Located in the middle of Fort Mill, South Carolina is one of my favorite “thrift” shops where I picked up yet another strange but interesting record album to add to my collection yesterday.
It’s titled ‘Beethoven Bittersweet’ by “Benninghoff” who turns out to be keyboard player R.J. Benninghoff and a cast of other musicians. Bracing myself to hear some variation of Walter Murphy’s disco-driven ‘A Fifth of Beethoven’, what I got was improvisations on Beethoven as they might have been performed by the psychedelic era group ‘Spirit’ with Mason Williams(remember him?) as producer. Layers of distorted, fuzzed and wah-wahhed guitars balanced with harpsichord(rocksichord on the label), clarinet, flute, sax and (thankfully) absolutely no vocals, giving it a somewhat ‘Elizabethan’ feel. Searching the Internet for clues I think the album was made in 1971 which explains why the disco connection was gratefully missing. Dismissed by others as ‘Baroque-Rock’ it seems as interesting today as any of the Walter/Wendy Carlos “Switched-On Bach” albums.
(*Sunday afternoon update* – During a second listen I sensed a faux-gothic vibe. Sort of like an acid rock version of the ‘Dark Shadows’ soundtrack. I’m sure I’ll hear something different next time also.)
One of these years I’ll post a review here about what has to be one of the strangest albums from the era that I own; ‘Black Mass’ by Lucifer (aka Mort Garson) which one reviewer called “satanist moog rock”.
From listening to reading, I’m working on several books including a collection by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, ‘Open Eye, Open Heart’. Included is a poem from 1971 titled ‘A World Awash With Fascism And Fear’ which seems as relevant today as it was then.