“Astral Cowboy”: Not Enough Echo

Yesterday’s piece about Sagittarius (et al.) brought to mind one particular Curt Boettcher song that too few people have heard, 1969’s (demo only) “Lament of the Astral Cowboy” — one hundred forty mesmerizing seconds, each one of them echo-filled:

Could this be what Gram Parsons had envisioned when he came up with the idea of “Cosmic American Music”?   Curt Boettcher, who would compose/produce for Sagittarius and Millenium and also serve as house producer for Columbia, would briefly form a label with Gary Usher & Keith Olsen (Together Records) and ultimately give “Lament of the Astral Cowboy” to Together artist, Michele O’Malley, for her one and only album release, Saturn Rings (where O’Malley would alter the title slightly to “Astro Cowboy”).

Boettcher would later release a solo album on Elektra, 1973’s There’s an Innocent Face, after the folding of his label.  Sessions for a follow-up album, Chicken Little Was Right, did take place briefly before Curt left Elektra to pursue a career as a session vocalist, and as the liner notes indicate, “there is reason to believe ‘Astral Cowboy’ was planned to appear on Chicken Little Was Right.”

 Glen Campbell:  The Voice Behind “My World Fell Down” by Sagittarius

Tip of the hat to The Big Takeover‘s Jack Rabid for his illuminating and well-researched review in AllMusic of Sagittarius’s Present Tense from 1968, an album centered around its ‘enthralling’ single, “My World Fell Down” – a song that features, surprisingly enough, the guest vocal talents of Glen Campbell:

“The initial 1967 single, “My World Fell Down” — which went to number 70 in the charts — is largely sought after by the most fanatical of Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys followers, since it not only replicates that unique and incomparable production value, but benefits greatly from a lead vocal by Glen Campbell.  Not his “Rhinestone Cowboy” voice, it’s the more angelic, boyish Mike Love tones he employed when then touring and recording with the Beach Boys.  As well, real Beach Boy Bruce Johnston sings a key part, as does fellow producer Terry Melcher and vaunted session man Hal Blaine sits in.  Mixing “Good Vibrations” with “God Only Knows,” “My World Fell Down” is a missing link to pre-breakdown Brian Wilson’s obsessions, particularly the bonus-track single version, which blends in pre-psychedelia sounds of a bullfight, an alarm clock, and a crying infant.  Subsequent recordings found Usher teaming with singer/writer/producer Curt Boettcher, whom Usher met while working with Wilson, and some use songs from the latter’s singing group Ballroom and players from Boettcher’s new, real band Millennium.”