Sunday, March 31, 2013

King Biscuit Boy - Gooduns (1971 canada, fantastic hard blues rock)

 Originally released on LP format in 1971 with a cloth burlap cover, Gooduns is the second album by Richard "King Biscuit Boy" Newell. After the success Official Music the year before, Gooduns was more of the same style with a few left over songs from the previous albums' sessions with Crowbar (although by this time they had officially parted company) and backing from some new musicians that included members of Janis Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band, Seatrain and Canada's Dr. Music.

For this album, Newell recorded on a couple of cover songs written by Dr. John,Little Walter and Willie Dixon but the album contained mainly original compositions by Newell. With a harder blues guitar sound and tighter band edge than the debut, "Gooduns" was supported by a successful tour of England in 1971 where King Biscuit Boy and The Real Gooduns Bandwere backed up by the British band The Idle Race.

Despite the success of the album and tour, the Daffodil Records label fell on hard times financially and folded with no single or album promotion, leaving King Biscuit Boy to move to the Epic label for the next release. This budget priced reissue by Unidisc does not contain any bonus tracks but faithfully reproduces the original album graphics and liner notes.
by Keith Pettipas
1. You Done Tore Your Playhouse Down Again (Richard Newell) - 5:17
2. Boom, Boom Out Goes the Lights (Stan Lewis) - 2:45
3. Georgia Rag (Blind Willie McTell) - 1:35
4. Barefoot Rock (Scott Harper) - 3:31
5. Boogie Walk, Pt. 1 (Richard Newell) - 4:03
6. Ranky Tanky (Richard Newell) - 3:58
7. Twenty-Nine Ways to My Baby's Door (Willie Dixon) - 2:42
8. Bald Head Rhumba Boogie (Richard Newell) - 4:06
9. Lord Pity Us All (Dr. John) - 5:38

*Larry Atamanuik - Drums
*Richard Bell - Keyboards, Piano
*Sonnie Bernardi - Drums
*Dianne Brooks - Vocals
*Roland Greenway - Bass
*Kelly Jay - Keyboards, Piano
*Steve Kennedy - Horn
*Rheal Lanthier - Guitar
*Richard Newell - Guitar, Harmonica, Slide Guitar, Vocals
*Brian Russell - Vocals
*Rhonda Silver - Vocals
*Slide Tallman - Horn
*Mr Sunshine - Drums

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Markley - A Group (1969 us, superb psychedelia with delicate arrangements)

 Except in name, for all intents and purposes, 1970's "Markley - A Group" served as the final LP by The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band.
For a band about to collapse, musically 1970's "Markley - A Group" is surprisingly consistent and accomplished.  With Markley and Lloyd co-producing, tracks such as "Elegrant Ellen", "Sweet Lady Eleven" and "Magic Cat" are nearly as good as some of the highlights from the  WCPAEB catalog.  Lyrically the set found Markley again engrossed in fighting personal demons (the paranoid sounding "Roger The Rocket Ship") as well as unloading on a host of social evils while finding time to express an keen interest in young (emphasis on young) women. 

Along those lines check out Markley's sh*t eatin' grin on the back cover, as well as his non-too-subtle lyrics on songs such as "Next Plane To the Sun" and "Sarah The Bad Spirit". Luckily, Lloyd's influence is quite apparent in terms of the album's rich harmonies and full and delicate arrangements gracing selections such as "Elegant Ellen" and "Little Ruby Rain".  Interestingly, on a number of tracks the band opts for a more commercial sound. 

Overlooking Markley's anti-capitalist rant, "Zoom! Zoom! Zoom!" almost sounds like a slice of Kasenetz-Katz-styled bubblegum rock.  The album's other big surprise is found in Dan's emergence as a major writer.  Credited as co-writing eight of the twelve tracks, he kicks in several impressive numbers, including the dazzling country-rock opener "Booker T. & His Electric Shock".  A highly personal effort, the song was reportedly inspired by Dan's experience as a manic depressive subjected to electroshock therapy. Surprisingly enjoyable and worth the investment.

Needless to say, the album vanished without a trace; the band calling it quits shortly thereafter.  Shaun recorded an instantly obscure solo album.  Lloyd went on to considerable success as a producer.
1. Booker T. And His Electric Shock. (Bob Markley, Dan Harris) - 2:22
2. Next Plane To The Sun. (Bob Markley, Michael Lloyd) - 2:13
3. Markley - A Group. (Bob Markley, Dan Harris) - 2:44
4. Elegant Ellen. (Bob Markley, Dan Harris) - 2:18
5. Little Ruby Rain. (Bob Markley, Dan Harris) - 3:01
6. Message For Miniature. (Bob Markley, Michael Lloyd) - 0:26
7. Sarah The Bad Spirit. (Bob Markley, Dan Harris) - 2:35
8. Truck Stop. (Bob Markley, Dan Harris) - 3:19
9. Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! (Bob Markley, Dan Harris) - 2:11
10.Sweet Lady Eleven. (Bob Markley, Michael Lloyd) - 2:18
11.The Magic Cat. (Bob Markley, Dan Harris) - 2:58
12.Outside/Inside. (Bob Markley, Shaun Harris) - 2:39

*Dan Harris - Vocals, Guitar 
*Shaun Harris - Vocals, Bass 
*Michael Lloyd - Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar 
*Bob Markley - Vocals, Percussion

1965-67   Volume One
1967  Part One
1967  Volume Two
1968  Volume Three
1960-71  Companion

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Companion (1960-71 us, garage beat, psychedelic acid folk rock, 2011 Sunbeam issue)

 There are few groups as enigmatic, as mysterious as The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. The prime mover in the band was Bob Markley, born in Oklahoma and the son of an oil tycoon. He moved to Los Angeles early in the 1960's, and in late 1961 he began his recording career with "It Should've Be Me" / 'Summers Comin' On", released on Warner Bros.

Both sides were pure teen doo-wop, giving little indication what would follow. Markley remained involved in music, and three years later he met up with two brothers, Shaun and Danny Harris, whose interest in music seemed inevitable as their father was a renowned classical composer and their mother a concert pianist.

In 1964 Shaun and Danny formed a group The Snowmen, with two musicians who would go on to form The Sunrays and score 1967 hits with 'Andrea' and 'I Live For The Sun'. Later, with the group now split, Shaun and Danny were studying at the Hollywood Professional School where they met Michael Lloyd, leader of yet another local band, Laughing Wind, who had cut some tracks for Tower Records. With Bob Markley and John Ware, a friend of the family, they started a new group.

In 1966 the line-up was Dan Harris (lead guitar), Shaun Harris (bass), Michael Lloyd (guitar), John Ware (drums), and Bob Markley who became the inspirator of the band. They band played around all the Sunset Strip clubs and "every freakout that ever happened at the Hollywood Palladium" (to quote Ware).

Few 60s artists have attracted such mystique or so devoted a cult following as The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. This fascinating compilation draws together many of the rare recordings made by its members before, during and after their existence.

Taking in pop, garage, folk-rock, psych, the avant-garde and more, the set highlights the disparate elements that fused to create their extraordinary and enigmatic music, and comes complete with rare pictures and comprehensive notes by the world’s leading WCPAEB authority.
1. Bob Markley - Will We Meet Again? - 2:35
2. Bob Markley - Tia Juana Ball - 1:57
3. Bob Markley - Summer's Comin' On - 2:23
4. Bob Markley - It Should've Been Me - 1:57
5. Lucifer & The Peppermints - The Green Itch Got The Bear - 2:41
6. Lucifer & The Peppermints - Money Back Guarantee - 2:18
7. Bobby Rebel - Valley Of Tears - 2:32
8. Bobby Rebel - Teardrops From My Eyes - 2:21
9. Judy Brown - I'm Such A Fool - 2:25
10. Sonny Knight - A Swingin' Door - 1:45
11. Sonny Knight - If You Want This Love - 2:04
12. The Rogues - Wanted: Dead Or Alive - 2:28
13. The Laughing Wind - Good To Be Around - 2:53
14. The Laughing Wind - Don't Take Very Much To See Tomorrow - 1:54
15. The Laughing Wind - John Works Hard - 2:07
16. The Laughing Wind - The Bells - 2:27
17. The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Sassafras - 2:02
18. The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - I Won't Hurt You - 2:11
19. Neo Maya - I Won't Hurt You - 2:30
20. Boystown - Hello Mr. Sun - 2:17
21. Boystown - End Of The Line - 2:32
22. California Spectrum - She May Call You Up Tonite - 2:30
23. Rockit - Blame It On The Pony Express - 2:55
24. Rockit - Amblin' - 2:05
25. Brigadune - I'll Cry Out From My Grave (God I'm Sorry) - 2:50
26. Brigadune - Misty Mornin' - 3:10
27. Brigadune - My Wife Likes To - 2:14
28. California - Spectrum Rainbo - 2:07
29. Halim El-Dabh - Leiyla & The Poet - 7:32

*Bob Markley - Vocals
*Shaun Harris - Bass
*Danny Harris - Guitar, Vocals
*Michael Lloyd - Guitar, Vocals
*Ron Morgan - Guitar
*John Ware - Drums

1965-67   Volume One
1967  Part One
1967  Volume Two
1968  Volume Three
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Friday, March 29, 2013

The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Volume III A Child's Guide To Good And Evil (1968 us, magnificent psychedelia, Sundazed issue)

The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band was a psychedelic rock band from Los Angeles active during the late 1960s. Formed by the son of an Oklahoma oil tycoon and two aspiring surf rockers, TWCPAEB released their paramount release A Child’s Guide To Good And Evil in 1968. Taking a more rock n’ roll oriented sound than the folkier San Francisco scene, while still remaining poppy and psychedelic as any other group, the band manages to create a unique release that stands out in the horde of similarly veined releases of the ‘60s.

With a rocking sound heavily laden by a fuzzy guitar, and the world music influence (specifically Indian) that inflected the styles of many bands in that era, TWCPAEB leads you through their acid soaked world through infectious melodies, perfectly placed guitar chords, and nonsensically hippie lyrics. Instrumentally sounding like The Doors with an extra member who alternates between sitar and a heavily distorted guitar, the album is perfect for sitting on long green grass on a beautiful day, or journeying through a psychedelic forest, and doesn’t let up with its trip-induced melodies for its short duration (around a half hour). The vocal style alternates between a kind of staccato singing and almost disturbing Talking Tina-esque narration of visions giving another unique aspect to the band’s music.

All the songs are great (besides the worthless closer “Anniversary of World War III,” which is two minutes of silence), with a few top notch entries such as “Eighteen Is Over The Hill,” “Watch Yourself,” the fuzzy “In The Country,” and the eastern influenced “Ritual” tracks. “Eighteen Is Over The Hill” is one of the folk influenced tracks, opting for a softer sound through serene guitars, and a chorus that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Simon and Garfunkel album, while “In The Country” is the polar opposite, a true ancestor to fuzz rock.

The live track “Watch Yourself” is probably the best here, combining all the aspects that made the other tracks great: folky acoustic guitars, fuzz, and catchy vocals, not to mention a sufficient dose of drug-induced psychedelia.

A largely forgotten gem in the mines that are psychedelic rock, A Child’s Guide To Good And Evil should not be overlooked, and if prospective listeners are turned off by the rumors of common lyrics about infatuation with young girls, fear not, for those are fairly quarantined to the band’s sophomore release. A must listen for fans of the genre, and a good listen regardless of your preferences, The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band created a quirky, unique, and most importantly, satisfying release in the field of psychedelic rock.
by  Tarkus
1. Eighteen Is Over The Hill (Bob Markley, Ron Morgan) - 2:42
2. In The Country (Markley, Shaun Harris, Terry Kath) - 2:03
3. Ritual #1 (Markley, Harris, John Ware) - 2:09
4. Our Drummer Always Plays In The Nude (Markley, Harris) - 2:45
5. As The World Rises And Falls (Markley, Morgan) - 4:52
6. Until The Poorest People Have Money To Spend (Markley, Harris) - 2:18
7. Watch Yourself (Buddy Guy, Robert Yaezel) - 5:52
8. A Child's Guide To Good And Evil (Markley, Harris) - 2:29
9. Ritual #2 (Markley, Harris) - 2:04
10.A Child Of A Few Hours Is Burning To Death (Markley, Morgan) - 2:41
11.As Kind As Summer (Markley, Harris, Roger Bryant) - 1:10
12.Anniversary Of World War III (Markley) - 1:36
13.Shifting Sands (Single Mix) (Baker Knight) - 3:54
14.1906 (Single Mix) (Markley, Morgan) - 2:17

The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
*Bob Markley - Vocals
*Shaun Harris - Vocals, Bass
*Ron Morgan - Guitar
*Jim Gordon - Drums
*Hal Blaine - Drums

1965-67   Volume One
1967  Part One
1967  Volume Two

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

John Mayall Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton (1966 uk, masterpiece, japan SHM double disc set)

 Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton was Eric Clapton's first fully realized album as a blues guitarist -- more than that, it was a seminal blues album of the 1960s, perhaps the best British blues album ever cut, and the best LP ever recorded by John Mayall's Bluesbreakers.

Standing midway between Clapton's stint with the Yardbirds and the formation of Cream, this album featured the new guitar hero on a series of stripped-down blues standards, Mayall pieces, and one Mayall/Clapton composition, all of which had him stretching out in the idiom for the first time in the studio. This album was the culmination of a very successful year of playing with John Mayall, a fully realized blues creation, featuring sounds very close to the group's stage performances, and with no compromises.

Credit has to go to producer Mike Vernon for the purity and simplicity of the record; most British producers of that era wouldn't have been able to get it recorded this way, much less released. One can hear the very direct influence of Buddy Guy and a handful of other American bluesmen in the playing.

And lest anyone forget the rest of the quartet: future pop/rock superstar John McVie and drummer Hughie Flint provide a rock-hard rhythm section, and Mayall's organ playing, vocalizing, and second guitar are all of a piece with Clapton's work. His guitar naturally dominates most of this record, and he can also be heard taking his first lead vocal, but McVie and Flint are just as intense and give the tracks an extra level of steel-strung tension and power, none of which have diminished across several decades.
by Bruce Eder

Disc 1
1. All Your Love (Otis Rush) – 3:36
2. Hideaway (Freddie King, Sonny Thompson) – 3:17
3. Little Girl (Mayall) – 2:37
4. Another Man (Mayall) – 1:45
5. Double Crossing Time (Clapton, Mayall) – 3:04
6. What'd I Say (Ray Charles; Interpolating Day Tripper By John Lennon, Paul McCartney) – 4:29
7. Key To Love (Mayall) – 2:09
8. Parchman Farm (Mose Allison) – 2:24
9. Have You Heard (Mayall) – 5:56
10.Ramblin' On My Mind (Robert Johnson, Traditional) – 3:10
11.Steppin' Out (James Bracken) – 2:30
12.It Ain't Right (Little Walter) – 2:42  
13.All Your Love (Otis Rush) – 3:36
14.Hideaway (Freddie King, Sonny Thompson) – 3:17
15.Little Girl (Mayall) – 2:37
16.Another Man (Mayall) – 1:45
17.Double Crossing Time (Clapton, Mayall) – 3:04
18.What'd I Say (Ray Charles; Interpolating Day Tripper By John Lennon, Paul McCartney) – 4:2
19.Key To Love (Mayall) – 2:09
20.Parchman Farm (Mose Allison) – 2:24
21.Have You Heard (Mayall) – 5:56
22.Ramblin' On My Mind (Robert Johnson, Traditional) – 3:10
23.Steppin' Out (James Bracken) – 2:30
24.It Ain't Right (Little Walter) – 2:42
Tracks 1-12 Original Album in Mono
Tracks 13-24 Original 1969 Album in Stereo
Disc 2
1. Crawling Up A Hill (Mayall) – 2:08
2. Crocodile Walk (Mayall) – 2:23
3. Bye Bye Bird (Sonny Boy Willamson, Willie Dixon) – 2:49
4. I'm Your Witchdoctor (Mayall) – 2:11
5. Telephone Blues (Mayall) – 3:57
6. Bernard Jenkins (Clapton) – 3:49
7. Lonely Years (Mayall) – 3:19
8. Cheatin' Woman (Mayall) – 2:03
9. Nowhere To Turn (Mayall) – 1:42
10.I'm Your Witchdoctor (Mayall) – 2:10
11.On Top Of The World (Stereo Mix) (Mayall) – 2:34
12.Key To Love (Mayall) – 2:02
13.On Top Of The World (Mayall) – 2:34
14.They Call It Stormy Monday (T-Bone Walker) – 4:35
15.Intro Into Maudie (John Lee Hooker, Mayall) – 2:27
16.It Hurts To Be In Love (Dixon, Toombs) – 3:22
17.Have You Ever Loved A Woman (Myles) – 6:44
18.Bye Bye Bird (Williamson, Dixon) – 3:51
19.Hoochie Coochie Man (Dixon) – 3:53
Tracks 1-3 BBC Saturday Club Session
Tracks 4-7 appeared as singles
Tracks 8-10 BBC Saturday Club Session
Track 11 unreleased stereo mix
Tracks 12-13 BBC Saturday Club Sessiong
Tracks 14 from Lookin Back
Tracks 15-19 appeared on Primal Solos with Jack Bruce on bass

The Bluesbreakers
*John Mayall – Lead Vocals, Piano, Hammond B3 Organ, Harmonica
*Eric Clapton – Guitar, Lead Vocals On "Ramblin' On My Mind"
*John McVie – Bass Guitar
*Hughie Flint – Drums
Additional Musicians
*Alan Skidmore – Tenor Saxophone
*John Almond – Baritone Saxophone
*Derek Healey – Trumpet
*Jack Bruce – Bass (Disc Two Tracks 14-19, Not Featured On Original Album)
*Geoff Krivit – Guitar (Disc Two Tracks 8-10, Not Featured On Original Album)

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Various Artists - Downer Rock Genocide (1970-73 uk, ultra heavy underground early downer rock)

 Definitely any lover of early '70s proto-metal heaviness needs to put this on their wish list. Downer Rock Genocide is a collection of super rare tracks by some really obscure heavy psych/prog acts who kicked around the same scene as early Black Sabbath. And it's pretty darn killer.

Too many gems here to talk about 'em all, but i will mention a few... Flying Hat Band (2 tracks from them, from a never released 1973 album) was where Glenn Tipton slung his axe before joining up with Judas Priest.No wonder they hired him! If you have never heard FHB's stuff before then this comp is worth it just for the badass rockin' doom of their first cut, "Seventh Plain". It's like Comus meets Judas Priest! Clear Blue Sky, who also contribute two demo tracks(their album is a Sabbathy treat). And Sabbath lovers will really want this for "Nightjar" by the Tony Iommi produced Necromandus, easily that band's heaviest and best track. So good.

What else? The Iron Maiden on here is NOT the Iron Maiden you're familiar with, it's another, earlier band with the same name but a much doomier disposition. Actually who they really sound like is Wishbone Ash, Argus-era, all folky and epic. Gnidrolog is another killer act who are a great, super dramatic prog act in the vein of Van Der Graaf Generator who offer up their doomiest "Long Live Man Dead".

Red Dirt are a gruff slice of raw, primitive bluesy heaviness.Iron Claw kick out the jams big time on"Lightning" from a 1971 cassette only release, Egor tear it up on the blown-out live track "Street" also from '71, Hackensack deliver some wild fuzzed out soloing and wailing vocals on their kick ass cut "River Boat" circa '72, and Bum bring us the pagan "God Of Darkness" from way back in '68. Did Sabbath hear these guys? All of it good stuff!
Artists - Tracks
1. Flying Hat Band - Seventh Plan - 3:03
2. Clear Blue Sky – Veil Of The Viken - 7:22
3. Necromandus – Nightjar - 4:15
4. Egor – Street (Live) - 7:55
5. Monument – Dog Man - 3:13
6. Iron Maiden – Falling - 6:00
7. Flying Hat Band – Reaching For The Stars - 4:32
8. Gnidrolog – Long Live Man Dead - 3:57
9. Iron Claw – Lightning - 3:35
10.Red Dirt – Death Letter - 3:08
11.Clear Blue Sky – Spooky - 3:24
12.Slowbone – Quicksand Dream (Live) - 3:01
13.Bram Stoker – Extensive Corrosion - 4:16
14.Hackensack – River Boat - 3:33
15.Bum – God Of Darkness - 4:16
16.Writing On The Wall – Lucifer Corpus - 5:44
17.Unknown Artist – Untitled - 0:52

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hackensack - Give It Some (1969-72 uk, gunsmokin' downer blues rock)

Formed by Nicky Moore in 1969, Hackensack was considered one of the UK ’s heaviest live bands of their day. They only released one album ( Up The Hard Way , 1974, on Polydor) during their lifetime. Playing more than 270 gigs, they built up a small but loyal following but weren`t able to generate sufficient revenue to continue as a viable project.

Their sound was a heavy blues/rock mix; Up the Hardway is highly regarded amongst collectors. Pye Records recorded a live album at the Cavern Club, Liverpool in 1973 but it remains unreleased to this day. Give It Some is an album of previously unreleased studio material that predates their official 1974 album. Fans of Iron Claw, Leafhound, Incredible Hog, and Budgie take note.

This is said to be heavier than Up The Hard Way (as this is sealed I can’t offer a firsthand opinion). Vocalist, Nicky Moore later formed Tiger and also sang with Samson. Simon Fox went on to play with Be-Bop Deluxe. Paul Martinez went on to Paice, Ashton, and Lord. He was also in Chicken Shack and Stretch, at various times. Ray Smith had previously been with Heads, Hands, And Feet and Poet And The One Man Band.
1. Good Old Days - 3:38
2. Winter-Hearted Woman - 3:16
3. Praye - 4:27
4. River Boat - 3:35
5. Generation(Falling Down) - 4:59
6. Downtown Traffic - 3:46
7. The Hustler - 3:32
8. Calendar - 8:56
9. Rock And Roll Woman - 3:18
10.Travelling Man - 3:03
11.Gloria - 4:55
12.No Last Verse - 5:03
13.Black-Witch Woman - 5:46
14.Heartbreak Hotel - 3:18
15.Tomorrow - 3:19

*Simon Fox - Drums
*Paul Martinez - Bass
*Nicky Moore - Vocals
*Ray Smith - Guitar

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Phafner - Overdrive (1971 us, raw hard blues with fierce fuzz guitar, Akarma edition)


 In 1969 Phafner was born. The group released this record in 1971. The only problem was that they produced only fifty copies of the album. Recently this LP sold for $3000.00. 
This group was an advanced psychedelic-rock unit. Their sound was not given its due on this recording however. The sound is in fact, below average. The music is allowed to drown out the vocals, and by and large it sounds like it was recorded in a tin can. With a little loving care, and another good mix down, this album would sound incredible.
I must give full credit to the group…musically they were absolutely excellent. I think with another shot in the studio to remaster this recording, Phafner could be appreciated as a legend of psychedelic rock as they so justly deserve.
by Keith Hannaleck
1. Plea From The Soul (Dale Shultz) - 5:30
2. Uncle Jerry (G. Smith, S. Smith) - 4:32
3. Wiskey Took My Woman (Phafner) - 5:38
4. Rock and Roll Man (D. Shultz, J. R. Shultz, G. Smith, S. Smith) - 2:59
5. Red Thumb (Phafner) - 4:22
6. Overdrive (Phafner) - 2:50

*Tommy Shultz - Bass
*Steve "Gus" Gustafson - Drums
*Dale Shultz - Guitar, Vocals
*Steve "Spider" Smith - Lead Guitar
*Greg "Smitty" Smith - Vocals, Harmonica

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Warlord - Warlord (1974-77 uk, heavy downer rock, 2002 edition)

 Heavy downer rock band, formed in mid seventies. Ivan Coutts (a keyboard player), when he split the Blacksmiths, in search of new blood to take it a step further, he met John Alexander a guitarist who was in a band called The Falling Leaves along with vocalist Richard Roffey.

Although their sound was a dark doom metal in likes of Black Sabbath or Black Widow, they did't have the chance to release a full length album, some recordings made between 1974-1977 and saw the light of day in 2002 by this specific issue.
1. Jasmin Queen - 4.26
2. Explorer - 5.51
3. Face Of The Sun - 6.10
4. Warlord - 3.48
5. Lady Killer - 5.10
6. (as The Blacksmiths) - To The Devil A Daughter - 3.29
7. Devil Drink - 4.23
8. Wild Africa - 7.05
9. I See The Warlord - 4.47
10.Face Of The Sun - 4.45
11.The Ring - 4.12
12.Warlord Part II - 2.19

*John Alexander - Guitar
*Andy Dunlop - Bass, Acoustic Guitar
*Paul Cantwell - Drums
*Ivan Coutts - Keyboard, Vocals
*Richard Roffey - Vocals
*John Alexander - Guitar, Vocals
*Andy Dunlop - Bass, Acoustic Guitar
*Paul Cantwell - Drums
The Blacksmiths 1974
*Ivan Coutts - Keyboards, Vocals
*Dave Smith - Lead Guitar
*Chris Pritchard - Rythm Guitar
*Andy Harsent - Bass
*Kip - Drums

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The Fallen Angels - The Roulette Masters Part 2 (1967 us, marvelous garage psych)

 Released within a matter of months of the debut, "It's a Long Way Down" proved an even better effort.  With managers Traynor and Seidal again co-producing, musically the album wasn't a major stylistic change from the debut offering up another mix of folk rock, pop and psych moves. 

That said, the overall results were far more consistent and tighter than the debut, the band having apparently gained considerable confidence in the studio.  Adding Jack Lauritsen to the songwriting collective, ballads such as the acid soaked 'Horn Playing on My Thin Wall', 'Look to the Sun' and the heavily orchestrated 'One of the Few Ones Left' were to-kill-for numbers showcasing the band's commercial side. 

Elsewhere, material such as the lead off track 'Poor Old Man', 'Something You Can Hide In' and 'I'll Drive You from My Mind' underscored the band's trippier edge with great fuzz guitar, stabbing organs and droning vocals.  All told it's easy to see why this one's become a sought after and high priced collectable. 

Unfortunately, unhappy with the band's harder edged sound and ongoing lack of sales Roulette quickly dropped them from its recording roster and by the end of 1969 the members had called it quits.  (The album was originally released with a gatefold sleeve.)
1. Poor Old Man (J. Bryant, H. Danchik, J. Lauritsen) - 3:41
2. Horn Playing On My Thin Wall (J. Bryant, J. Lauritsen) - 4:25
3. Something You Can Hide In (J. Bryant) - 3:59
4. Tell Me A Story (H. Danchik) - 0:22
5. Silent Garden (H. Danchik) - 1:54
6. Look To The Sun (J. Bryant, J. Lauritsen) - 3:46
7. Left (J. Bryant) - 2:50
8. I Really Love My Mother (H. Danchik) - 1:07
9. Look At The Wind (J. Bryant, J. Lauritsen) - 4:04
10.Didn't I (J. Bryant) - 2:55
11.It's A Long Way Down (J. Bryant) - 2:45
12.I'll Drive You From My Mind (J. Bryant) - 4:19

The Fallen Angels
*Jack Bryant - Vocals, Bass, Kazoo
*Wally Cook - Guitar
*Howard Danchik - Keyboards, Flute
*Richard Kumer - Drums, Percussion 
*Jack Lauritsen - Guitar, Sitar, Vibes

1965-66 The Mad Hatters Meet The Fallen Angels
1967  The Roulette Masters Part 1

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Fallen Angels - The Roulette Masters Part 1 (1967 us, rouch garage psych)

 Based in Washington, D.C., guitarist Wally Cook had been a member of The Young Rabbits.  In 1965 he hooked up with singer/bassist Jack Bryant and Charlie Jones to form The Disciples.  Within a matter of months they became The Uncalled, followed by a shift to The Fallen Angels. 

The name changes were accompanied by a series of personnel changes, resulting in a line up consisting of Bryant, Cook, keyboardist Howard Danchik, drummer Richard Kumer and guitarist Jack Lauritsen.  Under the tutelage of managers Barry Seidel and Tony Traynor (who'd previously managed Kumer in The Mad Hatters) 1967 saw the group signed by Laurie Records.

Switching to the New York based Roulette Records, saw the band release their first LP -  1968's "The Fallen Angels".  For their part Roulette executives were probably hoping to repeat their Tommy James and the Shondells successes. Boy were the in for a rude surprise. With Seidel and Traynor producing, the band turned in an overlooked psychedelic classic.

Largely written by Bryant and Danchik, material such as "Room At the Top", "Introspective Looking Glass" and "Your Friends Here In Dundeville" was full of hazy lyrics, weird timings, fuzz guitar and sound effects - simply too progressive for mainstream consumption. Mind you, the set wasn't perfect. Bryant's voice was best described as anonymous. 

Also of concern, at this point in time the trippy lyrics weren't likely to do much for radio airplay.  Add to that the fact Seidel's horn arrangements were dull, needless and distracting. Still, the overall results were well worth hearing.
1. Room At the Top (J. Bryant) - 2:35
2. Love, Don't Talk To Strangers (J. Bryant, H. Danchik) - 1:52
3. Your Friends Here In Dundeville (J. Bryant) - 2:23
4. I've Been Thinking (J. Bryant, H. Danchik) - 1:46
5. It Might Be Easier To Stay Home (J. Bryant, H. Danchik) - 2:07
6. Most Children Do (J. Bryant, H. Danchik) - 3:10
7. Introspective Looking Glass (H. Danchik) - 2:25
8. I Don't Want To Fall (J. Bryant, H. Danchik) - 2:18
9. No Way Out (J. Bryant, H. Danchik) - 2:39
10.Painted Bird (J. Bryant, H. Danchik) - 2:20
11.Your Mother's Homesick Too (G. Meler Jr., R. Decker) - 2:17
12.You Have Changed (H. Danchik) -2 :27

The Fallen Angels
*Jack Bryant - Vocals, Bass, Kazoo
*Wally Cook - Guitar
*Howard Danchik - Keyboards
*John "Thumper' Molly - Drums
*Jack Lauritsen - Guitar, Sitar, Vibes

1965-66 The Mad Hatters Meet The Fallen Angels

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The Amazing Rhythm Aces - Stacked Deck / Too Stuffed To Jump (1975-76 us, fascinating drifting country roots 'n' roll melted with blues and jazzy harmonies)

 The Amazing Rhythm Aces were formed in Memphis in 1974 by bassist Jeff Davis and drummer Butch McDade, who had earlier recorded and toured with the great singer/songwriter Jesse Winchester. After striking out on their own, Davis and McDade enlisted vocalist/guitarist Russell Smith, keyboardist Billy Earheart, Dobro player Barry Burton, and pianist James Hooker to develop a sound composed of equal parts pop, country, and blue-eyed soul.

Their debut album is an edgy effort, rooted in a purer Southern sound, and embracing a soulfulness that their West Coast rivals lacked. The country gospel tune "Life's Railway to Heaven," the funky "The 'Ella B'," the stomping "Hit the Nail on the Head," and the soulful "The Beautiful Lie" would never have been done in as raw, intense, or bracing a fashion by their rivals.

Russell Smith brings a vocal performance to Charlie Rich's "Who Will the Next Fool Be" that sounds like he's channeling the ghost of Sam Cooke. And between those album highlights and the hits "Third Rate Romance" and "Amazing Grace (Used to Be Her Favorite Song)," the group works in a sweetly nostalgic piece called "King of the Cowboys," all about movie and television heroes.

The groups second album is only slightly less inventive than its first, still very countrified compared to most country-rock, and more soulful than most of the competition. The numbers range from rocking stompers like "Typical American Boy" to the lyrical "If I Just Know What to Say," with room in between for some fine western numbers ("The End Is Not in Sight," "Out of the Snow") -- the former a Grammy-winning country tune, the latter a beautiful mandolin workout -- and novelty songs ("A Little Italy Rag").
by Jason Ankeny and  Bruce Eder
1. Third Rate Romance - 3:17
2. The 'Ella B' - 4:33
3. Life's Railway To Heaven - 4:20
4. The Beautiful Lie (Butch Mcdade) - 2:54
5. Hit The Nail On The Head - 2:22
6. Who Will The Next Fool Be (Charlie Rich) - 2:48
7. Amazing Grace (Used To Be Her Favorite Song) - 3:17
8. Anything You Want (Russell Smith, James H. Brown Jr.) - 3:48
9. My Tears Still Flow - 3:25
10.Emma Jean - 2:47
11.Why Can't I Be Satisfied - 3:03
12.King Of The Cowboys (Russell Smith, James H. Brown Jr.) - 4:01
13.Typical American Boy (Russell Smith, James H. Brown Jr.) - 3:30
14.If I Just Knew What To Say (Stuart Wright) - 2:06
15.The End Is Not In Sight (The Cowboy Tune) - 3:51
16.Same Ol' Me (Butch Mcdade) - 2:24
17.These Dreams Of Losing You (Russell Smith, James H. Brown Jr.) - 3:29
18.I'll Be Gone - 2:54
19.Out Of The Snow - 3:39
20.Fool For The Woman - 2:43
21.A Little Italy Rag - 2:21
22.Dancing The Night Away (Russell Smith, James H. Brown Jr.) - 5:38
All tracks written by Russell Smith unless stated

The Amazing Rhythm Aces
*Barry Burton - Dobro, Guitars, Mandolin,  Vocals
*Jeff Davis - Bass, Vocals
*Billy Earheart - Keyboards, Organ, Piano
*James Hooker - Clavinet, Keyboards, Piano, Vocals
*Jim Kershaw - Guitar
*Butch Mcdade - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Russell Smith - Guitars, Harmonica, Vocals

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Afterglow - Afterglow (1968 us, splendid trippy garage psych, Sundazed issue)

 It’s not often that someone gets to live a dream, have it fade away, then live it again four decades later. But that’s what happened for the members of Northern California’s Afterglow. Back in the summer of 1967, they went to San Francisco (in The Summer Of Love no less) and recorded an album that was released on a national label. Then, almost 40 years after they’d given up hope that the record would have any impact on the world, they came to realise that… well… it actually had.

Larry Alexander – the band’s drummer and the member who first came to the revelation that at least some people did know and value their music – tells the story of how Afterglow got together and how the self-titled record was made: “I was a senior in high school. Tony Tecumseh [songwriter and lead guitarist, who was about five years older than the rest of us, had started playing with a bass player and that guy’s wife, in a county in Oregon just across the state border.

They were looking for a drummer and somebody told them about me, so I went up and auditioned for them. Then we decided we needed a singer and rhythm guitar player, so we found Gene Resler, who was singing in a church choir. The couple that had started the band with Tony eventually quit, so we found Ron George [bass] and Roger Swanson [keyboards], who were at that time playing in another band. “We all went to junior college together, then we all went on to Chico State University. All during that time we remained friends, and were playing music together. Some friends we knew who had a band had been down to San Francisco and made a demo at Golden State Recorders, so they told the people there about us.

We sent them a demo tape and they invited us to come down and audition for them. They told us to go back home and come up with 20 original tunes and come back when we were ready. So we did that and we went down and did the recordings. “Leo De Gar Kulka was the owner/producer/engineer of Golden State Recorders. He would sign bands up and have them record at his studio, and then he would try and sell the masters to the major labels. This was the first time any of us had ever been in San Francisco. We were just some country bumpkins who didn’t have a manager or anything, and we’d never been in a professional recording studio before.

We were serious about everything though. Serious about the music and about our friendships. This was an emotional experience for us, making those recordings.” The album, originally released in ’68 on MTA Records, is an endearingly innocent and often tuneful collection of songs fuelled by sweet harmonies and a fresh, breezy feel. Some cheesy Farfisa and the occasional odd time signature give it a subtle garage/experimental feel, and the eerie ‘Susie’s Gone’ is a spacey freakout that could be The Fifty-Foot Hose or The United States Of America.

But for the most part, a gentle touch and hummable melody is what drives the record – it sounds like Preflyteera Byrds meets ‘Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow’ Strawberry Alarm Clock. ‘Riding Home Again’, which enjoyed heavy local airplay around the band’s home turf, is an irresistible, happy-making jewel that really should have been included on the Nuggets box.
by Brian Greene
1. Morning - 2:05
2. Dream Away - 2:33
3. Susie's Gone (B. Boots) - 2:29
4. Mend This Heart of Mine (Gene Resler) - 2:37
5. Afternoon - 1:59
6. Chasing Rainbows - 1:49
7. By My Side - 1:54
8. It's a Wonder - 2:28
9. Love - 3:02
10.Riding Home Again - 2:34
11.Meadowland of Love - 2:23
12.Susie's Gone (Mono) (B. Boots) - 2:32
13.Chasing Rainbows - 1:51
14.Afternoon - 1:48
15.Morning - 2:11
All songs by Tony Tecumseh except where noted

*Gene Resler - Vocals
*Roger Swanson - Keyboards
*Tony Tecumseh - Guitar
*Ron George - Bass
*Larry Alexander - Drums

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West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Volume Two (1967 us, soaring psychedelia pure folk-rock, Sundazed edition)

The group seems to be reduced to a trio of Bob Markley and the Harris' brothers. Although not credited Ron Morgan played the distinctive Lead guitar. Again, either Hal Blaine or Jimmy Gordon played the drums.

Michael Lloyd has left to initiate other projects, and Bob Markley, the former tambourine player, was now firmly in command although he wasn't a musician himself.

The Mono versions of the above feature strikingly different mixes are essential. "In the Arena" opens with a mix of spoken word and cool guitar riffs. "Suppose They Give a War and No One Comes" seems contrived for the era, but at this point in time it plays as a freaky and enjoyable novelty. "Smell of Incense" settles down for a gorgeous folk-psych-pop track.

"Queen Nymphet" is mellow and harmonious enough to pass on the surface as a track by The Association, until one listens to the deliberately subversive lyrics. The album's a pleasure from end to end, as long as you're willing to immerse yourself in the weirdness of the psychedelic era. This edition of the album includes the mono single mixes and edits of "Smell of Incense" and "Unfree Child."
1. In The Arena - 4:10
2. Suppose They Give A War And No One Comes (Markley, Bryan) - 3:38
3. Buddha - 2:05
4. Smell Of Incense (Markley, Morgan) - 5:47
5. Overture / Wcpaeb Part II - 1:28
6. Queen Nymphet - 2:19
7. Unfree Child - 3:58
8. Carte Blanche - 2:42
9. Delicate Fawn - 2:30
10. Tracy Had A Hard Day Sunday - 4:35
All songs written by Bob Markley, Shaun Harris except where indicated

West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
*Bob Markley - Vocals, Composer, Producer
*Dan Harris - Guitar, Vocals
*Shaun Harris - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*Ron Morgan - Guitar
*Hal Blaine - Drums

1965-67   Volume One
1967  Part One

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Part One (1967 us, superb psych folk rock, Sundazed issue)

 The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band's first album for Reprise was the best of the group's career, in large part because it was the most song-oriented. It was still plenty weird, almost to the point of stylistic schizophrenia, but when you got down to it, much of the record was comprised of fairly catchy songs in the neighborhood of two and three minutes.

At times they sounded like reasonably normal, fairly talented Byrds-like folk-rockers ("Transparent Day," P.F. Sloan's "Here's Where You Belong"); at others, a Kinks-like garage band ("If You Want This Love"); and at others, a fey Baroque pop outfit (the orchestrated "Will You Walk With Me").

There was an undercurrent of unsettling weirdness and even paranoia, though, in some cuts with otherwise pleasing tunes, like "Shifting Sands," with its sizzling distorted guitars; "I Won't Hurt You," with its heartbeat bass and disconnected vocals; and "Leiyla," where a standard teen garage rocker suddenly gets invaded by spoken dialog that seems to have been lifted from a vampire B-movie.

The cover of Frank Zappa's "Help, I'm a Rock" flung them into freakier pastures, emulated convincingly on the group original "1906," an apt soundtrack to a bummer acid trip with its constant spoken refrain, "I don't feel well." It's true that all but one of these songs (the nondescript "'Scuse Me, Miss Rose," written by famed Bob Dylan/Johnny Cash/Simon & Garfunkel producer Bob Johnston) is on the Transparent Day compilation.

But there are good reasons to consider buying the Sundazed 2001 CD reissue: The thorough liner notes start to unravel the history of this mysterious band, and mono single mixes of "Help, I'm a Rock" and "Transparent Day" are tacked on as bonus tracks.
by Richie Unterberger
1. Shifting Sands (Baker Knight) - 3:55
2. I Won't Hurt You (Shaun Harris, Michael Lloyd, Bob Markley) - 2:24
3. 1906 (Bob Markley) - 2:21
4. Help, I'm a Rock (Frank Zappa) - 4:26
5. Will You Walk With Me (Dan Harris) - 3:01
6. Transparent Day (Shaun Harris, Bob Markley) - 2:18
7. Leiyla (Shaun Harris, Bob Markley) - 2:55
8. Here's Where You Belong (P.F. Sloan) - 2:50
9. If You Want This Love (Baker Knight) - 2:52
10.'Scuse Me Miss Rose (Bob Johnston) - 3:03
11.High Goin' (Van Dyke Parks) - 2:04
12.Transparent Day (Single Version) (Shaun Harris, Bob Markley) - 2:22
13.Help, I'm a Rock (Single Version) (Frank Zappa) - 2:15

The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
*Hal Blaine - Drums
*Kenny Bobo - Vocals
*Dan Harris - Guitar
*Shaun Harris - Bass, Vocals
*Michael Lloyd - Guitar, Vocals
*Ron Morgan - Guitar
*Bob Markley - Composer

1965-57  Volume One

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Monday, March 18, 2013

West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Volume One (1965-67 us, raw psychedelic rock, Sundazed expanded edition)

Despite an ever-increasing following from collectors since their demise, for the past thirty years the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band have stubbornly resisted attempts to uncover the truth behind their mythology. Almost every aspect of the group seems to beg unanswered questions.

To begin with there was the name itself. Long and unwieldy, it seemed designed to defy recollection and sink the heart of poster designers everywhere. Was it a six-word manifesto of creative intent, or simply a cynical attempt to climb aboard the 'psychedelic' bandwagon? Then there were the song credits and album photos, according to which a certain Bob Markley was the band's driving force, a position seemingly confirmed by the appearance of his final 'solo' LP: 'A Group'.

Yet, somewhat confusingly, on the back of that album's sleeve there appeared - for the first time since the band's debut on the Fifo label - pictures of all four original members. Last, and definitely not least, there were the songs themselves. Along the way the music encompassed almost every musical genre - harmonic guitar pop, acoustic folk, psychedelic rock, jazz and avant-garde; and then there were those extraordinary lyrics - some starkly political, others naive and child-like; at times dark and sinister, at others simply insane.

As Brian Hogg observed in his sleeve notes to Edsel's mid-80s compilation 'Transparent Day': "(t)here are few groups as enigmatic, as mysterious or as plain contradictory..." This article does not pretend to be a definitive account of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - indeed, it now seems clear that some questions will never properly be answered - but the story which emerges is fascinating nevertheless, not least as an insight into how extraordinary music could emerge from a group driven by internal conflicts and held in the thrall of a man driven by dubious motives.

This album was originally issued in 1966 on the tiny "FIFO" label, which was a Hollywood concern specializing mainly in R&B. Probably only 100 or so were ever made!
A mint original copy of this LP was sold in '95 to a private collector for a substantial sum, who in turn reissued it (unauthorized, of course) on LP and CD. The CD featured three songs as bonus tracks that had turned up on the Raspberry Sawfly "Legendary Unreleased Album" bootleg from 1980, the excellent Sassafras and Obviously Bad (released as a single under the name California Spectrum in 1967) and a cover of the Left Banke's She May Call You Up Tonight.

It seems that much of the material was already completed by the time Markley became involved. However, the inclusion of certain tracks - 'Don't Break My Balloon' [a prime example of Bob's 'singing'] and 'If You Want This Love' - indicates that he must have had some influence over the sessions and, more to the point, their subsequent release on vinyl.

The rudimentary album included contemporary hits and original compositions and was recorded in a self-made studio in a strore-front place on San Vincente, just outside of Beverly Hills.
by Tim Forster
1. Something You Got (Chris Kenner) - 2:53
2. Work Song (Oscar Brown, Nat Adderley) - 2:11
3. Louie, Louie (Richard Berry) - 2:46
4. Don't Break My Balloon (Bob Markley) - 3:12
5. You Really Got Me (Ray Davies) - 3:05
6. Don't Let Anything!!! Stand In Your Way (Markley, Kim Fowley) - 2:12
7. I Won't Hurt You (Michael Lloyd, Shaun Harris, Markley) - 2:10
8. If You Want This Love (Sonny Knight) - 1:33
9. Insanity (Markley, Fowley)
10.It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (Bob Dylan) - 3:02
11.She Belongs To Me (Dylan) - 1:53
12.She Surely Must Know (Lloyd, Shaun Harris) - 1:57
13.Sassafras (Dan Harris, Lloyd, Shaun Harris) - 1:59
14.She May Call You Up Tonight (Michael Brown, Steve Martin) - 2:25
15.One Day (Lloyd) - 2:01
16.Funny How Love Can Be (John Carter, Ken Harper) - 1:38
17.Obviously Bad (Lloyd, Shaun Harris) - 1:30
18.Endless Night (Shaun Harris) - 2:15
19.Tell Me What You Want To Know (Lloyd) - 1:46
20.Just You & Me (Lloyd) - 1:54
21.Chimes Of Freedom (Dylan) - 3:03
22.Scuse Me Miss Rose (Bob Johnston) - 2:37

West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
*Bob Markley - Vocals
*Shaun Harris - Bass Guitar
*Dan Harris - Guitar, Vocals
*Michael Lloyd - Guitar, Vocals

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Alan Bown ‎– Stretching Out (1971 uk, incredible progressive jazz rock, 2010 Esoteric extra track issue)

 From the mid-'60s through the early '70s, Alan Bown's bands had played in a variety of styles that were popular in the U.K. during that period without achieving wide popularity, although they were among the more respected musicians on the scene. This wasn't entirely due to bad luck.

Their songs weren't as impressive as their chops, and their shifting stylistic identity probably also worked against them with the record-buying public. This record found Bown very much in a progressive phase, favoring long, shifting compositions (all written by Alan Bown and Jeff Bannister save for John Anthony Helliwell's "Turning Point" and a cover of Richie Havens' "Up Above My Hobby Horse's Head") that must have been hell in some respects to play by memory.

As the liner notes to the 2010 CD reissue rightly point out, there were some similarities to British progressive rock groups like Traffic and Procol Harum, though these were on the slight side and tended to be found on the more reflective compositions. Some of Frank Zappa's influence could also be heard on the lengthy "Turning Point," particularly in the horn sections.

The horn parts are generally the most distinctive aspects the record, which otherwise is a little on the unmemorable early-'70s progressive rock side, though with a jazzier flavor than usual owing to the horns. The 2010 CD reissue on Esoteric adds a bonus track, "Thru the Night," that appeared on the 1971 Island sampler El Pea; it's punchier and more soul-influenced than the songs on the LP, and was written by Helliwell, who would join Supertramp.
by Richie Unterberger

1. The Messenger - 7:56
2. Find a Melody - 5:18
3. Up Above My Hobby Horse's Head (R. Havens) - 4:23
4. Turning Point (The Alan Bown, Antony) -  7:12
5. Build Me a Stage 3:31
6. Stretching out 8:27
7. Through The Night (J. Anthony) - 4:16
All compositions by Alan Bown, Jeff Bannister except where stated.

*Vic Sweeney - Drums, Percussion
*Andy Brown - Bass, Vocals
*Tony Catchpole - Electric,  Acoustic Guitar
*Jeff Bannister - Piano, Organ, Flute
*John Anthony - Alto, Tenor Saxophone, Recorder, Clarinet
*John Hemmings - Trombone
*Alan Bown – Trumpet, Flugelhorn
*Gordon Neville - Vocals
1970  The Alan Bown!
1970  Listen

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Alan Bown - Listen (1970 uk, trailblazing progressive jazz rock exploits, 2010 Esoteric reissue)

With Jess Roden on vocals and a couple of Toytown psych excursions, in ‘Mr. Job’ and ‘Toyland’, under the belt they released Outward Bown and a self-titled album before Roden quit. The vocals for the latter were re-recorded by the late Robert Palmer, he of ‘Addicted to Love’ success, who went on to pull exactly the same stroke as Roden for the next album, quitting the band just prior to its release.
Gordon Neville was recruited to overdub Palmer’s vocals and, now simply calling themselves Alan Bown, 1970′s Listen was the result.

Listen indeed, a demand upon the record-buyer enforced by Neville’s full-blooded R&B-style vocal. Despite the restriction of having to remain in the key of Palmer’s original interpretation of the nine songs Listen has to offer, the replacement vocalist remains convincing throughout and marshals the proceedings like he arrived at the studio on day one.

That’s not to say that this album is the best thing since sliced bread, far from it, although I’ve always found sliced bread to be overrated. Is dispensing with a knife to placate the idle, really the greatest achievement man has to offer for his 200,000 or so years on this rock? No wonder intelligent alien life has thus far passed us by, probably in favour of another civilisation whose idea of “great” isn’t the discovery that somebody’s already cut their bread for them.

But I digress. Alan Bown’s Listen is an assured, if risk-free, trawl across the seabed of early progressive rock. Drawing upon his early days as a jazz man, Bown’s album is laced with jazz elements, though not, as in the case of ‘Igginbottom’s Wrench, to the point where they ruin it (hence there’ll be no anti-jazz rant this week, though that, a Phil Collins, and an Incredible String Band one are long overdue). Throw in some blues riffs, the ever-present horns, and some fine, if subdued, keyboards and what you have is Listen, an undemanding 40 minutes upon your time.

You want highlights? Oh well, the opener ‘Wanted Man’ is a nice slice of Allman Brothers-style outlaw music, and ‘Loosen Up’ continues with that Southern Rock vibe. Things get heavier with ‘Pyramid’ and the closing track ‘Get Myself Straight’ is a mellower lament to a friend of keyboardist and writer, Jeff Bannister, who was in the throes of life derailment.
by Nick James
1. Wanted Man (Bown, Bannister, Catchpole) - 3:30
2. Crash Landing (Bown, Bannister, Catchpole) - 5:55
3. Loosen Up (The Alan Bown) - 3:25
4. Pyramid (Bannister) - 4:27
5. Forever (The Alan Bown) - 2:54
6. Curfew (The Alan Bown, Bannister) - 4:01
7. Make Us All Believe (Bown, Bannister, Catchpole) - 4:33
8. Make Up Your Mind (The Alan Bown) - 7:59
9. Get Myself Straight (Bown, Bannister, Palmer) - 4:01

*Vic Sweeney - Drums, Percussion
*Stan Haldane - Bass
*Tony Catchpole - Electric,  Acoustic Guitar
*Jeff Bannister - Piano, Organ, Flute
*John Anthony - Alto, Tenor Saxophone, Recorder, Clarinet
*John Hemmings - Trombone
*Alan Bown – Trumpet, Flugelhorn
*Gordon Neville - Vocals
*Robert Palmer - Vocals

1970  The Alan Bown!

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