Sunday, January 31, 2016

Skin Alley - Two Quid Deal (1972 uk, exceptional prog jazz rock, 2005 japan remaster)

Following CBS bailing out on Skin Alley, the band carried on regardless, gigging across the country and even getting a slot on the legendary Glastonbury Fayre Festival and subsequent live album. To help entice a new label, the band entered Trident Studios in London to lay down some new material under the guidance of the then largely unknown producer Roy Thomas Baker. Drawing on material from the unreleased Stop Versuschka album, the group recorded an expanded version of Sun Music which helped ink the deal with Transatlantic Records, originally a folk label that had recently started diversifying into more progressive music by signing such artists as Stray and Peter Bardens. Upon signing the deal, the quartet, Bob James, Krzystof Juskiewucz, Nick Graham and Tony Knight, immediately settled into Rockfield Studios with regular producer Fritz Fryer to record their third album proper.

Opening number Nick's Seven showed the band in a new light. A muscular rock number with James in fine form with his lead guitar attack which lead the way for the new direction the band were heading in; away from the blues and jazz of the CBS years into a sound more akin to Welsh band Man. The band let loose with layers of vocal harmonies, which were also present on the next track So Many People which also featured Graham's flute. This song is much more open and jamming than previous releases giving it a looseness that is dispelled by the rockier Bad Words And Evil People. A lively repetitive piano motif permeates the song instilling it with a feel similar to Graham's old band, Atomic Rooster, particularly with the organ solo at the end of the piece. 

Graveyard Shuffle is also driven by the piano but is a more sedate and reflective piece featuring James on slide guitar. Whereas previous albums had been dominated by compositions from Bob James, Two Quid Deal is largely the work of Nick Graham. Of the two 'new' pieces written by James, So Glad is the most unusual and proggy with a variety of instruments, including an accordion, blended into the mix. Perhaps coming over a mite twee on first hearing, it soon gets into the brain!

Graham's A Final Coat once again features his flute playing as well as the welcome return of James' saxophone. At times sounding a bit like Caravan, again the piece is very free flowing and open which lends it an air of improvisation. Another resurrection from the Stop Versuschka album, the slightly renamed and reworked instrumental Skin Valley Serenade, keeps its Camelesque demeanour and is a fine piece of music, as is Demagogue whose opening lyrical onslaught reminds me of Long Time Gone by David Crosby. Other than that the two songs have absolutely nothing in common! 

The original album ends with the excellent Sun Music, the track that prompted Transatlantic to sign the band. Ironically it practically stands alone in style to the remainder of the album, being largely acoustic. The live 'Glastonbury Fayre' version is also included as a bonus track and, is better suited to my tastes than the album version, with a more hippy/psychedelic sound, which is even further removed from the style of the album! However, I do feel it was a mistake to replace the flute lines of the live version with organ. Second bonus track is the A side of the single released on the same day as the album, You Got Me Danglin'. An ideal single for the times and it is surprising that it failed to crack the charts, but nice to have it included on this release.

Two Quid Deal was the band's bestselling album which is a justifiable reflection of the quality and consistency of the album. However, the band couldn't capitalise on this as their future lay in a different direction as the first white non-American group to sign to the Stax label and recording of a final album (Skintight) in the US which introduced a more commercial and funky direction to the music. The album, released in November 1973, was a flop and before 1974 had hardly begun the band split. This one is probably the most 'prog friendly' and although a fine album just misses gaining a coveted recommended tag. But don't let that deter you from checking it out! 
by Mark Hughes
1. Nick's Seven (Nick Graham) - 5:00
2. So Many People (Bob James) - 6:07
3. Bad Words And Evil People (Nick Graham) - 6:13
4. Graveyard Shuffle (Nick Graham) - 4:45
5. So Glad (Bob James) - 5:23
6. A Final Coat (Nick Graham) - 5:00
7. Skin Valley Serenade (Bob James, Tony Knight) - 3:40
8. The Demagogue (Nick Graham) - 5:16
9. Sun Music (Bob James) - 5:00

Skin Alley
*Bob James - Guitars, Lead Vocals, Saxophone, Flute
*Nick Graham - Bass, Vocals
*Tony Knight - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Krzysztof Juszkiewicz - Piano, Organ, Vocals

Skin Alley Releases
1970  Big Brother Is Watching You (2011 Two Disc Set)
1973  Skin Tight 

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Exception - The Exceptional Exception (1969 uk, remarkable mixture of psych blues roots 'n' roll, 2006 japan remaster)

While The Exception were well-known locally, toured Europe, and recorded an album along with several innovative singles, they were unable to attain the level of success worthy of the collective talents within the band. The core of the group consisted of drummer Alan "Bugsy" Eastwood and guitarist Roger Hill who were both former members of The Brumbeats.

A blues-based line-up known as 'The Hooties' were formed in Birmingham during the summer of 1966 with guitarist Roger Hill, Alan "Bugsy" Eastwood on drums, and Tony Clarkson on bass guitar. Alan and Roger had previously played together in The Brumbeats with Roger later joining Steve Gibbons in The Uglys. Dave Pegg (also from The Uglys) was recruited to replace Tony Clarkson who left later that year and went on to join World Of Oz. The idea at the time was to create a trio along the same lines as Eric Clapton's 'Cream'. Rehearsals at Bugsy's house near Spaghetti Junction soon resulted in a very tight-sounding line-up.

The Hooties played many of the well-known local venues including Old Hill Plaza, The Ritz (King's Heath), and The Belfry (Sutton Coldfield). They exploited their instrumental skills on-stage by sometimes swapping instruments in addition to Alan also playing harmonica or vibes as well as playing drums and singing lead vocals at the same time!

In addition to performing blues standards and radio hits, Alan Eastwood began composing original material for the band. One of Dave Pegg's friends was future Led Zeppelin star Robert Plant who at the time was contracted to CBS Records. Robert recommended The Hooties to well-known music publisher Eddie Kassner which gained the band a recording contract with CBS.

Re-naming themselves 'The Exceptions' their first single release was recorded at Regent Sound studios in London. Robert Plant actually played tambourine on the A-side titled 'The Eagle Flies On Friday' which was a powerful drums and vibes driven track. This, along with the B-side 'Girl Trouble' were both original compositions by Alan Eastwood.

In 1968 another Exception single titled 'Helicopter' had been issued so no time was wasted in selecting John's replacement. Following a recommendation from Dave Pegg, bass guitarist Malcolm Garner joined in September 1968 by which time the band had relocated to London. Malcolm had previously played in Brum bands The Andicaps and the Jasper Stubbs Gloryland Band. Saxophone player Steve Yetson also joined the line-up to help fill out the sound on-stage. Malcolm recalls; "We lived at the Madison Hotel, Sussex Gardens in Paddington. From there we undertook two extensive tours of Germany including West Berlin which was a big deal in those days."

The German tours left lasting memories for Malcolm Garner; "At a gig in Lansdberg near Munich, we were contacted by members of the Landsberg Blues Club who wanted lots of blues so we obliged. Gigs in West Berlin were memorable because of the trip through the GDR and hassles with Soviet soldiers. We were scared stiff when we went to East Berlin via 'Checkpoint Charlie' and the Soviets wouldn't let us return to West Berlin!"

Despite recording and releasing more Alan Eastwood composed singles including the excellent 'Jack Rabbit', chart success still eluded the band. Alan also had his own solo single issued on President in mid 1968 titled 'Blackbird Charlie'. In light of this it seems strange then that Eddie Kassner had The Exception record an entire album that was released early in 1969. The LP titled 'The Exceptional Exception' was filled with Alan Eastwood compositions, most of which seemed lyrically biographical and some such as 'Woman Of The Green Lantern' and 'Mrs. Cocaine' reflecting a darker side of his imagination or experience. The sole "exception" was Roger Hill's psychedelic-styled 'Don't Torture Your Mind' that seemed to echo a trend now past.

Alan "Bugsy" Eastwood left The Exception shortly after the album's release. Roger Hill took over on lead vocal and another drummer was enlisted for yet another German tour. The revised line-up was well-received on the tour but it wasn't the same anymore. In retrospect, it seems The Exception experienced their greatest success as an energetic blues/R&B act - something their record company failed to capitalize on and instead issued singles aimed towards a pop audience. Malcolm says; "We found another drummer but of course he was no replacement for Bugsy and the band split in May 1969. That's when I went to Germany with my German fiancee Ulrike, learned the lingo and stayed".

Roger Hill was enlisted by former Move front-man Carl Wayne to join his new backing group known as 'Mongrel' but tours proposed for the line-up never materialized. Roy Wood later recruited most of the band to form his own chart-topping 'Wizzard'. Roger then re-joined his former band-mate Dave Pegg as part of the Fairport Convention line-up for a tour of the U.S.A. He later embarked on a long career as a jazz guitarist to which his talent was well suited. In later years, he formed his own 'Roger Hill Band' with whom he performed around the Birmingham area. Roger Hill passed away at age 66 in November 2011, Alan Eastwood continued to work in the music business and spent his later years in London where he lived until his death from heart failure on October 25, 2007.
1. Jack Rabbit - 2:00
2. Hong Kong Blues (Hogie Carmichael) - 3:42
3. Rock Bottom Cinder - 2:38
4. Woman Of The Green Lantern - 2:54
5. Don't Torture Your Mind (Roger Hill) - 2:52
6. Tailor Made Babe - 2:41
7. Pendulum - 3:13
8. Karen Train Blues - 2:08
9. Too Much In Love With A Bad Thing - 3:42
10.Mrs. Cocaine - 5:08
11.Bums Puzzle - 2:44
12.Keep The Motor Running - 2:06
All song by Alan "Bugsy" Eastwood except where noted.

The Exception
*Alan "Bugsy" Eastwood - Lead Vocal, Drums, Percussion, Vibes, Harmonica, Guitar
*Roger Hill - Lead Guitar, Vocal
*Malcolm Garner - Bass, Vocal
*Steve Yetson - Saxophone, Keyboards

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Werwolf - Creation (1979-82 germany, wonderful melodic symphonic rock with ethereal female vocals)

Werwolf (Werewolf), a band from Olpe in the Sauerland in Germany, was formed in 1970 by Peter Besting (born 2/4/1951 in Olpe) on drums and vocals, Hartwig Kugoth on guitar and Peter Lorenz on bass. Before, Peter Besting had already been playing for a year in the band Age. The band name had no deeper meaning but was simply a reference to Steppenwolf whose recordings the original member of Werwolf appreciated a lot.

They bought their first large PA equipment form the Scorpions' mastermind Rudolf Schenker in the early seventies. After rehearsing in a self-built and soundproof wooden hut with freezing temperatures during the winter, Werwolf changed their rehearsal room into Peter Besting's newly built house in Wenden in 1972.

In the course of time other musicians joined the band: Jürgen Göckler from Olpe on keyboards and as background singer, Michael Schlimm from Olpe on saxophone and on cross flute and singer Ellen Wiederstein from Attendorn. When Peter Lorenz quit, Hartwig Kugoth played double-neck guitar combining bass strings. Similar to the Doors, Jürgen Göckler played the bass accompaniment on the keyboard whenever Hartwig Kugoth played the high notes. With this line-up, Werwolf recorded a thirty minute demo tape in the Studio Eden in Lüdenscheid in May 1979 in order to gain a record deal, but without success.

After several changes of the line-up, Werwolf independently released the album 'Creation' in 1982 in a limited edition of 1000 copies with Peter Besting on drums, Gerd Heuel on Guitar, Burkhard Huckestein on bass, Wolfgang Unthan on keyboards, Gitta Löwenstein as singer and Jürgen Göckler as occasional guest keyboarder. WDR and SWF presented the album which is a collectors items worth more than US$ 50 now.

This edition now contains the complete record 'Creation' of 1982 as well as all three tracks of the demo tape recorded in 1979. The cover art is the American version painted in 1992 by Lee Gaskins. He renewed some details for us. The mastering was done by Bob Katz in Florida.
by Kony Eisenring
1. Höhenflug (Burkhard Huckestein, Wolfgang Unthan) - 5:17
2. Die Reise Ins Land Der Flugschweine (Gerd Heuel) - 8:23
3. Way To Paradise (Gerd Heuel) - 6:06
4. Daydream (Burkhard Huckestein, Gerd Besting, Gerd Heuel, Wolfgang Unthan) - 4:46
5. The Game Is Over (Burkhard Huckestein, Gerd Besting, Gitta Loewenstein, Wolfgang Unthan) - 5:07
6. Der Achte Tag (Gerd Heuel) - 10:32
7. The Song - 8:21
8. My Story - 11:30
9. The Dreamer - 9:22

The Werwolf
*Peter Besting - Drums, Vocals
*Gerd Heuel - Guitar
*Burkhard Huckstein - Bass
*Wolfgang Unthan - Keyboards
*Gitta Loewenstein - Vocals
*Luis Lopes - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
*Jurgen Gockler - Organ

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Blackwater Park - Dirt Box (1972 germany, sensational heavy psych prog rock, 2015 remaster)

Hard 'n' heavy guitar rock from Berlin, 1971, with 'no-messin' attitude, overloaded guitar, and english vocals. Includes a cover of the Beatles "For No One", and a mini epic 8 min work-out "Rock Song".

Another one of those German bands with a British vocalist. The line-up was Richard Routledge (vocals, guitar), Michael Fechner (guitar), Andreas Scholz (bass, he came from the recently disbanded Murphy Blend!) and Norbert Kagelmann (drums). "Dirt Box" had a promisingly weird cover. The material written by Fechner and Scholz ("Mental Block", "Rock Song" and "Indian Summer") was the best, recalling the brilliance of Armaggedon. 

Routledge's material tended towards boogie blues and sounded more like Free. He also wrote all the lyrics. The album also included a good cover version of the Beatles' "For No One". How the hell did such? an awesome sounding band record only one album ???

Recorded over 4 days in december 71 and released in 72 this 7 track 35 minute album from Germanys Blackwater Park simply rocks. Fabulous basic production gives these high energy hard rockin' tunes extra impetus. Track one features hammond and track five has some rock 'n' roll style piano, the last track is 'For no one' from the Beatles Revolver album but centrepiece goes to the 8m 42s track 'Rock Song' driven along by a frantic riff, it's eastern infused middle section leading into a fantastic call and response guitar solo created by just useing a bit of reverb which will have you reaching for your air guitar. 
by Mark Jones
1. Mental Block - 3:16
2. Roundabout - 5:26
3. One's Life - 3:08
4. Indian Summer - 6:13
5. Dirty Face - 4:29
6. Rock Song - 8:45
7. For No One (Lennon, McCartney) - 3:30
All songs by Blackwater Park except where stated

The Blackwater Park
*Richard Routledge - Vocals, Guitar
*Michael Fechner - Guitar
*Andreas Scholz - Bass
*Norbert Kagelmann - Drums

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

J.B. Hutto And His Hawks - Hawk Squat (1968 us, splendid chicago electric blues, 2015 digipak remaster)

This generous reissue of J.B. Hutto’s 1968 Hawk Squat is a celebration electric blues, capturing one of Chicago’s more influential, if not lesser known, blues artists at the height of his creative power. In the mid-‘50s, Hutto recorded a handful of sides for the local Chance label, mixing a raw electric sound with the rural country blues he grew up listening to in 1930s Georgia. Combining a crackling, stinging guitar attack with impassioned vocals, Hutto’s music was raw and smoldering, the antithesis of contemporaries like B.B. King. And while B.B. King played the elegant Regal Theatre, J.B. Hutto was playing shot-and-a-beer joints on Chicago's rough and tumble South Side. By the time label boss Bob Koester had tracked J.B. down at Turner’s Blues Lounge at 39th and Indiana, Hutto was fronting the toughest, most exciting blues band in Chicago.

For two years after first meeting Hutto, Koester waited for the opportunity to capture the blistering, raucous sounds he had heard J.B. and the Hawks lay down at Turners. Koester and his recording machines first captured Hutto at the Mother Blues club in 1966, and again in 1968, this time in a proper recording studio. Featuring a crew of Chicago's finest, including Sunnyland Slim, Dave Myers and Frank Kirkland, Hutto leads the band through a dozen slashing, stinging tunes with élan -- songs that undoubtedly represent the hot ’n’ sweaty, pulsing atmosphere of South Side clubs like Turner’s and The Checkerboard. In addition to the obvious energy and excitement displayed in Hutto’s guitar work, Sunnyland Slim’s presence, on organ and piano, is a noteworthy treat indeed. His swirling Wurli weaves and flows around Hutto’s fulminating guitar playing and provides the bedrock around which the band maneuvers.

This lavish reissue includes the original release with running order intact as well as five alternate takes and a new cut. Every track, from the first strains of “Speak My Mind” to the namesake “Hawk Squat” is testament to Hutto’s musical conviction. Standout tracks include “Too Much Pride” featuring Sunnyland on acoustic piano and jazzman (and Jazz Record Mart employee) Maurice McIntyre on tenor sax. It’s a heartfelt song, Hutto’s vocals being particularly moving. “What Can You Get Outside That You Can’t Get At Home” showcases second guitarist Lee Jackson as he whips out some scorching straight lead lines that belie the bands rough hewn street smarts. “20% Alcohol” is a bouncing musical sermon about the ravages of fortified wine, peppered with Hutto’s inventive slide guitar stabs and barroom preaching.

Hawk Squat was clearly recorded with no over dubs or fancy processing; it’s about as raw and honest as a recording gets. That truthfulness and immediacy is evident in the performances as well. His exuberant smile and demeanor are integral to the music on Hawk Squat, and are documented beautifully in the ample booklet included with the CD; clearly J.B.’s joy and and musical sincerity are obvious throughout Hawk Squat. It bears mention that Delmark’s packaging and presentation of this CD reissue is first class in every way. It is both a literary and visual home-run.

Although J.B. Hutto never received the riches or fame in his lifetime that were afforded others, he did leave a legacy that will survive for generations. Rock artists like Jack White cite him as a major influence while his living legacy, Lil’ Ed Williams, has been purveying J.B.’s craft for 30 years with his band The Blues Imperials, introducing fresh audiences to J.B. Hutto through Ed’s uncanny ability to channel his Uncle J.B., right down to the ever-present smile and trademark fez.  Dave Weld, who was mentored by Hutto at the same time as Lil’ Ed, also carries the torch for this rowdy style of blues with his band The Imperial Flames.

The years following the release of Hawk Squat saw Hutto carry on his residency at Turner’s, become a fixture of the famed Maxwell Street scene, take over for Hound Dog Taylor in the Houserockers after Taylor’s passing, and eventually landing in Boston with a band he coined “The New Hawks”. Though he recorded several albums for the Varrick label during that time, none are as fully realized and enduring as this 1968 Delmark release. Like Junior Well’s Hoodoo Man Blues and South Side Blues Party before it, Delmark has made a rarified classic even more compelling. What was already regarded as a masterful performance is now augmented by alternate performances, a new song, dozens of period photographs and first hand testimonials to the time and place Hawk Squat was crafted. It is hard to imagine a recording more indispensable for the serious blues collection. 
1. Speak My Mind - 2:13
2. If You Change Your Mind - 3:13
3. Too Much Pride - 3:49
4. What Can You Get Outside That You Can't Get At Home - 3:24
5. The Same Mistake Twice  - 3:27
6. 20% Alcohol - 3:25
7. Hip-Shakin' - 2:21
8. The Feeling Is Gone - 3:17
9. Notoriety Woman - 3:54
10.Too Late - 3:13
11.Send Her Home To Me - 3:01
12.Hawk Squat - 4:44
13.I'll Cry Tomorrow - 3:03
14.Speak My Mind (Alternate) - 2:10
15.Too Much Pride (Alternate) - 3:44
16.Hawk Squat (Alternate) - 4:28
17.The Same Mistake Twice (Alternate) - 3:23
18.Speak My Mind (Alternate 2) - 3:18
All comnpositions by J.B. Hutto

J.B. Hutto And His Hawks
*J.B. (John Benjamin) Hutto - Guitar, Vocals
*Dave Myers - Bass
*Frank Kirkland - Drums
*Herman Hassell - Guitar
*Lee Jackson - Guitar
*Sunnyland Slim - Organ, Piano
*Maurice McIntyre - Tenor Saxophone
*Junior Pettis - Bass

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Friday, January 22, 2016

The Son Seals Blues Band - The Son Seals Blues Band (1973 us, great tough electric blues)

Chicago's Jazz Record Mart can be a very sleepy place late at night. The last customers gone, and one weary, restless and slightly bored clerk behind the counter, listening to old albums and waiting for closing time. Outside it's hot and still, and inside I'm trying to work up just enough energy to sweep the floor. Then, a phone call. The voice is Wesley Race, one of Chicago's most dedicated blues fans, calling from the Flamingo Club at 53rd and Calumet on the South Side. "Bruce, now I want you to listen," he hollered over the background noise, and turned the phone toward the bandstand. I thought I knew every bluesman in town, but this was something new, and something special—an incredibly fast, raw lead guitar and an urgent, intense singer. I must have listened ten minutes before I shouted back, "Who the hell is that?" "That? That's Son Seals."

Son is one of a whole new generation of black blues musicians, a generation hidden in the big city ghettos and the small towns of the Deep South. Bluesmen who remain almost unknown, because most major record companies would rather record their white imitators, and the smaller labels they record for (if they record at all) can't afford to promote them. Bluesmen like Jimmy Dawkins, Alvin Nichols, Big Voice Odom and Vemon Harrington in Chicago; Little Beaver in Miami; Luther Allison in Milwaukee; Hi Tide Harris and Dave Alexander in San Francisco; Frank Frost and Charles Berry in Mississippi; Little Sonny in Detroit; Bee Houston and Phillip Walker in Los Angeles; Little Freddie King in New Orleans. And now, from Osceola, Arkansas, Son Seals.

With no hit records of their own, many of these young bluesmen are forced to copy the styles and songs of the established blues artists; their audiences demand the few blues tunes they hear on the soul radio stations, hits by B.B. and Albert King, Little Milton and Bobby Bland. For a young bluesman to perform his own songs in his own style today is a battle with the immense power of commercial radio and record promotion. Yet Son Seals has been writing his own personal blues and developing his biting, "scuffling" guitar sound for thirteen years.

Son was born into the blues. His father, Jim Seals, toured with the famed Rabbit Foot Minstrels playing guitar, piano, drums and trombone. During the 30's, he managed a blues club in West Memphis, Arkansas. Finally, in 1940, Jim Seals settled down in Osceola, a sleepy town on Highway 61 surrounded by cotton fields. There he opened the Dipsy Doodle Club, with "dancing in the front, dice in the back." His son Frank, youngest of thirteen children, was born in the family home behind the club on August 13, 1942.

With bluesmen like Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Nighthawk and Joe Hill Louis playing in the front, Son knew the blues before he left the cradle. At thirteen he was drumnming behind Nighthawk, and soon was backing almost every bluesman who played in town. At the age of eighteen, he left his drums behind and turned all his attention to his guitar, and his local reputation spread. He formed his own band, playing four nights a week at the Chez Paris Club in Little Rock, a gig that lasted, on and off, for four years.

Visiting his sister in Chicago in 1963, Son ran into his old friend Earl Hooker, and joined Earl's Roadmasters, fronting the band and opening the show for Earl. But after six months on the road, he returned to Little Rock to rebuild his own group. Another old friend, Albert King, found him there in 1966 and hired the young guitarist to work in his band—as a drummer. Son toured California with Albert, and his drumming is heard on Albert's "Live Wire/Blues Power" album, recorded at the Fillmore West.

Jim Seals' ill health forced Son's return to Osceola, and he stayed there, playing at the Blue Goose and Harlem clubs, until his father's death in 1971. With his father gone. Son moved to Chicago's South Side to be near his sister. He soon began jamming with Hound Dog Taylor and Howling Wolf Jr. at the Psychedelic Shack on 43rd Street. When Hound Dog left the tiny Expressway Lounge after the success of his first album. Son and bassman Bob Simmons inherited the gig. They had just begun playing on Thursday nights at the Flamingo when Wesley phoned me, and I first heard Son Seals' brand of blues. It's the fiercely individual sound I heard through the phone that summer night that I've tried to preserve on this album.
by Bruce Iglaluer, Original 1973 LP Liner notes
1. Mother In Law Blues (Don Robey) - 3:12
2. Sitting At My Window - 4:30
3. Look Now, Baby - 3:24
4. Your Love Is Like Cancer - 4:30
5. All Your Love (Magic Sam) - 3:34
6. Cotton Picking Blues - 4:38
7. Hot Sauce - 3:04
8. How Could She Leave Me - 3:39
9. Going Home Tomorrow (Alvin Young) - 3:37
10.Now That I'm Down - 5:58
All songs by Son Seals except where stated

*Charles Caldwell - Drums
*John Riley - Bass
*Son Seals - Guitar, Vocals
*Johnny "Big Moose" Walker - Organ

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Prudence - Tomorrow May Be Vanished/Drunk And Happy (1972-73 norway, beautiful folk psych prog rock)

Prudence was one the most important bands on the Norwegian prog scene in the 1970s, a scene that included the likes of Aunt Mary, Junipher Greene, Titanic, Popol Vuh (Ace), Ruphus, Folque and Høst. They fused rock with old party/dance music from Trøndelag and (on their last album) sang in their local dialect, thereby creating a rock style dubbed Trønderrock. 

The band signed with Polydor and released their first LP 'Tomorrow May Be Vanished', cryptically subtitled 'Victoria Så bærre pass dæ!' (Victoria so just watch out!) in 1972. The album received great reviews, in which the band was compared to greats as Jethro Tull and The Band…
1. North in the Country (Per Erik Wallum) - 4:16
2. Mild Grey Fog (Åge Aleksandersen) - 3:27
3. Tomorrow May Be Vanished (Per Erik Wallum) - 4:26
4. What Man Has Made of Man (Åge Aleksandersen) - 2:04
5. 14 Pages (Åge Aleksandersen) - 4:24
6. Going Through This Life (Åge Aleksandersen) - 4:01
7. Oh, Grandpa (Per Erik Wallum) - 3:40
8. Lost in the Forest (Åge Aleksandersen) - 2:16
9. Kerre Volin (Åge Aleksandersen) - 4:39
10.Daida (Åge Aleksandersen) - 4:02
11.Elsie Olivia (Per Erik Wallum) - 4:25
12.Sitting Bull (Åge Aleksandersen) - 3:54
13.Stones (Åge Aleksandersen) - 5:00
14.Poor Annabelle (Per Erik Wallum) - 2:38
15.Drunk and Happy (Terje Tysland) - 3:15
16.Sawmill (Åge Aleksandersen) - 3:22
17.Undeveloped Country Rag (Åge Aleksandersen) - 2:15
18.Bandwagon (Terje Tysland) - 3:55
19.Days Before (Åge Aleksandersen) - 3:27
20.I Hope We Never Get Too Serious About the Music So This Is Just a Joke (Åge Aleksandersen) - 5:49
21.Drunk and Happy (live 1975) (Terje Tysland) - 3:23

The Prudence 
*Åge Aleksandersen – Guitar, Vocals
*Per Erik Wallum – Flute, Vocals
*Terje Tysland – Guitar, Accordion, Vocals
*Kaare Skevik jr. – Drums
*Johan Tangen – Mandolin, Congas
*Kjell Ove Riseth – Bass

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bull Angus - Free For All (1972 us, significant heavy blues rock, 2010 digi pak edition)

While "Bull Angus" didn't do a great deal commercially, it garnered generally favorable reviews from the critics, leading Mercury to finance a second album - 1972's 'Free For All' produced by Vinny Testa including a cover version of The Beatles 'Savoy Truffle', and supported the likes of Deep Purple and Fleetwood Mac. Their brand of post-psychedelic heavy blues successfully crossed between Southern rock jam and budding Prog.

Frankie Previte subsequently relocated back to New Jersey where he formed the much more smooth and AOR dealing Franke And The Knockouts, dropping the 'i' in Frankie in the process. He also co-wrote music for the hit soundtrack to the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing, "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" with co-composers John DeNicola and Donald Markowitz.
1. Lone Stranger (Larry La Falce) - 7:01
2. City Boy (Stepen Stills, Neil Merryweather) - 6:50
3. Loving Till End  (Larry La Falce) - 5:41
4. Savoy Truffle  (George Harrison) - 3:23
5. Drivin' Me Wild (Larry La Falce, Frankie Previte, Geno Charles, Dino Paolillo) - 4:48
6. (We're The) Children of Our Dreams (Frankie Previte, Ron Piccolo) - 5:34
7. Train Woman Lee (Frankie Previte) - 5:46

The Bull Angus
*Geno Charles - Drums, Percussion
*Larry LaFalce - Guitar, Vocals
*Dino Paolillo - Guitar, Vocals
*Frankie Previte - Vocals, Recorder, Percussion
*Ron Piccolo - Organ, Piano, Vocals
*Lenny Venditti - Bass

1971  Bull Angus - Bull Angus (2010 digi pak issue)

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Bull Angus - Bull Angus (1971 us, superb heavy rock, 2010 digi pak issue)

Bullangus came together in the late-1960s with most of the members having paid their dues in various Hudson Valley, New York outfits such as The Oxford Watchband (Previte), The Pyramid (LaFalce and Venditti), and The Revells (Piccolo).  The name came from a farm they rented as a rehearsal site in Rhinebeck, New York which was surrounded by nearby Angus farms.  Club dates and extensive local touring caught the attention of Mercury which signed them resulting in the release of 1971's cleverly titled "Bull Angus".  Produced by Vinny Testa, the album featured a first-rate set of all-original hard rock.  Largely written by the team of  Previte, LaFalce, and Paolillo, nothing here was particularly original, or groundbreaking, but by the same token all ten tracks were uniformly strong and enjoyable.

Opening up with 'Run Don't Stop' the album started with a blazing rocker that had all; pounding rhythm, killer melody, crushing guitars, and a nice vocal from Previte.  Kicked along by Piccolo's organ, and Previte's snarling vocals, 'Mother's Favorite Lover (Margaret)' always reminded me of Deep Purple - okay Previte's jazzy recorder solo wasn't a Deep Purple-ish trait.  Great subject matter to boot; a mom with lesbian tendencies.  The subject matter's always been a mystery to me (though kind of ominous), but 'Uncle Duggie's Fun Bus Ride' sported a catchy melody, some killer lead guitar, and showcased the band's killer harmony vocals. 

In marked contrast to the rest of the album, 'A Time Like Ours'  found the band pursuing a distinctive progressive direction.  Mind you, propelled by some nifty twin lead guitar from LaFalce and Paolillo, it wasn't pompous ELP-styled prog, rather stood as one of the unexpected album highlights.  The song was also interesting for showcasing the band's unexpectedly tight harmony vocals.  For some reason I've associated 'Miss Casey' with Spinal Tap.  I'm assuming that the song wasn't meant to be humorous, but within the confines of this 7 and a half minute song the band somehow managed to cobble together all the elements that are now associated with hard rock song - screaming lead vocals, dumber-than-dirt, hyper sexist lyrics ("you're my morning do"), cart wailing organ, blazing twin lead guitars, Cro-Magnon bass, and multiple time changes.  

Penned by LaFalce, 'Pot of Gold' was the most mainstream and commercial track.  With a strong melody, a great lead guitar pattern, and some wonderful harmony vocals, this one would have made a dandy FM hit.  Coming as a totally unexpected surprise, the acoustic ballad 'Cy' showcased the band's 'sensitive' side.  Beautiful song with fantastic acoustic guitars and it even included a but of scatting. Time to get heavy ...  'No Cream for the Maid' (hysterical title), found the band shifting their standard metal moves to incorporate some progressive moves.  Such hybrids usually fall flat on their faces, but these guys were talented enough to pull it off resulting in one of the album's best tracks. 
1. Run Don't Stop (Frankie Previte, Larry La Falce, Dino Paolillo) - 4:27
2. Mother's Favorite Lover (Margaret) (Frankie Previte, Larry La Falce, Dino Paolillo) - 3:47
3. Uncle Duggie's Fun Bus Ride (Frankie Previte, Larry La Falce, Dino Paolillo) - 4:28
4. A Time Like Ours (Frankie Previte, Larry La Falce, Dino Paolillo) - 6:25
5. Miss Casey (Frankie Previte, Lenny Venditti, Larry La Falce, Dino Paolillo) - 7:34
6. Pot Of Gold (Larry La Falce) - 4:02
7. Cy (Frankie Previte, Dino Paolillo) - 5:11
8. No Cream For The Maid  (Frankie Previte, Lenny Venditti, Larry La Falce, Dino Paolillo) - 6:45

The Bull Angus
*Geno Charles - Drums, Percussion
*Larry Lafalce - Vocals, Guitar
*Dino Paolillo - Vocals, Guitar
*Ron Piccolo - Vocals, Keyboards
*Frankie Previte - Vocals, Percussion, Recorder
*Lenny Venditti - Bass

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Swampgas - Swampgas (1972 us, fine blues psych rock with southern air, 2004 edition)

The Swampgas consisted of bassist Jock Davis, guitarist Baird Hersey, singer Kim Ornitz and drummer Ricky Slater.  The album was recorded at New York's A&R Studios, with Artie Kornfeld and the band co-producing.  

With Hersey serving as the prime writer (he's credited with penning seven of the eight tracks), overlooking the bland cover, the album's quite diverse and impressive.  This comparison probably won't trigger everyone's imagination or interest, but on material such as the molten opener 'Patato Strut' and 'Trapped In The City' the combination of Ornitz's grizzly drawl and Hersey's guitar recalls 38 Special, or Skynyrd had they been interested in pursuing a tougher, mildly psychedelic and progressive sound.  Hersey's licks also make it an album that should appeal to folks who like Hendrix-influenced guitar (check out the blazing 'Eulogy' and '').  The handful of ballads are equally impressive - 'The Waiting, E Train Blue'.  Weirdest (and coolest) track here - the raga !!! influenced 'Egg Shells'.  

Hersey reappeared in the late 1970s/early 1980s with a couple of jazzy/experimental solo efforts.  He continues to perform and record, though judging by a review of one  his recent releases (), his interest's are a little more eclectic - 'deep and calming meditations with only Tibetan cymbals, reverberation and his voice'.  Ornitz also seems to have remained active in music, though as a producer and sound mixer.  He's worked on literally dozens of movies and film series.  No idea whatever happened to Davis and Slater ...
1. Patato Strut (Baird Hersey) - 5:12
2. Don't (Baird Hersey) - 4:39
3. The Waiting, E Train Blue (Baird Hersey) - 6:14
4. Trapped In The City (Edlen) - 6:20
5. Eulogy (Baird Hersey) - 3:15
6. Frolic Child (Baird Hersey) - 5:36
7. Pala (Baird Hersey, Kim Ornitz) - 4:37
8. Egg Shells (Baird Hersey) - 7:12

The Swampgas
*Jock Davis - Bass
*Baird Hersey - Guitar
*Kim Ornitz - Vocals
*Ricky Slater - Drums, Percussion

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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Bobby Harrison - Funkist (1975 uk, fantastic heavy funky blues rock)

Singer/songwriter and drummer Bobby Harrison’s history can be traced back to the late fifties and the legendary Brentwood group The Rockefellas. Subsequently, during the early part of the sixties, he was in Golden Apples Of The Sun, who signed to Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate label and released one single, Monkey Time, in 1965. Following that, Harrison formed the CBS-signed Powerpack, who put out two singles in 1966 and 1967. Backed by famous jazzer Ronnie Scott, Bobby also released his first record in his own name for CBS in the mid-sixties, a version of the song Sonny.

Harrison then became one of the original members of Procol Harum during the spring of 1967, when the group recorded their famous No 1 single, A Whiter Shade Of Pale. However, at the same time as the record was at the top of the charts all over the world, Harrison and the band’s guitarist left the group to form their own outfit, Freedom.

Considered to be the "missing link" in Bobby Harrison’s career between the two legendary bands Freedom and Snafu, the solo album Funkist has previously only been available on vinyl in the US. With this Angel Air release the rest of the world can now finally catch up with not just Bobby Harrison in top shape, but also a bunch of top notch British rock legends.

The material had basically been written for Freedom, but at that time Bobby started to go in a different direction. He wanted to get away from straight R’n’B and more into mixing the R'n'B with funk. Funk was happening then with The Average White Band, War, Redbone and Little Feet.

In the early eighties, after Snafu had folded, Bobby decided to move to Iceland. There he got involved with many musical activities and also teamed up with local supergroup Mezzoforte. With this group he recorded the wonderful Solid Silver album, a collection of R&B classics displaying his excellent abilities as a singer.
by Claes Johansen
1. Cleopatra Jones (Joe Simon) - 3:37
2. Whiskey Head (Harrison, Monaghan) - 4:32
3. Thinkin' 'Bout You (Harrison, Monaghan) - 2:35
4. King Of The Night (Harrison, Sargeant) - 7:09
5. Little Linda Lovejoy (Harrison, Sargeant) - 4:21
6. Spotlight (Goffin, Goldberg) - 3:05
7. Long Gone (Harrison, Moody) - 5:01
8. Looking For A Friend (Harrison, Sargeant) - 4:22

*Bobby Harrison – Voice, Drums
*Ian Paice - Drums
*Micky Moody - Guitar
*Matthew Fisher - Keyboards
*Chris Stewart - Bass
*Walt Monogham - Bass
*Clem Cattini - Drums
*Herbie Flowers - Bass
*Bob Sargent - Keyboards
*Tony Iommi - Guitar
*Henry Mcculloch - Drums
*Ray Owen - Voice

Bob's Pieces in time
1969  Freedom - Nero Su Bianco / Black On White
1969  Freedom - Freedom At Last (2004 remaster)
1970  Freedom - Freedom

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Great Speckled Bird - Great Speckled Bird (1970 canada / us, awesome country folk rock, 2007 japan bonus track remaster)

The Great Speckled Bird was lead by Ian and Sylvia Tyson. The above album was recorded and released in 1970. The record company pulled the album from store shelves within months, making this album rare and thus sought after. It’s not uncommon for a copy of the Great Speckled Bird to exchange hands for hundreds of dollars, if not more!

The album itself was a great mixture of early country-rock and folk. At the time it was a bold move for the Tysons to break free from their folk straight jackets. The Great Speckled Bird was supposed to signal the beginning of something new for this famous folk-rock duo. The band was very tight from live gigging, containing some good musicians such as the Remains’ N.D. Smart. Amos Garrett (lead guitar) and Buddy Cage (steel guitar) play with an added venom, incorporating different tones and textures to their guitar playing that work just brilliantly.

The concept of the Great Speckled Bird was to change the direction of folk as well as add electricity and rock n roll power to contemporary country music. The songs speak for themselves, just listen to the power in Ian Tyson’s Calgary. Both he and Sylvia are in great voice, adding a compelling and courageous element to this landmark album. Some of the songs such as Love What You’re Doing Child have that funky rural vibe while others (Rio Grande) recall their folk past. Flies in the Bottle is a beautiful country song and one cannot help but think how this album predates the Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris collaborations. At times this album rocks hard too, as heard on Bloodshot Beholder.
by Jason Nardelli
1. Love What You're Doing Child (Ian Tyson) – 3:39
2. Calgary (Ian Tyson, Sylvia Fricker Tyson) – 3:03
3. Trucker's Cafe (Ian Tyson) – 3:22
4. Long Long Time To Get Old (Ian Tyson) – 3:07
5. Flies In The Bottle (Ian Tyson) – 3:47
6. Bloodshot Beholder (Ian Tyson) – 2:58
7. Crazy Arms (Chuck Seals, Ralph Mooney) – 2:54
8. This Dream (Ian Tyson) – 3:40
9. Smiling Wine (Sylvia Fricker Tyson) – 3:11
10.Rio Grande (Ian Tyson, Amos Garrett) – 3:51
11.Disappearing Woman (Sylvia Fricker Tyson) – 2:10
12.We Sail (Sylvia Fricker Tyson) – 4:37
13.New Truckers Cafe (Live) (Sylvia Fricker Tyson) - 3:09

*Ian Tyson - Guitar, Vocals
*Sylvia Fricker Tyson - Vocals
*Buddy Cage - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Amos Garrett - Guitar, Vocals
*N.D. Smart - Drums
*David Briggs - Piano
*Norbert Putnam - Bass Guitar
*Todd Rundgren - Producer

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Superfine Dandelion - The Superfine Dandelion (1967 us, magnificent garage beat folk psych)

This Superfine Dandelion reissue is one of the more compelling installments, if only for Dixon's liner notes. Imagine a Valley music scene where bands are allowed to play 'til three in the morning like normal cities. And how's this for lost innocence? The Doors share a bill with the Superfine's earlier incarnation, The Mile Ends, in 1966. After the Fifth Estate gig, Jim Morrison and company wind up at rhythm guitarist Richard Mickel's house for a keg party. The most mischief the Lizard King got up to there? Pulling blues records out of Mickel's sister's room!

The first four cuts on the Superfine Dandelion CD make up the entire recorded output of the Mile Ends (also issued as a separate Sundazed vinyl EP). Said to be one of the best live bands in Phoenix, the Mile Ends started out in that transitional pop year of 1966 as British R&B wanna-bes playing American covers. Here was a teen group with enough smarts to rock up Them's jazzy "Bring 'Em On In" and enough dumb luck to piss off Double Shot Records by changing one word in Roy Orbison's "Candy Man" (singer Mike McFadden decided to croon "let me grasp you by the hand" instead of "take." The nerve!).

The EP leaves off at the point where the Mile Ends morphed into the Superfine Dandelion for the mystical "Ferris Wheel." Hearing this sitar simmering single, one is reminded about how Ravi Shankar sheepishly giggled when asked what he thought about the playing on "Norwegian Wood." Mickel's sitar playing is no more laughable than Beatle George's; thankfully the Dandelion chose not to incorporate any barely digested Eastern philosophy into its lyrics.

The Dandelion's only long-player, issued on Mainstream Records in late 1967, found the group moving toward a hybrid of Byrds/Youngbloods country rock and the good-time jug-band music of Lovin' Spoonful and Sopwith Camel (dig the dueling stereo kazoos on "It's Raining"). Lyrics, however, weren't the Dandelion's strong point. Take "Shameful Lady," a rewrite of the Byrds' "Girl With No Name" with Chris Hillman's same lame "name/game" rhyme, while "Janie's Tomb" pits the identical declining bass line of the Kinks' "Sunny Afternoon" to a morbid vaudeville number about a psycho who kills his girlfriend and then marries her.

The Superfine Dandelion's best moments come when it steers clear of the psychedelic dissonance of "The Other Sidewalk" and keeps things simple. The band's twang and jangle leanings seem to anticipate the "desert rock" sound of the Gin Blossoms, particularly on "Don't Try to Call Me," the kind of song that could coax a free beer from any Long Wong's patron even today.

The most recent track is a 1968 demo which finds the band mastering acid rock and ready to change direction again. "Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head" is a heavy anti-establishment rant that's as funny as Zappa's best work with Mothers ("Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head/Sleepin' in a box at the foot of my bed/Waiting all morning, waiting to rise/Waiting for someone to stick in their eyes"). Yet just one year after the Summer of Love, the Dandelion scattered into a few more short-lived bands. Most notably, Rick Anderson helped start the Tubes (of which he's still a member), while the late Ed Black did high-profile session and road work with Linda Ronstadt and Karla Bonoff. 
by Serene Dominic
1. Candy Man (Fred Neil, Beverly "Ruby" Ross) - 2:51
2. Bottle Up and Go  (Michael McFadden) - 2:16
3. I Can Never Say (P. May, D. Arthur, D. Taylor) - 3:07
4. Bring 'Em on In (Van Morrison) - 3:03
5. Ferris Wheel (Michael McFadden) - 2:43
6. People in the Street (M. McFadden, Mike Collins, Ed Black, C. Carver, Jim Musil) - 3:32
7. Crazy Town (Move on Little Children) (Mike Collins, Jim Musil) - 3:07
8. My Place (Michael McFadden, Jim Musil) - 2:14
9. Day and Night (Michael McFadden, Jim Musil) - 2:49
10.Shameful Lady (Michael McFadden, Jim Musil) - 2:43
11.Janie's Tomb (Michael McFadden, Jim Musil) - 2:55
12.It's Raining (Mike Collins, Jim Musil) - 3:05
13.Don't Try to Call Me (Michael McFadden, Jim Musil) - 2:56
14.The Other Sidewalk (Mike Collins, Jim Musil) - 3:05
15.What's the Hurry? (Michael McFadden, Jim Musil) - 2:50
16.Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (Mike Collins, Jim Musil) - 2:46
17.Ferris Wheel (Michael McFadden) - 2:38
18.The Other Sidewalk (Mike Collins, Jim Musil) - 6:39
Tracks 1-4 as The Mile Ends

The Mile Ends
*Steve "Wally' Fresener - Bass
*George Alexander - Guitar
*Michael McFadden - Guitar, Vocals
*Richard Mickel - Guitar
*Danny Pacheco - Drums

The Superfine Dandelion
*Rick Anderson - Bass, Rhythm Guitar
*Michael McFadden - Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
*Ed Black - Lead Guitar, Piano, Vocals
*Mike Collins - Drums, Vocals

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