Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cirkus - One Plus (1973 uk, beautiful progressive art glam rock)



This album was probably the first U.K. private-pressing to come to the attention of collectors and dealers throughout the world during the mid Eighties. It is a hugely acclaimed album, famed for its rich production and high standard of musicianship throughout. 

Recorded in 1973, the band’s introspective soul-searching  illuminates every aspect of  their studio performances.  Bathed in Crimsonesque splendour and dreamy mellotron, ‘Cirkus One’ ranks amongst the cream of alternative U.K. prog-rock. 

Formed from the ashes of bands Moonhead and Lucas Tyson, the group's high standard of musicianship was well known in their native north-east where they attracted much attention and had a devoted following. It was felt that the quintet could achieve success on a national scale, provided management handled matters properly and they got the right breaks. 

When in 1975 lead vocalist Paul Robson left the group, his replacement was Alan Roadhouse (ex Halfbreed) who also played the saxophone. With Dogg on acoustic and electric guitars, Derek Miller on keyboards, John Taylor on bass and main songwriter Stu McDade providing backing vocals, drums and assorted persussions, this became the new line-up. As a result the band moved away from their early symphonic style adopting a somewhat more mainstream approach albeit maintaining a certain "Cirkus sound". 
Tracks
1. You Are - 3:20
2. Seasons (J. Taylor) - 3:37
3. April '73 (D. Miller) - 5:04
4. Song For Tavish - 4:35
5. A Prayer - 5:37
6. Brotherly Love - 3:49
7. Those Were The Days - 3:54
8. Jenny - 4:09
9. Title Track (Dodds)
..a.Breach - 4:19
..b.Ad Infinitum - 3:12
10.Castles - 2:53
11.The Heaviest Stone - 4:56
12.Amsterdam - 4:03
13.Mellissa (McDade, Dodds) – 3:22
14.Pickupaphone - 3:26
All songs by Stu McDade except where stated

Cirkus
*Paul Robson - Lead Vocals
*John Taylor - Bass
*Derek G. Miller - Organ, Piano, Mellotron
*Stu McDade - Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
*Dogg – Electric, Acoustic Guitars
*Alan Roadhouse -  Lead Vocals, Saxophone (Tracks 12, 14)

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tommy James And The Shondells - Crimson And Clover / Cellophane Symphony (1969 us, marvelous psychedelia, 2009 remaster)



Tommy James and The Shondells scored major hits in 1966, 1967 and 1968, but 1969 would prove to be their most successful and productive year. They began work on both the Crimson and Clover and Cellophane Symphony albums in late 1968, and both were released in 1969.

"Crimson & Clover, released as a single in December 1968, became their biggest hit. The group's first totally self-contained single (written by Tommy and drummer Pete Lucia, produced by Tommy and arranged by the band), it caught on with both the pop and underground audiences. After being unfairly dismissed for over two years as a "bubblegum group, Tommy James & The Shondells suddenly became hip. The single and resulting album with the same title went platinum and also earned Tommy and the group critical respect and acclaim.

The group had worked with producers Bo Gentry and Ritchie Cordell since early 1967, beginning with the classic "I Think We're Alone Now. The Gentry-Cordell formula continued to bear fruit with "Mony Mony in the early summer of 1968, but Tommy felt it was time for a change, as he wanted to take control of his own records.

After "Mony Mony, Tommy recorded a few sides with producer Gary Illingworth, including "Somebody Cares, the follow-up single. It did well in some markets but had to be viewed as a disappointment after the success of its predecessor. At the same time, the group was working on the "Mony Mony LP, Tommy produced some of the tracks.

One song that Tommy particularly wanted to record was "Do Something To Me, previously recorded by Question Mark & The Mysterians without success. Tommy says, "I loved that record. I went crazy when I heard it. I thought it should have been a #1 record."

Tommy & The Shondells gave the song their own touch when they recorded it, with the same party atmosphere as "Mony Mony, and it cracked the national Top 40 in November. It was the first single Tommy produced for the group. The released version was chosen by the group's label, Roulette, though Tommy preferred a rough mix he had made. (His mix appears on Rhino's excellent Tommy James & The Shondells Anthology release.)

No artist would complain about having a Top 40 hit, but Tommy had different ideas about the direction the group's sound should take. He and The Shondells were in the studio carefully constructing "Crimson & Clover, but Roulette wanted a new single. The group agreed to Roulette's releasing "Do Something To Me to give them time to complete "Crimson."

Tommy's instincts proved to be right on the mark. "Crimson & Clover was a perfect single with an unforgettable hook ("Crimson and clover, over and over...") and distinctive vocal effects, which Tommy achieved by running the vocal track through a guitar amp and using the tremolo switch.

The single took off like a rocket in late 1968. It reached the Top 40 its second week on the chart and then quickly hit #1. The song's lasting appeal was evidenced when Joan Jett & The Blackhearts took their version (produced by Cordell and Tommy's long-time friend, Kenny Laguna) to the Top 10 in 1982.

The Crimson & Clover LP followed in January 1969. The liner notes were written by then-Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, who had asked Tommy to be the President's advisor on youth affairs during the 1968 presidential campaign. Such an endorsement for a rock group was unheard of at the time. Tommy remembers Humphrey fondly, saying, "We became great friends, and that friendship lasted right up until Mr. Humphrey passed away."

While putting the finishing touches on the album, Tommy decided that it should include a long version of "Crimson & Clover. It was common in the late '60s for an album track to be edited for single release, but "Crimson & Clover had been recorded in its "short single version, so it was necessary to either re-record or expand it to create a long version. Tommy opted to lengthen the existing master, and the group duly went back into the studio to record a new middle section featuring a series of solos played in different styles by lead guitarist Ed Gray.

The new section was then spliced into the multi-track master. Due to a slight difference in tape speeds, the middle section was a fraction of a tone lower than the first part of the recording. For this reissue, Rhino has corrected the error, and we now hear the long version of "Crimson & Clover in its proper form for the first time.

Apart from "Do Something To Me, which Roulette wanted to include on the Crimson & Clover LP since it had been a hit, the entire album was written by Tommy and members of The Shondells. They arranged all the tracks, and Tommy produced it. "That album was magic, Tommy says. "It was a milestone -- the first record that I produced all by myself and used the band on all the tracks. And I can't even begin to tell you how professionally important it was, because if it had not made it, with the drastic change I was making in our sound, I don't know what would have happened. Certainly my credentials as a producer would have suffered a lot. It was a very scary thing for me, but it paid off."

Tommy and bass player Mike Vale wrote "Sugar On Sunday for the LP. If not for the incredible wealth of material the group turned out in 1969, it might have been a single for them. Instead, it was released as a single by The Clique, which hit the Top 25 with it in October 1969, in a version practically identical to The Shondells'.

The success of The Clique's version led to Tommy's first efforts as a producer for other artists, later that year. He and Bob King, a friend from his hometown of Niles, Michigan, wrote and produced "Church Street Soul Revival, one of The Exiles' first singles, which was released in late 1969. (Tommy later recorded the song himself.) The Exiles later became simply Exile, achieved fame with "Kiss You All Over, and continue to have hits on the country charts. In 1970, Tommy and Bob King also wrote and produced "Tighter, Tighter,  a smash hit for Alive 'n' Kickin'.

"I'm Alive is one of the most powerful songs on Crimson & Clover -- with its fuzz guitar, driving organ (by Ronnie Rosman) and guttural screams, it would not be out of place on any compilation of '60s punk classics. The Clique also recorded it as the B-side of "Sparkle And Shine, a superb song written by Tommy, Bob King, and Ritchie Cordell. Tommy produced both sides of The Clique's single and sang backing vocals. In 1975, Blue Swede hit the charts with a medley of "I'm Alive and Joe South's "Hush."

"Kathleen McArthur features Tommy's particularly emotive vocal as the gardener who has fallen in love with the daughter of his wealthy employer. One of the group's finest album tracks, it's performed in a baroque style similar to that of The Left Banke. "Breakaway reflects the group's love of the Motown sound. There's also some pure psychedelic nonsense in "I Am A Tangerine. (Hey, it hadn't been that long since The Electric Prunes did "The Great Banana Hoax.") "Smokey Roads chronicles Tommy's disappointing return to his home town, a theme later explored by Chrissie Hynde in The Pretenders' "My City Was Gone."

The remaining track on the album is "Crystal Blue Persuasion, simply one of Tommy's best records. Its soft, jazz-influenced sound, punctuated by Ed Gray's simple but effective performance on acoustic guitar, was perfect for the summer of 1969. For the single, horns were added to the last verse and the ending. The original version of the song appears here; the single version appears in stereo on the Anthology release.

Just before the extended ending of "Crystal Blue Persuasion, there is a fairly audible whispered line. Were Tommy & The Shondells conveying a subliminal message? "No, Tommy laughs, when asked about it. "It's not supposed to be there. People thought I was putting in a subliminal message, but we were doing the background vocals and I was trying to cue the guys doing them. I think I said, 'Come in right now.'"

"Crystal Blue Persuasion was not the follow-up single to "Crimson & Clover. Instead Roulette released a new song written by Tommy and Richard Grasso, "Sweet Cherry Wine, in March of 1969. It was among the tracks slated for the forthcoming Cellophane Symphony LP. "Sweet Cherry Wine (which, as Tommy has said, was the closest thing he and The Shondells ever did to a protest song) hit the Top 10 and gave the group another gold single. (The fact that "Sweet Cherry Wine was not included on Crimson & Clover no doubt bewildered many record buyers.)

"Crystal Blue Persuasion was receiving airplay as well, however, so Roulette decided to release it as a single in June, and it also went gold. Its success further stimulated sales of the Crimson & Clover album, which remained on the charts for 35 weeks. Consequently, although Cellophane Symphony was completed that summer, Roulette held back its release until October.

Cellophane Symphony was one of the first rock albums to feature a Moog synthesizer. Tommy and the group structured the title track around a riff, layering it with synthesizer and other sound effects. It was certainly the most unusual track the band ever recorded.

Tommy produced the album at Broadway Sound in New York. Tommy recalls, "Whitey Ford, of the New York Yankees, owned Broadway Sound. I went up there, and it was a great little studio. It had a Moog synthesizer, which looked like an old switchboard from the '20s. It was hard to work with, since it was all monophonic -- you couldn't get two notes at the same time. But I knew immediately that the synthesizer was going to be the wave of the future."

While the Moog featured heavily on the album's title track, Tommy used it to embellish some of the other songs on the LP. The electronics are particularly effective in "Changes, one of the album's best cuts. Tommy remembers that for "Changes, he wanted something "very spacey and that it was "really a fun track to record. Vale's melodic bass lines and Lucia's percussive effects also stand out on the track. Its middle section, in 5/4 time, was quite unlike anything the band had attempted before.

Tommy says the album was very experimental, and although the electronic effects are archaic by today's standards, they were novel at the time. Unlike Crimson & Clover, which was recorded entirely with conventional instruments, the Moog gave Cellophane Symphony a completely different feel. Tommy felt that the Moog produced "plastic music, thereby making the album a "cellophane symphony."

The cover was an unusual as the music: it showed the group's name and the album title in small print at the top of a photo of an amphitheater with alternating positive and negative film strips. In retrospect, Tommy thinks he may have been a little too adventurous with the cover, as some record buyers probably didn't realize that it contained a new Tommy James & The Shondells LP.

The Moog wasn't the only thing that set Cellophane Symphony apart from the group's earlier albums. It includes a wide array of sounds and ideals. "Makin' Good Time, a straight-ahead rocker, is followed by the ethereal mood of "Evergreen. "Loved One, one of Tommy's best ballads, is one of his favorite tracks on the LP. The group ventures into a country style (which Tommy would later more fully explore on his My Head, My Bed And My Red Guitar album) on "The Love Of A Woman, with Gray's solo played in the style of a steel guitar.

The album also includes three comedic tracks. "Papa Rolled His Own, set to a music-hall backing, features a megaphone vocal by Tommy, as well as his best W.C. Fields and Walter Brennan impressions. Tommy also turns up as Ed Sullivan (bringing out "the crippled monkeys...here on our show") and John Wayne on "I Know Who I Am, and lets us know what really happens when one call the girl whose number is written on the bathroom wall. He sings the album's closing track, "On Behalf Of The Entire Staff And Management, in an appropriately off-key vocal as he presents Mr. What's-your-name with a gold watch (which doesn't work) for 25 years of loyal service. Meanwhile, the group occasionally chimes in while banging glasses, clapping half-heartedly, sneezing and talking its way through the entire presentation.

Tommy is justifiably proud of the success of both the albums presented here. He remembers 1968 and 1969 as years of great productivity and incredible change. The albums reflect both of these aspects of the time. Above all, Tommy remains intensely appreciative of his fans. "I've got the greatest fans in the world. I really do, he says. "They are loyal; they've just been so good to me over the years."
by Michael Thom 
Tracks
1. Crimson And Clover (T. James, P. Lucia) - 5:32
2. Kathleen Mcarthur (T. James, M. Vale) - 2:42
3. I'm A Tangerine (T. James, P. Lucia) - 3:36
4. Do Something To Me (Calvert, Marzano, Naumann) - 2:31
5. Crystal Blue Persuasion (Gray, T. James, M. Vale) - 4:02
6. Sugar On Sunday (T. James, M. Vale) - 3:23
7. Breakaway (T. James, M. Vale) - 2:45
8. Smokey Roads (Tommy James) - 2:51
9. I'm Alive (T. James, P. Lucia) - 3:15
10.Crimson And Clover (Reprise) (T. James, P. Lucia) - 1:03
11.Cellophane Symphony (E. Gray, M. Vale, P. Lucia, R. Rosman, T. James) - 9:38
12.Makin' Good Time (R. Cordell, T. James) - 2:36
13.Evergreen (R. Cordell, T. James) - 2:07
14.Sweet Cherry Wine (R. Grasso, T. James) - 4:20
15.Papa Rolled His Own (P. Lucia, T. James) - 1:46
16.Changes (P. Lucia, R. Grasso, T. James) - 5:36
17.Loved One (M. Vale, T. James) - 3:41
18.I Know Who I Am (R. Cordell, T. James) - 3:53
19.The Love Of A Woman (R. Cordell, T. James) - 4:27
20.On Behalf Of The Entire Staff And Management (R. Cordell, T. James) - 3:56

The Shondells
*Tommy James - Vocals, Guitars, Electric, Acoustic Pianos, Hammond Organ, Harpsichords, Moog Synthesizer
*Eddie Gray - Guitars
*Ron Rosman - Electric, Acoustic Pianos, Hammond Organ, Harpsichords, Moog Synthesizer
*Mike Vale - Bass guitar
*Peter Lucia -  Drums, Percussion

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gracious - This Is Gracious (1971 uk, spectacular progressive rock, japan remaster)



No sophomore jinx here: on their second album, Gracious truly hits its stride. The first half of the album is a four-part suite, "Super Nova." After its Floydian opening instrumental, the band launches into the bleak "Blood Red Sun"; with a dystopic narrative of environmental holocaust and its martial drumbeat, it's an ideal complement to King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man." 

Strange, then, that this should lead to "Say Goodbye to Love," an effectively weepy guitar ballad of lost romance and tear-jerking harmonies. It's on the second half of the album, though, that Gracious hits escape velocity. On "C.B.S." the band shifts effortlessly from a groovy clavinet jam to a bouncing barrelhouse piano in the verse. "Blue Skies and Alibis" is a prime example of Martin Kitcat's Mellotron technique; powered along by Cowderoy's graceful guitar, smoky vocals, and a lush piano progression worthy of Joe Jackson, it's one of their most enduring tracks. 

A truly undervalued gem, This Is... Gracious! sat on the shelves for two years after completion before being issued; it's a shame that it was to be last anyone heard from the band for the next two decades. 
by Paul Collins
Tracks
1. Super Nova: - 24:59
.a.Arrival of the Traveller
.b.Blood Red Sun
.c.Say Goodbye To Love
.d.Prepare To Meet Thy Maker
2. C.B.S. - 7:07
3. Once on a Windy Day - 4:03
4. Blue Skies and Alibis - 4:58
5. Hold Me Down - 5:05
All compositions by Paul Davis and Martin Kitcat

Gracious
*Alan Cowderoy - Guitar, Vocals, Percussion
*Paul Davis - Lead Vocals, Percussion
*Martin Kitcat - Keyboards, Mellotron, Percussion,  Vocals
*Robert Lipson - Drums, Percussion
*Tim Wheatley - Bass, Vocals, Percussion

1970  Gracious

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Gracious - Gracious (1970 uk, excellent heavy prog rock, 2004 reissue)



Gracious began as a schoolboy lark in 1964, when guitarist Alan Cowderoy and vocalist/drummer Paul Davis banded together to cover pop songs at school concerts. To arouse maximum ire at their Catholic school, the adopted the band name "Satan's Disciples." Over the next several years the recording lineup of the band coalesced with Cowderoy and Davis (who now only sang), former road manager Tim Wheatley on bass, Martin Kitcat on keyboards, and drummer Robert Lipson. 

Renamed Gracious (or Gracious!), the band toured Germany in 1968 and then recorded a concept album about the seasons of the year, although this went unreleased. Still, their ambitions were unabated. After playing on a double bill with the newly formed King Crimson, an awestruck Kitcat immediately adopted the Mellotron as a lead instrument for the band. Kitcat and Davis were the band's composers, and Kitcat in particular lent the group its distinctive sound. He played the Mellotron as a lead instrument, much like a blues organ -- that is, with percussive single notes, rather than the grandiose chords favored by bands that used it as a faux-orchestral backdrop.

The debut of Gracious! begins with the blandly but accurately titled "Introduction." One of the album's strongest tracks, it's a Nice-like combination of menacing Moog breaks and shimmering harpsichords, and it foreshadows the band's use of both heavy prog music and ghostly lyrics tinged with Catholic dread. "Heaven" is a gorgeous minor-key ballad of stately Mellotron and chiming guitar tones, with harmonies reminiscent of late-model Zombies. 

"Hell," not surprisingly, is another thing altogether: a descent into drunken declamations, clinking bottles, rowdy bar sounds, loopy piano riffs, and creepy phasing effects. In coclusion it's a fine debut, and it presaged the superb second effort that was to follow. 
by Paul Collins
Tracks
1. Introduction - 5:53
2. Heaven - 8:09
3. Hell - 8:33
4. Fugue in 'D' Minor - 5:05
5. The Dream - 16:58
6. Beautiful - 2:50
7. What A Lovely Rain (Paul Davis, Martin Kitcat) - 2:49
8. Once On A Windy Day - 4:03
All song by Paul Davis except where noted.

Gracious
*Alan Cowderoy - Guitar, Vocals
*Martin Kitcat - Piano, Harpsichord, Keyboards, Vocals, Mellotron
*Robert Lipson - Drums
*Tim Wheatley - Bass
*Paul Davis - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

J W Farquhar - The Formal Female (1973 us, remarkable strange fuzzy psych folk rock, Shadoks release)



Here’s an odd brew of a record, rescued by Shadoks from the oblivion of 1972 Philadelphia. JW Farquhar was undergoing a brutal divorce when he barricaded himself in his apartment and recorded this one-man assault on the female race.

The sound is similar to the Stone Harbour album in its grim murk, from out of which Farquhar conjures moments of intense psychedelic queasiness. The style is a curious mixture of psych, blues, folk and funk overlaid with a weird vocal that ranges from a grizzly mumble to put-on weirdo voices.

The fuzzy, tuneless burp through the Wedding March that closes the first track leaves you with no doubt as to Farquhar’s views on his ex-wife and womanhood in general. The misanthropy and misogyny present in every track might leave a lot of people cold, but personally I found it a bitter pleasure. Not one I’d recommend to everyone but if you like that dark, raw basement sound, then this is the one for you.
by Austin Matthews

All tracks were recorded by JW Jarquhar in 1972. The songs on The Formal Female were written as an outcry against the materialistic nature of the woman during that time period in 1972. Many will tell you it is still that way. JW had recently extricated himself from a 10 year marriage and the words from this experience fit the lyrics on the album still. During that time he lived by himself in a 3rd floor apartment in Philadelphia. It was a street with a lot of traffic.

Car horns, busses, police sirens, fire engines, screams, and sometimes even gunshots filled the airwaves. For this reason he sealed up the windows and any other openings with sound-proofing foam. This was necessary because his music was recorded in there. JW was the instrumentalist; rhythm guitar, lead guitar, drums, vocals, and bass. However he could not play them all at once, so he purchased a four track simulsync Teac recorder... professional version. 

This allowed him to record on one track and then play it back and separately record on a second, third, and fourth track. The original tracks were recorded at 15 IPS. A final mix was then made in stereo with yet a fifth overdub, when needed. At that time other effects were limited. It is amazing electric fuzz album full of effects and it's a masterpiece such as D.R. Hooker. 
Tracks
1. Formal Female - 11:57
2. Want Machine - 11:16
3. My Bundle Of Joy - 9:21
4. Where Have You Been - 6:09
5. Mansions - 7:02
Words and Music by JW Farquhar

Musicians
*JW Farquhar - Vocals, Harmonica, Rhythm Guitar, Pedal Bass
*Riffery Lowknut - Fender Bass
*Slash Mullethead - Percusions
*Callust Likfinker - Lead Guitar

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Osmosis - Osmosis (1970 us, solid heavy experimental jazz prog rock)



US psychedelic progressive rock with jazz influences feat. Charlie Mariano. Originally released on RCA this 1970 progressive Jazz rock outfit created a full blown rock based performance with two drummers. The wall of sound was amazing with alto and soprano saxophones- courtesy of the great Charlie Mariano, whose career since 1944 has included bebop with Shelly Manne and electronic fusion with Eberhard Weber’s Colours - wailing over the wall of sound. The mood ranges from spacey and saxy to (as evidenced on title track) full-on heavy stoner acid doom.
Freak Emporium 
Tracks
1. Of War And Peace (In Part) - 1:06
2. Beezlebub - 3:51
3. Thoughts Aften Stray - 2:50
4. Sunrise - 2:31
5. Shadows - 3:34
6. Adrift - 4:52
7. Sunlight - 2:32
8. Scorpio Rising - 2:58
9. Please Let Me Go - 4:24
10.Geoffery's Tune - 3:40
11.Of War And Peace (In Full) - 7:22
12.Sleep, My Love (Epilogue) - 1:52

Osmosis
*Charlie Mariano - Soprano, Alto Saxophones, Flute, Nagaswaram
*Bobby Knox - Lead Vocals
*Danny Comfort - Bass
*Lou Peterson - Drums
*Bobby Clark - Percussion, Drums, Vocals
*Andy Steinborn - Guitar, Background Vocals
*Charlie Bechler - Keyboards, Melodica, Tympani, Chimes

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Penny Arkade - Not The Freeze (1967-68 us, fine sunny psychedelia, Sundazed remaster and expanded issue)



The Penny Arkade saga actually begins with two singers-songwriters-musicians -- Chris Ducey, then of California but originally from Brooklyn, New York, and Craig Smith of Studio City, California would become the very foundation of the yet-to-be group.

In the summer of 1965, Chris, then a college student, and Craig met for the first time in California. The occasion was the fourth audition callback for The Happeners, a mostly serious TV pilot about the trials and triumphs of a three-person, Greenwich Village folk-rock band. Winning the callback after six separate auditions, then 19 year-old Chris and 20 year-old Craig, who had to sing and play guitars as well as act on the show, were promptly flown – along with lovely Sussanah Jordan, who had auditioned for the role of the third member of the group -- to New York where the threesome competed against the East Coast winners who were vying for the same roles. Again the West Coasters won.

The Happeners hour-long pilot film was shot in fall, 1965, in New York City, with a cameo appearance by the Dave Clark Five, and with actors Louis (then simply Lou) Gosset, Jr. and Lou Jacobi in major roles. Chris and Craig sang their own original material written. The original plan was for The Happeners to air in a weekly time slot opposite a less serious but in some ways similar program on NBC – The Monkees. When The Happeners’ producers refused to cut their show down by half (the length of the NBC series), ABC withdrew the series from its schedule.

Craig had also auditioned for The Monkees, at which time he met Michael (or, back then, “Mike”) Nesmith , who would eventually become the producer and, in many ways, mentor and inspiration for the Penny Arkade. Coincidentally, Craig and Mike knew each also encountered one another as part of the folk music scene – Craig as a member of the Good Time Singers, Mike in the Back Porch Majority.

Although The Happeners did not…happen, something did happen between Chris and Craig. In 1966, out on their own as simply “Chris and Craig,” the duo secured a singles record deal with Capitol, cutting a number of sides including “Isha” and “Our Love Has Come” (included in this collection). And it was this Chris and Craig incarnation that constituted the true and official origin of the Penny Arkade. 

During the months between the phasing out of Chris and Craig and the birth of the Penny Arkade, the two singers recorded (with John London, formally with the Louis and Clark Expedition) a double-sided demo to promote the newly re-forming band. The demo featured two songs – Chris’s “Rhyme or Reason” and Craig’s “(She Brought Me) Something Beautiful” – that would, in the group’s early days, become part of the Penny Arkade’s performing list. Unfortunately, copies of this seminal acetate record seem to have been lost (the only known disc, in the possession of Penny Arkade drummer-to-be, being lost years later in a flood).

The Penny Arkade had its first official meeting at Mike Nesmith’s home in the Hollywood Hills. Chris and Craig were there, of course, and also a 19 year-old drummer from Corpus Christi, Texas. Bobby Donaho had almost waist-long blonde hair and a thick Texas accent. Most recently a member of the band Willowdale Handcar (AKA Mrs. McGrueder’s 3-D Rhythm Band), he had briefly met Mike in Texas before relocating, with a number of other Texan musicians, to Southern California. A luncheon with Mike’s wife Phyllis led to Bobby pursuing and then getting the Penny Arkade gig. Bobby had a perfect sense of timing – necessary for some of the tricky time signatures of Chris and Craig’s music. Fortunately all four of us – now the Penny Arkade – liked one another and jelled as a foursome, even though our personalities, in some ways, were quite different.

There was no specific lead guitar player present that night. As the Penny Arkade was not meant to be a typically “heavy” band, and emphasized Chris and Craig’s singing more than its instrumental backing, it was decided that either or both of them would handle the lead guitar parts. And while playing lead guitar was neither of the singers’ forte, they managed the required riffs admirably, with Craig nominally taking on the lion’s share.

The Penny Arkade played many of notable Hollywood clubs following that initial Screen Gems appearance – e.g., Gazzarri’s, the Magic Mushroom, Galaxy, Factory, Cheetah and Century 2000 (formerly Ciro’s, now the Comedy Store). We also played a dance at a Santa Barbara high school that almost led to a physical altercation. Apparently the school’s intent was to hire a band that played very familiar – and danceable – “Top 40” tunes. What the school got was a band that played all original material, some of which segued off into lengthy psychedelic instrumental breaks. It required some fancy diplomacy on our part to retrieve even part of the money promised us for that disastrous gig.

Through all our months together, our music continued to grow, Chris and Craig’s writing becoming more and more sophisticated. This created a kind of dilemma for Michael. As he sought to secure for us a deal with some major record company, Elektra and Kama Sutra among them, our music and our style of playing was rapidly evolving, becoming more complex and sophisticated. By the time Mike had some record company interested in us, the music we were currently doing was dramatically different from that he was pitching. By that time, also, we had ceased playing those earlier tunes during our nightclub appearances.

Later in 1967, with none of the band’s earlier recorded (and comparatively simpler) numbers yet released, Mike opted to green light our most ambitious and creative recording project to date -- the unofficially titled Not the Freeze album. The album would feature mostly new material, but included a few new, improved and tighter versions of some of the songs we had recorded in that original session. In addition to the album these sessions would record two singles – “Love Rain,” written by Chris, and “Century of Distance,” a Craig song that was also part of that first session. (Naturally Chris and Craig always performed the lead vocals in the songs they individually wrote.)

“Not the Freeze” (originally titled simply “The Freeze”) was a number, already of more than commercial-song length, written by Chris and having been recorded at one of the earlier sessions. For this new album, however, “Not the Freeze” was to be expanded to a fully blown rock concerto (predating such similar efforts as the Who’s rock opera Tommy). Supplementing its length would be several songs originally written as singles. These included “Hands of the Clock,” written by Craig and already recorded at Capitol by his then girlfriend Heather MacRae (and with an uncredited Penny Arkade providing background voices and additional instrumentation). The new and improved version of “Not the Freeze” would take up a single side of the album.

The Not the Freeze album gave Bobby and me a chance to do some “extra” performing. You’ll hear our voices, all the vocal tracks being recorded at Heider’s, in “Not the Freeze,” “Swim” (I’m the one yelling all the comic-book hero references) and “Voodoo Spell” (I suggested the “jungle drums” ending and did the John Wayne-inspired voice). Bobby and I played our regular instruments on “Thesis”; and while we continued to play our parts during live performances of this number, it was deemed more appropriate to delete them from the final mix and leave the acoustic guitars to carry the instrumental track.

But all three of us felt we needed another lead guitar player. As Craig had handled most of the group’s lead rifts, we sought to replace him with another lead guitarist. The Penny Arkade’s new fourth member was Dave Turner, of late the lead guitar player in the Satisfied Sponge. We rehearsed for a while with Dave, including trying some of Craig’s material with Chris taking on the lead vocals.

The four of us, as the new Penny Arkade, recorded only one song – “Give Our Love (to All the People),” a collective effort written by Chris, Bobby and myself. As an experiment, Bobby recorded four separate drum tracks and I played octaves on some of my bass lines, contributing overall to a substantially heavier effect than previous Penny Arkade songs. After the piece was recorded, Monkees musical director Shorty Rogers was brought in by Mike Nesmith to add some brass embellishment to the recording.

Unfortunately none of the original Penny Arkade masters – nor copies of all of our songs – seem to have survived. Fortunately, back in 1968, I had the idea of making a copy of the original master tape of the Not the Freeze album, “Love Rain” and “Century of Distance.” Chris Ducey managed to turn up a nice acetate dub from the “Woodstock Fireplace” session, as well as one of “Our Love Has Gone.” By sheer accident, I also recently happened upon an old reel-to-reel copy, made either from the original master or an acetate dub, of some of the songs recorded in 1967 prior to the Not the Freeze album, these including the original shorter version of “Not the Freeze.”

My stint with the Penny Arkade included two of the best years of my life. Some of the memories of that time, preserved on the recordings presented on this CD, are offered here for the first time. Sundazed Music has done its best to ensure that the songs presented herein has been remastered and reproduced in its finest audio quality, given their myriad sources.
by Donald F. Glut
Tracks
1. Lights Of Dawn - 2:54
2. Country Girl (C. Smith) - 2:51
3. Thesis - 2:43
4. Swim (C. Smith) - 2:45
5. Color Fantasy (C. Smith) - 3:53
6. Voodoo Spell (C. Smith) - 2:14
7. Not The Freeze (C. Ducey, C. Smith) - 12:37
8. Love Rain - 2:36
9. Century Of Distance (C. Smith) - 2:13
10.Sparkle And Shine - 1:47
11.Face In The Crowd - 2:47
12.Woodstock Fireplace - 3:48
13.Year Of The Monkey - 3:11
14.Give Our Love (To All The People) (D. Glut, C. Ducey, B. Donaho) - 2:42
15.Split Decision (C. Smith) - 2:20
16.Sick And Tired - 2:45
17.No Rhyme Or Reason - 2:17
18.You Couldn't Conquer Me - 2:26
19.Swim Early Version (C. Smith) - 2:59
20.Lights Of Dawn Early Version - 3:03
21.The Freeze Early Version - 7:00
22.Century Of Distance Early Version (C. Smith) - 2:21
23.Voodoo Spell Early Version (C. Smith) - 1:51
All songs by  Chris Ducey except where noted

Penny Arkade
*Chris Ducey - Lead Vocals, Guitar
*Craig Smith - Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar
*Don Glut - Bass, Backing Vocals, Electric Organ (Tracks 10-13)
*Bobby Donaho - Drums, BackingVocals
*Dave Turner - Lead Guitar On "Give Our Love (To All The People)"
*Michael Nesmith - Percussion (Tracks 1 And 20)

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Friday, November 22, 2013

The Rascals - Peaceful World (1971 us, exceptional funk jazz r 'n' b, japan remaster)



Eddie Brigati and Gene Cornish both left the Rascals by 1971. The remaining members -- chief songwriter, vocalist, and keyboardist Felix Cavaliere and drummer Dino Danelli -- kept the name and left Atco for Columbia. Before disbanding permanently in 1972, they released two albums for the label -- 1971's Peaceful World and 1972's The Island of Real -- that have been unjustifiably discounted and forgotten for years.

Cavaliere had become deeply interested in the writings and teachings of the great Sufi master musician Hazrat Inayat Khan, who -- through his own tradition -- looked at music holistically, as an integral part of earthly and spiritual life. He also came under the sway of the emerging sounds of jazz, gospel, and the emerging uptownfunk and soul of the period. Peaceful World is a sprawling yet very focused collection of songs. With Danelli on drums and Ralph MacDonald on percussion, he filled out the rest of the band with the cream of the New York studio scene: saxophonists Joe Farrell, Pepper Adams, and Ernie Wilkins; bassists Gerald Jemmott and Chuck Rainey; guitarists Link Chamberlain and Buzz Feiten; trumpeters Ernie Royal and Joe Newman; trombonist Garnett Brown; flutist Hubert Laws; and backing vocalists Ann Sutton and Cynthia Webb. In other words, he put together a smoking studio band. 

The remarkable aspect of this gorgeous record is that it sounds vintage but not dated. The production is clean, the funk is in the cut, and the communication between musicians in the charts is tight. The LP's last side is taken up by the title cut, a 21-minute complete bliss-out of a spiritual jazz jam. But there are some excellent gospel and sophisticated soul tunes as well -- check out "Mother Nature Land,""Bit of Heaven," the funky Rhodes in "Sky Trane," and the rave-up soul-rocker "Love Letter." The ballad "Little Dove" includes stunning harp work by Alice Coltrane! 

Commercially, the end may not have been pretty for the Rascals, but this album hold together as well or better than anything in their catalog and vindicate them with their timeless appeal. 
by Thom Jurek


Tracks
1. Sky Trane - 5:47
2. In And Out Of Love (Buzzy Feiten) - 3:13
3. Bit Of Heaven - 3:30
4. Love Me - 3:48
5. Mother Nature Land - 3:31
6. Icy Water (Buzzy Feiten) - 4:31
7. Happy Song - 3:42
8. Love Letter - 5:27
9. Little Dove - 6:30
10.Visit To Mother Nature Land - 5:04
11.Getting Nearer - 8:57
12.Peaceful World - 21:25
All songs by Felix Cavaliere except where stated

Musicians
*Felix Cavaliere - Vocals, Keyboards, Marimba, Organ, Piano
*Dino Danelli - Drums
*Howard "Buzz" Feiten - Guitar, Bass, Background Vocals
*Annie Sutton - Vocals
*Linc Chamberland - Guitar, Horn Arrangements
*Gerald Jemmott - Bass
*Robert Popwell - Bass
*Chuck Rainey - Bass
*William Salter - Bass
*Hubert Laws - Flute
*Alice Coltrane - Harp
*Pepper Adams - Baritone Saxophone
*Garnett Brown - Horn, Trombone
*Ron Carter - Bass
*Joe Farrell - Flute, Soprano Sax, Tenor Sax
*Molly Holt - Background Vocals
*Buddy Buono - Background Vocals
*Cynthia Webb - Background Vocals
*Ralph Macdonald - Bells, Conga, Percussion, Shaker, Talking Drum
*Joe Newman - Trumpet
*Ernie Royal - Trumpet
*Jon Smith - Saxophone
*Ernie Wilking - Saxophone

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Phil Sawyer - Childhood`s End (1971 aussie, marvelous psych folk rock, 2006 remaster)



Phil Sawyer's 1971 album Childhood's End, originally released in Australia on the Sweet Peach label, remains pretty unknown to most collectors. This is a wonderful album that will please anyone into psychedelia, rock and folk. Totally electric, great production, great songwriting -- and the warm, uneducated voice of Phil himself gives a slightly looser feel to it at times. 

What immediately attract are the first three songs ("September Woman", "Nightbirds", and "The Other Side of Silence"), sung with a soft romantic voice, played with moody organ or flute and some soft layers of guitars. The songs reveal deep feelings related with certain relationships. The fourth track, “Childhood's End” has more electric guitar arrangements. “Where did everybody go?” is something completely different in style, recorded with live voices in studio, a making fun song, perhaps recorded completely stoned. Also “Electric Children” is more rocking, and could have come from the same session.

Also this is in a more mainstream style, compensated by an overload of crazy reverb effects on guitars. Both these tracks are from a different character and recording quality, but being in the middle of the album, just show something like a different aspect, a compensated insecure moment perhaps. “The Chase” holds the middle between this sphere and the earliest quieter moment, with some electric guitars working as the connecting wire. After “Stranger in the Street”, it is by “Letters to Seraphina” that we’re back to where the album started. It is one of the moodiest tracks, with additional tabla. Here we can easily associate the kind of seashore endless haze seen on the album cover.
Tracks
1. September Woman (P. Sawyer, Nat Cohen) - 3:08
2. Nightbirds (P. Sawyer, Phil Cunneen) - 3:25
3. The Other Side Of Silence (P. Sawyer, Phil Cunneen) - 3:44
4. Childhood's End - 2:47
5. Where Did Everybody Go? - 3:16
6. Electric Children - 4:31
7. The Chase - 3:56
8. Stranger In The Street (P. Sawyer, Phil Cunneen) - 2:43
9. Letters To Serephina (P. Sawyer, Phil Cunneen) - 5:15
All Songs by Phil Sawyer except where indicated

*Phil Sawyer - Vocals
*Phil Cunneen - Musical Director

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

King Crimson - USA (1975 uk, initial progressive experimental rock, 2013 40th anniversary edition)



USA was originally issued in 1975 and marked the final statement by the band's incendiary mid-1970s incarnation.The CD features a completely new stereo album mix of the full concert by Robert Fripp & David Singleton.

USA was recorded towards the end of King Crimson's final US tour of the 70s in June 1974. It was issued as an epitaph for the band in Spring 1975 as a single album - at a time when doubles or even triple live albums were more considered the norm for live releases. Deleted towards the end of the vinyl era in the mid-80s, it remained unreleased in the CD era until the expanded edition was finally issued in October 2002. In common with much of Crimson's output, it was not well received at the time by critics, though its critical reputation grew immeasurably in the intervening years to the point where a review of the 21st Century Guide to King Crimson boxed set in 2004 identified the album as the point, "...where Fripp maps out the guitar blueprint for the entire post-punk movement."

If that claim sounds somewhat exaggerated, a casual listen to the opening minutes of the album where the ethereal 'walk on...' tape of Fripp & Eno's No Pussyfooting gives way to the sonic assault of Larks' II - provides ample evidence to back up the claim. It's also worth noting the audience response to the band - especially at the end of Starless, a piece that had yet to be recorded in the studio at that point.

Drawn from that release and presented in the King Crimson 40th Anniversary series format, the USA features a previously unreleased mix of the Asbury Park concert that formed the bulk of the original album, Ronan Chris Murphy's mix of the concert (issued on CD in 2006) and the expanded version of the original vinyl album as issued in 2002. 
Tracks
1. Walk On: No Pussyfooting (Eno, Fripp) - 1:39
2. Larks’ Tongues In Aspic (Part II) (Fripp) - 6:23  
3. Lament (Wetton, Palmer-James, Fripp) - 4:22  
4. Exiles (Cross, Wetton, Palmer-James, Fripp) - 7:25
5. Improv: Asbury Park (Bruford, Cross, Wetton, Fripp) - 11:44
6. Easy Money (Wetton, Palmer-James, Fripp) - 2:24
7. Improv (Bruford, Cross, Wetton, Fripp) - 8:40
8. Fracture (Fripp) - 11:02
9. Starless (Bruford, Cross, Wetton, Palmer-James, Fripp) - 12:34
10.21st Century Schizoid Man (Lake, McDonald, Giles, Sinfield, Fripp) - 9:01

King Crimson
*Bill Bruford - Drums, Percussion
*David Cross - Violin, Keyboards
*Robert Fripp - Guitar, Mellotron
*John Wetton - Bass, Vocals
*Eddie Jobson - Violin, Piano

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lighthouse - One Fine Morning (1971 canada, tremendous brass jazz rock)



As Canada's entry in the big brass soul sound of the late sixties, Lighthouse was clinging tenuously to the second rung, behind Blood, Sweat and Tears, the Electric Flag and the Chicago Transit Authority, until the release of the best-selling One Fine Morning. Lighthouse was formed in the wake of the Paupers break-up by drummer/songwriter Skip Prokop, then a much-in-demand session musician for, among others, Steve Miller, Carlos Santana and Al Kooper. While in New York, Prokop hooked up with teenage keyboardist Paul Hoffert, himself ensconced in the downtown jazz scene and employed there scoring Broadway musicals. A jaunt to Ann Arbor, Mich. would net guitarist Ralph Cole, whose band Thyme had recorded several proto-psychedelic singles on the legendary A-squared label.

The band was ready to rock by May 14, 1969, when the thirteen-piece orchestra debuted at Toronto's venerable Rock Pile. Prolific perhaps to a fault, they rifled off three middling LPs in just over a year for RCA before their fortuitous summer of 1970. After jettisoning RCA (or perhaps it was vice-versa) for the smaller GRT/Evolution, Prokop pared the band down to eleven, adding singer Bob McBride, whose robust chops and grizzled charm would augment their brawny brass assault.

The title track, leading off side two of this LP, is still Lighthouse's finest moment, a buoyant paean to love riddled with crisp horns and blistering guitar, not to mention McBride's lusty vocal performance. The soul/gospel 'Hats Off to the Stranger', though somewhat derivative of Blood, Sweat and Tears, especially McBride's throaty Clayton-Thomasesque bellows, also saw chart action in Canada. And the summery 'Little Kind Words' exposes a more fragile side with its buttery harmonies and cinematic flute/keyboard arrangements.

Though Lighthouse would crack the lucrative juggernaut south of the border once again with the more radio-friendly 'Sunny Days', the torrid brass/guitar workout of 'One Fine Morning' will forever remain the band's signature staple up here in Canuckistan. 
by Michael Panontin
Tracks
1. Love Of A Woman (Cole, Prokop) - 5:47
2. Little Kind Words (Prokop) - 4:11
3. Old Man (Smith) - 5:35
4. Sing, Sing, Sing (Cole, Prokop) - 3:19
5. 1849 (Cole, Prokop) - 6:12
6. One Fine Morning (Prokop) - 5:11
7. Hats Off (To The Stranger) (McBride, McGraw, Prokop) - 3:37
8. Show Me The Way (Prokop) - 2:25
9. Step Out On The Sea (Prokop) - 5:04
10.Sweet Lullabye (Prokop) - 4:53
11.One Fine Morning (Single Edit) (Prokop) - 3:21
12.Take It Slow (Out In The Country) (Cole, Jollimore, Smith) - 3:05
13.Sweet Lullabye (Single Edit) (Prokop) - 4:04

Lighthouse
*Dick Armin - Cello
*Ralph Cole - Guitar, Vocals
*Don DiNovo - Viola
*Paul Hoffert - Keyboards
*Keith Jollimore - Vocals, Wind
*Bobby McBride - Percussion, Lead Vocals
*Pete Pantaluk - Trumpet
*Skip Prokop - Drums, Guitar, Vocals
*Howard Shore - Saxophone
*Larry Smith - Trombone, Vocals
*Louis Yacknin - Bass
*Jimmy Ienner - Vocals
*The Edmonton Hawks, The Maltese Moon - Percussion

1973  Can You Feel It?  (2008 RDI issue)
Related Acts
1967  The Paupers - Magic People
1968  The Paupers · Ellis Island  (2008 remaster)
1969  The Live Adventures Of Mike Bloomfield And Al Kooper
1969  Michael Bloomfield with Nick Gravenites & Friends - Live At Bill Graham's Fillmore West (2009 remaster and expanded)

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Elvin Bishop - Let It Flow (1974 us, awesome southern swamp blues rock)



For his fourth album, Elvin Bishop organized a new backup group and switched to Capricorn Records. Capricorn was known as the standard bearer of the Southern rock movement--the Allman Brothers Band, The Marshall Tucker Band, etc.--and Bishop was able to emphasize the country/blues aspects of his persona and his music in the move from Marin County, California, to Macon, Georgia. 

The guest artists included the Allmans' Dickey Betts, Marshall Tucker's Toy Caldwell, Charlie Daniels, and Sly Stone, and Bishop turned in one of his best sets of songs, including "Travelin' Shoes" (with its Allmans-like twin lead guitar work), which became his first charting single, just as the album was his first to make the Top 100 LPs. 
by William Ruhlmann
Tracks
1. Sunshine Special - 3:43
2. Ground Hog - 3:37
3. Honey Babe - 3:19
4. Stealin' Watermelons - 4:03
5. Travelin' Shoes - 7:17
6. Let It Flow - 3:51
7. Hey Good Lookin' (Hank Williams) - 3:43
8. Fishin' - 4:32
9. Can't Go Back - 3:28
10.I Can't Hold Myself In Line - 2:40
11.Bourbon Street - 2:18
All songs written by Elvin Bishop except where noted.

Musicians
*Elvin Bishop - Electric, Acoustic, Slide, Guitars, Lead Vocals
*Johnny Sandlin - Acoustic, Electric Guitars, Percussion, Tambourine
*John Vernazza - Acoustic, Electric, Slide Guitars, Vocals
*Charlie Daniels - Fiddle, Acoustic Guitar, Washboard, Vocals
*Philip Aaberg - Piano, Keyboards, Clavinet
*Donny Baldwin - Drums, Vocals
*Dickey Betts - Electric Guitar
*Toy Caldwell - Steel Guitar
*Michael Brooks - Bass Guitar
*Paul Hornsby - Organ, Keyboards
*Sly Stone - Organ, Keyboards
*Vassar Clements - Strings
*Stephen Miller - Piano
*Randall Bramblett - Saxophone
*Dave Brown - Saxophone
*Harold Williams - Saxophone
*Bill Meeker - Drums
*Jo Baker - Percussion, Vocals
*Debbie Cathey - Vocals
*Gideon Daniels - Vocals
*Jerome Joseph - Conga, Conductor
*Annie Sampson - Vocals
*Mickey Thompson - Vocals
*David Walshaw - Percussion, Tambourine

1969-70/72  Party Till The Cows Come Home 
1977  Live! Raisin' Hell (2012 remaster edition)
Related Acts
1966-68  The Paul Butterfield Blues Band - Strawberry Jam

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Lovin' Spoonful - Revelation: Revolution '69 (1969 us, beautiful folk psych, feat. Joe Butler)



By the time 1968's Bob Finiz produced "Revelation: Revolution '69" hit the streetsThe Lovin' Spoonful was essentially functioning on life support.  With longstanding front man John Sebastian having hit the road as a solo act, drummer Joe Butler effectively took over what was left of the nameplate, handling vocals, providing the goofy liner notes, and co-writing a couple of tracks with producer Finiz  (note the album was billed as 'The Lovin' Spoonful Featuring Joe Butler').  

While Butler had a decent voice, he wasn't anywhere near the talent Sebastian was. Sebastian's departure also stripped the band of it's primary creative source, leaving Butler, Steve Boone and Jerry Yester to rely on outside source of material, including three tracks from Dino Sembello and three Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon compositions.  On the other hand Sebastian's departure allowed the band to push beyond their patented top-40 moves, turning in what was probably their most activist release.  Doubt that comment then check out the title track, 'War Games', and 'Jug of War'.

Amazing Air' got the album off to an odd start.  Penned by Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon, this one didn't immediately click with me, but after a couple of spins it drilled its way into my head and wouldn't let go.   Easily the album's most commercial song. Given a folk-rock twang, their cover of John Stewart's 'Never Going Back' was quite different from the rest of the album. Spotlighting some pretty acoustic guitar and tasteful pedal steel, this was one of the album highlights. (Till I) Run with You' started side two with the one song that recalled Sebastian-era Lovin' Spoonful.  Complete with memorable melody and some tasty harmony vocals, this was a great slice of power pop.  Easy to see why it was tapped as the second single from the LP. 

the title track - The Spoonful never sounded as rocking, or activist as on this one.  True, it hasn't aged all that well, but it still stands as one of Butler's creative highlights. The third Bonner-Gordon composition, the stark ballad 'Me About You' was another highlight.  Kicked along by Butler's martial drums and one of his best vocals, this one was a bit too odd to make it on the radio, though that didn't stop Kama Sutra from tapping it as the album's third single. Call it an interesting late-inning release and go look for one of the numerous greatest hits packages.  (Anyone ever notice that the LP label actually has the title 'Till I Run with You' ?) 

 And in case you were wondering; the attractive woman on the cover appeared to be wearing a skin-toned body suit, or had been airbrushed to hide her private attributes.
Tracks
1. Amazing Air (Bonner, Gordon) - 2:50
2. Never Going Back (John Stewart) - 2:48
3. The Prophet (Finiz, Butler) - 2:45
4. Only Yesterday (Dino, Sembello) - 2:43
5. War Games (Butler) - 7:02
6. (Till I) Run With You (Gordon, Bonner) - 2:52
7. Jug Of Wine (Dino, Sembello) - 2:31
8. Revelation: Revolution '69 (Butler, Finiz) - 2:29
9. Me About You (Bonner, Gordon) - 3:48
10.Words (Dino, Sembello) - 2:18
11.Revelation: Revolution '69 (Single Version, Alternate Mix) - 2:17
12.Revelation: Revolution '69 (Single Version, Alternate Mix, Vocal) - 2:17
13.Me About You (Single Version, Alternate Mix) - 2:48

The Lovin' Spoonful
*Joe Butler – Vocals, Drums
*Steve Boone - Bass
*Jerry Yester – Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards
with
*Zal Yanovsky - Guitar

 The Lovin' Spoonful
1965  Do You Believe In Magic
1966  Daydream (Japan remaster)
1966  Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful (Japan remaster)
1967-68  You're A Big Boy Now / Everything Playing (2011 edition)

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dada - Dada (1970 uk, fine jazz fusion rock, with Elkie Brooks and Paul Korda)



Fronted by the talented lead singer Elkie Brooks (who was quite popular in England at the time), Dada was a short-lived band project. Sounding something like a slightly arty, British version of Delaney and Bonnie, Dada's sound was heavy, gospel-oriented rock 'n' roll. 

"Seed of peace' a gospel-soaked piano drives the chorus, led by Brooks' excellent lead. It's a wonderful track, somewhat reminiscent of Delaney & Bonnie's "Getto." It succeeds precisely because of the understatement in its arrangement. Unfortunately, this is one of the few examples of a laidback approach on the album; they could have done more of these. 
by Matthew Greenwald
Tracks
1. Big Dipper (Paul Korda, Pete Gage) - 4:09
2. The Last Time (Keith Richards, Mick Jagger) - 3:37
3. This Is My Song (Paul Korda, Pete Gage) - 4:33
4. Seed Of Peace (Don Shinn, Paul Korda) - 3:26
5. Organ Interlude (Don Shinn) - 0:54
6. Tonite Is (Don Shinn, Paul Korda) - 0:54
7. She Walks Away (Zagni, Pete Gage) - 3:22
8. Aspen, Colorado (Tony Joe White) - 4:58
9. Eyes Of The Warren (Don Shinn) - 4:08
10.Jasamin (P. Korda) - 2:36
11.Dada (P. Korda) - 3:45

Dada
Elkie Brooks - Vocals
Paul Korda - Vocals
Don Shinn - Keyboards, Organ, Vibraphone
Barry Duggan - Alto, Baritone Saxophones, Flute
Martyn Harryman - Drums, Percussion
Pete Gage - Guitar, Bass
Malcolm Capewell - Tenor Saxophone, Flute
Ernie Luchlan – Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Jimmy Chambers – Vocals, Percussion

Related Acts
1969-71  Paul Korda - Passing Stranger (2012 Esoteric remaster)
1969  Don Shinn - Takes A Trip (Flawed Gems edition)

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Magic Sam Blues Band - Blac Magic (1968 us, effective electric blues, japan issue)



This album's color cover photo is an action shot, showing Magic Sam in the process of choking and bending his strings, a good hike up the fretboard. It isn't clear exactly what he is playing from the picture, although that certainly didn't stop dozens of pimply hippie guitar players from trying to figure it out. In the meantime, the record goes on and the first soloist out of the gate is Eddie Shaw, playing tenor sax. He is blowing over the top of an R&B riff that, although not out of the syntax of Chicago blues, would also have been quite fitting on a Wilson Pickett record. 

It is unfortunate that Magic Sam's recording career came to such an abrupt end, as he was one of the best artists working in the musical area between the urban blues tradition and newly developing soul music forms. This fusion was on the minds of many blues artists during the late '60s, and not just because it was aesthetically conceivable. It was also a matter of commerce, as audiences -- particularly black audiences -- didn't want to hear any blues that sounded too much like something their parents might have listened to. The harmonica player Junior Wells was another one who decided to get a bit of James Brown into his act, not always with great results. 

What listeners have here, on the other hand, is frankly delicious, the results of the surplus of talent Magic Sam possessed, a triple threat as a guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Yet with all this talent, the label should also get some credit. This period of the Delmark discography set a high standard for blues recordings, the sound quality and tight interplay among the musicians every bit the equal of the classic jazz recordings on labels such as Blue Note and Prestige. There is nothing fancy about the production, and no gimmicks. It is just a great band, allowed to play the music exactly the way it wanted to. The musicians have obviously worked together a great deal and either had these arrangements down cold from live gigs or had plenty of time to get things tight. This doesn't mean that the music doesn't breathe, as there are plenty of little touches such as drum fills and turnarounds that show the presence of musicians thinking on their feet.

The passage of time also increases the musical value of this music, as the eventual popularity of commercial projects such as the Blues Brothers has only served to dilute the power of urban blues. Labels big and small have forsaken this type of honest and straightforward production, preferring to try concocting a higher level of funkiness through extravagent over-production, boring superstar guest appearances, and insipid studio practices such as prerecorded rhythm tracks and dipstick guitar solos punched in a note at the time. Forget all this jive and check out a track such as "You Belong to Me," where the guitarist cuts loose with a restrained solo that sometimes dances ahead of the beat like a country fiddler while the band pumps away on a superb riff. 

The players here, including the fine guitarist Mighty Joe Young, pianist Lafayette Leake, and a muscular rhythm section, are the best of the best. No information is provided on the songwriting, so the assumption is that these tunes are all originals by Magic Sam. None are too obviously adopted from standards, but the opening "I Just Want a Little Bit" was much copied by other blues artists. "I Have the Same Old Blues" has a medium, loping blues tempo that swings so perfectly it should be used as an instruction course for lame blues bar bands.
by Eugene Chadbourne
Tracks
1. I Just Want A Little Bit - 3:00
2. What Have I Done Wrong - 3:07
3. Easy, Baby - 3:53
4. You Belong To Me - 4:03
5. It's All Your Fault - 4:51
6. I Have The Same Old Blues - 3:31
7. You Don't Love Me Baby - 3:28
8. San-Ho-Zay - 3:53
9. Stop! You're Hurting Me - 4:48
10.Keep Loving Me Baby - 3:54

Band
*Magic Sam - Vocals, Guitar
*Eddie Shaw - Saxophone
*Odie Payne, Jr. - Drums
*Mack Thompson - Bass
*Mighty Joe Young - Guitar
*Lafayette Leake - Piano

1967  West Side Soul

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Magic Sam - West Side Soul (1967 us, impressive chicago electric blues)



Samuel Maghett was born February 14,1937 on a farm in central Mississippi, eight miles east of Granada. By the time he was thirteen, like most other kids his age, he was doing a full day's work, but found time to start learning how to play the guitar by stretching strings tied to nails driven into a wall in a manner similar to Big Joe Williams' primitive one-string guitar (described in the notes of Delmark's Piney Woods Blues, DL-602).

The Maghett family got its first taste of big-city life when they moved to Chicago in i960 Sam decided he never wanted to live again in the South — the relative freedom of the city life changed his mind once and for all. When he attended Drake elementary school on Chicago's South Side he often took his guitar with him. His classmates used to tease him about it but one morning Sam played before all the students at assembly, caught the fancy of the girls and "went home with a pocketful of telephone numbers."

A year later, while playing his guitar under a tree in his backyard at 27th and Calumet. Sam attracted the attention of a gambler named Cadillac Jake who happened to be walking by Jake encouraged Sam and they were to meet again years later when the gambler had himself become a blues-singer and harmonicaplayer By that time Sam had already formed his first band with Syl Johnson (most recently noted for his recording of Sock It To Me) and Mack Thompson who still plays with Sam on a lot of jobs It was Thompson who nicknamed Magic Sam by rhyming his last name.

Even when still a gambler. Shakey Jake "followed Muddy Waters around" and when he again met Magic Sam in 1954, encouraged him to sing as well as play Up to that time Sam was more interested in playing guitar but, after he overcame the usual initial shyness, he was good enough to make it as an R’n’B-singer in the commercial music world. However, he took great pride in the blues heritage and "decided to stick to the blues." He continued to practice with Shakey Jake and another harp-blower named Blues King and developed his vocal style by singing with a family gospel group, the Morning View Special.

By 1955 Sam was ready to play the blues clubs. One night Jake took him to the 708 Club on East 47th Street where Muddy Waters was playing Jake persuaded Muddy to let Sam sit in for a set after which the owner of the club hired him to follow Muddy's engagement In 1957 he made his first recordings for the Cobra label. Sam recalls that Eli Toscano, the label's owner, had a way of sending the sound through some pipes in a back room and back again to gel just the right amount of reverberation.

After a hitch in the army Sam again recorded for the Chief label in 1960 and 1961, playing clubs on the West and Near North sides. His guitar-playing matured and his voice steadily improved in depth as he concentrated on his singing. He later moved to the Club Alex on West Roosevelt Road where he sometimes doubled with Muddy Waters band He also broadcast frequently on Big Bill Hill's shows on WOPA from the Copacabana. At the time of this recording he was working more frequently opposite Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf at Sylvio's famous blues club at Lake and Kedzie and doing off nights occasionally at Mother Blues on Wells Street His most recent 45's were Al Benson's Crash label in 1966.
by Bill Lindemann

To call West Side Soul one of the great blues albums, one of the key albums (if not the key album) of modern electric blues is all true, but it tends to diminish and academicize Magic Sam's debut album. This is the inevitable side effect of time, when an album that is decades old enters the history books, but this isn't an album that should be preserved in amber, seen only as an important record. Because this is a record that is exploding with life, a record with so much energy, it doesn't sound old. 

Of course, part of the reason it sounds so modern is because this is the template for most modern blues, whether it comes from Chicago or elsewhere. Magic Sam may not have been the first to blend uptown soul and urban blues, but he was the first to capture not just the passion of soul, but also its subtle elegance, while retaining the firepower of an after-hours blues joint. Listen to how the album begins, with "That's All I Need," a swinging tune that has as much in common with Curtis Mayfield as it does Muddy Waters, but it doesn't sound like either -- it's a synthesis masterminded by Magic Sam, rolling along on the magnificent, delayed cadence of his guitar and powered by his impassioned vocals. 

West Side Soul would be remarkable if it only had this kind of soul-blues, but it also is filled with blistering, charged electric blues, fueled by wild playing by Magic Sam and Mighty Joe Young -- not just on the solos, either, but in the rhythm (witness how "I Feel So Good [I Wanna Boogie]" feels unhinged as it barrels along). Similarly, Magic Sam's vocals are sensitive or forceful, depending on what the song calls for. Some of these elements might have been heard before, but never in a setting so bristling with energy and inventiveness; it doesn't sound like it was recorded in a studio, it sounds like the best night in a packed club. 

But it's more than that, because there's a diversity in the sound here, an originality so fearless, he not only makes "Sweet Home Chicago" his own (no version before or since is as definitive as this), he creates the soul-injected, high-voltage modern blues sound that everybody has emulated and nobody has topped in the years since. And, again, that makes it sound like a history lesson, but it's not. This music is alive, vibrant, and vital -- nothing sounds as tortured as "I Need You So Bad," no boogie is as infectious as "Mama, Mama Talk to Your Daughter," no blues as haunting as "All of Your Love." No matter what year you listen to it, you'll never hear a better, more exciting record that year.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Tracks
1. That's All I Need (Magic Sam) - 3:40
2. I Need You So Bad (B.B. King, Sam Ling) - 4:51
3. I Feel So Good (I Wanna Boogie) - 4:36
4. All Of Your Love (Magic Sam, Otis Rush) - 3:43
5. I Don't Want No Woman (Don Robey) - 3:38
6. Sweet Home Chicago (Robert Johnson) - 4:11
7. I Found A New Love (Little Milton, Bob Lyons) - 4:03
8. Every Night and Every Day (Jimmy McCracklin) - 2:19
9. Lookin' Good (Instrumental) (Magic Sam) - 3:11
10.My Love Will Never Die (Willie Dixon) - 4:04
11.Mama Talk To Your Daughter (J.B. Lenoir) - 2:40
12.I Don't Want No Woman (Alternate Take) (Don Robey) - 3:30

Musicians
*Magic Sam - Vocals, Guitar
*Mighty Joe Young - Guitar
*Stockholm Slim - Piano
*Earnest Johnson - Bass
*Odie Payne - Drums
*Mack Thompson - Bass (only on Tracks 1, 3, 8)
*Odie Payne III – Drums (only on Tracks 1, 3, 8)

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