Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Sons Of Champlin ‎- Fat City (1966-67 us, nice power pop rhythm 'n' blues folk rock)

The Sons Of Champlin: psychedelic danceband par eminence, much-loved San Francisco ballroom regulars of the late 1960s, doyens of twenty minute jazz-rock extrapolations and the epic acid sprawl of 1968's Loosen Up Naturally. But wind the clock back a year or two to their mid-1960s beginnings and you'll find a different animal: a vital young rock'n'roll combo more akin to Paul Revere & The Raiders, the Beau Brummels and the Animals, fronted by a teenage white Lou Rawls soundalike. Rather than the folk and beatnik derivations of most hippie bands, the Sons drew on the grand tradition of grass roots rock'n'roll. "The Beach Boys with balls" is how Trident supremo Frank Werber remembers them.

FAT CITY is the first of several volumes of the Nuggets From The Golden State series drawn from the exciting vaults of Werber's San Francisco-based Trident Productions. As the manager of the Kingston Trio, the astute and hip entrepeneur re-invested the earnings from the Trio's unprecedented success into a small empire of properties and music-related corporations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Foremost amongst these was Trident, a management and recording combine that hit immediate paydirt with folk-rockers We Five in 1965, and subsequently began to assemble a stunning roster of local talent. The Sons Of Champlin were Werber's great white hope and he accurately recognised the group as a diamond in the rough when he signed them the following year.

Evolving out of the cornerstone Marin County white R&B outfit the Opposite Six in late 1965, the Sons were still technically a garage band but tough, streamlined and super-hip with soul to spare. Therefore the youthful exuberance of FAT CITY will be a total surprise to fans of the Sons' later recordings for Capitol and CBS. Werber sent the band into Trident's own Columbus Recorders with staff producer Randy Steirling in late 1966 to provisionally work on a full album via a lease deal with MGM-Verve. Due to a variety of circumstances, as much the band's own doing as anything else, it never happened and the Sons split Trident with some acrimony in June 1967.

Consequently, only two songs on FAT CITY are previously released: the superb, shoulda-been-a-monster 1967 single Sing Me A Rainbow/Fat City, the rocking flipside of which the Sons continue to perform in concert to this day. Here you get both tunes in extended form, and in crystal-clear stereo to boot. The remaining eighteen tracks include covers as unexpected as the Beau Brummels' Don't Talk To Strangers and the Monkees' Shades Of Grey alongside startlingly accomplished originals by group members Bill Champlin, Terry Haggerty and Tim Cain. Through the supercharged blue-eyed soul of She Said and smoky niteclub R&B of To Me to the Byrdsian folk-rock of It's The End, via the fuzz-tinged powerpop of Green Monday, it's an incredibly diverse selection. Throughout these early recordings, the Sons Of Champlin are a force to be reckoned with.

Despite the marked difference in their music once they left Werber (ie apres LSD), the Sons remain proud of their achievement at Trident and are excited that the work of the period is finally seeing the light of day. All five original members contributed to the in-depth sleeve notes that fully spill the beans on this mysterious chapter in the Sons' career.

Additionally packed with many unseen photos from the archives, FAT CITY will appeal to both diehard devotees of the Sons Of Champlin, and to anyone who digs the sound of 1966-67 teenaged American rock'n'roll, played with passion and panache.
by Alec Palao
1. Sing Me A Rainbow (Estelle Levitt, Lou Stallman) - 3:19
2. She Said (Tim Cain) - 2:36
3. Don't Talk To Strangers (Bob Durand, Ron Elliot) - 2:30
4. 1,000 Miles From Nowhere (Tim Cain) - 2:49
5. One Of These Days (Bill Champlin) - 2:37
6. I Wouldn't Put It Past You (Bill Champlin) - 3:00
7. It's Gonna Rain (Tim Cain) - 2:22
8. Fat City (Rob Moitoza) - 3:41
9. To Me (Bill Champlin) - 3:42
10.Green Monday (Randy Steirling) - 2:33
11.Don't Stop (Rob Moitoza) - 1:54
12.Little Fugue (Terry Haggerty, Tim Cain) - 1:50
13.Shades Of Grey (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil) - 3:43
14.Say You Know (Terry Haggerty) - 2:24
15.I Wish You Could Be Here (Bruce Woodley, Paul Simon) - 2:46
16.One Of These Days (Audition) (Bill Champlin) - 2:07
17.It's The End (Terry Haggerty) - 2:52
18.Pillow (Tim Cain) - 2:29
19.Don't Stop (Audition) (Rob Moitoza) - 1:56
20.KCPX Radio Spots - 0:50

The Sons Of Champlin
*Sally Champlin - Vocals
*Bill Bowen - Drums
*Tim Caine - Vocals, Organ, Piano
*Bill Champlin - Vocals, Organ, Piano, Guitar
*Terry Haggerty - Guitar, Vocals 
*Al Strong - Bass, Vocals  
*Jim Myers - Drums
*Chris Howard - Drums

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Brinsley Schwarz - It's All Over Now (1974 uk, great pub rock, 2017 remaster)

Nick Lowe’s reputation as an elder statesman of pop classicism is long established, and it might have come that little bit sooner, had the chips fallen differently. As the most prolific writer in 70s pub rock figureheads the Brinsleys, it was his songs that represented the group’s best chance of charming the mainstream, but they imploded on the verge of a breakthrough with one final album languishing in the vaults – until now.

Their last release, ’74’s New Favourites, opened with the jangling original version of Lowe’s (What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding, the song which ultimately became his gold-plated pension plan when covered by Curtis Stigers on The Bodyguard, the most successful film soundtrack of all time, selling 45 million copies. Hopes were high later in the year at Rockfield studios, until the band went their separate ways at the end of the sessions.

It’s All Over Now (a prescient title, though it initially came from the closing cover of the Bobby Womack song of the same name) makes its belated bow with a few selections long-term fans will recognise. Chief among these is the original recording of Cruel To Be Kind, co-written by Lowe and guitarist Ian Gomm, which surfaced on the B-side of Nick’s ’78 solo single Little Hitler, before he reworked it with Rockpile the following year to score a sizeable UK and US hit.

Similarly, the delicate Everlys-like ballad As Lovers Do was later reupholstered for a B-side by Lowe’s Rockpile sparring partner Dave Edmunds, and the faux Philly soul of God Bless Whoever Made You was given a fresh lick of paint for a Jona Lewie single. Then there’s the strutting Mess Around With Love, a song that eventually saw active service on both the debut album by The Rumour (featuring Brinsleys alumni guitarist Schwarz himself and keyboard wiz Bob Andrews) and Lowe’s The Abominable Showman.

Admirable recycling, perhaps, but a bigger-than-usual reliance on covers to fill It’s All Over Now suggests pressure to deliver to a deadline less than six months after New Favourites hit the racks. The cor-blimey-guvnor Cockney reggae of the title track is a massive misfire, though they’re on safer ground with the fuzzy garage stomp of Tommy Roe’s Everybody and the minimalist soul groove of the Stax classic Private Number.

Dave Edmunds’ production on New Favourites had enhanced the Brinsleys’ beat group sensibilities after a succession of albums closer in spirit to the rustic Americana of The Band and the nascent Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter scene, and here, with the desk manned by Steve Verroca (Link Wray, Juicy Lucy) there’s a whiff of over-egged pudding, a sound geared to US radio but lacking the sparkle of its predecessor.

The album’s chequered past includes a couple of previous attempts to take it to market, stymied by copyright and distribution snafus, and Gomm himself infamously “burned” several dozen bootlegs for friends, fans and contacts. At last it’s more easily available, so that a new legion of listeners can, in the words of one of the group’s best-loved songs, surrender to the rhythm.
by Terry Staunton

Despite Brinsley Schwarz’s management’s legendarily disastrous attempt to break America the first time, with a badly planned press junket and publicity event surrounding their Fillmore East debut, they were determined to give it one last try with this album. It may well have done so, too, with a pub rock by way of Nashville sound and the first recording of singer Nick Lowe and guitarist Ian Gomm’s song 'Cruel to Be Kind'. The problem was that the band was also in the process of breaking up.

The album was shelved for the first time and languished on a shelf at Rockfield Studios. Meanwhile Brinsley Schwarz had launched the successful careers of its members: Nick Lowe and Ian Gomm as solo artists, guitarist Brinsley Schwarz and Bob Andrews as the nucleus of The Rumour, and Billy Rankin as a member of Big Jim Sullivan’s Tiger.

In a rescue effort that should earn Ian Gomm a service award for the arts, he prevented the album’s master tapes from being destroyed in the 80s. “When I came to Wales to work at this recording studio, and help build it, Royal Studios it’s called, we had a sixteen-track recorded there that took two-inch tape,” Gomm says. “We’d wired the studio up and wanted to test it, and I thought two-inch tape, that’s what that Brinsleys album was recorded on. So I phoned up Kingsley Ward at Rockfield Studio and said ‘Do you remember that Brinsleys album that never got finished?’ And Kingsley said: ‘Funny you should mention that we’re clearing out the tape library this week and that’s going in the dumper.’ So I got in my car and I drove that afternoon to Rockfield and rescued it. Then I mixed it down because I had the studio time.”

'It’s All Over Now' was again scheduled to be released in the 80s but was then withdrawn – for a second time. Undaunted, Gomm sold CD-Rs of the album for years on his website.

The album sounds like a bar band on the verge of a massive breakthrough, but the choice of material designed to achieve that breakthrough in America is somewhat odd. There is the expected country-tinged rock, but there’s also a strange glut of AM radio sweetness emphasizing sugary harmonies and nods to early soul. The band’s interpretation of white soul works best on their brilliant version of Garnet Mimms’ 1966 hit 'I’ll Take Good Care of You' but is baffling on 'God Bless (Whoever Made You)', recorded by Jona Lewie a few years later.

Nick Lowe’s voice is rich and unabashedly sentimental, somehow cutting through the heavy orchestral backing on 'As Lovers Do' (written by Dave Edmunds) and 'Hey Baby (They’re Playing Our Song)' that seem taken from early 60's American pop vocal groups. Lowe uses his effective and now well-established narrative voice of a wayward lover, who is well aware that he is a bit of a bastard, swanning back into someone’s life on 'We Can Mess Around' and 'Private Number', either of which could have been an early Rumours song.

The lovely early version of 'Cruel to Be Kind' here is much mellower and less choppy than the well-known hit from Nick Lowe’s solo album 'Labour of Lust'. A similar version was recorded for the B-side to Lowe’s 'Little Hitler'. It’s by far the strongest original track and undoubtedly would have been the first single off 'It’s All Over Now'. Glimpses of Rockpile to come, 'Everybody' and 'Give Me Back My Love' are the hardest rocking and least treacly moments on the record. There is a pointless instrumental, 'Do The Cod', and a silly reggae version of Bobby Womack’s 'It’s All Over Now' that was hopefully recorded when they were all very high indeed.

Brinsley Schwarz’s compelling story as a hardworking band enduring strange twists in their career can be found in the accompanying book from Mega Dodo: Brinsley Schwarz: Happy Doing What We’re Doing.
by Kimberly Bright
1. We Can Mess Around (Nick Lowe) - 3:00
2. Cruel To Be Kind (Ian Gomm, Nick Lowe) - 2:47
3. As Lovers Do (Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe) - 3:56
4. I'll Take Good Care Of You (Bert Berns, Jerry Ragovoy) - 3:58
5. Hey Baby (They're Playing Our Song) (Carole Bayer Sager, Marvin Hamlisch) - 3:14
6. Do The Cod (Billy Rankin, Bob Andrews, Brinsley Schwarz, Ian Gomm, Nick Lowe) - 2:23
7. God Bless (Whoever Made You) (Ian Gomm, Nick Lowe) - 3:57
8. Everybody (Tommy Roe) - 2:38
9. Private Number (Booker T. Jones, William Bell) - 3:49
10.Give Me Back My Love (Ian Gomm, Nick Lowe) - 3:44
11.It's All Over Now (Bobby Womack, Shirley Womack) - 3:25

Brinsley Schwarz
*Brinsley Schwarz - Guitar, Alto, Tenor Saxophone, Vocals
*Nick Lowe - Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Billy Rankin - Drums, Percussion
*Ian Gomm - Guitar, Vocals
*Bob Andrews - Keyboards, Alto Saxophone, Vocals

Friday, January 15, 2021

Brinsley Schwarz - New Favourites Of Brinsley Schwarz (1974-75 uk, awesome pub roots rock, 2001 bonus tracks remaster)

Pub rock, the English roots rock movement of the early '70s, would never have earned a cult following if it wasn't for Brinsley Schwarz. Initially, Brinsley Schwarz was a rambling, neo-psychedelic folk-rock band that borrowed heavily from Crosby, Stills & Nash and the Grateful Dead. Following a disastrous publicity stunt to promote its debut album, the band went into seclusion outside of London and developed a laid-back, rootsy sound inspired by Eggs Over Easy, an American band that had been playing a mixture of originals and covers in English pubs. Following their conversion to pub rock, the Brinsleys ditched their pretensions of stardom and became a down to earth, self-effacing rock & roll band. Between 1971 and 1974, Brinsley Schwarz toured England innumerable times, playing pubs across the country.

Along the way, they established a circuit for similar bands like Dr. Feelgood and Ducks Deluxe to follow. Though the group was nominally guitarist Brinsley Schwarz's band, bassist/lead vocalist Nick Lowe provided the bulk of the group's songs. Lowe developed a distinctive songwriting voice -- conversational, melodic, offbeat, and funny -- and the band was infused with his skewed sense of humor. Despite strong reviews and a dedicated fan base, the Brinsleys never managed to escape cult status, yet they influenced a legion of other artists, creating an underground, back-to-basics movement that laid the foundation for punk rock. 

Brinsley Schwarz didn't plan to start a grassroots movement -- the bandmembers wanted to be stars. Lowe and Schwarz had already spent several years in Kippington Lodge, a Tunbridge Wells-based guitar pop group that released five singles on Parlophone during the mid-'60s to no success. By 1968, the members of Kippington Lodge were beginning to feel restless with their straight-ahead pop/rock and were eager to explore psychedelia. Keyboardist Bob Andrews joined the band later that year and drummer Billy Rankin came aboard in the fall of 1969. By that time, Kippington Lodge had completely revamped its musical style, evolving into a folk-rock band with psychedelic pretensions and appropriately changing its name to Brinsley Schwarz after the group's lead guitarist. Ironically, it was around this time that Lowe became the band's lead singer and primary songwriter. 

With their final album, Brinsley Schwarz turn in their most pop-oriented record, filled with infectious gems like "The Ugly Things," "Trying to Live My Life Without You," and "(What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding." Lowe's songs were the best he had ever written and show that his ambitions were beginning to conflict with those of the rest of the band. Nevertheless, there isn't a weak song or uninspired performance on New Favourites, making it an excellent farewell album. 
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
1. (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding (Nick Lowe) - 3:33
2. Ever Since You're Gone (Nick Lowe) - 4:05
3. The Ugly Things (Nick Lowe) - 2:46
4. I Got The Real Thing (Nick Lowe, Ian Gomm) - 3:35
5. The Look That's In Your Eye Tonight (Nick Lowe) - 4:10
6. Now's The Time (Allan Clarke, Graham Nash) - 2:05
7. Small Town, Big City (Nick Lowe) - 4:27
8. Trying To Live My Life Without You (Eugene Williams) - 3:22
9. I Like You, I Don't Love You (Nick Lowe, Ian Gomm) - 3:24
10.Down In The Dive (Brinsley Schwarz) - 4:54
11.I've Cried My Last Tear (Naomi Neville) - 2:34
12.(It's Gonna Be A) Bringdown (Ian Gomm) - 2:52
13.Everybody (Tommy Roe) - 2:58
14.There's A Cloud In My Heart (Nick Lowe) - 3:05
Bonus Tracks 11-14

Brinsley Schwarz
*Brinsley Schwarz - Guitar, Alto, Tenor Saxophone, Vocals
*Nick Lowe - Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Billy Rankin - Drums, Percussion
*Ian Gomm - Guitar, Vocals
*Bob Andrews - Keyboards, Alto Saxophone, Vocals
*Carlos Luna - Harmonica

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Man - Welsh Connection (1976 uk, fine guitar prog space rock, 2013 double disc remaster)

The Welsh Connection was originally released on MCA Records back in 1976, and was the eleventh album from the Welsh psychedelic/progressive rock/hard rock act Man. The line-up for the album consisted of Terry Williams (vocals, drums), Phil Ryan (vocals, keyboards), John McKenzie (vocals, bass), Deke Leonard (vocals, guitar), and Micky Jones (vocals, guitar). Esoteric Recordings/Cherry Red have remastered this fine album and included a sizzling live performance from the tour in support of The Welsh Connection, recorded at The Keystone in Berkeley, California.

Things kick off with the irresistible, melodic hard rocker "The Ride and the View", which leads into the driving "Out of Your Head" and the more pop laden "Love Can Find a Way". The band mixes in prog & jazz fusion on the alluring title track, as Jones and Leonard weave plenty of fluid, tasty solos around each other, supported nicely by Ryan's hypnotic keyboards. "Something is Happening" made some waves as a radio single, and you can totally see why with its dreamy instrumentation and melodic, floating vocal harmonies. Quirky prog not far removed from late period Gentle Giant can be heard on "Car Toon", and "Born With a Future" again layers in jazz, prog, and pop into an addicting brew. The bonus track "I'm a Love Taker" is a scorching, heavy blues rocker with some great guitar work, rhythms, and vocals. One of the strong points of this album, and Man in general, is the well rounded vocal attack. You get plenty of that here as all the members take part in the vocal layering on each song.

The second half of the first CD, and the entire second disc, is made up of the Keystone performance, and it's a real good one. For those familiar with Man, they are more known as a live band, and this is another stellar concert to add to their many official live albums. Live, the band takes on a much more aggressive, jamming nature, so the guitars are out in force on cuts like "7171 551", "C'Mon", "Romain", and the classic "Bananas", but also look for strong version of songs from The Welsh Connection as well, as the band played plenty of them at this show. There is also a wonderful performance of "Hard Way to Die" here, as Man go full on prog, with Ryan's sumptuous keyboards taking center stage. Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist John Cipollina, as was customary whenever Man came to California, sits in with the band on this live set.

As is always the case, Esoteric's remaster sounds splendid, and there is a booklet included containing loads of information on the album & bonus live show as well as exciting photographs. Very solid album, excellent reissue=TWO THUMBS UP! 
by Pete Pardo 
Disc 1
1. The Ride And The View (Deke Leonard) - 5:00
2. Out Of Your Head (Deke Leonard) - .4:04
3. Love Can Find A Way (John McKenzie) - 5:13
4. The Welsh Connection (Phil Ryan, Micky Jones) - 7:22 
5. Something Is Happening (Phil Ryan) - 6:19
6. Car Toon (Deke Leonard, Phil Ryan) - 5:58
7. Born With A Future (Micky Jones, Phil Ryan, Deke Leonard) - 6:57
8. I'm A Love Taker (B-Side Of Single) (Deke Leonard) - 2:58
9. Let The Good Times Roll  (Fleecie Moore, Sam Theard) - 2:42 
10.7171 551 (Deke Leonard) - 5:01
11.Hard Way To Die (Micky Jones, Deke Leonard, Ken Whaley, Terry Williams) - 6:37
12.The Welsh Connection (Phil Ryan, Micky Jones) - 8:01
13.Something Is Happening (Phil Ryan) - 6:58
Tracks 1 - 7 The Original Album
Bonus Tracks 8-13
Tracks 9-13 Live recordings from The Keystone, Berkeley, California, August 1976
Disc 2
1. The Ride And The View (Deke Leonard) - 5:42
2. Out Of Your Head (Deke Leonard) - 5:09
3. Born With A Future (Micky Jones, Phil Ryan, Deke Leonard) - 7:18 
4. C'mon (Micky Jones, Phil Ryan, Terry Williams, Clive John) - 17:22
5. Many Are Called, But Few Get Up  (Martin Ace, Clive John, Micky Jones, Deke Leonard, Terry Williams) - 11:32 
6. Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You (Anne Bredon, Erik Darling, Paul Bennett) - 5:32
7. A Hard Way To Live (Deke Leonard) -  3:16
8. Romain (Martin Ace, Clive John, Michael Jones, Deke Leonard, Terry Williams) - 6:02 
9. Bananas (Micky Jones, Phil Ryan, Terry Williams, Clive John) - 10:18
Live recordings from The Keystone, Berkeley, California, August 1976

*Micky Jones - Vocals, Guitar
*Deke Leonard - Vocals, Guitar
*Phil Ryan - Vocals, Keyboards
*John McKenzie - Vocals, Bass
*Terry Williams - Vocals, Drums
*John Cipollina - Guitar
*Nigel Brooke-Heart - Tape Operation, Vocal 
*Caromay Dixon - Vocal 
*Jeffrey Hooper - Vocal 
*Anton Matthews - Vocal 

1969  Man - Revelation (2009 remaster and expanded)
1969  Man - 2 Ozs Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle (2009 remaster)
1971  Man - Man (2007 remaster with extra tracks)
Related Acts
19773  Help Yourself - Reaffirmation An Anthology (2014 Remaster)
1973  Help Yourself - 5 (2004 release)
1976-78  Tyla Gang - Pool Hall Punks / The Complete Recordings 
1967-68  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Lost Gold And Silver (double disc issue)
1968  Quicksilver Messenger Service (2005 japan, 2012 audiophile mini LP replica)
1969  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Happy Trails (2012 Audiophile remaster)
1969  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Shady Grove (2012 Audiophile remaster)
1969  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Castles In The Sand
1970  Q. M. S. - Just For Love  (2005 japan, 2012 audiophile mini Lp replica)  
1970  Q. M. S. - What About Me (2005 japan, 2012 audiophile mini LP replica)
1971  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Quicksliver (2012 Audiophile Vinyl replica)
1972  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Comin` Thru (2012 Audiopfile mini LP replica)  
1975  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Solid Silver
1973  Copperhead - Copperhead (2001 reissue)
1972  Terry Dolan - Terry Dolan (2016 remaster and expanded)

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Jefferson Airplane - After Bathing At Baxter's (1967 us, superb psych rock, 2013 audiophile and 2003 xpanded)

There’s nowhere to begin with After Bathing At Baxter’s than with the cover art, where for a sixteen year old in 1967, I was completely captivated by a tri-winged San Francisco style flying house, complete with marijuana bushes peaking out of the windows, that in full colour was aimlessly winging its way over piles of black and white trash, a sea of pollution and debris, where balloons and coloured confetti (though I was informed that this was blotter acid at the time) were being dispensed over just about any anonymous city in America during the middle of the psychedelic 60’s. Of course over the years I’ve come to learn that this flying house represented the 2400 Fulton Street pad that The Jefferson Airplane called home, and oddly enough wasn’t painted in day-glow paints, but rather totally in black and white, at least from the outside.

While the Surrealistic Pillow album brought The Airplane to center stage, it was After Bathing At Baxter’s that defined this band and the journey into the hearts and minds of the counterculture generation, flagging these high flying minstrels as a group of revolutionaries out to subvert the youth of America. With that in mind, the album is much more psychedelic than people give it credit for being, with pondering lyrics that ask question that could only be asked from seeing the world through psychedeliczed eyes, such as “Will the moon still hang in the sky / when I’m high / when I die?” or “Does the sky look green today?” not to mention the dadaesque feedback that opens the album and a mixture of words such as “armadillo,” injected for no reason at all, other than for the sake of embracing weirdness … and truth be told, that was enough of a reason, especially with Grace wailing away singing “It’s a wild time / I’m doing things that haven’t got a name yet!”.

After Bathing At Baxter’s isn’t an album to be listened to, it’s an album to be assaulted by, as The Airplane attack everything from middle America, to womanhood and everything in-between, and it’s all done as a celebration of freedom and self liberation. There is nothing commercial about this record, it was designed for the hip, those who got the joke before it was spoken, those willing to be a force to be reckoned with. Of course “Somebody To Love” was the soundtrack of the day, yet Surrealistic Pillow, the album the single rose from, stood in stark contrast to what The Airplane were doing live, which was much darker, and plays out here in all of its psychedelic glory. This is not to say by any means that the album does not have its flaws, these flaws are easily heard and have not aged well, but for the time, these aspects (such as overindulgent jams) were pure experimentation that broke new ground, giving The Airplane a surefooted platform from which to take flight on their more controlled and pointed future releases.

With the album composed of songs strung together into mini-suites of sorts to create a bizarre aural collage of lengthy jams, screaming guitars, some extremely beautiful moments, and a great deal of raucous ones, all was mixed with the alchemy of intellectualism, where The Jefferson Airplane manage to embrace the weird and the disconnected, yet at the same time intertwined it all as a freaky acid trip … though surely one I won’t wish to have taken. While nearly contextually unlistenable with today’s ears by those who weren’t there then, I embrace this gem with my total being.

The Fun Facts: Baxter’s was’t a real place, and it certainly was a bath, though in a sense it was.  “Baxter” was the band’s code for LSD, or bathing in acid, so the coded album title would translated to “After Tripping On Acid”.
by Jenell Kesler
1. The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil (Paul Kantner) - 4:35
2. A Small Package Of Value Will Come To You, Shortly (Bill Thompson, Gary Blackman, Spencer Dryden) - 1:34
3. Young Girl Sunday Blues (Marty Balin, Paul Kantner) - 3:32
4. Martha (Paul Kantner) - 3:26
5. Wild Tyme (Paul Kantner) - 3:08
6. The Last Wall Of The Castle (Jorma Kaukonen) - 2:40
7. Rejoyce (Grace Slick) - 4:00
8. Watch Her Ride (Paul Kantner) - 3:11
9. Spare Chaynge (Jack Casady, Jorma Kaukonen, Spencer Dryden) - 9:11
10.Two Heads (Grace Slick) - 3:13
11.Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon (Paul Kantner) - 5:02
Bonus Tracks
12.The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil (Live Long Version) (Paul Kantner) - 11:04
13.Martha (Mono Single Version) (Paul Kantner) - 3:26
14.Two Heads (Alternate Version) (Grace Slick) - 3:15
15.Things Are Better In The East (Demo Version) (Marty Balin) - 2:31
16.Young Girl Sunday Blues (Ιnstrumental Hidden Track) (Marty Balin, Paul Kantner) - 3:59

Jefferson Airplane
*Grace Slick - Piano, Organ, Recorder, Vocals, Lead Vocals    
*Marty Balin - Rhythm Guitar, Lead Vocals 
*Paul Kantner - Rhythm Guitar, Lead Vocals 
*Jorma Kaukonen - Lead Guitar, Sitar, Lead Vocals 
*Jack Casady - Bass
*Spencer Dryden - Drums, Percussion, Horn Arrangement
*Gary Blackman - Vocals
*Bill Thompson - Vocals

Related Acts
1972  Hot Tuna - Burgers (2012 audiophile Vinyl replica)  

Monday, January 11, 2021

Jefferson Airplane - Crown Of Creation (1968 us, pioneer psychedelic rock, 2013 audiophile high definition and 2003 xpanded issue)


“Is it true that I’m no longer young?” Grace Slick sang in “Lather,” the luscious and cinematic opening number of “Crown of Creation.”

Slick was singing about the arrested development of her lover, the Jefferson Airplane drummer Spencer Dryden, but by extension she addressed the fast-forward aging afflicting the San Francisco scene. That sunny Summer of Love had given away to the chill winds of LBJ’s 1968.

“Crown of Creation” finds the Airplane coming of age, wary but not yet transformed into the jaded radical-chic collective that rolled out “Volunteers” a year later. The erratic and playful psychedelia of “After Bathing at Baxter’s” gives way to songwriting for adults:

“Long time since I climbed down this mountain before,” a weary-sounding Paul Kantner sings on “In Time.” “Things I’ve seen here make me want to go running home.”

Slick, a painter, ponders the 1960s’ boho dance — underground art as commerce — on the album’s single, “Greasy Heart”:

    He’s going off the drug thing ’cause his veins are getting big
    He wants to sell his paintings but the market is slow
    They’re only paying him 2 grams now
    For a one-man abstract show

And has anyone ever captured the highs and lows of the hippie era better than Kantner in this lyric from the title track, boiled down to haiku: “You are the crown of creation / and you’ve got no place to go.”

The unease comes packaged beautifully. The band performs with precision and assurance, lead by guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady, team players and not yet a faction. (Their work at times points to the heavy metal of the great live album to follow, “Bless Its Pointed Little Head.”)

Time is a major theme. War and the sickening events of 1968 are the undercurrents. “Crown of Creation” does no duty as a concept album, however. It is a collection of songs, some far better than others, most of them recorded on-the-run while the band met its rock-star obligations.

Despite the album’s prescience and longevity, it remains woefully underrated — here we have Jefferson Airplane at their psychedelic peak. They soon would become a rock band, angry and disenfranchised, but with one great album left in them.

“Crown of Creation” opens with a triple offering of morning maniac music.

Slick’s “Lather” employs studio effects to tell its tale of an aging man child. It was inspired by Dryden’s turning 30, and by the arrest of bassist Casady for nudity. The effects — a child’s fearful query; a blast of firepower from a tank — flirt with kitsch, but hold up well. Slick uses a conversational storyteller’s tone, lovely and knowing. “I’m singing the song quietly and softly, like a little kid,” she recalled years later. All other studio Airplane albums open with rockers; commencing with this quiet number is part of “Crown of Creation’s” confident genius.

Marty Balin and Kantner’s “In Time” celebrates a lover, a hippie chick cast in psychedelic tones, “in the colors of what I feel.” A less obvious companion to “Baxter’s” “Martha.” “In Time” brings to mind the softer side of L.A. band Love.

David Crosby’s “Triad” completes the opening trilogy. Slick finds the humanity in Crosby’s come-on to a pair of competing lovers. It is the closest to an embrace (and reaffirmation) of the hippie ideal to be found on the album, and it remains stunning.

Things get back to Airplane(/Hot Tuna) business as usual with Kaukonen’s “Star Track,” a meditation on fame and the scarcity of time. Kaukonen works out with his wah-wah pedal — the guitar effect is your constant companion on this album — warning the listener: “Running fast you’ll go down slow in the end.”

Balin’s “Share a Little Joke” delivers a seemingly whimsical message, belied by the instrumental chaos just below the surface. “I believe in half of you,” Balin sings to his friend. The song reportedly touches on mental illness.

Drummer Dryden gets credit for the brief bit of electronic music, “Chushingura.” It’s a sort-of sequel to “Baxter’s” “A Small Package of Value Will Come to You, Shortly.” Dryden has said it was inspired by the soundtrack to an old samurai film.

Side 2 opens with more generic Airplane and more wah, as Balin works out on the tambourine-shaking ode to freedom “If You Feel.”

Kantner’s classic title track marches to martial beat. The bandleader foresees the yuppie apocalypse in the pages of a science fiction novel:

    Soon you’ll attain the stability you strive for
    In the only way that it’s granted
    In a place among the fossils of our time

(Kantner borrowed from the post-apocalyptic novel “The Chrysalids.”)

“It’s trying to make the point that science fiction is politics, and politics is science fiction,” Kantner later explained.

“Ice Cream Phoenix” has Kaukonen returning to the scarcity of time, with Slick providing a surreal vocal interlude.

The rocker “Greasy Heart” finds Slick in full badass mode, dispensing advice in a jumble of words straight out of Lewis Carrol. “Don’t ever change, people,” she warns. “Your face will hit the fan.” It’s a slap at cosmetic beauty and plastic people — a la “Plastic Fantastic Lover.” “It sounds like I’m pointing fingers, but (I was) living it,” the former model has said.

“The House on Pooneil Corners” concludes the album with a scalding dose of acid rock. The title and the familiar amp-shaking feedback that begins the song suggest it’s a mirror-image sequel to “The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil” from “Baxter’s.” Kaukonen, Casady and Dryden slash and burn their way through as Slick’s Middle Eastern-influenced vocals summon the darkness.

Lyricists Balin and Kantner’s vision is distinctly apocalyptic:

    Everything someday will be gone except silence
    Earth will be quiet again
    Seas from clouds will wash off the ashes of violence
    Left as the memory of men
    There will be no survivor my friend

Truth in advertising: The cover of “Crown of Creation” showed the band caught up in a mushroom-shaped cloud. The h-bomb, Kantner said, is our civilization’s technological crown — and the thermonuclear holocaust one very possible outcome seen from the badlands of 1968.
1. Lather (Grace Slick) - 2:56
2. In Time (Marty Balin, Paul Kantner) - 4:10
3. Triad (David Crosby) - 4:54
4. Star Track (Jorma Kaukonen) - 3:09
5. Share A Little Joke (Marty Balin) - 3:06
6. Chushingura (Spencer Dryden) - 1:17
7. If You Feel (Gary Blackman, Marty Balin) - 3:20
8. Crown Of Creation (Paul Kantner) - 2:53
9. Ice Cream Phoenix (Charles Cockey, Jorma Kaukonen) - 3:00
10.Greasy Heary (Grace Slick) - 3:25
11.The House At Pooneil Corners (Marty Balin, Paul Kantner) - 5:51
Bonus Tracks 2003
12.Ribump Ba Bap Dum Dum (Spencer Dryden, William Goodwin) - 1:32
13.Would You Like A Snack (Grace Slick, Frank Zappa) - 2:40
14.Share A Little Joke (Mono Single Version) (Marty Balin) - 3:09
15.The Saga Of Sydney Spacepig (Spencer Dryden) - 8:00
16.Candy Man (Hidden Track) (Rev. Gary Davis) - 2:23

Jefferson Airplane
*Marty Balin - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
*Grace Slick - Vocals, Piano, Organ
*Paul Kantner - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Jorma Kaukonen - Lead Guitar, Electric Chicken, Vocals
*Spencer Dryden - Drums, Piano, Organ, Steel Balls, Vocals
*Jack Casady - Yggdrasil Bass
*Arthur Tripp - Percussion
*Gary Blackman - Nose Solo 
*Charles Cockey - Guitar, Vocals
*David Crosby - Guitar
*Bill Goodwin - Talking Drums
*Dan Woody - Bongos, Drums
*William Goodwin - Drums (Track 12)
*Timothy Davis - Drums
*Gene Twombly - Sound Effects
*Art Tripp - Percussion (Track 13)
*Don Preston - Keyboards (Track 13)
*Frank Zappa - Guitar, Vocals (Track 13)
*Ian Underwood - Woodwind (Track 13)

Related Acts
1972  Hot Tuna - Burgers (2012 audiophile Vinyl replica)  

Sunday, January 10, 2021

New Colony Six - Treat Her Groovy (1968-69 beautiful sunny baroque beat, 2005 remaster)

Originally from Chicago, the members of New Colony Six had moved to California where, before their discovery, they lived in the same apartment building as Paul Revere & the Raiders. Though it's not obvious from the cover, this 22-track CD compilation is basically a reissue of the New Colony Six's third and fourth LPs (1968's Revelations and 1969's Attacking a Straw Man), presenting the albums one after the other with their original track sequences. This was the era in which the Chicago band, which started off with a rawer garage pop sound, softened its approach considerably and found some modest national commercial success.

Those who swear by the group's earlier work (particularly the excellent 1966 debut, Breakthrough) are likely to be disappointed by the far more mainstream harmony pop/rock of these records, though on the other hand, fans of groups like the Association might favor this era more than the previous one. Including the hits "I Will Always Think About You," "Can't You See Me Cry," "Things I'd Like to Say," "I Want You to Know," "Barbara, I Love You," and "I Could Never Lie to You," it's on the mild and indistinctive side of the style, sometimes incorporating light orchestration and brass, and making an unlikely venture into country on "Just Feel Worse." 

On Revelations, there's perhaps a slightly brasher, less slickly produced feel than numerous somewhat similar California sunshine pop acts had, as well as a greater British Invasion influence, though the baroque touches common to much late-'60s baroque rock are present. The British rock elements recede and jazzier ones (especially "Ride the Wicked Wind") rise more to the fore on the more middle-of-the-road Attacking a Straw Man, concluding with the maudlin recitation "Prairie Grey." 
by Richie Unterberger
1. I Will Always Think About You (Ronnie Rice) - 2:26
2. Dandy Handy Man (Gerry Van Kollenburg , Ray Graffia) - 2:23
3. Girl Unsigned (Gerry Van Kollenburg , Ray Graffia) - 2:07
4. Treat Her Groovy (Ronnie Rice) - 2:17
5. Summertime's Another Name For Love (Pat McBride) - 2:33
6. Just Feel Worse (Gerry Van Kollenburg , Pat McBride) - 1:50
7. Can't You See Me Cry (Gerry Van Kollenburg , Ray Graffia) - 2:38
8. We Will Love Again (Gerry Van Kollenburg , Pat McBride) - 2:04
9. Things I'd Like To Say (Les Kummel, Ronnie Rice) - 2:23
10.Hold Me With Your Eyes (Gerry Van Kollenburg , Ray Graffia) - 2:24
11.You Know Better (Dave Robbins, Pat McBride) - 2:11
12.Barbara, I Love You (Billy Herman, Chuck Jobes., Les Kummel) - 2:46
13.Free (Billy Herman, Chuck Jobes) - 2:11
14.Love, That's The Best I Can Do (Chuck Jobes) - 2:04
15.Come And Give Your Love To Me (Chuck Jobes., Gerry Van Kollenburg , Ray Graffia) - 2:07
16.I Could Never Lie To You (Pat McBride, Ronnie Rice) - 2:44
17.Ride A Wicked Wind (Billy Herman, Chuck Jobes) - 2:46
18.I Want You To Know (Les Kummel) - 2:40
19.Sun Within You (Gerry Van Kollenburg , Ray Graffia) - 2:44
20.Blue Eyes (Ronnie Rice) - 1:43
21.Come Away With You (Chuck Jobes., Ray Graffia) - 2:41
22.Prairie Grey (Billy Herman, Chuck Jobes) - 2:42

*Ray Graffia - Tambourine, Vocals
*Chick James - Drums
*Pat McBride - Harmonica, Percussion, Vocals 
*Craig Kemp - Organ 
*Wally Kemp - Bass 
*Gerry Van Kollenburg - Guitar, Vocals 
*Ronnie Rice - Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar
*Ellery Temple - Bass 
*Les Kummel - Bass 
*Billy Herman - Vocals, Drums 
*Chuck Jobes - Harpsichord, Keyboards, Organ, Piano 

Friday, January 8, 2021

Ro-D-Ys - Earnest Vocation (1968 holland, wonderful swinging beat with baroque shades, 2013 remaster)

Earnest Vocation, released in 1968 by Philips, is probably the Ro-D-y’s finest hour. While history primarily remembers the Outsiders, Q65, The Golden Earrings, the Motions and Group 1850, there were many other excellent rock groups from the Netherlands such as Sandy Coast, Supersister, Bintangs, Cosmic Dealer and of course this group, the Ro-D-y’s.

Harry Rijnbergen, the band’s chief songwriter, was also lead guitarist and vocalist of the Ro-D-y’s. His vocals sound like a cross between Roy Wood and Ray Davies. What set these songs apart from Rijnbergen’s peers are the sophisticated lyrics - remember English wasn’t his first language and unique song structures – they simply do not sound like anything I’ve heard. Of the twelve tracks on this LP, only one of them falls short of the mark, the music hall dud Everytime A Second Time. 

There are many highlights though which include the dynamic phased rocker Easy Come, Easy Go, the weird psychedelia of Dr. Sipher and the bouncy Let It Be Tomorrow. Some tracks feature strings and brass such as the complex title cut while others betray a strong european folk influence – check out the bridge of album opener Unforgettable Girl or the folk rock track No Place Like Home. This is definitely one of the better Euro psych albums I’ve heard, a minor classic worth seeking out.

Also worth checking out is the Ro-D-y’s debut album, Just Fancy from 1967 which is nederbeat pop/garage but a strong effort nonetheless with many highlights. The group also released many fine non LP singles throughout the 60s. 
by Jason Nardelli
1. Unforgettable Girl (Single Version) - 2:51
2. Isn't It A Good Time - 2:09
3. Love Is Almost Everywhere - 3:09
4. Robinetta - 2:59
5. No Place Like Home - 4:19
6. Everytime A Second - 3:26
7. Earnest Vocation - 4:54
8. Easy Come, Easy Go - 2:34
9. Look For Windchild - 2:33
10.Let It Be Tomorrow - 2:13
11.Dr. Sipher - 3:14
12.Peace Ants - 3:51
All songs written by Harry Rijnbergen

*Harry Rijnbergen - Guitar, Vocals
*Joop Hulzebos - Guitar, Keyboards
*Wiechert Kenter - Bass, Trumpet, Vibraphone
*Bennie Groen - Drums 
*De Schuyt - Organ
*Jan Vennik - Saxophone

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Ro-D-Ys - Take Her Home (1967-69 holland, fascinating nederbeat)

Before the band became widely known as Ro-d-Ys, they had been active for several years under the name Popular Pipers Boys Band . When they became professional musicians in 1966 , the name of the band was changed to Rowdies, but a number of bands already appeared to perform under that name, and they decided to rename the band Ro-d-Ys. They were discovered by Wim Zomer , who attended drama school in Arnhem and was Winschoten originated, but it didn't last, soon after they met  Hans van Hemert , who worked for Phonogram, took the group under his wing. Van Hemert, had already worked with Q65 , Zen and Groep 1850.

Their first single You Better Take Care Of Yourself / Wheels, Wheels, Wheels was released in December 1966. In 1967 a number of singles followed, mainly played by Radio Veronica . The group toured through Italy and England , and records sold well in Germany and Belgium as well. The first LP Just Fancy garnered good reviews. When drummer Bennie Groen had to join the army to fulfill his military service , Dick Beekman (ex. Cuby + Blizzards) joined the band. After his discharge from the army, however, Groen returned as a regular drummer. 

1968 was to be the big year for Ro-d-Ys . Α concept album entitled Earnest Vocation, was released and was based on the novel Little John by Frederik van Eeden. Producer Van Hemert approached Bert Paige, who took the arragements and the orchestration of the songs. The album fitted with the psychedelic era and was well received, but the singles released from the album were not very successful. When Rijnbergen temporarily left the band in September 1968, their popularity was already declining sharply. In the same period the group broke up with manager Wim Zomer. 

With a new manager Krijn Torringa the band (and with Harry Rijnbergen on board again) tried a new comeback in  1969 with Annet Hesterman  as a singer. A year earlier she had declined an offer to become a singer with Shocking Blue . However, the new single Winter Woman / Looking for Something Better did not go as much as they expected.. Rijnbergen and Groen then left the band, to join Zen. After a few unsuccessful singles, they disbanded in 1970.

Joop Hulzebos died on 27 September 1998, aged 52. On March 15, 2003, Berend Groen passed away at the age of 56. On September 23, 2006, on the initiative of the Ro-d-Ys Foundation, a monument for the band was unveiled in Oude Pekela. 
1. You Better Take Care Of Yourself - 2:27
2. Take Her Home - 2:37
3. Just Fancy - 3:02
4. Tomorrow - 2:33
5. Just Go Go - 2:54
6. Destination - 3:03
7. I Still Got You - 2:03
8. Let's Try - 2:29
9. Nothing To Change A Mind - 2:31
10.Sleep Sleep Sleep - 3:08
11.Anytime - 3:13
12.Unforgettable Girl - 3:08
13.Earnest Vacation - 4:59
14.Let It Be Tomorrow - 2:17
15.Look For Windchild - 2:38
16.Winter Woman - 4:25
All compositions by Harry Rijnbergen
Track 1 from single You Better Take Care Of Yourself 1966
Track 2 from single Take Her Home 1967
Tracks 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 from LP Just Fancy 1967
Track 9 from single Nothing To Change A Mind 1967
Track 10 from single Sleep, Sleep, Sleep 1968
Track 11 from single Anytime 1968
Tracks 12, 13, 14, 15 from LP Earnest Vocation 1968
Track 16 from single Winter Woman 1969

*Harry Rijnbergen - Guitar, Vocals
*Joop Hulzebos - Guitar, Keyboards
*Wiechert Kenter - Bass, Trumpet, Vibraphone
*Bennie Groen - Drums 
*Dick Beekman - Drums
*Annet Hesterman - Vocals

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Flying Burrito Brothers - Buritto Deluxe (1970 us, impressive americana country rock, 2020 SACD)

Burrito Deluxe was oringally released by A&M records in 1969.  There are some good songs onboard, most notably mellow country-rockers “Cody, Cody” and “God’s Own Singer.”  These are clearly the LP’s best numbers.  Parsons and company even cover “Wild Horses” a few years before the Rolling Stones included it on their Sticky Fingers LP.  On the surface Burrito Deluxe seems like a good enough follow-up to The Gilded Palace of Sin but further listening reveals some major flaws.  For one, the songwriting is inconsistent: Burrito Deluxe yields no true classics on par with “Christine’s Tune,”  “Hot Burrito #1,” or “Hot Burrito #2.”  Parsons at this point was losing interest in the band he and Chris Hillman co-founded.  Was Parsons spending too much time with Keith Richards or perhaps writing songs and preparing for his brief solo career?  

Aspects that made the Burrito’s debut so great, the fuzz guitars, those strong soul and country influences (what Parsons referred to as Cosmic American Music) and the unity in performance are missing.  Instead the Burritos go for a harder rocking bar band sound as heard on tracks like Bob Dylan’s “If You Gotta Go” and the Sweetheart era outtake “Lazy Days.”  “Lazy Days” is professional songcraft, a decent enough number but the Dylan cover along with “Man In The Fog” is rather sloppy – this is not the Flying Burrito Brothers I know.  Other tracks like “Image of Me”, “Farther Along” and “Older Guys” are respectable, gutsy country-rock efforts but again, nothing groundbreaking or classic.

So on a whole, this is a solid album for the country-rock genre, definitely better than what the average band was releasing back in the late 60s/early 70s.  I’d go out on a limb and say that the Burrito’s self titled 3rd album and Last of the Red Hot Burritos (live) may be more consistent records – these records are without Gram Parsons too!  Listening to Burrito Deluxe reminds us that Parsons’ head was elsewhere at the time.  It feels as though the band is rushing through each number without any heart or true committment and because of this, Burrito Deluxe suffers from an unfocused sound.  All complaints aside, Burrito Deluxe is still well worth a spin and an essential albeit baffling country-rock/Americana LP.
by Jason Nardelli
1. Lazy Days (Gram Parsons) - 3:14
2. Image Of Me (Harlan Howard, Wayne Kemp) - 3:20
3. High Fashion Queen (Chris Hillman, Gram Parsons) - 2:08
4. If You Gotta Go (Bob Dylan) - 1:51
5. Man In The Fog (Bernie Leadon, Gram Parsons) - 2:32
6. Farther Along (J.R. Baxter, W.B. Stevens) - 4:02
7. Older Guys (Chris Hillman, Bernie Leadon, Gram Parsons) - 2:30
8. Cody, Cody (Chris Hillman, Gram Parsons) - 2:47
9. God's Own Singer (Bernie Leadon) - 2:07
10.Down In The Churchyard (Chris Hillman, Gram Parsons) - 2:22
11.Wild Horses (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) - 6:26

The Flying Burrito Brothers
*Gram Parsons - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Keyboards
*Chris Hillman - Vocals, Bass, Mandolin
*Sneaky Pete Kleinow - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Bernie Leadon - Vocals, Guitar, Dobro
*Michael Clarke - Drums
*Leon Russell - Piano 
*Byron Berline - Fiddle
*Tommy Johnson - Tuba
*Buddy Childers - Cornet, Flugelhorn
*Leopoldo C. Carbajal - Accordion
*Frank Blanco - Percussion

Related Acts
1968  The Byrds - Sweetheart Of The Rodeo  (Double Disc Set)