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

Plain and Fancy

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Carp - Carp (1970 us, heavenly psych folk country rock with spiritual references, 2017 korean remaster)

Carp is known not so much for its music as it is for being the launching pad for the career of fledgling actor Gary Busey. Singer/drummer Busey formed the group in the spring of 1966 with fellow Oklahoma State University students Ron Getman on guitar, John Crowder on bass, and Glen Mitchell on piano. After relocating to Los Angeles, Carp signed with Epic to record a self-titled 1969 album rooted equally in rock, blues, and country -- two singles () - "Save the Delta Queen" and "Page 258" were released to little commercial notice, and the band soon dissolved. 

While Getman, Crowder, and Mitchell continued collaborating as session musicians behind Loudon Wainwright III and Janis Ian, Busey pursued a career as an actor, although he continued playing drums under the alias Teddy Jack Eddy, backing artists including Kris Kristofferson and Leon Russell. In 1975, he also contributed his original song "Since You've Gone Away" to Robert Altman's film masterpiece Nashville.

Busey's music career was, ultimately, the determining factor in landing the role that made him famous: As the ill-fated title character in 1978's The Buddy Holly Story, he performed his own renditions of the rock & roll legend's biggest hits, and earned an Academy Award nomination for his efforts. 
by Jason Ankeny

1. Drink To The Queen Of The May (Gary Busey, Ron Getman) - 2:33
2. Circuit Preacher Brown (Gary Busey, Ron Getman) - 2:40
3. He's Comin' Back To Check On What You've Done (Gary Busey, Glen Mitchell, Ron Getman) - 2:36
4. Pine Creek Bridge (Gary Busey, John Crowder, Ron Getman) - 3:46
5. Rosabelle Bovine (Gary Busey, Glen Mitchell, Ron Getman) - 2:17
6. Page 258 (Gary Busey, Ron Getman) - 2:37
7. Jotham Clay, Mississippi (Gary Busey, Ron Getman) - 2:49
8. The Great Kansas Hymn (Michael McGinnis) - 5:25
9. Mammoth Mountain Blues (Gary Busey, John Crowder, Glen Mitchell, Ron Getman) - 2:46
10.There Goes The Band (Gary Busey, John Crowder, Ron Getman) - 3:00
11.Jesus Is The Mountain (Gary Busey, Ron Getman) - 3:48
12.The Firehouse Dog (Gary Busey) - 1:04

The Carp
*Gary Busey - Drums, Vocals
*John Crowder - Bass, Vocals
*Ron Getman - Guitar, Vocals
*Glen Mitchell - Keyboards, Vocals
*Sneaky Pete - Steel Guitar
*Bouncin'Bobby Bruce - Fiddle

Free Text
the Free Text

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Leon Russell And Marc Benno - Asylum Choir II (1971 us, outstanding psych protest bluesy rock with experimental mood, japan SHM 2016 remaster)

1971's "Asylum Choir II" was originally intended as a follow-up to 1968's "Looking Inside the Asylum Choir".  Unfortunately Smash Records executives shelved the set where it sat for the next three years.  The collection was ultimately rescued in 1971 when Leon Russell (enjoying stardom as a solo act), bought the tapes and released the collection on his newly formed Shelter imprint. Ironically, by the time the sophomore album saw the light of day, Russell and singer/multi-instrumentalist Marc Benno had dissolved their musical partnership. 

Musically the set wasn't a major change from the debut, though there were a couple of marked differences.  While the debut was very much a collaboration, this time around the focus was clearly on Russell.  That may have something to do with the fact Russell was responsible for the collection's release.  As on the debut, Benno was credited with co-writing most of the material (there were three tracks credited to Russell alone), but Benno's other contributions were far and few between.  He handled backing vocals on a couple of tracks, but elsewhere was largely absent.

While full of engaging melodies, lyrically the album was a topical timepiece - though I've always found it an engaging reflection of the times.  There were a couple of nifty anti-war tracks ('Down On the Base' and 'Ballad for a Soldier') and some dated social/political commentary ('Sweet Home Chicago' with it's not-to-subtle commentary on 1968's Democratic National Convention and 'Straight Brother'). 

Speaking of dated, amazing how time impacts language ...  "when you're bass player's flat and your drummer drags, don't you wish you had a fag"  Anyone under 30 probably doesn't realize he was talking about cigarettes, not lifestyles.  Bottom line is that it was a good effort, though largely a Russell solo effort and simply not on a par with the debut.

1. Sweet Home Chicago - 3:22
2. Down On The Base - 2:17)
3. Hello Little Friend (Leon Russell) - 2:52
4. Salty Candy - 2:27
5. Tryin' To Stay 'Live - 2:50
6. ...Intro To Rita... - 2:07
7. Straight Brother - 3:07
8. Learn How To Boogie - 2:45
9. Ballad For A Soldier (Leon Russell) - 4:25
10.When You Wish Upon A Fag (Leon Russell) - 4:09
11.Lady In Waiting (Leon Russell) - 3:38
All songs by Leon Russell, Marc Benno except where stated.

*Marc Benno - Guitars, Vocals
*Leon Russell - Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Vocals
*Jesse Ed Davis - Guitars
*Chuck Blackwell - Drums
*Carl Radle - Bass
*"Donald Duck" Dunn - Bass

1968  The Asylum Choir - Look Inside (2007 remaster)
1972  Leon Russell - Carney
1970  Marc Benno - Marc Benno (2012 korean remaster)
1973  Marc Benno And The Nightcrawlers - Crawlin (with young Stevie Ray Vaughan, 2006 release) 

Free Text
the Free Text

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Christopher Kearney - Pemmican Stash (1973 canada, wonderful folk country classic rock, 2014 korean remaster)

Toronto-born Christopher Kearney moved to the cottage area of Lindsay, Ontario at age 4. He became serious about music in the mid-60's after relocating to the US West coast where he met Gordon Lightfoot who put up the money for his first demo recordings.

In 1970, Apex Records released Kearney's first single "Theme For Jody". He returned to Toronto in 1971 and used his Lightfoot connection to land a publishing deal with Early Morning Music and an album deal with Sun Dog Productions who signed him to Capitol Records.

His first self-titled album was released in 1972 and spawned the single "Loosen Up". His career became a whirlwind of touring throughout the US in folk clubs and festivals with opening slots next to the likes of Anne Murray. Kearney went to Brazil in 1972 with The Stampeders to represent Canada at the Seventh Rio International Song Festival held in Rio de Janeiro.

A follow-up LP, 'Pemmican Stash', was released in 1973 and Kearney's career slowly faded shortly after 1975's 'Sweetwater'.

In the early ‘80s Kearney joined China with fellow Canadians Bill King and Danny McBride for one album on CBS Records.

Kearney returned to the spotlight briefly in 1993 when he wrote "A Letter From Sarajevo" with Scott Lane and Neil Dobson that accompanied a star-studded public service video about the plight of children in the war-torn city of Sarajevo in Bosnia.

Kearney is currently living in San Diego, California and released a new album in 2008 called "Just A Step Away". 

1. The Hobo's Creed - 4:00
2. Jubal's Dream - 3:18
3. Sarah's Stopover (Jim Laramie) - 3:52
4. Youngbird (Christopher Kearney, Josh Onderisin) - 3:08
5. One Helluva Rock 'N' Roll Band (Christopher Kearney, Josh Onderisin) - 4:48
6. Shot Down - 3:09
7. Remember Me My Brother - 4:00
8. The Ballad Of William Bent - 6:48
9. A Taste Of Snow - 4:22
Music and Lyrics by Christopher Kearney except where noted

*Christopher Kearney - Vocals, Acoustic, Electric Guitars
*Josh Onderisin - Acoustic, Electric Lead Guitars
*Jim Laramie - Bass
*Gord Neave - Drums
*D'Arcy Wickham - Background Vocals
*Gord Noore - Background Vocals
*Duane Ford - Keyboards
*Ralph Cole - Slide Guitar
*Larry Good - Banjo
*Ollie Strong - Steel Guitar
*Jerry Cingolani - Cordovox
*Bruce Good - Autoharp

Free Text
the Free Text

Monday, June 12, 2017

Bobby Whitlock - One Of A Kind (1975 us, wonderful blend of classic rock southern tastes and blues, 2016 japan SHM remaster)

The Memphis-born/Austin resident with a soulful voice soaked in gospel, R&B, and blues continues to represent the true South, the legacy he began when he was the first white artist to be signed to the Stax label at the tender age of sixteen. 

1975 marked the release of “One of a Kind”, it's a vast improvement very close to his prior best efforts. Bobby plays piano and organ and these are the intruments that subity dominate the album.

His singing is a mix of original blue eyed soul and southern rock a music he helped pioneer.

1. Movin’ On - 5:09
2. You Still On My Mind - 3:12
3. Rocky Mountain Blues - 2:58
4. Be Honest With Yourself - 4:06
5. Goin’ To California - 3:50
6. Free And Easy (Way Of Lovin’ You) - 4:33
7. The Right Road Back Home - 4:36
8. You Don’t Have To Be Alone - 5:49
9. Have You Ever Felt Like Leavin’ - 3:27
10.We Made It To The Moon - 3:36
All songs by Bobby Whitlock except Track #6 co-written with Dru Lombar

*Bobby Whitlock - Vocals, Organ, Piano, Leslie, Acoustic Guitar, Chimes, Percussion
*T.J. Tindall - Lead Guitar, Banjo
*Kenny Tibbetts - Bass
*Rick Eckstein - Drums
*Richard Betts - Slide Guitar
*Chuck Leavell - Piano
*Dru Lombar - Slide Guitar
*Jaimoe (A.K.A Jai Johanny Johanson) - Congas
*Johnny Sandlin - Tambourine
*Sid Sharp And His Magic Violins - Strings

1972  Bobby Whitlock - Where There's a Will There's a Way (2013 remaster)
1970  Derek And The Dominos - Layla (2013 platinum SHM edition)

Free Text
the Free Text

Friday, June 9, 2017

Ian And Sylvia - The Beginning Of The End (1971 canada, wonderful country folk rock)

Born in Victoria, BC in 1933, it wasn't until he was a teen, laid up in a hospital after a rodeo accident, that Ian Tyson picked up a guitar for the first time.Once the broken leg mended, he continued learning the guitar, and always a poet and writer, began writing songs.

While attending the Vancouver School of Art, he made his singing debut at Vancouver's Heidelberg Cafι in 1956. Realizing he might be able to afford his education, he continued playing, and later joined The Sensational Stripes. They were an up and coming rock and roll band made up of other students at UBC and gave Tyson a better exposure to different sounds.

Still pursuing his artistic dreams, he moved to Toronto and got a job as a commercial artist once he'd graduated from the VSA in 1958. Taking advantage of the burgeoning folk scene in Yorkville, he made ends meet by performing in the local clubs.

In 1959 he was introduced to Chatham, Ontario's Sylvia Fricker, another folk singer trying to make it in the big city. They hit it off, and by that summer were performing together at the Village Corner, first part time, and eventually they were a full-fledged duo, one of the hottest on the scene.

They married in 1961, and over the next year earned a loyal following while working their way out of the dimly lit Toronto clubs and coffee shops throughout the US northeastern seaboard, and were frequent performers at festivals, including their first of many appearances over their careers at the famed Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia, Ont.

After moving to New York in '61, they were performing in Greenwich, when Albert Grossman, Bob Dylan's manager, saw and liked the act. He offered to represent them, and soon after he sent the duo off to expand their territory, where they played throughout the Chicago/Detroit area and onto the west coast.

Grossman helped land them a deal with American based Vanguard Records, who released their self-titled debut in the summer of 1962. It was the first in a long line of records throughout the decade that transcended folk and country, delving into blues and early pop. Covers of "CC Rider," "Down By The Willow Garden," and "Handsome Molly"were mixed in with early signs of what would become a legendary waving of the Canadian music flag, with the 19th century standard "Un Canadien Errant" and "Pride of Petrovar." That song also showed their range from fast tempo two-steppers to the slow, melodic "Got No More Home Than A Dog" (a traditional hobo song), and the prison work song "Rocks And Gravel."

In early 1963 they released what has been heralded as some as the greatest Canadian song ever written, "Four Strong Winds." The title track to their sophomore record, the album barely made a dent in the charts on either side of the border, but the song has been covered by everyone from Bob Dylan and Neil Young to a Swedish version by The Hep Stars. Performed by an ensemble cast, it also still traditionally closes out the Edmonton Music Festival each year.

The rest of the album was another mix of French Canadian songs, ("V'la L'bon Vent"), the Scottish ballad "Every Night When The Sun Goes Down," a cover of Dylan's "Tomorrow Is A Long Time," and another old traditional prison work song from the deep south, "Poor Lazarus". "Jesus Met The Woman At The Well" and "Every Time I Feel The Spirit" also showcased the duo's gospel's roots.

Their second album of '63 was met with mixed critical reviews, as well as public reaction. NORTHERN JOURNEY made the top 40 at home, but only peaked at #70 in the US. Backed by Ian's cowboy lamenting in "Texas Rangers" with a capella for a base. It also featured the sing-alongs "Moonshine Can" and "Little Beggar Man," the gospel standard "Swing Down Chariot," and Sylvia's first solely written and recorded song, the reflective "You Were On My Mind," which was later covered by Bobby Bare, San Fransisco's folk/rock band We Five, and then British pop star Crispian St. Peters.

The Tysons had met Gordon Lightfoot earlier in their respective careers, and 1964's EARLY MORNING RAIN featured a pair of his songs - "For Lovin' Me" and the title track, which went peaked in the top 40 at home but only made it as high as #77 in the US. Johnny Cash's "Come In Stranger" is one of the few other covers on the record, the first time the duo had recorded mostly their own material, centred for the most part around Canadian roots, such as "Travelling Drummer," and also often with a political undertone, as in "Song For Canada," co-written with Ian by future CBC journalist Peter Gzowski.

After moving back to Canada later that year, they took time off to have their first child, Clayton Dawson Tyson, in the spring of '65. They didn't return to the studios until later that year, releasing PLAY ONE MORE. Felix Pappalardi, later of The Rascals, played on and assisted in production of the record, which leaned more towards the pop spectrum than its predecessors. The cover of Burt Bacharach's "24 Hours To Tulsa" and the title track showed a fuller band sound than what fans were used to, and the shift in direction translated to less than expected sales. Further evidence of experimentation was evident with the organ in Sylvia's "Gifts Are For Giving" and Ian's "When I Was A Cowboy." Unlike previous records, this one had no adaptations of traditional folk songs, but the more typical sounding music from them was showcased in "Changes," with its standard guitar and autoharp, and "The French Girl," with the accompanying string arrangement and banjo drives "Molly and Tenbrooks."

Wanting out of their record deal with Vanguard anyway, they experimented with the blues on their next project, SO MUCH FOR DREAMING. Released in the fall of 1966, the record was all but a flop with the fans and critics alike, with Sylvia singing lead on much of it, including "Catfish Blues" and "The Circle Game." "Come All Ye Fair And Tender Ladies" was a minstrel-like ballad Ian penned, and other tracks included the occasional nod to the seafaring life they liked to do with "Cutty Wren," and "Summer Wages."

Their first album for new label MGM was THE LOVIN' SOUND in the spring of '68. They brought in new producer John Court with the intent of coming out of the studio with a more pop accessible album. Even the title reflected the change, a spin on The Lovin' Spoonful, one of the hottest pop groups at the time. The lead-off "Windy Weather" was criticized as being nothing more than a conglomeration of The Association's "Windy" and The Mamas and Papas' "Monday Monday." But sticking to their folk roots, they also covered Dylan's "I Don't Believe You," although it too was criticized for its flower power arrangement. The one straight out country song was a cover of Johnny Cash's "Big River."

Looking to make a straighout country album, they packed up and made Music City their new temporary home. But while writing the material, they were informed they were still owed Vanguard Records one more album. Their contractual obligation was filled before '68 was up with the appropriately titled NASHVILLE. Abandoning all other experimentations, they hired producer Elliot Mazar and released a straighout country album, which featured another pair of covers of Bob Dylan's - "The Mighty Quinn" and "This Wheel's On Fire," and made great use of strings as backup, in tune with the changing landscape at the time of country music.

They were already in the middle of an exhaustive year-long tour when FULL CIRCLE was released. The album was more experimental in previous records, as office execs had pretty much given the duo creative control carte-blanche, and the result was sort of a free-flow, new age country/western experiment. The lead off "Here's To You" sounded more like a pop arrangement with a steel guitar just to make it a country song. Also included was the obligatory Dylan cover "Tears of Rage" and a remake of "Mr Spoons" from the previous album, a song about their son Clay.

Reworking their stage show on advice from the suits in the office, they assembled a new straight country backing band with Amos Garrett, Buddy Cage, Ken Kalmusky, and ND Smart, and now dubbed themselves Ian Tyson & The Great Speckled Bird, which quickly began touring the continent, including the high profile live events like the Atlanta Pop Festival and Festival Express 1970.

After a double album greatest hits package, the '70s opened with the album GREAT SPECKLED BIRD on the ill-fated Ampex label. Produced by Todd Rundgren, it was too experimental for the mainstream, and it came and left the scene just as fast. Sylvia's "Trucker's Cafe," was a formulatic heartbreak tune, the waltz inspired "Flies in the Bottle," the upbeat "Love What You're Doing Child," and the gospel inspired "We Sail."

Their second album entitled IAN & SYLVIA in the spring of '71 was their first with new label Columbia. Each took turns churning out more country flavourings, but less as an actual harmonized duo. Sylvia's slow bluesy feel to "Midnight Barney" to Ian's tale-telling in "Lincoln Freed Me," to the remake of "Summer Wages" from the SO MUCH FOR DREAMING album and the cover of the folk standard "Needle of Death" didn't translate particularly well in sales, and stalled before making the top 50 on either side of the border. The first single was "Creators of Rain," and was followed by "More Often Than Not," which gassed out at the #22 spot in Canada.

Their last album together of original material came a year later with YOU WERE ON MY MIND. Sylvia's title track was a remake from an earlier album, and would be a comeback of sorts. Their last single together, it reached #4 on the Canadian chart. After moving back to Toronto, they began hosting a CTV variety show called "Nashville North" for two seasons, beginning in '74. The duo played their final public performance in 1975, and went through a relatively amicable divorce later that year.

1. More Often Than Not (David Wiffen) - 3:08
2. Creators Of Rain - 2:51
3. Summer Wages (Ian Tyson) - 3:28
4. Midnight - 4:16
5. Barney - 4:35
6. Some Kind Of Fool (Ian Tyson) - 2:41
7. Shark And The Cockroach - 2:41
8. Last Lonely Eagle (John Dawson) - 5:09
9. Lincoln Freed Me (David Paton) - 2:54
10.Needle Of Death (Bert Jansch) - 3:51
11.Everybody Has To Say Goodbye (Sylvia Tyson) - 2:28
12.Give It To The World (Ian Tyson) - 2:59
13.Jordan Station - 5:28
14.Long Beach - 2:52
15.Love Is Strange (Mickey Baker, Ethel Smith, Ian Tyson, Sylvia Tyson) - 2:51
All songs by Ian Tyson, Sylvia Tyson except where stated

*Ian Tyson - Vocals, Guitar
*Sylvia Tyson - Vocals, Piano
*Ken Asher - Harpsichord, Organ
*David Briggs - Piano
*Kenny Buttrey - Drums
*Lloyd Green - Guitar
*Kirk Hamilton - Bass, Vibraphone
*Buddy Harman - Drums
*Ernie Hayes - Organ, Piano
*John Hill - String Arrangements
Herb Lovelle - Drums
*Charlie McCoy - Harmonica
*Weldon Myrick - Guitar
*Norbert Putnam - Bass
*Joe Renzetti - Guitar
*Stuart Scharf - Guitar
*David Wilcox - Guitar, Mandolin

Related Act
1970 Great Speckled Bird - Great Speckled Bird (2007 japan bonus track remaster) 

Free Text
the Free Text

Monday, June 5, 2017

William R. Strickland - Is Only The Name (1969 us, prominent introspective experimental folk rock, 2009 remaster)

One of the most unusual signings by the legendary Deram label, not least of all because he was American, poet/singer/songwriter William R. Strickland was paired with keyboardist/synthesizer player Philip Springer and placed under the direction of Buddy Kaye for one of the most the unique albums of the age, William R. Strickland Is Only the Name.

Well will listeners of a certain age recall their first exposure to it, courtesy of the label's budget-priced compilation Wowie Zowie: The World of Progressive Music. Skittering electronics pinged and pongs across "Computer Lover," a sci-fi romance that absolutely predicted later electronic music (not least of all great swathes of ELP's "Karn Evil 9 Third Impression"). And then you ventured into the LP to discover a quite astonishing collision between beat-styled poetry and progressive rock, with Strickland's acoustic guitar playing off Springer's sympathetic and versatile backings. Hammond organ sweeps across "Romeo De La Route," sax jazzes up "You Know My Body," while pastoral flute ripples through "Touch." 

All the while, Strickland strums his guitar and riffs on the themes of life and love. "World War 3 1/2," however, is his piece de resistance. Imagine Arlo Guthrie eagerly joining the army instead of successfully dodging the draft, and going off to boot camp and then a futuristic war. It's a witheringly sardonic look at the military mentality that leaves the rest of the songs lyrically in the shade. It's an adventurous and bold album, that has remained little more than a collector's item in the years since its release. But it was certainly worthy of resurrection and reissue. 
by Dave Thompson

1. You Can Know My Body (But You'll Never Know My Soul) - 4:15
2. Computer Lover - 4:47
3. Romeo De La Route - 3:55
4. Touch - 6:41
5. If I Stand Here Much Longer - 7:18
6. Oops That's Me!!! - 2:14
7. World War 3½ - 11:20
All compositions by William R. Strickland 

*William R. Strickland - Vocals, Guitar
*Gershon Kingsley - Synthesizer Arrangements
*Phillip Springer - Synthesizer Arrangements

Free Text
the Free Text