Monday, December 31, 2012

Chillum - Chillum...Plus (1971 uk, sensational experimental fusion heavy progressive rock)



Chillum was one of the bands featured on the now famous Mushroom label, which has become one of the most collectable independent labels from the early seventies. The label's small release schedule, the originality of its artists and the diversity of their music, almost guarantee that vinyl collectors prize ownership of an original Mushroom issue for musical content and rarity alike. 

The label was founded by Vic Keary, who recorded most of its releases at London's Chalk Farm studios, where he worked as an engineer. It was Vic's vitality and enthusiasm that ensured bands like Chillum were released. The Chillum album (this is supposed to be the 3rd Secondhand album) has a tale or two behind its release. Secondhand had parted company with their guitarist and were involved in a seemingly fruitless search for a replacement. 

One prospective axeman was Tony McGill; his audition, held at the Chalk Farm studios, was fortunately recorded and it was during this session that he and the band formed such an instant rapport that Vic, taping everything as usual, just allowed the tape to run. Now we have a chance to hear the raw, unedited result of this first meeting with Tony as "Brain Strain ". 

After a break, another jam session took place - "Yes We Have No Pajamas ". The laughter that can be heard at the beginning of Chillum's "Land Of A Thousand Dreams " is attributable to a couple of young doctors from the nearby Royal Free Hospital, who wandered into the studios because they could hear the band from the Belmont Pub next door (now called The Engine Room), where they often went for a drink. 

This epic session extended into early morning hours, when drummer Kieran fell asleep after recording his drum solo. Vic recalls with obvious relish that breathing or snoring mightily, with headphones still clamped to his ears, Kieran's somnolent efforts were recorded and then played back to him, so he was able to double track for about three minutes in perfect sync while still asleep, thus providing the ending "percussion" track for "Land Of A Thousand Dreams ". 

The grunt at the very end represents engineer Vic's none too delicate wake up boot. Its this raw, as it happened, unrehearsed craziness that shines through the playing. Chillum's music has much of the originality and inventiveness these musicians brought to their releases, with unfamiliar time sequences and rhythm patterns on some of the tracks. 

The lengthy workouts and the live, unrestrained format allowed them free reign to experiment with the unusual in the informal atmosphere these sessions generated. The acoustic track "Promenade Des Anglais " was Tony's interpretation of a song Ken had written about a street in the south of France, where the band often played on tours. The bonus tracks "Fairy Tale" and "Celebration" were recordings made after the band returned from a further European tour; these were never released, as this line up split up shortly afterwards. "This Is Not Romance" was a recording made by Ken with just a Steinway grand piano, just before the main album was recorded. 

This song was never used on any other album. "Incubator" was a track created by engineer Mike Craig, using a Leslie-type speaker and on audio oscillator. The sleeve credits on the album deserve some explanation. The band and Vic decided to use pseudonyms, because a couple of their overseas distributors suggested they release a session featuring some famous London musicians, even if they played under assumed names. 

So, for the record, Ken became Elliot Ness, Kieran was Max Fish, George changed to Sticky Schmaltz and Tony, for no apparent reason, evolved into Buddy Cuddy. Engineers Vic and Mike Craig were not spared this evolutionary process and duly became Blind Joe Smith and Herr Von Tskutting. The distributor's reaction is unfortunately unknown. Chillum's album sleeve was produced "cottage style", after the first attempt was banned by Music Week. 

Taking the Beatles White Album as their influence, the band hand printed, painted and stickered each plain sleeve, using car aerosol spray, an old printing set and some rubber stamps. By mid 1972, the Mushroom label ceased to record and release albums. This was a tough time for Vic and his circle of close musician friends. It was with great sadness that he admitted defeat, forced to stop releasing a series of highly original albums that so closely reflected his love of music. But the musical force that was Ken Elliot drove Chillum & Secondhand onward. 

Lacking a label did nothing to stop the creative process and shortly after the final demise of Mushroom, Seventh Wave were born from the remains of the previous bands. They released two albums "Things To Come" and “PSI-FI"on the Gull label in 1974 and 1975.
Tracks
1. Introduction by Brain Surgeons from R.F. Hospitial - 0:16
2. Brain Strain (Elliott, Hart, O'Connor, McGill) - 21:42
3. Land Of A Thousand Dreams (Elliott) - 1:19
4. Too Many Bananas (O'Connor) - 4:11
5. Yes! We Have No Pajamas (Elliott, Hart, O'Connor, McGill) - 10:33
6. Promenade Des Anglais (Elliott) - 2:04
7. Fairy Tale (McGill) - 8:07
8. Celebration (McGill, Elliott) - 6:08
9. This Is Not Romance (Elliott) - 5:13
10. Incubator TLl (Craig, Elliott) - 2:45
11. Incubator Tk.2 (Craig, Elliott) - 4:00

Chillum
*Ken Elliot - Keyboards, Vocals
*Rob Elliot - Vocals
*Tony McGill - Guitar
*George Hart - Bass
*Kieran O'Connor - Drums

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The Insect Trust - Hoboken Saturday Night (1970 us, amazing blues jazz folk psych)



So declares Nancy Jeffries, shareholder of the Insect Trust, which congealed in Memphis circa 1966 and melted away in Hoboken by 1971. Strictly speaking, "everybody" was a quintet. Jersey-born Jeffries was the singer, sucked into the Memphis scene after her first band secured a residency in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and abandoned their trek to San Francisco. There she met reed player/rock critic Robert Palmer and fell for Skip James rediscoverer and guitar acolyte Bill Barth. Soon Barth and Jeffries visited New York and wound up renting a place in the same cheap old Hoboken building occupied by Luke Faust, who joined them on banjo, fiddle, and harmonica after they all shared a brief fling with Peter Stampfel's Holy Modal Rounders. Back in came Palmer, who had moved north after college and was writing for a radio-financed freebie masterminded by the guy who later gave the world Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. New Orleans-born saxophonist Trevor Koehler hooked up via a crazed Memphis beatnik they knew.

The quintet included at least two superb musicians: Barth, ranked by James biographer Stephen Calt with the devil man himself, and Gil Evans regular Koehler. But it did not include a rhythm section. This made it hard for them to play out, as did their tendency to traipse off to Tennessee. But it also threw them in with some unlikely sidemen. Drummer Buddy Saltzman, superbassist Chuck Rainey and rhythm guitarist Hugh McCracken, the hired hands on Capitol's 1968 The Insect Trust, were renowned studio cats who also backed, for instance, the Archies--which is less surprising when you learn that manager Steve Dubow came aboard straight from the Cowsills. 

The long-lost 1970 masterwork you've purchased is more ragtag; Joseph Macho and Charlie Macey, for instance, have passed into obscurity. But in addition to nonpareil r&b drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie (who's on the debut too), Atco reimbursed contributors including avant bassist William Folwell (Albert Ayler, Buddy Guy), pro bassist Bob Bushnell (Mickey & Silvia, Ian & Sylvia) and, on two tracks, Elvin Jones, the premier jazz drummer of our time.

In 1998 interviews posted by the Perfect Sound Forever netzine, Barth--amid claims that he was "never really a big Insect Trust fan" and that the project must have been a failure because its sole purpose was "making plenty of money"--hits paydirt: "I consciously tried to keep the musical ideas separate and distinct. Fusion music was beginning to happen in those days, and I personally regarded it as mush." Note that Barth assumes leadership of this band he didn't like, the one Jeffries just called "everybody's." Note that Jeffries has also recalled, "Bill was the leader because he was the biggest asshole." Compare Faust's analysis: "The band was a democracy--Bill was the leader but he was laid back." Then return to Barth's point. 

The Insect Trust did not make fusion music. They encompassed blues and old-timey and what was called folk-rock and plenty of jazz and, quiet as it's kept, bubblegum, too. But except for the bubblegum, submerged in the unobtrusive competence that underpins The Insect Trust and the quickened tune sense that sparks Hoboken Saturday Night, the ingredients didn't fuse into mush. They coexisted, strikingly in many of the best cases but always easily and naturally. This was pluralistic tolerance in action, at once traditionalist, futuristic and entranced with the here-and-now.

It was something else too--bohemian. Why else begin with a 35-second opening snatch composed by blind Manhattan street musician Louis "Moondog" Hardin, for decades a fixture in his Viking or Native American leathers at Sixth Avenue and 54th Street? "Be a hobo and go with me/From Hoboken to the sea," quaver Faust and Barth over Palmer's recorder obligato and somebody's bongos. Then Jeffries belts, drawls, swallows and surrounds the title credo about having fun because there's nothing better to do. The groove is solid if not quite in the pocket, with mild mayhem all around including more recorder. 

By the time her three minutes are up, Jeffreys is talking gibberish or speaking in tongues, only to right herself on the lovely lope of "Eyes of a New York Woman"--Bushnell-sounding bass line that never stumbles, harmonizing horns, wearily wistful recorder solo, literary lyric lifted from Thomas Pynchon's V. As a traveling man promises escape on the Barth-Jeffries "Ragtime Millionaire," the horns say hello New Orleans-style, with Palmer picking up his clarinet and Folwell and/or kibitzing beatnik buddy Warren Gardner tootling trumpet.

But the horns don't fully assert themselves till Koehler's "Somedays." An infectious Diddleybeat drives a garbled lyric that kind of begins "I can't ask why who knows when/Because it is and then again" and may or may not wonder whether "we're crazy." But it's the unison reeds that define the track's freneticism. Which--more yin and yang--is immediately corrected by William and Arloha Folwell's pastoral love song "Our Sister the Sun," where Jones's bish-bashing waltz time and bassist Folwell's spirit quest gently tether a clarinet-dominated outro that carries the tune past seven minutes on an album where only one other track exceeds 3:23. In 1970, that seemed a suitable farewell to side one, but on CD it leads to another gear switch: Faust's "Reciprocity," the catchiest, liveliest, silliest and nicest song on the record: "Woke up with this tune in my head/It said, 'You're dead.'" Faust disagrees, with horns and a second-line march to back him up.

The middle of the second side is where vinyl albums used to let up, and there is one dip, Jeffries' breathy rendition of a pretty Koehler tune that doesn't justify the grand title "Reincarnations." But before then, she has her proudest moment, the preemptively feminist/womanist "Trip on Me," where she unlooses her assertive voice, a loud mix of booze, smoke, brass and Middle Eastern scales, on lines like "Understand you're just another man/Everything you touch you don't have to own." "I've done all I can, I'm only human, I'm me," she abruptly concludes--only then once again there's a switch. 

Sprightly banjo-and-recorder that recalls Othar Turner's panpipe blues leads into Jeffries's sweet voice, the murmured lyric something about a train that ends with a reassuring, "Hold me tight, Daddy, everything is OK/I'll stay"--which segues immediately on the same track, into a Faust folk song about the assassination of James Garfield. Then the dip, and then, incredibly, the peak: a fully orchestrated version of a ditty about a play date involving spaceships written and initially sung by Koehler's six-ish son Glade. Banjo, hand drums, grownup duet, crazy unison horn section and Elvin Jones all work and play well with others to climax this joyously eccentric and intensely humanistic album. Yes, the literal ending is nearly six minutes of Koehler and Gardner's wonderful instrumental-plus-scat "Ducks." But it's a coda--a prequel to a sequel, a glimpse of a next that never came.

Anyone who wonders what the hippie '60s were like--or could be like, with the arrant nonsense and obsessive back-biting avoided or suppressed--can find out from this true collective. Not the Beatles or the Stones--they were different, bigger and often better, mass culture. Hoboken Saturday Night--like Have Moicy!, the later and smaller and more pastoral and perfect album Peter Stampfel helped actualize, and maybe the Dead's Aoxomoxoa or even Dylan's Basement Tapes--is subcultural. All involve folkies untouched by self-righteous sentimentality.

Three of the Insect Trust are not gone. Koehler--responsible for Moondog and Jones and "Glade Song," all decisive touches--committed suicide in 1976, a genius misfit to his unnecessary end. Palmer died of liver failure in 1997, a former New York Times staffer who left behind two important books (Deep Blues and Rock & Roll: An Unruly History) and much uncollected journalism and scholarship. Barth was painting in Amsterdam when a heart attack got him in 2000. 

Faust still lives in Hoboken, where he co-directs the Monroe Street Movement Space and teaches tai chi. "Surprised that in later life I was able to function," Jeffries became an a&r luminary, signing the likes of Suzanne Vega and Ziggy Marley before she lost her Elektra vice-presidency in 2000. Understandably, she's feeling disaffected. She thinks bands aren't in it for the music anymore. She's wrong--there are many more such now than in the '60s. But if any of them have a Hoboken Saturday Night in them, I wish they'd tell me about it.
by Robert Christgau
Tracks
1. Be A Hobo (Louis "Moondog" Hardin) - 0:35
2. Hoboken Saturday Night (Nancy Jeffries , Robert Palmer, Bill Barth) - 3:00
3. The Eyes Of A New York Woman (Jeff Ogden, Thomas Pynchon) - 3:08
4. Ragtime Millionaire (Nancy Jeffries, Bill Barth) - 3:20
5. Somedays (Trevor Koehler) - 2:47
6. Our Sister The Sun (Arloha Folwell, William Folwell) - 7:20
7. Reciprocity (Luke Faust) - 3:23
8. Trip On Me (Nancy Jeffries, Robert Palmer, Bill Barth) - 2:45
9.a. Now Then Sweet Man (Trevor Koehler)
b. Mr Garfield (Traditional arr. by Luke Faust) - 3:07
10.Reincarnations (Trevor Koehler) - 3:15
11.Glade Song (Luke Faust, Trevor Koehler) - 3:00
12.Ducks (Trevor Koehler, Warren Gardner) - 5:40

Musicians
*Nancy Jeffries  -  Vocals
*Robert Palmer  - Alto Saxophone, Clarinet, Recorder
*Trevor Koehler  - Baritone Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Piccolo Flute, Flute, Drum
*William Folwell - Bass
*Bob Bushnell- Bass
*Joseph Macho- Bass
*Charlie Macey  - Bass, Rhythm Guitar
*Bernard "Pretty" Purdie -Drums
*Charles Nealy -Drums
*Donald MacDonald -Drums
*Elvin Jones -Drums
*Bill Barth - Guitar, Steel Guitar
*Luke Faust - Harmonica, Banjo, Electric Guitar, Fiddle
*Hugh McCracken - Rhythm Guitar
*Ralph Casale- Rhythm Guitar
*William Folwell  - Trumpet
*Warren Gardner  - Trumpet

1968  The Insect Trust

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Insect Trust - The Insect Trust (1968 us, superb jazzy blues folk psych)



Back in the '60s, most white blues fans trying to play the music took the approach of struggling to sound as serious and authentic as possible, and a big part of the charm of the Insect Trust's debut album is that, by accident or design, they went in an entirely different direction. 

While the Insect Trust were clearly and affectionately influenced by classic blues and folk, they were also eager to mess around with it, and Robert Palmer and Trevor Koehler's horns and woodwinds often throw this music into a loopy, atonal, and acid-infused direction while the loose, slightly rickety sound of Bill Barth and Luke Faust's guitars and banjos honors the styles found on vintage 78s just as their rock-oriented chops keep the results from sounding as if they spent much time actually learning the original riffs. 

Given the loose but insistent backporch funk of this music -- perhaps held in place by guest musicians Bernard Purdie, Hugh McCracken, and Chuck Rainey -- the sweet tone of Nancy Jeffries' vocals seems a bit out of place, but she never seems less than committed, and she gives "World War I Song" and "Declaration of Independence" a full-bodied reading that fits their meaning, if they don't sound especially "bluesy." 

And the final two cuts, "Mountain Song" and "Going Home," take off into a never-never land of pastoral avant-garde whimsy that exists in a world all its own. the Insect Trust refined their worldview on their second, last, and finest album, 1970's Hoboken Saturday Night, but their debut has more than its fair share of lovely moments and is an engaging example of roots music fans letting their freak flag fly with righteous joy. 
by Mark Deming
Tracks
1. The Skin Game - 4:07
2. Miss Fun City - 5:04
3. World War 1 Song - 3:18
4. Special Rider Blues - 7:45
5. Foggy River Bridge Fly - 1:07
6. Been Here And Gone So Soon - 3:29
7. Declaration Of Independence - 2:30
8. Walking On Nails - 3:12
9. Brighter Than Day - 2:31
10.Mountain Song - 2:49
11.Going Home - 5:10

Musicians
*Bill Barth - Electric, Steel, Bottleneck Guitar, Percussion
*Steve Duboff - Percussion,
*Luke Faust - Banjo, Guitar, Harmonica, Percussion, Vocals
*Nancy Jeffries - Percussion, Vocals
*Trevor Koehler - Upright Bass, Drums, Piano, Piccolo, Baritone Sax, String Arrangements, Wind
*Joe Mack - Bass
*Hugh McCracken - Guitar
*Bob Palmer - Alto , Soprano Recorder,  Clarinet,  Percussion,  Alto Sax, Wind
*Bernard "Pretty" Purdie - Drums
*Chuck Rainey - Bass
*Buddy Saltzman - Drums
*Buddy Southman - Drums

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Magic - Enclosed (1968-69 us, fabulous guitar psych rock with soul and sunny folk shades, Gear Fab release)



Enclosed was the title of Magic's debut album released in 1969, and this Gear Fab reissue by the same name includes the entirety of that debut, but also adds a 1968 single from the original lineup and songs from the 1971 sessions on Motown imprint Rare Earth that culminated in their second self-titled album, so it really can be considered the definitive document of the band. 

On the original single, the band leaned toward rock & roll that was very much informed by black music -- one side was a cover of the Otis Redding classic "That's How Strong My Love Is," the other a Duane King original that Sam & Dave could have easily torn into; in fact, Magic, and particularly its most talented songwriter, King, displayed an almost magic knack for penning songs that sound like lost Southern soul classics. 

King's lead vocals could be strikingly bluesy, and the band cooks throughout the album, moving from the loping country-rock & soul of the opening track "Keep on Movin' On" to the electric blues of "Who Am I to Say?" to the sunny country-rock of "California" to the Stax-styled ballad, "You Must Believe She's Gone." Stax is, in fact, a good reference point for the entire debut album. 

The rhythm section consistently locks into a transcendent groove, and Joey Murcia's fabulous guitar work is slightly busier than Steve Cropper's but approaches the work of that legend, with a proper grit to it that is never wasted. It is surprising that Magic never quite found a wider audience. 

The final track from the first album, "Sound of the Tears Is Silent," sounds as if it could have come from the pen of Smokey Robinson, and it leads perfectly into the band's subsequent stint on Motown's Rare Earth label. 

Most of the songs from that period that show up on the Gear Fab reissue, however, seem to veer closer to streamlinened, hard blues-rocking territory (with a couple of country-ish cuts) and are, as a result, not quite as appealing as the previous soulful material. Still, the early Magic songs alone make this a welcome reissue, especially for lovers of Stax and Southern soul music. 
by Stanton Swihart
Tracks
1.  Keep On Movin' On (Duane King) - 3:22
2.  Indian Sadie (Joey Murcia) - 3:57
3.  You Must Believe She's Gone (Duane King) - 4:04
4.  ETS Zero (Duane King) - 2:42
5.  Wake Up Girl (Duane King) - 2:35
6.  One Minus Two (Duane King) - 2:37
7.  Who Am I To Say? (Duane King) - 1:57
8.  I'll Just Play (Duane King, Joey Murcia) - 11:55  
9.  I Think I Love You (Duane King) - 2:38
10.That's How Strong My Love Is (Jamison) - 3:07
11.California  (Joey Murcia) - 2:51
12. Sound Of The Tears Is Silent (Duane King) - 2:59
13.I Do (Duane King) - 3:26
14.Hold Me Tight (Duane King) - 3:35
15.Compassion (Duane King) - 2:44
16.Be At Peace With Yourself (Duane King) - 3:23
17.Too Many People Starving (Joey Murcia) - 3:45

Magic
*Nick King - Bass, Backing Vocals
*Gary Harger - Drums
*Duane King - Guitar, Lead Vocals
*Joey Murcia - Lead Guitar
*Clyde Hamilton - Organ, Trumpet, Backing Vocals
*Paul Rankin -  Steel Guitar
*Mike Motz - Guitar

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Green Bullfrog - The Green Bullfrog Sessions (1971 uk, classic rock melted with hard blues)



Green Bullfrog - Do the names Speedy, Sleepy, Bevy, Sorry, Boots, Pinta, The Boss, The Vicar and Jordan mean anything to you? The Green Bullfrog sessions were originally released with many of the artists cloaked behind pseudonyms and consequently it sold 428 copies upon its original March 1971 Decca release.

Green Bullfrog was an album resulting from a one-off studio project and recorded between February and May 1970. The album was the idea of producer Derek Lawrence who assembled a group of musicians with whom he had worked in the 1960s. For contractual reasons, the musicians were billed under pseudonyms:Earl Jordan (a.k.a. 'Jordan'), Ritchie Blackmore ('Boots'), Albert Lee ('Pinta'), Big Jim Sullivan ('Boss'), Rod Alexander ('Vicar'), Chas Hodges ('Sleepy'), Tony Ashton ('Bevy'), Matthew Fisher ('Sorry') and Ian Paice ('Speedy'). Obviously the record is a highly sought after rarity.

How's about Ian Paice and Ritchie Blackmore ( Deep Purple, but you knew that ), Tony Ashton ( Ashton, Gardner and Dyke), Chas Hodges and Albert Lee ( Heads, Hands and Feet), Big Jim Sullivan (Tom Jones), Matt Fisher ( Procol Harum), Rod Alexander (JoDo) and Earl Jordan ( Les Humphries Singers)? Thought so - well, for some of them, anyway! This was a fantastic "once-off" blues/rock project put together by Derek Lawrence, who produced Deep Purple's first two albums and who was also working with Wishbone Ash at the time.

Legal constraints prohibited the various musicians from using their real names. The album was first released in 1971 in the US on Decca Records and later on in the UK on MCA Records in 1972. If you have a copy of the original MCA album, frame it and look after it - it's very sought after. It was released on CD,including this stunning cover of the Elias McDaniels classic,( rivaled only by Juicy Lucy's and Tucky Buzzard's versions! ) CD reissue, remixed at Abbey Road studios in London during 1991, re-produced by original producer Derek Lawrence. Originally engineered by Martin Birch; remastered by Peter Vince. A Connoisseur Collection 1991 re-release of the GREEN BULLFROG tapes, re-titled 'The Green Bullfrog sessions', added a further three previously unreleased tracks 'Ain't Nobody Home', 'Louisiana Man' and 'Who Do You Love' were included. Some of the original tracks were also extended and the running order was altered. If you like blues or rock music or are a fan of Blackmore, Deep Purple, Jim Sullivan or Albert Lee you really cannot afford not to hear this album.

The album itself was recorded live on a four track at Kingsway Recorders during two long sessions on April 20th and May 23rd 1970. One session not starting until the early hours of the morning as Blackmore and Paice had been doing a Purple gig earlier. The strings and horns were added on 4th January 1971 with Del Newman. Tracks wise it's a mix of old standards, a Derek Lawrence penned slow blues and the classic million miles an hour (uncredited due to contractual reasons) Blackmore instrumental 'Bullfrog'. Now, to me this is rock'n'roll of great people, listen with due attention, especially track "My Baby Left Me",where there is a duel between guitar-raising Lee & Blackmore, and see if I'm not right!

"Green Bullfrog" opens with the rock and roll stomp of 'My Baby Left Me' and from the very outset the energy and quality is top notch. Its not just the guitars of Blackmore, Lee and Sullivan that hog the limelight either as although this is certainly a 'guitar' album the ivory tinklers get their moments in the sun, as does the bass of Chas Hodges. Ian Paice of course holds the thing together and drives it all along in the way only he can. Vocalist Earl Jordan is no passenger either as he delivers some energetic raspy blues soaked vocals simply dripping in soul and feeling. Why the bloke isn't thought of more highly is beyond me. 'Makin Time' is a great blues rock stomper with a great riff whilst 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy' features some great rock and roll piano to compliment the guitar.

The instrumental 'Bullfrog' is for many the highlight of the album as Blackmore, Sullivan and Lee trade solos like gunslingers. This could be the fastest Blackmore has ever played. No lover of the guitar should miss out on hearing it as it is a truly wonderful peice of music. It has been featured on numerous Blackmore anthologies and retrospectives so shouldn't be difficult to track down even if the original album is nigh on impossible to find. Apparently Blackmore just started playing it when Lawrence suggested they needed an instrumental and Sullivan came in underneath and Lee on top in perfect harmony. It is almost like they are racing or duelling at times. With the swirling organ and driving rhythm of the drums you could certainly imagine it as a Purple track. It certainly deserves its place up there as one of the top Blackmore tracks. 'I Want You' is possibly the weakest track on the album but is still no back number.

A little slower than the majority of the album it still features some great riffy guitar with Blackmore sounding very like he did on the "Fireball" sessions. 'I'm A Free Man' has an almost soul motown feel to it in places in the vocal and Blackmore plays some great guitar again including a nice 'picked' Shuggie Otis type solo to which singer Jordan can be heard saying "thats mean Ritchie baby" before Blackmore launches into another fast rock solo. Absolutely brilliant stuff. Even with all the fantastic guitar on offer the personal highlight for me is 'Walk A Mile In My Shoes'. This is for me the definative version and really highlights Earl Jordan's vocal ability.

The guitar solos are a little more understated but still straight out of the top drawer. Paice's shuffle drumming is also vital to the overall feel of the song. The backing vocals are, for me anyway, the icing on the cake. Whenever I need cheering up on it goes and it never fails to do the trick. The final track 'Loving You Is Good For Me Baby' is a brooding blues from the pen of Derek Lawrence which I could imagine being recorded by Free. According to Lawrence he played the demo to Sullivan who complained "Oh no not another blues, lets make it interesting". He then played it in 17:9 time without anyone batting an eyelid.

A superb end to a truly wonderful album. I can't see why MCA would have sat on it for over a year but can find no definative proof one way or the other. One thing that is for certain though is that is didn't sell many copies. According to MCA it sold less than 500 copies and they have never recouped the $15,000 advance they gave Lawrence for the rights to it. Something which puzzled Lawrence as he claims that everyone he has ever met claims to have a copy !!
by Adamus67 
Tracks
1. Ain't Nobody Home (J. Ragavoy) - 4:16
2. Bullfrog (Lawrence) - 7:15
3. Walk A Mile In My Shoes (South) - 3:46
4. My Baby Left Me (Crudup) - 3:18
5. Makin' Time (Phillips, Pickett) - 3:00
6. Lawdy Miss Clawdy (Price) - 3:20
7. I'm A Free Man (Klingman) - 4:37
8. Lovin' You Is Good For Me Baby (Lawrence, Corlett, Hutton) - 4:54
9. I Want You (White) - 3:52
10.Louisiana Man (Doug Kershaw) - 4:11
11.Who Do You Love (Elias McDaniels) - 4:02

Musicians
*Rod Alexander - Guitar
*Tony Ashton - Keyboards
*Ritchie Blackmore - Guitar
*Matthew Fisher - Keyboards
*Charles "Chas" Hodges - Bass
*Earl Jordan - Vocals
*Albert Lee - Guitar
*Ian Paice - Drums
*Jim Sullivan - Guitar

Related Acts
1967-68  Remo Four - Smile
1970  Ashton, Gardner And Dyke - The Worst Of
1971  Ashton, Gardner and Dyke - Let It Roll / Live

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mystic Siva - Mystic Siva (1970 us, organ drivin' rough psych, World In Sound release)



Mystic Siva LP(privately pressed) is one of the most sought-after artifacts in the whole psychedelic rock arena! But back in 1970 Mystic Siva were just a bunch of Detroit teenagers messing around in their parents garage with a Hammond B3 organ and a wah wah pedal. Little did they know that that original copies of this album would one day change hands for thousands of dollars!

Tripped out fluid guitar and rippling keyboards envelop mystical acid lyrics. This legendary US '60s psych monster that under the right influences will destroy your head! Finally from the master tapes! Be blown away by the mind bending power of "Supernatural Mind" in a previously unheard clarity and is rare as hell.

Beyond these influences, it exudes a genuine originality and freshness palpable, the sound despite a touch amateur nevertheless something modern and besides if you back to the style of ...Do not believe as long as it is basically the draft: no, the beautiful parts of an organs that plays both the rhythmic, atmospheric solo and magnificent solos wha wha guitars are rather well developed and this is especially the battery enough suffering, just as the song catches up but it is by his side very deliberate. It seems to me that this album was recorded in one day, without doubt giving it a charming side "live". Finally, the group name and the garish orange cover with collage Hindu deities gives the object an unusual dimension worship?

We're talking about Mystic Siva, a group of Detroit in 1970 published one of the darkest album and searched for American psychedelia eaters. Imagining hallucinate Mark Heckert(14 years) playing his organ HammondB3 the inevitable influence of the first album by The Doors, to Thienel Art (15) setting the standard of musical development with its low bass, Al Tozzi (15) guitar tapping that way and shaping great psychedelic solos and Dave Mascarin (15 years) playing drums, singing, writing songs and coming up with all the graphic design the LP.

I can not understand how some kids his age were able to conceive a work of such magnitude that begins with the powerful 'Keeper Of The Keys', a topic that we trace where the shots go, with a strong base of organ, bass and drums, and the powerful solo Tozzi that seems endless. And lasts and lasts ... and I love ... wish it would not end. While other guitar creating overlaps below some interesting musical textures. And Mascarin ... that voice does not seem that of a 15 year old guy.

And the psychedelic we dive 'And When You Go', a quiet theme dominated by organ, guitar and a quiet voice Mascarin nostalgic. Quiet and relaxing, remembering what we did the two before she left which evokes serious "Thank you" Led Zeppelin 2.

And as usual we return to the party with 'Eyes Have Seen Me', whose powerful and catchy riff already part of my life. This time with the help Mascarin sings the chorus in a sentence and the ever present based organ-guitar-bass-drums. But here Tozzi guitar uses a more acidic, more in line with lysergic sounds Californians funky and splashed with bright guitar solos.

While reciting Mascarin things about her band plays and plays ... and recorded the entire album in one day. Upon completion of the subject suddenly entered the world with... 'Come On Closer'. No doubt Jim Morrison and his family are present in this excellent composition blues dyes that takes us to Venice Beach three years ago, when Jim & Cia released their powerful debut album. It is in details like 'Come On Closer' when it is clear the influence of a great band.

By the way, sublime finish. 'Sunshine Is Too Long' is a curious and beautiful percussion rhythm from the guitar and organs. Tozzi shines again, but now with less volume than the other times, with a single house brand. I do not know but that rhythm guitar with Jimi Hendrix reminds ... And we come to one of the high points on the album!

'Spinning A Spell', a lysergic composition acquires more power as they passed the minutes with its superb parts, saturated his guitar, his outbursts and volutes psyches. . The Doors, The Doors again ... but this time with the inclusion of a guitar solo, entering devastating, as an ax splitting a piece of wood. A single heavy psychedelia, that is. Great theme to close the first side of the album. 'Supernatural Mind' and gloomy start, and then lead to a sonic as pleasant.

The ogan Hammond Heckert does not stop, not for ... And in the chorus Mascarin pacesetter for Tozzi between overwhelming, devastating, devastating. I'm on my knees now to idolize it sounds: psychedelic, psychedelia and more psychedelic. Undoubtedly one of the best cuts on the plate.

'Find Out Why' is another quiet and melancholy theme to lie on the couch and remember those wonderful years. A bit of softness is not bad, listening organ development and interventions that support melody.

'Magic Luv', a real bomb with his crazy garage.. Mascarin comes out, like their colleagues. I shudder when I hear the skin macabre chorus, to make way for a blueseros acids and guitar riffs. Hypnotic and amazing subject.  'Touch The Sky' begins with a nice rhythm that leads to another one of Tozzi, this time also less volume, so we can appreciate the work of other musicians more clearly.

Album ends with one of the most developed compositions instrumentally: 'In A Room' The intro of the song is wild and improvised and really prepares us for what will come after, a cry of Mascarin resulting in something like a duck (maybe heard something Syd Barrett before), and then recite and recite with a strong foundation rhythmic background. To emphasize the perpetual Heckert organ in conjunction with Tozzi guitar. But let's not forget Thienel and low, that throughout the two instruments clothes disco star. And now howls ... Syd Barrett is present ... who are you?! Dismal end to a sublime album.
by Adamus67
Tracks
1. Keeper Of The Keys - 4:28
2. And When You Go - 4:50
3. Eyes Have Seen Me - 3:25
4. Come On Closer - 3:24
5. Sunshine Is Too Long - 3:13
6. Spinning A Spell - 3:26
7. Supernatural Mind - 4:16
8. Find Out Why - 5:40
9. Magic Luv - 3:24
10. Touch The Sky - 3:51
11. In A Room - 5:23

Mystic Siva
*Art Thienel - Bass, Vocals
*Dave Mascarin - Drums, Vocals
*Al Tozzi - Guitar
*Mark Heckert - Organ, Vocals

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Stray Dog - Fasten Your Seat Belts (1973 us, weighty hard rock with psych and blues touches)


Stray Dog started their journey in 1968 (under the name Aphrodite) Originally formed in Texas from there they moved to Denver, Colorado, they became very popular with the audience's in Denver, playing a southern blues-rock style and giggin' in the midwest led by veteran vocalist/guitarist William Garrett "Snuffy" Waldren, bassist/vocalist Alan Roberts and Randy Reeder on drums for five years.

While playing in a Denver club in 1973, Emerson, Lake and Palmer were also playing in town and so the story goes Greg Lake(or his manager)  Neville Chesters walked in the club and saw the band playing and signed them to ELP's newly formed label, Manticore. The deal was signed and part of the contract was that the band fly over to the U.K. as soon as possible and start recording. Drummer Randy Reeder stayed behind and was replaced by Lee Sampson who played with the proto-metal power trio, Noel Redding's Road.

Stray Dog's self-titled album was cut in a few short weeks in 1973 with Greg Lake producing the album as it was basically ignored by fans and critics called it mindless heavy metal. The band went on tour with ELP in Europe and the U.S. Thick, well oiled blues rock with a metallic groovey glam rock sheen with the Texas swagger of boogie similar to that of Bedlam, Tucky Buzzard and hard sonic sound of Neil Merryweather's Space Rangers. Proto- awesomeness!

There are some very bright spots here - ''Tramp'' has a wicked bass part non-stop thorughout and the drummer clearly could have played in most prog-bands of the time - but it is primarilly power-trio rock (bass, guitar, drums) built off a blues root. This song will rock your socks off and definately feels longer than 5:32.

''You Know'' suffers from a muddy recording but is essentially a continuation of power trio rock - with the constant movement in the bass line reminding me of the kind of stuff Thin Lizzy was up to on Bad Reputation.

"The Journey" is closest to what you may call proggy as it is more then 10 minutes long and goes through a number of changes musically speaking. The song is filled with instrumental hightlights - this band could really rock. For the most part - a song by song listing will continue to say the same thing - recording muddy, power trio rock - excellent [pick one or more: /bass/guitar/drums] part.

"Drive My Car" - the one by the Beatles! no less. Stray Dog put a groove on this song that is very cool and I enjoy it a lot. Sound/mix is not particularly good. Tramp/Dog's blues (live) This band could rock out a live joint.

In some ways this band reminds of Albert Lee, in others of T-Rex and yet other times Little Feat. In most ways this album is power-rock by talented (and poorly recorded) musicians. Unless I am missing something from the first 2 albums, Stray Dog is associated with prog music only due to their releation ship with ELP and particularly Greg Lake.

1974 saw the addition of Walden's long time friend Tim Dulaine who was with the Texas rockers Buckwheat Honey who added lead vocals and guitars with writing six songs for the band's new album, ''While You're Down There '' and also added session keyboardist Luis Cabaza. The album was recorded in L.A. at the Record Plant with Austin Godsey producing. With the personel changes and Snuffy Walden taking a back seat to Dulaine the result was more of a "commercial" sounding hard rock and the catchy hooks.

The band members went thier own way with Walden joining Free due to the incapicitation of Paul Kossof and worked with Kossoff in Back Street Crawler, Eric Burden and released some solo material and is now in the movie and T.V. business. Dulaine went onto a solo career.
by Adamus67
Tracks
1. How It Is (The Sacred Mix) - 2:30
2. Tramp (Fat 'n' Sassy Mix) - 5:32
3. You Know - 3:46
4. Crazy ('Bout To Lose My Mind Mix) - 5:12
5. The Journey - 10:33
6. Drive My Car - 3:24
7. Tramp (Live) - 7:13
8. Dog's Blues (Live) - 1:45

Stray Dog
*Alan Roberts - Bass, Vocals
*Leslie Sampson - Drums
*Snuffy Walden - Guitar, Vocals
with
*John Bundrick ('Rabbit') - Organ, Piano
*Mel Collins - Flute

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Music Box - Songs Of Sunshine (1972 uk, tastily folk psych, Radioactive issue)



Echoes of the mid '60s folk rock boom, and whimsical lyrics with a twist of Dylan (his "Tom Thumb's Blues" is the only non-original song on the album) were perhaps at odds with the sounds of that era. Whatever the reasoning, the album quickly disappeared... shame. Here is an album about a more intimate, predominantly acoustic music. Flutes, chimes, and gentle organ sounds. It spins tales of faraway lands, sand, sea, castles, kings, queens and even Peter Pan.

Bet you thought only Donovan made 'em like that? Songs of Sunshine is incense & innocence, folk rock 'n' flowers! Well played, tastily arranged... and overlooked. But that was then, and things change.... we're now probably far enough away for the mid '60s to be the early '70s anyway, and if you can remember those times, well, you weren't there, as the saying goes...or something like that.

Rob Armstrong, the leader of the group, became a renowned luthier after the short-lived Music Box project, and you can hear the care and love of the acoustic guitar in the music.

The lyrics combine whimsy and fantastical stuff, basically pedestrian but the key is the feel of the tunes,(very pretty version of a traditional tune, "Leezie Lindsey.") the album also has tasteful bass playing and organ and glockenspiel and such things. 
by Adamus67
Tracks
1. Songs Of Sunshine - 4:18
2. Caillavie - 3:53
3. Harmonium Joe - 3:21
4. Leezie Lindsey (Traditional arr. by Rob Armstrong) - 5:29
5. Calico Shoeshine Boy - 2:45
6. The Happy King - 4:58
7. The Magic Cloak - 2:34
8. Seaside Sunshine (Colin Armstrong) - 2:58
9. Tom Thumbs Blues (Bob Dylan) - 6:34
10.Downstairs On The Floor - 3:24
All titles by Rob Armstrong unless as else stated.

Music Box
*Rob Armstrong - Six, Twelve String Guitars, Vocals
*Colin Armstrong - Six String, Electric Guitar, Vocals
*Pip - Glockenspiel, Recorder, Organ, Percussion, Vocals

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Pete Ham - 7 Park Avenue (1970-74 uk, wonderful testament of soft pop rock, Rykodisc release)



Only two of these 18 tracks ("No Matter What" and "Matted Spam") were recorded by Badfinger. But the rest of these solo studio demos are quite up to scratch with Badfinger's usual standards: it's not nearly as good as Paul McCartney's late Beatles tracks, for instance, but it's actually better than McCartney's typical early solo material. 

Pete Ham is a thinking listener's rock romantic, offering emotional, wistful words and melodies without sounding sappy. Purists should be aware that, although Ham played most of the instruments here, some overdubs were added in the '90s by other musicians, for the purpose of giving the tracks a fuller, more balanced sound. 

It's difficult to judge whether this decision was justified without hearing the original versions, though one wonders whether die-hard Badfinger fans (the primary audience for this release) would really care that much about any sonic imperfections in the originals. In any case, the end result sounds pretty tasteful, without any obvious concessions to dressing up the essential sounds in modern technology. 
by Richie Unterberger
Tracks
1. Catherine Cares - 3:01
2. Coppertone Blues - 3:56
3. It Doesn't Really Matter - 2:58
4. Live Love All of Your Days - 2:16
5. Would You Deny - 1:23
6. Dear Father - 2:03
7. Matted Spam - 3:24
8. No Matter What - 2:24
9. Leaving on a Midnight Train - 2:41
10.Weep Baby - 2:26
11.Hand in Hand - 2:38
12.Sille Veb - 3:38
13.I Know That You Should - 3:28
14.Island - 2:27
15.Just Look Inside the Cover - 3:29
16.Just How Lucky We Are - 2:29
17.No More - 2:55
18.Ringside - 2:46
All titles by Pete Ham

*Pete Ham - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Drums, Percussion

Ham's activities 
1968-75 Pete Ham - Golders Green
1969  Iveys - Maybe Tomorrow
1970  Badfinger - Magic Christian Music (Japan issue)
1970  Badfinger - No Dice (24karat Gold disc)
1971  Badfinger - Straight Up (24karat gold disc)

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pete Ham - Golders Green (1968-75 uk, classic soft rock, demos and unrleased material, 1999 Rykodisc)



This collection of previously unreleased home demos by Ham is almost as worthwhile and satisfying to the ear as its predecessor, 7 Park Avenue. Again, some musicians (including Bob Jackson, who was in Badfinger for a while shortly before Ham's death) enhanced these recordings with overdubs. 

And as with 7 Park Avenue, while it's impossible to tell if these were truly necessary without comparison to the original unadorned versions, these overdubs do not seem intrusive (as they are on most productions of this sort). Although there are 20 tracks, it's not as bountiful a platter as one might hope (adding up to only 42 minutes), as some of the songs are quite short, and three are nothing more than fragments lasting less than a minute. 

In the main, though, these are quality, sometimes enchantingly tuneful and tender performances, sometimes exhibiting a Beach Boys bent that's not so evident on Badfinger's official recordings. The cut to attract the most attention will be a demo of "Without You," although Ham's version is an incomplete skeleton of the track that Badfinger would record (and Nilsson would cover for a chart-topping hit), missing the chorus added by fellow Badfinger member Tom Evans. 

Otherwise a highlight is "Makes Me Feel Good," two drastically different versions (one slow, one fast) which open and close the disc; it sounds like it could have made a first-rate Monkees track (which is a compliment, not a knock). 

On the whole, the effect of this CD, as was the case with 7 Park Avenue, is to make one wish that Badfinger had recorded more of Ham's material and had made less room for the songwriting efforts of the lesser composers in the band. 
by Richie Unterberger
Tracks
1. Makes Me Feel Good - 1:47
2. A Lonely Day - 1:59
3. Dawn - 3:18
4. Without You (Pete Ham, Tom Evans) - 2:16
5. Pete's Walk - 1:27
6. Hurry On Father - 1:38
7. Goodbye John Frost - 1:59
8. I'll Kiss You Goodnight - 2:37
9. When The Feeling - 0:55
10.Shine On (Pete Ham, Tom Evans) - 0:39
11.Gonna Do It - 0:22
12.Whiskey Man - 1:34
13.Keyhole Street - 2:27
14.I've Waited So Long To Be Free - 1:41
15.Richard - 3:10
16.Midnight Caller - 2:42
17.Helping Hand - 3:52
18.Where Will You Be - 1:58
19.I'm So Lonely - 3:13
20.Makes Me Feel Good - 2:04
All songs written by Pete Ham, except where noted

Ham's activities 
1969  Iveys - Maybe Tomorrow
1970  Badfinger - Magic Christian Music (Japan issue)
1970  Badfinger - No Dice (24karat Gold disc)
1971  Badfinger - Straight Up (24karat gold disc)

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Brian Davison - Every Which Way (1970 uk, prog flourishes and jam rock, with ex Nice and Bel 'n' Arc members, 2010 Dogtoire issue)



A few months after the disbanding of the Nice, drummer Brian Davison put together a new group he wanted to call Every Which Way and recorded what turned out to be his only solo album. Released in 1970, it was received with indifference and remains to this day cruelly underrated. 

While fellow ex-Nice Keith Emerson went on to form the widely successful prog rock trio Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Davison recruited unknown musicians to find a new sound miles away from the classical pomp of his former band. The result is a delightful rock album, very delicate and soft for the most part, tinged by blues and soul and reminiscent of Savoy Brown's albums of the early '70s, but also of Brian Auger's Oblivion Express. 

Most importantly, Davison never takes a leading role, keeping his drumming intelligent and efficient, but firmly anchored in the background. Keyboardist/singer Graham Bell wrote most of the material. Guitarist John Hedley (who disappeared after this LP) does a great job in the more energetic "All in Time." Future Procol Harum bassist Alan Cartwright puts his distinctive touch to the music. 

Saxophonist/flutist Geoffrey Peach (later in Lake) plays with much soul, evoking a cross between Elton Dean circa Soft Machine's Third and Mel Collins circa King Crimson's Islands. The music is deceptively simple, with exquisite arrangements and gripping vocals. The opener, "Bed Ain't What It Used to Be," pioneers a genre of restrained blues rock ballads that would become more common in the 1990s. 

"The Light" is the other highlight and sounds like Van der Graaf Generator playing the blues. Simplicity has rarely sounded so compelling. Every Which Way is an unsuspected treasure hidden among the piles of minor prog rock-related albums of the 1970s. 
by François Couture

Tracks
1. All In Time (Maria Niforos)
2. What You Like
3. The Light
4. Bed Ain't What It Used To Be
5. Castle Sand
6. Go Placidly
Music and words by Graham Bell unless as else stated

Brian Davison's Every Wich Way
*Brian Davison - Drums, Percussion
*John Hedley - Guitar
*Graham Bell - Piano, Acoustic Guitar, Lead Vocals
*Geoffrey Peach - Reeds, Flute, Vocals
*Alan Cartwright - Bass

Related Act
1971  Bell and Arc

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Facedancers - The Facedancers (1972 us, sensational progressive rock)



The Facedancers were a progressive/jazz-rock band signed to Paramount Records in the 1970’s. They recorded one full length studio album with legendary producer Teo Macero (Miles Davis). Though the band and their album have built a cult following, The Facedancers remain a mysterious treasure in the hearts of progressive rock fans around the world.

The Philadelphia based band consisted of brothers Barry (bass, guitar) and Dale Armour (keyboard, flute, guitar, vocals), Warren Bloom (lead vocals, harmonica, percussion), Roger Kelly (guitar, vocals), and Michael Loy (drums). Originally a comedy-rock group called Lobotomy, they became the house band in the last year of the Second Fret Coffeehouse in Philadelphia. No longer strictly a comedy act, in 1971 they changed their name to The Facedancers just before making their self-titled album on Paramount Records in 1972.

The album was produced by jazz saxophonist and producer Teo Macero, at Blue Rock Studios in the Soho district of NYC in the summer of 1972, using 100 hours of studio time. Macero was concurrently producing Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" for Columbia records, so this was a moonlighting job for him. In those days if someone insisted that the group label their music, they answered with "jazz-rock", though they didn't consider it jazz.

The group's musical influences were eclectic. Kelly and Bloom were lovers of rock'n'roll, R&B and blues (Bloom admired Smoky Robinson in particular). The Armours' father was a pianist who had played in swing bands, and taught the boys classical, stride and swing. They liked Bill Evans and Dave Brubeck. The brothers had also studied classical guitar, and Dale was self-taught on flute and sitar.

Development was intentionally somewhat musically isolated. Not many record albums were played at the band house - some Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Charlie Parker and Dizzie Gillespie, John Cage. There was still the overwhelming influence of the Beatles. There was no concern for "danceability", so they played with time signatures. When too hungry and obliged to take a dance gig, they covered the Rolling Stones for fun.
by Michelle Armour, Philadelphia  
Tracks
1. Little Waterfall - 7:24
2. Dreamer's Lullabye - 5:47
3. Nightmare - 3:12
4. Jewels - 4:00
5. Let The Music Set You Free - 5:26
6. Children - 8:27
7. Beta - 6:08

The Facedancers
*Barry Armour - Bass, Guitar
*Dale Armour - Flute, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*Scats Bloom - Harmonica, Percussion, Vocals
*Michael Loy - Drums, Percussion
*Kelley Moko - Guitar, Vocals

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Friday, December 21, 2012

The Flock - Dinosaur Swamps (1970 us, fine progressive jazz rock fusion with some country tinges)



The Flock has always had a different sound that should be approached with an open mind. The game is beautiful, and even if we can understand the aversion of some to singing, he is in agreement with the rest of the natural rhythmic structure of the songs. Overall, this album is not as good as the first album, but it's a good album overall.

The album begins with an ambient " Green Slice " which explores essentially the sound of the organ and tenor saxophone, continued with "Big Bird" in a relatively upbeat tempo complemented by the work of brass and violin influenced by the Country Music .The trumpet solo alternating with the violin is really impressive.

"Hornschmeyer's Island" continues with heavy elements of jazz in particular through a part of improvisation in the middle of the song where the violin performs his solos. Sections of brass, flute and guitar accentuates the beauty of the song.

It is quite unusual to hear that the group begins as "Lighthouse"a solo electric followed by full orchestration, bass lines are very obviously coupled with brass and guitar solo in a mood quite exhilarating. Part interlude where all the solos are performed compactly combines guitar, bass and brass is beautifully executed.

"Crabfoot" is a rock solid and optimistic, supplemented by the excellent work of the violin. The guitar solo reminds Terry Kath of Chicago and it is superb. The intermediate portion is energetic with a brass section inventive. The magic is evident in this song that cleverly blends the type of melody Blues "You do not love me" with the Soul "I Feel Good" by James Brown style.

"Mermaid" is a song with textures and styles compared to other songs. The melody and rhythm are weird, they seem a little wobbly, but they produce a unique sound. It is as if a song Psychedelic meet one intelligent Chamber Ensemble, with a flamboyant falsetto and harmony.

The last piece, "Uranian Sircus" is similar in style to the previous song. The nice job flute and solo violin made in shades of Jazz. It shows what really makes the Flock a truck driving well above most groups Prog known at the time, with a creative flair. In short, this album worth listening deeper to discover the shades and other niceties!
by Adamus67
Tracks
1. Green Slice - 2:02
2. Big Bird - 5:50
3. Hornschmeyer's Island - 7:25
4. Lighthouse (R. Canoff, F. Glickstein, J. Taylor, T. Webb)  - 5:19
5. Crabfoot - 8:14
6. Mermaid - 4:53
7. Uranian Sircus - 7:11
All songs by  Rick Canoff,  Fred Glickstein,  Tom Webb except where indicated.

The Flock
*Jerry Goodman - Violin, Guitars, Vocals
*Fred Glickstein - Guitars, Lead Vocals, Hammond Organ
*Jerry Smith - Bass Guitar, Vocals
*Ron Karpman - Drums
*Rick Canoff - Tenor Saxophone, Vocals
*Frank Posa - Trumpet
*John Gerber - Alto And Tenor Saxophones, Flute, Banjo, Vocals

1969  The Flock

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Flock - The Flock (1969 us, awesome progressive jazz rock)



The Flock deserve more than a footnote, but not the full-fleged treatment that an entry in The Anal Annals of American Progressive Rock would surely give them.  

Similar to cross-town rival Chicago, the Flock used horns and was signed to Columbia records.  But while Chicago was more of a rock group with strong jazz influences, the Flock was even more out there.  
Most of this is due to their not-so-secret weapon: violinist Jerry Goodman, who played in a downright classical style.   

The word virtuoso is not one to use lightly, but it applies to Goodman.  Right out of the gate, The Flock has an enchanting classical violin/jazz guitar piece ("Introduction") that can hardly be called rock.  Goodman's playing is very fluid, and he even pulls out a few tricks such as plucking and wah-wah ("Truth").  

It helps that the rest of the band are no slouches either.  Guitarist/vocalist Fred Glickstein usually just acts as support while Goodman does his thing, but is a decent player in the distorted electric mold ("Store Bought-Store Thought").  The rhythm section of Jerry Smith (bass) and Ron Karpman (drums) acquits itself well on the jazzy beat (like Chicago's), while the horn section is closer to BS&T (Rick Canoff on tenor sax, Frank Posa on trumpet and Tom Webb on sax/flute/harmonica).  

Together the music is one huge melting pot, varying between rock, classical, jazz, blues, and even soul, often within the same song.  For example, "Clown" starts out as a BS&T like blues number but has a fantastic dreamy middle where the horns get to play jazzy lines, or "I Am the Tall Tree" which can only be described as folky classical that again has jazzy stretches.  Lyrically, The Flock has a lot of semi-dated counter-culture stuff, but it is not embarrassing or anything.  

On the other hand, the music is planned well - the rhythm section tends to keep them firmly anchored ("Store Bought-Store Thought") no matter where they go, the vocal harmonies are well constructed, and they do synchronized note runs periodically ("Truth").  The songs are not jams, but spotlights that rotate on the members of the band.  

That they only lose their way once, in the middle of "Truth" where what starts out as a straight blues number evolves into something looser, is remarkable.  They even do an excellent, soul-like rendition of "Tired of Waiting" (oddly credited to the group).  But this is a downright fascinating album.  You want American progressive music?  Here it is.  Produced by John McClure.
Tracks
1. Introduction  - 4:50
2. Clown - 7:42
3. I Am The Tall Tree  - 5:37
4. Tired Of Waiting (Ray Davies) - 4:35
5. Store Bought / Store Thought  - 7:00
6. Truth - 15:25
All songs by Flock except where noted.

The Flock
*Rick Canoff - Sax
*Fred Glickstein - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*Jerry Goodman - Violin, Guitar, Vocals
*Ron Karpman - Drums
*Frank Posa - Trumpet
*Jerry Smith - Bass
*Tom Webb - Sax

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dirty Tricks - Dirty Tricks (1975 uk, great hard rock, bonus tracks issue)



Dirty Tricks are four guys with similar backgrounds and tastes who've been struggling in semi-obscurity since 1965, working in almost all musical styles from soul to funk to punk rock to pop to heavy rock, to avant-garde, and even circus rock. Dirty Tricks are Johnny Fraser - on guitar, Kenny Stewart, vocals, Terry Horbory on bass and drummer John Lee. 

The four have been together since May of this year and the three frcnt men have been rehearsing for five months prior to that. Kenny and Johnny admit that their inspiration came not so much from local music but from the records they heard on John Peel's Sunday afternoon show back in 1967. They both worked in various rock heavy soul groups in Stirling Scotland. In 1968 Kenny was in 'Cargo’ while Johnny was fronting the opposition band 'Susan Rams.' By 1970 they were both in 'Aegis’, one of those avante-garde bands that art students get excited about. 

After a couple of years the band broke up and the two lads came down to London. While Johnny stayed at home digging Hendrix and Doobie Brothers records, Kenny joined a semi-pro group called 'Renia.' He stayed with them a year and a half, produced an album which quickly did nothing and looked round for more challenging work. Terry, who cones from Newark Nottinghamshire, formed his own band at 16, and did the rounds of local clubs, until his band were number one in the region. He cane to London in early 1974, and joined up 'The Goose Fayre Show’, a collection of miners, actors and other such wandering minstrels. 

Kenny at this tine was auditioning for an up- and-coming blues rock band called San Apple Pie. He was accepted, and a week later, quite by chance Terry, who had left 'the circus', joined on bass. The band however was not too much to their liking, and they left to team up with Johnny, and Dave the drummer from 'Renia.' The unnamed band were hoping for a support gig on a German tour but nothing materialized. Undaunted they continued to rehearse, and left highly impressed. 

A demo tape was cut and within a few weeks a record deal with Polydor was signed. Shortly afterwards Dave had to leave, and John Lee was brought in as a replacement, John who cones from Battersea had been playing the drums since he was 13, and was still playing when his family moved to Australia when he was 14. He joined one of Australia’s leading bands ‘Blackfeather' and 1972 joined 'Dingoes.' He stayed with then for several tours, two singles, and an album that was voted the best album of the year. A year later his contract expired but he chose not to renew it. He was immediately offered a job with two bands, a pop band, and the band Ariel, he accepted the latter's offer. 

When Ariel came to Britain for what was an unsuccessful tour, John decided to leave the band and stay here. Within two days of being in London Paul Scott phoned hi*, and asked him to cone for an audition with 'Dirty Tricks.' "I couldn't believe my luck" says John, "I was out of work for exactly eight hours." The new look band went straight into the studios, and emerged with their album entitled "Dirty Tricks", and a single "Call Me Up For Love."
September 1975
Tracks
1. Wait Till Saturday - 5:18
2. Back Off Evil - 6:41
3. Sunshine Day - 4:11
4. If You Believe In Me - 2:25
5. Too Much Wine - 5:07
6. Call Me Up For Love - 2:51
7. Marcella - 3:59
8. High Life - 7:47
9. I'M Gonna Get Me A Gun (Bonus Track) - 2:56
10.Hire Car (Bonus Track) - 3:57
11.Back Off Evil (Live) (Bonus Track) - 7:33
12.Call Me Up For Love (Live) (Bonus Track) - 3:30
13.The High Life (Live) (Bonus Track) - 7:50
14.Play Dirty (Live) (Bonus Track) - 5:02

Dirty Tricks
*John Fraser Binnie - Guitar, Keyboards
*Terry Horbury - Bass
*John Lee - Drums
*Kenny Stewart - Vocals

Related Act
1973  Renia - First Offenders

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Salamander - The 10 Commandments (1971 uk, beautiful psychedelic rock with some prog tinges)



This progressive album made against the background 10 commandments. English recorded only this one album, referring to the achievements of The Moody Blues (from the period of Days Of Future Passed) - a fairly mild prog-rock variety, based on the sound of organs Hammond,guitar and brass enriched orchestrations.

This is a band whose concept album is based on the Ten Commandments. Each track deals with a different commandment. The album, which was produced by Miki Dallon, was dominated by Bob Leaper's orchestral arrangements, but there are also some good melodies, strong vocals and organ work and powerful drumming. The best tracks are those where the orchestral arrangements are more discreet: "He Is My God", on which the melody sounds like King Crimson in places; "Images", which features strong vocals, good drumming and organ work; the mellow and melodic "People" and "False Witness", a good progressive piece with some fine guitar leads and powerful organ. 

Salamander's "Ten Commandments" is a most interesting album. Produced in 1971 (but released on CD by The Laser's Edge and Progressive Line), it has all the markings of a post-60's progressive release. Its sound is heavy on the Hammond organ and the album is fully orchestrated. Ken Golden from The Laser's Edge compares the organist to Jon Lord which is not accurate, as Alister Benson lacks the technique of Lord. I would compare Salamander more directly to Rare Bird's sound, with the addition of orchestration. The lyrics are at times direct, and at times vague. (Should we get philosophical on the issue of adultery? The Bible is clear on this topic.) However, it is well worth a listen if you like this early 70's type of sound.

Prelude Incorp. He Is My God' - This is a very impressive and memorable opener which starts appropriately enough with a devotional chapel organ before leading into the main theme arranged for full orchestra and overlaid with an exotic 'quivering' guitar lead. 

'Images' - Nice Leslie speaker 'siren' effects on this and more than a trace of 'Hush' by Deep Purple in the rhythm employed but not overtly derivative as the tune is truly memorable and original. Titley displays what a wide range of vocal timbres he has command of with a rasping blues inflection (or is it someone else singing and the reviewer is too dumb to refer to the sleeve notes ?) One of those nice 'false ending' devices is exploited towards the end to good effect.

'People' - Although the production is horribly dated, that has never been an obstacle to a strong melody and sympathetic harmonic support eg the Beatles 'Yesterday' would still be a damn fine song even if rendered by a flat footed Bolivian nostril flute marching band. (think I'm drinking too much coffee) This is beautiful (Full stop)

'God's Day' - Things take a downward turn here with a paean to the Sabbath that sounds just a bit too cheerful for its own good. The melody is decent and well sung but is spoiled by some 'Trumpton Fire Brigade Brass Band' horn writing.

'Honour Thy Father and Thy Mother' - Simple and brief instrumental modest in its scope that carries an echo of Leo Sayer's 'When I Need You' (hardly an unqualified endorsement certainly, but so much of what we remember we profess to dismiss, without acknowledging its durability)

'Kill' - Reference points might include the organ sound and feel of Bob Dylan and the Band plus the arrangements of Van Dyke Parks heard on the more credible work by Brian Wilson. Unfortunately a good song is rather undermined by the adolescent 'gravitas' of a spoken narrative that drags us down into the twee realms of a school production of 'Joseph and the less than Amazing Monochrome Dreamcoat'.

'Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery' - If Giles, Giles & Fripp had been god fearing souls with a better grasp of pop songcraft, they may have delivered something like this. Beautiful flute weaves its way throughout a finely woven tapestry of harmonized strands of melody. Brilliantly sung and enhanced by some restrained strings and subtle hand drum percussion. The best hippy camp fire song ever written to put out the flames of passion.

'Steal' - Bit of a no brainer in the moral lexicon really ? but an exquisite Hammond sound and a nagging riff that lives long in the memory afterwards. This may be the best song on the album as the electric band and the orchestral instruments are perfectly balanced with the latter injecting a thrilling little strings glissando at periodic intervals. Great tune and topped off with Benson's Vincent Crane impersonation on an economical solo which is interrupted by a startlingly ethereal strings dissonance. Very spooky.

'False Witness' - These guys were obviously big fans of 'The Crazy World of Arthur Brown' and early 'Deep Purple' as this has that sort of vibe but it fails to really go anywhere after a promising start. Ultimately it serves as a vehicle for an excellent short guitar solo from Titley, who otherwise contents himself with brushing up on a very convincing Dave Davies of the Kinks impersonation.

'Possessions' - Flecks of 'Cream' are visible on a decent tune but the specter of our old unvanquished foe 'James Last' hovers like a white bearded bird of prey over the arrangement.
by Adamus67
Tracks
1. Prélude Incorporing He's My God's - 7:15
2. Images - 3:24
3. People - 2:50
4. God's Day - 2:27
5. Honour Thy Father And Thy Mother - 1:38
6. Kill - 3:31
7. Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery - 3:07
8. Steal - 4:20
9. False Witnwess - 3:54
10. Possession - 3:15

Salamander
* Alister Benson - Organ, Vocals
* Dave Chriss - Bass
* John Cook - Drums
* Dave Titley - Lead Vocals, Guitar

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