Monday, January 26, 2015

Hoyt Axton - My Griffin Is Gone (1969 us, marvelous psych tinged country folk rock, 2006 issue)

Hoyt Axton was still in his first decade as a recording artist when he made this album, but it was a decade in which performing artists were certainly encouraged to think lofty thoughts. Pretension was as common on the radio in the late '60s as things would be in the '90s, hence we have an album, but sadly enough no song, on the theme of losing one's "griffin," typical Axton imagery that subtly invokes the wonder of childhood while pretending to be doing something else. 

He settles into some remarkable moods on the best parts of the album, communicating with such a sense of the natural that it makes the work of many other recording artists seem stilted. He can evoke the feeling of Colorado simply by mentioning the state as if in passing conversation; other singers would have to be recorded riding up and down a ski lift strumming in order to establish any equivalent sense of time and place. 

While his social commentary, such as "Beelzebub's Laughter," has the sting, if not the detail, of mid-period Phil Ochs, some of the songs -- such as "Way Before the Time of Towns" and "Revelations" -- ring so totally hollow, without any real sense of conviction or commitment, that the listener will be longing for one of the musicians to make a satirical raspberry. Instead it is a subdued, talented crowd doing the backup, pursuing a mood that can be quite effective when the ingredients are right -- roughly about half the time on this uneven but respectable production. Lead guitar is in the capable hands of James Burton, but this cannot be said to have been one of his most rip-roaring days in the studio. 
by Eugene Chadbourne
1. On The Natural - 3:58
2. Way Before The Time Of Towns - 3:09
3. Beelzebub's Laughter - 2:43
4. Sunshine Fields Of Love - 3:41
5. It's All Right Now - 2:33
6. Gypsy Will - 3:10
7. Revelations - 3:01
8. Snow Blind Friend - 2:49
9. Childhood's End - 2:36
10.Sunrise (Hoyt Axton, Terje Rypdal) - 2:29
11.Kingswood Manor - 3:06
12.Chase DownThe Sun - 2:24
All songs by Hoyt Axton except where stated

*Hoyt Axton - Guitar, Vocals
*Ben Benay - Harmonica
*Chuck Berghofer - Bass
*James Burton - Dobro
*David Cohen - Guitar
*Gary Coleman - Percussion
*Jimmie Fadden - Harmonica
*Jim Gordon - Drums
*Larry Knechtel - Keyboards
*Steve La Fever - Bass
*Paul Lewinson - Keyboards
*Michael Melvoin - Keyboards

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Banchee - Banchee / Thinkin' (1969-71 us, exceptional classic rock with psych, prog and folk shades)

Signed by Atlantic, their 1969 debut "Banchee" teamed the quartet (former Peepl singer/guitarist Peter Alongi, drummer Victor Digilio, rhythm guitarist Jose Miguel deJesus, and bassist Michael Marino) with producers Warren Schatz and Stephen Schlaks.  Like much late-1960s product the debut displayed some psych influences (the leadoff, mid tempo number 'The Night Is Calling' has a distinctively trippy feel to it), but the predominant sound was heavy, guitar-powered rock.  

With all four members contributing material, original numbers such as 'Beautifully Day' (sic), the fuzz guitar-propelled 'Evolmia', 'I Just Don't Know' and the extended 'Tom's Island' offered up a series of high energy guitar powered rockers that were both tuneful and structural interesting. That said, the album was surprisingly diverse. 'Train of Life' sounding like a post-Monkees Mike Nesmith after a week of heavy speed usage, 'Hands of a Clock' had a pseudo-jazzy feel, while the Latin-tinged 'As Me Thinks' recalled early-Santana. Overlooking DiGillo's pompous back cover liner notes, it's a surprisingly enjoyable and not particularly difficult to find debut ... (Original copies include a separate lyric insert.)

Released two years after their debut, 1971's "Thinkin'" found Banchee signed to Polydor.  It also found the group expanded to a five piece with the addition of singer/percussionist Fernando Roman (who happened to be Jose Miguel deJesus' cousin).  With the band co-producing with an assist from Dave Palmer and Ralph Moss (Jimi Hendrix manager Michael Jeffrey credited as executive producer), the sophomore set found the band aiming for an even tougher rock sound.  Unlike the debut which was a largely democratic project with everyone contributing to the writing chores, this time around singer/rhythm guitarist Jose Miguel deJesus was responsible for the majority of the material (lead guitarist Peter Alongi contributing two tracks).  

Kicked along by Alomgi's squealing lead guitar (this is one of those great headphone LPs), some understated Latin percussion, and their "group" lead vocals, songs such as the blazing opener 'John Doe', 'Willya' and the title track made for hard rock that was simultaneously tuneful and commercial.  At least to my ears the results recalled Santana at their most rocking, or perhaps Manassas-era Stephen Stills. While it wasn't particularly original, or groundbreaking, this was one of those rare albums where there simply wasn't a bad song on the entire set.  No, it wasn't perfect, but it beat the crap out of scores of better known and selling competitors.   Curiously this is the album that seems to attract critical attention (it's listed in one of the Hans Pokora reference books), though I find the debut just as entertaining.  
Banchee 1969
1. The Night Is Calling (Peter Alongi) - 3:27
2. Train of Life (Michael Marino) - 3:18
3. As Me Thinks - 3:05
4. Follow a Dream - 4:21
5. Beautifully Day (Peter Alongi) - 5:07
6. Evolmia (Jose Miguel DeJesus, Victor DiGillo) - 3:18
7. I Just Don't Know (Peter Alongi) - 3:17
8. Hands of a Clock (Michael Marino) - 4:14
9. Tom's Island (Peter Alongi) - 8:39
Thinkin 1971
10.John Doe - 4:30
11.Willya - 3:28
12.3/4 Song (Peter Alongi) - 3:18
13.Thinkin' - 4:08
14.Searcher's Life (Peter Alongi) - 3:10
15.Iceberg - 3:47
16.Children of the Universe - 3:11
17."38" - 8:54
All songs by Jose Miguel DeJesus except where indicated

*Peter Alongi - Vocals, Lead Guitar
*Victor Digilio - Drums, Percussion
*Jose 'Joey' Miguel DeJesus - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar  
*Michael Marino - Vocals, Bass

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Purple Gang - Purple Gang Strikes (1968 uk, fabulous folk jug psych)

The Purple Gang was formed in Cheshire, UK, in the late 1965 by a group of students at the Stockport Art College, including Chris "Joe" Beard (guitar), Peter Walker (vocals), Trevor 'Ank' Langley (Jug), Geoff Bowyer (piano, washboard, vocals, Kazoo. and Gerry Robinson (harmonica, mandolin). The band was originally formed as the Young Contermporaries Jugband and it was one of the most original folk and blues British acts in the late 60's.

After moving to London, the band started working under the management of producer Joe Boyd, who also managed Pink Floyd and was a co-runner of the legendary underground psychedelic club the UFO.

In 1967 the band released the single "Granny Takes a Trip" on the British folk label Transatlantic records. The song became a popular anthem of the psychedelic scene and was wrongly banned by the BBC from its airwaves for making reference to LSD in it's lyrics.

In early 1967, the Purple Gang performed the first of three gigs at the Marquee club, supporting Long John Baldry. None of these gigs were officially billed and Trasnsatlantic records contracted the band's shows to the Marquee club for no money. Their last performance supported young songwriter Steve Adams -widely known as Cat Stevens-, as Joe Beard can remember: "I met a young dark-haired guy in there in the dressing room called Steve Adams and he let me have a go on his beautiful "Black Box" Gibson..he let me tune-it in for him as his hands were shaking (after all he was going on solo as compere). He did OK and was signed up after that gig. His song "I Love My Dog" was haunting that night and we all congratulated the young "Cat Stevens" to be."

At the time, the band became a popular underground act in London's scene and used to perform dressed in gangster suits, an image that was also used by other underground bands at the time such as the Move and Syn. They played at the top clubs of the London psychedelic underground scene, such as the UFO, Wizard and the Roundhouse. During these days they had a close friendship with Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett wrote the song "Here I Go" for the band.

In 1968, the Purple Gang released their debut album "Strikes", featuring bassist Tony Moss, where they were forced by the record company to refrain from producing psychedelic and experimental oriented stuff.

1969 saw numerous changes in the band. Vocalist Peter Walker quit the band and later became a painter artist. Trevor Langley quit also and later began an advertising and graphics firm. Drummer and washboard player Alex Sidebottom joined the band and later bassist Chris Millward replaced Tony Moss. Eventually, the band split when Joe Boyd formed a new project called Sudden Earth, along with Pete Band (drums. and Barry Edge (bass vocals). The Purple Gang reformed shortly later featuring Joe Boyd, Geoff Bowyer, Gerry Robinson, Tony Moss and Alex Sidebothan and started working under the management of Dave Symonds. In 1972 Joe Beard quit the band to start a solo career and was replaced by Tony Davies from the Jericho Jug Band. Finally, the band split shortly after.

After the split of the Purple Band, Joe Beard produced the multi-media project "The Edge". In the following years he concentrated to his career as a painter, artist and lecturer and opened his own art gallery. Geoff Bowyer went into comedy and acting and formed a comedy duo with Radio 1 DJ, Annie Nightingale. He also became a writer and a teacher for drama in London. 
1. Auntie Monica - 3:07
2. Bootleg Whisky - 3:19
3. Viola Lee Blues - 3:13
4. The Wizard - 3:52
5. Mr Aldred Jones - 2:59
6. Granny Takes a Trip - 2:36
7. Overseas Stomp - 2:17
8. Freightliner - 2:51
9. The Sheik - 3:11
10.Rising Sun (Traditional) - 2:33
11.Kiss Me Goodnight Sally Green - 2:32
12.Carlo's Circus - 3:37
13.Madam Judge (Joe Beard) - 4:14
14.Brown Shoes - 4:44
15.The King Comes Riding (Ken Cambell) - 4:50
All songs by Geoff Bowyer, Joe Beard except where noted

Purple Gang
*Joe Beard - guitar
*Geoff Bowyer - Piano, Washboard, Vocals
*Trevor "Ark" Langley - Jug
*Gerry Robinson - Electric Mandolin, Harmonica
*Peter "Lucifer" Walker - Vocal, Kazoos
*Tony Moss - Bass

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Formerly Fat Harry - Formerly Fat Harry (1971 uk / us, great folk psych, 2013 edition)

Formed in 1969 in Croydon by three ex-Berkeley musicians, Gary Peterson, Phil Greenberg and Bruce Barthol who had not long left Country Joe & the Fish, Formerly Fat Harry were signed to the legendary Peter Jenner and Andrew King’s Blackhill Enterprises and became a mainstay of the festivals and underground club circuit.

The band mined a rich blues, folk and country vein which nowadays might have been called Americana, and heavily infused it with a psychedelic edge – after all these guys had been part of the San Francisco acid rock explosion!

They left behind a very musical if rather low-key album for Harvest Records before splitting up in early 72. 
1. Passing The River (Phil Greenberg) - 5:04
2. My Friend Ws A Pusher (Gary Peterson) - 5:15
3. About My Life (Phil Greenberg) - 5:45
4. Please Go Away (Gary Peterson) - 4:35
5. I Saw The Ringing Of The Bell (Gary Peterson) - 4:45
6. Tell Me All About It (Gary Peterson) - 4:40
7. Captain Heart (Phil Greenberg) - 3:28
8. Goodbye For Good (Phil Greenberg) - 6:55

Formerly Fat Harry
*Laurie Allan - Drums
*Bruce Barthol - Bass
*Phil Greenberg - Guitar, Vocals
*George Khan - Saxophone
*Gary Peterson - Guitar, Keyboards, Percussion, Vocals

1969-72  Formerly Fat Harry - Goodbye For Good, The Lost Recordings

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Kaleidoscope - Pulsating Dreams (1967-70 us, fascinating melt of folk, orient, psych rock, 2007 three disc set)

It's a little surprising that a cult band like Kaleidoscope would get honored with an all-out three-CD set, considering the limited market. But here it is, and it certainly leaves no stone unturned, including the entire recorded output of the band while they were on Epic. That essentially covers the entire period of interest to most fans, spanning the band's formation to their breakup in the early '70s (though they subsequently reunited for some albums that aren't represented here). In addition to everything from their albums Side Trips, A Beacon from Mars, Incredible, and Bernice, it has quite a few tracks that only showed up on non-LP singles or as outtakes on posthumous compilations. And some of those extras aren't even easily found on Kaleidoscope compilations, namely the old-timey psychedelia of the early B-side "Little Orphan Nannie" and the less impressive, heavily bluesy 1968 B-side "Just a Taste." The problem with this compilation is not so much to do with the music as whether it might be suitable for either the completist or neophyte. 

The completist might well already have virtually all of this on the albums and scattered comps, and resent having to fork out for a three-CD set just to get those two B-sides; the neophyte might find it way too much to start (and end) with, both in length and expense. But -- if you want the complete works of Kaleidoscope in their first and best incarnation, it's all here, down to the crazy psychedelic soul single they did with Larry Williams and Johnny "Guitar" Watson, "Nobody." It's also well annotated, and contains plenty of exhilarating psychedelic world fusion highs, though the band's incredibly eclectic scope means there are some turkeys as well. Plus, some of those non-LP items aren't mere frivolities -- the B-side "Rampe, Rampe," for instance, is a superb Greek-like instrumental that winds itself up into a frenzy. 
by Richie Unterberger
Disc 1
Side Trips 1967
1. Egyptian Gardens (D. Feldthouse) - 3:05
2. If The Night (Chris Darrow) - 1:45
3. Hesitation Blues (Charlie Poole) - 2:25
4. Please (M. Freedman, D. Feldthouse) - 3:16
5. Keep Your Mind Oven (Chris Darrow) - 2:15
6. Pulsating Dream (C. Darrow, D. Lindley, D. Feldthouse) - 1:54
7. Oh Death (Dock Boggs) - 3:25
8. Come On In (Traditional Arr. D. Lindley) - 2:07
9. Why Try (D. Lindley) - 3:43
10.Minnie The Moocher (C. Calloway, I. Mills, C. Gaskill) - 2:13
11.Elevator Man (Single Issue) (D. Feldthouse) - 2:54
12.Little Orphan Nannie (Single Issue) (C. Darrow, C. Crill) - 1:54
A Beacon from Mars 1967
13.I Found Out (E. Shackleforf) - 2:09
14.Greenwood Sidee (Traditional Arr. Kaleidoscope) - 4:12
15.Life Will Pass You By (C. Darrow) - 3:22
16.Taxim (Kaleidoscope) - 11:20
17.Baldheaded End Of A Broom (Traditional Arr. D. Lindley) - 3:12
18.Louisiana Man (D. Kershaw) - 2:42
19.You Don't Love Me (W. Cobbs) - 3:57
Disc 2
1. Beacon From Mars (Kaleidoscope) - 12:29
2. Rampé, Rampé (Single Issue) (Turkish Traditional Arr. by Kaleidoscope) - 3:31
3. Nobody (Single Issue) (D. Cooper, E. Shelby) - 2:35
4. Love Games (Remix For Egyptian Candy) (Kaleidoscope) - 2:28
5. Egyptian Candy (Remix For Egyptian Candy) (Kaleidoscope) - 3:01
6. Hello, Trouble (Single Issue) (E. McFucci, O. Church) - 1:42
7. Just A Taste (Single Issue) (Kaleidoscope) - 2:13
Incredible Kaleidoscope 1969
8. Lie To Me (D. Lindley, D. Feldthouse, S. Brotman, P. Lagos, T. Parcely) - 2:45
9. Let The Good Love Flow (Smith. Lindley) - 2:10
10.Killing Floor (C. Burnett) - 2:44
11.Petite Fleur (D. Lindley, D. Feldthouse, S. Brotman, P. Lagos, T. Parcely) - 3:29
12.Banjo (D. Lindley) - 3:34
13.Cuckoo (Traditional Arr.Kaleidoscope) - 4:15
14.Seven-Ate Sweet (D. Lindley, D. Feldthouse, P. Lagos, T. Parcely) - 11:31
Disc 3
1. Sefan (Remix For Egyptian Candy) (Traditional Arr.Kaleidoscope) - 4:25
Bernice 1970
2. Chocolate Whale (D. Feldthouse) - 2:27
3. Another Lover (D. Lindley) - 2:42
4. Sneakin' Thru Ghetto (C. Crill, P. Lagos) - 3:17
5. To Know Is Not To Be (P. Lagos) - 2:13
6. Lulu Arfin Nanny (D. Lindley, P. Lagos, C. Crill, S. Brotman, c. Darrow) - 3:09
7. Lie And Hide (C. Crill, P. Lagos, D. Lindley, S. Brotman) - 2:49
8. Ballad Of Tommy Udo (D. Lindley) - 2:47
9. Bernice (C. Crill) - 2:41
10.Soft And Easy (D. Feldthouse) - 2:55
11.New Blue Ooze (D. Lindley) - 9:39
12.Why Try (Single Issue) (D. Lindley) - 2:46

*Paul Lagos - Drums, Percussion, Rap, Vocals
*David Lindley - 7-String Banjo, Arranger, Banjo, Guitar, Harp, Mandolin
*Stuart Brotman - Bass, Vocals
*Connie Crill - Keyboards
*Chris Darrow - Bass, Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals
*Solomon Feldthouse - Clarinet, Guitar, Jumbus, Oud, Saz, Stomping, Vocals
*Templeton Parcely - Organ, Violin, Vocals
*Jeff Kaplan - Vocals
*John Vidican. Drums, Percussion, Timpani
*Fenrus Epp - Violin, Viola, Bass, Piano, Organ, Harmonica
*Max Buda - Harmonica

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Friday, January 16, 2015

The Mystic Tide - Solid Sound (1965-67 us, astonishing garage psych beat)

In reality The Mystic Tide was single vision of one Joe Docko. Joe was the mainman of The Mystic Tide and believe it or not he stills resides in Woodbury. I actually called up information in Woodbury and got his phone number. But so far I have been too chicken to ring him up. I mean you just don't make a cold call to Joe Docko, do you?

The group's early material is well represented by "I Wouldn't Care", "Why", "Stay Away" & "I Search For New Love." These tracks are all ultra cool stabs at a sort of Mersey-Beat sound with garage and surf rock overtones. However things really get cooking with the immortal "Mystic Eyes" (possibly influenced by Them.) "Mystic Eyes" is a pulsating death wail of garage punk oblivion. This thing just oozes all over you, Joe sounding like a second cousin of Eric Burdon on vocals while musically the Tide sound like an east coast answer to the Calico Wall. "Frustration" (not the Painted Ship track) is just a seething, full bore punk camando raid which brings to mind The Craig's "I Must Be Mad" in terms of all out intensity.

"Running Through The Night" heads off into Third Bardo territory of surf/psychedelic madness. "Psychedelic Journey Parts 1&2" is a non-stop instrumental choke hold which was inspired by The Butterfield Blues Band's landmark "East West" title track from 1966. Next up is the group's tour de force "Mystery Ship", this one is in the same bag as "Mystic Eyes", it just sort of sits there in it's own juices then strikes at the listener like a rattlesnake, Joe's guitar is just lethal on this one. "You Won't Look Back" ties up the original 60's material of the band in fine style, turning back to the group's early garage/folk sound.

When it's all said and done, The Mystic Tide were one of the truly great group's of the late 60's as this album so readily affirms. The Mystic Tide were easily the equals of the 13th Floor Elevators, Chocolate Watchband or any other 60's garage band you care to mention. 
by Dave Furgess
1. I Wouldn't Care - 3:10
2. Why - 1:59
3. Stay Away - 2:15
4. I Search For New Love - 2:46
5. Mystic Eyes - 3:32
6. Frustration - 2:41
7. Running Through The Night - 2:27
8. Psychedelic Journey Pt.1 - 4:59
9. Psychedelic Journey Pt.2 - 4:27
10.Mystery Ship - 2:55
11.You Won't Look Back - 2:56
12.You Know It's True - 4:43
13.It's Simple Sister - 4:32
14.Mystery Ship - 3:53
15.Frustration - 3:42
16.Silver Rails/Going Home - 3:45
17.See The Light - 4:19
18.Solid Ground - 3:17
All Songs written by Joe Docko

The Mystic Tide
*Paul Picell - Bass, Backing Vocals
*John Wilham - Drums
*Jim Thomas - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Joe Docko - Vocals, Lead Guitar

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Gold - Oregins S.F. (1970 us, outstanding hard psych latin jazzy blues rock, 2003 issue)

With nine songs recorded in the studio at Golden State Recorders in San Francisco in 1969 and 1970, plus eight songs (in decent if imperfect fidelity) from a live show at the Fillmore West on March 3, 1970, this is a generous document -- lasting 78 minutes in all -- of a San Francisco band that only got to release one obscure single, never putting out an LP. (Both sides of that single, "No Parking"/"Summertime" -- the latter produced by Country Joe McDonald, who also plays clavichord on the track -- are here, though the notes don't make it clear if these were the same recordings used on the 45.) 

It's a decent slab of period late-'60s San Francisco rock, though Gold were neither top-tier when judged against the many similar bands from the time and region, nor possessed of a fully formed musical identity. Certainly you can hear bits and pieces of other major Bay Area acts -- "High on Love" and "When I Saw You" have the spacy languor of Quicksilver Messenger Service at their most folk-rocking wistful, and "Conquistadores" is very much in the spirit of Santana's first album (in fact both bands had "Fried Neck Bones," heard on the live portion of this CD, in their repertoire). Other tracks have a more macho, bluesy hard rock approach, and while eclecticism was a trademark of numerous San Francisco psychedelic acts, Gold were missing that something that might have elevated them to a notable rank. 

Despite their derivative nature, however, "When I Saw You," "High on Love," and "Colores" are all enjoyable songs for those who like the distinctively bittersweet sound of much gentler S.F. psychedelia. Other tracks indicate they could have done well with a Santana-esque fusion of rock, blues, and Latin rhythms had they wanted to go further down that route. The scattershot liner notes don't give you much of a coherent history of the band's life and times, however. 
by Richie Unterberger
Golden State Recorders - San Francisco 1969/70
1. No Parking - 2:35
2. High On Love - 4:07
3. Righteous Road - 2:52
4. Conquistadores - 5:20
5. Heavy - 2:54
6. When I Saw You - 2:40
7. PSB - 5:51
8. Filet Of Soul - 5:44
9. Summertime - 4:45
Live at the Fillmore-West Auditorium 03/03/1970
10.When I Saw You - 3:44
11.Filet Of Soul - 4:55
12.Colores - 4:32
13.PSB - 6:59
14.Conquistadores - 6:15
15.No Parking - 6:21
16.Fried Neck Bones - 5:36
17.Heavy - 2:53
All songs by Gold

*Ed Scott - Rhythm Guitar
*Joe Bajza - Lead Guitar
*Louie Goursau - Drums
*Chico Moncada - Bass
*Richard Coco - Vocals
*Robin Sinclair - Vocals
*Ron Cabral - Percussion (Cowbell, Maracas, Guido, Sticks, Tambourine)
*Sebastian Nicholson - Congas
*Bob Golden - Vocals

1969 Gold - Gold (Vinyl limited edition)

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Zakarrias - Zakarrias (1971 austria / uk, spectacular hard prog rock, 2010 issue)

Recorded in London in the summer of 1971 by Austrian singer/songwriter Bobby Haumer and an English pick-up band, Zakarrias was issued on the highly collectable Deram label. However, Deram withdrew the album almost immediately when they discovered that Haumer didn't have a work permit. The result is one of the rarest slabs of early Seventies vinyl, original copies having sold for in excess of $1000 on the rare occasions that they surface. 

Full of unexpected melodic shifts, and with an overwhelming sense of space and unresolved tension, the album skilfully blends singer/songwriter introversion with elements of folk, blues, psychedelia and progressive rock. Mysteriously sounding heavy progressive with sensitive folk-psych moments. Great dynamics with contrasting guitar leads. The results have been compared to outtakes from the third Led Zeppelin album, but while the lead vocals are certainly reminiscent at times of Robert Plant, the overall sound and general air of quiet pretension is probably closer to Van der Graaf Generator leader Peter Hammill's early solo work.
CD Liner-notes
1. Country Out Of Reach (Eva) - 4:05
2. Who Gave You Love - 4:06
3. Never Reachin' - 5:01
4. The Unknown Years (Eva) - 7:00
5. Sunny Side - 3:44
6. Spring Of Fate - 3:18
7. Let Us Change (Eva) - 3:52
8. Don't Cry (Eva) - 4:08
9. Cosmic Bride (Eva) - 6:08
Words and Music by Zakarrias except Lyrics where indicated

*Zakarrias - Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Kazoo
*Geoff Leigh - Flute, Saxophone
*Pete Robinson - Keyboards
*Don Gould - Keyboards, String Arrangements
*Martin Harrison - Drums

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Bachs - Out Of The Bachs (1968 us, rough garage psych jingle jangle folk)

This is one of the top local garage lps of the 60’s along with the Rising Storm, the Savages, Bent Wind, the Fantastic Dee-Jays, the Contents Are and the Mystery Meat. Only 150 copies of this record were pressed and originals occasionally sell on ebay for thousands of dollars.

The band members came from the Chicago suburbs of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff. The Bachs existed for 3 years performing at school dances, teen clubs and private parties up and down the Chicago north shore and surrounding suburbs (usually making $150-200 a night). All of the songs were written by Blake Allison and John Peterman and the lp was released privately in 1968. After the release of the lp the band members decided to retire from a career in music and thought it was best to move on with their lives.

The recording quality is admittedly crude and unbalanced but by no means unlistenable. The unbalanced factor was due in part to the band recording instruments first and then laying down vocals over them. Tables Of Grass Fields is the one classic on the record that anyone into garage psych sounds must hear. Tables was an imaginative, bold song for the time and has an excellent no-nonsense intro and some great psychedelic era lyrics. But the Bachs deliver throughout the whole album and raw garage numbers like the blistering Minister to a Mind Diseased (listen to the unhinged, mind melting guitar solo) are mixed with jangle folk-rock downers. 

Diversity only makes a great album even better and most fans usually cite the middle-third of the lp as one of the seminal highlights in garage rock history. Answer to Yesterday, Nevermore, Free Fall, and My Independence Day are all superb as well and really dig deep down inside to produce dark jangle folk-rock from suburbia Chicago. You’re Mine opened the album, and is a hard rocker in a classic garage sense and definitely a solid example of prep rock. The last track, I’m a Little Boy, shows the band expanding their horizons into the world of psychedelia with wads of feedback and hideously sloppy vocals.

Originals are preferred over the recent cd reissue by Gear Fab, as they have more punch and separation. In any event, this is a great album full of teenage expression and high caliber angst.
by Jason Nardelli
1. You're Mine - 2:10
2. Pleasure of Your Company - 3:52
3. Free Fall - 2:39
4. I See Her - 1:37
5. My Independence Day - 3:20
6. Minister to a Mind Diseased - 3:09
7. Tables of Grass Fields - 3:43
8. Show Me That You Want to Go Home - 2:07
9. Sitting - 3:33
10.Nevermore - 2:36
11.Answer to Yesterday - 3:46
12.I'm a Little Boy - 3:50
13.That's the Way It Goes - 3:10
All songs by Black Allison, John Peterman

The Bachs 
*Black Allison - Bass, Lead Vocals
*John Peterman - Guitar, Lead Vocals
*Mike DeHaven - Guitar
*John Babicz - Percussion
*Ben Harrison - Lead Guitar

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Donovan - Cosmic Wheels (1973 marvelous groovy steel folk rock)

This is Donovan's 10th studio album recorded 1972 in London at Morgan Studios and produced by Mickie Most. Cosmic Wheels is Charming, Flawed, Curious, Odd.  Admittedly, part of its appeal was the fact it was out of print for decades. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or some horseshit like that. The title track alone is a fun rebirth of Donovan’s psych experimentation, and a few of Cosmic Wheels acoustic tracks – “I Like You” and “Appearances,” to name two – capture the flower child’s flighty, easy-going appeal. Cosmic Wheels probably won’t convert the naysayers but those in tune with Donovan’s sense of play may well appreciate.

The gatefold cover is by French astronomer Camille Flammarion. This is uncredited and fails to mention that the image was lifted from his Popular Astronomy book of 1880. The woodcut depicts Man’s journey from the earthly world to the stars and heavens beyond, the big white baloon featured on the front cover is a tribute to the classic british TV series The Prisoner, of which Donovan is a big fan.  'Cosmic Wheels' reached #15, not #20 in UK Album charts. 
by Willard and Ade
1. Cosmic Wheels - 4:02
2. Earth Sign Man - 4:03
3. Sleep - 3:54
4. Maria Magenta - 2:18
5. Wild Witch Lady - 4:35
6. The Music Makers - 4:38
7. The Intergalactic Laxative - 2:50
8. I Like You - 5:22
9. Only The Blues - 3:18
10.Appearances - 3:49
All compostitions by Donovan Leitch

*Donovan - Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
*Leslye Ash - Vocals
*John "Rabbit" Bundrick - Keyboards
*Tony Carr - Percussion
*Valerie Carrington - Vocals
*Clive Chaman - Bass
*Phil Chen - Bass
*Nick Curtis - Vocals
*Lesley Duncan - Vocals
*Jack Emblow - Accordion
*Julie Forsythe - Vocals
*Leslie Fyson - Vocals
*Peter Halling - Violin
*Jim Horn - Saxophone
*Bobby Keys - Saxophone
*John Mccarthy - Vocals
*Cozy Powell - Drums
*Suzi Quatro - Vocals
*Chris Spedding - Guitar
*Gaynor Stewart - Vocals
*Jill Utting - Vocals
*Dennis Ball - Bass
*Alan White - Drums
*Cary Wilson - Vocals

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Wedge - No One Left But Me (1974 us, stunning heavy prog rock, 2008 remaster with extra track)

Orange Wedge was established around 1968 in Baltimore, Maryland. The group evolved from Greg & the Originals. Members were Greg Coulson (lead vocals), Fred Zang (rhythm guitar, vocals), and Don Cowger (bass). In 1968 they added Craig Krixer (lead guitar), Dave Burgess (keyboards) and Tom Rizzo (drums). Krixer came up with the name Orange Wedge. The rock band began playing many teen centers, and school dances. After a brief illness and hospital stay in early 1969 Coulson rejoined the band.

They began playing on regular basis quickly becoming one of the top hard rock bands in Baltimore. Orange Wedge could be seen at all the local clubs in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia. Zang and Krixer left the group in 1969 and joined Black Foot Smoke. Zang played guitar and / or bass for a lot of other groups. He is still active in the music business. The group that created the records existed between 1971 and 1975.

The 1976 follow up to Wedge was No One Left But Me. Due to the lack of offers the Orange Wedge also released their second LP as a private pressing that was to be sold at gigs and local shops, and it sold like hot bread making this one an elusive piece among hard rock collectors. Their sound here is still 100% high energy, though an evolution has been made and the band sounds a bit more sophisticated. 

It was their best selling album at the time with a pressing of 1000 copies that hardly made it out of Baltimore, so here's a very good chance to rediscover this amazing piece of pure rock power. Here at Wah Wah we have respectfully worked on its reissue to offer you a killer release in thick cardboard paste-up sleeve, and featuring an insert with the story of the band and lots of cool photos gently provided by original Orange Wedge guitarist and composer Joe Farace.
1. S.P. (Joe Farace, Mark O'Connor) - 4:13
2. Hungry Man (Joe Farace, Don Cowger, Greg Coulson) - 4:52
3. No One Left But Me (Joe Farace, Greg Coulson) - 5:59
4. Dream (Joe Farace) - 3:08
5. Whisky And Gin (Joe Farace, Greg Coulson) - 5:49
6. People (Joe Farace, Greg Coulson) - 5:39
7. The Date (Joe Farace, Greg Coulson) - 10:19
8. People (7" Version, Radio Edit) (Joe Farace, Greg Coulson) - 3:02

*Joe Farace - Guitar
*Don Cowger - Bass
*Tom Rizzo - Drums
*Greg Coulson - Vocals
*Gene Ingham - Bass, Flute
*Mark O'Connor - Mellotron, Synthesizer, Clavinet
*Gene Meros - Flute

1972  Orange Wedge - Wedge

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Grootna - Grootna (1971 us, fine psych blues funk with west coast apparel)

This one caught my eye due to the colorful cover and the fact the producer was none other than The Jefferson Airplane/Starship's Marty Balin.  That said, here's another one I can't say I know much about. The line-up consisted of bassist Kelly Bryan, rhythm guitarist Slim Chance (aka Austin De Leon), former Country Joe and the Fish/Mad River drummer Greg Dewey (aka Dewey DeGrease), singer Anna Rizzo, lead guitarist Vic Smith and keyboard player Richard Sussman (who had previously played with Elephant's Memory).

The group came together in 1971, cutting their chops on Berkley, California's thriving music scene. With help from supporter Balin, the group caught the attention of Columbia Records, which signed them to a recording contract in 1971. Produced by Balin, 1971's cleverly titled "Grootna" featured a surprisingly impressive set of West Coast-styled rock. The band sported three capable lead singers in DeGrease, Rizzo and Smith. Rizzo's bluesy voice was probably the best of the lot, though on material such as 'Going To Canada' and 'Waitin' for My Ship' she bore a passing resemblance to Janis Joplin.

Exemplified by tracks such as the lead off rocker 'I'm Funky' the set was full of enthusiastic performances. Special notice to Smith who turned in a couple of nice leads on 'That's What You Get' and 'Customs (In It All Over)'. Sure, the set wasn't perfect. 'Young Woman's Blues' and 'Road Fever' were pedestrian blues and boogie numbers, but the overall package was quite impressive. In case anyone cares, Columbia pulled a pair of instantly obscure singles from the LP:
Bad Cat
1. I'm Funky (DeLone, O'Hara, Silverman) - 5:30
2. Road Fever (Dewey, Smith) - 5:20
3. Going to Canada (DeLone, Henry, Silverman) - 4:19
4. Waitin' for My Ship (Delone, Silverman) - 5:07
5. That's What You Get (Rizzo, Silverman, Smith) - 4:29
6. Full Time Woman (Stuart) - 4:30
7. Young Woman's Blues (Smith) - 3:47
8. Customs (Is It All Over?) (Neuwirth) - 3:47
9. Your Grandmother Loves You/IShe It (DeLone, Henry, Silverman) - 5:52

Richard Sussman - Piano
Anna Rizzo - Vocals, Finger Snaps
Vic Smith - Lead Guitar, Bottleneck Guitar, Vocals
Gregory Leroy Dewey DaGreaze - Drums, Vocals
Kelly Bryan - Bass
Allen "Slim" Chance - Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Guest Musicians
Marty Balin - Voices
Jack Bonus - Saxophone Horn Section
Terry Adams - Strings
Carol Garnett - Strings
Michael Lafferty - Trombone
Bennett Friedman - Clarinet

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Tiger - Tiger (1976 uk, good hard prog rock, 2007 japan issue)

I have to admit both of Tigers albums are the kind of album that you have to sit down for to let them grow on you. These aren't simple albums with instant appeal, as the sound and the style are very distinctive. You first have to get used to them to experience their full impact. And they are certainly not something for everyone. Tiger is an acquired taste, but if you have ever listened to bands like 'Argus'-era Wishbone Ash, early Ambrosia, early Barclay James Harvest and 'Something Magic'-era Procol Harum, appreciating them will be lot easier than for your average Classic Rock fan. However, people who know their Progressive Rock, will nevertheless notice that Tiger bears little or no resemblance with any of these aformentioned bands. I'll come back to that later.

For the most part Tiger plays a kind of slow and soft Progressive Rock, with lots of melody and with subtle injections of Jazz and Funk. There are a few "bursts" of up tempo Jazz Fusion (for example in the very beautiful 'Waiting for the snow'), some more powerful Rock passages and there are also some compositions that were built on a foundation of classic Funk Rock (example 'Gamblin' Gambler'). But for the most part it's a rather laid back affair with lots of dreamy and melancholic passages. It's all very well performed, it's smart and artful, dramatic at times but never pompous or overdone.

The average Tiger composition is a lengthy one, clocking in at seven minutes on average, and certainly taking its time to build up. In this aspect, but also a bit in style and feel, they resemble 'Argus'-era Wishbone Ash. I'm mentioning Wishbone Ash, even though the resemblance is vague, essentially because I don't know of any other band that sounds even remotely like Tiger. And I have heard thousands of them.

Tiger has two (yes, two) very good vocalists that cooperate well together. The first one is a melodic singer with a clear voice. The other one has a bluesier feel. It's this second singer who's of note, as it's a man called Nicky Moore, who would later go on to become the singer of the NWOBHM-bands Samson and Mammoth (among others).
by Johan Wuyckens
1. Lay Me (Sullivan, Moore, Walker) - 5:11
2. Ordinary Girl (Sullivan, Moore) - 5:25
3. Lay Back Stay Black (Moore, Sweeney) - 5:03
4. Prayer (Moore) - 5:33
5. I'm Not Crying (Walker) - 2:27
6. Long Time (Sullivan, Moore, Sweeney) - 6:27
7. Suzy Slicker (Sullivan, Moore) - 4:19
8. Tyger, Tyger (William Blake, Sullivan, Moore, Curtis, Rankin, Flacke, McCrae, Walker) - 7:42

*Nicky Moore - Vocals
*Phil Curtis - Bass
*Billy Rankin - Drums
*Les Walker - Vocals
*Big Jim Sullivan - Guitar
*Ray Flacke - Guitar
*Dave McCrae - Keyboards
*Ian Wallace - Drums

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