Sunday, August 30, 2015

Larry Murray - Sweet Country Suite (1970 us, wonderful country soft rock)



Larry Murray was born in Gram Parsons’ hometown of Waycross, Georgia, but moved to Los Angeles, California in the early 60s.There he co-owned the Blue Guitar, a guitar store which also served as an important meeting place for folk musicians and fans. Before long he’d formed a bluegrass group named the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers, with future Byrd Chris Hillman and future Burrito Brother and Eagle Bernie Leadon. When that folded in 1964, Murray and Hillman joined the Green Grass Group, a folk collective in the style of the New Christy Minstrels. By 1966, however, Murray’s interests had shifted towards the burgeoning folk-rock movement, and he formed Hearts and Flowers with Dave Dawson and Rick Cunha.

Though they released two classy collections of pioneering country rock (1967’s Now Is The Time For… and the following year’s Of Horses, Kids & Forgotten Women, on which Cunha was replaced by Bernie Leadon) under the supervision of producer Nik Venet (also responsible for work by the Beach Boys, the Stone Poneys, Fred Neil and many others), good reviews didn’t translate into the deserved sales. By the decade’s end, the group’s members had scattered to the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Eagles, and the backing bands of Linda Rondstadt and Emmylou Harris, and have only received their due acclaim in recent years. 


Murray went on to produce sessions by artists including Elektra folk duo Kathy and Carol, Mary McCaslin and others before signing to Verve and recording this superbly mellow collection of acid-tinged country rock. Featuring stellar support from cult singer-songwriter J.D. Souther, pedal steel legend Buddy Emmons, Gib Guilbeau (and his band, Swampwater, also produced by Murray) and members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, it’s an expertly-played mixture of earthy originals (Headed For The Country, All I Need Is A Friend) and judiciously-chosen covers (Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s Country Comfort, Paul Parrish’s When I See Jamie (Jaynie) and Souther’s classic Out To Sea). 

When it failed to sell, however, Murray focused his energy on production work instead, as well as collaborating with Johnny Cash on a variety of projects. It is to be hoped that this first full CD release of Sweet Country Suite will help to consolidate his reputation as both a country-rock pioneer and a fine singer-songwriter in his own right.
CD Liner-Notes
Tracks
1. Headed For The Country (Murray) - 3:44
2. Big Bayou (Guilbeau) - 2:21
3. Country Comfort (John, Taupin) - 4:07
4. Back To The Good Earth (Murray) - 2:22
5. Sweet Country Suite (Murray) - 3:05
6. Dakota (Murray) - 2:37
7. Bugler (Murray) - 3:09
8. When I See Jamie (Jaynie) (Parrish) - 3:02
9. Out To Sea (Souther) - 5:33
10.Nora’s Boy (Murray) - 4:40
11.All I Need Is A Friend (Murray) - 3:57

Musicians
*Larry Murray - Guitar, Vocals
*Gib Guilbeau - Fiddle, Vocals
*John Beland - Guitar, Vocals
*Buddy Emmons - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Thad Maxwell - Vocals
*Stan Pratt - Vocals
*Stephens Lafever - Bass
*Larry Brown - Drums, Piano
*John David Souther - Drums, Guitar
*Paul Parrish - Guitar, Piano
*Dick Rosmini - Guitar
*Jimmy Fadden - Harmonica
*John McEuen - Mandolin
*Bud Shank - Flute
*Eugene Cipriano - English Horn
*Bill Hinshaw - French Horn
*Clydie King - Vocals
*Venetta Fields - Vocals
*Sherlie Matthews - Vocals

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Affinity - If You Live (1968-70 uk, delicate jazzy folk psych)



A one-stop roundup of Affinity rarities probably won't dislodge their one official album from the top of most fans' lists, but it does complete the story in enjoyable fashion. Kicking off with both sides of their "Eli's Coming" single, If You Live then divides itself between early (1968-1969) demos and material intended for the group's abandoned second album. 

A seven-minute jazz workout, "Yes Man," is as strong as anything on the first album, while there's also a powerful revision of "I Am the Walrus" that might not be as intense as their "All Along the Watchtower," but still rates among the most dynamic Beatles covers of the age. It all adds up to the most consistent of the manifold Affinity outtakes, off cuts, and oddities collections to have surfaced since the early 2000s, and a well-deserved indication of just how far they could have traveled if they hadn't imploded so tragically early. 
by Dave Thompson
Tracks
1. Eli's Coming (Laura Nyro) - 3:32
2. United States of Mind (Alan Hull) - 2:50
3. Yes Man (M. Foster, L. Naiff, L. Hoyle) - 7:25
4. If You Live (M. Allison) - 3:16
5. I Am The Walrus (J. Lennon, P. McCartney) - 4:08
6. You Met Your Match (S. Wonder, D. Hunter, L. M. Hardaway) - 3:03
7. Long Voyage (Carol King) - 4:19
8. Little Lonely Man (M. Foster, L. Hoyle) - 3:58

Affinity
*Linda Hoyle - Vocals
*Mike Jopp - Electric, Acoustic, 12String Guitars, Percussion
*Mo Foster - Bass, Percussion
*Grant Serpell - Drums, Percussion
*Lynton Naiff - Harpsichord, Hammond, Percussion, Piano, Vibraphone, Wurlitzer

1970  Affinity - Affinity
1971-72  Affinity - Affinity

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Monday, August 17, 2015

The 13th Floor Elevators - The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators (1966 us, brilliant psychedelia, 2010 double disc edition)



The tragic irony behind Roger Kynard "Roky" Erickson's vaunted legacy as the father of psychedelic rock is that the very things that make him so important to so many fans and that keep him prominent in so many listeners' memories also ensured him a hard life spent in sanitariums and studios. Granted, for many that hard life is an integral part of his cachet: Arrested in 1969 and charged with possession, Erickson pleaded insanity rather than face jail time, and was committed to Rusk State Hospital. As legend has it, his mind was so devastated by the shock therapies and medications that he spent the rest of his life battling serious mental illness that left him easy prey for unscrupulous record promoters (who had him sign away his royalties for numerous reissues) and sabotaged almost every attempt at a comeback.

There are, of course, scores of 1960s cautionary tales, but the music Erickson helped to make and the lifestyle he promoted with the 13th Floor Elevators explicitly advocated drug use as mind expansion, as true spiritual freedom-- a bunk idea he shared with Jim Morrison, although even at his most obtuse, Erickson never descended to the empty-headed blathering and lounge-act crooning that were the hallmarks of the celebrated Lizard King. Erickson's psychedelia was not passive aural wallpapers-- all pretty shapes and colors to listen to while tripping-- but an active force of social, musical, and psychological change. Aside from the infamous album starter "You're Gonna Miss Me", which Erickson wrote for his previous band the Spades before rerecording with the 13th Floor Elevators, The Psychedelic Sounds is awash in narcotic philosophy. And in case you miss it, Tommy Hall explains it all in his original liner notes.

However, what makes The Psychedelic Sounds powerful 50 years later isn't its questionable philosophy but, as the title makes clear, its psychedelic sound. The 13th Floor Elevators were a remarkable band: Erickson's wild-man vocals create an atmosphere where unfettered mayhem reigns. Stacy Sutherland's piercing guitar puts a dark mood on "Roller Coaster" and "Reverberation (Doubt)", while drummer John Ike Walton ties it all together. It's a dynamic that's even more pronounced on the eight live tracks on this UK reissue, which were recorded in San Francisco following the album's release. Their covers of Solomon Burke's "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love", the Beatles' "The Word", and even their take on that '60s live staple "Gloria", are anything but placid drugs trips or by-the-numbers re-creation; instead, the songs get the full psychedelic treatment as the Elevators play them like they're handling snakes.

As with any historical legacy, however, Erickson's reputation as the father of psychedelia is largely oversimplified. He was a late addition to the 13th Floor Elevators, which was the brainchild of Tommy Hall. Hall's acid poetry informs every song on The Psychedelic Sounds (aside from "You're Gonna Miss Me", Erickson's lone contribution). And, perhaps most important, it was Hall who plugged in his jug and provided the psychedelic sound that evokes the chemical weightlessness of a trip. It's the wiggedly-wiggedly of a dream sequence, the sound of your hands melting or of a dimensional door squeaking open. That the 13th Floor Elevators could translate that concept into an aural sensation is perhaps the root of their reputation and would have been impossible without Hall.

Erickson, however, undoubtedly was a creative force in the band, as a vocalist on Psychedelic Sounds and also as a songwriter on the follow-up, Easter Everywhere. Selections from those two albums, as well as from subsequent aborted comebacks, are collected on the two-disk I Have Always Been Here: The Roky Erickson Story, which is, unbelievably, the first overview of his long, strange career. Erickson's is a long career to capture on only two disks, but Shout! Factory makes judicious use of the space not only to provide a chronology of Erickson's development over four decades, but also to paint him as a sort of outsider artist rather than as a victim.

Emphasizing Erickson's solo output over his reputation-making Elevators material, the collection includes only a handful of tracks from The Psychedelic Sounds and Easter Everywhere. "Slip Inside This House" is a masterpiece of psychedelic inventiveness, a spacey blues jam that circles back on itself and eats its tail. On "I Had to Tell You" and the heartbreaking same-session outtake "Right Track Now", Erickson foregoes his usual hysterical vocals for a much more direct, reflective approach.

But I Have Always Been Here is more interested in Erickson's less-explored post-Elevators period, roughly from the mid-70s to the present. Whether solo or with the Aliens, he churned out potent and patently weird Texas blues rock similar to Stevie Ray Vaughn or early ZZ Top and often mimicked the vocal hiccups of fellow Texan Buddy Holly. In the 1970s, Erickson became fascinated with science fiction, re-creating B-movies with songs like "Creature With the Atom Brain" and "Stand for the Fire Demon". What makes these songs so kick-ass is that it's the sound of someone going right off the page of the rock script-- like so many B-movie auteurs of the '60s (Ray Dennis Steckler and Hal Warren, ill-fated director of Manos: The Hands of Fate, come to mind), he's doing whatever he wants with no one to tell him that's not how it's done.

As a result, very few of the songs on I Have Always Been Here Before depend for their impact on the listener's knowledge of Erickson's mental health at the time. This is perhaps the singer's true achievement, which this compilation generously spotlights: even when he was suffering, his strange music sounds wholly idiosyncratic and spiritually curious, the sound of a man who won't let the world's ugliness diminish his enjoyment of life or hinder his search for something solid and secure.
by Stephen M. Deusner
Tracks
Disc 1 Original Mono Album
1. You're Gonna Miss Me (R. Erickson) - 2:31
2. Roller Coaster (R. Erickson, T. Hall) - 5:04
3. Splash 1 (C. Hall, R. Erickson) - 3:53
4. Reverberation (R. Erickson, S. Sutherland, T. Hall) - 2:47
5. Don't Fall Down (R. Erickson, T. Hall) - 3:01
6. Fire Engine (R. Erickson, S. Sutherland, T. Hall) - 3:19
7. Thru The Rhythm (S. Sutherland, T. Hall) - 3:07
8. You Don't Know (R.P St John) - 2:56
9. Kingdom Of Heaven (R.P St John) - 3:08
10.Monkey Island (R.P St John) - 2:40
11.Tried To Hide (S. Sutherland, T. Hall) - 2:48
Disc 2 Original 1966 Stereo Mix
1. You Don't Know (How Young You Are) (R.P St John) - 2:58
2. Through The Rhythm (S. Sutherland, T. Hall) - 3:08
3. Monkey Island (R.P St John) - 2:38
4. Roller Coaster (R. Erickson, S. Sutherland, T. Hall) - 5:05
5. Fire Engine (R. Erickson, S. Sutherland, T. Hall) - 3:20
6. Reverberation (R. Erickson, S. Sutherland, T. Hall) - 2:48
7. Tried To Hide (S. Sutherland, T. Hall) - 2:47
8. You're Gonna Miss Me (R. Erickson) - 2:31
9. Splash 1 (C. Hall, R. Erickson) - 3:53
10.Don't Fall Down (R. Erickson, T. Hall) - 3:00
11.Kingdom Of Heaven (R.P St John) - 3:08
12.Fire Engine (R. Erickson, S. Sutherland, T. Hall) - 3:21
13.Monkey Island (R.P St John) - 2:44
14.Roller Coaster (R. Erickson, S. Sutherland, T. Hall) - 5:04
15.Thru The Rhythm (S. Sutherland, T. Hall) - 3:03
16.Tried To Hide (S. Sutherland, T. Hall) - 2:52
Tracks 12-16 Bob Sullivan's Original Stereo Desk Mix

The 13th Floor Elevators
*Roky Erickson - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
*Stacy Sutherland - Lead Guitar
*Tommy Hall - Amplified Jug
*Benny Thurman - Bass
*Ronnie Leatherman - Bass
*John Ike Walton - Drums, Percussion

1967  13th Floor Elevators - Easter Everywhere (Expanded edition)

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation - To Mum From Aynsley And The Boys / Remains To Be Heard (1969-70 uk, awesome blues rock, double disc remaster issue)



The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation's third and fourth (and final pair of) albums, To Mum, from Aynsley and the Boys and Remains to Be Heard, are combined into this two-CD reissue, which adds lengthy historical liner notes by British blues-rock expert Harry Shapiro. Although Remains to Be Heard would be cobbled together from outtakes and recordings done without Dunbar, their third LP, To Mum, from Aynsley and the Boys, was truly the final proper full-length release by the original group. Dunbar had expressed some interest in moving further afield from the blues-rock format around the time the record was done, and the addition of keyboardist Tommy Eyre (from the Grease Band) to the lineup was one step in that direction. 

The enlistment of John Mayall as producer was perhaps another step in attempting to refine their sound. Still, much of To Mum, from Aynsley and the Boys is pretty standard late-'60s British blues-rock, in line with the previous two albums by the band. Eyre does inject some of the arrangements with a jazzy, more R&B feel, particularly on "Leaving Right Away" and the instrumental "Unheard," the latter of which sounds like a rock band trying to do modern jazz and finding themselves a bit out of their depth. You also hear the quintet trying to stretch boundaries a little with the eerie, trumpet-overlaid intro to "Don't Take the Power Away," which has the downcast ambience typical of quite a bit of the Victor Brox-sung Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation material. There's also some exceptionally funereal organ in the march-plodding instrumental "Journey's End." Otherwise, though, much of this is rather-run-of-the-mill, if always well played, British blues-rock.

Although The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation broke up in late 1969 after To Mum, from Aynsley and the Boys, Brox was convinced by manager Bryan Morrison to assemble a posthumous fourth LP. Unfortunately, Remains to Be Heard came close to being The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation in name only. For drummer/founder Dunbar is only on four of the ten tracks, and the rest include contributions by various musicians who weren't in the group, among them Brox's wife (singer Annette Brox), drummer Keith Bailey (who played with Graham Bond for a while), and some African drummers. The material isn't up to the group's usual standards, either, with three of the tracks being leftovers from their third LP, 1969's To Mum, from Aynsley and the Boys; recorded by the quartet of Dunbar, Brox, guitarist Jon Morshead, and bassist Alex Dmochowski, these recordings had been left off that record since they were cut prior to Tommy Eyre (who appears on all of that LP's tracks) joining the band. Sadly, even some of the tracks with Dunbar aboard aren't up to snuff; you know an outtake should remain an outtake when it begins with the lyric "be my monkey woman, I'm gonna be your monkey man" (as "Invitation to a Lady" does), though "Downhearted" is a worthy effort in the downer-blues-with-organ style that was perhaps the group's strongest suit. 

Many if not all of the post-Dunbar recordings sound kind of like demos and/or unfinished songs in progress, and none sound especially worthy of future attention, except maybe for the brooding, jazzy "Toga" (with violin, wordless hummed vocals and African-tinged percussion) -- though even this seems like a sketch with lyrics that have yet to be filled in. It all adds up to a sad and unrepresentative end for a worthy group, desirable only for completist collectors.
by Richie Unterberger
Tracks
Disc 1 To Mum From Aynsley And The Boys 1969
1. Don't Take The Power Away (V.Brox) - 4:01
2. Run You Off The Hill (A.Dunbar, V.Brox, J.Moorshead, A.Dmochowski) - 5:43
3. Let It Ride (A.Dunbar, V.Brox, T.Eyre) - 4:59
4. Journey's End (A.Dunbar, J.Moorshead, A.Dmochowski, T.Eyre) - 5:37
5. Down, Down, Down (A.Dunbar, V.Brox, J.Moorshead, A.Dmochowski) - 5:51
6. Unheard (A.Dunbar, V.Brox, T.Eyre) - 2:22
7. Sugar On The Line (A.Dunbar, V.Brox, J.Moorshead) - 4:25
8. Leaving Right Away (A.Dunbar, V.Brox, T.Eyre) - 6:54
Disc 2 Remains To Be Heard 1970 
1. Invitation To A Lady (A.Dunbar, V.Brox, J.Moorshead, A.Dmochowski) - 4:06
2. Blood On Your Wheels (A.Dunbar, V.Brox, J.Moorshead, A.Dmochowski) - 5:20
3. Down Hearted (A.Dunbar, V.Brox, J.Moorshead, A.Dmochowski) - 6:14
4. Whistlin' Blues (V.Brox) - 2:56
5. Keep Your Hands Out (V.Brox) - 4:04
6. Sleepy Town Sister (V.Brox) - 4:17
7. Fortune City (V.Brox) - 4:07
8. Put Some Love On You (V.Brox) - 3:40
9. Bloody Souvenir (V.Brox) - 4:26
10.Toga (V.Brox) - 5:06

The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation
1969  To Mum From Aynsley And The Boys
*Aynsley Dunbar - Drums
*Victor Brox - Vocals
*John Moorshead - Guitar
*Tommy Eyre - Keyboards
*Alex Dmochowski - Bass
1970  Remains To Be Heard
*Victor Brox - Keyboards, Harmonica, Trumpet, Percussion, Vocals
*John Moorshead - Guitar
*Alex Dmochowski - Bass
*Annette Brox - Vocals
*Aynsley Dunbar - Drums

1968-69  The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation - The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation / Doctor Dunbar's Prescription

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation - The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation / Doctor Dunbar's Prescription (1968-69 uk, outstanding blues rock, 2006 two disc set remaster)



Of the numerous British blues-rock bands to spring up in the late '60s, the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation was one of the better known, though solid reception on tours did not translate into heavy record sales. Musically, the group recalled John Mayall's Bluesbreakers during the 1966-1967 era that had produced that group's A Hard Road album, though with a somewhat more downbeat tone. The similarities were hardly coincidental, as the band's founder and leader, drummer Aynsley Dunbar, had been in the Bluesbreakers lineup that recorded the A Hard Road LP. Too, bassist Alex Dmochowski would go on to play with Mayall in the 1970s, and guitarist Jon Morshead was friendly with fellow axeman Peter Green (also in the Bluesbreakers' A Hard Road lineup), whom he had replaced in Shotgun Express. 

Though he was only 21 when he formed the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, the drummer had already played with several bands of note in both his native Liverpool and London. Stints in several Merseybeat groups had culminated in his joining the Mojos, and Dunbar played on a couple of singles by the group, though these were cut after their British chart hits. Shortly after leaving the Mojos, he did his stint with the Bluesbreakers, after which he played for a few months in the Jeff Beck Group, also appearing on their 1967 single "Tallyman"/"Rock My Plimsoul." Wanting to lead his own band, in mid-1967 he formed the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, joined by Morshead, who'd previously been in the Moments (with a pre-Small Faces Steve Marriott), Shotgun Express, and Johnny Kidd & the Pirates; singer/guitarist/keyboardist Victor Brox, who worked for a while with British blues godfather Alexis Korner; and bassist Keith Tillman. Shortly after forming, however, Tillman left to join John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, replaced by Dmochowski, who'd played in Neil Christian's Crusaders and Winston's Fumbs. 

On their self-titled debut album, the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation flashed a British blues-rock approach that was rather similar to that of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers circa 1967. That was unsurprising considering that leader and drummer Dunbar had played on the Bluesbreakers' 1967 A Hard Road album, and that bassist Alex Dmochowski would later play with Mayall himself. Although everyone in the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation was a skilled player, the record ultimately comes off as rather second-division late-'60s British blues, though in a little heavier and darker a style than Mayall's. That's not to say it's mediocre, but the material (mostly original) is only average, and not quite up to the level of the musicians' instrumental proficiency. Too, Victor Brox isn't the greatest singer, though he's okay, and while Jon Morshead plays guitar well, his style sometimes seems quite influenced by Peter Green (listen especially to his work on the cover of Percy Mayfield's "Memory of Pain"). 

Additionally, some of the original material wasn't all that original; the work song-style "Watch 'N' Chain" certainly bears similarities to the tune that Donovan popularized under the title "Hey Gyp" (itself similar to a song that Lonnie Young, Ed Young, and Lonnie Young, Jr. had recorded under the title "Chevrolet" on Atlantic's 1960 Roots of the Blues LP of Alan Lomax field recordings [reissued in 1993 under the title Sounds of the South]). It's not a bad record overall, however, with the players getting a chance to take extended solos on the instrumentals "Sage of Sidney Street" and "Mutiny." 

The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation's second album was much the same as their first, offering competent late-'60s British blues, given a slightly darker cast than was usual for the style via Victor Brox's somber vocals. Like their debut, it was dominated by original material, and as on its predecessor, the compositions were rather routine blues-rock numbers, though they benefited from arrangements by highly skilled players. 

The best of these tracks were the ones that utilized Brox's gloomy, almost gothic organ, if only because it made them stand out more among the company of the many similar bands recording in the prime of the British blues boom. Otherwise the main fare was straightforward blues-rock that was well played, but rather average and forgettable, the most distinguished ingredient being Dunbar's hard-hitting, swinging drums. If only because it has some original songs that were better than anything on the first album ("Fugitive," "Till Your Lovin' Makes Me Blue," and "Tuesday's Blues," the last of which has some songwriting and guitar work quite similar to Peter Green's late-'60s style in those departments), it's a slightly better listen, though not up to the standards of somewhat similar groups like Fleetwood Mac and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. 
by Richie Unterberger 
Tracks
The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation 1968
1. Watch 'N' Chain (Aynsley Dunbar, Jon Morshead, Alex Dmochowski, Victor Brox) - 2:36
2. My Whiskey Head Woman (Aynsley Dunbar, Jon Morshead, Alex Dmochowski, Victor Brox) - 4:24 
3. Trouble No More (Jon Morshead, Alex Dmochowski, Victor Brox) - 2:56 
4. Double Lovin' (Jon Morshead, Victor Brox) - 3:52 
5. See See Baby (Ma Rainey) - 2:20 
6. Roamin' And Ramblin' (Victor Brox) - 3:00 
7. Sage Of Sidney Street (Aynsley Dunbar) - 4:57
8. Memory Of Pain (Percy Mayfield) - 6:06 
9. Mutiny (Aynsley Dunbar, Jon Morshead) - 7:25
Doctor Dunbar's Prescription 1969
1. Change Your Low Down Ways (Aynsley Dunbar, Jon Morshead, Victor Brox) - 2:23
2. Fugitive (Victor Brox) - 4:35
3. Till Your Lovin' Makes Me Blue (Victor Brox) - 4:57
4. Now That You've Lost Me (B.B. King) - 3:31
5. I Tried (Larry Davis, Don Robey, Joseph Scott) - 2:52
6. Call My Woman (Jon Morshead) - 3:07
7. Devil Drives (Victor Brox) - 2:46
8. Low Gear Man (Victor Brox) -  2:58
9. Tuesday's Blues (Victor Brox) - 3:37
10.Mean Old World (Walter "Little Walter" Jacobs) - 3:03

The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation
*Victor Brox - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
*Jon Morshead - Guitar, Vocals
*Alex Dmochowski - Bass
*Aynsley Dunbar - Drums

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Affinity - Affinity (1970 uk, fantastic prog jazz psych rock)



Well known Vertigo release (at least in progressive circles) of early 70's Hammond-dominated progressive with some jazz-influences. The band had an excellent female singer in Linda Hoyle. The material on the album is quite strong all the way through. "I Am and So Are You" and "Three Sister" do both use horns to good effect. "Mr. Joy" is a relaxed and excellent jazzy track, while "Night Flight" is a more typical early 70's progressive rock track. There are two excellent cover versions here too. 

You would may not expect much from a cover of The Everly Brother's "I Wonder If I Care As Much", but its sounds awesome with a incredible symphonic and great arrangement. And their 11-minute version of "All Along the Watchtower" is a irresistible Hammond-orgy you must hear to believe. Definitively one of the classic Vertigo releases.
Tracks
1. I Am And So Are You (Hull) - 3:31
2. Night Flight (Jopp, Hoyle) - 7:15
3. I Wonder If I Care As Much (Everly, Everly) - 3:20
4. Mr. Joy (Peacock) - 5:02
5. Three Sisters (Naiff, Hoyle) - 4:57
6. Cocoanut Grove (Sebastian, Yanofsky) - 2:35
7. All Along The Watchtower (Dylan) - 11:36
8. Eli's Coming (Nyro) - 3:26
9. United States Of Mind (Hull) - 2:44
Bonus Tracks 8-9

Affinity
*Linda Hoyle - Vocal
*Lynton Naiff - Organ
*Mike Jopp - Guitar
*Mo Foster - Bass
*Grant Serpell - Drums

1971-72  Affinity - Affinity

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Affinity - Affinity (1971-72 uk, wonderful folk jazzy psych prog)



At the end of January 1971, lead vocalist Linda Hoyle and Hammond organist Lynton Naiff, having both given a month's notice, quit Affinity - the band they had been with for two and a half years - to go their separate ways. It was an amicable split.

The remaining members of the band - bass-player Mo Foster, guitarist Mike Jopp, and drummer Grant Serpell - each began to embrace new projects. However they missed the fun of a small cohesive team and, after some discussion, made the decision to keep the name Affinity and to try to continue as a performing and recording entity. It was not an easy task since finding replacements for Linda and Lynton - both of whom were superb musicians - was necessarily a challenge.

Affinity had first met Vivienne McAuliff e at Exeter University while playing one of their last gigs with the original line-up. She had been lead vocalist with the college band, Principal Edwards Magic Theatre. Vivienne had been a founder member of Principal Edwards Magic Theatre, a band that was formed at Exeter University. One of the first bands to use theatre as part of their act, they were signed by Radio One DJ John Peel to his own label, Dandelion, and were very successful during the time that they were together. She went on to play with Affinity, and then sung with various bands around London. She also sang on many records, with artists such as Gerry Rafferty (the Baker Street album, City to City), Patrick Moraz (from the band Yes), and various members of Genesis.

In later life she worked with the legendary fashion designer John Galliano and eventually became senior lecturer at the London College of Fashion whilst still being involved in the music scene. She leaves behind one son, James, and a lot of very happy memories for those of us who were lucky enough to have known her. Back in London the band held a set of tortuous auditions but it soon became clear that Vivienne - with her crystal-clear voice and outgoing personality - was the only possible choice to replace Linda. She became one of the lads.

At about this time ex-Tornados keyboard-player Dave Watts answered an advert in Melody Maker and brought with him not only his own Hammond Organ but also an impish sense of humour. Within minutes he slotted in to the band banter and, as soon as he played, the guys knew he was the right man. Unlike Linda - whose voice was jazz-tinged - Vivienne's voice was higher pitched and more folky - in the style of Sonia Kristina of Curved Air. The band initially adapted some of their older material, but they mainly set out to write and rehearse new songs with Vivienne in mind: Mike spent some time composing and refining material with songsmith BA Robertson whilst Mo wrote with Vivienne herself.

There was soon enough material for a whole new set and UK college gigs and club dates soon followed. Sadly, as quickly as the musicians had come together, there were problems and the band eventually fragmented with the various members being torn in different directions. Affinity truly ended in 1972 when Mo, Mike, and Grant were invited to play with ex-Manfred Michael d'Abo for a lengthy US tour.

Frustratingly, a studio album of the new material at that time never happened. But this album - the album that never was - is an attempt to fill that void and is compiled from a set of studio demos and full band rehearsals. To make the tracks sound as the band would have intended there have been a few discreet overdubs. In addition Mo and Mike have composed two new instrumental pieces especially for the project.
Tracks
1. Moira's Hand (B.A. Robertson) - 5:21
2. Grey Skies (Mo Foster, Vivienne McAuliffe) - 8:42
3. Cream on Your Face (Mike Jopp, B.A. Robertson) - 5:23
4. Sunshower (J. Webb) - 5:47
5. All Along the Watchtower/It's About That Time (Bob Dylan, M. Davis) - 7:45
6. Rio (Mike Jopp, B.A. Robertson) - 4:50
7. Poor Man's Son (Mike D'Abo) - 3:25
8. Sarah's Wardrobe (Mo Foster, Mike Jopp) - 4:17
9. Highgate (Mo Foster, Mike Jopp) - 3:56

Affinity
*Mike Jopp - Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
*Mo Foster - Bass Guitar, Double Bass, Hammond Organ, Fender Piano, Percussion
*Grant Serpell - Drums
*Vivienne McAuliffe - Vocals
*Dave Watts - Hammond Organ, Piano

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Colosseum - Daughter Of Time (1970 uk, remarkable prog jazz rock, 2004 remaster with bonus track)



1970's Daughter of Time  is less bluesy, songs sound straighter, more vivid, the production is improved, sorta brightened, performances shine and gleam even when all around is dark.

As guests also appear additional saxist (f), plus brass duo and string quintet on two tracks ("Time Lament" and title song). This gives the sound width, depth and brightness, mentioned earlier, as the brass and string arrangements are demonstrating pristine gaiety. The opener, "Three Scores and Then ..." is straighter, as the openers should be or they usually are. "Time Lament" has so good orchestrated lines that it is rather festival than lament. The best track is "Take me back to Doomsday" with the superb melody and vocal lines, here Dave Clempson sings, fits more to my ears than Farlowe (maybe won't fit to yours, who knows; of course, neither him, nor Farlowe could surpass Hammill or Gabriel, still talking ‘bout my taste, and not anybody elses).

"Daughter of Time" begins with great orchestral part and proceeds rather solemn. "Theme for Imaginary Western" is cover of or is written by Pete Brown, don't know exactly. "Bring Out Your Dead" is great instrumental piece. Track no.7, "Downhill and Shadows", is still very bluesy and I must really "wade" through it in comparison with first six ones. O.K., sax at the begining is great but rest is much predictable. "The Time Machine" (last track) is recorded live and is Hiseman drum solo. Awesome, at least for track length and the endurability of a drummer. "The Rope Ladder to the Moon" and "Jumping-off the Sun" are peak efforts. If the rest of Grass is Greener is third-quarter as good, let's unearth this gem, which still remains un-rereleased and undeservably so.
by Nenad Kobal 
Tracks
1. Three Score and Ten, Amen (Clem Clempson, Dave Greenslade, Jon Hiseman) - 5:38
2. Time Lament (Greenslade, Hiseman) - 6:13
3. Take Me Back to Doomsday (Clempson, Greenslade, Hiseman, Dick Heckstall-Smith) - 4:25
4. The Daughter of Time (Barry Dennen, Greenslade, Heckstall-Smith) - 3:33
5. Theme for an Imaginary Western (Pete Brown, Jack Bruce) - 4:07
6. Bring Out Your Dead (Clempson, Greenslade) - 4:20
7. Downhill and Shadows (Clempson, Hiseman, Tony Reeves) - 6:13
8. The Time Machine (live) (Hiseman) - 8:11
9. Jumping Off The Sun (1971 Chris Farlowe Version) (Taylor, Tomlin) - 3:36

Colosseum
*Mark Clarke - Bass Guitar
*Dave "Clem" Clempson - Guitar, Vocals
*Chris Farlowe - Vocals
*Louis Cennamo - Bass Guitar
*Dave Greenslade - Organ, Piano, Vibes, Backing Vocals
*Dick Heckstall-Smith - Soprano And Tenor Saxophones, Spoken Word
*Jon Hiseman - Drums, Percussion
*Tony Reeves - Bass Guitar
*Barbara Thompson - Alto, Soprano Flute, Tenor, Baritone Saxophones, Vocals

1969  Colosseum - Those Who Are About To Die Salute You (2004 remaster and expanded)
Related Acts
1969  Sweet Pain - Sweet Pain
1969  Jack Bruce - Songs For A Tailor (expanded edition)
1970  Keef Hartley Band - Overdog (extra track remaster edition)
1970  Mogul Thrash - Mogul Thrash
1972  Dick Heckstall Smith - A Story Ended (2006 Japan Remaster)
1973  Tempest - Tempest
1973-82  Bob Theil - So Far...

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Wet Willie - Left Coast Live (1977 us, great live funky groovy southern rock)



Originally released in 1977, the second live album from these funky, soulful southerners was reissued in 1999 with five extra cuts, adding a whopping 30 minutes to the original vinyl record's limited playing time. With a completely different track listing than 1973's excellent Drippin' Wet, Left Coast Live captures all that was memorable about Wet Willie. 

They tear through soul standards, like Jimmy Reed's "Shame, Shame, Shame," Little Milton's "Grits Ain't Groceries," and a shimmering 13 minute slow blues version of Billy Eckstein's "Jelly Jelly" (featuring guest guitarist Toy Caldwell on loan from the Marshall Tucker Band), with obvious passion for not only the songs, but for performing them in front of an enthusiastic audience like the one fortunate to be at this 1976 second set at L.A.'s Roxy club. Lead vocal, sax, and harmonica man Jimmy Hall is in solid form as he hoots, hollers, shouts, moans, and blows like the soul men he obviously idolizes and the band, now tightened through almost a decade of playing one night stands, chugs along like a fine tuned engine pumped with high octane gas. 

Pianist Mike Duke pounds the ivories with religious fervor and guitarist Ricky Hersh plays with barely controlled passion throughout. Featuring touches of gospel on "Ring You Up," Sly Stone styled funk with "Baby Fat," and southern fried R&B on their show stopping 12 minute version of "Lucy Was in Trouble," it's evident how overlooked this group was as one of the most eclectic, soulful, and talented bands to emerge from the glutted '70s southern rock circuit. 

Oddly the album's least impressive moment is a rote rendition of their biggest hit, "Keep on Smiling," played without the energy injected into the rest of the show. Wet Willie lost the majority of its original members and direction after this final, contract fulfilling Capricorn release, but Left Coast Live remains a compelling and often exhilarating document of a gifted band in their prime. 
by Hal Horowitz
Tracks
1. Shame, Shame, Shame (Jimmy Reed) - 2:57
2. Baby Fat (Jack Hall, Jimmy Hall, Michael Duke, Ricky Hirsch) - 3:41
3. Grits Ain't Groceries (Titus Turner) - 3:21
4. Everything That 'Cha Do (Will Come Back To You) (Ricky Hirsch) - 5:47
5. Teaser (Michael Duke) - 4:08
6. Jelly Jelly (Billy Eckstine, Earl Hines) - 12:52
7. Country Side Of Life (Ricky Hirsch) - 3:44
8. Ring You Up (Michael Duke) - 5:29
9. Lucy Was In Trouble (Ricky Hirsch) - 12:14
10.Keep On Smilin' (Jack Hall, Jimmy Hall, John Anthony, Lewis Ross, Ricky Hirsch) - 5:49
11.No, No, No (Michael Duke) - 4:12

Wet Willie
John Anthony - Keyboards, Moog Synthesizer, Vocals
Mike Duke - Clavinet, Keyboards, Piano, Vocals
Jack Hall - Bass, Vocals
Jimmy Hall - Harmonica, Harp, Saxophone, Vocals
Ricky Hirsch - Guitar, Vocals
Lewis Ross - Drums
Special Guest
Toy Caldwell - Guitar

1973  Wet Willie - Drippin' Wet Live
1974  Wet Willie - Keep On Smilin
1975  Wet Willie - Dixie Rock

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Barry Goldberg - Two Jews Blues (1969 us, classic blues rock, vinyl edition)



This is one of those late-'60s collaborations where I expected the world to explode when I put it on, and felt disappointed when it didn't. However, when you get past looking at players in the band, and listen to the music, there are a number of wonderful cuts. Enough of them for me to replace the vinyl with the CD. "Blues for Barry And..." is Bloomfield at his best with a solid band behind him cranking out this slow blues you wish wouldn't end. Barry Goldberg has always played a solid organ, whether with Harvey Mandel. Charlie Musselwhite, or out on his own.

This is his chance to be the leader of an all-star lineup. My regrets are that it is only 35 minutes, and most importantly I would have liked to put all the guitar players together for a cut or two; they never get to play off one another. 
by Bob Gottlieb
Tracks
1. You're Still My Baby - 3:31
2. That's Alright Mama (Arthur Crudup) - 2:47  
3. Maxwell Street Shuffle - 2:35
4. Blues For Barry And... - 10:15
5. Jimi The Fox (Dedicated To Jimi Hendrix) - 3:27
6. A Lighter Blue - 2:45
7. On The Road Again (John Sebastian) - 2:00  
8. Twice A Man (Barry Goldberg, Roy Ruby) - 4:25    
9. Spirit Of Trane - 4:00
All songs by Barry Goldberg except where stated

Personnel
*Barry Goldberg - Organ, Piano, Vocals
*Eddie Hoh - Drums
*Charlie Musselwhite - Harmonica
*Mike Bloomfield - Guitar (Tracks 2-5)
*Harvey Mandel - Guitar (Tracks 6,9)
*Duane Allman - Guitar (Track 8)
*Eddie Hinton - Guitar (Track 1)
*David Hood - Bass (Tracks 1,-5,8) ,
*Don MacCallister - Bass (Tracks 7,9) ,
*Art - Bass (Track 6)
*Great - Horns (Tracks 7,9)
*Soulville Horns - Horns (Tracks 2,3,6)

Related Acts
1968  Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, Steve Stills - The Super Sessions (2014 Hybrid Multichannel SACD 24/88)
1967  Electric Flag - The Trip
1968-69  Electric Flag - An American Music Band / A Long Time Comin'  
196?-7?  The Electric Flag - Live
1968  Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield - The Lost Concert Tapes, Filmore East
1969  Mike Bloomfield And Al Kooper - The Live Adventures
1969  Michael Bloomfield with Nick Gravenites And Friends - Live At Bill Graham's Fillmore West
1969  Nick Gravenites - My Labors
1973  Bloomfield, Hammond, Dr.John - Triumvirate (Japan remaster)
1976  KGB - KGB
1976-77  Michael Bloomfield - Live at the Old Waldorf

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Friday, August 7, 2015

Colosseum - Those Who Are About To Die Salute You (1969 uk, impressive prog jazz blues rock, 2004 remaster and expanded)



British band Colosseum fuse the progressive rock of the time with the experimentation of modern jazz. In a career that lasted a little over three years the band were one of the most popular bands on the progressive rock circuit due to their constant gigging and many sessions recorded for the BBC. They did eight sessions for Radio One within the space of twelve months.

The bands leader was drummer Jon Hiseman, who along with saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith, after stints with early British R&B group The Graham Bond Organization, and the short lived John Mayall's Bluesbreakers big band line-up which recorded the legendary album "Bare Wired", wanted to form a group "in which there were no drug addicts or other time wasters, no passengers". They were joined by Dave Greenslade on organ who had played with the very popular soul covers band "Geno Washington And The Ran Jam Band", and bassist Tony Reeves who had both played with Hiseman as teenagers in a couple of bands around South East London.

The debut "Those Who Are About To Die Salute You", the title taken from the gladiators of ancient Rome, was released in March 1969. The album consisted of mainly sturdy instrumentals with each musician being given the chance to take the spotlight, unlike certain other groups of the era who were basically a vehicle for one member to hog the limelight. The bonus tracks on this CD reissue are mainly BBC sessions of the album tracks. 
by Derek McCann
Tracks
1. Walking In The Park (Bond) - 3:55
2. Plenty Hard Luck (Greenslade, Heckstall-Smith, Hiseman, Litherland, Reeves) - 4:29
3. Mandarin (Reeves, Greenslade) - 4:26
4. Debut (Greenslade, Heckstall-Smith, Hiseman, Reeves) - 6:20
5. Beware The Ides Of March (Greenslade, Heckstall-Smith, Hiseman, Reeves) - 5:38
6. The Road She Walked Before (Heckstall-Smith) - 2:44
7. Backwater Blues (Leadbelly) - 7:39
8. Those About To Die (Greenslade, Heckstall-Smith, Hiseman, Reeves) - 4:55
9. I Can't Live Without You (Litherland) - 4:16
10.A Whiter Spade Than Mayall (Unidentified) - 4:50
11.Walking In The Park (Bond) - 3:43
12.Beware The Ides Of March (Greenslade, Heckstall-Smith, Hiseman, Reeves) - 4:09
13.Plenty Hard Luck (Greenslade, Heckstall-Smith, Hiseman, Litherland, Reeves) - 2:42
14.Walking In The Park (Bond) - 3:17
Bonus Tracks 9-14

Colosseum
*Dave Greenslade - Organ, Vibraphone, Piano, Backing Vocals
*Dick Heckstall-Smith - Saxophones
*Jon Hiseman - Drums
*James Litherland - Guitar, Lead Vocals
*Tony Reeves - Bass Guitar
*Jim Roche - Guitar
With
*Henry Lowther - Trumpet

Related Acts
1969  Sweet Pain - Sweet Pain
1969  Jack Bruce - Songs For A Tailor (expanded edition)
1970  Keef Hartley Band - Overdog (extra track remaster edition)
1970  Mogul Thrash - Mogul Thrash
1972  Dick Heckstall Smith - A Story Ended (2006 Japan Remaster)
1973  Tempest - Tempest
1973-82  Bob Theil - So Far...

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Wishbone Ash - Argus (1972 uk, guitar rock masterpiece, 2013 SHM remaster)



Argus was a milestone release for the band. who invented the twin guitar sound. Released on April 28, 1972 Argus transformed Wishbone Ash into international stars – at the third time of trying. Pooled from the London-based combo’s disparate backgrounds in hard rock, folk and crisp, electric blues, its soothingly evocative strains introduced a pioneering twin-guitar approach that was adopted by countless other bands. So extraordinary was Argus that its popularity became a bugbear for the band in the coming years. 

Struggling to come to terms with the success it had brought them, Ted Turner, the younger half of their inspirational guitar team, elected to quit after one further album. And yet 42 years later, Argus remains so fresh, vibrant and enduringly popular that two different permutations of the group recently performed the record in its entirety on respective British tours. 

Entwined business-wise with Miles Copeland, a brash, fast-talking American [who later emerged as manager of The Police], Ash signed a deal with MCA Records, after none other than Ritchie Blackmore recommended them to producer-cum-A'n'R man Derek Lawrence Ash’s Andy Powell had impressed Deep Purple’s Man In Black when the pair performed a bizarre, spontaneous guitar battle during a soundcheck at Dunstable Civic Hall in May 1970.........
Tracks
1. Time Was - 9:44
2. Sometime World - 6:56
3. Blowin' Free - 5:19
4. The King Will Come - 7:08
5. Leaf And Stream - 3:55
6. Warrior - 5:54
7. Throw Down The Sword - 5:56
8. No Easy Road - 3:37
9. Jail Bait (Live From Memphis) - 4:55
10.The Pilgrim (Live From Memphis) - 10:09
11.Phoenix (Live From Memphis) - 17:06
All songs composed by Andy Powell, Martin Turner, Ted Turner, Steve Upton
Bonus Tracks 8-11

The Wishbone Ash
*Martin Turner - Bass, Vocals
*Andy Powell - Guitar, Vocals
*Ted Turner - Guitar, Vocals
*Steve Upton - Drums
*John Tout - Organ

1972-2001  Wishbone Ash - Tracks

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Mike Harrison - Mike Harrison (1971 uk, splendid classic bluesy folk rock)



Following the release of 1970's aptly titled "The Last Puff", Spooky Tooth called it quits with singer Mike Harrison striking out in pursuit of a solo career.  Signed by Chris Blackwell's Island  Records (which had been Spooky Tooth's label), Harrison made his solo debut with the release of 1971's cleverly-titled "Mike Harrison".  Self-produced, the album found Harrison teamed with the band Junkyard Angel (who were from his hometown of Carlisle), showcasing the talents of bassist Peter Batey, guitarist/keyboard player Ian Herbert, drummer Kevin Iverson, and lead guitarist Frank Kenyon.  

Anyone expecting to hear a pseudo-Spooky Tooth album was probably going to be disappointed by the collection.  Mind you, Harrison's voice was enough to ensure there were some comparisons to Spooky Tooth (check out the ballad 'Damian'), but the very fact Harrison kept things low keyed and somewhat un-commercial had a lot to do with making the album such a pleasure to hear.  None of the eight tracks was particularly flashy; the majority firmly in the mid-tempo folk-rock, blues-rock realm, but the performances were all energetic - you got the distinctive impression that Harrison and company were having a blast recording music for themselves.
Tracks
1. Mother Nature (Batey) - 2:05
2. Call It A Day (Batey, Harrison, Herbert, Iverson) - 6:26
3. Damian (Harrison, Herbert) - 3:22
4. Pain (Herbert, Iverson, Kenyon) - 3:30
5. Wait Until The Morning (Griffin, Harrison) - 4:26
6. Lonely People (Batey) - 2:33
7. Hard Headed Woman (Cat Stevens) - 6:36
8. Here Comes The Queen (Luther Grosvenor) - 2:29

Musicians
*Mike Harrison - Vocals, Piano, Harmonica, Organ
*Kevin Iverson - Drums, Percussion,  Vocals
*Peter Batey - Bass, Percussion
*Lan Herbert - Guitar, Piano, Organ, Vibes,  Vocals
*Frank Kenyon - Guitar,  Vocals

1965-67  V.I.P's - The Complete V.I.P.S 
1966  The V.I.P's - Beat Crazy
1967  Art - Supernatural Fairy Tales

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