Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The V.I.P's - The Complete V.I.P's (1965-67 uk, spectacular mod beat rhythm 'n' blues, 2006 Repertoire double disc remaster)

The story begins in summer 1963, in Carlisle, Cumbria, in the far North-West of England. Jimmy Henshaw (guitar, keyboards), Walter Johnstone (drums), Frank Kenyan (guitar) and former export clerk Mike Harrison (vocals) formed a beat combo, and dubbed themselves The VIPs. Johnston and Kenyan had previously been in The Teenagers; not long after forming the band, The VIPs added Greg Ridley on bass, who had previously lined up with Dino & The Danubes, and The Dakotas and The Ramrods, together with Harrison. 

They scored a record deal with RCA, who put out their debut single, "She's So Good" / "Don't Keep Shouting At Me" in 1964, both sides being penned by Henshaw. The single is a great slice of sneery Brit R&B, and is now an ultra-rare collector's favourite. From 1965 to 1966 the band were a top club attraction in London, and gigged regularly at the Star Club in Hamburg, garnering a sizeable cult following,

The original VIP's line-up recorded three more singles ("Wintertime" as The Vipps for CBS, plus "I Wanna Be Free" / "Don't Let It Go" and "Straight Down To The Bottom" / "In A Dream" for Island, produced by Island stalwart Guy Stevens) before disbanding. Henshaw, Johnstone and Kenyan were replaced by Luther Grosvenor (guitar), Mike Kellie (drums), and Keith Emerson (keyboards). Emerson had previously been a member of Gary Farr & The T-Bones; this variant of The VIPs gigged for only three months, before Emerson upped and formed The Nice, with Brian "Blinky" Davidson, Lee Jackson and Davy O'List. 

The remaining quartet changed their name from the by then somewhat anachronistic VIPs, to simply Art-Worcester-born Grosvenor had played guitar for The Hellians, whose 1964 single, "Daydreaming Of You", released on Pye subsidiary Piccadilly, was produced by maverick West Coast genius / madman /charlatan Kim Fowley. The Hellians, if I may digress still further, boasted the nascent talents of both Dave Mason and Jim Capaldi, who would, of course, go on to form Island mainstays Traffic with Steve Winwood, and a young Poli Palmer, who latterly rattled the Joanna for Family. The Hellians in turn mutated into Deep Feeling.

Mike Kellie, originally from Birmingham, had drummed for second city band Locomotive, who also featured sax and flute player Chris Wood, who joined Traffic in 1967. There. See how incestuous this little scene was? Anyway, Locomotive would go on to enjoy a UK Top 30 hit with the ska-rhythmed "Rudi's 1? Love" (unusually enough, the band were very heavily ska and bluebeat driven), and in 1969 put out the awesome latterday psychedelic gem "Mr. Armageddon".
Disc 1
1. Don't Keep Shouting At Me - 2:24
2. She's So Good - 2:20
3. Mercy Mercy - 2:46
4. That's My Woman - 2:10
5. Wintertime - 2:09
6. Anyone - 2:16
7. I Wanna Be - 3:13
8. Don't Let It Go - 2:36
9. Straight Down To The Bottom - 2:08
10.In A Dream - 2:24
11.Smokestack Lightning - 6:42
12.Back Into My Life Again - 2:32
13.Every Girl I See - 2:53
14.Stagger Lee - 3:13
15.Rosemarie - 3:19
16.Late Night Blues - 5:36
CD 2
1. I Wanna Be Free - 3:13
2. Smokestack Lightning - 6:42
3. You Don't Know Like I Know - 2:30
4. Stagger Lee - 3:26
5. No Use Crying - 3:31
6. I Wanna Be Free - 3:10
7. Grapes Of Wrath - 3:13
8. Fannie Mae - 3:36
9. Talk About My Babe - 3:42
10.I Got A Woman - 6:34
11.Blue Feeling - 2:32
12.Sad Story - 2:24
(There's a little mess in the track list between "Grapes of Wrath" and "Fannie Mae", I presume it's label's fault, because it's listed incorrectly.)

The V.I.P.s
*Frank Kenyon - Rhythm Guitar
*Jimmy Henshaw - Lead Guitar
*Mike Harrison -  Vocals
*Walter Johnstone -  Drums
*Mike Kellie -  Drums
*Keith Emerson -  Keyboards
*Greg Ridley -  Bass, Guitar

1966  The V.I.P's - Beat Crazy
1967  Art - Supernatural Fairy Tales

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Sweet Maya – Sweet Maya (1977 us, fabulous funky jazz prog rock, 2010 korean remaster)

The story of Sweet Maya is one that spans 36 years and involves a set of relationships that have remain strong despite time and distance. The first chapter started in 1968 when Gail met John. As she recalls it "I met John prior to graduation and my most favorite memories involve a trip to a nightclub to hear a hot band, John being invited on stage to jam, and his horn turning the crowd upside down!"

It was after Gail and John came to Kalamazoo that the third piece of the Sweet Maya puzzle moved into place. As Gail describes it "I met Janice Lakers in a music theory class, we were the top two students. We got together one evening to sing and that's all it took. In short time we formed a folk duo, both of us playing guitars and Janice doubling on flute and percussion. John was always on the sidelines of our duo, helping us with arrangements, and sitting in with us when he could." It was with the formation of this trio that the core of Sweet Maya was formed and plans for expansion were laid. Tom Davis, a drummer John worked with in a previous group quickly followed by guitarist/bassist Tom Hill. 

Thus Sweet Maya was born. Where there had only been two now there were five but the sound of the band continued to be a work in progress. Feeling the need for a dedicated bassist and a more driving sound, the core Mayans sent out a call to audition bass players from around the area. Many tried out and all had their advantages yet in the end one player stood out among the rest, securing a sought after place in a successful local band. 

The one selected was Mark Bowen completing the six member, multiinstrumentalist band. Maya strived towards continuous improvement and as the rhythm section continued to strengthen the inherent weakness became the lack of a solid guitar soloist. Tom Hill, who had several creative differences with the core group, left the band as Sweet Maya ushered in the last piece of the puzzle, Rob Hayes. This formed the band that most remember as Sweet Maya and its performances drew huge audiences earning it a reputation as one of the foremost musical groups in the mid-western United States.

One of the lasting results of this musical endeavor was the recording and production of this LP, originally pressed in vinyl in 1977. And thanks to a still thriving fan base Sweet Maya continues to gather every few years to perform in concert with the next scheduled for fall of 2011. The band will be celebrating its 40th anniversary and plans to introduce several new compositions to delight their fans.
by Mark Bowen, 2010
1. Good Day - 2:29
2. Louisiana Song - 3:30
3. Gotta Find Out - 5:25
4. Crazy Coldness - 4:36
5. Surround Me - 3:11
6. The Earth Has Music - 3:56
7. Papa Taco - 2:45
8. Illusion - 5:04
9. People Suite (Instrumental) - 7:11

Sweet Maya
*Janice Lakers - Vocals, Flute, Guitar, Percussion
*Gail Baker - Guitar, Vocals
*John Chamberlin - Vocals, Flute, Saxophone, Piano
*Tom Davis - Drums
*Tom Hill - Guitar, Bass
*Mark Bowen - Bass
*Rob Hayes - Guitar, Keyboards, Flute, Harmonica, Vocals

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