Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cirkus - One Plus (1973 uk, beautiful progressive art glam rock)

This album was probably the first U.K. private-pressing to come to the attention of collectors and dealers throughout the world during the mid Eighties. It is a hugely acclaimed album, famed for its rich production and high standard of musicianship throughout. 

Recorded in 1973, the band’s introspective soul-searching  illuminates every aspect of  their studio performances.  Bathed in Crimsonesque splendour and dreamy mellotron, ‘Cirkus One’ ranks amongst the cream of alternative U.K. prog-rock. 

Formed from the ashes of bands Moonhead and Lucas Tyson, the group's high standard of musicianship was well known in their native north-east where they attracted much attention and had a devoted following. It was felt that the quintet could achieve success on a national scale, provided management handled matters properly and they got the right breaks. 

When in 1975 lead vocalist Paul Robson left the group, his replacement was Alan Roadhouse (ex Halfbreed) who also played the saxophone. With Dogg on acoustic and electric guitars, Derek Miller on keyboards, John Taylor on bass and main songwriter Stu McDade providing backing vocals, drums and assorted persussions, this became the new line-up. As a result the band moved away from their early symphonic style adopting a somewhat more mainstream approach albeit maintaining a certain "Cirkus sound". 
1. You Are - 3:20
2. Seasons (J. Taylor) - 3:37
3. April '73 (D. Miller) - 5:04
4. Song For Tavish - 4:35
5. A Prayer - 5:37
6. Brotherly Love - 3:49
7. Those Were The Days - 3:54
8. Jenny - 4:09
9. Title Track (Dodds)
..a.Breach - 4:19
..b.Ad Infinitum - 3:12
10.Castles - 2:53
11.The Heaviest Stone - 4:56
12.Amsterdam - 4:03
13.Mellissa (McDade, Dodds) – 3:22
14.Pickupaphone - 3:26
All songs by Stu McDade except where stated

*Paul Robson - Lead Vocals
*John Taylor - Bass
*Derek G. Miller - Organ, Piano, Mellotron
*Stu McDade - Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
*Dogg – Electric, Acoustic Guitars
*Alan Roadhouse -  Lead Vocals, Saxophone (Tracks 12, 14)

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tommy James And The Shondells - Crimson And Clover / Cellophane Symphony (1969 us, marvelous psychedelia, 2009 remaster)

Tommy James and The Shondells scored major hits in 1966, 1967 and 1968, but 1969 would prove to be their most successful and productive year. They began work on both the Crimson and Clover and Cellophane Symphony albums in late 1968, and both were released in 1969.

"Crimson & Clover, released as a single in December 1968, became their biggest hit. The group's first totally self-contained single (written by Tommy and drummer Pete Lucia, produced by Tommy and arranged by the band), it caught on with both the pop and underground audiences. After being unfairly dismissed for over two years as a "bubblegum group, Tommy James & The Shondells suddenly became hip. The single and resulting album with the same title went platinum and also earned Tommy and the group critical respect and acclaim.

The group had worked with producers Bo Gentry and Ritchie Cordell since early 1967, beginning with the classic "I Think We're Alone Now. The Gentry-Cordell formula continued to bear fruit with "Mony Mony in the early summer of 1968, but Tommy felt it was time for a change, as he wanted to take control of his own records.

After "Mony Mony, Tommy recorded a few sides with producer Gary Illingworth, including "Somebody Cares, the follow-up single. It did well in some markets but had to be viewed as a disappointment after the success of its predecessor. At the same time, the group was working on the "Mony Mony LP, Tommy produced some of the tracks.

One song that Tommy particularly wanted to record was "Do Something To Me, previously recorded by Question Mark & The Mysterians without success. Tommy says, "I loved that record. I went crazy when I heard it. I thought it should have been a #1 record."

Tommy & The Shondells gave the song their own touch when they recorded it, with the same party atmosphere as "Mony Mony, and it cracked the national Top 40 in November. It was the first single Tommy produced for the group. The released version was chosen by the group's label, Roulette, though Tommy preferred a rough mix he had made. (His mix appears on Rhino's excellent Tommy James & The Shondells Anthology release.)

No artist would complain about having a Top 40 hit, but Tommy had different ideas about the direction the group's sound should take. He and The Shondells were in the studio carefully constructing "Crimson & Clover, but Roulette wanted a new single. The group agreed to Roulette's releasing "Do Something To Me to give them time to complete "Crimson."

Tommy's instincts proved to be right on the mark. "Crimson & Clover was a perfect single with an unforgettable hook ("Crimson and clover, over and over...") and distinctive vocal effects, which Tommy achieved by running the vocal track through a guitar amp and using the tremolo switch.

The single took off like a rocket in late 1968. It reached the Top 40 its second week on the chart and then quickly hit #1. The song's lasting appeal was evidenced when Joan Jett & The Blackhearts took their version (produced by Cordell and Tommy's long-time friend, Kenny Laguna) to the Top 10 in 1982.

The Crimson & Clover LP followed in January 1969. The liner notes were written by then-Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, who had asked Tommy to be the President's advisor on youth affairs during the 1968 presidential campaign. Such an endorsement for a rock group was unheard of at the time. Tommy remembers Humphrey fondly, saying, "We became great friends, and that friendship lasted right up until Mr. Humphrey passed away."

While putting the finishing touches on the album, Tommy decided that it should include a long version of "Crimson & Clover. It was common in the late '60s for an album track to be edited for single release, but "Crimson & Clover had been recorded in its "short single version, so it was necessary to either re-record or expand it to create a long version. Tommy opted to lengthen the existing master, and the group duly went back into the studio to record a new middle section featuring a series of solos played in different styles by lead guitarist Ed Gray.

The new section was then spliced into the multi-track master. Due to a slight difference in tape speeds, the middle section was a fraction of a tone lower than the first part of the recording. For this reissue, Rhino has corrected the error, and we now hear the long version of "Crimson & Clover in its proper form for the first time.

Apart from "Do Something To Me, which Roulette wanted to include on the Crimson & Clover LP since it had been a hit, the entire album was written by Tommy and members of The Shondells. They arranged all the tracks, and Tommy produced it. "That album was magic, Tommy says. "It was a milestone -- the first record that I produced all by myself and used the band on all the tracks. And I can't even begin to tell you how professionally important it was, because if it had not made it, with the drastic change I was making in our sound, I don't know what would have happened. Certainly my credentials as a producer would have suffered a lot. It was a very scary thing for me, but it paid off."

Tommy and bass player Mike Vale wrote "Sugar On Sunday for the LP. If not for the incredible wealth of material the group turned out in 1969, it might have been a single for them. Instead, it was released as a single by The Clique, which hit the Top 25 with it in October 1969, in a version practically identical to The Shondells'.

The success of The Clique's version led to Tommy's first efforts as a producer for other artists, later that year. He and Bob King, a friend from his hometown of Niles, Michigan, wrote and produced "Church Street Soul Revival, one of The Exiles' first singles, which was released in late 1969. (Tommy later recorded the song himself.) The Exiles later became simply Exile, achieved fame with "Kiss You All Over, and continue to have hits on the country charts. In 1970, Tommy and Bob King also wrote and produced "Tighter, Tighter,  a smash hit for Alive 'n' Kickin'.

"I'm Alive is one of the most powerful songs on Crimson & Clover -- with its fuzz guitar, driving organ (by Ronnie Rosman) and guttural screams, it would not be out of place on any compilation of '60s punk classics. The Clique also recorded it as the B-side of "Sparkle And Shine, a superb song written by Tommy, Bob King, and Ritchie Cordell. Tommy produced both sides of The Clique's single and sang backing vocals. In 1975, Blue Swede hit the charts with a medley of "I'm Alive and Joe South's "Hush."

"Kathleen McArthur features Tommy's particularly emotive vocal as the gardener who has fallen in love with the daughter of his wealthy employer. One of the group's finest album tracks, it's performed in a baroque style similar to that of The Left Banke. "Breakaway reflects the group's love of the Motown sound. There's also some pure psychedelic nonsense in "I Am A Tangerine. (Hey, it hadn't been that long since The Electric Prunes did "The Great Banana Hoax.") "Smokey Roads chronicles Tommy's disappointing return to his home town, a theme later explored by Chrissie Hynde in The Pretenders' "My City Was Gone."

The remaining track on the album is "Crystal Blue Persuasion, simply one of Tommy's best records. Its soft, jazz-influenced sound, punctuated by Ed Gray's simple but effective performance on acoustic guitar, was perfect for the summer of 1969. For the single, horns were added to the last verse and the ending. The original version of the song appears here; the single version appears in stereo on the Anthology release.

Just before the extended ending of "Crystal Blue Persuasion, there is a fairly audible whispered line. Were Tommy & The Shondells conveying a subliminal message? "No, Tommy laughs, when asked about it. "It's not supposed to be there. People thought I was putting in a subliminal message, but we were doing the background vocals and I was trying to cue the guys doing them. I think I said, 'Come in right now.'"

"Crystal Blue Persuasion was not the follow-up single to "Crimson & Clover. Instead Roulette released a new song written by Tommy and Richard Grasso, "Sweet Cherry Wine, in March of 1969. It was among the tracks slated for the forthcoming Cellophane Symphony LP. "Sweet Cherry Wine (which, as Tommy has said, was the closest thing he and The Shondells ever did to a protest song) hit the Top 10 and gave the group another gold single. (The fact that "Sweet Cherry Wine was not included on Crimson & Clover no doubt bewildered many record buyers.)

"Crystal Blue Persuasion was receiving airplay as well, however, so Roulette decided to release it as a single in June, and it also went gold. Its success further stimulated sales of the Crimson & Clover album, which remained on the charts for 35 weeks. Consequently, although Cellophane Symphony was completed that summer, Roulette held back its release until October.

Cellophane Symphony was one of the first rock albums to feature a Moog synthesizer. Tommy and the group structured the title track around a riff, layering it with synthesizer and other sound effects. It was certainly the most unusual track the band ever recorded.

Tommy produced the album at Broadway Sound in New York. Tommy recalls, "Whitey Ford, of the New York Yankees, owned Broadway Sound. I went up there, and it was a great little studio. It had a Moog synthesizer, which looked like an old switchboard from the '20s. It was hard to work with, since it was all monophonic -- you couldn't get two notes at the same time. But I knew immediately that the synthesizer was going to be the wave of the future."

While the Moog featured heavily on the album's title track, Tommy used it to embellish some of the other songs on the LP. The electronics are particularly effective in "Changes, one of the album's best cuts. Tommy remembers that for "Changes, he wanted something "very spacey and that it was "really a fun track to record. Vale's melodic bass lines and Lucia's percussive effects also stand out on the track. Its middle section, in 5/4 time, was quite unlike anything the band had attempted before.

Tommy says the album was very experimental, and although the electronic effects are archaic by today's standards, they were novel at the time. Unlike Crimson & Clover, which was recorded entirely with conventional instruments, the Moog gave Cellophane Symphony a completely different feel. Tommy felt that the Moog produced "plastic music, thereby making the album a "cellophane symphony."

The cover was an unusual as the music: it showed the group's name and the album title in small print at the top of a photo of an amphitheater with alternating positive and negative film strips. In retrospect, Tommy thinks he may have been a little too adventurous with the cover, as some record buyers probably didn't realize that it contained a new Tommy James & The Shondells LP.

The Moog wasn't the only thing that set Cellophane Symphony apart from the group's earlier albums. It includes a wide array of sounds and ideals. "Makin' Good Time, a straight-ahead rocker, is followed by the ethereal mood of "Evergreen. "Loved One, one of Tommy's best ballads, is one of his favorite tracks on the LP. The group ventures into a country style (which Tommy would later more fully explore on his My Head, My Bed And My Red Guitar album) on "The Love Of A Woman, with Gray's solo played in the style of a steel guitar.

The album also includes three comedic tracks. "Papa Rolled His Own, set to a music-hall backing, features a megaphone vocal by Tommy, as well as his best W.C. Fields and Walter Brennan impressions. Tommy also turns up as Ed Sullivan (bringing out "the crippled on our show") and John Wayne on "I Know Who I Am, and lets us know what really happens when one call the girl whose number is written on the bathroom wall. He sings the album's closing track, "On Behalf Of The Entire Staff And Management, in an appropriately off-key vocal as he presents Mr. What's-your-name with a gold watch (which doesn't work) for 25 years of loyal service. Meanwhile, the group occasionally chimes in while banging glasses, clapping half-heartedly, sneezing and talking its way through the entire presentation.

Tommy is justifiably proud of the success of both the albums presented here. He remembers 1968 and 1969 as years of great productivity and incredible change. The albums reflect both of these aspects of the time. Above all, Tommy remains intensely appreciative of his fans. "I've got the greatest fans in the world. I really do, he says. "They are loyal; they've just been so good to me over the years."
by Michael Thom 
1. Crimson And Clover (Tommy James, Peter Lucia) - 5:32
2. Kathleen Mcarthur (Tommy James, Mike Vale) - 2:42
3. I'm A Tangerine (Tommy James, Peter Lucia) - 3:36
4. Do Something To Me (Jimmy Calvert, Norman Marzano, Paul Naumann) - 2:31
5. Crystal Blue Persuasion (Eddie Gray, Tommy James, Mike Vale) - 4:02
6. Sugar On Sunday (Tommy James, Mike Vale) - 3:23
7. Breakaway (Tommy James, Mike Vale) - 2:45
8. Smokey Roads (Tommy James) - 2:51
9. I'm Alive (Tommy James, Peter Lucia) - 3:15
10.Crimson And Clover (Reprise) (Tommy James, Peter Lucia) - 1:03
11.Cellophane Symphony (Eddie Gray, Mike Vale, Peter Lucia, Ron Rosman, Tommy James) - 9:38
12.Makin' Good Time (Ritchie Cordell, Tommy James) - 2:36
13.Evergreen (Ritchie Cordell, Tommy James) - 2:07
14.Sweet Cherry Wine (Richard Grasso, Tommy James) - 4:20
15.Papa Rolled His Own (Peter Lucia, Tommy James) - 1:46
16.Changes (Peter Lucia, Richard Grasso, Tommy James) - 5:36
17.Loved One (Mike Vale, Tommy James) - 3:41
18.I Know Who I Am (Ritchie Cordell, Tommy James) - 3:53
19.The Love Of A Woman (Ritchie Cordell, Tommy James) - 4:27
20.On Behalf Of The Entire Staff And Management (Ritchie Cordell, Tommy James) - 3:56

The Shondells
*Tommy James - Vocals, Guitars, Electric, Acoustic Pianos, Hammond Organ, Harpsichords, Moog Synthesizer
*Eddie Gray - Guitars
*Ron Rosman - Electric, Acoustic Pianos, Hammond Organ, Harpsichords, Moog Synthesizer
*Mike Vale - Bass guitar
*Peter Lucia -  Drums, Percussion

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gracious - This Is Gracious (1971 uk, spectacular progressive rock, japan remaster)

No sophomore jinx here: on their second album, Gracious truly hits its stride. The first half of the album is a four-part suite, "Super Nova." After its Floydian opening instrumental, the band launches into the bleak "Blood Red Sun"; with a dystopic narrative of environmental holocaust and its martial drumbeat, it's an ideal complement to King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man." 

Strange, then, that this should lead to "Say Goodbye to Love," an effectively weepy guitar ballad of lost romance and tear-jerking harmonies. It's on the second half of the album, though, that Gracious hits escape velocity. On "C.B.S." the band shifts effortlessly from a groovy clavinet jam to a bouncing barrelhouse piano in the verse. "Blue Skies and Alibis" is a prime example of Martin Kitcat's Mellotron technique; powered along by Cowderoy's graceful guitar, smoky vocals, and a lush piano progression worthy of Joe Jackson, it's one of their most enduring tracks. 

A truly undervalued gem, This Is... Gracious! sat on the shelves for two years after completion before being issued; it's a shame that it was to be last anyone heard from the band for the next two decades. 
by Paul Collins
1. Super Nova: - 24:59
.a.Arrival of the Traveller
.b.Blood Red Sun
.c.Say Goodbye To Love
.d.Prepare To Meet Thy Maker
2. C.B.S. - 7:07
3. Once on a Windy Day - 4:03
4. Blue Skies and Alibis - 4:58
5. Hold Me Down - 5:05
All compositions by Paul Davis and Martin Kitcat

*Alan Cowderoy - Guitar, Vocals, Percussion
*Paul Davis - Lead Vocals, Percussion
*Martin Kitcat - Keyboards, Mellotron, Percussion,  Vocals
*Robert Lipson - Drums, Percussion
*Tim Wheatley - Bass, Vocals, Percussion

1970  Gracious

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Gracious - Gracious (1970 uk, excellent heavy prog rock, 2004 reissue)

Gracious began as a schoolboy lark in 1964, when guitarist Alan Cowderoy and vocalist/drummer Paul Davis banded together to cover pop songs at school concerts. To arouse maximum ire at their Catholic school, the adopted the band name "Satan's Disciples." Over the next several years the recording lineup of the band coalesced with Cowderoy and Davis (who now only sang), former road manager Tim Wheatley on bass, Martin Kitcat on keyboards, and drummer Robert Lipson. 

Renamed Gracious (or Gracious!), the band toured Germany in 1968 and then recorded a concept album about the seasons of the year, although this went unreleased. Still, their ambitions were unabated. After playing on a double bill with the newly formed King Crimson, an awestruck Kitcat immediately adopted the Mellotron as a lead instrument for the band. Kitcat and Davis were the band's composers, and Kitcat in particular lent the group its distinctive sound. He played the Mellotron as a lead instrument, much like a blues organ -- that is, with percussive single notes, rather than the grandiose chords favored by bands that used it as a faux-orchestral backdrop.

The debut of Gracious! begins with the blandly but accurately titled "Introduction." One of the album's strongest tracks, it's a Nice-like combination of menacing Moog breaks and shimmering harpsichords, and it foreshadows the band's use of both heavy prog music and ghostly lyrics tinged with Catholic dread. "Heaven" is a gorgeous minor-key ballad of stately Mellotron and chiming guitar tones, with harmonies reminiscent of late-model Zombies. 

"Hell," not surprisingly, is another thing altogether: a descent into drunken declamations, clinking bottles, rowdy bar sounds, loopy piano riffs, and creepy phasing effects. In coclusion it's a fine debut, and it presaged the superb second effort that was to follow. 
by Paul Collins
1. Introduction - 5:53
2. Heaven - 8:09
3. Hell - 8:33
4. Fugue in 'D' Minor - 5:05
5. The Dream - 16:58
6. Beautiful - 2:50
7. What A Lovely Rain (Paul Davis, Martin Kitcat) - 2:49
8. Once On A Windy Day - 4:03
All song by Paul Davis except where noted.

*Alan Cowderoy - Guitar, Vocals
*Martin Kitcat - Piano, Harpsichord, Keyboards, Vocals, Mellotron
*Robert Lipson - Drums
*Tim Wheatley - Bass
*Paul Davis - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

J W Farquhar - The Formal Female (1973 us, remarkable strange fuzzy psych folk rock, Shadoks release)

Here’s an odd brew of a record, rescued by Shadoks from the oblivion of 1972 Philadelphia. JW Farquhar was undergoing a brutal divorce when he barricaded himself in his apartment and recorded this one-man assault on the female race.

The sound is similar to the Stone Harbour album in its grim murk, from out of which Farquhar conjures moments of intense psychedelic queasiness. The style is a curious mixture of psych, blues, folk and funk overlaid with a weird vocal that ranges from a grizzly mumble to put-on weirdo voices.

The fuzzy, tuneless burp through the Wedding March that closes the first track leaves you with no doubt as to Farquhar’s views on his ex-wife and womanhood in general. The misanthropy and misogyny present in every track might leave a lot of people cold, but personally I found it a bitter pleasure. Not one I’d recommend to everyone but if you like that dark, raw basement sound, then this is the one for you.
by Austin Matthews

All tracks were recorded by JW Jarquhar in 1972. The songs on The Formal Female were written as an outcry against the materialistic nature of the woman during that time period in 1972. Many will tell you it is still that way. JW had recently extricated himself from a 10 year marriage and the words from this experience fit the lyrics on the album still. During that time he lived by himself in a 3rd floor apartment in Philadelphia. It was a street with a lot of traffic.

Car horns, busses, police sirens, fire engines, screams, and sometimes even gunshots filled the airwaves. For this reason he sealed up the windows and any other openings with sound-proofing foam. This was necessary because his music was recorded in there. JW was the instrumentalist; rhythm guitar, lead guitar, drums, vocals, and bass. However he could not play them all at once, so he purchased a four track simulsync Teac recorder... professional version. 

This allowed him to record on one track and then play it back and separately record on a second, third, and fourth track. The original tracks were recorded at 15 IPS. A final mix was then made in stereo with yet a fifth overdub, when needed. At that time other effects were limited. It is amazing electric fuzz album full of effects and it's a masterpiece such as D.R. Hooker. 
1. Formal Female - 11:57
2. Want Machine - 11:16
3. My Bundle Of Joy - 9:21
4. Where Have You Been - 6:09
5. Mansions - 7:02
Words and Music by JW Farquhar

*JW Farquhar - Vocals, Harmonica, Rhythm Guitar, Pedal Bass
*Riffery Lowknut - Fender Bass
*Slash Mullethead - Percusions
*Callust Likfinker - Lead Guitar

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Penny Arkade - Not The Freeze (1967-68 us, fine sunny psychedelia, Sundazed remaster and expanded issue)

The Penny Arkade saga actually begins with two singers-songwriters-musicians -- Chris Ducey, then of California but originally from Brooklyn, New York, and Craig Smith of Studio City, California would become the very foundation of the yet-to-be group.

In the summer of 1965, Chris, then a college student, and Craig met for the first time in California. The occasion was the fourth audition callback for The Happeners, a mostly serious TV pilot about the trials and triumphs of a three-person, Greenwich Village folk-rock band. Winning the callback after six separate auditions, then 19 year-old Chris and 20 year-old Craig, who had to sing and play guitars as well as act on the show, were promptly flown – along with lovely Sussanah Jordan, who had auditioned for the role of the third member of the group -- to New York where the threesome competed against the East Coast winners who were vying for the same roles. Again the West Coasters won.

The Happeners hour-long pilot film was shot in fall, 1965, in New York City, with a cameo appearance by the Dave Clark Five, and with actors Louis (then simply Lou) Gosset, Jr. and Lou Jacobi in major roles. Chris and Craig sang their own original material written. The original plan was for The Happeners to air in a weekly time slot opposite a less serious but in some ways similar program on NBC – The Monkees. When The Happeners’ producers refused to cut their show down by half (the length of the NBC series), ABC withdrew the series from its schedule.

Craig had also auditioned for The Monkees, at which time he met Michael (or, back then, “Mike”) Nesmith , who would eventually become the producer and, in many ways, mentor and inspiration for the Penny Arkade. Coincidentally, Craig and Mike knew each also encountered one another as part of the folk music scene – Craig as a member of the Good Time Singers, Mike in the Back Porch Majority.

Although The Happeners did not…happen, something did happen between Chris and Craig. In 1966, out on their own as simply “Chris and Craig,” the duo secured a singles record deal with Capitol, cutting a number of sides including “Isha” and “Our Love Has Come” (included in this collection). And it was this Chris and Craig incarnation that constituted the true and official origin of the Penny Arkade. 

During the months between the phasing out of Chris and Craig and the birth of the Penny Arkade, the two singers recorded (with John London, formally with the Louis and Clark Expedition) a double-sided demo to promote the newly re-forming band. The demo featured two songs – Chris’s “Rhyme or Reason” and Craig’s “(She Brought Me) Something Beautiful” – that would, in the group’s early days, become part of the Penny Arkade’s performing list. Unfortunately, copies of this seminal acetate record seem to have been lost (the only known disc, in the possession of Penny Arkade drummer-to-be, being lost years later in a flood).

The Penny Arkade had its first official meeting at Mike Nesmith’s home in the Hollywood Hills. Chris and Craig were there, of course, and also a 19 year-old drummer from Corpus Christi, Texas. Bobby Donaho had almost waist-long blonde hair and a thick Texas accent. Most recently a member of the band Willowdale Handcar (AKA Mrs. McGrueder’s 3-D Rhythm Band), he had briefly met Mike in Texas before relocating, with a number of other Texan musicians, to Southern California. A luncheon with Mike’s wife Phyllis led to Bobby pursuing and then getting the Penny Arkade gig. Bobby had a perfect sense of timing – necessary for some of the tricky time signatures of Chris and Craig’s music. Fortunately all four of us – now the Penny Arkade – liked one another and jelled as a foursome, even though our personalities, in some ways, were quite different.

There was no specific lead guitar player present that night. As the Penny Arkade was not meant to be a typically “heavy” band, and emphasized Chris and Craig’s singing more than its instrumental backing, it was decided that either or both of them would handle the lead guitar parts. And while playing lead guitar was neither of the singers’ forte, they managed the required riffs admirably, with Craig nominally taking on the lion’s share.

The Penny Arkade played many of notable Hollywood clubs following that initial Screen Gems appearance – e.g., Gazzarri’s, the Magic Mushroom, Galaxy, Factory, Cheetah and Century 2000 (formerly Ciro’s, now the Comedy Store). We also played a dance at a Santa Barbara high school that almost led to a physical altercation. Apparently the school’s intent was to hire a band that played very familiar – and danceable – “Top 40” tunes. What the school got was a band that played all original material, some of which segued off into lengthy psychedelic instrumental breaks. It required some fancy diplomacy on our part to retrieve even part of the money promised us for that disastrous gig.

Through all our months together, our music continued to grow, Chris and Craig’s writing becoming more and more sophisticated. This created a kind of dilemma for Michael. As he sought to secure for us a deal with some major record company, Elektra and Kama Sutra among them, our music and our style of playing was rapidly evolving, becoming more complex and sophisticated. By the time Mike had some record company interested in us, the music we were currently doing was dramatically different from that he was pitching. By that time, also, we had ceased playing those earlier tunes during our nightclub appearances.

Later in 1967, with none of the band’s earlier recorded (and comparatively simpler) numbers yet released, Mike opted to green light our most ambitious and creative recording project to date -- the unofficially titled Not the Freeze album. The album would feature mostly new material, but included a few new, improved and tighter versions of some of the songs we had recorded in that original session. In addition to the album these sessions would record two singles – “Love Rain,” written by Chris, and “Century of Distance,” a Craig song that was also part of that first session. (Naturally Chris and Craig always performed the lead vocals in the songs they individually wrote.)

“Not the Freeze” (originally titled simply “The Freeze”) was a number, already of more than commercial-song length, written by Chris and having been recorded at one of the earlier sessions. For this new album, however, “Not the Freeze” was to be expanded to a fully blown rock concerto (predating such similar efforts as the Who’s rock opera Tommy). Supplementing its length would be several songs originally written as singles. These included “Hands of the Clock,” written by Craig and already recorded at Capitol by his then girlfriend Heather MacRae (and with an uncredited Penny Arkade providing background voices and additional instrumentation). The new and improved version of “Not the Freeze” would take up a single side of the album.

The Not the Freeze album gave Bobby and me a chance to do some “extra” performing. You’ll hear our voices, all the vocal tracks being recorded at Heider’s, in “Not the Freeze,” “Swim” (I’m the one yelling all the comic-book hero references) and “Voodoo Spell” (I suggested the “jungle drums” ending and did the John Wayne-inspired voice). Bobby and I played our regular instruments on “Thesis”; and while we continued to play our parts during live performances of this number, it was deemed more appropriate to delete them from the final mix and leave the acoustic guitars to carry the instrumental track.

But all three of us felt we needed another lead guitar player. As Craig had handled most of the group’s lead rifts, we sought to replace him with another lead guitarist. The Penny Arkade’s new fourth member was Dave Turner, of late the lead guitar player in the Satisfied Sponge. We rehearsed for a while with Dave, including trying some of Craig’s material with Chris taking on the lead vocals.

The four of us, as the new Penny Arkade, recorded only one song – “Give Our Love (to All the People),” a collective effort written by Chris, Bobby and myself. As an experiment, Bobby recorded four separate drum tracks and I played octaves on some of my bass lines, contributing overall to a substantially heavier effect than previous Penny Arkade songs. After the piece was recorded, Monkees musical director Shorty Rogers was brought in by Mike Nesmith to add some brass embellishment to the recording.

Unfortunately none of the original Penny Arkade masters – nor copies of all of our songs – seem to have survived. Fortunately, back in 1968, I had the idea of making a copy of the original master tape of the Not the Freeze album, “Love Rain” and “Century of Distance.” Chris Ducey managed to turn up a nice acetate dub from the “Woodstock Fireplace” session, as well as one of “Our Love Has Gone.” By sheer accident, I also recently happened upon an old reel-to-reel copy, made either from the original master or an acetate dub, of some of the songs recorded in 1967 prior to the Not the Freeze album, these including the original shorter version of “Not the Freeze.”

My stint with the Penny Arkade included two of the best years of my life. Some of the memories of that time, preserved on the recordings presented on this CD, are offered here for the first time. Sundazed Music has done its best to ensure that the songs presented herein has been remastered and reproduced in its finest audio quality, given their myriad sources.
by Donald F. Glut
1. Lights Of Dawn - 2:54
2. Country Girl (C. Smith) - 2:51
3. Thesis - 2:43
4. Swim (C. Smith) - 2:45
5. Color Fantasy (C. Smith) - 3:53
6. Voodoo Spell (C. Smith) - 2:14
7. Not The Freeze (C. Ducey, C. Smith) - 12:37
8. Love Rain - 2:36
9. Century Of Distance (C. Smith) - 2:13
10.Sparkle And Shine - 1:47
11.Face In The Crowd - 2:47
12.Woodstock Fireplace - 3:48
13.Year Of The Monkey - 3:11
14.Give Our Love (To All The People) (D. Glut, C. Ducey, B. Donaho) - 2:42
15.Split Decision (C. Smith) - 2:20
16.Sick And Tired - 2:45
17.No Rhyme Or Reason - 2:17
18.You Couldn't Conquer Me - 2:26
19.Swim Early Version (C. Smith) - 2:59
20.Lights Of Dawn Early Version - 3:03
21.The Freeze Early Version - 7:00
22.Century Of Distance Early Version (C. Smith) - 2:21
23.Voodoo Spell Early Version (C. Smith) - 1:51
All songs by  Chris Ducey except where noted

Penny Arkade
*Chris Ducey - Lead Vocals, Guitar
*Craig Smith - Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar
*Don Glut - Bass, Backing Vocals, Electric Organ (Tracks 10-13)
*Bobby Donaho - Drums, BackingVocals
*Dave Turner - Lead Guitar On "Give Our Love (To All The People)"
*Michael Nesmith - Percussion (Tracks 1 And 20)

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Friday, November 22, 2013

The Rascals - Peaceful World (1971 us, exceptional funk jazz r 'n' b, japan remaster)

Eddie Brigati and Gene Cornish both left the Rascals by 1971. The remaining members -- chief songwriter, vocalist, and keyboardist Felix Cavaliere and drummer Dino Danelli -- kept the name and left Atco for Columbia. Before disbanding permanently in 1972, they released two albums for the label -- 1971's Peaceful World and 1972's The Island of Real -- that have been unjustifiably discounted and forgotten for years.

Cavaliere had become deeply interested in the writings and teachings of the great Sufi master musician Hazrat Inayat Khan, who -- through his own tradition -- looked at music holistically, as an integral part of earthly and spiritual life. He also came under the sway of the emerging sounds of jazz, gospel, and the emerging uptownfunk and soul of the period. Peaceful World is a sprawling yet very focused collection of songs. With Danelli on drums and Ralph MacDonald on percussion, he filled out the rest of the band with the cream of the New York studio scene: saxophonists Joe Farrell, Pepper Adams, and Ernie Wilkins; bassists Gerald Jemmott and Chuck Rainey; guitarists Link Chamberlain and Buzz Feiten; trumpeters Ernie Royal and Joe Newman; trombonist Garnett Brown; flutist Hubert Laws; and backing vocalists Ann Sutton and Cynthia Webb. In other words, he put together a smoking studio band. 

The remarkable aspect of this gorgeous record is that it sounds vintage but not dated. The production is clean, the funk is in the cut, and the communication between musicians in the charts is tight. The LP's last side is taken up by the title cut, a 21-minute complete bliss-out of a spiritual jazz jam. But there are some excellent gospel and sophisticated soul tunes as well -- check out "Mother Nature Land,""Bit of Heaven," the funky Rhodes in "Sky Trane," and the rave-up soul-rocker "Love Letter." The ballad "Little Dove" includes stunning harp work by Alice Coltrane! 

Commercially, the end may not have been pretty for the Rascals, but this album hold together as well or better than anything in their catalog and vindicate them with their timeless appeal. 
by Thom Jurek

1. Sky Trane - 5:47
2. In And Out Of Love (Buzzy Feiten) - 3:13
3. Bit Of Heaven - 3:30
4. Love Me - 3:48
5. Mother Nature Land - 3:31
6. Icy Water (Buzzy Feiten) - 4:31
7. Happy Song - 3:42
8. Love Letter - 5:27
9. Little Dove - 6:30
10.Visit To Mother Nature Land - 5:04
11.Getting Nearer - 8:57
12.Peaceful World - 21:25
All songs by Felix Cavaliere except where stated

*Felix Cavaliere - Vocals, Keyboards, Marimba, Organ, Piano
*Dino Danelli - Drums
*Howard "Buzz" Feiten - Guitar, Bass, Background Vocals
*Annie Sutton - Vocals
*Linc Chamberland - Guitar, Horn Arrangements
*Gerald Jemmott - Bass
*Robert Popwell - Bass
*Chuck Rainey - Bass
*William Salter - Bass
*Hubert Laws - Flute
*Alice Coltrane - Harp
*Pepper Adams - Baritone Saxophone
*Garnett Brown - Horn, Trombone
*Ron Carter - Bass
*Joe Farrell - Flute, Soprano Sax, Tenor Sax
*Molly Holt - Background Vocals
*Buddy Buono - Background Vocals
*Cynthia Webb - Background Vocals
*Ralph Macdonald - Bells, Conga, Percussion, Shaker, Talking Drum
*Joe Newman - Trumpet
*Ernie Royal - Trumpet
*Jon Smith - Saxophone
*Ernie Wilking - Saxophone

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Phil Sawyer - Childhood`s End (1971 aussie, marvelous psych folk rock, 2006 remaster)

Phil Sawyer's 1971 album Childhood's End, originally released in Australia on the Sweet Peach label, remains pretty unknown to most collectors. This is a wonderful album that will please anyone into psychedelia, rock and folk. Totally electric, great production, great songwriting -- and the warm, uneducated voice of Phil himself gives a slightly looser feel to it at times. 

What immediately attract are the first three songs ("September Woman", "Nightbirds", and "The Other Side of Silence"), sung with a soft romantic voice, played with moody organ or flute and some soft layers of guitars. The songs reveal deep feelings related with certain relationships. The fourth track, “Childhood's End” has more electric guitar arrangements. “Where did everybody go?” is something completely different in style, recorded with live voices in studio, a making fun song, perhaps recorded completely stoned. Also “Electric Children” is more rocking, and could have come from the same session.

Also this is in a more mainstream style, compensated by an overload of crazy reverb effects on guitars. Both these tracks are from a different character and recording quality, but being in the middle of the album, just show something like a different aspect, a compensated insecure moment perhaps. “The Chase” holds the middle between this sphere and the earliest quieter moment, with some electric guitars working as the connecting wire. After “Stranger in the Street”, it is by “Letters to Seraphina” that we’re back to where the album started. It is one of the moodiest tracks, with additional tabla. Here we can easily associate the kind of seashore endless haze seen on the album cover.
1. September Woman (P. Sawyer, Nat Cohen) - 3:08
2. Nightbirds (P. Sawyer, Phil Cunneen) - 3:25
3. The Other Side Of Silence (P. Sawyer, Phil Cunneen) - 3:44
4. Childhood's End - 2:47
5. Where Did Everybody Go? - 3:16
6. Electric Children - 4:31
7. The Chase - 3:56
8. Stranger In The Street (P. Sawyer, Phil Cunneen) - 2:43
9. Letters To Serephina (P. Sawyer, Phil Cunneen) - 5:15
All Songs by Phil Sawyer except where indicated

*Phil Sawyer - Vocals
*Phil Cunneen - Musical Director

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

King Crimson - USA (1975 uk, initial progressive experimental rock, 2013 40th anniversary edition)

USA was originally issued in 1975 and marked the final statement by the band's incendiary mid-1970s incarnation.The CD features a completely new stereo album mix of the full concert by Robert Fripp & David Singleton.

USA was recorded towards the end of King Crimson's final US tour of the 70s in June 1974. It was issued as an epitaph for the band in Spring 1975 as a single album - at a time when doubles or even triple live albums were more considered the norm for live releases. Deleted towards the end of the vinyl era in the mid-80s, it remained unreleased in the CD era until the expanded edition was finally issued in October 2002. In common with much of Crimson's output, it was not well received at the time by critics, though its critical reputation grew immeasurably in the intervening years to the point where a review of the 21st Century Guide to King Crimson boxed set in 2004 identified the album as the point, "...where Fripp maps out the guitar blueprint for the entire post-punk movement."

If that claim sounds somewhat exaggerated, a casual listen to the opening minutes of the album where the ethereal 'walk on...' tape of Fripp & Eno's No Pussyfooting gives way to the sonic assault of Larks' II - provides ample evidence to back up the claim. It's also worth noting the audience response to the band - especially at the end of Starless, a piece that had yet to be recorded in the studio at that point.

Drawn from that release and presented in the King Crimson 40th Anniversary series format, the USA features a previously unreleased mix of the Asbury Park concert that formed the bulk of the original album, Ronan Chris Murphy's mix of the concert (issued on CD in 2006) and the expanded version of the original vinyl album as issued in 2002. 
1. Walk On: No Pussyfooting (Eno, Fripp) - 1:39
2. Larks’ Tongues In Aspic (Part II) (Fripp) - 6:23  
3. Lament (Wetton, Palmer-James, Fripp) - 4:22  
4. Exiles (Cross, Wetton, Palmer-James, Fripp) - 7:25
5. Improv: Asbury Park (Bruford, Cross, Wetton, Fripp) - 11:44
6. Easy Money (Wetton, Palmer-James, Fripp) - 2:24
7. Improv (Bruford, Cross, Wetton, Fripp) - 8:40
8. Fracture (Fripp) - 11:02
9. Starless (Bruford, Cross, Wetton, Palmer-James, Fripp) - 12:34
10.21st Century Schizoid Man (Lake, McDonald, Giles, Sinfield, Fripp) - 9:01

King Crimson
*Bill Bruford - Drums, Percussion
*David Cross - Violin, Keyboards
*Robert Fripp - Guitar, Mellotron
*John Wetton - Bass, Vocals
*Eddie Jobson - Violin, Piano

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lighthouse - One Fine Morning (1971 canada, tremendous brass jazz rock)

As Canada's entry in the big brass soul sound of the late sixties, Lighthouse was clinging tenuously to the second rung, behind Blood, Sweat and Tears, the Electric Flag and the Chicago Transit Authority, until the release of the best-selling One Fine Morning. Lighthouse was formed in the wake of the Paupers break-up by drummer/songwriter Skip Prokop, then a much-in-demand session musician for, among others, Steve Miller, Carlos Santana and Al Kooper. While in New York, Prokop hooked up with teenage keyboardist Paul Hoffert, himself ensconced in the downtown jazz scene and employed there scoring Broadway musicals. A jaunt to Ann Arbor, Mich. would net guitarist Ralph Cole, whose band Thyme had recorded several proto-psychedelic singles on the legendary A-squared label.

The band was ready to rock by May 14, 1969, when the thirteen-piece orchestra debuted at Toronto's venerable Rock Pile. Prolific perhaps to a fault, they rifled off three middling LPs in just over a year for RCA before their fortuitous summer of 1970. After jettisoning RCA (or perhaps it was vice-versa) for the smaller GRT/Evolution, Prokop pared the band down to eleven, adding singer Bob McBride, whose robust chops and grizzled charm would augment their brawny brass assault.

The title track, leading off side two of this LP, is still Lighthouse's finest moment, a buoyant paean to love riddled with crisp horns and blistering guitar, not to mention McBride's lusty vocal performance. The soul/gospel 'Hats Off to the Stranger', though somewhat derivative of Blood, Sweat and Tears, especially McBride's throaty Clayton-Thomasesque bellows, also saw chart action in Canada. And the summery 'Little Kind Words' exposes a more fragile side with its buttery harmonies and cinematic flute/keyboard arrangements.

Though Lighthouse would crack the lucrative juggernaut south of the border once again with the more radio-friendly 'Sunny Days', the torrid brass/guitar workout of 'One Fine Morning' will forever remain the band's signature staple up here in Canuckistan. 
by Michael Panontin
1. Love Of A Woman (Cole, Prokop) - 5:47
2. Little Kind Words (Prokop) - 4:11
3. Old Man (Smith) - 5:35
4. Sing, Sing, Sing (Cole, Prokop) - 3:19
5. 1849 (Cole, Prokop) - 6:12
6. One Fine Morning (Prokop) - 5:11
7. Hats Off (To The Stranger) (McBride, McGraw, Prokop) - 3:37
8. Show Me The Way (Prokop) - 2:25
9. Step Out On The Sea (Prokop) - 5:04
10.Sweet Lullabye (Prokop) - 4:53
11.One Fine Morning (Single Edit) (Prokop) - 3:21
12.Take It Slow (Out In The Country) (Cole, Jollimore, Smith) - 3:05
13.Sweet Lullabye (Single Edit) (Prokop) - 4:04

*Dick Armin - Cello
*Ralph Cole - Guitar, Vocals
*Don DiNovo - Viola
*Paul Hoffert - Keyboards
*Keith Jollimore - Vocals, Wind
*Bobby McBride - Percussion, Lead Vocals
*Pete Pantaluk - Trumpet
*Skip Prokop - Drums, Guitar, Vocals
*Howard Shore - Saxophone
*Larry Smith - Trombone, Vocals
*Louis Yacknin - Bass
*Jimmy Ienner - Vocals
*The Edmonton Hawks, The Maltese Moon - Percussion

1973  Can You Feel It?  (2008 RDI issue)
Related Acts
1967  The Paupers - Magic People
1968  The Paupers · Ellis Island  (2008 remaster)
1969  The Live Adventures Of Mike Bloomfield And Al Kooper
1969  Michael Bloomfield with Nick Gravenites & Friends - Live At Bill Graham's Fillmore West (2009 remaster and expanded)

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Elvin Bishop - Let It Flow (1974 us, awesome southern swamp blues rock)

For his fourth album, Elvin Bishop organized a new backup group and switched to Capricorn Records. Capricorn was known as the standard bearer of the Southern rock movement--the Allman Brothers Band, The Marshall Tucker Band, etc.--and Bishop was able to emphasize the country/blues aspects of his persona and his music in the move from Marin County, California, to Macon, Georgia. 

The guest artists included the Allmans' Dickey Betts, Marshall Tucker's Toy Caldwell, Charlie Daniels, and Sly Stone, and Bishop turned in one of his best sets of songs, including "Travelin' Shoes" (with its Allmans-like twin lead guitar work), which became his first charting single, just as the album was his first to make the Top 100 LPs. 
by William Ruhlmann
1. Sunshine Special - 3:43
2. Ground Hog - 3:37
3. Honey Babe - 3:19
4. Stealin' Watermelons - 4:03
5. Travelin' Shoes - 7:17
6. Let It Flow - 3:51
7. Hey Good Lookin' (Hank Williams) - 3:43
8. Fishin' - 4:32
9. Can't Go Back - 3:28
10.I Can't Hold Myself In Line - 2:40
11.Bourbon Street - 2:18
All songs written by Elvin Bishop except where noted.

*Elvin Bishop - Electric, Acoustic, Slide, Guitars, Lead Vocals
*Johnny Sandlin - Acoustic, Electric Guitars, Percussion, Tambourine
*John Vernazza - Acoustic, Electric, Slide Guitars, Vocals
*Charlie Daniels - Fiddle, Acoustic Guitar, Washboard, Vocals
*Philip Aaberg - Piano, Keyboards, Clavinet
*Donny Baldwin - Drums, Vocals
*Dickey Betts - Electric Guitar
*Toy Caldwell - Steel Guitar
*Michael Brooks - Bass Guitar
*Paul Hornsby - Organ, Keyboards
*Sly Stone - Organ, Keyboards
*Vassar Clements - Strings
*Stephen Miller - Piano
*Randall Bramblett - Saxophone
*Dave Brown - Saxophone
*Harold Williams - Saxophone
*Bill Meeker - Drums
*Jo Baker - Percussion, Vocals
*Debbie Cathey - Vocals
*Gideon Daniels - Vocals
*Jerome Joseph - Conga, Conductor
*Annie Sampson - Vocals
*Mickey Thompson - Vocals
*David Walshaw - Percussion, Tambourine

1969-70/72  Party Till The Cows Come Home 
1977  Live! Raisin' Hell (2012 remaster edition)
Related Acts
1966-68  The Paul Butterfield Blues Band - Strawberry Jam

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Lovin' Spoonful - Revelation: Revolution '69 (1969 us, beautiful folk psych, feat. Joe Butler)

By the time 1968's Bob Finiz produced "Revelation: Revolution '69" hit the streetsThe Lovin' Spoonful was essentially functioning on life support.  With longstanding front man John Sebastian having hit the road as a solo act, drummer Joe Butler effectively took over what was left of the nameplate, handling vocals, providing the goofy liner notes, and co-writing a couple of tracks with producer Finiz  (note the album was billed as 'The Lovin' Spoonful Featuring Joe Butler').  

While Butler had a decent voice, he wasn't anywhere near the talent Sebastian was. Sebastian's departure also stripped the band of it's primary creative source, leaving Butler, Steve Boone and Jerry Yester to rely on outside source of material, including three tracks from Dino Sembello and three Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon compositions.  On the other hand Sebastian's departure allowed the band to push beyond their patented top-40 moves, turning in what was probably their most activist release.  Doubt that comment then check out the title track, 'War Games', and 'Jug of War'.

Amazing Air' got the album off to an odd start.  Penned by Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon, this one didn't immediately click with me, but after a couple of spins it drilled its way into my head and wouldn't let go.   Easily the album's most commercial song. Given a folk-rock twang, their cover of John Stewart's 'Never Going Back' was quite different from the rest of the album. Spotlighting some pretty acoustic guitar and tasteful pedal steel, this was one of the album highlights. (Till I) Run with You' started side two with the one song that recalled Sebastian-era Lovin' Spoonful.  Complete with memorable melody and some tasty harmony vocals, this was a great slice of power pop.  Easy to see why it was tapped as the second single from the LP. 

the title track - The Spoonful never sounded as rocking, or activist as on this one.  True, it hasn't aged all that well, but it still stands as one of Butler's creative highlights. The third Bonner-Gordon composition, the stark ballad 'Me About You' was another highlight.  Kicked along by Butler's martial drums and one of his best vocals, this one was a bit too odd to make it on the radio, though that didn't stop Kama Sutra from tapping it as the album's third single. Call it an interesting late-inning release and go look for one of the numerous greatest hits packages.  (Anyone ever notice that the LP label actually has the title 'Till I Run with You' ?) 

 And in case you were wondering; the attractive woman on the cover appeared to be wearing a skin-toned body suit, or had been airbrushed to hide her private attributes.
1. Amazing Air (Bonner, Gordon) - 2:50
2. Never Going Back (John Stewart) - 2:48
3. The Prophet (Finiz, Butler) - 2:45
4. Only Yesterday (Dino, Sembello) - 2:43
5. War Games (Butler) - 7:02
6. (Till I) Run With You (Gordon, Bonner) - 2:52
7. Jug Of Wine (Dino, Sembello) - 2:31
8. Revelation: Revolution '69 (Butler, Finiz) - 2:29
9. Me About You (Bonner, Gordon) - 3:48
10.Words (Dino, Sembello) - 2:18
11.Revelation: Revolution '69 (Single Version, Alternate Mix) - 2:17
12.Revelation: Revolution '69 (Single Version, Alternate Mix, Vocal) - 2:17
13.Me About You (Single Version, Alternate Mix) - 2:48

The Lovin' Spoonful
*Joe Butler – Vocals, Drums
*Steve Boone - Bass
*Jerry Yester – Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards
*Zal Yanovsky - Guitar

 The Lovin' Spoonful
1965  Do You Believe In Magic
1966  Daydream (Japan remaster)
1966  Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful (Japan remaster)
1967-68  You're A Big Boy Now / Everything Playing (2011 edition)

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dada - Dada (1970 uk, fine jazz fusion rock, with Elkie Brooks and Paul Korda)

Fronted by the talented lead singer Elkie Brooks (who was quite popular in England at the time), Dada was a short-lived band project. Sounding something like a slightly arty, British version of Delaney and Bonnie, Dada's sound was heavy, gospel-oriented rock 'n' roll. 

"Seed of peace' a gospel-soaked piano drives the chorus, led by Brooks' excellent lead. It's a wonderful track, somewhat reminiscent of Delaney & Bonnie's "Getto." It succeeds precisely because of the understatement in its arrangement. Unfortunately, this is one of the few examples of a laidback approach on the album; they could have done more of these. 
by Matthew Greenwald
1. Big Dipper (Paul Korda, Pete Gage) - 4:09
2. The Last Time (Keith Richards, Mick Jagger) - 3:37
3. This Is My Song (Paul Korda, Pete Gage) - 4:33
4. Seed Of Peace (Don Shinn, Paul Korda) - 3:26
5. Organ Interlude (Don Shinn) - 0:54
6. Tonite Is (Don Shinn, Paul Korda) - 0:54
7. She Walks Away (Zagni, Pete Gage) - 3:22
8. Aspen, Colorado (Tony Joe White) - 4:58
9. Eyes Of The Warren (Don Shinn) - 4:08
10.Jasamin (P. Korda) - 2:36
11.Dada (P. Korda) - 3:45

Elkie Brooks - Vocals
Paul Korda - Vocals
Don Shinn - Keyboards, Organ, Vibraphone
Barry Duggan - Alto, Baritone Saxophones, Flute
Martyn Harryman - Drums, Percussion
Pete Gage - Guitar, Bass
Malcolm Capewell - Tenor Saxophone, Flute
Ernie Luchlan – Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Jimmy Chambers – Vocals, Percussion

Related Acts
1969-71  Paul Korda - Passing Stranger (2012 Esoteric remaster)
1969  Don Shinn - Takes A Trip (Flawed Gems edition)

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Flies - Complete Collection (1965-68 uk, raw mod freakbeat psychedelia)

The minor British band the Flies are most well-known for a couple of things, neither of which entirely prepares listeners for the pretty average brand of pop-psychedelia on most of their recordings. One is their debut single, "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone," issued at the end of 1966, which is a hard rock treatment of a number more associated with the Monkees, but with plenty of crunching fuzz guitar. It wasn't a hit, but it did start to get the Flies a reputation among psychedelic collectors after being included in the very first compilation of rare British psychedelia, Chocolate Soup for Diabetics. The other thing they're notorious for are their sometimes outrageous live performances, particularly their appearance at the 14-Hour Technicolour Dream psychedelic festival in April 1967 in London, where they arranged to have hundreds of bags of flour explode and cover the audience at the end of their set.

The Flies grew out of an East London band called the Rebs, and in 1965 they recorded a British Invasion exploitation album under the name of the In-Sect, all but one of the songs on the LP being covers of contemporary hits. By the end of 1966 they were signed to Decca and were recording as the Flies, though they issued only a couple of singles for the label. Arguably, their version of "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone" is overrated, and not particularly psychedelic, What's more, it wasn't too typical of their output, which on the Decca singles, at least, was filled out by unmemorable pop and pop-psych numbers with prominent vocal harmonies, in the manner of many other fair but unremarkable British groups recording non-hit discs at the time.

The Flies did manage to put out one more single on RCA in 1968, another middling piece of pop-psych titled "The Magic Train." Some unissued demos from the time show the band moving toward a more organ-based, ethereal sound, but the group disbanded at the end of that year. Members surfaced in the subsequent obscure British psychedelic/progressive groups Infinity, Please, Bulldog Breed, and T2. In addition, while still in the Flies, singer Robin Hunt recorded a very British, fey pop/rock-psychedelic 1967 single for CBS under the pseudonym Alexander Bell, "Alexander Bell Believes"/"A Hymn...With Love." All six sides of the three Flies singles, as well as both sides of the Alexander Bell 45, various 1965-68 demos, and cuts from the In-Sect album, were reissued on the CD Complete Collection 1965-1968. 
by Richie Unterberger
1. The Flies - (I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone (Boyce, Hart) - 2:40
2. The Flies - The Magic Train (Dunton) - 2:22
3. The Flies - House Of Love (Jones, Grainger) - 2:17
4. The Flies - Turning Back The Page (Dunton) - 3:47
5. The Flies - Gently As You Feel (Dunton) - 2:39
6. The Flies - Talk To Me (Ivor Raymonde) - 1:55
7. The In-Sect - Tired Of Waiting For You (Davies) - 2:26
8. No Flies On Us But - Just Won't Do (Baldwin, Da Costa, Hunt) - 1:59
9. No Flies On Us But - (I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone (Boyce, Hart) - 3:05
10.The Flies - The Magic Train (Dunton) - 2:52
11.Alexander Bell - Alexander Bell Believes (Murray, Callender) - 3:08
12.Alexander Bell - A Hymn.... With Love (Murray, Callender) - 3:12
13.The Flies - Sincerely Yours (Dunton) - 2:43
14.The Flies - Where (Dunton) - 3:43
15.The In-Sect - There Ain't No Woman (Da Costa, Hunt) - 1:56
16.The Flies - Winter Afternoon (Dunton) - 2:45
17.The Flies - It Had To Be You (Kahn, Jones) - 2:22
18.The Flies - The Dancer (Dunton) - 2:57
19.The In-Sect - Reelin' And Rockin' (Berry) - 2:23
20.The In-Sect - Ticket To Ride (Lennon, McCartney) - 2:58
21.The In-Sect - There Ain't No Woman (Da Costa, Hunt) - 1:56
22.The Flies - Winter Afternoon (Dunton) - 2:06

The Flies
*John DaCosta - Guitar, Harmonica, Piano
*Robin Hunt - Drums, Vocals
*Ian Baldwin - Bass
*George Haywood - Guitar
*Brian Gill - Guitar
*Peter Dunton - Drums
*Dave Phimister - Lead Guitar

Related Acts
1967-69  Bulldog Breed - Made In England
1969-70  Infinity - Collected Works
1970  T2 - It'll All Work Out in Boomland
1971-72  Keith Cross, Peter Ross - Bored Civilians

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Paul Korda - Passing Stranger (1969-71 uk, astonishing bright colorful acid folk rock, 2012 remaster and expanded)

If you don’t know the name of Paul Korda, you might have reason to be grateful that the compilers at RPM Records do!  Korda’s story is one dotted with familiar personages: P.P. Arnold, Roger Daltrey, Chris Spedding, Madeline Bell, Doris Troy, Andrew Loog Oldham, Onnie McIntyre and Alan Gorrie (Average White Band), Vic Smith (The Jam) on the musical side, Cat Stevens and even Johnny Depp on the personal side.  Korda’s career has taken him from the original West End cast of Hair (alongside Paul Nicholas and Marsha Hunt) to the silver screen in the first two Pirates of the Caribbean films, but a lasting legacy has been his 1971 debut album Passing Stranger.  Originally released on Gordon Mills’ MAM label, also the home of Gilbert O’Sullivan, the album was well-received upon its release but has languished ever since, with only a Japanese release in the CD era.  Thankfully, RPM has remedied that with its new, expanded reissue of Passing Stranger.

Paul Korda’s musical apprenticeship was a diverse one, including stints as a singer for the U.K. Columbia label, a producer at Fontana and Parlophone/EMI, and a staff songwriter for Immediate Records, the label owned by Rolling Stones impresario Andrew Loog Oldham.  A detour into musical theatre led to a success with Hair, but songwriting still called to Korda.  After forming the fusion-rock group Dada (with Elkie Brooks among its members) and recording with Dada for Atco, Korda signed with MAM and decamped at London’s Olympic Studios to record the album that became Passing Stranger.

The backing vocals of Doris Troy and Madeline Bell (both established vocalists in their own right and also famed for their contributions to Rolling Stones records) add mightily to the leadoff single, “Between the Road.”  The presence of Troy, Bell and Nanette Newman give the song a distinctly soulful vibe, and Korda’s full-throttle attack led the NME to favorably compare it to the music of Hair, and his more aggressive side also comes out on the rocking “To Love a Woman” and the raw “Into Your Station.”  On the other end of the spectrum, ballads like “Morning Wakes the Sun” and folk/rock songs like “Ode to the Ministry” recall the best of Cat Stevens, a friend of Korda’s.  There’s even a Beatlesque lilt to “Pass Me Winter” and a gentle, melodic “We Are Each Other” that’s not too far off from the singer/songwriter style of James Taylor.  Chris Spedding, Onnie McIntyre, Alan Gorrie, Andy Roberts and Ray Russell all perform on the album, recorded by co-producers Korda and Vic Smith.

Two bonus tracks are included on Passing Stranger,  “English Country Garden” was the non-LP flipside of “Between the Road,” while the haunting, baroque-styled “Seagull” (also covered by Love Sculpture) was released on Parlophone in 1969.   “Seagull,” recorded at Abbey Road and subtitled “The West Coast Oil Tragedy,” is particularly fascinating in revealing Korda’s prescience about ecological matters.  Simon Murphy has remastered the album, and Michael Heatley contributes detailed new liner notes.  The booklet is illustrated with copious label photos and memorabilia reproductions.
by Joe Marchese 
1. Between The Road - 2:33
2. Morning Wakes The Sun - 2:46
3. Dover Ferry - 2:57
4. To Love A Woman - 4:26
5. Ode To The Ministry - 2:45
6. Into Your Station - 3:12
7. Pass Me Winter (Paul Korda, Ray Rayes) - 2:17
8. Under Other Skies - 2:29
9. Rubble My Cauldron - 2:34
10. We Are Each Other - 4:04
11.A Passing Stranger - 2:53
12.Sunny In The Dawn - 2:28
13.Mud Mother - 1:13
14.English Country Garden (Single B-Side) - 2:43
15.Seagull (Single 1969) - 3:39
All song by Paul Korda except where stated.

*Paul Korda - Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
*Chris Spedding - Guitars
*Ray Russell - Guitars
*Owen McIntyre - Guitars
*Allan Gorrie - Bass, Guitars, Keyboards
*Rob Tait - Drums

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