Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Sonics - The Jerden Years (1966-69 us, impressive garage punk, 2001 digi pak remaster)

The original (and best known) Sonics lineup lasted for a total of three albums -- 1965's Here Are the Sonics, plus 1966's Boom and Introducing the Sonics. With the first two releases having been reissued on CD by the Norton label, the third release has become increasingly hard to come by over the years -- until it was issued in 2001 as part of the import release The Jerden Years 1966-69. 

The 30-track set is padded with post-Introducing the Sonics filler, but the Sonics were still firing on all cylinders by the time of their third album -- as such classic originals as "The Witch" are combined with a smattering of covers (Bo Diddley's "I'm a Man," etc.). While the extra tracks don't exactly measure up to the Sonics' classic tunes, Introducing the Sonics was one heck of a record, and hunting down a copy of The Jerden Years 1966-69 will allow you to complete your Sonics CD collection. 
by Greg Prato
1. The Witch (Gerald Roslie) - 2:42
2. You've Got Your Head On Backwards (Gerald Roslie) - 2:21
3. I'm A Man (Ellas McDaniel) - 2:59
4. On The Road Again (John Sebastian) - 1:45
5. Psycho (Gerald Roslie) - 2:11
6. Dirty Old Man (Gerry Roslie) - 2:16
7. I'm Going Home (Larry Parypa) - 2:24
8. High Time (Andy Parypa) - 1:45
9. I'm A Rolling Stone (Andy Parypa, Larry Parypa) - 2:22
10.Like No Other Man (Gerald Roslie) - 2:00
11.Maintaining My Cool (Gerald Roslie) - 1:51
12.Bama Lama Lu (Richard Penniman) - 2:38
13.Leave My Kitten Alone (James McDougal, Little Willie John, Titus Turner) - 2:41
14.Hanky Panky (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich) - 2:21
15.Diddy Wah Diddy (Willie Dixon, Ellas McDaniel) - 2:25
16.Anyway The Wind Blows (Pt. 1) (Frank Zappa) - 2:52
17.Anyway The Wind Blows (Pt. 2) (Frank Zappa) - 3:25
18.Loveitis (Albert James Vance, Harvey Scales) - 2:31
19.Always Love Her (Gerald Roslie) - 2:42
20.Lost Love (Gerald Roslie) - 2:16
21.Good Hard Rock - 2:17
22.Once Again (Gerald Roslie, Larry Parypa) - 2:33
23.I'll Stay With You (Bob Demmon, Dennis Lindsey, Jim Gallagher, Rich Fifield, Stormy Patterson) - 2:51
24.I'm Right (Gerald Roslie) - 2:19
25.Only She Would Do (Gerald Roslie) - 2:20
26.Love Lights (Gerald Roslie) - 2:44
27.Goodbye (Randy Hiatt) - 2:20
28.Near My Soul (Randy Hiatt) - 2:38
29.Wake Me, Shake Me (Al Kooper) - 2:18
30.You're In Love - 3:24

The Sonics
*Andy Parypa - Bass
*Bob Bennett - Drums
*Larry Parypa - Lead Guitar
*Gerry Roslie - Lead Vocals
*Rob Lind - Saxophone, Vocals
*Jim Brady - Vocals

1964-66  The Sonics - Psycho Sonic (2003 remaster edition) 
1965  Here Are The Sonics (New Rose rare Vinyl issue)
1966  The Sonics - Introducing

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Friday, November 17, 2017

The Litter - Emerge (1969 us, superb garage psych pre stoner rock, 2009 edition)

In 1968 Electra Records made an offer to sign the group after their performance at the famed Cheetah Club in LA. with "Genesis" and "The Iron Butterfly".

In August 1968 "The Litter" recorded 7 songs live at The Electric Theatre for the movie "Medium Cool".  The band was paid $500 for the days shooting, but when the movie was released to theatres the scenes of "The Litter" on stage were intact but the soundtrack was Frank Zappa.

In 1969 The Electric Theatre in Chicago held a contest to see which band was louder, "The Litter", or "Blue Cheer".  "The Litter" won hands down.

ABC Probe Records signed "The Litter" sight unseen to a recording contract and the album Emerge - The Litter was recorded in Michigan.  Although the record was charting in Billboard and the group was touring the U.S. with acts like "The Who", unavailability of their albums due to distribution problems, plagued the group everywhere they appeared.

The album Emerge - The Litter is the only album by the group to chart in Billboard magazine, also was #1 in Puerto Rico and successful as well in the European market.

The single Silly People (flip side Feeling) from the album Emerge - The Litter was picked as a Special Merit Spotlight in Billboard magazine, but was banned from airplay by some radio stations because of the lyrics.

Dan Rinaldi is the only member of "The Litter" to have played in and recorded with all 12 versions of the band.
1. Journeys (Mark Gallagher, Ray Melina) - 2:14
2. Feeling (Jim Kane, Mark Gallagher, Tom Murray) - 2:50
3. Silly People (Jim Kane, Mark Gallagher, Ray Melina, Tom Murray) - 3:31
4. Blue Ice (Jim Kane, Tom Murray) - 3:10
5. For What It's Worth (Stephen Stills) - 5:21
6. Little Red Book (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) - 3:30
7. Breakfast At Gardenson's (Ray Melina) - 3:02
8. Future Of The Past (Jim Kane) - 12:37
9. On Our Minds (Mark Gallagher, Sean Jones) - 2:15

The Litter
*Jim Kane - Bass, Fuzz Bass, Special Effects
*Tom Murray - Drums, Percussion
*Dan Rinaldi - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Ray Melina - Lead Electric, Acoustic Guitars, Vocals
*Mark Gallagher - Lead Vocals

1966-68  The Litter - Distortions / Live At The Electric Theatre 
1968  The Litter - One Hundred Dollar Fine
Related Act
1968-71  Lightning - Lightning

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Litter - Distortions / Live At The Electric Theatre (1966-68 us, stunning garage beat)

The Litter were one of the few garage bands to invest enough energy and imagination into their interpretations to make a cover-heavy LP worth hearing. "Action Woman" is here, and they go about tackling, and sometimes dismantling, numbers like the Small Faces' "Whatcha Gonna Do About It" and the Who's "A Legal Matter" (both of which were barely known in the U.S. at this point, incidentally). 

"I'm a Man," though based on the Yardbirds' version, gets into some pretty incredible feedback/distortion swirls in the closing rave-up section. Distortions has been reissued a few times, but the 1999 CD on Arf! Arf! is the one to get, as it includes two outtakes ("Hey Joe" and the 25-second, hardly worth noting "Harpsichord Sonata #1") and seven songs, mostly previously unreleased, recorded live at Chicago's Electric Theatre in August 1968. This was the music that the band played while filming a scene in Haskell Wexler's film Medium Cool (although none of the music was used in the movie), and it's in a heavier, bluesier hard rock direction than their 1967 recordings, but still retains some of the punky spirit of the Distortions era. 
by Richie Unterberger
1. Action Woman (Warren Kendrick) - 2:32
2. What'cha Gonna Do About It? (Brian Potter, Ian Samwell) - 2:27
3. Codine (Buffy Sainte-Marie) - 4:30
4. Somebody Help Me (Jackie Edwards) - 1:55
5. Substitute (Pete Townshend) - 2:36
6. The Mummy (Tom "Zippy" Caplan, B. Bomberg) - 1:25
7. I'm So Glad (Skip James) - 3:47
8. A Legal Matter (Pete Townshend) - 2:47
9. Rack My Mind (Jeff Beck, Chris Dreja, Paul Samwell-Smith) - 3:41
10.Soul Searchin' (Warren Kendrick) - 2:47
11.I'm a Man (Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman) - 4:00
12.Hey Joe  (Billy Roberts) - 4:08
13.Harpsichord Sonata #1 - 0:25
14.Here I Go Again - 2:37
15.The Egyptian - 2:52
16.(Under the Screaming Double) Eagle (Tom "Zippy" Caplan, Denny Waite, Woody Woodrich) - 3:01
17.Confessions (Of a Traveler Through Time) (Larry Loofbourrow) - 2:23
18.Blues One (Tom "Zippy" Caplan, Denny Waite) - 4:03
19.She's Not There (Rod Argent) - 7:53
20.Pegasus - 3:19
Tracks 14-20 Live At The Electric Theatre, 18th August 1968

The Litter
*Denny Waite - Vocal, Keyboard
*Tom "Zippy" Caplan - Lead Guitar
*Dan Rinaldi - Rhythm Guitar
*James Worthington Kane - Bass
*Tom Murray - Drums
*Bill Strandlof - Lead Guitar
*James Worthington Kane - Organ, Vocals

1968  The Litter - One Hundred Dollar Fine
Related Act
1968-71  Lightning - Lightning

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Maria Muldaur - Maria Muldaur (1973 us, charming mixture of folk country jazz and blues)

From the sweet to the salacious to the poignant, Maria Muldaur's eponymous, strong debut features savvy studio vets, talented guests, strong tunes, and Muldaur's lissome pipes. The outstanding players include Ry Cooder, David Grisman, Clarence White, and Mac Rebennack, better known as Dr. John. A tasteful guitar solo by the underrated Amos Garrett elevates the charming surprise hit single "Midnight at the Oasis." Although she later gravitated to jazz and gospel, Muldaur's first outing is heavy on songs derived from country and blues. A rousing "Work Song," borrowed from Kate & Anna McGarrigle, is only one of several highlights. 
by Mark Allan
1. Any Old Time (Jimmie Rodgers) - 03:45
2. Midnight At The Oasis (David Nichtern) - 03:49
3. My Tennesse Mountain Home (Dolly Parton) - 03:32
4. I Never Did Sing You A Love Song (David Nichtern) - 02:49
5. The Work Song (Kate McGarrigle) - 04:04
6. Don't You Make Me High (Don't You Feel My Leg) (Blue Lu Barker, Danny Barker, J. Mayo Williams) - 02:48
7. Walkin' One And Only (Dan Hicks) - 02:47
8. Long Hard Climb (Ron Davies) - 03:03
9. Three Dollar Bill (Mac Rebennack) - 03:58
10.Vaudeville Man (Wendy Waldman) - 02:41
11.Mad Mad Me (Wendy Waldman) - 03:13

*Maria Muldaur - Vocals
*Clarence White - Acoustic Guitar
*Bill Keith - Banjo
*Ry Cooder - Acoustic Guitar
*David Lindley - Hawaiian Guitar
*Andrew Gold - Acoustic Guitar
*David Nichtern – Acoustic, Electric Guitar
*David Grisman - Mandolin
*Dr. John – Keyboards, Horn Arrangements
*Jim Dickinson - Piano
*Mark T. Jordan - Piano
*Spooner Oldham - Piano
*Greg Prestopino - Piano
*James Gordon - Organ
*Chris Ethridge - Bass
*Klaus Voormann - Bass
*Ray Brown - Bass
*Dave Holland - Bowed Bass
*Jimmy Calhoun - Bass
*Tommy Mcclure - Bass
*Freebo - Bass
*Amos Garrett - Bass, Guitar, Vocals, Guitar Solo
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*Ed Shaughnessy - Drums
*John Boudreaux - Drums
*Jim Gordon - Drums
*Chris Parker - Drums
*Jerry Jumonville - Alto Horn, Horn Arrangements
*Artie Butler - Alto Horn, Horn Arrangements
*Nick Decaro - Accordion, String Arrangements
*Richard Greene - Violin
*Larry Packer - Violin, Viola
*Karen Alexander -  Vocals
*Gloria Jones -  Vocals
*Ellen Kearney -  Vocals
*Bettye Lavette -  Vocals
*Jessica Smith -  Vocals
*Beryl Marriott - Violin

1967  Geoff And Maria Muldaur - Pottery Pie
Related Acts
1972  Nick Gravenites And Mike Bloomfield - Steel Yard Blues (2015 remaster)
1979  Geoff Muldaur And Amos Garrett - Live In Japan

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Geoff And Maria Muldaur - Pottery Pie (1967 us, remarkable blues folk rock)

One of just two albums to be released by the easier-going American equivalent of Richard & Linda Thompson (without the brooding gloom and biting irony), this set includes some virtuoso folk-blues performances, as well as the version of "Brazil" made famous in Terry Gilliam's movie of the same name. Though the ten tunes here are all covers, Geoff & Maria Muldaur treat each as if molded from clay of their own making, just as they had old traditional numbers as members of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. 

It's probably no coincidence that this album would eventually find its way to Joe Boyd's Hannibal label. It's a collection that suggests the Richard & Linda Thompson albums he would release throughout the '70s. Although it's often difficult to find, many fans will find Pottery Pie more than worth the money and effort. 
by Brian Beatty
1. Catch It (Eric Von Schmidt) - 3:20
2. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight (Bob Dylan) - 3:57
3. New Orleans Hopscop Blues (George Thomas) - 2:46
4. Trials, Troubles, Tribulations (Traditional) - 4:47
5. Prairie Lullaby (Billy Hill) - 4:51
6. Guide Me, O Great Jehovah (Traditional) - 1:39
7. Me and My Chauffeur Blues (Memphis Minnie) - 6:25
8. Brazil (Ary Barroso, Bob Russell) - 3:31
9. Georgia On My Mind (Hoagy Carmichael, Stuart Gorrell) - 3:44
10.Death Letter Blues (Son House) - 6:14

*Geoff Muldaur - Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Vocals
*Maria Muldaur - Vocals
*Peter Ecklund - Trumpet, Whistle
*Amos Garrett - Guitar
*Hal Grossman - Horn
*Bill Keith - Steel Guitar, Pedal Steel
*Rick Marcus - Drums
*Billy Mundi - Drums
*Betsy Siggins - Vocals
*Bill Wolf - Bass

Related Acts
1972  Nick Gravenites And Mike Bloomfield - Steel Yard Blues (2015 remaster) 
1979  Geoff Muldaur And Amos Garrett - Live In Japan 

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Paladin - Charge! (1972 uk, tremendous crossover prog rock, 2007 extra tracks remaster)

Having failed to ignite the populace with their eponymous debut, a set brimming with joie de vivre and creative crossovers, Paladin decided the only way to break into the mainstream was to assault it. And this they set about doing with their sophomore set, 1972's Charge. Far heavier than their previous set, the quintet seemed determined to beat listeners into submission. That's evident from the get go, as they bash their way through the opening track "Give Me Your Hand," a rhythm-heavy number fueled by fiery guitar solos, strident vocals, and a hard rocking sound. The only reminder of their previous musical predilections is the Latin percussion that bubbles up halfway through the piece. But then this is much more a hard rock album, with Derek Foley's guitar now given far more prominence while the vocals stray into Robert Plant territory, and the organ is invariably set towards psychedelia. 

This inevitably constricts their musical experimentations, yet the band still take some interesting excursions along the way. "Good Lord," for instance, encompasses Latin rhythms, a Southern rock segment, space rock passages, and even pop. "Watching the World Pass By" is even more diverse, kicking off in an easygoing fashion with a jaunty harmonica solo, then running into discordance, a majestic church organ, bouncy blues, a country hoedown, and a jig before a ferocious guitar solo takes the piece out in hard rock style. The Beatles get a nod on "Any Way," funk goes psychedelic on "Get One Together," and the roots of rock are explored on the barrelling "Well We Might," with the rest of the set dedicated to R&B laced rock. Yet somehow it all sounds a bit forced and heavy-handed. Still it's a hard rocking extravaganza. 

The Roger Dean cover art inevitably excited interest, the band's new hard rock approach garnered them more praise, but not enough to prevent them from calling it a day. In later years, Charge's reputation among prog rock fans soared, more so than their far superior self-titled set. [Esoteric wisely reissued both, with Charge buttressed further by five bonus tracks. Three are alternate takes of songs from the set, the other two instrumental versions of Paladin numbers.]
by Jo-Ann Greene
1. Give Me Your Hand - 6:50
2. Well We Might - 5:05
3. Get One Together (Keith Webb) - 2:38
4. Anyway - 4:20
5. Good Lord (Derek Foley, Lou Stonebridge, Peter Beckett) - 6:47
6. Mix Your Mind With The Moonbeams - 6:03
7. Watching The World Pass By (Lou Stonebridge) - 9:38
8. Give My Love To You (Derek Foley, Keith Webb) - 2:31
9. Sweet Sweet Music - 2:48
10.Anyway (Alternate Version) - 4:19
11.Sweet Sweet Music (Alternate Version) - 2:48
12.Well We Might (Alternate Version) - 6:10
13.Fill Up Your Heart (Instrumental) - 5:43
14.Bad Times (Instrumental) - 7:14
All songs by Peter Solley except where indicated
Bonus Tracks 8-14

The Paladin
*Lou Stonebridge - Vocals, Electric Piano, Harmonica
*Peter Solley - Organ, Violin, Grand Piano
*Keith Webb - Drums, Percussion
*Derek Foley - Lead Guitar, Slide Guitar, Vocals
*Pete Beckett - Bass, Vocals

1971  Paladin - Paladin (2007 remaster) 
Related Acts
1966-69  Terry Reid - Superlungs / The Complete Studio Recordings (two disc set)
1967  Donovan - A Gift From A Flower To A Garden (2008 remaster)
1967-69  Ruperts People - Magic World Of Rupert's People (2001 Circle limited edition)
1970  Philamore Lincoln - The North Wind Blew South (2010 remastered edition)
1972  Bond And Brown - Two Heads Are Better Than One (2009 remaster)

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Glencoe - Glencoe (1972 uk, magnificent prog rock, 2013 korean remaster)

Having recorded two albums under the Forever More nameplate, in 1971 the four principals (drummer Stuart Francis, bassist Alan Gorrie, and guitarists Onnie McIntyre and Mick Strode, decided to reinvent themselves as Glencoe.

Before the band could record anything Gorrie and McIntyre bailed, reappearing in The Average White Band.  Francis and Strode quickly recruited keyboard player Graham Maitland and bassist Norman Watt-Roy.  The quartet hit the road touring the English club and college circuit, but in early 1972 Strode quit.  He was replaced by guitarist John Turnbull, whose resume included time with The Chosen Few, ARC, and Skip Biffery.

The band were quickly signed by Epic, with Columbia signing them to it's newly establish Grand Western Gramaphone subsidiary.  In an unusual move, the band were allowed to produce their own debut.  Released in 1972, "Glencoe" stands as one of those albums that makes you wonder how these guys escaped wider attention.  With Maitland and Turnbull responsible for the majority of  material, the set featured a likeable mixture that crossed country-rock ('Lifeline'), pop, and progressive moves (frequently within the same song).  Tracks like 'Airport', 'Lifeline' and 'Look Me In the Eye' were smooth and highly melodic and that may have spelled their demise.   With so many talented early-'70s bands out there, these guys were too mainstream for hard rock fans.  They were also too rock oriented for country-rock fans, and too bright and commercial for progressive fans.  Maybe not the most album of 1972, but thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.

In support of the album, Epic put them on the road opening for Deep Purple, but that did little for sales. 
1. Airport (Graham Maitland, Reed) - 5:04
2. Look Me In The Eye (Graham Maitland, Reed) - 4:15
3. Lifeline (Graham Maitland, Reed) - 5:45
4. Telephonia (John Turnbull) - 5:02
5. It's (John Turnbull) - 5:40
6. Book Me For The Flight (Graham Maitland) - 5:26
7. Hay Fever (John Turnbull) - 4:44
8. Questions (Graham Maitland) - 3:24
9. Sinking Down A Well (John Turnbull, Micky Gallagher) - 5:00

The Glencoe
*Stuart Francis - Drums, Vocals
*Graham Maitland - Keyboards, Vocals
*John Turnbull - Guitar, Vocals
*Norman Watt-Roy - Bass, Vocals

Related Acts
1965-69  Les Fleur De Lys - Reflections
1966-69  Skip Bifferty - The Story of Skip Bifferty (double disc edition) 
1970  Forever More ‎- Yours / Words On Black Plastic (2007 remaster)
1970  The Greatest Show On Earth - Horizons (2012 remaster) 
1970  The Greatest Show On Earth - The Going's Easy (2012 remaster)
1970  Five Day Rain - Five Day Rain (2006 remaster bonus track issue) 
1971  Bell And Arc - Bell + Arc 

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Genya Ravan - Genya Ravan (1971 us, great soulful funky blues rock, Vinyl edition)

Genya Ravan is an important rock & roll personality and influential vocalist and record producer, born Genya Zelkowitz on April 19, 1945, in Lodz, Poland. Her mom later changed her name to Goldie Zelkowitz, Ravan taking her birth name back when she formed the band Ten Wheel Drive. When her parents left Poland, they went into a Russian camp. The singer kindly gave personal details of her youth to AMG on April 4, 2002: "We lost everyone. I never had an aunt or an uncle, I had two brothers, they died. I never met my grandparents, it was me and my sister and my mom and dad. They came from big families and saw all of them die. We escaped to the U.S. via a ship. We were DPs and went straight to Ellis Island."

Young Goldie Zelkowitz never knew she could sing until in her late teens "then I picked up alto sax, drums, and harmonica." In the summer of 1962, she asked to sing with the Escorts (not Felix Cavaliere's band from Syracuse University nor the '50s group or U.K. band of the same name) who were performing at the Lollipop Lounge in Brooklyn, NY. She remembers it was the summer because: "I had pants that showed my belly button, they could not get their eyes off it." Soon, she was rehearsing with the band and became the first girlfriend of Richard Perry, bass vocalist in the group and the man who would go on to produce Ringo Starr, Carly Simon, Leo Sayer, the Pointer Sisters, and so many others. The band recorded and released a few singles on Coral Records in 1962 and 1963: "Somewhere" b/w "Submarine Race Watching," "I Can't Be Free" b/w "One Hand, One Heart," and "Something Has Changed Him" b/w "Back Home Again."

After she left the Escorts, Zelkowitz formed Goldie & the Gingerbreads, an original all-female band that was only the first of many firsts for Zelkowitz. All girls in a man's music world was as daunting a task as a woman trying to become president of the United States. Petula Clark, Lulu, Cilla Black, Skeeter Davis, and Kitty Wells simply did not have a crew of women backing them up. Where the Go-Go's became a bit of a novelty years later, the people who came before that hit '80s band, Goldie & the Gingerbreads, Fanny, and later, Isis, all had a harder edge and would have done more for the cause's credibility had they had the hit singles to go along with their critical acclaim. 

Genya Ravan released an album a year starting in 1969 with Ten Wheel Drive's Construction #1 on Polydor, up to the 1974 release of Goldie Zelkowitz on Janus, but created her most popular recordings on 20th Century Fox in 1978 and 1979 when she released the self-produced ...And I Mean It / Urban Desire one-two punch. Genya Ravan, her first solo disc which Columbia released after she left Ten Wheel Drive, was the catalyst for Ravan producing herself. Perhaps the most shocking thing about the record is that it is the only one she recorded for Columbia, a place that seemed like the perfect home for a woman with so many talents. Clive Davis originally wanted Richard Perry to produce, and it wasn't the fact that he was Ravan's first boyfriend that the idea was nixed, his pop work with Carly Simon was not what this artist is about. Larry Fallon former partner of producer Jimmy Miller and the guy behind "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)"for The Looking Glass (he had also put strings on an unreleased version of "Wild Horses" for Jimmy Miller and the Rolling Stones ) was brought in. But "Brandy" was more pop than "You're So Vain" if you think about it.

To feel comfortable, Ravan asked for, and got, her original partners in Ten Wheel Drive, Aram Schefrin, and Michael Zager, and with the band Baby behind her, Goldie Zelkowitz made the first album of her career beyond Goldie & the Gingerbreads and Ten Wheel Drive. It is a pure document of her transition. This is the shift between the sounds of Ten Wheel Drive and what would follow on 1973's They Love Me, They Love Me Not and 1974's Goldie Zelkowitz. She takes Rod Stewart and the Faces superb and little recognized "Flying" and makes it her own, a tune she would continue to perform live in concert. Stephen Stills' "Sit Yourself Down" gets a total reworking, just as Gabriel Mekler would revamp Whipping Post with her in 1974, when Ten Wheel Drive was re-forming with Annie Sutton. It is an amazing thread of events, with players from both the Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin filtering through her recorded work, and where this album could have been Columbia Records replacing Janis Joplin with Genya Ravan, the singer opted to take her music into a realm where Diane Schuur would feel at home, rock influenced by jazz rather than high-powered blues rock. Indeed, the final track on side one, "Takuta Kalaba," is blended into "Turn on Your Love Lights," a song Janis Joplin did with the Grateful Dead if memory serves on one of the live tapes of theirs that has circulated over the years, so there was this thread, though the result is 180 degrees from where Joplin took it. Genya Ravan did not want to fill the Janis Joplin void for Mr. Davis -- she wanted to be herself. 

Clive told her, "You are either a rock singer or you're a jazz singer, but you cannot do both," and maybe for short-term marketing he had a point, but for longevity and vision, the Larry Fallon-produced "I'm in the Mood For Love" is exquisite. Fallon had come from a jazz band with Jimmy Miller, who coincidentally produced Genya Ravan's next album for his production company, released on ABC Dunhill. James Moody's saxophone solo is thrilling, and a real touch of class. The cabaret atmosphere seguing into the African drum sound of Michael Olatunji and his "Takuta Kalaba," which was released as a single in Europe. Brilliant material which would certainly stifle the Janis Joplin comparisons. The soulful rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Bird on a Wire" was tracked long before Cohen was considered chic. Columbia released "What Kind of Man Are You" from this album on a 45 rpm with the non-LP A side of "Morning Glory," written by Michael Holmes, and produced by he and Dixon Van Winkle, making for five producers during these sessions! 

The single was the idea of Clive Davis, and it is beautiful, the style of music that Bette Midler was having success with at this point in time. Midler eventually covered Genya Ravan's "Stay With Me" for The Rose film and soundtrack, bringing things full circle. Genya Ravan is an album brimming with this creative woman's personality, talent, and amazing vocal prowess. "Morning Glory" should eventually find itself on a Sony/Legacy re-release of Genya Ravan, important music that is continuously contemporary because of the long-range vision of the artist. 
by Joe Viglione
1. What Kind Of Man Are You (Ray Charles) - 3:26
2. Sit Yourself Down (Stephen Stills) - 2:32
3. I Hate Myself (Doc Pomus, Ken Hirsch) - 4:59
4. I'm In The Mood For Love (Jimmy McHugh, Dorothy Fields) - 3:50
5. Takuta Kalaba Turn On Your Love Lights (Babatunde Olatunji, Deadric Malone, Joseph Scott) - 6:25
6. Lonely, Lonely (Aram Schefrin, Michael Zager) - 3:45
7. Flying (Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane) - 6:00
8. Every Little Bit Hurts (Ed Cobb) - 3:37
9. Bird On The Wire (Leonard Cohen) - 4:49
10.I Can't Stand It (Smokey McAllister) - 3:18

*Genya Ravan - Harmonica, Percussion, Vocals
*Peter Hodgson - Bass
*Bian Keenan - Drums
*Mitch Styles - Guitar
*John Platania - Guitar
*Nick Oliva - Keyboards
*Bernard Williams - Percussion
*Arnie Lawrence - Saxophone
*James Moody - Saxophone
*Michael Olatunji - African Drums 

1969-71  Ten Wheel Drive With Genya Ravan - The Best Of 

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Sweet Salvation - Sweet Salvation (1972 us, solid funk blues rock, 2009 edition)

Led by long-established New Orleans musicians drummer "Big John" John Thomassie, keyboard player Wayne DeVillier and guitarist Don Normand, Sweet Salvation could have been one of the all-time great r&b/funk/rock/gospel bands. Unfortunately due to business mis-steps and bad timing it was not meant to be. Also featuring 2 great women singers, DeEtta Little and Fritz Basket, and Alex Smith on bass, Sweet Salvation covered ground that includes New Orleans second line, blues, r&b, rock and 70's funk. They were very much connected to Allen Toussaint and the Meters, but maybe heavier in sound and style, closer to rock.

"Sweet Salvation" features 2 great cover tracks, very elaborate and creative arrangements of Randy Newman's "Sail Away" and Aretha Franklin's "Rock Steady". "Sweet Salvation" also delivers some first-rate original tunes in what could have led to a powerful and unique style. It's great to hear rock-solid r & b and second line grooves combined with Devillier's brilliant and virtuosic piano playing, which is beautifully recorded (loud and thick sounding, not too bright) and is the backbone of the band's sound. 
by Adam Holzman
1. Do A Number (Fritz Basket) - 3:35
2. Ain't Nobody's Fault But Your Own (Wayne DeVillier) - 4:18
3. I Just Find Myself Falling (John Vinidigni, Wayne DeVillier) - 3:28
4. Who's A Blue (Fritz Basket, Wayne DeVillier) - 3:52
5. Sail Away (Randy Newman) - 5:31
6. Carry Me Home (Wayne DeVillier) - 1:58
7. Have You Ever Had The Blues (Bill Jennings, Harold Logan, Lloyd Price) - 2:22
8. Stick With Me (John Vinidigni, Wayne DeVillier) - 2:49
9. Keep On Pushin' (Wayne DeVillier) - 2:50
10.Rock Steady (Aretha Franklin) - 8:21

The Sweet Salvation
*Wayne DeVillier - Keyboards, Vocals 
*John Evans Thomassie - Drums, Vocals
*Don Normand - Guitar
*Alexander Smith jr - Bass 
*Deetta Little - Vocals
*Fritz Basket - Vocals

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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Ten Wheel Drive With Genya Ravan - The Best Of (1969-71 us, impressive jazz blues brass rock)

Ten Wheel Drive was a highly influential rock/jazz group not afraid to push the envelope while exploring various musical styles. Though musicians came and went, including the original lead vocalist, by the time the fourth album was released, the records have stood the test of time, influencing the successful Bette Midler breakthrough film The Rose, inspiring women with the drive and ambition to front their own group in a once male-dominated industry, getting sold on online auction sites to be discovered by new generations of music lovers. 

When Bette Midler put the Jerry Ragovoy/Larry Weiss song "Stay With Me" in her film The Rose, it was a sly tribute to the genius of Genya Ravan and her innovative ensemble Ten Wheel Drive. The former Goldie Zelkowitz hit big in Europe with "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat," which Peter Noone has said Zelkowitz/Ravan's manager nicked off producer Mickey Most's desk. Most and Noone, of course, hit in America with "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat" on a Herman's Hermits release. Zelkowitz emerged from her pioneering girl group (later producing Ronnie Spector's first solo disc) to front an adventurous and highly experimental unit known as Ten Wheel Drive.

With elements of Blood, Sweat and Tears meeting Big Brother and the Holding Company somewhere in the middle, Ten Wheel Drive covered the gamut of pop styles. The band's three albums with Ravan, and a fourth without her on Capitol, only hinted at Ten Wheel Drive's potential. Polygram's Bill Levenson has done another commendable job putting together a solid collection featuring six tracks each from the first two discs and four from the third. A track from the Capitol disc co-written by Schefrin/Zager/Ravan and entitled "Why Am I So Easy to Leave" would have made this perfect but, clocking in at 79:05, this disc is generous indeed.

"Come Live With Me" has Ravan's exotic vocals slinking up and down the scale alongside bass and guitar, and "Brief Replies" is reminiscent of Mae West singing in the film Myra Breckinridge, but it is Ravan's screaming-from-the-cosmos wail in her astonishing performance of "Stay With Me" that is the album's zenith. Pearl producer Paul A. Rothschild was enlisted to recreate Ravan's performance somehow and Bette Midler did a wonderful tribute to her, as well as to Joplin and to songwriter Ragovoy (who also co-wrote Joplin's signature tune "Piece of My Heart."

Make no mistake, both Joplin and Midler have owed a debt to the work of Genya Ravan. Just listen to "Last of the Line," with its experimental pop that Big Brother and the Holding Company flirted with so often, or the dreamy "Shootin' the Breeze," which sounds like a Jackie DeShannon/Burt Bacharach reunion. It is second only to "Stay With Me" as the showpiece of the disc. Any group that goes out on so many limbs to cover pop, jazz fusion, hard rock, country, blues, and any other musical format whether in vogue or not, deserved the opportunity to generate more sound. This "best-of" is a unique snapshot of talents who have yet to receive their due.
by Joe Viglione
1. Tightrope (Genya Ravan, Leon Rix) - 5:10
2. Lapidary - 4:32
3. Eye Of The Needle - 8:11
4. Candy Man Blues (Elizabeth Hoff, Louie Hoff) - 4:36
5. Ain't Gonna Happen - 5:39
6. House In Central Park - 4:29
7. Morning Much Better (Genya Ravan, Mike Zager) - 2:36
8. Brief Replies - 5:20
9. Come Live With Me - 5:22
10.Stay With Me (George David Weiss, Jerry Ragovoy) - 4:20
11.How Long Before I'm Gone - 6:43
12.Last Of The Line - 5:20
13.The Night I Got Out Of Jail - 3:46
14.Shootin' The Breeze - 3:18
15.Love Me - 5:03
16.I Had Him Down - 3:53
All compositions by Aram Schefrin, Mike Zager except where stated

Ten Wheel Drive
*Genya Ravan - Vocals, Harmonica, Tambourine
*Aram Schefrin - Guitar, Vocals, Banjo, Percussion
*Michael Zager - Organ, Piano, Clarinet
*Bill Takas  - Bass
*Leon Rix - Drums, Percussion, Cello
*Louie Hoff - Flute, Tenor, Baritone Saxophones
*Dennis Parisi - Trombone
*Jay Silva - Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Flute 
*Richard Meisterman - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
*Peter Hyde - Piccolo Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Trumpet
*Allen Herman - Drums, Percussion, Vibes
*Bob Piazza  - Bass, Vocals
*Dave Liebman - Flute, Soprano, Tenor, Baritone Saxophones
*Steve Satten - Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Hamesha, Cowbell
*John Gatchell - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
*John Eckert - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
*Blake Hines  - Bass
*David Williams- Drums, Percussion
*Alan Gauvin - Woodwinds
*Tom Malone - Trombone
*Dean Pratt - Trumpet
*Frank Frint - Trumpet
*Danny Stiles Francisco - Trumpet

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Friday, November 3, 2017

Margo Guryan - Take A Picture (1968 us, divine ethereal baroque jazzy psych, 2009 HDCD digipak remaster)

Routinely selling for huge sums of money on the vinyl market and making its way into the collections of pop fanatics as far afield as Japan, Take a Picture has taken on a dynamic life of its own since its 1968 release, especially for an album that went relatively unheard at the time. It is not difficult to figure out what all the retroactive acclaim is about once you hear the sweet, delicate strain of gently kaleidoscopic music on the sole album from Margo Guryan. 

It is the soft pop of which gauzy dreams are made, full of the hazy changes and transitory variations of autumn, an album that you invariably want to wrap up in. Better than most similar efforts from the time, the album maintains a vibrant resonance outside the milieu in which it was created because the songcraft is not only infectious but also highly intelligent, and because Guryan's performance is so delicious. Perhaps a bit too thin and breathy for mass consumption, her voice is an acquired taste in an era loaded with wispy pop princesses, not to mention brassy belters such as Grace Slick, Janis Joplin, and Mama Cass. Once you accept its whispery invitation, though, Guryan's singing, equal parts girl group innocence and seductive torch, envelops you.

The thing that really elevates her above many of her contemporaries and competitors for the soft rock tiara, though, is her wonderfully idiosyncratic songwriting capabilities. A classically trained pianist and jazz composer by education and trade, her songs are much more than your standard pop fare. Although the song structures are simplistic on a superficial level (which should have made them perfect nuggets for commercial radio play in 1968), the arrangements beneath them are anything but. There are all kinds of intriguing things going on with or underneath the melody, either instrumentally (hammy trombones, old-tavern piano, touches of sitar) or via affect. Just when you think a chorus or hook is as ethereal as it could possibly be, Guryan tweaks it just slightly enough that it rises even higher and takes you to an even more elevated emotional plane. She manages the difficult trick of cajoling something already beautiful to something truly sublime. There is also an expert, fluid balance of juxtapositions within the music. 

Tempos are shifted frequently but seamlessly, and Guryan's chord progressions tend to switch from balladic choices during the slower verses to sly and unconventional jazz progressions during the quicker paced breaks and bridges, with the influence of bossa nova particularly heavy in many of the tunes. Her classical background is spliced into the mix as well, generically via the orchestral splashes of various songs, but more explicitly on "Someone I Know," where her own pop melody is superimposed over the chorale of Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring." The two fit perfectly, point and counterpoint, like the complex pocket symphonies of Brian Wilson, a huge influence, and far more interesting with each listen. 

Other highlights include her own version of "Sunday Morning," the breezily kittenish "Sun," and the tough go-go groove of "Don't Go Away," but really every song is a gem. The CD reissue, housed in a handsome special edition digipak with a 12-page booklet that contains a brief biography, liner notes, and lyrics, also includes three stellar bonus publisher's demos that mark a significant addition an album that was already one of the most endearing cult soft rock records from an era full of them. 
by Stanton Swihart
1. Sunday Morning - 2:20 
2. Sun - 2:36
3. Love Songs - 2:37
4. Thoughts - 2:25
5. Don't Go Away - 2:04
6. Take A Picture - 3:08
7. What Can I Give You - 2:31 
8. Think Of Rain - 2:25 
9. Can You Tell - 2:34 
10.Someone I Know - 2:46 
11.Love - 5:26
12.I Think A Lot About You - 2:19 
13.It's Alright Now - 2:04 
14.Timothy Gone - 1:50
Music and Lyrics by Margo Guryan
Bonus Tracks 12-14

*Margo Guryan - Vocals
*Phil Bodner - Oboe
*Paul Griffith - Keyboards
*Kirk Hamilton - Bass, Flute
*Buddy Sultzman - Drums
*John Hill - Guitar

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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Ron Davies ‎– I Don't Believe It (1978 us, amazing folk country classic rock with horns section, 2010 korean remaster)

Ron Davies was a genius of rhyme and melody. He has been described by his peers as the "quintessential poet” and the "songwriter's writer." John Hadley (a music professor at the University of Oklahoma) was quoted as saying, “I separate the world into two kinds of people, the ones that get Ron Davies and the ones that don’t.”

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana (the oldest son of country singer Tex Dickerson), Ron was influenced by songwriters like Hank Williams, but he also loved the music of Blind Lemon Jefferson and classical guitarist Andrés Segovia. Ron spent his early years living in the South, until his parents separated, and he moved with his two siblings to Washington State. Ron's last name was changed when his mother remarried, and he was adopted by his kind and loving stepfather, Darby Davies, who bought him his first guitar. Ron’s songs often reflect his love of the Pacific Northwest, and yet a longing to get “Back To The South.”

By the time Ron was seventeen, he had written an album’s worth of stellar songs for a Seattle based band called The Wailers, along with a regional hit single entitled "It's You Alone." Ron's unique style of singing and writing (referred to by Joan Baez as a cross between Bob Dylan and John Lennon) caught the attention of A&M record executives in California. Ron was signed to a recording contract in 1968 and released his first solo album, which he called "Silent Song Through The Land," featuring nine of his original compositions including the blues standard "It Ain't Easy." As a side note, the angelic harmony vocals on this album were sung by Ron’s beautiful young wife, Vicki Lynn Davies, who was his singing partner from 1962 to 1974, as well as the mother of his two daughters.

Ron’s career received a major boost in 1970 when Three Dog Night recorded “It Ain’t Easy” and made it the title of their album. Although often miscredited to Ray Davies from The Kinks (Ron displayed his wry sense of humor when he asked his publisher to take some of The Kinks out of his copyright), “It Ain’t Easy” gained international fame when a British artist by the name of David Bowie recorded it on his RCA album "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars."

It wasn’t long before Ron Davies’ songs were in demand and being recorded by such iconic artists as Long John Baldry, Dave Edmunds, Joe Cocker, Anne Murray, Dobie Gray, Bettye LaVette, Chris Smithers, Glenn Yarbrough, Merry Clayton, Mitch Ryder and Steppenwolf’s John Kay, to name a few. Australian born pop singer Helen Reddy recorded what would later become one of Ron’s signature songs entitled “Long Hard Climb” and made it the title of her 1973 platinum selling album. This song was also recorded by Maria Muldaur on her 1974 Reprice album "Midnight On The Oasis."

Even though Ron Davies was the author of an impressive music catalog, he only recorded five albums during his lifetime: Silent Song Through the Land, U.F.O., I Don't Believe It, Gold and Silver and Where Does The Time Go. Ron sadly passed away of a heart attack at his home in Nashville on October 30, 2003.
1. Poor Man Walks - 2:54
2. Northern Lights - 3:52
3. It's You Alone - 3:00
4. I Don't Believe It - 3:58
5. Good Old Song (Ron Davies, Mentor Williams) - 2:43
6. Nickels And Dimes (Ron Davies, Barry Goldberg) - 3:08
7. No More Crazy Tears - 2:42
8. Give A Little Bit - 3:03
9. Laughing Into Love - 3:29
10.In My Life (I Have Been Lucky) - 3:19
All songs by Ron Davies except where stated

*Ron Davies - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
*Jerry Swallow - Electric Guitar
*Michael jones - Drums
*Jack Conrad - Bass
*Elmo Peeler - Piano
*Bill Como - Piano
*John Raines - Percussion
*Jreg Smith - Horns
*Walt Johnson - Horns
*Outman Dennis - Horns
*Helen Lowe - Vocals
*Cheryl Alexander - Vocals
*Sondra Alexander - Vocals

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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

It's A Beautiful Day - It's A Beautiful Day / Marrying Maiden (1969-70 us, gorgeous psych folk prog rock)

It's a Beautiful Day were no less memorable for their unique progressive rock style that contrasted well with the Bay Area psychedelic scene. Led by David LaFlamme (flute/violin/vocals) and his wife, Linda LaFlamme (keyboards), the six-piece unit on this album vacillates between light and ethereal pieces such as the lead-off cut, "White Bird," to the heavier, prog rock-influenced "Bombay Calling." One of the most distinct characteristics of It's a Beautiful Day is their instrumentation. The prominence of David LaFlamme -- former violin soloist with the Utah Symphony and original member of Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks -- adds a refinement to It's a Beautiful Day's sound. Likewise, the intricate melodies -- mostly composed by the LaFlammes -- are structured around the band's immense virtuosity, a prime example being the exquisitely haunting harpsichord-driven "Girl With No Eyes." The noir framework, as well as lyrics such as "...she's just a reflection of all of the time I've been high," point rather candidly to the hallucinogenic nature of the song's -- if not the band's -- influences. 

The same can be said of the languidly eerie "Bulgaria." The almost chant-like quality of the track slowly crescendos into an hypnotic and dreamlike sonic journey -- led by LaFlamme's brilliant violin work. By virtue of being a Bay Area fixture in the late '60s, It's a Beautiful Day could also easily double as a hippie dance band -- which they can also execute with great aplomb -- as the wildly up-tempo "Time Is" amply proves. It's a Beautiful Day remains as a timepiece and evidence of how sophisticated rock & roll had become in the fertile environs of the San Francisco music scene. 

The second long-player from It's a Beautiful Day is an exceedingly more pastoral effort than the band's self-titled debut. As many of the Bay Area groups -- most notably the Grateful Dead with Workingman's Dead and American Beauty -- had begun to do, the band realigns its sound from the dark psychedelia and proto-prog of its earlier works and into a lighter and earthier country-flavored rock. Marrying Maiden does, however, continue highlighting both the sextet's stellar instrumental proficiencies as well as vocals -- featuring the entire band -- throughout. "Don and Dewey," the album's opener, is a hot-steppin' spotlight for David LaFlamme's classically trained violin work. Presumably, the tune is an ode to the late-'50s/early-'60s R&B duo of the same name. The track has distinct hints of the concurrent contributions that LaFlamme had been making in an incipient incarnation of Dan Hick & His Hot Licks. It likewise sets the tenor for the remainder of the disc's down-home feel.

The cover of folkie Fred Neil's "The Dolphins" is notable for Fred Webb's honky tonk piano fills and LaFlamme's vocals, recalling some of the earliest New Riders of the Purple Sage sides. One of the more solidly unifying factors linking the NRPS and It's a Beautiful Day is the guest appearance by Jerry Garcia, who is featured on two numbers. As he had done on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Teach Your Children," Garcia lends a few distinct pedal steel guitar riffs to the perky "It Comes Right Down to You." The track also features former Charlatan Richard Olsen on, of all things, clarinet. Another sign of the times is the pickin' and grinnin' on the appropriately titled "Hoedown" -- on which Garcia adds some fiery banjo fretwork. 
by Lindsay Planer
It's A Beautiful Day 1969
1. White Bird (David Laflamme, Linda Laflamme) - 6:06
2. A Hot Summer Day (David Laflamme, Linda Laflamme) - 5:46
3. Wasted Union Blues - 4:00
4. Girl With No Eyes (David Laflamme, Linda Laflamme) - 3:49
5. Bombay Calling (David Laflamme, Vince Wallace) - 4:25
6. Bulgaria - 6:10
7. Time Is - 9:42
Marrying Maiden 1970
8. Don And Dewey - 5:10
9. The Dolphins (Fred Neil) - 4:25
10.Essence Of Now (Mitchell Holman) - 3:15
11.Hoedown - 2:25
12.Soapstone Mountain - 4:15
13.Waiting For The Sun (Hal Wagenet) - 1:15
14.Let A Woman Flow (David LaFlamme, Pattie Santos) - 4:25
15.It Comes Right Down To You (Fred Webb, Robert Lewis) - 3:10
16.Good Lovin' (Fred Webb, Mitchell Holman) - 4:55
17.Galileo (Hal Wagenet) - 3:00
18.Do You Remember The Sun? (Fred Webb, Robert Lewis) - 3:05
All songs by David LaFlamme except where indicated.

It's A Beautiful Day
*Pattie Santos - Percussion, Vocals
*Val Fuentes - Drums, Vocals
*Fred Webb - French Horn, Keyboards, Vocals
*David Laflamme - Flute, Violin, Guitar, Vocals
*Mitchell Holman - Bass, Harmonica, Vocals
*Hal Wagenet - Guitar, Vocals
*Bruce Steinberg - Harmonica (Track 2)
*Avenue Theatre - Organ (Track 12)
*Richard Olsen - Clarinet (Tracks 8-18)
*Jerry Garcia - Banjo, Pedal Steel (Tracks 8-18)

1968  It's A Beautiful Day - Live At The Fillmore (2013 release)
1971  It's A Beautiful Day - Creed Of Love

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Monday, October 30, 2017

It's A Beautiful Day - Live At The Fillmore (1968 us, outstanding psych prog rock, 2013 release)

When looking back at all the San Francisco bands who toiled the psychedelic scene of the late '60s/early '70s, It's a Beautiful Day seems to have taken a backseat to other more popular acts like the Grateful Dead, Santana, and Jefferson Airplane. Listening to their music here in 2013, it's kind of hard to imagine why this band didn't achieve superstar status. Led by the powerful vocals & soaring electric violin of David LaFlamme, It's a Beautiful Day combined pop, psychedelia, jazz, prog, folk, rock, and classical into a unique sound that peaked with their hit single "White Bird" in 1969, but by 1974 the band had all but split up, reforming in various incarnations from time to time before fully reuniting in 2000 with LaFlamme, his current wife Linda Baker LaFlamme, original drummer Val Fuentes, Gary Thomas on keyboards, guitarist Rob Espinosa, bassist Toby Gray, and percussionist Michael Prichard.

This particular concert was recorded at the famous Fillmore West in San Francisco in 1968, and captured them at the peak of their powers. Along with LaFlamme & Fuentes were vocalist Patti Santos, Linda Neska LaFlamme on keyboards (David's first wife...apparently he likes the name Linda), and bassist Mitchell Holman. As there was no guitar player in the band at this time, their music is rich with the dual female/male vocal attack, LaFlamme's energetic violin, and Linda's insistent organ textures. Psychedelic pop tracks like "Love For You" and "White Bird" contain some really great melodies and vocal harmonies, but here in the live setting all these songs are pushed to epic length and feature some spectacular violin & organ passages.

"Wasted Union Blues" is like a meeting of Vanilla Fudge and Jefferson Airplane, while "Bombay Calling" is a moody anti-war piece whose main musical theme was borrowed by Deep Purple for their legendary song "Child in Time" which appeared on their In Rock album less than 2 years later. The epic, near 10-minute "Time Is" is littered with sizzling guitar & organ lines, a real treat for all the prog lovers in the house, and has a bass lick like the classic Animals track "We Gotta Get Out of This Place". Other highlights include the mysterious, gypsy/blues of "Changes" and the atmospheric rocker "Hot Summer Day", another song with addicting organ from Linda and soaring vocal interplay between David and Patti.

The sound quality on this vintage concert is quite good, and the informative DVD documentary contains plenty of interview segments with David LaFlamme & Fuentes, as well as some notable journalists, who talk about the history of the band and the San Francisco music scene back at the end of the '60s. Filled with some vintage live clips as well as more recent footage of the band, it's a nice little companion piece to the live CD. It's a shame that the booklet is somewhat bare bones other than two short essays and three photos, but overall this is a nice package documenting a fascinating band who never got the attention they deserved. 
by Pete Pardo
1. Love For You. 6:44
2. Bulgaria (With Love For You Reprise). 6:51
3. White Bird. 8:02
4. Wasted Union Blues. 10:28
5. Time Is. 9:30
6. Countryside (David LaFlamme, Linda LaFlamme) - 5:19
7. Bombay Calling. 7:38
8. Changes. 8:26
9. Girl With No Eyes. 5:40
10.Hot Summer Day. 11:03
All songs written by David LaFlamme except where noted.

It's A Beautiful Day
*David LaFlamme - Violin, Vocals
*Linda Neska LaFlamme - Keyboards
*Patti Santos - Vocals, Percussion
*Mitchell Holman - Bass
*Val Fuentes - Drums

1971  It's A Beautiful Day - Creed Of Love

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Groundshaker - Groundshaker (1971-72 us, fine rough hard rock)

Groundshaker was an American hard rock band from the early 1970s. They played many times in the cafe "The Continental Hyatt House" and in some other places of Hollywood. One of their managers was Charlie Green from the management company Brian Stone & Charlie Green, which represented some well-known collectives of the 60's as Iron Butterfly, Sonny ‘n’ Cher and Buffalo Springfield. 

They had many offers from record labels, but they drop them down, and ofcourse without any contract the group disbanded in 1973. More than three decades later,  Morgana Welch and Terry C. Corbett produced their only self-titled album, collecting records from old tapes. 

This never before released hard ‘n’ heavy psych opus, contains eight long tracks (plus three bonus alternate versions) with a frenzied attacking guitar and jams, a powerful loud vocals, and heavy rhythm section.
1. On My Way (Dave Pike) - 3:30
2. World That's Tight (John Sanchez) - 4:58
3. Things (John Sanchez, Ron Barron) - 4:21
4. Leavin' (Traditional) - 3:52
5. Got Those Blues (Skip Gillette, Dave Pike, Steve Schweizer) - 3:59
6. Fly (John Sanchez) - 3:16
7. Abaseal (John Sanchez, Skip Gillette, John Sanchez, Ron Barron) - 6:02
8. Hearts And Flowers (Skip Gillette, John Sanchez, Ron Barron) - 5:50
9. Hearts And Flowers (Slight Different Mix) (Skip Gillette, John Sanchez, Ron Barron) - 5:51
10.Abaseal (Slight Different Mix 1) (John Sanchez, Skip Gillette, John Sanchez, Ron Barron) - 6:02
11.Abaseal (Slight Different Mix 2) (John Sanchez, Skip Gillette, John Sanchez, Ron Barron) - 5:58

The Groundshaker
*Skip Gillette - Drums
*Steve Schweizer - Bass
*John Sanchez - Guitar
*Ron Barron - Vocals

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Ford Theatre - Time Changes (1969 us, spectacular bosstown acid psych, 2011 remaster)

The origins of Ford Theatre lie in a popular Boston-based group called Joyful Noise, which played the college circuit. The four members of the band were James Altieri (bass), Arthur Webster (guitar), Robert Tamagni (drums) and John Mazzarelli (keyboards, vocals). All of them were childhood friends from Milford, Massachusetts. The group attracted the attention of New Yorker Harry Palmer who first came across the band when attending college in Boston. Palmer was a composer by nature and was looking for that band that could play the musical ideas he had, and on his return to Boston, a few years later, contacted Joyful Noise to do just that. The link between the band and Palmer was their eventual manager Fred Cenedella who used to book bands for dances to pay off his tuition fees and who had met Palmer on a visit in 1965. There exist acetate recordings from 1967 of the quartet Joyful Noise as they made two demo recordings in the hope of acquiring a record deal. The tracks included are Known the World Over, Something Of A Change, Good Thing and Stop.

The group were impressed by Palmer's material and slowly he became a fully fledged member of the band. However a few changes were made to the band. First a vocalist, Joe Scott, was drafted in (also from Milford, Massachusetts), and secondly the name of the band had to be changed. The reason for this was that Palmer's music was dark and ominous, a reflection of the times as America was still reeling from the assassination of President Kennedy and was in the midst of the Vietnam war. Thus Joyful Noise became Ford Theatre, the place where President Lincoln was shot. (Actually the name of that place is Ford's Theater, but the group dropped the 's and changed Theater to Theatre.) On the other hand an interview with the band at the time of the release of their first album has them dismissing the link and instead stressing that the name was actually a combination of two factors. The Ford was used as a sign that the group would one day make money doing auto commercials while on the other hand the Theatre gives the group a dramatic and serious slant. The first concert that the band played under the moniker of Ford Theatre came in the summer of 1967 at the Unicorn Theatre in Boston.

Following the release of the first album, the band went on tour of seven cities including Chicago, New York and Philadelphia performing with bands such as Big Brother And The Holding Company, Iron Butterflyand Procol Harum as well as playing local television shows. However poor promotional backing from ABC did not help the band. A classic example was the summer of 1968 when the band played in front of 10,000 people at the Kiel Auditorium, sharing the bill with Big Brother and Iron Butterfly. The album was being played in heavy rotation in its entirety on the local radio (KSHE), thus achieving a large amount of publicity. However there was one snag. The area of St Louis was not supplied with records of the band and thus all the publicity that was achieved was all useless! 

September of 1969 saw the release of the band's second album, Time Changes (ABC ABCS 681/Stateside SSL 10288; Value BS15:00). Though dubbed a concept album, it is in fact a loose collection of songs, most of which were new songs composed by Harry Palmer. Recordings took place at the original Hit Factory in New York while production was entrusted to Bill Scymczyck. Time Changes was the first piece of production work for Szymczyck, who would go on to achieve fame for his production work with James Gang, Joe Walsh, Edgar Winter and The Eagles. Also there was a change in line-up for the recordings of the album as James Altieri had left the band and was replaced by Johnny Pate.

Two singles were released from the album Time Changes/Wake Up In The Morning (ABC 11192) and I've Got The Fever/Jefferson Airplane (ABC 11227).

Jim Altieri continued to play with various bands in the Boston area while Bob Tamagni teaches at the Berklee School Of Music in Boston. Harry Palmer went back to New York, producing other bands and artists before moving towards the business side of the musical worlds and becoming an executive for various record companies such as Polygram, Atlantic, BMG and Sony. 
by Nigel Camilleri
1. Introduction - 1:00
2. Time Changes - 3:12
3. Interlude One - 1:10
4. That's My Girl - 2:10
5. Wake Up In The Morning - 3:06
6. I've Got The Fever - 5:13
7. Crash - 1:05
8. At The Station - 3:44
9. Back To Philadelphia - 3:56
10.Clifford's Dilemma - 1:52
11.Jefferson Airplane - 3:02
12.I Feel Uncertain - 2:25
13.Interlude Two - 1:15
14.Good Thing - 2:20
15.Outroduction - 0:57
All songs by Harry Edward Palmer

The Ford Theatre
*Harry Palmer - Guitar, Percussion
*Jimmy Altieri - Bass, Vocals
*Joey Scott - Bass, Vocals
*John Mazzarelli - Organ, Piano, Vocals
*Robert Tamagni - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Arthur "Butch" Webster - Lead Guitar, Sleigh Bells

1968  Ford Theatre - Trilogy For The Masses

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Flock - Truth / The Columbia Recordings (1969-70 us, brilliant jazz prog avant garde rock, 2017 double disc remaster)

After starting its The Rock Machine Turns You On campaign in 1968, CBS continued releasing bargain compilations that consolidated its position at the forefront of contemporary US music. The striking cover of 1970’s Fill Your Head With Rock featured electric violinist Jerry Goodman in full curtain-haired reverie while the comp featured his band The Flock’s version of The Kinks’ Tired Of Waiting; hardly representative of an album that pushed the jazz-rock envelope further out than fellow Chicagoan label-mates Blood, Sweat & Tears and CTA.

With enthusiastic sleevenotes by John Mayall, 1969’s self-titled debut started with Goodman’s keening Introduction ushering in The Flock’s hefty blend of densely textured jazz-rock charged with classical and avant jazz flavours, climaxing with the epic blues of Truth. Also helmed by veteran jazz-classical producer John McClure, 1970’s LSD-inspired Dinosaur Swamps – here dubbed their Sgt Pepper’s by guitarist Fred Glickstein – saw The Flock flying further into exotic experimental areas to forge an American prog milestone. Perhaps inevitably, all these directions were already pulling the band apart when Goodman was poached for the Mahavishnu Orchestra, sealing their fate.

This collection corrals both albums, along with edits and out-takes, making for a compelling account of this overlooked gaggle.
by Kris Needs
Disc 1
1. Introduction - 4:53
2. Clown - 7:45
3. I Am the Tall Tree - 5:34
4. Tired of Waiting (Ray Davies) - 4:39
5. Store Bought - Store Thought - 7:00
6. Truth - 0:15:24.
7. What Would You Do If the Sun Died? - 2:48
8. Lollipops And Rainbows - 4:05
9. Tired of Waiting (Single Version) - 2:42
10.Store Bought - Store Thought (Single Version) - 2:44
11.Clown (Part One) - 3:12
12.Clown (Part Two) - 4:38
All songs by The Flock except where noted
Disc 2
1. Green Slice - 2:03
2. Big Bird - 5:50
3. Hornschmeyer's Island - 7:25
4. Lighthouse (Rick Canoff, Fred Glickstein, James Taylor, Tom Webb) - 5:18
5. Crabfoot - 8:14
6. Mermaid - 4:53
7. Uranian Sircus - 7:13
8. Chanja - 2:38
9. Atlantians Truckin’ Home - 4:50.62]
10.Afrika - 4:34
11.Just Do It - 6:35
12.Mermaid (Single Version) - 2:49
13.Crabfoot (Single Version) - 2:49
All songs by  Rick Canoff, Fred Glickstein, Tom Webb except where indicated

The Flock
*Rick Canoff - Tenor Saxophone, Vocals
*Fred Glickstein - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Hammond Organ
*Jerry Goodman - Violin, Guitar, Vocals
*Ron Karpman - Drums
*Frank Posa - Trumpet
*Jerry Smith - Bass, Vocals
*Tom Webb - Sax (Disc 1)
*John Gerber - Alto, Tenor Saxophones, Flute, Banjo, Vocals (Disc 2)

1969  The Flock - The Flock
1970  The Flock - Dinosaur Swamps 
1975  The Flock - Inside Out (Vinyl issue)

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