Friday, October 19, 2018

Glass Harp - It Makes Me Glad (1972 us, magnificent varied style prog jazz psych folk rock with great guitar parts, 2005 remaster)

Following the concert, were Glass Harp was opening for The Kinks at Carnegie Hall in November 21 of 1971, (The concert was recorded, but for some reason remained buried until 1997), the trio made their way to the mobile recording unit parked outside to hear the result. Says Keaggy, "Lewis Merenstein, our producer, was there, and we listened to it as it was playing back. It sounded wild. We were really excited about it." 
As it turned out, though, it was decided that another studio album should be scheduled for release ahead of the live project. The outcome, It Makes Me Glad, would be the third and final contemporary release for the band.

"We recorded that album," says Phil, "with everyone knowing that my intentions were to leave sometime in the summer. And I did leave. My last concert date with the fellas was August 8, 1972 in New York.""There was a lot of compromise on everyone's part at that time," remembers Sferra. "Phil realized that he had to go sort himself out, get away, and just start all over."

And get away, he did. Keaggy married and moved to California, where he joined the pioneering Christian band, Love Song. That connection would lead him to relocate again, this time to upstate New York, where he became involved with a Christian community known as Love Inn. "When I left Glass Harp," says Phil, "people thought I had either died or gone off to join a monastery!" In reality, a second legendary musical career was unfolding.

Glass Harp's efforts to fill Keaggy's slot in 1972 were unsuccessful. While outstanding guitarist Tim Burks and violinist Randy Benson came in to fill the void, the magic just wasn't there. The magic, it seemed, was the rare synergism between Sferra, Pecchio, and Keaggy. A year or so later, Glass Harp officially disbanded. Sferra moved on to join bands in northeastern OH, while Pecchio, Jonah Koslen, and Michael Stanley formed another regional giant, The Michael Stanley Band. Several years later, Pecchio and Sferra would join forces again with The Motion, a nine-member R&B/Motown review.
The trio has been reunited on several occasions, performing concerts in Akron and Cleveland in 1981 and 1984, and in impromptu settings with John and Dan joining Phil on stage when his concert tours brought him to town.
by John August Schroeter
1. See Saw (Dan Pecchio) - 2:12
2. Sailing On A River (John Sferra) - 3:38
3. La De Da (Dan Pecchio) - 5:45
4. Colt (John Sferra) - 3:23
5. Sea And You (John Sferra) - 4:15
6. David & Goliath (Instrumental) (Phil Keaggy) - 2:50
7. I'm Going Home (Phil Keaggy) - 2:40
8. Do Lord (Dan Pecchio, John Sferra, Phil Keaggy) - 4:22
9. Song In The Air (Phil Keaggy) - 2:35
10.Let's Live Together (Dan Pecchio, John Sferra, Phil Keaggy) - 3:50
11.Little Doggie (Dan Pecchio, John Sferra, Phil Keaggy) - 2:27
Bonus Track 11

The Glass Harp 
*Phil Keaggy - Guitar, Vocals
*Dan Pecchio - Bass, Flute, Vocals
*John Sferra - Drums, Vocals

1971  Glass Harp - Live! At Carnegie Hall

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Savoy Brown - Street Corner Talking / Hellbound Train (1971-72 uk, awesome boogie rock, 2006 remaster)

After 1970's Looking In album, Peverett, Roger Earl, and Tony Stevens left to form Foghat, leaving Kim Simmonds with yet another dilemma. But for Simmonds, things went a little smoother than he might have imagined, picking up piano player Paul Raymond, bassman Andy Silvester, and drummer Dave Bidwell, all from Chicken Shack. He also hired singer Dave Walker, who was the former frontman with the Idle Race, and together the new lineup recorded Street Corner Talking, one of Savoy Brown's finest moments. Gelling almost instantaneously, Walker's cozy yet fervent voice countered with Simmonds' strong, sturdy guitar playing, and an exuberant mixture of British blues and boogie rock prevailed. 

All of Street Corner Talking's efforts are solid examples of the group's blues-rock power, from the slick cover of Willie Dixon's "Wang Dang Doodle" to the deep feel of "All I Can Do" to the subtle strength of "Tell Mama," Walker's best-sung tune. The album's blend of sultry guitar blues and upfront rock & roll flavor give it a multi-faceted appeal, with every musician contributing his talents uniformly, which is something that's rather difficult to achieve after there's been a wholesale change to the personnel. Although they stayed together for the Hellbound Train album, Silvester was replaced by Andy Pyle for 1972's Lion's Share release, and a year after that Walker left to join Fleetwood Mac. 

Comprising the same lineup as Street Corner Talking, Savoy Brown released Hellbound Train a year later. For this effort, Kim Simmonds' guitar theatrics are toned down a bit and the rest of the band seems to be a little less vivid and passionate with their music. The songs are still draped with Savoy Brown's sleek, bluesy feel, but the deep-rooted blues essence that so easily emerged from their last album doesn't rise as high throughout Hellbound Train's tracks. The title cut is most definitely the strongest, with Dave Walker, Simmonds, and Paul Raymond sounding tighter than on any other song, and from a wider perspective, Andy Silvester's bass playing is easily Hellbound's most complimenting asset. 

On tracks like "Lost and Lonely Child," "Doin' Fine," and "If I Could See an End," the lifeblood of the band doesn't quite surge into the music as it did before, and the tracks become only average-sounding blues efforts. Because of Savoy Brown's depth of talent, this rather nonchalant approach doesn't make Hellbound Train a "bad" album by any means -- it just fails to equal the potency of its predecessor. But there is a noticeable difference in the albums that followed this one, as the band and especially Simmonds himself was beginning to show signs of fatigue, and a significant decline in the group's overall sound was rapidly becoming apparent. 
by Mike DeGagne

Street Corner Talking 1971
1. Tell Mama (Kim Simmonds) - 5:19
2. Let It Rock (Kim Simmonds, Paul Raymond) - 3:12
3. I Can't Get Next To You (Barrett Strong, Norman Whitfield) - 6:35
4. Time Does Tell (Kim Simmonds) - 5:24
5. Street Corner Talking (Kim Simmonds) - 4:02
6. All I Can Do (Billy Davis, Gwen Gordy Fuqua, Berry Gordy, Jr.) - 10:52
7. Wang Dang Doodle (Willie Dixon) - 7:15
Hellbound Train 1972
8. Doin' Fine (Andy Silvester, Kim Simmonds) - 2:46
9. Lost And Lonely Child (Kim Simmonds) - 5:57
10.I'll Make Everything Alright (Kim Simmonds) - 3:19
11.Troubled By These Days And Times (Paul Raymond) - 5:43
12.If I Could See An End (Kim Simmonds, Paul Raymond) - 2:55
13.It'll Make You Happy (Kim Simmonds) - 3:26
14.Hellbound Train (Andy Silvester, Kim Simmonds) - 9:13

Savoy Brown
*Kim Simmonds - Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
*Paul Raymond - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*Andy Silvester - Bass
*Dave Walker - Vocals
*Dave Bidwell - Drums

1967-68  Savoy Brown - Shake Down / Getting To The Point
1969  Savoy Brown - Blue Matter (2004 remaster and expanded)
1969-70  Savoy Brown - Raw Sienna / Looking In
1974  Savoy Brown - Boogie Brothers
Related Act
1972  Foghat - Foghat (Japan Remaster)
1973  Foghat - Rock And Roll (Japan Remaster)
1974  Foghat - Energized (Japan Remaster)
1974  Foghat - Rock And Roll Outlaws (Japan remaster)
1975  Foghat - Fool For The City (2008 ultradisc MFSL)
1976  Foghat - Night Shift (Japan remaster with extra track)

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tim Buckley - Wings The Complete Singles (1966-74 us, brilliant collection, 2016 remaster)

Tim Buckley was a singularly gifted singer and songwriter, but his body of work seems to defy the traditional logic of a single-disc career-spanning anthology. Buckley was a creatively restless artist, and he jumped from solo acoustic purity to folk-rock to psychedelia to jazz to R&B to purposefully scuzzy rock in the course of a recording career that lasted just eight years. The beauty and strength of his voice and his skills as a songwriter were the sole unifying threads in his discography, and many fans will even argue about those when it comes to his final three albums. 2001's Morning Glory: The Tim Buckley Anthology comes closest to capturing the artist's many facets, in part because it's a two-disc set that takes the time to examine his catalog with real scope, but Omnivore Recordings has taken a novel approach to summarizing Buckley's work with Wings: The Complete Singles 1966-1974.

This collection features 21 songs that were released as single sides during Buckley's lifetime, including one unreleased track that was intended to be the B-side to a 1967 45 that never saw the light of day. The previously unheard number, "Lady, Give Me Your Key," is a gem, a lovely exercise in Baroque folk-rock that certainly justifies the release of this collection, as well as the inclusion of classic tunes like "Morning Glory," "Once I Was," "Aren't You the Girl," and "Pleasant Street." But Wings also confirms one bit of conventional wisdom about Tim Buckley: he thought in terms of albums, not singles, and as good as most of these tracks are, they sound a bit too ornate to have been pop radio favorites in their day. One senses the labels who released these tracks were grasping at straws choosing which might miraculously please a radio programmer.

This set also passes on some of Buckley's best known songs because they were never released in 7" format (most notably, "Buzzin' Fly" and "Song of the Siren"), and three of his albums -- 1969's Happy Sad, 1970's Lorca, and 1970's Starsailor -- are completely unrepresented. However, while 1973's Sefronia is generally considered a botch, Buckley's cover of Fred Neil's "Dolphins" is here to show the album had a hidden gem, and the R&B raunch of "Move with Me" and "Wanda Lu" plays better here than in the context of the albums where they were first released. Wings doesn't do better than most Tim Buckley collections in making sense of his fascinating, sometimes contradictory songbook, but it does bring together an hour of good to brilliant songs from a one-of-a-kind artist, and the set includes an interview with Buckley's friend and writing partner Larry Beckett that lends some welcome insights into how these recordings came to be.
by Mark Deming

Possibly one of the great vocalists of the 1960’s, Tim Buckley drew from folk, psychedelic rock, and progressive jazz to create a considerable body of adventurous work in his brief lifetime. His multi-octave range was capable of not just astonishing power, but great emotional expressiveness, swooping from sorrowful tenderness to anguished wailing.

His restless quest for new territory worked against him commercially: By the time his fans had hooked into his latest album, he was onto something else entirely, both live and in the studio. In this sense he recalled artists such as Miles Davis and David Bowie, who were so eager to look forward and change that they confused and even angered listeners who wanted more stylistic consistency. However, his eclecticism has also ensured a durable fascination with his work that has engendered a growing posthumous cult for his music, often with listeners who were too young (or not around) to appreciate his music while he was active.

Tim Buckley's musical growth was something to marvel at; with every album and with every song he wrote throughout his short, nine-year recording career, the American singer/songwriter became more daring, exploratory and confident. All ten of his singles (A-sides and B-sides included) have been collected — including a pair of unreleased songs from 1967 — on new compilation Wings: The Complete Singles Collection 1966-1974, along with liner notes featuring an interview with Buckley co-lyricist Larry Beckett and photos of every 45 included. 

Wings is released in chronological order and it's fascinating to hear Buckley's transformation from straight-ahead folk-rocker ("Wings," from his 1966 self-titled debut) to jazzy crooner obsessed with vocal experimentation ("Happy Time," from 1969's Blue Afternoon) to hard-edged boogie singer ("Move With Me," from 1972's Greetings From L.A.) and proto-classic rocker ("Wanda Lu," from his 1974 swansong Look at the Fool).  While many of his B-sides, including the cocksure honky-tonker "Honey Man" and the unearthed British invasion-inspired "Lady Give Me Your Key" show Buckley sounding exceptionally loose and experimental, Wings is a highly listenable compilation that shows this true talent across all his many musical incarnations. 
1. Wings - 2:34
2. Grief in My Soul (Larry Becket, Tim Buckley) - 2:07
3. Aren't You the Girl - 2:05
4. Strange Street Affair Under Blue (Larry Becket, Tim Buckley) - 3:12
5. Once Upon a Time (Larry Becket, Tim Buckley) - 2:20
6. Lady, Give Me Your Key (Larry Becket, Tim Buckley) - 2:38
7. Morning Glory (Larry Becket, Tim Buckley) - 2:57
8. Knight-Errant (Larry Becket, Tim Buckley) - 2:02
9. Once I Was - 3:26
10.Pleasant Street - 5:17
11.Carnival Song - 3:14
12.Happy Time - 3:15
13.So Lonely - 3:28
14.Move With Me (Tim Buckley, Jerry Goldstein) - 3:42
15.Nighthawkin' (Tim Buckley, Jerry Goldstein) - 3:22
16.Quicksand - 3:24
17.Stone in Love - 3:30
18.Dolphins (Fred Neil) - 3:14
19.Honey Man (Larry Becket, Tim Buckley) - 4:12
20.Wanda Lu - 2:39
21.Who Could Deny You - 4:22
All songs by Tim Buckley except where stated

*Tim Buckley - 6, 12 String Acoustic Guitars, Vocals, Bottleneck Guitar, Kalimba, Vibraphone
*Lee Underwood - Guitar
*Jim Fielder - Bass Guitar
*Van Dyke Parks - Piano, Celesta, Harpsichord
*Billy Mundi - Drums, Percussion
*Jack Nitzsche - String Arrangements
*John Farsha – Guitar
*Brian Hartzler – Guitar
*Jimmy Bond – Double Bass
*Don Randi – Piano, Harmonium, Harpsichord
*Henry Diltz – Harmonica
*Jerry Yester – Piano, Organ, Harmonium
*Carter Collins – Congas, Percussion
*Dave Guard – Kalimba, Tambourine
*Eddie Hoh – Drums
*Jim Gordon - Drums
*Steve Khan - Guitar
*Jimmy Madison - Drums
*John Miller – Acoustic, Electric Bass
*Chuck Rainey - Guitar
*Joe Falsia - Guitar
*Reinhold Press, Chuck Rainey - Bass Guitar
*Harry Hyams, Ralph Schaffer - Viola
*Louis Kievman - Violin
*Robert Konrad - Violin, Guitar
*William Kurasch - Violin
*Jesse Ehrlich - Cello
*Kevin Kelly - Organ, Piano
*Paul Ross Novros, Eugene E. Siegel - Saxophone
*Jerry Goldstein - Percussion
*Ed Greene - Drums
*Bob Rafkin - Guitar
*Mark Tiernan - Keyboards
*Denny Randell - Keyboards
*Tom Scott - Tenor Saxophone
*Fred Selden - Flute
*Earl Dumler - English Horn
*Larry Bunker - Percussion
*King Errisson - Percussion, Congas, Tambourine
*Ken Watson - Percussion, Timpani
*Buddy Helm - Drums
*David Blumberg - String Arrangements
*Earl Palmer - Drums
*Terry Harrington - Horn, Saxophone
*Richard Nash - Horn
*William Peterson - Horn
*John Rotella  - Horn
*Anthony Terran - Horn

1966  Tim Buckley - Tim Buckley (Part 1 of 2017 eight cds box set)
1967  Tim Buckley - Goodbye And Hello  (Part 2 of 2017 eight cds box set)
1967  Tim Buckley - Live At The Folklore Center (2009 digipak release)
1969  Tim Buckley - Happy Sad (Part 3 of 2017 eight cds box set)
1969  Tim Buckley - Blue Afternoon (Part 4 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1969 Tim Buckley - Greetings From West Hollywood (2017 remaster)
1970  Tim Buckley - Lorca (Part 5 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1970  Tim Buckley - Starsailor (Part 6 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1972  Tim Buckley - Greetings From L.A. (Part 7 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1967-69  Tim Buckley - Works In Progress (Part 8 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1973  Tim Buckley - Sefronia (2017 remaster)
1974  Tim Buckley - Look At The Fool (2017 remaster)

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Monday, October 15, 2018

Tim Buckley - Live At The Folklore Center (1967 us, amazing acoustic folk, 2009 digipak release)

It's mindblowing that the folk iconoclast Izzy Young, founder of New York CItry's legendary Folklore Center, sat on this reel to reel tape of a very young Tim Buckley on his first trip to the Big Apple from the West Coast, for more than 40 years. Young was a promoter and was as close to a folk music purist as there was, and an integral part of the City's scene in the '50s and early 60s. Buckley's performance at the center was the result of a long, informal conversation, some lox and bagels; it was scheduled without having heard his record or hearing him sing(!) and in the same month as concerts by Spider John Koerner and Ramblin' Jack Elliott. Buckley was hanging out in N.Y.C. between the release of his debut album and the impending issue of the now-classic Happy Sad. According to Young in his liner essay, there were about 35 people in the audience. Along with the essay, there is a verbatim transcript of an interview between him and Buckley without the questions.

What transpires here (released through the visionary good graces of Tompkins Square Recordings) is the sound of Buckley emerging from the influence of the New York scene's sound and into the enigmatic one he would call his own. The performance here is electrifying. Buckley is picking his six-string guitar with as much passion as his singing (the opener is an incredible version of "Song for Janie"), and on other songs, he's beating the living hell out of his open-tuned, 12-string guitar to match (check "I Never Asked to Be Your Mountain"). Other well-known Buckley numbers are performed here and, as many times as we've heard them, sound completely fresh and new -- because they were new to him. There's the brief reading of "Phantasmagoria in Two," an excellent version of Fred Neil's "Dolphins," the wooly exuberance "Aren't You the Girl," (though it is sometimes off-key and even shrill) and the honest tenderness and vulnerability on display in "Carnival Song." And while this set is comprised of unreleased live material, the real treasure trove is that contains a whopping six songs -- all composed by Buckley -- that have never been issued before in any form. There is the uptempo "Please Just Leave Me"; the consolation ballad "What Do You Do (He Never Saw You)"; the broken love song "Cripples Cry"; the seductive ballad that is "If the Rain Comes"; the raucous "Country Boy," and the concluding pathos-fueled manic strum and thrum that is "I Can't Leave You Lovin' Me," with its killer falsetto in the refrain that leaves the audience clapping enthusiastically.

The final effect of this set is electrifying because of its raw, unfiltered, and even spontaneous performance. The sound quality and fidelity are fine since this was recorded on a single 1/4-inch tape recorder with a single mike; so guitar and voice are naturally balanced by the performer; add to this the natural warmth of the room. This is all evident in the ambience of the CD with very little tape hiss, miraculously. This surprise document is early proof of Buckley's genius at such a young age, and in a live setting, even without a producer. He could offer a completely new twist on what was considered "folk music" at the time, to a very conservative and tough audience, and burn down the house. This is simply a must for fans.
by Thom Jurek
1. Song For Jainie - 3:02
2. I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain - 4:17
3. Wings - 2:44
4. Phantasmagoria In Two - 3:18
5. Just Please Leave Me - 2:28
6. Dolphins (Fred Neil) - 4:32
7. I Can't See You (Tim Buckley, Larry Beckett) - 4:05
8. Troubadour - 4:30
9. Aren't You The Girl - 2:57
10.What Do You Do (He Never Saw You) - 2:51
11.No Man Can Find The War (Tim Buckley, Larry Beckett) - 3:19
12.Carnival Song - 2:43
13.Cripples Cry - 5:07
14.If The Rain Comes - 2:50
15.Country Boy - 4:04
16.I Can't Leave You Loving Me - 2:26
Lyrics and Music by Tim Buckley except where noted

*Tim Buckley – Guitar, Vocals

1966  Tim Buckley - Tim Buckley (Part 1 of 2017 eight cds box set)
1967  Tim Buckley - Goodbye And Hello  (Part 2 of 2017 eight cds box set) 
1969  Tim Buckley - Happy Sad (Part 3 of 2017 eight cds box set)
1969  Tim Buckley - Blue Afternoon (Part 4 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1969 Tim Buckley - Greetings From West Hollywood (2017 remaster)
1970  Tim Buckley - Lorca (Part 5 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1970  Tim Buckley - Starsailor (Part 6 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1972  Tim Buckley - Greetings From L.A. (Part 7 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1967-69  Tim Buckley - Works In Progress (Part 8 of the 2017 eight cds box set)
1973  Tim Buckley - Sefronia (2017 remaster)
1974  Tim Buckley - Look At The Fool (2017 remaster)

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Spirit - Spirit Of `76 (1975 us, fantastic multicolored rock, 2003 double disc remaster)

With the exception of their first four albums,  Spirit released some of their best music in the mid 70s.  Spirit of ’76 (released in 1975 by MCA) is a brilliant double album that saw Ed Cassidy and Randy California “officially” reunite for the first time since the legendary 12 Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus.  This disc was also the first band release to feature Randy California in complete creative control of the group’s sound.  Prior to the album, California had suffered a nervous breakdown, an event that led him to relocate to Hawaii.  In Hawaii, California lived on the beaches, miserable and destitute until he was taken in by a Christian family.  The guitarist wrote most of the material for Spirit of ’76 while being employed as a gardener in Hawaii.  When California recovered, he phoned Ed Cassidy (the drummer) and when the two met up, the Spirit name was once again resurrected.

Gone are the jazzy, intricate textures of the group’s early albums.  This version of Spirit favored a classic rock sound with plenty of distortion and phased guitars, vocal effects and a dreamy, stoned production – a strong Hendrix influence abounds. As with many double albums, there’s some indulgent moments sprinkled throughout the two discs.  The brief “Tampa Jam/Jack Bond” theme appears 5 times throughout the album.   Also,  some listeners may be surprised by the 5 or 6 covers that appear on the LP.  The original Spirit albums solely relied on original material.  To me, the covers sound excellent.  “Happy” (The Rolling Stones) is reckless and hard rocking, “Hey Joe” is suitably spacey and faithful to Hendrix’s version, “America The Beautiful/The Times They Are A Changing” is inspiring while “Walking The Dog” is a powerful rendition that features lots of great guitar work.

The California originals are truly exceptional.  “Sunrise,” “Veruska,” and “Victim Of Society” rock hard and fierce, featuring plenty of fuzz guitar, distortion and pounding drums.  Some of the album’s tracks such as the trippy “Urantia” are influenced by California’s interest in the religious teachings of the Urantia Book/Urantia Foundation (a religious organization).  Other great moments include acoustic, reflective numbers “What Do I Have?” and “My Road” and a few lighthearted cuts such as “Lady Of The Lakes” and the country-psych gem, “Joker On The Run.”

Not many great classic rock albums were being issued in 1975/1976.  At this point, all the heavy hitters (example – at this juncture The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks and solo Beatles were releasing weak, uninteresting LPs) were peddling slick, corporate dreck to the public.  Taken in this context, Spirit of ’76 is one of the better classic rock releases from 1975 that actually does possess real artistic integrity; a hidden gem from 1975.
by Jason Nardelli
Disc One
1. America The Beautiful/The Times They Are A-Changing (Katharine Lee Bates, Samuel A. Ward, Dylan)- 5:27 
2. Victim Of Society - 3:00 
3. Lady Of The Lakes - 2:52 
4. Tampa Jam Pt. 1 -  0:54 
5. Mauna Loa (Randy California) - 2:02 
6. What Do I Have? (Randy California) -2:04 
7. Sunrise -   3:00 
8. Walking The Dog (Rufus Thomas) - 3:13 
9. Tampa Jam Pt. 2 -   1:03 
10.Joker On The Run (Randy California, Ed Cassidy, Barry Keene)- 3:53 
11.When? (Randy California) - 4:27 
12.Like A Rolling Stone (Boby Dylan) - 8:54
All songs by Randy California, Ed Cassidy except noted
Disc Two
1. Once Again - 3:19
2. Feeling In Time - 3:27
3. Happy (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards)  - 3:19
4. Jack Bond (Burt Shonberg) - 1:39
5. My Road (Randy California) - 4:13
6. Tampa Jam Pt. 3 - 0:54
7. Thank You Lord (Randy California) -  1:45
8. Urantia - 4:04
9. Guide Me - 3:47
10.Veruska (Marty Paich, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 3:57
11.Hey Joe (Billy Roberts) - 6:30
12.Jack Bond Pt. 2 (Burt Shonberg) -  0:51
13.The Star Spangled Banner (Francis Scott Key) - 3:40
All songs Randy California, Ed Cassidy except indicated.

The Spirit
*Randy California - Bass, Guitar, Vocals, Multi Instruments
*Ed Cassidy - Percussion, Drums
*Barry Keane - Bass
*Benji - Harpsichord, Moog Synthesizer

1968-72  Spirit - It Shall Be-Ode And Epic Recordings (2018 five disc box set remaster with extra tracks)
1971  Spirit - Feedback
1974-75  Spirit - Salvation... The Spirit Of '74 (2007 release)
1975-76  Spirit - Son Of Spirit / Farther Alone (2004 remaster)
Related Acts
1972-74  Jo Jo Gunne - Jo Jo Gunne / Bite Down Hard / Jumpin' the Gun / So... Where's the Show? (double disc 2011 issue) 
1976-78  Firefall - Firefall / Luna Sea / Elan (2016 double disc set)

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Donovan - Fairytale (1965 uk, excellent folk, 2001 expanded deluxe edition)

The line between intertext and plagiarism is a witchy, winding road. Where one ends and the other begins is inherently confused and cluttered, pockmarked with varying degrees of interpretation and ensuing condemnation. Music presents a most difficult testing ground when seeking to clarify a distinction between theft and inspiration. To mark clearly the blurred, skewed and dimly lit border of ownership and originality is near impossible. With this in mind, ladies and gentleman, I give you: Donovan.

What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid or Catch the Wind (depending on where you hail from) is the 1965 debut album of British folk singer Donovan. Light on the ears and entirely enjoyable, I’m not actually going to say all that much about the album, except that there is something familiar about it... instantly familiar, and it is precisely this familiarity that has made the album as infamous as it is famous.

Heralded by many denouncers as the key piece of evidence in dubbing Donovan as nothing more than "Britain’s answer to Bob Dylan", a cheap knock off or folk music’s incarnation of The Monkeys; endless interrogation has left the album scarred and the artist - branded by many Dylan fans - a charlatan. I get that branding... I really do, but I feel that there is more to Donovan and less to the comparison than those at the pulpit of musical conspiracy would have you believe.

Much of the hype that fuels such detraction is based on Bob Dylan’s 1965 tour of Britain, and the subsequent documentation of that tour contained in D.A Pennebaker’s film, Don't Look Back. The film helps to highlight the obsession in the British press for creating trans-Atlantic music rivalries, like that of Dylan and Donovan or The Byrds and The Beatles. Donovan, in an odd twist of fate, actually came to the defence of The Byrds after NME trashed their London shows because they supposedly didn't live up to the manufactured hype of being "America’s answer to the Beatles".

What makes it into Pennebaker’s film, besides Dylan light heartedly mocking the press’s obsession with Donovan, is their first meeting at The Savoy Hotel. The atmosphere that the film conjures is hard to pinpoint, but seems to be one of mutual regard, between a visibly nervous Donovan and a characteristically distracted and hard to read Dylan. Donovan plays 'To Sing for You' before Dylan responds with a stirring rendition of "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue". Pennebaker insists the broader scene involved Dylan condemning an unknown Donovan song called "My Darling Tangerine Eyes" for blatantly plagiarising his "Mr Tambourine Man" chord structure, saying, "Well, you know, that tune... I have to admit that I haven't written all the tunes I'm credited with, but that happens to be one that I did write!"

What makes the assertion by Pennebaker so interesting is the fact that Dylan refused to allow this scene to be included in the final cut of the film. If the embarrassment of Donovan by Dylan did occur, perhaps Dylan didn’t want the world to see it. There is a barely audible moment in the film that might explain why, and possibly why What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid has so many moments of structural similarity to Dylan's work: as Donovan begins strumming the guitar, Dylan excitedly remarks, ‘He plays like Jack, man!’ referring almost certainly to the great Ramblin' Jack Elliot.

Ramblin’ Jack is worthy of more space than I’m going to allow him in this brief synopsis, but his part in Donovan’s story is worth mentioning, if only briefly. Ramblin' Jack is inexorably linked to Woody Guthrie, a hero of Dylan’s and an icon in folk music, who has only really ever been eclipsed by Dylan himself. Ramblin' Jack was a student come friend of Guthrie’s and became a master of his songs and playing style. He is said to have later taught an Englishman that fingerpicking style while performing in Paris in the early 1960's. That Englishman’s name: Mick Softley.

Softley then met Donovan after returning to the UK and, while working together, Donovan acquired a new style of picking in order to perform a song by Softley called: "Gold Watch Blues". So, Donovan learned his style from a student of Ramblin’ Jack, who was first a student of Guthrie’s, who was Dylan’s hero. Inspiration rather than direct imitation seems a bit more tangible regarding Donovan’s work when armed with these facts.

With all this in mind, the fact remains that What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid is incredibly reminiscent of Dylan’s work and the structure of some of his tracks; however, this doesn’t condemn it to be labelled a knock-off. Just as some of Dylan’s early work is reminiscent of Guthrie’s, so is Donovan's of Dylan's. "Catch the Wind" no more plagiarises "Chimes of Freedom" than "Bear Mountain Picnic" does Guthrie’s "Talking Sailor" - inspired no doubt, but more than able to hold their own as unique tracks.

For those who still aren’t convinced, Donovan's later work digresses into a musical realm all its own, blending a uniquely eclectic psychedelic fusion - and pairing with some artists that went on to create a little known band called The New Yardbirds - but that's for a later article. For now I'd throw on What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid and revel in the work of a man who, in a back room of London’s Savoy Hotel, got Bob Dylan to say: "Hey - that’s a good song, man!"
by Nick Bornholt, February 27th, 1967
1. Colours (Donovan Leitch) - 2:44
2. To Try For The Sun (Donovan Leitch) - 3:41
3. Sunny Goodge Street (Donovan Leitch) - 2:56
4. Oh Deed I Do (Bert Jansch) - 2:09
5. Circus Of Sour (Paul Bernath) - 1:53
6. The Summer Day Reflection Song (Donovan Leitch) - 2:16
7. Candy Man (Traditional; Arranged by Donovan Leitch) - 3:30
8. Jersey Thursday (Donovan Leitch) - 2:15
9. Belated Forgiveness Plea (Donovan Leitch) - 2:58
10.The Ballad Of A Crystal Man (Donovan Leitch) - 3:55
11.The Little Tin Soldier (Shawn Phillips) - 3:02
12.The Ballad Of Geraldine (Donovan Leitch) - 4:41
13.Universal Soldier (Buffy Sainte-Marie) - 2:15
14.The Ballad Of A Crystal Man (Donovan Leitch) - 3:18
15.The War Drags On (Mike Softley) - 3:44
16.Do You Hear Me Now (Bert Jansch) - 1:50
17.Turquoise (Donovan Leitch) - 3:31
18.Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness) (Donovan Leitch) - 3:12

*Donovan - Banjo, Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
*Skip Alan (Alan Skipper) - Drums
*Brian Locking - Bass Guitar
*Harold McNair - Flute
*Shawn Phillips - Guitar, Twelve String Guitar

1967  Donovan - A Gift From A Flower To A Garden (2008 remaster) 
1967  Donovan - In Concert, The Complete Anaheim Show (2006 two disc set)
1973  Donovan - Cosmic Wheels 

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Aaron Space - Aaron Space (1972 canada / italy, fine rough psych rock with southern taste, Vinyl edition)

Aaron Space was a Canadian psychedelic rock band from Toronto, performing art rock with a touch of psychedelia and a pinch of 70's hard rock. The songs are energetic, fun, and the guitar is beautiful.

They released their first single, "Keep On Movin'," which featured Lisa Garber on bg vocals, b/w "The Visitor" in the fall of '71 to mixed reviews. It eeked its way up to #83 on some strong support from Toronto radio, where it stayed for three weeks. Recorded at Eastern Sound in Toronto and produced by John Stewart, their eponymous debut album followed early the next year, with the single, "Marsha" b/w "She Smiles" close behind.

After a series of short tours around central Canada, plans were being made for a follow-up album, some songs had been written, and some time in the studios had been spent. But with their deal with Warner on the brink of ending, the band imploded, and everyone went on to individual projects.
1. Keep On Moving (Jake Thomas) - 3:15
2. Silly Ceilings (Jake Thomas) - 5:01
3. When She Smiles (Jake Thomas) - 3:02
4. Man In A Yellow Car (Dave Moulaison, Jake Thomas) - 4:21
5. Marsha (Bob DiSalle) - 1:58
6. North Country Rock 'n' Roll (Jake Thomas) - 3:39
7. It Might Be You (Dave Moulaison, Gene Falbo, Bob DiSalle, Jake Thomas) - 3:05
8. The Loser (Dave Moulaison, Gene Falbo, Bob DiSalle, Jake Thomas) - 2:43
9. Fair Child (Dave Moulaison, Gene Falbo, Bob DiSalle, Jake Thomas) - 3:23
10.Rainbow Ride (Dave Moulaison, Gene Falbo, Bob DiSalle, Jake Thomas) - 5:05

Aaron Space
*Bob DiSalle - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Dave Moulaison - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Jake Thomas - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Gene Falbo - Bass Guitar, Vocals

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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

JPT Scare Band - Sleeping Sickness (1973-76 us, hard rough stoner fuzzed acid psych, 2001 issue)

Whereas by the 21st century any 12-year-old with a laptop and a MySpace page could make music and have it heard by millions of strangers, in the pre-internet days artists and bands might work and perform diligently for years on end without escaping utter anonymity, never mind even sniffing a record deal. This is the story of (among many other groups) Kansas City's JPT Scare Band, which was formed in 1973 by three friends -- vocalist/guitarist Terry Swope, bassist Paul Grigsby, and drummer Jeff Littrell -- who simply loved to jam for hours on end, inspired by the psychedelic hard rock of Cream, Blue Cheer, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. 

Although they would soon realize that their symbiotic musical relationship was something special and eventually recorded the best fruits of their labor to tape, the JPT Scare Band (named after its members' first initials, obviously, plus the scary length of their acid rock jams) never managed to graduate from basement woodshedding to world-wide stardom. Their informal reel to reel recordings were so obscure and sparsely circulated, in fact, that the group would likely have been entirely forgotten were it not for a pair of hard rock anthropologists at Monster Records, who tracked them down in the early '90s and rounded up their '70s highlights for limited release on two vinyl albums, Acid Acetate Excursion and Rape of Titan's Sirens, and later CD via 2000's Sleeping Sickness.

These reissues were rave-reviewed and eagerly snapped up by collectors of '70s hard rock, but when the JPT Scare Band members -- still friends and still jamming after all these years, believe it or not -- asked Monster to release some of their present-day recordings, the label balked, and by conveniently going out of business shortly thereafter, motivated the veteran rockers to take matters into their own hands. Launching their own website and indie label, Kung Bomar, the JPT Scare Band promptly issued a new collection, Past Is Prologue, mixing old and more recent material in 2002.
by Eduardo Rivadavia
1. Sleeping Sickness - 15:17
2. Slow Sick Shuffle - 7:13
3. King Rat - 13:17
4. It's Too Late - 5:31
5. Acid Acetate Excursion - 6:58
6. I've Been Waiting - 12:12
7. Time To Cry - 12:44
All songs by Jeff Littrell, Paul Grigsby, Terry Swope

The JPT Scare Band
*Jeff Littrell - Drums
*Paul Grigsby - Bass, Vocals
*Terry Swope - Guitar, Vocals

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Monday, October 8, 2018

Spirit - Son Of Spirit / Farther Alone (1975-76 us, awesome fusion rock, 2004 remaster)

After Spirit’s first four classic albums, the band entered a period of fluctuating personnel, style, and success. The double-LP Spirit of ‘76 had marked the revitalization of the band around guitarist Randy California and drummer Ed Cassidy, and indulged the experimental side of the group. Finding themselves the object of some chart action after years of disappointment, the two quickly followed up with Son of Spirit, hanging onto bassist Barry Keene from the previous record. It is a much tamer affair, sticking to the band’s more song-oriented side, and maintaining a relatively pastoral mood. There are some beautiful acoustic guitar moments, and plenty of great, if somewhat restrained, lead parts on electric. California, as the sole singer, uses his modest vocal talents to good effect on the soft material. The previous album had introduced a trend of cover tunes, and the Beatles’ “Yesterday” is added here.

The next year, original members John Locke (keyboards) and Mark Andes (bass) came back into the fold temporarily for Farther Along, leaving only singer Jay Ferguson missing from the band’s classic lineup. For the most part, this album continues in the relatively non-experimental vein of its predecessor, though it should be noted that a non-experimental Spirit album is still fairly out-there compared to most bands. Aside from an embarrassing disco beat on one track, the material here stands up well through the years; a couple of the tunes rank with the band’s best.
by Jon Davis, 2006-05-01
Son Of Spirit
1. Holy Man (Randy California) - 3:02
2. Looking Into Darkness (Ed Cassidy, Randy California) - 2:53
3. Maybe You'll Find (Randy California) - 2:40
4. Don't Go Away (Randy California) - 3:43
5. Family (Randy California) - 3:07
6. Magic Fairy Princess (Randy California) - 3:02
7. Circle (Randy California) - 3:28
8. The Other Song (Barry Keene, Ed Cassidy, Randy California) - 5:33
9. Yesterday (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 1:54
10.It's Time Now (Randy California) - 3:02
Farther Along
11.Farther Along (Ed Cassidy, Matt Andes, Randy California) - 3:23
12.Atomic Boogie (Ed Cassidy, John Locke, Mark Andes, Matt Andes, Randy California) - 2:41
13.World Eat World Dog (Ed Cassidy, John Locke, Randy California) - 2:45
14.Stoney Night (Randy California) - 2:30
15.Pineapple (John Locke) - 2:11
16.Colossus (Randy California) - 2:58
17.Mega Star (John Locke, Randy California) - 3:27
18.Phoebe (Matt Andes) - 2:10
19.Don't Lock Up Your Door (Ed Cassidy, Matt Andes, Randy California) - 3:10
20.Once With You (John Locke, Randy California) - 1:34
21.Diamond Spirit (Matt Andes, Randy California) - 2:26
22.Nature's Way (Randy California) - 2:04

The Spirit
Son Of Spirit
*Randy California - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*Ed Cassidy - Percussion, Drums
*Barry Keane - Bass
Farther Along
*Mark Andes - Bass, Vocals
*Randy California - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*Ed Cassidy - Percussion, Drums
*John Locke - Keyboards
*Matt Andes - Guitar, Vocals

1968-72  Spirit - It Shall Be-Ode And Epic Recordings (2018 five disc box set remaster with extra tracks) 
1971  Spirit - Feedback
1974-75  Spirit - Salvation... The Spirit Of '74 (2007 release)
Related Acts
1972-74  Jo Jo Gunne - Jo Jo Gunne / Bite Down Hard / Jumpin' the Gun / So... Where's the Show? (double disc 2011 issue) 
1976-78  Firefall - Firefall / Luna Sea / Elan (2016 double disc set)

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Saturday, October 6, 2018

Christopher - Christopher (1970 us, solid hard acid psych)

Another one of Texas' wealth of interesting, late-'60s psychedelic bands, Christopher came together in 1968 in the Houston area. Doug Tull (drums), Doug Walden (bass, vocals), and Richard Avitts (guitar, vocals) were the original members of the band, which was originally known as United Gas. Tull and Avitts, at the time playing in a series of R&B and soul-leaning groups, first met in 1966 when Tull sat in on drums with one of Avitts' bands. Tull, however, was not as serious about the music as Avitts, leading to an eventual split. Tull developed a friendship around this time with Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, and, in 1967, invited Avitts to jam with them. Certain that they had the makings of a band, the two went searching for a bassist who could sing, eventually finding Doug Walden. 

It was not long before United Gas developed a following in and around Houston, playing local clubs such as Tangerine Forest, whose owner, Nick Lee, developed an interest in the band, eventually becoming their manager. Walden and Avitts began writing their own material and recorded a demo that Lee had circulated around Las Vegas and Los Angeles by his connections in those cities. United Gas moved to Las Vegas for a brief time and then to Los Angeles after L.A. record label Metromedia offered them a two-year contract. At the behest of Metromedia, the band changed their name to Christopher so that they wouldn't be confused with similarly monikered California band Pacific Gas & Electric. Walden and Avitts felt Christopher to be a religious band -- the name is derived from Saint Christopher -- and wanted to convey this through the music.

Recording of their first album started in early 1969; however, it was hampered by Tull's drug use and his failed suicide attempt. He was fired (later returning to Houston and joining Josephus) and the sessioins were completed with drummers John Simpson and Terrence Hand. The result was Christopher's self-titled debut album, released in a single 1970 pressing of a thousand LPs by Metromedia. Walden and Avitts remained in Los Angeles playing as Christopher until Avitts returned to Houston later in the year. 

From the psychedelic tribal blues opener "Dark Road" through to the end of the album, Christopher shows just how strong the second-level psychedelia of the late '60s could be. There was no shortage of great musicians hailing from Texas during the era, and the ones who remained in the state were forming some of the most idiosyncratic bands of the swirling, inventive times: top-flight bands such as Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Lost & Found, the Golden Dawn, and Christopher. Christopher, though, cannot exactly be lumped together with those peers. They had to leave Texas for California to make their mark, and indeed, Christopher owes a good deal to the music of that state -- songs such as "Magic Cycles" and "In Your Time" are informed by the dreamier qualities of the San Francisco sound, especially the extended atmospherics of Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. 

There are also hints of fellow Los Angeles bands the Doors and Spirit throughout the album, and like the best music coming out of California, the songs on Christopher sound somehow revolutionary and foreboding, as if there is something dark lurking just beneath the surface of the music. Occasionally, Christopher occupied similar musical territory as Cream. They were not unfamiliar with the blues, and, like the British supergroup, they were an absurdly powerful three-piece with an abundance of ability in both instrumental and songwriting proficiency. In addition, Doug Walden's vocals are a dead ringer for Jack Bruce. With that said, the album actually sounds quite different from Cream. Christopher are somehow both more mystical and earthy. "Dark Road" starts out with a loping, jazzy blues groove before being propelled forward by a tempo change and some brilliant, musical drumming. "Wilbur Lite" seems grounded by some slashing chording by Richard Avitts, but then an open-ended melody and upward bass progression raise the song up off its legs. "Queen Mary" rolls along on top of a choppy drum beat and bass groove until Walden's phenomenal spine-tingling vocals soar above the music, uncontainable. The music itself, however, never spins out of restraint. 

The songs are all relatively succinct, never growing excessive or dull, and Avitts' guitar playing is economical. The lyrics can get a bit pretentious here and there, but that doesn't even really qualify as a minor flaw since it is a product of ambitiousness and the era. Christopher is one of the finer albums to have fallen completely through the cracks of the '60s, and Christopher one of the era's best forgotten bands. One wishes that they had stuck around long enough to create more music. 
by Stanton Swihart
1. Dark Road - 2:54
2. Magic Cycles - 5:05
3. Wilbur Lite - 3:57
4. In Your Time - 5:28
5. Beautiful Lady - 2:32
6. Lies - 3:08
7. Disaster - 3:46
8. The Wind - 5:03
9. Queen Mary - 3:25
10.Burns Decision - 5:17
All songs by Christopher

*Richard Avitts - Guitar, vocals
*Doug Walden - Bass, Piano, vocals
*John A. Simpson III - Drums
*Terrance Hand - Drums
*Doug Tull - Percussion
*Ron Kramer - Percussion

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