Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Web - Fully Interlocking (1968 uk, beautiful ethereal baroque psychedelia with jazz and prog elements, 2008 remaster)

One of the more eclectically inclined bands to emerge out of the British psychedelic scene, the Web hailed from the same neck of the woods as Robert Fripp, Greg Lake, and Al Stewart, and very much shared in the same serious outlook that characterized those talents. Jazz-tinged and blues-laden, the Web moved to London in 1966, eventually signing to one of the few labels that actually seemed geared toward their darkly uncommercial brew, Decca's Deram subsidiary, but the three albums the band cut were never going to set the charts on fire, no matter how sincerely atmospheric the music therein.

Moodily produced by Mike Vernon, 1968's Fully Interlocking debut is generally regarded as the band's finest hour, a thoughtful and oftentimes dense exploration of themes, rhythms, and melancholies that were uniquely their own. Three bonus tracks then bounce this reissue up to 13 songs via an intoxicating blueprint for Blood, Sweat & Tears' "I'm a Man" and "God Bless the Child," and -- standing out like more sore thumbs than any single band should be able to raise -- the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody." What were they thinking? 
by Dave Thompson
1. City Of Darkness (Tony Edwards, John Eaton) - 3:07
2. Harold Dubbleyew (Tom Harris, John Eaton) - 3:11
3. Hatton Mill Morning (John Eaton) - 3:49
4. Green Side Up (Tom Harris) - 2:01
5. Wallpaper (Tom Harris, John Eaton) - 3:00
6. Did You Die Four Years Ago Tonight? (Lennie Wright, John Eaton) - 2:11
7. Watcha Kelele (Tony Edwards) - 3:51
8. Reverend J. McKinnon (John Eaton) - 2:59  
9. Sunday Joint (Lennie Wright, John Eaton) - 2:02
10.War Or Peace - 9:42
.1.Theme (Terry Noonan)
.2.East Meets West (John Eaton)  
.3.Battle Scene (Lennie Wright, Kenny Beveridge)
.4.Conscience (Lennie Wright, John Eaton)
.5.Epilogue (Terry Noonan, Lennie Wright, John Eaton)
11.I'm A Man (Steve Winwood) - 3:33
12.God Bless The Child (Billie Holiday, Arthur Herzog Jr) - 5:00
13.To Love Somebody (Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb) - 3:29

The Web
*John L. Watson - Vocals
*Kenny Beveridge - Drums, Percussion
*Lennie Wright - Vibes, Percussion
*John Eaton - Guitar
*Tony Edwards - Guitar
*Dick Lee-Smith - Bass
*Tom Harris - Saxes, Flute

Related Act
1971  Samurai - Samurai (2008 remaster)

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Leonard Cohen - Songs Of Leonard Cohen (1967 canada, folk masterpiece, 2007 Japan remaster)

At a time when a growing number of pop songwriters were embracing a more explicitly poetic approach in their lyrics, the 1967 debut album from Leonard Cohen introduced a songwriter who, rather than being inspired by "serious" literature, took up music after establishing himself as a published author and poet. The ten songs on Songs of Leonard Cohen were certainly beautifully constructed, artful in a way few (if any) other lyricists would approach for some time, but what's most striking about these songs isn't Cohen's technique, superb as it is, so much as his portraits of a world dominated by love and lust, rage and need, compassion and betrayal.

While the relationship between men and women was often the framework for Cohen's songs (he didn't earn the nickname "the master of erotic despair" for nothing), he didn't write about love; rather, Cohen used the never-ending thrust and parry between the sexes as a jumping off point for his obsessive investigation of humanity's occasional kindness and frequent atrocities (both emotional and physical). Cohen's world view would be heady stuff at nearly any time and place, but coming in a year when pop music was only just beginning to be taken seriously, Songs of Leonard Cohen was a truly audacious achievement, as bold a challenge to pop music conventions as the other great debut of the year, The Velvet Underground & Nico, and a nearly perfectly realized product of his creative imagination.

Producer John Simon added a touch of polish to Cohen's songs with his arrangements (originally Cohen wanted no accompaniment other than his guitar), though the results don't detract from his dry but emotive vocals; instead, they complement his lyrics with a thoughtful beauty and give the songs even greater strength. And a number of Cohen's finest songs appeared here, including the luminous "Suzanne," the subtly venomous "Master Song" and "Sisters of Mercy," which would later be used to memorable effect in Robert Altman's film McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Many artists work their whole career to create a work as singular and accomplished as Songs of Leonard Cohen, and Cohen worked this alchemy the first time he entered a recording studio; few musicians have ever created a more remarkable or enduring debut. 
by Mark Deming
1. Suzanne - 3:49
2. Master Song - 5:59
3. Winter Lady - 2:17
4. The Stranger Song - 5:07
5. Sisters Of Mercy - 3:36
6. So Long, Marianne - 5:40
7. Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye - 2:58
8. Stories Of The Street - 4:38
9. Teachers - 3:02
10.One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong - 4:27
11.Store Room - 5:05
12.Blessed Is The Memory - 3:05
Music and Lyrics by Leonard Cohen
Tracks 11-12 outtakes from the Early Sessions for Songs Of Leonard Cohen

*Leonard Cohen - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Jimmy Lovelace - Drums
*Nancy Priddy - Vocals
*Willy Ruff - Bass
*Chester Crill, Chris Darrow, Solomon Feldthouse, David Lindley - Flute, Mandolin, Jew's Harp, Violin

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Shawn Phillips - Spaced (1977 us, fascinating blend of folk funky jazz prog rock, 2013 remaster)

In the public eye, I have been known almost exclusively as a singer-songwriter. This image has tended to limit the number of instrumental pieces I have composed over the years and wished to place on albums. As you listen to this, or any of my other albums, please bear in mind that there has never ever been any written music for the studio musicians, apart from orchestra charts when it was utilized. 

Today it appears that almost anyone who puts on a cowboy hat and / or has played an instrument for two or threeyears can be designated as a musician. All of the people who have played on my albums are musicians who have dedicated the majority of their lives to music.

"Health, Love & Clarity"In All Friendship & With All Love,May The Music Never Stop!
by Shawn Phillips

Wonderful! Shawn Phillips started his career as a shaggy folk rocker with a bit of a jazzy twinge – but this album collects odd bits and pieces that were left off of earlier albums, and works perfectly as a record that shows a whole new side of his genius! 

The album shows Phillips as a master of the funky jazz groove – and although he's still singing on some of the songs, he also lets loose with a number of instrumental cuts, laid out in a tight well-produced mode that puts them up there with some of the best work coming out on labels like Fantasy or Blue Note during the mid 70s. 

The centerpiece of these is the massive long cut "We Came To Say Goodbye", which builds and builds over the course of 15 minutes, with cool keyboards, great guitar, and the kind of tightly compressed grooves you'd expect to find on a Headhunters album (no surprise, since Headhunters Mike Clark, Bill Summers, and Paul Jackson are on the cut!) Other instrumental tracks include "Prelude To A Leaving" and "Italian Phases" – and strong vocal numbers include "Parisian Plight 1" and "Your Eyes".
1. Rant - 3:24
2. Italian Phases - 2:22
3. The Light From Between You Eyes - 4:33
4. Stranded - 4:48
5. From All Of Us - 3:46
6. Parisan Plight I - 3:44
7. Prelude To A Leaving - 2:36
8. All Our Love - 1:33
9. I Don't Want To Leave You, I Just Came To Say Good-Bye - 16:15
Music and Lyrics by Shawn Phillips

*Shawn Phillips - Vocals, Rhythm, Lead Guitar
*Russ Kunkel - Drums
*Leland Sklar - Bass
*Joe Sample - Organ, Piano
*Sneeky Pete - Steel Guitar
*Peter Robinson - Piano, Clavinet, Synthesizer
*Michael Baird - Drums
*Brandy (A Beautiful Lady) - Bass
*Jim Horn - Soprano Sax
*Chuck Rainey - Bass
*Mike Miller - Bass, Lead Guitar
*Al Wing - Sax
*Steve R. Neilen - Drums
*Anthony Nedza - Synthesizer, Electric Piano
*Joseph Gaeta - Bass, Lead Guitar
*Daniel Timms - Piano
*Bruce Rowland - Drums
*Brian Odgers - Bass
*Chris Mercer - Sax
*Johnny Almond - Bass Flute, Concert Flute
*Mike Clark - Drums
*Paul Jackson - Bass
*Bill Summers - Percussion

1970  Shawn Phillips - Contribution / Second Contribution (2009 remaster)
1969-72  Shawn Phillips - Faces (2014 remaster)  
1974  Shawn Phillips - Furthermore (2014 issue)

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Bill Quick - Maravillosa Gente (1972 us / venezuela, exceptional acid folk psych rock, 2007 remaster)

Long in the works reissue of this amazing and little know gem, “Beautiful People”, from 1972. Born in Miami Florida to an American father and Venezuelan mother, Bill split the USA to Madrid Spain in the early 70s. Once there he quickly landed a recording deal with famous producer Alain Milhaud of the explosion label, and set to work on this, his sole LP release. Sessions went down with an impressive cast of up to eleven players in the studio, including Salvador Dominguez & Chema Pellico (Cerebrum), Jess Lam (Jess & James), and Frank Rojas (Sangre). one of the albums real hidden treasures, though, was the assistance of unknown Texan Mark Gottschall, who co-wrote the title song and adds perfect vocal harmonies as well a second acoustic guitar. 

A finely balanced mix of sounds that drifts between throbbing electric full band groove and gentle acid folk. when bill wants to rock, things get downright funky, with a wickedly hard-hitting rhythm section, pumping organ, scorching electric leads, and flipped out acoustic guitars all locking into some seriously tight jams. Then the next minute the mood swings and you’re deep into some beautifully fragile and introspective folk meditations; often just two acoustic guitars, bill’s lyrics, and huge, angelic, vocal harmonies all weaving together into lush tapestries of sound. A few tracks fill out a more folkrock vibe with flute, autoharp, piano, slide guitar, banjo, and more. bill’s lyrics (all in English) and vocals always feel deeply sincere, which combined with his unique voice, unusual accent, and loose delivery make for one hell of a cool singer. 

The whole album has an air of mystical psychedelia, yet never strays far from pop craft, and there's a real sun-blasted quality to it all that just makes you want to crank the volume… nothing amateur or lo-fi about this one, its a pro recordings and these guys have serious chops. its hard to image why it didn’t become a hit at the time. The album was released only in Spain and Brazil, to very little interest, and Quickly became yet another great album lost to obscurity
1. Take Me Away - 2:51
2. With You, Lord - 2:20
3. Get Me a Pony - 3:15
4. Only the Weather - 3:12
5. Somebody - 3:13
6. I Don't Think You're Listening - 2:31
7. Beautiful People - 3:55
8. Heaven Knows - 4:05
9. Winter's Gonna Come - 4:12
10.I Sing This Song - 4:28
11.When the Night's Fallin' - 2:18
Words and Music by Guillermo Enrique Ruiz Quick (Bill Quick) except track #7 co-written with Mark Gottschall

*Bill Quick - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Mark Gottschall - Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals
*Gregg Gitts - Backing Vocals
*Bob Carlson - Bass
*Chema Pellico - Bass
*Jess Lam - Bass
*Frank Rojas - Drums
*Joe Cieri - Drums
*Rafa Gálvez - Guitar
*Salvador Domínguez - Guitar
*Luis Franch - Piano, Organ, Backing Vocals

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Firefall - Firefall / Luna Sea / Elan (1976-78 us, classy elegant country folk rock, 2016 double disc set)

As dusk enveloped the spectacular vistas of Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, California, a huge pile of wood lay stacked at the edge of a high cliff. Nature lovers from far corners of the world gathered on the valley floor, waiting till dark when the woodpile was torched and slowly pushed off the cliff, the burning logs forming a blazing cascade down the mountain’s stony face. The image of the primitive light show, staged at Yosemite for tourists, stuck in Florida-born Rick Roberts’ mind for a long time. Then in l973, as he and his new Colorado based band were about to play their first gig but still needed a name, the image flashed back: Firefall. That seems an especially dead-on handle for the country flavored rock’n’roll band that carried the torch of musical forebears such as The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and The Flying Burrito Brothers into the mid-’70s and beyond.

In early 1975, FIREFALL recorded a three song demo tape produced by Chris Hillman and began shopping it to several major labels. At the same time, the new group’s members pursued other musical avenues. After CSNY’s mammoth 1974 tour and latest divorce, Stills put a new group together, and signed a solo deal with Columbia. Stills cut his solo album at Caribou Studios near Nederland, Colo., and for the six week supporting tour that summer, Stephen added Roberts to the band on backing vocals and guitar. During the set, Rick sang his song, ‘Colorado,’ a Burrito tune that Linda Rondstat had made famous.

Firefall’s big break came unexpectedly, at around the same time. A few months after splitting up with Richie Furay and J. D. Souther, Chris Hillman hit the road with a backup band that included Firefall’s Bartley, Andes, and Roberts. By the time they were scheduled to play The Other End in NYC, Hillman became ill and could not complete the tour. Firefall flew in it’s other two members from Colorado to finish the engagements. Atlantic A&R reps, who’d been impressed by their demo, caught the show and quickly offered the group a multi-album contract. They signed on and made plans to record their first record in the winter of 1975. Wanting more color and texture to their music, Firefall called upon DAVID MUSE, a high school buddy of Rick’s in Bradenton, Fla., who played sax, flute, harmonica and every imaginable keyboard. It was the final musical piece Firefall would need. With ex-Poco Producer Jim Mason at the helm, the band went into rehearsals in Boulder.

Though Caribou Studios was available and nearby, it was quite pricey and would probably be ‘too close’ to home, families and all the distractions that might take away the needed focus. So Firefall flew to Miami, Florida to record at one of the top studios in the country, Criteria Studios, who had hosted many artists including The Bee Gees, Eric Clapton, The Allman Bros., CSN and Stephen Stills. The band got down to focused work and the magic flowed. The first album, engineered by Karl Richardson (Bee Gees), took one month to record and mix and was made on 16 track tape. It was released by Atlantic Records in the spring of 1976 and became Atlantic’s quickest album to sell gold status (500,000) in it’s storied history. Sparks flew with the album called “FIREFALL” and the group’s sound caught fire on record, radio and on-stage. While the first single, ‘Livin’ Aint Livin,’ climbed into the top 40, songs like ‘Mexico,’ Robert’s original version of ‘It Doesn’t Matter’ and Burnett’s ‘Cinderella’ took off on album oriented rock (AOR) stations. 

The group toured with Leon and Mary Russell, The Doobie Brothers and The Band (on their final tour before making their farewell documentary movie, ‘The Last Waltz’). The second single, ‘You Are The Woman,’ raced into the Top 10, becoming an overnight mega-hit with pop and mellow rock audiences. Firefall continued to tour the summer of ’76 with Fleetwood Mac, who’d recently added Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham to their lineup for their groundbreaking “White Album.” Firefall cemented relationships with Mick and the band that would last a year and a half. A rare (for the era) third single, ‘Cinderella,’ though having received saturation FM airplay, fared less well on AM radio, hindered, as they would later learn, by a few influential woman’s organizations on the east coast who didn’t like the ‘message’ of the (fictional) lyrics. But Firefall blazed very brightly in 1976 and 1977, making a sizable mark during their first year in a crowded industry with their fresh and melodic music.

The group went back to Miami and Criteria Studios with Jim Mason to make their second album. It was to be called “TROPICAL NIGHTS” and included a number of songs that would later be dropped. Instead of a hotel, they rented one of the ‘Home At Last’ mansions that Eric Clapton made famous on his “461 Ocean Blvd.” album. Percussionist JOE LALA, (ex Manassas and CSN percussionist and an occasional touring Firefall member) and the legendary Memphis Horns added punch to the record. But in L.A., Atlantic C.E.O., Ahmet Ertegen, listened to the playback of the final mix and stated, “You boys need to go back in the studio and re-do this record (as Fleetwood Mac had with the White Album). It must be stronger to follow up your great first album. Write more songs, go back on tour, take your time.. no problem.” And so the band hit the road again and prepared to rework a few existing songs and add a number of newly written ones, including the future single, ‘So Long.’ The new album was renamed “LUNA SEA” with a new cover and released in early 1977. 

The debut single, ‘Just Remember I Love You,’ re-recorded with ex-Poco and future Eagle, TIMOTHY SCHMIDT singing background vocals, shot up the charts into the Top Ten. The album was certified gold on Oct. 3, after less than two months on the Billboard charts, where it peaked at #27. The song however, reinforced Atlantic’s – and radio’s – perception of Firefall as a soft-rock ballads band. The group on the other hand, saw itself as a smokin’ rock unit who happened to have a few mellower hits that got lots of pop and adult contemporary airplay. As a result, the second single off ‘LUNA SEA,’ the more rock’n’roll ‘So Long,’ didn’t get the major push or airplay the first single had. Non-stop touring, managerial problems, alcohol and drug abuse by some of the band and internal friction began to tear at the group – but it was the ‘big time’ and they were enjoying ’star status.’ All differences were swept under the table. The band toured extensively with Fleetwood Mac during their Rumors Tour (playing sold out stadiums nationwide) and also played with The Doobie Bothers, Chicago, The Marshall Tucker Band, The Beach Boys and Lynard Skynard (frequently playing with them right up to Skynard’s terrible plane crash).

Firefall came back stronger than ever in 1978 with their third album, “ELAN,” recorded first at Criteria and later at L.A.’s Record Plant. The band brought in heavyweight producer Tom Dowd (Aretha Franklin, The Rascals, Cream, The Allman Bros., Eric Clapton) to make the record. But band and producer, though getting along fine, had different musical visions. Atlantic was poised to release Dowd’s effort, when Firefall’s new manager, Mick Fleetwood and Limited Mgmt., demanded the group be allowed to ‘beef up’ the record. And so, for a second time, the band re-worked an album (and greatly increased their on-paper debt with the label). And again, their dark luck with managers continued – Limited Mgmt. and Firefall soon parted ways. 

The production team of Ron and Howard Albert (The Allmans, Clapton, Stephen Stills/Mannassas, Crosby, Stills & Nash) were brought in to finish the project. Don Gehman, who engineered the Miami dates and mixed the whole record with the Alberts would go on to produce John Mellencamp in the ’80s. Industry anticipation was so high for “ELAN” that it shipped gold, meaning half a million copies were in stores on release day. Hoping to put any identity issue to rest, the band and Atlantic chose ‘Strange Way’ as the album’s first single. The Roberts tune was a ballad and a rocker rolled into one, alternating mellow, plaintive verses with angry, ballsy choruses and featuring a smokin latin-flavored flute solo at the end. Not surprisingly, it went over big with both Top 40 and AOR radio during the autumn and winter of ’78, and the band embarked on another series of concert dates, this time as the headliners. ‘Strange Way’ and other oft played tracks like ‘Sweet And Sour’ (with future Traveling Willbury’s/Little Village drummer Jim Keltner on drums), helped boost “ELAN” past the million mark in sales as 1978 gave way to ’79. It was certified as Firefall’s first platinum album in mid January, just as ‘Goodbye, I Love You’ was saying hello to the Hot 100. Three months later, ‘Sweet And Sour’ was issued as a single, continuing the long hot run.
by Stephen K. Peeples
Disc 1 Firefall 1976
1. It Doesn't Matter (Chris Hillman, Rick Roberts, Stephen Stills) - 3:32
2. Love Isn't All (Larry Burnett) - 4:11
3. Livin' Ain't Livin' (Rick Roberts) - 3:48
4. No Way Out (Larry Burnett) - 4:05
5. Dolphin's Lullaby (Rick Roberts) - 4:33
6. Cinderella (Larry Burnett) - 3:53
7. Sad Ol' Love Song (Larry Burnett) - 4:42
8. You Are The Woman (Rick Roberts) - 2:45
9. Mexico (Rick Roberts) - 4:17
10.Do What You Want (Larry Burnett) - 4:02
Luna Sea 1977
11.So Long (Rick Roberts) - 5:28
12.Just Remember I Love You (Rick Roberts) - 3:18
13.Sold on You (Larry Burnett) - 3:34
14.Someday Soon (Rick Roberts) - 4:05
15.Just Think (Firefall) - 4:14
Disc 2 Luna Sea 1977
1. Getaway (Larry Burnett) - 3:46
2. Only a Fool (Rick Roberts) - 4:24
3. Head on Home (Larry Burnett) - 4:04
4. Piece of Paper (Larry Burnett) - 4:06
5. Even Steven (Larry Burnett, Rick Roberts) - 4:24
Elan 1978
6. Strange Way (Rick Roberts) - 4:45
7. Sweet and Sour (Jock Bartley, Rick Roberts) - 3:32
8. Wrong Side of Town (Larry Burnett) - 2:42
9. Count Your Blessings (Rick Roberts) - 3:32
10.Get You Back (Larry Burnett) - 4:16
11.Anymore (Mark Andes, Larry Burnett) - 4:03
12.Baby (Larry Burnett) - 3:48
13.Goodbye, I Love You (Rick Roberts) - 4:22
14.Sweet Ann (Rick Roberts) - 3:25
15.Winds of Change (Rick Roberts) - 3:31

*Mark Andes - Bass Guitar
*Jock Bartley - Lead Electric, Slide Guitars, Bigsby Palm Pedal Guitar
*Larry Burnett - Electric, Acoustic Rhythm Guitars, Vocals
*Michael Clarke - Drums
*Rick Roberts - Acoustic Guitars, Vocals
*David Muse - Piano, Clavinet Synthesizer Flute, Tenor Sax, Harmonica
*Joe Lala - Congas Timbales Shakers Tambourine Finger Cymbals, Sand Blocks

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Donovan - A Gift From A Flower To A Garden (1967 uk, brilliant jazzy trippy folk psychedelia, 2008 remaster)

Separately released in the U.S. as the pop record from 1967's double-LP A Gift From a Flower to a Garden, Wear Your Love Like Heaven stands on its own as one of the brightest, most pleasant works Donovan ever recorded. The title track and "Oh Gosh" were the only nods to the charts (and, tellingly, the only songs produced by Mickie Most). For once in Donovan's career, the remainders far outshone the singles, with brisk, breezy productions and the thoughtful playing of an actual band behind Donovan -- usually just bass, keyboards, and soft, whisking drums or bongos. Donovan's voice is better than ever, playful and unassuming on romps like "Mad John's Escape," "Skip-A-Long Sam," and "Oh Gosh," while expressive and controlled for the slower material. He also makes evocative folkie nostalgia work much better than it should on "Sun" and "Little Boy in Corduroy," helped by the breathy flute playing of Harold McNair. 

The second American LP released from the British two-record set A Gift From a Flower to a Garden, For Little Ones is almost wholly an acoustic-guitar work, with only a few touches of brushing percussion, flute, and harmonica. Donovan frames his long-ago fairy tales with an appropriately faraway yen to his voice, and the songwriting is influenced more by Lewis Carroll and Childe ballads than Bob Dylan. There's a pronounced air of sadness to many of these songs, so small children may grow uneasy by "The Enchanted Gypsy" or "Widow With Shawl (A Portrait)." Donovan's childlike sense of humor also comes through, however, including the irresistible closer "Starfish-On-The-Toast." 
by John Bush 
1. Wear Your Love Like Heaven - 2:30
2. Mad John's Escape - 2:23
3. Skip-A-Long Sam - 2:29
4. Sun - 3:20
5. There Was A Time - 2:05
6. Oh Gosh - 1:52
7. Little Boy In Corduroy - 2:37
8. Under The Greenwood Tree - 2:00
9. The Land Of Doesn't Have To Be - 2:32
10.Someone's Singing - 3:09
11.Song Of The Naturalist's Wife - 2:47
12.The Enchanted Gypsy - 3:23
13.Voyage Into The Golden Screen - 3:17
14.Isle Of Islay - 2:25
15.The Mandolin Man And His Secret - 3:36
16.Lay Of The Last Tinker - 1:54
17.The Tinker And The Crab - 2:56
18.Widow With A Shawl - 3:03
19.The Lullaby Of Spring - 3:28
20.The Magpie - 1:33
21.Starfish-On-The-Toast - 2:48
22.Epistle To Derroll - 5:47
All songs by Donovan P. Leitch, except track #8 lyrics by William Shakespeare, music by Donovan 

*Donovan - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica, Banjo, Whistling
*Eric Leese - Electric Guitar
*Cliff Barton - Electric Bass
*Ken Baldock - String Bass
*Jack Bruce - Electric Bass
*Keith Webb - Drums
*Mike O'Neil - Keyboards
*Harold Mcnair - Flute
*Tony Carr - Drums, Bells, Conga, Turkish, Finger Cymbals
*"Candy" John Carr - Conga, Bongo
*Mike Carr - Vibraphone

1967  Donovan - In Concert, The Complete Anaheim Show (2006 two disc set)
1973  Donovan - Cosmic Wheels  

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Joe Walsh - So What (1974 us, wonderful guitar rock, 2015 SACD)

Joe Walsh got his start at a guitarist for the James Gang, which he left for a solo career in 1971. Known best for his efforts with the Eagles, it was Walsh's 1974 album, So What, that secured him a place with the Eagles after Bernie Leadon departed. Walsh is still credited as the guy that gave The Eagles's laid-back sound a swift kick in the ass.

First and foremost, Walsh is an unbelievably solid guitar player. Walsh belongs to a class of guitar player that hasn't surfaced in the 90's alternative rock scene. It's almost sad really. Walsh is really a master of his instrument, while recently formed groups can barely play (i.e. Veruca Salt, seen 3/15/97 on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Saturday Night Live).

So What has a sound that is firmly rooted in the 70's. Today, the 70's feel is very refreshing. When you listen to So What, you feel like you've jumped back to the mid-70's again, which is a nice feeling. You catch all of the harmonized backing vocals that was a 70's staple, while listening to guitar work that is creative in any era.

"Welcome To The Club" has a enough rhythm changes to keep you hooked for hours, with signature Walsh guitars that build and fade meticulously. Lyrically, Walsh is a bit more subtle here than he's famous for, spinning a yarn about crazy situations on the road.

"Falling Down" has a soulful, western feel to it. The rhythm work is done on a 12-string, with most of the leads added delicately with a 6-string electric. Present again are the 70's vocal harmonies, which are layered so that they're almost ghost like.

On "Time Out", Walsh returns the style that made him famous on "Rocky Mountain Way." The song features a combination of standard and slide lead guitar that Walsh does so well. To date, I can't think of anyone who so perfectly combines these two styles. The drumming and bass are very prominent on this track. Walsh seems to let the rhythm guys hold the song while he paints over it. This isn't anything new, it's the standard Rx for rock and roll. It's just that when you listen to this album, you notice all of the ridiculously simple things that many bands don't do anymore.

"Help Me Through The Night" was the doorway into the Eagles and beyond. This was the first song that Henley, Frey and Walsh worked on together. With Henley and Frey on backing vocals, it sounds like the song is from Hotel California. While the presence of the Eagles is noticeable, the song still preserves the feel of the rest of the album.

While So What lacks any mega hits, it's probably his most beautiful album. With it's firmly rooted 70's style, it will show some signs of age on the turntable today. But its strengths, great guitar work, great vocal harmonies, and peaceful demeanor are timeless in any era. With So What in the background, a nice drink and a loved one nearby, the album promotes a wonderful "time out" to unwind.
by Bill Ziemer
1. Welcome to the Club - 5:09
2. Falling Down (Joe Walsh, Don Henley) - 4:57
3. Pavanne for the Sleeping Beauty (Maurice Ravel) - 1:57
4. Time Out - 4:26
5. All Night Laundry Mat Blues - 1:02
6. Turn to Stone - 3:49
7. Help Me Through the Night - 3:40
8. County Fair - 6:40
9. Song for Emma - 4:42
All songs written by Joe Walsh except where stated.

*Joe Walsh - Synthesizer, Bass, Guitar, Piano, Vocals,  Moog Synthesizer, Mellotron, ARP
*Jody Boyer - Vocals
*Dan Fogelberg - Guitar, Vocals
*Glenn Frey - Vocals,
*Guille Garcia - Percussion, Conga
*Bryan Garofalo - Bass, Vocals,
*Ron Grinel - Drums
*Don Henley - Vocals
*Russ Kunkel - Drums
*Randy Meisner - Vocals
*Kenny Passarelli - Bass, Vocals
*J.D. Souther - Guitar, Vocals
*Leonard Southwick - Harmonica
*Tom Stephenson - Organ, Keyboards
*John Stronach - Vocals
*Joe Vitale - Flute, Drums, Keyboards

Related Act
1969  James Gang - Yer' Album (Japan SHM remaster)  
1970  James Gang - Rides Again (2010 SHM remaster)  

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Stone The Crows - Live In Montreux (1972 uk, great hard blues rock, 2002 edition)

Although Ontinuous Performance remains the ultimate Stone the Crows live album, if only by virtue of its age, anybody seeking the true sound of the band at its peak would do far better to seek out this latter-day exhumation. Clocking in at a shade over 54 minutes, Live in Montreux 1972 features just five tracks, but what epics they are. Incendiary versions of "Friends," "Penicillin Blues" (the only cut duplicated on the earlier album), "Love 74," "Danger Zone," and some 20 minutes of Bob Dylan's "Hollis Brown" feature the classic Crows lineup of Maggie Bell, Colin Allen, Ronnie Leahy, Steve Thompson, and Leslie Harvey -- in fact, the show was recorded just weeks before Harvey's death, on-stage in Swansea on March 3, 1972. 

The sound quality is superb, capturing the true feel of one of Britain's most solid and reliable live experiences; indeed, alongside the band's John Peel sessions album, Live in Montreux 1972 ranks up there alongside the greatest Crows albums of them all. 
by Dave Thompson
1. Friends (Leslie Harvey, James Dewar) - 9:19
2. Penicillin Blues (Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry) - 6:52
3. Love 74 (John McGinnis) - 11:28
4. Danger Zone (Curtis Mayfield) - 6:14
5. Hollis Brown (Bob Dylan) - 21:01

Stone The Crows
*James Dewar - Bass, Vocals
*Colin Allen - Drums, Percussion
*Leslie Harvey - Guitar
*Maggie Bell - Vocals
*John McGinnis - Organ, Piano

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Maggie Bell - Suicide Sal (1975 uk, splendid hard blues classic rock, 2006 remaster)

Scottish soul-rock singer Maggie Bell first gained prominence singing with Stone the Crows, which released its first album in 1970 and broke up in June 1973. Bell went solo with Queen of the Night (featuring the U.S. number 97 "After Midnight") in 1974.

A tougher, more energized set than its predecessor, Suicide Sal is electrifying live feel reflects the incendiary stage shows Bell and her new backing band had been playing in the intervening time between recordings. The two bonus tracks, recorded at a gig later that year, capture their live ferocity. Intriguingly, the funky, fiery title track, an homage to Bell's Aunt, a music hall star, is one of only two originals on this set. The second, the lavishly bluesy "If You Don't Know" was penned by band keyboardist Pete Wingfield, and boasts a guesting Jimmy Page on guitar. The storming "Coming on Strong" also has a Bell connection, being co-penned by ex-Crow Colin Allen and Zoot Money. 

The rest of the album comprises astutely chosen covers drawn from an eclectic selection of artists. One of the standouts is "It's Been So Long," a powerful gospel number written by the Pretty Things' Phil May, who not only rewrote some of the lyrics for Bell, but added his backing vocals to the song. Free's classic "Wishing Well" gets a sensational workout, while that band's offshoot Kossoff, Kirke, Tetsu & Rabbit's "Hold On" is taken to new emotive heights. From barrelling Beatles pop to the Sutherland Brothers poignant Gaelic ode, from ballads to hefty rock & roll, Bell struts across this set with style and such assurance, that even Aunt Sal must have been impressed. One of Britain's greatest soul singers, showcased at her best, this magnificent album also includes an excellent, expansive biography of this crucial artist. 
by Jo-Ann Greene
1. Wishing Well (John "Rabbit" Bundrick, Paul Kossoff, Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke, Tetsu Yamauchi) - 3:33
2. Suicide Sal (Chris Trengrove, Maggie Bell, Mark London, Mike Clifford, Pete Wingfield) - 3:45
3. I Was In Chains (Gavin Sutherland, Iain Sutherland) - 3:03
4. If You Don’t Know (Pete Wingfield) - 3:54
5. What You Got (Charles Armstrong) - 2:54
6. In My Life (David Courtney, Leo Sayer) - 3:11
7. Comin On Strong (Colin Allen, Zoot Money) - 4:07
8. Hold On (Paul Kossoff, Simon Kirke) - 4:49
9. I Saw Him Standing There (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 4:18
10.It’s Been So Long (Phil May) - 4:34
11.Comin On Strong (Colin Allen, Zoot Money) - 5:55
12.Going Down (Don Nix) - 5:10
Bonus Live Tracks 11-12

*Maggie Bell - Vocals
*Brian Breeze - Guitar, Vocals
*Hugh Burns - Guitar
*Roy Davies - Keyboards
*Paul Francis - Drums
*Ray Glynn - Guitar
*Delisle Harper - Bass
*Jimmy Jewell - Saxophone
*Cuddley Judd - Bagpipes
*Mickey Keene - Guitar
*Billy Lawrie - Bass
*Mark London - Vocals
*Jimmy Page - Guitar
*Clark Terry - Guitar
*Pete Wingfield - Keyboards

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Buckingham Nicks - Buckingham Nicks (1973 us, wonderful melodic sliky rock, 2016 korean remaster and expanded)

While it will be hard to find, this lone album cut by a young and ambitious (and still romantically attached) Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham a short two years before joining Fleetwood Mac is well worth digging out for your turntable. There are a few CD versions floating around, but they were no doubt burned from vinyl copies anyway, so don't be fooled. With the Mac's highly lucrative 1997 reunion there was serious talk of a re-release, but apparently it was just talk. Considering what the duo was to later accomplish, Buckingham Nicks is an engaging listen and served as a proving ground of sorts for both artists' songwriting chops and for Buckingham's skills as an emerging studio craftsman. 

It was a good enough resumé for Fleetwood Mac, who re-recorded the beautifully cerebral "Crystal" when the duo joined them for 1975's self-titled comeback album. The high-octane rockabilly of "Don't Let Me Down Again" became a staple of the band's concert sets well into the 1980s. Crisp, ringing acoustic guitars and a bottom-heavy rhythm section (using the talents of Waddy Wachtel, Jim Keltner, and Jerry Scheff) framed the pair's songs in a sound something akin to FM-ready folk-rock. Lesser known tracks like the glistening opener, "Crying in the Night," from Nicks and Buckingham's lonely-guy lament, "Without a Leg to Stand On," are on a par with their later mega hits. At the same time, the misogyny of Buckingham's "Lola, My Love" is a real eye-roller and the orchestral overtones of "Frozen Love" show that the two were over-reaching themselves just a bit. Buckingham-Nicks was a stiff however and the couple had lost their deal with Polydor. But 1975, of course, proved to be one of their better years. 
by John Duffy
1. Crying In The Night - 2:57
2. Stephanie (Lindsey Buckingham) - 2:12
3. Without A Leg To Stand On (Lindsey Buckingham) - 2:09
4. Crystal - 3:48
5. Long Distance Winner - 4:46
6. Don't Let Me Down Again (Lindsey Buckingham) - 3:51
7. Django (John Lewis) - 1:02
8. Races Are Run - 4:14
9. Lola (My Love) (Lindsey Buckingham) - 3:44
10.Frozen Love (Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham) - 7:17
11.Crying In The Night (Single) - 2:58
12.Don't Let Me Down Again (Mono Single) (Lindsey Buckingham) - 3:30
13.Sorcerer - 4:43
14.Garbo - 3:12
15.Cathouse Blues - 1:38
16.That's Allright - 3:10
17.Candlebright - 2:09
18.Without You - 3:39
19.Lola (Lindsey Buckingham) - 4:20
20.Races Are Run - 4:38
21.Rhiannon - 3:00
All compositions by Stevie Nicks except where stated
Tracks 1-10 from the original 1973 album
Bonus Tracks 11-21
Tracks 19-21 Live In Tuscaloosa, Alabama 1973

*Lindsey Buckingham - Vocals, Guitars, Bass Guitar, Percussion
*Stevie Nicks - Vocals
*Gary 'Hoppy' Hodges - Drums, Percussion
*Jorge Calderón - Percussion
*Richard Hallagan - String Arrangement
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*Peggy Sandvig - Keyboards
*Jerry Scheff - Bass Guitar
*Monty Stark - Synthesizer
*Mark Tulin - Bass Guitar
*Ronnie Tutt - Drums
*Waddy Wachtel - Guitars

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Arthur Lee With Band Aid - Vindicator (1972 us, tremendous multiblended rock with psych, folk, southern, rhythm and blues overtones, 2008 extra tracks remaster)

Love's 1967 masterpiece Forever Changes was an album so beautiful and timeless that it tends to dwarf everything else in the group's repertoire, and its gentle balance of grace and dread has made a lot of people forget just how hard Love could rock when Arthur Lee and his bandmates were of a mind. While Love's debut album pushed folk-rock into an overdrive that resembled punk, Lee's first solo set, 1972's Vindicator, was a muscular set of guitar-fueled hard rock laced with blues, showing the clear influence of Lee's late friend Jimi Hendrix.

With Charles Karp's powerful guitar leads dominating the arrangements and Lee's vocals strutting with maximum rock star swagger on tunes like "Love Jumped Through My Window" and "Sad Song," Vindicator boogies with a cocky confidence that belies the fact Lee's career was in need of a clear direction at the time, and while there are no signs of the delicacy of Forever Changes, three decades on this sounds like mid-'70s guitar rock at its best. Lee was able to bring a soulful edge to songs like "Everybody's Gotta Live" and "He Knows a Lot of Good Women," and he connects with a sly blues shuffle on "He Said She Said," but it's when Lee and Karp crank up their guitars and the rhythm section of Don Poncher and David Hull turn up the heat that Vindicator really takes off, inviting the spirit with the kiss-the-sky spirit of "You Want Change for Our Re-Run" and laying out some thick Marshall-stack crunch on "Every Time I Look Up I'm Down." 

And anyone wanting a dose of Lee's well-documented eccentricity won't be at all disappointed with the brief spoken word fragment "You Can Save Up to 50% But You're Still a Long Ways from Home" and the anti-fast food tirade "Hamburger Breath Stinkfinger," both of which confirm Lee didn't turn away his muse when he cut these sessions. While Arthur Lee could create music of simple and fragile beauty, that doesn't change the fact he was a rocker at heart, and he rarely rocked harder or with more passion than he did on Vindicator. 
by Mark Deming
1. Sad Song - 2:19
2. You Can Save Up To 50%, But You're Still A Long Ways From Home - 0:19
3. Love Jumped Through My Window - 2:55
4. Find Somebody - 3:47
5. He Said She Said - 2:18
6. Every Time I Look Up I'm Down Or White Dog (I Don't Know What That Means!) - 3:56
7. Everybody's Gotta Live - 3:33
8. You Want Change For Your Re-Run - 4:16
9. He Knows A Lot Of Good Women (Or Scotty's Song) - 3:14
10.Hamburger Breath Stinkfinger - 2:45
11.Ol' Morgue Mouth - 0:53
12.Busted Feet (Arthur Lee, Charles Karp) – 4:51
13.Everybody's Gotta Live - 3:34
14.He Knows A Lot Of Good Women - 3:15
15.Pencil In Hand - 2:19
16.E-Z Rider - 2:59
17.Looking Glass Looking At Me - 4:19
All tracks composed by Arthur Lee except where indicated
Bonus Tracks 13-17

*Arthur Lee - Guitar, Vocals
*Charlie Karp - Guitar
*Frank Fayad - Bass
*Clarence McDonald - Organ
*Don Poncher - Drums
*Craig Tarwater - Guitar
*David Hull - Bass

1966  Love - Love (remaster and expanded)
1967  Love - Da Capo (remaster and expanded)  
1967  Love - Forever Changes (2008 digi pack double disc set)  
1971  Love - Lost Love (2009 Sundazed release)  
1973  Love - Black Beauty (2013 bonus tracks remaster) 
1974  Love - Reel to Real (2015 deluxe sdition)  
1992  Arthur Lee And Love ‎– Five String Serenade
Related Act
1966-82  Bryan MacLean - Ifyoubelievein

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Love - Black Beauty (1973 us, exciting rough garage psych rock, 2013 bonus tracks remaster)

Supremely talented yet prone to devastating self-sabotage, Arthur Lee was on the ropes in the early 1970s. Glory days on the Sunset Strip, and authorship of one of the greatest records ever – Love’s Forever Changes – had soured, giving way to an incoherent odyssey, and a meandering, undistinguished string of new “Loves”. Occasional bursts of new inspiration were more likely than not to fizzle amid record label flameouts, reluctance to tour, and concomitant drug and personal problems.

Yet for those willing to a) overlook Lee’s steadfast refusal to relive the inimitable themes and textures of Forever Changes, and b) forgive him his excesses and volatilities, by the early ’70s Lee had begun to forge a forceful, distinctive new style: sizzling hard rock true to the spirit of his friend Jimi Hendrix; gritty, inner-city funk underpinnings à la Curtis Mayfield; a few nods to his folk-rock, pop-star past; plus bits of blues and reggae around the edges. Some of this material appeared in real time, in the shape of his ’72 solo outing Vindicator and Love’s ’74 swansong Reel To Real. More has surfaced on archival releases, like Sundazed’s 2009 set, Love Lost.

Bankrolled by entrepreneur Michael Butler (producer of the hit musical Hair) and reuniting Lee with his old Elektra friend, producer Paul Rothchild, Black Beauty was intended to be a culmination, the crowning achievement of Lee’s new direction. It ended up as just another scrapped project. Butler’s label, Buffalo Records, went belly-up before the disc ever reached the market. It would be Lee’s penultimate shot at the big time, 1974’s calamitous UK tour with Eric Clapton sealing his future on the margins.

Black Beauty began organically enough, though. Ditching the ad hoc bands he’d been gigging with around LA, Lee started from scratch, organising a brand-new, all-black Love. The group – guitarist Melvan Whittington, bassist Robert Rozelle, drummer Joe Blocker – bristles with authority and immediacy, imbuing Black Beauty with a raw, pugnacious, in-your-face sound.

Whereas, say, an early take of “Midnight Sun” sounds forced and claustrophobic on Love Lost, its Black Beauty counterpart burns with apocalyptic fervour, resonant of a camaraderie and telepathic interplay oft-lacking in Love’s post-Forever Changes work.

Opening with the gut-punch of “Good & Evil (Young & Able)”, a lascivious, un-PC piece of Hendrixian punk-funk, Black Beauty sprouts tentacles, beaming in testosterone-fuelled garage blasts (“Stay Away”, think Nuggets on steroids), the sumptuously anti-authoritarian riff “Lonely Pigs” and “Can’t Find It”, a haunting lament gliding on a gorgeously elliptical melody, with jagged guitar bits bubbling up through the mix.

For all its hard-rock glory – and Hendrix’ spectre casts a long shadow everywhere on Love’s 1970s work – Black Beauty is eclectic, shifting gears gracefully, suggesting myriad musical directions a healthy Arthur Lee could have pursued. “Beep Beep”, for instance, reflects his infatuation with reggae, and while it might be fluffy kid’s-song fare, it’s catchy as anything. An off-the-wall cover of The Rooftop Singers’ 1963 smash “Walk Right In” is also an inspired call, an album highlight, its jangly guitars and soulful vocal hook signalling a nod to Love’s 1966 folk-rock heyday.

“Skid”, though, with its Dylanesque sneer and gritty depiction of ghetto misery, is Black Beauty’s most startling cut. Lee is at his dramatic best here, falling into the song’s dark atmosphere with an eerie, ghostly desperation – one of his best vocals ever. Skittering from funky acoustic rhythms to a driving, haunting chorus to Whittington’s superb psychedelic guitar fills, one would think this song, if properly promoted, could have put Love back on the map. As it is, it’s an inestimable gem in the group’s vaunted catalogue, its majesty posing a giant “what if?” in the Love saga.

In fact, the better-late-than-never appearance of Black Beauty itself poses some big questions. Could Lee and company have refined, expanded and built on its strengths? Did Arthur have yet more material of this calibre up his sleeve? Nonetheless, supplemented by bonus tracks and Ben Edmonds’ fine liner notes, Black Beauty slots in as a fascinating, decidedly consistent effort from an artist in the throes of disintegration.
by Luke Torn
1. Young And Able (Good And Evil) - 3:24
2. Midnight Sun - 3:33
3. Can't Find It - 3:46
4. Walk Right In (Gus Cannon, Hosea Woods) - 3:23
5. Skid (Angela Rackley, Riley Racer) - 2:52
6. Beep Beep - 2:14
7. Stay Away - 2:47
8. Lonely Pigs - 4:25
9. See Myself In You - 3:03
10.Product Of The Times - 4:11
11.Thomasine And Bushrod (Title Song From The Motion Picture) - 2:26
12.Arthur Lee Interview - 22:16
13.Every Time I Look Up, I'm Down  - 3:32
14.Nothing  - 3:06
15.Keep On Shining  - 5:56
16.L.A. Blues (Tom T. Hall) - 3:02
All songs by Arthur Lee except where noted
Tracks 1 to 9 recorded Spring-Winter, 1973 at Valentine's, North Hollywood, CA; Paramount Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA; Wally Heider Studios, Hollywood, CA.
Track 10 Recorded Live at Boston Tea Garden 1970
Tracks 13-15 Live at Electric Gardens, Glasgow, 5/30/1974

*Arthur Lee - Guitar, Vocals, Harpsichord
*Joe Blocker - Drums, Vocals
*Robert Rozelle - Bass
*Melvan Whittington - Guitar, Harpsichord
*Frank Fayad - Bass
*Don Poncher - Drums
*Byron Reynolds - Drums
*Riley Racer - Dobro
*Craig Tarwater - Guitar
*Carl McKnight - Steel Drums
*Matt Devine - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*John Sterling - Guitar

1966  Love - Love (remaster and expanded)
1967  Love - Da Capo (remaster and expanded)  
1967  Love - Forever Changes (2008 digi pack double disc set)  
1971  Love - Lost Love (2009 Sundazed release)  
1974  Love - Reel to Real (2015 deluxe sdition)  
1992  Arthur Lee And Love ‎– Five String Serenade
Related Act
1966-82  Bryan MacLean - Ifyoubelievein

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fire - Underground And Overhead-The Alternate Fire (1967-69 uk, superb psych freakbeat)

Anthology of 1967-69 tracks recorded by British psychedelic popsters responsible for the classic psych single "Father's Name Is Dad', two versions of which are included on this release together with its equally stellar B-side "Treacle Toffee World'. Other tracks include aborted follow-up singles, both sides of the group's Who-influenced 1967 Oak label acetate (recorded under their previous name of Friday's Chyld), three earlier (and better) versions of songs that appeared on the 1970 concept LP The Magic Shoemaker and the ten-minute mini-pop opera "Alison Wonderland'. Superb booklet includes a lengthy essay on the band.

"Fire's 1968 classic "Father's Name Is Dad' is a true Zeitgeist record, measuring perfectly the distance the teen psyche had travelled in three years. The angst of a "My Generation' or the weekender ethic of "Friday On My Mind' is blown away in a sugarcube-shaped instant by lead singer Dave Lambert's disdainful "I laugh at it all". The other eighteen tracks here prove Fire to have been an adventurous and inventive combo capable of state-of-the-art whimsy on "Man In The Teapot', drama-laden balladry on "Only A Dream', pulsating groove-throb on "Alison Wonderland', and prescient lyricism on "I've Still Got Time'. The sleevenotes tell a familiar tale of ambition thwarted by insensitive record company clods (they had a brief brush with Apple), and, hilariously, a bilious 1973 encounter between Lambert, by then a pop star with the Strawbs, and former manager Ray Hammond, by then a journo for Disc & Music Echo." (Mojo)

"Best-known, and rightly so, for the 1968 mod-pop jewel "My Father's Name Is Dad', Fire's discography was always besoiled by an embarrassing follow-up single, "Round The Gum Tree', and a rather twee storytale/concept album, The Magic Shoemaker. With Underground & Overhead, Wooden Hill attempt to apply a new shine to Fire's tarnished image, presenting a selection of mostly-unreleased tracks from 1967-69 that UK pop-psych fans can actually sit down and listen to from start to finish. "Father's Name Is Dad' and its equally whimsical flipside, Treacle Toffee World', are certainly the most memorable songs here, but not far behind are the intended follow-up "Spare A Copper' and "Happy Sound', the latter with its warbled Bolan-esque back-ups, coming off a lot like John's Children. Other highlights include the driving "I've Still Got Time' and "Magic Shoes', a superb slice of melodic pop-psych which was re-recorded (in inferior form) for the Magic Shoemaker album. Another top-notch release..." 
Ugly Things
1. Father's Name Is Dad - 2:28
2. Treacle Toffee World - 2:08
3. Happy Sound - 2:17
4. Spare A Copper - 2:41
5. Will I Find Love? - 2:18
6. Man In The Teapot - 2:22
7. Only A Dream - 2:48
8. It's Just Love - 3:56
9. Magic Shoes - 3:56
10.I've Still Got Time - 2:23
11.I Know You Inside Out - 4:25
12.Reason For Everything - 2:33
13.Alison Wonderland - 10:44
14.I Just Can't Wait - 2:29
15.I Didn't Know You - 2:44
16.Can't Be So Bad (Miller) - 1:43
17.Green-Legged Auntie Sally - 8:13
18.Mama - 6:03
19.Oh Johnny - 5:54  
20.Father's Name Is Dad (Alternative Version) - 2:33
All songs by Dave Lambert except track #16

The Fire
*Dave Lambert - Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar
*Dick Dufall - Bass, Vocals
*Bob Voice - Drums, Vocals
*Paul Brett - Guitar

1969-70  Fire - The Magic Shoemaker (2009 bonus tracks remaster)  
Related Act
1970  Paul Brett's Sage - Paul Brett's Sage (Japan remaster)

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Fire - The Magic Shoemaker (1968-70 uk, extraordinary psych prog rock, 2009 bonus tracks remaster)

For me the most depressing thing about today’s rock music is that so much of it exhibits such a lack of creativity or originality. If something sells, clone it, quickly. What a contrast to the late sixties, when for a brief heady spell the artists rather than the bean-counters had the whip hand and the spirit of experimentation soared over everything. Of course this produced as many heroic failures as acknowledged triumphs; Fire’s The Magic Shoemaker bombed on release, and even such retrospective reviews as it has received have frequently been ambivalent. Ah, what have we got here, then? Former psychedelic outfit moves towards progressive rock with a song-cycle that’s too lightweight plot-wise to be a concept album, too naïve and inconsequential to be a rock opera . . . hmmmm. But what is true is that it certainly represents a brave attempt to be different.

London trio Dave Lambert (vcl, gtr, keys), Dick Dufall (bs, vcl) and Bob Voice (drs, vcl) had impressed the Beatles’ Apple label sufficiently to score a deal that resulted in the classic psych A-side “Father’s Name Is Dad”. The marriage was not a happy one, though, and Fire soon found themselves at odds with the music industry at large. Retiring to the suburbs, Lambert spent a year writing and demo-ing the songs for The Magic Shoemaker, based around a whimsical children’s bedtime story in which a shoemaker cobbles together a pair of shoes that unexpectedly allow the wearer to fly. These are loaned to a king whose country is threatened with war by a neighbouring state; when the king confronts his opposite number from the sky the latter’s army are spooked and a peace treaty is forthcoming. Admittedly, it’s a slender peg to hang your creative coat on, but in its own quirky homespun fashion it works.

The premise of the album is that the narrator (Lambert, in a homely Home Counties accent) tells the story to a group of kids on a coach trip (real kids’ voices, overdubbed travel noises). Short pieces of the narrative occur between and within the songs whose lyrics broadly parallel episodes in the tale, some closely, others in more abstract fashion. Musically the songs follow a basic guitar-driven pop-rock template, varying widely in style and tempo – Tommy would undoubtedly have been an influence – with frequent psychedelic studio enhancement, particularly on the opening “Tell You A Story”, “Only A Dream” and the long instrumental coda of “Reason For Everything”. Pick of the bunch for me is “I Can See The Sky” with its raw freakbeat vibe, but they’re all quite engaging. Lambert’s lead vocal, somewhere between Daltrey and Bowie, is sometimes somewhat over-affected, but the musicianship is excellent throughout with the basic guitar trio being complemented by Lambert’s modest keyboards and plenty of top-drawer lead guitar work from himself and Velvet Opera’s Paul Brett. Future Strawbs partner Dave Cousins makes a cameo appearance on banjo on the superfluous jugband ditty “Happy Man Am I”. The production by Pye’s Ray Hammond is unsophisticated but its contemporary favouring of stereo separation and reverb suits the project and the interleaving of songs and narration is seamless.

Predictably, The Magic Shoemaker tanked well and truly on its release on Pye in 1970, being too late for psych and too lightweight for prog, and subsequently became a much-sought-after rarity until its inevitable reissue on CD. The current Sanctuary edition tailgates the original album with the A’s and B’s of both of Fire’s earlier psych singles including the indispensable “Father’s Name Is Dad” and “Treacle Toffee World”. As an interesting epilogue, after a long and successful association with Cousins in the Strawbs Lambert reformed Fire for a one-off concert in 2007, performing Shoemaker in extended form including the earlier psych sides and other unreleased songs. The gig was recorded for sound and video and subsequently released on CD by Angel Air as The Magic Shoemaker Live, receiving wide acclaim . . . which is more than the original release achieved.
by Len Liechti
1. Children Of Imagination - 0:18
2. Tell You A Story - 6:41
3. Magic Shoes - 3:42
4. Reason For Everything - 7:35
5. Only A Dream - 5:41
6. Flies Like A Bird - 5:41
7. Like To Help You If I Can - 4:06
8. I Can See The Sky - 5:15
9. Shoemaker - 5:18
10.Happy Man Am I - 0:57
11.Children Of Imagination - 0:35
12.Father’s Name Is Dad - 2:32
13.Toffee Treacle World - 2:09
14.Round The Gum Tree - 1:33
15.Toothie Ruthie - 1:56
All Songs by Dave Lambert
Bonus Tracks 12-15

The Fire
*Dave Lambert - Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar,
*Dick Dufall - Bass, Vocals,
*Bob Voice - Drums, Vocals

Related Act
1969  Velvet Opera - Ride A Hustler's Dream
1970  Paul Brett's Sage - Paul Brett's Sage (Japan remaster)

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Tom Rush - Merrimack County / Ladies Love Outlaws (1972/74 us, great country folk rock, 2000 edition)

Named after the county where he resided, Merrimack County is also the first Tom Rush album which didn't show any ground gained. It is still a fine effort. Perhaps by including mainly originals instead of interpretations of others' tunes, Merrimack County is a bit of a letdown. A minor effort from a major star. 

Tom Rush's main strength, Ladies Love Outlaws plunges the listener full-tilt into the country-rock sound which so many were finding in the mid-'70s. Included here are Guy Clark's "Desperados Waiting for a Train," Lee Clayton's title track, and a stunning redo of Rush's own "No Regrets" helped along by the likes of the Eagles and Carly Simon on backup. But the best is saved for last, where Rush covers Bruce Cockburn's "One Day I Walk," showing that he hadn't lost his touch. A bit rough in places, but well done for the most part. 
by James Chrispell
Merrimack County 1972
1. Kids These Days (Tom Rush, Trevor Veitch) - 4:14
2. Mink Julep (Tom Rush) - 2:29
3. Mother Earth (Eric Kaz) - 2:35
4. Jamaica Say You Will (Jackson Browne) - 4:15
5. Merrimack County II (Tom Rush, Trevor Veitch) - 2:49
6. Gypsy Boy (Bob Carpenter) - 3:24
7. Wind On the Water (Tom Rush) - 3:37
8. Roll Away the Grey (Bob Carpenter) - 2:59
9. Seems the Songs (Tom Rush) - 3:41
10.Gone Down River (Tom Rush) - 4:20
Ladies Love Outlaws 1974
11.Ladies Love Outlaws (Lee Clayton) - 2:31
12.Hobo's Mandolin (Michael Peter Smith) - 3:12
13.Indian Woman From Wichita (Wayne Berry) - 4:20
14.Maggie (Tom Rush) - 3:33
15.Desperados Waiting For the Train (Guy Clark) - 3:30
16.Claim On Me (Lee Clayton) - 4:09
17.Jenny Lynn (Richard Dean) - 3:01
18.Black Magic Gun (Wayne Berry) - 3:27
19.No Regrets (Tom Rush) - 5:41
20.One Day I Walk (Bruce Cockburn) - 2:16

1972  Merrimack County 
*Tom Rush - Guitar, Lead Vocals
*Trevor Veitch - Guitar, Mandolin, Background Vocals
*James Rolleston - Bass, Background Vocals
*Gary Mallaber - Drums, Percussion, Vibraphone
*Paul Armia - Fiddle
*Erik Robertson - Organ, Piano
*Bill Stevenson - Piano
*Kathryn Moses - Flute
*John Savage - Drums
1974  Ladies Love Outlaws
*Tom Rush - Acoustic Guitar, Lead Vocals
*Jeff "Skunk" Baxter - Electric Guitar
*Elliott Randall - Electric Guitar
*Bob Babbitt - Bass
*James Taylor - Background Vocals
*Carly Simon - Background Vocals
*Rupert Holmes - Background Vocals
*Jerry Friedman - Electric Guitar
*Leon Pendarvis - Keyboards
*Allan Schwartzberg - Drums
*Andrew Smith - Drums
*George Devens - Percussion
*Wayne Jackson - Trumpet
*Jack Hale - Trombone
*Ed Logan - Tenor Saxophone
*Andrew Love - Tenor Saxophone
*James Mitchell - Baritone Saxophone
*Carl Hall - Background Vocals
*Tasha Thomas - Background Vocals

1965  Tom Rush - Tom Rush
1968  Tom Rush - The Circle Game
1970  Tom Rush - Tom Rush / Wrong End Of The Rainbow

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