In The Land of Free, we still keep on Rockin'

Plain and Fancy

"I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I am free"


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Amen Corner - If Paradise Was Half As Nice/The Immediate Anthology (1969 uk, psychedelic pop, blue eyed soul with a blues feeling, double disc plus bonus live tracks)



The band is named after Amen Corner, a small residential area on the edge of Bracknell in Berkshire.  Initially they specialised in a blues and jazz-orientated style, but were steered by their record companies into more commercial pastures.

Their first singles and album appeared on Decca's subsidiary label Deram, but they left at the end of 1968 to join Immediate,  where they were instantly rewarded with a No. 1, "(If Paradise Is) Half as Nice" (originally a song by Lucio Battisti) in early 1969,  followed by another top five entry with the Roy Wood composition "Hello Susie".

After recording a live album, Farewell To The Real Magnificent Seven, and a final single, a rather premature cover version of The Beatles' "Get Back",  they disbanded at the end of 1969.

While sax players Alan Jones and Mike Smith went on to form Judas Jump, guitarist and vocalist Andy Fairweather-Low led Dennis Byron (drums), Blue Weaver (organ), Clive Taylor (bass) and Neil Jones (guitar) into a new band, Fair Weather.  The band scored a UK No.6 hit with "Natural Sinner" in 1970 and recorded one album before disbanding a year later.

Fairweather-Low went on to a successful solo career in the 1970s, notably with the top ten hit "Wide Eyed and Legless" (1975);  he became a regular player with Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Roger Waters. He also worked with The Strawbs and the Bee Gees.

Amen Corner's Decca back catalogue has been reissued as part of 'The Collection' series; and their Immediate work, as a double CD, including their singles, live album and material recorded for an unreleased studio album, under the title "If Paradise Was Half as Nice: The Immediate Anthology".


Tracks
Disc 1
1. (If Paradise Is) Half As Nice (Mono) - 2:47
2. Hey Hey Girl (Mono) - 3:03
3. Hello Susie (Mono) - 2:36
4. Evil Man's Gonna Win (Mono) - 4:02
5. Get Back (Stereo) - 2:41
6. Farewell To The Real Magnificent Seven (Stereo) - 6:36
7. Lady Riga - 3:18
8. Proud Mary - 3:06
9. At Last I've Found Someone To Love - 3:47
10.Scream And Scream Again - 3:36
11.Sanitation - 2:46
12.Mr Nonchalant - 3:31
13.The Weight - 5:50
14.Welcome To The Club - 3:05
15.Recess - 2:29
16.When We Make Love - 2:51
17.Things Ain't What They Used To Be - 2:07
18.Long Chocolate Limousine - 3:13
19.Natural Sinner (Mono) - 4:14
20.(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice (Stereo Album Version) - 2:49
21.Hello Susie (Stereo Album Version) - 2:55
22.Hey Hey Girl (Stereo) - 3:06
23.Evil Man's Gonna Win (Stereo) - 3:40

Disc 2 (Live)
1. Introduction-Macarthur Park - 3:39
2. Baby Do The Philly Dog - 2:36
3. You're My Girl (I Don't Want To Discuss It) - 2:17
4. Shake A Tail Feather - 1:45
5. So Fine - 2:44
6. (Our Love) Is In The Pocket - 3:16
7. Penny Lane - 3:04
8. High In The Sky - 3:15
9. Gin House - 3:51
10.Bend Me Shape Me - 4:02
11.(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice - 3:20
12.Outro-Stag-O-Lee - 2:59

Amen Corner
* Andy Fairweather Low -Vocals
* Neil Jones - Guitar
* Allan Jones - Saxophone
* Blue Weaver - Keyboards
* Mike Smith -Tenor Saxophone
* Clive Taylor - Bass
* Dennis Byron - Drums

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Strawberry Alarm Clock - Wake Up...It's Tomorrow (1968 us, psychedelic rock, gorgeous 2nd album, rare out of print edition)



When the Strawberry Alarm Clock recorded their second album, they were facing the challenge of trying to sustain the remarkable and sudden success of their classic psychedelic debut single, "Incense and Peppermints," which hit #1 on November 25, 1967. Their debut LP of the same name had also done well, rising to #11 in the album charts with its mix of California harmony pop, garage rock, and raga-influenced psychedelia. Wake Up...It's Tomorrow would diversify yet further, adding more sophisticated vocal arrangements and flitting between flower-pop, fuzzed-out psychedelia, and a three-song suite of sorts with sitar and backwards effects. It also yielded their only other Top 40 hit in the semi-title track, "Tomorrow," an effervescent psych-popper that sounded rather like a more psychedelic Association.

     There were also some changes from the band that had recorded the earlier Strawberry Alarm Clock material. The unusual six-man, two-bass lineup in place for the first album proved to have one bass player too many. One of the bassists, Gary Lovetro, departed, getting bought out of the band for $25,000 and leaving the position in the hands of George Bunnell. "It is physically impossible to get a clear bass sound with two bass players on stage," explains keyboardist Mark Weitz. "Even though he was one of the original members [dating back to the days of Thee Sixpence, the band that evolved into the Strawberry Alarm Clock], we felt his interest in the band was more business-oriented than contributing musically. 

Sometimes [guitarist] Ed [King] had to do the bass parts in the studio for Gary. He just didn't have enough talent to conceive a good original bass part." Virtually absent was high school student Steve Bartek, who'd contributed to the songwriting on the first album as well as playing some flute and other instruments, although he was never officially in the band. As Weitz notes, "Steve was only fifteen or sixteen years old. He was a high school friend of George. I think George tried to get him to join the band, but his Mom wouldn't let him -- I didn't blame her. He was a little too young. Steve was exceptionally gifted in his playing -- too bad." Bartek did write the music for one of the tracks on Wake Up...It's Tomorrow, "Sitting on a Star," but as Bunnell notes, "Unfortunately, with me on tour and Steve still in school we weren't writing together. In fact, we didn't resume our co-writing until 1969, after I had left the SAC."

    The recording process would be different this time around as well. "Our first album sold well (250,000 copies), we had a nationwide number one record!" exclaims Weitz. "The first album was written quickly, recorded all in one week on a small budget at Original Sound studio on Sunset, in Hollywood. Some of the songs were worked out in the studio right before recording! It was recorded in a low tech studio, we were all feeling each other out. We had not had a lot of experience playing together yet, especially in a studio environment. After we completed the first album, we became a little more sure of each other. Also, at that point, we knew who was more musically talented and who was not, as far as contributing to the overall ideas of our sound. UNI [Records], I guess, was willing to spend more on the second album, in a better studio (TTG) with better equipment and sound. That led ultimately to a better all-around-sounding album. By then, we had played on the road together, we were just more polished, and getting tighter."

    Adds guitarist Ed King, "All of the songs for the second album were written in the studio; in other words, they were barely rehearsed and the material wasn't played to a crowd. I played bass on all the songs that I wrote, and George Bunnell played bass on his songs." Other big changes were the Association-like vocal arrangements, devised by vocal coach Howard Davis, who Weitz thinks was brought in by the band's manager. "He was a great guy in his fifties that played piano and sang nightly at a bar in Montrose, California. His voice can be heard [doing the spoken section] in 'Nightmare of Percussion.' He was the main source of most of our three- and-four-part harmonies. That was another MAJOR influence in our sound. He had a great way of being patient with us while we rehearsed some pretty difficult stuff; none of us had previous harmony training as far as I know. Our 'patented' Strawberry Alarm Clock vocal sound was mostly, but not all, Howard Davis arrangements."

 While the mixture of styles on the rest of the album testified to band's eclecticism, Weitz agrees it might have worked against the establishment of a consistent band sound and identity. "I think one of the problems was in the beginning, we would all write together. Now band members were splitting up into writing 'cliques' or writing partners: Ed and [rhythm guitarist] Lee Freeman, [drummer] Randy [Seol] and George, myself and sometimes Ed. I guess each of our styles of writing was going off in different directions -- not on purpose, it just happened. 

A form of competition was developing in the wind...and notwithstanding the constant distraction of our producer, manager and record company execs always telling us what WE should do and HOW we have to sound musically to succeed. 'Trying to do it their way' was hindering our true musical direction, and we were not allowed to flourish on our own....whether we would have succeeded or flopped, at least we would have done it 'on our own.' We were always willing to take that chance all along, but were  constantly being directed by the powers that be. We were afraid to react negatively for fear of UNI's rejection, and the ultimate end of our careers as the Strawberry Alarm Clock. So we went along with just about everything they wanted us to do, even if it meant failure.

    Aside from "Tomorrow," the song that got the most exposure was "Pretty Song from Psych-Out," which was used in the notorious Dick Clark-produced Haight-Ashbury psychsploitation movie Psych-Out, starring Jack Nicholson (as guitarist of a fictional psychedelic rock band!). "We were invited on the Dick Clark show playing our #1 hit record," remembers Weitz. "Some time shortly after we performed on his show, I think he asked us to be in a movie he was producing. He also asked us to write a theme song for the movie, which was Ed and Lee's creation from start to finish." King's involvement didn't stop there: "I was assigned the job of sitting down with Jack Nicholson and teaching him some guitar stuff for the movie. The director wanted him to look like he was really playing. Jack really didn't want to have much to do with it!"

    The album's diversity was also a reflection of the different tastes and, to some degree, tensions within the group. "Mark and I didn't care for Randy's taste in material," confesses King, "so the ['Curse of the Witches' and 'Nightmare of Percussion'] songs were pretty much recorded under protest. ['Nightmare of Percussion'] was a Bunnell/Seol tune, and they needed Howard [Davis]'s really deep 'thick' voice to complete the song, so they included him as a writer. It was their song, they arranged that with him. I liked Lee's lyrics very much, but didn't want him playing guitar on anything. As it turned out, Lee became a very good guitar player. But I think, during the Alarm Clock days, he was preoccupied with being a teenager. I was preoccupied with learning how to play that damn guitar."

Rather surprisingly, considering the band were still riding the momentum of "Incense and Peppermints" and also coming off a decent-sized follow-up hit single in "Tomorrow" (as well as touring with the Beach Boys and Buffalo Springfield in late 1967 and early 1968), the album failed to reach the charts. King lays some of the blame on the poor timing of the LP release, feeling that it came out way too late to capitalize on the success of the "Tomorrow" single, which was released a month before the album on which it was featured was even recorded. Weitz thinks UNI had already dropped the ball on the "Tomorrow" single, noting that "their record distribution nationwide on 'Tomorrow' was really slow and too late for the fans. It just wasn't promoted. We would play in a small town in the south, and the records weren't in the stores yet. 

How could you sell records on tour if they're not in the record stores when you were there to promote them and play at a concert? Also our manager, Bill Holmes, put up a barrier to UNI and prevented them and other promoters from helping us. That was a big problem for us. Holmes was afraid of losing control of 'his' band, which probably backed down UNI, [the booking agencies] William Morris [and] Premier Talent, and others from promoting us more seriously and to the fullest. Holmes's possessiveness hurt us deeply. That alone was a huge hindrance to us moving forward in our careers, I thought." It didn't keep the Strawberry Alarm Clock, however, from recording quite a bit more material in the late 1960s, including two subsequent albums -- both now available on Collectors' Choice Music as CD reissues, on which the story continues. 
by Richie Unterberger


Tracks
1. Nightmare Of Percussion (G. Bunnell, H. Davis, R. Seol ) - 2:57
2. Soft Skies, No Lies (E. King, L. Freeman) - 3:07
3. Tomorrow (L. Freeman, M. Weitz) - 2:14
4. They Saw The Fat One Coming (E. King, L. Freeman) - 3:25
5.  Curse Of The Witches (G. Bunnell, R. Seol) - 6:46
6. Sit With The Guru (E. King, L. Freeman, M. Weitz) - 2:59
7. Go Back, You're Going The Wrong Way (E. King, L. Freeman, M. Weitz) - 2:19
8. Pretty Song From Psych-Out (E. King, L. Freeman) - 3:15
9. Sitting On A Star (G. Bunnell, R. Seol, S. Bartek) - 2:55
10.Black Butter, Past (E. King, H. Davis, L. Freeman) - 2:23
11.Black Butter, Present (E. King,  L. Freeman) - 2:10
12.Black Butter, Future (E. King, H. Davis, L. Freeman) - 1:32

Strawberry Alarm Clock
*George Bunnell - Bass Guitar, Vocals
*Randy Seol - Drums, Keyboards, Percussion, Vocals
*Lee Freeman -  Guitar, Sitar, Vocals
*Edward King - Guitar, Vocals
*Mark Weitz - Vocals, Keyboards
*Howard Davis - Vocal  Arrangements, spoken passage on "Nightmare Of Percussion"

For more Strawberries
1967   Incense And Peppermints (2011 sundazed issue)
1968-69  The World In A Sea Shell / Good Morning Starshine

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Blessed End - Movin' On (1971 us, splendid pshych rock)



Blessed End was conceived in a 10th grade Geometry class in 1968 at Ridley High School by Ken Carson and Jim Shugarts. Neither one even owned a bass or guitar at that time. They agreed that it would be a fun challenge. Over the next summer they both acquired summer jobs and bought their first guitars. They would take turns at each others houses practicing together. In September of 1969 they recruited another guitarist Lenny Perchowski who was a neighbor of Kens'.

They met Mike Petrylak at Ridley High School and Doug Teti in a bowling league. They asked Doug and Mike to come to one of their practices and tryout for the group. When they came over everyone hit it off and Blessed End was formed. We rehearsed for a couple months and started playing school dances, coffee houses, pep rallies, splash parties and battle-of-the-bands. The band had a loyal bunch of fans and friends such as Angela, Clare, Libby, Lynne, Lucy, Mary Jo, Mary Lou, Sue, Phil and Steve whom we thank for all their devotion.

After playing for about a year Lenny had to leave the band to prepare for medical school. SteveQuinzi, joined the band in the fall of 1970. The band continued playing for after prom events, proms, coffee houses etc.

By the spring of 1971 the band was getting itchy to try doing more original tunes and also Ken and Doug were talking about the possibility of leaving for the Navy and medical school. The band decided to try and write a few songs and see how they would turn out. Over the summer of 1971 Jim and Steve devoted many hours composing the ten songs on the album Movin' On. The band rehearsed relentlessly for the recording session.

During the summer a local studio owner asked to borrow some of the band's equipment and Steve bartered for studio time in exchange. Movin' On was recorded in just one day with several songs being recorded totally live.

Several good paying jobs came along and the band had 1000 copies of Movin' On pressed. To save expense Jim had the album cover printed at a print shop where he was working at the time. Ken did the artwork on the cover. The band would always play one set of original music at each gig and then sell some albums. We sold enough records to cover expenses but the record never took off commercially.

Not long after recording the album, Ken left the band to join the Navy, mostly because his dad kicked him out of the house. After that the band lost some character. Blessed End made only one other recording without Ken and that was a remake of Can't Be Without Her with a substitute bass player.

Shortly after Ken was replaced by Rick Swanson, Jim left the group and was replaced by Ernie Fletsig who later had some personal problems, and had to leave the band. His replacement was Lou Grieco who had a personality clash with Mike. By the winter of 1973 things got pretty messy and Steve left to join a top 40 band and Blessed End formally ended.

Jim, started Argus at the end of 1971 and Ken and Mike joined the band, after Ken got a medical discharge from the Navy in 1973. They played together for 10 years.

Doug went on to college and is now a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland. Steve moved to Miami, Fl. in 1978 where he does music production for advertising and corporate presentations at Steve Quinzi Music. Steve is also a New Age artist with three albums out, The Pond, Vanishing Rainforest, and Rhythm Of The World . Mike went on to stay in the area and work as a self-employed auto mechanic. Ken and Jim went on to work at Boeing Helicopter Co. as research and development mechanics. Jim worked there as a manager of several departments until July of 2001. He now is working on a music project, and is President of Web Builder USA - a web page design company. Ken passed away from pancreatic cancer in 1992.
The Blessed End


 Tracks
1. Nighttime Rider (Steve Quinzi, Jim Shugarts) - 3:08
2. Someplace To Hide (Steve Quinzi) - 3:29
3. Is It Time (Jim Shugarts) - 4:22
4. Sometime You've Got To Be Strong (Steve Quinzi) - 3:51
5. Movin' On (Steve Quinzi) - 7:44
6. Day Before Tomorrow (Steve Quinzi) - 4:14
7. Dead Man (Jim Shugarts) - 2:36
8. Can't be Without Her (Steve Quinzi, Jim Shugarts) - 4:05
9. One Stop Woman (Steve Quinzi, Jim Shugarts) - 3:07
10.Escape Train (Steve Quinzi, Jim Shugarts) - 5:50

 Blessed End
*Steve Quinzi - Keyboards (1970-73)
*Jim Shugarts - Guitar (1968-71)
*Ken Carson - Bass (1968-71)
*Doug Teti - Vocals (1969-73)
*Mike Petrylak - Drums (1969-73)
*Ernie Fletsig - Guitar (1971-72)
*Lou Greico - Guitar (1972-73)
*Lenny Perchowsky - Guitar (1969-70)
*Rick Swanson - Bass (1971-73)

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Keef Hartley Band - Overdog (1970 uk, fantastic blues, jazz rock, eclectic extra track remaster edition)



From the opening wah-wah rhythm guitar of "You Can Choose, and the thundering attack of Thain and Hartley when the group comes in, it's clear that Overdog is a considerably different beast to The Time Is Near.... While the previous album had an energy of its own, "You Can Choose righteously bristles with excitement. While nowhere near the metal-edge of Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, Miller adopts a weightier tone and more "reckless abandon approach to soloing.

That doesn't mean that Keef Hartley Band had walked away from its stylistic cross-pollination of soul, jazz, folk and rock. But even the ever-so-slightly countrified opening to "Plain Talkin' is propelled by a more visceral rhythm section, a more assertive solo from Anderson and some fine organ work from now-regular keyboardist Mick Weaver.

There were comparisons, at the time, between Keef Hartley Band and Colosseum, the group spearheaded by drummer Jon Hiseman, who guests on a couple of tracks here. The link is clear when Hartley takes the compositional reins on a couple of tracks, including the "Enroute section of the eight-minute "Theme/Enroute/Theme Reprise medley, which is a vamp-based jam feature for guest flautist Johnny Almond, whose group Mark-Almond would mine similar turf. He also contributes the Latin jazz-tinged, minor-keyed instrumental vamp "Imitations From Home, with Hiseman contributing some propulsive conga work.

But these tracks represent the lighter side of Overdog, an overall heavier album. Anderson's title track begins with thundering tom-toms and a bass pulse, over which Anderson delivers some processed guitar before heading into flat-out funk territory. "Roundabout —heard here in its original version and on two additional bonus takes—begins with another tom tom-driven beat that features a horn arrangement that, like many of the horn parts here and on The Time is Near..., could easily have fit into any version of British jazz/rock group Nucleus. Ultimately it turns rockier, but never loses sight of the soul component.

The link between Keef Hartley Band and groups like Nucleus is, in fact, not a far-fetched one. The difference is that Nucleus came to rock from a jazz background, while Keef Hartley Band did just the opposite. That there are common meeting points is further demonstration of the remarkably fluid cross-fertilization that was taking place in England at the time. Despite the liberal intermixing of musicians, each group managed to assert its own identity, and while there were other bands examining some of the same musical references, none of them sounded quite like Keef Hartley Band.

That Eclectic Discs has made these two seminal recordings available in 24-bit digitally mastered form from the original master tapes, with informative liner notes and a couple of bonus tracks on Overdog, means that while most of the members of the group have slipped into obscurity, a whole new generation of listeners can hear just how vibrant, unfettered and unbiased the English scene of the mid 1960s to mid 1970s was in general—and how great Keef Hartley Band were specifically.
by John Kelman


 Tracks
1. You Can Choose (M. Anderson) - 5:30
2 . Plain Talkin' (M. Anderson) - 3:23
3. Theme Song/En Route/Theme Song (reprise) (M. Anderson, K. Hartley, G. Thain) - 8:05
4. Overdog (M. Anderson) - 4:20
5. Roundabout (M. Anderson) - 6:07
6. Imitations From Home (K. Hartley) - 3:35
7. We Are All The Same (M. Anderson) - 4:42
8. Roundabout (M. Anderson) - 2:55
9. Roundabout Part 2 (M. Anderson) - 4:18


Musicians
*Keef Hartley - Drums, Percussion
*Miller Anderson - Guitars, Vocals,
*Gary Thain - Bass
*Mick Weaver - Keyboards
*Dave Caswell - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
*Lyle Jenkins - Tenor Saxophone, Flute
*Johnny Almond - Flute
*Jon Hiseman - Drums, Percussion, Congas
*Peter Dines - Keyboards
*Mr. & Mrs. G.A. Orme (Preston) - Vocals
*Ingrid Thomas - Backing Vocals
*Joan Knighton - Backing Vocals
*Valerie Charrington - Backing Vocals

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Country Joe And The Fish - Electric Music For The Mind And Body (1967 us, classic debut album, psychedelic folk rock)



Their full-length debut is their most joyous and cohesive statement and one of the most important and enduring documents of the psychedelic era, the band's swirl of distorted guitar and organ at its most inventive. In contrast to Jefferson Airplane, who were at their best working within conventional song structures, and the Grateful Dead, who hadn't quite yet figured out how to transpose their music to the recording studio, Country Joe & the Fish delivered a fully formed, uncompromising, and yet utterly accessible -- in fact, often delightfully witty -- body of psychedelic music the first time out.

Ranging in mood from good-timey to downright apocalyptic, it embraced all of the facets of the band's music, which were startling in their diversity- soaring guitar and keyboard excursions (Flying High, Section 43, Bass Strings, The Masked Marauder), the group's folk roots (Sad and Lonely Times), McDonald's personal ode to Grace Slick (Grace), and their in-your-face politics (Superbird).

Hardly any band since the Beatles had ever come up with such a perfect and perfectly bold introduction to who and what they were, and the results -- given the prodigious talents and wide-ranging orientation of this group -- might've scared off most major record labels. Additionally, this is one of the best-performed records of its period, most of it so bracing and exciting that one gets some of the intensity of a live performance.

The CD reissue also has the virtue of being one of the best analog-to-digital transfers ever issued on one of Vanguard Records' classic albums, with startlingly vivid stereo separation and a close, intimate sound.
by Richie Unterberger & Bruce Eder


Tracks
1. Flying High (Joe McDonald) - 2:38
2. Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine (McDonald) - 4:21
3. Death Sound Blues (McDonald) - 4:23
4. Happiness Is a Porpoise Mouth (McDonald) - 2:48
5. Section 43 (McDonald) - 7:23
6. Superbird (McDonald) - 2:04
7. Sad and Lonely Times (McDonald) - 2:23
8. Love (McDonald, Melton, Cohen, Barthol, Gunning, Hirsh) - 2:19
9. Bass Strings (McDonald) - 4:58
10. The Masked Marauder (McDonald) - 3:10
11. Grace (McDonald) - 7:03

Country Joe And The Fish

*Country Joe McDonald - Vocals, Guitar, Bells, Tambourine
*Barry Melton - Vocals, Guitar
*David Cohen - Guitar, Organ
*Bruce Barthol - Bass, Harmonica
*Gary Chicken Hirsh - Drums

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Duffy Power - Leapers And Sleepers (1962-1967 uk, marvelous rock 'n' roll, blues and jazz-rock, double disc edition)



For such a significant cult artist, Power's 1960s recordings have been fairly poorly documented and distributed, with the best known of them actually being mid-'60s demos that didn't come out until the early-'70s release Innovations.

This two-CD, 34-song set does a magnificent job of filling in the major gap in the Power catalog by collecting both sides of all six of his rare 1962-1967 Parlophone singles in one place, as well as adding no less than a dozen previously unreleased outtakes. That's not all: There are also both sides of his rare U.S.-only 1965 single (credited to Jamie Power), and eight 1965-1967 Marquis Music session demos that were only previously available on the 1995 anthology Just Say Blue.

What's more important than the quite impressive lengths this compilation went to for assembling rare material, though, is the high quality of the music. There were few other singers exploring the eclectic tributary Power navigated in the 1960s, combining shades of blues, folk, jazz, rock, and pop in varying mixtures that never sounded forced, with vocals that could shift from croon to raunch.

Power was an astute interpreter of material ranging from the Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There" (just the second Beatles cover ever, incidentally; both the rare single and a previously unreleased alternate version are here) and George Gershwin's "It Ain't Necessarily So" to Goffin & King's pop-soul classic "Hey Girl" and Mose Allison's "Parchman Farm." Power also wrote some fine original material that was consistent with the vibes of the outside material he favored.

He also used some great backup musicians, most notably the Graham Bond Quartet (with a pre-Cream Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker), who are heard on "I Saw Her Standing There" and several other songs, including Bond's own composition "Farewell Baby."

A young John McLaughlin is heard on several other tracks. There's quite a lot to dig into here, some of the highlights including the lean blues-rock of "I'm So Glad You're Mine," the unexpectedly fruity orchestral Baroque pop production of his 1967 single (an outtake from that time in the same vein, "Take It Smoothly," is actually better than the tunes that ended up on the 45), the moody teen idol pop of the previously unissued 1962 outtake "Cupid's Bow" and the 1964 single "Where Am I," and the bopping jazz-R&B of his self-penned 1962 B-side "If I Get Lucky Someday."

Some of the previously unissued covers of familiar rock-R&B standards are only average, but that's a minor strike against a very pleasing, well-packaged set, complete with super-detailed liner notes that include many comments from Power himself.
by Richie Unterberger

Tracks 
Disc 1
1. Cupid's Bow (Keith Charles) - 2:26
2. There You Go Again (Duffy Power) - 2:25
3. Times Are Getting Tougher Than Tough (Jimmy Witherspoon) - 2:02
4. It Ain't Necessarily So (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin) - 2:44
5. If I Get Lucky Someday (Duffy Power) - 2:43
6. I Saw Her Standing There (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 2:32
7. I Saw Her Standing There (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 2:29
8. Farewell Baby (Graham Bond) - 1:56
9. Shake Rattle and Roll (Charles E. Calhoun) - 4:12
10.What'd I Say (Ray Charles) - 4:55
11.I Got a Woman (Ray Charles, Renald Richard) - 2:54
12.Hey Girl (Carole King, Gerry Goffin) - 2:58
13.Woman Made Trouble (Duffy Power) - 2:22
14.I'm Sitting on Top of the World (Ray Henderson, Sam M. Lewis, Joe Young) - 2:36
15.Parchman Farm (Mose Allison) - 2:35
16.Tired, Broke and Busted (Floyd Dixon) - 2:02
17.I Don't Care (Duffy Power) - 2:42
18.Where Am I (Sterling) - 2:50
19.Money Honey (Jesse Stone) - 2:34
20.Lawdy Miss Clawdy (Lloyd Price) - 2:02

Disc 2
1. Love's Gonna Go (Duffy Power) - 2:53
2. There's No Living Without Your Loving (J. kaufman, A. Harris) - 2:50
3. She Don't Know (Duffy Power) - 2:25
4. I'm So Glad You're Mine (Duffy Power) - 2:38
5. Dollar Mamie (Traditional) - 1:59
6. Little Boy Blue (John McLaughlin, Duffy Power) - 2:36
7. Little Girl (Duffy Power) - 2:29
8. Mary Open the Door (Duffy Power) - 2:46
9. Hound Dog (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 2:32
10.Rags and Old Iron (Oscar Brown Junior) - 3:01
11.Just Stay Blue (Duffy Power) - 3:10
12.Davy O' Brien (Leave That Baby Alone) (Randy Newman) - 2:27
13.July Tree (Eve Merriam, Irma Jurist) - 2:51
14.Take It Smoothly (Unknown) - 3:28

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Various Artists - A Cave Of Clear Light (1967-75 uk, the pye and dawn records underground trip, a cornucopia of psychedelic and progressive sounds, 2010 esoteric edition)



That is, deliver a comprehensive, beautifully packaged three-disc extravaganza complete with extensively detailed booklet. Once again compiled by Mark Powell, behind both the Polydor and Harvest excursions, Cave of Clear Light shines the fiery torch on the label that’s been dismissed as a poor relation to the more dedicated exponents of the psychedelic and progressive sound. Unfairly so, one might add, as Pye/Dawn had an impressive roster of artists on the books, even if the vast majority never so much as tickled the public conscious. Obviously, that’s the style of output HFoS thrives on.

Disc 1 boils down the psychedelic and the folk into one easily consumable portion. The one dud aside (Neo Maya’s ‘UFO’), this starter notches up such classics as the sinister Status Quo number ‘Paradise Flats’, The Mooche’s ‘Hot Smoke and Sassafras’, Blonde on Blonde’s ‘All Day, All Night’ and, obviously, ‘Cave of Clear Light’ by The Bystanders.

Donovan’s ‘Season of the Witch’ and the superior ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’ inject the folk element along with the ethereal LSD vibe of Woody Kern (‘Tell You I’m Gone’) and the spectral majesty of Trader Horne’s ‘Velvet to Atone‘. Contributions by both Man and Fire help to push this first disc into essential territory, irrelevant of what follows.

Disc 2 sets its stall out early on, with ‘Tell You a Story’, another track from Fire, once again taken from their sole, but justifiably much sought after concept album The Magic Shoemaker. From then on in we’re treated to a mixture of heavy prog, acid-folk and, once again, The Status Quo.

Titus Groan heads the pack where it comes to weightier measures of prog, and the inclusion of acid-folk must-hears Comus, with ‘Song to Comus’ is more than welcome. Mungo Jerry provide a nine minute throbbing blues-explosion, with their bowel-loosening version of the standard ‘I Just Wanna Make Love to You’, but the highlight of this disc has to be Jackie McAuley’s baroque snapshot of 1971, ‘Cameraman: Wilson and Holmes’.

Demon Fuzz also make an appearance with their rendition of ‘I Put a Spell on You’, and Atomic Rooster close things with the excellent, Hammond-driven ‘Time Take My Life’.

Disc 3 is a progressive paradise, resplendent in flutes, extended solos and such rarities as Gravy Train and Jonesy. Even blue-eyed soul barker, Chris Farlowe, makes an appearance on ‘Can’t Find a Reason’, while pastoral folk bods Heron deliver ‘Yellow Roses’ from their self-titled debut.

The Status Quo are present once again with the excellent, infectiously bluesy ‘Gerdundula’, slipping straight out of the early 1970s, and the rest of this volume is taken up by equally strong acts as Icarus – with an ode to the Fantastic Four – Fruup and the always welcome Stray.

Cave of Clear Light is yet another superior compilation for lovers of the psychedelic and the progressive to sink their teeth into. So long as labels such as Esoteric keep putting stuff like this out, there’s no reason this sometimes under-tapped vein should ever run dry.
Head Full Of Snow 

Disc 1
Track - Artist
1. Cave Of Clear Light - The Bystanders - 3:44
2. Season Of The Witch - Donovan - 4:56
3. Morning Dew - Episode Six - 2:55
4. Paradise Flat - Status Quo - 3:13
5. UFO - Neo Maya - 2:49
6. The Future Hides Its Face - Man - 5:28
7. Ride With Captain Max - Blonde On Blonde - 5:22
8. Yellow Cave Woman - Velvett Fogg - 6:58
9. Hurdy Gurdy Man - Donovan - 3:14
10.Tell You I'm Gone - Woody Kern - 4:10
11.Hot Smoke And Sassafrass - The Mooche - 3:12
12.All Day, All Night - Blonde On Blonde - 3:35
13.Mister Mind Detector - Status Quo - 4:04
14.Peace Of Mind - Pesky Gee! - 2:20
15.Confusions About A Goldfish - John Kongos - 4:14
16.It Is As It Must Be - Man - 8:30
17.Flies Like A Bird - Fire - 3:40
18.Velvet To Atone - Trader Horne - 2:25


Disc 2
Track - Artist

1. Tell You A Story - Fire - 5:43
2. Hall Of Bright Carvings - Titus Groan - 11:39
3. Hillary Dixon - Atlantic Bridge - 2:33
4. Song To Comus - Comus - 7:25
5. I Just Wanna Make Love To You - Mungo Jerry - 9:05
6. Cameraman: Wilson And Holmes - Jackie McAuley - 4:53
7. Road To Glory - Pluto - 4:25
8. Body To The Mind - Quiet World - 3:26
9. One Way Glass - Trifle - 4:22
10.Pharaoh's March - Mike Cooper - 7:16
11.I Put A Spell On You - Demon Fuzz - 3:54
12.Someone's Learning - Status Quo - 7:10
13.Time Take My Life - Atomic Rooster - 6:01


Disc 3
Track - Artist

1. 3D Mona Lisa - Paul Brett's Sage - 3:20
2. Billy The Kid - The Trio - 1:33
3. Gerdundula - Status Quo - 3:50
4. Hard Labour - Noir - 5:22
5. Yellow Roses - Heron - 4:11
6. Save Me - Atomic Rooster - 3:16
7. Fantastic Four - Icarus - 3:20
8. Man Of Renown - Writing On The Wall - 3:08
9. Staircase To The Day - Gravy Train - 7:33
10.Ricochet - Jonesy - 4:06
11.Can't Find A Reason - Chris Farlowe, Vincent Crane - 4:29
12.Decision - Fruupp - 6:25
13.Lord Offaly - David McWilliams - 6:34
14.Custom Angel Man - Paul Brett's Sage - 2:43
15.Flying - Quicksand - 4:23
16.Stand Up And Be Counted - Stray - 4:19
17.No Alternative - Jonesy - 8:14

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dave Mason - Alone Together (1970 uk, fabulous classic rock with drops of psych folk, japan remaster edition)



Like Traffic's album "John Barleycorn Must Die", former Traffic member Dave Mason's Alone Together is a good album -- careful, well played, occasionally brilliant and well-conceived -- but like John Barleycorn, Alone Together never breaks its vinyl bonds and soars. The songwriting talent of Mason remains undiminished on Alone Together, and his easy fluid voice, long in Traffic vocalist Stevie Winwood's giant shadow, is used to maximum effect.

This is, of course, the marbled LP, a brilliant burst of color spinning on the turntable, the grooves barely discernible so the needle seems to be floating across the record. Maybe the next step could be a little cartoon around the edge of the record, like those flip-the-pages funnies, or a slow inward spiral so you could be literally hypnotized by the record.

The music is vintage Mason, veering here and there towards commercialism but never quite getting there, slick but not offensive. Falling in line with the rest of Great Britain, Mason chose old Delaney and Bonnie sidemen for the session, including Leon Russell, Jim Keltner, Carl Radle and Rita Coolidge, plus old Mother Don Preston. Russell, as always, is much in evidence, and his piano (if it is him -- the album doesn't say and we have only internal evidence), particularly on "Sad and Deep As You," is masterful.

The high point of the album is clearly "Look at You Look at Me," a song Mason wrote with Trafficker Jim Capaldi, whose tight, urgent drumming on the cut moves the song along with descretion and skill. Mason's singing is simply superb. The other exceptional cuts are "Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave" (Mason is not, between you and me, a great song titlist), which features the best wah-wah guitar since Clapton's initial exposition on "Tales of Brave Ulysses"; and "World in Changes," with Mason's deceptively simple lyrics pulled along by some brilliant organ work.

High commercial potential on the album is represented by "Only You Know and I Know," which has a rick-ticky rhythm reminiscent of "You Can All Join In." It's really a trivial song (like others on the album, particularly "Waitin' On You" and "Just A Song"), but it will sound great on a tinny AM radio at 60 miles an hour.
by Jon Carroll, Rolling Stone, 9/3/70.


Tracks
1. Only You Know and I Know (D. Mason) - 4:05
2. Can't Stop Worrying, Can't Stop Loving (D. Mason) - 3:02
3. Waitin' on You (D. Mason) - 3:05
4. Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave (D. Mason) - 6:00
5. World in Changes (D. Mason) - 4:30
6. Sad and Deep as You (D. Mason) - 3:35
7. Just a Song (D. Mason) - 2:59
8. Look at You, Look at Me (J. Capaldi, D. Mason) - 7:22

Musicians
*Dave Mason - Guitar, Vocals
*Delaney Bramlett - Guitar, Vocals
*Bonnie Bramlett - Vocals
*Leon Russell - Keyboards
*Carl Radle - Bass
*Chris Ethridge - Bass
*Larry Knechtel - Bass
*Jim Capaldi - Drums
*Jim Gordon - Drums
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*Michael DeTemple - Guitar
*Don Preston - Keyboards
*John Simon - Keyboards
*John Barbata - Drums
*Rita Coolidge - Vocals
*Mike Coolidge - Vocals
*Claudia Lennear - Vocals
*Lou Cooper - Vocals
*Bob Norwood - Vocals
*Jack Storti - Vocals

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Butterfield Blues Band - Live (1970 us, great blues rock with funky vibes, 2005 issue)


It's difficult to know where to begin with a release like this -- there's no much here that's new and worthwhile that it virtually blows the original vinyl release, good as that was, off the map. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band didn't go quietly into the night, as this double-CD set reminds us. Originally a two-LP set, Live was their penultimate release on Elektra Records, recorded at the L.A. Troubadour and released in 1971, and it was over 70 minutes of some of the loudest, boldest blues of its time.

Oddly enough, the released concert contained some of the more straightforward and less complex material in the band's book -- this could have been a much bolder and more challenging release at the time. One discovers listening to the second disc in this set 66 minutes of much more ambitious arrangements opening with "Gene's Tune," an on-the-spot improvisation on a tune that saxman Gene Dinwiddie delivered just before the group took the stage, and offering an ample showcase not just for the reeds but for Butterfield's harmonica (which is the lead instrument and heard in its full glory for much of the first-half of this 12-minute jam) but also for Ralph Walsh's guitar and Ted Harris' keyboards.

Similar extended excursions are built around the more raw, more purely bluesy "Losing Hand," and the band's one-off hit, "Love March." Those are juxtaposed with more traditionally structured Chicago-style blues numbers, including "You've Got to Love Her With a Feeling," and funky jazz in bassist Rod Hicks' "All in a Day."

The band comes off as a killer hybrid ensemble, somewhere midway between, say, the Count Basie band of the late 1940s and a large-scale Chicago blues band of early in the next decade, and Booker T. & the MG's paired with the Mar-Keys, all bound up in a lean, sleek package resembling the second incarnation of Blood, Sweat & Tears at their best moments. Based on what's here, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band probably deserved a hearing as much as the latter group got, if not the same sales (Butterfield was a good singer, but lacked David Clayton-Thomas' MOR appeal) -- but musically, they could have blown all competitors off the stage in their sheer eclecticism.
by Bruce Eder


 Tracks
1. Everything Going to Be Alright - 10:08
2. Love Disease - 4:01
3. The Boxer - 6:38
4. No Amount of Loving - 5:53
5. Driftin' and Driftin' - 13:43
6. Intro to Musicians - 1:45
7. Number Nine - 10:10
8. I Want to Be With You - 3:55
9. Born Under a Bad Sign - 5:44
10.Get Together Again - 6:29
11.So Far, So Good - 9:17

Musicians
*Paul Butterfield - Vocals, Harmonica, Piano
*Ralph Wash - Vocals, Guitar
*Brother Gene Dinwiddie - Vocals, Saxophone, Tenor, Soprano Saxophone
*Rod Hicks - Vocals, Fretless Bass
*Clydie King, Oma Drake, Merry Clayton, Venetta Fields - Vocals
*David Sanborn - Saxophone
*Trevor Lawrence - Baritone Saxophone, Background Vocals
*Steve Madaio - Trumpet, Background Vocals
*Ted Harris - Piano, Keyboards
*George Davidson - Drums

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Stallion - The Hard Life (1974-79 uk, powerful progressive rock, remaster edition)



This is a complete previously unreleased album by a legendary British `70s UK progressive rock band Stallion who issued a now-rare single in 1975 and performed with some of the UK greats in the mid 1970s: Curved Air, T-Rex, Edgar Broughton, Stray, Stackridge, Gong, Rare Bird, Magic Muscle, Budgie, Traffic and Osibisa to name but a few.

Their sole album is a powerful mixture of classic early `70s progressive music and with renowned keyboardist Phil Thornton on board, Stallion played a remarkably tasty brand of song-based, erstwhile prog-influenced rock that was also tainted with the aggressive and charismatic energy of front man John Wilde. Typically `70s and mixing the musical textures of contemporaries such as Fantasy, Mainhorse, Stackridge & Armageddon, and with a vocalist somewhere between early Genesis and Wishbone Ash, this is a genuine missing piece of British progressive rock history.

The CD also features a detailed booklet with band history and photos and includes the band`s rare single.. Includes bonus CD-Rom of the band performing at the Reading Festival in 1976 along with rare photos of the band. Lightning Tree. Stallion were always the band who liked to break the rules and challenge the norm. Of the many obscure, trench-coated progressive rock groups that germinated in the garages, sheds and studios of England in the early `70s, Stallion are now recognised as one of the great lost bands of the first progressive era.


Tracks
1. If Life Were Death (T. Turner, T. Bridger, R. Carey, S. Demetri, P. Thornton) - 7:00
2. Arsony In The UK (P. Thornton, P. Gill, R. Carey, J. Wilde, S. Demetri) - 3:53
3. Fresh Out Of Borstal  (J. Petri, P. Thornton, P. Gill, S. Demetri, J. Wilde) - 4:52
4. Hard Life  (J. Petri, P. Thornton, P. Gill, S. Demetri, J. Wilde) - 4:00
5. Open Door  (P. Thornton, P. Gill, J. Petri, S. Demetri, J. Wilde) - 6:12
6. Cream Genes (P. Thornton, S. Demetri, P. Gill, J. Petri, J. Wilde) - 5:41
7. Way (P. Gill, J. Petri, P. Thornton, J. Wilde, S. Demetri) - 4:07
8. Hard Life (Live At The Lyceum Sept 1976)   (J. Petri, P. Thornton, P. Gill, S. Demetri, J. Wilde) - 6:13
9. You Make Me Happy (P. Gill, P. Thornton, J. Petri, S. Demetri, J. Wilde) - 3:07
10.Cobra  (T. Turner, T. Bridger, R. Carey, S. Demetri, P. Thornton) - 4:52
11.Skinny Kid  (M. Stringer, T. Turner, T. Bridger, R. Carey, S. Demetri, P. Thornton) - 4:43

Stallion
*John Wilde - Vocals
*Steve Demetri - Drums
*Phil Gill - Bass
*John Petri - Guitar
*Julian Carter - Additional Guitars, Vocals
*Tich Turner - Flute, Vocals
*Roger Carey - Bass
*Tony Bridger - Guitar
*Phil Thornton - Clavinet, Synthesizer, Moog, Hammond Organ, Piano, Mellotron
*Andy Qunta - Piano, Hammond C3, Mini Moog

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Gravy Train - Gravy Train (1970 uk, fantastic progressive rock, 2005 remaster)



A minor classic hopelessly lost among all the innumerable "biggies" of the year 1970, it's also absolutely different from everything Gravy Train would do later, and too bad about it: no matter how much the group's limited following gushes over (A Ballad Of) A Peaceful Man or Staircase To The Day, I can easily see how Gravy Train couldn't make it to fame's top based on those albums. Their debut shows Gravy Train as a brave and daring underground band, heavily influenced by and derivative of other prog/hard acts of the time, yet actually trying to push the boundaries forward. Unfortunately, since the album bombed, the guys preferred to dump all the experimentation of these songs in favour of a smoother, more commercial sound later on, which totally destroyed their idiosyncrasy and forever nailed them as second-rate good-for-nothings.

So anyway, Gravy Train is, in many respects, a marvelous album, and the one not to be afraid to blow your cash on if you can trace it anywhere. It does take some getting used to, of course, because at first, my reaction was "what the...?", and it doesn't happen all that often, I tell ya. Regular rule number one says that if you don't get the main point of the record on first listen, you don't get it ever. And, well, that kinda bothered me, but then I realized that yes, Gravy Train actually completely lacks a main point, and maybe so much for the better. This helps the guys avoid the pretentiousness and overblown character of later releases. What this album is is a bunch of stoned British guys with a good sense of melody and rhythm trying to have some fun with their influences. That's all. But isn't that enough when you actually have talent? The world won't be saved by this band anyway.

So, what are the influences? If I may be allowed to generalize (and who needs a review with no generalizations?), the main 'style' of this record can be reviewed as a mixture of Barrett's Pink Floyd and Canterbury bands like the Soft Machine. It's almost creepily evident even from the details: Norman Barrett is the name of the band leader, and the band themselves look eerily like the Soft Machine on the inlay photo. There's plenty of weirdass avantgarde jamming on the record, and a lot of bizarre and pseudo-psychedelic attitude as well, and one of the tracks is actually bluntly named 'Dedication To Syd', no less.

On the OTHER hand, while there are few thoroughly original ideas on the record, Gravy Train get by sticking to the immortal principle - "hey guys, let's take this thing from this band and that thing from that band and see what happens". So the main instruments on the record are Norman Barrett's guitar and J. D. Hughes' flute. The former has an unbelievably cool - if always the same - tone throughout, the thoroughly distorted analogy of Clapton's 'woman tone', rather favoured by British guitarists of the epoch, such as Alvin Lee and some others, but 'dried out' even more, so that without actually being as brutally heavy as Tony Iommi's tone, it produces almost the same effect. That said, on a few tracks, like 'Think Of Life', Norman does get almost brutally heavy, so Black Sabbath probably were an influence. As for the flute, well you know the flute can be used in two ways and two ways only - you either go the Moody Blues route and make it all gentle and smooth and loving or you go the Jethro Tull route and make it all sizzly and rough and rocking. Hughes goes the second way, so that some of the flute riffs actually are undistinguishable from prime Tull. Apart from that, he occasionally plays a nice sax part.

Now, what about the songs themselves? Much of this stuff rules. Barrett really has a knack for solid riffage; tunes like 'Think Of Life' will linger in your head for a long time - that flute/guitar interplay in the song's first part is unbeatable, truly as if Tony Iommi were meeting Ian Anderson (come to think of it, Tony Iommi did meet Ian Anderson, as any Tull expert will tell you, but at that time neither Tony nor Ian were playing in that way as of yet). The second, faster part of the song is pretty captivating as well, although the repetitiveness gets a bit stale.

On another lengthy track, 'Coast Road', the guys apply their playing techniques to a piece of generic blues improvisation, which is as marvelous as generic blues improvisations get; Barrett shines in all his might, with perfectly fluent, inflammatory guitar solos and a beautiful mastery of feedback techniques - he's cleaner and more restrained than Hendrix, but dammit if I don't enjoy his soloing on here just as much as Jimi's soloing on a random blues cover. The sax and flute work is also masterful and add further punch to the jam.

If there's anything to really get mad about on this record (and the following ones), it's the vocals. Barrett doesn't have a bad voice per se, but it's absolutely unfit for screaming your head off - it's raspy and whiny at the same time, and you have to be pretty vocally tolerant to enjoy that 'vocal feedback' pitch of his. I know I am pretty tolerant in that department, but even I had to stuff myself with tranquilizers and Alka Seltzer in order to adjust to the fella. And worse, he seems to revel in ugly vocal effects - the perfectly funny and well-written 'Dedication To Syd', for instance, is utterly spoiled by having the vocals double-tracked and one track played at high speed, so that you have Barrett's raspy vocal feedback in one channel and a stupid 'baby squeal' in the other one. All to that marvelous bassline that surely could have been used differently. And when they go 'I need you, so wonderfu-u-u-u-ul' on 'Enterprise', it nearly makes me throw up. At some points they simply get out of tune. And why the stupid whisper? Dammit.

So the saving grace of the record, I'd say, is that most of it is actually instrumental. Including the lengthy 'Earl Of Pocket Nook' composition, sixteen minutes of proggish jamming with only a little bit of vocals in the beginning. Of course, it's pretty overlong - and also displays the band's Cream influences, because the jazzy tempo changes and the way they explore the different themes almost miraculously reminds me of stuff like Cream's live version of 'Spoonful'. But some parts actually rule, and it doesn't really bother me as such.

Oh! The album was produced by Jonathan Peel, if the name of the guy tells you anything. This happens to be the band's main link to the "rockin' community" of the epoch - unlike other minor prog/rotts-rock bands of the time, Gravy Train were never really a revolving door act and stood pretty much isolated of the community. Which is of course weird considering all the influences of the album. Which I would really recommend you to track down if possible.
George Starostin


Tracks
1. The New One - 5:15
2. Dedication To Sid - 7:17
3. Coast Road - 6:46
4. Enterprise - 6:20
5. Think Of Life - 5:10
6. Earl Of Pocket Nook - 16:11

Gravy Train

*Les Williams - Bass, Vocals
* Barry Davenport - Drums
* J.D. Hughes - Flute (Alto, Simultaneous Alto And Tenor), Vocals
* Norman Barrett - Vocals, Guitar
 

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lily - V.C.U. (We See You) (1973 germany, brilliant progressive rock with a canterbury blend, extra tracks edition)



The one and only album that was released by Lily has now been re-released in CD format by the excellent Garden Of Delights label together with four bonus tracks. Musically the album features a strange blend of progressive rock which may sound extremely harsh to those who are accustomed to the British or Italian bands playing this genre of music. The German progressive rock movement, sometimes referred to as the kraut-rock movement, often did without the melodic and atmospheric nature of keyboards and the mellotron relying on a much harsher and rockier sound created primarily by the guitar.

Lily further augmented their sound with the addition of the sound of the saxophone in their lengthy instrumental pieces which helped add that jazz edge to the rock. Furthermore the band possessed two stylistically different guitarists, Manfred-Josef Schmid who had a raw sound to his playing and Klaus Lehmann whose style was much more polished. These two contrasting styles allowed for the band to expand their music to a broad base.

The album kicks off with In Those Times, which immediately indicates the Canterbury blend of music that Lily tend to play, which sounds rather strange coming from a German band! Steinberg's saxophone work coupled with the great guitar work places the band almost on a par with groups such as Soft Machine, and also the more progressive works of Delivery. What makes the track, and indeed most of the album, even more endearing is the fact that the solos do not involve endless aimless doodles, but instead fit in snugly with the musical context which remains rather strict in tempo and structure.

Which Is This is rather similar to the opening track in style, though Pinky Pigs has a much more bluesy feel. Their is also a slightly looser feel to the music giving it a much more psychedelic touch rather than the jazzier nature of the opening tracks. On Doctor Martin the band manage to fuse these elements by creating an echo-driven mystical atmosphere that occasionally breaks down into some great guitar riffs punctuated by the odd saxophone or guitar lick.

I'm Lying On My Belly (Including Tango Atonale) has a much more familiar feel to it with its rather typical late sixties bluesy stomp, though one must also make a reference to Kirchmeier's vocals. In fact, a major factor that allows Lily to be so accessible is the fact that they possessed a vocalist whose pronunciation was devoid of those normally thick German accents, whilst at the same time being able to create a rich powerful delivery.

This is further exemplified on Eyes Look From The Mount Of Flash which is distinct from the previous track in its diversity. Whereas I'm Lying On My Belly features more or less a variation on a theme, this track allows the band to broaden their psychedelic/progressive influences with the occasional space rock foray as well as some interesting time signature changes.

Thus ended the original version of V.C.U. (We See You). The remaining four tracks are bonus tracks that have been made available on CD. They must have been recorded at the same time as the album as no mention is made of any changes in line-up for these specific recordings. Possibly they were part of the original demo-tape that the band had made as admittedly the sound does suffer slightly on certain occasions.

Chemical New York is possibly the most straight forward track on the album with a well defined blues rhythm with, unlike on other tracks, a lack of a guitar solo with just Steinberg's saxophone delving into solo territory. Adlerbar further adds to the blues stomp nature of these bonus tracks and is pretty much on the same lines as Chemical New York. Hearing these Bonus Tracks over and over again leads me to think that they must have been recorded prior to the recording of the album.

The basicity of the music with little or nor variation throughout is a stark contrast to what the band's eventual album would offer. Having said that, Catch Me and The Wanderer do witness the band showing an amount of improvisation with the latter being the track to write home mostly about. This last track has solos coming from each member of the band, with the most striking being the bass solo from Kirchmeier.

Though not strictly speaking a Canterbury progressive rock band, Lily are an exciting view into the German progressive rock scene from the early seventies. Most people tend to have the notion that the scene in those years consisted only of electronic orientated bands as or else kraut rock Amon Duul clones. Lily dispel this notion with an excellent development of what is essentially a rhythm and blues foundation taken that one step further well within the context of the times the band were living.
by Nigel Camilleri


Tracks
1. In Those Times - 9:08
2. Which Is This - 4:24
3. Pinky Pigs - 6:38
4. Doctor Martin - 4:36
5. I'm Lying On My Belly (Including 'Tango Atonale') - 5:57
6. Eyes Look From The Mount Of Flash - 9:43
7. Chemical New Yorkn - 8:15
8. Adlerbar - 5:46
9. Catch Me - 8:12
10.The Wanderer - 16:27
All songs by Lily, 7-10 bonus tracks.

Lily
*Wilfried Kirchmeier - Bass, Vocals, Percussion, Synths
*Manfred Schlagmüller - Drums, Percussion, Synths
*Hans-Werner Steinberg - Tenor, Soprano Saxes
*Manfred-Josef Schmid - Guitar
*Klaus Lehmann - Guitars
Additional Musicians
*Dieter Dierks - Mellotron
*Armin Bannach - Gong

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Atlee - Flying Ahead (1970 us, raw hard boogie rock, 2007 remaster edition)




Atlee, where a hard-driving quartet, with powerful initial entry here, an album that really moves. Atlee Yeager and his associates overpower their material vocally and instrumentally.

Each side begins with a big one ("Rip You Up" and "Let's Make Love"), but there's much more here. "Dirty Old Man" and "Swamp Rhythm" are among the other good cuts. All the material here was written by Yeager.


Tracks
1. Rip You Up - 4:21
2. Swamp Rhythm - 3:51
3. Painted Ladies - 4:05
4. Jesus People - 5:06
5. Let's Make Love - 5:58
6. Will Get Together (Atlee Yeager, Michael Stevens) - 2:53
7. Dirty Old Man (Atlee Yeager, Michael Stevens, Bruce Schaffer, Don Francisco) - 5:19
8. Is not That The Way - 3:40
9. Dirty Sheets - 4:01
All tracks by Atlee Yeager except where noted.

Atlee
*Atlee Yeager - Bass, Lead Vocals
*Don Francisco - Drums, Vocals
*Michael Stevens - Guitar, Vocals
*Bruce Schaffer - Keyboards, Vocals



Monday, July 18, 2011

Presence - Presence (1976 uk, beautiful psychedelic folk with lovely female/male vocals, 2008 korean remaster edition plus bonus material)



Presence, originally released in 1976, is now being released as a CD. It is a very special album for all of us involved as it captured a particularly creative and inspirational moment in our lives. Whenever I listen to it, I am struck by the life that is conveyed through the music. It continues to move me, even after 33 years. The songs are still fresh and speak out as if they were only recorded yesterday.

The five members of the band, Veronica Towers, Kevan and Ivor Bundell, Mike Waiting and Paul Gateshill, came together through the inspiration of the Focolare Movement - an ecumenical movement which is now spread across the globe. In fact we were a very ecumenical band, representing Roman Catholic. Presence was recorded over four days during Easter 1975 at the independent Indigo Studios, in Manchester, England, on a four track tape machine.

The engineer was Dave Rohl. He was also the keyboard player of the Mandala Band and there was an immediate musical rapport with him in the studio. Much of the albums' vitality and freshness are due to his skills and encouragement. The album was mixed a few weeks later in one day, and the master disc was cut at the famous Abbey Road studios in London(of Beatles fame). So where are the band now? All five are still making music and play on one anothers' albums and in concerts together.

Veronica's vocals are even richer and more sublime and you can catch up with her song-writing on two albums: "Promises of Life" and "Light and Shade". The Bundell brothers have produced two fine albums: "Secret Lives" and "Stood on the Shore". Mike Waiting is still being wonderfully percussive and Paul Gateshill can be heard on the album "Years in the Making".
by Paul Gateshill


Tracks
1. Moment Of You (K. Bundell-Gateshill) - 6:31
2. Break Down The Walls (Towers-Coen) - 3:50
3. Children (I. Bundell) - 3:15
4. All For You (I. Bundell) - 3:51
5. Laws Of God (Towers) - 3:14
6. Prayer (Gateshill) - 3:16
7. Turning Point (Gateshill) - 4:04
8. Peace (Towers) - 3:04
9. Presence (Gateshill) - 2:48
10.Shepherd Song (Towers) - 3:05
11.God Is Love (Gateshill) - 5:07
12.Learn To Share (Paul Gateshill) - 3:50
13.Who Would True Valour See (Ivor & Kevan Bundell) - 3:05
14.Imagine A World  (Veronica Towers) - 3:11
12-14 bonus tracks

Presence
*Ivor Bundell - Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin, Harmonica, Tambourine
*Veronica Towers - Vocals, Guitar, Organ
*Paul Gateshill - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Mandolin
*Kevan Bundell - Mandolin, Recorder, Piano, Organ
*Mike Waiting - Drums, Bongos

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Aorta - Aorta (1969 us, excellent wild psychedelia with a hint of early progressive rock)



Aorta was a highly talented rock band from Rockford, IL that released two albums throughout 1969 and 1970. The band was originally known as the Exceptions, a popular soul rock group that played around the Chicago area and released a handful of singles. It’s interesting to note that the Exceptions had at one time included future members of H.P. Lovecraft (another great Chicago psych band), the New Colony Six, Chicago, The Buckinghams, and Illinois Speed Press. The Exceptions eventually morphed into Aorta when band members felt a more progressive direction was needed.

In 1969 Columbia released this startling record which was a mix of psychedelia, soul, jazz, folk, and rock. The album was housed in a beautiful, graphic sleeve that has always overshadowed the great music from within. Musically speaking, Aorta’s sound comes close to Boston band Listening or even the more psychedelic aspects of early Blood, Sweat and Tears during its Al Kooper phase. There seems to be some kind of concept that reoccurs under the Mein Vein theme. Aorta is solid throughout though, featuring strong musicianship, inventive studio wizardry, superb songs with a healthy dose of fuzz guitar and wonderful string and horn arrangements.

Some songs like Heart Attack and Ode To Missy Mxyzosptlk have lots of organ and are very early stabs at what would later be coined progressive rock. Ode to Missy has some intense guitar solos and a great studio psych out ending that will put your stereo speakers on overdrive. A personal favorite is the more restrained Sprinkle Road to Cork Street, which is a dramatic folk-rock track with horns and a beautiful medieval-like intro. Trippier tracks like the spooky Catalyptic with its ethereal, acid church organ work extremely well too and make it clear that these guys could play any style of music well. What’s In My Mind’s Eye is a great lost piece of psychedelic pop that has really cool disembodied vocals and a prominent horn arrangement.

Aorta may seem grandiose and even downright indulgent at times but make no mistake this really is a great lost record. Conclusion: definitely pick this great album up if you’re looking for some far out, wild psychedelia with a hint of early progressive rock.
by Jason Nardelli 


Tracks
1. Main Vein I (Jim Donlinger) - 2:17
2. Heart Attack (J. Donlinger, Jim Nyeholt) - 2:30
3. What's In My Mind's Eye (Ginna Donlinger) - 2:47
4. Magic Bed (Dan Hoagland, J. Donlinger) - 2:37
5. Main Vein II (J. Donlinger, J. Nyeholt) - 1:25
6. Sleep Tight (Lowell George, Russ Titelman) - 4:38
7. Catalyptic (Gary Montgomery, Jack Dalton) - 3:32
8. Main Vein III (J. Donlinger) - 0:42
9. Sprinkle Road To Cork Street (D. Hoagland, J. Nyeholt) - 3:06
10.Ode To Missy Mxyzosptlk (J. Donlinger) - 3:08
11.Strange (D. Hoagland) - 4:18
12.A Thousand Thoughts (Billy Herman, J. Donlinger) - 3:48
13.Thoughts And Feelings / Main Vein IV (J. Donlinger) - 4:07

Aorta
*Jim Nyeholt - Bass
*Billy Herman - Drums
*Bobby Jones - Guitar, Vocals
*Jim Donlinger - Keyboards, Vocals

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Chirco - Visitation (1972 us, good spiritual progressive rock with a jazz feeling)



Previous to the Chirco Visitation sessions, the Visitation Musicians were working in Westchester County, just outside of Mew York City, as a band called "Sassafrass". with S.H, Foote on Keyboards, Ted McKenzie on drums Bruce Taylor on Bass and John Naylor on guitar, Tony Chirco approached the band to assist in completing a project he had already begun with other session musicians . "Sassafrass" joined with 'Tony and vocalist Anvil Roth and completed the sessions at Syncron Sound Studios.

The band then traveled to Denver In an attempt to promote the LP within the local Donver music scene, By chance they became entangled with J, Carlos Schidlowski, a, Chilean businessman who started his Denver Colorado, based "Crested Butte" records in 1972, Chirco was the first Ip release on Crested Butte, the second (and only other one) was a very Middle-Of-The-Road effort by Paul Hampton. The group and label were introduced at big party on a ranch near Boulder and Ips were handed out with "Crested Butte" belt buckles.

A few singles followed by local acts but Schidlowski's label basically was doomed to start with….and perhaps that's what Carlos may have had in mind, since some seemed to believe he was better at spending the money of others than taking in revenue for the label, The Chirco sessions were produced by the now-famous Michaei Cuscuna and have a polish that few independent Projects of the early seventies have, Barry Tashian {Remains} assisted the group when they ware taping in New England, A disc of all original material, "Visitation" is a rock Ip with a jazz feel and subtle spiritual message that did not find a commercial audience In Colorado.

The group and album met with failure in the Denver area (although we heard they played in Boulder) and most of the records ended up in the trash or in the case of one shop, wore given away with a purchase., The financial slight of hand of the label's founder, however, did not escape the federal authorities and they pursued Mr. Schidlowski and brought him to Denver from Chile around 1974 to serve two years in a local correctional facility. In the eighties he would be returned to Chile after 23 of fraud were uncovered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Tracks
Older Than Ancient - Parable
1. Sound Of The Cross (Chirco,R.Burnley) - 2:15
2. 33 Years (B. Taylor, B. Chanaca) - 3:51
3. 'Cause I Love You(B. Taylor, L. Rickards) - 3:43
4. Golden Image (Chirco, A. Roth) - 7:00
Younger Than New
5. Dear Friends (R. Calabrese, Chirco) - 7:46
6. Mister Sunshine Parable (B. Tashian, Chirco) - 5:08
7. Minutes (R. Calabrese, Chirco) - 2:51
8. Child Of Peace (R. Calabrese, Chirco) - 4:49

Musicians
*Tony Chirco - Electronic Vibes, Drums, percussion.
*Anvil Roth - Lead Vocalist
*John Nayior - Guitar Vocals
*Bruce Taylor - Bass, Vocals
*Ted MacKenzie - Drums
*S.H. Foote - Keyboards
*Piston Bugles - Horns
*Bill Wich - Horns
*Lou Sulkazi - Guitars
*Billy Chanaca - Guitars
*Lee Rickards - Drums
*Pete Esposito - Drums
*John Kaye - Congas

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bruce Kulick - KKB (1974 us, great hard rock with funky blues vibes, limited 1000 copies edition)



Before Bruce Kulick became a fixture on the speed dial of legendary rockers like KISS (who proudly called him their lead guitarist for 12 years), Meat Loaf (he was a member of the Bat Out Of Hell touring troupe), or Grand Funk Railroad (with whom he has toured the country for most of the last decade); before he became one of the most sought after guest musicians in the world; before he garnered praise from press the world over as a Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp counselor to be both respected and feared; before all of that, Bruce Kulick was a fan of great rock music. Cream, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Yes, The Who... you name it, Kulick knew it.

"When people ask me how to get better at their instrument, I always tell them to find other players in your area and learn to make music," says Kulick. "To that end, after I'd been playing a while, I found a guy who lived in the next building over from me, in the Jackson Heights area of Queens, New York. His name was Mike Katz, and he was a bass player who loved all of the same bands I did. We started jamming, and, because we already spoke the same language musically, it was just magical. We found a drummer named Guy Bois who rounded out the picture, and we formed a group that we envisioned as a cross between Cream and Yes."

After months of rehearsal in the Bois family basement, the band (though called "KKB" today, never had an official name) entered New York's Sudden Rush recording studio in September of 1974 armed with a handful of songs. As with many young bands, things didn't progress for the three musicians. Eventually Kulick, Katz and Bois went their separate ways. The reel-to-reel tape of those sessions sat gathering dust until Kulick found a TEAC reel-to-reel player for $35.00 at garage sale in 2006, and thus he also rediscovered the "KKB" sessions.

"I put that tape on, and was blown away," smiles Kulick. "It was like a time capsule, and there was such passion and fury in the music. It was funny, too, how I recognized so many elements in that tape recording from almost 35 years ago that are still in my guitar playing today."

As enjoyable as it was for Bruce to journey down memory lane, it was playing the tape for friends and other musicians that lead him to consider releasing it to the public at large. "Everyone I played it for said the same thing, that I needed to put this music out as it sounds so current, no matter how many years ago it was created. So I began the process of getting this old tape transferred into a digital format."

While there was some repair work and extensive mastering (by Kulick and producer/engineer Jeremy Rubolino) done to the tape to get it up to digital standards, no overdubs or new music were recorded. The "KKB" sessions appear on the CD exactly as they were recorded.

"Oddly enough, even though this music was created in 1974, the vibe is right in line with some of the music that has come out in the last few years. Bands like Wolfmother and The White Stripes go for that vintage analog sound and KKB has that powerful punch that analog is known for," marvels Kulick. But beyond all of that, this music has relevance, is extremely catchy and musical, and will stand on its own no matter how many years ago it was created. Turn on the black lights and rock out to KKB!"
from The Official Bruce Kulick website 

Tracks
1. I'll Never Take You Back - 4:01
2. My Baby - 4:33
3. You've Got A Hold On Me - 4:07
4. Tryin' To Find A Way - 4:32
5. Someday - 2:08
6. You Won't Be There - 5:45
7. To Be Free - 3:01
8. You Won't Be There (Alternate Jam Take) - 6:24
All songs by Mike Katz, except (4-Tryin' To Find A Way) by Mike Katz and Bruce Kulick

Musicians
*Bruce Kulick - Guitars
*Mike Katz - Bass, Vocals
*Guy Bois - Drums

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