Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mick Greenwood - Living Game (1971 uk, brilliant folk rock with psych and prog tinges)

Living Game is the most appealing of Mick Greenwood's '70s trilogy of albums, more focused than 1972's To Friends and much less slick than 1974's Midnight Dreamer. Recorded with members of Fotheringay (drummer Gerry Conway) and Fairport Convention (bassist Dave Pegg), among others, Living Game is a straightforward British folk-rock album with some pop and psychedelic influences. 

The lilting opener, "Taxi," sounds rather like Kiln House-era Fleetwood Mac (although Lyn Dobson's fluid, mellow flute work adds a not-unappealing hippie-ish edge) and the quite pretty, Indian-accented closer, "Sight," features both the album's best lyrics and strongest melody. Some of what lies between is forgettable post-hippie singer/songwriter stuff, but surprisingly, what could potentially have been the album's worst track, the lengthy centerpiece "After the First World War," is one of its triumphs. 

Greenwood and lead guitarist Jerry Donahue up their instrumental intensity a few notches here, for a sound that melds folkish grace and heavy electrics in the manner of contemporaneous Fairport Convention, and Greenwood spits out the ironic lyrics in a credible sneer. Living Game isn't a buried treasure or anything, but it has much that would interest a curious fan of British folk-rock. 
by Stewart Mason

First released back in 1971, 'Living Game' is an album that still holds a strong appeal some 30 years later. Here we are treated to well composed pieces that are not long winded and self indulgent affairs, but concise and to the point. Furthermore, the songs are played with with an honest simplicity and a sense of conviction that is sadly lacking in many modern day recordings, and which allows the listener to easily connect with the music. 
by Simon Hill
1. Taxi - 2.57
2. Friend of Mine - 2.42
3. Living Game - 4.34
4. My Life - 3.50
5. To The Sea - 3.23
6. After The First World War - 5.50
7. To The Farside - 2.45
8. Truth Seeker - 2.46
9. Situation Number Four - 2.22
10.Keep Coming Back - 4.07
11.Sight - 4.00
All songs written by Mick Greenwood 

*Mick Greenwood - Vocals, Acoustic guitar
*Jerry Donahue - Electric Guitar
*Tony Cox - Piano, Harmonium
*Pat Donaldson -  Bass
*Gerry Conway - Drums
*Dave Pegg - Bass
*Lynn Dobson - Tenos Sax, Flute, Sitar
*Karl Jenkins - Baritone Sax
*Derek Wadsworth - Trombone
*Dudu Pukwana - Alto Sax
*Andy Smith - Banjo
*Christine Quaile - Backing Vocals
*Ned Balen - Tablas

Ariel - A Strange Fantastic Dream (1973 aussie, excellent progressive rock)

Ariel formed in mid-1973, after the breakup of Spectrum. When Spectrum drummer Ray Arnott announced he was leaving to join Ross Wilson's new band Mighty Kong, Putt and Rudd commendably decided to end the band rather than try to recruit a new member, feeling that it wouldn't be possible to recreate the special spirit of that group. Within a few months of Spectrums's farewell performance their new band (whose name was taken from the character in Shakespeare's "The Tempest") was up and running. Ironically, the two new members, Tim and Nigel, had originally come to Melbourne to work with Ross Wilson and Ross Hannaford on their new project (which became Mighty Kong) and it was after they departed that Wilson asked Ray Arnott to join, thus precipitating the split of Spectrum!

Strong record company interest in Ariel quickly led to a contract with EMI's progressive Harvest imprint. Their superb debut single "Jamaican Farewell" looked set to repeat the early success of Spectrum but it only managed to reach No.34, its success hampered by lack of airplay, especially in Sydney, although it impressed the industry enough to win the FACB 'Single Of The Year'. They toured as support to Gary Glitter November 1973 and released their excellent first LP A Strange Fantastic Dream in December, with writing credits split fairly evenly between Gaze and Rudd. According to Noel McGrath, the album was also the first use of Moog synthesizer on an Australian rock record (though it's possible Tully may have been the first Australian band to recod with one) and producer Peter Dawkins still names it as one of his favourite productions.

It fared well commercially and critically, reaching #12 in the LP charts in February 1974, although there was a minor controversy about Stephen Nelson's brilliant, hallucinatory cover painting, which included (shock! horror!) a hypodermic syringe. Airplay for the LP was further hindered by the banning of three songs ("Confessions Of A Psychotic Cowpoke", "Medicine Man" and "Chicken Shit") by the commercial radio industry's self-regulatory body, the FACB.

One particularly important outcome for the group was that EMI International's President, Allan Davies, fell in love with the album: "You know, Peter," he enthused to Dawkins, "I can't recall ever hearing a song about necrophilia!" Renowned British DJ John Peel also picked up both album and single and "said some really nice things about both of them". These and other factors led to Ariel being invited to tour the UK and record their next album at Abbey Road. 
1. Jamaican Farewell (Rudd, Gaze) - 2:50
2. No Encores - 3:47
3. Confessions of a Psychotic Cowpoke - 4:43
4. And I'm Blue - 2:52
5. Garden of the Frenzied Cortinas - 7:46
6. Miracle Man (Gaze) - 5:29
7. Chicken Shit  - 4:23
8. Worm Turning Blues - 2:56
9. Wheezer Grunter Module Threadaboy/Harry v. Dirchy (God the Man) (Ariel, Gaze) - 4:20
10.Hard Way to Go - 3:49
11.And if it Wasn't for You - 2:32
12.Red Hot Momma  - 2:38
All songs by Mike Rudd unless as else stated

*Mike Rudd - Lead Vocals, Guitars, Backing Vocals, Harmonica
*Bill Putt - Bass
*Tim Gaze - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*John Mills - Keyboards
*Nigel Macara - Drums

1974-75  Ariel - The Jellabad Mutant
1975  Ariel - Rock And Roll Scars

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