Friday, November 16, 2012

The Flame - Psychedelic Essentials (1970 south africa, wonderful psychedelia, produced by Carl Wilson, 2011 remaster)

As the Flames, brothers Ricky. Steve ('Brother') and Edries Fataar, together with Blondie Chaplin, were one of South Africa's most popular 60s bands. Playing soulful cover versions with exotic touches that hinted at their Malaysian heritage, they had a string of local hits between 1964 and 1968, including a 14 week run at number one with a cover of Jerry Butler & The Impressions' For Your Precious Love. 

When their ambitions began to stretch beyond South Africa, however, they decamped to the UK. where their LP Bunting Soul appeared on Page One in 1968. It failed to sell, but they still spent the next few months playing London club dates. The future seemed uncertain, until one night (probably in July 1969) Beach Boys guitarist AI Jardine happened to see them play Blaise's nightclub (where they had a residency). 

Duly impressed, he brought fellow band member Carl Wilson along to see them the next night, and he promptly offered to produce an album for them, to appear on the Beach Boys' planned Brother Records imprint. The Flames gladly accepted, and later that summer they flew to California, where Carl rented them a beautiful house overlooking Sunset Boulevard. Work permits were slow to materialise, however, which allowed them not only to immerse themselves in LA's hedonistic atmosphere, but also to move away from the cover versions that had defined them thus far, and start honing their own material under Wilson's encouraging supervision. 

The songs they came up with combined the punch of their live performances with the melody and craft of Paul McCartney - who, incidentally, name-checked them as one of his favourite groups around this time. Sessions finally began in October 1969 and. without the constraints of a tight studio schedule (a benefit of being produced by a superstar), they were given free rein to perfect their arrangements. Recording of the LP was completed the following July, and they embarked on a promo tour to support its October 1970 release (under the name 'Flame', to avoid confusion with James Brown's 'Famous Flames'). 

Heavily trailed in the music press, it came complete with a lavish poster and was the first album ever to be available in compatible quadraphonic sound. However, despite favourable reviews and having a minor hit (See The Light I Better  Get Your Mini! Made Up) which reached #95 on the Billboard chart in November 1970) – it sold badly. They undertook a support slot on a Beach Boys' US tour, but a second single (Another Day Like Heaven I I'm So Happy) also flopped. 

The band soldiered on to make another LP, reportedly with fuller string and horn arrangements, but it was never released and, frustrated, they disbanded shortly afterwards. Ricky and Blondie promptly joined the Beach Boys, appearing on their Holland LP and touring extensively with them in the mid-70s. Ricky also went on to appear in the cult favourite Beatles parody The Rutles, as well as appearing as a sideman to Bonnie Raitt, Joe Walsh, Crowded House and others. 

Blondie, meanwhile, became an in-demand session player, appearing on the Rolling Stones Bridges To Babylon album in 1997 and touring with them to this day. Edries and Steve found it harder to sustain careers in music, however. Steve now lives back in Durban, where he is still active in the local music scene, but Edries died tragically young in 1978, as did Carl Wilson (who succumbed to cancer in 1997). 

Despite their lack of contemporary success, however, power pop aficionados and Beach Boy completists have always kept the Flame flickering, and it is to be hoped that this CD reissue will spread awareness of their superb music wider than ever before.
1. See The Light 3:06
2. Dove - 2:18
3. Make It Easy - 3:06
4. Get Your Mind Made Up - 4:10
5. Don't Worry Bill - 3:17
6. Lady - 3:28
7. I'm So Happy - 3:17
8. Another Day Like Heaven - 5:42
9. Hey Lord - 3:49
10.Highs And Lows - 4:49
11.See The Light (Reprise) - 1:28
All songs Steve Fataar, Blondie Chaplin, Edries 'Brother' Fataar, Ricky Fataar

The Flame
*Blondie Chaplin - Guitar, Vocals
*Steve Fataar - Guitar, Vocals
*Edries 'Brother' Fataar - Bass, Vocals
*Ricky Fataar - Drums, Vocals

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The Sevens - The Sevens (1965 swiss, killer garage beat)

The Sevens were five very talented, and experienced musicians who had already played in some of the local bands in Basel, Switzerland.

Michel Bovay (bass, vocals) had started out as rhythm guitarist for the legendary, early rocking Globemasters in 1963. They were formed by Charles Gemperli (vocals) in 1959. When the bass player of The Globemasters left, Michel was his replacement.

The Cannon Balls were another early rocking (Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard influenced) beat group from Basel, formed in 1960 by Pino Gasparini (lead guitar, vocals), Georges Laederich (guitar) and Nando Gasparini (drums). In early 1962 Pierre Aebischer joined The Cannon Balls as lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist. They had by now turned into a twisted rock band. At this time the two rivaling groups from Basel were The Dynamites and The Globemasters. By the end of 1963 the better local groups had already turned towards 60s beat.

In January 1964 The Globemasters broke up for various reasons, including musical differences, and The Cannon Balls had also just lost their organist Sam Wälti (he went on to form his own group, the Sam Wee Five). Georges Laederich also left to play rhythm guitar in Peter Brugger's pre-Sheapes, post-Tornados group, The Blizzards. The two remaining ex-Globemasters, Charles Gemperli and Michel Bovay got wind that The Cannon Balls were about to break up, so they asked Pino and Nando Gasparini to form a new band. They decided to use Les Pirates for the new band name.

The drummer for their first 3 shows was Peter Thommen (ex-The Strangers, The Globemasters and pre-The Dynamites). He helped out for the first three shows until Nando could take over.

A few months later, Charlie had problems with his vocal chords, so he had to stay in hospital for two months; he never returned to the group. They decided to ask the great ex-Cannon Balls lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Pierre Aebischer (who wasn´t working for another band yet) if he would like to join up as their singer and rhythm guitarist. Les Pirates third lineup (from autumn 1964) now consisted of Pierre Aebischer (rhythm guitar, vocals), Michel Bovay (bass, vocals), Pino Gasparini (lead guitar, vocals) and Nando Gasparini (drums).
1. Be My Loving Baby (M. Bovay, P. Aebischer, P. Gasparini) - 2:17
2. I'm Crying (A. Price, E. Burdon) - 3:04
3. I'm Gonna Dress In Black (M. Gillon, M. Howe) - 3:25
4. Talk About Her (M. Bovay, P. Aebischer, P. Gasparini) - 2:09
5. The Love Of A Bird  (P. Aebischer) - 2:34
6. Why Don't You Love A Man Like Me (M. Bovay, P. Aebischer, P. Gasparini) - 2:16
7. Panam (M. Hungerbuhler, M. Bovay, P. Aebischer, P. Gasparini) - 3:06
8. Pretty Little Angel (M. Bovay, P. Aebischer, P. Gasparini) - 1:55
9. What Can I Do (M. Bovay, P. Aebischer, P. Gasparini) - 2:43
10.You Should Know (M. Bovay, P. Aebischer, P. Gasparini) - 2:11
11.In God I Trust (P. Aebischer) - 2:15
12.Don't You Fret (Ray Davies) - 2:32
13.Little Girl I Know - 2:05
14.My Mother - 2:03
15.Balla Balla - 2:11
16.Seven - 2:53
17.Run Me Down - 3:05
18.I'm Not The Right - 2:06
19.Beggin' Me To Stay - 1:57
20.I Can't Understand - 2:21
21.It's All Over Tonight - 2:17
Bonus tracks 13-21

The Sevens
*Michel Bovay - Bass, Vocals
*Nando Gasparini - Drums
*Pino Gasparini - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Pierre Aebischer - Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
*Markus Hungerbühler - Organ, Vocals

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