Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Mandrake Memorial - Medium (1969 us, nice psych early prog rock)

The Mandrake Memorial began with an unknown New York City band called The Novae Police, featuring the rhythm section of Kevin Lally (drums) and Randy Monaco (bass, vocals). They played in the Village for a while, opening for bands like The Flying Machine with james Taylor. Randy was also doing a lot of demo work, singing on the first demo of "Happy Together", which The Turtles later recorded. Meanwhile, guitarist Craig Anderton was playing in a college band from the University of Pennsylvania called The Flowers of Evil, who played shows with Todd Rundgren's first band. Woody' Truck Stop. 

Keyboardist Michael Kac was in a Philadelphia band. Cat's Cradle, whose bass player, Greg Irons, later became a psychedelic artist on the West Coast. The Mandrakes came together through promoter Larry Schriver. Who was working in conjunction with club owner Manny Rubin. Manny was looking for a house band for his club. The Trauma, which was located on 22nd and Arch Streets in Philadelphia, right around the corner from The Electric Factory. 

Larry's job was to put together a band and got Craig and Michael to quit their bands and form a group with Randy and Kevin, who were recommended as a great rhythm section by Ken King from Lothar And The Hand People, who were playing at The Trauma. With the incentive of being the house band and playing every weekend, the Mandrake Memorial was born in late 1967. They started playing the Philadelphia, New York, Boston and college circuits at clubs like The Boston Tea Party. Psychedelic Supermarket. Electric Circus. Cafe A Go- Go fin NYC). Second Fret and The Main Point just outside Philadelphia, where they were most popular. 

The group opened for top acts like Big Brother, Zappa and Moby Grape. They also played on TV with Pink Floyd. Through Trauma owner Manny Rubin, they were signed to a new label. Poppy, which was a subsidiary of MGM. Their first album, called simply "Mandrake Memorial", was released in the fall of 1968 and sold over 100.000 copies, mainly in Philadelphia. New York and Boston. By the time their second LP, "Medium", was released in the spring of '69, harpsichord player Michael Kac had left the band due to musical differences. 

As a three piece, the group went to England to record an LP with Shel Talmy as producer. They had a tour set up in England, but weren't allowed to play due to some union disagreement that was going on in 1969 between England and American groups, which also prevented The Nazz (Rundgren's new group) from playing there as well. While in England, the Mandrakes recorded a very intimate acoustic guitar album that was deemed "too uncommercial" and was thus shelved. Such "unplugged" material would become very popular just a few months later with Crosby Stills and Nash. 

One acetate of this album survives today and many of these songs would later appear on their final album, "Puzzle", released in the fall of 1969. Produced by Ronald Frungipane. "Puzzle" contained grandiose classical ideas that were the result of his background in classical music. After "Puzzle", the group recorded a version of the Thunderclap Newman hit "Something In The Air", which was released as a 45 with picture sleeve in the winter of '69. After this 45. Kevin left the band and Craig formed an electronic band. Anomaly, with musicians Charles Cohen and Jeff Kane. 

They backed up singer/songwriter Linda Cohen on her first two Poppy LPs. released in 1971-72. Randy Monaco ended up playing with a later version of The 1910 Fruitum Co. before his death in the late '70s from cirrhosis.
by David L. Brown, July 1996
1. Snake Charmer - 2:45
2. Witness The End / Celebration - 5:42
3. Other Side - 3:25
4. Last Number - 4:31
5. After Pascal - 6:51
6. Smokescreen - 5:06
7. Barnaby Plum - 6:10
8. Cassandra - 5:26

The Mandrake Memorial
*Craig Anderton - Guitars, Electronics, Sitar
*Michael Kac - Keyboards, Voices
*Randy Monaco - Bass, Voices
*John Kevin Lally - Drums

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Stone Harbour - Emerges (1974 us, rough basement acid psych)

Stone Harbour  are two multi-instrumentalists creating a melancholic dreamlike state with songs fading in and out of the speakers, cavemen drums, primitive electronics and murky fuzz lurking in the background. The best tracks go into places no other albums reach. 

Actually closer to the heart of psychedelia than most other records listed here.' Acid Archives of Underground Sounds 'What's a boy to do? It's 1974, you're young and have a head full of Hawkwind and Roky and the Elevators, and old brutalist blues in the Hound Dog Taylor/Fred McDowell backwoods whisky-fucked mode; you're stuck in Hicksville, USA; the music scene sucks: glam's dead or dying slowly; punk is a good year or so from even starting to get itself born. 

Town's too damn small to even muster up a band. It's just and your buddy and that's it, man. So you grow your hair and wear satin, wander wide-eyed and tripping across small-town railway tracks and hang loose at the weekend in your basement. You gather a bunch of cheapo instruments on the never-never and you start cutting low-fi bedroom demos. Stone Harbour were Ric Ballas and Dave McCarty, and out of nowhere and nothing, at entirely the wrong time, they cut an LP that will blow your head clean off. This is a trip into the true dark heart of psychedelia! 

The music? 'You'll Be a Star' shimmers and aches in the midnight; cymbals wash over you, Dave McCarty's vocals emerge from some subterranean cave, as the keyboards flicker, flicker, flash across the periphery of the song; 'Rock & Roll Puzzle' is dark, twisted fried garage punk blues brutality, pre-empting The Gories and Pussy Galore by a good ten years! Songs fade in and out; finger-picking blurs into screaming squelching synths; guitars melt in the mid-summer heat. 

'Grains of Sand' frazzles like The Stooges through a fucked-up amp and filtered through a transistor radio with the valves burning out, whilst 'Summer Magic is Gone' is the most haunted, haunting song in many a long strange moon. Shimmers like stars in the 2 am fog and haze, and bleeds lost and lonely and bruised into the heat-warped dawn. You're still awake, although the brain doesn't work like it used to. 

Blurred and bleary and exhilarated and stoned to the very core of your soul.' Booklet includes lyrics and notes; disc has a handful of previously unreleased tracks from 1975 sessions as bonus tracks.
1. You'll Be A Star (Ric Ballas, Dave McCarty) - 4:34
2. Rock 'n' Roll Puzzle (Ric Ballas, Dave McCarty) - 3:16
3. Grains Of Sand (Ric Ballas, Dave McCarty) - 5:14
4. Summer Magic Is Gone - 3:15
5. Stone's Throw - 1:25
6. Thanitos - 1:48
7. Still Like That Rock 'n' Roll - 4:02
8. Ride - 3:30
9. Dying To Love You - 3:24
10.Workin' For The Queen - 3:05
11.Taurus - 4:15
12.Wonderland (Ric Ballas, Dave McCarty) - 3:58
13.Witch To You (Ric Ballas, Dave McCarty) - 4:37
14.BattleAxe - 3:17
15.(Untitled) - 1:00
All songs by Ric Ballas  except where noted

Stone Harbour
*Ric Ballas - Guitar, Keyboards, Percussion, Vocals
*Dave McCarty - Vocals, Drums, Percussion

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sweetwater - Sweetwater (1968 us, attractive sunny baroque psych folk rock)

An unusual rock group in both the size of their lineup (which numbered eight), the instrumentation employed, and the eclectic scope of their material, Sweetwater didn't quite get the first-class songs or breaks necessary to make them widely known. Lead singer Nansi Nevins was backed not just by conventional guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards, but also flute (Albert Moore), conga (Elpidio Cobian), and cello (August Burns). 

Their self-titled debut album was the kind of release that could have only been the product of the late '60s, with the music flying off in all directions, and a major label willing to put it out. Sweetwater blended Californian psychedelia with jazzy keyboards and a classical bent, especially in the flute and cello, but did not cohere into a readily identifiable aesthetic, or write exceptional songs, although they were okay. 

Perhaps Reprise was willing to give such a hard to market and classify band a shot, figuring that in the midst of psychedelic rock scaling the charts that would have seemed unimaginably weird just a couple of years before, who knew what would sell now? Sweetwater was formed from a group of friends that jammed at coffeehouses in Los Angeles in the mid '60s. 

Harvey Gerst, who had written a Byrds song with Roger McGuinn ("It Won't Be Wrong"), was an unofficial member of sorts, sometimes acting as road manager and playing guitar. For their debut album they were produced by Dave Hassinger, who had worked, as recording engineer and producer, with the Rolling Stones, Electric Prunes, and the Grateful Dead. In the late '60s they opened for a lot of big-time acts, and played a bunch of festivals without breaking into the headliner ranks. In fact, they were the very first band to take the stage at Woodstock.

In December 1969, twenty year old Nansi Nevins was in a serious car accident in which she suffered severe brain trauma and damaged her vocal cords, putting her in a coma for weeks and necessitating physical therapy for years. Although she had recorded a couple of tracks on their second Reprise album, she was unable to rejoin the band, which had to stop touring and lost any career momentum it had developed. Producer Richard Perry tried working with them, but that didn't pan out well, although the second album was completed with other members of the band taking lead vocals. 

They broke up in the summer of that year. The surviving trio of Nevins, keyboardist Alex Del Zoppo and bassist Fred Herrera reunited Sweetwater in 1997, and two years later -- to coincide with the 30th anniversary of Woodstock -- cable network VH1 produced and broadcast a film about the group, with Felicity co-star Amy Jo Johnson cast as Nansi Nevins; the picture sparked a considerable resurgence of interest in the group.
by Richie Unterberger
1. Motherless Child (Fred Herrera, Nancy Nevins, Traditional) - 5:05
2. Here We Go Again (Nancy Nevins) - 2:33
3. For Pete's Sake (Alex Del Zoppo) - 2:51
4. Come Take A Walk (Nancy Nevins) - 3:46
5. What's Wrong (Alex Del Zoppo) - 4:02
6. In A Rainbow (Alex Del Zoppo) - 3:17
7. My Crystal Spider (Fred Herrera, Nancy Nevins) - 3:52
8. Rondeau (Fred Herrera) - 1:16
9. Two Worlds (Nancy Nevins) - 3:53
10.Through And Old Storybook (Alex Del Zoppo, Fred Herrera) - 2:31
11.Why Oh Why (Albert B. Moore) - 3:01

*Nanci Nevins - Lead Vocals
*August Burns - Cello
*Alex Del Zoppo - Keyboards, Vocals
*R.G. Carlyle - Bongos, Guitar, Vocals
*Elpido "Pete" Cobian - Congas, Percussion
*Albert B. Moore - Flute, Vocals
*Fred Herrera - Bass, Vocals
*Alan Malarowitz - Drums

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The Petards - The Petards (1967-71 germany, fabulous beat psych with some heavy rock touches)

Originally from Schrecksbach (near Schwalmstadt/Hessen) The Petards, besides bands like "The Lords" or "The Rattles", were one of Germanys most successful and most popular Beat bands in the mid-sixties.

In 1966 Horst Ebert, Klaus Ebert, (git. and voc.) Ruediger "Roger" Waldmann (bass) and Hans Juergen Schreiber (drums) were forming The Petards, Schreiber was replaced in June 1967 by Arno Dittrich, at that time known as best rock - drummer in Germany. Arno's famous drum soli soon became one of the highlights in the band's live performances. With him they won the SWF - New - Generation - Competition, which made it possible to record their first LP "A Deeper Blue". The singles "Shoot Me up To the Moon" as well as "Golden Glass" quickly got number one in HR and SWF hit parades

In the Year 1968 their second album "Petards" was released including another radio number one, "Pretty Liza". The very catchy "Misty Island", a single, produced in the same Year still ranks as a classical of the beat era.

Touring excessively throughout Germany, The Petards had been one of the first beat - bands playing behind the so called "Iron Curtain" with their successful concerts in the CSSR.

Particularly The Petards - fan clubs (up to 380) with their tremendous support were extremely helpful for the band's success and sold out venues over these Years. In the pop poll of "music express" magazine they were voted to be "Best group of new generations". On "Album of the Year” The Petards reached a 5th place

Besides that the group still produced, with aliases such as Zonk and Flittermouse, several Cover LPs, e.g. with songs of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

1970 their third Album "Hit shock" was released. Appearances on French television and in the "Olympia" in Paris followed. Their single "Blue Fire Light" reached the Top Ten in France and Belgium. They showed their musical versatility also with the production of the musical “Wie es euch gefällt” (a free adoption of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night) at the Staatstheater Bremen. As the founder and organizer of the legendary "Burg Herzberg Festival" the band settled a tradition that still works today (note: After the second festival in 71 the band gave up planning another one. 

A decade later a group of musical agents took over the festivals name and installed it again nearby the original venue, of which it moved in 2004 to several other places.) The debut in 1970 had an audience of over 5000, who came to see the stars of the beginning Kraut – Rock scene such as Can, Frumpy and Amon Düül II, just to name a few.

At the end of 1970 The Petards said good-bye to Klaus Ebert, who left the band to become head of the A’n’R department at Liberty Records in Munich. As replacement for Klaus, Bernd Wippich, of whom they said he played an excellent "Hendrix - style guitar", was picked out of 60 applicants.

The double album "Pet-Arts" appeared at the beginning of 1971 as their best and most creative one with affectionately sophisticated Songs like "Baby Man" and "Good Good Donna". In March 4th, 1972 Arno’s thousandth performance took place. A few months later at the third of September, the Petards staged their instruments for their last gig at the “Western Saloon” in Wiesbaden.
1. Golden Glass - 2:58
2. Shoot Me Up To The Moon - 2:42
3. Summerwind - 2:49
4. Roses For Kathy - 2:40
5. Misty Island - 2:35
6. Pretty Liza - 2:32
7. The Fountain - 2:10
8. Some Sunny Sunday Morning - 2:53
9. On The Road With My Bag - 3:31
10.Blue Fire Light - 3:34
11.Pictures - 2:25
12.The Dream - 2:51
13.Keep On - 3:09
14.My World - 3:17
15.Don't You Feel Like Me? - 2:48
16.Good Good Donna - 3:44
17.Rainy Day - 3:58
18.On The Road Drinking Wine - 2:35
19.Baby Man - 4:41
20.Hello My Friend - 3:45

The Petards
Bernd Wippich - Vocals, Guitar (1970-1972)
Arno Dittrich- Drums (1967-1972)
Franz Binder - Drums (1967)
Hans Jurgen Schreiber - Drums (1966-1967)
Ray King - Guitar (1971)
Klaus Ebert - Back Vocals, Keyboard (1966-1972)
Rudiger "Roger" Waldmann - Bass, Back Vocals (1966-1972)
Horst Ebert - Vocals, Guitar (1966-1970)

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Bo Diddley - Gold (1955-66 us, pioneer rock 'n' roll, rhythm 'n' blues, 2008 two disc set)

He only had a few hits in the 1950s and early '60s, but as Bo Diddley sang, "You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover." You can't judge an artist by his chart success, either, and Diddley produced greater and more influential music than all but a handful of the best early rockers. 

The Bo Diddley beat -- bomp, ba-bomp-bomp, bomp-bomp -- is one of rock & roll's bedrock rhythms, showing up in the work of Buddy Holly, the Rolling Stones, and even pop-garage knock-offs like the Strangeloves' 1965 hit "I Want Candy." Diddley's hypnotic rhythmic attack and declamatory, boasting vocals stretched back as far as Africa for their roots, and looked as far into the future as rap. 

His trademark otherworldly vibrating, fuzzy guitar style did much to expand the instrument's power and range. But even more important, Bo's bounce was fun and irresistibly rocking, with a wisecracking, jiving tone that epitomized rock & roll at its most humorously outlandish and freewheeling.

Before taking up blues and R&B, Diddley had studied classical violin, but shifted gears after hearing John Lee Hooker. In the early '50s, he began playing with his longtime partner, maraca player Jerome Green, to get what Bo's called "that freight train sound." Billy Boy Arnold, a fine blues harmonica player and singer in his own right, was also playing with Diddley when the guitarist got a deal with Chess in the mid-'50s (after being turned down by rival Chicago label Vee-Jay). 

His very first single, "Bo Diddley"/"I'm a Man" (1955), was a double-sided monster. The A-side was soaked with futuristic waves of tremolo guitar, set to an ageless nursery rhyme; the flip was a bump-and-grind, harmonica-driven shuffle, based around a devastating blues riff. But the result was not exactly blues, or even straight R&B, but a new kind of guitar-based rock & roll, soaked in the blues and R&B, but owing allegiance to neither.

Diddley was never a top seller on the order of his Chess rival Chuck Berry, but over the next half-dozen or so years, he produced a catalog of classics that rival Berry's in quality. "You Don't Love Me," "Diddley Daddy," "Pretty Thing," "Diddy Wah Diddy," "Who Do You Love?," "Mona," "Road Runner," "You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover" -- all are stone-cold standards of early, riff-driven rock & roll at its funkiest. Oddly enough, his only Top 20 pop hit was an atypical, absurd back-and-forth rap between him and Jerome Green, "Say Man," that came about almost by accident as the pair were fooling around in the studio.

As a live performer, Diddley was galvanizing, using his trademark square guitars and distorted amplification to produce new sounds that anticipated the innovations of '60s guitarists like Jimi Hendrix. In Great Britain, he was revered as a giant on the order of Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters. the Rolling Stones in particular borrowed a lot from Bo's rhythms and attitude in their early days, although they only officially covered a couple of his tunes, "Mona" and "I'm Alright." Other British R&B groups like the Yardbirds, Animals, and Pretty Things also covered Diddley standards in their early days. Buddy Holly covered "Bo Diddley" and used a modified Bo Diddley beat on "Not Fade Away"; when the Stones gave the song the full-on Bo treatment (complete with shaking maracas), the result was their first big British hit.

The British Invasion helped increase the public's awareness of Diddley's importance, and ever since then he's been a popular live act. Sadly, though, his career as a recording artist -- in commercial and artistic terms -- was over by the time the Beatles and Stones hit America. He would record with ongoing and declining frequency, but after 1963, he never wrote or recorded original material on par with his early classics. 

Whether he'd spent his muse, or just felt he could coast on his laurels, is hard to say. But he remains a vital part of the collective rock & roll consciousness, and occasionally reached wider visibility via a 1979 tour with the Clash, a cameo role in the film Trading Places, a late-'80s tour with Ronnie Wood, and a 1989 television commercial for sports shoes with star athlete Bo Jackson. 
by Richie Unterberger
Disc 1
1. Bo Diddley - 2:46
2. I'm A Man - 3:01
3. Little Girl - 2:34
4. You Don't Love Me (You Don't Care) - 2:48
5. Diddley Daddy - 2:27
6. She's Fine, She's Mine - 2:43
7. Pretty Thing (Willie Dixon) - 2:51
8. Bring It To Jerome (Jerome Green) - 2:30
9. Diddy Wah Diddy - 2:31
10.I'm Looking For A Woman - 2:32
11.I'm Bad - 3:18
12.Who Do You Love? - 2:30
13.Cops And Robbers - 3:26
14.Down Home Special - 3:14
15.Hey! - 2:12
16.Mona - 2:22
17.Say Boss Man - 2:33
18.Before You Accuse Me - 3:06
19.Say Man - 3:14
20.Hush Your Mouth - 2:54
Disc 2
1. Dearest Darling - 2:53
2. The Clock Strikes Twelve - 3:01
3. Crackin' Up - 2:06
4. Don't Let It Go (Hold On To What You Got) - 2:45
5. I'm Sorry - 2:26
6. Mumblin' Guitar - 2:50
7. What Do You Know About Love - 3:16
8. Story Of  - 2:54
9. She's Alright - 4:05
10.Say Man, Back Again - 3:09
11.Road Runner - 2:47
12.Spend My Life With You - 2:53
13.Cadillac - 2:47
14.Deed And Deed I Do - 2:22
15.Ride On Josephine - 3:04
16.Bo Diddley's A Gunslinger - 1:54
17.Pills - 2:50
18.I Can Tell (Samuel F. Smith) - 4:27
19.You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover (Willie Dixon) - 3:11
20.Mama, Keep Your Big Mouth Shut - 2:56
21.Ooh Baby - 2:50
All songs written by Bo Diddley unless as else stated.

*Bo Diddley - Vocals, Guitar
*Willie Dixon - Bass, Double Bass
*Otis Spann - Piano
*Billy Boy Arnold - Harmonica
*Little Walter - Harmonica
*Gene Barge - Tenor Sax
*Bobby Baskerville - Bass, Vocals
*Gloria Morgan, Harvey Fuqua, Alexander Graves, Lily "Bee Bee" Jamieson - Vocals
*The Carnations,  The Flamingos, The Moonglows, Bo Ettes, Dorothy Holliday - Vocals
*Bobby Joe Lester, Vivian, Delores Redmond - Vocals
*Lester Davenport - Harmonica
*Billy Downing - Drums
*Eddie Drennon - Electric Violin
*The Duchess - Guitar
*Jerome Green - Maracas, Vocals
*Clifton James - Drums
*Jesse James Johnson - Bass
*Ricky Jolivet - Guitar
*Peggy Jones - Guitar, Vocals
*Frank Kirkland - Drums
*Lafayette Leake - Piano
*Chester Lindsey - Bass
*Connie Redmond - Tambourine, Vocals
*Little Willie Smith - Harmonica
*Jody Williams - Guitar

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Waterloo - First Battle (1970-71 belgium, wispy psych folk with organ heavy bombast, extra tracks edition)

There’s an old gag particularly prevalent in Britain that goes along the lines of “I bet you can’t name five famous Belgians”. In fact this small bilingual, bicultural European country has produced more celebrities than you’d think: Gérard Mercator, designer of the universal map projection that bears his name; Adolphe Sax, who invented the saxophone; and Georges Simenon, creator of classic fictional detective Maigret, are just three. Perhaps thinner on the ground are famous Belgian musicians: poetic songwriter Jacques Brel is certainly the best known, and then there’s Jean “Toots” Thielemans who uniquely plays jazz on chromatic harmonica . . . and of course Plastic Bertrand.

Prior to 1980 or thereabouts, home-grown Belgian rock bands were certainly a select species, at least in terms of penetration outside their homeland and France. Waterloo was a fine, sturdy prog-rock outfit in the English mould of the late 1960s, coming together in ’69 with members from two just-folded Belgian pop-psych groups, releasing their sole album the following year and folding themselves about a year later after precious little commercial success. Their musical pedigree was beyond doubt; organist Marc Malyster was a conservatoire-trained keyboard player, whilst lead vocalist/flautist Dirk Bogaert had been an operatic boy soprano and drummer Jacky Mauer was steeped in jazz. With the workmanlike rock chops of guitarist Gus Roan who also doubled on flute, and bass guitarist Jean-Paul Janssens, they covered all the bases.

First Battle was recorded in England with all the lyrics in English; given this plus the band’s propensity for driving three-four rhythms and breathy flute accompaniments, it’s no surprise they frequently recall Mick Abrahams-period Jethro Tull. However Malyster’s organ work marks them out from the Brit combo, favouring a churchy drawbar setting on his Hammond and incorporating plenty of Bach-like touches in the style of his main rock influence, Keith Emerson. 

The album offers nine tightly-composed, tightly-performed songs, none breaching the four-minute barrier, all with tuneful pop sensibility and lyrical hooks and featuring fine harmony vocals and terse, pithy solos. Only on the ten-minute closing opus “Diary Of An Old Man” is each player is given the chance to feature more extensively, with excellent expositions by Bogaert on simultaneous flute and scat vocal and by Roan who finally gets to really stretch out on guitar. 

Pick of the other tracks are the Tullish “Why May I Not Know” which sets out the band’s stall for the following numbers; the jazzy, socially aware “Black Born Children” which thematically if not musically recalls the Nice’s “Daddy, Where Did I Come From”; and the splendid classically-harmonised riff of “Life” which also features a vocal dialogue, fruity flute obbligati and muscular bass guitar work. In all honesty there are no weak tracks anywhere on this album. The record was cut at an unidentified Soho eight-track studio under producer David McKay (who also masterminded Belgium’s other high-profile group of the day, Wallace Collection) and the sound quality, at least on the CD reissue, is exemplary, being powerful and clean with each lead instrument deftly forefronted.

Tensions within the band must have surfaced soon after the recording, because Janssens was gone by July ’70 and Malyster bailed soon after. Replacements were found but the tight, virtuosic sound of the original lineup was never emulated; the band struggled on for another year or so, cutting a couple of singles that strangely reverted to a pop-psych template. These were included as bonus cuts on the first (vinyl) reissue of First Battle by French musicians’ cooperative label Musea, now long out of print, and also appear on the excellent CD reissue by Spanish imprint Guerszen which is still available. Devotees of the Nice, Jethro Tull, Deep Purple and other early progressive rockers will find a lot to like on this collection.
by Len Liechti
1. Meet Again - 3:02
2. Why May I Not Know - 3:06
3. Tumblin' Jack - 2:34
4. Black Born Children - 3:42
5. Life - 2:45
6. Problems - 2:58
7. Why Don't You Follow Me? - 3:30
8. Guy In The Neighbourhood - 2:54
9. Lonesome Road - 2:48
10. Diary Of An Old Man - 10:58
11. Plastic Mind - 4:25
12. Smile - 3:50
13. I Can't Live With Nobody But You - 3:41
14. The Youngest Day - 7:33
15. Bobo's Dream - 4:58
16. Bad Time - 3:19
Bonus Tracks 11-16

*Dirk Bogaert - Lead Vocals, Flute
*Gus Roan - Guitar
*Jacky Mauer - Drums
*Marc Malyster - Organ (Tracks 1-12)
*Jean-Paul Janssens - Bass (Tracks 1-12)
*Frank Wuyts - Organ (Tracks 13 To 16)
*Jean-Paul Musette - Bass (Tracks 13 To 16)
*John Van Rymenant - Saxophone (Tracks 13 To 16)

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bob Mosley - Never Dreamed (1974-77 us, beautiful country blues 'n' roll)

It seems that sometimes triumph and tragedy go hand in hand and the story of Bob Mosley goes well with this theory. His creative highs are closely bound with personal downfalls – in true Moby Grape style, it seems. For this is the musical legend with whose legacy the man's name is ultimately connected. Much has been made of the band's early heydays, the mishaps and scandals, and the great music that came with them. 

Bob Mosley, singer, bass-player and guitarist, was one of the four songwriters in Moby Grape, next to Peter Lewis, the late Skip Spence and Jerry Miller. Some of his classic contributions to the Grape repertoire: "Mr. Blues", "Come In The Morning", "Lazy Me", "Bitter Wind", "Rose Colored Eyes", "Trucking Man", "It's A Beautiful Day Today", "Hoochie" and more. Listening again to these classic cuts it becomes evident that Bob Mosley's personal style is very much based upon the concept of intensity. 

His urgent style of singing has distinct expressive qualities and sometimes is reminiscent of John Fogerty. Despite the versatility of the band's music, Bob Mosley's musical priorities can be safely located at the crossroads of country and blues. That's where he seems to be at home. His voice is unmistakable. No matter what.

Never Dreamed is a collection of previously unreleased songs. It's a chapter from the man's history that's been completely unknown until now and presents the story of a remarkable encounter: a meeting of rock and country giants from Buddy Holly's "Crickets" and the legendary band of Elvis Presley. To be precise: James Burton and Sonny Curtis (guitars), J.I. Allison (drums), Glen D. Hardin (piano) plus Joe Osborn and Emory Gordy (bass) with fellow "Cricket" Joe B. Mauldin serving as sound engineer. So is this Moby Grape meets Texas meets Nashville meets Memphis? Well, in a way it is. but NEVER DREAMED is first of all the brainchild of songwriter and producer Jean-Pierre "J.P" Whitecloud
1. There Is The Sun - 3:12
2. Dead Or Alive - 3:23
3. Never Dreamed - 5:14
4. Willy Shakespeare Blues - 4:31
5. Shoot The Xylophone Man - 2:32
6. Put It Off Until Tomorrow (Dolly Parton, Bill Owens) - 3:30
7. Louisiana Mama (Gene Pitney) - 2:44
8. Question (Justin Hayward) - 3:00
9. Leavin' Through The Back Door - 3:24
10.Willy Shakespeare Blues (Alternate Take) - 4:30
11.Never Dreamed (Alternate Mix) - 5:20
Music and Lyrics by Susan Whitecloud and Pete Delacroix unless as else written

*Bob Mosley - Vocals
*James Burton - Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
*Sonny Curtis - Acoustic Guitar
*Glen D. Hardin - Piano
*Joe Osborn - Bass
*J.I. Allison - Drums
*Frank Arnett - Steel Guitar
*Emory Gordy - Bass
*J.P. Whitecloud - Tambourine, Background Vocals

1972  Bob Mosley

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Bob Mosley - Bob Mosley (1972 us, sensational hard rockin' funky psych with some folk shades, Wounded Bird edition)

Born and raised in Southern California (Paradise Valley), James Robert Mosley spent his teens playing in a number of local bands, including stints with The Frantics, The Misfits and the Strangers. By 1966 Mosley was a member of the ill-fated Moby Grape. His residency proved fairly brief. Discouraged with the band's lack of commercial success and what he saw as Columbia Records unwillingness to adequately support the group, Mosley dropped out of the band following the release of "Moby Grape '69". 

As the story goes, Mosley was working as a school janitor and was about to be drafted when he decided to volunteer for the Marine Corps. Mosley made it through basic training, however an extended military career was not in the cards. Following a fight with an officer, nine months into his enlistment he was diagnosed as suffering from paranoid-schizophrenic and discharged. Returning to California, he rejoined The Grape in time to record 1971's "20 Granite Creek". Unfortunately, shortly after the album was released the group again called it quits. Somehow attracting the attention of Reprise Records, Mosley secured a recording contract, going into Hollywood's Crystal Studios with producer Michael O'Connor. 

Recognizing that cut out bins are full of atrocious solo efforts, we weren't expecting all that much from 1972's "Bob Mosley". Our mistake !!! (Guess we should have remembered that the guy wrote some of The Grape's best material - "Mr. Blues", "Come In The Morning" and "Trucking Man".) Credited with penning all eleven tracks (one co-written with brother Andy), Mosley turned in an album that was as good as anything The Grape ever recorded. Supported by a talented pick-up band including former Superfine Dandelion guitarist Ed Black and former Morning Glory drummer Allen Wehr, Mosley demonstrated an almost chameleon-like ability to handle different musical styles. 

The lead off "The Joker" was a roaring slice of fuzz guitar propelled rocker, "Hands of Time" was a nice West Coast rocker, while "Thanks" offered up a pretty country-rock tune. Among the other highlights, sporting backing from the Memphis Horns, "Let the Music Play", "Nothing to Do" and a rerecorded "Gypsy Wedding" offered up three classic slices of blue-eyed soul. Personal favorite, the wonderful "Gone Fishin'" Sadly, this lost classic vanished without a trace.
1. The Joker - 3:41
2. Gypsy Wedding - 3:41
3. 1245 Kearny - 3:15
4. Squaw Valley Nils (Hocked Soul) - 3:09
5. Let the Music Play -3:36
6. Thanks - 3:17
7. Where Do the Birds Go - 3:37
8. Hand in Hand - 3:03
9. Gone Fishin' (Bob Mosley, Andy Mosley) - 3:22
10.Nothing to Do - 2:22
11.So Many Troubles - 4:04
All compositions by Bob Mosley except where indicated.

*Woodie Berry - Backing Vocals
*Ed Black - Guitar
*Bob Mosley - Vocals, Bass
*Frank Smith - Backing Vocals
*Allen Wehr - Drums, Backing Vocals

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Roosters - All Of Our Days (1964-68 us, jingle-jangle garage surf, folk rock, Vinyl edition)

The Roosters have been known among fans and followers of the Californian mid 60s folk rock scene for a long time. Their "One Of These Days" b/w "You Gotta Run" 45 has been included on early garage compilations and is a huge favourite among collectors. Less well known is their second and at least as brilliant 45 "Rosebush" / "Ain't Gonna Cry Anymore". 

Additionally there's a rare 1965 surf/mersey punk single released under the name "Five More", an early 1965 acetate put down as the Avengers and most of all, three 1966 stunning unreleased folk/garage janglers recorded at Gold Star Studio. This collection finally puts all these gems in one place and unravels the enigmas behind the band on a LP sized full glossy insert with a detailed history of the band emerging from the memoirs of guitarist and songwriter Timothy Ward and the bandOs vocalist Ray Mangigian. 

This is embellished with a load of stunning never-before-seen photos. Finally here«s the legacy of an underrated, but excellent band direct from Los Angeles, the mid-Sixties epicenter of jangle  The Roosters! 
1. Avalanche (As The Five More) (T. Ward, T. Stanton) - 2:14
2. I'm No Good  (As The Five More) (T. Ward, T. Stanton) - 2:31
3. One Of These Days (T. Ward, T. Stanton) - 2:49
4. You Gotta Run (T. Ward) - 2:25
5. Rosebush (T. Ward) - 2:06
6. Ain't Gonna Cry Anymores (T. Ward) - 2:29
7. Cool It (T. Ward) - 2:08
8. Help Me Please (T. Ward) - 2:41
9. She Sends Me (T. Ward) - 2:33
10.Deep Inside (T. Ward) - 2:32
11.I'm Suspecting (J. Griffin, M. Gordon) - 2:26
12.Love Machine (J. Griffin, M. Gordon) - 2:42

The Roosters
Ray Mangigian - Vocals 1-12
Levitt Earhart - Guitar 1-10
Tim Ward - Guitar 1-12
Floyd Fletcher - Bass 1-12
Jim Peters - Drums 5-6 & 8-10
Dave Bolen - Drums 1-4, 7
Tom Stanton -Drums - 11-12

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Alquin - Marks (1972 holland, progressive jazzy folk rock, 2009 remaster)

Like most young bands, Alquin proudly wore their influences on their sleeves, but unlike most of their fellow progressive rockers, the Dutch group eschewed opulent arrangements and showboat soloing. Simplicity seems to have been the byword for their 1973 debut album, Marks, recorded while the members were still attending Delft's Technical University. 

This understandably led to the album being tagged as jazz-folk, but that label does injustice to the breadth of Alquin's vision and wide range of styles, with their songs encompassing everything from a conga line to disco, Dixieland to Gypsy violin. The unadorned arrangements counterintuitively make Marks sound far less adventurous than it actually is, but correspondingly far more accessible than it might otherwise have been. It's also a reflection of the set's lack of improvisation, but live the band soared into more experimental territory, as "Mr. Barnum Junior's Magnificent and Fabulous City" well illustrates, an extended piece that giddily shape-shifts through numerous genres and styles. 

Contrast that number with the lilting in and out of pomp rock and jazz during "Oriental Journey," the cheery jazz-pop of "The Least You Could Do Is Send Me Some Flowers," or the moody jazz fusion of "Soft Royce"; it's like night and day. Positioning themselves between the Canterbury scene, the jazz clubs, West Coast psychedelia, and the rock greats, Alquin took the best of all worlds and threaded it into a sound uniquely their own. They had much growing to do, but this was an impressive start. 
by Dave Thompson
1. Oriental Journey - 4:22
2. The Least You Could Do Is Send Me Some Flowers - 2:26
3. Soft Royce (F. Bakker, Ronald Ottenhoff) - 6:57
4. Mr. Barnum Junior's Magnificent And Fabulous City (Alquin) - 5:36
5. I Wish I Could - 11:47
6. You Always Can Change (Job Tarenskeen) - 3:05
7. Marc's Occasional Showers - 3:23
8. Catharine's Wig - 2:38
9. Hard Royce (F. Bakker, Ronald Ottenhoff) - 2:40
All songs by Ferdinand Bakker except where noted

*Hein Mars - Bass
*Paul Westrate - Drums
*Job Tarenskeen - Saxophone, Percussion, Vocals
*Ronald Ottenhoff - Saxophone, Flute
*Ferdinand Bakker - Guitar, Electric Violin, Piano, Vocals
*Dick Franssen - Organ, Piano, E-Piano

1973  Alquin - The Mountain Queen

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Rising Storm - Calm Before... Alive Again At Andover (1967 us, impressive garage psych)

Hardcore fans of unknown 60s psych and garage all search for that taste of magic once committed to rare grooves of vinyl, a glimpse into an era when any rock combo with a few fans could get enough studio time to immortalize a set of their wildest sounds, and with Calm Before.., you get the full dosage.

If you have an original copy of this record, you ought to encase it in 15 sheets of mylar and lock it up in the safe, as garage rock hounds are probably sniffing you down as you read this. Only 500 LPs were pressed in 1967, just as these six young lads from Phillips Academy in Massachusetts were graduating prep school.

Typically, impossibly rare albums tend to get seriously over-hyped, but not so in this case. Collectors don’t go nuts over this one because it’s so rare, it’s because it’s so good! The Rising Storm rocks with the controlled frenzy of The Remains (even tearing open the album with their explosive “Don’t Look Back”), but manage to layer in a thin film of psychedelia. The contemplative original numbers are the real gems on this record. “To L.N./Who Doesn’t Know,” “Frozen Laughter,” and “The Rain Falls Down” are three must-hear folk-tinged treats.

“Mr. Wind”  with it’s lovely, lilting melody and the rollicking “Bright Lit Blue Skies” were both tunes borrowed from local Boston garage rocker contemporaries, The Rockin’ Ramrods, clearly heroes to the Storm. Another laid back treat is “A Message To Pretty,” a Love cover that proves the musical taste and cool sensibility of these young preps. Simply put, the rockers on here will start up the party, but the softer tunes give it all the sparkle.

Most of my favorite records take some time invested before they begin to reward, and Calm Before is a genuine grower. Â The CD reissue includes the original LP lineup and follows with a 1983 reunion concert recorded in their home town of Andover. Surprisingly, the boys play with all the same energy and a little bit of welcome slop that actually recreates an authentic garage sound.

These guys arguably had one of the best band names of the time.
by Brendan McGrath, June 8th, 2007 
1. Don't Look Back - 2:50
2. Medley - 3:16
3. I'm Coming Home - 2:50
4. A Message to Pretty - 3:30
5. In the Midnight Hour - 3:54
6. Frozen Laughter - 3:10
7. She Loved Me - 3:45
8. Mr. Wind - 3:04
9. Big Boss Man - 3:03
10.Bright Lit Blue Skies - 2:32
11.The Rain Falls Down - 3:26
12.Baby Please Don't Go - 2:52
13.Slow Down - 3:30
14.I'm Crying - 4:34
15.Signed D.C - 3:28
16.I'm Coming Home - 3:15
17.A Message to Pretty - 3:54
18.In the Midnight Hour - 3:01
19.My Little Red Book - 2:56
20.Medley - 3:40
21.We Gotta Get Out of This Place - 3:44
22.Medley - 6:40

The Rising Storm
*Bob Cohan - Guitar, Vocals
*Todd Cohen - Bass, Vocals
*Andy Paley - Bass, Vocals
*Charlie Rockwell - Organ, Electric Piano, Vocals
*Tony Scheft - Bongos, Drums, Tambourine
*Tony Thompson - Guitar, Vocals
*Rich Weinberg - Cowbell, Guitar, Harmonica, Tambourine, Vocals

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Gilgamesh - Gilgamesh (1975 uk, splendid fusion progressive jazz rock, 2011 Esoteric remaster)

Esoteric’s 2011 remastered reissue of Gilgamesh’s 1975 eponymous debut recording provides a 21st century opportunity to investigate a fine group that emerged during the waning days of Britain’s Canterbury scene. The album by keyboardist Alan Gowen’s quartet -- also featuring guitarist Phil Lee, bassist Jeff Clyne, and drummer Mike Travis in this incarnation -- was issued by Virgin Records’ budget-line Caroline imprint. By the mid-‘70s, Virgin’s support for bands of this ilk was beginning to wane, with punk and new wave soon ruling the day. 

Arriving late in the game, Gowen and company sounded most similar to Canterbury supergroup Hatfield and the North, and in fact Hatfields keyboardist Dave Stewart co-produced the album. Gilgamesh had clearly mastered the Hatfields’ suites’n’segues approach to Canterbury-style complexity while sidestepping blatant imitation -- for the most part. Certainly from the first notes of opening three-part suite “One End More/Phil’s Little Dance/Worlds of Zin,” Gilgamesh prove capable of nimble thematic lines and knotty stops and starts, while admirably refraining from pyrotechnics. 

The suite's kitchen-sink approach makes room for King Crimson-ish Mellotron and grand piano flourishes (recalling Keith Tippett on Lizard) as well as Stevie Wonder-ish funk-lite clavinet, but the uniform production smooths out such quirky juxtapositions. “Lady and Friend” provides a true jolt, with Clyne’s lullaby-like bass melody, seasoned by light electric piano/guitar accompaniment, preceded by a brief blast of full-band unison riffing seemingly designed as a rude interruption.

Just over a minute and a half long, Gowen’s “Arriving Twice” is a wonderful interlude, with acoustic guitar, electric piano, and synth sketching a melody that draws from jazz, folk, and classical but ultimately transcends such labels; it’s the perfect segue into “Island of Rhodes,” the first portion of the album’s next three-part suite, with the track’s namesake keyboard floating in nocturnal ambience a la In a Silent Way before the introduction of a dreamily beautiful theme accompanied by the subtlest percussive embellishments from Travis. 

The suite ultimately offers its own share of unpredictable twists, ending with a driving vamp as guitarist Lee cuts loose, but the production again manages to avoid shattering the prevailing vibe. The album does court Hatfields imitation here and there -- “Jamo and Other Boating Disasters” features Amanda Parsons’ soprano vocals in pure Northettes style during an interlude that clearly strives for the drama of The Rotters’ Club’s “Mumps” coda, while elsewhere Lee employs a decidedly Phil Miller-esque electric guitar tone. But Gowen himself avoids obvious Canterbury devices, eschewing fuzz organ solos during the music’s most animated moments in favor of round-toned synth voicings that snake and float through rather than pierce the air. 

Gilgamesh’s studio-based forays may have tamped down the band’s woollier aspects revealed by the Cuneiform archival recording Arriving Twice issued long after Gowen’s sadly premature death, but in retrospect, the keyboardist and his bandmates were charting their own inimitable direction, too briefly explored but holding up admirably in recordings such as this, decades after the fact. 
by Dave Lynch
1. One and More/Phil's Little Dance (For Phil Miller's Trousers) (Alan Gowen, Phil Lee) - 10:22
2. Lady and Friend (Jeff Clyne, Alan Gowen) - 3:44
3. Notwithstanding (Steve Cook, Alan Gowen, Phil Lee) - 4:47
4. Arriving Twice (Alan Gowen) - 1:37
5. Island of Rhodes/Paper Boat/As If Your Eyes Were Open (Steve Cook, Alan Gowen, Phil Lee) - 6:41
6. For Absent Friends (Phil Lee) - 1:13
7. We Are All/Someone Else's Food/Jamo and Other Boating ... (Alan Gowen) - 7:49
8. Just C (Alan Gowen) - 0:47

*Jeff Clyne - Bass, Double Bass
*Alan Gowen - Clavinet, Keyboards, Mellotron, Electric Piano, Synthesizer, Vocal Arrangement
*Phil Lee - Guitar
*Michael Travis - Drums, Percussion
*Amanda Parsons - Vocals

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rare Amber - Rare Amber (1969 uk, hard psych blues rock, 2004 reissue with bonus tracks)

A short-lived blues-rock quintet. The album sleeve depicts the band holding a black mass ceremony.

The vinyl inside was a successful blend of originals and covers of compositions by blues kings like Otis Spann and B.B. King. It is now a significant collectable.

Both sides of their sole 45 can also be heard on Polydor's 1970 Deep Overground Pop compilation.

The group also recorded a very gutsy mono album at Central Sound in Denmark Street on 4-track. Polydor then decided to re-make the album in 8-track for stereo, and the released LP (regarded by the band as bland!) was recorded at IBC studios in Portland Place, over the course of a few days.

In fact they were slotted in the somewhat ridiculous hours of between 8.00am and 12 noon, as The Who were recording Tommy from noon to midnight, at the time!

Reissue of this ultra rare 1969 U.K album originally released on Polydor. This re-issue contains the non LP tracks from the band's only release.
1. Malfunction Of The Engine - 3:53
2. You Ain't Made Yet - 2:59
3. It Hurts Me Too (Marshall Sehorn, Elmore James) - 3:37
4. Paying The Cost To Be The Boss (B.B. King) - 3:38
5. Night Life (Willie Nelson, Paul Buskirk, Walter Breland) - 5:19
6. Custom Blues - 3:14
7. Popcorn Man (McKinley Morganfield) - 2:17
8. Heartbreaker (B.B. King) - 2:52
9. Solution - 7:03
10.Amber Blues - 2:34
11.Blues Never Die (Otis Spann) - 2:08
12.Malfunction On The Engine - 3:27
13.Blind Love - 2:29
All songs by Roger Cairns, Del Watkins, Gwyn Mathias, John Dover, Keith Whiting except where indicated
Bonus Tracks 12-13 from 1969 single release

Rare Amber
*Roger Cairns - Vocals
*Del Watkins - Lead Guitar
*Gwyn Mathias - Keyboards, Harmonica
*John Dover - Bass
*Keith Whiting - Drums

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Argus - Argus (1973/77 uk, heavy progressive blues rock)

Argus was formed in 1972 by bass player Mick Pearl and drummer Dave Wagstaffe, both musicians hailing originally from Skegness. They recruited in guitarist Del Watkins, who used to play in the band ‘Julian’s Treatment’, who had had some success with a very original album ‘A Time before This’. Del had also been in the Ska band ‘The Skatalites’ as well as Polydor band ‘Rare Amber’, and as a back up musician for Ben E King. 

A singer was eventually found in Bill McRae from Scotland and the band put together a set of original material, with influences from Deep Purple, Wishbone Ash (who’s third album had inspired the band’s name) and Free. The band soon built up a good reputation on the college circuit, festivals, and rock pubs and clubs such as the Fulham Greyhound, from where one report came to the attention of The Old Grey Whistle Test’s Bob Harris, who gave the band a good review on the show. 

After about a year Bill called it a day and a replacement was found in Ken Lewis who hailed from Greenford. Ken was a more experienced performer with a stronger voice, but musically not perhaps as in step with the band as Bill, but the band continued getting some good support slots with Thin Lizzy, Brinsley Schwartz (with Nick Lowe) Jack The Lad, Pink Fairies, The Equals and others. A demo was recorded at the bands huge flat in Brondesbury Park, engineered by John Dover, bassist from Julian’s Treatment, and the newly formed Rocket Records were set to sign the band but Del’s sudden departure brought things grinding to a halt. 

Amongst potential guitarists answering the ensuing advert in melody Maker was Allan Holdsworth, recently departed from Tempest, but with nothing concrete on the table to temp him with, he declined. A replacement was found in an American guitarist from the band Hookfoot, Ray ? - who’s surname seems to have got lost over the years. He eventually was tempted off back to the States for a tour with Dr Hook, and for some reason, probably being fed up with guitarists, the band decided to get a sax player, and were very pleased to get John ‘Irish’ Earle, the baritone sax player formerly with Gnidrolog, and later on Thin Lizzy, Cliff Richards and many more, who impressed the band hugely, but he didn’t stay around too long before other ventures called. 

The end came when bass player Mick Pearl was invited to join Nicky Moore’s Hackensack. The songs that had been recorded were later released on the ‘Audio Archives’ label – some twenty eight years later! Mick went on to play in 'Street Band' with Paul Young, and then went on to form 'Q Tips'. Dave Wagstaffe later played with 'Anaconda', Gaskin, Quasar, John Wetton, Ken Hensley, Davy O List, and currently with 'Landmarq' and Oliver Wakeman.
by Dave Wagstaffe
1. Friend Of Mine - 5:54
2. Road Of Life - 3:26
3. Tweny-four Hours - 6:08
4. Same Old Story - 4:03
5. Superstition - 3:44
6. Funk Song - 6:05
7. Why Can't They Leave Us Alone? - 4:15
8. Take No Chance - 8:26
9. Drum Thing - 8:23
10.Jubilee Shuffle - 3:09
11.77 St. Thomas' Road Part 1 - 5:15
12.77 St. Thomas' Road Part 2 - 3:25
Tracks 6-12 as Anaconda
Tracks 1-5 recorded in Brondesbury Park, London 1973 
Tracks 6-12 recorded live at The George Robey, Finsbury Pa rk, London 1977 

*Dave Wagstaffe - Drums
*Mick Pearl - Bass
*Del Watkins - Guitar
*Ken Lewis - Vocals
*Dave Wags Taffe - Drums
*Randy Spence - Guitar, Vocals
*Rod Newington - Bass
*'Mad' Reg - Flute

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Shiver - San Francisco's Shiver (1972 us, hard fuzz out acid psych, Shadoks bonus tracks release)

Shiver was a late sixties/early seventies band that played heavy acid rock in the vein of Iron Butterfly and Blue Cheer. This album is a reissue of a 1972 recording the band did on an old, yet effective, 2-track machine. Re-released by Shadoks Music, a subdivision of Germany's Normal label, it is a startlingly good artifact of the seventies acid rock scene. 

While their brand of psych rock is significantly heavier than that of the more popular bands of the era - the scorching "Touch As Nails" is enough to make The Seeds and Steppenwolf sound like Barbra Streisand - they are no less psychedelic than any of the era's major outfits. In fact, the band's amazing solos are enough to get any stoner's head in the clouds. "Fixer", for example, sounds as if its straight out of the seventies-era West Coast underground - blasting along with yelled vocals and powerful, spacey guitar solos. "Up My Sleeve", meanwhile, will get you moving immediately - its scorching guitar work and super-fast drumming is enough to get anyone shaking. And when the singer starts screaming along to the insane instrumentation, you'll no longer be on this planet.

And, of course, there's the album's epic, "Alpha Man". Like a cross between the melodic perfection of Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven" and the acid-influences of Iron Butterfly's "In A Gadda-Da Vida", the track starts slowly, build up, halts, and then goes right into a devilishly catchy chorus ("Baby I'm the alpha maa-aaa-aan!"). It's the ultimate stoner paradise; head pounding riffs, brain boggling solos, and stoned drumming all make appearances. You'll wish you could have seen it played live.

Shiver's work is that rare stuff you hear so much about but never actually come across; it packs all the energy of a live performance onto one little cd. If you are at all interested in real acid rock, go find this artifact, lie back, and let the music take over your body. You won't be disappointed.
by Matt Shimmer 
1. Tough as Nails - 6:48
2. Fixer - 5:10
3. Bone Shaker - 6:24
4. Interstellar Vision - 5:44
5. Alpha Man - 14:29
6. Rocky Road - 3:35
7. Keep on Rocking - 3:01
8. Up My Sleeve - 5:35
9. Winter Time - 4:25

*Don Peck - Drums
*Neil Peron - Bass
*Frank Twist - Guitar, Vocals

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Monday, January 14, 2013

The Aggregation - Mind Odyssey (1968 us, atmospheric psychedelic trip)

Ever since Hermann Hesse suggested back in 1927 that the cost for one admission is your mind, metaphors of magic theatres, carnivals and fun fairs have been popular among those wanting to illustrate altered states of mind. During the psychedelic 1960s the use of such symbols was so frequent and often so ignorant that the serious concept degenerated into a meaningless prop, much like what happened with incense or prayer beads. But as Hesse showed in "Steppenwolf" it is a powerful image with plenty of artistic possibilities.

One of the more remarkable uses of the "funhouse" as a metaphor for exploration of cerebral frontiers can be found on the 1969 "Mind Odyssey" LP by Los Angeles band the Aggregation. The LP is a somewhat obscure cult item today, and not many listeners are likely to realize how immediate, and ironic, the band's use of the concept is. A 5-piece of college graduates, several of which had degrees in music, the Aggregation were one of a small number of rock bands who played regularly at Disneyland. Hit covers of the day were delivered as a diversion for visiting teenagers, but the band also composed original music to work in conjunction with the rides and expositions on offer at Disneyland's "Tomorrowland".

The details behind the Aggregation signing with LHI and the work on the album can be found in the accompanying website interview, leaving us to concentrate on the resulting music. "Mind Odyssey" is a completely realized concept LP that uses a visit to an amusement park as a metaphor for an inner, ostensibly psychedelicized, journey. 

The most remarkable aspect of "Mind Odyssey" is that its' surface is deceptively similar to any number of cheesy concept LPs that appeared in the wake of "Sgt Pepper", yet if you stick around it will open up to reveal layers of elaborate composition and internal logic that surpass all those Beatles imitations, and indeed Sgt Pepper himself. The Charleston/vaudeville track is a telling example -- on the typical post-Pepper album this is a throwaway number made for no other reason than to echo "When I'm 64". When Aggregation does one it makes perfect sense, and even convinces of its need to be there, although it's unlikely to be anyone's favorite track. 

Formally trained and mature enough to understand the use of irony and intermusical references, Aggregation uncover a terrific analogy for a psychedelic experience in Disney's "Tomorrowland", and the way they proceed to deliver it makes "Mind Odyssey" one of my favorite albums from 1969. I bet old Herman Hesse would have liked it too.
by Patrick "the Lama" Lundborg
1. The Lady at the Gate (Potts. Braun. Burt. L. O'Hara) - 4:45
2. Looking for the Tour Guide (Bun, L. O'Hara) - 2:13
3. The Long Windy Tunnel (Taylor) - 6:15
4. Flying Free  (Taylor. L. O'Hara) - 3:05
5. White Light  (Taylor. L. O'Hara) - 2:00
6. In the Garden  (Burt, L. O'Hara) - 3:05
7. Reflections  (Braun) - 2:55
8. The City of Toys and Games (Gregory) - 3:23
9. Change (Burt) - 2:50
10. Life's Light (Pott,Taylor) - 6:00

The Aggregation
*Lewayne Braun - Lead, Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Dale Burt - Organ, Piano, Honky-Tonk, Vocal
*Bayard Gregory - Drums, Timpani, Bongos, Tambourine, Vocal
*Richard Jones - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Leo Potts - Flute, Clarinet Soprano, Alto, Baritone Saxophone (Electronically Enhanced By Selmervaritone Conn Multi-Vider And Echoplex), Recorder, Kazoo, Vocals
*Bill Sissoev - Bass, Slide And Valve Trombone, Vocal
*Lemoyne Taylor - Flute, Clarinet, Alto, Tenor Saxophone (Electronically Enhanced by Selmervaritone and Music Maestro), Recorder, Slide Whistle, Vocal

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

St. John Green - St. John Green (1968 us, freak out garage dark psych)

Deep in the brown burnt hills of Southern California, there is a place called Topanga Canyon. The people wholive there are mostly musicians who grew weary of the many harassments of our culture. Dedicated musicians who searched for and found a place where they could  create their music in pace. 

These Canyon Groups (as they have come to be known) are not neon hippies , but  artists who have fled the music profession's hangers-on –al the phonies on the rock scene with their dubious talents and destructive ambitions. Here, in the serenity of Toppanga, the Canyon Groups hold festivals and concert! Where they learn from each other and grow. 

Here, in the home they've made for themselves, they meet to exchange ideas in an atmosphere of tolerance and creativity. Here they have found tranquility and freedom of expression in a setting of flowers, trees and grass.

Of all the Canyon Groups, St. John Green is perhaps the most mystical both in the religious and philosophical sense. Each of their songs is intensely dramatic, intensely concerned with life and its mysteries. As arranger Mike Baxter explains: "In our environment we have experienced both good and evil. 

Our concept of evil is constructed in our music in hopes that those who listen and understand might learn to enjoy the beauty that really exists. We have learned from the people  of the Canyon that there’s no substitute for being individually free. This is reflected in our songs and explains  why each is different from the other. 

Perhaps the imagination, the fire and the Sheer artistry of St. John Green would have found its outlet in any setting. But those who know—those who have listened and understood and applauded these compelling, haunting songs like to think that the magic of the Canyon inspired the magic of St. John Green.
1. 7th Generation Mutation (E. Bissot) - 3.19
2. Canyon Women (K. Fowley) - 3.01
3. Devil And The Sea (M. Baxter, V. Sambino) - 2.18
4. Do You Believe (E. Bissot) - 2.11
5. Help Me Close The Door (E. Bissot) - 1.02
6. Messages From The Dead (E. Bissot) - 4.09
7. Goddess Of Death (E. Bissot) - 2.25
8. St. John Green (K. Fowley) - 3.05
9. Spirit Of Now (M. Baxter, V. Sambino) - 2.33
10.Love Of Hate (E. Bissot) - 2.11
11.One Room Cemetary (K. Fowley) - 3.43
12.Shivers Of Pleasure (M. Baxter, E. Bissot,  K. Fowley) - 3.19

St. John Green
*Ed Bissot - Bass, Vocals
*Vic Sabino - Harmonica, Vocals
*Bill Kirkland - Guitar
*Mike Baxter - Organ
*Shel Scott - Drums

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