Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Tony Joe White - Collected (1969-2004 us, exceptional roots 'n' roll blues country swamp rock, 2012 release)

A true icon of swamp rock, Tony Joe White parlayed his songwriting talent and idiosyncratic vocals into a modestly successful country and rock career in Europe as well as America. Born July 23, 1943, in Goodwill, Louisiana, White was born into a part-Cherokee family. He began working clubs in Texas during the mid-'60s and moved to Nashville by 1968. White's 1969 debut album for Monument, Black and White, featured his Top Ten pop hit "Polk Salad Annie" and another charting single, "Roosevelt and Ira Lee (Night of the Moccasin)." That same year, Dusty Springfield reached the charts with White's "Willie and Laura Mae Jones." Brook Benton recorded a version of White's "Rainy Night in Georgia" that hit number four early in 1970; the song has since become a near-standard with more than 100 credits. White's own "Groupie Girl" began his European success with a short stay on the British charts in 1970.

He moved to Warner Bros. in 1971, but success eluded him on his three albums: Tony Joe White, The Train I'm On, and Homemade Ice Cream. Other stars, however, continued to keep his name on the charts during the '70s: Elvis charted with "For Ol' Times Sake" and "I've Got a Thing About You Baby" (Top Five on the country chart), and Hank Williams, Jr. took "Rainy Night in Georgia" to number 13 on the country chart. White also wrote music for and appeared in the 1974 rock musical film Catch My Soul. White himself recorded Eyes for 20th Century Fox in 1976, but then disappeared for four years. He signed to Casablanca for 1980's The Real Thang but moved to Columbia in 1983 for Dangerous, which included the modest country hits "The Lady in My Life" and "We Belong Together." 

White was inactive through much of the '80s, but worked with Tina Turner on her 1989 Foreign Affair album, writing four songs and playing guitar and harmonica. He released Closer to the Truth a year later for his own Swamp label and toured with Eric Clapton and Joe Cocker to very receptive French crowds (Closer to the Truth has sold 100,000 copies in that country alone). His 1993 album Path of a Decent Groove was released only in France, though Warner's The Best of Tony Joe White earned an American release the same year. Lake Placid Blues (1995) and One Hot July (1998) were Europe-only efforts until 2000, when Hip-O Records brought out One Hot July in the U.S., giving White his first new major-label domestic release in 17 years. But White was just beginning to roll, or re-roll, as the case may be. The critically acclaimed The Beginning appeared from Swamp Records in 2001, followed by Heroines, featuring several duets with female vocalists, from Sanctuary in 2004, and a live Austin City Limits concert, Live from Austin, TX, from New West Records, appeared in 2006. 

In 2007, White released another live recording, Take Home the Swamp, as well as the compilation Introduction to Tony Joe White. In the summer of 2010, Rhino Handmade released a previously unissued live date from 1971 entitled That on the Road Look; later that fall, White's latest studio offering, The Shine, appeared through his Swamp Records imprint. The Shine gained enough attention that he then made the leap to the high-profile roots rock indie Yep Roc, which released Hoodoo in the fall of 2013. In 2015, White's sides for Warner Bros. got a new lease on life with the release of the collection The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings by Real Gone Records. White's second album for Yep Roc, Rain Crow, was released in 2016. Produced by Tony Joe's son Jody White, the album included a guest appearance by musician and actor Billy Bob Thornton. 
by John Bush
Disc 1
1. Rainy Night In Georgia - 3:34
2. Roosevelt And Ira Lee (Night Of The Mossacin) - 3:06
3. Soul Francisco - 1:58
4. Polk Salad Annie - 3:43
5. Groupy Girl - 3:02
6. Hard To Handle (Allen Alvoid Jones Jr, Tony Joe White) - 2:53
7. What Does It Take (To Win Your Love) (Johnny Bristol, Harvey Fuqua, Vernon Bullock) - 3:39
8. Stockholm Blues - 3:26
9. Boom Boom (Johnny Lee Hooker) - 7:51
10.They Caught The Devil And Put Him In Jail In Eudora Arkansas - 3:50
11.The Daddy - 4:46
12.I Just Walked Away - 4:44
13.I've Got A Thing About You Baby - 2:42
14.Even Trolls Love Rock And Roll - 4:50
15.As The Crow Flies - 3:50
16.Saturday Night In Oak Grove Louisiana - 2:14
17.Ol' Mother Earth - 3:08
18.Backwoods Preacher Man - 2:47
19.Soulful Eyes - 3:43
20.Hold On To Your Hiney - 3:36
21.Swamp Rap - 5:03
All songs by Tony Joe White except where indicated
Disc 2
1. I Get Off On It (Leann White, Tony Joe White) - 5:11
2. Tunica Motel - 4:22
3. Ain't Going Down This Time - 5:08
4. Steamy Windows - 3:58
5. (You're Gonna Look) Good In Blues - 5:13
6. Cool Town Woman - 4:19
7. Undercover Agent For The Blues (Leann White, Tony Joe White) - 4:45
8. Closer To The Truth (Leann White, Tony Joe White) - 6:35
9. On The Return To Muscle Shoals - 3:47
10.I Want To Be With You - 4:53
11.Backside Of Paradise (Leann White, Tony Joe White) - 3:36
12.Way Down South - 3:51
13.Tina - 3:56
14.Up In Arkansas (Ricky Ray Rector, Tony Joe White) - 4:16
15.Always The Song - 5:23
16.The Path Of A Decent Groove - 6:17
17.Paris Mood Tonight (Leann White, Tony Joe White) - 3:38
All songs by Tony Joe White except where stated
Disc 3
1.Lake Placid Blues - 5:20
2.The Guitar Don't Lie (Joe Dassin, Tony Joe White) - 5:31
3.Menutha (Leann White, Tony Joe White) - 4:13
4.Let The Healing Begin - 4:38
5.High Horse (Leann White, Tony Joe White) - 3:55
6.Crack The Window Baby - 4:13
7.Cold Fingers - 4:29
8.I Want My Fleetwood Back - 5:04
9.Ol' Black Crow (Chet Hinesley, Tony Joe White) - 5:34
10.Ice Cream Man (Leann White, Tony Joe White) - 4:29
11.Can't Go Back Home (feat Shelby Lynne) (Shelby Lynne, Tony Joe White) - 4:23
12.Closing In On The Fire (feat Lucinda Williams) - 4:30
13.Playa Del Carmen Nights (feat Michelle White) (Leann White, Tony Joe White) - 4:36
14.Rich Woman Blues - 4:58
15.Did Somebody Make A Fool Out Of You (feat Eric Clapton) - 4:42
16.Louvelda (feat J.J. Cale) (J.J. Cale, Tony Joe White) - 7:30
All songs by Tony Joe White except where noted

*Tony Joe White - Vocals, Guitars

1970  Tony Joe White - Tony Joe (2013 Japan remaster) 

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Saturday, August 25, 2018

Marcus - Marcus (1976 us, good hard rock with glam flares, 2000 remaster)

Originally from Detroit, Marcus found a home in L.A, and went on to carve a niche for himself in the hard rock scene, were he recorded his debut album in 1976. Originally from Detroit, Marcus found a home in L.A, and went on to carve a niche for himself in the hard rock scene, Malone takes his version of hard rock in a different direction to most. 

One of the tracks ('Black Magic') ended up on the Striktly For Konnoisseurs Double LP in 1984 by the Music For Nations label, though by this time, it was more of a memorial, as the band hadn't been together for many years. Life after this album proved lucrative for some of the band members. Gene Bloch went on to a career playing in Holly Knight's band Device under the name Gene Black, plus he was one half of the hi-tech duo Scarlett And Black. Dandy Holmes later became a member of Paul Sabu's band.

Marcus has performed at the Royal Albert Hall opening for BB King, Burnley, Upton and Colne Festivals in the UK; and various UK Art Centres and Blues Clubs including Darlington Arts Ctr and the Brewery Arts. Marcus ended 2013 by headlining the Tenby Blues Festival in Wales. In 2014 played the Great British R&B festival (International Stage) in Colne and 2015 The Skegness Rock and Blues Festival.

Performances in the Netherlands include Kwadendamme, Tegelen, Huntenpop, Oisterwijk, Hoogeveen, Geithoorn, Enchede and Texel Festivals. The Luxemburg Festival in Luxemburg. In France Pleins Feaux Festival 2013 in Bonneville; 'American Journeys' in Cambrai, Fete de la Musique in Marc En Baroeul, Presqu'ile Blues Festival in Ambialet (opening for The Straits), Buc n' Blues (Buc France), Blues & Rock Festival in Segoufielle and Le Show Room, Valenciennes France.

Since relocating to the UK Marcus has written, produced and recorded 6 albums on the Redline Music Label. The“One More Time” was released on Redline Music label in 1999. The title song “One More Time” is featured on ‘Blueprint 99 –The Best of The British Blues’ album.

The second album -’Walkin’ Shoes’- was released in August 2002. The track ‘Take It To Heart’ is featured on Blues In Britain 2002 - ‘The Best of British Blues’ album.

The third album ‘Blue Radio’ was released in early 2005. The song ‘Mama Said’ was featured on ‘The Best of British Blues” 2005.

The fourth album 'Hurricane' was released in March 2007 and received great reviews in several rock publications and traditional blues magazines including ‘Rock Tribune‘ in Belgium & ‘Bluesnews‘ in Germany.

The fifth album 'Let The Sunshine In' -- recorded in the UK --was released 25 April 2011 in the UK , NL and BE through Cadiz Distribution (UK).

In 2014 Marcus completed recording his 6th CD 'Stand or Fall' on Redline Music, distributed through In-akustik of Germany. Another collection of original blues based rock songs. The album was nominated for Best Recorded Session 2014 by European Blues Awards. 
1. Black Magic (G. Beam, Gene Bloch, Marcus Malone) - 5:49
2. Salomon Ball (Randall David) - 6:15
3. Kelly (K.J. Knight, T. Curry, Gene Bloch, Marcus Malone) - 4:01
4. Gypsy Fever (Gene Bloch, Marcus Malone, Randall David) - 6:16
5. Pillow Stars (K.J. Knight, T. Curry, Gene Bloch, Marcus Malone) - 5:44
6. Highschool Ladies Streetcorner Babies (Gene Bloch, Marcus Malone, Randall David) - 5:08
7. Dream Wheel (Jack Weber) - 3:44
8. Rise Unto Falcon (Y. Bear, Marcus Malone, Randall David) - 6:32

*Marcus Malone - Lead Vocals
*Gene Bloch - Lead, Rhythm Guitar
*Randall David - Lead, Rhythm Guitar
*Jack Weber - Rhythm Guitar
*Dandy (Star) Holmes - Drums
*Tim Bogert - Bass Guitar (Tracks 4,6)

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Morning Dew - At Last (1968-70 us, fantastic garage psych, 2009 remaster)

The Morning Dew began as a good but not especially remarkable garage band from Topeka, Kansas, but as the mid-1960s became the late 1960s, their sound grew increasingly adventurous, and their approach became harder but more complex at the same time. The Morning Dew cut an album for Roulette that was released in 1970 not long before the band broke up, and Cicadelic Records have paired that album with some unreleased late-period recordings from the group on the collection At Last: 1968-1970. 

While an earlier Morning Dew anthology charts the band's growth from their early days to their rise to regional fame, At Last captures them at the peak of their instrumental powers -- Mal Robinson had grown into a fluid, expressive guitarist and powerful singer, Don Anderson's rhythm guitar provided plenty of muscular support, and drummer Don Shuford and bassist Blair Honeyman kept the songs rolling along and gave the melodies a firm bottom end. By this time, the Morning Dew had also learned to stretch out, and frankly a few of the four and five minute songs on their LP could have lost some noodling without hurting them a bit, but Robinson was a good enough soloist, gutsy and forceful, to keep the tunes from getting lost, and songs like hard rocking "Gypsy" and "Crusader's Smile," the folky "Something You Say," the twangy "Country Boy," and the trippy finale "Epic:The Mann/Death Is A Dream" prove this band had more on the ball than most second-string psych acts of the era.

The disc also includes five songs recorded for a second album that was never completed, and though the nine and a half minutes of "Lions>Away From It All" are mostly filler, the other tracks are solid, especially the rocking "1849" -- if three final tracks from a 1968 session don't add up to much, they at least point out to the melodic ambition that came to fruition on the album. At Last: 1968-1970 isn't quite the work of a great lost band, but if Cicadelic Records were trying to provide evidence that the Morning Dew at least deserves a larger cult following, then consider this collection a success. 
by Mark Deming 
1. Crusaders Smile - 3:39
2. Upon Leaving - 2:11
3. Young Man - 2:31
4. Then Came The Light - 4:14
5. Cherry Street - 4:08
6. Gypsy - 5:48
7. Something You Say - 4:28
8. Country Boy Blue - 2:37
9. Save Me (Kerry Livgren, Malcolm Robinson) - 3:38
10.Epic: The Mann / Death Is A Dream - 4:33
11.Lion-Away From It All - 9:36
12.Flying Above Myself - 4:26
13.My Kind Of Music - 4:12
14.1849 - 5:01
15.Some Day - 4:29
16.This Sportin' Life (Ian Whitcomb)- 3:56
17.Something You Say - 4:12
18.Out Last Song - 1:41
All songs by Malcolm Robinson except where stated
Tracks 1- 10 from Morning Dew "At Last" LP 1970
Tracks 11-15 from Morning Dew unreleased second LP 1970
Tracks 16-18 unreleased Fairyland tapes from 1968

The Morning Dew
*Malcolm Robinson - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Don Sligar - Drums
*Don Anderson - Rhythm Guitar
*Blair Honeyman - Bass (Tracks 1-10)
*Don Shufford - Bass
*Ferdy Bauguart - Organ, Guitar (Tracks 11-15)
*David Howell - Keyboard, Rhythm Guitar (Tracks 11-15)
*Bill Stahlin - Bass (Tracks 11-15)

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Granny's Intentions - Honest Injun (1970 ireland, great blues classic rock with folk and psych shades, 2004 remaster)

Both a period piece and a collectors' item, the release of “Honest Injun” by Granny's Intentions will no doubt be of immense interest to Gary Moore/Thin Lizzy fans. For such a well-chronicled musician, little information is available on Granny's Intentions, with whom Gary made his recording debut at the tender age of 17. Most biographies of Moore leap from his juncture in Skid Row with Phil Lynott in the late 60s directly to his joining Thin Lizzy in 1974, neglecting to mention Granny's Intentions. For close on 30 years copies of “Honest Injun” have been highly sought after, but its historical and musical context has been lost. Although the band hailed from Limerick, they were living in Dublin when Moore first met them. Formed in 1965, Granny's Intentions were popular on their home turf but had started to unravel when recording of the album commenced. Three tracks were cut in London with guitarist John Hockedy and former Skid Row drummer Noel Bridgeman before they split up. Back in Ireland, however, Granny's Intentions reformed and recruited Gary Moore with whom they completed the album at Decca Studios in London. 

The album was released on the Deram label in 1970, but despite its merits was already out of step with the prevailing trends. The band's moniker had misleading psychedelic nuance, whilst musically they were caught between the cusp of two eras; homespun earthiness melding with blues-orientated rock which would flourish in the 70s, although the flavour of “Honest Injun” is closer to Sherwood Forest than the Mississippi Delta. Throughout, Moore's playing is accomplished and flawless, his prowess belying his years, but what of the rest of the band? Already renowned for his ability as a budding songwriter, vocalist Johnny Duhan has a ballsy sincerity that fits the proscribed territory, songs for earnest travelling men, who spend their days 'telling tales of nights spent with right females', according to the lyrics anyway. Duhan later earned great acclaim for his compositions, and his material has since been covered by the likes of Christy Moore, The Irish Tenors, Mary Black, Van Morrison and The Dubliners. His best-known number, 'The Voyage', has become a standard. Drummer Noel Bridgeman is effortlessly appropriate, straight-forward where required, a little more complex when necessary, as on “I'm Going”, which led eventually to a guest appearance with Clannad. As of bass player and flautist Pete Cummins, guitarist Johnny Hockedy, horn player Zack Lawrence and Pat Nash who took care of the keyboard and drums, little is to be divined.

This could be doing them a disservice, but since recording “Honest Injun”, they seem to have slipped off the map, at least in terms of rock history. Not even a trawl around the internet reveals any clues, although Pat Nash may have become a race driver in Idaho. One can only presume that producer Wayne Bickerton went on to a sweet future as a tunesmith, co-writing “Sugar Baby Love”, which was a hit for The Rubettes, and “Sugar Candy Kisses” for Mac and Katie Kissoon. But the fortunes of the band, aside from Moore and Johnny Duhan, who joined forces again in 1982, when Gary played on the singer's self-titled album, remain something of a mystery. Despite this, however, the music can now speak for itself, and provides a fascinating record of two influential artistes in the making.
by Nina Antonia, July 2004
1. Maybe - 3:06
2. We Both Need To Know - 3:07
3. Good Eye - 3:14
4. Fifty Years On (John Ryan) - 3:04
5. Susan Of The Country - 2:54
6. Rise Then Fall - 3:42
7. With Salty Eyes / Dirty Lies (John Ryan) - 8:05
8. Fourthskin Blues - 2:34
9. Nutmeg, Bitter Sweet (John Ryan) - 3:11
10.I’m Going - 2:22
11.Heavy Loaded Minds - 3:14
All songs by Johnny Duhan except where indicated

Granny's Intentions
*Johnny Duhan - Vocals
*Johnny Hockedy - Guitar, Mandolin
*Pete Cummins - Bass, Flute, Whistle
*Gary Moore - Guitar (Tracks 2-8, 11)
*Noel Bridgeman - Drums
*John Ryan - Piano, Organ, Harpsichord
*Pat Nash - Drums

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Friday, August 10, 2018

Skip Battin ‎– Topanga Skyline (1973 us, excellent folk country soft rock, 2010 remaster)

It took a while longer to appear than expected, but Skip Battin’s second solo album has finally surfaced on CD after thirty-nine years. The explanations for its shelving in 1973 include, depending on whom you read and believe, (a) the vinyl shortage resulting from the oil embargo following the Yom Kippur War, (b) the cancellation of the fall-of-‘73 national tour featuring Skip, Gene Parsons, Gram Parsons, Clarence White and Country Gazette through various city fathers vetoing the presence of “longhairs”, or (c) loss of heart in the recording project following the death of Clarence. Following Skip’s own passing in 2009, his son Brent negotiated with California’s Sierra Records to issue the “lost” album posthumously in celebration of the fortieth anniversary of Skip’s first appearance with the Byrds. Three years further on, we finally have it, and it’s been worth the wait despite the sad circumstances of its gestation and publication.

Clarence was killed on July 15, 1973, three days before recording was due to begin, but the sessions went ahead nevertheless. In place of the various Byrds alumni who backed Skip on his eponymous debut set, he received the services of members of the redoubtable Country Gazette and assorted friends: Bob Beeman and Herb Pedersen (acoustic guitars), Chris Etheridge (RIP April 23, 2012 – bass), Byron Berline (fiddle), Alan Munde (banjo), Roland White (brother of Clarence – mandolin) and Mike Bowden (drums), and in Clarence’s place came Al Perkins from the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band on electric guitar, pedal steel and Dobro. A more capable combo could not have been wished for, and the album resonates with their flawless musicianship behind Skip’s down-home Dylanish vocal and piano. If there was an atmosphere of sadness and loss in the studio, it doesn’t show in the music, which is relentlessly upbeat and powerful on the fast tunes and warm and sympathetic on the ballads. The bluegrass players shine both ensemble and as soloists, and Perkins’s contributions are remarkably assured given his last-minute drafting. Production by Skip’s longtime writing and recording partner Kim Fowley is exemplary, as you’d expect.

The CD package as released by UK imprint Floating World on licence from Sierra includes the nine original studio tracks completed before the decision to abandon. These are split between typically idiosyncratic Battin/Fowley country-rock originals – “Bolts Of Blue”, “Don’t Go Down The Drain”, “Stoned Sober” – and supercharged bluegrass covers – the Morris Brothers’ “Salty Dog Blues”,  A.P. Carter’s “Foggy Mountain Top”, the traditional ”Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms” – plus a truly inspired reworking of the old 1959 Olympics hit “Hully Gully”. In addition to these there are several bonuses. “Willow In The Wind” and “China Moon” are taken from Skip’s 1981 album “Navigator”, an Italian-only release featuring Sneaky Pete Kleinow on pedal steel. The ghost of Clarence walks on an alternative version of “Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms” and on “Old Mountain Dew”, two rehearsal tapings which are thought to be the last recorded work Clarence ever laid down. Rounding the package out is a short mpeg of a clean-cut Elvis-quiffed Skip performing solo on a 1965 Californian TV show similar to Ready Steady Go on which he lip-synchs a couple of pre-British Invasion teenypop songs, “Searchin’” and “She Acts Like We Never Have Met”. 
by Len Liechti
1. Salty Dog Blues - 2:54
2. Bolts Of Blue - 2:55
3. Stoned Sober - 3:10
4. Relax With Me - 4:22
5. Willow In The Wind - 2:56
6. Don't Go Down The Drain - 4:14
7. Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms 1, 2 (Traditional) - 4:19
8. Hully Gully - 3:15
9. Foggy Mountain Top - 2:44
10.Wintergreen - 3:11
11.1.China Moon - 4:27
11.2.Old Mountain Dew (Unlisted) - 1:55
All songs by Skip Battin, Kim Fowley except where noted

*Skip Battin - Lead Vocals, Piano
*Alan Munde - Banjo
*Chris Ethridge - Bass
*Mike Bowden - Drums
*Byron Berline - Fiddle
*Bob Beeman - Guitar
*Herb Pedersen - Guitar, Vocals
*Roland White – Mandolin, Vocals
*Al Perkins – Pedal Steel Guitar, Dobro
*Clarence White - Guitar

1972  Skip Battin - Skip (2003 issue) 
With The Byrds
1971  The Byrds - Live At Royal Albert Hall (2008 issue) 
1971  The Byrds - Byrdmaniax (2013 japan Blu Spec edition) 

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Hapshash And The Coloured Coat - Featuring The Human Host And The Heavy Metal Kids (1967 uk, great experimental psychedelia, 2002 issue)

This album has acquired a bit of status as a minor legend over the moons, and it's not too hard on balance to hear why; besides the grandiose spirit-of-1967 group and album name, this brief but interesting record has a lot of descendants, though whether that was intentionally the case or not is up in the air. The English trio that made up Hapshash & the Coloured Coat for its original incarnation was composed of art designers and DJs by trade; this, their sole release together, is a classic situation of lightning in a bottle. The emphasis is on blunt but entrancing rhythm throughout -- pounding drums and bongos, rolling piano (sometimes practically barrelhouse), and chunky guitar parts that are proto-funk as much as steady, straightforward crunch. 

Combine that with vocals that appear then disappear as needed and an air of ragged partying, and it's not too off balance to consider this album as a fine equivalent to what the Velvet Underground were starting to cook up. Certainly it sounds like the original Amon Düül had this spinning when creating their own freak-outs a couple of years later, what with the chanting and fractured acid folk guitar here and there ("The New Messiah Coming 1985" is particularly gone). 

Even the shorter songs, like "A Mind Blown Is a Mind Shown" and the mostly a cappella chanting of "Aoum," sound like excerpts from much longer efforts. "H-O-P-P-Why?" kicks everything off with the right blend of things, but it's the monstrous, bell-laden "Empires of the Sun" that's the winner, with some great parts where the (at points elsewhere, orgasmic) vocalists sound like mariachi singers. Credit as well to member Guy Stevens' excellent production, which is much more lively and detailed than many recordings of the time; he went on to work as a house producer for Island Records, and it's easily clear why.
by Ned Raggett
1. H-O-P-P-Why? - 7:36
2. A Mind Blown Is A Mind Shown - 2:26
3. The New Messiah Coning 1985 - 7:08
4. Aoum - 3:26
5. Empires Of The Sun - 15:51
All compositions by Guy Stevens, Nigel Waymouth, MIchael English 

Hapshash And The Coloured Coat
*Nigel Waymouth
*MIchael English
*Guy Stevens

1969  Hapshash And The Coloured Coat - Western Flier (2013 remaster) 

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Saturday, August 4, 2018

Spirit - It Shall Be-Ode And Epic Recordings (1968-72 us, superb psychedelic fusion rock, 2018 five disc box set remaster with extra tracks)

After RC’s recent Roots Of US Progressive Rock feature, by far the most positive feedback came for Spirit, the fabled LA band who first appeared 50 years ago spearheading Columbia’s Rock Machine campaign. This definitive package built around the first five albums, confirms that, when it came to mashing diverse musical styles in a psych blender with supernatural chops, Spirit were light years ahead of 1968’s illustrious pack, even eclipsing more vaunted contemporaries like The Band for alchemical trail-blazing.

“The trouble was, our reputation as an idiosyncratic psychedelic jazz group meant we were influential rather than successful,” says bassist Mark Andes in the sleevenotes. Spirit sounded like seasoned veterans, but only 4year-old drummer Ed Cassidy, who’d played with jazz greats earlier in life, boasted that distinction. When they came together in 1967 as a rebooted version of the earlier Red Roosters, they also included Cassidy’s 16-year-old guitarist step-son Randy Wolfe, renamed Randy California by Hendrix when both were playing Greenwich Village’s Café Wha? the previous year. (Then-schoolboy Randy was famously prevented by his parents from accompanying Jimi to the UK). Spectrally soulful vocalist Jay Ferguson and mercurial keyboardist John Locke completed the band, who named themselves from shortening the title of Khalil Gibran’s story Spirits Rebellious, signed to Lou Adler’s Columbia-distributed Ode and recorded their self-titled first album.

With tracks like the Latin-flavoured Fresh Garbage and grippingly dramatic Mechanical World hot-wired by California’s serpentine guitar, Cassidy’s feather light propulsion and Locke’s mercurial keyboards, Spirit still sounds like a band out of time; maturely progressive and prone to leaping into jazzy solo stretches that get their own field on Elijah (and the gentle Taurus makes you wonder how innate magpies Led Zep ever won the 2016 court case accusing them of heisting the track for Stairway To Heaven).

December 1968’s The Family That Plays Together toughened the sound while retaining the idiosyncratic edge on tracks like Aren’t You Glad?, giving Spirit their only hit single with I’ve Got A Line On You before they were commissioned to write the soundtrack for French director Jacques Demy’s movie Model Shop. For anyone not familiar with its tracks on 1991’s Time Circle collection or Sundazed’s 2005 full release, the soundtrack’s resonant position between Spirit’s second and third albums will be a minor revelation as they push their envelope into cosmic jazz on The Moving Van and Mellow Fellow. Second album outtakes such as Fog in all its baroque, shimmering glory joined pieces soon expanded (and re-titled) on October 1969’s Clear (including its pastoral title track and glacial Ice), ultimately making Model Shop a phantasmagorical bridge between the two.

With Clear also nodding at blues-rock and 1984 released as a foreboding 45, Spirit forged their masterpiece with 1970’s The Twelve Dreams of Doctor Sardonicus, a psychedelic social comment concept work named after William Castle’s 1961 horror film. Produced by David Bryant (at Neil Young’s suggestion) and elevated by the band’s stellar telepathic progression, Spirit up the passion and precision on the cutting Animal Zoo, heartbreaking Soldier and vertiginous TFTPT outtake Space Child, along with showcasing Randy’s blossoming song-writing on Nature’s Way and Why Can’t I Be Free?

Sadly, Spirit’s original line-up soon dispersed, leaving Cassidy and Locke joined by brothers Al and John Staehely to record 1972’s Feedback, which saw jazz impulses replaced by Southern rock flavours. By 1973, California was back leading Spirit with his step-dad until drowning near Hawaii in 1997 (Cassidy died in 2012, aged 89).

It Shall Be will remain the definitive monument for this vital band, bolstered by outtakes, singles, alternative Time Circle mixes and first album’s original mono mix making its CD debut; much of it still sounding as evocatively beautiful and astonishingly ground-breaking as it did half a century ago. We should be glad indeed for such marvels.
by Kris Needs
Disc 1
Spirit 1968
1. Fresh Garbage (Jay Ferguson) - 3:11
2. Uncle Jack (Jay Ferguson) - 2:43
3. Mechanical World (Jay Ferguson, Mark Andes) - 5:15
4. Taurus (Randy California) - 2:37
5. Girl In Your Eye (Jay Ferguson) - 3:15
6. Straight Arrow (Jay Ferguson) - 2:50
7. Topanga Windows (Jay Ferguson) - 3:36
8. Gramophone Man (Ed Cassidy, Jay Ferguson) - 3:49
9. Water Woman (Jay Ferguson) - 2:11
10.The Great Canyon Fire In General (Jay Ferguson) - 2:46
11.Elijah (John Locke) - 10:42
The Family That Plays Together 1968
12.I Got A Line On You (Randy California) - 2:35
13.It Shall Be (John Locke, Randy California) - 3:02
14.Poor Richard (Jay Ferguson) - 2:28
15.Silky Sam (Jay Ferguson) - 3:48
16.Drunkard (Jay Ferguson) - 2:26
17.Darlin' If (Randy California) - 3:38
18.All The Same (Ed Cassidy, Randy California) - 4:46
19.Jewish (Randy California) - 2:46
20.Dream Within A Dream (Jay Ferguson) - 3:00
21.She Smiled (Jay Ferguson) - 2:22
22.Aren't You Glad (Jay Ferguson) - 5:34
Disc 2
The Model Shop 1968-69
1. The Moving Van (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 1:56
2. Mellow Fellow (Ed Cassidy, John Locke) - 2:50
3. Now Or Anywhere (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 4:39
4. Fog (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 2:24
5. Green Gorilla (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 2:13
6. Model Shop I (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 2:02
7. Model Shop II (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 4:07
8. The Rehearsal Theme (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 1:11
9. Song For Lola (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 5:47
10.Eventide (John Locke) - 3:56
11.Coral (John Locke) - 4:22
12.Aren't You Glad (Demo) (Jay Ferguson) - 5:26
Clear 1969
13.Dark Eyed Woman (Randy California, Jay Ferguson) - 3:06
14.Apple Orchard (Mark Andes, Randy California, Ed Cassidy) - 4:03
15.So Little Time To Fly (Randy California, John Locke) - 2:47
16.Ground Hog (Jay Ferguson) - 3:02
17.Cold Wind (Jay Ferguson) - 3:23
18.Policeman's Ball (Jay Ferguson) - 2:21
19.Ice (John Locke) - 5:47
20.Give A Life, Take A Life (Lou Adler, Randy California) - 3:20
21.I'm Truckin' (Jay Ferguson) - 2:24
22.Clear (Randy California, Jay Ferguson) - 4:07
23.Caught (John Locke) - 3:11
24.New Dope In Town (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 4:23
Disc 3
Twelve Dreams Of Doctor Sardonicus 1970
01. Prelude – Nothing To Hide (Randy California) - 3:43
02. Nature's Way (Randy California) - 2:40
03. Animal Zoo (Jay Ferguson) - 3:10
04. Love Has Found A Way (Randy California, Jay Ferguson) - 2:42
05. Why Can't I Be Free? (Randy California) - 1:05
06. Mr. Skin (Jay Ferguson) - 4:00
07. Space Child (John Locke) - 3:25
08. When I Touch You (Jay Ferguson) - 5:37
09. Street Worm (Jay Ferguson) - 3:42
10.Life Has Just Begun (Randy California) - 3:29
11.Morning Will Come (Randy California) - 2:50
12.Soldier (Randy California) - 2:43
Recorded In 1970 During Sessions For "Twelve Dreams Of Doctor Sardonicus"
13.Rougher Road (Randy California) - 3:16
Feedback 1972
14.Chelsea Girls (Al Staehely) - 3:28
15.Cadillac Cowboys (Al Staehely) - 3:37
16.Puesta Del Scam (John Locke) - 2:02
17.Ripe And Ready (Al Staehely) - 3:50
18.Darkness (John Locke) - 4:46
19.Earth Shaker (Al Staehely) - 3:53
20.Mellow Morning (Al Staehely, Mark Andes) - 2:21
21.Right On Time (Al Staehely) - 2:46
22.Trancas Fog-Out (John Locke) - 2:37
23.Witch (Al Staehely) - 5:20
Disc 4
Spirit (Mono) 1968
1. Fresh Garbage (Jay Ferguson) - 3:12
2. Uncle Jack (Jay Ferguson) - 2:44
3. Mechanical World (Jay Ferguson, Mark Andes) - 5:13
4. Taurus (Randy California) - 2:35
5. Girl In Your Eye (Jay Ferguson) - 3:06
6. Straight Arrow (Jay Ferguson) - 2:46
7. Topanga Windows (Jay Ferguson) - 3:31
8. Gramophone Man (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 3:51
9. Water Woman (Jay Ferguson) - 2:09
10.The Great Canyon Fire In General (Jay Ferguson) - 2:47
11.Elijah (John Locke) - 10:39
Recorded In 1968 During Sessions For "Spirit"
12.Veruska (Randy California) - 2:50
13.Free Spirit (John Locke) - 4:26
14.If I Had A Woman (Randy California) - 3:11
15.Elijah (Alternate Take 2) (John Locke) - 9:41
Taken From The 1991 Compilation "Time Circle"
16.I Got A Line On You (Randy California) - 2:47
17.It Shall Be (Randy California, John Locke) - 3:28
18.Poor Richard (Jay Ferguson) - 2:29
19.Silky Sam (Jay Ferguson) - 4:12
Disc 5
Taken From The 1991 Compilation "Time Circle"
1. Scherozode (John Locke) - 2:12
2. All The Same (Marty Paich, Randy California, Ed Cassidy, Helmut Bredigkeit, Angela Poethig, Richard Gramer) - 4:40
3. A Dream Within A Dream (Marty Paich, Jay Ferguson) - 3:01
4. Aren't You Glad (Jay Ferguson) - 5:34
5. Eventide (John Locke) - 4:21
6. Model Shop Theme (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 2:57
7. Green Gorilla (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 2:18
8. Rehearsal Theme (Jay Ferguson, John Locke, Randy California, Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy) - 1:12
Recorded In 1968 During Sessions For "The Family That Plays Together"
9. Fog (Randy California, John Locke) - 2:25
10.So Little To Say (Jay Ferguson) - 2:59
11.Mellow Fellow (John Locke) - 3:48
12.Now Or Anywhere (Jay Ferguson) - 4:21
13.Space Chile (John Locke) - 6:24
Recorded In 1969 During Sessions For "Clear"
14.Fuller Brush Man (Jay Ferguson) - 3:19
15.Coral (Ed Cassidy, John Locke) - 2:02
A And B-Sides Of Single (Released In 1970)
16.1984 (Randy California) - 3:37
17.Sweet Stella Baby (Jay Ferguson) - 2:56
A And B-Sides Of Single (Released In 1970)
18.Animal Zoo (Mono Single Version) (Randy California) - 3:03
19.Red Light Roll On (Randy California) - 5:42
Recorded And Mixed In 1970
20.Morning Will Come (Randy California) - 2:50

*Randy California - Guitar, Vocals
*Ed Cassidy - Drums
*John Locke - Keyboards
*Mark Andes - Bass
*Jay Ferguson - Vocals, Percussion
*Al Staehely - Bass, Vocals (Disc 3, Tracks 14-23)
*Chris Staehely - Guitar, Backup Vocals (Disc 3, Tracks 14-23)

1971  Spirit - Feedback
Related Acts
1972-74  Jo Jo Gunne - Jo Jo Gunne / Bite Down Hard / Jumpin' the Gun / So... Where's the Show? (double disc 2011 issue) 
1976-78  Firefall - Firefall / Luna Sea / Elan (2016 double disc set)

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Friday, August 3, 2018

Dave Mason - Dave Mason / Split Coconut (1974-75 uk, wonderful blend of folk soft classic guitar rock, 2008 remaster)

Using his touring band, which included keyboard player Mike Finnigan and guitarist Jim Krueger, Dave Mason turned in a strong pop/rock collection on his second, self-titled Columbia album. "Show Me Some Affection" was one of those songs that should have been a hit single, Mason recut a fuller version of "Every Woman," originally heard on It's Like You Never Left, and the album also included Mason's version of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," in an arrangement patterned after the one by Jimi Hendrix, on which Mason had played six years earlier.
by William Ruhlmann

Split Coconut is Mason's first successful attempt to diversify that style; the result is a mixed bag of fine, listenable rock.While Mason's singing hasn't changed much over the years, remaining pleasantly untrained and unaffected, he demonstrates here that his is continuing to experiment and grow as a guitarist.

While a couple of the songs display the fluid, comfortable style he's mastered over the years ("Sweet Music," "You Can Lose It"), others are more innovative. "Split Coconut" is an irrepressible disco stomp and "Save Your Love" has a funky Lee Michaels flavor with some effective use of the wah-wah pedal. Other novelties include "Crying, Waiting, Hoping," which omits the guitars altogether and substitutes marimbas, a guest appearance by Manhattan Transfer and the use of organ on a light calypso number, and "Two Guitar Lovers," in which Mason and second guitarist Jim Krueger swap effective leads.

Split Coconut also boasts David Crosby and Graham Nash on backing vocals, but unfortunately they're so lost in the mix as to be almost inaudible. Still, this is for the most part a very entertaining LP.
by Alan Niester, Rolling Stone, 12/4/75 
1. Show Me Some Affection (Dave Mason) - 4:23
2. Get Ahold On Love (Dave Mason) - 2:47
3. Every Woman (Dave Mason) - 3:04
4. It Can't Make Any Difference To Me (Lane Tietgen) - 2:19
5. All Along The Watchtower (Bob Dylan) - 4:06
6. Bring It On Home To Me (Sam Cooke) - 2:58
7. Harmony & Melody (Dave Mason) - 3:39
8. Relation Ships (Dave Mason) - 5:06
9. You Can't Take It When You Go (Dave Mason) - 4:10
10.Split Coconut (Dave Mason) - 3:41
11.Crying, Waiting, Hoping (Buddy Holly) - 2:46
12.You Can Lose It (Dave Mason, Jim Kreuger) - 3:07
13.She's A Friend (Dave Mason) - 2:57
14.Save Your Love (Dave Mason) - 4:19
15.Give Me A Reason Why (Dave Mason) - 5:03
16.Two Guitar Lovers (Maureen Grey) - 3:35
17.Sweet Music (Dave Mason) - 3:22
18.Long Lost Friend (Dave Mason) - 4:28

1974  Dave Mason
*Dave Mason - Guitar, Lead Vocals, Horns Arrangements
*Mike Finnigan - Keyboards, Vocals
*Bob Glaub - Bass
*Rick Jaeger - Drums
*Jim Krueger - Guitar (Lead Solo On 04,06,07), Vocals
*Richard Bennett - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Gary Barone, Jerry Jumonville, Jock Ellis, Sal Marquez - Horn Section
*Tim Weisberg - Flute
*Mike Finnigan - Horns Arrangements
*Nick DeCaro - Strings Arrangements
1975  Split Coconut
*Dave Mason - Vocals, Guitar, Slide Guitar
*David Crosby - Vocals, Background Vocals
*Graham Nash - Guitar, Background Vocals
*Rick Jaeger - Drums
*Gerald Johnson - Bass
*Mark T. Jordan - Organ, Keyboards, Clavinet
*Jim Krueger - Guitar
*The Manhattan Transfer - Vocals, Background Vocals
*Emil Richards - Percussion, Marimba
*Jai Winding - Organ, Synthesizer, Piano, Keyboards

1970  Dave Mason - Alone Together (Japan remaster) 
1971  Dave Mason And Cass Elliot (2008 remaster)
1972  Dave Mason - Headkeeper (Japan SHM-CD 2010 remaster) 
1973  Dave Mason - It's Like You Never Left  
1976-77  Dave Mason - Certified Live / Let It Flow (2011 double disc edition)  
With Traffic
1969  Traffic - Last Exit (SHM remaster)
1971  Traffic - Welcome To The Canteen (SHM remaster)
1973  Traffic - On The Road (SHM remaster)

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Thursday, August 2, 2018

Lily And Maria - Lily And Maria (1968 us, gorgeous psych folk rock, 2008 bonus tracks remaster)

Born in Germany, but raised in the Bronx by a pair of Holocaust survivors, Lily Fishman studied theater in her teens. By the mid-1960s she was performing on Off Broadway where, together with friend Marie Neumann, the pair somehow attracted the attention of Columbia Records. Signed to a recording contract, 1968's the cleverly titled "Lily & Marie" teamed the pair with producers Garry Sherman and Stanley Kahan.  In terms of credits, Neumann wrote most of the material and seems to have handled most of vocals. 

'Subway Thoughts' bounced all over the map.  It started out with some wayward, pseudo-jazzy moves before morphing into a stark, pained ballad featuring Neumann and acoustic guitar.  About a minute into the track it exploded into a more conventional rock segment (complete with keyboard and fuzz guitar) that was actually pretty good.  It then moved back and forth between the softer passages and the up-tempo rock segments.  I missed it the first time around, but the song had two things going for it; the women were actually surprisingly good harmony singers and the song had  a very tasty acoustic guitar solo.

A stark, acoustic ballad, 'Everybody Knows' was pretty much a downer through and through.  I'm sure it was very profound, but stuff like 'I knew the shape of thirsty flowers' simply didn't cut it for me.  That said, the song's pathos and literary images should appeal to English majors everywhere.

'Aftermath' started out another hyper-sensitive, fragile ballad, but improved when the first chorus kicked in and the song began to pick up some speed and a full band arrangement.  Not great, but at least there was a recognizable melody to this one and I'll admit their harmony vocals weren't bad.

Opening with a nice bass pattern and some cool acoustic guitar, 'Melt Me' was actually the album's most commercial and mainstream performance.  Framed by a full band arrangement, on this one Fishman and Neuman turned in a performance that was actually memorable and enjoyable - imagine a precursor to something Kate Bush might have recorded.

Fourteen After One' found the pair pulling a page from the 'Eleanor Rigby' catalog.  Lyrically it didn't have a great deal to say - how many times can you point out that getting old sucks?  That said, driven along by a nice organ, this one had a pretty melody and on this one they showcased some very nice harmony vocals.
1. Subdway Thoughts (Maria Neumann) - 1:29
2. Everybody Knows (Maria Neumann) - 4:35
3. I Was (Maria Neumann) - 4:00
4. Ismene-Jasmine (Liz Fiszman) - 1:46
5. There'll Be No Clowns Tonight (Maria Neumann) - 6:43
6. Aftermath (Maria Neumann) - 3:21
7. Morning Glory Morning (Maria Neumann) - 3:15
8. Melt Me (Maria Neumann) - 5:27
9. Fourteen After One (Liz Fiszman, Maria Neumann) - 3:22
10.Everybody Knows (Mono) (Maria Neumann) - 3:28
11.Morning Glory Morning (Mono) (Maria Neumann) - 3:17

*Liz Fiszman - Vocals, Guitar
*Maria Neumann - Vocals, Guitar
*Charlie Brown - Guitar
*Steve Kreider - Guitar
*Lou Hemsey - Guitar
*Willard Snyker - Guitar
*Lou Marro - Bass
*Paul Griffin - Organ, Piano
*Gary Chester - Organ, Viber
*Bernie Berger - Flute
*Hank Freeman - Flute, Clarinet
*Gary Chester - Drums
*Harold and the Gang - Kohon String Quartet

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