Friday, March 8, 2013

Gypsy - Gypsy (1970 us, strong progressive qualities, blended voices and excellent instrument parts)

Progressive rock outfit Gypsy began its existence as the Minneapolis-based pop band the Underbeats, formed in 1964 by guitarist James Johnson, bassist Doni Larson, and drummer Tom Green. 

With the subsequent addition of singer/guitarist Enrico Rosenbaum, the group regularly performed throughout the Twin Cities circuit, scoring a handful of local hits including "Footstompin'," "Annie Do the Dog" and "Book of Love." Keyboardist James "Owl" Walsh was recruited after Johnson was drafted for military service in 1969; upon his discharge, Johnson returned to the Underbeats lineup, and the quintet relocated to Los Angeles soon after, where they landed a gig as the house band at the famed Whiskey-a-Go-Go. 

Rechristened Gypsy, they began pursuing a heavier, more complex sound inspired by the rise of British progressive rock, though often compared to the music of Santana. After replacing Green with drummer Jay Epstein, the band signed to the Metromedia label, issuing their self-titled double-album debut in 1970 and earned considerable FM airplay with the tracks "Gypsy Queen" and "Dead and Gone." 

Larson and Epstein exited Gypsy prior to recording the follow-up, 1971's In the Garden, cut with bassist Willie Weeks -- who later resurfaced in the Doobie Brothers -- and drummer Bill Lordan. Randy Cates assumed bass duties for 1972's Antithesis, Gypsy's first album for new label RCA; however, upon releasing 1973's Unlock the Gates, the group dissolved, reforming just long enough to play the Super Jam '77 concert at St. Louis' Busch Stadium. 

A year later Walsh formed a new Gypsy lineup, issuing The James Walsh Gypsy Band on RCA to little notice; in 1996 -- once again the sole original member -- he assembled another Gypsy unit, releasing 20 Years Ago Today. While Lordan went on to play with Robin Trower, Rosenbaum died September 10, 1979 after a long battle with drug abuse; he was just 36 years old. 
by Jason Ankeny
1. Gypsy Queen Part 1 - 4:21
2. Gypsy Queen Part 2 - 2:33
3. Man Of Reason (James C. Johnson) - 2:59
4. Dream If You Can (E. Rosenbaum, Jay Epstein) - 2:48
5. Late December - 4:12
6. The Third Eye (James Walsh) - 4:55
7. Decisions - 8:16
8. I Was So Young - 4:00
9. Here In My Loneliness - 3:10
10.More Time - 5:35
11.The Vision - 7:30
12.Dead And Gone - 11:07
13.Tomorrow Is The Last To Be Heard - 5:48
All compositions by Enrico Rosenbaum except where noted

*James Walsh - Vocals, Keyboards, Percussion,
*Enrico Rosenbaum - Vocals, Guitars, Percussion,
*Jay Epstein - Drums,
*James C. Johnson - Vocals, Lead Guitar,
*Doni Larson - Bass

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Alvin Lee - Still on the Road to Freedom (2012 uk, classic rock)

"I decided to take the road to freedom rather than the road to fame and fortune"
Alvin Lee

Lee wrote all of the songs on the album, but he's quick to acknowledge influences from a varied group of artists and genres, from R’n’B icon Chuck Berry to ex-King Crimson drummer Ian Wallace. This isn't surprising, since TYA's music, although predominantly hard rock, had significant blues and jazz influences. 
Lee began writing songs for Still on the Road to Freedom in 2008. By the time he was ready to go into the studio, he had 33 potential tracks in hand. After wrestling unsuccessfully with trying to consider all of them, he finally isolated his favorites (a little less than half of the total) and worked them into "an entity in itself with a beginning, a middle and an end." 

And somehow, the mixture of arena rock, blues, bebop, country rock and folk does seem natural. Lee's guitar work, be it electric or acoustic, is as good as ever. His voice, never known for its "polish" (which is a good thing) is still natural and vibrant.

This is one of those relatively rare albums that is a good listen all the way through, with no need to skip tracks to hear the good ones. But, naturally, there are some I do like to go back to, like the percussion-driven "Listen to Your Radio Station," the catchy "Midnight Creeper," the instrumental "Down Line Rock" and "Love Like a Man 2" (a new version of a track originally on TYA's 1970 Cricklewood Green album.) 
Lee plays multiple instruments on the album, which he also recorded and mixed. Other band members include two longtime associates -- Pete Pritchard on bass and Richard Newman on drums -- and keyboardist Tim Hinkley. 

TYA (minus Lee) re-formed in 1988, but there are a lot of fans who are loyal to the original (1966-1974) lineup. If you're among them, you should put this album on your "get" list. If you're unfamiliar with either TYA or Alvin Lee, the album is a good listen just for the musicianship, and for the concept of creative freedom that drives it. 

You might also be able to relate to the philosophy that accompanies a painting by Lee that appears on the CD and in the liner: "There are many forks on the road to freedom and the road to nowhere is one of them." 
by Dave White

Although I don't usually post releases produced and recorded outside the golden era of Rock 'n' Roll (60's-70's) sometimes I make exceptions, this is one of these, dedicated to the memory of Alvin Lee, some forty years now (since I was in my early teen years) he's filling, my soul and my sentinmets, with his amazing guitar, his voice and his songs.
From the bottom of my heart, Thank you Very much Alvin Lee.
1. Still On The Road To Freedom - 4:23
2. Listen To Your Radio Station - 2:22
3. Midnight Creeper - 4:10
4. Save My Stuff - 4:02
5. I'm A Lucky Man - 3:27
6. Walk On, Walk Tall - 3:17
7. Blues Got Me So Bad - 2:09
8. Song Of The Red Rock Mountain - 2:04
9. Nice And Easy - 3:07
10. Back In 69 - 2:35
11. Down Line Rock - 2:29
12. Rock You - 1:32
13. Love Like A Man 2 - 6:52
All songs by Alvin Lee

*Alvin Lee - Bass, Drums, Guitars, Harmonica, Keyboards, Paintings, Vocals
*Trevor Morais - Drums
*Richard Newman - Drums
*Pete Pritchard - Bass, Double Bass
*Ed Spyra - Artwork
*Ian Wallace - Drums
*Alexander Wolfe - Keyboards
*Alvar Brune - Vocals
*Tim Hinkley - Keyboards

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