Friday, January 20, 2017

Stone The Crows - Live In Montreux (1972 uk, great hard blues rock, 2002 edition)



Although Ontinuous Performance remains the ultimate Stone the Crows live album, if only by virtue of its age, anybody seeking the true sound of the band at its peak would do far better to seek out this latter-day exhumation. Clocking in at a shade over 54 minutes, Live in Montreux 1972 features just five tracks, but what epics they are. Incendiary versions of "Friends," "Penicillin Blues" (the only cut duplicated on the earlier album), "Love 74," "Danger Zone," and some 20 minutes of Bob Dylan's "Hollis Brown" feature the classic Crows lineup of Maggie Bell, Colin Allen, Ronnie Leahy, Steve Thompson, and Leslie Harvey -- in fact, the show was recorded just weeks before Harvey's death, on-stage in Swansea on March 3, 1972. 

The sound quality is superb, capturing the true feel of one of Britain's most solid and reliable live experiences; indeed, alongside the band's John Peel sessions album, Live in Montreux 1972 ranks up there alongside the greatest Crows albums of them all. 
by Dave Thompson
Tracks
1. Friends (Leslie Harvey, James Dewar) - 9:19
2. Penicillin Blues (Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry) - 6:52
3. Love 74 (John McGinnis) - 11:28
4. Danger Zone (Curtis Mayfield) - 6:14
5. Hollis Brown (Bob Dylan) - 21:01

Stone The Crows
*James Dewar - Bass, Vocals
*Colin Allen - Drums, Percussion
*Leslie Harvey - Guitar
*Maggie Bell - Vocals
*John McGinnis - Organ, Piano

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Maggie Bell - Suicide Sal (1975 uk, splendid hard blues classic rock, 2006 remaster)



Scottish soul-rock singer Maggie Bell first gained prominence singing with Stone the Crows, which released its first album in 1970 and broke up in June 1973. Bell went solo with Queen of the Night (featuring the U.S. number 97 "After Midnight") in 1974.

A tougher, more energized set than its predecessor, Suicide Sal is electrifying live feel reflects the incendiary stage shows Bell and her new backing band had been playing in the intervening time between recordings. The two bonus tracks, recorded at a gig later that year, capture their live ferocity. Intriguingly, the funky, fiery title track, an homage to Bell's Aunt, a music hall star, is one of only two originals on this set. The second, the lavishly bluesy "If You Don't Know" was penned by band keyboardist Pete Wingfield, and boasts a guesting Jimmy Page on guitar. The storming "Coming on Strong" also has a Bell connection, being co-penned by ex-Crow Colin Allen and Zoot Money. 

The rest of the album comprises astutely chosen covers drawn from an eclectic selection of artists. One of the standouts is "It's Been So Long," a powerful gospel number written by the Pretty Things' Phil May, who not only rewrote some of the lyrics for Bell, but added his backing vocals to the song. Free's classic "Wishing Well" gets a sensational workout, while that band's offshoot Kossoff, Kirke, Tetsu & Rabbit's "Hold On" is taken to new emotive heights. From barrelling Beatles pop to the Sutherland Brothers poignant Gaelic ode, from ballads to hefty rock & roll, Bell struts across this set with style and such assurance, that even Aunt Sal must have been impressed. One of Britain's greatest soul singers, showcased at her best, this magnificent album also includes an excellent, expansive biography of this crucial artist. 
by Jo-Ann Greene
Tracks
1. Wishing Well (John "Rabbit" Bundrick, Paul Kossoff, Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke, Tetsu Yamauchi) - 3:33
2. Suicide Sal (Chris Trengrove, Maggie Bell, Mark London, Mike Clifford, Pete Wingfield) - 3:45
3. I Was In Chains (Gavin Sutherland, Iain Sutherland) - 3:03
4. If You Don’t Know (Pete Wingfield) - 3:54
5. What You Got (Charles Armstrong) - 2:54
6. In My Life (David Courtney, Leo Sayer) - 3:11
7. Comin On Strong (Colin Allen, Zoot Money) - 4:07
8. Hold On (Paul Kossoff, Simon Kirke) - 4:49
9. I Saw Him Standing There (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 4:18
10.It’s Been So Long (Phil May) - 4:34
11.Comin On Strong (Colin Allen, Zoot Money) - 5:55
12.Going Down (Don Nix) - 5:10
Bonus Live Tracks 11-12

Musicians
*Maggie Bell - Vocals
*Brian Breeze - Guitar, Vocals
*Hugh Burns - Guitar
*Roy Davies - Keyboards
*Paul Francis - Drums
*Ray Glynn - Guitar
*Delisle Harper - Bass
*Jimmy Jewell - Saxophone
*Cuddley Judd - Bagpipes
*Mickey Keene - Guitar
*Billy Lawrie - Bass
*Mark London - Vocals
*Jimmy Page - Guitar
*Clark Terry - Guitar
*Pete Wingfield - Keyboards

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Buckingham Nicks - Buckingham Nicks (1973 us, wonderful melodic sliky rock, 2016 korean remaster and expanded)



While it will be hard to find, this lone album cut by a young and ambitious (and still romantically attached) Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham a short two years before joining Fleetwood Mac is well worth digging out for your turntable. There are a few CD versions floating around, but they were no doubt burned from vinyl copies anyway, so don't be fooled. With the Mac's highly lucrative 1997 reunion there was serious talk of a re-release, but apparently it was just talk. Considering what the duo was to later accomplish, Buckingham Nicks is an engaging listen and served as a proving ground of sorts for both artists' songwriting chops and for Buckingham's skills as an emerging studio craftsman. 

It was a good enough resumé for Fleetwood Mac, who re-recorded the beautifully cerebral "Crystal" when the duo joined them for 1975's self-titled comeback album. The high-octane rockabilly of "Don't Let Me Down Again" became a staple of the band's concert sets well into the 1980s. Crisp, ringing acoustic guitars and a bottom-heavy rhythm section (using the talents of Waddy Wachtel, Jim Keltner, and Jerry Scheff) framed the pair's songs in a sound something akin to FM-ready folk-rock. Lesser known tracks like the glistening opener, "Crying in the Night," from Nicks and Buckingham's lonely-guy lament, "Without a Leg to Stand On," are on a par with their later mega hits. At the same time, the misogyny of Buckingham's "Lola, My Love" is a real eye-roller and the orchestral overtones of "Frozen Love" show that the two were over-reaching themselves just a bit. Buckingham-Nicks was a stiff however and the couple had lost their deal with Polydor. But 1975, of course, proved to be one of their better years. 
by John Duffy
Tracks
1. Crying In The Night - 2:57
2. Stephanie (Lindsey Buckingham) - 2:12
3. Without A Leg To Stand On (Lindsey Buckingham) - 2:09
4. Crystal - 3:48
5. Long Distance Winner - 4:46
6. Don't Let Me Down Again (Lindsey Buckingham) - 3:51
7. Django (John Lewis) - 1:02
8. Races Are Run - 4:14
9. Lola (My Love) (Lindsey Buckingham) - 3:44
10.Frozen Love (Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham) - 7:17
11.Crying In The Night (Single) - 2:58
12.Don't Let Me Down Again (Mono Single) (Lindsey Buckingham) - 3:30
13.Sorcerer - 4:43
14.Garbo - 3:12
15.Cathouse Blues - 1:38
16.That's Allright - 3:10
17.Candlebright - 2:09
18.Without You - 3:39
19.Lola (Lindsey Buckingham) - 4:20
20.Races Are Run - 4:38
21.Rhiannon - 3:00
All compositions by Stevie Nicks except where stated
Tracks 1-10 from the original 1973 album
Bonus Tracks 11-21
Tracks 19-21 Live In Tuscaloosa, Alabama 1973

Personnel
*Lindsey Buckingham - Vocals, Guitars, Bass Guitar, Percussion
*Stevie Nicks - Vocals
*Gary 'Hoppy' Hodges - Drums, Percussion
*Jorge Calderón - Percussion
*Richard Hallagan - String Arrangement
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*Peggy Sandvig - Keyboards
*Jerry Scheff - Bass Guitar
*Monty Stark - Synthesizer
*Mark Tulin - Bass Guitar
*Ronnie Tutt - Drums
*Waddy Wachtel - Guitars

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Arthur Lee With Band Aid - Vindicator (1972 us, tremendous multiblended rock with psych, folk, southern, rhythm and blues overtones, 2008 extra tracks remaster)



Love's 1967 masterpiece Forever Changes was an album so beautiful and timeless that it tends to dwarf everything else in the group's repertoire, and its gentle balance of grace and dread has made a lot of people forget just how hard Love could rock when Arthur Lee and his bandmates were of a mind. While Love's debut album pushed folk-rock into an overdrive that resembled punk, Lee's first solo set, 1972's Vindicator, was a muscular set of guitar-fueled hard rock laced with blues, showing the clear influence of Lee's late friend Jimi Hendrix.

With Charles Karp's powerful guitar leads dominating the arrangements and Lee's vocals strutting with maximum rock star swagger on tunes like "Love Jumped Through My Window" and "Sad Song," Vindicator boogies with a cocky confidence that belies the fact Lee's career was in need of a clear direction at the time, and while there are no signs of the delicacy of Forever Changes, three decades on this sounds like mid-'70s guitar rock at its best. Lee was able to bring a soulful edge to songs like "Everybody's Gotta Live" and "He Knows a Lot of Good Women," and he connects with a sly blues shuffle on "He Said She Said," but it's when Lee and Karp crank up their guitars and the rhythm section of Don Poncher and David Hull turn up the heat that Vindicator really takes off, inviting the spirit with the kiss-the-sky spirit of "You Want Change for Our Re-Run" and laying out some thick Marshall-stack crunch on "Every Time I Look Up I'm Down." 

And anyone wanting a dose of Lee's well-documented eccentricity won't be at all disappointed with the brief spoken word fragment "You Can Save Up to 50% But You're Still a Long Ways from Home" and the anti-fast food tirade "Hamburger Breath Stinkfinger," both of which confirm Lee didn't turn away his muse when he cut these sessions. While Arthur Lee could create music of simple and fragile beauty, that doesn't change the fact he was a rocker at heart, and he rarely rocked harder or with more passion than he did on Vindicator. 
by Mark Deming
Tracks
1. Sad Song - 2:19
2. You Can Save Up To 50%, But You're Still A Long Ways From Home - 0:19
3. Love Jumped Through My Window - 2:55
4. Find Somebody - 3:47
5. He Said She Said - 2:18
6. Every Time I Look Up I'm Down Or White Dog (I Don't Know What That Means!) - 3:56
7. Everybody's Gotta Live - 3:33
8. You Want Change For Your Re-Run - 4:16
9. He Knows A Lot Of Good Women (Or Scotty's Song) - 3:14
10.Hamburger Breath Stinkfinger - 2:45
11.Ol' Morgue Mouth - 0:53
12.Busted Feet (Arthur Lee, Charles Karp) – 4:51
13.Everybody's Gotta Live - 3:34
14.He Knows A Lot Of Good Women - 3:15
15.Pencil In Hand - 2:19
16.E-Z Rider - 2:59
17.Looking Glass Looking At Me - 4:19
All tracks composed by Arthur Lee except where indicated
Bonus Tracks 13-17

Personnel
*Arthur Lee - Guitar, Vocals
*Charlie Karp - Guitar
*Frank Fayad - Bass
*Clarence McDonald - Organ
*Don Poncher - Drums
*Craig Tarwater - Guitar
*David Hull - Bass

1966  Love - Love (remaster and expanded)
1967  Love - Da Capo (remaster and expanded)  
1967  Love - Forever Changes (2008 digi pack double disc set)  
1971  Love - Lost Love (2009 Sundazed release)  
1973  Love - Black Beauty (2013 bonus tracks remaster) 
1974  Love - Reel to Real (2015 deluxe sdition)  
1992  Arthur Lee And Love ‎– Five String Serenade
Related Act
1966-82  Bryan MacLean - Ifyoubelievein

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Love - Black Beauty (1973 us, exciting rough garage psych rock, 2013 bonus tracks remaster)



Supremely talented yet prone to devastating self-sabotage, Arthur Lee was on the ropes in the early 1970s. Glory days on the Sunset Strip, and authorship of one of the greatest records ever – Love’s Forever Changes – had soured, giving way to an incoherent odyssey, and a meandering, undistinguished string of new “Loves”. Occasional bursts of new inspiration were more likely than not to fizzle amid record label flameouts, reluctance to tour, and concomitant drug and personal problems.

Yet for those willing to a) overlook Lee’s steadfast refusal to relive the inimitable themes and textures of Forever Changes, and b) forgive him his excesses and volatilities, by the early ’70s Lee had begun to forge a forceful, distinctive new style: sizzling hard rock true to the spirit of his friend Jimi Hendrix; gritty, inner-city funk underpinnings à la Curtis Mayfield; a few nods to his folk-rock, pop-star past; plus bits of blues and reggae around the edges. Some of this material appeared in real time, in the shape of his ’72 solo outing Vindicator and Love’s ’74 swansong Reel To Real. More has surfaced on archival releases, like Sundazed’s 2009 set, Love Lost.

Bankrolled by entrepreneur Michael Butler (producer of the hit musical Hair) and reuniting Lee with his old Elektra friend, producer Paul Rothchild, Black Beauty was intended to be a culmination, the crowning achievement of Lee’s new direction. It ended up as just another scrapped project. Butler’s label, Buffalo Records, went belly-up before the disc ever reached the market. It would be Lee’s penultimate shot at the big time, 1974’s calamitous UK tour with Eric Clapton sealing his future on the margins.

Black Beauty began organically enough, though. Ditching the ad hoc bands he’d been gigging with around LA, Lee started from scratch, organising a brand-new, all-black Love. The group – guitarist Melvan Whittington, bassist Robert Rozelle, drummer Joe Blocker – bristles with authority and immediacy, imbuing Black Beauty with a raw, pugnacious, in-your-face sound.

Whereas, say, an early take of “Midnight Sun” sounds forced and claustrophobic on Love Lost, its Black Beauty counterpart burns with apocalyptic fervour, resonant of a camaraderie and telepathic interplay oft-lacking in Love’s post-Forever Changes work.

Opening with the gut-punch of “Good & Evil (Young & Able)”, a lascivious, un-PC piece of Hendrixian punk-funk, Black Beauty sprouts tentacles, beaming in testosterone-fuelled garage blasts (“Stay Away”, think Nuggets on steroids), the sumptuously anti-authoritarian riff “Lonely Pigs” and “Can’t Find It”, a haunting lament gliding on a gorgeously elliptical melody, with jagged guitar bits bubbling up through the mix.

For all its hard-rock glory – and Hendrix’ spectre casts a long shadow everywhere on Love’s 1970s work – Black Beauty is eclectic, shifting gears gracefully, suggesting myriad musical directions a healthy Arthur Lee could have pursued. “Beep Beep”, for instance, reflects his infatuation with reggae, and while it might be fluffy kid’s-song fare, it’s catchy as anything. An off-the-wall cover of The Rooftop Singers’ 1963 smash “Walk Right In” is also an inspired call, an album highlight, its jangly guitars and soulful vocal hook signalling a nod to Love’s 1966 folk-rock heyday.

“Skid”, though, with its Dylanesque sneer and gritty depiction of ghetto misery, is Black Beauty’s most startling cut. Lee is at his dramatic best here, falling into the song’s dark atmosphere with an eerie, ghostly desperation – one of his best vocals ever. Skittering from funky acoustic rhythms to a driving, haunting chorus to Whittington’s superb psychedelic guitar fills, one would think this song, if properly promoted, could have put Love back on the map. As it is, it’s an inestimable gem in the group’s vaunted catalogue, its majesty posing a giant “what if?” in the Love saga.

In fact, the better-late-than-never appearance of Black Beauty itself poses some big questions. Could Lee and company have refined, expanded and built on its strengths? Did Arthur have yet more material of this calibre up his sleeve? Nonetheless, supplemented by bonus tracks and Ben Edmonds’ fine liner notes, Black Beauty slots in as a fascinating, decidedly consistent effort from an artist in the throes of disintegration.
by Luke Torn
Tracks
1. Young And Able (Good And Evil) - 3:24
2. Midnight Sun - 3:33
3. Can't Find It - 3:46
4. Walk Right In (Gus Cannon, Hosea Woods) - 3:23
5. Skid (Angela Rackley, Riley Racer) - 2:52
6. Beep Beep - 2:14
7. Stay Away - 2:47
8. Lonely Pigs - 4:25
9. See Myself In You - 3:03
10.Product Of The Times - 4:11
11.Thomasine And Bushrod (Title Song From The Motion Picture) - 2:26
12.Arthur Lee Interview - 22:16
13.Every Time I Look Up, I'm Down  - 3:32
14.Nothing  - 3:06
15.Keep On Shining  - 5:56
16.L.A. Blues (Tom T. Hall) - 3:02
All songs by Arthur Lee except where noted
Tracks 1 to 9 recorded Spring-Winter, 1973 at Valentine's, North Hollywood, CA; Paramount Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA; Wally Heider Studios, Hollywood, CA.
Track 10 Recorded Live at Boston Tea Garden 1970
Tracks 13-15 Live at Electric Gardens, Glasgow, 5/30/1974

Love
*Arthur Lee - Guitar, Vocals, Harpsichord
*Joe Blocker - Drums, Vocals
*Robert Rozelle - Bass
*Melvan Whittington - Guitar, Harpsichord
With
*Frank Fayad - Bass
*Don Poncher - Drums
*Byron Reynolds - Drums
*Riley Racer - Dobro
*Craig Tarwater - Guitar
*Carl McKnight - Steel Drums
*Matt Devine - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*John Sterling - Guitar

1966  Love - Love (remaster and expanded)
1967  Love - Da Capo (remaster and expanded)  
1967  Love - Forever Changes (2008 digi pack double disc set)  
1971  Love - Lost Love (2009 Sundazed release)  
1974  Love - Reel to Real (2015 deluxe sdition)  
1992  Arthur Lee And Love ‎– Five String Serenade  
Related Act
1966-82  Bryan MacLean - Ifyoubelievein  

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fire - Underground And Overhead-The Alternate Fire (1967-69 uk, superb psych freakbeat)



Anthology of 1967-69 tracks recorded by British psychedelic popsters responsible for the classic psych single "Father's Name Is Dad', two versions of which are included on this release together with its equally stellar B-side "Treacle Toffee World'. Other tracks include aborted follow-up singles, both sides of the group's Who-influenced 1967 Oak label acetate (recorded under their previous name of Friday's Chyld), three earlier (and better) versions of songs that appeared on the 1970 concept LP The Magic Shoemaker and the ten-minute mini-pop opera "Alison Wonderland'. Superb booklet includes a lengthy essay on the band.

"Fire's 1968 classic "Father's Name Is Dad' is a true Zeitgeist record, measuring perfectly the distance the teen psyche had travelled in three years. The angst of a "My Generation' or the weekender ethic of "Friday On My Mind' is blown away in a sugarcube-shaped instant by lead singer Dave Lambert's disdainful "I laugh at it all". The other eighteen tracks here prove Fire to have been an adventurous and inventive combo capable of state-of-the-art whimsy on "Man In The Teapot', drama-laden balladry on "Only A Dream', pulsating groove-throb on "Alison Wonderland', and prescient lyricism on "I've Still Got Time'. The sleevenotes tell a familiar tale of ambition thwarted by insensitive record company clods (they had a brief brush with Apple), and, hilariously, a bilious 1973 encounter between Lambert, by then a pop star with the Strawbs, and former manager Ray Hammond, by then a journo for Disc & Music Echo." (Mojo)

"Best-known, and rightly so, for the 1968 mod-pop jewel "My Father's Name Is Dad', Fire's discography was always besoiled by an embarrassing follow-up single, "Round The Gum Tree', and a rather twee storytale/concept album, The Magic Shoemaker. With Underground & Overhead, Wooden Hill attempt to apply a new shine to Fire's tarnished image, presenting a selection of mostly-unreleased tracks from 1967-69 that UK pop-psych fans can actually sit down and listen to from start to finish. "Father's Name Is Dad' and its equally whimsical flipside, Treacle Toffee World', are certainly the most memorable songs here, but not far behind are the intended follow-up "Spare A Copper' and "Happy Sound', the latter with its warbled Bolan-esque back-ups, coming off a lot like John's Children. Other highlights include the driving "I've Still Got Time' and "Magic Shoes', a superb slice of melodic pop-psych which was re-recorded (in inferior form) for the Magic Shoemaker album. Another top-notch release..." 
Ugly Things
Tracks
1. Father's Name Is Dad - 2:28
2. Treacle Toffee World - 2:08
3. Happy Sound - 2:17
4. Spare A Copper - 2:41
5. Will I Find Love? - 2:18
6. Man In The Teapot - 2:22
7. Only A Dream - 2:48
8. It's Just Love - 3:56
9. Magic Shoes - 3:56
10.I've Still Got Time - 2:23
11.I Know You Inside Out - 4:25
12.Reason For Everything - 2:33
13.Alison Wonderland - 10:44
14.I Just Can't Wait - 2:29
15.I Didn't Know You - 2:44
16.Can't Be So Bad (Miller) - 1:43
17.Green-Legged Auntie Sally - 8:13
18.Mama - 6:03
19.Oh Johnny - 5:54  
20.Father's Name Is Dad (Alternative Version) - 2:33
All songs by Dave Lambert except track #16

The Fire
*Dave Lambert - Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar
*Dick Dufall - Bass, Vocals
*Bob Voice - Drums, Vocals
With
*Paul Brett - Guitar

1969-70  Fire - The Magic Shoemaker (2009 bonus tracks remaster)  
Related Act
1970  Paul Brett's Sage - Paul Brett's Sage (Japan remaster)

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Fire - The Magic Shoemaker (1968-70 uk, extraordinary psych prog rock, 2009 bonus tracks remaster)



For me the most depressing thing about today’s rock music is that so much of it exhibits such a lack of creativity or originality. If something sells, clone it, quickly. What a contrast to the late sixties, when for a brief heady spell the artists rather than the bean-counters had the whip hand and the spirit of experimentation soared over everything. Of course this produced as many heroic failures as acknowledged triumphs; Fire’s The Magic Shoemaker bombed on release, and even such retrospective reviews as it has received have frequently been ambivalent. Ah, what have we got here, then? Former psychedelic outfit moves towards progressive rock with a song-cycle that’s too lightweight plot-wise to be a concept album, too naïve and inconsequential to be a rock opera . . . hmmmm. But what is true is that it certainly represents a brave attempt to be different.

London trio Dave Lambert (vcl, gtr, keys), Dick Dufall (bs, vcl) and Bob Voice (drs, vcl) had impressed the Beatles’ Apple label sufficiently to score a deal that resulted in the classic psych A-side “Father’s Name Is Dad”. The marriage was not a happy one, though, and Fire soon found themselves at odds with the music industry at large. Retiring to the suburbs, Lambert spent a year writing and demo-ing the songs for The Magic Shoemaker, based around a whimsical children’s bedtime story in which a shoemaker cobbles together a pair of shoes that unexpectedly allow the wearer to fly. These are loaned to a king whose country is threatened with war by a neighbouring state; when the king confronts his opposite number from the sky the latter’s army are spooked and a peace treaty is forthcoming. Admittedly, it’s a slender peg to hang your creative coat on, but in its own quirky homespun fashion it works.

The premise of the album is that the narrator (Lambert, in a homely Home Counties accent) tells the story to a group of kids on a coach trip (real kids’ voices, overdubbed travel noises). Short pieces of the narrative occur between and within the songs whose lyrics broadly parallel episodes in the tale, some closely, others in more abstract fashion. Musically the songs follow a basic guitar-driven pop-rock template, varying widely in style and tempo – Tommy would undoubtedly have been an influence – with frequent psychedelic studio enhancement, particularly on the opening “Tell You A Story”, “Only A Dream” and the long instrumental coda of “Reason For Everything”. Pick of the bunch for me is “I Can See The Sky” with its raw freakbeat vibe, but they’re all quite engaging. Lambert’s lead vocal, somewhere between Daltrey and Bowie, is sometimes somewhat over-affected, but the musicianship is excellent throughout with the basic guitar trio being complemented by Lambert’s modest keyboards and plenty of top-drawer lead guitar work from himself and Velvet Opera’s Paul Brett. Future Strawbs partner Dave Cousins makes a cameo appearance on banjo on the superfluous jugband ditty “Happy Man Am I”. The production by Pye’s Ray Hammond is unsophisticated but its contemporary favouring of stereo separation and reverb suits the project and the interleaving of songs and narration is seamless.

Predictably, The Magic Shoemaker tanked well and truly on its release on Pye in 1970, being too late for psych and too lightweight for prog, and subsequently became a much-sought-after rarity until its inevitable reissue on CD. The current Sanctuary edition tailgates the original album with the A’s and B’s of both of Fire’s earlier psych singles including the indispensable “Father’s Name Is Dad” and “Treacle Toffee World”. As an interesting epilogue, after a long and successful association with Cousins in the Strawbs Lambert reformed Fire for a one-off concert in 2007, performing Shoemaker in extended form including the earlier psych sides and other unreleased songs. The gig was recorded for sound and video and subsequently released on CD by Angel Air as The Magic Shoemaker Live, receiving wide acclaim . . . which is more than the original release achieved.
by Len Liechti
Tracks
1. Children Of Imagination - 0:18
2. Tell You A Story - 6:41
3. Magic Shoes - 3:42
4. Reason For Everything - 7:35
5. Only A Dream - 5:41
6. Flies Like A Bird - 5:41
7. Like To Help You If I Can - 4:06
8. I Can See The Sky - 5:15
9. Shoemaker - 5:18
10.Happy Man Am I - 0:57
11.Children Of Imagination - 0:35
12.Father’s Name Is Dad - 2:32
13.Toffee Treacle World - 2:09
14.Round The Gum Tree - 1:33
15.Toothie Ruthie - 1:56
All Songs by Dave Lambert
Bonus Tracks 12-15

The Fire
*Dave Lambert - Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar,
*Dick Dufall - Bass, Vocals,
*Bob Voice - Drums, Vocals

Related Act
1970  Paul Brett's Sage - Paul Brett's Sage (Japan remaster)

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Tom Rush - Merrimack County / Ladies Love Outlaws (1972/74 us, great country folk rock, 2000 edition)



Named after the county where he resided, Merrimack County is also the first Tom Rush album which didn't show any ground gained. It is still a fine effort. Perhaps by including mainly originals instead of interpretations of others' tunes, Merrimack County is a bit of a letdown. A minor effort from a major star. 

Tom Rush's main strength, Ladies Love Outlaws plunges the listener full-tilt into the country-rock sound which so many were finding in the mid-'70s. Included here are Guy Clark's "Desperados Waiting for a Train," Lee Clayton's title track, and a stunning redo of Rush's own "No Regrets" helped along by the likes of the Eagles and Carly Simon on backup. But the best is saved for last, where Rush covers Bruce Cockburn's "One Day I Walk," showing that he hadn't lost his touch. A bit rough in places, but well done for the most part. 
by James Chrispell
Tracks
Merrimack County 1972
1. Kids These Days (Tom Rush, Trevor Veitch) - 4:14
2. Mink Julep (Tom Rush) - 2:29
3. Mother Earth (Eric Kaz) - 2:35
4. Jamaica Say You Will (Jackson Browne) - 4:15
5. Merrimack County II (Tom Rush, Trevor Veitch) - 2:49
6. Gypsy Boy (Bob Carpenter) - 3:24
7. Wind On the Water (Tom Rush) - 3:37
8. Roll Away the Grey (Bob Carpenter) - 2:59
9. Seems the Songs (Tom Rush) - 3:41
10.Gone Down River (Tom Rush) - 4:20
Ladies Love Outlaws 1974
11.Ladies Love Outlaws (Lee Clayton) - 2:31
12.Hobo's Mandolin (Michael Peter Smith) - 3:12
13.Indian Woman From Wichita (Wayne Berry) - 4:20
14.Maggie (Tom Rush) - 3:33
15.Desperados Waiting For the Train (Guy Clark) - 3:30
16.Claim On Me (Lee Clayton) - 4:09
17.Jenny Lynn (Richard Dean) - 3:01
18.Black Magic Gun (Wayne Berry) - 3:27
19.No Regrets (Tom Rush) - 5:41
20.One Day I Walk (Bruce Cockburn) - 2:16

Personnel
1972  Merrimack County 
*Tom Rush - Guitar, Lead Vocals
*Trevor Veitch - Guitar, Mandolin, Background Vocals
*James Rolleston - Bass, Background Vocals
*Gary Mallaber - Drums, Percussion, Vibraphone
*Paul Armia - Fiddle
*Erik Robertson - Organ, Piano
*Bill Stevenson - Piano
*Kathryn Moses - Flute
*John Savage - Drums
1974  Ladies Love Outlaws
*Tom Rush - Acoustic Guitar, Lead Vocals
*Jeff "Skunk" Baxter - Electric Guitar
*Elliott Randall - Electric Guitar
*Bob Babbitt - Bass
*James Taylor - Background Vocals
*Carly Simon - Background Vocals
*Rupert Holmes - Background Vocals
*Jerry Friedman - Electric Guitar
*Leon Pendarvis - Keyboards
*Allan Schwartzberg - Drums
*Andrew Smith - Drums
*George Devens - Percussion
*Wayne Jackson - Trumpet
*Jack Hale - Trombone
*Ed Logan - Tenor Saxophone
*Andrew Love - Tenor Saxophone
*James Mitchell - Baritone Saxophone
*Carl Hall - Background Vocals
*Tasha Thomas - Background Vocals

1965  Tom Rush - Tom Rush
1968  Tom Rush - The Circle Game
1970  Tom Rush - Tom Rush / Wrong End Of The Rainbow

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Mott The Hoople - Wildlife (1971 uk, astonishing classic rock album, 2003 japan bonus tracks remaster)



The outcome of the battle has yet to be conclusively determined, but my scorecard gives the race for "The Most Beloved Rock And Roll Band In All The English Isles" to Mott The Hoople by two full lengths over Free.

On this, their third album, they apparently feel sure enough of themselves to venture away from the piano/organ dominated sound which initially distinguished them (and invited all those Dylan comparisons). Instead we hear the country overtones of "It Must Be Love" and "Original Mixed-Up Kid." While this move (in light of all that has come since that first acidhead stumbled upon Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison) might seem to play on some familiar pretensions, our boys have both the taste and knowledge to keep their experiments in the proper perspective. So both the aforementioned songs, although comparatively thin-sounding, are well played and pleasant enough in a loosely relatable Mott The Hoople context.

More important, they've found new ways to arrange their instruments and the effects are felt throughout the album. The driving toughness of guitarist Mick Ralphs, as previously seen in "Rock And Roll Queen" and "Thunderstruck Ram," has mellowed some. His "Whiskey Women" elucidates the band's new approach at its best: a lighter touch but just as powerful a punch. Yet despite this change in attack (most often seen in the use of acoustic guitars), they still produce a remarkably full sound, traceable to their staunch musical intelligence: when they add additional instruments they do not merely pour them over the existing sound (a common rock pitfall), but alter that sound to accommodate them.

"Angel Of Eighth Avenue" finds the haunting melancholia of pianist Ian Hunter's ballad style at its most convincing. (Hunter, it will be remembered, was the man around whom the early Dylan associations were inevitably focused.) His emeryboard voice, which has a nasty habit of faltering under the strain of the up-tempo, is infinitely better suited to the slower paced delivery which songs like this demand. And the country influence so obvious on side two is better acknowledged in things such as "Angel," where the fusion is subtle and engaging in a neighborhood Hopple devotees will find more familiar.

But lest the whole affair get weighed down with self-importance, a problem which threatened the first two albums, they've thrown in a couple of change-of-pace surprises. Closing out side one is an energetic rendition of Melanie (!) Safka's "Lay Down" and, the cut's musical excellence aside, it feels good just to hear this kind of an emotional breakout from Mott The Hoople. The second, ten live minutes of "Keep A' Knockin" which concludes the album with some two-fisted rock and roll, is the stuff of which their English reputation was made; they remind me more than a little of the early Who.

Now that they have apparently captured the British crown, isn't it about time they were given a shot on this side of the Atlantic? There is more than enough solid music on this album to warrant it. Take side one and the live cut for their well defined and satisfying brand of rock, and then make up your own mind about the country experiments on side two. And fear not; Mott the Hoople has clearly gone beyond any Dylan comparison you might have heard. 
by Ben Edmonds, June 10, 1971
Tracks
1. Whiskey Women (Mick Ralphs) - 3:37
2. Angel Of Eighth Avenue (Ian Hunter) - 4:30
3. Wrong Side Of The River (Mick Ralphs) - 5:16
4. Waterlow (Ian Hunter) - 3:00
5. Lay Down (Melanie Safka) - 4:12
6. It Must Be Love (Mick Ralphs) - 2:20
7. Original Mixed-Up Kid (Ian Hunter) - 3:38
8. Home Is Where I Want To Be (Mick Ralphs) - 4:09
9. Keep A Knockin' (Live) (Richard Penniman) - 10:07
10.It'll Be Me (Jack Clement) - 2.56
11.Long Red (Leslie West, Felix Pappalardi, John Ventura, Norman Landsberg) - 3.47
Bonus Tracks 10-11

Mott The Hoople
*Ian Hunter – Lead, Backing Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Piano
*Mick Ralphs - Lead Guitar, Backing, Lead Vocals
*Verden Allen - Organ, Backing Vocals
*Pete "Overend" Watts - Bass, Backing Vocals
*Dale "Buffin" Griffin - Drums, Backing Vocals
Additional personnel
*Gerry Hogan - Steel Guitar
*Jess Roden - Background Vocals
*Stan Tippins - Background Vocals
*Michael Gray - String Arrangements
*James Archer - Violin

1966/90  Doc Thomas Group And The Silence - The Italian Job / Shotgun Eyes
1970  Mott The Hoople - Mad Shadows (2003 Extra Tracks Remaster)
1971  Mott The Hoople - Brain Capers (bonus tracks remaster)

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Misty Hush Revival - Your Heart Is Broken (1972 us, raw garage psych rock, 2012 edition)



Collectors of garage and psychedelica records are seemingly a very strange bunch. Once you get beyond Nuggets and various other compilations, good underground psych records tend to get really rare, especially considering that there were only a finite number of albums or singles released in the genre during its heyday. So that’s why when a really obscure find, such as Misty Hush Revival’s sole 1972 album Your Heart Is Broken, sees the light of day, and gets a pressing a bit less modest than its original 100 or so copies that were largely distributed to friends and family some 40 years ago, the words “lost classic” tend to get bandied around. I won’t mince words: Your Heart Is Broken is no long-lost classic. It’s simply a document by an amateur garage band out of tune with the times. 

By 1972, this type of music was getting heavier and blusier, and Misty Hush Revival’s music is so soft that it more or less makes the Lettermen look like Blue Öyster Cult in comparison. In essence, Misty Hush Revival could have been one of a million bands of the era that simply didn’t make it because they didn’t have very much to offer. In fact, they had only one really good song in their arsenal: the laconic, trumpet-filled ballad “Summer Means New Love”, which alas gets a somewhat unnecessary reprise here with all sorts of live band banter edited in. The remainder is just OK.

Even though there’s not much that is musically special about Your Heart Is Broken, it still is a fascinating period piece. You really get the sense by listening to this album that you’ve uncovered found footage of what it must have been like to be a struggling musician 40 years ago in the New York City area, thanks largely to those paradoxically unnecessary edited-in interstitial bits and a brief journalistic interview committed to tape that opens the album. That’s the real benefit of hearing this record. In fact, it might make you feel a little wistful and nostalgic, if not outright depressed, that this was the only artistic statement to be released by this band, and it was the only recording they did before moving on to seemingly more sensible careers. 

There’s a remarkable wholesomeness to the proceedings—some of it sounds a little bubblegum-ish – and that makes it a sort of “family photograph”, if you will, that’s stunning to listen to, as though you’ve been invited into someone’s private world for cookies and tea. So, yes, Your Heart Is Broken may not be the long-lost classic that obscurists may be scouring for, but it is still something worth listening to for those with a historical bent and who are alternative world fetishists. Nothing much may have come about for Misty Hush Revival – and, yes, the name is a bit ridiculous (what is a “misty hush” to begin with?) – but even though it is musically a very mixed-bag, it offers its own small rewards with subsequent listens, which may appeal those select few collectors running out of new-old garage rock or psychedelic records to discover.
by Zachary Houle

One of the most obscure U.S. private pressings from the late '60s/early '70s. For many years, The Misty Hush Revival name was only a rumor whispered in collector's circles, with only a handful of copies known of the original album around today. Like The Bachs or The Index, this is one of those hard-to-describe albums which seems to live in a world of its own. Despite the late 1972 release date, the music here sounds more late '60s than early '70s and the whole album has a cool, lost-in-time atmosphere. The group were in fact a club band from New Jersey, but surprisingly all the tracks are originals -- no cover versions -- and they range from fragile, dreamy pop-psych numbers to raw garage, fuzzed-out jams and teen-beat sounds.
Tracks
1. Singer To Singer (Dennie, John) - 0:44
2. Summer means new love (Ivancich, Dioguardi, Cantoni) - 4:23
3. Your Heart Is Broken (Single Version) (Cantoni, Dioguardi) - 2:52
4. Tell Me Baby (Single Version) (Dioguardi, Cantoni) - 3:15
5. Look my way (Matalas, Dioguardi, Cantoni) - 2:14
6. Gone away (Cantoni) - 3:10
7. Danny's Home Made Jam (Branen) - 5:18
8. Now I Need You (Cantoni, Dioguardi) - 4:48
9. Till I Get Back Home (Branen, Dioguardi, Cantoni) - 3:56
10.3 AM (Dioguardi, Cantoni) - 4:55
11.Summer Means New Love (Ivancich, Dioguardi, Cantoni) - 7:46
12.Tell Me Baby (Dioguardi, Cantoni) - 3:19
13.Don't Let The Sun Get You Crying (Unreleased) (Misty Hush Revival) - 2:59

The Misty Hush Revival
*Ronnie Contoni - Rhythm, Lead Guitar
*Chris Maralas - Drumms
*Andy Wan - Rhythm, Lead Guitar
*Dennie Dioguardi - Bass, Vocals

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