Saturday, July 7, 2012

Mark-Almond: What Am I Living For?

Wednesday night, I was on some new medication for the pleurisy from which I have been suffering of late. Since I couldn’t sleep right away, I came down to the couch to see if I could fall asleep. Eventually I dozed off for about two hours. During that time, I had a strange dream about being a radio announcer. Well it wasn’t that strange, as I did that as a career for twenty years.

The strange thing was I was in the control room with only one workable turntable (well it worked most of the time) and only had one album – by the group Mark-Almond. It was not a usual album by the band, as it was country flavored and not their normal jazz-rock fare.

I went up to my bed and near the time I was to awaken, I had another dream. This time I was in a small pizza parlor that also sold odds and ends. As I was looking over the sundry items for sale, I spied a number of cards and post cards. In reading one, it was a note from a young man to his grandmother. He said that there were two things that endeared her to him. I don’t remember the first, but the second was that she knew all of the lyrics to all of Mark-Almond’s songs and understood their meanings.

Now, why I would have two dreams about Mark-Almond, let alone one? I hadn’t thought of this band in decades and although I have two of their albums, I would venture to say that until the next day, I had not listened to any of their music since 1978. Strange indeed.

Not to be confused with Marc Almond who was a member of Soft Cell, Jon Mark and Johnny Almond met as members in John Mayall’s band. That’s where I first got acquainted with the duo and in the 1970s, I purchased two of their albums: 1972’s “Rising” and 1976’s “To the Heart.” I wish I would have purchased “Mark-Almond,” “Mark-Almond II” and “'73”; as these are often heralded as being their best albums. In fact some of these are going for quite a high dollar price these days.

Two sellers on have unusually high prices for used copies of their 1971 self-titled first album. One is priced at $992.97 and the other is marked at $999.99. “To the Heart,” one of the albums I own, is priced at $99.99. Others are going for more than fair market prices. While the music is good, I cannot for the life of me understand why their albums are worth so much. It makes me wish I had invested in the first album so many years ago.

The band is centered on the two principal artists – Jon Mark who normally plays classical guitar and sings lead and Johnny Almond who is a reed player among other sundry instruments. Add to the mix are several other members that fill out the sound of the band.

Today’s “Bubbling Under” hit comes from their fourth album “’73” – which was recorded in, you guessed it, 1973. One side is a live side and the other is a studio side. It was their second album for Columbia and they issued two singles off of the album: “Lonely Girls” and “What Am I Living For?” While neither charted, “What Am I Living For?” is one of their best known cuts. It comes from the live side of the album.

Why I thought of Mark-Almond after all of these years may forever remain a mystery to me.


    I think that I saw the original line up of Mark-Almond - at least, I bought that album as well as its followup. I can send you mp3s of the album if you want - or sell you the two vinyl records for say $500 (only joking).