Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Lesley Duncan - Everything Changes (1973 uk, marvelous folk soft rock, vinyl edition)

Lesley Duncan, was one of Britain's first female singer-songwriters. Her songs had an astonishing emotional depth and her voice a rare combination of warmth and clarity, bringing an intimacy to the experience of listening to her records. For those who discovered her music in the early 1970s, she stood out from all the other pop and rock of the era.

Her big break came when Elton John recorded her Love Song as a duet with her for his album Tumbleweed Connection (1970). Love Song – "a little song I'd knocked up as a suitable B-side," said Lesley – went on to be covered by more than 150 artists, including Olivia Newton-John, David Bowie and Barry White. In 1977, Topol and Najah Salam recorded it in Hebrew and Arabic to commemorate the peace meeting between Egypt's president, Anwar Sadat, and Israel's, Menachem Begin.

Born in Stockton-on-Tees, Lesley had an unpromising background, leaving school just before her 15th birthday and home soon after. In 1962, while she was working in a London coffee bar, she and her brother Jimmy (soon to become manager of the Pretty Things) took some songs to a leading Tin Pan Alley music publisher. Jimmy was signed with a weekly retainer of £10, and Lesley with £7, on the grounds that she had fewer songs, no guitar and was a girl. Within a year, she had an EMI recording contract and had appeared in the film What a Crazy World (1963), with Joe Brown, Marty Wilde and Susan Maughan.

She released a dozen singles from 1963 to 1970, while continuing to write songs for other performers, including the Walker Brothers. She was also in great demand as a session singer, contributing backing vocals to Dusty Springfield's singles from 1964 up to her See All Her Faces album in 1972; Springfield returned the favour, doing backing vocals on Lesley's singles.

By the late 60s, Lesley's songwriting was changing in style from girl-pop to more reflective writing. Her first album, Sing Children Sing (1971), was produced by Jimmy Horowitz, whom Lesley married in 1970 (they later divorced). It was followed by Earth Mother (1972); the title track, dedicated to Friends of the Earth, is one of the first, and finest, eco-songs.

Throughout the 70s, Lesley sang backing vocals for Donovan, Long John Baldry, Kiki Dee, Ringo Starr and many others, and also sang on the Jesus Christ, Superstar album, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (1973) and the Alan Parsons Project's Eve (1979).

Her first two solo albums were critically acclaimed but, despite a lot of radio play, neither sold well. Her next two, Everything Changes (1974) and Moon Bathing (1975), again failed to break through. Her last album, Maybe It's Lost (1977), was a conscious attempt to hit the popular market; when it didn't, she decided to call it a day.

She moved to Cornwall and, in 1978, married her second husband, the record producer Tony Cox; they later moved to Oxfordshire and, in 1996, to Mull, in the Inner Hebrides. She contributed both her time and her music to causes she believed in, including releasing a new version of her song Sing Children Sing for the Year of the Child in 1978. Lesley Duncan, passed away on 12 March 2010.
by David Barrett
1. My Soul - 3:25
2. Broken Old Doll - 3:50
3. The Serf - 3:54
4. Hold On - 3:30
5. Everything Changes - 3:43
6. Love Melts Away (Lesley Duncan, Jimmy Horowitz) - 3:40
7. Sam - 2:55
8. You - 4:23
9. Watch The Tears (Lesley Duncan, Jimmy Horowitz) - 4:20
10.We'll Get By - 4:43
All songs by Lesley Duncan except where stated

*Lesley Duncan - Vocals, Guitar
*Jim Ryan - Guitar
*Bob Cohen - Guitars
*Larry Steele - Bass
*Jimmy Horowitz - Piano
*Barry De Sousa - Drums
*Lisa Strike - Vocals
*Sue Glover - Vocals
*Peter Frampton - Guitar
*Andy Bown - Bass

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Unison - Unison (1976 us, great heavy blues psych rock)

Original private pressing LP out of Upstate NY,  This is pretty good mid to late 70's style dual guitar hard rock stoner, in the vein similar to Truth and Janey, but more psychedelic and more wasted!"

"Dryewater run into Truth and Janey after a really nasty relationship breakdown. Essentially a concept LP about a relationship gone wrong, each song being a different aspect of how “his chick done him wrong”. Sounds terrible doesn’t it? But it is pretty good, with tracks like "Borderline" delivering that seventies chunk fuzz with insane lyrics and "Cookin’ for you" having so much phasing it could be Marcus 
1. Borderline - 3:16
2. Blow Me Away - 3:07
3. Flesh And Blood - 3:42
4. Cookin 'For You - 3:15
5. Again - 4:31
6. Second Chance - 4:45
7. Running Out - 4:07
8. So Many Miles - 7:33

The Unison
*Bruce C. Van Iderstine - Vocals, Congas, Harmonica
*Guy D. Van Iderstine - Electric Six Twelve String Guitars
*Mark A. Tuberdyke - Lead Guitar
*John N. Vasey - Bass
*David Richmond - Drums, Vocals

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Bodine - Bodine (1969 us, exceptional country rural rock funky soulful psych)

Bodine is as solid as it gets, loaded with tunes as good as anything played on classic rock radio today. You would think that stations would be interested in expanding their content with picks from the vast piles of unknown classics (Bodine included), but it’s still the same old hits, recycled day after day, some 40 years later. In any case, this little lost gem, produced by Bill Cowsill, is a strong promise from a band that would disappear after just one release.

The sound is influenced by country rock, with rural acoustic guitar driving back seat to funk bass lines and stabbing double tracked guitars. But the song structures have Ray Davies-ian 3-part movements and a strong Beatles influence, especially on the bouncy Statues Of Clay. Apart from this review, I think the vocal harmonies are cool, the backups strangely adding “eee’s” to the excellent Easy To See and trading vocal leads easily standing next to groups like Blood Sweat and Tears. It’s nice to find a record with a lotta soul made by some kids with seriously blue eyes.

I find it amazing a band so unknown could have such powerfully memorable songs, though not everything has aged wonderfully. Take It Back satisfies but teeters near television theme schmaltz. But the boys do manage to approach Jim Ford’s country funk on clear winners like Keep Lookin’ Through Your Window. If you give it a chance, you’ll find there really are no throwaways on Bodine’s only album.
by Brendan McGrath 
1. Short Time Woman (Eric Karl) - 3:44
2. Oakland (Kerry Magness) - 3:19
3. Into My Life (Eric Karl) - 2:55
4. Travelogue (Steve Lalor) - 3:07
5. It's Just My Way (Eric Karl) - 5:41
6. Easy To See (Steve Lalor) - 2:51
7. Take It Back (Eric Karl) - 3:22
8. Keep Lookin' Through Your Window (Eric Karl) - 3:47
9. Statues Of Clay (Steve Lalor) - 2:44
10.Long Way Just To Go Home (Eric Karl) - 2:56
11.Between The Lines (Steve Lalor) - 3:33
12.Disaster (Eric Karl) - 3:09

The Bodine
*Kerry Magness - Bass
*Jon Keliehor – Drums
*Eric Karl – Guitar
*David Brooks - Keyboards
*Steve Lalor – Guitar

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Bunky And Jake - Bunky And Jake (1968 us, wondrous shiny baroque folk, 2007 issue)

Andrea "Bunky" Skinner and Allan "Jake" Jacobs were fixtures on the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early '60s, but they also had a taste for sophisticated pop/rock (Jacobs played guitar with the Magicians of "Invitation to Cry" fame for a while), and the duo's 1968 debut album is an engagingly eclectic set of folk-leaning pop tunes buoyed by Skinner and Jacobs' harmonies and the latter's strong guitar work. Skinner and Jacobs wrote all 11 songs on Bunky & Jake, and their thematic range stretches from the acoustic calm of "I'll Follow You" and the pastoral beauty of "Country Girl" to the '50s rock & roll vibe of "The Candy Store" and "Daphne Plum," and while the arrangements seem a bit overdone on a few cuts and the mix favors Jacobs' guitar a bit more than is needed, the melodies thankfully win out most of the time. 

If Bunky and Jake has a flaw, its that the album never sets down in one style long enough to find a comfortable groove; Skinner and Jacobs supposedly submitted these songs looking for a deal as songwriters rather than performers, and while Skinner's voice is more than strong enough to carry the material, in a bid to show how much they could do they forgot to define their individual sound along the way. While Bunky and Jake exists in a strange netherworld somewhere between sunshine pop, Baroque rock and latter-day folk-rock, the material is rich and satisfying, though the duo would have better luck (creatively, anyway) with their next album, the 1969 cult favorite LAMF.
by Mark Deming
1. I'll Follow You - 2:00
2. It Happens Again - 2:36
3. Daphne Plum - 2:42
4. Country Girl - 2:14
5. Hey Buckaroo - 2:25
6. Taxicab - 2:38
7. As You Go By - 2:37
8. Big Car, Shiny Ring - 1:57
9. Mongoose - 1:25
10.Cheerio - 2:25
11.The Candy Store - 3:50
All songs by Andrea "Bunky" Skinner, Allan "Jake" Jacobs

*Andrea "Bunky" Skinner - Guitar, Vocals
*Allan "Jake" Jacobs - Guitar, Vocals

1969  Bunky And Jake - L.A.M.F. (Japan issue)

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Cain - A Pound Of Flesh (1975-78 us, good hard rock with some glam and prog shades, 2009 bonus tracks remaster)

Cain's musical passport to classic rock obscurity, then posterity, was stamped by their first album, A Pound of Flesh, which would be roundly ignored by the world beyond the upper Midwest at the time of its release -- only to resurface nearly 30 years later on CD, transforming the band into collectors' darlings. Recorded in 1975, A Pound of Flesh reflected a half-decade's worth of hard graft for the band, and a wide gamut of influences that simultaneously intrigued and confused listeners lucky enough to secure one of the original vinyl copies.

On the other hand, one could say there was something here for everyone. For one thing, Cain's lengthy experience playing blue collar clubs peppered all the way from the Twin Cities to Chicago made it second nature for them to wheel out handfuls of no-fuss, heavy blues workouts like "Heed the Call," "South Side Queen," and "If the Right One Don't Get You (The Left One Will)" -- all of which stood in sharp contrast to their occasional flights into rarefied art rock, via the anthemic but ponderously bloated signature ballad "Katy," the eight-minute "All My Life" (a convergence of Deep Purple's "Highway Star" with any number of mid-'70s Rush efforts), and the slow-strutting "Badside," earmarked by multi-tracked choired vocals reminiscent of Queen and the rising Styx (with whom Cain shared many a stage). 

In fact, Cain singer Jiggs Lee possessed the same knowing sneer in his gravelly voice as Styx's James Young, although he was also capable of intoning a caramel-sweet croon so as not to scare away the little girls in the audience. Back to the songs at hand, however, perhaps the only unqualified winner by most any definition was rampaging opener "Queen of the Night," which coalesced both the intellectual highs and visceral lows of the band's creative aspirations, before wrapping them into a perfectly balanced package of power, class, and hooks. Needless to say, though, a single world-beater does not a hard rock classic make; and although it would be extremely convenient to blame all of Cain's woes on their hapless record label, ASI, the honest truth is that A Pound of Flesh was a very solid but not spectacular album, worthy of appreciation but not immortality.

In this reissue of A Pound of Flesh featured three additional demo tracks from 1978 that were originally intended for Cain's third album, prior to the band's breakup. All three suggested that Cain were moving steadily away from their hard rock bread and butter, especially with the rather forced funk-rocker "All Wound Up," and the AOR-coiffed single, "Take a Little Time."
by Eduardo Rivadavia 
1. Queen Of The Night (Kevin DeRemer, Dave Elmeer) - 3:08
2. Katy (Chas Carlson) - 6:34
3. Southside Queen (Dave Elmeer) - 3:18
4. Badside (Dave Elmeer) - 5:54
5. Born On The Wind (Dave Elmeer, Jiggs Lee) - 3:13
6. Heed The Call (Dave Elmeer) - 3:51
7. If The Right Don't Get You The Left One Will (Jiggs Lee) - 3:47
8. All My Life (Dave Elmeer) - 8:05
9. Love Is Gonna Come (Dave Elmeer) - 3:52
10.All Wound Up (Kevin DeRemer) - 2:33
11.Hard Life (Dave Elmeer, B. Schuessler) - 3:48
12.Take A Little Time (Dave Elmeer) - 3:19
Bonus Tracks 9-12

The Cain
*Jiggs Lee - Vocals, Percussion
*Dave Elmeer - Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards
*Al Dworsky - Keyboards
*Lloyd Forsberg - Guitar
*Kevin Deremer - Drums

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Bunky And Jake - L.A.M.F. (1969 us, magnificent folk jazzy blues psych, japan issue)

If you're looking for a group that embodies that mid-'60s hippy vibe, then you should find the eclectic Bunky & Jake right up your aural alley.   For goodness sakes, how much more counter culture can you get than a young Jewish singer/guitarist teaming with a young, attractive, streetwise African-American woman; the pair deciding to name their second album "L.A.M.F" 

Allan Jacobs (aka Jake) and Andrea Skinner (aka Bunky) met in 1962 when the pair were attending New York's School of Visual Arts.   Discovering a common interest in music (they'd both sung in New York doo-wop groups), the pair started playing on the Greenwich Village coffeehouse circuit, attracting local attention.   In 1965 Jacobs joined The Magicians who recorded a couple of singes before calling it quits.    Following a brief turn with a late-inning line up of The Fugs in 1968 he resumed his partnership with Skinner.   Later that year the pair auditioned some of their material for former Magicians managers Art Polhemus and Bob Wyld who signed on as their managers. With the addition of  bassist  Douglas Rauch and drummer Michael Rosa, in 1968 the group was signed by Mercury Records.

Co-produced by Polhemus and Wyld, 1969's "L.A. M.F." was clearly influenced by their doo-wop and folk music roots, but was far more eclectic than what you would have expected from a bunch of New York-based folkies.   Interestingly, while Jacobs and Skinner both had decent voices (the former occasionally sounding a bit like a dry version of John Sebastian), with the exception of 'I Am the Light' their voices didn't pair all that well.  The good news was their vocals were so energetic and the arrangements so goofy, that it made up for whatever other shortcomings they exhibited.  Musically the set was all over the place, giving the album a very contemporary "Ameicana" feel.  Tracks like 'Big Boy Pete' highlighted their doo-wop roots,  but the pair were equally comfortable with gospel ('I Was a Champion'), and more commercial pop and rock numbers like 'Uncle Henry's Basement' and a blazing cover of Chuck Berry's '(Slow Down Little Jaguar) County Line'.  About all I can say is the results are disjointed, but fascinating.

In 2004 the duo released a children's album Oo-Wee Little Children, on their own B'n'J Music label. Andrea Skinner died on Sunday, March 20, 2011 after a brief illness. In October 2012, Jacobs released a new collection of songs on a 16-song CD entitled A Lick and a Promise by Jake and the Rest of the Jewels.
1. Uncle Henry's Basement (Allan Jacobs) - 2:09
2. If I Had A Dream (Allan Jacobs, Andrea Skinner) - 2:29
3. (Slow Down Little Jaguar) County Line (Chuck Berry) - 3:06
4. Girl From France (Allan Jacobs)  - 2:39
5. You Two (Chuck Berry) - 1:36
6. Big Boy Pete (D. Terry Jr., D. Harris) - 2:24
7. "Oh" Pearl (Allan Jacobs) - 4:29
8. Bump In My Groove (Allan Jacobs) - 3:34
9. I Am The Light (Gary Davis, Allan Jacobs, Andrea Skinner) - 3:59
10.Cadillac Bleu (Andrea Skinner)  - 3:22
11.One More Cowboy (Allan Jacobs, Andrea Skinner) - 3:15
12.I Was A Champion (Allan Jacobs, Andrea Skinner) - 4:05

*Andrea Skinner (Aka Bunky) - Vocals, Guitar
*Allan Jacobs - Vocals, Lead Guitar
*Douglas Rauch - Bass
*Michael Rosa - Drums, Percussion
*Ray Barretto - Congas
*Charlie Chin - Sax
*Ernie Hayes - Piano
*Buzzy Linhart - Vibes
*Mike Matthews - Organ
*Felix Pappalardi - Bass
*Chuck Rainey - Bass
*Perry Robinson - Clarinet

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Little Feat - Dixie Chicken (1973 us, exceptional multicolored southern rock, 2007 japan remaster)


Dixie Chicken (1973) is when Little Feat came up with their signature sound.  Many fans cite this as the group’s best LP.  I’ve always thought their debut was one of the best albums from the time (Sailin’ Shoes is also superb), so I’m not really sure which side of the fence I stand on.

Dixie Chicken is a more produced (rich, full sound), laid back affair when compared to the raw eccentricity of those first two albums.   Most of the tracks are Lowell George originals but to give you an idea of the influences at work here, the group covers Allen Toussaint’s “On Your Way Down.”  This means there’s a strong New Orleans aroma throughout Dixie Chicken.  Classics like the title track and “Two Trains Running” while great songs, feature soulful backup vocalists, which make them sound a bit more produced than the group’s earlier efforts.  That being said, this is certainly one hell of an album – one of the defining roots rock discs.  

On Dixie Chicken, the group incorporated funky, almost danceable rhythms within many of the song structures while other tunes such as the excellent “Kiss It Off,” replete with ominous synth or “Juliette,” feature dark, intense vibes.  Dixie Chicken is also notable for featuring one of Little Feat’s greatest songs, the much loved “Fat Man In The Bathtub.”

Impassioned vocals, great lyrics, piano, slide guitar and a rock steady beat make this track one of classic rock’s great legends – there’s nothing like it.  My picks are the acoustic (and slide guitar) piece “Roll Um Easy” and the jumpin’ “Fool Yourself.”  Both songs have the feel and style of Little Feat’s earlier triumphs.  All told, Little Feat came up with their third masterpiece in as many years. Essential.
by Jason Nardelli
1. Dixie Chicken (Lowell George, Fred Martin) - 3:56
2. Two Trains - 3:06
3. Roll Um Easy - 2:31
4. On Your Way Down (Allen Toussaint) - 5:35
5. Kiss It Off - 2:59
6. Fool Yourself (Fred Tackett) - 3:15
7. Walkin All Night (Paul Barrère, Bill Payne) - 3:39
8. Fat Man In The Bathtub - 4:30
9. Juliette - 3:34
10.Lafayette Railroad (Instrumental) (Lowell George, Bill Payne) - 3:36
All songs by Lowell George except where stated

The Little Feat
*Paul Barrere - Guitar, Vocals
*Sam Clayton - Congas
*Lowell George - Vocals, Guitar, Cowbell, Flute
*Kenny Gradney - Bass
*Richie Hayward - Drums, Backing Vocals
*Bill Payne - Keyboards, Synthesizer, Vocals
Additional Musicians
*Bonnie Bramlett - Backing Vocals
*Malcolm Cecil - Synthesizer
*Tret Fure - Backing Vocals
*Danny Hutton - Backing Vocals
*Milt Holland - Tabla
*Gloria Jones - Backing Vocals
*Debbie Lindsey - Backing Vocals
*Bonnie Raitt - Backing Vocals
*Stephanie Spurville - Backing Vocals
*Fred Tackett - Guitar

Monday, August 1, 2016

Grail - Grail (1970 uk, fine prog folk rock)

The production/recording arrangements of Rod Stewart give a three-dimensional folk-rock-arranged feeling. Grail were a British psychedelic group based in London. Their sound goes from subtle folk to acid rock and hard rock with good changes in rhythm, powerful contrasts, with additional arrangements for better contrasts with piano, a touch of organ and two tracks with an acid rock sitar lead. 

They did their best to make the music a real ‘grail’, a powerful sound, with some good songs too, with a late 60s-based progressive look as result. A really good album, which was only released in France and Germany for whatever reasons. Maybe therefore it was also overlooked over here. About time to pick it up and check it out again.
1. Power (Terry Spencer) - 7:24
2. Bleek Wind High (Stan Decker, Chris Williams) - 4:35
3. Day After Day (Dave Blake) - 3:30
4. Grail (Dave Blake) - 4:48
5. Camel Dung (Dave Blake) - 5:09
6. Sunday Morning (Terry Spencer) - 3:34
7. Czechers (Dave Blake, Terry Spencer, Chris Williams) - 6:22
8. The Square (Paul Barrett, Chris Williams) - 4:53

The Grail
*Chris Williams - Lead Vocals, Autoharp
*Paul Barrett - Guitar, Clarinet, Vocals
*Dave Blake - Cello, Sitar, Flute, Vocals
*Terry Spencer - Guitar
*Chris Perry - Drums, Percussion
*Stan Decker - Bass, Guitar, Keyboards

Related Act
1971  Abacus - Abacus
1972/71  Abacus - Everything You Need / Midway

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