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Monday, August 21, 2017

Mick Greenwood - ...To Friends (1972 uk, superb folk prog rock, 2006 japan remaster)

Michael Vernon Greenwood was born under the sign of Aquarius in the front room of the family home in Potters Bar, England. His father was a Yorkshire engineer and the son of a textile baron, and his mother a Cumbrian farmer’s daughter.

His parents were restless souls, and much of Mick’s early childhood was spent on the move. A month before his 12th birthday, he emigrated with his family from the leafy London suburb of Thames Ditton to the small rural town of Halifax, Pennsylvania, situated twenty miles up the Susquehannah River from Harrisburg.

He found the transition from his regimented life at a boys English prep school to American high school liberating in more ways than one. “The culture shock was my saving grace at the time,” he says. “I remember a junior asking me to a high school dance, and making the discovery that girls had these wonderful entities called breasts, and that put a whole new tangible perspective on things.”

Predominately self-taught, Mick found an affinity with the piano at around 4 years old, and at 14 got what he wanted for his birthday, a Kent electric guitar with a Sears Roebuck amp. After an initial disappointing cacophony, the guitar stayed in its case until Mick broke his right wrist on the wrestling mat at school. Wearing a cast, but still able to hold a pick between his thumb and index finger, he decided it was time to pick up the guitar and teach himself a few basics, and with practice he then started writing songs, and later formed his first high school band, The DearSirs.

After graduating from Halifax High, Mick went to Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, ostensibly to pursue a career in law. Approaching 18, he was now becoming more prolific as a songwriter, and playing with several bands including Charlotte’s Web. His solo performances took him further afield to clubs like New York’s Bitter End, where he was to meet the legendary John Hammond of Columbia Records who became instrumental in launching Mick’s recording career.

Greenwood returned to England in 1970 and made his first highly-acclaimed album, Living Game, which became Cashbox’s import of the week and was released throughout the world. Recorded at CBS London and Sound Techniques, Chelsea, this was the first time Mick had entered a recording studio. The sessions went so well that the musicians involved became his backing band on the road. The album features ex-Fotheringay’s Jerry Donahue, Pat Donaldson and Gerry Conway, along with keyboards/arranger Tony Cox, and Fairport’s Dave Pegg. Plus contributions by top jazz musicians–Lynn Dobson, Karl Jenkins, Bud Parkes, Derek Wadsworth and Dudu Pakwana.

After appearing with the band on programs like The Old Grey Whistle Test, and performing solo at venues such as the Cambridge Festival, there were some personnel changes, and The Cockington All-Stars emerged. Named after the farmhouse in Devon where Mick wrote new material and the band rehearsed, the lineup included Barry de Souza, Dave Peacock, Jerry Donahue and Tony Cox. With this collection, he returned to Sound Techniques to make his second album, To Friends, which was again highly-acclaimed and acknowledged Mick’s change in direction. The record also features excellent backing vocals by Barrie St. John, Doris Troy and Jimmy Helms.

Mick and the band toured the States, playing Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Palladium with Hot Tuna, and Atlanta’s Coliseum with The Byrds, as well as clubs like The Earl Of Old Town in Chicago. His recollections of a crazy life on the road, “I drove this old black Lincoln down from New York City to Carlisle, Pa. Running late, we all poured out of the limo and went straight on stage, following a set by John McLaughlin. I was returning with my band to play my graduating class at Dickinson, and the reception was blinding.”

1. To Friends - 3:53
2. Spooked - 4:06
3. See Yourself - 4:42
4. Mother Earth - 3:35
5. All Aboard The Train - 4:57
6. Share The Load - 3:07
7. Show Your Colours - 3:27
8. Charlie - 4:18
9. Berzerk - 4:20
10.Space Captain - 3:45
11.How Do You Feel In Your Bones - 2:45
Words and Music by Mick Greenwood except song #10 written by Mathew Moore

*Mick Greenwood  -  Guitars, Harmony, Keyboards, Piano, Vocals
*Tony Cox - Accordion, Keyboards, Piano, Synthesizer, Vocals
*Barry DeSouza - Drums, Fiddle, Percussion, Trumpet
*Jerry Donahue - Electric, Spanish Guitar, Vocals
*Jimmy Helms - Vocals
*Dave Peacock - Banjo, Bass, Fiddle, Violin, Vocals)
*Barry St. John - Vocals
*Doris Troy - Vocals

1971  Mick Greenwood - Living Game

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

John Ussery - Ussery (1973 us, stunning groovy guitar psych rock, 2013 issue)

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Ussery, began playing guitar in the mid-fifties. By the age of 14 and protected by Arizona's right-to-work law, he was jamming in the honkytonks and bars while growing up in the southwest. At age 19, and out of the Army, Ussery moved to Phoenix to play in a pop and R&B band with his older brother Ron, a singer/saxophone player.

The mid-sixties found him noodling with Riley "B.B." King and opening up for John Lee Hooker at the 310 supper club just out of old downtown Seattle, and hanging out with Delaney Bramlett and the Shindog's (who had a very popular TV show called Shindig).

In 1973, Delaney produced Ussery's first solo album, "Ussery," on Mercury Records. It was shortly after the release of this album that the Texas slinger decided to leave the music business, and did so for the better part of 17 years.

He and his guitars returned to the music scene in 1991, and last year's Fifth Annual "Real Blues Award" nominated CD, "Getting' Lucky" and his latest "Cryin' and Screamin" are filled with contemporary original blues and some fine horn playing. 
by Matt Alcott

1. Smile - 2:26
2. Low Rider - 4:01
3. Must Have Been The season - 2:50
4. Dance - 2:36
5. Gangster - 3:31
6. Blue Suede Shoes (Carl Perkins) - 3:03
7. Through The Fire - 4:11
8. Jail House Rock (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 4:53
9. Just Want To Be Your Friend - 3:19
10.Listen To The Melody - 2:58
11.Sweet Seventeen - 2:56
All selections by John Ussery except where stated

*John Ussery - Vocals, Guitars
*Delaneu Bramlett - Slide Guitar, Percussion
*Joe Townend - Bass
*Tom Henderson - Drums
*Ron Grayson - Drums (Tracks 8-9)

Related Act
1969  Locomotive - Locomotive (2013 reissue)

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Game - Game (1969 us, awesome classic rock with psych and some prog shades, 2007 remaster)

Singers/guitarists Eddie Keating and Chuck Kirkpatrick, drummer Scott Kirkpatrick, keyboard player Les Luhring and singer/bassist George Terry had all been members of the Southern Florida based Proctor Amusement Company.  The band had become quite popular throughout the region, even recording a couple of singles and an unreleased LP for the New York based Faithful Virtue label before calling it quits. While Proctor Amusement Company had come to an end, by 1969 the five were playing Southern Florida clubs as Game.  

Released by Faithful-Virtue, 1969's "Game" is an interesting debut.  Co-produced by manager/mentor Steve Goldberg and Chuck Kirkpatrick, musically the set's all over the place, including stabs at conventional pop, progressive ('Entrance'), rock ('Fat Mama') and even showing off some jazzy interludes (check out side two's 'Disturbance/We Turn To You').  Normally such a diverse album wouldn't make all that much of an impression with me, but this is one of those exceptions.  While most bands have a hard time finding one good singer, Game wasn't hurt by having three in the form of Keating, Chuck Kirkpatrick and Terry.  The fact that Keating and Luhring wrote some nifty melodies and were capable of turning in ear candy harmony vocals didn't hurt the end results either (check out Luhring's 'Discovering You'). To be honest, material such as 'Make Some Music' and 'Stop, Look & Listen' sounds a couple of years ahead of it's time.

In 1970 the band relocated to Southern California.  Original drummer Scott Kirkpatrick dropped out before the move, replaced by Dave Robinson.  Over the next two years the band recorded a considerable amount of material, but found no takers.  Forced to start playing local clubs when their long time financial benefactor threatened to cut off support, Robinson and Terry called it quits, returning to Florida.  Terry subsequently hit the big time as a member of Eric Clapton's band.  Enduring a series of personnel changes, the band continued to play through 1978.  Chuck Kirkpatrick recorded an instantly obscure solo album for Capitol before returning to Miami where he spent some time recording and touring with Firefall, eventually starting his own business.

1. Entrance (Eddie Keating, Tom Quick) - 0:51
2. What's Goin' Through My Head - 3:18
3. Discovering You (Les Luhring) - 4:11
4. Fat Mama - 2:44
5. Make Some Music - 7:49
6. Stop Look And Listen (Les Luhring) - 3:30
7. Disturbance-We Turn To You (Eddie Keating, Les Luhring) - 6:20
8. Sermon - 2:09
9. Girl Next Door - 3:19
10.Exit (Chuck Kirkpatrick, Eddie Keating) - 4:03
All compositions by Eddie Keating except where indicated

The Game
*Eddie Keating - Vocals, Guitar, Bass
*Chuck Kirkpatrick - Vocals, Guitar, Bass
*Scott Kirkpatrick - Drums
*Les Lurhing - Keyboards
*George Terry - Vocals, Guitar, Bass

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Crystal Mansion - The Crystal Mansion (1972 us, beautiful mix of country folk funky psych soft prog rock, korean 2016 remaster)

Formed in the early-1960s' The Secrets were a Mount Laurel, New Jersey, based R'n'B cover band.  By 1968 the line up consisted of  singer Johnny Caswell, guitarist Ronnie Gentile, drummer Ricky Morley and keyboardist Sal Rota. Having adopted the name 'The Crystal Mansion',  the band was signed by Capitol where they enjoyed a modest national hit with the single 'The Though tof Loving You' b/w 'Hallelujah' (Capitol catalog number 2275 ). The single's success led Capitol to finance an LP, 1969's "The Crystal Mansion". 

Dropped by Capitol, in 1972 the band reappeared on Motown's rock-oriented Rare Earth label.  Co-produced by the band, the cleverly titled "The Crystal Mansion" found the band largely abandoning their early pop sound in favor of a  into a myriad of styles, including country, psych and even progressive moves.    

Even though it takes awhile to get organized, material such as 'There Always Will Be More', the funky 'Somebody Oughta' Turn Your Head Around' (imagine Rare Earth having spent a weekend in Miami) and the blazing 'Let Me Get Straight Again' (one of two group-penned originals) is actually pretty good.

1. There Always Will Be More (Johnny Caswell, Sam Owlens) - 6:00
2. Bad City Ways (Bob Barnayrd, Sal Rota) - 4:19
3. I Love You (Johnny Caswell, Sal Rota) - 3:06
4. Satisfied (David Tricker, Johnny Caswell, Sal Rota) - 3:39
5. A Song Is Born (David Tricker, Johnny Caswell, Sal Rota) - 3:39
6. Somebody Oughta Turn Your Head Around (Rick Morley,Sal Rota, Ronnie Gentile, Mario Sanchez, Bill Crawford, Johnny Caswell) - 3:27
7. Boogieman (Johnny Caswell) - 5:17
8. Let Me Get Straight Again (Rick Morley,Sal Rota, Ronnie Gentile, Mario Sanchez, Bill Crawford, Johnny Caswell) - 5:59
9. Peace For A Change (Johnny Caswell, Sal Rota) - 5:10
10.Earth People (David Tricker, Johnny Caswell, Ronnie Gentile, Sal Rota) - 4:02

The Crystal Mansion
*Rick Morley - Percussion
*Sal Rota - Organ, Piano, Vocals
*Ronnie Gentile - Guitar
*Mario Sanchez - Congas, Vocals
*Bill Crawford - Bass
*Johnny Caswell - Vocals, Piano

1969  Crystal Mansion - Crystal Mansion feat Johnny Caswell (Vinyl edition)  

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Jubal - Jubal (1972 us, good country soft rock, 2008 edition)

Jubal was a country rock group from the early 1970s on Elektra Records. It features Dennis Linde who wrote "Burning Love" for Elvis Presley and "Goodbye Earl" for the Dixie Chicks. 

Despite the very Southern-sounding band name and the Nashville studio connections, bandmembers Rob Galbraith and Dennis Linde, were sort of on the far edges of the country-rock scene.

One of the more interesting tracks is Terry Dearmore's uptempo tune, "Not Really A Rocker," which is a slightly twangy power-pop rock song, worthy of consideration by the Nuggets brigade. 

1. Lay Me Down (Dennis Linde) - 3:31
2. Friendly Goodbye (Lee Clayton, Rob Galbraith) - 2:42
3. Yesterday (I Threw My Life Away) (Alan Rush, Randy Cullers) - 3:06
4. Really Not A Rocker (Terry Dearmore) - 2:54
5. Morning Of My Life (Rob Galbraith) - 2:27
6. For Becky (Lee Clayton, Rob Galbraith) - 3:16
7. Talk To Me Tonight (Alan Rush, Randy Cullers) - 3:48
8. I'd Hate To Be A Blackman (Rob Galbraith) - 3:08
9. Courage Of Your Convictions (Alan Rush, Randy Cullers) - 3:46
10.Ridin' (Dennis Linde) - 2:36
11.Castles In The Sand (Alan Rush, Randy Cullers) - 3:46

The Jubal
*Rob Galbraith - Organ, Guitar, Piano
*Dennis Linde - Guitar, Bass, Vocals
*Randy Cullers - Percussion, Drums, Tambourine
*Terry Dearmore - Guitar, Vocals
*Alan Rush - Guitar, Harmonica, Bass, Vocals

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Rare Earth - Dreams/Answers (1968 us, fine psych funky soulful rock, 2017 remaster)

It is fairly common knowledge now but many Rare Earth fans had no idea that they were previously known as The Sunliners! It’s a complicated path that appears to start around 1960. Gil Bridges, Pete Rivera, John Persh, Ralph Terrana, Russ Terrana, Fred Saxon and Steve Fisher were all early members who played hundreds of club dates and record five singles for three different labels, Hercules, Golden World and MGM. In the middle of all this action, Fred Saxon, Ralph and Russ Terrana and Steve Fisher made way for Rod Richards and Kenny James, this line up would take them through to the MGM 45 Land Of Nod and the transistion to the name Rare Earth. 

Many later biographies claim that they became Rare Earth when they signed to Motown.....this is not fact as they stayed with MGM/Verve to record their very first album called Dreams Answers as Rare Earth in 1968. The land Of Nod track was re - recorded for inclusion on the LP and as a complete album it proved to be a masterpiece debut which combined rock, soul and physedelia. 

Their 1968 debut Dreams/Answers was recorded in the band’s hometown of Detroit and arranged, conducted and mostly written by Mike Theodore and Dennis Coffey. This early in their career, Rare Earth hadn’t perfected the sound that they would become famous for, but you can already see the early mix of influences. 

1. Stop/Where Did Our Love Go (Brian Holland, Edward Holland, Jr., Lamont Dozier) - 3:05
2. 6-4-5-5 (Eddie Floyd, Steve Cropper) - 2:37
3. King of a Rainy Country (Paul Parrish) - 3:46
4. New Rochelle (Gary Harvey, Mike Theodore) - 3:10
5. Land of Nod (Gary Harvey, Mike Theodore, Peter Hoorelbeke) - 3:09
6. Mother's Oats (Dennis Coffey, Gary Harvey, Mike Theodore) - 2:40
7. Red Apple (Dennis Coffey, Gary Harvey, Mike Theodore) - 2:49
8. Get Ready (William Robinson, Jr.) - 2:55
9. Morning (Ron Koss) - 2:26
10.Searchin' (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 2:29
11.Yesterday on Third Avenue (Paul Parrish) - 3:17
12.Sidewalk Cafe (Paul Parrish) - 2:57

Rare Earth
*John Parrish - Vocals, Bass, Trombone
*Rod Richards - Guitar, Vocals
*Kenny James - Organ, Piano
*Gil Bridges - Saxophone, Vocals
*Pete Rivera - Drums, Vocals

1969-74  Rare Earth - Fill Your Head (three cds box set, five studio albums plus outtakes and alternative versions)

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Don Preston And The South - Hot Air Through A Straw From (1969 us, spectacular country folk bluesy psych rock, 2017 korean remaster)

Preston was born in Denver, Colorado, and moved to Whittier, California at age 8. He started playing guitar and sang in the Sewart-Barber Boys Choir. By age 11, he was performing with a traveling youth troupe, the Cactus Kids, that performed at store openings, company parties, and USO clubs throughout Southern California.

In the 1950s, he performed with The Penguins, The Coasters, The Olympics, The Jaguars, Ritchie Valens, The Righteous Brothers, Gene Vincent, Don Julian and the Meadowlarks, and Jessie Hill, among others.

In the 1960s, his band, Don and the Deacons, played at the Cinnamon Cinder, a North Hollywood club owned by Bob Eubanks. From there, he joined The Shindogs with Joey Cooper, Chuck Blackwell, Leon Russell, and Delaney Bramlett.

He performed and recorded in the 1970s with Leon Russell (including Carney and Leon Live), Joe Cocker, Mad Dogs & Englishmen (album), and on the The Concert for Bangladesh. He also recorded and performed with Freddie King, Ricky Nelson and JJ Cale.

Preston recorded two albums on A&M Records, both produced by Gordon Shryock. The first was Bluse (1968), and the second was Hot Air Through A Straw (1968) by Don Preston & The South with Bob Young, Casey Van Beek, and Bobby Cochran. He also recorded an album on Stax Records titled Still Rock (1969), as well as solo albums on Shelter Records Been Here All The Time (1974) and Sacre Blues (1997) on DJM Records.

Not to  been confused with another rock musician named Don Preston, a keyboardist for Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. 

1. American Gothic - 2:04
2. Here's To You Baby - 2:41
3. Daybreaks - 2:50
4. Sunshine Line - 2:21
5. You Won't Let Me Be (Don Preston, Joey Cooper) - 2:15
6. She Feels Like Sunshine - 1:57
7. End Of The Play - 2:16
8. Blues Break - 0:37
9. Circle For A Landing - 2:31
10.Love Season - 2:13
11.Medley: Nite Of The Fool-Sweetest Girl - 4:13
12.Got Me In The Middle (Joey Cooper, Red West) - 2:28
13.He's Waiting Now - 1:52
14.Spend My Time - 2:23
All compositions by Don Preston except where stated

The South
*Bobby Cochran - Guitar, Backing Vocals
*Don Preston - Vocals, Guitar
*Casey Van Beek - Bass, Backing Vocals
*Bob Young - Drums, Backing Vocals
*Carl Radle - Bass
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*Charles Blackwell - Drums
*Bill Boatman - Guitar, Fiddle
*Peter Pilafian - Violin
*Richard Torres - Flute, Saxophone

Related Act
1969  Stillrock - Stillrock (2014 korean remaster)

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