Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pete Ham - Golders Green (1968-75 uk, classic soft rock, demos and unrleased material, 1999 Rykodisc)

This collection of previously unreleased home demos by Ham is almost as worthwhile and satisfying to the ear as its predecessor, 7 Park Avenue. Again, some musicians (including Bob Jackson, who was in Badfinger for a while shortly before Ham's death) enhanced these recordings with overdubs. 

And as with 7 Park Avenue, while it's impossible to tell if these were truly necessary without comparison to the original unadorned versions, these overdubs do not seem intrusive (as they are on most productions of this sort). Although there are 20 tracks, it's not as bountiful a platter as one might hope (adding up to only 42 minutes), as some of the songs are quite short, and three are nothing more than fragments lasting less than a minute. 

In the main, though, these are quality, sometimes enchantingly tuneful and tender performances, sometimes exhibiting a Beach Boys bent that's not so evident on Badfinger's official recordings. The cut to attract the most attention will be a demo of "Without You," although Ham's version is an incomplete skeleton of the track that Badfinger would record (and Nilsson would cover for a chart-topping hit), missing the chorus added by fellow Badfinger member Tom Evans. 

Otherwise a highlight is "Makes Me Feel Good," two drastically different versions (one slow, one fast) which open and close the disc; it sounds like it could have made a first-rate Monkees track (which is a compliment, not a knock). 

On the whole, the effect of this CD, as was the case with 7 Park Avenue, is to make one wish that Badfinger had recorded more of Ham's material and had made less room for the songwriting efforts of the lesser composers in the band. 
by Richie Unterberger
1. Makes Me Feel Good - 1:47
2. A Lonely Day - 1:59
3. Dawn - 3:18
4. Without You (Pete Ham, Tom Evans) - 2:16
5. Pete's Walk - 1:27
6. Hurry On Father - 1:38
7. Goodbye John Frost - 1:59
8. I'll Kiss You Goodnight - 2:37
9. When The Feeling - 0:55
10.Shine On (Pete Ham, Tom Evans) - 0:39
11.Gonna Do It - 0:22
12.Whiskey Man - 1:34
13.Keyhole Street - 2:27
14.I've Waited So Long To Be Free - 1:41
15.Richard - 3:10
16.Midnight Caller - 2:42
17.Helping Hand - 3:52
18.Where Will You Be - 1:58
19.I'm So Lonely - 3:13
20.Makes Me Feel Good - 2:04
All songs written by Pete Ham, except where noted

Ham's activities 
1969  Iveys - Maybe Tomorrow
1970  Badfinger - Magic Christian Music (Japan issue)
1970  Badfinger - No Dice (24karat Gold disc)
1971  Badfinger - Straight Up (24karat gold disc)

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Brian Davison - Every Which Way (1970 uk, prog flourishes and jam rock, with ex Nice and Bel 'n' Arc members, 2010 reissue)

A few months after the disbanding of the Nice, drummer Brian Davison put together a new group he wanted to call Every Which Way and recorded what turned out to be his only solo album. Released in 1970, it was received with indifference and remains to this day cruelly underrated. 

While fellow ex-Nice Keith Emerson went on to form the widely successful prog rock trio Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Davison recruited unknown musicians to find a new sound miles away from the classical pomp of his former band. The result is a delightful rock album, very delicate and soft for the most part, tinged by blues and soul and reminiscent of Savoy Brown's albums of the early '70s, but also of Brian Auger's Oblivion Express. 

Most importantly, Davison never takes a leading role, keeping his drumming intelligent and efficient, but firmly anchored in the background. Keyboardist/singer Graham Bell wrote most of the material. Guitarist John Hedley (who disappeared after this LP) does a great job in the more energetic "All in Time." Future Procol Harum bassist Alan Cartwright puts his distinctive touch to the music. 

Saxophonist/flutist Geoffrey Peach (later in Lake) plays with much soul, evoking a cross between Elton Dean circa Soft Machine's Third and Mel Collins circa King Crimson's Islands. The music is deceptively simple, with exquisite arrangements and gripping vocals. The opener, "Bed Ain't What It Used to Be," pioneers a genre of restrained blues rock ballads that would become more common in the 1990s. 

"The Light" is the other highlight and sounds like Van der Graaf Generator playing the blues. Simplicity has rarely sounded so compelling. Every Which Way is an unsuspected treasure hidden among the piles of minor prog rock-related albums of the 1970s. 
by Fran├žois Couture
1. All In Time (Maria Niforos) - 9:27 
2. What You Like (Graham Bell, Maria Niforos) - 6:41
3. The Light - 3:50
4. Bed Ain't What It Used To Be - 8:50
5. Castle Sand - 3:40
6. Go Placidly - 6:16
Music and words by Graham Bell unless as else stated

Brian Davison's Every Wich Way
*Brian Davison - Drums, Percussion
*John Hedley - Guitar
*Graham Bell - Piano, Acoustic Guitar, Lead Vocals
*Geoffrey Peach - Reeds, Flute, Vocals
*Alan Cartwright - Bass

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1971  Bell and Arc

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