Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Traffic - John Barleycorn Must Die (1970 uk, superb classic album, japan SHM and 2011 deluxe double disc edition)

After disbanding the original version of Traffic, a 22 year old Steve Winwood emerged from the tumultuous over-hype and eventual self-combustion of Blind Faith in 1970 still owing Island records two albums. Initially conceived as his first solo project, the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist quickly called in Traffic cohorts drummer Jim Capaldi and reed man Chris Wood to help flesh out the sound. The result was the reformation of Traffic (minus Dave Mason) and a top five entry in the US charts, the act’s best selling and highest ranking stateside set at the time.

Forty-one years later, it holds up remarkably well. This deluxe edition spiffs up the sound with terrific remastering, keeping the original six track, 35 minute program on disc one and adding a second platter with three alternate takes (worthwhile for collectors but hardly essential) along with a November 1970, 40 minute Fillmore East live performance, professionally recorded and intended for release but scrapped.

Winwood is clearly the focus and driving force on the studio selections with his guitar, organ and piano lines interweaving on longer compositions that combine the upbeat and moody jazz flavors of “Glad” with the dreamy, pulsing soul-rock of “Every Mother’s Son” and the dusky traditional acoustic British folk of the title track. The latter story song with its narrative voice doesn’t mesh in the context of the other more introspective tunes but reveals a different, more roots oriented angle to the band’s music.

The concert adds bassist Rick Grech, recently from Blind Faith, to the trio as they spin through peppy, extended versions of older gems such as “Medicated Goo,” “Forty Thousand Headmen,” and a stretched out, funky “Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring.” The closing 21 minutes including nearly 15 dedicated to a medley of Barleycorn’s “Glad” and “Freedom Rider” provide room for Traffic to stretch out and loosen up. They jam and interconnect with the focused intensity of professionals brimming with talent, youthful enthusiasm and a joy of playing that even four decades later remains edgy, rousing and contagious.
by Hal Horowitz
Original Album 1970
1. Glad (Steve Winwood) 6:59
2. Freedom Rider (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi) 6:20
3. Empty Pages (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi) - 4:47
4. Stranger To Himself (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi) - 4:02
5. John Barleycorn (Must Die) (Traditional, Arr. Steve Winwood) - 6:20
6. Every Mother's Son (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi) - 7:05

Japan SHM Bonus Tracks
4. I Just Want You To Know (Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood) - 1:30
7. Sittin' Here Thinkin' Of My Love (Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood) - 3:3
8. Backstage And Introduction (Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood) - 1:50
9. Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring (Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood, Chris Wood) - 6:56
10.Glad (Steve Winwood) - 11:29
Demos Tracks 4, 8.
Tracks 7, 9, 10 live recordings on Fillmore East 18th November 1970

Disc 2 Deluxe 2011 Edition 
1. Stranger To Himself (Alternative Mix) (Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood) - 4:09
2. John Barleycorn (Must Die) (First Version) (Traditional, Arr. Steve Winwood) - 5:05
3. Every Mother's Son (Alternative Mix) (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi) - 7:03
4. Intro - 1:44 (This Is The Same As Backstage And Introduction From The 1999 Reissue)
5. Medicated Goo (Steve Winwood, Jimmy Miller) - 4:17
6. Empty Pages (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi) - 4:47
7. 40,000 Headmen (Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood) - 4:30
8. Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring (Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood, Chris Wood) - 5:16
9. Every Mother's Son (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi) - 7:00
10.Glad (Steve Winwood) / Freedom Rider (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi) - 14:30
Tracks 5-10 recorded live at The Fillmore East, 18th and 19th November 1970

The Traffic
*Steve Winwood – Hammond Organ, Piano, Bass, Percussion, Acoustic, Electric Guitars
*Chris Wood – Saxophone, Flute, Percussion
*Jim Capaldi – Vocals, Drums, Percussion, Tambourine
*Ric Grech – Guitar, Bass

1969  Traffic - Last Exit (SHM remaster)
1971  Traffic - Welcome To The Canteen (SHM remaster)
1973  Traffic - On The Road (SHM remaster)
Related Acts
1965  The Spencer Davis Group - Their First LP (Japan bonus tracks release) 
1966  The Spencer Davis Group - The Second Album (Japan bonus tracks edition) 
1966  The Spencer Davis Group - Autumn '66 (Japan bonus tracks edition) 
1966-68  Deep Feeling - Pretty Colours  
1970  Dave Mason - Alone Together (Japan remaster) 
1971  Dave Mason And Cass Elliot (2008 remaster)
1972  Dave Mason - Headkeeper (Japan SHM-CD 2010 remaster) 
1972  Jim Capaldi - Oh How We Danced (2012 extra track edition) 
1973  Dave Mason - It's Like You Never Left  
1976-77  Dave Mason - Certified Live / Let It Flow (2011 double disc edition)  

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Traffic - On The Road (1973 uk, fine blend of jazz, psych prog rock, japan SHM remaster)

By April of 1973 the band had been touring for several months in support of the sequel to 'Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys', the 'Shoot Out At the Fantasy Factory' disc. This is a six  live set filled with jazz-rock performances from their European tour.

There is energy in here. Winwood gets in some long, impassioned guitar solos on the staid pop song "Sometimes I Feel So Uninspired"; the plodding rocker "Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory" has a sincerely bad attitude; and Capaldi's wild-eyed vocal on the sloppy "Light Up Or Leave Me Alone" is welcome. Sparse praise for a record of this length. Produced by Winwood and Chris Blackwell. The band is Winwood, Capaldi, and Wood; Hood and Hawkins: and Barry Beckett, who ably recreates the keyboard parts that Winwood double-tracked on the studio albums. 
1. Glad / Freedom Rider (Steve Winwood)/(Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi) - 20:55
2. Tragic Magic (Chris Wood) - 8:39
3. (Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi) - 10:31
4. Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi) - 6:51
5. Light Up Or Leave Me Alone (Jim Capaldi) - 10:56
6. The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi) - 17:47

The Traffic
*Steve Winwood - Guitar, Lead Vocals, Piano
*Chris Wood - Flute, Saxophone
*Jim Capaldi - Percussion, Lead Vocals, Drums
*Rebop Kwaku Baah - Percussion
*Barry Beckett - Organ, Piano
*David Hood - Bass
*Roger Hawkins - Drums

1969  Traffic - Last Exit (SHM remaster)
1971  Traffic - Welcome To The Canteen (SHM remaster)
Related Acts
1965  The Spencer Davis Group - Their First LP (Japan bonus tracks release) 
1966  The Spencer Davis Group - The Second Album (Japan bonus tracks edition) 
1966  The Spencer Davis Group - Autumn '66 (Japan bonus tracks edition) 
1966-68  Deep Feeling - Pretty Colours  
1970  Dave Mason - Alone Together (Japan remaster) 
1971  Dave Mason And Cass Elliot (2008 remaster)
1972  Dave Mason - Headkeeper (Japan SHM-CD 2010 remaster) 
1972  Jim Capaldi - Oh How We Danced (2012 extra track edition) 
1973  Dave Mason - It's Like You Never Left  
1976-77  Dave Mason - Certified Live / Let It Flow (2011 double disc edition)  

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Traffic - Welcome To The Canteen (1971 uk, amazing live testament, SHM remaster)

This is UA's long-promised, contract-fulfilling, Traffic live album though a new recording evidently much changed from the destroyed earlier tapes, and with no outright mention (aside from the familiar quadripartite interlocking symbol) of the Traffic name, probably because nobody, including Steve Winwood himself, could ever tell you who or what the group consists of at any given time.

The six tunes included in Welcome to the Canteen are all repeats, indeed near duplicates, most of them, of songs from previous Traffic/Spencer Davis/Dave Mason albums. Everybody's cutting quickie live albums these days, so why not Traffic too but why not some new or unfamiliar material to accompany this Walking-down-Memory-Lane stuff?

On the other hand, the old quartet never especially remembered for their stage excitement, but here augmented by three other musical blokes was in tiptop form on the two nights these performances were taped. Winwood's in fine voice, Mason's guitar playing just gets better and better, and Chris Wood's sax/flute comments are invariably tasteful. Only Jim Capaldi seems to have little to do, since Jim Gordon's over from the States to hold down head drum chores, along with the fancy Afro hand-drumming of someone named Reebop Kwaku Baah. (A moment of respectful silence for all those black Africans who keep cropping up on English rock albums: Dudu Pukwana, Remi Kabaka, Rocky Dzidzornu, et al.) And unassuming bassman Rick Grech adds rock-solid bottom to this band of renown. A redoubtable assemblage of musicians, to be sure.

Altogether, they do manage to pull it off starting slow, but getting into some chef-d'oeuvre canteen-cooking by the end of Side Two. The percussion trio is a particularly felicitous touch; more rhythmic rock you could not ask for. But other than Mason's crisp guitar and Winwood's droning organ, that's all Medicated Goo and Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave, respectively, have to offer. The previous studio versions win out.

Similarly, 40,000 Headmen receives a warm, slightly slowed-down, but percussively perky performance; yet it's not much more than a close copy of the haunted and exquisite. English soul treatment this song got back on Traffic's second album mystery R&B, echoing twin flutes, odd moments of percussive accentuation, perhaps the definitive Traffic tune. Only Sad and Deep As You from Side One really improves on the original; Wood's fluttery, breathing flute miraculously more-than-replaces the splendid piano from Mason's album and Dave himself has never sung more feelingly.

It's Side Two that has the stand outs. For them, Steve and the boys slide way back to '66 and '67, to latch onto Gimme Some Lovin' and Dear Mr. Fantasy. What a looking back! Eleven swirling, blending, building, wondrous minutes of Fantasy with Winwood as pensive/yearning/mournful as ever: Do anything to take us out of this gloom, Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy. Gordon and his cohorts make it bouncy and snappy, all right, all the way up to a wall-of-sound frenzy. And Mason and Winwood, play dual guitars to beat the band, alternating clean and dirty solos from first to last. This is the spirit and the music that Traffic's other live release never achieved.

As for Gimme Some Lovin', stand back. From an all-time great three-minute single to a nineminute eternal experience, comin' at you like a fast freight with cowbell clangs, conga/timbale wheeling, and Gordon driving all, demolishing his drum-set en route plus guitar riffs, bizarre sax honks, and Winwood's organ dancing and moaning around his soul-shout, on and on into the night. Shake your ass and stomp your feet.

In-person, this Traffic proves itself to be right up there with the old Dead and the new Allmans. What more could you ask for?
by Ed Leimbacher (Posted: Oct 28, 1971)
1. Medicated Goo (Jimmy Miller, Steve Winwood) - 3:34
2. Sad And Deep As You (Dave Mason) - 3:48
3. Forty Thousand Headmen (Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood) - 6:21
4. Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave (Dave Mason) - 5:39
5. Dear Mr. Fantasy (Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood, Chris Wood) - 10:57
6. Gimme Some Lovin' (Spencer Davis, Steve Winwood, Muff Winwood) - 9:02

The Traffic
*Steve Winwood - Organ, Lead Vocals, Electric Piano, Electric, Acoustic Guitars
*Jim Capaldi - Percussion, Backing Vocals, Tambourine
*Chris Wood - Sax, Flute, Electric Piano, Organ
*Dave Mason- Electric, Acoustic Guitars, Lead Vocals
*Ric Grech - Electric Bass
*Rebop Kwaku Baah - Congas, Timbales, Bongos
*Jim Gordon - Drums

1969  Traffic - Last Exit (SHM remaster)
Related Acts
1965  The Spencer Davis Group - Their First LP (Japan bonus tracks release) 
1966  The Spencer Davis Group - The Second Album (Japan bonus tracks edition) 
1966  The Spencer Davis Group - Autumn '66 (Japan bonus tracks edition) 
1966-68  Deep Feeling - Pretty Colours  
1970  Dave Mason - Alone Together (Japan remaster) 
1971  Dave Mason And Cass Elliot (2008 remaster)
1972  Dave Mason - Headkeeper (Japan SHM-CD 2010 remaster) 
1972  Jim Capaldi - Oh How We Danced (2012 extra track edition) 
1973  Dave Mason - It's Like You Never Left  
1976-77  Dave Mason - Certified Live / Let It Flow (2011 double disc edition)  

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Traffic - Last Exit (1969 uk, excellent psych bluesy rock with prog shades, SHM remaster)

Since Traffic originally planned its self-titled second album as a double LP, the group had extra material left over, some of which saw release before the end of 1968 (there was a new, one-off single released in December, "Medicated Goo"/"Shanghai Noodle Factory"). In January 1969, Steve Winwood announced the group's breakup. That left Island Records, the band's label, in the lurch, since Traffic had built up a considerable following.

As far as Island was concerned, it was no time to stop, and the label quickly set about assembling a new album. The non-LP B-side "Withering Tree," "Medicated Goo," and "Shanghai Noodle Factory" were pressed into service, along with "Just for You," the B-side of a solo single by on-again, off-again member Dave Mason that had been released originally in February 1968 and happened to feature the rest of the members of Traffic as sidemen; a short, previously unreleased instrumental; and two extended jams on cover songs from a 1968 live appearance at the Fillmore West. It all added up to more than half an hour of music, and that was enough to package it as the posthumous Traffic album Last Exit. 

Actually, Last Exit isn't bad as profit-taking products go. "Just for You" is one of Mason's elegant folk-pop songs, including attractive Indian percussion. "Medicated Goo" has proven to be one of Traffic's more memorable jam tunes, despite its nonsense lyrics, and the equally appealing "Shanghai Noodle Factory" is hard not to interpret as Winwood's explanation of the band's split. And while the cover material seems unlikely, the songs are used as platforms for the band to jam cohesively. So, Traffic's third album, thought at the time of its release to be the final one, has its isolated pleasures, even if it doesn't measure up to its two predecessors. 
by William Ruhlmann
1. Just For You (Dave Mason) - 2:18
2. Shanghai Noodle Factory (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood, Jimmy Miller, Larry Fallon) - 5:06
3. Something's Got A Hold Of My Toe (Steve Winwood, Dave Mason, Jimmy Miller) - 2:14
4. Withering Tree (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi) - 3:04
5. Medicated Goo (Steve Winwood, Jimmy Miller) - 3:36
6. Feelin' Good (Live) (Anthony Newley, Leslie Bricusse) - 10:40
7. Blind Man (Live) (Deadric Malone, Joseph Scott) - 7:06

The Traffic

*Steve Winwood - Organ, Lead Vocals, Piano, Bass, Guitar
*Jim Capaldi - Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
*Chris Wood - Flute, Saxophone, Organ
*Dave Mason - Guitar (1, 3), Lead Vocals (1)

Related Acts
1965  The Spencer Davis Group - Their First LP (Japan bonus tracks release) 
1966  The Spencer Davis Group - The Second Album (Japan bonus tracks edition) 
1966  The Spencer Davis Group - Autumn '66 (Japan bonus tracks edition) 
1966-68  Deep Feeling - Pretty Colours  
1970  Dave Mason - Alone Together (Japan remaster) 
1971  Dave Mason And Cass Elliot (2008 remaster)
1972  Dave Mason - Headkeeper (Japan SHM-CD 2010 remaster) 
1972  Jim Capaldi - Oh How We Danced (2012 extra track edition) 
1973  Dave Mason - It's Like You Never Left  
1976-77  Dave Mason - Certified Live / Let It Flow (2011 double disc edition)  

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Trapeze - Trapeze (1975 uk, great hard rock, 2015 remaster)

Refusing to succumb to defeat, Trapeze regrouped, this time adding two new members to fill the void left by Hughes whilst founding member Mel Galley assumed lead vocal duties. ‘Hot Wire’, the resultant album, was an impressive statement, sending out an unequivocal message that the band was far from spent. Indeed, their stature in the US and especially Texas, was further enhanced with intensive gigging and chart success. For their fifth album (confusingly self titled) the band continued their musical assault, unleashing a record that was more consistent with arena rock of the mid seventies.

Released in 1976, produced by Steve Smith (Back Street Crawler, Rough Diamond and Detective) and recorded in London at Island Studios (mixed by an uncredited Eddie Kramer), the record showcases defiant swagger, and riffs to die for. It even contains two songs featuring Glenn Hughes who had remained a staunch supporter of the band.

1. Star Breaker - 3:33
2. It's Alright (Mel Galley) - 4:12
3. Chances (Mel Galley, Tom Galley, Glenn Hughes) - 2:30
4. The Raid (Mel Galley) - 2:47
5. Sunny Side Of The Street (Jimmy McHugh, Dorothy Fields) - 2:43
6. Gimmie Good Love (Mel Galley, Tom Galley, Steve Smith) 03:08
7. Monkey - 3:40
8. I Need You (Mel Galley) - 4:25
9. Soul Stealer - 3:28
10.Nothing For Nothing (Mel Galley) - 4:00
All songs by Mel Galley, Tom Galley except where indicated

The Trapeze
*Mel Galley - Guitars, Vocals
*Rob Kendrick - Guitar, Vocals
*Pete Wright - Bass, Vocals
*Dave Holland - Drums
*Glenn Hughes – Vocals (Tracks 3, 10)

1974  Trapeze - Hot Wire (2015 remaster)

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Trapeze - Hot Wire (1974 uk, impressive hard rock with funky vibes, 2015 remaster)

Trapeze is an English rock band formed in 1969 by vocalist John Jones and guitarist Terry Rowley.  The band was quite popular in Europe but never made it as big as they hoped in the USA.  Trapeze is famous for being the springboard for the career of Glenn Hughes. Trapeze could be described as a pre-Super group, as in addition to Hughes, the band also included Mel Galley on guitar and Dave Holland on drums. 

After Glenn Hughes departed in June of 1973 to join Deep Purple, Holland and Galley kept the band going with a varying line-up of members until 1979 when Holland went on to join Judas Priest. Holland tried to revive the band back in 1990 after leaving Judas Priest, but the band finally broke up in 1994.

Hot Wire is the fourth studio album by the band, and the first to be recorded since the departure of Glenn Hughes.  Replacing him was Pete Wright.  This line-up also included second guitarist Rob Kendrick, joining Galley on vocals/guitar and Holland on drums.  It was also the second album produced by Neil Slaven in 1974 for Warner Bros. Records. 

To be truthful, before doing this review, I had never even heard of this band, but I wish I would have. If you like good rock and roll with a little bit of funk and fun to it, then this Trapeze is for you! 
While best known for his guitar skills, Mel Galley does an amazing job on vocals on this album.  This guy can sing... and I mean sing!  Peter Wright lets his presence be known, as his bass is over-the-top on the first track on the album titled "Back Street Love," which also happens to be my favorite track on the disc.   

"Wake Up Shake Up" has more great vocals from Galley, but it’s the twin guitars that make this a really fun and catchy rock song.  "Turn it On" and "Feel it Inside" feature guitar riffs that are just amazing. Kendrick can play as good, or better, than some of the bigger name guitar players out there. If you like some funk with your rock then "Midnight Flyer" is a track you’re going to get down and get funky with; it’s true ‘70s funk with a little bit of rock thrown in for good measure!    

Over-all this is a good album, it makes me want to go out and pick up their other albums to see what they are like. And if they are as good as this one.... then it’s a win-win for me… and you too!  

Fully Remastered Audio - 16 page full-colour booklet, 2,500 word essay, brand new interviews with Mel Galley & Pete Wright, enhanced artwork and previously unseen photos. Trapeze were initially one of the most promising and, later on, revered bands to have emerged from the UK during the 1970s. They blasted their way from obscurity to international acclaim, then, just as stardom beckoned, the carpet was pulled from under their feet when in 1973 vocalist and front man Glenn Hughes opted to leave the band, hitching his wagon to hard rock grandees Deep Purple. The general consensus was that Trapeze would not be able to carry on after such a catastrophic blow yet, against all the odds, they dusted themselves down, retrenched and got back in the ring to fight another day.

Choosing to expand the band's line up, founding members guitarist Mel Galley and drummer Dave Holland opted to recruit fellow Midlanders, bassist Pete Wright and second guitarist Rob Kendrick. Together they took the Trapeze blueprint of funky hard rock and injected it with a far more hook-laden sheen. Showing real growth the band's sound evolved incrementally, with Mel Galley taking on lead vocals, there were now songs that wouldn't be out of place in the esteemed company of mid-seventies US arena acts such as Derringer, Montrose and Foghat. Originally issued in 1974 and produced by veteran blues champion Neil Slaven (Savoy Brown, Chicken Shack, Stray) at Island Records Basing Street studios in London, the album contains a stellar selection of hard-hitting tracks, including 'Back Street Love', 'Wake Up, Shake Up' and the album centrepiece 'Midnight Flyer', an impressive and hard hitting funk fuelled track built to blow your mind. 
1. Back Street Love - 05:02
2. Take It On Down The Road - 04:46
3. Midnight Flyer - 06:03
4. Wake Up, Shake Up - 03:55
5. Turn It On - 05:11
6. Steal A Mile (Mel Galley, Tom Galley, Dave Holland) 04:52
7. Goin' Home - 05:14
8. Feel It Inside - 08:44
All songs by Mel Galley, Tom Galley except where noted

The Trapeze
*Mel Galley - Guitars, Lead Vocals
*Rob Kendrick - Guitar, Vocals
*Pete Wright - Bass, Vocals
*Dave Holland - Drums
Additional Musicians
*Terry Rowley – Synthesizers, Backing Vocals, Organ, Electric Piano
*Kenny Cole - Backing Vocals
*Misty Browning - Backing Vocals
*John Ogden - Congas
*Chris Mercer - Saxophone

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Black Pearl - Black Pearl And Live (1969-70 us, tremendous garage west coast hard psych blues rock, 2007 digipak edition)

Black Pearl was a West Coast rock group of the late '60s and early '70s. The lead singer was wild showman Bernie "B.B." Fieldings. Though the members of the group were from the Boston area and the band was formed in Boston they left immediately to play in Aspen, Colorado where they were a house band for several months. They moved to San Francisco in 1967. The formation of Black Pearl by Oak OConnor and Geoff Morris was what split up of the Barbarians for whom some of the group had previously played. The group released an album and a single in 1969 and a second album in 1970. They finaly returned to Boston while on tour to play at The Arc in 1969.

When Moulty, The Barbarians drummer decided he did not want to drive all the way to Aspen Colorado for a 2 week gig, drummer Oak OConnor stepped in and the remaining members (Morris, Causi and Benson) started prepping for the gig in Aspen. With the addition of fellow Tom Mulcahy and newly minted lead singer B.B. Fieldings (Champy) they formed Black Pearl in 1967. They rose quickly to a sold out album and number 100 with a bullet in Billboard.

The bands three guitar line-up created one of the first heavy psych groups, with strong R&B roots. Their first album, produced by Lee Kiefer and Richard Moore, contained nine short tracks, with titles like Crazy Chicken, White Devil and Mr. Soul Satisfaction. It's cover was designed by Eve Babitz. Lester Bangs reviewed their albums in Rolling Stone Magazine and in the Rolling Stone History of Rock and Roll he called them one of the first Heavy Metal bands although it was more R&B on LSD.
1. Crazy Chicken (Bernie "B.B" Fieldings, Tom Mulcahy, Jerry Causi, Oak O'Connor, Bruce Benson, Les Kiefer) - 3:02
2. Thinkin' 'Bout the Good Times (Bernie "B.B" Fieldings) - 4:12
3. White Devil (Bernie "B.B" Fieldings, Jerry Causi, Oak O'Connor) - 5:00
4. Mr. Soul Satisfaction (Traditional arr. by Bernie "B.B" Fieldings, Tom Mulcahy, Jerry Causi, Oak O'Connor, Bruce Benson, Jeff Mackay Morris) - 3:45
5. Forget It (Teddy Van, Calvin White) - 3:41
6. Climbing Up the Walls (Bernie "B.B" Fieldings, Tom Mulcahy, Jeff Mackay Morris) - 3:56
7. Bent Over (Bernie "B.B" Fieldings, Jeff Mackay Morris) - 2:54
8. Endless Journey (Bernie "B.B" Fieldings, Jerry Causi) - 3:51
9. Reach Up (Bernie "B.B" Fieldings) - 4:04
10.Uptown (Mabry) - 4:43
11.I Get The Blues Most Every Night (Traditional Arr. Black Pearl) - 6:43
12.Hermit Freak Show (Black Pearl) - 4:08
13.Cold Sweat (Brown, Ellis) - 11:00
14.People Get Ready (Curtis Mayfiled) - 8:03

Black Pearl
*Bernie "B.B" Fieldings - Vocals
*Bruce Benson - Guitar, Bass
*Tom Mulcahy - Guitar
*Jerry Causi - Drums
*Jeff Mackay Morris - Lead Guitar
*Oak O'Connor - Drums

1969  Black Pearl - Black Pearl
1965  The Barbarians - Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Dave Waite And Marianne Segal - Paper Flowers (1967-70 uk, wonderful sunny folk rock, 2004 release)

Before the legendary 70s UK folk rock band Jade, there was a folk duo - Dave Waite and Marian Segal.Dave & Marianne at the Holy Ground Folk Club Well known on the live circuit of the mid to late 60s, Dave and Marian slung their guitars in the boot of their Triumph and travelled the Universities and folk clubs of England at a time when folk was groovy and Carnaby Street was still swinging.

Their music was a fusion of English and American contemporary folk artists such as John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, The Mamas and The Papas and Peter, Paul and Mary but it also contained a spark of ever-so-English vocal purity that gave the duo a sound more suited to the label "folk pop".

Whilst searching Marianne's archives for the re-issue of Jade's Fly On Strangewings album, a whole batch of tapes were uncovered that contained recordings by Dave and Marian recorded whilst they were a duo between early summer 1968 and the summer of 1970. Further searching revealed three fully arranged and orchestrated tracks in the vaults of Jade Producer Jon Miller. Together these tapes revealed a whole previously unreleased collection by Dave and Marian. This collection of songs was issued in 2004 by Lightning Tree under the title Paper Flowers and as such it is a glimpse at one of the great lost UK folk albums of the 1960s.

In part comparable to Sandy Denny and The Strawbs and with the folk pop sensibilities of US West Coast contemporaries such as The Mamas and Papas, Paper Flowers is a rare acoustic snapshot of an era known more for its volume and wild theatrics than for its gentle rustic melodies. Photo session in a school yard, London Paper Flowers is the sound of summer days in Hampstead, beautiful people, beautiful clothes, incense, innocence and mythic 60s mystery. Marianne and Dave weave magical harmonies on original and contemporary '60s folk material and fans of 60s psychedelia, pop or folk will find much to enjoy on this timeless release. Remastered from the only surviving tapes the album contains fully detailed sleeve notes by Dave as well as contemporary photographs.
1. Paper Flowers (Dave Waite) - 2:24
2. It's Really Quite Alright - 3:25
3. I Can't Love You More - 3:43
4. Safe In Your Castle - 2:46
5. It's Not Really Fair - 5:14
6. Miranda In The Sun - 2:44
7. Percy's Song (Bob Dylan) - 5:27
8. Tom Thumb's Blues (Bob Dylan) - 4:13
9. Dawn Song - 2:34
10.Milkwood Dragon - 2:32
11.September Song - 2:01
12.All The Reasons - 3:37
13.Rainbow - 3:56
14.I Think It's Going To Rain Today (Randy Newman) - 2:21
15.Miranda In The Sun #2 - 2:45
16.Released - 2:23
17.All The Good Times - 3:10
18.It's Really Quite Alright (Demo) - 3:28
19.I Can't Love You More (Demo) - 4:07
20.Shine A Candle - 2:05
21.Circles - 2:31
22.Paper Flowers #2 (Dave Waite) - 2:17
Words and Music by Marianne Segal unless as else stated

*Dave Waite - Acoustic, Electric Guitars, Vocals
*Marianne Segal - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Dave Moses - Bass
*Herbie Flowers - Bass
*Barry Morgan - Drums
*Brian Brockelhurst - Bass
*Phil Dennis - Strings, Bass Arrangements

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Roy Harper - Stormcock (1971 uk, brilliant jagged prog folk, 2007 hard sleeve remaster)

Eccentricity is by hardly a hindrance to exemplary music, but it can be a career liability. Just ask Roy Harper – the English folk-rocker whose nonconformist bent resulted in a veritable goldmine of material, but did little for his personal fortunes.

Name-checked by Zeppelin, lauded by Floyd and ripped off by Tull, Harper represented – for a brief time in the 1970s, anyway – the vanguard of progressive acoustic music. Although his 1971 album, Stormcock, is now widely regarded as a classic, it never broke the charts. But having had invested so much of himself in its creation, it nearly broke his will. Thankfully, the number of units moved has no bearing on the quality of Harper’s work, which sounds as vital in 2008 as one imagines it did nearly 40 years ago.

Armed with open chords and epic narratives that pillory religious and social hypocrisy, Harper offers a lusty worldview informed by strong ale, fierce herbs and a defiant yet solicitous humanism. Always careful not to indulge in borrowed mysticism or token utopianism, Harper instead plants his feet firm on the rock of Reason, employing impressionistic poetics in service of unfiltered insight.

Produced by legendary British manager/sounding board Peter Jenner, Stormcock‘s sound is brisk and intimate, with arrangements that grow from seedlings to strapping oaks as Harper’s reedy voice paints pictures of an ugly, unsound world at odds with justice and magnanimity. Boasting 12-string guitar, airy effects and the appearance of one S. Flavius Mercurius, a.k.a. Jimmy Page, the album is a time capsule from when the Aquarian waters were cooling, but had yet to completely ice over. Stormcock serves as a kind of mitigation between the chief tensions of the era – namely, bohemian indulgence and the sober apprehension of institutionalized cruelty.

It’s tough to name standout tracks, as there are only four on the record, and they all happen to be excellent. Opener “The Same Old Rock” is probably the finest of the batch, possessing a striking Page riff you can’t believe he didn’t save for Zeppelin. The fact that a mercenary like Page would be willing to part with an arrow from his musical quiver is a testament to the respect Harper garnered among his peers.

“Hors d’Oeuvres” is Stormcock‘s most lyrically pointed number. Harper sings in an untroubled yet persuasive tenor of despicable men with a firm grasp on the levers of power and public influence: “The judge sits on his great assize / Twelve men wise with swollen thighs / Who never ever told no lies / Whose minds were ever such a size / Whose lives were ever such a prize / Whose brains bred answers just like flies,” Harper merrily intones, making cold condemnation sound like a country promenade.

The album’s sole love song, “Me and My Woman,” on the other hand, plays like a demonic madrigal, replete with multi-tracked voices and a thorny midsection featuring sweeping strings, funereal trumpets and minor-key guitar arpeggios.

“There is a famous straggler stood on the edge of time / Who held the staff but did not feel the pain / He multiplied the mystery with utterance sublime / And crossed his heart for those who died insane,” Harper sings on “The Same Old Rock.” Those lyrics could apply to Harper himself, who, more than four decades into his career, remains the enlightened outlander – perfect in his flaws, and wholly untamable.
by Casey Rae-Hunter
1. Hors D'Oeuvres - 8:37
2. The Same Old Rock - 12:24
3. One Man Rock And Roll Band - 7:23
4. Me And My Woman - 13:01
All compositions by Roy Harper

*Roy Harper -  Vocals, Acoustic, Electric, 12 String Guitars, Moog, Piano
*David Bedford - Hammond Organ, String Arrangements
*Jimmy Page - Guitar

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Santana - Caravanserai (1972 us, gorgeous jazz fusion rock, 2011 MFSL Ultradisc)

Drawing on rock, salsa, and jazz, Santana recorded one imaginative, unpredictable gem after another during the 1970s. But Caravanserai is daring even by Santana's high standards. Carlos Santana was obviously very hip to jazz fusion -- something the innovative guitarist provides a generous dose of on the largely instrumental Caravanserai. Whether its approach is jazz-rock or simply rock, this album is consistently inspired and quite adventurous. 

Full of heartfelt, introspective guitar solos, it lacks the immediacy of Santana or Abraxas. Like the type of jazz that influenced it, this pearl (which marked the beginning of keyboardist/composer Tom Coster's highly beneficial membership in the band) requires a number of listenings in order to be absorbed and fully appreciated. But make no mistake: this is one of Santana's finest accomplishments. 
by Alex Henderson
1. Eternal Caravan Of Reincarnation (Tom Rutley, Neal Schon, Michael Shrieve) - 4:28
2. Waves Within (Doug Rauch, Gregg Rolie, Carlos Santana) - 3:54
3. Look Up (To See What's Coming Down) (Doug Rauch, Gregg Rolie, Carlos Santana) - 3:00
4. Just In Time To See The Sun (Gregg Rolie, Carlos Santana, Michael Shrieve) - 2:18
5. Song Of The Wind (Gregg Rolie, Carlos Santana, Neal Schon) - 6:04
6. All The Love Of The Universe (Carlos Santana, Neal Schon) - 7:36
7. Future Primitive (José Areas, Mingo Lewis) - 4:15
8. Stone Flower (Antonio Carlos Jobim, Carlos Santana, Michael Shrieve) - 6:15
9. La Fuente Del Ritmo (Mingo Lewis) - 4:31
10.Every Step Of The Way (Michael Shrieve) - 9:07

*Carlos Santana – Lead Guitar, Vocals, Percussion
*Neal Schon – Guitar
*Gregg Rolie – Organ, Electric Piano, Vocals, Piano
*Douglas Rauch – Bass, Guitar
*Douglas Rodrigues – Guitar
*Wendy Haas – Piano
*Tom Rutley – Acoustic Bass
*Michael Shrieve – Drums, Percussion
*Jos̩ "Chepito" Areas РPercussion, Congas, Timbales, Bongos
*James Mingo Lewis – Percussion, Congas, Bongos, Vocals, Acoustic Piano
*Armando Peraza – Percussion, Bongos
*Hadley Caliman – Saxophone, Flute
*Rico Reyes – Vocals
*Lenny White – Castanets
*Tom Coster – Electric Piano
*Tom Harrell – Orchestra Arrangement

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Fusion Orchestra - Skeleton In Armour (1973 uk, incredible hard prog rock, 2009 japan remaster)

Fusion Orchestra built a strong and dedicated following during the early 1970s – mostly thanks to the band's musicianship, ambitious musical works and exciting stage act. The fact that they toured constantly and gigged throughout the length and breadth of the country carried their music to a huge audience during the close to six years the band was together.

Fusion Orchestra was formed in 1969 by guitarists and lifelong friends Colin Dawson and Stan Land (who met on their very first day at infants school), together with Dave Bell, who had already been playing drums with Colin and Stan in a rock band which, at the time, was unnamed.

The name Fusion Orchestra was eventually chosen to reflect the diverse styles woven into the band's music. Early performances featured original songs written by Stan Land and Colin Dawson.

In the band's early days, vocal and bass duties were handled by another friend of Colin and Stan – Dave Wheeler, but other interests prevented him from joining the band on a permanent basis.

Although the band played eight gigs with Dave Wheeler on bass, his situation meant the other members were constantly on the lookout for a replacement, which they found in November 1969 in the shape of Mick Sluman. Mick was singing and playing guitar with a local semi-pro band called This Was (a name unashamedly lifted from the title of Jethro Tull's debut album). The band was playing a support spot to Fusion Orchestra.

Mick had a certain stage presence and Colin, Dave and Stan approached him after the gig to find out when and where his band rehearsed. A while later they turned up at a This Was rehearsal and, much to the disquiet of the other members, asked Mick if he wanted to join a good band – he'd have to take up bass guitar though. Mick thought about it for about 30 seconds. He joined and soon began to contribute to the band's material, helping to pen some early band numbers with Colin Dawson and Stan Land, including 'Winter Nights' and 'Outcast in Hell'.

The band built up a strong following gigging around London and the South and, in June 1970, they were spotted by their manager-to-be Steve Parker while playing an open-air gig at Carshalton Carnival in South London. Fusion Orchestra had been booked as third on the bill but their performance stole the show and blew the other bands off stage.

The band played at London's Marquee club in Wardour Street so regularly, it was almost a spiritual home. On Thursday 1 February 1973, they played to a packed house. Among the audience were representatives from record company EMI and music publisher Acuff-Rose.

A storming performance led to the offer of a record deal with EMI for an album and single, and a publishing contract with Acuff-Rose Music. The band signed in March 1973 and later that year spent a month in the world-renowned Abbey Road Studio.

The resulting album, 'Skeleton in Armour', featured three main numbers from the band's stage performances: 'Sonata in Z', 'Have I Left The Gas On?' and 'Talk To The Man In The Sky'. The title track was work in progress at the beginning of the studio sessions. Dawson had written a theme and suggested chord sequences for a main verse. Jill Saward took these away and days later arrived at a recording session with the lyrics for 'Skeleton In Armour'. The song was immediately adopted as the album title track. Cowell added bass lines for the middle instrumental section, over which Saward played Hammond organ.

The album also reflected the sense of fun Fusion Orchestra demonstrated on stage. The Cowell-Land harmonica duet 'OK Boys, Now's Our Big Chance' and the slightly ludicrous 'Don't Be Silly, Jilly' were not to be taken seriously.

The resulting album, although critically acclaimed by the music press, suffered from limited promotion. EMI's publicity amounted to one press release and two half-page advertisements in Melody Maker, plus one half-page in Sounds. There was no strong publicity machine behind the band and most album sales were achieved probably through the band's live work and their rigorous touring schedule.

Between the recording of 'Skeleton In Armour' and its release in November 1973, Fusion Orchestra continued to gig solidly in Britain and also crossed the Channel to play gigs in Holland and Germany.

At the Scheessel Rock Festival in northern Germany, headlined by legendary performers Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis and featuring many leading rock bands, Fusion Orchestra played to a 50,000-plus crowd. With a storming performance that included numbers from 'Skeleton In Armour', as well as feature spots for all band members, the audience wouldn't let the band go without an encore. Happy to oblige, the band had the balls to play their version of 'Whole Lotta Shakin' – a rock 'n' roll song made famous by none other than Jerry Lee himself. They never found out what he thought of their version.
1. Fanfairy Suite For 1000 Trampits (Part One) (Jeff Jarratt) - 0:16
2. Sonata In Z (Colin Dawson, Dave Cowell, Jill Saward) - 11:49
3. Have I Left The Gas On? (Colin Dawson, Dave Cowell, Jill Saward) - 8:41
4. OK Boys, Now's Our Big Chance (Dave Cowell, Sten Land) - 0:47
5. Skeleton In Armour (Colin Dawson, Dave Cowell, Jill Saward) - 5:12
6. When My Mamma's Not At Home (Colin Dawson, Jill Saward) - 3:27
7. Don't Be Silly, Jilly (Jill Saward) - 0:08
8. Talk To The Man In The Sky (Colin Dawson, Dave Cowell, Jill Saward) - 11:54
9. Fanfairy Suite For 1000 Trampits (Part Two) (Jeff Jarratt) - 0:14

The Fusion Orchestra
*Jill Saward, Flute, Vocals, Synthesizer
*Dave Bell, Drums
*Colin Dawson, Guitar
*Dave Cowell, Bass, Harmonica
*Sten Land, Guitar, Synthesizer, Horns, Percussion

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Ramatam - Ramatam (1972 us / uk, rough heavy prog brass rock with jazz shades, feat Mike Pinera, Mitch Mitchell, 2004 edition)

Ramatam's chief claim to fame was in having a female lead guitarist, April Lawton, in the early '70s, especially as she was the only female member of the band. Well, it's not common now (sadly), so try to put yourself back in those days of unrestrained sexism to see how unusual this was. Of course, if you didn't know, you wouldn't know, as she was a competent rock guitarist in an era when you could find a competent rock guitarist on every corner, particularly in the States, where rock had more mainstream appeal than it ever managed in the UK. The rest of the band were far from slackers, too, with vocalist/guitarist Mike Pinera from Blues Image and Manna (both Chamberlin users) and none other than Mitch Mitchell on drums, the longest-surviving member of the Experience.

Ramatam is an album of unrestrained heavy rock. Or is it? A couple of ballads are quite normal on this kind of album, but a brass-fuelled soul feel, as on Wayso, isn't, so maybe they were less 'standard' than you might think. It features the most unbelievable lyrics, mind; well, titles like Whiskey Place and Wild Like Wine tell their own story, I think. OK, it was 1972 and lyrical erudition was pretty thin on the ground, certainly in red-blooded rock circles; it's not as if anything's improved, is it? Tommy Sullivan guests on Mellotron on two tracks, with grungy, almost distorted strings on the rocking Ask Brother Ask and cleaner, higher ones on the surprisingly funky Wild Like Wine, but, as with so many others, nothing you can't live without.

So; unless you're very into third-division early '70s US hard rock, you probably won't be that fussed about Ramatam, although it does have its moments. I've heard a lot worse, but then, I've also heard much better, and if your resources are limited (and whose aren't?), you may wish to direct your hard-earned somewhere else. I suspect the usual maxim applies: 'pick it up if you see it cheap'.
1. Whiskey Place (April Lawton, Mike Pinera, Mitch Mitchell, Russ Smith, Tom Sullivan) - 3:23
2. Heart Song (Les Sampson, Mike Pinera) - 4:57
3. Ask Brother Ask (Mike Pinera) - 5:04
4. What I Dream I Am (April Lawton, Tom Sullivan) - 4:00
5. Wayso (April Lawton, Mike Pinera, Mitch Mitchell, Russ Smith, Tom Sullivan) - 3:25
6. Changing Days (April Lawton, Tom Sullivan) - 3:28
7. Strange Place (Mike Pinera) - 6:06
8. Wild Like Wine (Russ Smith) - 3:48
9. Can't Sit Still (April Lawton, Tom Sullivan) - 6:02

The Ramatam
*April Lawton - Bass, Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
*Mitch Mitchell - Drums
*Mike Pinera - Guitar, Vocals
*Russ Smith - Bass, Vocals
*Tommy Sullivan - Keyboards, Reeds, Vocals, Wind

Related Acts
1967-70  Blues Image - Blues Image / Red White and Blues Image
1970  Iron Butterfly - Metamorphosis (Japan SHM edition)

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Doug Ashdown - The Age Of Mouse (1970 australia, prominent folk psych with spiritual citations, 2005 issue)

Adelaide-born Doug Ashdown was an early starter in music. At the age of ten, he was given a banjo which he learned to play by ear. By seventeen he had travelled to England, where he played in a rock band, returning to Adelaide the following year and working as lead guitarist in The Bowmen with Bobby Bright (who became famous as one half of pioneering beat duo Bobby & Laurie).

Doug's first major break came when he signed with CBS. They released his first single "Guess I'm Doing Fine" (1965), and over the next three years he recorded three albums for them, beginning with This Is Doug Ashdown in 1965. Doug's second album The Real Thing (1966) contained an eclectic range of local and overseas material, including The Beatles' "Hide your love away", Roebuck "Pop" Staple's "Ain't that news", Paul Simon's "Sounds of Silence", "I Know A Girl" by Adelaide singer-songwriter Phli Sawyer (whose 1971 Sweet Peach album Childhood's End has become one of the rarest and most collectible Australian progressive LPs) and Gary Shearston's "Sometime Lovin'", the song that was heard and recorded by Peter, Paul & Mary and led to Gary being invited to the USA. Doug's third album Source (1968) was his last for CBS, but by decade's end, he was an accomplished performer, songwriter and recording artist, and a leading light on the Australian folk scene.

After his CBS contract expired Doug released two solo singles on Philips, "Something Strange" (1968) and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On/Marcie" (1969). The latter, which was a chart hit in Adelaide and is quite a remarkable record, as well as being a wild digression from Doug's usual style and a veyr funny record. In several respects -- the deliberate lo-fi sound, the deadpan vocal, and the concept of creating a satirical studio deconstruction of a rock’n’roll classic -- this single strikingly anticipates the work of Britain’s Flying Lizards almost a decade later. It has been anthologised on the Datura Dreamtime bootleg CD compilation but really deserves wider recognition.

In 1969 Doug joined forces with expatriate Irish singer, songwriter and producer Jimmy Stewart who had recently formed the Sweet Peach label. Stewart's first Australian success was as the producer of the one-off hit "Love Machine", recorded by the studio group Pastoral Symphony. 

Based in Adelaide, Sweet Peach released music by Fraternity, Levi Smith's Clefs and Lee Conway; Doug's 1970 single "I've come to save your world" was the first issued on the new label. Shortly after its formation, Sweet Peach became involved with The La De Das, and in mid-1968 Stewart reportedly approached them with an offer to record and release their long-cherished project for a concept album based on Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince. The band undertook numerous rehearsals in preparation for recording but as the year wore on Sweet Peach repeatedly arranged sessions and then postponed them, and by November 1968 the label had pulled out altogether and the deal collapsed.

Doug's fourth album, his first for Sweet Peach, was The Age Of Mouse which earned him a place in the history books as the first double album of original material ever released in Australia, almost two years before Spectrum's Milesago. Like many of the Sweet Peach releases it is now highly collectible and Doug has wryly commented that the prices currently being asked on the Internet are more than he was paid to record it! The songs were co-written with Jimmy Stewart, and the instrumental backing was provided by members of Levi Smith's Clefs, who were about to split from lead singer Barrie McAskill and form Fraternity.

Sweet Peach lifted three Singles — "The Day They Freed The Noise", "The Saddest Song Of All" and "And The Lion Roared", all released during 1970. The first two Singles were local chart successes, and the album gained considerable critical acclaim. As a result, it was picked up by MCA for overseas release in fifty countries. Doug recorded a live LP to follow up, but by that time The Age Of Mouse had generated enough interest in the USA to prompt Doug and Jimmy to move there.

Despite these succeses, Doug was unable to crack the US market, so Jimmy and Doug returned to Australia where they set up a new label, own Billingsgate. Stewart produced Doug's next album entitled Leave Love Enough Alone (1974). The album produced two Singles, "They Always Seem To Look Like Marianne", and the album's evocative title track, co-written by Doug and Jimmy Stewart during a bitter winter in Nashville. "Leave Love Enough Alone" was released in September 1974 and received some airplay, but neither it nor its predecessor made the charts at the time.
1. Who Is It That Shall Come One Day - 2:37
2. I've Come To Save Your World - 3:43
3. The Day They Freed The Noise - 4:30
4. California Beachhead - 0:52
5. And The Lion Roared - 2:32
6. Galilee - 2:56
7. Who Is It That Shall Come One Day - 3:12
8. The Race - 4:35
9. Susan Of The Straw - 3:22
10.I Remembered Alice - 3:23
11.Mother Love - 1:40
12.Holly - 2:37
13.Have You Had A Good Day At The Bank - 2:42
14.The Saddest Song Of All - 4:54
Words and Music by Doug Ashdown, Jimmy Stewart

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

American Flyer - American Flyer / Spirit Of A Woman (1976-77 us, wonderful orchestrated silk rock, George Martin production with Steve Katz, Doug Yule, Craig Fuller and Eric Kaz, 2003 remaster)

American Flyer has long been a favorite of singer/songwriter, L.A. country-rock, and '70s soft rock aficionados, partially because of the group's supergroup status, but chiefly because the music they made was very, very good. That pedigree was indeed impressive, with the four members consisting of former Pure Prairie League member Craig Fuller, Eric Kaz of the Blues Magoos, Doug Yule of the Velvet Underground, and Steve Katz, formerly of Blood, Sweat & Tears -- maybe not Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in terms of marquee name recognition, but surely a collection of gifted and respected singer/songwriters who complemented each other nicely. While they had some modest success with their George Martin-produced 1976 eponymous debut, they had a difficult time breaking into a larger audience, even though their music fit neatly into the L.A. soft rock scene, equal parts country-rock and tuneful popcraft. 

While American Flyer didn't storm up the charts, it was a promising start, but unfortunately its self-produced (with Ken Friesen) 1977 follow-up, Spirit of a Woman, made even less of an impact, and the bandmembers went their separate ways afterward (Fuller & Kaz cut an impressive album the next year for Columbia). Although they didn't make much of an impression at the time, the two albums, particularly the debut, continued to be favorites of record collectors and singer/songwriter fans, and as time passed, their lack of success seemed all the more bewildering, since as the albums aged, it became clear that the music more than held its own with the more successful Californian soft rock of the time. 

Song for song, each of the records is stronger than any Eagles album, and as lushly melodic as the best America songs, while being more consistent than those groups' albums as well. And if their rocking side is subdued on both albums -- something that Yule mentions in Richie Unterberger's liner notes, along with his dissatisfaction with Martin's lush production, which may not have quite jibed with the band's vision, but did result in a classic L.A. soft rock production all the same -- they had the musical facility and songwriting strengths to compensate for this perceived weakness.

American Flyer had many other strengths, particularly in how all four members had songs so melodic that the sweetness camouflaged the sturdiness of the writing, which is uniformly excellent. If the first album is cloaked in George Martin's lush arrangements, reminiscent of his work with America but not as heavy-handed, the second is a little studio-pro slick, whether it's on the gilded ballads or hints of easy boogie, but it's very appealing all the same. The two sounds complement each other; they're two sides of the same soft rock coin on this superb CD from Collectors' Choice that pairs both albums on one disc. For too long, these albums have been hard to find, so fans of country-rock and soft rock only had to rely on their reputation. This two-fer reveals that their reputation is well-earned, and that American Flyer, despite their lack of success, made some of the best music in their style during the late '70s. As a follow-up, Collectors' Choice should reissue the 1978 Fuller & Kaz album, which is the equal in every way to these two excellent records.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
1. Light Of Your Love (Craig Fuller, Eric Kaz) - 2:54
2. Such A Beautiful Feeling (Eric Kaz) - 3:13
3. Back In '57 (Steve Katz) - 3:26
4. Lady Blue Eyes (Doug Yule) - 3:14
5. Let Me Down Easy (Craig Fuller, Eric Kaz) - 2:37
6. M (Steve Katz) - 3:51
7. The Woman In Your Heart (Craig Fuller) - 4:12
8. Love Has No Pride (Eric Kaz, Libby Titus) - 3:31
9. Queen Of All My Days (Doug Yule) - 2:50
10.Drive Away (Eric Kaz) - 2:31
11.Call Me, Tell Me (Craig Fuller) - 2:36
12.End Of A Love Song (Eric Kaz, George Martin) - 0:58
13.Spirit Of A Woman (Craig Fuller, Eric Kaz) - 2:32
14.Gamblin' Man (Eric Kaz) - 3:57
15.My Love Comes Alive (Eric Kaz) - 2:39
16.Victoria (Steve Katz) - 3:18
17.Dear Carmen (Craig Fuller, Eric Kaz) - 4:08
18.I'm Blowin' Away (Eric Kaz) - 2:33
19.Flyer (Doug Yule) - 4:23
20.The Good Years (Steve Katz) - 4:17
21.Keep On Tryin' (Eric Kaz) - 3:18

The American Flyer
*Craig Fuller - Vocals, Guitar
*Doug Yule - Vocals, Guitar
*Eric Kaz - Vocals, Piano, Keyboards
*Steve Katz - Vocals, Guitar
1976 American Flyer
*Larry Carlton - Guitar
*Fred Beckmeier - Bass
*Byron Berline - Fiddle, Violin
*Gary Coleman - Percussion
*Vincent Derosa - French Horn
*Earl Dumler - Oboe
*Scott Edwards - Bass
*Leland Sklar - Bass
*Alvin "Red" Taylor - Drums
*Ernie Watts - Saxophone
*Rusty Young - Steel Guitar
1977 Spirit Of A Woman 
*Whitey Glan - Drums
*Prakash John - Bass
*Bobby Keys - Horn
*Jerry Scheff - Bass
*Ben Mink - Guitar, Violin, Mandolin
*Alan Macmillan - Strings Arrangement
*Tracy Nelson - Vocals
*Linda Ronstadt - Vocals
*Jerry Scheff - Vocals
*J.D. Souther - Vocals
*Sylvia Tyson - Vocals

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Cold Blood - Vintage Blood Live (1973 us, unique brass rock in' soul)

“East Bay Funk” is a musical amalgam created in the early seventies on the other end of the Bay bridge from San Francisco by, primarily two musical progenitors: Tower Of Power and Cold Blood. The fat and sassy soul sounds they offered up served to shock the San Francisco music scene out of the psychedelic sixties! In fact, for a while, their horn sections seemed to play a game of musical chairs. 

What set the band apart was powerhouse lead vocalist. Tower of Power kept searching, working their way through a series of fine lead singers. However, Cold Blood’s secret ammunition was they had one in their pocket from the gate:  Lydia Pense! “Vintage Blood” showcases a world-class soul singer who takes a back seat to non of the better known ladies of a song. After one listen, you’ll agree that soul divas like Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight had better make some room on the stage for one Lydia Pense.

Cold Blood has delivered six studio efforts to the marketplace since their self-titled debut in 1969. Curiously though, “Vintage Blood” is the first time a live set has been presented. The band is captured in front of a small audience in an intimate studio setting. It’s 1973 and the band is obviously at the top of their game. 

In addition to the prowess and pyrotechnics found in the vocal delivery of their lead singer, the pair of Stacy Adams, laying down one funky groove after another. The instrumentalists soar as they stretch out their solos. Listen to the burning guitar work of Michael Sasaki. The horn section floats on the notes emanating from Skip Mesquite on tenor saxophone and Max Hasket and Jack Walrath on trumpet. 

There is something special going on here that has never been revealed in their studio efforts. Sit down if you can stand it, and dig what’s in the grooves! Ladies and Gentlemen, this is “East Bay Funk”.
by Jeff Hughson
1. Feel So Bad (James Johnson, Leslie Temple) - 9:25
2. Kissin' My Love (Bill Withers) - 7:27
3. I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free (Billy Taylor, Richard Carroll Lamb) - 7:34
4. Funky On My Back (Cecil Stoltie, Danny Hull, Larry Field, Lydia Pense, Raul Matute, Rod Ellicott) - 12:21
5. You Got Me Hummin' (David Porter, Isaac Hayes) - 5:31

The Cold Blood
*Lydia Pense - Vocals
*Michael Sasaki - Guitar
*Gaylord Birch - Drums
*Rod Elliott - Bass
*Raul Matute - Keyboards
*Skip Meswuite - Saxophone
*Max Haskett - Trumpet
*Jack Walrath - Trumpet

1969-70  Cold Blood - Cold Blood / Sisyphus
1972  Cold Blood - First Taste Of Sin
1973  Cold Blood - Thriller

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