It’s A Beautiful Day combined rock music with classical, jazz and folk that was totally unique for the time, they were one of America’s first proto-progressive bands.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: It’s A Beautiful Day
ALBUM: At Carnegie Hall
SERIAL: CBS 64929 (UK), 83907 (USA)
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: David LaFlamme – violin, vocals * Pattie Santos – vocals, percussion * Fred Webb – organ, piano, vocals * Bill Gregory – guitars * Tom Fowler – bass * Val Fuentes – drums, vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 Give Your Woman What She Wants * 02 A Hot Summer Day * 03 Angels And Animals * 04 Bombay Calling * 05 Going To Another Party * 06 Good Lovin’ * 07 The Grand Camel Suite * 08 White Bird
The media hyped ‘Summer Of Love’ in America, which was far removed from the UK version though it produced plenty of good music (and some bad), but one band that stands out for this reviewer is It’s A Beautiful Day. Brought together by former concert violinist David LaFlamme in the epicenter of 60’s counterculture and weirdness – San Francisco, It’s A Beautiful Day combined rock music with classical, jazz and folk in a way that was totally unique for the time.
They were one of America’s first proto-progressive bands although they never achieved the same commercial success as other Bay Area groups such as Jefferson Airplane, Santana and the dreadfully dull Grateful Dead. Their albums never charted very high and other than their signature tune ‘White Bird’, It’s A Beautiful Day is almost never heard on today’s classic rock radio. In 1971 the group toured in support of their third long player ‘Choice Quality Stuff/Anytime’ playing some of the biggest halls of the day including a performance documented here at the legendary Carnegie Hall in New York City.
As live albums go, this baby cooks. Fetching vocalist Pattie Santos had one of the best voices in rock, a mixture of Janis Joplin and Maggie Reilly rolled up in one sexy package playing counterpoint to David LaFlamme’s tenor and unusual, at times otherworldly five string electric violin. ‘At Carnegie Hall’ is a special album for fans because it includes material not found on previous releases including a blistering cover of Taj Mahal‘s ‘Give Your Woman What She Wants’ and a stunning vocal performance from Santos.
LaFlamme’s violin work is outstanding and the entire band is top drawer, including future Frank Zappa bassist Tom Fowler who contributes one track (‘Going To Another Party’) and unheralded guitarist Bill Gregory whose innovative leads compliment the group’s sound. The obligatory ‘White Bird’ closes the set in fine folky form, but it’s the previous tracks that are the strongest making ‘At Carnegie Hall’ one of the best live albums to come out of the post psychedelic era.
No need to break out the Lava lamps and Patchouli to appreciate this classic, but if this all sounds a little too old or dated for your tastes, listen to this record with the Kansas debut. Musical bookends I think and it’s hard to imagine where the boys from Topeka would have been without the groundbreaking musical legacy of It’s A Beautiful Day.