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David Ackles – American Gothic (1972)

August 31, 2019

[Album 665/1001]

“Listen, all of you!
Shut up and listen to me!”
– David Ackles, Ballad of the Ship of State

I’ve been at school for the past couple days, getting ready for classes to start on Tuesday.

Though I was reasonably productive, I find there’s a finite amount of planning that can be done in advance.

The reason? I don’t know my audience yet.

Once I know who I’m trying to reach, I’ll be able to customize my delivery to the students in the room, my target market.

And if the semester goes well, I won’t be needing to use the David Ackles quote above!



When it was released, who exactly was the target audience for American Gothic?

Who was he hoping would shut up and listen?

I’m genuinely curious as it feels like a challenging record to promote.

Take the third song, Ballad of the Ship of State.

How in the world would you describe the song structure?

How microscopic are the odds of the tune getting any radio-play whatsoever?

And how long has it been since I’ve been this excited about an album?


Untitled presentation (38)


Well, maybe not $336.80 + $6.49 shipping excited, but still…

American Gothic is sort of like Elton John at his early-mid 70s peak (I’ve since learned Bernie Taupin was the album’s producer), mixed with John Kander/Fred Ebb musical theatre (Chicago & Cabaret).220px-Davidacklesamericangothic

In fact, at times on Oh, California!, I could have sworn it was Richard Gere singing!

David Ackles sounds different on each track, taking on the voice of different characters. Which normally would be an irritant for me (I struggle when it feels like someone’s doing a ‘voice’) but in this case, it actually enhanced the theatrical feel.

The lyrical descriptions are often vivid & the musical arrangements are elaborate, with new details to be discovered on each re-listen.

And I’ve re-listened a half dozen times already.

An album well worth shutting up for/listening to!


Verbalize the Positive

Happy Labour Day long weekend!


From → 1970s

  1. I say since your going back to work officially in a few days you might as well take the purge and spend the 336 bucks on the CD!
    Those second market sellers on amazon are on crack…
    I remember a ways back some seller on Amazon was selling Live Bootleg the double album by Aerosmith used for $50.
    I bought it off Discogs for $10 and found a copy for Tbone here in town for $15.
    Now I see Aerosmith is actually rereleasing Live Bootleg in September. (never has been reissued) Amazon has it for $33 bucks…
    Another prime example of why people stream or buy music from iTunes when people mark that stuff super high.​

    • Well said – I’ve been trying to complete my oasis CD singles collection (there was a stretch where a couple of vendors were selling them for $0.39 + $3.49 shipping, I stocked up!). But for the ones that I’m still missing, the prices are just silly!
      I’m pleased you were able to track down a copy for Tbone, at a fraction of the amazon price!

    • Amazon’s prices are ridiculous on the 2nd hand market. They have Whitesnake’s Forevermore for $45. I just bought it on ebay for $7.95.

      • Exactly. Who would pay 45 for that Whitesnake album or any album for that matter? I sure as hell won’t!

      • And obviously, neither would I. I still need two more from that era and I won’t pay more than $10 for any of them (unless I find a vinyl I might go a little more)

      • That’s my price point for the oasis singles too – it’s got to be $10 max, after all taxes/shipping/fees!

      • Greed even by the consumer towards another buyer. Good time to load up on Oasis Geoff as if they ever reunite those CD singles will spike.
        I really wish they would have gone the extra mile when they reissued Be Here Now. I felt they dropped the ball on that one as it’s my fav of theres​.

      • I have a feeling that one will continue to be reevaluated as the years go on – the first 2 are so revered, I think many were disappointed by be here now.
        But like you, I’m a big fan – I think it was just long and crushed by the huge public expectations.
        Openers don’t get much better than d’you know what I mean!

      • Followed by ‘My Big Mouth’ What a brilliant one-two punch!
        In Brent Jensens, No Sleep Til Sudbury book Brent writes that whenever he bought an album growing up he would always skip the opening track as we all know that it would be the one to grab you as a listener!
        The second track would be the tell​ tale.
        Oasis succeeded in spades with that theory!

      • I like that strategy – you know they’re going to lead with strength, but can they keep the momentum going? In this case, you bet!

    • Live Bootleg reissue!? Nice… cheers for the heads-up!

  2. Don’t know this one very well – I checked it out because it was on Elvis Costello’s list of favourites, but haven’t spent much time with it.

    • I gather he’s one of those artists that’s “a songwriter’s songwriter” and not necessarily one that enjoyed a ton of commercial success. Elvis has good taste though!

  3. Don’t know Mr Ackles other than his name. Thanks for the heads up, Geoff! Wonder if there are copies around cheaper than that you listed?

    • It’s possible he’s an artist where one has to be in the right mood to enjoy. But if you’re in a theatrical mood, there may be no substitute!

  4. This sounds utterly batshit crazy.

  5. $6.49 to ship a CD! Are they crazy!?!?

  6. Never heard of this guy… and I assume the fact that he’s likely known by very few people is the reason the CD is so expensive! Sounds like an interesting one, though!

    • From what I gather, he’s one of those artists that would be described as ‘a songwriter’s songwriter.’ I suppose meaning he’s beloved by songwriters that enjoyed much more commercial success.
      And as much as I enjoyed his work, the current CD asking price is a bit steep!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. 300 albums in 2 years! | 1001albumsin10years
  2. 1972 | 1001albumsin10years

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