Sunday, September 30, 2018

Euclid - Heavy Equipment (1970 us, astonishing heavy garage psych)

Euclid's one and only album is among the very best of the late 1960's - early 1970's heavy rock albums of all time. Based out of Haverhill, Massachusetts, the musicians themselves come from a diverse New England garage & psych-rock background. Bassist Harold Perino Jr. (aka "Maris"), came from The Ones, a central Mass. garage band who also had a rare garage LP on the Ashwood House label. The other members were from southern Maine. Garage rockers Gary Leavitt on lead vocals & guitar, and his brother Jay Leavitt on drums were in the Cobras together. Ralph Mazzota from the psych-tinged Maine group Lazy Smoke is outright dazzling on blistering lead guitar. 

Pedigree aside, this is a powerful and inventive psychedelic heavy rock album that stands on its own as a great work. Euclid was signed to Bob Thiele's Flying Dutchman Records subsidiary label, Amsterdam Records, distributed by Mainstream Records, and was one of the few, if not only "rock" releases on either label (a notable exception being the rare Minx soundtrack by The Cyrkle). With its tremendous rumbling in-your-face riffing fuzz guitars; screaming solos, backwards bits, thick fuzz bass, pounding drums and oddly-effected vocals, the album, produced by the legendary Bobby Herne, with finishing touches to the mix by Les Paul, Jr; stands proudly with one foot in the 1960s & one in the 1970s, crafting their sound with a heavy-handed metallic attitude. 

One of the coolest things about this album is the overall evidence of the various background influences brought in by each of the group members. In Euclid, you get the very best of it all. You have the raw & ferocious high energy garage element mixed with a very clear and real psychedelic conviction of the drug saturated times. These characteristics combined with a new heavy/hard rock discipline & focus, resulted in one of the best early heavy rock albums ever recorded in the United States. The combined members' various instrumental contributions are equally matched by their amazingly supportive crystalline four-vocal harmonies. The background vocal quality is quite effectively offset by the lead vocals "take no prisoners" brutal male vocal styling. Bobby Herne's production on this record, with lots of twists & turns, is absolutely top notch and gives the music its deep unstoppable heavy forward momentum. The first track is a real winner, clocking in at over 11 minutes, blasting forth with super heavy monster riffs. 

There's also hints of an eastern psych groove with cool sitar playing, and their version of "Gimme Some Lovin'" sounds as if it were done by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. With their old friend Bobby Herne in the producer's chair (he also produced The Shaggs "Philosophy Of The World" LP), they create a "bad trip" spiked with backwards tape effects, darkly-phased vocals, all instruments set from overkill to "pummel", and an album title certainly eligible for the 'truth-in-advertising' award with its 'earth moving' characteristics. Their original songs are incredibly inventive with lots of twists and turns. The album itself stands as a perfect monument which musically represents the transition from hard heavy psych to hard heavy rock. This is an LP you'll play over & over, and never get tired of! In short, the group Euclid was one of the true "unsung" cornerstones that really helped pave the way for the up and coming US hard rock movement. This is an LP you'll play over & over and never get tired of it!  

Gary Leavitt, Bobby Hearne, and Maris have all passed on due to various circumstances over the years. Gary Leavitt was killed in a 1975 motorcycle accident, which effectively ended the band, who were a popular live attraction in the Northeast up until then. Jay Leavitt still performs occasionally with his group Bluezberry Jam in the Maine area. The Leavitt brothers along with Bobby Herne, first appeared together in 1966 as the Cobras, releasing the New England garage classic "I Wanna Be Your Love" bw/ "Instant Heartache" on the Big Beat label, one of the most incredible and out of control garage 45's ever recorded.
1. Shadows Of Life - 3:02
2. On The Way (Ralph Mazzota) - 4:37
3. Bye Bye Baby - 4:38
4. Gimme Some Lovin' (Stevie Winwood) - 4:24
5. First Time Last Time - 3:37
6. Lazy Livin - 5:57
7. 97 Days - 3:10
8. She's Gone - 2:47
9. It's All Over Now (Bobby Womack, Shirley Womack) - 4:24
All songs by Gary Leavitt except where indicated

The Euclid
*Gary Leavitt - Guitar, Vocals
*Harry "Maris" Perino - Bass, Vocals
*Ralph Mazzota - Guitar, Vocals
*Jay Leavitt - Drums, Vocals

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Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Simon Dupree And The Big Sound - Part Of My Past Anthology (1966-69 uk, exceptional beat baroque psych r 'n' b, 2004 double disc remaster)

This is an amazing reissue, three times over -- for psychedelic music buffs, British R&B and soul enthusiasts, and fans of the progressive rock band Gentle Giant (which evolved out of Simon Dupree & the Big Sound). And it's also incredibly long overdue. Best-known for their Oriental ersatz pop-psychedelic classic "Kites," Simon Dupree & the Big Sound actually started out as a blues and R&B-based outfit, not too different from the Spencer Davis Group. This double-CD set covers their complete EMI output, most of which has never been reissued, and almost all of which is very impressive (and even manages to intersect obliquely with Apple Records' orbit). 

The group's early soul-oriented sides are killers, exciting, totally convincing pieces of British-made R&B that, in the case of "Love" and "Medley: 60 Minutes of Your Love/A Lot of Love," should have placed them head-to-head with the likes of Steve Winwood and the Spencer Davis Group. Even when they move into a slightly trippier sound, on "There's a Little Picture Playhouse," the group still utilizes a basic soul backing. And "Kites," coming along in the middle of the first disc, is such a radical departure from everything before it, that it's astonishing to hear in this context, even knowing the song well -- the rest of the CD is made up of trippy psychedelic ballads with Mellotron accompaniment, often with punchy acoustic rhythm guitars. It's all very pretty and inventive in a pop context, and rivals or surpasses the psychedelic sides of Rainbow Ffolly and most other EMI artists of the era this side of the Beatles and maybe the Move.

The highlight of the group's post-"Kites" output was the single "Part of My Past," which was recorded during sessions for what was to have been their second album, Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friend. That entire unreleased album is here, as the first 16 tracks on Disc Two, and they are a wonder -- the best parts include a gorgeous pop-psych ballad called "What in This World" that doesn't even have a songwriting credit; "Wha Cha Gonna Do," with its "Strawberry Fields Forever" opening and impassioned vocals; the almost-lewd "Don't Make It So Hard (On Me Baby)," with a vocal that was a holdover from the group's soul era; the bouncy, vaguely Bee Gees-like "Kindness"; and the trippy, spacey "Castle in the Sky," one of the finest pieces of psychedelic pop/rock ever to come out of EMI (or, more properly, never to come out from EMI -- until now). 

The latter should have been another "King Midas in Reverse," but thanks to the failure of "Part of My Past," the whole LP was shelved. The rest of the second disc is comprised of a short string of disappointing pop/rock singles -- vaguely reminiscent of the late-'60s Hollies -- imposed upon the group by their management, concluding with their extrovert rendition of the James Taylor-authored "Something in the Way She Moves Me," backed with a progressive-sounding, organ-heavy B-side, "I'm Going Home," authored by Reginald Dwight in the period before he became Elton John. This is followed by the complete contents of the group's only released LP, Without Reservations, which repeats the same R&B-era singles and B-sides (i.e., their pre-"Kites" work) from Disc One, only in their punchier mono mixes. The remastering is impeccable, the packaging beautifully illustrated with period photos of the band, and thorough annotation by David Wells. 
by Bruce Eder
Disc 1 
1. I See The Light (John Durrill, Michael Rabon, Norman Ezell) - 2:16
2. It Is Finished (Evelyn King, Paul Smith) - 3:01
3. Reservations (Albert Hammond) - 2:24
4. You Need A Man (Evelyn King, Paul Smith) - 2:30
5. Day Time, Night Time (Mike Hugg) - 2:15
6. I've Seen It All Before (Evelyn King, Paul Smith) - 2:47
7. Medley: 60 Minutes Of Your Love / A Lot Of Love (David Porter, Isaac Haye, Homer Banks) - 4:35
8. Love (Jackie Edwards) - 3:04
9. Get Off My Back (Evelyn King, Ray Shulman) - 2:01
10.There's A Little Picture Playhouse (Eric Hine) - 2:13
11.What Is Soul (Ben E. King, Bob Gallo) - 2:35
12.Teacher, Teacher (Derek Shulman, Philip Shulman, Ray Shulman) - 2:04
13.Amen (Sam Cooke) - 2:25
14.Who Cares (Evelyn King, Ray Shulman) - 2:34
15.Kites (Hal Hackaday, Lee Pockriss) - 3:44
16.Like The Sun Like The Fire (Evelyn King, Paul Smith) - 2:26
17.For Whom The Bell Tolls (Evelyn King, Paul Smith) - 3:06
18.Sleep (Derek Shulman, Eric Hine) - 3:01
19.Part Of My Past (Evelyn King, Paul Smith) - 3:17
20.This Story Never Ends (Eric Hine, Ray Shulman) - 2:08
21.Thinking About My Life (Derek Shulman, Ray Shulman) - 2:34
22.Velvet And Lace (Derek Shulman, Ray Shulman) - 2:11
23.We Are The Moles (Part 1) (Derek Shulman, Ray Shulman) - 4:30
24.We Are The Moles (Part 2) (Derek Shulman, Ray Shulman) - 2:43
25.Broken Hearted Pirates (Michael Anthony) - 2:39
26.She Gave Me The Sun (Derek Shulman, Philip Shulman, Ray Shulman) - 2:36
27.The Eagle Flies Tonight (Tony Hazard) - 2:22
28.Give It All Back (Derek Shulman, Philip Shulman, Ray Shulman) - 2:41
Disc 2
1. Stained Glass Window (Don Grady, Gary Zekley) - 2:05
2. Please Come Back (Yaniv Shulman) - 2:41
3. Light On Dark Water (Evelyn King, Paul Smith) - 1:52
4. What In This World (Unknown) - 3:11
5. What Cha Gonna Do (Evelyn King, Paul Smith) - 2:46
6. Don't Make It So Hard (On Me Baby) (Willia Parker, Eddie Floyd) - 3:01
7. Kindness (Unknown) - 2:30
8. Castle In The Sky (Evelyn King, Paul Smith) - 2:44
9. Loneliness Is Just A State Of Mind (Evelyn King, John King, Paul Smith) - 2:55
10.Laughing Boy From Nowhere (Derek Shulman, Philip Shulman, Ray Shulman) - 2:48
11.You (Derek Shulman, Philip Shulman, Ray Shulman) - 2:11
12.Can't You See (Derek Shulman, Philip Shulman, Ray Shulman) - 2:49
13.Now (Derek Shulman, Philip Shulman, Ray Shulman) - 2:27
14.Rain (Derek Shulman, Philip Shulman, Ray Shulman) - 3:18
15.Something In The Way She Moves (James Taylor) - 2:35
16.I'm Going Home (Elton John, Bernie Taupin) - 3:42
Without Reservations LP (Mono) 1967
17.Medley: 60 Minutes Of Your Love / A Lot Of Love (David Porter, Isaac Hayes, Homer Banks) - 4:35
18.Love (Jackie Edwards) - 3:04
19.Get Off My Bach (Evelyn King, Ray Shulman) - 2:00
20.There's A Little Picture Playhouse (Eric Hine) - 2:13
21.Day Time, Night Time (Mike Hugg) - 2:31
22.I See The Light (John Durrill, Michael Rabon, Norman Ezell) - 2:21
23.What Is Soul (Ben E. King, Bob Gallo) - 2:34
24.Teacher, Teacher (Derek Shulman, Philip Shulman, Ray Shulman) - 2:11
25.Amen (Sam Cooke) - 2:24
26.Who Cares (Evelyn King, Ray Shulman) - 2:31
27.Reservations (Albert Hammond) - 2:30

The Simon Dupree And The Big Sound 
*Phil Shulman - Alto, Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet, Trumpet, Mellophone, Piano, Percussion, Vocals
*Eric Eric Hine - Keyboards, Mellotron
*Derek Shulman - Vocals
*Tony Ransley - Drums
*Ray Shulman - Bass
*Peter O'Flaherty - Bass

1974  Gentle Giant - The Power And The Glory (2014 24/96 remaster) 

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Mother Earth - Satisfied (1970 us, marvelous soulful folk blues roots rock, 2005 edition)

Tracy Nelson doesn't touch everyone, but once she does, she carries you away. She can be sexual and spiritual not successively but on the same note and breath; she seems to suffer and to transcend suffering simultaneously. Vocally, Mother Earth is now Tracy Nelson, and although in theory I miss the male voices--especially Robert St. John's, whose songwriting always added something too--I'm not really complaining. Yet this record is a slight disappointment. I love it, but I know that my prejudices are strong and that only once--on her own composition, "Andy's Song"--does Tracy burst calmly into free space as she does so often on the two previous Mother Earth lps and on Tracy Nelson Country. Recommended unequivocally to her cadre and equivocally to the benighted.
by Robert Christgau
1. Satisfied (Martha Carson) - 3:59
2. Groovy Way (S. Taylor) - 4:20
3. Get Out Of Here (Bobby Charles) - 4:23
4. Ruler Of My Heart (Naomi Neville) - 6:24
5. Andy's Song (Tracy Nelson) - 4:31
6. Take Me In Your Arms, Rock Me A Little While (Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland) - 3:11
7. You Won't Be Passing Here No More (J. Thomas) - 5:00
8. This Feeling (Scott Miller) - 6:30

*Tracy Nelson - Vocals
*Andy Mcmahon - Piano, Organ
*Bob Cardwell - Guitar
*John Andrews - Guitar
*James Day - Pedal Steel
*Ben Keith - Dobro
*Dave Zettner - Bass
*Karl Himmel - Drums
*Farrell Morris - Percussion
*The Earthmen (Dave Zettner, Bob Cardwell, Andy Mcmahon) - Backing Vocals

1968  Mother Earth - Living With The Animals
1969  Mother Earth - Make A Joyful Noise

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Monday, September 24, 2018

Bead Game - Welcome (1970 us, exceptional boss town jazzy psych rock, 2007 release)

This Boston based psychedelic / early progressive band known as The Bead Game originated in 1968 at Harvard and was conceived by Newton native and classical musician Robert Gass who then gave up the classical for Rock and Roll.  The name came from the book The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse.  Eastern spirituality was the theme then and band leader Robert Gass continues that theme nearly 50 years later as an internationally recognized coach with leaders fostering organizational transformation, and enabling human development.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that Rock & Roll doesn’t prepare you for a successful career in both organizational and personal transformation.

The Bead Game were managed by Ray Paret (Amphion) who managed and developed many groups and individual artists including the J. Geils Band, Andy Pratt, Ultimate Spinach, Quill, and Bob McCarthy among many others—most of whom are featured elsewhere on this website. The group built a local following before attracting the attention of Avco/Embassy Records and producer Gary Katz. In 1970 they appeared in the film The People Next Door. It was also in 1970 that saw the release of the band’s only proper album, Welcome, on the Avco/Embassy label. This album showcased a late crossover sound and featured drummer Jim Hodder (December 17, 1947 – June 5, 1990) singing lead vocals on all tracks.  

Who knew that the band would be so influential and an eventual catalyst for a band of far wider significance. In 1972, Hodder accepted an invitation from Gary Katz and Boston guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter to relocate to Los Angeles and join the newly forming Steely Dan. Hodder appeared on their first three albums, left the group in 1974, and worked as a session musician before his untimely death.

What’s interesting is that The Bead Game were most definitely a sum of the parts of the group than any one individual’s showcase—Robert Gass (keyboards), John Sheldon (lead guitar), Lassie Sachs (bass), Kenny Westland-Haag (rhythm guitar), Jim Hodder (lead vocals and drums).

A review of The Bead Game that appeared within the Harvard Crimson on May 9, 1969 pretty much sums it up.  “Very few rock groups, and even fewer American ones, manage to make music that is not only complex in its musical structure but at the same time retains the visceral, frantic dynamism that one associates with true rock & roll.  The Bead Game is one of the finest groups in the country precisely because its music is just such an extraordinary synthesis of complexity and dynamics.”

Copies of both the Bead Game’s Welcome as well as their 2nd self-titled album, which was recorded in 1971 but got shelved until its release 44 years afterward, are both currently available from Amazon.
by Karl E. Sharicz
1. Punchin' Judy (Joel Sachs, Ken Haag) - 5:21
2. Lady (Bob Gass, Ken Haag) - 4:29
3. Wax Circus (Ken Haag) - 4:35
4. Mora (Ken Haag) - 4:25
5. Natural Song (Ken Haag) - 4:00
6. Country Girls (Ken Haag) - 2:42
7. Amos And Andy (Joel Sachs, Ken Haag) - 4:51
8. Slipping (Joel Sachs, Ken Haag) - 8:40
9. Sweet Medusa (Scott English, Larry Weiss, Ken Haag) - 3:10
10.Echoes of Sweet Medusa (Scott English, Larry Weiss, Ken Haag) - 2:25
11.My Life in Review (Ken Haag) - 1:56
Bonus Tracks 9-11

The Bead Game
*Ken Haag - Rhythm Guitar
*John Sheldon - Lead Guitar
*Robert Gass - Keyboards
*Jim Hodder - Drums, Percussion, Lead Vocals
*Joel Sachs - Bass

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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Travis Wammack - Not For Sale (1975 us, awesome country southern funky classic rock, vinyl edition)

Born in Walnut, Mississippi, he began his professional music career when he wrote and recorded his first record at the tender age of eleven, and also became the youngest member ever voted into the musicians union. After moving to Memphis, Tennesse, the young guitarist made his mark on the music world at the age of sixteen with his 1963 number one hit “Scratchy”.. By 1969, Wammack’s skills landed him in Muscle Shoals, Alabama where he teamed with legendary producer Rick Hall at Hall’s FAME Records. Travis’ guitar licks can be heard on hit records recorded by artists such as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Little Richard, Mac Davis, Clarence Carter, the Osmond Brothers, Bobbie Gentry, Candi Staton, Delbert McClinton, Liza Minnelli, Narvel Felts and many more. Wammack’s solo artist career (produced by Hall) also sky rocketed with the release of albums in 1971 and 1975. His second album titled "Not For Sale" was recorded at Muscle Shoals produced by Rick Hall and released on Capricorn Records. 
by Greg Shaw
1. Cookin' On The Front Burner (Leon Sherrill, Travis Wammack) - 3:14
2. A Lover's Question (Brook Benton, Jimmy Williams) - 2:57
3. Shotgun Woman (Al Cartee, Travis Wammack) - 2:59
4. I Forgot To Remember To Forget (Travis Wammack) - 2:57
5. Looking For A Fox (Clarence Carter, Marcus Daniel, Rick Hall, Wilbur Terrell) - 2:46
6. You've Got Your Troubles (Roger Cook, Roger Greenaway) - 3:43
7. (Shu-Do-Pa -Poo-Poop) Love Being Your Fool (Charlie Whitehead, Jerry Williams Jr.) - 3:19
8. Easy Evil (Alan O'Day) - 3:11
9. Love Rustler (Dennis Linde, Thomas Cain) - 3:23
10.Greenwood, Mississippi (Albert S. Lowe Jr., Travis Wammack) - 3:47

*Travis Wammack - Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
*Barry Beckett - Keyboards
*Pete Carr - Guitar
*Don Cartee - Drums
*Roger Clark - Drums
*Jimmy "BeBop" Evans - Drums
*Stacy Goss - Horn
*Richard Hall - Vocals
*Joe Hamilton - Bass
*Lenny LeBlanc - Bass
*Randy McCormick - Keyboards
*Ronnie Oldham - Keyboards
*Leon Sherrill - Guitar

1972  Travis Wammack - Travis Wammack (2017 korean remaster) 

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Message - Synapse (1976 germany / uk, great jazz prog rock, 2016 edition)

The British-German group introduces us here a lovely, relaxed, but quite complex rock with a clear jazz impact. Especially the middle parts of the songs show strong fusion elements, with brisk solos especially from the sax, pearling e-piano (it remains a mystery who uses this) and playful-nested runs of guitar and bass. In "Destruction", "Volcanoes Under The Sun" and "To Live Again", the music turns into a fast-paced brass rock in places with the participation of a big band or a second saxophonist.

All the numbers exhale a comforting lightness, which also does not change the earthy-smoky vocals of McGuigano, despite the jazzy arrangements, it suits quite well in the ear. Comparisons? Well, Message sound like "Synapse" maybe like a less poppy version of Steely Dan with a strong jazz rock beat. Or how a mix of Lake and Weather Report? Anyway, "Synapse" is a refreshing, entertaining disc that avoids any shallowness and actually makes a lot of fun, even if the prog factor is not unconditionally overly high! Excellent bizarre cover! 
1. Fred The Head - 6:01
2. Chessmen - 4:07
3. Destruction - 5:31
4. To Live Again - 4:36
5. Volcanoes Under The Sun - 4:56
6. Triangle - 5:38
7. The Sailor And The Flyer - 7:51
8. The Pharaoh's Leg - 3:17
Music by Message, Lyrics by Tom McGuigan

The Message
*Alan Murdoch - Guitars
*Tommy McGuigan - Vocals, Sax
*Horst Stachelhaus - Bass
*Manfred v. Bohr - Drums, Percussion
*Tony Greaves - Sax, Flute (Tracks 5, 7)
*The Anonymous Big Brass Band - Brass (Tracks 3, 5)

1972  Message - The Dawn Anew Is Coming (extra track issue) 
1975  Message - Message 

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Spirit - Salvation... The Spirit Of '74 (1974-75 us stunning hard psych, 2007 release)

Any acquisition of live recordings from the late 'sixties and/or early 'seventies is fraught with danger as you never really know what the quality is going to be like. But as it turned out, there was no need for me to be apprehensive about this collection. The two live CD's offer excellent sound which is quite acceptable played in the car. Sometimes with these type of "newly discovered" tapes the only way you can listen is on a good domestic sound system cranked up to 11, close your eyes and pretend you were there. In fact I certainly wish I had been at Ebbetts Field Denver or the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland when these gigs happened in '74 & '75.

Spirit were down to a trio by this time but that trio did consist of three original members - Mark Andes, Ed Cassidy and of course Randy California. These three guys go back a ways and they know intuitively what each other is going to do. The playing is quite simply sublime with a plenty of invention from all three. Andes and Cassidy do a lot more than just keep the beat behind Randy's solos and special effects. The spirit of the west coast circa '67 is very much in evidence in the feel of the music, and yes they do play a lovely version of "Fresh Garbage" from that classic first album. This one clocks in at just over 4 minutes - longer than the original studio version but well short of the extended rendition on "Live from the Time Coast" - still great though. However, if its improvisation you're looking for we are treated to 9 minutes of "Like a Rolling Stone" and over 13 minutes of "All Along the Watchtower". There are also some fine Randy California originals I'd never heard before and a few covers - "Satisfaction", "Happy" and "On the Road Again" - I'd never heard them play either. The way they do the intro to Canned Heat's "On the Road Again" you'd swear they were going to break into the Norman Greenbaum number 1 hit "Spirit in the Sky". They'd probably have done a killer version of that as well come to think of it.

The third CD is all studio material and in effect fills in a gap of several years during which we had no official releases from Randy California prior to "Spirit of '76". We are treated to all of 25 tracks on this CD and most of them are simply beautiful regardless of whether they're uptempo or more laid back. Randy California was going through a distinctly spiritual phase and that is reflected in the music and lyrics. Several tracks are predominately acoustic but there is tasteful and creative use of special effects and a couple of whimsical dialogues featuring a conversation with a "visitor" from the planet Neptune, and an interview with a bogus Indian guru which segues into one of the best cuts on the CD entitled "Holy Man".

Some Spirit purists may argue that Randy's vocals aren't up to Jay Ferguson's standard, or that they miss John Locke's keyboards. That may be true, but their absence certainly does allow for more of California's wondrous guitar work (both electric and acoustic) so that's okay by me. In fact if you play this and then slip on an album by Jo Jo Gunne it will be all too clear why Ferguson and California were no longer interested in working together on a permanent basis. To be honest I'd happily take the Spirit trio's amazing reworking of Dylan's "Positively 4th Street" in exchange for Jay Ferguson's entire post Spirit output - but that's just me.

If I have a criticism it might be that there are two or three acoustic numbers after track 21 which sound a bit muddy and distinctly unfinished, and that's why I'm knocking off a star. A couple of those could perhaps have been omitted but I guess Randy California completists wouldn't want to be deprived of even these slightly substandard offerings.

Anyone who ever enjoyed anything by Spirit in any of their incarnations will love this 3CD set, and it's very reasonably priced right now so a good opportunity to grab a bargain. Also any younger students of psychedelic guitar who don't know about one of the genre's unsung heroes really need to hear Randy California in his prime. When the music magazines compile those lists of "top 50 guitarists of all time" he rarely figures, yet he should be permanently in the top 3 at the very least.
by Michael Pearson-Smith Melbourne,Australia

As of 2007, ten years had passed since the accidental death of singer/songwriter and guitarist Randy California, the primary musician in Spirit. California left behind an extensive, if disorganized, cache of unreleased live and studio recordings that producer Mick Skidmore has been working through ever since, emerging periodically with albums of previously unheard material. Salvation...The Spirit of '74 is a three-CD set that, as Skidmore notes in his annotations, helps to fill in a gap in the band's history. The original quintet of California, drummer Ed Cassidy, bassist Mark Andes, keyboardist John Locke, and singer/songwriter Jay Ferguson splintered in the early '70s, after which various configurations, including one that featured none of them, toured the country.

 California, who had left the group for a solo career, rejoined Cassidy for a European tour in 1973, then left again. In 1974, the two reconnected and again performed as Spirit, sometimes adding Andes and occasionally Locke. In May 1975, a trio of California, Cassidy, and bassist Barry Keene finally released a new Spirit album, Spirit of '76. Salvation...The Spirit of '74 chronicles the band's live and studio work during a period of about a year, from the summer of 1974 to the summer of 1975, including preliminary work on a never-completed album intended to be called Spirit of Salvation.

On the first two discs, drawn from live performances given in October and November 1974 (with Andes) and in June 1975 (with Keene), Spirit play some of their familiar songs ("Fresh Garbage," "Mr. Skin," "It's All the Same," "I Got a Line on You") along with covers that emphasize California's debt to his mentor, Jimi Hendrix ("Like a Rolling Stone," "All Along the Watchtower," "Hey Joe"); some songs California probably picked up while hanging around the Ash Grove folk club in Los Angeles as a child ("Old Blue," "Run Sinner Run," "Cripple Creek"); some one-off oddities (seemingly impromptu readings of the Rolling Stones hits "[I Can't Get No] Satisfaction" and "Happy," a version of Canned Heat's "On the Road Again" that apparently was a nod to Andes' brief tenure in that group); and some of the new songs California was writing at the time. More of those new songs, along with novelties and more covers, are included on the third disc, which consists of studio recordings.

That all adds up to 56 tracks running more than three and a half hours. It doesn't entirely fill in the gap between the releases of California's solo album Kapt. Kopter & the (Fabulous) Twirly Birds in the fall of 1972 and Spirit of '76 two and a half years later, but California spent much of that period musically inactive or working on the subsequently released Potatoland album, and his return to Spirit, the band he would lead for much of the next two decades, is now well documented here. As Skidmore notes, this is an album for loyal, even die-hard Spirit fans, but it contains enough strong performances to make the case for California and his bandmates as what an MC calls them at the outset: "one the greatest names in the history of rock & roll."
by William Ruhlmann
Disc 1
1. Veruska (Ed Cassidy, Mark Andes, Randy California) - 5:34
2. Storm In The Night (Randy California) - 4:48
3. Like A Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan) - 9:01
4. I've Got To Use My Imagination (Barry Goldberg, Gerry Goffin) - 3:57
5. Fresh Garbage (Jay Ferguson) - 4:01
6. Devil (Randy California) - 2:50
7. Kristee (Ed Cassidy, Mark Andes, Randy California) - 2:30
8. My Road (Randy California) - 1:46
9. Old Blue (Traditional) - 3:31
10.Joker On The Run (Randy California) - 3:38
11.So Little Time To Fly (Randy California) - 2:26
12.All Along The Watchtower (Bob Dylan) - 13:46
13.I Can't Get No (Satisfaction) (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) - 4:14
14.Same Old Thing, Urantia (Randy California) - 5:16
15.Downer (Randy California) - 3:14
Tracks 1, 8, 12, 13, 14 Ebbetts Field, Denver, Colorado 10/30/74
Tracks 3, 5 Agora Ballroom, Cleveland 6/30/75
Tracks 6, 7, 11 Ebbetts Field, Denver, Colorado 10/31/74
Tracks 9, 10 Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin, Texas 6/19/75
Disc 2
1. Hey Joe (Billy Roberts) - 7:37
2. Guide Me (Randy California) - 3:28
3. Electro Jam - Mr. Skin.7:38
3a.Electro Jam (Ed Cassidy, Randy California) - 4:10
3b.Mr. Skin (Jay Ferguson) - ) - 3:28
4. Run Sinner Run (Mance Lipscomb) - 4:43
5. Sunrise (Ed Cassidy, Randy California) - 3:01
6. Cripple Creek (Traditional) - 0:56
7. It's All The Same (Ed Cassidy, Randy California) - 5:34
8. I Got A Line On You (Randy California) - 3:09
9. Ebbetts Crowd (Applause) (Randy California) - 2:29
10.Doin' Fine (Randy California) - 2:19
11.Veruska (Ed Cassidy, Mark Andes, Randy California) - 4:45
12.Victim Of Society (Randy California) - 4:54
13.On The Road Again (Alan Wilson) - 4:46
14.Happy (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) - 5:33
15.Goin' Down (Don Nix) - 4:46
16.All Along The Watchtower (Short Version) (Bob Dylan) - 5:27
Tracks 1, 2, 12, 13, 14 Agora Ballroom, Cleveland 11/18/74
Track  3 Agora Ballroom, Cleveland 6/30/75
Tracks 4, 5, 6 Ebbetts Field, Denver, Colorado 10/30/74
Tracks 7, 8, 9, 10, 11,16 Ebbetts Field, Denver, Colorado 10/31/74
Track  15 Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin, Texas 6/19/75 
Disc 3 Unreleased Studio Material
1. Sunrise (Ed Cassidy, Randy California) - 6:45
2. Kathy (Randy California) - 2:17
3. I've Got To Use My Imagination (Barry Goldberg, Gerry Goffin) - 3:13
4. Looking Into Darkness (Ed Cassidy, Randy California) - 2:54
5. Neptune Caper (Ed Cassidy, Randy California) - 2:57
6. Positively 4th Street (Bob Dylan) - 3:46
7. Jimmy Brown (Traditional) - 1:36
8. Wake Up America (Randy California) - 3:00
9. Family (Randy California) - 3:10
10.Magic Fairy Princess (Randy California) - 3:17
11.Cass Drums (Ed Cassidy, Randy California) - 1:50
12.Salvation (Randy California) - 1:21
13.The Maharaji Speaks (Dialouge) (Randy California) - 1:19
14.Holy Man (Randy California) - 2:55
15.Maybe You'll Find (Randy California) - 2:57
16.Future In My Hands (Randy California) - 3:05
17.You're So Beautiful (Going Away) (Randy California) - 3:01
18.Circle (Randy California) - 3:13
19.It's Time Now (Randy California) - 4:45
20.So Happy Now (Randy California) - 1:20
21.Miss Lani (Randy California) - 2:31
22.Sparkling Sands (Randy California) - 2:48
23.High With You (Lani Pidot, Randy California) - 2:19
24.Seven Fires (Randy California) - 2:26
25.Bad Luck And Troube (The Stars Are Love) (Randy California) - 3:17

The Spirit
*Randy California - Guitar, Vocals, Bass , Harmonica, Keyboards
*Ed Cassidy - Percussion , Drums,
*Mark Andes - Bass
*John Locke - Keyboards
*Barry Keene - Bass, Vocals

1968-72  Spirit - It Shall Be-Ode And Epic Recordings (2018 five disc box set remaster with extra tracks) 
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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Monday, September 17, 2018

Gift - Blue Apple (1974 germany, fantastic heavy prog krautrock, 2016 Mini LP remaster)

On Blue Apple, organ is added to the instrumentation, yet the ride does not slow down. A blistering pace is set until "Psalm," a dreamy floating piece so the band can take a breath before fueling the blast furnace for the final assault. Great rock and roll.

The album was recorded in Hamburg at Teldec Studios with Hartmann and Thomas Kukuck engineering. Both Gift albums are fine examples of German heavy progressive rock. Originals of their first album sell for more than 100 Euros.
1. Blue Apple (Grischa Batanoff, Grischa Batanoff, Peter Körner) - 4:15
2. Rock Scene (Dieter Atterer, Rainer Baur) - 3:47
3. Don't Waste Your Time (Hermann Lange, Rainer Baur, Uwe Patzke) - 4:02
4. Psalm (Dieter Atterer, Dieter Frei, Hermann Lange, Rainer Baur, Uwe Patzke) - 3:55
5. Everything's Alright (Grischa Batanoff, Grischa Batanoff, Peter Körner) - 4:30
6. Go To Find A Way (Dieter Atterer, Rainer Baur) - 6:39
7. Reflections Part 1 (Hermann Lange, Nick Woodland) - 3:14
8. Reflections Part 2 (Hermann Lange, Nick Woodland) - 3:47
9. Left The Past Behind (Dieter Atterer, Dieter Frei, Rainer Baur, Uwe Patzke) - 6:01

The Gift
*Rainer Baur - Lead Guitar
*Hermann Lange - Drums, Percussion
*Uwe Patzke - Bass, Vocals
*Dieter Atterer - Lead Vocal
*Dieter Frei - Organ, Electric Piano, Piano, Moog Synthesizer, Mellotron, Vocals

1972  Gift - Gift 

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Satin Whale - Desert Places (1974 germany, spectacular heavy organ guitar prog rock, 2015 remaster)

Satin Whale formed in 1971 and featured here is their rather spirited first album, Desert Places, released in 1974. A collection of mostly organ and guitar instrumentals that sound like they have rehearsed arrangements but maintain excitement throughout with memorable tones and musicianship. There’s sporadic vocals, flute and sax from multi-instrumentalist Dieter Roesberg, driving grinding organs from Gerard Dellman with fluid bass lines from Thomas Brück (I think he may be the lead singer, too). The line up is completed by the handy Horst Schöffgen on drums.
by Marty Willson-Pipe

Satin Whale's main influence was definitely Santana, and much of the guitar/organ interplay is similar to Carlos Santana / Gregg Rolie on the early line up from '68-'72. I always have thought that some sort of progression on early Santana rock would be great, and this album in every way is like a great Kraut rock version of that band. While certainly not original, and not really that progressive, this is a superb rock album with great moves and band interplay.
by Mike McLatchey
1.Desert Places (Thomas Brück) - 6:58
2.Seasons Of Life - 6:44
3.Remember - 9:38
4.I Often Wondered - 7:17
5.Perception - 13:01
All songs by Dieter Roesberg, Thomas Brück except track #1

The Satin Whale
*Thomas Brück - Bass, Vocals
*Gerald Dellmann - Keyboards
*Dieter Roesberg - Guitars, Saxophone, Flute, Vocals
*Horst Schattgen - Drums, Vocals

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Friday, September 14, 2018

Merl Saunders And Friends - Heavy Turbulence / Fire Up (1972-73 us, fabulous mixture of jazz, blues, funky psych rock)

Saunders and Friends CD Fire Up Plus featuring guitarist Jerry Garcia is two previous albums Heavy Turbulence and Fire Up reissued on a single disc less two songs.

There are many solid moments on this release, though, none better than the lovely blues inspired riffs that Garcia lays out on "Lonely Avenue." I generally prefer the cover versions to the original Merl compositions. John Lennon's song "Imagine" is done instrumentally. The rendition of J. J. Cale's "After Midnight" is top notch. This song was an outstanding outlet for long jamming at Merl and Jerry's live performances.

Merl Saunders Fire Up Plus is a more than worthwhile addition to a CD collection.  
by Barry Small

This reissue set combines the two early Merl Saunders albums on Fantasy, Fire Up and Heavy Turbulence. The content of these original albums is almost there in its entirety and nothing new and previously unreleased is added to the stash. "Chock-Lite Puddin'" is the single missing pearl, representing quite a severe mistake in editing, as this was not a marble for playing with. A better tune to experience the fall of the axe would have been one of several covers with a faded '70s presence that is a bit like day-old cigarette smoke. "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" could have been left out, please, that or "After Midnight," although the latter number was an FM airplay hit at the time of its initial release. To be fair, the vocal work of Saunders on the former number is actually formidable, as are his interesting organ variations on the theme.

Listeners may associate the collective jams of Saunders in various ensembles with Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia as friendly but loose-knit music created casually, the tempo sometimes the most casual aspect of all. Yet these early albums were much more like a real band than the efforts of some ensembles who actually call themselves bands -- it is a lot tighter than a Grateful Dead record, for example. The players involved actually represented a coming together of musical forces that was every bit as significant as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. In fact, the merging of the Grateful Dead and Creedence Clearwater Revival with a seasoned jazz and rhythm & blues organist had great musical implications that are fulfilled, from time to time, on the best moments of these sessions, such as the truly thrilling extended jam "Manchild." For Garcia, simply playing alongside a rhythm guitarist who could keep time must have been something of a revelation.

Much of the time the players don't try to change the world while keeping the beat, settling into enjoyably funky music designed by Saunders and clearly expressing his gestalt: "My Problems Got Problems" is the opening complaint, "Soul Roach" the eventual cure. Garcia fans can be proud of their man here, as his playing is sharp and detailed, obviously inspired by the input from his keyboard buddy. 
by Eugene Chadbourne
Heavy Turbulence 1972
1. My Problems Got Problems (Merl Saunders, Pam Carrier) - 4:29
2. The Night The Drove Old Dixie Down (Robbie Robertson) - 4:03
3. Save Mother Earth (Edmund Lewis, Merl Saunders) - 7:18
4. Imagine (John Lennon) - 2:36
5. Welcome To The Basement (Eddie Moore, Merl Saunders) - 6:12
6. Man-Child (Edmund Lewis, Merl Saunders) - 12:30
Fire Up  1973
7. After Midnight (J.J. Cale) - 4:58
8. Expressway (To Your Heart) (Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff) - 5:14
9. Soul Roach (Merl Saunders, Ray Shanklin) - 4:24
10.Benedict Rides (Merl Saunders, Pam Carrier) - 3:03
11.The System (Merl Saunders, Pam Carrier) - 3:55
12.Lonely Avenue (Doc Pomus) - 8:42

*Merl Saunders - Keyboards, Vocals
*Jerry Garcia - Guitar, Vocals
*Tom Fogerty - Guitar, Vocals
*John Kahn - Bass, Electric Piano
*Bill Vitt - Drums
*Eddie Moore - Drums
*Kenneth Nash - Percussion
*Bob Drew - Alto Saxophone
*Gaylord Birch - Congas
*Mike Howell - Guitar
*Christopher Parker - Drums
*Bill Kreutzmann - Drums
*Tower Of Power - Horns
*The Hawkins Singers (Edwin, Walter, Tramaine, Lynette, Feddie, Carol) - Vocals

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Michael Chapman - Millstone Grit (1973 uk, a bare tapestry of lonesome blues and guitar atmospherics, 2006 remaster)

After the release of Wrecked Again, Chapman parted company with Harvest, choosing to sign to Decca's Deram subsidiary, where he altered course somewhat, adding electric guitar and harder rhythms to his work. The first result, Millstone Grit, is a somewhat confused affair, with Chapman's trademark gloomy writing mixed with a couple of lively instrumentals, some almost experimental work, and the country-styled "Expressway in the Rain.

Electric guitar, still with that distinctive Chapman fluidity, featured more prominently. Tracks like “New York Ladies” and “Firewater Dreams” on ‘Millstone Grit’ showed a guitar master pursuing sounds and textures.
1. Firewater Dreams - 5:12
2. Sea Of Wine - 2:44
3. New York Ladies - 9:27
4. Champion - 1:19
5. Sundamental - 5:20
6. The Hero Returns - 3:37
7. Wellington The Skellington - 3:29
8. Expressway In The Rain - 3:05
All songs by Michael Chapman

*Michael Chapman - Vocals, Guitar
*Alex Atterson - Keyboards
*Rick Kemp - Bass
*Keef Hartley - Drums

1968  Michael Chapman - Rainmaker
1970  Michael Chapman - Fully Qualified Survivor
1970-71  Michael Chapman - Window / Wrecked Again
1974  Michael Chapman - Deal Gone Down (2015 bonus tracks edition)

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Shawn Phillips - Collaboration (1971 us, magnificent orchestrated folk prog rock)

Phillips takes folk and throws it together with prog rock, with touches of jazz and classical.  This album is titled Collaboration and the jacket describes it as a collaboration by Shawn Phillips with Paul Buckmaster and Peter Robinson.  

Songs like “Moonshine” have some nice keyboards from Robinson too, with a dexterity and morose ease that works very well.  The side one closer “Armed” brings all the instrumentalists’ talents together best. 
by Syd Fablo

1. Us We Are - 5:05
2. Burning Fingers - 3:33
3. Moonshine - 4:45
4. For Her - 2:00
5. What's Happenin' Jim! - 3:37
6. Armed - 6:52
7. Spaceman - 3:29
8. Times Of A Madman, Trials Of A Thief - 2:47
9. 8500 Years - 2:31
10.The Only Logical Conclusion - 4:51
11.Coming Down Soft And Easy - 5:17
12.Springwind - 9:37
Music and Lyrics by Shawn Phillips

*Shawn Phillips - Vocals, Guitar
*Brian Odgers - Bass
*Paul Buckmaster - Cello, Orchestral Arrangements
*Barry deSouza - Drums
*Martin Ford - French Horn
*Tony Walmsly - Guitar
*Ann Odell - Electric Piano
*Peter Robinson - Piano, Organ, Bass, Orchestral Arrangements
*John Gustafson - Bass
*The David Katz Orchestra

1970  Shawn Phillips - Contribution / Second Contribution (2009 remaster)
1969-72  Shawn Phillips - Faces (2014 remaster)
1974  Shawn Phillips - Furthermore (2014 issue)
1976  Shawn Phillips - Rumplestiltskin's Resolve (2013 remaster)
1977  Shawn Phillips - Spaced (2013 remaster)
1978  Shawn Phillips - Transcendence (2015 remaster)

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Sunday, September 9, 2018

Bread - The Elektra Years The Complete Albums Box (1969-77 us, wonderful silky rock, 2017 six discs box set)

Bread was one of the most popular pop groups of the early '70s, earning a string of well-crafted, melodic soft rock singles, all of which were written by keyboardist/vocalist David Gates. A session musician and producer, Gates met in 1968 guitarist/vocalist James Griffin, who had already released a solo album called Summer Holiday. Griffin hired Gates to produce a new album, and the pair soon became a group, adding guitarist/vocalist Robb Royer from the band Pleasure Fair, who Gates had produced early in its career. The trio soon signed with Elektra Records, becoming one of the label's first pop bands. Naming themselves Bread, the group released its self-titled debut album in late 1968. Although it was filled with accessible, melodic soft rock that became the band's signature sound, the record had no hit singles. 

With their second album, On the Waters, Bread established themselves as hitmakers. "Make It With You," the first single released from the album, became a number one hit, which led to "It Don't Matter to Me," a song taken from Bread, becoming a Top Ten hit. With On the Waters becoming a gold record, the group embarked on a tour, adding a full-time drummer, Mike Botts, to the lineup. Manna, released in the spring of 1971, wasn't as big a hit as the previous record, yet it launched another Top Ten hit with "If." Royer left the group after the album and was replaced by Larry Knechtel, a Los Angeles session musician who played on records by the Byrds, the Beach Boys, and the Monkees, among others. The new lineup released its first single, "Mother Freedom," in the summer of 1971; the single scraped the Top 40 at number 37. Bread's next single, "Baby I'm-a Want You," became a number three hit at the end of the year. After "Everything I Own" reached number five in January of 1972, an album called Baby I'm-a Want You was released. Peaking at number three, the record became the group's most successful album. The group's fifth album, Guitar Man, followed in the fall of 1972. 

At the beginning of 1973, Bread disbanded after a dispute between Gates and Griffin. Griffin claimed that, when the group was conceived, the pair agreed that the singles would be divided equally between the two songwriters; Gates wrote most of Bread's hits and wanted to continue to compose the singles. The two parted ways, with each of the musicians pursuing solo careers. Bread reunited in 1976, releasing Lost Without Your Love in early 1977. The title track became their last Top Ten hit, peaking at number nine. The success could not keep the group together as tensions between Gates and Griffin began to escalate again. After Griffin split from the group, Gates assembled a new version of the band and toured under the name Bread. Griffin sued Gates for using the name, which the duo co-owned. A judge ordered the group not to perform, record, or collect royalty payments until the case was resolved; it wasn't resolved until 1984. In the meantime, Gates and Griffin pursued solo careers. Of the two musicians, Gates was more successful, scoring a number 15 hit in 1978 with the title theme to Goodbye Girl. However, his career declined in the '80s; by the '90s, he was running a California ranch. Griffin relocated to Nashville, forming Dreamer with Randy Meisner in the early '90s. 
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

The band’s incredible success with a new boxed set that includes all six of Bread’s studio albums, the collection concludes with Bread’s 1977 reunion album, Lost Without Your Love. The title track stands as the group’s sixth and final Top 10 hit.
Disc 1 Bread 1969
1. Dismal Day (David Gates) - 2:19
2. London Bridge (David Gates) - 2:30
3. Could I (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 3:30
4. Look At Me (David Gates) - 2:42
5. The Last Time  (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 4:10
6. Any Way You Want Me  (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 3:12
7. Move Over (James Griffin) - 2:35
8. Don't Shut Me Out (David Gates) - 2:39
9. You Can't Measure The Cost (David Gates) - 3:21
10.Family Doctor (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 2:13
11.It Don't Matter To Me (David Gates) - 2:41
12.Friends And Lovers  (James Griffin, Robb Royer, Tim Hallinan) - 3:51
Disc 2 On The Waters 1970
1. Why Do You Keep Me Waiting (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 2:29
2. Make It With You (David Gates) - 3:15
3. Blue Satin Pillow (David Gates) - 2:26
4. Look What You've Done (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 3:10
5. I Am That I Am (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 3:18
6. Been Too Long On The Road (David Gates) - 4:49
7. I Want You With Me (David Gates, James Griffin) - 2:48
8. Coming Apart (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 3:25
9. Easy Love (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 2:26
10.In The Afterglow (David Gates) - 2:34
11.Call On Me (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 4:00
12.The Other Side Of Life (David Gates) - 2:02
Disc 3 Manna 1971
1. Let Your Love Go (David Gates) - 2:25
2. Take Comfort (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 3:32
3. Too Much Love (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 2:45
4. If (David Gates) - 2:33
5. Be Kind To Me (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 3:03
6. He's A Good Lad (David Gates) - 2:57
7. She Was My Lady (David Gates) - 2:50
8. Live In Your Love (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 2:46
9. What A Chance (David Gates) - 3:38
10.I Say Again (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 2:52
11.Come Again (David Gates) - 4:01
12.Truckin' (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 2:31
Disc 4 Baby I'm-A Want You 1972
1. Mother Freedom (David Gates) - 2:55
2. Baby I'm-A Want You (David Gates) - 2:25
3. Down On My Knees (David Gates. James Griffin) - 2:44
4. Everything I Own (David Gates) - 3:06
5. Nobody Like You (David Gates, James Griffin, Larry Knechtel) - 3:11
6. Diary (David Gates) - 3:05
7. Dream Lady (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 3:23
8. Daughter (David Gates) - 3:21
9. Games Of Magic (Robb Royer) - 3:09
10.This Isn't What The Governmeant (David Gates) - 2:25
11.Just Like Yesterday (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 2:35
12.I Don't Love You (James Griffin) - 2:50
Disc 5 Guitar Man 1972
1. Welcome To The Music (David Gates) - 2:58
2. The Guitar Man (David Gates) - 3:55
3. Make It By Yourself (James Griffin, David Gates) - 3:48
4. Aubrey (David Gates) - 3:38
5. Fancy Dancer (James Griffin, Mike Botts) - 3:31
6. Sweet Surrender (David Gates) - 2:35
7. Tecolote (David Gates) - 4:34
8. Let Me Go (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 3:26
9. Yours For Life (David Gates) - 3:20
10.Picture In Your Mind (Larry Knechtel) - 4:40
11.Don't Tell Me No (James Griffin, Robb Royer) - 3:33
12.Didn't Even Know Her Name (James Griffin, David Gates) - 3:09
Disc 6 Lost Without Your Love 1977
1. Hooked On You (David Gates) - 2:18
2. She's The Only One (Robb Royer, James Griffin) - 3:00
3. Lost Without Your Love (David Gates) - 2:56
4. Change Of Heart (David Gates, James Griffin) - 3:18
5. Belonging (David Gates) - 3:17
6. Fly Away (Robb Royer, James Griffin) - 3:05
7. Lay Your Money Down (David Gates) - 2:41
8. The Chosen One (David Gates) - 4:40
9. Today's The First Day (Robb Royer, James Griffin) - 3:24
10.Hold Tight (David Gates) - 3:05
11.Our Lady Of Sorrow (Robb Royer, James Griffin) - 4:14

The Bread
*David Gates - Bass, Organ, Percussion, Piano, Synthesizer, Viola, Violin, Vocals
*James Griffin - Guitar, Percussion, Piano, Vocals
*Robb Royer - Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Percussion, Piano, Vocals
*Larry Knechtel - Bass, Harmonica, Keyboards, Organ, Piano
*Mike Botts - Drums, Percussion
*Jim Gordon - Drums

1973  Bread - The Best Of Bread (2015 SACD) 

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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Jaime Brockett - Remember The Wind And The Rain (1968 us, splendid protest folk, 2005 remaster)

In the late 1960s, the exploding popularity of underground FM radio allowed for the broadcast of songs of a length that had been previously unimaginable in rock (and, for the most part, folk) music. Arlo Guthrie's 18-minute "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" (more popularly known simply as "Alice's Restaurant") may have been the most renowned of these, following a loose talking folk-blues format to relay an amusing shaggy dog of a tale. Somewhat less remembered, though likewise a big FM favorite in its time, is Jaime Brockett's 13-minute "Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic." Like "Alice's Restaurant," it too followed a talking folk-blues format, and also threw in knowing countercultural references, albeit with a mania that seemed like Brockett was going to jump right off the grooves and into a straitjacket. Unlike Guthrie, however, Brockett was unable to build upon his marathon monologue to sustain a long-running career as a recording artist. Indeed, "Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic" wasn't even too typical of his work, the rest of his debut album leaning toward introspective folk ballads. It was "Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic," however, that most listeners bought the LP for, and which would come to overshadow not only the rest of the album, but Brockett's entire career.

Brockett had achieved popularity on the Boston folk circuit before recording Remember the Wind and the Rain, which was initially issued on the small Oracle label before getting picked up by Capitol for wider distribution. It was a simple production, and a folk album, rather than a folk-rock one. The arrangements featured only Brockett's vocals, six-string guitar, twelve-string guitar, and dulcimer, though Tony Rubino added second guitar on "Remember the Wind and the Rain" and "Suzzane" [sic]. And although it was the dawn of the age of the singer-songwriter, Brockett in fact wrote just one and a half of the songs.

One of those songs, however, was "Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic." Brockett split the writing credit for that composition with fellow Boston folk-bluester Chris Smither, who went on to a long career himself -- in fact, he'd release many more albums than Brockett would, and though he never landed a popular success on the level of "Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic," he did reach the pop audience again when Bonnie Raitt covered his composition "I Feel the Same" for her 1973 album Takin' My Time. Relatively few listeners were aware that "Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic" was actually an updated mutation of a song that had been recorded by the great folk-bluesman Leadbelly, "The Titanic." In fact, Leadbelly remembered performing the song with fellow blues great Blind Lemon Jefferson in the streets of Dallas in 1912 -- shortly after the Titanic sank, and long before Leadbelly recorded it in late 1948, shortly before his death a little more than a year later.

As sung by Leadbelly, "The Titanic" was a relatively straightforward (and brief) tale of the ship going down in the Atlantic Ocean as the band played "Nearer My God to Thee." Also slipped in were couple of sly namechecks of the great African-American boxing champion Jack Johnson, with the ship's captain denying him passage at boarding. "Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic" kept some references to the sinking and Johnson, but otherwise took extreme, hilarious liberties with both the Leadbelly song and the actual Titanic saga. Brockett's crazed, largely speed-rapped version added a batch of wife-swapping Jewish passengers from Miami; an ominous declaration of intent by Johnson to watch the ship go down after being refused a place on board; and a hemp-smoking first mate whose funny cigarette, when shared with the captain, spaces them out enough to seal the disaster. It was a comic tour de force, though the marijuana toke and, more to the point, a very elongated utterance of a major profanity, helped ensure that the back cover marked the track with an asterisk cautioning "Audition Before Airplay." Not that it deterred too many FM jocks, judging from the number of listeners who remember hearing it on the radio in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Tracked down by the Massachusetts paper the Worcester Telegram & Gazette in 1997, Brockett said the song demonstrated how "you should smoke [marijuana] in the privacy of your own house," not on the bow of a ship. "The song was sort of a metaphor for the sinking of Western civilization," he observed. "I embellished a lot of decadence on the boat. With the movie [Titanic] coming out, I've been getting all sorts of offers to record it again." The article also noted that Brockett was a member of the Titanic Historical Association and owner of a large collection of Titanic memorabilia, and keen to stress that the tale he spun in "The Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic" had no basis in actual historical fact.

There was just one other song on the LP, the opening "Talking Green Beret New Super Yellow Hydraulic Banana Teeny Bopper Blues" -- with its snipes at Spiro Agnew and pop music, and another upfront mention of dope smoking in the lyric -- that was anything remotely like the talkin' folk-blues of "Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic." (Ironically, considering how crucial FM airplay was to the success of "Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic," "Talking Green Beret" was dedicated to AM radio listeners.) Most of the rest of the album -- an extraordinarily long one for the vinyl era, incidentally, running about 55 minutes -- was given over to mellow folk ballads. Save for his co-credit on "Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic," the only Brockett original was the dulcimer-dominated instrumental "St. Botolph St. Grey Morning Dulcimer Thing." Including a phrase that came close to quoting verbatim from the melody of "Norwegian Wood," it was reminiscent of the similar pieces that had cropped up on Richard & Mimi Farina's albums a few years earlier. There was also a Bob Dylan cover, "One Too Many Mornings"; "Blue Chip," whose extended instrumental introduction very much recalled the tune the Blues Project used in their own instrumental intro to "Steve's Song"; and a closer, "Bag on the Table," that, when listened to closely, turned out to conclude with a rather grisly suicide narrative. Alas, it's likely that many of the album's purchasers rarely got that far, playing "Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic" (which led off side two) far more often than any other of its songs. With sales concentrated in the Northeast, the album, Brockett told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, sold 100,000 copies.

"Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic" was a difficult act to follow, and Brockett did just one more album for Capitol (Jaime Brockett 2), also putting out an LP on Adelphi, North Mountain Velvet, in the mid-1970s. Perhaps it was difficult to give many listeners what they expected or wanted, "Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic" being a one-of-a-kind flash that was hard to repeat or follow up. "Unfortunately, Jaime Mellowed" ran the headline of a review of one of his 1973 shows in Concert magazine, which went on to complain, "Once a master of the sardonic comment, Brockett has mellowed, only occasionally revealing the bite of his sharp wit. The political songs and talking blues of the earlier days are also gone. His material now consists mostly of ballads, by other songwriters, that are pleasant but nondescript...It seems that Brockett is bored with playing his music, and he uses just about every distraction to avoid doing a song...The underground folk troubadour of the late sixties has not grown with the times."

When he spoke to Shaun Sutner of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette in 1997, Brockett was living in Vermont, acknowledging that his repeated performances of "The Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic" had been responsible for "what people say is the distinctive...gravelly voice I have today. I stopped doing it for a while. It was like 'Alice's Restaurant' for Arlo [Guthrie]. But I'm not complaining. A good song takes you a long way, and I probably wouldn't be working today if it wasn't for that song."
by Richie Unterberger
1. Talking Green Beret New Super Yellow Hydraulic Banana Teeny Bopper Blues (Michael Peter Smith) - 5:20
2. Remember The Wind And The Rain (John Bassett) - 5:30
3. St. Botolph St. Grey Morning Dulcimer Thing (Jaime Brockett) - 3:25
4. Blue Chip (Paul McNeil) - 7:22
5. Nowadays (Craig Allen) - 5:50
6. Legend Of The U.S.S. Titanic (Chris Smither, Jaime Brockett) - 13:28
7. Suzzane (Norman Schell) - 4:29
8. One Too Many Mornings (Bob Dylan) - 3:02
9. Bag On The Table (Ken Lyon) - 6:50

*Jaime Brockett - Vocals, Guitar, Banjo, Dulcimer

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