Monday, April 30, 2018

Stampeders - Carryin On (1971 canada, fine classic rock, 2003 edition)

No seventies group represented Canada's musical identity to the world like The Stampeders. A quick look at Canada's music scene from 1971 until 1976 confirms The Stampeders were truly the country's international musical ambassadors. Instead of trying to blend into any specific format, they developed their own identity, which was both entertaining to watch in concert, and to listen to on radio and records. The Stampeders also toured more extensively in Canada and overseas than any other Canadian group of the same period.

While there were various line-ups of the group during their 15-year run, the three-man line-up of Rich Dodson, Kim Berly and Ronnie King was, by far, the most successful and most widely-adored by the fans.

The group's beginnings can be traced back to Calgary in 1964 with a band called The Rebounds, formed when drummer, Kim Meyer (Kim Berly), answered an ad placed in the paper by bassist, Brendan Lyttle, and guitarist, Rich Dodson. The Rebounds consisted of Rich Dodson (lead guitar), Len Roemer (rhythmn guitar), Brendan Lyttle (bass guitar), Kim Berly (drums) and Kim's brother, Al Meyer (Race Holiday), on lead vocals.

In January of 1965, The Rebounds entered into a relationship with manager, Mel Shaw, and officially became The Stampeders. Len Roemer was replaced by Cornelis Van Sprang, known professionally as Ronnie KIing, and his brother, Emile, who used the stage name Van Louis. The six-man group started wearing assorted-coloured denim outfits and cowboy hats with the idea of promoting a group of cowboys playing rock 'n roll. During their first year as a band in Calgary, they had one single release on the SOTAN label entitled "House of Shake" b/w "Don't Look At Her."

Anticipating better things to come, The Stampeders decided to move to Toronto in 1966. At the invitation of Bigland booking agent, Ron Scribner, the six-man group, along with Mel Shaw and his family, loaded up their $800, used, '62 Cadillac limousine and U-Haul trailer, and left Calgary heading east to the 'big lights' of Toronto. Though most of the members were under the legal drinking age, they managed to beg, borrow and work their way across Canada, playing bars and various one-nighters. Upon their arrival in Toronto, the Western-Canadian band, with their yellow denim T-Kays, cowboy boots and hats, became an immediate curiosity in the folk-oriented, hippie clubs of the Yorkville district. Though the first year was an extremely lean one, the band managed to survive the six-month, Toronto Musician's Association's initiation and find work in the bustling Toronto club scene.

The Stampeders finally had a breakthrough late in '68 with a single they recorded while on a sight-seeing trip to New York. Released on the independent label, CARAVAN, "Morning Magic" b/w "All The Time" wasn't much of a sales success, but critical acclaim earned the group a BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) Award.

The first major-label single release, "Be A Woman" b/w "I Don't Believe," came in 1968 on the MGM label in the U.S. The Stampeders played the rhythm tracks and sang the vocals while an inhouse MGM producer added a 16 piece string section. This was to be The Stampeders' final release as a six-member group. Late in 1968, the three oldest members - Brendan Lyttle, Van Louis and Race Holiday -left the band, leaving the line-up of Rich Dodson, Kim Berly and Ronnie King.

The period from late '68 to the mid '70's was a time of evolution for the new, three-man Stampeders in which they would develop their own sound, a sound that would take them around the world. The stage set-up had Dodson on guitar, King on bass and Berly on drums, while all three members shared lead vocals. With the exception of Dodson, the cowboy hats came off, they all still wore boots, but the colored T-Kay denim outfits became history. During this period, the band toured around Ontario and Quebec developing their stage show with the help of their new road man, lighting-wizard, Stan Whitcher, winning fans and becoming an in-demand club and one-nighter attraction.

The Stampeders' only release during 1969 was "Cross-Walk" b/w "I Don't Know Where I'm At Sometimes" on the Melbourne label, distributed by London Records. Quality Records, then a major independent label in Canada, became interested in the band. By mid-1970, The Stampeders were in the studio working on their first album, "Against The Grain".

"Carry Me", the first single from this session, quickly hit the top of the Canadian charts, garnering the band it's first gold record. Simultaneously released on Polydor in the U.S., the single got lots of play but didn't quite make the charts. Canadian success, however, allowed the band to complete the album with one of their favorite recording engineers, Terry Brown. The resulting LP, "Against The Grain," was concurrently released with the next single, "Sweet City Woman" b/w "Gator Road." The band, along with it's new road crew -- Bob Luffman, Joel Wikhammer and Ian 'Snake' Dunbar -- was finally on it's way.

The summer of 1971 saw "Sweet City Woman" climb the charts to the Number One position across Canada, catching the attention of the American label, Bell Records. The band was signed immediately and Bell rush-released the single in the U.S. Even though it was up against classic songs like The Doors' "Riders On The Storm," Paul and Linda McCartney's "Uncle Albert," and James Taylor's "You've Got A Friend," "Sweet City Woman" climbed the Billboard charts, reaching the Number Eight spot on September 11, 1971. 

The band recalls the time they pulled over to the side of the road at four-o'clock in the morning, while enroute back to Toronto from a gig, and jumped around the car with excitement after hearing "Sweet City Woman" fading in on radio station WABC in New York City as the Number One record of the week. Bell records renamed the album "Sweet City Woman" for the U.S. market to capitalize on the success of the single. Next came 'Juno Awards' (Canada's version of 'The Grammy') for 'Best Vocal Instrumental Group', 'Best Producer', 'Best Single' -- and their first European tour.

1971 also saw the release of The Stampeders' second album "Carryin' On", featuring the lead-off single, "Devil You" b/w "Giant In The Streets". Although it was the last record released in the U.S. on Bell, the album gained a release in Europe on Regal Zonophone. It featured hard rocker "Wild Eyes", a song that gave their sound more edge and introduced the band to a whole new audience. Part of the appeal of The Stampeders was their musical versatility.

In 1972, at the request of their U.K. label, EMI, The 'Best Composer' Stampeders toured The United Kingdom. Upon their arrival, they discovered that their American hit, "Sweet City Woman", had already been covered by The Dave Clark Five. Dates included the Marquee in London, the Hard-Rock Theatre in Manchester and appearances on BBC Radio and "Top Of The Pops." Both Phillips and Bovema-EMI Records helped support the balance of the tour through Holland, Germany, Denmark, France and the rest of Europe with British rock band, Steam Hammer. Holland was especially receptive to the band, partly due to the fact that Ronnie King (Cornelis Van Sprang) was a fellow Dutchman, having been born in Rotterdam.

In Holland, The Stampeders received the prestigious 'Edison Award' for "Most Promising Group," along with Ry Cooder and Beach Boy, Carl Wilson. Carl was in session at the time, along with the rest of The Beach Boys, recording their classic "Holland" album. During this visit, The Stampeders had the privilege of staying at Amsterdam's Hotel Weichman with the infamous Eagles. While Kim and Rich shared road experiences with Eagle drummer, Don Henley, Ronnie King and some of the other band members spent their time window-shopping in the famed, Amsterdam red-light district, only to find themselves locked out of the hotel upon their return.

1972 also took The Stampeders to Los Angeles to perform at the legendary "Whisky A-Go-Go" and tape their appearances on "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert" and "The Dating Game." While hanging out at The Troubadour in Hollywood, Ronnie King met Keith Moon, drummer of The Who. Keith took a liking to Ronnie and asked him what he and The Stampeders were doing the next night. It happened to be Keith's birthday and he wondered if The Stampeders might be available to play at his party at The Beverly Hills' Wiltshire Hotel. Ronnie quickly replied, "Of course," and The Stampeders ended up on stage performing for some of Hollywood's rock elite and jamming with Keith Moon. Attendees at the party included Beach Boy, Brian Wilson, Neilson, Rod Stewart, Ron Wood and the then-infamous porno star, Linda Lovelace.

Signing with U.S. booking agency, Premier Talent, in 1971 led to American tour appearances with Jim Dandy and Black Oak Arkansas, Santana, Joe cocker, Steve Miller, The James Gang, Robin Trower, Steely Dan, Sonny and Cher, The Beach Boys, ZZ Top, The Eagles, Earth, Wind And Fire, Mountain, America, Tower Of Power, Blood, Sweat and Tears and Genesis. Establishing themselves as a good concert draw in the U.S., The Stampeders played everywhere from New York to Hawaii, including Los Angeles, Reno, Disneyland and the much-sought-after southern-college circuit.

Heavy airplay and extensive touring, coupled with many guest appearances on the popular Canadian TV shows of the time (Anne Murray, Miss Teen Canada, Kenny Roger's "Rollin' On The River" and The Ian Tyson Show), eventually led to The Stampeders' starring in their own CBC-TV special, "A Short Visit To Planet Earth".
1. Devil You (Rich Dodson) - 2:56
2. The Difference It Makes (Kim Berly) - 3:05
3. Stone Blind (Rich Dodson) - 2:32
4. Monday Morning Choo Choo (Rich Dodson) - 2:12
5. Carryin' On (Ronnie King) - 2:58
6. Stick By You (Rich Dodson) - 2:51
7. Dead Man's Hand (Rich Dodson) - 2:45
8. Giant In The Street (Kim Berly) - 4:02
9. Then Came The White Man (Ronnie King) - 3:44
10.Wild Eyes (Rich Dodson) - 4:01

The Stampeders
*Kim Berly - Drums, Vocals
*Ronnie King - Bass
*Rich Dodson - Guitar, Vocals

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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Various Artists - Hallucinations Psychedelic Pop Nuggets (1966-69 us / canada, bright psych beats, 2004 release)

Since the first Nuggets in 1972, the entire series has been grounded in the gritty, dirty sound of garage rock, so much so that Rhino's 2001 box set of British and foreign psychedelic nuggets favored harder rock over the fruity, precious side of British psych. Collectors treasured rare singles before Nuggets, but the series created an aesthetic that emphasized the raw, trippy, wild, and woolly over the soft, lush, harmony-laden psychedelicized sounds of AM pop radio. The Rubble Collection, Mindrockers, The Trash Box -- all of them were dedicated to freaky guitar rock, and that mindset ruled until the latter half of the '90s, when the well had started to run dry, as labels like Sundazed issued the complete recorded works of obscure garage rockers who had released only one single during their lifetimes. 

Around this time, collectors -- including many third-generation music fanatics raised in the era of CD reissues rather than record fairs -- began to favor the soft sunshine pop of the late '60s, when square vocal groups started to get hip and record trippy music. Bands like the Millennium, the Association, and Yellow Balloon became hip currency, as did producers like Curt Boettcher and songwriters like Paul Williams. This was close to anathema for the hardcore garage rock fiends because this was not rock & roll, it was pop music whose commercial aspirations failed. Nevertheless, most hardcore record geeks have a fondness for this stuff, since it's not only melodic and well produced, but it's terribly interesting to hear how underground ideas were borrowed and assimilated into mainstream music; often, it's as strange as it was in the underground, if not stranger.

Fans of this breed of psychedelic pop were insatiable, and there was a certain thrill to the fact that it was hard to track down, since it was either issued in Japan, buried as album tracks on reissues, or never made it to CD at all. That's why Rhino Handmade's foray into the sound with Hallucinations: Psychedelic Pop Nuggets from the WEA Vaults and its companion release, Come to the Sunshine: Soft Pop Nuggets from the WEA Vaults, is so welcome -- while they're only available as limited editions (primarily sold via, they're also the first widely available American samplers of this style. That alone would make them noteworthy, but what makes them essential (at least for hardcore record collectors), is that they're expertly done. 

Where previous installments of Nuggets concentrated on singles, Hallucinations is a true excavation of the vaults, picking overlooked album tracks and neglected singles from a cornucopia of WEA-owned labels, including Warner Bros., Cotillion, Jubilee, Valiant, Reprise, and Atco. While the focus is on acts that released a single or forgotten album, there are a handful of recognizable names -- the Association, Kim Fowley, the Electric Prunes, the Bonniwell Music Machine, the Tokens, the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band -- and in the Monkees' "Porpoise Song," there's even a genuine hit. But that song is the exception to the rule: most of these are quite obscure, and it's even arguable that because they were released on major labels (or at the very least, high-profile labels), the songs haven't been given the attention or respect as psychedelia released on smaller, regional labels. 

That argument is laid out in the introduction of the excellent liner notes, and the music on Hallucinations supports it strongly. Often, collections of rare heavy psychedelia and garage rock can grow a little samey even when the musical quality is high, since bands tended to emulate the same sounds and ideas, using the same production techniques as their peers. Hallucinations is a much more interesting listen than the average psychedelic rarities collection since these underground ideas are applied in bizarre, unpredictable ways to professionally written, melodic songs that were designed for mainstream radio. 

Where its companion collection, Come to the Sunshine, is heavy on lush surfaces and harmonies, Hallucinations is overtly trippy and psychedelic, filled with fuzz guitars, echoes, phased vocals, organs, studio effects, and minor-key drones. This brings it closer to familiar Nuggets territory, but there's a much heavier emphasis on studiocraft and production here than there is on anything on the original double-vinyl Nuggets or Rhino's original box set; again, the focus is on the record, not the song, even though there are some excellent songs here. Nevertheless, the sound and effects of the productions are the most memorable aspects, such as the way the vocals and guitars swirl through the Next Exit's Tokens-produced "Break Away" or how Jeff Thomas' "Straight Aero," quite likely the trippiest square anthem ever recorded, has a weird undercurrent of menace in its hiccupping bass and clanging piano. Hallucinations is filled with moments as strong as this, and it makes a convincing argument that psychedelic pop is at its best when it's pure, undiluted ear candy like this. It's not just a good introduction to the charms of psychedelic pop; it holds its own next to any collection of freaky, guitar-fueled garage-psychedelic rarities. 
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Artists - Tracks
1. Baker Knight And The Knightmares - Hallucinations (Thomas Baker Knight) - 2:54
2. The Misty Wizards (Ted Lucas) - It's Love - 2:09
3. The Next Exit - Break Away (Brute Force, Paul Kahan) - 2:45
4. The Collectors - Looking At A Baby (Howard Vikberg, Bill Henderson) - 2:16
5. Adrian Pride - Her Name Is Melody (Bernie Schwartz, Terry Slater) - 3:02
6. The Association - Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies (Gary Alexander) - 2:52
7. The World Column - Lantern Gospel (Joel Kaplan, Dave Meyer) - 3:28
8. Tom Northcott - Who Planted Thorns In Alice's Garden (Tom Northcott) - 2:49
9. John Wanderling - Man Of Straw (John Wonderling, Carey Budnick, Edward Goldfluss) - 2:49
10.Ellen Marguiles - The White Pony (Roger Joyce, Danny Secunda, Steve Steinberg) - 2:23
11.Jeff Thomas - Straight Aero (Jeff Thomas) - 3:12
12.M.C.² - My Mind Goes High (Michael Clough, Michael Crumm) - 2:38
13.Brass Buttons - Hell Will Take Care Of Her (Jay Capozzi) - 2:58
14.The Salt - Lucifer (Joey Levine, Marc Belleck) - 3:03
15.Kim Fowley - Strangers From The Sky (Kim Fowley, Michael Lloyd) - 2:56
16.The Electric Prunes - Antique Doll (Nancie Mantz, Annete Tucker) - 3:13
17.The Bonniwell Music Machine - Astrologically Incompatible (Sean Bonniwell) - 2:23
18.The Tokens - How Nice? (Phil Margo, Mitch Margo, Hank Medress, Jay Siegel) - 2:56
19.The Coronados - Your Love Belongs To Everyone (Reuben Ortiz, Steve Ortiz) - 2:33
20.Lee Mallory - That's The Way It's Gonna Be (Samuel Robert Gibson, Phil Ochs) - 2:56
21.The Glass Family - House Of Glass (Ralph Parrett) - 3:13
22.The Holy Mackerel - Wildflowers (Robert Harvey) - 3:59
23.The Monkees - Porpoise Song (Theme From Head) (Gerry Goffin, Carole King) - 4:03
24.The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Smell Of Incense (Bob Markley, Bruce Morgan) - 5:47

Related Acts
1967-69  The Collectors - The Collectors / Grass And Wild Strawberries 
1966-69  The Association - Original Album Series (2016 five discs box set)     
1966  The Association - And Then...Along Comes (2013 Japan remaster)
1967 The Association - Insight Out (Xpanded)
1968  The Association - Birthday (2013 Japan remaster)
1969 The Association - The Association (Xpanded)  
1972 The Association - Waterbeds In Trinidad 
1968  Kim Fowley - Wildfire
1966-69 Electric Prunes - The Complete Reprise Singles (2012 edition) 
1967-69  The Electric Prunes - Original Album Series (2013 five discs box set)
1967  The Electric Prunes - Stockholm 67
1970  Pride - Pride
1966-67  The Music Machine - The Ultimate Turn On
1968-69  The Music Machine - The Bonniwell Music Machine (2014 double disc)
1969  T.S. Bonniwell - Close (2012 edition)
1966-69  Lee Mallory - Many Are the Times (2013 blu spec)
1969  The Glass Family - Electric Band (2012 extra tracks remaster) 
1968  The Holy Mackerel - Holy Mackerel (2010 remaster)
1965-67   West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Volume One
1967  West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Part One
1967  West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Volume Two
1968  West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Volume Three
1960-71  West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Companion (2011 Sunbeam issue)
1969  Markley - A Group

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

The J.J.Band - The J.J.Band (1968-70 belgium, great jazz funk psych brass rock, 2009 digipak remaster)

The year was 1966. The city was Charleroi in Belgium, where the two Portugese brothers Toni and Fernando Lameirinhas (alias Tony and Wando Lam) founded the band “Jess & James” as Belgiums` answer to soul music. They had lived in England before, catching the soul virus while playing in various beat bands like “Screaming Lord Sutch”. Their song “Move” suddenly became a massive hit all over Europe in 1967 and the band consequently produced three soul pop albums under the name of “Jess & James” until 1969 for the Palette/ Belter label. The boys were being discovered as a sure-fire commercial attraction in Belgium and Spain, but the fast success soon led to musical dissension within the group.

At the same time, the backing band of “Jess & James” started to separate under the name “J.J. Band” to experiment with new sounds, finally developing into a more soul jazz orientated outfit. A constant creative growth lyrically and musically within the group was self-evident in this first album simply entitled “The J.J. Band”. The new formation was led by arranger Ralph Benatar (Sax and Flute), Douglas Lucas (Trumpet) and Francis Weyer (aka Francis Goya/ Guitar), who all played leading roles on most of the “El Chicles” and “Chakachas” related releases of the times.

The minds behind the J.J. Band, Benatar and Lucas, started to write own material for the first longplay release aswell as taking famous songs and truely give them a new and more complex sound, with small horn & flute section, very diverse guitar moods and eclectic but excellent percussion sounds throughout. The LP was produced in 1970 by Roland Kluger, brother of composer and producer Jean Kluger, and solely pressed in small amounts by Polydor Records in Belgium and Canada. Two bonus tracks were pulled from the bands` first 7inch single “Cousins Jack” especially for this reissue, recorded 1968 in mono and with a pure boogaloo and hammond soul arrangement, that shows the straight forward sound of their earlier attempts.

Gamble & Huffs`“Love In Them There Hills” had been a big hit for the Pointer Sisters or The Three Degrees and is presented here in the progressive sound design of the times and with very tight guitar work. “Norwegian Wood” gets an unusual jazz treatment with nice breaks, mostly reminding us of some jazz waltz played by a street marching band, while the version on the Bee Gees`“To Love Somebody” shows a band capable of evoking a mood similar to the best moments of the Byrds or the Flying Burrito Brothers. And did we already mention, that the drummer goes nuts most of the time to create this special sultry tenderness?

It is the integration of various musical styles, strong rhythms and a deep feeling that makes this vanished album worthwhile. Most of the songs are originals, completed by the mentioned renditions of well known tunes in a modernized dress.That three of the songs are well known hits is obvious. But that they particularly lend themselves to an excellent soul jazz treatment with open drum breaks is obvious only upon listening. What was successfully attempted here was to adapt some soul and pop tunes to a jazz and progressive rock tempo, with a band capable of “quick changing” for another style within the same song and thus lifting it to a higher standard.

Jess & James aka the Lameirinhas brothers themselves moved to Amsterdam and transformed into the unsuccessful Latin Jazz band “Sail Joia” in 1975. At this point the short career of the J.J. Band was already finished. In 1971 the famous drummer Bruno Castellucci helped out on the sessions for the J.J. Bands` second album, also entitled “The J.J. Band”, recorded at Chappell Studios London. Their style had developed more and more towards progressive rock and although this final album was produced by the great Brian Bennett and released on CBS Records in the UK, it passed rather unnoticed. Then the musicians changed their name to “Plus” in 1972 and released a “real final” album on the label Pink Elephant, that should become another impossible to find collector`s item in our times. Now listen to the fascinating and lost debut album of this unjustly forgotten band from Belgium with depth and excitement. 
1. Love In Them There Hills (Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff, Roland Chambers) - 2:54
2. Cousins Jack  (Ralph Benatar, Wando Lam) - 3:11
3. Mow I've Found Out (Douglas Lucas, Ralph Benatar) - 3:42
4. Leaving You (Douglas Lucas) - 2:53
5. Norwegian Wood (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 5:14
6. Intro (Ralph Benatar, Douglas Lucas) - 8:36
 a.We've Been So Happy
 b.Into A World
7. Bip Bop (Garcia Morales, Ralph Benatar) - 2:49
8. Nicky's At The P.C. (Wando Lam, Tony Lam) - 3:13
9. To Love Somebody (Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb) - 4:02

J.J. Band
*Garcia Morales - Drums, Lead Vocal
*Douglas Lucas - Trumpet
*Ralph Benatar - Tenor Sax, Flute
*Stanley Willis - Alto, Tenor Sax, Flute
*Jean-Claude “Titine” Clement - Baritone Sax
*Francis Weyer - Guitar, Vocals
*Yvan “Ket” De Souter - Bass, Vocals
*Marcel “Toto” Poznantek - Percussion, Trombone, Vocals

Related Act
1968-69  Jess And James​ -​ Jess And James (2010 remaster) 

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Show Of Hands - Formerly Anthrax (1970 us, extraordinary prog jazz, psych rock, 2008 edition)

The roots of San Diego jazz-rock trio Formerly Anthrax lie in the psychedelic band the National Debt, formed in 1967 by singer/guitarist/flutist Jerry McCann, keyboardist Jack Jacobsen, and drummer Rick Cutler. When McCann exited later that same year to join Framework, which later issued the underground classic "I'm Gonna Give," Jacobsen and Cutler continued collaborating as Anthrax, moving toward an instrumental fusion approach that earned the notice of Elektra Records producer Russ Miller. 

The duo recorded an LP for the label in 1969, but Elektra president Jac Holzman declared the project too uncommercial for release, allowing that the addition of vocals could change his mind. So Jacobsen and Cutler lured McCann back to the fold, which spelled the end of Framework -- the album was reworked, but Elektra also objected to the name Anthrax, although inexplicably Holzman deemed "Formerly Anthrax" an acceptable moniker. 

The revamped LP finally appeared in 1971 as Show of Hands, a title many listeners mistook for the name of the band -- perhaps not surprisingly, the record went nowhere, with the single "Stanley's Theme" generating little interest even on progressive radio. A planned concert LP, Live at the New Orleans House, never made it past the acetate stage, effectively bringing the curtains down on Formerly Anthrax's career -- while McCann later pursued solo projects, Jacobsen eventually resurfaced as a member of Huey Lewis & the News, while Cutler enjoyed fleeting success as a member of Tommy Tutone, the one-hit wonder behind the '80s classic "Jenny (867-5309)." 

All three members of  Formerly Anthrax reunited in 2000, albeit this time officially collaborating under the Show of Hands aegis.
by Jason Ankeny
1. No Words Between Us (Jack Jacobsen) - 4:16
2. Stanley's Theme (Jack Jacobsen) - 3:12
3. Moondance (Van Morrison) - 3:46
4. These Things I Know (Jerry McCann) - 3:21
5. I Want To Fly (Jack Jacobsen) - 6:45
6. No Oppotunity Necessary, No Experience Needed (Richie Havens) - 3:40
7. May This Be Love / One Rainy Wish (Jimi Hendrix) - 3:26
8. Mount Olympus Breakdown (Martin Lanham) - 2:11
9. Like A Child (Jerry McCann) - 5:10
10.Toy Piano (Jack Jacobsen) - 5:00

Show Of Hands
*Rick Cutler - Drums, Percussion
*Jack Jacobsen - Keyboard Bass, Keyboards, Organ, Piano
*Jerry McCann - Flute, Guitar, Vocals

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Atomic Rooster - Death Walks Behind You (1970 uk, impressive heavy psych prog rock, 2016 SHM remaster with bonus tracks)

In the progressive rock community there is some controversy regarding the status of Atomic Rooster as a full-fledged prog band.  Like many Seventies acts often placed under the ‘heavy prog’ umbrella (Captain Beyond and High Tide to name but two), in the eyes of purists they are little more than glorified hard rock combos with some hints of something more complex, yet more akin to Deep Purple and Black Sabbath than Genesis or Yes. In recent times I have happened to see Atomic Rooster labeled as a ‘dark’ band – a definition that made me think of the likes of The Cure or Siouxsie and the Banshees rather than any of the classic bands of the Seventies.

On the other hand, as both the brilliant title and the iconic cover (depicting William Blake’s “Nebuchadnezzar” on a simple black background) suggest, Death Walks Behind You is a very dark album – a haunting, Hammond-drenched effort which sounds like a encounter between Black Sabbath and Deep Purple with ELP writing the soundtrack. In many ways, it can be seen as the blueprint for the heavier side of prog, a lavish feast for any self-respecting fan of the mighty Hammond organ, and a welcome respite from the pastoral soundscapes of  Camel or Genesis, or the mind-boggling intricacy of Yes. Definitely hard-edged, occasionally oppressive, undeniably raw and unpolished, it possesses the kind of power that many more recent albums strive in vain to achieve.

This is one of the rare albums that captured my attention right from the first listen. True, Death Walks Behind You is not perfect, but then very few albums are, even those normally hailed as masterpieces. Vincent Crane’s highly effective, aggressive playing style, perfectly complemented by the expressive voice and blistering guitar lines of John DuCann (formerly with proto-prog outfit Andromeda), is a real treat for the ears of every Hammond lover. The third band member, drummer Paul Hammond (who replaced co-founder Carl Palmer when the latter joined ELP), lays down a powerful backbeat, assisted by Crane’s skillful use of both keyboard and foot pedals to replace the missing bass lines. This idiosyncratic take on the classic power trio unleashes a massive volume of music that, while not as technically impeccable as what ELP or Deep Purple were producing at the time, is brimming with sheer intensity.

A couple of tracks relieve the tension and overall dark mood of the album – namely the catchy, almost upbeat “Tomorrow Night” (originally released as a single), and the heavy rock-goes-commercial “I Can’t Take No More”. Neither are personal favourites: in my view, especially the latter could be scrapped from the album without doing a whole lot of damage. On the other hand, the slow, melancholy number “Nobody Else”, dominated by Crane’s piano, sees a remarkably emotional vocal performance by DuCann, providing a perfect foil for Crane’s despondent, foreboding lyrics (he suffered from mental problems and ended up committing suicide, as did Hammond).

The real highlights of the album, however, are to be found elsewhere. The title-track is introduced by dissonant, menacing piano, then explodes into a memorably hypnotic organ riff punctuated by the obsessive repetition of the title, “Death Walks Behind You”.  “7 Streets” is a more structured composition, based on the interplay between organ and guitar, while “Sleeping for Years” is in a similar vein, though with a slightly darker tone – both excellent examples of vintage heavy prog, somewhat influenced by Black Sabbath, but with better vocals and lashings of keyboards replacing Tony Iommi’s monstrous riffing. The two instrumentals, “VUG” and “Gershatzer”, are probably the most progressive offerings on the album, showcasing Crane’s skills as a Hammond player; the latter, which is almost 8 minutes long, has the slightly loose feel of a jam session, intensified by the presence of a short drum solo.

Though not exactly flawless, Death Walks Behind You is an impressive offering  that is  almost a must-listen for Hammond fans and anyone who likes their prog with a harder edge (though not necessarily metal). A fascinating, almost addictive album by an underrated band, whose long but chequered career ended tragically with Vincent Crane’s death in 1989.
by Raffaella Berry
1. Death Walks Behind You (John Du Cann, Vincent Crane) - 7:31
2. Vug (Vincent Crane) - 5:00
3. Tomorrow Night (Vincent Crane) - 3:59
4. 7 Streets (John Du Cann) - 6:43
5. Sleeping For Years (John Du Cann) - 5:28
6. I Can't Take No More (John Du Cann) - 3:34
7. Nobody Else (John Du Cann, Vincent Crane) - 5:01
8. Gershatzer (Vincent Crane) - 8:04
9. Play The Game (John Du Cann) - 4:45
10.The Devil's Answer (1970 Demo) (John Du Cann) - 4:03
11.The Devil's Answer (Alternative Version) (John Du Cann) - 3:28
Bonus Tracks 9-11

Atomic Rooster
*John Du Cann - Guitars, Lead Vocals, Bass
*Vincent Crane - Hammond Organ, Backing Vocals, Piano
*Paul Hammond - Drums, Percussion

1970  Atomic Rooster - Atomic Rooster (2016 Japan Mini LP SHM remaster) 
1970-72/81  Atomic Rooster - Devil's Answer / Rare Live Recordings 
Related Acts
1967-68  The Attack - About Time (2006 remaster with unreleased material)
1967-69  The Attack - Magic In The Air
1967-69  Andromeda - The Definitive Collection
1968  The Five Day Week Straw People - The Five Day Week Straw People
1970  Skin Alley - Big Brother Is Watching You (2011 two discs with unreleased material)
1972  Skin Alley - Two Quid Deal (2005 japan remaster)
1973  Skin Alley - Skin Tight

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Man – Slow Motion (1974 uk, amazing prog rock, 2008 remaster and expanded)

Man's second album of 1974 had the unenviable task of competing with the group's highest charting album to date, Rhinos, Winos And Lunatics, released just five months earlier. Unsurprisingly, in that time the band had undergone another line-up change with keyboard player Malcolm Morley jumping ship after the group's first successful American tour. That left the band as a four-piece again with Micky Jones on guitar and vocals, Deke Leonard on guitar, piano and vocals, Ken Whaley on bass and Terry Williams on drums and vocals. Amazingly, after the five-week US tour, the band only had a week off before heading off to Clearwell Castle in Gloucestershire to write the next album, a feat they accomplished in just two weeks! Boy, how times have changed!

The album was written and recorded in an atmosphere described by Jones as "Post American blues" with Leonard stating that the group felt somewhat "displaced and after the wide open spaces [of the US] we felt mildly claustrophobic". As a consequence, the album, particularly in the lyrical department, is quite downbeat, with main lyric writer Leonard stating that his mind was elsewhere - "a really morbid alley-way which is full of death, disease and real black images". This is true of opening number, A Hard Way To Die, as if the title was not somewhat of a giveaway! However, musically it is quite a jolly number and opens up the recording in readiness for the string-laden Grasshopper. The first of two ballads, Grasshopper is a gentle and lovely acoustic number with a complete string section providing most of the impetus of the song. Rock And Roll You Out, a song inspired by Leonard's exclusion from a Welsh night club for wearing jeans, is a bluesy number with a pretty standard beat but with the added attraction of some nifty slide guitar work and even a harmonica solo! Another true incident, the theft of Micky's possessions while on holiday in Italy, was the inspiration behind You Don't Like Us. There is a definite air of Badfinger about this track, ironic as those other fabulous Welsh rockers were to support Man on their next UK tour.

An energetic guitar and synth introduction starts off Bedtime Bone which has quite a few instrumental passages, mostly because the band objected to Leonard's original lyrics about a chap dying whilst in the arms of a prostitute. Attempts at alternative lyrics were no more positive and so the original words were edited leaving space for a somewhat uninspiring synth solo. The lively One More Chance also hides a rather morbid lyric, but one doesn't notice it behind the delightfully cheery chorus and the twin guitar assault that makes the song a classic example of the Man oeuvre. The second ballad is Rainbow Eyes which also benefits from a string section, although not in as prominent a role as in Grasshopper. A more positive number from the pen of Micky complete with choral vocals on the middle eight, it sounds like a pop song from the late sixties, and although fairly distinct in the Man repertoire it is none-the-less a minor gem of a song. They still manage to slip a death into the lyric though! Last track of the original album is the single Day and Night which, at the time, was a favourite of John Peel's; he even nominated it as single of the week when he reviewed it for Sounds magazine. Peely, as ever, was spot on in his assessment and it is surprising that the group didn't even score a minor hit with the song with it being a catchy ditty an all.

As for all the Esoteric Man re-issues, the CD contains a host of previously unreleased bonus tracks, starting with the first mix of Rock And Roll You Out whose main difference is a saxophone, which although barely discernable in the final mix plays a major part in this initial version, featuring in its own solo and in an interesting trade-off with guitar in the end section. The b-side to the Day And Night single, a live version of A Hard Way To Live is an energetic number which first featured on Deke Leonard's solo Iceberg album. Despite the original having been recorded after Leonard being fired from Man over attitude problems, the rest of Man were quite familiar with the material as several of them had played on the album and the band Leonard formed to promote the album (who were also called Iceberg) had supported Man on one of their UK tours. As if in reposte, the next bonus track is a live rendition of Hard Way To Die which comprehensively shows how the group were able to take a good studio song and ramp it up to another level when on stage. Hard Way To Die is the first of four live tracks taken from a concert recorded in California in April 1975, the second, Somebody's Calling (otherwise known as Someone Is Calling) is a relative rarity having only previously appeared on the 'Rare Man' CD and a couple of live bootlegs. Although less than 3 minutes long, the first high quality release of this number is a great bonus for Man collectors and completists. 

The final two tracks are the classic Many Are Called, But Few Get Up and another version of A Hard Way To Live. Maybe it would have been better to include another track from this concert instead of the latter track although one can't quibble too much in these matters! The version of Many Are Called... also displays the skill of the band in taking a regularly performed number and rearranging it within the confines of a familiar framework, much in the way that the Grateful Dead were able to do. This explains the popularity of the plethora of live releases, many of which contain similar track listings.

Although not often cited as a pinnacle album in the band's career, that is possibly due to the classic album that came immediately prior to it and the fact that Slow Motion was released so soon after. In addition, the general negative vibes might put some people off. However, all that withstanding, Slow Motion is a worthy addition to any Man collection. 
by Mark Hughes
1. Hard Way to Die - 5:20
2. Grasshopper - 5:12
3. Rock and Roll You Out - 3:54
4. You Don't Like Us - 4:34
5. Bedtime Bone - 5:55
6. One More Chance - 4:27
7. Rainbow Eyes - 6:06
8. Day and Night - 4:08
9. Rock And Roll You Out (First Mix) - 4:37
10.A Hard Way To Live (Deke Leonard) - 2:59
11.Hard Way To Die - 5:51
12.Somebody's Calling - 2:48
13.Many Are Called, But Few Get Up (Martin Ace, Clive John, Micky Jones, Deke Leonard, Ken Whaley, Terry Williams) - 13:13
14.A Hard Way To Live (Deke Leonard) - 3:16
All songs by Micky Jones, Deke Leonard, Ken Whaley, Terry Williams except where stated
Track 9 recorded at Morgan Studios 30th August 1974 previously unreleased
Track 10 B side of single UP 35739 released in May 1975
Tracks 11 to 14 recorded at the Keystone, Berkeley, California in April 1975

*Deke Leonard – Guitar, Vocals
*Micky Jones – Guitar, Vocals
*Ken Whaley – Bass
*Terry Williams – Drums, Vocals
*Chris Mercer - Saxophone
*Stuart Gordon - Strings

1969  Man - Revelation (2009 remaster and expanded)
1969  Man - 2 Ozs Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle (2009 remaster)
1971  Man - Man (2007 remaster with extra tracks)
Related Acts
1971-73  Help Yourself - Reaffirmation An Anthology (2014 Remaster)
1973  Help Yourself - 5 (2004 release)
1976-78  Tyla Gang - Pool Hall Punks / The Complete Recordings

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Richie Havens - Stonehenge (1970 us, gorgeous orchestrated folk psych, 2001 remaster)

Richie Havens was born in Brooklyn, New York, the eldest of nine children, formed street corner doo-wop groups with his friends, and sang with the McCrea Gospel Singers at the age of 16. Although he had already visited the artistic hotbed Greenwich Village, to read poetry, he was 20 before he moved there to live, soon learning to play the guitar and performing in the Village's folk venues, where this 6ft 6in tall African American stood out in the largely white clubs.

His distinctive guitar playing and soulful, gruff singing style quickly marked him out as a performer to watch, and after a couple of albums on the Douglas label, Havens was signed up by Bob Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman, who secured a record deal with Verve Records.

The first album with Verve, Mixed Bag (1967), included his own anti-war ballad, Handsome Johnny (co-written with the actor Louis Gossett Jr), and a handful of covers, including John Lennon and Paul McCartney's Eleanor Rigby and Dylan's Just Like a Woman. As with all his subsequent covers, he made the songs his own, with his highly rhythmic guitar accompaniment.

In 1968, he told the American folk music magazine Sing Out! that he wanted to put "the intonations of America" on Eleanor Rigby and other Lennon and McCartney songs. A couple more albums were released before Woodstock – Something Else Again (1968) and Richard P Havens, 1983 (1969). The latter included an apocalyptic vision of the future inspired by George Orwell and was his first album to make the US top 100 charts.

His Woodstock success encouraged Havens to found his own record label, Stormy Forest, and although the first album, Stonehenge (1970), was more subdued than his Woodstock audience expected, his next record, Alarm Clock (1971), indeed became a wake-up call: it was his highest charting album, and a single of George Harrison's Here Comes the Sun made the US top 20.

Havens went on to release several more albums through the mid-1970s, although it was his live performances that earned the greatest praise. In the same year as Woodstock, he appeared at the Isle of Wight festival, and the studio audience for his appearance on The Johnny Carson Show in the US was so enthusiastic that Carson invited him back the following evening – only the second time this had ever happened.

During the 1970s, Havens diversified into acting. He starred in the original stage performance of the Who's Tommy in 1972 and took the lead role in Catch My Soul, the 1974 film based on Othello. He co-starred with Richard Pryor in the 1977 film Greased Lightning.

Into the 1980s, Havens continued to tour and record, although he never improved on his previous chart success. His voice was heard on McDonald's adverts all over America, singing Here Comes the Sun, and he collaborated with the British electronic music duo Groove Armada – their song Hands of Time featured on the soundtrack of the Tom Cruise film Collateral (2004).

From the 1970s, Havens became concerned about educating young people about ecological issues. He co-founded a children's oceanographic museum in the Bronx, the North Wind Undersea Institute, and encouraged young people to have a hands-on role in making a positive contribution to improving the environment.

His 1993 retrospective album, Resume: The Best of Richie Havens, did much to remind a new audience of his back catalogue. In the year it was released, he appeared alongside Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins and Arlo Guthrie at the Troubadours of Folk festival in Los Angeles. A capacity audience would not let him leave the stage at the end of his concert. He later described it as a "Greenwich Village class reunion".

Havens sang at Bill Clinton's 1993 presidential inauguration and also performed several times for the Dalai Lama. He appeared at the 30th and 40th Woodstock anniversary celebrations, and at Dylan's 30th anniversary concert in 1992, where he sang Just Like a Woman. His autobiography, They Can't Hide Us Anymore, was published in 1999; the title refers to his thoughts during his helicopter ride over the Woodstock crowds in 1969. His last album was Nobody Left to Crown (2008).

Havens's repertoire was always a mixture of his own compositions and covers of other songwriters: he had a special talent for interpreting other people's songs, always delivered in his soulful, fiery and passionate vocal style with his attacking, urgent, rhythmic guitar accompaniment.

After kidney surgery in 2010, Havens retired from touring. He is survived by four daughters. Richie passed away April 22nd 2013.
by Derek Schofield
1. Open Our Eyes (Leon Lumpkins) - 2:54
2. Minstrel From Gault (Richie Havens, Mark Roth) - 3:35
3. It Could Be The First Day - 2:21
4. Ring Around The Moon (Greg Brown, Richie Havens) - 2:06
5. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (Bob Dylan) - 4:59
6. There's A Hole In The Future - 2:04
7. I Started A Joke (Barry Gibb) - 2:55
8. Prayer - 2:58
9. Tiny Little Blues - 2:06
10.Shouldn't All The World Be Dancing? - 8:04
All songs by Richie Havens except where noted

*Richie Havens - Guitar, Autoharp, Sitar, Koto, Vocals
*David Bromberg - Dobro
*Warren Bernhardt - Organ
*Daniel Ben Zebulon - Drums, Conga
*Monte Dunn - Guitar
*Donny Gerrard - Bass
*Ken Lauber - Piano
*Bill Lavorgna - Drums
*Eric Oxendine - Bass
*Donald Mcdonald - Drums
*Bill Shepherd - String Arrangements
*Paul "Dino" Williams - Guitar

1967  Richie Havens - Mixed Bag 

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Ellis - Riding on the Crest of a Slump / Why Not? (1972-73 uk, awesome pub classic rock, 2006 remaster)

Steve Ellis first began singing in a band at the age of 15. The band were called Soul Survivors, initially gate crashing weddings, youth clubs and barmitzva's in north London on the pretence that they were booked to perform. When the band improved substantially they began to play venues such as The Marquee, The Flamingo, Tiles and Mod clubs in Brighton, Clacton and Soul clubs in Manchester, Stoke etc.

After the bands first release on Decca Records, they moved on to CBS and became one of the most successful British pop acts of the late '60s, under their new name "Love Affair", and had a string of hit records. The music was inaudible due to the Beatle-mania like mayhem that ensued and was never repeated until a decade later when the Bay City Rollers found success.

In autumn 1969, Steve Ellis walked out of Love Affair to re-think his musical direction. CBS retained him as a solo artist and his future looked decidedly rosy. Without him, Love Affair floundered, while Steve seemed to have the world at his feet. But it didn't work out that way.

Despite a succession of different bands and deals, he never again tasted chart success - undeservedly so, judging by the records - and his career was cut painfully short in 1981 when he suffered a horrific accident after retiring from the music business to work as a docker.

But a brave fight to regain his mobility led him back to music in the early '90s, and for the next 10 years, he toured as Steve Ellis' Love Affair, belting out a mixture of the band's old hits and newer material to an audience of nostalgists and younger converts. He's also plugged in to the enduring Mod scene, organising and performing at the Small Faces Convention at the Ruskin, East London as a tribute to the late Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane. The upshot of this was sell-out concerts at The Astoria and The Royal Albert Hall, with proceeds going to Ronnie Lane's sons after their house in Wales burnt down. Both shows included all star guests paying tribute to Marriott and Lane. "A Mod is for life, not just for Christmas", he laughs.

And he teamed up with Paul Weller to record a single, "Step Inside My Love", issued 1998 to raise funds for the NSPCC. The single's production has echoes of smooth mid-80s soul - indeed, Glen "I Won't Cry" Goldsmith sings backing - and Ellis's voice is still in fine fettle. It's been a long haul...

After deciding to leave the Love Affair, Steve discussed forming a band with Zoot Money, Jimmy McCulloch from Thunderclap Newman and Terry Reid. But nothing came of these plans, so Steve instead went solo. His first project was contributing to the soundtrack of Loot, the screen adaptation of a play by the infamous playwright, Joe Orton.

In 1971, Steve found a new manager. "I bumped into (ex-Animal and Hendrix/Slade manager) Chas Chandler in a nightclub and we got chatting. He made the right noises. I stayed with Chas for a couple of singles, including 'Take Your Love'. Then I did 'Hold On' with Howie Casey and his big brass section, Johnny Steele from the Animals on drums, little Jimmy McCulloch on guitar, Zoot Money on piano and a Canadian band, Eggs Over Easy, who were touring over here with Loudon Wainwright. That was a bloody good band. We did a few gigs."

The following year, Steve assembled a new band - billed simply as Ellis or, later, the Ellis Group. "That was Zoot and two bass players - Jim Leverton (Fat Mattress), who ended up with Steve Marriott, then Nick South (ex-Vinegar Joe/Alexis Korner). We also had a German guitarist, Andy Grober, alias Andy Gee (ex-Springfield Park) and Davie Lutton (drums) from Eire Apparent.

"Zoot's great. He's a complete character, a great keyboard player and a good singer, too. Working with him was brilliant. That was one seriously good band, if a bit way out - Zoot with his jazzy influence. It was a meeting of everything, really."

"Riding On The Crest Of A Slump", Ellis's first album, was produced by the Who's Roger Daltrey: "He's a good lad. I lived next door to him near Heathfield, Sussex in a spare cottage of his for three years to get out of London. I got people like Maggie Bell from Stone The Crows, Mike Patto and Roger Chapman and we'd rehearse there. I think Roger regretted it, because we made a lot of bloody noise. He was moaning. He done a good job, though. We had Glyn Johns come in, the Stones' producer. Say what you like, mate! The whole album had a good feel."

Daltrey's role was taken by Mike Vernon for Ellis's second LP, "Why Not?" (1973). "That's got three/four good tracks but the rest didn't work out. We did a blues, which is unbelievable - about eight minutes long. Mike's very business-like. I knew him in the early days and thought he'd be good to work with. But he was matter-of-fact, very formal - 'right, time to go'. Bad chemistry. We didn't seem to get the backing from CBS we thought we deserved. I wrote this single, 'El Doomo', and the head of CBS was going to sue the charts because it got to No. 50 in 1974 and didn't budge for three weeks."
1. Good to Be Alive (Colin Allen, George Money) - 3:26
2. Doomo (Steve Ellis) - 6:20
3. You're the Only Reason (Jim Leverton) - 3:42
4. Tune for Brownie (Steve Ellis) - 3:00
5. Your Game (Steve Ellis) - 4:21
6. Three Times Corner (George Money) - 3:55
7. Morning Paper (Steve Ellis) - 3:25
8. Wish I Was Back Home (Steve Ellis, Andy Gee) - 3:00
9. Angela (Colin Allen, George Money) - 7:20
10.Goodbye Boredom (Steve Ellis) - 4:25
11.Opus 17 3/4 (Steve Ellis, George Money) - 4:27
12.Future Passed (Steve Ellis, Andy Gee) - 3:58
13.Loud and Lazy Love Songs (Steve Ellis) - 3:44
14.Open Road (Steve Ellis, George Money) - 2:39
15.All Before (George Money) - 5:49
16.Leaving in the Morning (George Money) - 2:42
17.Mighty Mystic Lady (George Money) - 3:37
18.We Need the George Money Too (Steve Ellis, Gee) - 3:55
19 Gyupp (Courtesy Granny Granger) - 0:05

*Steve Ellis - Vocals
*Zoot Money -  Keyboards, Piano
*Nick South - Bass
*Andy Gee - Guitar
*Davey Lutton - Drums
*Jim Leverton - Bass
Additional Musicians
*Colin Allen - Percussion
*Boz Burrell  - Vocals
*Roger Chapman - Tambourine, Vocals
*Julie Driscoll - Vocals
*Gary Farr - Harmonica
*Maggie Bell - Vocals
*Mike Patto - Vocals
*Mick Weaver - Keyboards

Related Acts
1967-69  Love Affair - The Everlasting Love Affair (2005 bonus tracks edition) 
1970  Love Affair - New Day (2008 bonus tracks remaster)
1967  Dantalian`s Chariot - Chariot Rising 
1968  Zoot Money - Transition (2009 reissue)
1969  Eire Apparent - Sunrise (2010 Flawed Gems issue)

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Andy Roberts - Just For The Record The Solo Anthology (1969-76 uk, splendid folk rock with prog shades, 2005 two disc set)

Born 12 June 1946, Hatch End, Middlesex, England. Folk singer-songwriter and guitarist Roberts’ solo achievements have been overshadowed by his work on recordings by other artists. He first came to public attention after meeting BBC disc jockey John Peel in 1967. During this period Roberts accompanied the Scaffold before going on to join the Liverpool Scene in 1968. He recorded his highly acclaimed solo debut Home Grown while still a member of the Liverpool Scene. Initially released on RCA Records in 1970, the album was reissued in shortened form by B&C Records the following year. Roberts recorded two further albums in 1971; the beautiful solo album Nina And The Dream Tree continued the fine work begun on Home Grown, while Everyone was recorded with the ill-fated band of the same name, featuring Roberts, Bob Sargeant, Dave Richards and John Pearson.

In 1972 Roberts joined Plainsong with whom he recorded the highly regardedIn Search Of Amelia Earhart. He then joined former Liverpool Scene colleagues Roger McGough and Adrian Henri in the Grimms from 1973-76, during which time he appeared on their final two albums. During this period Roberts also released two further solo albums, Urban Cowboy and Andy Roberts And The Great Stampede. In 1974, he featured in his first stage musical, Mind Your Head, but thereafter concentrated on session work. He worked with Roy Harper, the Albion Band and Hank Wangford. He recorded and toured with the latter artist until 1984, but continued with other session commitments, including playing guitar on Pink Floyd’s The Wall in 1981. Roberts also provided a singing voice for UK television’s satirical puppet seriesSpitting Image from 1983-84.

From the mid-80s onwards, Roberts has been heavily involved in composing music for film, television and theatre. His flexibility is reflected in the diversity of the programmes he has composed for, ranging from television drama series such as The Men’s Room (excellent theme song sung by Sarah Jane Morris, ‘I Am A Woman’) -  to Madhur Jaffrey’s Far Eastern Cookery. In his capacity as composer, Roberts has been involved with Z Cars, Bergerac and the six-part television documentary series, Where On Earth Are We Going?, in addition to writing music for the movies Loose Connections, A Masculine Ending, Priest, Mad Love, Face, and Going Off Big Time. He also acted as musical director for the Royal Court in Sloane Square, London, during the early 80s. He has also played on countless sessions by a wealth of artists, and since the early 90s has toured and recorded with the reunited Plainsong. 
Disc 1
1. The Raven - 2:30
2. Applecross - 6:49
3. Moths And Lizards In Detroit - 5:18
4. The One Armed Boatman And The Giant Squid - 5:57
5. Creepy John (John Koerner) - 3:36
6. Home Grown - 2:53
7. Your A Machine - 4:34
8. John The Revelator (Traditonal Arr. Andy Roberts) - 2:03
9. Baby Baby - 2:16
10.Autumn To May (Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey) - 2:36
11.Queen Of The Moonlight World - 4:46
12.Lonely In The Crowd - 2:32
13.Radio Lady - 3:20
14.Dont Get Me Wrong - 4:27
15.Sitting On A Rock - 3:05
16.Gig Song - 1:47
17.Richmond - 4:51
18.Elaine - 4:23
19.Just For The Record - 3:51
20.Good Time Charlie (John Koerner) - 2:50
All songs by Andy Roberts except where stated
Disc 2
1. Keep My Children Warm - 5:01
2. I've Seen The Movie - 5:44
3. 25 Hours A Day/Breakdown/Welcome Home - 7:37
4. The Dream Tree Sequence - 15:41
5. Poison Apple Lady - 4:12
6. Urban Cowboy - 3:44
7. Living In The Hills Of Zion - 3:28
8. Charlie (Traditional Arr. Andy Roberts) - 1:29
9. Big City Tension - 4:29
10.Home At Last - 2:53
11.Home In The Sun - 3:57
12.New Karenski - 4:06
13.Bluebird Morning - 2:47
All songs by Andy Roberts except where noted

*Andy Roberts, Vocals, Acoustic, Electric Guitars, Dulcimer, Slide Dulcimer, Kriwacek String Organ
*Bob Sargeant - Vocals, Organ, Piano, Mellotron
*Dave Richards - Bass Guitar, Harmonium, Electric Piano, Backing Vocals
*John Pearson - Drums, Percussion
*Timi Donald - Drums
*Bob Ronga - Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals
*B.J. Cole - Pedal Steel Guitar
*John Megginson, Piano
*Mike Kellie - Drums
*Gerry Conway - Tambourine
*Charlene Collins - Backing Vocals
*Pat Donaldson - Bass
*Mike 'Ace' Evans - Bass
*Carol Grimes - Backing Vocals
*Gordon Huntley - Steel Guitar
*Neil Innes - Electric Guitar
*Mik Kaminski - Electric Violin
*Mac Kassoon - Backing Vocals
*Kathy Kissoon - Backing Vocals
*Mike London - Backing Vocals
*Iain Matthews - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Tambourine
*Zoot Money - Piano, Organ
*John Pearson - Drums
*Roger Powell - Keyboards
*Tim Renwick - Guitar, Vocals
*Ray Warleigh - Saxophone
*Ian Whiteman - Piano

Related Acts
1971  Everyone - Everyone (2011 extra tracks edition) 
1972  Plainsong - Plainsong (2013 japan remaster) 

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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Dr. Strangely Strange - Halcyon Days (1969-70 ireland, fine hippie folk psych, 2007 digipak edition)

Dr Strangely Strange were a sort of Irish hippy folk band who strode the earth for a few years up to 1971. Best known for the inclusion of their track Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal (from their first album ''Kip Of The Serenes') on the Island records sampler 'Nice EnoughTo Eat'.

They were usually compared to The Incredible String Band, which was fair comment, though DSS were often a lot more fun. They started off acoustically but by the time of their second album, 'Heavy Petting' they had embraced electric instruments on some tracks, even eventually adding a drummer.

The original plan for 'Halcyon Days' was to issue the tracks they recorded for the BBC, but this fell through. Adrian Whittaker, whose baby this project very much is, was amazed to find instead, that there were nearly enough unissued, and in some cases previously unknown, tracks to fill an album, with the band (who still exist when they feel like getting together) adding three new songs recorded last year in their original style.

And this is what we have here. The delightful Going To Phoulapouca is highly representitive of their early sound, as is HMS Avenger, the tale of a 19th Century shipwreck narrated with humour and weirdness.

Their later, rockier, sound shows up in Sweet Red Rape and Horse Of A Different Hue, then latter featuring a Santana-style intro inspired by the time DSS supported them (!). The three new songs fit perfectly too, especialy The Invisible Kid, with it's clever lyrics. Adrian's sleevenotes give a full history of the band, and a guide to the many strange characters who populate their songs.

Anyone who liked them first time round will love this album, and hopefully a whole new generation of fans will discover it and work backwards.
by Grahame Hood
1. Cock-a-Doodle-Doo (Ivan Pawle) - 4:15
2. Existence Now (Tim Goulding) - 3:50
3. Good Evening Mr. Woods (Speak of Tsao Tsao) (Ivan Pawle) - 4:15
4. Going to Poulaphouca (Tim Booth) - 2:52
5. Mirror Mirror (Ivan Pawle) - 4:12
6. Sweet Red Rape (Tim Booth) - 5:24
7. Horse Of A Different Hue (Tim Goulding) - 5:39
8. Lady Of the Glen (Ivan Pawle) - 3:54
9. HMS Avenge (Ivan Pawle)  - 5:34
10.Halcyon Days (Ivan Pawle) - 4:06
11.The Invisible Kid (Tim Booth) - 3:01
12.Le Le Rockin Sound (Tim Goulding) - 2:33
13.Cock-A-Doodle-Doo (Kip Version) (Ivan Pawle) - 3:24

Dr. Strangely Strange
*Ivan Pawle - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Whistle, Electric Guitar
*Tim Booth - Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Bass, Vocals
*Tim Goulding - Piano, Hammond Organ, One-String Fiddle, Electric Piano, Melodic, Whistle, Vocals
Guest Musicians
*Jay Myrdal – Glockenspiel
*Neil Hopwood - Percussion, Drums
*Joe Thoma - Fiddle, Mandolin
*Linus - Vocals, Percussion

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Mick Farren - People Call You Crazy The Story of Mick Farren (1967-78 us, spectacular garage psych proto punk)

The story of Mick Mick Farren? If only that were true. But one of the most ferociously determined careers of the past four decades has twisted down far too many alleyways for a single disc to sum it up. There's nothing here from either the Ork days or the Stiff EP (although there is a live version of the killer "Screwed Up"), while the latter years of the re-formed Deviants and sundry Mick Farren spin-off projects are also absent. Look back at the two Total Energy comps that appeared during 2000-2001, and the same story was told with a lot more precision by either. 

That said, what People Call You Crazy does, it does well. All three original Deviants albums are represented with undeniable highlights -- the Zappa-esque "Billy the Monster" and a superbly subversive rampage through "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" included. The solo Carnivorous Circus drops in that drooling rendition of "Mona" that makes every other version of the song sound anaemic, while Mick Farren's most commercial album ever, 1978's Vampires Stole My Lunch Money, delivers both "I Want a Drink" and "Half Price Drinks," by way of light relief. 

Meanwhile, 1999's The Deviants Have Left the Planet turns in a seething version of Dylan's "It's Alright Ma," another of Mick Farren's most priceless cover versions. Neither does the album lack the sense of occasion that the best of Mick Farren's work takes for granted. Rocker, poet, and author, Mick Farren is to the underground all that Patti Smith could have been to the mainstream, a voice of furious dissent that's as likely to veer off into a screaming tone poem as cut loose with a sharp riff rocker. 

Ten minutes of "Dogpoet" and isolated blasts elsewhere all lift the listener out of the seat with their ferocity -- a talent that too few other performers have ever dared employ, and the reason, perhaps, why there are so many vast gaps in Mick Farren's recorded time scale. People were usually too scared to sign him. It's the memory of that fear that makes this collection so enjoyable -- and so infuriating as well. There've been Mick Mick Farren compilations in the past; no doubt there'll be more in the future. But not one of them tells the story, no matter how adamant this set's subtitle sounds. This is just the highlights of a couple of chapters -- the full tale would take up a box set. So where is it? 
by Dave Thompson
1. Slum Lord (Sid Bishop, Mick Farren) - 2:21
2. I Want A Drink (Mick Farren, Larry Wallis) - 1:47
3. The Junior Narco Rangers (If We Gotta Get Raleigh from Chicago, We're ...)  (Paul Rudolph) - 0:29
4. Aztec Calendar (Andy Colguhoun, Mick Farren) - 4:25
5. Billy the Monster (Paul Rudolph) - 3:27
6. Garbage  (Sid Bishop, Mick Farren, Russell Hunter) - 5:38
7. Half Price Drinks  (Mick Farren, Larry Wallis) - 3:36
8. Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow (Al Frazier, John Harris, Carl White, Turner Wilson, Jr.) - 2:34
9. But Charlie It's Still Moving (Mick Farren) - 1:02
10.People Call You Crazy (Andy Colguhoun, Mick Farren) - 2:52
11.Who Needs the Egg? (Peter Daltrey, Eddy Pumer) - 3:17
12.It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)  (Bob Dylan) - 4:52
13.Rambling B(l)ack Transit Blues (Deviants) - 5:17
14.Somewhere to Go (Mick Farren, Russell Hunter, Duncan Sanderson) - 7:23
15.I'm Coming Home (Sid Bishop, Mick Farren, Russell Hunter) - 5:58
16.Drunk in the Morning (Mick Farren, Larry Wallis) - 4:09
17.Mona (The Whole Trip) (Ellis McDaniels) - 7:30
18.Dogpoet (Mick Farren) - 9:41
19.Screwed Up (Mick Farren) - 2:15

*Mick Farren – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Piano
*Sid Bishop – Guitar, Sitar
*Cord Rees – Bass, Spanish Guitar
*Russell Russell Hunter – Drums, Vocals
*Duncan Sanderson, Stephen Sparkes, Ashworth - Vocals
*Paul Rudolph – Guitar, Vocals
*M J McDonnell - Bass, Vocals
*Dennis Hughes - Organ
*Tony Ferguson - Organ
*John Gustavson – Bass
*Peter Robinson - Organ, Piano
*Steve Hammond - Guitar, Vocals
*Alan Powell – Drums
*Larry Wallis - Guitar, Bass
*Andy Colquhoun - Guitar, Bass

1967-68  The Deviants - Ptooff! / Disposable
1969  The Deviants - The Deviants 3 (japan edition)

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