Monday, June 30, 2014

The Lemon Drops - Crystal Pure (1966-69 us, splendid garage psych)



Anyone who likes the Leaves, the Seeds et al will love the early cuts by this band, a hard-luck Chicago outfit who couldn't turn a local wave of popular enthusiasm into something bigger, despite some good songs. Their later stuff was more self-consciously psychedelic, but it's still very well done, with superb playing and harmonies. The Lemon Drops were Jeff Brand (bass), Bobby Lunack (rhythm guitar), Gary Weiss (drums), Eddie Weiss (rhythm guitar), and Danny Smola (vocals), who began rehearsing in the Weiss home when they were between 14 and 17 years old. With lead guitarist Ricky Erickson in tow and later an official member, they cut their first record, "I Live In the Springtime," for Rembrandt, a local label co-owned by one of the Weisses' elder siblings. "I Live in the Springtime" got an enthusiastic reception locally, and was played as far away as New York. 

The bandmembers became celebrities among the local kids when they were thrown out of school for their long hair. By that time, they were on their second single, the angry anti-Vietnam rocker "It Happens Everyday," and soon after had a new lead singer, Dick Sidman. The band slipped easily into the psychedelic blossoming of the Summer of Love, adding more overt flower-power references to their mix of sounds. It looked as though RCA was interested in the group, but a mix-up prevented the tapes for their third single, "Sometime Ago"/"Theatre of Your Eyes," from getting to the company in New York on time. A potential contract with Uni Records came to nothing, and their third single, as well as a dozen tracks cut live in the Weiss home in January of 1968, went unheard. A few more songs were cut on behalf of Buena Vista Records, but the death of the label head scotched the deal, and a potential contract with Alden Records fell apart, along with the group, following an acid party at the owner's Los Angeles mansion in the summer of 1969. 
by Bruce Eder

Combines the contents of both LPs issued on the Cicadelic label in the mid-'80s (Crystal Pure and Second Album) onto one CD, making this indeed the definitive collection. Almost all of their known tapes, covering both their searing electric garage/psych and softer, acoustic garage/folk sides. Dating from 1967 and 1968, this features a lot of original material that the band recorded in Chicago studios, as well as some drummerless home demos. These are endearing (and still moving) relics of an age of great exuberance, innocence, and hope. Good harmonies on the psychedelic ballads, which have been described as "garage-band Donovan." One of the best reissues of unknown '60s garage/psychedelic music. 
by Richie Unterberger
Tracks
1. I Live In The Springtime - 3:03
2. It Happens Everyday - 2:18
3. Sometime Ago - 3:41
4. The Theatre Of Your Eyes - 3:22
5. Popsicle Girl - 5:19
6. Flower Pure - 4:00
7. Paperplane Flyer (Weiss, Sidman, Thunderbolt) - 2:34
8. Talk To The Animals (Weiss, Sidman, Thunderbolt) - 4:20
9. Fairy Tales (Weiss, Sidman, Thunderbolt) - 2:26
10.Hi, How Are You Today - 3:11
11.Alone (Weiss, Sidman, Thunderbolt) - 1:32
12.Sleeping On Colours (Weiss, Sidman, Thunderbolt) - 4:55
13.Sometime Ago (Acoustic Version) - 0:22
14.Guinevere - 4:02
15.Learn To Fly (Weiss, Sidman, Thunderbolt) - 2:05
16.Flowers On The Hillside (Weiss, Sidman, Thunderbolt) - 4:06
17.Flower Dream (Erickson, Thunderbolt) - 2:41
18.Flower Child Eyes And Arms - 2:27
19.My Friend - 0:33
20.To The Tower (Erickson, Thunderbolt) - 1:58
21.Death Calls (Weiss, Sidman, Thunderbolt) - 2:05
22.Hi, How Are You Today - 2:54
23.Love Is A Word (Weiss, Sidman, Thunderbolt) - 2:42
24.I Like You (Weiss, Sidman, Thunderbolt) - 2:06
All songs by Weiss, Thunderbolt except where noted

The Lemon Drops
*Dick Sidman - Lead Vocals (3-23)
*Danny Smola - Lead Vocals (1-2)
*Ricky Erickson - Lead Guitar (1-4, 11-23)
*Eddie Weiss - Lead, Rhythm Guitars
*Bobby Lunak - Rhythm Guitar (1-4, 10), Bass (5-9)
*Jeff Brand - Bass (1-4, 10-23)
*Garry Weiss - Drums

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thorinshield - Thorinshield (1968 us, elegant baroque sunny folk psych)



The mysteriously-named Thorinshield released an album and two singles in 1968 which, though they sank with­out trace, are now prized by fans of so-called 'sunshine pop'. Their roots lay in Los Angeles, where drummer Terry Hand had played in numerous surf bands, as well as recording two singles with Everpresent Fullness. Bassist Bobby Ray, meanwhile, was a seasoned session player who had participated in Donovan's legendary May 1966 sessions in LA, resulting in songs including the classic Season Of The Witch. They teamed up with guitarist James Ray in 1967, and Smith and Ray began to write com­mercial songs together that reflected an interest in both folk and psych­edelia.

Having scored a deal with Philips records and recruited famed sax player Steve Douglas (whom Ray probably knew through the ses­sion circuit) as producer, and leg­endary arranger Perry Botkin (later to work with the Righteous Bros, Harry Nilsson, Bobby Darin, Barbara Streisand and many others), their sole, self-titled album was record­ed at numerous studios (Western Recorders, Wally Heider, Inc. and RCA Victor) in late 1967 and early 1968. A varied but consistent col­lection, its songs featured intricate harmonies akin to the work being carried out at the same time by Curt Boettcher on albums by Sagittarius and the Millennium (check out Pleasure Time), complex orchestra­tions (Prelude To A Postlude) and psychedelic guitar work (One Girl).

A single was extracted (Life Is A Dream I The Best Of It), promo copies of which came in a picture sleeve, but neither it nor the LP (promo copies of which were accompanied by an extensive press kit) sold. A further, non-LP 45 appeared later in 1968 (Family Of Man I Lonely Mountain Again, included here as bonus tracks), but when it also failed to sell, the band splintered. Smith is not known to have continued with a career in music, but Hand joined soft-psych band The Moon, and Ray recorded an excellent folk-psych solo LP entitled Initiation Of A Mystic, which appeared on Johnny Rivers's Soul City label in 1970. Though the album they made together was ignored for decades, it is now rightly regarded as a minor classic of late 60s soft psychedelia.
CD Liner-notes
Tracks
1. Life Is A Dream - 02:06
2. Brave New World - 02:24
3. Wrong, My Friend - 02:23
4. Here Today - 02:44
5. Pleasure Time - 02:24
6. Best Of It - 02:28
7. Daydreaming - 02:49
8. Light That Love Brings - 02:27
9. Prelude To A Postlude - 04:15
10.One Girl - 02:16
11.Collage Of Attitudes - 02:04
12.Family Of Man (Bonus Track) - 04:45
13.Lonely Mountain Again (Bonus Track) - 03:16
All songs by Bobby Ray and James Smith

Thorinshield
*James Smith - Guitar
*Bobby Ray - Bass
*Terry Hand - Drums

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Outsiders - CQ (1968 dutch, splendid garage nederbeat, remaster and expanded)



With a plethora of recent reissues (Jackpot – vinyl and RPM – cd), it seemed like a good idea to backtrack to this classic record and give it another listen.  C.Q. was to be the Outsiders last album (their 3rd LP), an attempt to reach the group’s original core audience amidst a troubling commerical downfall.  Not only is this one of the best “international” psych albums but it’s as good as anything by the early Pink Floyd, psychedelic era Pretty Things or Love.  Its closest reference point is probably the Pretty Things superb S.F. Sorrow – there are no soft, wimpy moments on either of these records, just pure intensity and garage punk muscle.  C.Q. is what the Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request should have sounded like.

C.Q.’s strength is in it’s consistency and diversity.  No two songs sound alike yet every experiment is well thought out and successful.  The group’s hallmark start-stop punk rhythms are firmly in place on many of C.Q.‘s tracks but by 1968 the Outsiders had grown considerably, incorporating more folk-rock and psych sounds into their repertoire.  Psych cuts such as the very European sounding “Zsarrahh” (supposedly a nod to Wally Tax’s Russian roots), the brief “Bear,” an avant garde folk-rock cut titled “Prison Song” and “C.Q.” heralded a new, more experimental outfit.   

Other cuts such as the sensitive “You’re Everything On Earth,” a bluesy, spacy cut titled “It Seems Like Nothings Gonna Come My Way Today,” and “I Love You No. 2″  were folk-rock gems that showed off Tax’s soft, expressive side.  That being said, it’s the harder cuts that warrant the greatest attention.  “Misfit,” “Doctor,” “The Man On The Dune,”  ”Happyville,” and “Wish You Were Here With Me Today” are masterful acid punkers.  “Doctor,” one of the group’s best LP tracks, features distorted vocals and an explosive fuzz guitar freakout.  “The Man On The Dune,” another classic and personal favorite, is a blistering psych punker with jagged guitar fuzz and a strange, unsettling conclusion.  It goes without saying that C.Q. is one of the immortal 60s albums.

As mentioned above, there have been many reissues of C.Q. To me, the Pseudonym reissue was the best as it featured three terrific non-lp tracks (“Do You Feel Alright” is an excellent cut that should have been a hit). In this  RPM disc features six good live cuts from 1968.
by Jason Nardelli
Tracks
1. Misfit (F. Beek, Buzz) - 3:04
2. Zsarrahh (Buzz, W. Tax) - 3:25
3. CQ (Buzz, W. Tax) - 3:26
4. Daddy Died On Saturday (R. Splinter, W. Tax) - 3:01
5. It Seems Like Nothing's Gonna Come My Way Today (F. Beek, R. Splinter) - 1:50
6. Doctor (F. Beek, Buzz) - 4:42
7. The Man On The Dune (F. Beek, R. Splinter) - 2:07
8. The Bear (Buzz, R. Splinter) - 1:03
9. Happyville (F. Beek, W. Tax) - 2:25
10.You're Everything On Earth (R. Splinter, W. Tax) - 3:05
11.Wish You Were Here With Me Today (R. Splinter, W. Tax) - 1:54
12.I Love You No.2 (F. Beek, W. Tax) - 3:13
13.Prison Song (Buzz, W. Tax) - 5:42
14.Do You Feel Alright (F. Beek, L. Busch, R. Splinter, W. Tax) - 3:21
15.Daddy Died On Saturday (R. Splinter, W. Tax) - 3:07
16.I Love You No.2 (F. Beek, W. Tax) - 3:15
17.Misfit (F. Beek, Buzz) - 3:10
18.Happyville (F. Beek, W. Tax) - 2:22
19.Prisonsong (Buzz, W. Tax) - 5:34
Bonus Tracks 14-19 Live at Fantasio Amsterdam 31.12.68

The Outsiders
*Frank Beek - Bass, Composer, Cymbals, Guitar, Organ, Piano, Vibraphone, Voices
*Ronald Splinter - Bass, Guitar, 12 String Guitar, Vocals
*Wally Tax - Balalaika, Cymbals, Flute, Guitar, Harmonica, Organ, Tambourine, Vibraphone, Vocals
*Buzz - Drums, Congas, Tambourine, Maracas, Mouthharp, Vocals

Related Act
1970  Tax Free - Tax Free

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Jackson Browne - Saturate Before Using (1972 us, brilliant folk country soft rock)



One of the reasons that Jackson Browne's first album is among the most auspicious debuts in pop music history is that it doesn't sound like a debut. Although only 23, Browne had kicked around the music business for several years, writing and performing as a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and as Nico's backup guitarist, among other gigs, while many artists recorded his material. So, if this doesn't sound like someone's first batch of songs, it's not. Browne had developed an unusual use of language, studiedly casual yet full of striking imagery, and a post-apocalyptic viewpoint to go with it. 

He sang with a calm certainty over spare, discretely placed backup -- piano, acoustic guitar, bass, drums, congas, violin, harmony vocals -- that highlighted the songs and always seemed about to disappear. In song after song, Browne described the world as a desert in need of moisture, and this wet/dry dichotomy carried over into much of the imagery. In "Doctor My Eyes," the album's most propulsive song and a Top Ten hit, he sang, "Doctor, my eyes/Cannot see the sky/Is this the prize/For having learned how not to cry?" If Browne's outlook was cautious, its expression was original. His conditional optimism seemed to reflect hard experience, and in the early '70s, the aftermath of the '60s, a lot of his listeners shared that perspective. 

Like any great artist, Browne articulated the tenor of his times. But the album has long since come to seem a timeless collection of reflective ballads touching on still-difficult subjects -- suicide (explicitly), depression and drug use (probably), spiritual uncertainty and desperate hope -- all in calm, reasoned tones, and all with an amazingly eloquent sense of language. Jackson Browne's greater triumph is that, having perfectly expressed its times, it transcended those times as well. (The album features a cover depicting Browne's face on a water bag -- an appropriate reference to its desert/water imagery -- containing the words "saturate before using." Inevitably, many people began to refer to the self-titled album by that phrase.
by William Ruhlmann
Tracks
1. Jamaica Say You Will - 3:25
2. A Child In These Hills - 3:59
3. Song For Adam - 5:23
4. Doctor My Eyes - 3:17
5. From Silver Lake - 3:52
6. Something Fine - 3:48
7. Under The Falling Sky - 4:09
8. Looking Into You - 4:19
9. Rock Me On The Water - 4:14
10.My Opening Farewell - 4:44
All songs by Jackson Browne

Personnel
*Jackson Browne - Acoustic Guitar, Guitar, Piano, Keyboard, Vocals
*David Campbell - Viola
*David Crosby - Vocals, Harmony Vocals
*Jesse Ed Davis - Guitar, Electric Guitar
*Craig Doerge - Piano, Keyboard
*Jimmie Fadden - Harmonica
*Jim Gordon - Organ
*David Jackson - Piano
*Sneaky Pete Kleinow - Pedal Steel
*Leah Kunkel - Vocals
*Russ Kunkel - Drums
*Albert Lee - Guitar, Electric Guitar, Electric Piano
*Graham Nash - Harmony Vocals
*Leland Sklar - Bass
*Clarence White - Acoustic Guitar

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Grassroots - Let's Live For Today / Feelings (1967-68 us, bright sunny folk psych)



Released in the spring of 1967, Let's Live for Today was almost a musical throwback, steeped in folk-rock, which was fairly passé at the time, rather than psychedelia, but that's what makes it so appealing to listeners today. Listeners in 1967 were probably disappointed that there was nothing on the album as dramatic or memorable as the title track, but everything else is solid folk-rock with a pretty hard edge, which allows it to stand quite well alongside rival releases by the Beau Brummels, the Cryan Shames, the Blue Things, et al. 

Most of the music here is derived from the P.F. Sloan/Steve Barri songwriting and production team, spiced with four surprisingly strong originals -- mostly drawn from the original demo tape that they submitted as the 13th Floor -- by the band members themselves. The Sloan-Barri numbers are smooth, hook-laden folk-rock "Things I Should Have Said," "Is It Any Wonder," some of it with a garage band edge, and with elements of mild pop psychedelia ("Wake Up, Wake Up") occasionally manifesting themselves. 

Sloan and Barri's production gave the music a polish that made it thoroughly commercial without entirely losing sight of the band's fervor; the Grass Roots, only a few months out of playing bowling alleys, rose to the occasion in the singing and the basic playing, but they were also in the hands of two producers who knew how to add such embellishments as an unobtrusive harpsichord or flute over a garage band workout like "Tip of My Tongue," and who also took full advantage of stereo separation. 

The latter made this album a real treat for the fans, who bought it and got to hear the playing by Sloan (who contributed some guitar), Creed Bratton, and Warren Entner, and the singing by all of them (especially on "Is It Any Wonder") in vivid detail. Also surprising are the group originals, such as Entner and Bratton's "Beatin' Round the Bush" and Bratton's rocking "House of Stone," each of which is a match musically for most of the Sloan-Barri numbers. Admittedly, the lyrics on Sloan and Barri's songs are somewhat more sophisticated than those on most of the group originals, but the simpler words on the latter firm up this album's rock & roll credentials. The CD reissue has decent sound and is worth tracking down as one of the last examples of 1960s commercial folk-rock. 

In their next album "Feelings" changed their name to "Grassroots" (and then changed it back two albums later) -- was a serious departure from its predecessor. Having reached the Top 10 with "Let's Live for Today" and made the Top 100 with the accompanying album -- all done under the direction of producers Steve Barri and P.F. Sloan, with a lot of outside musicians playing on them -- the group members were eager to flex their own musical muscles. The result was Feelings, a much less slick, less polished work but one that better reflected the quartet's own sensibilities. 

This album was to the Grass Roots roughly what Headquarters was to the Monkees, though not remotely as popular. The album opens with the title track, a group original going back two years, to their days as a garage band -- the sound is psychedelia with a garage band edge, complete with fuzz effects and a spaced-out feel, complete with a faux-raga break. A trio of Barri/Sloan and P.F. Sloan numbers follow, all produced in a more lyrical folk-rock/pop mode that recalls the prior album -- indeed, "Here's Where You Belong" closely resembles "Where Were You When I Needed You" in tempo and texture. "The Sins of the Family Fall on the Daughter" is a surprisingly catchy number for so serious a subject (and title), with pleasant hooks and a searing lead guitar part of the sort that AM radio listeners seldom associated with this band; and "Melody for You" is a pleasant piece of midtempo Baroque pop/rock. 

The members' own compositions dominate most of the rest of the record, and the sound varies widely -- the Warren Entner/Rob Grill-authored "Who Will You Be Tomorrow" offers a deliberately heavier sound without any attempt at emulating the pretty pop harmonies that dress up the Barri/Sloan numbers -- but on "You Might as Well Go My Way" (written by Richard Podolor) and "All Good Things Come to an End" (authored by Albert Hammond), the group delivers a leaner, punchier version of their folk-rock sound. 

Creed Bratton's bluesy "Hot Bright Lights" gives the lead guitarist a chance to show off his work with the volume pedal; they switch gears to languid psychedelic pop on Entner and Grill's "Hey Friend," while the same writing duo's "You and Love Are the Same" gives Entner a great part on rhythm guitar and all four a chance to contribute some lush choruses amid a psychedelic haze that is enhanced by the presence of a string orchestra accompaniment. And "Dinner for Eight" is an eerily reflective piece with a disconnected psychedelic break that rolls right back into a reprise of "Feelings." Without a hit single to drive its sales, Feelings was ignored by most listeners and never charted, which is a shame. 
by Bruce Eder
Tracks
Let's Live For Today 
1. Things I Should Have Said - 2:35
2. Wake Up, Wake Up - 2:54
3. Tip of My Tongue - 2:34
4. Is It Any Wonder - 2:50
5. Let's Live for Today (Julien, Michael, David Shapiro) - 2:51
6. Beatin' Round the Bush (Creed Bratton, Warren Entner) - 2:33
7. Out of Touch - 2:55
8. Won't You See Me (Warren Entner) - 3:04
9. Where Were You When I Needed You - 3:01
10.No Exit (Creed Bratton, Warren Entner, Rob Grill) - 2:35
11.This Precious Time - 3:10
12.House of Stone (Creed Bratton) - 2:32
Feelings 1968
13.Feelings (Rick Coonce, Warren Entner) - 3:00
14.Here's Where You Belong - 3:14
15.The Sins of a Family Fall on the Daughter (P.F. Sloan) - 3:02
16.Melody for You song review (P.F. Sloan) - 2:58
17.Who Will You Be Tomorrow (Warren Entner, Rob Grill) - 2:39
18.You Might as Well Go My Way (Richard Podolor) - 2:06
19.All Good Things Come to an End (Hammomd) - 2:47
20.Hot Bright Lights (Creed Bratton, Warren Entner, Rob Grill) - 5:04
21.Hey Friend (Warren Entner, Rob Grill) - 3:03
22.You and Love Are the Same (Warren Entner, Rob Grill) - 2:47
23.Dinner for Eight (Creed Bratton) - 2:59
24.Feelings (Reprise) (Rick Coonce, Warren Entner) - 0:40
Additional Tracks
25.Depressed Feeling (P.F. Sloan) - 2:34
26.Midnight Confessions - 2:46
27.Bella Linda - 2:53
All songs by Steve Barri, P.F. Sloan except where indicated

Grassroots
*Creed Bratton - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Rick Coonce - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Warren Entner - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Rob Grill - Bass, Vocals

1969 The Grass Roots - Leaving It All Behind (2010 edition)
1972-73  The Grass Roots - Move Along / Alotta Mileage

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Beau Brummels - Bradley's Barn (1969 us, brilliant country folk rock)



By the time Bradley’s Barn (Warner Brothers – 1968-) recording sessions commenced, the Beau Brummels had scaled down to the duo of founders Ron Elliott (guitarist) and Sal Valentino (vocalist). Nashville session pro contributions (guitarist Jerry Reed and drummer Kenneth A. Buttrey) tend to overshadow the strong batch of Elliott/Valentino/Durand originals written for this classic LP. Some 40 years after it’s release date, Bradley’s Barn is still considered one of the very best country-rock records. Instead of taking their cues from Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Hank Williams Sr. and The Louvin Brothers (see The Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers), the Brummels created their own unique fusion of rock and roots music that’s arguably more original and less reliant on the C&W masters.

Highlights run across the board, making it really tough to single out individual performances. Elliott’s guitar work is nimble, Lenny Waronker’s arrangements/production sparkle (Waronker was a real wild card and major influence during these important sessions) and Valentino’s vocals are rich and expressive. There is no pedal steel guitarist on these recordings but session men used dobros, banjos, keyboards, marimbas and any other instruments they could find in the studio to create a mystical, backwoods vibe. If you think Poco rocked hard, check out the awesome “Deep Water.” “Deep Water” along with “Love Can Fall A Long Way Down”, find the group locked in and at their best – these are country-rock classics.

 Other key tracks such as “Turn Around” and “Cherokee Girl” have a unique spiritual feel without losing their rock underpinnings. “Bless You California,” a Randy Newman original, recalls the roots/psych fusion of the Beau Brummels 1967 masterpiece, Triangle. Other great cuts: “The Loneliest Man In Town” is the Brummels most traditional country offering while “Jessica” and “Long Walking Down To Misery” progress into excellent songs.
by Jason Nardelli
Tracks
1. Turn Around (B. Durand, R. Elliott) - 3:03
2. An Added Attraction (Come And See Me) (S. Valentino) - 3:03
3. Deep Water (R. Elliott, S. Valentino) - 2:33
4. Long Walking Down To Misery (R. Elliott) - 3:16
5. Little Bird (R. Elliott) - 2:42
6. Cherokee Girl (B. Durand, R. Elliott) - 3:36
7. I'm A Sleeper (R. Elliott, S. Valentino) - 3:20
8. Loneliest Man In Town (R. Elliott) - 1:54
9. Love Can Fall A Long Way Down (B. Durand, R. Elliott) - 4:16
10.Jessica (R. Elliott, S. Valentino) - 2:22
11.Bless You California (Randy Newman) - 2:16

The Beau Brummels
*Sal Valentino - Vocals
*Ron Elliott - Guitar, Vocals
With
*David Briggs - Keyboards
*Kenny Buttrey - Drums
*Norbert Putnam - Bass
*Jerry Reed - Guitar

1964-66  Beau Brummels - Autumn Of Their Years
1965  Introducing The Beau Brummels (Sundazed edition)
1966  Beau Brummels' 66 (Japan edition)
1967  Triangle
1975  Beau Brummels
Related Act
1970  Ron Elliott - The Candlestickmaker

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Friday, June 20, 2014

The Beau Brummels - Triangle (1967 us, fascinating folkish psychedelia)



The Beau Brummels hit it big in the early 60s with their hits “Laugh Laugh” and “Just A Little” which were produced by Sly of the Family Stone. As English as they tried to appear, they were an American rock band hailing from San Fransisco.

I wholeheartedly recommend that you check out their early material, especially a record called From The Vaults, but it’s their adventurous and refreshing 1967 Triangle that steals the show. Sal Valentino is the voice of the Brummels, a vox of raw power and vibrato, certainly a highly unique voice that matches an almost unclassifiable and surprising album. Triangle has everything: it’s a tightly produced country record that is rooted in rock; it’s straight and folky and underlined by psychedelic imagery.

The production always drew me in on these records. By records, I mean, if you like this one, you’re in luck because there’s also Bradley’s Barn, a sequel of sorts to Triangle that was recorded in Nashville with some exceptional picking and production. Sometimes modern music can sound over produced – Bradley’s Barn and Triangle are like that, but in an inviting, interesting way, rather than a glossy, manufactured way.

Merle Travis’ “Nine Pound Hammer” is masterfully covered on this record, the most inventive version I’ve heard and one that always catches bluegrass audiences by surprise. Songs like the excellent “Magic Hollow,” “The Wolf of Velvet Fortune,” and “Painter of Women” are songs you’ll never hear anywhere near a record deemed “country.” Other’s, like Randy Newman’s “Old Kentucky Home” and “Are You Happy?” are straight up good timers.

Pick this one up, it may take a little getting used to, but it’s well worth it. The Beau Brummels are a seriously underrated treasure. Note to Beau Brummel fans: you’ll be wanting this.
by Brendan McGrath
Tracks
1. Are You Happy? (Bob Durand, Ron Elliott) - 2:16
2. Only Dreaming Now (R. Elliott, Sal Valentino) - 2:04
3. Painter of Women (B. Durand, R. Elliott) - 2:49
4. The Keeper of Time (B. Durand, R. Elliott) - 2:08
5. It Won't Get Better (R. Elliott, S. Valentino) - 2:00
6. Nine Pound Hammer (Merle Travis) - 3:16
7. Magic Hollow (R. Elliott, S. Valentino) - 2:51
8. And I've Seen Her (B. Durand, R. Elliott) - 1:57
9. Triangle (R. Elliott, S. Valentino) - 2:15
10.The Wolf of Velvet Fortune (R. Elliott, S. Valentino) - 4:49
11.Old Kentucky Home (Randy Newman) - 2:04

The Beau Brummels
*Ron Elliott – Guitar, Vocals
*Ron Meagher – Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*Sal Valentino – Vocals
Additional Musicians  
*Van Dyke Parks – Harpsichord, Keyboards
*Carol Kaye – Bass
*James Burton – Guitar
*Donnie Lanier – Guitar
*Jim Gordon - Drums
*The Blossoms – Backing Vocals
*Gene Garf – Accordion
*Lou Klass – Violin
*Shari Zippert – Violin
*David Duke – French Horn
*George Hyde – French Horn
*Gale Robinson – French Horn
*Jesse Ehrlich – Cello
*Raymond Kelley – Cello
*Dick Hyde – Trombone

1964-66  Beau Brummels - Autumn Of Their Years
1965  Introducing The Beau Brummels (Sundazed edition)
1966  Beau Brummels' 66 (Japan edition)
1975  Beau Brummels
Related Act
1970  Ron Elliott - The Candlestickmaker

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Foggy - Patchwork Album (1976 uk, delicious acoustic folk, 2014 korean remaster)



In 1974 Danny Clarke teamed up with Liverpulian Rob Jones and formed Foggy and continued in dew-O vein- doing TV concerts but in a more international genre-with wider experiences to inspire the songwriting and making records for the independant labels,which were developing following the monopoly of the 3 major record companies termination. In 1980 Danny and Rob were main line guest artists on the prestigious Cambridge Folk Festival -appearing alongside such luminaries as; Sonny Terry & Browny Mcgee -Don Mclean-Ramblin Jack Elliott-Lonnie Donegan-Bob Gibson-Richard Thompson and more..around this period, Danny was offered an art exhibition and invitation to do his one man show 'Watercolour words & Music' which he continues to perform today-always viewing the arts as being interelative he continues to write songs - poetry and create paintings.
Tracks
1. Eastbound Train (Mateer) - 2:55
2. Blind Beggar Song (Leitch) - 2:07
3. No Time To Stay Around (Clarke, Jones) - 2:40
4. First Love Song (Clarke) - 3:10
5. The Black Rose (Traditional) - 2:23
6. Ballad Of Richard Nixon (Clarke) - 3:19
7. Wait Till The Sun Shines Nellie (Von Tilzer, Stirling) - 1:05
8. The Last Minstrel Show (Trickett) - 4:52
9. Bells Of Rymney (Davies, Seeger) - 3:13
10.When We Were Good (Paxton) - 2:42
11.The Morning Lies Heavy (Taylor) - 3:01
12.Glory Days (Clarke) - 3:14
13.Givin' It Willie (Jones) - 2:23
14.The Booze, The Bible And The Gun (Jones) - 2:37
15.Woy-Ya-Ya (Osibisa) - 2:02

Foggy
*Daniel Clarke – Vocals, Acoustic, 12String Guitars
*Rob Jones – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin
*Mike Ryal - Bass, Furkel-Box

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Warhorse - Warhorse (1970 uk, excellent heavy prog rock, 2008 japan remaster and expanded)



in November 1970, a new album came along that you just knew was destined to fulfill every last vertiginous criteria for which Vertigo was renowned. It was by Warhorse, and boy, it was heavy! The fun faded in on neoclassical Hammond organ, a dark lilt that sounded as though it was recorded from an immense distance - so immense that when the rest of the band burst in, just under a minute into the melody, even the phonograph needle jumped in shock... The connection to the Purple family tree remains most people's immediate introduction to Warhorse today...contemporary reviews would most commonly compare Warhorse to labelmates Black Sabbath. In fact modern ears will discern more resemblance to (Nick) Simper's old buddies in Deep Purple...almost everything that Purple would accomplish on 1971's Fireball and beyond was already in place in 1970, courtesy of Warhorse... 
by Dave Thompson, "Goldmine" 26.2.99 
Tracks
1. Vulture Blood - 6:12
2. No Chance - 6:22
3. Burning - 6:17
4. St.Louis (George Young, Harry Vanda) - 3:50
5. Ritual - 4:54
6. Solitude - 8:48
7. Woman Of The Devil - 7:16
8. Miss Jane - 3:38
9. Ritual (Live) - 5:08
10.Solitude (Live) - 4:54
11.Woman Of The Devil (Live) - 6:47
12.Burning (Live) - 6:10
All songs by Warhorse except where stated

Warhorse
*Ashley Holt - Vocals
*Ged Peck - Guitar
*Mac Poole - Drums
*Nick Simper - Bass
*Frank Wilson - Keyboards

1972  Warhorse - Red Sea (2010 remaster with bonus tracks)

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sandrose - Sandrose (1972 france, elegant prog rock with gorgeous female vocals, 2007 japan remaster)



One week in Studio Davout was all it took for Sandrose to record an album that has long been considered one of the most important to emerge from France. After a failed stint as Eden Rose, the various members of that ensemble, led by guitarist extraordinaire Jean-Pierre Alarcen, decided to try a new approach. 

Their first move was to add a singer. Alarcen had been struck by the vocal timbre of Rose Podwojny (later to become foxy pop sensation Rose Laurens) on a William Sheller demo, and roped her into the band, which was newly dubbed Sandrose. They started rehearsals, and rapidly built a repertoire, mainly Alarcen compositions. He was strongly influenced by both classical symphonic music and rock and roll; his goal was to combine both musical styles, which he finally achieved in several new compositions. The resulting album is something special. 

On their sole release (Polydor, 1972), Sandrose play a superb mellow proto-progressive rock based on the continuous floating sounds of the mellotron, incisive guitar interventions by Alarcen (whose sublime playing explodes during superbly constructed instrumental passages), and singer Rose Podwojny’s powerful, clear voice. On songs like ‘Vision’ and ‘Never Good at Saying Goodbye,’ Podwojny’s voice expresses such a maturity and sensitivity that simply listening to this song is enough to have goose-bumps and tears in your eyes. But it’s the eleven minute instrumental ‘Underground Session’ that is the centerpiece of the album, with Alarcen giving free rein to his creativity; it’s not just a highlight of the album, but one of the great instrumental rock tracks of all time. I’m serious. 

As for singing in English, Alarcen explained at the time: “The spirit of our music is closer to the Anglo-Saxon spirit, it is perfectly normal that we have the words in that language.” Elegant 16-page booklet reproduces all original LP art; liner-notes tell the band’s history, and include rare photos, discography, and translations of several contemporary articles. If you love groups like Earth & Fire, Julian’s Treatment/Julian Jay Savarin, Goliath, or Analogy, (and who doesn’t?), then Sandrose is an obvious choice for you.
Tracks
1. Vision (B. Christopher, J.P. Alarcen) - 5:22
2. Never Good At Sayin' Good-Bye (B. Christopher, H. Garella) - 3:05
3. Underground Session (Chorea) (J.P. Alarcen) - 11:05
4. Old Dom Is Dead (C. Watson, C. Puterflam, J.P. Alarcen) - 4:38
5. To Take Him Away (B. Christopher, J.P. Alarcen) - 7:02
6. Summer Is Yonder (B. Christopher, J. Cockenpot, J.P. Alarcen) - 4:46
7. Metakara (H. Garella) - 3:22
8. Fraulein Kommen Sie Schlaffen Mit Mir (H. Garella) - 0:32

Sandrose
*Rose Podwojny - Vocals
*Jean-Pierre Alarcen - Guitar
*Christian Clairefond - Bass
*Henri Garella - Organ, Mellotron
*Michel Jullien - Drums

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Happy And Artie Traum - Double Back (1971 us, wonderful country folk rock, korean remaster)



The Traums were of mixed bloodlines. On one side their grandparents were German Jews, while their other grandparents were of English and Dutch stock. Both sets of grandparents had arrived in the US as children. Artie was born in New York City and raised in a fairly middle-class neighbourhood in the Bronx. His brother, Happy, five years older, passed on to him his musical discoveries. In 1954, Happy attended a Pete Seeger concert and was drawn into the folk music web; Artie then joined him to become part of a clique of folkies that gravitated from the outer boroughs into Manhattan. The focal points were Washington Square and Greenwich Village, the clubs heaving with new discoveries and new friendships.

Both brothers took up the folk guitar, advancing to blues, listening to whatever they could. Artie in, particular, was moved by the music of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Jim Hall and the Modern Jazz Quartet, though he would not give full rein to his jazz interests until 1994 with the album Letters from Joubee, followed by The Last Romantic (2001) and Acoustic Jazz Guitar (2004).

Artie gravitated from session work to recording, making his debut with the True Endeavor Jug Band in 1963. He was also performing with the blues singer Judy Roderick, and he founded, with his brother, a rock group sometimes called Bear, sometimes the Children of Paradise. "It was very loud," Happy told Swing 51 magazine, "and we dressed up in polka-dot shirts, flower ties ..." Their historic footnote status was assured when the band, featuring Eric Kaz, Steve Soles (Happy's replacement) and Artie, provided the music for the movie Greetings (1968). Directed by Brian De Palma, who went on to make films such as The Bonfire of the Vanities and Mission: Impossible, it marked the official screen debut of Robert De Niro.

Woodstock, about 100 miles from New York, and long a stamping ground for artists, artisans and musicians, became home for Dylan, the Band, Van Morrison and Janis Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band in the late 1960s. Happy had first played a small cafe there in the early 1960s, and moved there in 1967. Artie followed soon after as part of the exodus from the city and house-sat one of Dylan's two sizeable residences as a sideline. With the brothers in the same general locality, they joined forces increasingly from 1968. Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman, took them on and they signed to Capitol, touring as support for Grossman's acts.

Happy, who had been editing Sing Out! magazine, had to resign in 1970 as the brothers' career took off on the back of their LPs Happy and Artie Traum (1969) and Double-Back (1971). Most satisfying was their Hard Times in The Country (1975) album for Rounder. Its liner notes were by Allen Ginsberg ("tricky Guitars, great Artie fingers"), another member of the circle.

During the early 1970s the brothers hosted a series of "and friends" concerts at the Woodstock Playhouse. This led to the formation of the Woodstock Mountains Revue, a loose collective including Pat Alger, Eric Andersen, Paul Butterfield, John Herald, Maria Muldaur and John Sebastian, formerly of the Lovin' Spoonful. Their finest hour came with their second album, More Music from Mud Acres (1977), which featured two defining Artie Traum compositions, Barbed Wire and Cold Front. They played at the 1979 Cambridge folk festival and toured Britain to great acclaim.

Artie is survived by Beverly, his wife of 28 years, and his brother. Arthur Roy Traum, guitarist, singer-songwriter and musical educationist, born April 3 1943; died July 20 2008
by Ken Hunt
Tracks
1. Scavengers (Artie Traum, S. Appleman) - 4:22
2. Confession (Tony Brown) - 2:24
3. Jacksboro (Artie Traum) - 3:52
4. The Ferryman (Happy Traum) - 3:19
5. The Seagull (Artie Traum) - 4:41
6. Handful Of Love (Artie Traum) - 2:40
7. Cross Examinator (Artie Traum) - 3:44
8. Mister Movie Man (W. Meshel, P. Barr) - 2:40
9. Brother Thomas (Happy Traum) - 4:09
10.Love Song To A Girl In An Old Photograph (Happy Traum) - 3:08

Pesronnel
*Happy Traum - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Melodica
*Artie Traum - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Amos Garrett - Slide Guitar
*Eric Kaz - Piano, Harmonica
*Bill Keith - Pedal Steel
*Billy Mundi - Drums, Percussion
*Brad Campbell - Bass
*Clark Pierson - Drums
*Roy Markowitz - Drums
*Weldon Myrick - Pedal Steel
*Billy Sanford - Electric Guitar
*Buddy Spicher - Fiddle, Cello, Violins
*Andy McMahon - Piano, Organ
*Tim Drummond - Bass
*Jerry Carrigan - Drums
*Tracy Nelson - Vocal

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Yellow Hand - Yellow Hand (1969 us, remarkable west coast folk psych)



For every ten albums I pick up, the vast majority prove to be disappointing, or even worse.  That makes an album like "Yellow Hand" an unexpected surprise.  Mind you, it's not a major classic that will change your life, but these guys exhibit good taste in their covers (lots of Stephen Stills and Neil Young) and they play with more enthusiasm than most of the competition.

Produced by Dallas Smith, the album was produced in L.A.'s Golden West Studios.  At least one well known reference draws a comparison to a lost Buffalo Springfield album.  That's actually not a bad description, though I'd say the album sounds more like Poco had Paul Cotton and Rusty Young decided they wanted to rock out, rather than pursue country-rock bliss.  There are also CS&N echoes (check out the vocals on Stills 'Neighbor Don't You Worry').  

As mentioned, the covers are all pretty good - two Neil Young efforts (their covers of 'Down To the Wire' and 'Sell Out' are two of the album highlights) and four previously unreleased (?) Stephen Stills songs.  I don't know enough about the Springfield to say this for sure, but I suspect the Young-Stills songs were all culled from non-released demos.  Bolstered by some nice harmony vocals and Pat Flynn's excellent lead guitar (which actually recalls Stills' own work), and you have a set that's worth a couple of spins.
Tracks
1. Down To The Wire (Neil Young) - 4:17
2. Sell Out (Neil Young) - 3:39
3. Home (Jerry Tawney) - 3:23
4. Neighbor Don't You Worry (Stephen Stills) - 2:14
5. We'll See (Stephen Stills) - 2:56
6. Come On (Stephen Stills) - 2:41
7. God Knows I Love You  (Delaney Bramlett, Mac Davis) - 2:58
8. My World Needs You (Jerry Tawney) - 3:12
9. Hello I've Returned (Stephen Stills) - 3:02
10.Freedom Express (Jerry Tawney) - 2:50

Yellow Hand
*Mickey Armstrong - Bass, Vocals
*Joe Campese - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Pat Flynn - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Jerry Tawney - Vocals, Percussion
*Oscar Tessier - Drums, Percussion
*Kenny Trujillo - Keyboards

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Autumn - Comes...Autumn (1970-72 aussie, marvelous smooth rock with prog shades, 2010 digi pack remaster)



Like their contemporaries The Executives, The Affair, New Dream and Zoot, Sydney band Autumn has been unfairly labelled as a lightweight pop band, mainly on the basis of their early recordings. They've also been tagged as 'one-hit wonders', although in fact they had four hits. Fronted by grievously underrated lead vocalist Tony Romeril, Autumn was a superb band with a strong following in their home city of Sydney, and they could tackle pop, country-rock and heavy/progressive rock with equal ease.

Like their close contemporaries The Flying Circus, Autumn formed at a time when rapid and significant changes were taking place in the music scene and the formerly homogeneous "pop" field was diversifying into several distinct genres. The trends that were drawing 'pop' musicians towards progressive music, "heavy rock" and country rock was counterbalanced by the popularity and commercial success of so-called "bubblegum" pop. This created to a situation where, as Glennn A. Baker has observed, being identified as a pop band "drew automatic derision and critical dismissal".

Autumn's chart success with straight-ahead pop material has obscured the fact that this was a highly competent group, with tastes and abilities which went well beyond the confines of the three-minute formula pop single. Their true talents were not really showcased on record until their last few recordings for the Warner label) and as Glennn Baker notes "... nobody, save those who caught them live, came to realise what a sturdy, musically adept and diverse unit they were." 

In April 1971 guitarist Allan Marshall (ex Hot Cottage) replaced Greg Jacques and soon after this, Autumn joined Tamam Shud and Band of Light as one of the first batch of local acts to be signed by Warner Music (WEA), the newly established Australian subsidiary of the famous American record company. Their first Warner single, the country-styled "Falling" (b/w "Miracles" (May 1971) became their fourth hit, reaching #10 in Sydney. To promote it, Autumn made a successful tour to Melbourne, where they had previously had difficulty getting airplay, since (as noted above) both their earlier hits had been covered by Melbourne bands. Their next single, the progressively-styled "Goblin's Gamble" / "Lady Anne" (July) and their last Warners single "Just Couldn't Believe It"/ "Bye Bye to You" (September) both failed to chart, although they remained a popular live draw.

During the second half of 1971 Autumn released an EP A Patch Of Autumn followed by their hugely underrated second album Comes Autumn. Although it is dismissed by Vernon Joyson as "unremarkable", it in fact contains some oustanding material. As Aussie music archivist "MidozTouch" has noted, Autumn's second album is so strikingly different in style and sound from their first LP that one could be forgiven for thinking they were recorded by two different groups. The included re-recordings of some of their Chart material, including Allan Marshall's riff-tastic psych-prog nugget "Get It Down" (one of several fine tracks he contributed), a re-recorded version of "Lady Anne", and the country-styled hits "Falling" and "Miracles". This excellent LP, which has never been reissued, is one of the genuine lost treasures of early 70s Australian rock. Like all the early '70s Australian Warner recordings, the original LP is now quite rare and has become a sought-after collector's item.

Autumn added a new keyboard player and vocalist Charlie Wright (ex-Harry Young and Sabbath), at the end of the year but they broke up during an ill-fated trip to the UK in early 1972, splitting within just six weeks of their arrival. McMurray, Beatson and Marshall formed Mecca, which moved to Canada and after that group split they joined Canadian band Wireless. That group issued three Albums of bluesy hard rock, Wireless (1976), Positively Human, Relatively Sane (1979) and No Static (1980) on the Anthem label. Tony Romeril worked in Italy for some time, recording under the pseudonym Andy Foxx. Romeril and Graham re-formed Autumn briefly in Sydney during 1976, with a new line-up filled out by Dave Hallard (guitar), James Caulfield (keyboards) and Con Westaberg (drums), but this new version, which played only new material and none of the Autumn songs, quickly fizzled out.
Tracks
1. Falling (Glenn Beatson) - 3:22
2. Get It Down (Allan Marshall) - 3:57
3. It's Just A Thought (Allan Marshall) - 3:17
4. Miracles (Richard Graham) - 2:28
5. Lady Anne (Steve McMurray) - 3:13
6. Gomblin's Gamble (Allan Marshall) - 3:15
7. Sad Song  (Richard Graham) - 3:14
8. Lady Of Magic (Allan Marshall) - 3:51
9. I Want Her (Glenn Beatson) - 2:12
10.Kill My World (Allan Marshall) - 7:24
11.Just Couldn't Believe It (Allan Marshall) - 3:18
12.Bye Bye To You (Allan Marshall) - 3:37
13.Day Tripper (J. Lennon, P. McCartney) - 2:10
14.Don't Watch Me (Rick Graham) - 3:22
15.Drifting Far Behind (Rick Graham) - 2:46
Bonus Tracks 11-15

Autumn
*Tony Romeril - Vocals
*Glenn Beatson - Drums
*Rick Graham - Bass
*Steve McMurray - Guitar
*Greg Jacques - Organ (Tracks 13-15)
*Allan Marshall - Guitar (Tracks 1-12)

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The Zoo - Presents Chocolate Moose (1968 us, exciting blend of garage blues and psych)



Under the tutelage of Mike Cobb, 1968 found the band signed to Cobb's own Sunburst label. A single "Subset Strip" b/w "One Night Man" (catalog number )did little commercially, but attracted the attention of Bell Records which subsequently agreed to finance an LP. Produced by Cobb (who also contributed several songs), 1968's "The Zoo Presents Chocolate Moose" served as an interesting debut. 

With all five members contributing material, the set was musically pretty varied. Straddling genres,'Chocolate Moose' offered up a distinctive garage influence; 'Get Some Beads' and 'From a Camel's Hump' found the band taking a stab at lightweight psych, while 'Soul Drippin's' showcased a penchant for blue-eyed soul . While you couldn't really consider them artistic innovators, the collection was still enjoyable andl worth hearing. The collection sold poorly and the band subsequently calling it quits. 
Tracks
1. Chocolate Moose (M. Carfagna, M. Flicker, T. Gottlieb, H. Leese, I. Welsley) - 2:42
2. Written On the Wind (Ed Cobb)- 2:21
3. I've Been Waiting Too Long (Mike Flicker, Howard Leese) - 2:23
4. Soul Drippin's (Dick Monda) - 1:56
5. Get Some Beads (Joey Levine, M. Bellack, E. Kahn) - 2:02
6. Ain't Nobody (Carolyn Franklin) - 2:11
7. Try Me (Joey Levine) - 2:25
8. Love Machine (J. Griffin, M. Gordon) - 2:14
9. Have You Been Sleepin' (Mike Flicker, Howard Leese) - 2:31
10.From a Camel's Hump (Mike Flicker, Howard Leese) - 3:00

The Zoo
*Murphy Carfagna - Rhythm Guitar
*Mike Flicker - Drums, Percussion
*Terry Gottlieb - Bass
*Howard Leese - Lead Guitar
*Ira Welsley - Vocals

Related Act
1969  Mad Dog - Dawn Of The Seventh Sun

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Mad Dog - Dawn Of The Seventh Sun (1969 us, stunning garage psych blues rock)



Monstrous and unreleased at the time heavy/psychedelic/west coast  artifact of the highest order. This is one of the five best ever promo only releases to emerge from California. Only released in a quantity of a couple of copies to get a major record deal that never materialized. Three of the songs were used in a low-budget biker flick called "Black Angels". The original demo LP had only a plain black label with no kinds of credits. 
The band is related with “The Zoo” of "Presents Chocolate Moose" fame. 

The original producer said that a demo only LP was released by “The Zoo” after the “Chocolate Moose” album. The slightly different line-up had the name “Joyful Noise” (you can see a scan of the acetate in Hans Pokora’s 4001 record collector’s dream) but at this time they were looking for a tougher name to fit to the music and they found “Mad Dog”. Under this name a couple of test pressings were done. The album was amazing remastering straight from the mastertapes.
Tracks
1. Suite For Two Guitars (Howard M. Leese) - 1:45
2. Military Disgust (H. M. Leese, M. Cavett, T. Gottlieb) - 4:57
3. Ala Ala (H. M. Leese, T. Gottlieb) - 2:36
4. Fort Huachuca Blues (M. Cavett, G. Witkosky) - 4:41
5. Everything's Alright (H. M. Leese, M. Cavett, T. Gottlieb) - 2:38
6. Dawn Of The Seventh Sun (H. M. Leese,  T. Gottlieb) - 6:51
7. The Fast Song (M. Cavett, H. M. Leese,  T. Gottlieb) - 3:27
8. When It Touches You (H. M. Leese,  T. Gottlieb) - 3:37
9. Soulfull Bowlfull (H. M. Leese, T. Gottlieb, M. Cavett) - 4:51
10.Free Fall (M. Cavett, H. M. Leese) - 6:15

Mad Dog
*Howard M. Leese - Lead Guitar,  Vocals
*Terry Gottlieb - Bass,  Vocals
*Vincent "Murphy" Carfagna - Rhythm Guitar
*Steve Goldstein - Drums, Percussion
*Gary Witkosky - Lead Vocals,  Vocals, Tenor Saxophone, Flute

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Bobby Jameson - Color Him In (1967 us, fabulous beat psychedelia, fallout issue)



Robert Parker Jameson is one of the most interesting also-rans of the 1960s LA rock scene. Born in Tucson, Arizona, he recorded his debut single, I Wanna Love You, in early 1964 for the tiny Talamo label, which had him pegged as a teen idol. When it became a local hit, he was invited to appear on American Bandstand, opened gigs for the Beach Boys and was hyped as ‘the world’s next phenomenon’ and ‘the star of this century’ – but its follow-ups Okey Fanokey Baby and All Alone flopped. His hip image had, however, caught the eye of Andrew Loog Oldham, and he travelled to London in 1964 (following in the footsteps of fellow Hollywood hipster Kim Fowley) to make another 45. All I Want Is My Baby was penned by Oldham and Keith Richards (with a rare Jagger / Richards B-side, Each and Every Day of the Year) and appeared on Decca, but also bombed, despite considerable UK music press coverage (mainly centring on his curious habit of wearing one glove).

When he returned to the States he made yet another unsuccessful 45 (I Wanna Know), then became involved with a producer named Marshall Lieb and a dodgy label named Mira, which released his debut album, the proto-acid folk Songs Of Protest & Anti Protest on its Surrey Records imprint in late 1965. There was a catch, though – the LP had to be issued under the name of Chris Lucey (allegedly because the sleeves had already been printed for an LP by another artist, though it may equally have been to evade contractual obligations of Jameson’s). A haunting collection of melodic folk-pop, it did not sell any better than his earlier 45s (though, for unknown reasons, it appeared in England on the budget Joy label as Too Many Mornings, and under Jameson’s real name, in 1970). Around this time Jameson earned himself a reputation for leading protest marches on the Sunset Strip, and became an enthusiastic consumer of hallucinogens, which gradually undermined his mental health.

After two 1966 45s (Reconsider Baby and Gotta Find My Roogalator, both of which appeared on Pat Boone’s Penthouse label, the latter with an arrangement by Frank Zappa), Jameson signed to Steve Clark’s fabled ‘Our Productions’ roster, and was paired with up-and-coming producer-arranger Curt Boettcher and his sometime partner Jim Bell for 1967’s Color Him In. A sunny collection of ballads boasting Boettcher’s typically complex vocal arrangements, it was licensed to Verve and issued in July simultaneously to Zappa’s Absolutely Free and Janis Ian’s debut – but fared significantly less well than either, despite a further blaze of hype. This may have been because (as Boettcher told ZigZag magazine in December 1974) “the mix was atrocious”. Two singles were extracted (New Age / Places, Times and the People and Right By My Side / Jamie), but neither sold, and before long Jameson was on the move again.

At the end of 1967 he appeared in Robert Carl Cohen’s cult documentary Mondo Hollywood, in which he is seen recording his powerful anti-war song Vietnam (included here as a bonus track), but the hype was wearing thin, and his only other recording to see the light of day was 1969’s hit-and-miss LP Working! (on GRT). His subsequent story is a sad one of unfulfilled promise, frustrated musical endeavours and suicide attempts. Having abandoned LA, he was last heard of in 2001, living with his mother in a California trailer park and earning money from odd jobs. While his career is in many ways a classic music business cautionary tale, it is perhaps preferable to remember him as a genuine original in an industry that has become all too anodyne. 
CD Liner-Notes
Tracks
1. Jamie - 3:12
2. Know Yourself - 3:21
3. Windows and Doors - 2:31
4. Right By My Side - 2:24
5. Who’s Putting Who On? - 2:28
6. The New Age - 2:18
7. Jenny - 2:47
8. Do You Believe In Yesterday? - 2:25
9. I Love You More Than You Know - 2:31
10.See Dawn - 3:02
11.Candy Colored Dragon - 2:51
12.Places, Times And The People - 2:31
13.Vietnam (Bonus track) - 2:57
All songs written by Robert Parker Jameson

*Bobby Jameson - Vocals

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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Thundertree - Thundertree (1970 us, magnificent groovy psych prog rock, Radioactive issue)



I've always been amazed at how many great (and often unknown) bands spring from Minnesota. Must have something to do with the long, cold winters that force folks into indoor activities ... That said, this is an album where the isolated reviews I'd read really didn't say much of note - the effort was described as likeable, but extremely rare. Not much to go on ...

In terms of biographical information I know very little about this outfit.  Drummer Rick LiaBraaten and keyboardist John Meisen had been members of the St.Paul-based The Good Idea (who survived long enough to record one obscure 1968 single - 'Inside, Outside' b/w 'Patterns In Life' (Good Idea catalog number 2889).  When the band called it quits in 1969, LiaBratten and Meisen formed The Final Assembly with guitarist Bill Halliquist.  The trio began reworking some Good Idea material, with one of their demos catching the attention of Roulette Records which promptly signed them to a recording contract.  The trio promptly added bass player Terry Tilley and vocalist Dervin Wallin to the line up.  I also know the album was recorded at UA Studios in Minneapolis, Minnesota and was produced by Meisen. 

Musically 1970's "Thundertree" was pretty impressive. Featuring all original material (several tracks co-written by former Good Idea singer Bob Blank), tracks such as 'Head Embers', 'Summertime Children' and 'In the Morning' (the latter including a great fuzz guitar solo), offered up an attractive mix of psych and more rock oriented moves. Admittedly it wasn't exactly an earth shattering set and Wallin wasn't any great shakes as lead singer, but his occasionally screechy voice was well suited to the band's guitar and keyboard propelled repertoire. 

It's also one of those records that grows on you with each spin.  Highlights included 'Dusty Road' (always liked the stabbing organ and church chorus) and the side long suite '1225' which powered by Hallquist's solo, started out like a ton of bricks before eventually settling down into an interesting concept piece with a religious theme (look at the title as a date 12/25). (By the way, it is a pretty rare LP. I've seen two copies in 20 years.)
Tracks
1. Head Embers  (Thundertree, John Meisen) - 3:29
2. At the Top of the Stairs  (Thundertree, John Meisen) - 3:24
3. Summertime Children  (John Meisen) - 4:18
4. In the Morning  (Thundertree, John Meisen) - 2:45
5. Dusty Road  (Thundertree, John Meisen) - 4:10
6. 1225 Alone I Am  (John Meisen, Bob Blank) - 2:52
...i. Softly  (John Meisen, Bob Blank) - 3:31
...ii. I Travel Alone  (John Meisen, Bob Blank) - 3:23
...iii. Not Well Liked  (John Meisen, Bob Blank) - 1:52
...iv. With a Tailored Image  (John Meisen, Bob Blank) - 1:59
...v. The Sun Is Shinin' for Me  (John Meisen, Bob Blank) - 3:10

Personnel
*Bill Hallquist - Vocals, Guitar
*Rick Liabraaten - Drums
*John Meisen - Keyboards
*Terry Tilley - Bass
*Dervin Wallin - Vocals

Related Act
1972-73  Billy Hallquist - Persephone (2009 korean remaster)

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Glitterhouse - The Almost Complete Recordings (1966-74 us, beautiful mix of orchestrated psych, blue eyed soul and folk)



Glitterhouse was one of the most promising and ambitious psychedelic bands to come out of the New York area, a locale never really regarded as a spawning ground for great acts in that musical realm -- in fact, their failure to succeed only reinforces the New York area's hard-luck image in the psychedelic era, as opposed to the flourishing fields of psychedelic and psych-pop acts that were spawned in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The group originated in Great Neck, a distinctly upper-middle-class/upper-class enclave outside the New York City line, in Nassau County.

Mike Gayle was an African-American singer, guitarist, and composer raised in that environment, who had some serious music aspirations in 1965, when he met Hank Aberle (harmonica, guitar, violin) and Al Lax (vocals, bass), then members of a group called the Outsiders (no relation to the Cleveland band of that name), at a party. They ended up jamming together, liked what they heard, and formed an outfit called the Justice League, with Tommy Weiner on drums -- they initially rehearsed in the Greenwich Village apartment that Gayle shared with his roommate, then-aspiring photographer Bob Gruen. But their real base of operations was Great Neck, where all of their families came from and this afforded them lots of basement space in which to practice; it was also where the Justice League got most of their gigs. 

They were reasonably successful, and in 1966 -- with Gary Reems as their drummer -- they were signed to Epic Records, for which they cut their first single, "Rumpelstiltskin" b/w "Ode to an Unknown Girl"; strangely enough, that platter wasn't credited to the Justice League but, at the insistence of their manager, came out as the work of the "Pop Art" (it was 1966, after all, and they were trying to stay ahead of a musical wave that was breaking in all kinds of unexpected directions) -- a little later, they added keyboard player Moogy Klingman to the lineup, but not too long after that Gayle quit, and for the group's second record, in early 1967, they were called the "Dave Heenan Set," after their new lead singer. And then the group more or less disbanded, sort of -- what basically happened was that Aberle, Lax, Klingman, and Gayle got back together in the second half of the year, adding a friend of Klingman's, drummer Joel O'Brien -- late of a New York-based outfit called the Flying Machine -- to their lineup. And the Glitterhouse was born.

This group's sound, in keeping with the times and their name, did indeed glitter in bright, poppy psychedelic colors, interweaving equal elements of folk, pop, blues, soul, and jazz into a kind of spacy mix that was accessible yet deceptively complex. Based on the recorded evidence and accounts of the time, they were of a piece with the likes of both the Lovin' Spoonful and the Blues Project, and other hybrid bands, freely rewriting the book on composition and arrangements, and making a compelling sound in the process. In fact, they were going into some of the same experimental directions that the Rascals were headed in their progressive period, but without the same ponderous heaviness of the latter group's efforts; but they also had a lean, roots rock element to their sound, similar to the Band. 

Ideally, a group like that might have been tailor-made for a label like Elektra Records -- which was even based in New York, and had already started signing up outfits like Love and the Doors (and would soon be recording U.K. progressive bands like Methuselah and Renaissance) -- but somehow they never did get Elektra's attention, despite being based very close to home, and eliciting some interest from producer Paul A. Rothchild.

But their music was enough, coming out of a book publication party gig (arranged by Klingman's father) to attract the attention of Bob Crewe, the renowned East Coast producer, whose work had helped put the Four Seasons, after years of struggling, on the international map, and had done great things for Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels as well. He heard them at the party and approached them, and the result was a contract with Crewe as producer and manager. All five were placed on a salary ($100 a week each, which was decent money in 1968, for musicians in their late teens and early twenties still trying to achieve success), to keep them fed and housed, and essentially paid not to play in public, as Crewe worked out how he would record them and present them, as a fully formed band, when the moment was right. They had a room at his studio to rehearse in, enough pay to keep them all happy, and eventually not one, but two recording projects emanated from their efforts with Crewe.

The more visible of the two efforts was the soundtrack to the Roger Vadim-directed science fiction parody Barbarella, for which they sang on several tracks, but didn't play, leaving that to Crewe's select studio musicians. But amid the publicity surrounding the movie's star, Vadim's then wife Jane Fonda, in her various states of undress in the film, and the offbeat, Gallic tone of the resulting film, relatively little notice was paid to the music -- the soundtrack album never sold in the numbers anticipated, and languished in dollar bins and cut-out lots for many years after its release, and did the group singularly little good. The less visible result was Color Blind, the official Glitterhouse debut LP on Crewe's Dynovoice label, which was released and disappeared without a trace in 1968. The single "Tinkerbell's Mind" charted briefly in New York, but was otherwise similarly neglected.

The group's fortunes turned downward at this point, as Crewe canceled their salaries soon after and essentially cut them loose from his operation. They'd lost almost a year from their association with him, and felt they had little to show for it, apart from being a year older. Crewe had effectively kept them under wraps, so they'd hardly been seen or talked about until the abortive album and single release -- additionally, the album was really as much Crewe's sound as their own, reflecting his own re-arrangements of their music and sound in many instances often in what they regarded as predictable, already hackneyed takes on psychedelic sound; often done on the fly, in the middle of the sessions, there'd been little time to discuss, develop, or evolve his ideas into something of their own, and now -- because of the collapse of their deal -- this was the way their sound was represented on the only album to carry their name. 

But those considerations became academic, owing to another key issue threatening the group's future -- in the course of that year, Gayle became interested in pursuing other sounds, in different contexts, and the result was the breakup of the band. O'Brien rejoined James Taylor and passed through Jo Mama, through which he became part of Carole King's backing band, and spent some time as a session drummer before moving to Woodstock, and becoming an artist, struggling at various times with heroin addiction before succumbing to liver cancer in 2007. Lax left the music business, while Aberle became a producer, and Klingman, after entering the orbit of Todd Rundgren, went on to a decades-long career in music, and even reunited most of the Glitterhouse members for a short time in 1974. And a 2002 reunion of the original members yielded a remake of their album and their Barbarella sides, all of them sounding far better and a good deal fresher than such re-enactments normally yield.
by Bruce Eder
Tracks
1. Tinkerbell's Mind - 4:46
2. Princess Of The Gingerland - 4:23
3. Sassafrass And Cinnamon - 4:12
4. Child Of Darkness - 4:23
5. I Lost Me A Friend - 4:17
6. Times Are Getting Hard - 3:50
7. Where Have You Been Hiding? - 2:53
8. Hey Woman - 4:01
9. Happy To Have You Here Again - 3:33
10.Barbarella (Bob Crewe, Charles Fox) - 2:46
11.Love Drags Me Down (Bob Crewe, Charles Fox) - 3:46
12.I Love All The Love In You (Bob Crewe, Charles Fox) - 3:54
13.Rumpelstiltskin (P. Cowap) - 2:28
14.Ode To An Unknown Girl - 2:07
15.Alice In Wonderland - 2:35
16.New York Blues - 3:40
17.Born To Blues.2:13
18.It's Going To Take Some Time - 1:51
19.Grandma, Why Do You Live In Harlem? - 4:10
20.Going Home - 5:00
21.Rainbow Child - 3:30
22.For Ann, Liz And Harvee - 3:11
All compositions by Mike Gayle except where noted

The Glitterhouse
*Mike Gayle - Lead Guitar, Lead Vocals,
*Hank Aberle - Harmony Vocals, Guitar, Violin
*Al Lax - Hi Harmonies,  Bass,
*Moogy Klingman - Keyboards, Vocals
*Joel "Bishop" O'Brien – Drums, Vocals

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