > Graphics & Illustration, Music, Things I Like... > November 1971 – A fantastic month for music

November 1971 – A fantastic month for music

November 9, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

In  November 1971, I was too young to realise that three of my favourite albums of all time had just been released within three weeks of each other. On the 8th, Led Zeppelin released their untitled fourth album, on the 12th Genesis released their third album, Nursery Cryme and two weeks later on the 26th, Yes released their fourth album, Fragile.

Led Zep IV, needs little introduction or discussion from me: Rock and Roll, Stairway to Heaven, Going to California and When the Levee Breaks are all so magnificent and instantly recognisable (even from their opening bars) that I think further justification or explanation is unnecessary.

Four days after Led Zep IV hit the shops,  Genesis’s third album was released to an expectant audience. Their previous offering, Trespass had seen the band move away from the shorter pop song format and Nursery Cryme, a rich musical journey through a tapestry of Olde English life, continued with these longer themed pieces. This was also the first album to feature the classic Genesis line up of Collins, Rutherford, Banks, Hackett and Gabriel.

Referencing faux Victorian tales (Harold the Barrel and Return of the Giant Hogweed) and Greek classics, (The Fountain of Salmacis) the songs are certainly not to everyone’s tastes, but when I first heard them about 7 or 8 years after the release, I was entranced by their intelligence and finely crafted musicianship.

Tony Banks’s keyboard playing is brought to the fore and works to dazzling effect on the album’s masterpiece, The Musical Box, where Peter Gabriel’s closing plea “why don’t you touch me touch me, touch me, Now, Now, Now” still sends shivers down my spine.

Then at the end of the month, the mighty Yes released Fragile, their second album of 1971 (The Yes Album had been released to very high acclaim earlier in February)

This very fine record was the first to feature Rick Wakeman and, in a similar way to Tony Banks on Nursery Cryme, showcased his keyboard talents and new electronic sounds to full effect. Check out two of the greatest tunes ever committed to vinyl, Roundabout and Heart of the Sunrise, to hear an incredibly tight band in total control and enjoying every minute of it. Progressive indeed…..

It’s also interesting to reconsider the artwork of the wonderful gatefold sleeves. All three have images which whether by chance or design, perfectly reflected their contents. The stripped down, no nonsense rock and roll of Led Zep is echoed by the odd photo of the old man collecting sticks set against the peeling wallpapered background of buildings awaiting demolition. Paul Whitehead’s surreal painting of the nine year old Cynthia Jane holding her mallet high on an endless lawn, mirrors the literary symbolism and imagery of Genesis whilst the escapism and technical perfection of Yes, is exemplified by Roger Dean’s stunning artwork, the first of many covers that would firmly affix the bands image in many people’s minds for decades to come.

I guess I was obsessed with all three of these bands by the end of the 1970’s and these records have all given me endless hours of listening pleasure ever since. One could easily argue that both Genesis and Yes would subsequently release much more coherent records (Selling England by the Pound and Close to the Edge to name but two) however in terms of a barometer of how creative English “rock” music was during the early 1970’s, I think these three will do nicely.

You have every right to disagree with any of the statements above of course…. after all, that’s what the comment box is for below…..

Genesis – Nursery Cryme

Yes – Fragile

There’s no Led Zep on Spotify…..

  1. simon
    June 21, 2012 at 15:20

    Hi – didn’t realise all these fine albums were released in the same month! I’ve enjoyed all three many times. Still love the version of The Musical Box on Genesis Live…
    And Steve Howe’s playing on Mood for a Day…

  2. June 27, 2012 at 10:13

    Many thanks for taking the time to visit and write Simon.. They certainly don’t make them like they used to and without doubt, the world would be a much emptier place without the wonders of the gatefold sleeve… Joe

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