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Monday, June 5, 2017

William R. Strickland - Is Only The Name (1969 us, prominent introspective experimental folk rock, 2009 remaster)

One of the most unusual signings by the legendary Deram label, not least of all because he was American, poet/singer/songwriter William R. Strickland was paired with keyboardist/synthesizer player Philip Springer and placed under the direction of Buddy Kaye for one of the most the unique albums of the age, William R. Strickland Is Only the Name.

Well will listeners of a certain age recall their first exposure to it, courtesy of the label's budget-priced compilation Wowie Zowie: The World of Progressive Music. Skittering electronics pinged and pongs across "Computer Lover," a sci-fi romance that absolutely predicted later electronic music (not least of all great swathes of ELP's "Karn Evil 9 Third Impression"). And then you ventured into the LP to discover a quite astonishing collision between beat-styled poetry and progressive rock, with Strickland's acoustic guitar playing off Springer's sympathetic and versatile backings. Hammond organ sweeps across "Romeo De La Route," sax jazzes up "You Know My Body," while pastoral flute ripples through "Touch." 

All the while, Strickland strums his guitar and riffs on the themes of life and love. "World War 3 1/2," however, is his piece de resistance. Imagine Arlo Guthrie eagerly joining the army instead of successfully dodging the draft, and going off to boot camp and then a futuristic war. It's a witheringly sardonic look at the military mentality that leaves the rest of the songs lyrically in the shade. It's an adventurous and bold album, that has remained little more than a collector's item in the years since its release. But it was certainly worthy of resurrection and reissue. 
by Dave Thompson

1. You Can Know My Body (But You'll Never Know My Soul) - 4:15
2. Computer Lover - 4:47
3. Romeo De La Route - 3:55
4. Touch - 6:41
5. If I Stand Here Much Longer - 7:18
6. Oops That's Me!!! - 2:14
7. World War 3½ - 11:20
All compositions by William R. Strickland 

*William R. Strickland - Vocals, Guitar
*Gershon Kingsley - Synthesizer Arrangements
*Phillip Springer - Synthesizer Arrangements

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