Thursday, March 31, 2016

Electric Prunes - The Complete Reprise Singles (1966-69 us, amazing psychedelia, 2012 edition)

Though they notched only two sizable hit singles, the Electric Prunes had a surprising wealth of 45s for a band that are still often unfairly tagged as one-hit wonders. Between 1966 and 1969, almost a dozen seven-inches bearing the Electric Prunes name were issued on Reprise. "The Electric Prunes name" is a key and necessary phrase, since by the time late 1968 rolled around, not a single member remained from the group who'd hit it big the previous year with "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)." This compilation assembles all the tracks released on Electric Prunes singles between 1966 and 1969, acting almost as a snapshot of the evolution of psychedelic music during the period.

When the Prunes first started recorded for Reprise in 1966, however, they were literally right out of the garage, coming to the attention of producer Dave Hassinger after a real estate saleswoman heard them playing in a garage in the San Fernando Valley. Their non-charting debut "Ain't It Hard" was a pounding cover of a folk-rocker by the Gypsy Trips, with a blues-rock tinge not far removed from the Rolling Stones' recent Aftermath, an album Hassinger had engineered. Stonesy rock with a touch of raga was featured on the B-side, "Little Olive," an original by singer James Lowe.

The hint of weirdness became all-out experimental psychedelia on the next single, "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)," right from the bee-humming riff that kicks the track into overdrive before a word's been uttered. Guitarist Ken Williams, Lowe told me in a 2000 interview, "had been shaking his Bigsby wiggle stick with some fuzztone and tremolo...Forward it was cool...backward it was amazing." While Lowe's vocals still dripped with garage band raunch, the eerie melody, subtly shifting spooky electronic whines and wobbles, and bad-trip lyrics took it to the edge of Top Ten. Unbelievably, this Annette Tucker-Nancie Mantz composition was, as bassist Mark Tulin noted to me in an interview the same year, worked up "from a demo that was slow with strings...Pure Vegas lounge-act material." Stones similarities reared their head again on the B-side, "Luvin'," though Tulin stated it wasn't their intention to imitate Aftermath. "But maybe that's the only way Dave Hassinger knew to record a harmonica or slide guitar," he surmised.

Tucker and Mantz were also responsible for the follow-up, "Get Me to the World on Time," which put unhinged psychedelia to a Bo Diddley beat and made it to #27 in Billboard – though that would, surprisingly, be the last Electric Prunes single to crack the Top Hundred. This time the unearthly what-could-be-making-that-noise intro is, according to Lowe, "Dave Hassinger groaning through a mic, into the tremolo on a Fender amp," though for James the song "always lacked something to me, a solo or something. We wanted to do some wild electronic effects and a tone generator is what we settled for." In Tulin's view, "'Get Me to the World on Time' was brought to us primarily because of the title. It was up to [us to] put credibility to their clever lyrics. I can guarantee there was no Bo Diddley beat when Annette played it on the piano."

The Tucker-Mantz team also penned the B-side, "Are You Lovin' Me More (But Enjoying It Less)," which gave rhythm guitarist Weasel (aka Jim Spagnola) a turn on lead vocals. "Most of their material sounded like it was written for a female vocalist," offered Lowe. "I felt a bit uncomfortable with some of it, but at the time we couldn't write anything as commercial, so we just did it."

While Tucker and Mantz were entrusted with the next 45, and Lowe says "we always had a laugh at the variety and scope of [their] images," in retrospect their "Dr. Do-Good" seems like a downright daffy choice for a fourth single. Sounding more like a horror movie theme run amok than a radio-ready hit, it crept to a mere #128 on the Billboard listings. That's Hassinger's maniacal laugh at the end, Lowe confirmed, as "I told him I couldn't do it and he kept showin' me how, so we said, 'You do it.'" Lowe and Tulin got one of their own numbers on the B-side, "Hideaway," which Mark characterized as "our attempt to synthesize the Indian style with the rock sensibility."

Another pair of tunes from their most innovative album, Underground, was chosen for the next single, with Lowe-Tulin compositions gracing each side. "The Great Banana Hoax" was only a little less weird than its title, at a time when, as Tulin said, "we were trying anything and everything to see what it would sound like." It missed the charts entirely, and in retrospect he felt "Hassinger lost interest in the band very quickly, as when there was not an obvious follow-up single to 'Get Me to the World on Time,' he thought the band wasn't worth bothering with at all. Dave was a single sales mentality in an album sales environment. We were just the opposite." Somewhere around the peak of their popularity, however, the group did find time to cut the instrumental track for a minute-long ad for Vox's then-new wah-wah pedal, included here as a bonus cut. "You can even make your guitar sound like a sitar!" exclaims an overexuberant Vox spokesman as the Prunes demonstrate the various ways in which the effect can be deployed.

Fortunately, the Prunes got one last chance to crack the singles market with a non-LP 45 before they'd get a complete overhaul. "Everybody Knows You're Not in Love" was almost normal enough to be a weird anomaly by Electric Prunes standards, though its bouncy pop was disrupted by some typically wobbly psychedelic guitar work in the instrumental break. Tulin thought "the demo we made was much better than what ended up being released," and more of the group's personality came through on the B-side, "You Never Had It Better." Equal parts abrasive, bluesy garage rock and fierce psychedelia with magnificent distorted guitar howls, it nonetheless suffered some dilution when a four-letter word was blanked out, though Mark admitted the band "knew that would never fly."

The last two-sided single issued by the lineup when Lowe and Tulin remained aboard was taken from their third album, Mass in F Minor. Neither these two tracks ("Sanctus" and "Credus") nor anything else on the LP, however, were written by the band, who were enlisted to perform a suite of Latin religious songs written and arranged by David Axelrod. "It was his baby," commented Lowe. "They wanted a sound from us to hang the mass on." Uncommercial even in comparison to the Prunes' recent singles, it too failed to chart. So did an odd megarare one-sided promotional 45 titled "Shadows," recorded for the film The Name of the Game Is Kill, that was far truer to the band's earlier psychedelic sound. "I think they wanted the Doors to do it," Lowe told Record Collector. "It sounds like a Doors song."

As the Electric Prunes name was owned by Axelrod's manager, Lenny Poncher, by the time of their fourth album (late 1968's Release of an Oath), none of the musicians who'd appeared on their prior releases remained.  Both sides of their next single, "Help Us (Our Father, Our King)"/"The Adoration," were taken from this LP, another production featuring psychedelic arrangements of Axelrod-penned religious songs, this time based on the Jewish Kol Nidre prayer. "I think I wrote the whole goddamn album in, like, 48 hours," Axelrod told me in a 2006 interview. "I thought it came out pretty good."

The new Prunes also did a more conventional non-LP single, "Hey Mr. President"/"Flowing Smoothly." "Dave Hassinger had a bright idea about recording a topical, if not somewhat political song," drummer/singer Richard Whetstone told me in a 2006 interview. "Dave insisted that we record it. For the background vocals, [bassist/guitarist] Brett Wade and I sang falsetto into a microphone that was wired through a spinning Hammond B3 Leslie speaker." Wade wrote the B-side, and the group were able to record mostly original material for their final album, 1969's Just Good Old Rock and Roll.

Two singles drawn from that LP bring this collection to a close. "Violent Rose" sounds more San Francisco than Los Angeles with its carefree air and sunny harmonies, with its flipside, "Sell," boasting an organ-paced heavy rock sound closer to Steppenwolf than vintage Prunes. Traces of San Francisco acid rock can also be heard on their final 45, "Love Grows," though the flipside, "Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers," was co-penned by Jimmy Holiday, a co-author of Jackie DeShannon's 1969 hit "Put a Little Love in Your Heart." According to Whetstone, "Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers" was the one song Hassinger directed the latter-day Prunes to record besides "Hey Mr. President."

As Whetstone noted, this incarnation of the Prunes realized "the identity of Electric Prunes was with the original band. Quite frankly, as time has borne out, what made the Prunes popular was the original material, and 'Too Much to Dream' is the signature song of the group." Yet the Electric Prunes had much more to offer than just the one song with which they're most frequently associated. As this anthology proves, they were one of the most unpredictable psychedelic groups in a genre that thrived on unpredictability. 
by Richie Unterberger
1. Ain't It Hard (R. Tillison, T. Tillison) - 2:12
2. Little Olive (James Lowe) - 2:41
3. I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night (Annette Tucker, Nancy Mantz) - 3:00
4. Luvin' (Mark Tulin, James Lowe) - 2:07
5. Get Me To The World On Time (Annette Tucker,  Jill Jones) - 2:33
6. Are You Loving Me More (Annette Tucker, Nancy Mantz) - 2:25
7. Dr. Do Good (Annette Tucker, Nancy Mantz) - 3:33
8. Hideaway (Mark Tulin, James Lowe) - 2:47
9. The Great Banana Hoax (Mark Tulin, James Lowe) - 3:20
10.Wind-Up Toys (Mark Tulin, James Lowe) - 2:30
11.Everybody Knows (You're Not In Love) (Mark Tulin, James Lowe) - 3:04
12.You Never Had It Better (Mark Tulin, James Lowe) - 2:08
13.Sanctus (David Axelrod) - 2:56
14.Credo (David Axelrod) - 5:00
15.Shadows (Gordon Phillips) - 2:24
16.Help Us (Our Father, Our King) (David Axelrod) - 3:19
17.The Adoration (David Axelrod) - 3:50
18.Hey Mr. President (Mark Barkan, Ritchie Adams) - 2:50
19.Flowing Smoothly (Brett Wade) - 3:06
20.Violent Rose (John Herron, Dick Whetstone) - 2:28
21.Sell (M. Herron, John Herron) - 3:20
22.Love Grows (Bill Daffern, John Fleck, Ron Morgan, Brett Wade) - 3:43
23.Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers (Jimmy Holiday, Jimmy Lewis, Cliff Chambers) - 3:03
24.Vox Wah Wah Pedal Radio Spot - 1:02

The Electric Prunes
*James Lowe - Vocals, Autoharp, Rhythm Guitar, Tambourine
*Ken Williams - Lead Guitar
*James "Weasel" Spagnola - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Mark Tulin - Bass Guitar, Piano, Organ
*Preston Ritter - Drums, Percussion
*Michael "Quint" Weakley - Drums (1967 Underground, 1968 Mass In F Minor)
*Mike Gannon - Rhythm Guitar (1968 Mass In F Minor)
*Richie Podolor - Guitar (1968 Mass In F Minor)

1968 Release Of An Oath
*Howard Roberts And Lou Morrell - Guitar
*Don Randi - Keyboards
*Carol Kaye - Bass
*Earl Palmer - Drums

1969 Just Good Old Rock And Roll
*Ron Morgan - Guitar
*Mark Kincaid - Guitar, Backing Vocals
*John Herron - Organ
*Brett Wade - Bass, Backing Vocals, Flute
*Dick Whetstone - Drums, Lead Vocals

1967  The Electric Prunes - Stockholm 67
Related Act
1970  Pride - Pride

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Electric Prunes - Original Album Series (1967-69 us, outstanding psych rock, 2013 five discs box set)

As the throbbing buzz of Ken Williams' tremolo-laden fuzztone guitar creeps from one side of the stereo spectrum to the other, the Electric Prunes kick off their debut album with their first (and biggest) hit single, and if Electric Prunes: I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night) never hits the high point of its title track again, the next 11 songs confirm that these guys were in the first echelon of American garage bands of the '60s. In the grand tradition of most garage rock albums, the best tracks on this disc are the singles, which along with the title track include "Get Me to the World on Time" and the surprisingly effective B-sides "Luvin'" and "Are You Loving Me More (But Enjoying It Less)," but the other tunes are more than just filler. On nearly every song, Williams and fellow guitarists Weasel Spagnola and Jim Lowe spin a web of gloriously strange sounds, making the most of a battery of stomp boxes, and bassist Mark Tulin and drummer Preston Ritter provide a solid, percolating backdrop for their faux-psychedelic soundscapes.

Producer David Hassinger would in time become a bad guy in the Electric Prunes' story, but on these sessions he gives them a great studio sound, specious but full of details, and at its best this album does as well by its three-guitar team as Moby Grape's epochal debut. And if songs like the weepy soft rock number "Onie," the phony Brit-folk of "The King Is in the Counting House" and the goofball nostalgia of "Toonerville Trolly" suggest Hassinger didn't always know what sort of material to fit with the band (who were only allowed to record two of their own songs), the Prunes rise to the occasion no matter what's thrown at them (and Jim Lowe's vocal suggests he knew just how ridiculous "Toonerville Trolly" would sound). While the Sonics and the Litter made more consistent albums, few if any bands from the '60s garage came up with a sound as distinctive as the Electric Prunes, and they got it on tape with striking success on I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night). [The album was also released with two bonus tracks: "Ain't It Hard" and "Little Oliver."] 

According to Electric Prunes members Jim Lowe and Mark Tulin, producer Dave Hassinger enjoyed enough success as a result of the group's early hit singles and their subsequent debut album that he was too busy to spend much time with them as they were recording the follow up, and that was arguably a good thing for the band. While Underground didn't feature any hit singles along the lines of "I Had to Much to Dream (Last Night)," it's a significantly more consistent work than the debut, and this time out the group was allowed to write five of the disc's twelve songs, allowing their musical voice to be heard with greater clarity. As on their first LP, the Electric Prunes' strongest asset was the guitar interplay of Jim Lowe, Ken Williams and James "Weasel" Spagnola, and while they became a bit more restrained in their use of fuzztone, wah-wah and tremolo effects, there's a unity in their attack on Underground that's impressive, and the waves of sound on "Antique Doll," "Big City" and " "Children of Rain" reveal a new level creative maturity (though they could make with a wicked, rattling fuzz on "Dr. Do-Good").

If Underground ultimately isn't as memorable as the Electric Prunes' first album, it's a matter of material -- while the outside material that dominated the debut was sometimes ill-fitting, it also gave them some stone classic tunes like "I Had Too Much to Dream" and "Get Me to the World on Time," and the band themselves didn't have quite that level of songwriting chops, while the hired hands didn't deliver the same sort of material for Underground. Still, the album shows that the Electric Prunes had the talent to grow into something more mature and imaginative than their reputation suggested, and it's all the more unfortunate that the group's identity would be stripped from them for the next album released under their name, Mass in F Minor. 
by Mark Deming

Their third LP, Mass in F Minor, was a quasi-religious concept album of psychedelic versions of prayers; a definitively excessive period piece, its best song ("Kyrie Eleison") was lifted for the Easy Rider soundtrack. None of the original Prunes were still in the lineup when the band dissolved, unnoticed, at the end of the '60s. 
by Richie Unterberger

The second album on which composer David Axelrod and producer Dave Hassinger usurped the name of the Electric Prunes (the band which recorded "I Had Too Much Too Dream Last Night" had long since split -- their names and likenesses are nowhere to be found on this LP) is much less notorious than its predecessor, Mass in F Minor. This is a shame, because it's actually the better album by far. Mass in F Minor is a halting, muddy attempt at combining rock and classical instrumentation, an idea that's better explored on Release of an Oath (which is, according to the liner notes, based on a centuries-old prayer called the Kol Nidre). 

Songs like the liturgical "Holy Are You" and the mostly instrumental "General Confessional" combine swirling string and woodwind parts with heavy guitar and organ in a more organic and cohesive fashion than before. Musically complex and intriguing without being nearly as pretentious as a capsule description might indicate, Release of an Oath is a remarkable piece of early American progressive rock. Be aware, however, that it's quite brief even by '60s standards: the whole thing is over in 24 and a half minutes. 
by Stewart Mason

Just Good Old Rock and Roll by the Electric Prunes has an ominous "the new improved" before their name on the cover of this effort, and despite original producer Dave Hassinger's contributions none of the original band members from the first two discs or the live album from 1967 are here. 
by Joe Viglione 
1967 The Electric Prunes
1. I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) (Annette Tucker, Nancy Mantz) - 2:58
2. Bangles (John Richard Walsh) - 2:29
3. Onie (Annette Tucker, Nancy Mantz) - 2:42
4. Are You Lovin' Me More (But Enjoyining It Less) (Annette Tucker, Nancy Mantz) - 2:25
5. Train For Tomorrow (James "Weasel" Spagnola, Ken Williams, Mark Tulin, Preston Ritter, James Lowe) - 3:01
6. Sold To The Highest Bidder (Annette Tucker, Nancy Mantz) - 2:24
7. Get Me To The World On Time (Jill Jones, Nancy Mantz) - 2:32
8. About A Quarter To Nine (Al Dubin, Harry Warren) - 2:13
9. The King Is In The Counting House (Annette Tucker, Nancy Mantz) - 2:01
10.Luvin' (Mark Tulin, James Lowe) - 2:04
11.Try Me On For Size (Annette Tucker, Jill Jones) - 2:21
12.The Toonerville Trolley (Annette Tucker, Nancy Mantz) - 2:37
1967 Underground
1. The Great Banana Hoax (James Lowe, Mark Tulin) - 4:09
2. Children Of Rain (Goodie Williams, Ken Williams) - 2:37
3. Wind-Up Toys (James Lowe, Mark Tulin) - 2:26
4. Antique Doll (Annette Tucker, Nancy Mantz) - 3:13
5. It's Not Fair (James Lowe, Mark Tulin) - 2:04
6. I Happen To Love You (Gerry Goffin, Carole King) - 3:19
7. Dr. Do-Good (Annette Tucker, Nancy Mantz) - 2:26
8. I (Annette Tucker, Nancy Mantz) - 5:14
9. Hideaway (James Lowe, Mark Tulin) - 2:42
10.Big City (Johnny Walsh, Dan Walsh) - 2:46
11.Capt. Glory (James Lowe) - 2:14
12.Long Day's Flight (Michael "Quint" Weakley, Don Yorty) - 3:15
1968 Mass In F Minor 
1. Kyrie Eleison (David Axelrod) - 3:22
2. Gloria (David Axelrod) - 5:45
3. Credo (David Axelrod) - 5:01
4. Sanctus (David Axelrod) - 2:57
5. Benedictus (David Axelrod) - 4:52
6. Agnus Dei (David Axelrod) - 4:29
1968 Release Of An Oath 
1. Kol Nidre (David Axelrod) - 4:17
2. Holy Are You (David Axelrod) - 4:09
3. General Confessional (David Axelrod) - 4:19
4. Individual Confessional (David Axelrod) - 2:17
5. Our Father, Our King (David Axelrod) - 3:13
6. The Adoration (David Axelrod) - 3:51
7. Closing Hymn (David Axelrod) - 3:07
1969 Just Good Old Rock And Roll
1. Sell (M. Herron, John Herron) - 3:14
2. 14 Year Old Funk (Bill Daffern, Ron Morgan) - 3:34
3. Love Grows (Bill Daffern, John Fleck, Ron Morgan, Brett Wade) - 4:09
4. So Many People To Tell (Brett Wade) - 4:01
5. Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers (Jimmy Holiday, Jimmy Lewis, Cliff Chambers) - 3:33
6. Giant Sunhorse (Bill Daffern, Ron Morgan, Larry Tamblyn, Brett Wade) - 4:09
7. Violent Rose (John Herron, Dick Whetstone) - 2:44
8. Thorjon (Mark Kincaid, Brett Wade, Dick Whetstone) - 3:00
9. Silver Passion Mine (Brett Wade) - 2:54
10.Tracks (M. Herron, John Herron) - 2:45
11.Sing To Me (Brett Wade) - 3:25

The Electric Prunes
*James Lowe - Vocals, Autoharp, Rhythm Guitar, Tambourine
*Ken Williams - Lead Guitar
*James "Weasel" Spagnola - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Mark Tulin - Bass Guitar, Piano, Organ
*Preston Ritter - Drums, Percussion
*Michael "Quint" Weakley - Drums (1967 Underground, 1968 Mass In F Minor)
*Mike Gannon - Rhythm Guitar (1968 Mass In F Minor)
*Richie Podolor - Guitar (1968 Mass In F Minor)

    1968 Release Of An Oath 
*Howard Roberts And Lou Morrell - Guitar
*Don Randi - Keyboards
*Carol Kaye - Bass
*Earl Palmer - Drums

    1969 Just Good Old Rock And Roll
*Ron Morgan - Guitar
*Mark Kincaid - Guitar, Backing Vocals
*John Herron - Organ
*Brett Wade - Bass, Backing Vocals, Flute
*Dick Whetstone - Drums, Lead Vocals

1967  The Electric Prunes - Stockholm 67
Related Act
1970  Pride - Pride

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Shadows Of Knight - Back Door Men (1966 us, superb garage psych blues rock, bonus tracks edition)

The original LP version of this album, the second by the legendary white Chicago garage punk/blues outfit, was one of the most sought-after artifacts of mid-'60s punk rock. Back Door Men was a loud, feedback-laden, sneering piece of rock & roll defiance, mixing raunchy anthems to teenage lust ("Gospel Zone," "Bad Little Woman"), covers of Chicago blues classics (Willie Dixon's "Spoonful," Jimmy Reed's "Peepin' and Hidin'"), raga rock ("The Behemoth"), folk-rock ("Hey Joe," "Three for Love," "I'll Make You Sorry"), and a blues-punk grab off of commercial Top 40 ("Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day") all on one 12" platter. 

What makes the record even more startling is that every one of these tracks, however far afield they go from one another, works. The band strides across the music spectrum with a reach and boldness that most listeners usually only associate with the likes of the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, and a grasp that, for a moment here, may have exceeded either of those groups, as they slide from electric guitar into extended Chess-style blues instrumentals ("New York Bullseye"). 
by Bruce Eder

1966 was a busy year for the Shadows of Knight! Hot on heels of their hit ’66 debut album and monster single “Gloria,” they released their second long player, Back Door Men, before the year was out. It was another combustible collection of blazing blues covers and smoking originals. While there was still plenty of garage grit, they had already begun evolving stylistically. “The Behemoth” was a fine slice of raga rock while “Three for Love” jangled in a decidedly folk-rock style. Of particular note is their cover of the garage classic “Hey Joe.” One of many bands to record the song that year, the Shadows of Knight version took the uptempo road and rendered a distinct rendition, albeit one with a very Byrds-ian chime.

The group’s home town of Chicago was well-represented on the album through their foot stomping covers of Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful” and Jimmy Reed’s “Peepin’ & Hidin’.” The group even ventured into Top 40 territory with a cover of the Tommy Boyce & Steve Venet song “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day,” a track featured on The Monkees’ debut LP, also released in 1966. That these seemingly disparate styles blended so cohesively was a tribute to the band’s road-hewn sensibility. This was a band used to playing for intense live audiences where they received instant feedback from the dance floor. They knew what it took to move and groove a crowd and that skill transferred seamlessly in the studio.

Original copies of Back Door Men became hard-to-find “holy grails” for dedicated collectors, commanding big prices. Now, this garage punk classic is finally available again! Sourced directly from the original Dunwich master tapes for the first time in over three decades, this Sundazed edition delivers stunning sonics for your listening pleasure. Just hang on ‘cause it’s a wild ride! 
1. Bad Little Woman (Herbie Armstrong, Victor Catling, Rod Demick, Brian Rosbotham, Tito Tinsley) - 2:37
2. Gospel Zone (Tom Schiffour) - 3:19
3. The Behemoth (Harry Pye) - 2:34
4. Three For Love (Joe Kelly) - 3:11
5. Hey Joe (Billy Roberts) - 5:42
6. I'll Make You Sorry (Joe Kelly) - 2:42
7. Peepin' And Hidin' (Jimmy Reed) - 3:01
8. Tomorrow's Going To Be Another Day (Tommy Boyce) - 2:23
9. New York Bullseye (Harry Pye) - 2:43
10.High Blood Pressure (Huey "Piano" Smith, Johnny Vincent) - 3:38
11.Spoonful (Willie Dixon) - 2:57
12.Gospel Zone (Single Version) (Tom Schiffour) - 3:20
13.Willie Jean (Single) (Traditional, arranged by Harry Pye) - 2:50
14.I'm Gonna Make You Mine (Single) (William Carr, Carl D'Errico, Carole Bayer Sager) - 2:30

The Shadows Of Knight
*David "Hawk" Wolinski - Organ, Piano, Keyboards
*Joe Kelly - Guitar, Harmonica, Harp
*Jerry McGeorge - Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Feedback
*Warren Rogers - Bass, Guitar
*Tom Schiffour - Drums
*Jim Sohns - Maracas, Marimba, Tambourine, Vocals

1966  The Shadows Of Knight - Gloria
1965-70  Shadows Of Knight - Dark Sides
1968-69  The Shadows Of Knight - Shake! (2009 remaster)

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, David Freiberg - Baron Von Tollbooth And The Chrome Nun (1973 us, awesome classic rock with psych country and some spiritual traces)

I am amazed at how much music the members of the Jefferson Airplane produced in the early 1970s, both within the group and especially their various side projects. Paul Kantner, produced the classic album, Blows Against The Empire in 1970 and he and Grace followed that with Sunfighter in 1971. 1973 would find Kantner, Grace Slick, and David Freiberg uniting to record the music that would form this album.

Baron von Tollbooth and The Chrome Nun, which were nicknames given to Paul Kantner and Grace Slick by David Crosby, may not be the grand science fiction epic of Blows Against The Empire but the music is strong and has a haunting and even beautiful quality to it while the lyrics are philosophical and even playful in nature.

The album features another musical all star cast. David Crosby, John Barbata, Papa John Creach, Mickey Hart, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, and lead guitarist Jerry Garcia all provided stellar support.

Grace Slick shares equal billing with Paul Kantner. She wrote or co-wrote six of the ten tracks and her vocals are for the most part memorable. “Ballad Of The Chrome Nun” and “Across The Board” find Grace at her post Airplane best. The first is almost a perfect performance. Written with David Freiberg, the music is catchy, the vocal superb, and the lyrics sarcastic yet playful. The second is a powerful and sexy performance from a now mature performer. If I can’t have the Grace Slick of “Somebody To Love” and “White Rabbit,” this one will do fine. “Fat” is just a cut below the first two and contains some of the most beautiful and moving music that she would create.

At this point Paul Kantner was producing some of the best lyrics of his career. “White Boy (Transcaucasian Airmachine Blues)” finds him expressing his thoughts about life and the future yet the song retains elements of hope. Likewise “Walkin” written with Grace Slick is a song about looking back and ahead. “Flowers Of The Night” written by Jack Traylor returns the album to the spirit of revolution.

While Baron von Tollbooth and The Chrome Nun would not be a huge commercial success, it does contain some of the best music of Paul Kantner and Grace Slick’s career. It is definitely worth seeking out and I will not be returning it to the shelf any time soon.  
by David Bowling, January 24, 2009 
1. Ballad of the Chrome Nun (David Freiberg, Grace Slick) - 3:58
2. Fat (Grace Slick) - 3:13
3. Flowers of the Night (Jack Traylor) - 4:17
4. Walkin' (Paul Kantner, Grace Slick) - 2:31
5. Your Mind Has Left Your Body (Paul Kantner) - 5:44
6. Across the Board (Grace Slick) - 4:34
7. Harp Tree Lament (David Freiberg, Robert Hunter) - 3:36
8. White Boy (Paul Kantner) - 4:14
9. Fishman (Grace Slick) - 2:40
10.Sketches of China (Paul Kantner, Grace Slick) - 5:14

*Paul Kantner - Guitar, Vocals
*Grace Slick - Keyboards, Vocals
*David Freiberg - Vocals
*Mickey Hart - Drums
*Jerry Garcia - Banjo, Guitar
*Jorma Kaukonen - Guitar
*The Pointer Sisters - Vocals
*Papa John Creach - Violin
*Jack Traylor And Steelwind - Vocals
*Craig Chaquico - Guitar
*John Barbata - Drums
*Jack Casady - Bass
*David Crosby - Guitar, Vocals
*Chris Ethridge - Bass

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Peanut Butter Conspiracy - For Children Of All Ages (1969 us, magnificent psychedelic rock, 2008 bonus tracks remaster)

I like this album. I can't seem to stop playing it, even though it has some obvious faults. The best way to relay to you my listening experience with this record is just to ask you to scroll up and listen the first two sound clips. Can you stand this guy's voice? Literally. That's it. That is the key to whether or not you will enjoy this record.

Okay, Alan Brackett is the guy singing lead on most of these cuts. He was the PBC's bassist and 1/2 of their in-house songwriting duo. The group was once signed to Columbia where they cut two great records with producer Gary Usher, which were subsequently compiled on the previously mentioned 2-fer. I won't go into details about those albums because you can read my review under the appropriate heading. We're discussing the FOR CHILDREN OF ALL AGES cd release here, and I intend to critique it!

Where to begin?... Well, the most important thing to remember about this record was that it was recorded in 1969. The style du jour was "horn rock", a la Blood, Sweat, & Tears and Chicago Transit Authority.

The PBC had previously excelled at psychedelic rock music, but times were changing. To compete in '69, you needed soul, baby, you needed to FEEL IT. Alan Brackett knew this, and he reassembled the PBC into a psudeo-R&B configuration, replacing lead guitarist Bill Wolf with former Clear Light keyboardist Ralph Shuckett (whose organ lines you previously heard drench the Monkees' "Porpoise Song" in shimmering glory) and bringing in Clear Light's drummer Michael Stevens as well.

While Clear Light was a psychedelic band first and foremost, you can obviously tell the two new PBCers new how to "cook", as they used to say back then. The precise, sneaky fills from Shuckett's B-3, Brackett's melodic bass runs and rocksteady drumming anchors every track on this record. These guys FEEL IT, baby.

The songwriting is hit or miss, but by my estimation the PBC bats around .750 on this release. "Back in L.A." and "Simple Things" rock, while "Out in the Cold Again" and "Stayin' Inside Kind of Day" are merely perfunctory. "You're Not Getting into It" latches onto a psudeo-Caribbean groove and "Good Feelin'" was funky enough for Three Dog Night to cover. "Try" is a cover of a decent Crabby Appleton song. The sounds on FOR CHILDREN will surely transport a listener back to the heady summer of 1969.

Throughout the album Alan Brackett howls with a mock-psuedo-soul inflection, coming across like a poor man's David Clayton Thomas. Like I said, listen to the sound clips. This is not a voice everybody can appreciate... No, that would be Barbara Robinson (or as we once referred to her high-ness, "Sandi Peanut Butter"). Barbra was the obvious star and focal point of the group. Her vocals are up front in the mix here, but regrettably she only gets to sing lead on a few of these tracks.

When she does get a lead, however, she certainly makes the most of it. "Return Home" may be perhaps the best female lead vocal in the rock genre I've ever heard in my life. The band plays tastefully and restrianed on that one, letting Barbara just belt. This is potent music, not for the faint of heart. "It's Alright" is similarly gorgeous-- a real sonic beauty and not the phony MIDI excrement you always hear nowadays.

"Try Again" ends in a impressive reverse-taped wall of sound. "Now" is a fake-live cut with overdubbed audience. "Simple Things" pits Robinson's and Brackett's vocals against each other. "Gonna Get You Home" has cool string overdubs... Look, either you like this kind of record or you don't. Maybe you think there's no use nowadays for a white LA psychedelic band trying to act funky and only partially succeeding. But the thing of it is, the genius is in the failure, or vise versa. This record wasn't a hit, but who cares? This was a band that would "Try" and "Try Again" to be SOMETHING, get THAT SOUND, really GROOVE. And I just don't think you have enough of that today.

This is the sound of a band that worked hard to put out good music. The fact that they possessed perhaps the best female rock vocalist of the 1960's will only add to the allure of this record over time
by Jason Penick
1. Gonna Get You Home - 5:01
2. Back In L.A. (Dick Monda, Jill Jones) - 3:13
3. Have A Little Faith - 2:41
4. Good Feelin' - 2:50
5. Loudness Of Your Silence - 2:50
6. It's Alright - 3:28
7. Out In The Cold Again (Dick Monda, Keith Colley) - 2:34
8. Now - 3:12
9. Simple Things - 2:57
10.Return Home - 3:39
11.Think - 3:01
12.Show You The Way - 2:33
13.Try Again - 2:48
14.Try - 2:27
15.You're Not Getting Into It (Unknown) - 2:05
16.What Did I Do Wrong - 2:17
All compositions by Alan Brackett except where noted

The Peanut Butter Conspiracy
*Barbara Robinson - Vocals
*Alan Brackett - Bass, Vocals
*John Merrill - Guitar, Vocals
*Ralph Shuckett - Keyboards
*Pete McQueen - Drums
*Michael Ney - Drums

1965-71  Ashes - Ashes
1967-68  The Peanut Butter Conspiracy - Living Dream

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Friday, March 25, 2016

Keith - The Adventures Of Keith (1969 us, wonderful orchestrated psychedelia, 2008 remaster)

"Alone on the Shore" opens the third album by Keith, the one name handle for James Barry Keefer. The shimmering pop that was created by Bobby Hebb producer Jerry Ross and arranger Joe Renzetti on the first two Mercury discs is replaced by original compositions and the arrangement of the meticulous Larry Fallon. Fallon is credited for arranging The Looking Glass hit "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl," however, he is the actual producer on that disc. He is one of the industry's underrated talents, and he allows Keith's band of David Jiminez (guitar), Joe Coyle (ryhthm guitar), Dave Fiebert (bass), and Rick Fox (drums) to experiment in ways that are admirable. This LP plays more like latter day Donovan, another one-name pop maestro.

"Alone on the Shore" and "Trixon's Election" are heady pop tunes, maybe too deep for Top 40 at the time. Even Buffalo Springfield knew enough to temper their politics with radio friendly music. The sounds here are an intriguing mixture of '60s garage rock with British pop, flavors of The Beatles, The Small Faces, Kaleidoscope UK, and other psychedelic rockers. The production by Ted Daryll allows this group to stretch out. "Waiting to Be" is five minutes and thirty eight seconds of psychedelic jam. Keith wrote only one song on his second album, none on his first, so RCA Records showed some kind of faith in the artist allowing him to compose/co-write all ten titles on The Adventures of Keith. 

These are adventurous tunes, and worth listening to. It's a natural progression from the second album's Jimmy "Wiz" Wisner's (yes, the one and the same from Tommy James & the Shondells sessions), arrangement of the Spanky & Our Gang hit "Making Every Minute Count" to the short one minute and fifty six second "Melody," which begins like a track from one of the first two Keith albums, diving into the progressive nature of this recording, and back to the pop sensibilities of the first two LPs. "The Problem," which is the last song on side one, was issued as a single with the excellent "Marstrand," the first track of side two. "Elea-Elea" is another five minute plus track, and one of the album's standouts.

Great melody and all the indications that Keith should have been a major, major pop star. Where Donovan had Led Zeppelin performing on "Hurdy Gurdy Man" and the Jeff Beck Group behind him on "Goo Goo Barabajagal" helping churn out the hits, Keith and his band crafted an album perfect for FM radio, perhaps a bit ahead of its time for an artist known for covering the Hollies. But Keith's musical direction here is impressive and reiterates how clever his three Top 40 hits prior to this release really were. 
by Joe Viglione
1. Alone on the Shore (James Barry Keefer, David Jimenez) - 3:41
2. Trixon's Election (Joe Coyle, James Barry Keefer) - 3:16
3. Waiting to Be (James Barry Keefer) - 5:41
4. Melody (Joe Coyle, James Barry Keefer) - 1:58
5. The Problem (Joe Coyle, James Barry Keefer, Jim Cunningham) - 2:58
6. Marstand (James Barry Keefer, David Jimenez) - 2:59
7. Mr Hyde (James Barry Keefer, David Jimenez) - 3:25
8. China Clipper (James Barry Keefer, David Jimenez, Jim Cunningham) - 2:39
9. Elea Elea (James Barry Keefer, David Jimenez, Jim Cunningham) - 5:09
10.Charley Cinders (James Barry Keefer, David Jimenez, Jim Cunningham) - 4:10

*Keith (James Barry Keefer) - Vocals
*Rick Fox - Drums
*Dave Fiebert - Bass
*Joe Coyle - Guitar
*David Jimenez - Guitar
*Paul Harris - Horn Arrangements

1966-67  Keith - 98.6 / Ain't Gonna Lie

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Oliver - Standing Stone (1974 uk, exciting acid folk blues psych)

Part time farmhand, spare time guitarist and lull time Robert Johnson enthusiast Oliver recorded Standing Stone in early 1974 on a portable tour track Teat machine on his parents' farm in a particularly remote area of Wales. Aside from a few unscheduled interventions from farmyard creatures(inspiring the adlibbed line 'What's this chicken doing in my way?' on 'freezing Cold Like An Iceberg'), all sounds contained on the album are the sole* work of Oliver. His brother Chris, a BBC sound engineer who had worked on I he Corporation's legendary Hendrix sessions as well as countless other projects, subsequently mixed and engineered the raw material to give Standing Stone a sound quality and running time (in excess of fifty minutes) that even that ultimate studio whizzkid Todd Rundgren would have envied 250 copies were pressed, initially in a plain blue cover with black lettering. However, when the sleeves were returned from the printer it was discovered that the shade of blue utilized was so deep that the liner notes were barely legible. A garish olive green version, easier to read but not recommended to migraine sufferers, was quickly substituted.

Copies of Standing Stone were given to family and friends, but Chris passed a few to colleagues at the BBC including Radio One disc jockeys Brian Matthew and Alan Black, who at the time was co-hosting 'Sounds Of The Seventies' with Anne Nightingale. Black was keen to feature the album on his show but felt unable to do so without any product being available in the shops. A distribution deal with Virgin (at that stage principally a record shop rather than a label) was therefore mooted, but a combination of inhouse reorganisation at the BBC and Oliver's reluctance to lose control of his creation ensured that the proposed agreement did not get beyond the planning stage.

Standing Stone also brought Oliver to the attention of guitarist and songwriter J. J. Cale, and he was invited to jam with Cale during one or the American's infrequent visits to England. Despite similar sessions with prominent underground figures of the era, Oliver remained deeply suspicious of the music industry and unimpressed by the life-styles of the musicians he encountered. Instead of capitalizing on the interest show?) in Standing Stone, he decided to leave Wales and travel around Europe. By the time he returned, the album had been largely forgotten.

Most collectors will be familiar with the rest of the story. Standing Stone remained strictly personal until the late 1980s when a slightly battered copy surfaced at a car boot fair and was swiftly transferred to the burgeoning collectors circuit. Such was the demand created by the appearance of this single copy that Oliver was contacted and found to have a handful of originals still in his possession. These rapidly changed hands for ever-increasing sums as word got around that here was one of the great lost albums, a stunning cacophonous sound occasionally evoking Captain Beefheart and the aforementioned Robert Johnson, but boasting such a startling blend of originality, dexterity, wit and downright weirdness that influences were not merely transcended but rendered completely irrelevant (in fact Oliver claims not to have purchased his first record until 1991, nearly two decades after Standing Stone had been recorded).

Following the rapturous reviews which greeted the appearance of a limited edition vinyl reissue in 1992, Standing Stone is finally available in CD format in order to appease those unfortunate souls unable to locate either an original or second pressing. A series of equally astonishing outtakes will hopefully appear in the near future; meanwhile, proof of Oliver's maverick genius is now widely available for the first time as the newly formed Wooden Hill label proudly presents Standing Stone — not so much a missing link as a dropped stitch in time.
by David Wells, June 1995
1. Of On A Trek - 1:34
2. Trance - 3:57
3. Flowers On A Hill - 2:21
4. Freezing Cold Like An Icberg - 4:28
5. Royal Flush - 2:52
6. Cat And The Rat - 5:54
7. Instamatic - 2:18
8. Telephone - 3:39
9. Getting Fruity - 2:18
10.Tricycle - 1:16
11.Motorway - 3:27
12.Primrose - 2:43
13.In Vain - 2:16
14.Multiplex - 1:15
15.Orbit Your Factory - 4:53
16.Tok Tic - 6:31
17.Where’s My Motorbike - 1:32
All Words and Music by Oliver Chaplin

*Oliver Chaplin - Vocals, Acoustic, Electric, Slide Guitars, Hand Percussion, Occasional Recorder, Harmonica
*Chris Chaplin - Sound Effects

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Various Artists - Golden Miles / Australian Progressive Rock (1969-74 aussie, magnificent prog rock, two disc set)

Reissue specialists Raven Records (Australia) -- co-founded by Oz Rock's human encyclopedia Glenn A. Baker -- have done a sterling job over the years of resurrecting great music from the past. This two-CD set (two and a half hours of playing time) is a proverbial cornucopia of intriguing, and largely forgotten, prog rock from some fine antipodean exponents of the genre. Actually, many of these artists found success in the mainstream Down Under, but Golden Miles showcases them in their more adventurous moments. 

The stylistic range across the album's 30 tracks is quite stunning, but certainly this is progressive rock -- just don't expect everything to sound like King Crimson. Ear-catching tracks include the jazz-slanted "Make Your Stash" by legendary Aussie rockers Daddy Cool (best known for their rock & roll anthem "Eagle Rock"), the Zappa-ish "Make It Begin" by Sons of the Vegetal Mother (also fronted by Daddy Cool singer Ross Wilson), and the quaking "'Til My Death" by avant-garde metallurgists Buffalo (from their landmark 1973 album, Volcanic Rock). But the curio of curios is "Seasons of Change" by Fraternity, a tuneful, psychedelic folk-rock number sung by none other than a pre-AC/DC Bon Scott. 

Excellent liner notes include a capsule bio (written by Ian McFarlane) on each band and an overview of the period (from Baker). Probably of most interest to collectors, aficionados, and those who personally remember this musical chapter of yore, many casual listeners will also find Golden Miles very entertaining fare. 
by Adrian Zupp
Disc 1
1. Bakery - No Dying In The Dark (Bakery) - 3:11
2. Carson - Travelling South (Greg 'Sleepy' Lawrie) - 3:10
3. Lotus - Lotus I (Lotus) - 3:45
4. Healing Force - Golden Miles (Lindsay Wells) - 3:19
5. Bulldog - Inner Spring (Mick Rodgers, Peter Miles) - 2:47
6. The Master's Apprentices - Melodies Of St. Kilda / Southern Cross (Doug Ford, Jim Keays) - 7:54
7. Galadriel - Girl Of 17 (Spider Scholten) - 4:39
8. Tamam Shud - Lady Sunshine (Lindsay Bjerre) - 4:35
9. Tully - You Realise You ReaIise (Richard Lockwood) - 2:56
10.The Wild Cherries - I Am The Sea (Lobby Loyde) - 3:27
11.Jeff St John Copperwine - Fanciful Flights Of Mind (Jeff St. John, Peter Figures) - 3:23
12.Melissa - Getting Through (Joe Creighton) - 4:08
13.Pirana - Here It Comes Again  (Tony Hamilton) - 2:44
14.King Harvest - Wichita Lineman (Jimmy Webb) - 4:10
15.Friends - Freedom Train (Charlie Tumahai) - 3:55
16.Fraternity - Seasons Of Change (John Robinson, Neale Johns) - 3:34
17.Freshwater - Satan's Woman (Murray Patridge) - 2:59
18.Fanny Adams - Ain't No Loving Left (Fanny Adams) - 6:45
Disc 2
1. Daddy Cool - Make Your Stash (Ross Wilson) - 6:04
2. Spectrum - Superbody (Mike Rudd) - 9:12
3. Company Caine - The Day Superman Got Busted (Company Caine) - 6:20
4. Kahvas Jute - Free (Dennis Wilson) - 5:12
5. Blackfeather - Long Legged Lovely (John Robinson, Neale Johns) - 7:30
6. Tymeplace - Shake Off (Alan Oloman) - 8:12
7. Sons Of The Vegetal Mother - Make It Begin (Ross Wilson) - 5:00
8. Coloured Balls - Human Being (Lobby Loyde) - 6:00
9. Buffalo - Til My Death (Dave Tice) - 5:34
10.Madder Lake -12lb Toothbrush (Madder Lake) - 6:00
11.Mackenzie Theory - Extra Terrestrial Boogie (Rob MacKenzie) - 5:47
12.Dragon - Darkness (Dragon) - 4:43

Bakery - Momento 1971 
The Master's Apprentices - The Master's Apprentices 1966-68
Tamam Shud - Evolution 1969
Tamam Shud - Goolutionites And The Real People 1970
Jeff St John's Copperwine - Joint Effort 1970
Wendy Saddington And The Copperwine - Live 1971
Melissa - Midnight Trampoline 1971
Pirana - Pirana-Pirana II 1971-72
Spectrum - Part One 1971-72
Kahvas Jute - Wide Open / Live At The Basement 1971/2005    
Blackfeather - At The Mountains Of Madness 1971
The Purple Hearts / The Coloured Balls - Benzedrine Beat! 1964-70
Buffalo - Dead Forever 1972  
Buffalo - Volcanic Rock 1973
Buffalo - Only Want You For Your Body 1974
Madder Lake - Stillpoint 1973

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Thunderp***y - Documents of Captivity (1973 us, great concept heavy prog rock)

Quincy Indiana's contributions to mid-1970s' progressive rock ...  Printed in miniscule quantities (reportedly 1,000 copies were originally pressed), this one's attracted a cult following and some glistening reviews.

The line up consisted of singer/guitarist Steven Jay Morris, bass player Ben Russell and drummer George Jake Tutko, with an assist from keyboardist/lyricist David Leon Felts.  Morris was apparently the brainchild behind the enterprise.  In addition to producing the trio's 1973 debut "Documents of Captivity", he handled most of the vocals and wrote the majority of the material (Felt was credited with lyrics on two selections).

Divided into a series of "six documents" the album was apparently intended as a concept piece, though the sci-fi-ish plotline was largely lost on me.  Musically tracks like 'Document of Enigma / Scream Inside' and 'Document of Extrinsic Value / Lucifer' were best described as conventional (if very good) hard rock. 

Morris had a nice voice and, in spite of the cumbersome plotline tracks such as 'Document of Security / Moonlite Ladies' and 'Document of Latent Summation / In the Forest' offered up strong and surprisingly conventional melodies that stood up separately and apart from the overarching concept. Bassist Russell was particularly good.  
1. Document Of Enigma (I. Scream Inside II. Instrumentation / Eden To Now)  (co-Lyrics by David Leon Felts)- 6:39
2. Document Of Validation (I. Observation Of Us II. Instrumentation / The Slave And The Duke) - 7:32
3. Document Of Extrinsic Value (I. Lucifer II. Instrumentation / The Battle) - 5:00
4. Document Of Inquiry (I. To Be Real II. Instrumentation / The Curious Child) - 4:43
5. Document Of Security (I. Moonlight Ladies II. Instrumentation / The Pursuit) (co-Lyrics by David Leon Felts) - 5:33
6. Document Of Latent Summation (I. In The Forest II. Instrumentation / The Then) - 7:40
7. Warriors (Live Bonus Track) - 6:59
8. Stone Free (Live Bonus Track) (Jimi Hendrix) - 3:51
9. Lucifer (Live Bonus Track) - 6:15
10.Eleanor Rigby (Live Bonus Track) (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 11:47
All songs written by Steven Jay Morris except where indicated

*George Jake Tutko - Drums, Percussion, Marimba
*Steven Jay Morris - Vocals, Lead, Acoustic Guitar, Synthesizer
*Ben Russell - Bass, Flute, Vocals

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Friday, March 18, 2016

Stan Webb's Chicken Shack - That's The Way We Are (1978 uk, awesome tough boogie rock, 2015 edition)

Stan Webb's Chicken Shack, "That's The Way We Are" (Talking Elephant)- The British blues boom of the mid sixties had already become a dim and distant memory by the time that demon guitarist Stan Webb ventured into the studio to record "That's The Way We Are," but this highly sought after 1978 album certainly provides an appealing vehicle for the great man's instrumental prowess and should be required listening for Chicken Shack devotees everywhere. 

The finished product is a muscular blues rock package of the highest order, blending some gritty self-penned material with re-vamps of Elmore James' "Shake Your Money Maker" and Albert King's "High Cost Of Love." 
by Kevin Bryan
1. The End (Stan Webb, Robbie Blunt) - 3:51
2. High Cost Of Love (Albert King) - 4:06
3. Doesn't Matter About Your Size (Stan Webb, Robbie Blunt) - 3:26
4. It Wasn't Me (Stan Webb, Robbie Blunt) - 4:22
5. You'll Be Mine (Trad., Arr. Stan Webb, Robbie Blunt, Dave Winthrop) - 3:58
6. Sillyness (Robbie Blunt) - 2:12
7. Little Bird (Stan Webb) - 4:10
8. Rich Man's Blues (Stan Webb, Robbie Blunt) - 2:40
9. Emily (Stan Webb, Robbie Blunt) - 4:59
10.Let Me Love (Willie Dixon, Arr. Stan Webb) - 3:23
11.Shake Your Money Maker (Elmore James) - 3:04

*Stan Webb - Lead, Slide Guitar, Vocals
*Robbie Blunt - Lead, Slide Guitar
*Dave Winthrop - Saxophone
*Steve York - Bass
*Ed Spevock - Drums

Chicken Shack
1968  40 Blue Fingers, Freshly Packed And Ready To Serve (2013 reissue)
1969  Chicken Shack - 100 Ton Chicken (2013 expanded edition)
1970  Accept (japan remaster and expanded)
1972  Imagination Lady
1973  Unlucky Boy (2013 reissue)
1974  Go Live "Goodbye Chicken Shack"  (2013 remaster)

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Charlie Daniels - Uneasy Rider "Honey In The Rock" (1973 us, sensational southern blues protest rock, 2008 edition)

When "Te John, Grease And Wolfman" debuted, the label released “Great Big Bunches of
 Love” as a single. It failed to make a dent on the national charts. Drummer Jeffrey Meyer departed, and was replaced by Buddy Davis and Freddie Edwards, who provided the dual-drummer lineup that the Allman Brothers Band had popularized in Southern rock circles.

Charlie and his band soon returned to the studio to record the Honey in the Rock album, released in May of 1973. The group then spent nearly a year on the road promoting the LP. Their efforts paid off when “Uneasy Rider” climbed to #9 on the Billboard pop chart. While touring that year, the Charlie Daniels Band often shared the bill with other up-and-coming Southern rock performers with whom they formed lasting friendships.

Originally titled “Honey In The Rock” and later renamed for its hit song (Daniels's first chart entry), “Uneasy Rider” is the third for Charlie Daniels,  the album includes a significant R’n’B influence, making for an intriguing country-funk style. The title track's talking blues is particularly significant for espousing a hippie/counterculture perspective on the part of a man who'd later become known for championing more conservative values. 
by Scott B. Bomar and Jim Allen
1. Funky Junky - 3:14
2. Big Man - 6:12
3. Why Can't People - 5:49
4. Revelations - 7:37
5. Uneasy Rider - 5:17
6. Midnight Lady - 4:39
7. Somebody Loves You - 3:44
8. No Place To Go - 10:08
All Songs written by Charlie Daniels

*Charlie Daniels - Guitar, Fiddle, Banjo, Mandolin, Vocals
*Joel Digregorio (Taz Digregorio) - Keyboards, Vocals
*Fred Edwards - Percussion, Drums
*Charlie Hayward - Bass
*Tom Crain - Guitar, Vocals
*Don Murray - Drums

1970  Charlie Daniels - Charlie Daniels
1972  Charlie Daniels - Te John Grease And Wolfman (2008 issue)

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Mark Fry - Dreaming With Alice (1972-75 uk, delightful folk psychedelia, 2006 remaster with extra tracks)

Recorded in 1972 by teenage Englishman-in-exile (re: British art student in Italy) Mark Fry, Dreaming With Alice has long been a Grail to vintage psych-folk enthusiasts. That’s hardly a unique distinction; it seems like anything tracked between 1966 and ’75 by hirsute dreamers with acoustic guitars inspires big bidding among collectors.

Sunbeam Records is known for their loving reissues of the lost sides of yesteryear, but not all of them deserve such royal treatment. That isn’t the case with Dreaming With Alice, which is a thoroughly enjoyable slice of pastoral psych. Yet the disc’s most attractive quality is also it’s chief flaw — namely, Fry’s cloying credulity in matters metaphysical.

Through all the will o’ the wisp poetics and the fluttery arrangements, Fry maintains an honest likeability, which makes you wonder why he never managed to hitch his Glimmering Chariot to a Morning Star. (The answer to that query is revealed in the voluminous liner notes, which were penned by Fry himself).

The record rests somewhere between Donovan’s erotic mysticism and the woodsy romps of Comus. At the time of the album’s recording, there was a renewed interest in surrealism in Italy, and this influence can be felt throughout the record. Although it pretty much stays within the conventions of psych-folk, trace elements of prog can also be discerned. In fact, it’s not difficult to picture Goblin finding inspiration in Dreaming.

Fry was a handsome and talented lad, and it’s no wonder the Italian art cognoscenti took a shine to him. His boyish croon goes a long way towards selling the fantastical twaddle that makes up his lyrics. It’s gotta be tough to sound earnest while crooning about an albino albatross, but Fry somehow manages.

The finest song on the album comes early. “The Witch” covers all of the psych bases, employing flute, sitar, hand percussion and a minor key modality. “The witch is looking through my window / Her cold breath on the window pane,” Fry sings in what sounds like a hushed invocation to a summer’s eve succubus.

The esoteric musings continue apace. “Did you ever stumble on Satan’s smile or a Catholic saint’s confession / And life is like walking on an endless mile, each step another lesson,” he sings on the title track, which is split into eight sections and spread across the entire album. Each return is framed by gentle fingerpicking that sounds appropriately phantasmal.

It’s debatable whether or not the world needed another psych-folk reissue, but if so, Dreaming With Alice might as well be it. Rumor has it that Fry — who currently lives a painter’s life in rural France — will be recording again soon. Must be the season of the witch.
by Casey Rae-Hunter
1. Dreaming With Alice (Verse 1) - 0:38
2. Witch - 6:43
3. Dreaming With Alice (Verse 2) - 0:32
4. Song For Wilde - 2:33
5. Dreaming With Alice (Verse 3) - 0:33
6. Roses For Columbus - 5:18
7. Norman Soldier - 2:22
8. Dreaming With Alice (Verse 4) - 0:36
9. Dreaming With Alice (Verse 5) - 0:34
10.Lute And Flute - 3:56
11.Dreaming With Alice (Verse 6) - 0:31
12.Down Narrow Streets - 2:58
13.Dreaming With Alice (Verse 7) - 0:32
14.Mandolin Man - 8:18
15.Dreaming With Alice (Verses 8-9) - 1:35
16.Rehtorb Ym No Hcram - 2:25
17.You Make It Easy - 2:15
18.Doesn't Matter To Me If It Rains - 3:39
All songs by Mark Fry

*Mark Fry - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals

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