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written by: Nigel Camilleri
The following is an important note pertinent to both albums. Both albums are unavailable in
CD format and both are regarded as valuable collector's items in their vinyl version. For further information on
obtaining these albums on CD all one has to do is contact R. Stevie Moore
and he will get back to you with further details.
Ford Theatre - Trilogy For The Masses
|Country of Origin:||USA|
|Record Label:||ABC Records|
|Catalogue #:||ABC 658|
|Year of Release:||1968|
Tracklist: Side 1 Theme For The Masses (2:51), 101 Harrison Street (Who You Belong To)
(9:22), Excerpt (From The Theme (1:09), Back To Philadelphia (4:11), The Race (0:26)
Side 2 The Race (0:04), From A Back Door Window (The Search) (14:02), Theme For The Masses (2:59),
Postlude: Looking Back (2:09)
Musicians: John Mazzarelli (Keyboards, vocals), Harry Palmer (Guitars), Butch Webster (lead guitar), Joey
Scott (Lead Vocals), Jimmy Altieri (bass, vocals), plus String Quartet (Charles McCraken, Bernard Eichen, Aaron
Rosand, George Ricci, Arranger: Wally McGee)
All tracks were composed by Harry Palmer and Wally McGee except for Postlude:Looking Back (Harry
Produced by Bob Thiele for ABC and Harry Palmer & Fred Cenedella at Fleetwood Studios, Revere MA Spring 1968
Engineers: Russ Ham, Bob Arnold, David Greene
Cover and Liner Design: Byron Goto/Henry Epstein/Photos: Ed Andrey/Eyes: Frissi Titsworth
Ford Theatre is the place where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. And in these days of horrifyingly
regular public murders, it's reasonable to ask what kind of name this is for a rock and roll group. A sick joke?
Absolutely not. These six young men are deadly serious, and they chose their name because it corresponds in a
way to what they are trying to create -- a vision of America in all its present chaos and agony. Harry Palmer,
the leader, talks about it with the intensity of a man who feels he has got to be heard. "We're trying to get at
the kind of desperation and searching that people are going through," he says. "This is as much a
dramatic work as a musical one. We're trying to create a whole environment -- an ominous kind of environment."
All the lyrics are in the second person, addressed to us. We're on the spot -- and there are very few of us who
won't see parts of ourselves in these lines, or recognize the kind of tension that builds up in these long,
corrosive instrumental breaks. The very least you can say about this album is that it's original, and fearlessly
honest. And that's not nearly as common as some people think it is.
Jazz & Pop Magazine
Trilogy For The Masses opens with the Theme For The Masses, the main theme that connects the whole of
the album together. Played in a form of lament, the track is rich in both strings and organ very similar to a
style that would be utilised by many of the proto-progressive rock bands such as Procol Harum and The
Moody Blues. The subsequent track, 101 Harrison Street is a clear indication of the times. Featuring a
lengthy and mesmerising guitar solo accompanied by a hypnotic continuous rhythm, this piece of music is a sure
sign of the psychedelic drenched times the band were living in. This was the year of Woodstock and the height of
flower power, and one can easily envisage this track being played endlessly with one solo being meted out after
Excerpt (From the Theme) resurrects the opening theme to then lead into Back To Philadelphia, a
track that would also be utilised for the bands second album, Time Changes. Slow paced and
laid back, this track in contrast to 101 Harrison Street, lays more emphasis on the guitar work rather than
having the organ dominate the sound of the music. Both Sides One and Two are linked by the short echo-filled
A name that comes to mind after hearing From A Back Door Window (The Search) would be legendary group
Love. Ford Theatre manage to exude a certain amount of power and anger without letting it get in the way
of their musical arrangements and without compromising their ability to incorporate ear-catching choruses in
their music. This lengthy track also manages to combine the two distinct musical touches that the band had
expressed so far on the album, that of a more guitar orientated rock feel as well as that of the R&B organ
dominated sound. Well, From A Back Door Window (The Search), has both these elements with an extremely
pleasant organ solo coupled with lengthy guitar work. Once again the emphasis seems to be on the ambient that the
instruments manage to create with their obvious psychedelic allusions capable of
Theme For The Masses resurrects its head in bringing the album to a close with Postlude: Looking
Back, the only composition credited entirely to Harry Palmer on the album. Musically this track is strikingly
different to the remainder of the album as it is devoid of the elaborate arrangement present on the album giving
this pleasant track an almost country rock feel to it.
This is one album from my record collection that somehow finds itself regularly on the turntable. There is
something innocent and unique about the sound of the album that is hard to find in many albums from this era.
Musically I feel that it is a gem and should appeal to all those who like what is often termed as
|Country of Origin:||USA|
|Record Label:||ABC Records|
|Catalogue #:||ABC 681|
|Year of Release:||1969|
Tracklist: The following tracklist and description is taken from the insert that accompanied the vinyl
version of the album.
TIME CHANGES, is the story of a young man named Clifford Smothergill (known to his friends as Clifford) and
his search for meaning and significance in life. This musical tale is based on the life of a very real person,
whose true identity is a matter for very careful consideration, significant as it is.
01. Introduction (1:00) Being as it is, an introduction.
02. Time Changes (3:09) and so it does. The Chorus (consisting of our main character) discusses our
03. Interlude One (1:14) Enter Puck, wandering minstrel, who will introduce the characters in our
play, and reappear from time to time to tie together the loose ends of our plot.
04. That's My Girl (2:12) a significant scene, wherein, we find Clifford in the midst of his first
meaningful love affair.
05. Wake up In The Morning (3:08) And upon doing so, Clifford finds himself a victim of man's eternal
adversaries––doubt and insecurity. In short, Clifford panics.
06. I've Got The Fever (5:17) Finding his doubt and insecurity to be justified as the result of Mary
Jane's leaving him in his hour of need, our hero sinks into the lowest depths of despair and experiences frantic
moments that severely shake his faith in humanity.
07. Crash (1:06) Which he did.
08. At The Station (3:51) The possibility of finding some meaningful answers at home occurs to
Clifford which prompts him to leave New York and return to Philadelphia.
End of Act I
09. Back To Philadelphia (3:58) Bringing it all back home proves to be a futile attempt at solving his
problems, and so poor Clifford is left with the realization that his search for meaning must go on.
10. Clifford's Dilemma (1:58) A choice must be made, and Clifford considers the two possibilities––a
return to New York and to Mary Jane or an aimless wandering.
11. Jefferson Airplane (2:59) Our hero decides to wander aimlessly for a while, and in doing so he
loses touch with most of the world around him. Clifford Smothergill experiences a journey that few minds can
12. I Feel Uncertain (2:26) Who can survive too long a journey such as this?!!? Our hero can take it
only so long, and eventually he decides to return to Mary Jane and to resume the love affair. Mary Jane receives
him gladly (after having gone through some pretty heavy changes herself), and now Clifford is left once again
with haunting feelings of insecurity.
13. Interlude Two (1:18) Re-enter Puck, who will now enlighten us somewhat concerning a few of the
more subtle aspects of our plot.
14. Good Thing (2:17) Oh, glorious day for Clifford!! Finally, he is convinced that he has found
meaning and significance in life. Let us only hope that herein lies the end to our noble hero's desperate search.
15. Outroduction (1:13) Wherein Puck sums up our story in a most lucid fashion, bringing to mind the
philosophical significance of all that has transpired.
Musicians: Harry Palmer (guitars), John Mazzarelli (keyboards, vocals), Butch Webster (lead guitar), Joey
Scott (lead vocals, bass), Bill Szymczyk (narration)
Additional Instrumentation Arranged & Conducted by: Bert DeCoteaux––except on "TIME CHANGES"––Strings
Arranged & Conducted by: Johnny Pate. And presenting THE FORD THEATRE Rock & Roll Concert Orchestra • Violins
Irving Spice––Concert Master • Herbert Sorkin • Louis Haber • Gene Orloff • Matthew Raimondi • Elliot Rosoff •
Louis Stone Chelli Seymour Barab • Alan Shulman • Maurice Bialkin Viola Jean DuPouy Trumpets Joseph D. Newman •
Burt Collins Trombone Benny Powell • Tenor Sax & Flute Seldon Powell • Baritone Sax Joe Grimm • Harpist Sally
Goodwin (and special thanks to Sally for performing her "Jam in "C" for Harp" under extremely difficult
Songwriting Credits: All tracks written by Harry Palmer except for I've Got The Fever (Harry Palmer/V.
Produced by Bill Szymczyk
Recorded at Hit Factory, New York
Cover & Inside Photos––Ellen McNeilly • Back Cover Photos––Ed Judice • Cover Design––Byron Goto & Henry
Epstein • Hassles by––Mel Cheren •
Time Changes, the follow up album to Trilogy For The Masses, was also conceived as a concept album. However,
for some reason or another the album fails to live up to the expectation after hearing their debut, with the
band seemingly losing its sparkle.
Starting with the fanfare of Introduction, which sounds uncannily like what the BBC would use in their
station openers and closers. The group move into the title track, Time Changes. From the first notes of
this track, there is that feeling that the music has lost a bit of its edge from the first album and has become
somewhat mellower, and dare I say it...More commercial. There is still that psychedelic influence with the guitar
and strings evoking a classical sixties atmosphere.
Interlude One has producer Bill Scymczyk's narration backed by some delicate acoustic guitar and
strings creating a theme that will reappear every now and again throughout the album. That's My Girl has a
happy feel that carries a beat similar to other sixties bands, especially British bands such as The Kinks
and The Small Faces. The zaniness of the track also has a British feel though there is a Dixieland
atmosphere also associated with the track with the inclusion of tuba and banjo.
Wake Up In the Morning is the first track so far that has a certain similarity to the first album in
that it carries a dark aura to it. The strings have that rich lush sound, similar to what McGee had created
effectively on the debut, while at times there is that certain touch to their sound that reminds me of another
overlooked, yet classic band, Love.
I've Got The Fever has the band reverting to that happy feel as on That's My Girl, though the
theme to the track is in itself not a happy one!. This time round the band incorporate both strings and brass
together with the band. An unmistakably sixties together with a sing-along chorus, this is their most accessible
and ear-friendly tune on the album. This track is a sure reflection of the times and changes within the rock
world as the group manage to incorporate clever hooks in a complex and rich musical atmosphere.
Crash has the band playing along in what seems to be a jam session coupled with some weird sound
effects. The closing track to the first side of the album, At the Station contrasts sharply with the rest
of the album. Here the group shift their musical balance towards that of a country rock style with some
delightful harmonies, an indicator of a style the group was well versed in before they became Ford Theater and
would play during dances as Joyful Noise. The side ends with the sound of train pulling out and the
narrator announcing the end of Act (Side) One.
The second side opens with a track that was originally penned for, and appeared on the debut album, Trilogy
For The Masses. However, Back To Philadelphia is changed completely with the tempo slowed down
considerably and the musical structure varied to a certain degree. The backing sound is stronger, courtesy of the
inclusion of a brass section while the vocals, especially the chorus section, are changed giving the track a
darker vibe. This is strange as it contrasts with the rest of the album in that the album on the whole has a
happy feel to it, unlike the debut album which is generally speaking a dark album.
Clifford's Dilemma is an instrumental track featuring some mellow guitar work coupled with backing
strings, and acts as an introduction to Jefferson Airplane. This track seems to be one of the most popular
Ford Theatre tracks, as it is this track that makes its way onto compilation albums that feature the band. The
track is psychedelic in nature, as should be expected when the track itself is named after one of the great bands
of the psychedelic era!
I Feel Uncertain is a track that flows along the same lines as at the station with the band leaning
towards that country-rock style, which though pleasing to the ear, leaves me baffled as to how and why a group
that managed to create such intricate music with their debut had to resort to such a style. In fact this is
brought up again on Good Thing, following Interlude Two.
Admittedly, Time Changes is somewhat of a disappointment when compared to Trilogy For The Masses. For some
reason the group seem to have opted for a more commercial sound for their second album, a move which must have
proved fatal as they disbanded shortly after the album was released. The album has its good moments, but if i had
to advise the progressive rock fan, the album that should appeal to them would be Trilogy rather than Time
Changes. On the other hand this album is still a pleasant album to listen to especially for those who like that
classical sixties sound. In fact Time Changes has not aged as well as Trilogy and sounds somewhat dated, unlike
Ford Theatre's debut album.
Very little information is found on the net regarding Ford Theatre, though Harry Palmer's nephew, R. Stevie
Moore has set up a Ford
Theatre section within his own site dedicated to his uncle's band and music.
Should you have any further information regarding Ford Theatre that could be added to the site, do not
hesitate to contact me.