Les Carlsen Shares Insights from the Album 1971

We spent some significant time discussing Les Carlsen's newest project 1971.  He recently provided some amazing back story of each song from 1971, Les Carlsen's newest release. 




In The Valley of The Shadow – I remember the background singers came into the studio to sing the chorus, “Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho”, and it was Clydie King and two others. She later became quite famous as back-up singer for Bob Dylan, the Stones, and many more. She also released her own albums. Her reputation was big in LA at the time and so I was really honored to have her come in for the recording. I was there with my Chloraseptic and my throat lozenges and she said “Honey, all you need is water… and just sing from your heart”. I always took that with me, so thank you, Clydie.

Listen for my first recorded rock ‘scream’ just before “When you talk about my God…”


Elevator Operator –The lyrics to this song are very intelligent and socially relevant even today. Back in the early 70s, the civil rights movement was happening and when HAIR was touring in the deep south we witnessed so much hatred not only towards the blacks that were in the show, but also towards all of us long-haired hippies. Ted was offering a solution that each of us as ‘Elevator Operators’ have the ability to lift our brothers up and change the tide of a prejudiced culture.


Hello There is the first song John Agostino ever wrote. It is a simple innocent love song that reflected the mood of the ‘flower child’ movement. The beautiful string and flute parts, done on the mellotron, gave it a sweet Renaissance feel. The vocal was challenging because I had to maintain a soft tone while holding a very long note.


Can You Hear Me has a bit of a James Gang influence. The lyric portrays the angst artists felt coming to Hollywood in the early 70’s and trying to make it in the record world. This lyric gave me an opportunity to use some of my theatrical experience and I tried to match the rockin’ track by pushing a little harder and taking a more edgy approach.


Flesh Failures /Let The Sunshine In was from the Broadway musical, HAIR. This version is much more early-metal than the show version that I performed night after night for a couple of years. It was fun to take a whole different approach.

I really like how the guitar interacts with the vocal lead.

In the section where it’s just my voice sounding like it’s inside a music box, I imagined a single radio signal coming from a heap of rubble like a tiny ray of hope in a post-apocalyptic world.

Lay Me Down - I remember, we were at the studio and John was playing the piano. I started singing and it just all came together. It’s short and sweet, almost like a little prayer.


Bad Credit was one of the first songs I ever wrote. I was using the idea of credit as an analogy for living either a good or bad life.

Throughout the record, we experimented with some of the new sounds of the era. This song starts with a Moog intro and at the musical break when it’s just acoustic and mellotron, my voice is flanged. I thought that was cool!


Someday – My inspiration for the vocal was John Lennon, from the graphic EQ to the primal scream.


Changing Me – Years later, a whole new section was added to this song and recorded by BLOODGOOD on Out of the Darkness.


Battle Fatigue – This epic finale song portrays a battle scene between two kingdoms, one good, one evil. The guitars use echoplex, feedback and other effects to simulate gunfire and bombs. Interlaced throughout the extended musical jam are themes from other songs on the album as well as the signature phrase from Jesus Christ Superstar. This eight-minute overture is an exciting ending to the record. Metal heads will love this!