Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Hot City / The Unreleased Album (1974 uk, great glam hard rock, 2009 release)

Famously binned by SAHB and their management after bidding farewell to producer Shel Talmy in a London pub in 1974, the longawaited official release of Hot City arrives as the great missing piece in the SAHB jigsaw. Originally titled Can’t Get Enough and recorded with Shel Talmy calling the shots, Hot City is in many ways a fascinating dry run for what would later become The Impossible Dream, the album SAHB would embark upon after deciding that the material they had fell some way short of what they were shooting for.

Of the album’s nine tracks only the curiously retro-sounding Ace In The Hole is previously unreleased in any form. The others include Vambo, Man In The Jar, Long Hair Music, Sergeant Fury, Tomahawk Kid, Weights Made Of Lead and, making its initial appearance as Last Train, Anthem, which later resurfaced after varying degrees of fine-tuning on The Impossible Dream. No hap-hazard rag-bag of inconsequential studio cast-offs, this is the sound of SAHB on the cusp of their all conquering mid-70s pomp.
by Grahame Bent

1. Vambo - 4:46
2. Man In The Jar - 5:06
3. Hey You - 0:43
4. Long Haired Music - 5:05
5. Sergeant Fury - 3:38
6. Tomahawk Kid - 6:22
7. Ace In The Hole - 2:36
8. Weights Made Of Lead - 2:36
9. Last Train - 9:49

The Senstational Alex Harvey Band
*Alex Harvey - Lead Vocals
*Zal Cleminson - Lead Guitar
*Hugh McKenna - Electric Piano
*Chris Glen - Bass Guitar
*Eddie McKenna - Drums
*Vicky Silva - Vocals
*Big Bud's Brass - Brass Section
*London Scottish Pipers - Pipe

1972-73  The Senstational Alex Harvey Band - Framed / Next (2002 remaster and 2014 japan SHM)
1976  The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - British Tour '76 (2004 remaster)
Related Act
1971 Tear Gas - Tear Gas (2019 remaster)

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Monday, July 6, 2020

Budgie - Never Turn Your Back On A Friend / In For The Kill! / Bandolier (1973-75 uk, raw power and energy heavy rock, 2016 three disc clamshell box remaster and 2004 expanded editions)

Welsh rockers Budgie may not have ever been the multi-million selling, stadium filling, mega stars like Black Sabbath (although they did headline the Reading Rock Festival in 1982), but the newly re-issued classic three albums between 1973 to 1975 – Never Turn Your Back on a Friend, In for the Kill, Bandolier – would go on to inspire many metal superstars of future decades. The impressive list who have namechecked or covered songs by this unassuming three-piece are Van Halen, Soundgarden, Iron Maiden, Megadeth and Queens of the Stone Age. But the band associated with enlightening Budgie to a younger generation of metalheads is Metallica and their cover of ‘Crash Course in Brain Surgery’ on The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited, released in 1987 to bed in the newly appointed bassist Jason Newsted, the replacement to the late Cliff Burton after the tragic coach crash whilst the band were touring Europe. They also went on to cover ‘Breadfan’ for the B side of single ‘Harvester of Sorrow’ the following year.

Originally formed in 1967, Burke Shelley (vocals, bass), Tony Bourge (guitar), and Ray Phillips (drums) under the name Six Ton Budgie before shelving the first two words to the shorter and snappier Budgie in 1968. A name of a small, seed eating bird is the antithesis to the band’s big compact amplified riff heavy assault sound. After releasing two albums, the self-titled debut (1971) and second album Squawk (1972), both of which are also worth exploring, it is with third album Never Turn Your Back on a Friend, released in 1973, that the accolades which followed mainly began here. The opening track alone, ‘Breadfan’, has one of the most colossal and memorable riff’s born outside of Tony Iommi. It also captures the many elements of the Budgie sound; the aforementioned jaw dropping riff and the quieter gentler acoustic section, which Budgie could interchange between so effortlessly and to such good effect.

‘Breadfan’ is the classic starting place to hear Budgie, but delve deeper and there is so much more to this band. Sandwiched in-between the harder metal edge of Black Sabbath, and the progressive explorations of Rush, they could wring emotion unlike many of their contemporaries, combining Burke Shelley’s glorious high shrieked wail and Tony Bourge’s guitar licks and riffs backed by a tight and very effective rhythm section. This they demonstrate on the breath taking and poignant ‘Parents’ from the said 1973 album.

Prior to the recording of their fourth album In for the Kill original drummer Ray Phillips left and was replaced by Pete Boot. An album which arguably could be their best turned out to be their most commercially successful, claiming a top 40 album chart entry peaking at number 29 in the U.K. charts. It elevates the harder rocking edge of their sound kicking in with the guitar squealing intro title track, plus the riff heavy driving force of ‘Crash Course in Brain Surgery’, and ‘Zoom Club’, all are fully charged proto-metal romps and leaves no surprises why they are name checked by so many metal bands.

The in 1975 released, and second highest album chart position at number 36, Bandolier, boasts riffy rockers ‘Breaking All the House Rules’, and ‘I Can’t See My Feelings’, the catchy defiant singalong of ‘I Ain’t No Mountain’, while the closing track ‘Napoleon Bona, Pts 1 & 2’ has an opening acoustic gentle sway before turning into a metal chugging powerhouse classic.

Also, they have their own distinctive bird fronted album cover illustrations in which Squawk and Never Turn Your Back on a Friend were designed by iconic artist Roger Dean (Yes, Uriah Heap, and more recently Black Moth’s second album Condemned to Hope), to set them visually apart and handy to the purchaser while flicking through stacks of bulking record shelves (oh, those were the days). Another vital element is the original, and in some cases, intriguing song titles for example, the eye-brows raising, wince inducing erotica of ‘In the Grip of a Tyrefitter’s Hand’, and the equally odd and squirming simile ‘Hot As a Docker’s Armpit’, as well as ‘You Are the Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk’, the wonderful imaginative imagery of ‘Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman’ along with the first track on the self-titled debut album ‘Guts’, are my particular favourites.

Yes, there are a few standard bluesy rock tracks which prop up here and there, but remember this was in the early 70’s. But as they carried on into the 1980’s with John Thomas (who sadly passed away earlier this year) replacing Rob Kendrick (ex-Trapeze) in 1979, who had in turn succeeded Tony Bourges in 1978, it was their influential heavier side the band relied on in a live setting in which I saw them deliver a fantastic set of their classic hard rock/metal repertoire in the mid/late 1980’s at Hammersmith’s Clarendon before splitting in 1988. The band continued to reform and part ways several times after in the proceeding decades. So, anyone interested in hard rock of this said period or metallers who want to explore the roots or more importantly, just want to enjoy a fine huge slab of hard rock and heavy metal should invest in, or at least check out, these influential albums by a very inspirational band. 
by Andy Little, 2016
Disc 1 Never Turn Your Back On A Friend 1973
1. Breadfan - 6:06
2. Baby Please Don't Go (Big Joe Williams) - 5:26
3. You Know I'll Always Love You - 2:09
4. You're The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk - 8:46
5. In The Grip Of A Tyrefitter's Hand - 6:23
6. Riding My Nightmare - 2:39
7. Parents - 10:21
8. Breadfan (2003 version) - 5:27
9. Parents (2004 Acoustic version) - 5:37
10.Breadfan (Live 1973) - 6:05
All songs by Burke Shelley, Tony Bourge, Ray Phillips, except where indicated
Bonus Tracks 8-10 for 2004 Noteworthy edition
Track 8 recorded in summer 2003 by Burke Shelley, Steve Williams and Simon Lees
Track 9 Acoustic version recorded in summer 2004 by Burke Shelley and Tony Bourge
Track 10 recorded live for BBCTV's "The Old Whistle Test" in 1975
Disc 2 In For The Kill! 1974
1. In For The Kill - 6:28
2. Crash Course In Brain Surgery (Tony Bourge, Burke Shelley, Ray Phillips) - 2:37
3. Wondering What Everyone Knows - 2:53
4. Zoom Club - 9:52
5. Hammer And Tongs - 6:55
6. Running From My Soul - 3:36
7. Living On Your Own - 8:52
8. Zoom Club (Single Edit) - 3:25
9. In For The Kill (2003 Version) - 3:31
10.Crash Course In Brain Surgery (2003 Version) (Tony Bourge, Burke Shelley, Ray Phillips) - 2:41
11.Zoom Club (2003 Version) - 6:03
All songs Tony Bourge, Burke Shelley, except where noted
Bonus Tracks 8-11
Tracks 9-11 recorded in summer 2003 by Burke Shelley, Steve Williams and Simon Lees
Disc 3 Bandolier 1975
1. Breaking All The House Rules - 7:22
2. Slipaway - 3:58
3. Who Do You Want For Your Love? - 6:08
4. I Can't See My Feelings - 5:51
5. I Ain't No Mountain (Andy Fairweather Low) - 3:35
6. Napoleon Bona (Part One) - 6:12
7. Napoleon Bona (Part Two) - 1:03
All songs by Tony Bourge, Burke Shelley, except where steted

*Burke Shelley - Bass, Vocals
*Tony Bourge - Guitars, Vocals, Harmonica
*Ray Phillips - Drums (Disc 1)
*Pete Boot - Drums (Disc 2)
*Steve Williams – Drums (Disc 3)

1971  Budgie - Budgie (2004 bonus tracks remaster)
1972  Budgie - Squawk (2004 remaster and expanded)

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Sunday, July 5, 2020

Budgie - Squawk (1972 uk, a second dose of abrasive, forceful heavy rock, 2004 remaster and expanded)

Second album Squawk featured the first sleeve illustration by Roger Dean, who developed the band’s Budgie figure into something of a Planet Of The Apes-style, armed-to-the-teeth hybrid. Burke Shelley felt it lost the humour of the original David Sparling illustration, which, curiously, another band had had first dibs over: it had been commissioned by Hawkwind and, having been rejected by them, had the head of the hawk horserider replaced by that of a budgie.

Standout track from Squawk was Hot As A Docker’s Armpit, a title Shelley picked up from something Humble Pie’s Steve Marriott once said in an interview: “You can just hear it in Cockney, can’t you?” Other highlights included Whiskey River, released as a single, which featured a double bass drum reminiscent of Ginger Baker. “When we played it live,” recalled Bourge with no little approval, “it sounded a lot heavier than on record… monstrous.”

As for the crazy song names, self-confessed “book person” Burke remained unrepentant. “If you get a working title for a song before it’s finished – like Paul McCartney’s Yesterday was Scrambled Eggs, as everyone knows – all I can say is we had a lot of scrambled eggs in our band…”

Sales of Squawk, released in 1972, were encouraging enough for MCA to sign the trio directly to the label.
by Michael ‘Bandolier’ Heatley
1. Whiskey River - 3:23
2. Rocking Man - 5:25
3. Rolling Home Again - 1:43
4. Make Me Happy - 2:37
5. Hot as a Docker's Armpit - 5:51
6. Drugstore Woman - 3:14
7. Bottled - 1:52
8. Young Is a World - 8:07
9. Stranded - 6:17
10.Whiskey River (Single Version) - 2:39
11.Stranded (Alternate Mix) - 6:19
12.Whiskey River (2003 Version) - 3:20
13.Rolling Home Again (2004 Version) - 1:38
All songs by Burke Shelley, Tony Bourge, Ray Phillips
Bonus Tracks 10-13
Track 12 recorded in summer 2003 by Burke Shelley, Steve Williams and Simon Lees
Track 13 recorded in summer 2004 by Burke Shelley and Tony Bourge

*Burke Shelley - Vocals, Bass, Mellotron, Piano
*Tony Bourge - Guitar
*Ray Phillips - Drums

1971  Budgie - Budgie (2004 bonus tracks remaster) 

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Budgie - Budgie (1971 uk, heavy rock development, bombastic treasures, 2004 bonus tracks remaster)

Formed in 1968, Budgie had busted their way out of South Wales with barely a backward glance. Bourge remembers: “We were going for it – so much so that we’d even have arguments with agents over money. A lot of bands wouldn’t stand their ground, thinking they didn’t want to blow gigs, but we’d go for their throat and tell them to stuff their clubs, we could get our own gigs. And we did.

“Everything was a challenge to us; we were totally dedicated. Like the Three Musketeers. One hundred per cent full on. A bit like the punks in attitude. We wanted to do well, we wanted to make albums. We had no back seat about that. We knew we’d get into a studio at some time, it was just a question of when.”

The man to help them take that step was Rodger Bain, Black Sabbath’s first producer, who later also discovered Judas Priest. He was down at Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, South Wales, on a talent spotting mission when Shelley was tipped off by an agent: “They said go there, do your best but do not play any of that stuff you’ve written. Play all the hits, Yummy Yummy Yummy [a 1968 bubblegum-pop hit for Ohio Express] or whatever. So we said: ‘Yeah, yeah’. And when the others asked what we were gonna play I said: ‘All our own stuff!’”

Curiously, a fresh-faced David ‘Kid’ Jensen was the first DJ to be attracted by Budgie’s charms. “Radio Luxembourg launched us,” Shelley confirms. “Kid heard our first album, thought it was fantastic and played it and played it. He had us over there and the album took off. He was the kid with all the money, taking his mates to the fairground. That’s when I went on one of those cylinder things: you start spinning around and they take the floor away. You gotta watch it, though, when it slows down.”

Throughout the 70s, the unfashionable Budgie were as oddball as their name. Although specialising in heads-down, no-nonsense riffage, their albums all included acoustic interludes and softer songs which, by accident or design, made everything else sound even heavier. Additionally, they wrote the most ridiculous song titles ever. (Don’t waste your time looking for a better trio than You’re The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk, In The Grip Of A Tyrefitter’s Hand, and their debut's Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman).

Frontman Burke Shelley (hair and bass, a template for Maiden’s Steve Harris, aviator spectacles rarely copied) sang in a higher-than-average register but better than Geddy Lee, with whom he is often unfairly compared. Alongside him the band’s other unique selling point was Tony Bourge, an exceptional guitarist of many stripes but seemingly happiest inventing riffs that have inspired everyone from nascent NWOBHM heroes to Josh Homme.

Lovingly covered by Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth and Soundgarden, these three Cardiff scruffbags riffed as hard as any band in metal’s early years. Perhaps their cerebral eccentricity, silly name and stylistic versatility mitigated against worldwide megastardom, but for generations Budgie have remained Cymru’s most universally respected rock band. 

The debut album, released in June 1971 has become something of a classic. As AllMusic say, "For those seriously interested in metal's development, bombastic treasures like Homicidal Suicidal, and Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman are essential listening." 
by Classic Rock, October 16, 2018
1. Guts - 4:20
2. Everything In My Heart - 1:00
3. The Author - 6:25
4. Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman - 8:30
5. Rape Of The Locks - 6:10
6. All Night Petrol - 6:00
7. You And I - 1:45
8. Homicidal Suicidal - 6:30
9. Crash Course In Brain Surgery (Alternate Mix) - 2:36
10.Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman (Single Edit) - 4:08
11.Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman (2003 Version) - 3:45
12.Guts (2003 Version) - 3:53
All songs by by Burke Shelley, Tony Bourge, Ray Phillips
Bonus Tracks 9-12
Tracks 11-12 performed by Simon Lees, Steve Williams

*Tony Bourge - Guitar
*Burke Shelley - Bass, Vocals, Mellotron
*Ray Phillips - Drums, Percussion

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Thursday, July 2, 2020

Heartsfield – The Wonder Of It All (1974 us, great country rock, 2007 remaster)

Heartsfield's second album was recorded as the band was touring like mad. The boys rented a house in a small Illinois town and moved into an average 1973 American middle-class neighborhood—what a surprise for everybody.

Perry Jordan, the band's leader says, "Here come 12 long-haired musicians, cooks, roadies, and producers with a small army of trucks, motorcycles, stereos and women making for a grand new addition to local population. One thing for sure, the only distractions were at the band house—guess that was the idea.

"On top of that the studio was a great one for sure but of all things specialized in Christian music. The title track, 'The Wonder Of It All,' won a mention in jazz music journal Down Beat Magazine as having a great jazz feel in the song."

This is when Heartsfield started to make more use of different instrumentation such as keyboards, synthesizers, harmonica, horns, banjo, pedal steel, and anything else they could find. This was also the first time they carried a vegetarian cook on the crew, and every night you could find a bunch of wild-eyed fellers at the local burger joint a couple of hours after dinner.
1. The Wonder Of It All (J.C. Heartsfield) - 4:13
2. House of Living (Perry Jordan) - 4:29
3. Pass Me By (Phil Lucafo) - 3:23
4. Shine On (Art Baldacci, Fred Dobbs) - 3:38
5. Eight Hours Time (Fred Dobbs) - 3:38
6. I’ve Just Fallen (Art Baldacci, Fred Dobbs) - 3:27
7. Racin’ The Sun (Perry Jordan) - 8:40
8. Lafayette County (J.C. Hartsfield) - 2:38

*Art Baldacci – Drums, Percussion, Piano, Melloton, Osi
*Greg “Ziggy” Biela – Bass
*Freddie Dobbs – Guitar, Banjo, Harmonica
*J.C. Hartsfield – Acoustic Guitar, Fiddle
*Perry Jordan – Guitar, Lead Tambourine
*Phil Lucafo – Guitar, Pedal Steel Guitar
*Jack Kramer – Trumpet
*Bill Dinwiddie – Trombone
*Brandon Leavitt – Percussion

1973  Heartsfield - Heartsfield (2007 remaster) 

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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Heartsfield - Heartsfield (1973 us, remarkable country southern classic rock, 2007 remaster with extra tracks)

Heartsfield was formed in the very beginning of the 1970s. They were born when JC Hartsfield, who was doing some writing and playing at that time with Perry Jordan, joined forces with another band that Perry was playing with at that time, Liquid Heart.  Now you know where the name came from.

They never really did play the bar scene. From day one, they joined as songwriters, did some demos and did a few shows. The response was great right from the beginning and soon the labels were looking at them. Believe me, that’s the short version, but you get the idea.

In 1973, the band released their first album, called simply Heartsfield, it was released on the Mercury label. 

The album kicks off with Perry Jordan’s “I’m Coming Home,” this song would go on to be the band’s show closer for many a year.  Three different lead vocalists and six way harmonies highlight the track.  Freddie Dobbs’ “Hush-a Bye” was another that would always be on the live playlist, and another that was one of my favorites. Phil Lucafo would give us his guitar driven blues rocker, “Gypsy Rider.” “Music Eyes” would probably be considered the bands number one track.  

Perry’s “Just that Wind” is one of the jam band genres earliest classics.  Some long drawn our guitar solos are featured throughout. Another one of the bands classic numbers was the sing along “The Only Time I’m Sober is when You’re Gone.” It was written by Perry and Phil. Phil brings out the pedal steel guitar for this one.

Perry Jordan has always had a great love for our animal friends and also our surroundings.  He shares some of that sentiment here with the great, “Please Save Her Life.” This was a track that was rarely played live. That’s a shame, it’s a fantastic tune! We get a tease of J.C.’s great piece “The Wonder of It All” as the album ends. This is where the story continues in Act Two as it will be the title cut on the follow up a short 12 months later.

Heartsfield was produced by Tom Geving and the band themselves. Tom added piano as well. This version of Heartsfield disbanded in 1982.
by Larry Carta

Founding member and long-time Heartsfield songwriter, singer, and guitarist Perry Jordan has died at 62 on June 29, 2011.

Jerry "J.C." Hartsfield, 71, of South Haven, MI passed away Thursday, July 17, 2014 at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, MI, due to injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident July 3rd, 2014.  He was born March 4, 1943 to James A. and Dorothy M. (Ganger) Hartsfield in Delay, Mississippi. 
1. I'm Coming Home (Perry Jordan) - 3:45
2. Hush - A - Bye (Fred Dobbs) - 5:43
3. Gypsy Rider (Phil Lucafo) - 4:56
4. Music Eyes (Perry Jordan) - 6:29
5. Understandin' Woman (Fred Dobbs) - 5:01
6. Just That Wind (Perry Jordan) - 5:39
7. The Only Time I'm Sober (Perry Jordan, Phil Lucafo) - 3:21
8. Please Save Her Life (Jason Jordan, Perry Jordan) - 6:36
9. The Wonder Of It All (Jerry "J.C." Hartsfield) - 1:16
10.I'm Coming Home (Perry Jordan) - 3:26
11.The Only Time I'm Sober (Perry Jordan, Phil Lucafo) - 3:24
12.House Of Living (Perry Jordan) - 4:45
13.The Wonder Of It All (Jerry "J.C." Hartsfield) - 2:53
14.Love That Rock N Roll (Perry Jordan) - 2:48
Tracks 10-14 Live recordings

*J.C. Hartsfield - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Perry Jordan - Acoustic Guitars, Electric Guitar, Vocals
*Art Baldacci - Drums, Backing Vocals, Bass Guitar, Congas, Piano
*Greg Biela - Bass, Backing Vocals
*Freddie Dobbs - Electric Guitar, Bottleneck Guitar, Vocals
*Phil Lucafo - Bass, Electric Guitar, Pedal Steel Guitar, Vocals
*Felix “Flaco” Falcon - Congas
*Beth Reynolds - Backing Vocals
*Tom Geving - Piano

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Monday, June 29, 2020

Widowmaker ‎- Running Free The Jet Recordings (1976-77 uk, exceptional hard classic rock, 2017 double disc remaster)

Widowmaker was formed in late 1975 by ex-Spooky Tooth and Mott The Hoople guitarist Luther Grosvenor, at the time known as Ariel Bender, as a means of recording songs he had written, something he had been unable to do since Mott The Hoople’s recordings were dominated by Ian Hunter penned tunes. Grosvenor was joined by ex-Lindisfarne drummer Paul Nichols and former Mungo Jerry and Chicken Shack bassist Bob Daisley. The trio became of the nucleus of the new band, with Grosvenor handling all the vocals.

The band decided that a lead vocalist would improve the band’s sound and as a result, Steve Ellis, formerly of Love Affair, was added, after his name was given to Grosvenor by Bobby Tench and Roger Chapman. At first Ellis wasn’t excited at the prospect of joining the band, but with some coaxing he took the job. Adding a keyboard was considered by the quartet, but in the end, guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton completed the original lineup of the quintet, which took the name Widowmaker, although no one in the band can really remember why, and Grosvenor says he never liked the name.

The band’s first gig was a 24 February 1976 appearance on the BBC’s “Old Grey Whistle” when they performed the Grosvenor/Ellis/Nichols penned “On The Road” and the Grosvenor/Ellis composition “Ain’t Telling You Nothing” both of which appeared on the groups debut LP. Catching the eye and ear of Roger Daltrey, Widowmaker opened for The Who at three gigs in May and June of 1976.

The band signed with Don Arden’s Jet Records with Arden becoming their manager. Soon the group entered De Lane Lea Studios in Wembley and began work on their self-produced and self-titled debut LP. Among the album’s ten tracks are five which Grosvenor had a part in writing, including the hot rocking “Running Free.” The band was aided by keyboardist Zoot Money, and backing vocals were supplied by Bobby Tench, Roger Chapman, Julie Driscoll and Sam Brown. With Jet making changes in distribution the album made a late appearance in the US and reached only #196 on the Billboard charts, disappointing to the band and certainly not an indication of the quality of material recorded.

Undeterred the band toured with Jet label mates ELO, as well as Uriah Heep and Nazareth. However, musical differences, home sickness and a falling out with manager Arden resulted in Ellis exiting the band. At the recommendation of Lloyd-Langton lead vocals were taken over by John Butler and the band entered Olympic Studio to record its second LP “Too Late To Cry” with Chris Kimsey and the band coproducing. The album, smoother sounding, but lacking the raw sound of the band’s debut reached only #150 on the Billboard charts in the US. Although containing four guitar driven tracks co-written by Grosvenor, the highlights of the anthology for me, it had a smoother sound, but didn’t rock as hard as the debut and proved to be the final album by the group.

Widowmaker toured with Ted Nugent, Aerosmith and Mahogany Rush, among others, in support of “Too Late To Cry” but bassist Daisley departed to become part of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. In addition, Grosvenor was unhappy, and although the band’s albums were much better than average and the group could have gone on for another year or two at the least, the members decided to call it a day and Widowmaker was no more.

Running Free: The Jet Recordings 1976-1977 marks the first time both Widowmaker albums have been reissued on CD in their entirety. Three tracks from “Too Late To Cry” make their debut on the anthology and are joined by another Grosvenor co-penned, previously unreleased track “Talk To Me.” The Esoteric Recordings reissue, compiled, conceived and coordinated by Mark Powell, with assistance from his wife Vicky, has the band sounding better than ever thanks to the 24-bit remastering job by Ben Wisessman at Broadlake Studios and the 16-page full color booklet includes an informative essay by Malcolm Dome and is filled with photos of the band, album artwork, posters, and other memorabilia, making “Running Free” the unquestionably definitive Widowmaker anthology. The collection will be appreciated by fans of hard rock and the incredible guitar work of Luther Grosvenor alike. Many thanks to the Powells and the folks at Esoteric Recordings for making this fine collection available.
by Kevin Rathert, August 29, 2017
Disc 1
1. Such A Shame (Bob Daisley) - 3:20
2. Pin A Rose On Me (Bob Daisley, Luther Grosvenor, Steve Ellis) - 5:02
3. On The Road (Luther Grosvenor, Paul Nicholls, Steve Ellis) - 3:08
4. Straight Faced Fighter (Steve Ellis) - 3:27
5. Ain't Telling You Nothing (Luther Grosvenor, Steve Ellis) - 4:52
6. When I Met You (Luther Grosvenor) - 3:52
7. Leave The Kids Alone (Steve Ellis) - 4:39
8. Shine A Light On Me (Luther Grosvenor) - 4:42
9. Running Free (John Farnham, Luther Grosvenor) - 3:39
10.Got A Dream (Huw Lloyd-Langton) - 3:03
Tracks 1-10 taken from the album 'Widowmaker' - released as Jet Records 2310 432 in 1976
Disc 2
1. Too Late To Cry (Bob Daisley) - 3:54
2. The Hustler (Bob Daisley, Luther Grosvenor) - 4:04
3. What A Way To Fall (Bob Daisley) - 3:52
4. Here Comes The Queen (Luther Grosvenor) - 4:10
5. Mean What You Say (Huw Lloyd-Langton, John Butler) - 3:21
6. Something I Can Do Without (Bob Daisley, Luther Grosvenor) - 4:11
7. Sign The Papers (Bob Daisley, John Butler) - 5:08
8. Pushin' And Pullin' (John Farnham) - 4:50
9. Sky Blues (Bob Daisley, John Butler, Luther Grosvenor, Paul Nicholls) - 5:40
10.Talk To Me (Bob Daisley, John Butler, Luther Grosvenor, Paul Nicholls) - 4:17
Tracks 1-9 taken from the album 'Too Late To Cry' released as Jet Records UAG 30038 in 1977
Track 10 recorded at Olympic Studios in January 1977 previously unreleased.

*Steve Ellis - Vocals
*Ariel Bender AKA Luther Grosvenor - Guitar
*Huw Lloyd-Langton - Guitar
*Bob Daisley - Bass
*Paul Nicholls - Drums
*John Butler - Lead Vocals, Harmony Vocals, Keyboards, Harmonica
*Zoot Money - Keyboards
*Miguel Barradas - Steel Drums

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1966-68  Deep Feeling - Pretty Colours
1965-67  The V.I.P's - The Complete V.I.P's (2006 Double Disc)
1966  The V.I.P's - Beat Crazy
1967  Art - Supernatural Fairy Tales (2002)
1968  Spooky Tooth - It's All About (2010 japan SHM)
1969  Spooky Tooth - Spooky Two (2010 japan SHM expanded)
1967-69  Love Affair - The Everlasting Love Affair (2005 bonus tracks)
1970  Love Affair - New Day (2008 bonus tracks)
1971  Kahvas Jute - Wide Open / Live At The Basement
1972-73  Ellis - Riding on the Crest of a Slump / Why Not? (2006 remaster)
1973  Chicken Shack - Unlucky Boy (2013 edition)
1974  Mott The Hoople - Hoople (2006 remaster)

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Thursday, June 25, 2020

Plastic Penny - Everything I Am The Complete Plastic Penny (1967-70 uk, remarkable organ drivin' groovy psych rock, 2019 three disc clamshell box)

Subtitled “The Complete Plastic Penny”, this new collection brings together everything recorded under the name, including all surviving BBC sessions and two albums in Two Sides Of A Penny and Currency, the former in both mono and stereo forms……LTW’s Ian Canty finds a band that were conjured almost out of thin air to promote the surprise success of Everything I Am…..

Plastic Penny were originally conceived as a classic “Tin Pan Alley” ruse, constructed by Page One label head and manager extraordinaire Larry Page. The ex-Kinks/Troggs kingpin had identified Everything I Am as a song with potential, finding it on the flipside to the Box Tops’ Neon Rainbow, the follow up to their smash hit The Letter. He decided that session singer Brian O’Shea (soon to be renamed Brian Keith) was just the man to replicate Alex Chilton’s vocal style and with backing from other members of the session scene the track was completed. A composition by Brian Keith and keyboardist Paul Raymond (later of UFO), entitled No Pleasure Without Pain My Love, was also taped and provided the b side.

This single was duly released on Page One Records late in 1967 under the name Plastic Penny. 9 times out of 10 back then these type of things disappeared without trace, but Page was shrewd cookie and the song got good airplay and made the charts, climbing as high as number 6. This success presented its own problem: how do you promote a record rising rapidly up the charts without a band? Thus the first real line-up of Plastic Penny was quickly thrown together, with Keith and Raymond joined by the Sunderland-based duo of drummer Nigel Olsson and guitarist Mick Grabham, with Tony Murray (who was a member of Universals along with Keith and Raymond) completing things on bass.

The quintet promoted the single on its journey to the UK Top 10 and were entrusted with playing on, if not actually writing, the follow-up. This point in time was pretty much make or break for Plastic Penny, so Nobody Knows It was sourced from the sure-handed pairing of Bill Martin and Phil Coulter. These two had been behind many a hit and had recently won the Eurovision Song Contest with Sandie Shaw, so the catchy number they provided seemed a sure bet. The band managed to render the song with some nice organ swirls that pushed it close to “flavour of the month” Procul Harum in terms of sound. Another hit could have seen them establish a run in the charts, but sadly it was not to be, as the record did not trouble the Top 50. Even so, they pushed on with completing their debut album.

In truth Two Sides of A Penny was an uneven LP and somewhat aptly named. As far as I’m concerned, the better material is mainly situated on the second side and the stereo version carries a little more zing than the mono take, but that is a closer call. Although the hit (that most of the band never played on) was a nice bit of ornate late 60s Pop, the attempts to follow in the same style with Keith at the helm are a bit lumpy. Plastic Penny were generally a better outfit when they were given something more to get their teeth into, which they did on side two.

I Want You has drummer Olsson taking the microphone on an excellent tough fast rocker, but Mrs Grundy is the album’s real highlight, a fine piece of Psychedelic storytelling with some great instrumental touches. Take Me Back has a nice fresh feel to it and It’s A Good Thing is busting out with Pop/Soul goodness. They also have a dart at the Fabs’ Strawberry Fields Forever, which is ok but doesn’t add a great deal to the original (apart from grafting on a bit of Hello Goodbye). Both sides of their first two singles feature as bonus tracks on this disc, along with a couple of Italian language reworkings of the a sides.

The second disc, which houses the stereo version of the debut album, has a marvellous bonus in 14 BBC session tracks. For the most part the songs put down for the Beeb don’t differ vastly from the released versions, but do have some great Brian Matthew intros and outros (these recordings are taken from transcription discs, so Brian appears all over the place, even if the tracks were originally set down for other DJs’ shows), which give them a lovely “period” feel. There are a few Plastic Penny songs here which never saw official release though. Turning Night Into Day is a Baroque Pop treat, lots of strings and a soulful vocal – really nice stuff and the Killing Floor shows their tougher, more R&B influenced side. In addition Penny reunited with Brian Keith (see below) for an early version of his solo effort The Shelter Of Your Arms. Overall this part of the boxset is probably the most interesting and exciting section.

After the album was released came the inevitable split between the band and Keith – they had been effectively pulling in different directions for a while and Keith opted for a solo career. A brand new record heralded Penny’s next phase, the excellent Your Way To Tell Me To Go/Baby You’re Not To Blame single. Though again not a hit, this was for me probably their best release. The A side is a real winner, thunderous playing more in the style of the Move and the Who and the flipside is no slouch either, with a rolling bass line, cool piano and a great build to the chorus. Both have some excellent guitar work adorning them. Unfortunately the following Hound Dog single is a bit “of its time”, slowed down jamming covers were all the rage, but this was still a bit naff. More positively Currency, which occupied the other side, is a smart instrumental goodie.

On the whole you would have hoped that the good showing on 3 out of 4 of the single sides would augured well for their second album, also entitled Currency. Unfortunately it again feels to me like it isn’t quite the LP they truly had in them. Part of the problem is the amount of outside material, with four out of the nine selections being covers. I can understand why they did MacArthur Park in the grandstanding style of the Nice, it was all the rage at the time these types of things, but all these years on it feels like it is just banging up the running time. Elton John was circling the band at the time, but his and Taupin’s Turn To Me isn’t one of their best.

The sad thing is their own material is by far the best stuff on the whole album. Give Me Money is really top quality, they had played this one a while before Currency was cut (it is on disc 2 in its BBC session form), but it is still good to hear more than once. A wonderful, punchy and catchy uptempo piece of Power Pop that would certainly have given Roy Wood or Pete Townshend a run for their money. The aforementioned Your Way To Tell Me To Go, Baby You’re Not To Blame and Currency are all superb and Sour Suite is an effective jam which gives the band a chance to show their chops. On the positive side, this LP represented an improvement on their debut, but time was not on their side. You also have to factor in that even their better material would have seemed dated by 1969 (but with the elapsing of so much time, it sounds right on the money now).

In fact the band virtually folded after the record, with Raymond and Murray dropping out. Mick Grabham and Olsson put together a final line up, being joined by Stewart Brown on vocals and Freddy Gandy on bass. Even Olsson had scarpered by the time the final Plastic Penny single was released She Does/Genevieve. Despite the much changed personnel, this was another cool single, with the topside’s joyous vitality proving infectious and early song Genevieve being given a good dose of late-Psych vim. Still, it was too late in the day for Plastic Penny and soon after they were no more. The final three singles, plus rarity Celebrity Ball, which only was previously available on the obscure Heads I Win – Tails You Lose (Page One weren’t going to give up on the coin-related puns easily!) Plastic Penny compilation make up the bonuses here. The pick is She Does, a great single which really deserved much better.

Despite some reservations, Everything I Am: The Complete Plastic Penny is an excellent and thorough compilation of Plastic Penny’s recording career with an in depth sleeve note that tells the band’s convoluted story very well. Though people might only remember them for that single if at all, they were far better when they were given a chance to be a “proper” band rather than puppets fronting a record they didn’t record. That hit didn’t do them many favours, but on the evidence here Plastic Penny had more to offer, including some great songs of their own in Give Me Money and Your Way To Tell Me To Go. It was a shame that they were never given their chance to produce a whole album of their own material, but this collection has a few powerful 60s Pop gems to be gleaned. Another sterling effort by the Grapefruit imprint.
by Ian Canty, February 20, 2019
Disc 1 "Two Sides Of A Penny" 1968 (Mono)
1. Everything I Am (Dan Penn, Dewey Lindon Oldham Jr.) - 2:22
2. Wake Me Up (Brian Keith, Paul Raymond) - 3:08
3. Never My Love (Dick Addrisi, Don Addrisi) - 2:22
4. Genevieve (Paul Raymond, Tony Murray) - 2:08
5. No Pleasure Without Pain My Love (Brian Keith, Paul Raymond) - 2:44
6. So Much Older Now (Paul Raymond, Tony Murray) - 2:36
7. Mrs. Grundy (Brian Keith, Paul Raymond) - 5:14
8. Take Me Back (Brian Keith, Paul Raymond) - 2:20
9. I Want You (Jack Bruce, Graham Bond) - 3:23
10.It's A Good Thing (Brian Keith, Paul Raymond) - 2:46
11.Strawberry Fields Forever (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 4:23
12.Everything I Am (Dan Penn, Dewey Lindon Oldham Jr.) - 2:27
13.No Pleasure Without Pain My Love (Brian Keith, Paul Raymond) - 2:41
14.Nobody Knows It (Bill Martin, Phil Coulter) - 2:31
15.Happy Just To Be With You (Brian Keith, Paul Raymond) - 2:54
16.Guarda Nel Cielo (Nobody Knows It) (Bill Martin, Phil Coulter, Giovanni Sanjust) - 2:28
17.Tutto Quel Che Ho (Everything I Am) (Dan Penn, Dewey Lindon Oldham Jr., Giovanni Sanjust) - 2:27
Tracks (1-11) The album Two Sides Of A Penny, mono, Page One POL 005, released April 1968
Tracks (11-13) Single, Page One POF 051, released December 1967
Tracks (14-15) Single, Page One POF 062, released March 1968
Tracks (16-17) Italian single, Ricordi International SIR 20.067, released May 1968
Disc 2 "Two Sides Of A Penny" (Stereo) 1968
1. Everything I Am (Dan Penn, Dewey Lindon Oldham Jr.) - 2:28
2. Wake Me Up (Brian Keith, Paul Raymond) - 3:08
3. Never My Love (Dick Addrisi, Don Addrisi) - 2:22
4. Genevieve (Paul Raymond, Tony Murray) - 2:07
5. No Pleasure Without Pain My Love (Brian Keith, Paul Raymond) - 2:43
6. So Much Older Now (Paul Raymond, Tony Murray) - 2:37
7. Mrs. Grundy (Brian Keith, Paul Raymond) - 5:14
8. Take Me Back (Brian Keith, Paul Raymond) - 2:21
9. I Want You (Jack Bruce, Graham Bond) - 3:24
10.It's A Good Thing (Brian Keith, Paul Raymond) - 2:47
11.Strawberry Fields Forever (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 4:25
12.Turning Night Into Day (Tony Murray) - 2:39
13.Everything I Am (Dan Penn, Dewey Lindon Oldham Jr.) - 2:25
14.Take Me Back (Brian Keith, Paul Raymond) - 2:26
15.Everything I Am (Dan Penn, Dewey Lindon Oldham Jr.) - 2:29
16.No Pleasure Without Pain My Love (Brian Keith, Paul Raymond) - 2:55
17.It's A Good Thing (Brian Keith, Paul Raymond) - 2:35
18.It's A Good Thing (Brian Keith, Paul Raymond) - 2:34
19.Nobody Knows It (Bill Martin, Phil Coulter) - 2:40
20.So Much Older Now (Paul Raymond, Tony Murray) - 2:25
21.Your Way To Tell Me Go (Paul Raymond, Tony Murray) - 2:49
22.The Shelter Of Your Arms (Brian Keith, Paul Raymond) - 2:43
23.Give Me Money (Paul Raymond, Tony Murray) - 2:24
24.Killing Floor (Chester Burnett) - 4:02
25.Strawberry Fields Forever (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 3:56
Tracks (1-11) The album Two Sides Of A Penny, stereo, Page One POLS 005, released April 1968
Tracks (12-14) BBC session for Top Gear, recorded 10 January 1968, first broadcast 14 January
Tracks (15-17) BBC session for David Symonds, recorded 22 January 1968, first broadcast 29 February
Tracks (18-20) BBC session for David Symonds, recorded 19 March 1968, first broadcast 25 March
Tracks (22-23) BBC session for David Symonds, recorded 12 July 1968, first broadcast 22 July
Tracks (24-25) BBC session for Dave Cash, recorded 17 February 1969, first broadcast 1 March
Disc 3 "Currency" 1969
1. Your Way To Tell Me Go (Paul Raymond, Tony Murray) - 2:49
2. Hound Dog (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 2:48
3. Currency (Mick Grabham, Nigel Olsson, Paul Raymond, Tony Murray) - 3:39
4. Caledonian Mission (Robbie Robertson) - 2:59
5. MacArthur Park (Jimmy Webb) - 7:35
6. Turn To Me (Elton John, Bernie Taupin) - 2:45
7. Baby You're Not To Blame (Paul Raymond, Tony Murray) - 2:53
8. Give Me Money (Paul Raymond, Tony Murray) - 2:59
9. Sour Suite (Mick Grabham, Nigel Olsson, Paul Raymond, Tony Murray) - 8:12
10.Your Way To Tell Me Go (Paul Raymond, Tony Murray) - 2:49
11.Baby You're Not To Blame (Paul Raymond, Tony Murray) - 2:52
12.Hound Dog (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 2:47
13.Currency (Mick Grabham, Nigel Olsson, Paul Raymond, Tony Murray) - 3:39
14.Celebrity Ball (Alan Gordon, Garry Bonner) - 2:42
15.She Does (Paul Raymond, Tony Murray) - 3:07
16.Genevieve (Paul Raymond, Tony Murray) - 3:00
Tracks (1-9) The album Currency, Page One POLS 014, released February 1969
Tracks (10-11) Single, Page One POF 079, released July 1968
Tracks (11-13) Single, Page One POF 107, released November 1968
Track (14) Mid-1969 outtake, first release on the compilation album Heads I Win - Tails You Lose, Page One POS 611, released April 1970
Tracks (15-16) Single, Page One POF 146, released July 1969

Plastic Penny
*Brian Keith  - Vocals
*Michael Graham - Guitar
*Tony Murray - Bass
*Nigel Olsson - Drums
*Paul Raymond - Organ, Piano

1968  Plastic Penny - Two Sides Of Penny 
1969  Plastic Penny - Currency

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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Clouds - Watercolour Days (1971 uk, impressive prog rock, bonus tracks edition)

A significant advance from their debut album, Watercolour Days shows Clouds plunging straight into virtuoso-style progressive rock, shedding any of their lingering psychedelic playfulness in favor of a much more brooding, serious sound. Billy Ritchie's keyboards are the dominant instrument, even with some overdubbed orchestral accompaniment, and their more aggressive sound suits Ritchie's and lead singer/bassist Ian Ellis's vocal capabilities. 

The album's overall sound is a mix of organ-centered art rock with some of the heavy hard rock sound one expected from Deep Purple, and it holds together amazingly well on numbers such as "Cold Sweat" and the title track. The guitar sound -- which was evident in small doses on their first album -- is missed sometimes, as it was in concert as well, but Ellis' bass work and Ritchie's powerful keyboard playing more than fill the gap. Indeed, hearing this album anew nearly 40 years on, it's even more difficult to understand how this trio didn't find more success than they did, especially given their reviews of the period. 
by Bruce Eder
1. Watercolour Days - 5:30
2. Cold Sweat (Billy Ritchie, Ian Ellis) - 3:38
3. Lighthouse (Ian Ellis) - 5:05
4. Long Time (Billy Ritchie, Ian Ellis) - 4:37
5. Mind Of A Child (Billy Ritchie, Harry Hughes, Ian Ellis) - 2:52
6. I Know Better Than You (Billy Ritchie, Harry Hughes, Ian Ellis) - 4:55
7. Leavin' - 3:25
8. Get Off My Farm - 3:28
9. I Am The Melody - 2:41
10.Why Is There No Magic - 2:43
11.Shadows - 2:40
12.A Day Of Rain - 3:42
13.Clockwork Soldier - 5:06
All songs by Billy Ritchie except where stated
Bonus Tracks 10-13

The Clouds
*Ian Ellis - Organ, Guitar Acoustic, Bass, Vocals
*Harry Hughes  - Drums, Vocals
*Billy Ritchie - Organ, Guitar, Piano, Bass, Harp, Organ  Hammond, Vocals

1966-71  Clouds - Up Above Our Heads (2010 double disc extra tracks edition) 
1968/71  Clouds - Scrapbook / Watercolour Days 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Grace Slick With Paul Kantner - Sunfighter (1971 us, fantastic psych prog folk rock)

More than anything the Airplane has ever done, Sunfighter sounds most like an extension of “I’d Swear that Someone Was There” and “What are Their Names” from the David Crosby LP, both in theme and arrangements. The instrumentation is performed by the same David Crosby, Jerry Garcia, Steve Stills etc. crew, as well as Kantner. Electric violin work is done by Papa John Creach.

Most of the songs deal with the problems of the human race; Man’s inhumanity to man, overpopulation, and evil.

Time and again, the theme of looking back on the ruined land called America many years after it’s demise, comes up in Kantner’s work. “Earth Mother” could have fit well in Kantner’sJefferson Starship album with it’s science-fiction theme. “Remember what we sang/ Remember how we danced/ In America so many years ago.”

All the songs on the album follow the same vocal pattern, in which Grace and Paul both sing simultaneously, while Grace holds each note a bit longer than Kantner, with the exception of “China.” “China,” in which Grace solos, sings the praises, hopes and the fear of raising her’s and Kantner’s child. “I hope she sees something to make her life happy.”

There is truly no one song that fails on the album, musically or lyrically, yet of all the songs, I find “Diana” the best. Although it is less than a minute in length and is continued on the opposite side as “Diana 2,” the mythological theme and the excellent vocals make the song one that will last as a classic for quite a time. “Diana/ Huntress of the moon/ Lady of the Earth.”

Not absent is the poetry cry for man’s return to nature. “Look at the Wood” is the story of humans raised in the wonders of nature. Perhaps. I am overemphasizing the lyrical aspect of this album, but actually, it is hard not to. It is a rarity when the quality of the lyrics and the instrumentation both reach the level of excellence they reach in this LP. Too many songs, or even albums, suffer from the repetition of the usual poetic cliches.

Grace Slick’s and Kantner’s talents as lyricists have gone almost unnoticed until now, and it is about time that their work be given the credit it deserves.

Credit must also go to the arrangements which paint as much imagery as the lyrics do. For the most part, the instrumentation is kept simple but not barren. In this period where Spectorisms are so frequent, it is quite refreshing to find an arrangement that is not in the least bit pretentious.

Sunfighter is a mystical album, almost a mysterious album. Despite the fact that it’s success is guaranteed because of the fame of the group Kantner and Slick regularly record for, the album definitely stands on it’s own merit as an excellent one.
by Cameron Crowe, "San Diego Door" January 13, 1972  – January 27, 1972
1. Silver Spoon (Grace Slick) - 5:40
2. Diana  (Grace Slick, Paul Kantner) - 0:52
3. Sunfighter  (Paul Kantner) - 3:50
4. Titantic  (Phill Sawyer) - 2:25
5. Look At The Wood  (Grace Slick, Paul Kantner) - 2:08
6. When I Was A Boy I Watched The Wolves  (Grace Slick, Paul Kantner) - 4:59
7. Million  (Paul Kantner) - 4:02
8. China  (Grace Slick) - 3:17
9. Earth Mother  (Jack Traylor) - 3:16
10.Diana (Part 2)  (Grace Slick, Paul Kantner) - 1:01
11.Universal Copernican Mumbles  (Patrick Gleeson, John Vierra, Paul Kantner) - 2:03
12.Holding Together  (Grace Slick, Paul Kantner) - 7:40

*Paul Kantner - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
*Grace Slick - Vocals, Piano
*Jack Traylor – Guitar, Vocals
*Jerry Garcia - Guitar
*Papa John Creach - Electric Violin
*Craig Chaquico - Lead Guitar
*Bill Laudner - Vocals
*Jack Casady - Bass
*Spencer Dryden - Drums
*David Crosby - Vocals
*Jorma Kaukonen - Lead Guitar
*Graham Nash - Arp
*Chris Wing - Drums
*Pat Gleeson - Moog Mumbles
*John Vierra – Synthesizer, Keyboards
*Phill Sawyer - Sound Effects
*Peter Kaukonen - Guitar, Mandolin
*Shelley Silverman - Drums
*Joey Covington - Drums
*Edwin Hawkins Singers (Edwin Hawkins, Walter Hawkins, Tramaine Davis Hawkins, Elaine Kelley, Norma J. King, Barbara Gill, Ruth Wyons, Daphne Henderson, Shirley Miller, Eddie Bayers) - Vocals
*Steven Schuster - Flute, Saxophone, Horn Arrangements
*Greg Adams - Horns
*Mic Gillette - Horns

1973  Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, David Freiberg - Baron Von Tollbooth And The Chrome Nun 
Related Acts
1965-66  The Great Society - Born to Be Burned
1968-71  Grace Slick And The Great Society - Conspicuous Only By Its Absence / How It Was
1966  Jefferson Airplane - Takes Off (2014 audiophile remaster)
1972  Hot Tuna - Burgers (2012 audiophile Vinyl replica) 
1976  Hot Tuna - Hoppkorv (2012 audiophile Vinyl replica)

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Sunday, June 21, 2020

Boffalongo - Beyond Your Head (1970 us, awesome jazzy psych rock, 2020 edition)

The continuation from the CyberDesk of Larry Hoppen
Boffalongos personnel changed before we cut our 2nd LP  Beyond Your Head in the same studio, now upgraded to 8-track! Keith left, Basil stayed, I moved to guitar, David ‘Doc ‘Robinson joined on bass and Ritchie still drummed on the record. However, the live band changed radically, right after the LP was released.  

 Sherman Kelly replaced Basil on keyboards/vocals and my former college roommate, Peter Giansante, entered on drums – just long enough to record a new song named Dancin’ in the Moonlight, written by Sherman in 1969.

Beyond Your Head shows the band’s growth from the first LP, with a preview of things to come through a first recording of what would become a global, iconic song, plus tunes by Doc and myself including a 3-song suite a la CS&N. (Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

 A few years later, Doc would be the lead singer on the huge hit rendition of Dancin’ in the Moonlight by King Harvest (1973), a band which included Sherman as well as (the late) Wells Kelly – Sherman’s younger brother - who both became Boff’s drummer until we disbanded in late 1971 and then joined up with John Hall to start Orleans in Woodstock, NY, bringing me into the initial trio in Feb. of 1972.
1. $1000 Week (Dave "Doc" Robinson) - 2:40
2. Pioneer Song (Basil Matychak) - 3:11
3. Beyond Your Head (Larry Hoppen) - 4:57
4. Snow White Lady (Dave "Doc" Robinson) - 2:49
5. Endless Questions (Larry Hoppen) - 1:59
6. Galaxy Glide (Dave "Doc" Robinson) - 5:08
7. Hard To Keep From Cryin' (Larry Hoppen) - 4:53
8. Sleepy Time Guy (Basil Matychak) - 2:05
9. Dancing In The Moonlight (Sherman Kelly) - 3:08
10.Goin' Away (Larry Hoppen) - 2:41
11.Cold Town In Winter (Larry Hoppen) - 2:37
12.Please Love Me (Larry Hoppen) - 5:20

*Larry Hoppen - Guitars, Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
*Basil Matychak - Vocals, Keyboards
*Dave "Doc" Robinson - Bass, Vocals
*Richie Vitagliano - Drums
*Sherman Kelly - Vocals
*Jeremy Steig - Flute
*Peter Giansante - Drums
*Wells Kelly - Timballs
*Erick Blackstead - Vocals

1969  Boffalongo - Boffalongo (2020 reissue) 

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Saturday, June 20, 2020

Boffalongo - Boffalongo (1969 us, elegant jazzy psychedelia early prog, 2020 reissue)

From the CyberDesk of Larry Hoppen
I’d just left Ithaca College as a Music Ed. student when I joined Boffalongo. In pretty short order we cut 2 albums in New York City (released in 1969 and 1970).

The first LP is the original band, Keith Ginsberg on guitar/vocals, Basil Matychuk on keys/vocals, the late Ritchie Vitagliano on drums and me on bass; 7 of their songs and 5 written by me. I played some guitar, organ, trumpet and sang as well. Recorded in a ‘state of the art’ 4-track studio on 54th Street, it exemplifies the sheer energy / exploration of youth: a first effort from a group of kids with an eclectic, intellectual and sometimes ethereal idea of pop music.
1. The Sea's Gettin' Rough (Larry Hoppen) - 2:19
2. Marble Clown (Basil Matychak) - 3:24
3. Nightmare (Larry Hoppen) - 2:11
4. Alladin's Lamp (Basil Matychak) - 3:36
5. Please Stay (Larry Hoppen) - 2:41
6. Woes Of Home (Keith Ginsberg) - 2:21
7. Tomorrow Not Today (Larry Hoppen) - 2:45
8. B.N.I. (Batteries Not Included) (Keith Ginsberg) - 5:28
9. I Know The Feeling (Larry Hoppen) - 4:22
10.Band Of Fools (Basil Matychak) - 2:52
11.Rest Awhile (Keith Ginsberg) - 3:28
12.Mr. Go Away (Basil Matychak) - 2:40

*Larry Hoppen - Bass, Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Trumpet
*Basil Matychak - Vocals, Keyboards
*Keith Ginsberg - Guitars, Vocals
*Richie Vitagliano - Drums
*Marilyn Mason - Cowbell
*Pattie - Flute

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Friday, June 19, 2020

Fickle Pickle - A Complete Pickle (1970-72 uk, amazing baroque psych harmonies, 2018 three disc clam shell box)

A North-West London studio based quartet consisting of members best known as producers, engineers and session players, Fickle Pickle was actually a bit of an English psych pop supergroup consisting of Cliff Wade (lead guitar, rhythm guitar and bass guitar) and Geoff Gill (drums) from The Smoke, best known for their late 60’s acid classic “My Friend Jack” along with Wil Malone (piano, organ and electric piano) from Orange Bicycle and Steve Howden (lead guitar, rhythm guitar and bass guitar) from Red Dirt. Vocals for the band were supplied by all four members. The three bands had in common that they recorded at Morgan Studios in London, so it was rather inevitable that the four combined their talents and recorded a handful of singles as well as an LP that received very limited distribution. Luckily for fans of the band, albeit some fifty years later, the complete works of Fickle Pickle have been lovingly compiled and annotated by David Wells in a three CD box set aptly titled “A Complete Pickle” released on Morgan Music Co. Ltd.’s Morgan Blue Town imprint.

The three discs comprising “A Complete Pickle” are thematic. Disc one contains the twelve tracks from Fickle Pickle’s 1970 album “Sinful Skinful” which was released only in The Netherlands on the Explosion Records label along with nine non-LP single sides issued on various labels between 1970 and 1972. Disc two has twenty six tracks recorded, all but five previously unreleased, taken from the Morgan Blue Town tape library, while the box set’s real treat is disc three which contains fifteen previously unreleased studio tracks recorded during rehearsals for a Dutch tour, making for a total of sixty two tracks, thirty six of which make their debut on “A Complete Pickle” and making for an exhaustive document, nearly three and a half hours in length, of a finely tuned band who most certainly deserved a much better fate than they received.

Disc one begins with the LP tracks which unlike their singles, consist of only band originals, with Gill, Wade and Malone contributing the lion’s share of tunes. Throughout the band exhibits its ability to combine gorgeous melodies and beautiful vocal harmonies with skillful musicianship. Produced by Geoff Gill and Cliff Wade, the albums opens with “California Calling” co-written by Gill, a jazzy keyboard driven number that was a mainstay in Fickle Pickle’s live set. Originally released as a medley, the album’s title track, a Wade, Gill and Malone composition is a piano led tune with delicate vocal harmonies and a tastefully restrained lead guitar line, while the medley’s other half “Sandy” is a beautiful ballad featuring exceptional acoustic guitar work. “Doctor Octopus” hints at the heavier side of the band as well as serving as an example of the band’s Monty Pythonesque humorous element. “Let Me Tell You” the opening track on side two of the album begins with more delicate piano and gorgeous vocals before a fuzz guitar enters building to a mid-tune solo giving the tune a much heavier feel. “Down Misty Lane” is the LP’s longest tune at about four and a half minutes and has a Move like vibe with its 12 string guitar fitting perfectly. 

Two other tracks in particular stand out. The vocal intro of “Sunshine Pie” brings to mind “Western Union” a smash hit by the US band The Five Americans before its tastefully restrained lead guitar line and solo take over, showcasing the rockier side of the band, and the album closing, Beatlesque “Our Time Is Thru” with its fuzzed out guitar leading to another hot solo, the tune being the album’s heaviest without question. As a finishing touch the band’s sense of humor shows once again as at the three minute mark the albums’ credits are read off. A very solid piece of melodic power pop one can only wonder why “Sinful Skinful” was a Dutch only release. With its combination of original material, masterful musicianship and excellent production there was certainly a place in music shops for an album of its quality. Disc one closes with nine non-LP single sides and includes some potential big sellers. The band’s take on Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” is a prime example, with its piano intro and gorgeous vocals giving way to an uptempo lead guitar leading to a hot solo that plays the song out. With McCartney having not released the song as a single it seems Fickle Pickle’s label missed the perfect opportunity for a hit. The strongest track, however, may well be the band’s red hot cover of the Paul Williams classic “Just An Old Fashioned Love Song” a huge hit in the US for Three Dog Night. From the outset, the lead guitar is to the fore, with the piano, bass and drums all pushing the beat and the vocals much less prominent in the mix. This might just be the best recording of the song to date, and definitely another missed opportunity for a hit. One other single of note was “Millionaire” with its sitar-esque intro, delicately gorgeous vocals and lyrical social commentary.

Disc two consists of twenty six tracks, twenty one previously unreleased, taken from the Morgan Studios tape vaults. While the majority of tunes showcase the melodic side of Fickle Pickle and are dominated by keyboards and luscious vocals, there are five tunes in particular that remind the listener that the band was quite capable of rocking and deserve individual recognition. “Playing With Magic” opens with a heavy guitar intro before settling into a driving riff, supplemented by trippy phasing and an especially nice lead line. “Like A Good Man Should” has a driving beat as well as a stunning lead guitar line and solo complemented by Malone’s gorgeous piano interlude. “Ride Ride Ride” has plenty of punch supplied by its heavy guitar intro and stinging lead line, making for quite a snappy rocker. The group’s cover of Neil Young’s “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” features fine piano and organ work by Wil Malone with a smoking lead guitar line and an especially impressive solo, in addition to the band’s ever present melodic vocals. 

Malone’s “Everyday” is a moody tune which adds strings for texture, while containing even more impressive guitar work. The tunes found on this disc also show the close relationship between The Smoke and Fickle Pickle, as “Guy Fawkes” for instance, was indeed recorded by both bands. In addition, two cover tunes in particular stand out. America’s “I Need You” is especially fitting as it is centered around the band’s vocal harmonies with melodic piano accompaniment. The disc closes with a reggae flavored take on “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” a huge hit for Manfred Mann and another wonderful fit for Fickle Pickle’s luscious vocals. All in all, the tracks found on this disc stand as evidence of the vocal, arrangement and production talents of Fickle Pickle and hint at the possibilities had the band only been able to break through in either the U.K. or U.S. market.

The third and final disc of “A Complete Pickle” contains fifteen tracks, all previously unreleased, recorded in the studio in preparation for a tour of The Netherlands, and as such is an incredible document of the band’s musicianship and showmanship. The material is a wonderful mix of band originals and covers, and includes tracks from “Sinful Skinful” and the group’s single sides as well as tunes that had not been previously dedicated to tape but were part of Fickle Pickle’s live repertoire. The disc offers an opportunity to experience one of the band’s gigs, something previously only available to those lucky enough to have seen them on their Dutch tour. The set opens with a laid back, keyboard oriented take on “Maybe I’m Amazed” which may lack the fiery guitar work of the single release, but stands up well thanks to its gorgeous vocals. 

“Sinful Skinful” likewise relies on keyboards and vocal harmonies but is incredibly pleasant to the ear. A six minute version of Cliff Wade’s “People I Know” makes its debut in any form and does not disappoint, opening with gentle keyboards and vocal harmonies before the lead guitar takes over and delivers a memorable solo. A cover of Carole King’s “You’ve Got A Friend” fits the band perfectly with its mix of keyboards and vocal harmonies. As with the King cover, another track found only among the tour rehearsals is a ten minute plus take on Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” best known for the highly charting single release by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The song differs greatly from typical performances by the band straight from its intro. The sound is dominated by its incendiary guitar and heavy beat and includes an impressive mid-tune solo, with Malone’s keyboards, especially his electric piano interlude, adding flavor to what is undoubtedly the heaviest song in the band’s live set. Two tracks taken from the group’s LP “Sandy” and “Down Sandy Lane” return the band to its more mellow, melodic side, showcasing the vocal abilities of the quartet. 

One of the songs from their unreleased studio demos, “Buena Vista” is a gorgeous mix of tastefully restrained guitars and beautiful vocal harmonies. The group’s humor is present once again on “California Calling” taking the band full circle to the opening track of “Sinful Skinful” and adds a delightfully light hearted break in the action. Following “Let Me Tell You” a track which fluidly moves from its gentle keyboard intro to its more uptempo guitar section highlighted by yet another spright, yet somewhat restrained solo. The set ends with the aptly titled show closer “Time To Go” an uptempo keyboard driven tune yet again showcasing the band’s vocal harmonies and employing percussion in the form of drums and handclaps as an outro. A delightful mixture of up and mid-tempo numbers the rehearsal recordings serve as a teaser of what a joy it would have been to see these four incredibly talented musicians live. Rare indeed is a combo consisting of members, all proficient on their instruments as well as capable of delivering distinctively gorgeous vocals. But such was the quartet which bore the moniker Fickle Pickle.

“A Complete Pickle” comes in a tri-fold digipak with each of the three discs tucking into a panel of the digipak. Also included is a twenty four page full color booklet with a detailed essay by David Wells. The booklet contains photos of the band members, artwork of the album and singles releases, as well as press clippings and other memorabilia. The music on this box set sounds crisp and clean thanks to the mastering job by Pete Reynolds. An incredible documentation of a band that was comprised of great songwriters, musicians and producers “A Complete Pickle” has a place in the collection of any fan of early 1970s pop psych music and will be of special interest to those familiar with the band’s who gave birth to Fickle Pickle, namely The Smoke, Orange Bicycle and Red Dirt and comes most highly recommended.
by Kevin Rathert
Disc 1
1. California Calling (Danny Beckerman, Geoff Gill) - 2:15
2. Sinful Skinful (Cliff Wade, Geoff Gill, Wil Malone) - 3:12
3. Sandy (Cliff Wade, Geoff Gill, Wil Malone) - 3:21
4. Doctor Octopus (Cliff Wade, Geoff Gill, Wil Malone) - 3:22
5. Saturday (Geoff Gill, Wil Malone) - 3:05
6. Only For The Summer (Cliff Wade) - 3:21
7. Let Me Tell You (Geoff Gill, Wil Malone) - 2:16
8. Down Smokey Lane (Geoff Gill, Wil Malone) - 4:28
9. Blown Away (Geoff Gill, Wil Malone) - 2:48
10.Sunshine Pie (Cliff Wade, Wil Malone) - 2:30
11.Barcelona (Steve Howden) - 2:51
12.Our Time Is Thru (Cliff Wade, Geoff Gill, Steve Howden, Wil Malone) - 4:03
13.Millionaire (Wil Malone) - 3:23
14.Sam and Sadie (Danny Beckerman, Geoff Gill) - 2:18
15.Maybe I'm Amazed (Paul McCartney) - 2:39
16.Sitting On A Goldmine (Geoff Gill, Wil Malone) - 2:20
17.American Pie (Don McLean) - 4:03
18.Just An Old Fashioned Love Song (Paul Williams) - 3:06
19.Ask The People (Cliff Wade, Geoff Gill) - 3:12
20.The Letter (Paul Jenkinson, Philip Michael Hampson) - 2:17
21.Here And Now (Cliff Wade, Geoff Gill) - 3:19
Disc 2
1. Goodnight (Geoff Gill, Wil Malone) - 2:35
2. Keep On Doing What You Do To Me (Danny Beckerman, Geoff Gill) - 2:40
3. Do You Remember My Name (Geoff Gill, Wil Malone) - 3:19
4. Tell Me (Geoff Gill, Wil Malone) - 3:19
5. Playing With Magic (Geoff Gill, Zeke Lund, Peter Wilson, Mal Luker) - 3:06
6. Bringing It All Back Home (Cliff Wade, Geoff Gill, Wil Malone) - 2:20
7. Time To Go (Geoff Gill, Wil Malone) - 2:59
8. The Man With One Leg (Cliff Wade, Geoff Gill, Steve Howden, Wil Malone) - 2:21
9. Through The Days (Cliff Wade, Geoff Gill) - 2:58
10.Like A Good Man Should (Geoff Gill, Wil Malone) - 3:29
11.Old Feet, New Socks (Geoff Gill, Peter Wilson) - 3:43
12.Poor Little Frogs (Geoff Gill, Peter Wilson, Cliff Wade, Wil Malone) - 2:38
13.Sweet Wilfred A Rodent Of Note (Geoff Gill, Peter Wilson) - 3:00
14.Ride Ride Ride (Geoff Gill, Wil Malone, George Reed) - 2:38
15.Guy Fawkes (Geoff Gill, Wil Malone, George Reed) - 2:03
16.Jesus Cristo (Monty Babson) - 2:30
17.Holiday Farm (Geoff Gill, Cliff Wade, Wil Malone) - 3:14
18.Time To Go (Geoff Gill, Wil Malone) - 4:11
19.Buena Vista (Bob Grimm) - 3:15
20.Don't Let It Bring You Down (Monty Babson) - 2:52
21.Everyday (Wil Malone) - 3:19
22.Let Me Be The One (Monty Babson) - 3:35
23.I Need You (Gerald Beckley) - 2:46
24.Ring Me (Cliff Wade, Geoff Gill) - 2:36
25.I Love Every Little Thing About You (Stevie Wonder) - 3:13
26.Do Wah Diddy Diddy (Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry) - 2:57
Disc 3 Studio Rehearsals
1. Maybe I'm Amazed (Paul McCartney) - 3:42
2. Sinful Skinful (Geoff Gill, Peter Wilson) - 3:11
3. People I Know (Cliff Wade) - 6:01
4. Only For The Summer (Cliff Wade) - 3:12
5. Bringing It All Back Home (Geoff Gill, Cliff Wade, Wil Malone) - 4:09
6. You've Got A Friend (Carole King) - 4:05
7. Silently But I Do (Cliff Wade, Peter Wilson) - 4:01
8. Woodstock (Joni Mitchell) - 11:46
9. Sandy (Cliff Wade) - 3:31
10.Down Smokey Lane (Geoff Gill, Wil Malone) - 3:36
11.--Interlude-- - 2:49
12.Buena Vista (Bob Grimm) - 3:22
13.California Calling (Danny Beckerman, Geoff Gill) - 3:00
14.Let Me Tell You (Geoff Gill, Cliff Wade) - 2:50
15.Time To Go (Geoff Gill, Wil Malone) - 4:49

Fickle Pickle
*Geoff Gill - Drums, Vocals
*Cliff Wade - Lead Guitar, Bass Guitar, Piano, Organ, Drums, Vocals
*Wil Malone - Piano, Organ, Vocals
*Steve Howden - Vocals, Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Bass
*Danny Beckerman - Piano
*John "Zeke" Lund - Bass

1971  Fickle Pickle - Sinful Skinful
Related Acts
1967  The Smoke - It´s Smoke Time (bonus tracks edition) 
1970  Wil Malone - Wil Malone / Until the End
1970  Red Dirt - Red Dirt (2010 expanded issue) 
1970  Orange Bicycle - Orange Bicycle (Japan extra tracks remaster) 
1970  Bobak, Jons, Malone - Motherlight 

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