Tuesday, June 19, 2018

New Riders Of The Purple Sage - New Riders Of The Purple Sage / Powerglide (1971-72 us, excellent country folk psych rock, 2002 double disc remaster)

For most of the early '70s, the New Riders of the Purple Sage™ (yes, the name is trademark-protected) were the successful offshoots of the Grateful Dead. Although they never remotely approached the success or longevity of the Dead, they attracted a considerable audience through their association with Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, and Mickey Hart, whose fans couldn't be satisfied with only the Dead's releases -- the New Riders never reached much beyond that audience, but the Deadheads loved them as substitutes (along with Garcia's periodic solo projects) for the real article. Their initial sound was a kind of country-acid rock, somewhat twangier than the Dead's usual work and without the Dead's successful forays into experimental jams, but they later acquitted themselves as straight country-rockers.

Essentially, the New Riders of the Purple Sage (their name derives from an old country outfit, Foy Willing and the Riders of the Purple Sage, who in turn took the name from an old Western novel) were initially formed as a vehicle for Garcia, Lesh, and Hart to indulge their tastes for country music beyond the albums Workingman's Dead and American Beauty. Their original lineup at early performances consisted of Garcia on pedal steel, Lesh on bass, John Dawson (born 1945) on rhythm guitars and vocals, sometime Dead contributor-member David Nelson on lead guitars, mandolin, and vocals, and Mickey Hart on drums. The New Riders quickly evolved into more of a free-standing unit, with Dave Torbert succeeding Lesh, and ex-Jefferson Airplane member Spencer Dryden on the drums, succeeding Hart. They also developed an identity of their own through Dawson's songwriting, which had an appealing command of melody and beat. 

The group was a little shaky as a country-rock outfit, without the strengths of soulfulness or strong in-house songwriting of, say, Poco or the Burrito Brothers, but their association with Garcia and the Dead (Lesh co-produced one album) gave them a significant leg up in terms of publicity and finding an audience. High school and college kids who'd scarcely heard of Gram Parsons or Jim Messina but owned more than one Dead album, were likely in those days to own, or have a friend who owned, at least one New Riders album. That translated into many thousands of sales of the self-titled first album, which proved an apt and pleasing companion to Workingman's Dead and American Beauty with its mix of country and psychedelic sounds. By the second album, Buddy Cage had come in on pedal steel, replacing Garcia, and their sound had firmed up, helped by the fact that Dawson and Torbert were good songwriters. 

Anyone who enjoyed the Grateful Dead's Workingman's Dead or American Beauty and wanted more, then or now, should get the New Riders of the Purple Sage's eponymous release and follow it with the Riders' next two albums. With Jerry Garcia and Mickey Hart in tow, and Jefferson Airplane's Spencer Dryden playing what drums Hart didn't, plus Commander Cody at the piano, New Riders of the Purple Sage is some of the most spaced-out country-rock of the period. Even ignoring the big names working with John Dawson, David Nelson, and Dave Torbert, however, this is a good record, crossing swords with the Byrds, the Burrito Brothers, and even Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and holding its own. Maybe a few of the cuts (especially "Henry") are predictable at times, but mostly, New Riders of the Purple Sage was full of surprises then (the amazingly sweet, brittle guitars, in particular) and has tunes that have held up well: "Portland Woman," "Whatcha Gonna Do," "I Don't Know You," and "Louisiana Lady," not to mention the eight leisurely paced minutes of acid-country found in "Dirty Business." There are no added notes, but they'd hardly be vital -- the album is an open book. 

The group's second album is pretty much definitive, especially in its remastered version from Columbia's Legacy division (issued in 1996), which has really crisp, loud sound. Joe Maphis' "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)" is a great opener, a honky tonk-style number featuring David Nelson's lead vocals and Nicky Hopkins' piano sharing the spotlight with Nelson's and John Dawson's axes. The guitars on Dawson's "Rainbow" are nearly pretty enough to be a Flying Burrito Brothers or Poco number. 

Most of what follows is as good or better, especially Dave Torbert's "California Day" and "Contract," and Dawson's "Sweet Lovin' One." The one letdown is their cover of "Hello Mary Lou," a flat, dullish rendition that could be any bad country-rock bar band, and which isn't going to make anyone forget the numerous versions before and since -- they do somewhat better with Johnny Otis' "Willie and the Hand Jive." Powerglide is a fun record and offers one virtue that the Dead, in particular, sometimes forgot -- they know how to end a song. Jerry Garcia is present on banjo ("Sweet Lovin' One," "Duncan and Brady") and piano ("Lochinvar") -- Bill Kreutzmann and Nicky Hopkins also turn up -- but the best lead guitar work here comes courtesy of David Nelson and Buddy Cage, who plays the pedal steel. 
by Bruce Eder
Disc 1 New Riders of the Purple Sage 1971
1. I Don't Know You - 2:28
2. Whatcha Gonna Do - 3:18
3. Portland Woman - 3:37
4. Henry - 2:38
5. Dirty Business - 8:19
6. Glendale Train - 3:01
7. Garden Of Eden - 4:34
8. All I Ever Wanted - 4:40
9. Last Lonely Eagle - 5:15
10.Louisiana Lady - 3:04
All songs by John Dawson
Disc 2 Powerglide 1972
1. Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music) (Joe Maphis, Max Fidler, Rose Lee Maphis) - 4:17
2. Rainbow (John Dawson) - 3:02
3. California Day (Dave Torbert) - 2:38
4. Sweet Lovin' One (John Dawson) - 2:56
5. Lochinvar (John Dawson) - 3:31
6. I Don't Need No Doctor (Nick Ashford, Valerie Simpson, Jo Armstead) - 4:41
7. Contract (Dave Torbert) - 3:22
8. Runnin' Back To You (John Dawson) - 4:12
9. Hello Mary Lou (Gene Pitney, Cayet Mangiaracina) - 3:00
10.Duncan And Brady (Traditional Arranged By John Koerner) - 5:24
11.Willie And The Hand Jive (Johnny Otis) - 6:26

The New Riders Of The Purple Sage
New Riders Of The Purple Sage 1971
*John Dawson - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*David Nelson - Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals
*Dave Torbert - Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Jerry Garcia - Pedal Steel Guitar, Banjo
*Spencer Dryden - Drums, Percussion
Additional Musicians
*Mickey Hart - Drums, Percussion
*Commander Cody - Piano On

Powerglide 1972
*John Dawson - Acoustic, Electric Rhythm Guitars, Vocals
*David Nelson - Lead Guitar, Vocals, Mandolin
*Dave Torbert - Bass, Vocals, Electric, Rhythm, Acoustic Guitar, Piano
*Buddy Cage - Pedal Steel Guitar, Dobro
*Spencer Dryden - Drums, Percussion, Broom, Whistle, Whoopee
Additional Musicians
*Nicky Hopkins - Piano
*Jerry Garcia – Banjo, Piano
*Billy Kreutzmann - Percussion

Related Act
1969  Grateful Dead - Live/Dead 
1971  Grateful Dead - Skull and Roses (2001 HDCD bonus tracks edition) 

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Legend - Legend (1969 uk, great pub rock, roots 'n' roll, 2007 remaster and expanded)

Mickey Jupp (born March, 1944) is a singer, pianist and composer, who grew up in Southend-on-Sea, Essex. The seaside resort was home to funfairs, clubs, pubs and Teddy Boys during the 1950s and porved a fertile breeding ground for English style rock’n’roll. Mickey began performing in 1963 with The Orioles, a pionneering British R&B group. Their line up include Dougie Sheldrake (guitar) Ada Baggerly (bass) and Tony Diamond (drums). They built up a fanatical following at Southern Clubs such as The Shades and The Cricketers, playing standards like “Brand New Cadillac” and “Money”. They toured with The Hollies, The Tremoloes, and Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, but were unable to secure a record contract. The final version of The Orioles included Mo Witham and Bob Scanling (guitars), John Bobin (bass) and Bob Clouter (drums) wwho replaced Tony Diamon in 1964.

The Orioles broke up in 1965 after ‘Juppy”, as he was invariably called, endured some personnal problems (he served a term of imprisonment). He returned to Southend three years later and put together his next band Legend, a musical project that eventually comprised mostly formet members of The Orioles.

The first version of Legend, formed in 1968, comprised Mickey Jupp (vocals, piano, guitar) together with Chris East (vocal, harmonica, 12 string guitar, Steve Geere (string bass and vovals) and Nigel Dunbar (drums). This line up recorded an eponymous tittled album “Legend” for Bell Records in one eight hour session that featured acoustic blues songs like ““National Gas”” and “”Twenty Carat Rocker””.

They followed that with one gig at Staines, Middlesex and broke up just before the album's release, the album stills sounds fresh today.
by Chris Welch
1. National Gas - 3:00
2. Heather On The Hill - 2:13
3. Tombstone - 2:14
4. Come Back Baby - 2:07
5. City - 2:12
6. Good Boy/Groovette - 3:19
7. Wouldnt You - 2:31
8. Doncaster By-Pass - 2:45
9. Twenty Carat Rocker - 1:59
10.Bartenders Blues - 2:54
11.Good Money - 2:32
12.Shinding - 2:25
13.National Gas - 3:04
14.Heather On The Hill - 2:29
15.Tombstone - 2:08
16.Come Back Baby - 2:07
17.City - 2:18
18.Good Boy/Groovette - 3:14
19.Wouldnt You - 2:31
20.Doncaster By-Pass - 2:46
21.Twenty Carat Rocker - 1:56
22.Bartenders Blues - 2:54
23.Good Money - 2:31
24.Shinding - 2:34
25.National Gas (Single A-Side Mix) - 3:05
26.Wouldn't You (Single B-Side Mix) - 2:31
27.Georgia George (Part 1 Single A-Side) - 2:12
28.July (Single B-Side) - 2:52
29.Foxfield Junction (Bonus Track) - 2:55
All Compositions by Mickey Jupp
Tracks 13-24 Mono Versons

*Mickey Jupp - Vocals, Piano, 6 String Guitar
*Chris East - Vocals, Harmonica, 12 String Guitar
*Steve Geere - Vocals, String Bass
*Nigel Dunbar - Drums

1971  Legend - Legend (Red Boot) (2005 remaster and expanded) 
1972  Legend - Moonshine (2006 remasrter) 

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Townes Van Zandt - For The Sake Of The Song / Our Mother The Mountain (1968-69 us, amazing folk country rock, 2014 digipak double disc set)

Townes Van Zandt was a Texan by birth and a traveler by nature. His father was in the oil business, and the family moved around a lot -- Montana, Colorado, Minnesota, Illinois, among other places -- which accounted for his sometimes vague answers to questions of where he "came from." Van Zandt spent a couple years in a military academy and a bit more time in college in Colorado before dropping out to become a folksinger. (Van Zandt often returned to Colorado in subsequent years, spending entire summers, he said, alone in the mountains on horseback.) 

Townes Van Zandt wrote songs with an uncommon grace and poetic clarity, and he sang them with a voice that was at once straightforward, eloquent, and mindful of the arid beauty of his images. A decade after Van Zandt released his first album, there would be dozens of singer/songwriters following his example, but he was a rather unusual commodity when For the Sake of the Song was released in 1968, and the album's production and arrangements occasionally suggest that Jack Clement and Jim Malloy didn't always know what to make of what he brought them. 

The 11 songs on Van Zandt's debut are all fine stuff (even the throwaway novelty "Talkin' Karate Blues" at least brings a chuckle), and the emotional force with which Van Zandt delivers "(Quicksilver Daydreams Of) Maria," "Tecumseh Valley," and the title tune belies the fact this was his first album. But on several tracks Clement and Malloy attempt to match the elusive mystery of Van Zandt's music with overblown accompaniment and deeply echoey recording, especially the cheesy chorus on "The Velvet Voices," the clichéd Western accompaniment of "I'll Be Here in the Morning," the tinkling keyboards on "Sad Cinderella," and the rattling percussion of "Waitin' Around to Die."

In spite of the occasionally misguided production, For the Sake of the Song remains a classic debut. These songs make clear that Van Zandt's genius was already fully formed, and as both a composer and a performer he was a man of rare gifts; even when the backing threatens to drown him out, his gifts come shining through, and For the Sake of the Song was an auspicious debut offering from a talent of the first order. 
by Mark Deming

For those of us who discovered Townes Van Zandt late, after he'd already reaped the damages of his life, the image is seared into our collective memory. In his latter days, Van Zandt's impossibly thin frame had weathered to the point that he looked like the fates had left him alive out of spite. Years of travelling, hard living, and an addictive streak had taken their toll, but he never lost touch with the crucible of experience and emotion that had fueled his songs from the beginning. His last performances were reportedly so full of emotion that several ended short with Van Zandt wracked by pain and emotion.

Such wasn't always the case, a fact made plainly clear by Tomato's recent reissues of Van Zandt's early material. At the somewhat tender age of 24, Van Zandt eased onto the folk/country scene with songwriting wisdom beyond his years, as if he'd gotten the chance to look ahead at how the years would waste him and write from that perspective. Not everything Van Zandt wrote had one foot in the grave, but he was obviously attuned to the blues and even his songs about fresh love often carried the scent of impending heartbreak. Even at the beginning, he looked like a good wind could blow him across three counties, but his voice was strong and his songwriting possessed a pureness and clarity that he should have needed many more years to attain.

Right out of the gate with 1968's For the Sake of the Song, Van Zandt already held several signature songs in hand -- "Tecumseh Valley", "Many a Fine Lady", and "Waiting Around to Die", and the title track -- but it's a wonder he got the chance to record any more. For the Sake of the Song may be a product of its time, when a specific "Nashville Sound" was no less entrenched than it is today, but the arrangements on Van Zandt's first batch of songs are inappropriate at best, unintentionally hilarious at worst. Even without the benefit of hearing much better, much less cluttered versions of these songs, most listeners would agree that the production doesn't match these songs at all. Producer Jack Clement has since apologized for over-producing For the Sake of the Song, but "overproduction" may be an understatement. Van Zandt entered the studio with nimble picking, an Old World flavor by way of Appalachia, and a confident voice. Clement met him with harpsichords, flutes, martial drum beats, and a whole host of backup singers that would make the most overproduced Southern Gospel album hang its head in disgrace.

It's little wonder that Van Zandt began revisiting his best songs as soon as possible. His second album, 1969's Our Mother the Mountain, already finds him reprising "Tecumseh Valley". Gone is the brisk pace and percussion that sounds like horse's hooves (that someone thought fit this bleak tale of a prostitute dying cold and alone) in favor of the more restrained version we recognize today. More importantly, Van Zandt makes crucial lyrical changes. On the For the Sake of the Song version, the protagonist "took to walking" and many men chose to "walk that road beside her". On Our Mother the Mountain, she "took to whoring out on the streets with all the lust inside her . . . and it was many a man returned again to lay himself beside her". 

The arrangement is still a bit spry -- especially in light of Van Zandt's stark live readings -- but it's a vast improvement. "Tecumseh Valley" is one of the saddest and most complete character portraits Van Zandt ever wrote, although it's upstaged by the song that precedes it. "St. John the Gambler" is more mythic and abstract than "Tecumseh Valley" but it's a heartrending portrait nevertheless, especially by the time Van Zandt sings, "she heard his laughter ride down from the mountain / And dance with her mother's tears / To a funeral drawn of calico / 'Neath the cross of 20 years". It's a perfect song -- one that'll make you lose several minutes of your life in a listening trance -- and one of the first instances where the strings that follow Van Zandt's songs are actually sympathetic to the subject and not a hindrance. Our Mother the Mountain also introduces "Kathleen", "Snake Mountain Blues", "Like a Summer Thursday", and the spooky title cut -- no slouches themselves.
by Andrew Gilstrap, 24 Mar 2003
Disc 1 For The Sake Of The Song 1968
1. For The Sake Of The Song - 4:45
2. Tecumseh Valley - 2:40
3. Many A Fine Lady - 3:52
4. Quick Silver Daydreams Of Maria - 3:41
5. Waitin' Around To Die - 2:22
6. I'll Be There In The Morning - 2:42
7. Sad Cinderella - 4:40
8. The Velvet Voices - 3:12
9. All Your Young Servants - 3:04
10.Talkin' Karate Blues - 3:01
11.Sixteen Summers, Fifteen Falls - 2:36
Music and Lyrics by Townes Van Zandt
Disc 2 Our Mother The Mountain  1969
1. Be Here To Love Me - 2:36
2. Kathleen - 2:45
3. She Came And She Touched Me - 4:00
4. Like A Summer Thursday - 3:00
5. Our Mother The Mountain - 4:13
6. Second Lovers Song - 2:12
7. St. John The Gambler - 3:02
8. Tecumseh Valley - 4:45
9. Snake Mountain Blues - 2:36
10.My Proud Mountains - 4:59
11.Why She's Acting This Way - 5:32
Music and Lyrics by Townes Van Zandt

*Townes Van Zandt - Vocals, Guitar
Disc 2 Our Mother The Mountain  1969
*Ben Bennay - Harmonica
*James Burton - Dobro, Guitar
*John Clauder - Drums
*David Cohen - Guitar
*Chuck Domanico - Bass
*Jack Clement - Guitar
*Charlie Mccoy - Bass, Guitar, Harmonica, Organ, Recorder
*Lyle Ritz - Bass
*Don Randi - Keyboards
*Harvey Newmark - Bass
*Mike Deasy - Guitar
*Donald Frost - Drums
*Jules Jacob - Flute
*Bergen White - String Arrangements

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Friday, June 15, 2018

Point Blank - Second Season (1977 us, hard southern blues rock, 2006 edition)

Point Blank hails from Texas and has stayed one of the most underrated bands from the 70’s Southern rock scene. They released six albums between 1976 and 1982 before breaking up. The band made come back in 2005 and released new studio album in 2009.

Point Blank rose from the ashes of local Dallas/Forth Worth area band Southpaw and was officially formed in 1974 by guitarists Rusty Burns and Kim Davis, lead singer John O’Daniel, drummer Buzzy Gruen and bassist Phillip Petty. Their self-titled debut album was produced by ZZ Top affliated Bill Ham and introduced a band that was up to par with Blackfoot and Molly Hatchet.

Point Blank`s relationship with Arista Records ended after follow up album, Second Coming. With the success of their eponymous debut recording, Point Blank had a reasonable amount of momentum heading into the studio to record Second Season. But rather than rearrange or pepper things up a bit in the recording process, Point Blank pretty much stay the same as they did for their first record: a five-piece (they ditched the keyboardist) writing songs around crunchy blues guitar riffs that resemble a hybrid of British hard rock and Southern rock.
1. Part Time Lover (John O’Daniel, Kim Davis, Peter Buzzy Gruen, Phillip Petty, Rusty Burns) - 3:52
2. Back In The Alley (John O’Daniel, Kim Davis, Peter Buzzy Gruen, Phillip Petty, Rusty Burns) - 4:18
3. Rock And Roll Hideaway (John O’Daniel, Kim Davis, Peter Buzzy Gruen, Phillip Petty, Rusty Burns) - 3:14
4. Stars And Scars (Kim Davis, Phillip Petty, Rusty Burns) - 8:19
5. Beautiful Loser (Bob Seeger) - 4:03
6. Uncle Ned (John O’Daniel, Kim Davis, Peter Buzzy Gruen, Phillip Petty, Rusty Burns) - 3:49
7. Tattooed Lady (Kim Davis, Phillip Petty, Rusty Burns) - 4:12
8. Nasty Notions (John O’Daniel, Kim Davis, Peter Buzzy Gruen, Phillip Petty, Rusty Burns) - 3:20
9. Waiting For A Change (Rusty Burns) - 4:45

Point Blank
*Rusty Burns - Guitar, Slide Guitar, Vocals
*Kim Davis - Guitar, Vocals
*John O'Daniel - Vocals
*Peter Buzzy Gruen - Drums, Percussion
*Phillip Petty - Bass

1976  Point Blank - Point Blank (2006 issue) 

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Outlaws - The Outlaws (1975 us, awesome southern blues rock, 2001 remaster)

By the mid-'70s, Southern bands seemed be making a last stand for rock & roll, with two- and three-guitar lineups and not a keyboard in sight. The Outlaws' self-titled debut was released in 1975, a few years after the Allman Brothers Band's greatest glories and a couple of years before the untimely demise of the original Lynyrd Skynyrd. The Outlaws latched onto their Southern heritage by way of Florida, threw in some harmony by way of the Eagles, and then wrote a number of songs that played to their strengths. The result was -- and is -- a good classic rock & roll album. 

Several of the Outlaws' best songs are present here, including "There Goes Another Love Song," "Green Grass and High Tides," and "Song for You." Hughie Thomasson only sings lead on these three songs, but since two of them were the best-known Outlaw songs, it is his voice that is most associated with the band. It's fun to hear cuts like "Song for You" and "Knoxville Girl," which never received a lot of radio play. "Keep Prayin'," sung by Henry Paul and Billy Jones, is a fine piece of Southern boogie with high soaring harmony on the chorus.

Although "Green Grass and High Tides" has been played a million and six times on album-oriented rock stations, it nonetheless deserves mention. Created in the tradition of the Allman Brothers Band's "Dreams" and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird," the song still sounds fresh in the context of the album, and doesn't feel long at its nearly ten-minute length. The Outlaws' debut blew a fresh blast of rock & roll onto a scene increasingly dominated by synthesizers and dance music. It will leave the listener singing along and dreaming about the good ol' days. 
by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
1. There Goes Another Love Song (Hughie Thomasson, Monte Yoho) - 3:04
2. Song For You (Billy Jones, Hughie Thomasson) - 3:33
3. Song In The Breeze (Henry Paul) - 3:08
4. It Follows From Your Heart (Billy Jones) - 5:22
5. Cry No More (Billy Jones) - 4:20
6. Waterhole (Instrumental) (Hughie Thomasson, Monte Yoho, Billy Jones, Frank O’Keefe, Henry Paul) - 2:06
7. Stay With Me (Henry Paul) - 3:31
8. Keep Prayin' (Frank O’Keefe) - 2:46
9. Knoxville Girl (Henry Paul) - 3:32
10. Green Grass And High Tides (Hughie Thomasson) - 9:51

*Hughie Thomasson - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Billy Jones - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Monte Yoho - Drums
*Frank O'Keefe - Bass Guitar
*Henry Paul - Electric, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*J.D. Souther - Harmonies

1973-81  Outlaws – Anthology / Live 'n' Rare (2012 four discs release)

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Paris - Big Towne 2061 (1976 us / uk, magnificent melt of guitar rock funky vibes and prog rock, 2013 japan SHM remaster)

"Paris" was the band that I started with Glenn Cornick  after I left Fleetwood Mac. I had wanted to try doing some heavier rock , like Led Zeppelin was doing at the time.  During the last six months of 1974 , while touring with FM , I had been spending a lot of my off time talking to Jimmy Robinson who was an engineer that we had met while working either at Larrabee Studios , or (more likely) the Record Plant studio in LA. I think it was Jimmy who suggested Thom Mooney , who he knew. (ex-Nazz and Todd Rundgren drummer). Glenn Cornick was also between bands , and since we knew each other pretty well (he had been married to an ex girlfriend of mine , Judy Wong) I asked him if he wanted to start a hard rock trio. 

I think Glenn and I came up with the name "Paris". For one thing , I had lived and worked in the actual city of Paris (the French one , not Tennessee) and Glenn Cornick and I had first met when he was playing a gig there with Jethro Tull. Also , by the name Paris , we wanted to imply that , although this would be a "hard rock" trio , it would have a certain level of refinement and not just be" headbangers " Glenn and I both wanted to do something along the lines of what Led Zeppelin was doing. I personally wanted to rock a little harder than I had been able to do with Fleetwood Mac. Lucky for me, Fleetwood Mac was taking off at the time with the "White" album , which would contain their 1st ever # 1 single. That meant that there was a fair amount of interest in me as an ex FM member. 

John Carter at Capitol records was the one who finally bit the bullet (after a couple of passes) and gave us a demo budget. Capitol liked the demo  and Al Cory decided to sign us. That was about the last of the smart moves Paris ever made. We cut the record up at the Record Plant studios in Sausalito CA , a beautiful location by the bay, in the "pit" , which was a studio built especially for Sly Stone by the Record Plant owners, Chris Stone and Gary Kellgren. The "pit" was very unusual at the time ; it had no glass wall between the control room and the players space as was customary (and necessary because of leakage). The walls- floor to ceiling- were carpeted in bright maroon plush , and you could play or sing plugged in "direct" into the console while you were lying down. 

The "pit" also had a couple of bedrooms with microphone jacks in the head boards , so Sly, or whoever was in the bed could do vocals while under the covers. It really was the height of '70's "over the topness"... Once I woke up and the clock said "2". I thought, "oh , I'm late , it's 2pm and we better get started". I peeked ouside for a minute, and realized it was 2 am , not 2pm. I had been asleep for 24 hours. Yes, there were lots of drugs at those sessions. I especially remember a Bayer aspirin bottle full of coke, that was constantly replenished ( from the album budget !!). And Gary Kellgren was a big fan of nitrous oxide , of which there were tanks aplenty. 

Every so often a little opium would appear from somewhere. In 1975, Sausalito California was overrun with drug dealers. It was still considered fashionable and chic to do coke. If you didn't pull out your little bottle and offer some around, you were considered to be rude and ungracious. Half the time I didn't know what day, or what hour of the day, or even what month it was. Let me be clear here; Glenn Cornick never did drugs, that I know of. Neither did Thom Mooney. I was a bit more prudish than some of the real " heroic imbibers" ( who I won't name) . I was a "nothing till after the 5 o'clock cocktail hour" type of guy. Maybe that's one reason why I'm still alive... In retrospect , with Paris , I was in too much of a hurry . We probably should have let the band develop a little further , tour constantly, and find an audience. 

As it happened, Hunt Sales came down with a case of Bells Palsy  (which paralyzes your face muscles), and we had to go on a long break. In that interval, I wrote "French Kiss"...and Paris just sort of faded. If the 2nd Paris album "Big Towne 2061" had done a little better, and/or we had stayed on the road.... who knows.......?
by Bob Welch

On June 7th 2012, Bob Welch, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said. He was 65.
1. Blue Robin - 2:28
2. Big Towne, 2061 - 4:33
3. Pale Horse, Pale Rider - 3:25
4. New Orleans - 4:18
5. Outlaw Game (Bob Welch, Hunt Sales) - 5:20
6. Money Love (Bob Welch, Hunt Sales) - 3:54
7. Heart Of Stone - 2:42
8. Slave Trader - 3:11
9. 1 In 10 - 3:01
10.Janie (Bob Welch, Glenn Cornick) - 7:28
All songs written by Bob Welch, except where noted.

*Bob Welch - Vocals, Guitar
*Glenn Cornick - Bass, Keyboards
*Hunt Sales - Vocals, Drums, Percussion

1975  Paris - Paris (2013 japan SHM remaster)

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Catherine Howe - What A Beautiful Place (1971 uk, wondrous orchestrated folk jazzy satin rock, 2007 remaster)

What a beautiful album this is - the kind of lost MOR-folk classic we all hope to discover in the wake of Judee Sill, Vashti Bunyan, Linda Perhacs and their ilk. It's like some missing link between Sandy Denny and Karen Carpenter, or Ladies of the Canyon and Dusty in Memphis . Chicago's ultra-cool Numero label should be congratulated on unearthing it.

Catherine Howe was a Kate Bush before her time, an English girl with a pretty face and an artlessly pretty voice who through pure serendipity was paired with eccentric American producer Bobby Scott. Over two weeks in February 1971, the 20-year-old Howe and 33-year-old Scott worked together at Soho's Trident Studios to create this lush masterpiece. But barely had it been released when the label that released it - CBS subsidiary Reflection - went belly-up. Nobody got to hear What a Beautiful Place bar a few journalists and industry insiders.

Halifax-born Howe had touted songs around after her early training as an actress at London's Corona drama school. A chance encounter with Reflection's Andrew Cameron Miller led to 1969 demos and, eventually, the sessions at Trident. Classically-trained Scott, who had co-written the Beatles' 'A Taste of Honey' and the Hollies' 'He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother', was instantly smitten by the wide-eyed wonder of the girl's songs and set to work writing the extraordinary orchestrations we hear on the album.

To these ears, the intricate strings and haunting woodwind - courtesy of the LSO, no less - on songs such as 'My Child' and 'On a Misty Morning' recall nothing so much as the spooky melancholy of Bergen White's brilliant For Women Only (1969). If you love pure female voices sailing over oboes and harpsichords, look no further. 'It's Not Likely' suggests a more ethereal Sandy Denny; 'Words Through a Locked Door' could be Dusty Springfield covering Joni Mitchell. 'It Comes With the Breezes' is a wafting samba for a summer night, the gallivanting title track a pastoral Laura Nyro. Gracing every track, moreover, are Scott's frenetically funky piano fills.

If What a Beautiful Place is a perfect artefact of its time, complete with a hazy cover image of Howe by the lake at Kenwood House, even then it was out of step with fashion. Happily, as the gorgeous bonus track 'In the Hot Summer' attests, Howe survived the disappointment of her debut's premature death and has recorded further albums.
by Barney Hoskyns
1. Prologue - 0:47
2. Up North - 4:06
3. On A Misty Morning - 2:34
4. Nothing More Than Strangers - 2:10
5. My Child - 2:36
6. Interlude - 0:45
7. It's Not Likely - 3:52
8. Words Through A Locked Door (Bobby Scott, Catherine Howe) - 3:49
9. What A Beautiful Place - 3:28
10.The Innocence Of A Child - 2:32
11.It Comes With The Breezes - 3:28
12.Epilogue - 0:51
13.In The Hot Summer - 2:57
All songs by Catherine Howe except track #8

*Catherine Howe - Vocals
*Stan Gorman - Drums
*Mike Ward - Bass
*Lance D'Owen - Guitar
*Bobby Scott - Piano, Vibraphone

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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Point Blank - Point Blank (1976 us, tough southern boogie rock, 2006 issue)

Point Blank was formed in 1974 in Texas and toured with ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynard, Marshall Tucker and other Southern rock bands for two years before releasing their self-titled debut album in 1976. Following the release of their second album, Second Season, they become one of the most booked, and consistent touring acts in Southern rock history. 

They would play over two-hundred concerts a year. They played with nearly every known Southern rock band and became close friends with many of them. They shared the same management with ZZ TOP and are still friends with them to this day. Before the release of their third album, Airplay, the bassist Phillip Petty quit and was replaced by Bill Randolph. The keyboardist Steve Hardin was brought in and they recorded his song, "Mean to Your Queenie", which the band plays at every concert. The Hard Way released in 1980 had a new keyboardist, Karl Berkebile and shortly after the vocalist John O'Daniel left the band and was replaced by Bubba Keith. 

Around 1981 their music took a turn into album oriented rock (AOR), which is an album format with greater commercial appeal, and Mike Hamilton became the new keyboardist. Their next album, American Exce$$, produced the hit song, "Nicole" which charted at #20 on Billboard Magazine's rock tracks chart and at #39 on Billboard's Hot 100. In 1982 their final album, On A Roll was released but internal turmoil would cause the band to break up in 1983.
1. Free Man (James Burns, John O'Daniel) - 5:08
2. Moving (James Burns, Kim Davis, Peter Gruen, John O'Daniel, Phillip Petty) - 2:57
3. Wandering (James Burns, Kim Davis, Peter Gruen, John O'Daniel, Phillip Petty) - 5:19
4. Bad Bees (James Burns, Phillip Petty) - 2:31
5. That's The Law (James Burns, Kim Davis, Peter Gruen, John O'Daniel, Phillip Petty) - 3:41
6. Lone Star Fool (Kim Davis, John O'Daniel) - 4:18
7. Distance (James Burns, Kim Davis, Peter Gruen, John O'Daniel, Phillip Petty) - 5:12
8. In This World (Kim Davis, John O'Daniel) - 3:09

The Point Blank
*Rusty Burns - Guitar
*Kim Davis - Guitar
*John O'Daniel - Vocals
*Buzzy Gruen - Drums
*Phillip Petty - Bass

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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Dillinger - Don't Lie To The Band (1976 canada, good hard rock with prog shades)

Dillinger was formed by the Harrison brothers - Jacques (vocals, flute, sax, organ) and Robert (drums) in 1973. Although they were originally from Montreal, they'd moved to Toronto to try and access a bigger rock and roll audience, and along with guitarist Paul Cockburn and Terry Bramhall on bass and accordian, they worked the circuit and Cliff Hunt agreed to manage them.

They were spotted playing one night by Frank Davies, president of Daffodil Records. He signed them to a deal and produced their self-titled debut album in 1974. The music was highly progressive with psychadelic undertones, heavy on organ and guitars. But with only four tracks, including the 17-minute epic "Live and Return," only their cover of Spirit's "Nature's Way" was short enough for radio airplay. It didn't get it, and no singles were released. Although the lead-off "People" however did wind up on a Daffodil compilation album later that year, the album came and went without a whimper.

After another year of constant touring around the central Canada region, they returned with DON'T LIE TO THE BAND in '76. With Davies again at the helm, this time it featured Terry Brown (Klaatu, Rush, and a million others) and John Woloschuk helping in the studio. Recording had been over four months in the process, and the music was shifting toward a more accessible sound. Like its predecessor, the bulk of the material was written by either Cockburn or Jacques Harrison, but also featured a cover of The Beatles' "Taxman" and Spooky Tooth's "Two Time Love." The tender ballad "Coming Home" also showed a new side of the band. The songs were shorter, were generally moving towards a heavier and simpler sound, and were more radio friendly, but no singles were released.
1. Two Time Love (Mick Jones, Mike Patto, Gary Wright) - 3:12
2. Taxman (George Harrison) - 3:05
3. It's Not All Mine (Paul Cockburn) - 3:37
4. Munchkin Men (Paul Cockburn) - 9:32
5. You Lied (Terry Bramhall, Paul Cockburn, Jacques Harrison) - 8:04
6. Robot Race (Terry Bramhall, Jacques Harrison) - 6:04
7. Coming Home (Paul Cockburn) - 7:50
8. Bumpadidilly (Paul Cockburn) - 3:10

*Jacques Harrison - Mellotron, Minimoog, Piano, Organ, Harpsichord, Tenor,  Alto Saxophones, Flute, Accordion, Vocals
*Bob Harrison - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Paul Cockburn - Guitars, Vocals
*Terry Bramhall - Bass, Accordion, Vocals

1974  Dillinger - Dillinger

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Dillinger - Dillinger (1974 canada, exceptional hard prog rock)

Dillinger was a Canadian progressive band from Toronto, Ontario. The band's debut self-titled album was originally released on the Daffodil Records label in 1974. The album contains three original songs composed by the band and a superb cover of the song "Nature's Way," originally done by Spirit on The 12 Dreams of Dr Sardonicus album. 

Dillinger's music is a complex, guitar-and-organ fronted progressive sound which moves from jazz to blues and features a variety of instruments including piano, synthesizers, flute, sax, acoustic and electric guitars bass, and percussion. In places the band sounds like Santana, while in other places like Iron Butterfly or Emerson, Lake & Palmer.Dillinger has a unique sound for a Canadian band that attracted more attention in Europe than it did in North America. 

With long songs and drawn-out solos, Dillinger is more or less one of your typical early-'70s progressive bands, nothing special, but nonetheless interesting and typical of the genre. This release by Unidisc is a straight reissue of the original album at a budget price and contains no bonus tracks. 
by Keith Pettipas
1. People (Jacques Harrison) - 6:14
2. City Main (Jacques Harrison) - 4:50
3. Nature's Way (Randy California) - 3:17
4. Live and Return (Paul Cockburn, Jacques Harrison) - 17:02

*Jacques Harrison - Keyboards, Vocals, Sax, Flute, Organ
*Robert Harrison - Drums, Percussions, Vocals
*Paul Cockburn - Electric, 12, 6 Strings Acoustic Guitars
*Terry Bramhall – Bass, Vocals
*Bruce Ley - Piano, Synthesizer
*R.M.I. - Piano
*David Classic - Trombone
*John Stewart - Vocals
*Carla Jansen - Vocals
*Judy Donnely - Vocals

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Monday, June 4, 2018

Blue Goose - Blue Goose (1975 uk, excellent hard boogie jam rock, 2005 japan remaster)

Guitarist Allan Callan with Eddie Clarke, keyboard player Nicky Hogarth, and drummer Chris Perry, attended a recorded jam session at Command Studios in Piccadilly. As a result of the tracks from this session, the quartet secured a deal with Anchor Records, and called the band Blue Goose. With a recording contract secured, Clarke, Hogarth and Perry left Zeus to focus on their own project with Callan.

An argument soon erupted between Clarke and Callan, because Callan did not have any amplifiers. Clarke had allowed him to share his during rehearsals, but Clarke then found he could not hear his solos because Callan was drowning him out. The argument ended with Clarke being sacked. Still short of amps, the band asked him to re-join a few days later. Clarke refused, feeling that they were doing Anchor Records an injustice because they had been paid an advance to record an album, but had done nothing productive towards making it. 

Blue Goose finally released their eponymous album through Anchor in 1974, crediting an instrumental track, entitled "Over The Top", to Clarke-Hogarth-Perry. A jamming crunchy guitar rock, strong vocal presence, great dynamics, keyboards and harmonica, shame this was a one-off!. The group didn’t last so they disbanded soon after. 

1. Struttin' Stuff - 5:12
2. The Chorus - 6:42
3. Call On Me - 4:32
4. Loretta - 3:47
5. Snowman - 4:48
6. Over The Top (Chris Perry, Eddie Clarke, Nicky Hogarth) - 2:27
7. Let Me Know - 3:38
8. Inside Yourself - 9:20
All songs by Alan Callan except track #6

The Blue Goose
Allan Callan - Guitar, Vocals, Harp, Synthi
Nicky Hogarth - Keyboards
Chris Perry - Drums
Nick South - Bass
Mike Todman - Acoustic, Electric Guitars
Alexis Korner - Vocals
Steve Marriott - Vocals
Sean Locke - Drums

1974  Curtis Knight Zeus - The Second Coming (2009 bonus track edition)

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Sunday, June 3, 2018

John G. Perry - Sunset Wading (1976 uk, beautiful canterbury avant garde prog rock, 2008 japan SHM remaster)

With a pedigree that includes playing with Caravan, Quantum Jump and Curved Air as well session work on albums by highly regarded artists such as Anthony Phillips and Gordan Giltrap, the name of bassist John G Perry will be familiar to many. What may not be so well known is that Perry recorded a solo album way back in 1976 that was somewhat lost in the musical climate of the time. The various bands he had played in and the musicians he had met during sessions allowed him to assemble an impressive cast of friends to perform on the album, among which were Caravan bandmate Geoffrey Richardson, producer and multi-instrumentalist Rupert Hine, arranger, conductor and future founder of The Penguin Cafe Orchestra Simon Jeffes, percussionist extraordinaire Morris Pert, original King Crimson drummer Michael Giles plus two members of Italian progressive band Nova, saxophonist Elio D'Anna and guitarist Carrado (or Corrado) Rusticci.

Competing in the market place against debut albums by The Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned, the rural airs and graces of the largely instrumental Sunset Wading never really stood a chance. The four vocal numbers are all very brief: I Wait My Friend features Beryle Streeter who does a remarkable impression of a theremin on this plaintive opening number. Confusingly, the words to How Goes The Night? feature in the song Devoke Water and the spoken poem On The Moor is recited in Morning Song! Thankfully the words to Sunset Wading are sung during the song of the same name and form a quite mellow end to the album with a track that is charmingly beautiful and serene.

The rest of the album is a mixture of various textures, from the piano and flute of Birds And Small Furry Beasts, the musical storm of, er Storm, the rocky Ah Well, You Can Only Get Wet! and the jazz fusion of Etude, there are certainly enough styles to keep one's interest alight. Throughout, the playing is exceptional, with hats off in particular to Simon Jeffes whose arrangements for the string quartet are entirely sympathetic to the music performed by the rest of the band. Perry himself contributes some fine bass playing in a variety of styles creating rhythms that are often funky and always great. The second side of the album, starting with Dawn, is a musical concept undoubtedly inspired by the Rupert Hine poem The Land Of The Lakes. Based around a day in the Lake District, and featuring unedited sound backdrops recorded on location and revealing "the first cock-crow at Down-in-the-Dale to the last breakfast hungry farm hound". Much of the music has a feel of being improvised or jammed, but with musicians of such calibre that is not a criticism, but a bonus, particularly as there maintains a cohesion between tracks, despite the different styles. That has a lot to do with the work of Richardson who, I feel, has always been immensely undervalued as a musician.

Sunset Wading is an album that fits in neatly with the music of Perry's most famous previous band mates, that of Caravan. Although not some great long lost classic album, it does provide 40 minutes of largely unchallenging, familiarly rural and interesting music. Had it been released a few years earlier then it would have undoubtedly made a bigger impact, but as is the case for a large number of albums that were out of their time, it has largely laid unnoticed for many years. Now's the time for rectification! 
by Mark Hughes
1. I Wait My Friend - 2:24
2. How Goes the Night? - 0:15
3. Devoke Water (John G. Perry, Michael Giles, Rupert Hine, Simon Jeffes) - 4:51
4. Birds and Small Furry Beasts (Corrado Rustici, Elio D'Anna, John G. Perry, Rupert Hine) - 3:19
5. As Clouds Gather - 3:45
6. Storm - 2:59
7. Ah Well, You Can Only Get Wet! (Corrado Rustici, Elio D'Anna, John G. Perry, Michael Giles, Morris Pert, Rupert Hine) - 1:56
8. Dawn (John G. Perry, Michael Giles, Rupert Hine, Simon Jeffes) - 7:05
9. Morning Song (John G. Perry, Simon Jeffes) - 3:09
10.On the Moor (Corrado Rustici, Elio D'Anna, John G. Perry, Michael Giles, Morris Pert, Rupert Hine) - 1:53
11.Roundelay - 0:51
12.Etude - 3:33
13.A Rhythmic Stroll (Corrado Rustici, Elio D'Anna, John G. Perry, Michael Giles, Morris Pert, Rupert Hine) - 1:12
14.Sunset Wading - 2:35
All compositions by John G. Perry except where noted

*John G. Perry - Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Piano, Vocals
*Elio D'anna - Wind
*Michael Giles - Drums,
*Roger Glover - Synthesizer
*Rupert Hine - Celeste, Keyboards, Moog Bass, Piano, Synthesizer, Vocals
*Simon Jeffes - Conductor, Koto, String Quartet
*Morris Pert - Marimba, Percussion, Vibe Master
*Geoff Richardson - Flute, Viola
*Geoffrey Richardson - Flute, Viola
*Corrado Rustici - Guitar
*Beryl Streeter - Sangbe Drum, Vocals
*Gavyn Wright - Violin

Related Act
1973  Caravan - For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night (SHM extra tracks issue)
1974  Caravan - Caravan And The New Symphonia (SHM remaster)

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Saturday, June 2, 2018

Jane - Here We Are (1973 germany, astonishing heavy krautrock, 2007 remaster)

The history of one of Germany's most successful bands of the 1970's was shaped by numerous changes in the line-up, a willingness to take stylistic risks, and an attitude towards their work that was characterised by honesty and professionalism. The naked figures read like this - twelve albums with total sales exceeding two million and an average of 150 concerts each year, each of them usually sold out.

Musically speaking, Jane were never a band to do the expected, but they still had some recognisable trademarks. Breathtaking guitar solos, powerful keyboards, polished and mighty arrangements and an almost constantly dragging tempo added up to the typical Jane touch and were characteristic for a melodic hard rock that had no equal in Germany.

Jane were formed in October of 1970 in Hanover out of the remains of the band Justice Of Peace. Klaus Hess (g), Peter Panka (dr) and Werner Nadolny (org) were looking for a new challenge and got together with Charly Maucher (b). In the Spring of 1971, they were joined by Bernd Pulst, a singer with a powerful voice. Shortly after that, the quintet signed a long-term record contract. After almost one year of work, Jane's debut album "Together" was released in the spring of 1972. The German rock world reacted positively to the technically well-versed newcomers and their "unvarnished style of making music"

For the second LP, Wolfgang Krantz had to fill in for Maucher, who was sick, and Panka took the place of Bernd Pulst as lead singer. The initial success and their convincing live performances made Jane an attraction on the national touring scene. The band constantly commuted back and forth between stage and studio and absorbed numerous changes in the line-up effortlessly and without any quality loss. 
1. Redskin - 8:55
2. Out In The Rain - 5:43
3. Dandelion - 2:19
4. Moving - 3:56
5. Waterfall - 4:27
6. Like A Queen - 2:37
7. Here We Are - 5:38
8. Here We Are (Singe Edit) - 3:50
9. Redskin (Single Edit) - 2:40
All songs by Klaus Hess, Peter Panka, Werner Nadolny, Wolfgang Krantz.
Bonustracks 8-9

*Klaus Hess - Lead Guitar, Bass
*Wolfgang Krantz - Lead Guitar, Bass
*Werner Nadolny - Organ, Mellotron
*Peter Panka - Drums, Vocals
*Brigitte Blunck - Backing Vocals
*Ariane Gottberg - Backing Vocals
*Peter Heinemann - Backing Vocals
*Miriam Kalenberg - Backing Vocals
*Günter Körber - Backing Vocals
*Angelika Winkler - Backing Vocals
*Dieter Dierks - Electronics

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Tranquility - Tranquility (1972 uk, marvelous folk soft rock, 2004 remaster)

If you ever wondered what the love child of the Bee Gees and Crosby, Stills and Nash would sound like, wonder no more – the pointy-headed creature would sound like Tranquility.

The story of short-lived career of Tranquility is a difficult one to track; now largely forgotten, the band has neither a biography at AllMusic or a Wikipedia page. A fairly short history of the band’s 1971-1974 duration can be found on a page dedicated to Vanity Fare, but aside from that, little exists on the Internet about Tranquility.

The dichotomy of a band that references the Bee Gees and CSN in equal measure is not surprising, considering the band’s origins. According to the Vanity Fare page:

“The band was formed in 1971 by Ashley Kozak, formerly Donovan’s manager, and built around the song writing abilities of Terry Shaddick. Kozak had long wished for a “…gentle tranquil band that could create it own hybrid of pop, rock and English folk music” (CBS Inner Sleeve Issue III, 1973), and in Shaddick, he saw the focal point for creation of just such a band.”

From the meager info provided by AllMusic, it appears that Shaddick had a hand in all of the songs featured on Tranquility, and satisfied the intent of Kozak’s wishes, if not the spirit; Shaddick and company rarely hybridize pop, rock and English folk, but hit each of the points individually, song-by-song.

The best songs on Tranquility lean more toward folk; album opener “Try Again” is all innocuous confessional lyrics married to acoustic guitars and tight harmonies. Likewise, “Look at the Time, It’s Late” mimics the best of the Bee Gees’ late-60s-early 70s pop. Just as many times, the album aims for CSN or the Bee Gees and misses; “Lady of the Lake,” “Ride Upon the Sun,” and “Walk Along the Road” are pleasant but forgettable.

“Oyster Catcher” and “Black Current Betty” are almost jarringly out-of-place on an album full of CSN-lite offerings. Both songs recall 1967-68, when, inspired by Sgt. Pepper, every British album had to include a few music hall-type numbers full of twee Angliophilia. Of the two songs, “Black Current Betty” (which I’m almost certain should be “Black Currant Betty,” and the writer on the Vanity Fare page agrees) is the most listenable, even if “Penny Lane,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” or even “Hello Hello” by Sopwith Camel got there first and more memorably.

Tranquility is hardly a buried classic, even if the Vanity Fare page claims that  the band “blew more than one big-name U.S. band off the stage.” All this begs the question: are some bands/albums better lost to history?

In the case of Tranquility’s 1972 self-titled debut, that depends on your tolerance for an album that veers wildly between introspective singer-songwriter offerings featuring CSN-type harmonies and English pop that would have sounded at home on Chad & Jeremy’s Of Cabbages and Kings.
by Jeanna
1. Try Again - 4:34
2. Ride Upon The Sun - 4:32
3. Where You Are (Where I Belong) - 6:24
4. Look At The Time It's Late (John Presley, Terry Shaddick) - 2:31
5. Lady Of The Lake - 3:24
6. Walk Along The Road - 3:24
7. Thank You (Tony Lukyn, Terry Shaddick) - 3:55
8. Oyster Catcher - 4:32
9. Black Currant Betty - 2:50
10.Saying Good-Bye - 5:42
All songs by Terry Shaddick except where stated

*Eric Dillon - Drums, Percussion
*Tony Lukyn - Vocals, Piano, Organ
*John Perry - Vocals, Guitar
*Terry Shaddick - Vocals, Lead Guitar
*Berkeley Wright - Vocals, Lead Guitar

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Johnny Jenkins - Ton Ton Macoute! (1970 us, amazing southern blues funky with country folk psych traces, feat Duane Allman, HDCD remaster)

Raised in rural Georgia, Johnny Jenkins was a hard-driving guitarist with a bellowing voice who played with a young Otis Redding in a blues group called the Pinetoppers. Jenkins' raw, firebrand vocals and enviable guitar-picking gave his solo debut, Ton-Ton Macoute!, a wallop that might've made him a star — if only slide guitarist Duane Allman and several other members of his backing band hadn't left to form the Allman Brothers. In Jenkins' capable hands, Bob Dylan's "Down Along the Cove" and Dr. John's "I Walk on Guilded Splinters" (later sampled by Beck for "Loser") can get even the stiffest legs shakin'
by Reed Fischer

Johnny Jenkins' Ton-Ton Macoute is a fine bowl of Southern gumbo. Aided and abetted by the likes of Duane Allman (this started as an Allman solo disc, but when he formed the Allman Brothers Band, Jenkins put his vocals over the tracks best suited), Dickey Betts, and those great guys from Muscle Shoals, Jenkins cooks on such cuts as "Down Along the Cove" from the pen of Bob Dylan, and Muddy Waters' "Rollin' Stone." But it is Dr. John's "I Walk on Guilded Splinters" which shines here and is the one which folks will recognize as the basis for Beck's hit "Loser." On the slippery "Blind Bats & Swamp Rats" you can almost feel the heat and humidity rolling out of the bayou. This reissue also includes the mighty fine bonus cuts "I Don't Want No Woman" and "My Love Will Never Die." Great Southern funk & roll for the discerning listener. It even includes educational liner notes which tell the tale behind each cut. 
by James Chrispell
1. I Walk On Guilded Splinters (Dr. John) - 5:50
2. Leaving Trunk (Sleepy John Estes) - 4:20
3. Blind Bats And Swamp Rats (Jackie Avery) - 4:45
4. Catfish Blues (Muddy Waters) - 5:20
5. Sick And Tired (Dave Bartholomew, Chris Kenner) - 4:42
6. Down Along The Cove (Bob Dylan) - 3:25
7. Bad News (J.D. Loudermilk) - 4:08
8. Dimples (John Lee Hooker, James Bracken) - 2:56
9. Voodoo In You (Jackie Avery) - 5:05
10.I Don't Want No Woman (Don Robey) - 2:12
11.My Love Will Never Die (Otis Rush) - 5:32

*Johnny Jenkins - Vocals, Guitar , Harmonica, Foot Stomping , Lead Guitar
*Duane Allman - Electric Guitar, Slide Guitar, Dobro, Rhythm Guitar
*Berry Oakley - Bass
*Jai Johanny Johanson - Timbales
*Butch Trucks - Drums
*Paul Hornsby - Wurlitzer Piano, Hammond B-3 Organ, Rhythm Guitar
*Eddie Hinton - Cowbell
*Tippy Armstrong - Cabasa
*Pete Carr - Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
*Robert Popwell – Bass, Timbales, Shaker , Woodblocks
*Johnny Wyker – Shaker,  Woodblocks
*Jimmy Nalls - Guitar
*Ella Brown - Vocals
*Donna Jean Godchaux – Vocals
*Jeanie Greene - Vocals
*Mary Holliday - Vocals
*Ginger Holliday - Vocals
*Johnny Sandlin - Drums

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Johnny Harris - Movements (1969-70 uk, sensational funky soul jazzy psych beats, 2002 remaster)

Johnny Harris is a composer, arranger, conductor and producer whose musical career spans more than 60 years. He trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, specialising in trumpet and piano, and spent his early career in the 1950s playing in dance bands. Towards the end of that decade, he had his first opportunities to arrange as part of Cyril Stapleton’s band. His time at Pye Records in the 1960s saw him work with Petula Clark, Lulu and Françoise Hardy as well as a host of less familiar acts whose recordings have since been rediscovered by fans of Northern Soul and British girl singers.

For two years at the end of the 1960s, Harris was Tom Jones’ musical director. The two men formed a dynamic partnership, with Harris himself attracting a lot of attention as a result of his energetic conducting style. In 1970, he helped turn around the career of Shirley Bassey, with whom he recorded ‘Something’ and an LP of the same name which went on to become Bassey’s biggest selling to that point. The two recorded a total of six albums together, with the singer telling the NME in 1971 that in Johnny Harris she had found her ‘husband in music’. Harris moved to the USA in 1972 where he began a long musical relationship with Paul Anka, as well as working with George Hamilton, Lynda Carter, Diana Ross and many others.
by Graham Tomlinson

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Despite ambitions to write and record his own work, Harris principally made his name as a musical arranger. His 1970 album, Movements, comprised mellifluous brass and woodwind, combined with the then novel VCS3 synthesizer, on treatments of standards such as ‘Paint It, Black’ and ‘Light My Fire’. Harris began his musical career by arranging two legendary British soul singles - Lorraine Silver’s ‘Lost Summer Love’ and A Band Of Angels’ ‘Invitation’ - both staples of the Wigan Casino all-nighters. 

1970 "Movements" is his most sought after release and it's aimed to please fans of soundtrack funk, groovy easy listening,  and brit pop psychedelia.  Highlights include the heavily comped "Fragments of Fear,"  the flutastic percussive groover "Stepping Stones," and his moody instrumental interpretation of the Stones' "Paint it Black" that is bound to excite the most seasoned of beat diggers.
1. Fragments Of Fear - 4:08
2. Reprise - 1:10
3. Stepping Stones - 5:22
4. Something (George Harrison) - 6:14
5. Give Peace A Chance (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 5:55
6. Footprints On The Moon - 3:11
7. Light My Fire (Jim Morrison, John Densmore, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger) - 4:49
8. Wichita Lineman (Jimmy Webb) - 3:30
9. Paint It Black (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) - 3:55
10. Lulu's Theme (Mono 45 Mix) - 2:25
11. Footprints On The Moon (Mono 45 Mix) - 2:57
All compositions by Johnny Harris except where stated
Fragments Of Fear" and "Stepping Stones" from the Columbia motion picture "Fragments Of Fear"

*Johnny Harris - Piano, Arranger, Conductor
*Herbie Flowers - Bass
*Harold Fisher - Drums
*Harold McNair - Flute
*Chris Spedding - Guitar
*Micky Gee - Guitar
*Roger Coulam - Organ
*Johnny Dean - Percussion
*Bobby Lamb - Trombone
*Tony Fisher - Trumpet
*Derek Healy - Trumpet

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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Bob Downes Open Music - Electric City (1970 uk, splendid groovy psych jazz rock, 2007 japan remaster)

Bob Downes is a talented multi-instrumentalist and composer and this album was one of his incursions into the world of jazz-rock, although he was equally at home playing in a free jazz context with his acoustic Open Music trio. Originally released on Polygram's Vertigo label, Electric City boasts the cream of British jazz musicians including Ian Carr, Kenny Wheeler, Harry Beckett, Chris Spedding, Ray Russell, Daryl Runswick and Harry Miller.

Songs such as the opening "No Time Like The Present" might have invited speculation that Polygram perceived Downes' eclectic music as something of a Trojan horse into the lucrative rock market—indeed, it was also released as Downes' only 45 rpm single (backed with "Keep Off The Grass")—but this material's jazz element confounds any accusations of selling out. "Gonna Take A Journey," for example, begins as a free blowing session, culminating in a heavy jazz-rock jam underpinned by assorted guitars and drum,s and an ensemble riff over top. 

Whilst the vocal tracks—half the album features singing—may not be to everyone's taste, Downes nevertheless manages to impart a feeling of fervent, almost naïve honesty and a considerable amount of tenderness, as in the ballad "In Your Eyes." 

The ensemble arrangements are excellent and the solos—mainly taken by Downes and the guitarists (particularly Spedding and Russell)—are positively gripping. Downes is a virtuoso flautist, as evidenced by tracks like the bluesy "Keep Off The Grass," but he also demonstrates some fiery free-blowing saxophone work on numbers like "Crush Hour." Resplendent with cover art reminiscent of Zappa's Burnt Weeny Sandwich (Ryko, 1970), this is an essential piece of psychedelic jazz history.
by Roger Farbey
1. No Time Like The Present - 3:02
2. Keep Off The Grass - 2:46
3. Don't Let Tomorrow Get You Down - 2:56
4. Dawn Until Dawn - 4:28
5. Go Find Time - 2:40
6. Walking On - 5:00
7. Crush Hour - 3:20
8. West II - 3:27
9. In Your Eyes - 2:20
10.Piccadilly Circus - 2:52
11.Gonna Tale A Journey - 7:09
All compositions by Bob Downes

*Bob Downes - Vocals, Sax, Flute, Production
*Chris Spedding - Guitars
*Herbie Flowers - Bass
*Harry Miller - Bass
*Alan Rushton - Drums
*Clem Cattini - Drums
*Kenny Wheeler - Trumpet
*Ian Carr - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
*Bud Parks - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
*Harold Beckett - Trumpet, Flugelhorn

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Out Of Focus - Out Of Focus (1971 germany, fascinating jazz prog krautrock, 2010 remaster)

On their eponymous second album, Out of Focus further develop their progressive jazz-rock sound, at the same time pushing in other directions as well. The rhythm section is still as upbeat and funky as ever, with those repetitive but odd rhythm patterns. There is now more sax in the mix, as well as the flute riffing, guitar wails, and chunky organ chords, with each instrument allowed ample soloing and no instrument over-dominant. If anything, this one dispenses with some of the heavy rock sound to get closer to the jazz influences.

They slow down the pace on the strange folk song "It's Your Life" as well as the even stranger "Blue Sunday Morning" with its airy flute, church organ, and bizarre song narration. Lyrics are even sharper, whether ripping into the banality of television or the hypocrisy of religion, with the dark-edged humor more firmly in place. On the suite "Fly Bird Fly"/"Television Program," the group veers from soft to full in-your-face intensity while staying on a bouncy riff. On long tracks like this one and "Whispering," they throw a lot of variation over repetitive grooves to create mesmerizing jams that are both incredibly loose and far more focused than the average jam band. 
by Rolf Semprebon

As Mario Rossi’s excellent liner notes make clear, by the summer of 1971 and the release of their sophomore album, the self-titled Out Of Focus, the band have quite dramatically eschewed the loose, amateurish rawness that characterised Wake Up! in favour of a more structured, professional approach.

In it’s place, Out Of Focus have adopted a more jazz-rock oriented style in the songwriting. Neumüller has jettisoned the lead role for the flute on this album and he now shares his woodwind duties between flute and saxophone. I’ll come straight out and say it, however. I find the sax work on this album incredibly unsophisticated and grating. Neumüller demonstrates little mastery of the instrument but uses it extensively as a tonal layer in the arrangements, often in tandem with Hennes Hering’s organ lines and sometimes in unison with Drechsler’s guitar lines. Musically, I find it repetitive and unimaginative. Of course, I say this with the benefit of hindsight and the use across the decades of a sax by many rock and prog acts in thrilling ways. Let’s just say Theo Travis he is not. I suppose it stands as a legitimate experiment with a brassy, hard-bop sound that would come to ultimate fruition a year later on Four Letter Monday Afternoon. Nevertheless, what I’m hearing here is, to me, an annoying intrusion in some interesting compositions.

To speak in broad strokes, Out Of Focus have slowed down a lot. The tracks on this album possess a much more open sound, allowing their musical ideas more space in which to breathe. There’s a subtlety to the playing beyond the soft/loud dynamics of their debut. Many of the melodic sensibilities of Wake Up! have been retained but developed to offer a broader harmonic palette. Fly Bird Fly is a wonderfully tuneful example of the way in which they have reconsidered their songwriting. Everything is so much more controlled and restrained. This is particularly notable in Klaus Spöri’s much more delicate drumming and even more so in Neumüller’s vocal delivery. On this album he comes over as a heavy-lidded performance poet channelling Mick Jagger to vent his anti-establishment spleen; but he is distant, detached, almost astral in his sonic position and it’s a whole lot more palatable. What he is saying does now sound a tad juvenile, but back then, this was real and avowedly counter-cultural.

What Can A Poor Boy Do [But To Be A Street Fighting Man] offers a hint in its title. That we ought to expect something reactionary but it doesn’t actually manifest itself in this track. With its high-tempo, infectious and repetitive rhythm, this could just have easily have been on a Blue Note Recordings release a decade earlier. Or perhaps Out Of Focus were inspired by the De Patie/Freleng cartoons of The Pink Panther with Henry Mancini’s iconic theme tune because there are clear echoes of that too. I imagine that this must have been an audience favourite at the time, just because it’s fun. It’s Your Life also has its tongue in its cheek as it gently see-saws its way along like a children’s nursery rhyme, but with a lyric like “No more whipping your bottom/When you’re gasping, longing for it”, I don’t suppose it was in any way intended as children’s entertainment.

Things start to get serious with Whispering, which is primitive and barely listenable unless you’re under the influence of psychoactive drugs. Essentially the same four notes again and again for its 14 minute duration; it’s as underground and dingy and seedy as I imagine 1971 Munich ever got. It still has its counterpart today in the kind of minimalist, downtempo techno you’ll hear in the chill-out rooms of dance clubs all over Europe. For me to get the desired effect required four HobNob biscuits eaten quickly and dry one after the other, no liquid to cleanse the palate, then lie back and let the sugar do its work. What a trip, man. Genuinely. This is what was great about the underground psychedelia of its day; played by heads for heads. It is shamanic and intoxicating if you can find the time and the mood to go with it.

Blue Sunday Morning continues the lysergic theme with Jesus being bored in heaven and desperate to come down to Earth and partake of some weed, but by the time Television Program loops its repetitive, though likeable, motif round and round my head, I feel a little browbeaten. The biscuits have obviously worn off, and without those sugar-laden receptors in my brain firing off, it’s really quite difficult to keep focussed on the music.

Like Wake Up!, this is undoubtedly a product of its times but it’s also something that can transcend those temporal boundaries and have some relevance for our modern anodised and commoditised ears. This album reminds us how great analogue can sound and once again, Ben Wiseman’s remaster superbly and faithfully recaptures the thrumming warmth of valves and the simple chemistry between five musicians. The fin de siècle doom-mongery of the debut has been replaced with a certain joie de vivre. Or maybe they were just on better drugs? They certainly seem to be having fun and enjoying what they are doing a bit more. As psychedelic albums go, this is one of the better ones I’ve heard. It also compares with some of The Doors early recordings. Just as Jim Morrison is ‘retiring’ to Paris after the recording of L.A. Woman, and four years after The Doors were asked to change the word ‘higher’ to the word ‘better’ in their rendition of Light My Fire on The Ed Sullivan Show, Out Of Focus are stoned out of their brains and carrying Morrison’s ‘scrambled-egg mind’ torch to a logical apotheosis. The Germans are more hardcore than I think the Doors could ever have dreamt of, even with Morrison in their midst, but they are also quite an influence on the Germans. 
by Jon Bradshaw
1. What Can A Poor Boy Do - 5:52
2. It's Your Life - 4:31
3. Whispering - 13:34
4. Blue Sunday Morning - 8:20
5. Fly Bird Fly - 5:09
6. Television Program - 11:45
All songs by Out Of Focus

Out Of Focus
*Remingius Drechsler - Guitar
*Hennes Hering - Organ, Piano
*Moran Neumüller - Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Lead Vocals
*Klaus Spöri - Drums, Percussion
*Stephen Wishen - Bass

1970  Out Of Focus - Wake Up (2010 remaster) 

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