It’s a Beautiful Day: It’s a Beautiful Day (1969)
When you talk about the Bay Area scene, the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane are obviously the most talked about bands. Here’s another Bay Area band worth trying, It’s a Beautiful Day. They were a bit of a latecomer in the psychedelic scene, as their debut album was released in 1969, an era where the Beatles and Stones turned to more down home roots rock (and many new roots rock bands like The Band and CSN appeared), and an era where the prog rock scene started to emerge.
It’s a Beautiful Day was lead by vocalist and violinst David LaFlamme, with backing female vocals from Pattie Santos. Their best known song is “White Bird” which was a minor hit on FM radio, and is included on this album. If you’ve heard the song, you know that it’s a rather moody song. The music on this album is a combination of Bay Area psychedelia, folk, classical, jazz, and perhaps even prog rock.
Let’s examine some of the other songs on this album. “Hot Summer Day” has that nice, jazzy, pleasant atmosphere, as the title might suggest. “Wasted Union Blues” is a hard rocker and of course the most rocking number on this album. One of my favorites. “Girl With No Eyes” is a more classical-influenced number complete with harpsichord and violin, the lyrics dealing with a painting on the wall. The next cut is “Bombay Calling” which is a totally amazing instrumental showcasing David LaFlamme’s violin. “Bulgaria” is a very mystical, atmospheric piece. I can’t really describe this piece, other than I think it’s totally unbelievable in its mood. The last one, “Time Is”, is also the longest cut, which features some lengthy solos, as well as a very interesting drum solo.
Unfortunately, It’s a Beautiful Day, like Moby Grape, fell victim to the greedy and unethical practices of Matthew Katz who was their manager (Jefferson Airplane almost fell victim to him, luckily they got out, because they knew). Eventually he started his own label, San Francisco Sound and reissued It’s A Beautiful Day and Moby Grape albums, but he never gives the members of the bands royalties for sales of the albums, plus he always like giving out one bogus lawsuit after another (I am surprised Matthew Katz hadn’t served any jail time). So, as things go, keep your turntables, as I suggest you buy the original Columbia Records version of It’s a Beautiful Day’s debut.
I am actually surprised by the amount of people I’ve met who heard of It’s a Beautiful Day, mostly from people who grew up in the 1960s. It seems like they grew to really appreciate their music. Sadly, It’s a Beautiful Day went downhill not long thereafter, because of constantly changing band members (at one point, the band featured Tom Fowler, later of Frank Zappa, and even future members of Pablo Cruise), meaning the quality of their music suffered because of it (but I do admit that 1970’s Marrying Maiden and 1971’s Choice Quality Stuff do have some very good material on it as well). But their debut is a wonderful classic album and my favorite from the Bay Area.
– David LaFlamme: lead vocals, violin
– Linda LaFlamme: organ, piano, electric piano, harsichord, celeste
– Hal Wagenet: guitar
– Val Fuentes: drums
– Mitchell Holman: bass
– Pattie Santos: vocals, percussion