Various Artists – I See You Live On Love Street – Music From Laurel Canyon 1967-1975

Various Artists – I See You Live On Love Street – Music From Laurel Canyon 1967-1975

The California music vibe came to prominence in the sixties and seventies. Like most scenes, it fed on itself, sucking in and spitting out artists at a relentless pace. One of the hippest places to be at the time was Laurel Canyon, an enclave that was home to such soon-to-be luminaries as Joni Mitchell, Buffalo Springfield and The Mamas and The Papas. Even The Doors, Love and Frank Zappa set up base in the Canyon at one point or another. This was fertile musical ground, and there was much cross-pollination as members of one band would leave to join or form another. In its recent compilation, I See You Live On Love Street, Cherry Red records takes from the good, the bad and the ugly to represent the breadth of sounds echoing from the Canyon.

The retrospective is spread over three discs. The first, Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon (1967-1968) is heavy on lesser lights. The second disc, Going Home To California (1969-1971), features more of the marquee names, if not their most memorable songs. Disc Three, Postcards From Hollywood (1971-1975), might be the most satisfying of the three to the casual listener as the disc that marries the artists you know with the songs you know. Still, as with most Cherry Red compilations, project manager David Wells has a knack for uncovering forgotten gems, songs that deserved their obscurity, and an ability to put the obvious in a different context.

Disc One makes the case for the sensitive singer-songwriter, putting an emphasis on the latter part of the equation. Production techniques had improved exponentially over the last couple years, so the gorgeous harmonies and musical talent exhibited in the Association’s Come On In are a perfect invitation to sit back, relax and enjoy. The songs that immediately follow – Tighter (Paul Rever and the Raiders), The Good Humor Man, He Sees Everything Like This (Love), As We Go Along (The Monkees), and Holding (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) – are successful primarily because they are not the “hits”. Rather, they serve to show how a distinctive sound was forming and infecting all sorts of artists. A hint of the psychedelic remains in both the arrangements and lyrics, but with heavy doses of the early sixties folk boom and hints of the nascent country-rock movement. Voices such as Linda Ronstadt’s (The Stone Poneys’ I’ve Got To Know) and The Mamas and The Papas (Mansions) arrive seemingly fully formed. Even the song from which the compilation derives its name – The Doors’ Love Street – is not as out of place as one might initially think. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band stretch the envelope (naturally) with Call On Me, but the formula still holds. Blink and you missed them artists such as The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, The Holy Mackerel and Dillard & Clark, despite lacking in name recognition, managed to capture the zeitgeist of the time, if not the imagination of the public at large. The biggest surprise of the disc, however (at least for me), is Judy Collins’ cover of Rolf Kempf’s Hello Hooray. Released on her 1968 album, Who Knows Where The Time Goes, readers of this page might be more familiar with the song as the opening track to Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies. If all you know is Cooper’s version, Collin’s interpretation boarders on the unrecognizable. Not only did the brilliant Cooper band give the song a hard edge, the lyrics and melody were also reimagined. Hearing Collins perform the song is like having a sense of déjà vu that’s difficult to place.

Disc Two starts off with one of the biggest hits of the era, Stephen Stills’ ode to free love, Love The One You’re With. No matter the context, this is a song that stands head and shoulders above most of the competition and, as such, is an apt introduction to the years 1969 to 1971. Poco follows with the country-rock classic, Pickin’ Up The Pieces, a delightful and uplifting tune that presaged the Eagles. Three Dog Night is represented by their huge hit, Mama Told Me (Not To Come) and Glen Campbell by his semi-psychedelic Where’s The Playground, Susie. The diversity that was to become a hallmark of rock music in general and Laurel Canyon in particular is represented by Frank Zappa’s seminal prog classic, Peaches En Regalia, Canned Heat’s boogie masterpiece Let’s Work Together, and Steppenwolf’s powder keg too close to a match, It’s Never Too Late. Artists who ultimately became more famous for their songwriting chops than their own recorded performances are beautifully showcased here as well. Hoyt Axton offers up the depressing drug tale Kingswood Hills. P. F. Sloan is Jimmy Webb’s contribution, showing off his too-clever-by-half writing chops. Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band’s California wears its Poco influences on its sleeve. Kim Fowley’s just plain awful Born To Make You Cry (truth in advertising, for sure) seems to have nothing to do with the scene other than his having lived there a short while. In contrast, Essra Mohawk’s beautiful I Am The Breeze leaves you wondering how her Laura Nyro-influenced songwriting escaped wider notice.

As previously mentioned, some of the more familiar artists are paired with their hits on Disc Three. Examples include Leon Russell’s incredible to this day Tightrope, Carly Simon’s juggernaut, We Have No Secrets, Loggins and Messina’s first monster hit Danny’s Song, a rejuvenated Fleetwood Mac’s early hit Say You Love Me, and the evergreen Crazy Horse ballad I Don’t Want To Talk About It. Other well-known artists are represented by lesser known catalog songs and near misses, like Dan Fogelberg’s Anyway I Love You, Little Feat’s Easy To Slip, Nilsson’s Driving Along, and Linda Ronstadt’s Birds. Balancing out the famous are songs and artists that never quite caught fire. Crabby Appleton’s Paper To Write On leans heavily on country-rock, Rosebud’s offering is a proto Fleetwood Mac Flying To Morning, and Ned Doheny’s yacht-rock tune Postcards From Hollywood is a signpost to the mid-seventies.

I See You Live On Love Street is one of the more successful Cherry Red throwback compilations. It manages to include many of the bright lights from the era as well as a number of well-known songs. Even the second and third tier tunes largely fare better than on some of the other compilations in terms of quality and listenability. The sound manages to encompass the wide variety of performers who lived in the Canyon at one time or another, yet remains true (for the most part) to the stylistic integrity of the era. From the heavy folk/pop leanings to the sensitive singer-songwriter archetype to the birth of country-rock, each colour of the Laurel Canyon rainbow is given its due. If you’re looking for a well-researched and compiled document of the Southern California sound from 1967 to 1975, this is it.

Disc One: Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon (1967-1968)

01. The Association – Come On In (3:17)
02. Paul Revere & The Raiders – Tighter (2:00)
03. Love – The Good Humor Man, He Sees Everything Like This (3:06)
04. The Monkees – As We Go Along (3:52)
05. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Holding (2:38)
06. The Factory – Smile Let Your Life Begin (2:35)
07. The Gentle Soul – Our National Anthem (2:30)
08. The Stone Poneys – I’ve Got To Know (2:41)
09. The Doors – Love Street (2:51)
10. Clear Light – How Many Nights Have Passed (2:23)
11. The Peanut Butter Conspiracy – Floating Dream (2:12)
12. Smokey Roberds with Roger Nichols Trio – Montage Mirror (2:10)
13. Ruthann Friedman – Halfway There (2:28)
14. The Holy Mackerel – Wildflowers (3:59)
15. Barry McGuire – Secret Saucer Man (2:44)
16. The Mamas & The Papas – Mansions (3:46)
17. The Sunshine Company – I Need You (3:16)
18. Scott McKenzie – Twelve Thirty (3:17)
19. Buffalo Springfield – A Child’s Claim To Fame (2:11)
20. Dillard & Clark – Train Leaves Here This Mornin’ (3:49)
21. The Millenium – Blight (2:54)
22. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Call On Me (2:36)
23. The Leaves – Twilight Sanctuary (2:34)
24. The Byrds – You Don’t Miss your Water (3:49)
25. The Modern Folk Quartet – I Had A Dream Last Night (2:35)
26. Steve Noonan – Shadow Dream Song (3:12)
27. Judy Collins – Hello Hooray (4:10)

Time – 79:35

Disc Two: Going Home To California (1969–1971)
01. Stephen Stills – Love The One You’re With (3:06)
02. Poco – Pickin’ Up The Pieces (3:20)
03. Tim Buckley – Buzzin’ Fly (6:01)
04. Hoyt Axton – Kingswood Hills (3:03)
05. The Flying Burrito Brothers – Christine’s Tune (3:03)
06. Three Dog Night – Mama Told Me (Not To Come) (3:19)
07. The Turtles – Lady-O (2:53)
08. Rick Nelson and the Stone Canyon Band – California (3:02)
09. Jimmy Webb – P. F. Sloan (4:06)
10. Glen Campbell – Where’s The Playground, Susie? (2:56)
11. Susan Carter – Bluebird (3:40)
12. Love – I Still Wonder (3:07)
13. Canned Heat – Let’s Work Together (2:47)
14. Steppenwolf – It’s Never Too Late (4:04)
15. Frank Zappa – Peaches En Regalia (3:39)
16. Warren Zevon – Wanted Dead Or Alive (2:37)
17. Kim Fowley – Born To Make You Cry (2:44)
18. Essra Mohawk – I Am The Breeze (3:13)
19. Gene Clark – White Light (3:39)
20. David Crosby – Traction In The Rain (3:35)
21. Ross Giguere – Brother Speed (3:40)
22. Grin – Outlaw (4:01)
23. Dave Mason and Cass Elliot – Too Much Truth, Too Much Love (3:53)

Time – 70:28

Disc Three: Postcards From Hollywood (1971-1975)
01. J. D. Souther – Some People Call It Music (3:22)
02. Little Feat – Easy To Slip (3:22)
03. Linda Ronstadt – Birds (3:01)
04. Judee Sills – Crayon Angels (2:42)
05. Nilsson – Driving Along (2:06)
06. Carly Simon – We Have No Secrets (3:59)
07. Crazy Horse – I Don’t Want To Talk About It (5:20)
08. Jo Mama –Back On The Street (3:07)
09. Kenny Loggins with Jim Messina – Danny’s Song (4:17)
10. Gram Parsons – How Much I’ve Lied (2:29)
11. Rosebud – Flying To Morning (4:23)
12. Rita Coolidge – Journey Thru The Past (3:31)
13. Cyrus Faryar – I Think He’s Hiding (2:25)
14. Crabby Appleton – Paper To Write On (2:22)
15. Leon Russell – Tightrope (3:02)
16. Dan Fogelberg – Anyway I Love You (3:49)
17. Ned Doheny – Postcards From Hollywood (5:18)
18. David Blue – Outlaw Man (2:51)
19. Morning – For Free (4:55)
20. Souther Hillman Furay Band – Fallin’ In Love (3:32)
21. Howdy Moon – Cook With Honey (4:19)
22. Fleetwood Mac – Say You Love Me (4:13)

Time – 78:25

Total Time – 3:48:28

Quite a few 😉

Record Label: Cherry Red Records
Country of Origin: International
Date of Release: 22nd March 2024

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