Monday, March 31, 2014

The Nova Local - Nova 1 (1967 us, delicate psychedelia)



The Nova Local was a psychedelic pop band formed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 1964, initially under the name The Shadows. It comprised singer Randy Winburn, guitarists Joe Mendyk and Phil Lambeth, bassist Jim Opton, keyboardist Cam Schinhan and drummer Bill Levasseur.

Their single "If You Only Had the Time", released in 1967, was a minor hit in North Carolina. They recorded one album, Nova 1 (released on Decca Records in 1968 in the United States), shortly before disbanding.

The album was also released in Canada and in the United Kingdom. According to Opton, the album was the first ever recorded using the Dolby NR. This is another one of those albums if you heard for the first time today you might say, So What? but back in 1968 it was an awesome record and one that I still enjoy playing today.

The first I heard of this album was on late night underground radio when one of the DJ's would play Tobacco Road every night. I was so impressed at the time with their version of this tired old song that I searched and searched until I found a copy of the album to make mine. To this day Nova Local's version of Tobacco Road is probably my favorite out of all the versions I've heard over the years.

Along with Tobacco Road they also do above average covers of Hitch Hike and Mountain Dew. The rest of the album consists of original tunes which are quite good also. This is a classic piece of Psychedelica from the late 60's, a time that produced a lot of unique and timeless music.

If you're a fan of that era then this album needs to be part of your collection. It's rife with great Hammond B-3 organ and above average vocals and harmonies. Unfortunately they only put out this one Lp before breaking up and going their seperate ways 
by Tom Eckels
Tracks
1. $5 a Ticket - 2:55
2. If You Only Had the Time - 2:20
3. Yascha New Deli Intimately - 0:35
4. A Visit From It, The Kong - 1:15
5. Tobacco Road - 5:35
6. Hitch Hike - 2:50
7. Morning Dew - 5:33
8. Forgotten Man - 2:19
9. Dear Jim - 0:45
10.And I Remember - 2:13
11.John Knight's Body - 2:12

The Nova Local
*Randy Winburn - Rhythm Guitar
*Joe Mendyk - Lead Guitar
*Jim Option - Bass
*Bill Levasseur - Drums
*Phil Lambert - Guitar

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Snafu - Snafu / Situation Normal (1973-74 uk, excellent groovy rock with jazzy blues shades, two disc set)



Snafu was formed in 1973 by former Procol Harum and Freedom vocalist Bobby Harrison along with Mick Moody, formerly of Tramline, the Mike Cotton Sound and Juicy Lucy. With Colin Gibson from Ginger Baker's Air Force, Terry Popple from Mickey Jupp's Legend, and session musician Pete Solley, the band released two critically acclaimed albums for the WWA label in 1974, Snafu and Situation Normal. In 1975, Solley left the band to be replaced by another session musician, Brian Chatton, and Tim Hinkley was recruited to complete the lineup that would record the band's third album, All Funked Up. This album has been seen as the band's "great lost album" because of its limited vinyl-format release, originally on the Capitol label. Shortly after the release of this album in 1976, Snafu broke up. 
by Keith Pettipas
Tracks
Disc 1 Snafu 1973
1. Long Gone - 5:15
2. Said He The Judge (B. Harrison, M. Moody, P. Solley) - 4:31
3. Monday Morning - 3:16
4. Drowning In The Sea Of Love (Gamble, Huff) - 5:50
5. Country Nest - 5:19
6. Funky Friend - 4:05
7. Goodbye Usa - 4:22
8. That's The Song (P. Solley, Marcellino)  - 6:03
9. Dixie Queen - 4:38
10.Sad Sunday - 6:24
All songs by Bobby Harrison, Micky Moody except where stated
Bonus Tracks 9-10
Disc 2 Situation Normal 1974
1. No More - 6:16
2. No Bitter Taste - 3:21
3. Brown Eyed Beauty And The Blue Assed Fly - 3:23
4. Lock And Key - 2:48
5. Big Dog Lusty - 3:40
6. Playboy Blues - 8:15
7. Jessie Lee - 4:35
8. Ragtime Roll - 5:05
All songs by B. Harrison, M. Moody, P. Solley

Snafu
*Bobby Harrison - Vocals, Percussion
*Micky Moody - Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
*Pete Solley - Keyboards, Violin, Vocals
*Colin Gibson - Bass
*Terry Popple - Drums, Bass

Related Act
1969  Freedom - Nero Su Bianco / Black On White

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Freedom - Nero Su Bianco / Black On White (1969 uk, beautiful psychedelic rock)



A spin-off of Procol Harum, Freedom was formed by guitarist Ray Royer and drummer Bobby Harrison. Both of them were in Procol Harum's lineup at the outset for their debut "A Whiter Shade of Pale" single, but were ousted almost immediately when Procol singer, Gary Brooker, enlisted his former bandmates from the Paramounts, Robin Trower and Barry Wilson, as replacements. Freedom's early sound, perhaps unsurprisingly, echoed Procol Harum's in its prominent use of organ and piano, as well as heavy rock guitar, and like Procol Harum's early records, captured late British psychedelia as it was starting to inch toward progressive rock.

Freedom wasn't a Procol Harum clone, though, with a somewhat poppier take on psychedelia that was closer to Traffic than Procol Harum. Their initial lineup only released two singles in 1968 before breaking up, also recording a soundtrack for an obscure Italian film by Dino De Laurentis, Attraction/Black on White. The soundtrack LP was given a limited release in Italy -- so limited, in fact, that the group members themselves were unaware that it had come out. Recorded with noted future producers Eddie Kramer and Glyn Johns engineering, this was reissued on CD in 1999, and is actually a pretty good if derivative slice of late-'60s British psychedelia.
by Richie Unterberger
Tracks
1. To Be Free - 3:20
2. The Better Side - 4:35
3. Attraction- Black On White/With You - 7:55
4. The Butt Of Deception - 2:54
5. The Truth Is Plain To See - 3:54
6. Childhood Reflections - 3:07
7. Seeing Is Believing - 3:15
8. You Won't Miss - 3:31
9. Born Again - 4:21
10.Decidedly Man - 4:19
11.Relation - 3:23
12.We Say No - 3:11
13.The Game Is Over - 4:49
14.The Better Side (Working Mix, Single Vocal) - 4:41
15.The Butt Of Deception (Working Mix) - 2:54
16.Born Again (Dry Version) - 4:15
All songs by Freedom

Freedom
*Bobby Harrison - Drums
*Mike Lease - Keyboards
*Ray Royer - Guitar
*Steve Shirley - Bass

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ultra - Ultra (1975-77 us, explosive guitars drivin' tremendous hard southern rock)



Ultra is a home grown hard hitting classic rock band from San Antonio, Texas. Mixing southern blues, psychedelic rock and pro-metal.

Well-known, Ultra had its beginnings with “Homer”, who was made up of some of San Antonio’s finest musicians. They continue to amaze audiences and players alike after 30 plus years. They are part of the Texas musical elite that found success as musicians, recording engineers and writers. Being a success in the industry even for a short time is difficult. To pass into legend status, is rare.  In the 70’s when rock n roll was still exploding, they, as many bands do, went through changes.  When Ultra’s line up and signature style evolved to its final incarnation a rich music heritage was born.

Between 1975 through 1978 Ultra released one 5 track EP and recorded several demo tracks, which were never made public. Being an opening band can sometimes be a stepping-stone to stardom but this was not the case for these musicians. The band was never under contract and their roadies were receiving more pay than the band. To make matter worse. By 1978, the band had finally had enough and they decided to disband.
by Tess DeFlori
Tracks
1. Mutants - 3:29
2. Android - 3:10
3. Battery - 4:08
4. Ten Years Since - 4:18
5. Lamp Black, White Fight - 2:51
6. Windjammer - 3:40
7. Diggin' Deep - 4:31
8. Circe - 4:51
9. Seasons Pass - 4:16
10.City on Ice - 4:33
11.The Desert - 4:32
12.Souled There With Care - 3:51
13.Man on the Street - 4:06
14.Get Away - 4:02
15.Compass - 5:16
16.Hot n Cold - 3:40

Ultra
*Galen Niles - Guitars
*Larry McGuffin - Guitars
*Don Evans - Vocals
*Tom Schleuning - Drums
*Scott Stephens - Bass

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Stackridge - Friendliness (1972 uk, gorgeous baroque folk flavored and variety of styles notions and nuances, 2006 remaster and expanded)



The Beatles comparison with Stackridge is apt, not just because George Martin produced one of their records, but because they drew from similar sources.  More importantly, they take a fairly open ended approach to composing, so there is a certain degree of eclecticism within each song.  The more directions they can push material, the more variations on a theme they can squeeze in, the better.  The band’s best record is probably Friendliness, which employs this approach to the greatest effect.  It begins with Lummy Days, an instrumental track laid out like a sonata with an exposition, development, and a twist on the recapitulation.  It’s why this band typically gets lumped in with other prog acts though the focus is never on instrumental prowess the way ELP or Yes was.  

This is less a collection of songs than a set of compositions, and if you choose to be turned off by the pretentiousness of this notion, then Stackridge is not your cup of tea.  But for those who like to see a band stretching the boundaries of popular song using techniques developed by smart, dead, white guys, then look no further.  On this record the band never loses sight of melody and its overriding importance in pop music.  A song like There Is No Refuge is quite lyrical and might remind some of the more delicate moments from Of Montreal.  My guess is Kevin Barnes absorbed his share of Stackridge records before he started cranking out albums like Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies.  The best named song on the album, and perhaps the best song period, is Syracuse (the letter “y” idiosyncratically pronounced with a long “i”) the Elephant.  This takes a beautifully symmetrical melody and morphs it first into a minor key lament, then into a circus-like ditty and finally into an Indian-tinged section, sitars and all, before restating the main theme. 

It’s a very strong set of songs whose main strengths are tunefulness and unpredictability.  Even after many listens it’s hard to guess where the music is going next, but each bend in the road is meant to welcome you, not turn you away. The only serious misstep is the token Glitter rock piece, Keep on Clucking, which reads like the shameless grab for the charts it is.  But apart from that outlier, Friendliness is a font of many pleasures.  I think it could easily appeal to those normally turned off by the prog moniker sometimes attached to it.  It may not be surprising that Stackridge never achieved mainstream success since such restless eclecticism usually proves too challenging for the casual listener.  But for people who can devote more than two minutes and thirty seconds of their attention spans to enjoying music, this album will reward the time spent with it. 
by Alan Shulman
Tracks
1. Lummy Days (Davis) -  3:22
2. Friendliness (Part 1)  (Warren) -  2:29
3. Anyone For Tennis (Warren) -  2:32
4. There Is No Refuge (Warren) -  3:24
5. Syracuse The Elephant (Walter, Davis) -  8:46
6. Amazingly Agnes (Warren) -  3:30
7. Father Frankenstein Is Behind Your Pillow (Warren) -  3:35
8. Keep On Clucking (Walter, Davis) -  4:03
9. Story Of My Heart (Slater) -  2:03
10.Friendliness (Part 2) -  (Warren) -  1:55
11.Teatime (Walter, Davis) -  5:51
12.Everyman (Davis, Warren) -  4:27
13.Purple Spaceships Over Yatton (Walter, Davis) -  6:39
14.C'est La Vie (Warren, Davis) -  3:21
15.Do The Stanley (Wabadaw, Sleeve) -  2:54

Stackridge
*Andy Cresswell-Davis - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*James Warren - Guitar, Vocals
*Michael 'Mutter' Slater - Flute, Piano, Vocals
*Michael Evans - Violin, Vocals
*Jim "Crun" Walter - Bass
*Billy "Sparkle" Bent - Drums

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dragonfly - Dragonfly (1968 us, tremendous dynamic heavy psych heap, Gear Fab edition)



There was never really a band by the name of Dragonfly, and no gig was ever played under that name. Dragonfly was was just an album. The story goes on from here. A guy from Durango, Colorado, by the name of Gerry Jimerfield, had a band called The Lords of London. Of course none of them were British but it sounded good during the days of the British Invasion. Gerry was twenty-six and the others were nineteen and twenty. Gerry had already been in the military and had taken a rock band to LA, made a couple of records, and played on the TV show Hullabaloo. The band business in LA being what it was, Gerry moved back to Durango and stayed at his parent's kitchenette motel.

Meanwhile, Barry Davis and Jack Duncan were playing in a local band in El Paso, Texas by the name of The Pawns. The El Paso music scene was jumping and for a town that size there were tons of bands, lots of very good players, but few good singers. The Pawns had been through a couple of incarnations but were still very successful. Jack joined The Pawns in 1965 and when drummer Jimmy Wagnon of the Bobby Fuller Four quit Barry Davis was hired. The other two guys in the band were married so Jack and Barry became good friends. Bobby Fuller was from El Paso and had a big time recording studio in his house. Jack had know Bobby and his brother Randall since he was sixteen and did some local rodie work for them. When Jack joined The Pawns he was learning guitar but the bass player wanted out. He sold his bass to Jack for $50.00, and showed him the basics of the the songs and that was it.

Through Bobby Fuller, The Pawns got turned on to playing Farmington, New Mexico with a local promoter up there. The Pawns would go up there about once every couple of months and play. They were very popular, made a ton of money, and word got around about them. One Saturday night Gerry Jimerfield and his then keyboardist, Erin McElaine, came down to Farmington to hear what The Pawns were all about. After the show Gerry introduced himself to Jack, said he had connections on the West Coast, and offered to put something together if Jack and Barry ever wanted to.

A few months later, they gave Gerry a call. He invited them to move to Durango and said they could stay for free at his parent's motel. Barry and Jack threw their equipment in the back of Barry's '57 Canary Yellow Chevy Bel Air hard top and took off for Durango. The band rehearsed there for a couple of months as a four piece and then decided it was time to hire another guitar. Jack and Barry suggested another home boy by the name of Randy Russ. He had been in a competitive El Paso band by the name of the Instigators but when they called he jumped at the chance. Randy moved up to Durango and everything was in place.

The band went up to the Denver area and played many happening clubs of the time in Denver, Boulder, Ft. Collins, and Estes Park. They were well received and stated playing as an opening act at the famous Family Dog. One of the bands they seemed to end up exchanging sets with was a band named the American Standard with a great guitarist by the name of Tommy Bolin. The Lords of London were feeling their oats, so they headed out to California where Gerry said they would hook up with his old managers. They went through the stereotypical starving musician life for a while, living in a single motel room with little or nothing to eat. They headed back to Colorado to play for the summer and make some money and had a very successful time in the now-famous summer of love, the summer of '67.

Going back to LA, their managers were ready to get an album going but there was one problem: these guys were "old school" and believed that rock bands should neither write their own material nor play in the studio. They were looking for a new name when a traveling companion by the name of Mark Clark suggested The Jimerfield Legend. After all, Gerry was older, was the leader of the band, and had a stage charisma that epitomized the sixties. Many gigs were played under that name and one of the historical references to it is from one the Family Dog posters which can be seen on the wall in the stairwell of Steve McQueen's house in the movie Bullit. But their old school managers did not want to use the name Jimerfield because what if he left the band? So the Album came out under the name The Legend with a bunch of squirrelly-assed songs chosen by the managers and played by studio musicians, albeit by some of the best of the time like Carol Kaye and Hal Blane. The arrangements were done by the late Gene Page of Motown and Barry White fame.

One of the managers saw them at Family Dog in Denver, on the big stage, with psychodelic lights, and lots of kids going nuts. He was astounded at how the audience was into the band. After the first show, he asked the band why they hadn't told him they could write and play like that. They of course said they had tried to explain it to them but they just didn't get it.So the manager goes back to LA and tells his partner they need to let the band do an original album. When they got back to LA, they started recording what would become the Dragonfly album. In the meantime, the keyboardist had left the band and Dragonfly was done basically as two-guitars, bass and drums album. The managers also hired a producer by the name of Richard Russell (real name Richard Egizi) and the band cut the album at Amigo in I.D. Studios in north Hollywood with Hank Cicalo engineering. They made it an album, with no band member names listed and no pictures, again afraid that if anyone quit or changed it would damage the credibility of the band.

When all was said and done, the band was financially broke, had no gigs and no promotions behind them. Nevertheless, they got a little air play on LA radio as Jack remembers hearing it and getting one small BMI royalty check. At one point, one of the managers called to say they could get them a gig at The Fillmore West in San Francisco. The guys never knew how serious this was but the wheels to move on were already in motion so it wasn't seriously considered. So Dragonfly went the way of many bands, off into oblivion. About 1998 or so, Jack got a call from a guy in Belgium, saying there was a radio station that played old obscure vinyl and one of the Dragonfly songs was in the top ten in terms of requests!
by Jack Duncan
Tracks
1. Blue Monday (B. Davis, J. Dunkan) - 3:16
2. Enjoy Yourself (R.Russ, B. Davis) - 3:19
3. Hootchie Koochie Man (W. Dixon) - 4:42
4. I Feel It (J. Dunkan, B. Ray) - 4:37
5. Trombodo (R. Russel) - 0:32
6. Portrait of Youth (G. Jimerfield) - 2:46
7. Crazy Woman (J. Dunkan, R. Russ) - 2:34
8. She Don't Care (G. Jimerfield) - 2:50
9. Time Has Slipped Away(J. Dunkan) - 2:40
10.To Be Free (J. Dunkan) - 3:17
11.Darlin' (G. Jimerfield) - 0:38
12.Miles Away (J. Dunkan) - 4:48

Dragonfly
*Barry Davis - Drums, Vocals
*Gerry Jimerfield - Guitar, Lead Vocals
*Randy Russ - Guitar, Vocals
*Ernie Mcelwaine - Keyboards
*Jack Duncan - Bass

Related Act
1969  The Legend - The Legend (Fallout issue)

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Blood Sweat And Tears - The Complete Singles (1968-76 us, brilliant jazz brass rock, 2014 two disc set)



The groundbreaking jazz-rock group Blood, Sweat and Tears receives Real Gone's patented singles collection treatment with the release of the 2-CD set The Complete Columbia Singles. The complete Atlantic recordings of Southern soul diva Bettye Swann are compiled for the first time ever, with five unissued cuts, while the label offers another rare slice of '70s soul with its release of keyboardist and songwriter Samuel Jonathan Johnson's only solo album. And Real Gone breaks from its trip backwards through the Grateful Dead's Dick's Picks series to celebrate the New Year with a volume that was recorded at one of the band's end-of-year, week-long celebrations in the Bay Area.

They were a pioneering jazz-rock outfit and a hit singles band (which shows how progressive pop music got in the late '60s/early '70s) that wowed fans and critics alike. They were Blood, Sweat & Tears -- and the two-CD, 32-track set, "The Complete Columbia Singles", offers not only the most comprehensive collection ever compiled of their work, but also the most appropriate lens through which to view their long and often chaotic career. Very few bands experienced the kind of turnover that Blood, Sweat & Tears did and lived to tell the tale -- the group began with the Blues Project's Steve Katz and Al Kooper as their visionary leaders, but Kooper left after their first album, to be replaced by David Clayton-Thomas as lead singer, thus launching the band's "classic" period punctuated with such hits as "You've Made Me So Very Happy," "And When I Die" and "Spinning Wheel" (here in their rare mono single mixes). 

After their fourth album, B. S. & T: 4, Clayton-Thomas and original members Fred Lipsius and Dick Halligan left en masse, yet the band soldiered on, winding up with only one original member -- drummer Bobby Colomby -- by the time they called it quits with Columbia. Yet, through it all, Blood, Sweat & Tears maintained a remarkably high level of musicianship and material throughout their stint with the label, and their innovative use of jazzy horn arrangements in a rock context paved the way for such bands as Chicago, Cold Blood, Chase and If. Along the way, they also integrated elements of psychedelia, R&B, folk and classical music into their jazz-rock framework to produce an eclectic mix of recordings unlike that of any other band of the era. 

Blood, Sweat & Tears "The Complete Columbia Singles" follows the band through every phase and configuration, and features five single versions/mixes making their first appearance on CD. Producer Ed Osborne's notes include fresh quotes from Steve Katz, and the entire set is beautifully remastered by Vic Anesini at Battery Studios in NYC. The ultimate look at an underrated band.
Tracks
Disc 1
1. I Can't Quit Her (Mono Version) (I. Levin, A. Kooper) - 3:36
2. House in the Country (Mono Version) (A. Kooper) - 3:07
3. You've Made Me So Very Happy (Mono Single Version) (B. Gordy Jr, B. Holloway) - 3:32
4. Blues-Pt. II (Mono Single Version) (B. S. & T., D. C. Thomas) - 5:28
5. Spinning Wheel (Mono Single Version) (D. C. Thomas) - 2:42
6. More And More (Mono Single Version) (P. V. Smith, D. Juan) - 2:43
7. And When I Die (Mono Single Version) (L. Nyro) - 3:28
8. Sometimes in Winter (Mono) (S. Katz) - 3:10
9. Hi-De-Ho (Single Version) (C. King, G. Goffin) - 3:59
10.The Battle (S. Katz, D. Halligan) - 2:43
11.Lucretia Mac Evil (D. C. Thomas) - 3:06
12.Lucretia's Reprise (B. S. & T.) - 2:19
13.Go Down Gamblin' (Single Version) (D. C. Thomas) - 2:48
14.Valentine's Day (S. Katz) - 3:59
15.Lisa, Listen to Me (D. C. Thomas, D. Halligan) - 2:42
16.Cowboys and Indians (T. Kirkman, D. Halligan) - 3:08
Disc 2
1. So Long Dixie (B. Mann, C. Weil) - 4:28
2. Alone (L. Marini Jr) - 4:16
3. I Can't Move No Mountains (M. Gately, R. John) - 2:56
4. Velvet (J. Kent) - 3:30
5. Roller Coaster (M. James) - 3:21
6. Inner Crisis (L. Willis) - 5:42
7. Save Our Ship (C. Weil, G. Wadenius) - 3:43
8. Song For John (L. Marini Jr) - 2:55
9. Tell Me That I'm Wrong (P. Cosby) - 2:30
10.Rock Reprise (J. Lacroix, J. Fisher, D. Bargeron) - 2:14
11.Got to Get You Into My Life (J. Lennon, P. McCartney) - 3:17
12.Naked Man (R. Newman) - 4:00
13.Yesterday's Music (W. Smith, D. C. Thomas) - 3:36
14.No Show (R. McClure) - 5:15
15.You're the One (D. C. Thomas, W. D. Smith) - 3:14
16.Heavy Blue (L. Willis) - 5:23

The Blood Sweat And Tears
1968  Child Is Father To The Man
1971  4
1972  New Blood
1973  No Sweat
1974  Mirror Image
1975  New City
1976  More Than Ever

Related Acts
1972  David Clayton Thomas

Al Kooper
1968-69  I Stand Alone / You Never Know Who Your Friends Are
1969  The Kooper Sessions With Shuggie Otis
1970  Easy Does It 
1971  New York City, You're a Woman (Japan remaster)
1973  Naked Songs ( Japan remaster)
1976  Act Like Nothing's Wrong
with Blues Project
1966  Live At The Cafe Au Go Go (2013 Japan SHM double disc set)
1966  Projections (2013 Japan SHM two disc set)
1967  Live At Town Hall (Japan SHM edition)
1973  Reunion In Central Park (Japan SHM edition)
with Mike Bloomfield
1969  Mike Bloomfield And Al Kooper - The Live Adventures
1968  The Lost Concert Tapes, Filmore East

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Music Machine - The Bonniwell Music Machine (1968-69 us, effective garage psych, 2014 double disc remaster and expanded edition)



The Music Machine announced themselves to the world with one of the most powerful musical statements of the 1960s. ‘Talk Talk’ remains to this day an as tightly focused moment as has ever been witnessed in rock’n’roll. But what is not known to those only casually acquainted with the Machine is that the group ended their career a scant two years later with the equally awe-inspiring, if far more obscure, ‘Dark White’. In-between lies a quantity of compelling performances, all directed by lead singer, principal songwriter and sergeant-at-arms, Sean Bonniwell.

The previous anthology of the monochromatically-garbed combo, “The Ultimate Turn On” was very well received indeed, so now our focus turns to the latter half of the Music Machine’s career. The hits may have dried up, but to their audiences the Machine was as popular as ever. Their second album, “The Bonniwell Music Machine”, was released in early 1968 and consisted of outtakes and single sides by the band’s original line-up, along with newer recordings featuring a second set of personnel; all made under the watchful eye of producer Brian Ross.

All of the outfit’s non-LP singles and outtakes for Warner Bros are included on Disc 1, in fully remastered sound. First-generation Machine rockers such as ‘Bottom Of The Soul’ and ‘Talk Me Down’ sit well with ‘You’ll Love Me Again’ and ‘Everything Is Everything’ by the second incarnation. To revisionist ears, even the once unfairly maligned ‘Tin Can Beach’ and ‘To The Light’ now come across as tremendous pop-psych.

Disc 2, subtitled “Inside Eternity”, gathers gems from the beginning and the end of the Music Machine saga, drawn from Bonniwell’s largely untapped tape collection. These include early demos by pre-Machine trio the Ragamuffins (produced by Boyce and Hart); outtakes and rehearsals by various line-ups, including ‘Point Of No Return’ and ‘Closed’; and the final Music Machine release, ‘Mother Nature-Father Earth’ (recently sampled by Miles Kane), along with ‘Dark White’, their parting shot and one of Bonniwell’s greatest performances.

During the mid-60s Machine era, Bonniwell was incredibly prolific, writing over 100 tunes, most of which would remain unheard and unknown. We are proud to feature a selection of these fragile gems, acoustic in nature but captivating nonetheless. The later life of the Music Machine has long been a mystery, and the extensive liner notes, based on interviews with all the members of both line-ups as well as producer Ross, help clear up some of the confusion.

Finally, on a personal note, this release bears great importance. When I spoke to Sean Bonniwell a few days before his death in 2011 (see obituary here), he asked me to see to it that his music legacy continued. “The Bonniwell Music Machine” is therefore respectfully dedicated to him.
by Alec Palao
Tracks
Disc 1
1. Astrologically Incompatible - 2:36
2. Double Yellow Line - 2:09
3. The Day Today - 2:53
4. Absolutely Positively - 2:14
5. Somethin’ Hurtin’ On Me - 3:04
6. The Trap - 2:34
7. Soul Love - 3:39
8. Bottom Of The Soul - 2:01
9. Talk Me Down - 1:52
10.The Eagle Never Hunts The Fly - 2:47
11.I’ve Loved You - 2:49
12.Affirmative No - 2:08
13.Discrepancy - 2:36
14.Me - Myself, And I - 2:14
15.You’ll Love Me Again - 1:52
16 In My Neighborhood - 2:21
17.To The Light (S. Bonniwell, H. Garfield) - 2:12
18.Everything Is Everything (S. Bonniwell, H. Garfield) - 1:52
19.This Should Make You Happy - 2:04
20.Black Snow - 2:32
21.Tell Me What Ya Got (S. Bonniwell, H. Garfield) - 2:07
22.Time Out (For A Daydream) - 2:07
23.Tin Can Beach - 2:08
24.Unka Tinka Ty - 2:18
25.902 - 1:57
All songs by Sean Bonniwell except where indicated
Disc 2
1. Sean Bonniwell – Gimme Gimme - 2:24
2. Sean Bonniwell - Stand Aside - 1:57
3. The Ragamuffins - Two Much - 1:58
4. The Ragamuffins - Push Don’t Pull - 2:14
5. The Ragamuffins - Chances - 3:03
6. The Ragamuffins - Talk Me Down - 1:41
7. The Music Machine - Point Of No Return - 2:41
8. Sean Bonniwell - I’ll Take The Blame - 1:53
9. Sean Bonniwell - The Life I Live - 1:51
10.Sean Bonniwell - Would You Believe - 2:20
11.Sean Bonniwell - Inside Eternity - 2:56
12.Sean Bonniwell - Paper Mache - 2:29
13.Sean Bonniwell - You’ll Love Me Again - 2:06
14.The Music Machine - Dark White - 4:34
15.The Music Machine - King Mixer - 3:04
16.The Music Machine - She Is - 3:21
17.The Music Machine - Reach Me In Time - 2:23
18.The Music Machine - Closed - 2:11
19.The Music Machine - Temporary Knife - 2:37
20.The Music Machine - Advise & Consent - 2:57
21.The Music Machine - Mother Nature-Father Earth - 2:16
22.The Music Machine - King Mixer - 3:17
23.The Music Machine - Dark White - 4:16
24.Sean Bonniwell - Citizen Fear (S. Bonniwell, Paul Buff) - 2:29
All songs by Sean Bonniwell except where noted

Personnel
*Sean Bonniwell - Vocals, Guitars, Horns, Woodwind, Flute
*Ron Edgar -  Drums
*Mark Landon - Guitar
*Keith Olsen - Bass
*Doug Rhodes - Organ, Horns, Woodwind, Flute
*Alan Wisdom - Guitar
*Joe Bruley - Guitar
*Buddy Rummel - Guitar
*Harry Garfield - Keyboards
*Carl Manfredi - Keyboards
*Brian Ross - Keyboards
*Eddie Jones - Bass
*Fred Thomas - Bass
*Jerry Harris - Drums
*Maurie Bercov - Horns, Woodwind, Flute
*Reuben Marcus - Strings
*Alfred Wohl - Strings

1966-67  The Music Machine - The Ultimate Turn On
1969  T.S. Bonniwell - Close (2012 edition)

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Various Artists - Impossible But True The Kim Fowley Story (1960-69 us, impressive garage psych beat roots 'n roll)



Impossible But True celebrates the life and times, the triumphs and heroic failures of one of rock's most colourful, not to say eccentric, characters and the last true Underground legend. A songwriter, producer, music publisher, talent scout, scene-maker extraordinaire and occasional recording artist, the physically distinctive Fowley - he is 6' 4 3/4 and insect thin - is the Forrest Gump of rock'n'roll, a man who has seen it all from 50s rock'n'roll to psychedelia, through to punk and metal in over 40 years of recording activity and has the tales to support his first-hand experiences.

Fowley rarely played the system (and when he did, it was usually on his own terms), shied away from working within a formal business environment, spent 40 years sleeping on other people's divans, or so it seemed - he has never settled in one place for long or owned a permanent home - doesn't bother to drive, and cares little for material possessions. Now 64, he has yet to even consider 'retirement'. He has endured because, as he puts it, I have a modern brain.

Though capable of lording it with the most sophisticated of label heads, Fowley's preferred milieu was slumming it at street level with the flotsam and jetsam of rock'n'roll. In fact, at the start of his career, he would hang around Hollywood's Greyhound station and approach anyone he saw carrying a guitar case.

If Fowley always seemed to be in the thick of the action in the 1960s and 70s, he also continued to display the curious detachment of an outsider, a man whose finely tuned sense of his own destiny did not easily lend itself to glib categorisation. This, perhaps, was the key: he was not a musician or a vocalist in the accepted sense (nor did he ever claim to be), nor a producer, nor a label owner, or a music publisher or a talent scout, but a combination of some, or all, of these things as and when it suited his purposes. I sometimes think I'm playing the lead role in the Kim Fowley Story, he once remarked.

As a producer barely out of his teens, his early hits included Alley-Oop, Nut Rocker and Popsicles And Icicles. A regular visitor to the UK at the height of the Swinging Sixties, Fowley was the first to record Slade when they were a Midlands garage band known as the N' Betweens, co-wrote the B-side of Cat Stevens' first hit I Love My Dog and discovered and first recorded the Soft Machine. He tipped off Reprise Records in the US about Jimi Hendrix and tried to sign the Mamas & Papas when they were four penniless itinerants. Always to be found in the thick of the action, Fowley was 21 when he booked Eddie Cochran's last ever US gig in 1960 and compered John Lennon's Live Peace in Toronto a decade later.

Painstakingly assembled with Kim's full co-operation, Impossible But True features 32 titles spanning 1960-69, many of which appear on CD for the first time, including gems such as The Comedown Song by Spider (actually P J Proby's hairdresser - he wasn't gay says Kim)-.-Reelin' Feelin' Squealin' by the Soft Machine, (the B-side of their first ultra-rare 45), To Die Alone, a US garage band classic by the Bush (some of whom joined the legendary Misunderstood) and Fowley solo classics such as The Trip, and Animal Man. Also making its CD debut is Pink Dominos by the Crescents, a Hot 100 hit from 1963. Fowley describes this as the last of the surf instrumental hits. It was recorded late at night in a shoe store out in Oxnard, California and features an Asian female guitar teacher and some of her teenage pupils!

Featuring classic cover art by Phil Smee, extensive annotation by compiler Rob Finnis (with input from Mr. Fowley himself) and a stunning selection of illustrations, all contained in the accompanying action-packed 36-page mega booklet, Impossible But True is the soundtrack to those first ten years. It's 'Mondo' magic!
by Rob Finnis
Artists - Tracks
1. Kim Fowley - Animal Man - 2:40
2. Kim Fowley - Bubblegum - 2:27
3. The Rangers - Justine - 1:58
4. The Bush - To Die Alone - 1:54
5. The Hollywood Argyles - Alley-Oop - 2:43
6. The Rangers - Reputation - 2:13
7. B. Bumble And The Stingers - Nut Rocker - 1:58
8. The Murmaids - Popsicles And Icicles - 2:30
9. The Alpines - Shush Boomer - 1:47
10.Kim Fowley - The Trip - 1:56
11.Spider - The Comedown Song - 2:50
12.The In-Betweens - Security - 2:38
13.The Hellions - Daydreaming Of You - 2:08
14.Cat Stevens - Portobello Road - 2:25
15.The Lancasters - Satan's Holiday - 1:50
16.The Renegades  - Charge! - 2:03
17.Gary S. Paxton And The Hollywood Argyles - You Been Torturing Me - 2:39
18.Paul Revere And The Raiders - Like Long Hair - 1:55
19.The Pharoahs - Heads Up, High Hopes Over You - 1:57
20.Belfast Gypsies - Gloria's Dream - 2:11
21.The Snow Men - Ski Storm (Part 1) - 2:00
22.Little Victor And The Vistas - No More - 2:22
23.Elfstone - Louisiana Teardrops - 2:38
24.Cathy Rich - Wild Thing - 2:35
25.Kim Fowley - Space Odyssey - 2:47
26.The Seeds - Fallin' Off The Edge Of My Mind - 2:52
27.Gene Vincent - Rainbow At Midnight - 2:38
28.Soft Machine - Feelin' Reelin' Squeelin' - 2:47
29.Belfast Gypsies - People! Let's Freak Out - 2:33
30.The Crescents - Pink Dominos - 1:59
31.The Innocents - Honest I Do - 2:30
32.The Rivingtons - Papa Oom Mow Mow - 2:25

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Aztecs - Aztecs Live! At Sunbury (1972 aussie, superb hard boogie 'n' roll, digipack edition)



Live At Sunbury contains an in-concert performance by Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs. The set is part of the Aztec label's reissue series that puts Australian rock albums from the 1970s back into circulation. Much as 1972's inaugural Sunbury Festival came to be regarded as one of the definitive moments in Australian rock & roll (often referred to as Australia's Woodstock), so too did Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs' double-vinyl documentation of their blistering headline set arguably prove to be the crowning achievement of their career.

A veteran of Australia's first wave of `60s pop and beat groups, the English-born Thorpe had already scored numerous hits while leading different variations of his Aztecs, but it was in front of Sunbury's 35,000-strong congregation that his reinvention as scruffy, electrified, blues-rock shaman was crystallized, leaving a younger generation of listeners with mouths agape, eyes bulging, and ears bleeding.
Tracks
1. C C Rider (Rainey) - 6:40
2. Be Bop A Lula (Vincent, Davis) - 5:26
3. Momma (Thorpe, Morgan) - 11:58
4. Rock Me Baby (Josea, King) - 9:46
5. Most People I Know Think That I'm Crazy (Thorpe) - 7:27
6. Time To Live (Thorpe, Morgan) - 6:33
7. Jump Back (Thomas) - 10:03
8. Ooh Poo Pa Doo (Jessie Hill) - 15:20

The Aztecs
*Gil "Rathead" Matthews - Drums, Vocals
*Paul "Sheepdog" Wheeler - Bass
*Bruce Howard - Piano
*Billy Thorpe - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Isolation - Isolation (1973 uk, fine folk rock wirh jazz prog touches)



British band from early seventies The Isolation, with singing reminds partly more of American CSNY-influenced bands. 

The improvisations of acoustic guitars with piano and flute are good, sometimes a bit jazzy psych-folk styled. The whole idea reminds me more of the first reissue of Oberon. The music is fine, but the “remastering” could have been better.
Tracks
1. Theme (I) - 6:20
2. Poor Boy - 3:10  
3. Looks Like You're Leavin' - 3:51  
4. Reaching Out - 4:40  
5. 'E' - 3:20  
6. Moon Mood - 1:56  
7. Theme (II) - 2:08  
8. Yesterdays Moments - 2:42  
9. Theme (III) - 1:01  
10.Banjotune (Traditional) - 1:34

Isolation
*Richard Blondell - 12 String Guitar, Vocals
*Dave Smith - Piano, Vocals
*John Paul Davidson - Flute
*Ian Robinson - Electric Guitar
*Chris Pritchett - Violin
*Tim Neild - Bass, Banjo

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Crome Syrcus - Love Cycle (1968 us, great psych experimental rock, digipack edition)



This psyhcedelic nugget wrapped within a lovely hippie album covers offers to an interested listener both conventional San Francisco psych pop rock, and also experimental material, proving that they were among the rock artists searching the boundaries of their art and style. The opening track might be a disappointment to a prog listener, but I enjoyed the more fragile following numbers. The keyboard driven sound with much vocals and emotional approach also remind the sound of the Vanilla Fudge, and I just love that soaring acid guitar giving the solos. The last song of the album is a 17-minutes long epic, containing some references to classical choral music, which then get a sudden LSD-treatment. I would suggest this album to fans of the history of early artistic psychedelic rock music and those interested of American 1960's garage rock. 
by Psychedelic Prog Specialist Team
Tracks
1. Take It Like A Man - 3:35
2. You Made A Change in Me - 5:24
3. Crystals - 3:01
4. Never Come Down - 3:47
5. Woman Woman - 1:48
6. Love Cycle - 17:24

The Crome Syrcus
*John Gaborit - Guitar
*Lee Graham - Vocals, Bass, Flute
*Rod Pilloud - Drums
*Dick Powell - Harmonica, Keyboards
*Ted Shreffler - Keyboards

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Scorpions ‎– Hello Josephine, The Complete Collection (1965-66 uk, marvelous beat roots 'n' roll, two disc set)



The Scorpions formed in early 1964 by singer and frontman Peter Lewis, with Tony Briley on bass guitar and Mike Delaney on drums. Two cousins, Tony Postill (full name: Anthony Harold Postill) and Rodney Postill (full name: Joseph Rodney Postill), completed the quintet’s line-up on lead- and rhythm guitar respectively. 

The Scorpions were aiming for a recording deal, but at the height of the British ’Beat Boom’ the competition between groups was very stiff indeed. They reportedly played at the famous Cavern club in Liverpool, but a record contract seemed elusive. 

Whereas other British groups often went to Hamburg, Germany to get gigs and eventually achieve success, The Scorpions decided to try their luck in Holland in July 1964. It was still ’early days’ for Dutch beat music, and there was plenty of work to be found in Holland. 

The Scorpions got signed by Dutch promoter Jan Vis to play the lucrative dance hall circuit around the country from their new base in Den Bosch. The record companies in Holland were also starting to take notice, and The Scorpions were quickly signed by CNR, who brought in Addy Kleyngeld to produce their first recordings. 

Their debut single was released in August 1964. It was a cover of Chuck Berry’s ”Bye Bye Johnny” with ”Rip It Up” on the flip, but made no immediate impact on the record buying public. Yet the group stuck with their classic rock and roll style on a trio of follow-up singles released in October-November. Their renditions of Richie Barret’s ”Some Other Guy”, the Ray Charles hit ”What ’d I Say”, and another Chuck Berry number, ”Johnny B. Goode”, were all very representative of the group’s energy packed live performances at the time. 

The group also showed a softer side with a decent version of ”Just One Look”, though without the close harmonies of The Hollies’ hit version. However, in spite of being given massive airplay by Radio Veronica and Radio Noordzee, The Scorpions’ first four singles all failed to register in the charts. 

In late 1964 bassist Tony Briley left the group. Rodney Postill then took over on bass, Tony Postill switched from lead to rhythm guitar, and Terry Morton (full name:Terence James Morton) came in as new lead guitarist. He had previously played with Wayne Fontana & The Jets and The Country Gentlemen. 

Their next choice for a single, released in December 1964, was Fats Domino’s ”Hello Josephine”, which had previously been covered by fellow Mancunians Wayne Fontana and The Mindbendersin 1963. 

And with ”Hello Josephine” The Scorpions finally got their breakthrough as a recording act in Holland. The single entered Radio Veronica’s Top 40 on February 20th. 1965 and stayed in the charts for an impressive 33 weeks, 13 of which in the top 10 and peaking at the No. 2 spot. 

The boys from Manchester were now big stars in Holland. It seemed almost impossible to follow up the enormous success of ”Hello Josephine”. Their next offering on single, ”Ann Louise”, was quite a contrast to previous releases. It was a much softer beat ballad with a pretty melody, but only reached a modest No. 36 in May 1965 and stayed for 2 weeks only in the charts. An album with the obvious title of ”Hello Josephine” was also released by CNR that same month to cash in on the group’s chart success. This contained all the group’s singles, A- and B-sides, and was released in CNR’s ”Hartewens” series. 

The Scorpions underwent a new line-up change in early 1965 when drummer Mike Delaney quit and was replaced by Ian ”Skins” Lucas, who had previously played with Wayne Fontana & The Jets.  The success of ”Hello Josephine” secured consistent bookings for the group, but they also found time to start recording a new album, again with Addy Kleyngeld behind the controls. 

One of the tracks laid down on tape for the album was ”Greensleeves”. This was picked as their next single, coupled with ”Hey Honey”, a number penned by the group. Released in June 1965, The Scorpions’ version of ”Greensleeves” was undoubtedly an attempt at copying The Country Gentlemen’s 1963 version of the song (UK Decca F.11766). But even though Terry Morton had a past in The Country Gents, The Scorpions didn’t quite manage to capture the raw and gutsy, powerful sound of Peter Cowap’s band. 

1965 also saw The Lords from Germany do a cover of ”Greensleeves” (German EMI/Columbia C 23132). Their version also owed a lot to The Country Gents’ earlier recording. Nevertheless, The Scorpions scored their third consecutive hit in Holland with ”Greensleeves”. As from July 24th. 1965 it had a 5-week run in the Top 40 chart, with No. 22 as highest position. 

Things now looked really bright for the group in Holland, but then at the peak of their success, their work permits expired, and they had to return home to Manchester. This seemed to be a crushing blow for the group as three members quit – Tony Postill, Rodney Postill and Terry Morton. 

But remaining members Peter Lewis and drummer Ian Lucas refused to give up the group. They got in Graham Lee (real name: Graham Caunce, he also used the name ’Leeman’ in the 60’s) on lead guitar/vocals. He had previously played with another Manchester band called The Chancellors. Bass duties were assigned to Dave Vernon, and Roy Smithson came in on organ/vocals. The ’new-look’ Scorpions rehearsed intently in their home town before returning to Holland in September 1965, this time to a town called Bergen. They appeared on the ’Tiener Top Show’ in Den Haag on September 12th. alongside a then newly formed Dutch band called Golden Earring. 

They also completed the recording of the group’s second album ”Climbing The Charts”, which as a whole was leaning more towards R&B and a general ’Beat’ sound than the first one, which had been dominated by re-makes of old rock ’n’ roll numbers. The album was released by CNR in October 1965. 

A new single taken from the album, recorded by the previous Scorpions line-up, was released by CNR that same month. This combined a good cover of the Ray Davies written ”So Mystifying” with B-side ”Hey Little Girl”, but couldn’t repeat the chart success for the group. In November, however, they appeared in a show called the ’Grand Gala Du Disque” alongside Lucille Starr, Unit 4+2, Wayne Fontana and The Everly Brothers – a proud moment for The Scorpions, still remembered with fondness by Graham Lee. Seven years later, in 1972, when The Everly Brothers did a tour of the UK, Lee met up with Don and Phil backstage at the Batley Variety Club in West Yorkshire. He then also got the opportunity to say hello to Ike and Margaret Everly, who were travelling with their sons on that tour. 

November 1965 saw the release of ”Baby Baby Balla Balla” as a new single, with ”I’ve Got My Mojo Working” on the flip. This gave The Scorpions their fourth chart hit in Holland. ”Baby Baby Balla Balla” peaked at No. 17 and stayed in the charts for 13 weeks, reportedly helped to some extent by the sales figures of versions of the same song by Chubby Checker & The Maskers and The Sorrows being added to the total. 

Work permits in Holland expired again in early 1966, and the Scorpions went back to Manchester. Ian Lucas then left to join a Dutch band called Marks. He was replaced by Tommy Unthank, an old friend of Graham Lee’s from The Chancellors. A tour of Denmark and Spain has been mentioned in various articles about the band, but according to Lee the group never played there. They did some gigs in Belgium and Germany, but Holland was definitely their ”home away from home”, and in mid 1966 they got a new base at ’Hotel Benelux’ in Wernhout. The owner, Jan Hesseling, became their new manager. 
by Winnie Biesheuvel 
Tracks
Disc One
1. Hello Josephine (Domino, Bartholomew) - 2:23
2. Johnny B Goode (Chuck Berry) - 2:23
3. Keep A Knocking (Penniman) - 1:49
4. Some Other Guy (Barrett, Glick) - 2:42
5. Just One Look (Payne Carroll) - 2:49
6. Just Like Me (Carroll, Guy) - 2:10
7. Ann-Louise (C. Corday) - 3:14
8. Rip It Up (Blackwell, Marascalco) - 2:26
9. Bye Bye Johnny (Chuck Berry) - 2:43
10.What 'D I Say (Ray Charles) - 3:16
11.Not Fade Away (Ray Davies) - 2:21
12.Baby Back Now (The Scorpions) - 3:18
13.Hey Little Girl (Dee Clark) - 2:52
14.Sweet And Lovely (Arnheim, Tobias) - 2:26
15.So Mystifying (Ray Davies) - 2:54
16.Hey Honey (The Scorpions) - 2:47
17.Bo Diddley (Ellias McDaniels) - 2:52
18.You Treat Me Bad (C. Corday) - 2:21
19.Greensleeves (Trad.arr. The Scorpions) - 1:43
20.Cheated (C. Corday) - 2:38
21.Get Out Of My Life Woman (A. Toussaint) - 2:23
22.Baby Baby Balla Balla (Horst Lippok) - 2:13
23.Tobacco Road (Loudermilk) - 3:15
Disc Two
1. Fortune Teller (Neville) - 2:11
2. Long Tall Sally (Johnson, Penniman. Blackwell) - 1:59
3. Gone Mama (The Scorpions) - 2:38
4. Why Do You Love Me So (Bruhn, Bushor) - 1:42
5. Too Much Monkey Business (Chuck Berry) - 2:07
6. Who Do You Love (Ellias McDaniels) - 2:18
7. Gloria (Van Morrison) - 2:56
8. Sticks And Stones (Titus Turner) - 2:21
9. Stand By Me (King, Glick) - 3:27
10.Nana Song (Jerry Wexler, Rick Hall) - 2:38
11.My Babe (W. Dixon) - 2:37
12.Lonely Avenue (D. Pomus) - 2:42
13.I've Got My Mojo Working (Morganfield) - 2:49
14.Under The Boardwalk (Resnick, Young) - 2:57
15.I Can Tell (Chuck Willis) - 3:17
16.Ecstacy (Unknown) - 2:47
17.Too Many Lovers (Graham Gaunce) - 2:08
18.You Treat Me Bad (Demo) (C. Corday) - 2:22
19.Cheated (Demo) (C. Corday) - 2:49
20.Hey Little Girl (Orch.-Take) (Dee Clark) - 2:52
21.Bo Diddley (Orch.-Take) (Ellias McDaniels) - 2:55
22.Greensleeves (Orch.-Take) (Trad. Arr. Scorpions) - 1:41

The Scorpions
*Peter Lewis - Lead Vocals
*Anthony Postill - Lead Guitar, Vocals (1964)
*Rodney Postill - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals (1964-65)
*Tony Briley - Bass Guitar, Vocals (1964-65)
*Mike Delaney - Drums (1964-65)
*Terence Morton - Lead Guitar, Vocals (1965)
*Ian Lucas - Drums (1965-66)
*Graham Lee - Lead Guitar, Vocals (1965-67)
*Roy Smithson - Organ, Vocals (1965-67)
*Dave Vernon - Bass Guitar, Vocals (1965-67)
*Tommy Unthank - Drums (1966-67)

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Gary Higgins - Red Hash (1973 us, neat rough acid folk rock)



Red Hash was originally released on Higgins' Connecticut-based Nufusmoon Records. Around that time, he was busted for possession of marijuana and spent two years in prison. In his absence, the album sank into oblivion. Mastered from the original tapes with new photos and artwork from Higgins' archives as well as a lyric sheet and two bonus tracks, Red Hash is now available to a wider audience.

It's been a good couple of years for once-lost folkies. Comparing Higgins to other formative players in the midst of rebirth, he's darker than Vashti Bunyan or Incredible String Band, less outer-realms and more melodic than Simon Finn. His work could, more or less, be compared to Skip Spence's Oar dressed up like David Crosby. On Red Hash, his guitar and soulsick (but often uplifting) voice are accented with rich cello, piano, organ, mandolin, flute, and bass. The sounds are melancholy but never unaccessible: This is folk both your uncle and WFMU will (and do) love.

Coming first, "Thicker Than a Smokey"'s the strongest composition, a perfect blend of wanderer sadness, transcendent vocals, jangling instrumentation, dour melodies, and a libretto that feels like a Beatnik "Advice to the Graduate". Like many of Higgins songs, "Thicker" deals with a journey. Beginning with the queries, "What do you intend to do young man? Where do you intend to go?," he delves out homespun advice ("If you travel with a spider/ In your duffle bag/ With you good weather goes") and personal anecdote ("It's often that I wish to leave myself/ Buy some fancy clothes...") in a way that connotes something cyclical or unending.

Higgins' major themes are travel and lonesomeness. "Telegraph Towers" finds the protagonist "sailin' for home"; only the blowing wind makes him feel like he's not alone. In "I Can't Sleep at Night" he's afraid of shut-eye because it might mean death (he smells it everywhere). The mournful "Windy Child"'s downcast sing-along weds flute, cello, and Higgins' minor chords to "You were the sun/ And I was the morning dew... / You were always bigger / you were always brighter than me." The parlor fare of "Looking For June" has Higgins joined on vocals with upfront piano for a tale of a solo desert wanderer meeting with camels and the pope (check out the subtle, Eastern vibe).

Secondary lyrical fixations include animals, which often signify a lighthearted turn that under closer scrutiny isn't so joyful. There are plenty of birds (and the skies in which they fly), including a cuckoo in the track of the same name. Honing in on Trout Mask Replica, "Down on the Farm"'s comic protagonist milks a bull instead of a cow. There's also the gently humorous love ballad, "Stable the Spuds", but before getting too cozy, note the creepy piano, which trills like descending ice cubes.

The most beautiful work outside of "Thicker than a Smokey" is "Unable to Fly", which is traditional-sounding and pastoral, as if performed by Elliott Smith. (In parts, Higgins adopts a falsetto that sounds torn from Either/Or.) It retells a quest to reach the sun via an Icarus-type flight, but the hero's sent off in a wooden boat (carved by his father) to sail alone on the sea (as instructed by his mother). Before going, he turns in time to see her spread her wings "to greet the sky so blue" and fly away. Addressing a lover, he's bummed that know that knows where he's supposed to go, "You no longer care to know." He then flies, "In the golden light of your stare."

Red Hash proper consists of 11 pieces and ends with the aforementioned (Revelations-inspired?) dream quest, "Looking For June". Unfortunately, as it often goes with these sorts of reissues, the two bonus tracks aren't as powerful as the others. "Don't Ya Know" is an early 80s home recording heavy on the blues and lines about drinking whisky and playing guitar and being a long-hair. (Remember the Five Man Electrical Band via Tesla? that kind of thing...) The more ambitious "Last Great Sperm Whale"-- a 1975 studio track with bluesy slide guitar and tinny drums-- tells the story of recently freed whale who goes on an oceanic tear until he's recaptured and killed. Likely coming on the heels of Higgins' release from prison, it's a fitting allegorical finale to the reissue, but stylistically it creates a disjunct from the original Red Hash track list.

A more fitting end: Last weekend I was at a pot luck and the host put on Red Hash. The first few strums of "Thicker than a Smokey" cast a lovely soporific feel over the room before I realized what it was. Commenting on it to my friend, he mentioned that from the pictures accompanying the music, it seems Higgins possesses a certain aura of calm (and there really is a tawny haze around his head in one of the pics). It reminded me of his Tonic performance. After Higgins completed his one-song set, Chasny told the crowd to buy Higgins a beer, but once he finished, he walked back to the bar, somehow ducked out of my sight, and blended silently back into the audience before I could attempt to fulfill the request.
by Brandon Stosuy
Tracks
1. Thicker Than A Smokey - 3:38
2. It Didn't Take Too Long - 4:02
3. Windy Child - 3:31  
4. Telegraph Towers - 2:56
5. I Can't Sleep At Night - 3:52
6. Cuckoo - 2:10
7. I Pick Notes From The Sky - 4:45
8. Stable The Spuds - 5:22  
9. Down On The Farm - 3:08
10.Unable To Fly - 4:12
11.Looking For June - 3:51
12.Don't Ya Know - 3:36
13.Last Great Sperm Whale - 5:21
Music and Lyrics by Gary Higgins 

Musicians
*Gary Higgins - Guitar, Drums, Vocals
*Dave Beaujon - Bass
*Maureen Wells - Cello, Vocals
*Jake Bell - Guitar, Vocals
*Paul Tierney - Mandolin, Flute, Vocals
*Jerry Fenton - Piano, Organ

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The Master's Apprentices - The Master's Apprentices (1966-68 aussie, fabulous garage beat roots 'n' roll, double disc digi pack edition)



The Masters' story began in the South Australian capital of Adelaide in early '65, with The Mustangs, a dance band formed by four Adelaide teenagers: Mick Bower, Brian Vaughton, Gavin Webb and Rick Morrison. The Mustangs were a typical example of an early-60s instrumental band, playing the obligatory Shadows and Ventures covers. The cataclysmic visit by the Beatles in 1964 rendered all that passe overnight. The Mustangs were canny enough to realise that the surf/instrumental craze was past its 'use-by' date, and they decided to change their style to incorporate the new "beat' music, so they placed a "singer wanted" ad on the noticeboard at a local music centre. On his third (and last) visit there, the ad was spotted by a young would-be bass player called Jim Keays, whowas taking lessons from musician and guitar teacher John Bywaters (who was a member of one of Adelaide's most popular and accomplished beat groups, The Mustangs began to established themselves on the dance circuit around Adelaide, in suburban halls and migrant hostels. 

They built up a strong following with the local teenagers, many of whom were, like Jim, migrants from the UK (Adelaide was a major destination for UK migrants in the 50s and 60s. Their audiences were also an important influence for the band - some of these kids were very recent arrivals, who had seen the top UK bands in action only weeks before, and they had a strong effect on the band's "look", since they were directly in touch with current 'mod' fashions, a trend which was still not very well known in Australia. The next step was a name change, and because they regarded themselves, at least for a while, as apprentices to those musical "masters" like Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, their new name (suggested by Bowers) paid homage to these heroes. They decided early on to dispense with the apostrophe.

Towards the end of 1965 they found their home-base at an Adelaide club called The Beat Basement. Before long they were they regularly packing out the club, and they graduated from the less prestigious spots to the prized Saturday afternoon residency. They also became a prime attraction at theOctagon Ballroom in the Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth (The Twilights' home turf) which was located near another large migrant hostel. Keays recalls that the regulars included two young Scots migrant boys, John "Swanee" Swan and his brother Jimmy Barnes. The band also played at a dance in Salisbury, promoted by a young Doc Neeson, later the lead singer of The Angels......
Tracks
Disc 1
1. But One Day (M.J. Bower) - 2:39
2. Wars Or Hands Of Time (M.J. Bower) - 2:52
3. Dancing Girl (Ellas 'Bo Diddley' McDaniel) - 3:13
4. 1 Feel Fine (John Lennon, Paul MccCartney) - 3:23
5. My Girl (William 'Smokey' Robinson, Ronald White) - 3:23 
6. Undecided (M.J. Bower, Rick Morrison) - 2:28
7. Hot Gully Wind (M.J. Bower) - 2:51
8. Theme For A Social Climber (M.J. Bower) - 1:54
9. Don't Fight It (Wilson Pickett, Steve Cropper) - 3:04
10.She's My Girl (M.J. Bower) - 2:24
11.Johnny B. Goodc (Chuck Berry) - 2:46
12.Buried And Dead (M.J. Bower) - 2:41
13.Living In A Child's Dream (M.J. Bower) - 2:42
14.Tired Of Just Wandering (M.J. Bower) - 2:21
15.Elevator Driver (Max Ross, Brian Cadd) - 2:21
16.Brigette (Doug Ford, Jim Keays) - 2:26
17.Four Years Of Five (Jim Keays, Peter Tilbrook) - 2:33
18.I Feel Fine (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 3:03
Disc 2
1. Blast Off 0:17
2. Inside Looking Out (J.A. Lomax, E. Burdon, C. Chandler) - 3:31
3. Black Girl (In The Pines) (Huddie Ledbetter) - 3:57
4. Bye Bye Johnny (Chuck Berry) - 2:08
5. Dear Dad (Chuck Berry) - 1:41
6. Poor Boy (M.J. Bower, Jim Keays) - 3:05
7. Bye Bye Baby (Bower, Morrison, Keays) - 2:23
8. Wild Wild Party (M.J. Bower, Jim Keays) - 2:27
9. Got My Mojo Working (Preston Foster) - 2:56
10.Not Fade Away (Buddy Holly, Norman Petty) - 1:53
11.Bright Lights, Big City (Jimmy Reed) - 2:17
12.Little Girl (Van Morrison) - 2:04
13.Around And Around (Chuck Berry) - 2:57
14.It's Gonna Work Out Fine (Seneca, Lee) - 2:25
15.Cops And Robbers (Ellas 'Bo Diddley' McDaniel) - 3:33
16.Dimples (John Lee Hooker) - 3:29
17.Just A Little Bit (Bass, Brown Thornton, Washington) - 2:07
18.Mama, Keep Your Big Mouth Shut (Ellas 'Bo Diddley' McDaniel) - 2:58
19.Don't Bring Me Down (Johnny Dee) - 2:05
20.Hey Bo Diddley (Ellas 'Bo Diddley' McDaniel) - 3:51
21.Road Runner (Ellas 'Bo Diddley' McDaniel) - 2:55

The Master's Apprentices
*Jim Keays - Vocals, Harmonica
*Mick Bower - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Rick Morrison - Lead Guitar
*Gavin Webb - Bass
*Brian Vaughton - Drums
*Steve Hopgood - Drums (Disc 1, Tracks 4, 5, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 18)
*Tony Sommers - Lead Guitar (Disc 1, Tracks 4, 5, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 18)
*Peter Tilbrook - Rhythm Guitar (Disc 1, Tracks 15-17)
*Doug Ford - Lead Guitar (Disc 1, Tracks 16, 17)
*Colin Burgess - Drums (Disc 1, Tracks 16, 17)

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