This reminds me of the shit kids in my high school theatre would listen to. I am not a fan. I guess if something is an “undiscovered classic” that has “yet to find its audience” that might just mean it sucks and people don’t like it 😂
American Gothic is the third studio album by American singer-songwriter David Ackles. It was released on July 4, 1972, by record label Elektra. American Gothic was recorded at IBC Sound Recording Studios in London, England. It was produced by Bernie Taupin and conducted by Robert Kirby. In its retrospective review, AllMusic wrote "American Gothic remains one of those great albums that never found its audience. It waits to be rediscovered." American Gothic was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Mojo called it "one of the most beautiful but rarely heard albums of his era".
This reminds me of the shit kids in my high school theatre would listen to. I am not a fan. I guess if something is an “undiscovered classic” that has “yet to find its audience” that might just mean it sucks and people don’t like it 😂
Grandiose, overblown and somewhat ludicrous, I absolutely loved it. What a find!
"Beefy lips". "Beefy lips" is all they could say to me. It had been sixteen hours waiting, without another word. The worry, the fear, the unknown. I had so many questions, but not one of the doctors who passed me uttered a single sentence other than "beefy lips". My mind was racing, were they dead? A rugged face snapped back from behind a pristine surgical mask and peered over at me. I looked up, hopeful, fearful. The doctor beckoned me over and pulled back the curtain. There lay my beautiful virgin bride, legs wide open. A forest of tangled pubic hair draped over the thickest, chewiest, shiniest set of matching vaginal lips I'd ever laid me eyes on. I was in heaven.
I started listening to this before, and was put off a little. I wasn't sure what the singer was aiming for, but it was obvious he was not going for super-positive. I think his voice reminded me more of Neil Diamond initially, but more... serious? (Not that Neil isn't serious, but it's what the singer was going for.) I switched to something else, and tried again later. The second time I started the album, I enjoyed it more. The songs began to be more... picturesque, I thought of him singing like Leonard Cohen, and I started to appreciate it more. I think if I went through it the first time I would have given it a more negative review, but I kinda got the vibe he was going for. It doesn't mean that I absolutely LOVED it. But still, I appreciated it more. So probably a 2.6, rounding to a 3.
I made the mistake of reading other reviews while listening, and now "over the top Neil Diamond" is just a lingering thought that I can't get out of my head. The vocal affectations and even some of the type of lyrics do very much read as Neil Diamond, but the music combined with the delivery have some kind of almost manic additional quality. Either way, I've never heard anyone else deliver things quite like Neil Diamond, but this is probably the closest I've heard. What I will say is that David Ackles definitely didn't shy away from experimenting and taking risks here. The music is dramatic and could definitely pass as a quirky 70s stage musical; I haven't ever heard anything quite like this outside of musical theater spaces. And while I like musical theater and discovering rare obscurities, and while some of the songs struck me as interesting and even a couple as strangely beautiful, this overall ended up just being kind of not my thing.
The songs on "American Gothic" are a bit like little theater plays. They are richly orchestrated by Elton John's songwriter partner Bernie Taupin, and sometimes contain cabaretesque melodies, but are nevertheless based on the narrative folk style such as that of Woody Guthrie. At times his voice resembles that of Neil Diamond. And I hear a bit of Kurt Weill influences. And that is really not a negative point in this one. Many great contemporary artists I adore such as Tom Waits and Frank Zappa declare to be indebted to the work of this singer/songwriter so I was really quite keen to give this a few good listens. Still, this album leaves me with quite a double feeling. There are a few songs I really quite rate, like "Waiting For The Moving Van" and I can really appreciate the dark undertones of most of the songs, but the combination with the theatrical and at times bombastic musical compositions and orchestrations makes this an album I don't find a pleasure to put on. I hear and understand the quality, but it might not be for me.
A bit like a Billy Joel composed Broadway musical. If that sounds appealing to you….god help ya.
Pretty good, although started to grate on me after additional listens. Might go back to it. Definitely quirky.
A little corny sounding but I appreciated the orchestral stuff and how dramatic it was. The overall sound is super clean, like it could have come out decades later.
It's such a curio. Extra points for being extra weird. Less points for it's amateur dramatics style.
Murder ballad lyrics set to Broadway tunes. This is weird
This was... really bad. I could leave it at that but I think this album deserves a bit of explanation. The vocals are nothing spectacular, but that's not necessarily a deal breaker. After all, Bob Dylan doesn't have a voice to write home about. And speaking of Bob Dylan, the contents of the lyrics are similar to Dylan's work. There are stories being told, but they're all laid out so explicitly that there's nothing interesting about them. You lose something when you're just retelling a story from beginning to end with no room for inference. Then there's the instrumentals, which at times aren't noticeable, and at other times sound discordant. Ultimately, not as interesting as Ackles probably wanted this album to be. Bored me into not finishing.
A few songs I was okay with but overall just found this very irritating and I kind of hated it.
What the actual f**k is this? Improv very local theater? I think he is making this up as he goes along. Yes, this is improv jazz theater. Thankful this is relatively short at just under 44 minutes (of my life). The last song is 10 minutes!!?? No way. Yet another added to the list of 1001 albums I hope to never hear again.
10/10 absolutely incredible and so underrated god I wish more people would hear this
BL: never heard of. But read that Costello cites him as a major influence so I am looking forward to it. AL: wow. I thought this was brilliant. Cutting and beautiful song writing, “love’s enough”, “another Friday night”, “family band”, and “Montana song” all have amazing lyrics and the instrumentation is pretty solid too. His gentle yet rough voice really adds and emotional tone to it. Highly recommend FT: “love’s enough”, “Montana song”, “another Friday night”, “family band”, 5/5
American Gothic is sneaky-complete and just and indulgent as the title and first notes indicate. Shades of Scott Walker, clearly and pleasingly, and an immediate songwriter's songwriter feel are highlights. The "American" part is as well-represented, and yet the album ends up feeling close to linear. Explicit references to religion do not a religious experience make, but here they help.
Never heard of him, but what a strong album. Baroque, theatrical. A little bit of Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, and Billy Joel all rolled into one. Spots of the Beach Boys at their "Pet Sounds"-iest too. Has a weak moment or two, but I don't think it's enough to detract from the score. Favorite tracks: "Love's Enough", "Another Friday Night", "Family Band"
surprised by how interesting this album is. i was prepared to dislike it for its showtune aesthetic but the lyrics are great and the music sets the scene so perfectly. definitely heard some proto-springsteen and early elton john (bernie taupin produced). will definitely listen to the whole album again.
Sometimes you get one of those albums you've never heard of, but that you love instantly. Ackles musical theatre song style, coupled with the piano rock and great lyrics (apparently an English major (it shows)), hit a perfect spot for me. I loved it in all its earnest story telling!
So glad to have found this album. The songwriting, the stories, the atmospheres. Vaudeville, Americana, Tom Waits, and the weight of the world. Ended up spending a lot more time with it than I thought I would. Thank you!
So my type of music. Loved it!❤️
Anders, aber ziemlich gut, leise, kreativ, gerne wieder
- Ich hatte wirklich 0,0 Erwartungen (und eigentlich auch keinen Bock) oder auch nur den Hauch einer Ahnung was mich erwartet, außer, dass ich das Albumcover irgendwie cool fand! - Und dann bäm, hats mich krass erwischt und ich fand es einfach uultra geil, hatte zeitweise Gänsehaut und einmal sogar einen kleinen Klos im Hals - So viele kreative Ideen, wunderschöne Melodien, dieses fantastische Storytelling (wenn auch hier und da mal cheesy) die Orchestrale Begleitung, das musicalhafte und eine mega coole Stimme - Ich war erstaunt über die niedrigen Aufrufzahlen - Aber auch zu Lebzeiten scheint David Ackles nie wirklich Erfolg gehabt zu haben - Es handelt sich also wirklich mal um einen echten Geheimtipp! - Der Mann hatte auch eine interessante Biografie, so musste er die Musikkarriere, die nie wirklich eine war, nach einem Autounfall an den Nagel hängen, weil er danach lebenslänglich Armschmerzen beim Pianospielen hatte. Gestroben ist er dann verhältnismäßig jung Anfang 60 an Lungenkrebs. - Vielleicht hat das Lesen dieser Lebensgeschichte beim Hören auch nochmal mehr Emotionen reingepackt - Ich finde es insgesamt einfach ein so unglaublich schönes und von Herzen kommendes Album, dass ich es gerne zu den ganz großen Alben zählen möchte. Aber kaum jemand kennt bzw. kannte den Mann. Nicht zu fassen. So genervt man ja auch von manchen Alben hier mal ist, DANKE 1001 Albums dafür!! Rating: 4,5/5
david ackles' american gothic was country with jazz interspersed. some songs even sounded rather orchestral! other times, it was minimal, like with only a piano joining his voice. i enjoyed the mix. ackles enjoyed telling stories through his lyrics--he always had something to sing. i was left with such a feeling of homesickness. ackles keyed into so many emotions without being over the top. his lyrics were the key part of that, too. the whole album had a serene, wistful sense, and it hit a head when it came to "waiting for the moving van" toward the end of the album. "oh, california!" had a jaunty country attitude as ackles described an exciting return journey. "another friday night" puts you firmly by a campfire when camping with that opening harmonica. "love's enough," which absolutely took my breath away, was a softly beautiful song and described the beginnings of love. hymn-like "family band" was the oddball of this album, but with the memories of his family celebrating their faith together. i found myself reminded of leonard cohen, but not the music from his early career. cohen wasn't very country but was lyric heavy.
kinda like randy newman
This dramatic and literary type of songwriting and singing sounds like a cross between Scott Walker and Gordon Lightfoot — while I don't remember much of it, definitely enjoyed it, so I'm definitely going to need to revisit this album and artist.
I can see how this is an understated Folk classic. Not quite getting to what I want, but quite enjoyable.
There is something delightfully vaudeville about this. Even when it isn't fantastic, it's still pretty interesting. It's almost like showtunes for a musical that was never made.
Quite a fun album, the songs have charm - "Oh California" is a banger, and so is the title track and "Blues for Billy Whitecloud" - other tracks are middling, but still a good listen, and a couple, like closer "Montana song" overstay their welcome. It's not a perfect record, but it's a good one.
Did not know anything about this one. I’ll give this another listen sometime.
Het was een uitdagende dag om dit te luisteren maar hoorde wel dat dit heel bijzonder is.
I had never heard about David Ackles before. Based on the Wikipedia page and the first songs of this album, I was ready to consider this album just another folk-like attempt to be a great album and with a final importance only for a few Americans proud of anything produced in the USA between 1970 and 1990 as the "upper" quality among all songs (which is entirely fake). For me, it was worth a maximum of 2 stars. However, some other songs caught my attention when they sounded more like Sinatra-style, jazzy, and big-band songs I usually enjoy more. I also liked the last songs' beautiful instrumental/orchestral work, so my initial assumptions were wrong. Indeed, it can be an attempt to sound important. Still, the variety of styles and interesting instrumental work proved that if it's impossible to achieve it, the dedicated effort is worth it. Maybe it's not an essential album for everyone, but not being perfect and sounding like an honest musical attempt made this (before completely unknown) album important for me.
Hmmmm, he's very Scott Walker, eh? Apparently more influential that listened to directly, so I guess I'm glad this project thrust him into my path! Fave track - "Ballad of the Ship of State", perhaps, or "Midnight Carousel"
Like Nick Cave does a musical? I quite enjoyed the drama of it and the storytelling, although, as ever, didn't listen enough to the words but I know he swapped the milk for booze.
He has a very emotive voice, Midnight Carousel sounds like it could've come from a Sondheim musical. I particularly love his sense of humour!
At first I hated this album. My first impression was that this was from a failed broadway show or some shorty high school musical. But by the time I got to the seventh track, Waiting For The Moving Van, I started to understand the brilliance behind this album. When I got to the final track, the ten minute epic Montana Song I was hooked. I listened to the album two more times. This album is a masterpiece, I ‘ve read a few review that compare David Ackles to a poor man’s Neil Diamond. My wife said as much. ND is great at what he does, but ND couldn’t do this. He could never each this level of uniqueness and disjointed chaotic beauty. I might have to start going to more of my local high schools musicals..
This is Lite FM music. Lite FM is a radio station in NYC that plays midtempo, feel good, elevator-type music. I don’t mean that to be insulting. There’s a place for music like this for sure. Songs like Love’s Enough are comforting and sweet. They give you hope. Ballad of the Ship of State is more dramatic. It reminds me of a Broadway musical. Maybe off-Broadway. One Night Stand takes us back to Lite FM, but still sounds as if it belongs in the lineup for a musical. As does Oh, California! Then comes Family Band, taking us to church in a small town where everybody knows everybody and nobody locks their doors. Somebody should make a musical called American Gothic about small town, post-war America. All the music they need is right here on this album.
very much like broadway harry chapin
I had never heard of this album, or David Ackles. But I'll definitely listen to it again.
Never heard this guy. Just one word. Fantastic.
It's the perfect mix of Tom Waits and Randy Newman, with a touch of musical theatre. Unexpectedly brilliant lost album!
Sraight forward story telling tike this than really bridge the the gap between musical interest and listening value. This was cool
Listened to this while playing Return to Dark Tower solo. I have never heard of David Ackles, so this was a completely new experience for me. As a pianist, I was immediately taken by the piano work throughout the album. It sounds like it would have been a lot of fun to play. I really enjoyed everything I heard. The arrangements were fun and interesting. I always hear lyrics last, and I feel like there was a lot of lyrical gems throughout that I'd need a second listen to appreciate. I enjoyed the one-night stand song more than I thought I would have. I'm giving this album a 4, though it may be closer to a 3.5 if possible.
Reminds me of a less flashy more folky Neil Diamond.
Solid if over-produced
Great album, a wonderful suprise. Will definitely be listening to this many more times
This was a very interesting album that combines a vaudeville background with a contemporary pop style. Bernie Taupin’s production ensures that the songwriting is front and center. David Ackles is a very thoughtful songwriter and musician who lends a sense of theatricality to his work. Elvis Costello is right to state that Ackles’ work should be better known.
I have a soft spot for these lost masterpiece type albums, so I'm glad to see this included on the list. Although revisiting the likes of The Beatles and The Stones, et al. is a great thing to do, spending time with albums like this, that sort of fell through the cracks in one way or another, is the more rewarding part of the 1001 experience for me. Although I will most likely never come back to this album again, it is one I am glad to have heard.
Excellent songwriting and beautiful arrangements. Highly recommend.
love's enough is unironically a good song goofy ass ballad of the ship of state one night stand made me sad idk why Nice christian anthem in family band LOL midnight carousel is a very disney villain type song waiting for the moving van made me sad but this one is more directly sad billy whitecloud works for peanuts, give him peanuts and he goes wild. oh wait this song is just racist? or a reference? yeah i kinda fw this kinda of thing, little corny, lil dramatic but idk probably a 3.5/5 but closer to a 4 than a 3
Doesn't the world already have one Paul Walker? Do we really need another one? It turns out that I do, at least. It's easy to understand how and why this is something of a cult classic. I'm sure there will be many days when I'm just not feeling this, although I find "Love's Enough" to be one of the more underrated ballads ever. Would I regret branding this with a 4 tomorrow? Maybe. I might think it's a 2 in a week. It's clearly not everyone's cup of tea, but I'll take this over that sad sack Nick Drake anyday.
December 27th again HL: title track, “Family Band”, “Love’s Enough”, “Ballad of the Ship of State”, “Montana Song” Well this was delightful The title and rustic cover did nothing to advertise the orchestrations and theatricalism on display, but also fits perfectly with Ackles’ pastoral ballads (“Love’s Enough”)
Scott Walker vibes. I kinda love this. I don't know why at all. I find it very calming. Fave Tracks: American Gothic, Blues for Billy Whitehead, Montana Song 4/5
the corner of scott walker and neil diamond!
Why is this so good? It's crazy how good this actually is. Idk about the 10 minute song about Montana though. This whole album is pretty odd
Awesome Album! Surprise favorite. Not rock though?
Daring, dramatic, at times campy and at others stunningly gorgeous. There are moments when the camp turns into cringe and their are others were the ingredients just don't quite work, but I appreciate that Ackles went for something a bit different here. Love's Enough, One Night Stand, Another Friday Night, and Montana Song were real standouts for me.
I was surprised how much I liked this album. A very unique and interesting album that will stick with me for a while. I enjoyed the frantic nature of some of the songs with all of the shifts in tempo and instrumentation. If I liked this genre more, this may have been one of my favorite albums.
Well.. that was an interesting album. Probably worth another listen.
Nick Cave and Bertolt Brecht do this shtick better. But some of these are fun. The lyrics are often fun, and it's nice to have this vibe in an fairly straightforward vocal style with an acoustic band instead of overpowering electronic atmosphere. Honestly, it grew on me as it went. A Sondheim feel to it, as well.
I think I liked it :)
- Ich stehe ja hart auf so musical-artige Platten. Bin deswegen ja auch Turisas und Blind Guardian-Fan - Ich war die ganze Zeit sehr unterhalten. Natürlich gibt es bei solchen Konzepten immer Parts, die mehr der Idee der Platte und der zu erzählenden Geschichte dienen, als dass sie musikalisch sein sollen. - Dennoch waren viele Stücke dabei, die ich richtig gefühlt habe. Verbunden mit schönen Dramaturgien und (ich denke) sehr autobiografischen Texten waren der größte Teil der Songs sehr mitreißend - Um das jetzt komplett abzufeiern, wars mir leider etwas zu Piano-lastig und ein paar Stücke/Parts etwas schwächer. Alles in allem aber ein tolles bewegendes Album 4/5
Couldn't quite place what his sound reminded me of on the title / opening track. But the first few piano bars of the second track Love's Enough made me think Neil Diamond, and his vocals on that track solidified that belief for me. Once I got there, my ears pricked up. I really loved that second track; ditto Another Friday Night and Waiting for the Moving Van. One Night Stand wasn't bad; maybe a bit too much cheese or Sinatra ripoff. Keep the composition but change the lyrics. Family Band was a good start, a bit meh by the end. Ballad of the Ship of State and Midnight Carousel was a bit too much pomp. Oh California was the right amount of pomp. It feels like a 3.5 but I don't know if there's enough to round up.
This album is really not my type of music, and I found it quite dull. I could see why people would like this. There are lots of other albums that it sounds like, but it also predates a lot of those albums, so it deserves credit for that. To me, this is basically what Leonard Cohen would sound like if he wasn't as good a poet and had less interesting backing music 3/5 I think he deserves some credit for taking some chances and experimenting in these songs, but at the same time I was bored the entire time I was listening to this album
Is it me or does this sound like a Scott Walker album? It’s nice, but on first listen I rolled my eyes a bit. After listening more, I started to like it more.
Weirdo early 70s fancy ass folk pop
Have never heard of David Ackles so first time listening to this. Very nice voice and great songs through the whole album! Good and very soft and easy listen to this one!
Sounds like show tunes done by an admirer of Jacques Brel and Scott Walker. Not as interesting as Taupin’s work with Elton John. Not awful.
Was quite enjoying it in a Neil Diamond kinda way, until Family Band, and it went all religious - not my thing. Rest of it is easy listening though.
Enjoyable and soothing, bit reminiscent of Nick Cave at times.
Reminds me of what we get from Nick Cave later. Nice soft music for listening, but lacks melody and catchiness to really sell it. The lyricism is the biggest selling point.
J'ai quand même bien aimé. Les risques, les paroles, et aussi les expérimentation de certaines chansons. 3.85
liked the second song a lot. Seems like an album that could grow on me. Also seems like it could be a good listen on a long drive
This album was confusing. I certainly appreciate the uniqueness of the album itself compared to much of the rest on this list. I was confused why an album called American Gothic written by an American singer songwriter was recorded in London. This gave me Broadway vibes. It was weird and I’m not sure this is an accurate rating, I neither loved nor hated it.
This guy is part old school crooner, part American Elton John (or maybe I'm predisposed to think so because Taupin produced), and part folksy poet (but not in a Woody Guthrie way, more of a stuffy academic way). The effect is somehow less than the sum of its parts. Did not work for me, but I respect the effort. Best track: Ballad of the Ship of State
Bit of Scott Walker and Neil Diamond energy but even after a couple of cracks couldn't get into the style of it all
Started promising, but became a bit Broadway musical meets Peter Allen meets Hot August Night. Anyway nice to discover someone I'd never heard of.
A different style of album. It's nice to have variety
It was alright, nothing special but not too horrible
I love a good story album, and this one was alright
Ok, I was expecting folk/country but this is... Nick Cave long before Nick Cave? There's an obvious Americana theme, which matches up with the album art & name, and it's kinda miserable, as somewhat expected lol, but it's all piano/croon/jazz driven. Manic vaudeville vibes in places. A bit too out there for me, but nothing awful. 3/5.
Was slow. Good but slow
I enjoyed it more than i thought I would but I'm unsure what to rate it I espacially liked the first half but it got a bit boring after a while but it was still not something I had to force myselft through so I think I will go with 2.75 Stars so ~ 3 stars
David Ackles a tenté de se dépatouiller comme il le pouvait au milieu de la bouillasse proposée par Robert depuis quelques semaines, sans malheureusement réussir à s'élever suffisament pour atteindre le sacro saint 4/5. De généreux efforts qui sont néammoins appréciés.
David s'est retrouvé bloqué dans un studio d'enregistrement contre son gré et essaiera tant bien que mal de produire quelque chose de pas trop mauvais. Avec un peu de chance et de débrouillardise, il réussira finalement à s'en sortir sans trop se ridiculiser.
I found it hard to believe that Bernie Taupin produced this album because it was the first and last thing he would have produced. But Robert Kirby, who did the orchestration for this album, also did Bernie’s poetry album a year earlier so there may have been connection. The arrangements are interesting, and it was brave to put out an LP like this in the early 70s, but his delivery can be schmaltzy and the lyrics hold no mystery. As my co-judge said, he sounds like he’s trying to sound like the guy who left his cake out in the rain, but that was a great song (and there are none here).
I understand why Bernie Taupin would like this guy. He is like Tom Waits might have been in his early days if he had been sober (but he isn't at all like Tom Waits when he actually was sober). I hope that makes sense.
Ik vond dit verrassend aangenaam
Ja, beetje een erg klassieke zangstem/stijl maar wel lekker op zo’n warme dag
This album is ambitious. It's vivid and lyrical and self-indulgent. It's certainly interesting, and I can sense it's influence in more modern self-deprecating songwriters, particulary on Jim O'Rourke's Drag City outputs. Great listen and always happy to have something unknown like this come up.
Sounded like a Broadway musical score. One of those albums that I am happy I listened to but will never listen to any of those songs ever again
Another album that sounds like to belongs in a musical. That's not necessarily a knock, but it just stands out to me. Fairly pleasant album to listen to, no real highs though.