Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Freedom - Is More Than A Word (1972 uk, fine blues rock with funky vibes)



Freedom's final outing in 1972, Is More Than a Word, is a study in contrasts. It still rocks hard as all get out, รก la Humble Pie, but it also points in an interesting direction in places: toward more textured and acoustic-flavored material that echoes country music, thanks to an electric violin -- uncredited -- on the opening track "Together." 

Elsewhere, there is scathing blues-rock in the funky, raucous, rave-up vein on cuts like "Sweaty Feet," the elongated "Brainbox Jam," that goes off the funk nut, and a smoking cover of Don Nix's "Going Down." The shimmering, jazzy pastoralism of "&Direction" provides a glorious, smoky, spiritual vibe with killer guitar solos. While it is not an altogether successful outing, it nonetheless offers some great tracks, and a view of the band that would have been interesting, to say the least, had they continued.
by Thom Jurek
Tracks
1. Together (Steve Jolly, Bobby Harrison) - 4:20
2. Miss Little Louise (Bobby Harrison, Roger Saunders) - 3:13
3. Sweaty Feet (B. Harrison, R. Saunders, P. Dennis, S. Jolly) - 3:59
4. Brainbox Jam (B. Harrison, R. Saunders, P. Dennis, S. Jolly) - 7:58
5. Direction (Roger Saunders) - 5:58
6. Going Down (Don Nix) - 4:45
7. Dream (Bobby Harrison, Roger Saunders) - 2:54
8. Ladybird (Peter Dennis, Bobby Harrison) - 4:23

Freedom
*Bobby Harrison - Congas, Drums, Vocals
*Roger Saunders - Guitar, Piano, Vocals
*Peter Dennis - Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Steve Jolly - Lead Guitar

1969 Nero Su Bianco / Black On White
1970  Freedom
1973-74  Snafu - Snafu / Situation Normal

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Martha Velez - Fiends And Angels (1969 us / puerto rico, splendid vocals in a tough blues trip)



I met Mike Vernon for the first time when I got to London. Thankfully, he turned out to be a very calm, but diligent producer who really regarded the artist. He was very encouraging to me. He looked like a rock star too, with a great A&R business brain and an acute vigilance for the blues, ergo his Blue Horizon Record Label. Before we went into the studio, Mike Vernon and I went through a ton of his blues records collection to see what songs might work for me…what I could get into emotionally, psychically and musically. From that batch we honed it down to a few.

I had brought with me from the States, Drive Me Daddy, Fool For You, Tell Mama, Let The Good Times Roll, It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry (Dylan was eventually my neighbor when I lived in Woodstock). The songs I ended up choosing in London were Feel So Bad, I’m Going to Leave You and In My Girlish Days while we were working the album. Before the sessions began, I locked myself in a hotel room for about a week just rehearsing, singing with the original records of a bunch of songs. I sang them a million times before I decided which songs to present to Mike and which songs would jive with the musician lineup we had. I wrote the lyrics to Swamp Man from a groove that Paul Kossoff wound up at the recording session …and then, Sweet Man which came as an extemporaneous blues…pretty much written on the spot.

For the most part, I wanted to find a way to make the old songs my own – tried to give them my take. I was singing these songs so intensely and ferociously, day and night, that many times the Hotel manager knocked on my door, saying he liked the music, but people were trying to get some sleep. I just sang softer until I just konked out!

All of the musicians on “Fiends and Angels” were Mike Vernon’s buddies or at least players he had worked with to help create their originating mark on the music world. Every time another amazing musician walked into the studio, I was wide-eyed and gleeful. Everything about the sessions was magical…gathering with these players, the producer, the engineer, all of it was so transcendent, I was happy for the experience. The first time I heard I’m Gonna Leave You on the radio, I was in San Francisco. I was concentrating on something else, when Clapton’s intro guitar lick came on and I heard myself and suddenly it all congealed like a surreal recollection. But then, there it was, I was on the radio…it was a great kick.

What happened at the recording sessions was extraordinary. Musicians who command admiration by virtue of their musical abilities seem larger than life. I was not so much intimidated, but very grateful to these young men for responding to the call. I was a bit awkward with them at first, but London musicians really have a yen for the American sound, and that’s where we coalesced. They listened to some playbacks, thought it sounded really immediate and cool, and spread the word. Jimmy Page came by, wanting to play…actually, I ran into him on the street as he was coming to the studio. I was standing outside of Decca Studios, with Clapton, Bruce and Mitchell, Jimmy Page walked up and said he would love to play. As luck would have it, we had just finished for the day and he was heading out on tour or some other place….or, he too would have added his vibe.

The album title, “Fiends and Angels” came to me because everyone was such a fiend, ferocious, dangerous, mad about playing, that is when they played, and sweet, pristine, shy and innocent angelic when they were not playing. As far as I remember there were no tracks recorded that were left off the album.

Although this was early in the career of Clapton, Bruce, Jim Capaldi and Mitch Mitchell, the image in my head had created these rather larger than life individuals. When we met that day in Decca Studios that image was ameliorated by reality. They came in. We met – both Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce were soft spoken and polite. Clapton was almost shy. I’m a rather tall girl, and in those days, I was into wearing these suede patchwork boots, so I felt like a towering lanky tree branch gazing down at these pristine pale-faced boys. 

They were trim with tight hipped bell bottoms and snug silk tee shirts. Their hair was long enough for the era’s cool mode, their demeanor did not betray any secrets they held about impending destructive habits at the hand of narcotics. They were simply beautiful young men at the precipice of greatness in the music of the day. Clapton cast his eyes down when he spoke with this urgency to be shielded by his instrument and staved off his shyness by speaking through the language of his guitar. 

Bruce was more talkative and talked about his recently born son….and, if I remember this correctly said he had named him Joe, “a good cab driver’s name” he said. We told each other quick quipping stories of our respective music deals. We laughed a lot at the language of the “suits”, but were grateful for them and their ways of seeing us as more than talented but business partners in this magic of music. Clapton had this thing about looking around the room checking out the people there, slightly leaning forward like a telescope, searching out any discrepancies. 

That day, there was a very young girl that Clapton had brought with him to the session. She was quite beautiful, but the most astounding part of her presence were the sparkles that she had somehow put on her cheeks…Later, I found out that she was some British Lord’s daughter who was barely 15 years old. She never uttered a word…I know now why she was so discreet. Eric played for her and gazed from the fire in his guitar to her serene very still sparkled baby face. As they set down to play, Clapton, who was rather shy and careful, seemed to caress his guitar, passed a soft cloth over it, and appeared to caress it as a shield of personal discretion. The musicians and I got down to the business of making music together. Most of the tunes were “head arrangements”, ideas that came on the spot. I had practiced the tunes on my own, so when the players arrived, I had an idea as to what my thoughts were on the songs, how they could be sung, but only imaginings as to how they could work with these players. They, of course, had their musicianship flowing and after a few rehearsal run throughs, we hit the songs running. 
by Martha Velez
Tracks
1. I'm Gonna Leave You (Jackie Johnson, Lionel Whitfield) - 4:08
2. Swamp Man (Henry Bellinger, Martha Velez) - 2:56
3. Fool For You (Ray Charles) - 4:48
4. In My Girlish Days (Minnie Lawlers) - 2:44
5. Very Good Fandango (Martha Velez) - 0:38
6. Tell Mama (Clarence Carter) - 2:15
7. Feel So Bad (Sam Lightnin' Hopkins) - 5:14
8. Drive Me Daddy (Helen Humes) - 4:55
9. It Takes A Lot To Laugh It Takes A Train To Cry (Bob Dylan) - 3:00
10.Come Here Sweet Man (Martha Velez) - 5:08
11.Let the Good Times Roll (Leonard Lee) - 2:55

Musicians
*Martha Velez - Vocals
*Johnny Almond - Saxophone
*Brian Auger - Organ
*Dave Bidwell - Drums
*Duster Bennett - Harmonica
*Jack Bruce - Bass
*Jim Capaldi - Drums
*Eric Clapton - Guitar
*Jeff Condon - Horns
*Rick Hayward - Guitar
*Spit James - Guitar
*Paul Kossoff - Guitar
*Christine Mcvie - Keyboards
*Chris Mercer - Saxophone
*Mitch Mitchell - Drums
*Terry Noonan - Horns
*Bud Parkes - Horns
*Andy Silvester - Bass
*Derek Wadsworth - Horns
*Blue Weaver - Keyboards
*Stan Webb - Guitar
*Chris Wood - Saxophone

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Message - Message (1975 germany / uk, sensational prog jazz rock)



Message were one of those enigmas of the Krautrock scene, in that their origins were not only from Germany, but also from Britain. They evolved out of an early sixties Scottish rock 'n roll band called The Waysiders. When they split, guitarist Allan Murdoch returned to England and ended up playing in a band called M15 with future Nektar keyboard player Allan ' Taff ' Freeman. 

Due to lack of media interest, M15 moved to Germany in 1967 and eventually became Prophesy which evolved into Nektar. In the meantime, current Birth Control bassist Horst Stachelhaus had formed Message in 1968 and the two bands became close friends. Murdoch joined Message and invited along his old friend, vocalist and sax player Tom McGuigan, and that's how the British / German Message was formed. 

The band were similar in style to Nektar in many ways. Message combined the best of British heavy progressive styles with Krautrock innovation, and they secured a record deal with German label Bacillus and released their excellent debut album in 1972. As good as the album was, it was only when they released their second album, "From Books and Dreams", that people started to realize their worth. In 1975, drummer Manfred von Bohr (also later to join Birth Control), replaced Gunther Klingel and the band also had a change of record label, moving to Nova Records. (The new album, self-titled and released in 1975, also received a British release on Deca Records). Subsequent albums saw them move into a slightly more jazzy direction. Message split in the early 80's.
Tracks
1. Before The Dawn - 6:01
2. Thoughts - 5:40
3. Is That The Way - 4:12
4. I Can See The World - 3:15
5. Waters - 6:02
6. Horrorscope - 3:28
7. Back Home - 4:50
8. Train To Nowhere - 4:00
All compositions by Message

Message
*Alan Murdoch - Guitars
*Tommy McGuigan - Vocals, Sax
*Horst Stachelhaus - Bass
*Manfred v. Bohr - Drums, Percussion

1972  Message - The Dawn Anew Is Coming (extra track issue)

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Love - Lost Love (1971 us, outstanding hard psych, 2009 Sundazed release)



Love Lost was recorded in 1971, during a brief, little-known period during which Love was signed to Columbia Records. Lee and the then-current Love lineup—bassist Frank Fayad, guitarist Craig Tarwater and drummer Don Poncher—recorded an album’s worth of new material for the label. But after the band left the company, the recordings sat unreleased and unheard until now. The material on Love Lost—comprised of the unreleased Columbia sessions, plus five unreleased acoustic demos from the same period—captures Love in a transitional phase, charting the next step in Lee’s idiosyncratic musical trajectory, following the lush garage-psychedelia of the classics Da Capo and Forever Changes, and the bluesier direction of the hardrocking
False Start and Out Here.

Many of the songs included on Love Lost would resurface, often in radically different form, on subsequent Love releases, and on Lee’s fabled solo album Vindicator. But the original versions included on Love Lost boast a playful looseness that’s absent from most of Lee’s later work, as well as a raw, edgy urgency that underlines his credentials as an early progenitor of punk-rock attitude. Love Lost also features three songs—”For a Day,” “Trippin’ And Slippin’” and “C.F.I. Instrumental”—that have not previously been released, in any form.

With a treasure trove of vintage Love music that has never before been heard by fans, Love Lost is a major addition to Arthur Lee and Love’s body of work, and its release is a major event for Lee’s fervent fan base.
Tracks
1. Love Jumped Through My Window - 3:21
2. I Can't Find It - 4:49
3. He Said She Said - 3:39
4. Product Of The Times - 4:20
5. Sad Song - 2:56
6. Everybody's Gotta Live - 4:01
7. Midnight Sun - 4:12
8. Good And Evil I - 4:23
9. He Knows A Lot Of Good Women - 3:13
10.Find Somebody - 3:57
11.For A Day - 2:08
12.Good And Evil II - 2:56
13.Looking Glass - 2:32
14.Trippin' And Slippin'/Ezy Ryder - 6:58

Love
*Arthur Lee - Vocals, Guitar
*Frank Fayad - Bass
*Don Poncher - Drums
*Craig Tarwater - Guitar

more Love
1966  Love
1967  Da Capo
1967  Forever Changes (2008 digi pack double disc set)
1992  Five String Serenade

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Moby Grape - Moby Grape (1967 us, superb west coast psych, Sundazed remaster and expanded)



Moby Grape’s debut encapsulates the frantic power and inspired genius of the group in the brief moment that it existed. All members contributed songs to this explosive record, giving each song a fresh feel within the triple-guitar rock/country/psych Grape sound. The songs are quick, great, and perfect illustrators of the San Fransisco sound from whence they came.

The problem is, things practically fell apart for the Grape after their debut record; it’s widely reported that the talents of this great, legendary band fell prey to mismanagement. If the Jefferson Airplane were today’s “Strokes,” then Moby Grape were “The Vines” or “Jet” or whatever over-hyped carbon copy band the music industry could get on the shelves in the wake of the former. Their record company released five singles at once, trying to stir up an artificial demand. Worst of all, the mismanagement continues today with the Moby Grape name being held hostage by some guy named Matthew Katz (hence, the still exorbitant CD price). The 2007 reissue of this record from Sundazed has been halted as well, producing a stilted run of 180G vinyl lps that are going for hefty prices on ebay.

Following the recording of this record, frontman Skip Spence lost it Syd Barrett style and took an axe with him on a short rampage at his band member’s hotel before being committed to Bellevue Hospital. After his release, he would take off on his motorcycle, equipped in pajamas rather than leather jacket, on the way to record his magnificent, and only solo album, Oar.

But despite these unfortunate circumstances, Moby Grape’s eponymous debut remains well respected as one of the best albums of the psychedelic era, its sound still holding up extremely well. In fact, you may have even heard the sometimes classic rock radio-worthy Omaha. And while this powerful debut may be one of the best rock records of all time, the Grape managed to reinstate its spirit in moments over several more excellent albums during their frenzied life span.
by Brendan McGrath
Tracks
1. Hey Grandma (Jerry Miller, Don Stevenson) - 2:25
2. Mr. Blues (Bob Mosley) - 1:55
3. Fall On You (Peter Lewis) - 1:50
4. 8:05 (Miller, Stevenson) - 2:17
5. Come In The Morning (Mosley) - 2:04
6. Omaha (Skip Spence) - 2:19
7. Naked, If I Want To (Miller) - 0:51
8. Someday (Miller, Stevenson, Spence) - 2:30
9. Ain't No Use (Miller, Stevenson) - 1:33
10.Sitting By The Window (Lewis) - 2:38
11.Changes (Miller, Stevenson) - 3:13
12.Lazy Me (Mosley) - 1:39
13.Indifference (Spence) - 4:09
14.Rounder (Instrumental) (Skip Spence) - 2:04
15.Looper (Audition Recording) (Peter Lewis) - 2:38
16.Indifference (Audition Recording) (Skip Spence) - 2:53
17.Bitter Wind (Previously Unissued) (Bob Mosley) - 2:50
18.Sweet Ride (Never Again) (Long Version) (Moby Grape) - 5:56

Moby Grape
*Peter Lewis - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Bob Mosley - Bass, Vocals
*Jerry Miller - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Skip Spence - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Don Stevenson - Drums, Vocals

1966-69  Live (Sundazed digipack issue)
1967-68  The Place And The Time (2009 Sundazed release)
1969  Wow (Sundazed Issue)
Related Act
1972  Bob Mosley - Bob Mosley
1974-77  Bob Mosley - Never Dreamed

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Good Dog Banned - Good Dog Banned (1973 us, splendid mix of rural rock and blues with brass tones, Gear Fab edition)



As the 1960s turned into the '70s, cultural overload with the influence of political convictions often resulted in young people withdrawing from the predominant culture and trying to sustain a more "natural" way of life that eschewed commercial considerations. Good Dog Banned formed amid such circumstances around 1971. 

Guitarist Doug Mortenson was playing a gig in a bar called the Rite Spot in northern California one night in 1971, when Tim Cain (sax, guitar) walked in, took out his flute, and proceeded to bring down the house. The two played a set together before Cain left without a word. Mortensen later came to find that Cain was from San Francisco cult legends the Sons of Champlin, and, with the band's ex-manager Bamboo, he had come from Marin to form a commune. Mortensen had left Los Angeles in 1971 along with Chris Miller (guitar, sax) during the hippie exodus from the cities, looking for cheap rent and a good time. He had played in numerous garage bands while Miller had come out of the coffee house-folk circuit. Bassist Dwight Wolf joined up with the other guys after exiting his miniscule town in Colorado, where he was likely exposed mostly to country and rockabilly. Lee Marks came from Pasadena to round out the band . His roots arose, in part, from his experiences in high school attending black church services with his girlfriend and absorbing the rhythms and nuances of gospel. 

As with a lot of the bands that seemed to spontaneously arise on communes, Good Dog Banned played entirely for fun and the experience of musical interaction without even considering the commercial possibilities, and, as such, their performances tended to lean more in the direction of joyous dance party rather than bar or club gig. They typically improvised for long periods of time, sometimes for over 45 minutes. There was also a fair share of countercultural weirdness: after one gig, Cain was inducted into the Church of Universal Light by a fan, and the band routinely added marriage ceremonies to its repertoire. The band played throughout Humboldt County during a fruitful musical period in the early '70s. 

There were plenty of clubs, and, with local hippies and the influx of countercultural types from the cities, there was a hungry audience looking for non-commercial music, something more in the moment and without music business motives. And like many folks who experienced the communal life, the members of Good Dog Banned, while having moved on from their backwoods existences living (and playing) off the land, still consider themselves family. Their single eponymous album, privately pressed in 1973 (in a run of only 200), was reissued on CD by Gear Fab in 1999. 

Although it ran parallel with the back-to-basics feeling that permeated the early '70s, Good Dog Banned arrived at a distinctive strain of organic rock that was much more joyous and good-timey than many of their musicians-in-arms. Their one stab at rock & roll immortality, Good Dog Banned seems oblivious to any sense of anger at the "failure" of the '60s dream to take complete effect as of 1971. Whereas some '60s expatriates were decrying the cultural revolution, Good Dog Banned were singing "Things Ain't so Bad," heading down to the river and drinking wine. 

There is no nostalgia, no cynicism present. The band was untethered, ingenuous. Perhaps it could be viewed as rose-colored hippie denial, but in retrospect, the pure, unselfconscious charisma and the lack of piety that Good Dog Banned inject into their only effort makes it seem less of its time than other bands of this ilk. Still, a lot of love and togetherness are espoused in Good Dog Banned's lyrics (cynics beware), and the members do seem to have a tightness that only comes from "Livin' in Harmony," as they sing on the final song on the album. Each of the members take a stab at singing lead, and each is a solid vocalist, but it is Lee Marks' wonderful, soul-drenched voice (like Bob Mosley in his softer moments) that is the clear standout. 

The music has the same funky, loose ensemble playing -- from the sprinkling guitar chords on long groover "Smokestacks" to the steel pedal-led country-rock groove of "Rust & Decay" -- and the same old-time country-boy sunniness of the Band and same-period Grateful Dead, only with more prevalent saxophone that keeps the music from seeming overtly wistful or nostalgic, not throwback as much as laid-back. The album is not wholly consistent -- "Don't Burn Baby Grow" seems more silly than anything else, and a couple of the cuts inch somewhat too close to the inane boogie of Grand Funk Railroad -- but, on the whole, Good Dog Banned is draped in moonlit country soul. 
by Stanton Swihart
Tracks
1. Rollin' Into Salyer - 5:30
2. Smokestacks - 6:15
3. Ruat And Decay - 4:02
4. Things Ain't So Bad - 4:07
5. River Bummin' - 4:04
6. Worthy - 3:57
7. Don't Burn Baby Grow - 3:33
8. Utah - 4:23
9. Livin' In Harmony - 3:10

Good Dog Banned
*Doug Mortenson - Guitar, Pedal Steel Guitar
*Chris Miller - Guitar, Saxophone
*Lee Marks - Drums, Flute
*Dwight Wolf - Bass

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Goodthunder - Goodthunder (1972 us, solid heavy prog rock)



Goodthunder were a heavy progressive five piece from Los Angeles, comprising of James Cahoon Lindsay (lead vocals, percussion), John Desautels (drums), David Hanson (guitars, vocals), Bill Rhodes (bass) & Wayne Cook (keyboards). Their short-lived existence produced only one album, 1972's 8 track, eponymous debut, released through Continental records, a sub division of Elektra.

Their album is now largely forgotten and certainly didn't attempt to break new ground within the field of Californian bands writing hard, guitar oriented art-rock with a progressive/ psychedelic edge, during the early 70's. That said, the musicianship behind the crunchy guitars, driving bass-lines and underpinning Hammond organ rhythms, demonstrate a more than competent level of proficiency. Indeed, the construction of their more progressive tracks (such as 'Barking At The Ants', the stand-out track of the album) leave one wondering what might have been, with a couple more albums under their belts.

This album would appeal to those who enjoy their traditional, heavy progressive rock with an overtly melodic, pre-AOR commercial feel in the vein of early Angel & White Witch, mixed with Deep Purple, High Tide & Uriah Heep classic rock, with the odd touch of Allman Brothers quirkiness.
by Jared Butcher
Tracks
1. I Can't Get Thru To You (Cook, Lindsay) - 3:18
2. For A Breath (Foster, Desautels, Foster) - 5:35
3. Moonship (Cook, Phifer, Lindsay, Cook) - 2:46
4. Home Again (Hanson, Lindsay, Hanson) - 6:48
5. Sentries (Hanson, Lindsay, Linvill) - 2:36
6. P.O.W. (Hanson, Desautels) - 6:50
7. Rollin Up My Mind (Cook) - 4:11
8. Barking At The Ants (Hanson) - 6:39

Goodthunder
*James Cahoon Lindsay - Lead Vocals, Percussion
*John Desautels - Drums
*David Hanson - Guitars, Vocals
*Bill Rhodes - Bass Guitar
*Wayne Cook - Keyboards

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Shocking Blue - Scorpion's Dance (1970 dutch, wonderful beat psych with country shades)



Shocking Blue's second album was partly recorded in New York and continues the band's exploration of Americana and country music, although its style is firmly rooted in rock. "Alaska Country" is one of the most obvious references to America, but "Sally Was a Good Old Girl" is a cover of an early-'60s country hit by songwriter Hank Cochran; Shocking Blue's rendition chugs along in a rock groove that reveals the source of its material with a touch of banjo. 

As always, the focal point is the inimitable voice of Mariska Veres, but songwriter/guitarist Robby VanLeeuwen shows no sign of a sophomore slump. There isn't an obvious hit single candidate like the previous album's "Venus," but Scorpio's Dance makes up for it with solid consistency. "Daemon Lover" is moody and mesmerizing, and the title track is a spaghetti western soundtrack in search of a film (the cover photo, appropriately enough, was shot in a cactus field). "I Love Voodoo Music" is colored with bongos and jungle sound effects, while "Water Boy" sees the return of VanLeeuwen's sitar. It's a diverse collection of songs that reveals the group's artistic growth but, in America at least, saw no chart action. 
by Greg Adams

Tracks
1. Scorpio's Dance (First Movement) - 0:38
2. Alaska Country - 3:52
3. Sally Was A Good Old Girl (Harlan, Howard) - 3:29
4. Daemon Lover - 6:04
5. Scorpio's Dance - 3:44
6. Little Cooling Planet - 4:05
7. I Love Voodoo Music - 4:02
8. Seven Is A Number In Magic - 2:59
9. Keep It If You Want It - 2:55
10.Water Boy - 2:38
11.Send Me A Postcard - 3:06
12.Mighty Joe - 3:19
13.Hello Darkness - 2:56
14.Pickin' Tomatoes - 3:22
15.Keep It If You Want It - 2:54
16.Sally Was A Good Old Girl (Harlan, Howard) - 3:26
All songs by Robbie Van Leeuwen except where noted

Shocking Blue
*Mariska Veres - Vocals
*Robbie van Leeuwen - Guitar, Vocals
*Cor van der Beek - Drums
*Klaasje van der Wal - Bass Guitar

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

V.I.P's - The Complete V.I.P.S (1965-67 uk, spectacular mod beat rhythm 'n' blues, 2006 Repertoire double disc remaster)



The story begins in summer 1963, in Carlisle, Cumbria, in the far North-West of England. Jimmy Henshaw (guitar, keyboards), Walter Johnstone (drums), Frank Kenyan (guitar) and former export clerk Mike Harrison (vocals) formed a beat combo, and dubbed themselves The VIPs. Johnston and Kenyan had previously been in The Teenagers; not long after forming the band, The VIPs added Greg Ridley on bass, who had previously lined up with Dino & The Danubes, and The Dakotas and The Ramrods, together with Harrison. 

They scored a record deal with RCA, who put out their debut single, "She's So Good" / "Don't Keep Shouting At Me" in 1964, both sides being penned by Henshaw. The single is a great slice of sneery Brit R&B, and is now an ultra-rare collector's favourite. From 1965 to 1966 the band were a top club attraction in London, and gigged regularly at the Star Club in Hamburg, garnering a sizeable cult following,

The original VIP's line-up recorded three more singles ("Wintertime" as The Vipps for CBS, plus "I Wanna Be Free" / "Don't Let It Go" and "Straight Down To The Bottom" / "In A Dream" for Island, produced by Island stalwart Guy Stevens) before disbanding. Henshaw, Johnstone and Kenyan were replaced by Luther Grosvenor (guitar), Mike Kellie (drums), and Keith Emerson (keyboards). Emerson had previously been a member of Gary Farr & The T-Bones; this variant of The VIPs gigged for only three months, before Emerson upped and formed The Nice, with Brian "Blinky" Davidson, Lee Jackson and Davy O'List. 

The remaining quartet changed their name from the by then somewhat anachronistic VIPs, to simply Art-Worcester-born Grosvenor had played guitar for The Hellians, whose 1964 single, "Daydreaming Of You", released on Pye subsidiary Piccadilly, was produced by maverick West Coast genius / madman /charlatan Kim Fowley. The Hellians, if I may digress still further, boasted the nascent talents of both Dave Mason and Jim Capaldi, who would, of course, go on to form Island mainstays Traffic with Steve Winwood, and a young Poli Palmer, who latterly rattled the Joanna for Family. The Hellians in turn mutated into Deep Feeling.

Mike Kellie, originally from Birmingham, had drummed for second city band Locomotive, who also featured sax and flute player Chris Wood, who joined Traffic in 1967. There. See how incestuous this little scene was? Anyway, Locomotive would go on to enjoy a UK Top 30 hit with the ska-rhythmed "Rudi's 1? Love" (unusually enough, the band were very heavily ska and bluebeat driven), and in 1969 put out the awesome latterday psychedelic gem "Mr. Armageddon".
Tracks
Disc 1
1. Don't Keep Shouting At Me - 2:24
2. She's So Good - 2:20
3. Mercy Mercy - 2:46
4. That's My Woman - 2:10
5. Wintertime - 2:09
6. Anyone - 2:16
7. I Wanna Be - 3:13
8. Don't Let It Go - 2:36
9. Straight Down To The Bottom - 2:08
10.In A Dream - 2:24
11.Smokestack Lightning - 6:42
12.Back Into My Life Again - 2:32
13.Every Girl I See - 2:53
14.Stagger Lee - 3:13
15.Rosemarie - 3:19
16.Late Night Blues - 5:36
CD 2
1. I Wanna Be Free - 3:13
2. Smokestack Lightning - 6:42
3. You Don't Know Like I Know - 2:30
4. Stagger Lee - 3:26
5. No Use Crying - 3:31
6. I Wanna Be Free - 3:10
7. Grapes Of Wrath - 3:13
8. Fannie Mae - 3:36
9. Talk About My Babe - 3:42
10.I Got A Woman - 6:34
11.Blue Feeling - 2:32
12.Sad Story - 2:24
(There's a little mess in the track list between "Grapes of Wrath" and "Fannie Mae", I presume it's label's fault, because it's listed incorrectly.)

The V.I.P.s
*Frank Kenyon - Rhythm Guitar
*Jimmy Henshaw - Lead Guitar
*Mike Harrison -  Vocals
*Walter Johnstone -  Drums
*Mike Kellie -  Drums
*Keith Emerson -  Keyboards
*Greg Ridley -  Bass, Guitar

1966  The V.I.P's - Beat Crazy
1967  Art - Supernatural Fairy Tales

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Sweet Maya – Sweet Maya (1977 us, fabulous funky jazz prog rock, 2010 korean remaster)



The story of Sweet Maya is one that spans 36 years and involves a set of relationships that have remain strong despite time and distance. The first chapter started in 1968 when Gail met John. As she recalls it "I met John prior to graduation and my most favorite memories involve a trip to a nightclub to hear a hot band, John being invited on stage to jam, and his horn turning the crowd upside down!"

It was after Gail and John came to Kalamazoo that the third piece of the Sweet Maya puzzle moved into place. As Gail describes it "I met Janice Lakers in a music theory class, we were the top two students. We got together one evening to sing and that's all it took. In short time we formed a folk duo, both of us playing guitars and Janice doubling on flute and percussion. John was always on the sidelines of our duo, helping us with arrangements, and sitting in with us when he could." It was with the formation of this trio that the core of Sweet Maya was formed and plans for expansion were laid. Tom Davis, a drummer John worked with in a previous group quickly followed by guitarist/bassist Tom Hill. 

Thus Sweet Maya was born. Where there had only been two now there were five but the sound of the band continued to be a work in progress. Feeling the need for a dedicated bassist and a more driving sound, the core Mayans sent out a call to audition bass players from around the area. Many tried out and all had their advantages yet in the end one player stood out among the rest, securing a sought after place in a successful local band. 

The one selected was Mark Bowen completing the six member, multiinstrumentalist band. Maya strived towards continuous improvement and as the rhythm section continued to strengthen the inherent weakness became the lack of a solid guitar soloist. Tom Hill, who had several creative differences with the core group, left the band as Sweet Maya ushered in the last piece of the puzzle, Rob Hayes. This formed the band that most remember as Sweet Maya and its performances drew huge audiences earning it a reputation as one of the foremost musical groups in the mid-western United States.

One of the lasting results of this musical endeavor was the recording and production of this LP, originally pressed in vinyl in 1977. And thanks to a still thriving fan base Sweet Maya continues to gather every few years to perform in concert with the next scheduled for fall of 2011. The band will be celebrating its 40th anniversary and plans to introduce several new compositions to delight their fans.
by Mark Bowen, 2010
Tracks
1. Good Day - 2:29
2. Louisiana Song - 3:30
3. Gotta Find Out - 5:25
4. Crazy Coldness - 4:36
5. Surround Me - 3:11
6. The Earth Has Music - 3:56
7. Papa Taco - 2:45
8. Illusion - 5:04
9. People Suite (Instrumental) - 7:11

Sweet Maya
*Janice Lakers - Vocals, Flute, Guitar, Percussion
*Gail Baker - Guitar, Vocals
*John Chamberlin - Vocals, Flute, Saxophone, Piano
*Tom Davis - Drums
*Tom Hill - Guitar, Bass
*Mark Bowen - Bass
*Rob Hayes - Guitar, Keyboards, Flute, Harmonica, Vocals

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Fraction - MoonBlood (1971 us, stunning raw garage psych, Rockaway extra tracks issue)



Based in LA, Fraction was a ragged collection of working-class musicians–the line-up was ringleader Jim Beach–vocals; Don Swanson–lead guitar, Curt Swanson–drums, Victor Hemme–bass, and Robert Meinel–rhythm guitar. Beach himself describes those early days: “The guys met through various acquaintances that we had in LA. All of us had been in bands before, but were seeking something with more teeth. We had a small studio in an industrial complex in North Hollywood and started practicing sometimes as early as 4:30 AM. We all had day jobs, so we did what we could.” Amazingly the recording sessions for the album were recorded similarly on the fly, as Beach further states: “The Moonblood recording took place at Whitney’s Studio in Glendale, CA, early in 1971. On a strict budget, these songs were recorded in less than three hours””all of them “one takes.” We played, all 5 of us, simultaneously– there were no studio effects, no overdubbing or any additional sound effects added. Basically what you hear is considered ‘old school’ recording.”

This workmanlike description in no way prepares one for the pure tortured genius the session wrought. Particularly noteworthy is Beach’s vocals””as commonly stated, the spirit of Jim Morrison is conjured in his deep baritone, which gives way to unparalleled pained howls, at times bathed in delay which trails into the abyss. Fascinatingly enough, Beach cites the much punker Love as his fave LA band over the Doors, and also gives influence-nods to proto-everything rockers The Yardbirds and to Dylan, whose dark word tapestries surely inspired Beach’s lyrics (though lines from The Doors’ “L’America” pop up on the LP) Whatever the case, the man clearly has a vision, as even the stark sleeve concept is Beach’s own.

Equally as integral to the Fraction sound is lead guitarist Don Swanson””his blown-out fuzz riffs set a template for what is now commonly known as “stoner rock” or “acid punk,” and his solos consist of jagged, wah-wah-ed shards of notes, with his amplifier clearly pushed to the limit. Beach says: “Don’s guitar was always my driving force and he did everything he could to keep it over the top. You’d never know that (his sound) was coming from an old, broken down Esquire. Don kept it alive!” The other members contributions shouldn’t be underappreciated though– drummer Curt Swanson keeps things at a constant simmer, and then boils over when the whole band launches into snarling glory. The band and LP as a whole equals something indescribably intense from start to finish””comparisons to the Detroit late 60s high-energy bands like The Stooges and MC5 abound, as well as the sort of late 60s damaged spirit lurking in biker clubs and disgruntled Vietnam vets.
Tracks
1. Sanc Divided - 3:53
2. Come Out of Her - 5:02
3. Eye Of The Hurricane - 9:07
4. Sons Come To Birth - 5:32
5. This Bird (Sky High) - 8:16
6. Prisms - 4:23
7. Dawning Light - 4:40
8. Intercessor's Blues - 3:58
Bonus Tracks 6-8

Fraction
*Jim Beach - Lead Vocals
*Don Swanson - Lead Guitar
*Curt Swanson - Percusion
*Victor Hemme - Bass Guitar
*Robert Meinel - Rhythm Guitar

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Wazoo - Wazoo (1970 us, great progressive experimental avant garde rock, 2006 World In Sound issue)



This group from the Detroit area is probably the weirdest experimental psych outfits from 1970. Originally the band was hired by “Zig Zag Records” to record cover tunes and easy listening, with the intention, “We’re just doing whatever we want,” the result was an overdosed rock concept album… “to give the music back to the people”. 

Original copies are rare and pretty unknown among psych collectors until now! The 7 songs with an average length of 7 mins combine different styles of music, from heavy garage rock to bluesy westcoast, drifting into various tripped-out, funk, jazz, fusion elements with humorous/social comments. Structure, feeling and complexity can be compared to experimental Krautrock, while the group´s basic sound is represented better by end-60s US
Hippie Rock as Country Joe & the Fish or The Head Shop (WIS-1024) with its excessive fuzz guitar work, Farfisa organ, amazing vocals by Cleveland´s “Bocky” and several additional instruments, sax, harpsichord, cello, percussion, bells…. 

Studio work is pretty tricky, lots of unexpected mixing and experiments, with flashes of UK´s legendary "White Noise". – This issue contains a 12 p. colour booklet with a band´s bio, and the cool original album design, made by John Williams who also worked for Zappa - so it can be assumed which influences Zappa used for his 1972, “Grand Wazoo” album?!? Wazoo presents at the highest level of musicianship free & atmospheric rock - a unique kind of musical renaissance!
World In Sound
Tracks
1. The Beginning / Grand Ol' Land - 8:30
2. Slip On (Jim Finnan, Robert DiPasquale) - 4:50
3. The Way I See It (Felix McDaniel) - 11:18
4. Sleep On  (Jim Finnan, Robert DiPasquale) - 7:33
5. Concert - 1:40
6. Arnie Funny Far Fackor -  5:00
7. BH Man -  9:47
8. Grand Ol' Land -  7:21
All songs by Robert "Rocky" DiPasquale, Jim Finnan, John Fraga, George (Konstantine) Katsakis, Felix McDaniel, Vince Scalabrino except where noted.

Wazoo
*Robert "Rocky" Dipasquale (Aka Bocky)  - Vocals, Percussion
*Jim Finnan  - Keyboards, Trumpet
*John Fraga  - Bass
*George (Konstantine) Katsakis  - Sax, Vocals
*Felix Mcdaniel  - Guitar, Vocals
*Vince Scalabrino  - Drums, Vocals

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Touch - Touch (1968-73 us, impressive proto prog experimental rock, 2012 Esoteric remaster and expanded)



Touch’s sole album was released in early 1969. Prior to that, the band’s leader, Don Gallucci, had been in the Kingsmen and later on with Don and the Good Times. With the Kingsmen ,he co-wrote and played electric piano on Louie Louie, the most legendary of junk rock classics. Don and the Good Times were a Portland based rock & roll/pop-rock group who had a few small local hits in the mid 60′s. In 1967 the band’s old school style of pop had become passe, a change was needed, and in a fit of inspiration Gallucci wrote Seventy Five. This track would prove to be the centerpiece on Touch’s only album.

The lineup that recorded Touch was Don Gallucci (vocals, keyboards), Jeff Hawks (vocals), Bruce Hauser (vocals, bass), Joey Newman (vocals, guitars) and John Bordonaro (vocals, percussion). The group rented a castle in the Hollywood Hills in which they would rehearse and invite interested record company executives who would see them play live. With numerous record companies competing for a contract, Coliseum/London Records finally won the bid with a record breaking $25,000 advance. The band began recording at Sunset Sounds but sessions were soon plagued with hype and out of control partying. Word quickly spread about the mind blowing music Touch had been recording at Sunset Sounds. Grace Slick, Mick Jagger, and the great Jimi Hendrix stopped by the studio to witness Touch in action. What they heard on those sessions was thankfully put down to wax and released at the tail end of the decade.

The Touch album is graced with the adventurous spirit of the 60s, a record overflowing with ideas, killer musicianship, and great performances. It’s one of America’s first progressive rock albums albeit one that still has a strong psychedelic hangover. The above mentioned track, the nearly 12 minute Seventy Five is one of the great early progressive rockers with a fabulous guitar solo and a wonderful, atmospheric vocal performance from Jeff Hawks. Seventy Five is often described as a theatre-of-the-mind epic but is by no means an overblown ELP keyboard extravaganza. Two straight ahead rockers, We Feel Fine and Miss Teach, are really good and distinctive too, with confident vocals, great guitar work, and well written lyrics. Other songs are more psychedelic like the piano dominated Friendly Birds, the classically influenced ballad Alesha and Others, and the experimental Down At Circe’s Place. Down At Circe’s Place is an underrated psychedelic classic with flanged vocals, a great spaced out guitar solo, powerful drum work, trippy sound fx ,and noisy keyboard work – it’s got everything you’d want from an album like this.

Touch hangs together as an album quite well and never succumbs to endless jamming or unfinished ideas. This is a great album and one that deserves its classic status. Gallucci would go on to produce the Stooges’ Funhouse but Touch is probably his finest hour as a musician. Touch has been repressed numerous times but the best reissues in recent years have been by Wild Places and Eclectic.
by Jason Nardelli
Tracks
1. We Feel Fine - 4:40
2. Friendly Birds (Don Gallucci) - 4:53
3. Miss Teach (D. Gallucci, J. Hawks) - 3:29
4. The Spiritual Death Of Howard Greer - 8:52
5. Down At Circe's Place (D. Gallucci, J. Newman, J. Hawks) - 4:00
6. Alesha And Others - 3:05
7. Seventy Five - 11:12
8. We Finally Met Today (D. Gallucci, J. Hawks) - 3:43
9. Alesha And Others (D. Gallucci, J. Hawks) - 3:17
10.Blue Feeling (J. Bordonaro, D. Gallucci, J. Hawks) - 11:46
11.The Spiritual Death Of Howard Greer - 8:07
12.The Second Coming Of Suzanne - 12:20
All compositions by Don Gallucci, Joey Newman except where stated.
Bonus tracks 8-12

Touch
*John Bordonaro - Percussion, Vocals
*Don Gallucci - Keyboards, Vocals
*Bruce Hauser - Bass, Vocals
*Jeff Hawks - Vocals
*Joey Newman - Guitars, Vocals
*Roger Johnson - Guitar (Track 12)
*Trey Thompson - Bass (Track 12)
*Jim Varley - Drums (Track 12)

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Friday, April 18, 2014

CMU - Space Cabaret (1973 uk, exceptional prog space rock, japan remaster)



Only the Odell-couple and Ian Hamlett remained from the first album. Mortimer, Gordon and bassist Ed Lee had been replaced by Richard Joseph on vocals and acoustic guitar, Steve Cook on bass and finally Leary Hasson on keyboards. The latter one had earlier played in Marsupilami, and was undoubtedly the most exciting of the new members. "Space Cabaret" is musically quite different from the debut. 

The bluesy tendencies were gone, and the band went instead for a more symphonic and spacey kind of progressive rock with some slight folk-influences and overall far more complex material. The lyrics were also considerably more far out and dreamy than on the debut, fitting well to the new musical direction. The 17-minute title-track in four parts is probably the best thing the band ever did. Hasson introduced Mellotron, el-piano and some spacey synths to the band's sound, and Joseph are allowed to sing a lot more along with Odell than what Gordon ever was on the debut. 

The melodies are thoroughly strong and the arrangements have a spacey sweep and atmosphere to them. The first side closes with the short and acoustic "Doctor Am I Normal?". This charming folk-song seems to be a bit out of place from the rest of the record's space-concept, but is still a good tune. The second side is taken up by two complex 10-minute pieces. First out is "Dream" that starts slow and gloomy, but quickly picks up the pace in the funky mid-part that finally leads out into a quite heavy finale. The closer "Light Shine" is, despite several vocal-passages, mostly a showcase for Hasson and his various sounds, climaxing in a fine jam between his organ and Hamlett's guitar. 
Tracks
1. Space Cabaret - 1:56
2. Archway 272 - 6:18
3. Song From The 4th Era - 2:21
4. A Distant Thought, A Point Of Light -  6:49
5. Doctor, Am I Normal? - 4:56
6. Dream (Ian Hamlett) - 9:42
7. Lightshine (Leary Hasson) - 10:26
All compositions by Richard Joseph except where stated

CMU
*Ian Hamlett - Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
*Larraine Odell - Vocals
*Leary Hasson - Keyboards
*Richard Joseph - Vocals, Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
*Roger Odell - Drums

1971  Open Spaces (2008 Esoteric remaster)

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Warren S. Richardson Jr. - Warren S. Richardson Jr. (1969 us, stunning hard psych, 2008 RDI remaster)



In 1967 Richardson-nee Spooner contributed lead guitar to Michael Condello's "Condello" LP (see separate review).  A couple of years later Condello apparently repaid the favor by producing 1969's cleverly-titled "Warren S. Richardson Jr.".  Recorded at Richardson-nee-Spooner was credited with penning all six tracks and material like 'Reputation'' and 'Shady Lady' offered up a pretty good set of fuzz-propelled hard rock.  

Spooner had a voice that was well suited to the genre and this was one of those rare albums that actually seemed to benefit from the addition of horns (courtesy of Owen Eugene Hale, Richard Lewis and Joseph Ray Trainer).  In case anyone cared, perhaps because it strayed a little bit from the predominantly hard rock formula, excluding the needless and seemingly endless drum solo, the psych-tinged 'Wind and Rain' struck me as the standout effort on the album.
Tracks
1. Reputation (Traditional arr. by Warren S. Richardson Jr.) - 6:38
2. Easy Rider (Warren S. Richardson Jr.) - 2:57
3. Shady Lady (Warren S. Richardson Jr.) - 6:54
4. Wind And Rain (Warren S. Richardson Jr.) - 10:27
5. Stella (Warren S. Richardson Jr.) - 3:18
6. Goin' Home (Warren S. Richardson Jr.) - 3:04

Personnel
*David Birkett - Bass
*Mickey Mcgee - Drums
*Owen Eugene Hale - Sax
*Richard Lewis - Keyboards, Horns
*Warren S. Richardson Jr. (Aka Bill Spooner) - Vocals, Guitar
*Joseph Ray Trainer - Sax

Related Act
1968  Condello - Phase I

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Moby Grape - The Place And The Time (1967-68 us, sensational westcoast psych, demos and outtakes, 2009 Sundazed release)



Despite a myriad of obstacles, Moby Grape managed to persevere and create a potent and enduring body of recorded work, recording four albums during its original 1967–1969 lifespan. While 1967’s Moby Grape is widely acknowledged as a classic (and one of rock’s greatest debut albums), the subsequent Wow, Moby Grape ’69 and Truly Fine Citizen are all underrated gems with much to recommend them. It’s a measure of the musicians’ abundance of talent and creativity that, despite the multiple roadblocks that they confronted, Moby Grape recorded prolifically and cut a wealth of originally unreleased material. The Place and the Time offers a scintillating assortment of rare tracks cut during the band’s heady 1967–1968 heyday. Encompassing audition recordings, album outtakes, alternate versions, live material and more, the recordings offer a powerful testament to the remarkable rapport that made Moby Grape such a unique force.

The fact that music this stunning and original sat on the shelf for so long is just another in the litany of injustices that haunt the Moby Grape story. But the band’s majestic recorded legacy has outlasted the bad luck, bad choices and bad vibes. The music remains as fresh and inspiring as ever, and the vintage material featured in this collection constitutes a crucial addition to Moby Grape’s already monumental body of work. 
Sundazed

San Francisco's Moby Grape remains a prototype: a hard rocking quintet, all monster singers, top-shelf instrumentalists and skilled songwriters. These auditions, demos, outtakes, alternate and extended versions, and live recordings from 1967-8 have the loose vibe and flubs that prevented them from being deemed releasable at the time, but the imperfections accentuate Grape's never-played-safe, gutsy rock'n'roll. There are moments when it sounds like the music is going to explode into chaos, but these professionals could take it to the edge and pull it back at the abyss. Jerry Miller is a guitar god, Peter Lewis a folk-rock master, Bob Mosley a muscular bassist and blue-eyed soulman extraodinaire, Don Stevenson a driver of a drummer and more, and Skip Spence is a one of rock's most original madmen. Why they don't make 'em like Moby Grape any more is arguable- but they don't.
Mojo
Tracks
1. Indifference (Columbia Audition Recording) - 2:53
2. Looper - 2:37
3. Stop (Demo Recording) - 2:21
4. Rounder (Instrumental Outtake) - 2:02
5. Sweet Ride (Never Again) (Unedited Version) - 5:56
6. Loosely Remembered (Demo Recording) - 3:26
7. The Place And The Time (Alternate Version) - 2:25
8. Bitter Wind (Demo Recording) - 2:48
9. Seeing (Alternate Version) - 5:12
10.What's To Choose (Alternate Version) - 2:01
11.Soul Stew (Outtake Recording) - 2:19
12.If You Can't Learn From My Mistakes (Demo Recording) - 1:25
13.You Can Do Anything (Demo Recording) - 3:37
14.Skip's Song (Demo Recording) - 3:29
15.It's A Beautiful Day Today (Demo Recording) - 4:14
16.What's To Choose (Demo Recording) - 3:21
17.Hoochie (Demo Recording) - 3:20
18.Big (Demo Recording) - 2:31
19.Rounder (Live Recording) - 2:02
20.Miller's Blues (Live Recording) - 6:07
21.Changes (Live Recording) - 4:18
22.Looper (Demo Recording) - 2:08
23.Soul Stew (Instrumental Outtake) - 2:20
24.Cockatoo Blues (Tongue-Tied) (Demo Recording) - 3:41

Moby Grape
Peter Lewis – Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Bob Mosley – Bass, Vocals
Jerry Miller – Lead Guitar, Vocals
Skip Spence – Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Don Stevenson – Drums, Vocals

1966-69  Live (Sundazed digipack issue)
1969  Wow (Sundazed Issue)
Related Act
1972  Bob Mosley - Bob Mosley
1974-77  Bob Mosley - Never Dreamed

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Van Morrison - Veedon Fleece (1974 ireland, remarkable folk jazzy rock, 2008 japan SHM remaster)



By 1974, Van Morrison was probably exhausted. During the past ten years, the Irish troubadour had morphed from a garage rock king (as the leader of Them) to a pop hit machine to the craftsman of such landmark albums as Astral Weeks and Tupelo Honey. His eighth album, Veedon Fleece, hit stores in late 1974, shortly after the release of those instantly accessible masterpieces — and it was greeted by a collective shrug by the rock critical establishment. Time has proven them wrong. 

The album is the grand culmination of Morrison's work over the past decade, combining R'n'B with celtic music, country and traditional rock and roll. At the center of it lies "You Don't Pull No Punches, But You Don't Push The River" — a wildly ambitious, nearly nine-minute song filled with piano, soprano saxophone and flute, where Morrison sings about the quest for the mysterious "veedon fleece" — an elusive treasure that's never quite defined. Repeated references to "William Blake and the Sisters of Mercy" may leave you scratching your head, but it's clear this album finds Morrison at the absolute top of his game. "Streets of Arklow," a tribute to the historic Ireland town, is another stunning beauty featuring Morrison singing in top form, complimented by a string section. 

This reissue includes a scant two bonus tracks and no liner notes, but it's still worth the price for the improved sound. After Veedon Fleece, a drained Morrison took the longest break of his career, not emerging until 1977. He's released many wonderful albums since, but he's never again hit the majestic heights of this one.
by Andy Greene
Tracks
1. Fair Play – 6:14
2. Linden Arden Stole The Highlights – 2:37
3. Who Was That Masked Man – 2:55
4. Streets Of Arklow – 4:22
5. You Don't Pull No Punches, But You Don't Push The River - 8:50
6. Bulbs - 4:18
7. Cul De Sac - 5:51
8. Comfort You - 4:25
9. Come Here My Love - 2:21
10.Country Fair - 5:42
11.Twilight Zone (Alternative Take) - 5:48
12.Cul De Sac (Alternative Take) - 2:54
All songs written by Van Morrison.

Musicians
*Van Morrison - Vocal, Guitar
*Ralph Walsh - Guitar
*John Tropea - Guitar
*David Hayes - Bass
*Joe Macho - Bass
*Dahaud Shaar (David Shaw) - Drums
*Allan Schwartzberg - Drums
*Nathan Rubin - Violin
*Terry Adams - Viola
*James Rothermel - Flute, Recorder
*Jack Schroer - Soprano Saxophone
*James Trumbo - Piano
*Jef Labes - Piano

1967  Blowin' Your Mind! (extra tracks edition)
1971  Tupelo Honey (Japan SHM remaster)
1974  It's Too Late To Stop Now (Japan SHM remaster)

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Monday, April 14, 2014

The Quincy Conserve - The Very Best Of (1968-73 new zealand, awesome jazzy groovy psych brass rock)



The Quincy Conserve was formed in Wellington in late 1967 by Malcolm Hayman. Malcolm was an extremely talented musician who had already been on the music scene for twelve years by that stage. Hayman was only 15 years old when he arrived in Wellington in 1955 as a member of the Maori Hi Fives showband. The following year the singer-guitarist formed the Trademarks, long-time residents at the Mexicali, a popular nightspot owned by American expatriate Harry Booth.

The Trademarks were very popular, and after four years of constant playing, queues formed to see them every time they played. Over the years, 30-odd musicians passed through the ranks of the Trademarks, before Malcolm disbanded the group in 1961. The Trademarks owed more than a little to the Maori showband tradition, where Hayman had learnt his licks, but the group gave Wellingtonians their first taste of rock'n'roll. One member of the Trademarks was Rodney "Dody" Potter, who was later a member of the Keil Isles and Dallas Four.

Following the demise of the Trademarks, Malcolm spent 18 months at the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music, followed by two years on the Australian-Pacific cabaret circuit with a variety of bands. Malcolm was a severe diabetic and in 1965, during a residency in New Caledonia, he came down with tuberculosis, spending the next 14 months in a Noumea hospital. He returned to Wellington in the middle of 1966 and formed a new band called the Soundells.

The Soundells had a residency at the Downtown Club in Wellington and at the end of 1967 they were enticed to go to Auckland to play there. They accepted the offer, but Malcolm decided not to go. Now without a resident band at the Downtown Club, owner Roy Young had enough faith in Malcolm to give him a budget to recruit, equip and rehearse a new band for his club. Malcolm immediately tried the rhythm section of Sounds Unlimited, who had just dissolved, but at rehearsals found that they were not appropriate. He then started scouring the countryside, looking for the best musicians, with a promise of a regular gig and a steady wage.

Malcolm recruited bass player Dave Orams from the Underdogs, keyboardist Rufus Rehu from the Quin Tikis, another previous member of Sounds Unlimited, saxophonist Johnny McCormick, and an inexperienced saxophonist, Dennis Mason. On drums was Bryan Beauchamp, from Bari and the Breakaways, but he was quickly replaced by another former Quin Tikis, Earl Anderson.

Rehearsals over, the Quincy Conserve debuted at the Downtown Club in February 1968. They were one of the most talented and professional groups to appear on the New Zealand music scene in the late sixties. They were Wellington's first 'supergroup'.

Malcolm continued playing for a number of years, but finally his diabetes caught up with him and he died as a result of complications on the 5th November 1988.

Quincy Conserve were never a true pop group, they were more of a musicians band, with Malcolm Hayman possessing one of the most distinctive voices in Kiwi Rock.

In 2001 EMI released a CD called "The Very Best Of Quincy Conserve", which contained most of their singles and some good album tracks.
Sergent-au
Tracks
1. Ride The Rain (Lawrence) - 2:52
2. Roundhouse (Miller) - 3:15
3. Aire Of Good Feeling (Petrik) - 4:16
4. I've Been Loving You Baby (John, Taupin) - 2:52
5. Hallelujah (White, Caswell) - 2:26
6. All Right In The City (Dunn, McCashen) - 2:38
7. Soul Thing (Mansfield) - 3:15
8. I Feel Good (Brown) - 2:48
9. Lulu Belle (Coleman) - 3:07
10.Keep On Pushing (Geraci, Corrao, Smelka) - 3:11
11.Lovin' Look (Emmerson) - 2:35
12.Everybody Has Their Way (Lawrence) - 3:59
13.Somebody, Somewhere, Help Me (Miller) - 2:44
14.Going Back To The Garden (Mason) - 4:15
15.I'm So Proud (Landan) - 2:17
16.Here's To The Next Time (John) - 2:39
17.My Michelle Charm (McCormick) - 3:46
18.Keep On Playing That Rock and Roll (Winter, La Croix) - 3:48
19.Slut (Rundgren) - 4:17
20.Volcano (Robertson) - 2:35

The Quincy Conserve
*Malcolm Hayman - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Dave Orams - Bass Guitar
*Rufus Rehu - Keyboards
*Johnny McCormick - Saxophone
*Dennis Mason - Saxophone
*Bryan Beauchamp - Drums

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Van Morrison - It's Too Late To Stop Now (1974 ireland, gorgeous folk rock jazz r 'n' b, 2008 japan SHM remaster)



Named for the mighty Belfast singer's exhortation at the close of his song, Into The Mystic, It's Too Late…is oft-referred to as one of the greatest live albums ever recorded. Included in the first batch of remasters of the 'Man''s back catalogue, now’s your chance to argue the toss again.

When Morrison hit the road in the Summer of 1973 -ITLTSN collects material from gigs in LA, Santa Monic and London - he'd not only notched up a run of six absolutely flawless collections of what would probably now be referred to as 'soul jazz', but he'd also assembled a team of players that were the equal of his own perfectionism. Such was this perfectionism that the original running order was shorn of his most widely-known tune, Moondance, due to one bum guitar note. In other words this is one of the few live albums you'll ever hear with NO overdubs.

When you hear ITLTSN you realise why this had to be the case: Morrison’s blend of his own classics along with a fair smattering of tracks that influenced him is delivered with such passion, and belief that any studio tinkering would be like throwing a tin of paint over the Mona Lisa. In a live setting all the hyperbole about Morrison's blend of genres into one Celtic, mystic vision makes perfect sense. This is soul music in a very real sense.

It was also a sign of how Van had matured that he can deliver classics like Ray Charles' I Believe To My Soul or Sonny Boy Williamson's Help Me and make them his own. Not only this he improves on his own compositions. Cypress Avenue, complete with the strings of the Caledonian Soul orchestra may even be better than the original on Astral Weeks. Quite a feat. And just listen to how playful Morrison is on the improvised breaks (''You say in France!''): grunting, wailing, going beyond mere words in his striving to convey the heart of this music. This is a master live performer at work. And enjoying it.

With just one bonus track (a version of Brown Eyed Girl) this polished edition gives you the chance to hear one of the best bands and their genius of a singer deliver the goods one more time, 40 years on. It's never too late…
by Chris Jones
Tracks
Disc 1
1. Ain't Nothin' You Can Do (Joseph Scott) - 3:44
2. Warm Love - 3:04
3. Into The Mystic - 4:33
4. These Dreams Of You - 3:37
5. I Believe To My Soul (Ray Charles) - 4:09
6. I've Been Working - 3:56
7. Help Me (Sonny Boy Williamson Ii, Ralph Bass, Willie Dixon) - 3:25
8. Wild Children - 5:04
9. Domino - 4:48
10.I Just Want To Make Love To You (Willie Dixon) - 5:16
Disc 2
1. Bring It On Home To Me (Sam Cooke) - 4:42
2. Saint Dominic's Preview - 6:18
3. Take Your Hand Out Of My Pocket (Sonny Boy Williamson II) - 4:04
4. Listen To The Lion - 8:43
5. Here Comes The Night (Bert Berns) - 3:14
6. Gloria - 4:16
7. Caravan - 9:20
8. Cyprus Avenue - 10:20
9. Brown Eyed Girl (Bonus Track) - 3:24
All songs by Van Morrison except where noted

Musicians
*Van Morrison - Vocal
*Nathan Rubin - First Violin
*Tom Halpin, Tim Kovatch - Violins
*Nancy Ellis - Viola
*Teressa Adams - Cello
*Bill Atwood - Trumpet, Backing Vocals
*Jack Schroer - Alto, Tenor, Baritone Saxophones, Tambourine, Backing Vocals
*Jef Labes - Piano, Organ
*John Platania - Guitar, Backing Vocals
*David Hayes - Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
*Dahaud Shaar (David Shaw) - Drums, Backing Vocals

1967  Blowin' Your Mind! (extra tracks edition)
1971  Tupelo Honey (Japan SHM remaster)
1974  Veedon Fleece (2008 Japan SHM remaster)

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