Friday, September 20, 2019

Devil's Kitchen - Devil's Kitchen (1969 us, remarkable west coast psych blues rock, 2011 Vinyl issue)

Devil's Kitchen Band was a four piece rock and roll band that lived and performed in San Francisco from the Spring of 1968 through the Summer of 1970.  We were the "house band" at Chet Helm's "Family Dog Ballroom on the Great Highway" opening for, and often jamming with, many of the most well known groups of the times.   We performed at all of the major West Coast venues from San Francisco's Fillmore West to L.A.'s Whisky A Go Go.

During the summer of 1970 while in the midst of a Midwest tour, the band fell apart when a series of gigs at colleges and universities was cancelled in response to the Kent State shootings.  Our last  big gig was Labor Day weekend 1970 at the Kickapoo Creek Rock Festival in Hayward, IL.

Everybody wants to know about the name: Devil's Kitchen... No we weren't a devil-worship-motorcycle-gang-heavy-metal-band...  That wasn't what we were called when we formed and for the first year or two we were playing.  We started out as "Om", the Hindu word/concept (click on the symbol to learn more about the meaning)... but when we got to San Francisco there were two or three other bands named that or some variation of spelling (most notably, AUM) playing in the Bay Area.  We had spent a couple months practicing at the lakeside vacation cabin of the family of our good friend and roadie, Rolf Olmsted.  We had fond memories of our time there and named the group after the lake - Devil's Kitchen Lake, an 810-acre lake about 8 miles from Carbondale (home of Southern Illinois University). 

How did the band start?  The full version could be a very long story, but the short version is that Brett, Robbie, Bob, and Steve knew each other from playing in different groups.  Bob had been a driving force as the bassist in a local blues rock band called the Nite Owls (aka the Nickel Bag) and also played multiple instruments in various groups as part of the Folk Arts Society, perhaps most notably, the bluegrass group, the "Dusty Roads Boys".  Steve had been the standout drummer playing with a local psychedelic rock group, "Hearts of Darkness" where he picked up the nickname "Naz".  Robbie had gained notoriety as the exceptionally talented young lead guitarist and band leader in a series of local high school bands, most recently the "Viscounts".  Brett  played in various folk groups and was active singing and palying  in the Folk Arts Society, and was the band leader, vocalist and guitarist for a typical college party band, "Om", whose personnel changed from semester to semester.  One semester, they decided to re-form "Om" with the best players from the best local groups.

... parties, protests and teen clubs... Besides playing the usual campus parties and local teen clubs and campus gigs, we were the "house band" for a new teen club aka rock emporium in nearby Murphysboro called the Hippodrome.    Early song lists were mostly covers of Folk-rock, blues, Brit-rock and classic American rock and roll - "Purple Haze", "Sunshine of Your Love", "Rock Me Baby", "Mr. Fantasy", "I Can See For Miles", "Johnny B. Goode", etc... As we continued to perform, we started adding more and more original songs to our repertoire until we were ready to present sets of mainly original material.

Brett, who was from the Bay Area, had visited San Francisco for the "Summer of Love" the previous summer, worked with the Diggers, found a "Frame of Reference" and now wanted to take the band out there to live and play.  The band practiced intensely for a couple months and then hit the road - everybody and our equipment packed up in Brett's Blue VW bus.  The first time we only got as far as Freeport, IL before burning out the motor.  After getting a new motor, we set out again and drove cross-country to San Francisco...

...practice, practice, practice... When we got to San Francisco, we rented an old auto garage in the Mission District across the street from a pie factory and set up a practice space surrounded by improvised living space.  We played for anyone who would let us perform in front of an audience, getting several gigs in small local venues and doing benefits for the SF Mime troupe, etc.  (see the Photos/Posters for some of our earlier gigs) Eventually we started getting the occasional opening slot in local concert halls., drugs, and rock & roll... not necessarily in that order... Yeah, we did the whole rock and roll band life style with all that involves, but it wasn't all just one big party... okay, yeah, it was...

After a while and with a growing coterie of roadies, girlfriends and just friends of the band passing through San Francisco, we needed a better living space and found a roach infested but huge 12-room apartment on the second floor of the building on the NE corner of Haight and Ashbury. Janis Joplin lived around the corner and down the block and we were close to Golden Gate Park and the weekend concerts where we played several times.  After the riots, we moved across the Panhandle to an old rooming house on Fell Street. We got more and more paying gigs all around the Bay Area, auditioned at the Fillmore where Bill Graham took an interest in us and helped us get more gigs and sent us into a studio to learn recording. 

Eventually we hooked up with a new manager, Harvey Morrison, who knew the local music scene well and who moved us to an old rooming house on Fell Street across from the panhandle of Golden Gate Park.  He also introduced us to Chet Helms who was in the process of opening a new venue after the Avalon had been shut down.  We opened the Family Dog Ballroom with the Jefferson Airplane and the Amazing Charlatans, and played there on and off as sort of the "house band" for the next year and a half, frequentyly filling in for bands that canceled at the last minute for one reason or another...

We did one LA tour, playing the Golden Bear, the Brass Ring, the Corral, and the Whiskey a Go Go, where we opened for Savoy Brown.  Mostly though, we played Northern Califorenia and the Bay Area at places like the Matrix, Keystone Korner, the San Francisco Art Institute, Stinson Beach, Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Palo Alto, San Jose, Boulder Creek, Monterrey, etc. while living in the Fell St house.  One of our favorite gigs was a week playing every evening at a Ski Resort, Bear Valley... skiing all day, party all night... 

During the summer of 1970 while in the midst of a Midwest tour, the band fell apart when a series of gigs at colleges and universities was cancelled in response to the Kent State shootings.  We had just played in Cincinnati at the legendary Ludlow Garage again and returned to Carbondale where we were performing at many of the local clubs.  First Steve left and we got an old friend, Randy Bradle, to join us on drums, and  then after our final gig at the Kickapoo Creek Rock Festival, Bob left, heading back to the West Coast with no intention of re-forming the band back in San Francisco. 

For several months, Robbie and Brett continued to play as Devil's Kitchen in and around Carbondale as a trio with Robbie on guitar, Brett on bass and Randy on drums.  We also started jamming with some old friends who had a group called Coal Dust (Carla Peyton and Bob Pina).  Eventually, the two groups merged to become "Coal Kitchen".  Shortly after that, Brett dropped out of the group.  Robbie and Randy stayed with Coal Kitchen for a little while, but eventually Robbie, Randy and Bob Pina broke out to form another band, "Rolls Hardly".  Robbie later returned to the West Coast for a time where he performed with Mickey Hart and Robert Hunter on their solo albums and played bass for a time with the Quicksilver Messenger Service,.. and so it goes
1. City - 3:53
2. Farm Bust Blues - 10:51
3. Earthfields - 9:34
4. (You've Got Your) Head On Right - 3:04
5. Dust My Blues (Elmore James, Robert Johnson) - 2:36
6. Cookin' - 3:47
7. Mellow Pot Blues (Buster Bennett) - 5:12
8. Mourning Glory - 4:45
All songs by Brett Champlin, Robbie Stokes, Bob Laughton, Steve Sweigart except where indicated

Devil's Kitchen 
*Brett Champlin - Rhythm Guitar, Bass, Vocals
*Bob Laughton - Bass, Slide Guitar, Vocals
*Robbie Stokes - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Steve Sweigart - Drums

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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Frumpy - By The Way (1972 germany, excellent heavy bluesy prog rock, Repertoire issue)

Frumpy - By the Way, the title track of their third album, released in 1972. Frumpy evolved out of a gospel/folk outfit called The City Preachers in Hamburg, Germany in early 1970. They were one of the many fantastic bands to emerge from the "Krautrock" scene that was blossoming at the time. 

Frumpy, though, were pretty unique, in that their music encompassed elements of folk, jazz, blues, progressive rock and classical music. Led by the dynamic Inga Rumpf ( vocals, acoustic guitar,songwriter extraordinaire), they also employed the services of Jean Jacques Kravetz, an excellent French keyboard player in the Keith Emerson mould. Bassist Karl-Heinz Schott and drummer Carsten Bohn completed the initial line-up, which was augmented by former Sphinx Tush guitarist Rainer Baumann from their second album, "Frumpy 2", onward. 

Their second album is widely felt to be their best album, with some elaborate and extensive instrumental work, guitar and keyboard duets. with classical and blues undertones. This album, " By the Way", showed that Frumpy could rock with the best. It is, without doubt, one of the best progessive rock albums of all time, and should occupy a space in the collection of any self respecting lover of progressive rock music. 

When Frumpy folded in 1972, Rumpf would go onto form "Atlantis" with Schott and Kravetz, together with drummer Curt Cress and guitarist Frank Diez. Frumpy reformed in the late eighties, and Inga Rumpf has become a successful blues and jazz singer. This lady has incredible talent and her songwriting ability always was one of her major strengths.
1. Goin' To The Country (Inga Rumpf) - 3:40
2. By The Way (Carsten Bohn, Inga Rumpf) - 8:51
3. Singing Songs (Inga Rumpf, Rainer Baumann) - 7:02
4. I'm Afraid Big Moon (Carsten Bohn, Inga Rumpf, Jean-Jacques Kravetz) - 6:25
5. Release (Carsten Bohn, Inga Rumpf) - 8:50
6. Keep On Going (Inga Rumpf) - 5:25

*Inga Rumpf - Vocals, Guitar
*Jean-Jacques Kravetz - Keyboards
*Karl Heinz Schott - Bass
*Carsten Bohn - Drums

1970  Frumpy - All Will Be Changed (2008 remaster with extra tracks)
1971  Frumpy - Frumpy II
Related Act
1972 Atlantis - Atlantis
1975  Atlantis - Live In The Fabrik (2008 remaster and expanded)

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Monday, September 16, 2019

Fleetwood Mac - Bare Trees (1972 uk / us, wonderful adult rock, 2013 SHM remaster)

In 1972, Fleetwood Mac's ‘Bare Trees’ was a marked improvement after the releases of "Kiln House" and "Future Games". In fact, several decades later, it still sounds decent.

With Danny Kirwan’s ‘Child Of Mine’ the album starts with best foot forward. Its uplifting mixture of California pop and guitar boogie is easily compared to Delaney & Bonnie, although with a tougher edge. As expected, McVie lays down a solid bassline, never flashy, and Kirwan and Welch indulge in top notch almost Allman Brothers style guitar interplay. Christine McVie’s organ work bubbles just under the surface. You have to ask why the band sounds so vibrant here, when on the preceding album exactly the same line-up sounded lost and tired? Maybe on ‘Future Games’ they’d not found their footing together…

Christine McVie takes the helm for ‘Homeward Bound’, a piano-led pop rock workout with punchy edges. It’s not quite got the finesse of her later songwriting, but here she proves that she’s more than a valuable addition to the band. Bob Welch turns in a great guitar solo, which at the end becomes twin lead with the addition of Kirwan. ‘Spare Me a Little of Your Love’ points further in the direction Christine’s writing would later take the band, with its almost perfect arrangement and plain emotion. ‘Sunny Side of Heaven’ is a gorgeous instrumental piece, with all members putting in top performances – particularly of note is Kirwan’s understated lead work. It would have been so easy for him to overstep the mark and play something flash, but he opts for lyrical soloing, creating a beautiful end result.

‘Bare Trees’ also features less immediate material. ‘Danny’s Chant’ features Kirwan in aggressive mode. At the beginning, he plays a spiky guitar riff through a wah-wah pedal leading into a groove with heavy accompaniment from the rhythm section. With hindsight, I wonder if he’d already begun to feel out of place in the band, with Welch’s material becoming stronger. ‘Dust’ features some nice vocal harmonies, but ultimately, the end result is slight.

‘The Ghost’ is softer, with its slightly jazzy tendencies. A strong chorus shows the potential behind Welch’s songwriting in a way that little of ‘Future Games’ ever did. I often hear an influence from Stephen Stills in Welch’s best work with Fleetwood and this is no exception. His other key number here, ‘Sentimental Lady’ (later re-recorded for his ‘French Kiss’ solo record), is little more than easy listening singer songwriter fare. The title cut offers mid-paced pop that’s fine, but now sounds like the most dated thing the album has to offer. Again, there’s some decent interplay between Welch and Kirwan, so at least it’s got that going for it.

The album closes with a home recording of an old lady reading her own poetry. Apparently Mrs. Scarrott lived near the band’s communal home. I’m not sure why they chose to include it – maybe it was just in keeping with the hippie spirit of the times…or maybe she kept making them jam.

Like most of the albums Fleetwood Mac recorded during the first half of the 70s, ‘Bare Trees’ could never be called classic in the traditional sense, but has more than enough to recommend it.
1. Child Of Mine (Danny Kirwan) - 5:26
2. The Ghost (Bob Welch) - 4:02
3. Homeward Bound (Christine McVie) - 3:22
4. Sunny Side Of Heaven (Danny Kirwan) - 3:12
5. Bare Trees (Danny Kirwan) - 5:03
6. Sentimental Lady (Bob Welch) - 4:34
7. Danny's Chant (Danny Kirwan) - 3:20
8. Spare Me A Little Of Your Love (Christine McVie) - 3:46
9. Dust (Danny Kirwan) - 2:42
10.Thoughts On A Grey Day (Mrs. Scarrott) - 1:46

Fleetwood Mac
*Danny Kirwan - Guitar, Vocals
*Bob Welch - Guitar, Vocals
*Christine McVie - Keyboards, Vocals
*John McVie - Bass Guitar
*Mick Fleetwood - Drums, Percussion

1967-71  Live At The BBC
1968-70  Show Biz Blues
1968-70  Fleetwood Mac - The Vaudeville Years (two disc set)
1968-71  The Best Of Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac
1969  Shrine '69
1969  Then Play On  (Deluxe Expanded 2013 edition) 
1970  Fleetwood Mac - Kiln House (2013 SHM remaster) 

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Sunday, September 15, 2019

High Tide - Sea Shanties (1969 uk, stunning heavy fuzz psych prog space rock, 2006 remaster and expanded)

What would The Doors have sounded like had they included lead violin and fuzzed out guitars with their organ driven brand of psychedelic rock and roll? Perhaps something like High Tide, a very interesting band from the late 60's/early 70's UK proto-prog scene. The band was part of the Clearwater Management stable of bands that also included Hawkwind, Skin Alley, and Cochise, and their debut album Sea Shanties was on the Liberty/United Artists label. Made up of Tony Hill (guitar/vocals/keyboards), Simon House (violin/keyboards), Peter Pavli (bass) and Roger Hadden (drums), these four musicians mustered together some powerful sounds here on their debut, complete with plenty of bone crunching and doomy guitar riffs, wah-wah solos, soaring violin flights, raging organ, pounding drums, and a Jim Morrison-influenced vocal attack. Much of the music is pretty heavy for the time, with lots of wild and intricate jamming going on between the guitar and violin, which can certainly be heard to full effect on the mind-blowing frenzy of the instrumental "Death Warmed Up", a real scorcher featuring savage, distorted guitar and violin solos. 

Their classic "Futilist's Lament" is a real driving hard rock/early prog number, with catchy riffs, swirling organ, melodic violin, and passionate vocals. "Pushed, But Not Forgotten" sounds like a strange marriage of The Doors and Led Zeppelin, with creepy organ, powerful vocals, and plenty of Jimmy Page styled wah-wah guitar flourishes ("Dazed and Confused" anyone?), not to mention some whispy violin. After the bruising hard rock of "Walking Down the Outlook", which also features a killer violin solo from House, the band launches into the unique sounding "Missing Out", a near 10-minute mix of doom and jazzy hoedown themes. You want scorching guitar riffs, sizzling violin, and haunting vocals-well, this one has it all.

The regular part of the album ends with the rocking "Nowhere", a song with dizzying guitar & violin interplay, but the intense fuzz guitar sound that Hill gets on this one is what is so attractive about this proggy track. The bonus material presented here is pretty neat, mostly demo and unusued studio recordings worked on before the finished album. Of these, the extended jams of "The Great Universal Protection Racket", the crunchy rocker "Dilemma", and the driving mix of prog and heavy rock of "Time Gauges" perfectly complement the album.

High Tide only recorded one more album after this one, and by 1971 had ceased to exist. Simon House joined Third Ear Band and then Hawkwind, before joining up with David Bowie for a few years, while drummer Peter Pavli collaborated with sci-fi author Michael Moorcock in his band Deep Fix as well as working with Hawkwind's Robert Calvert. Tony Hill resurrected High Tide briefly in the early 90's, but today keeps most of attention centered on his own band Tony Hill's Fiction. For the most part, the music of High Tide was buried deep in the vaults until now, but thanks to Eclectic Discs these raw & powerful recordings can be enjoyed by lovers of the early 70's proto-prog and hard rock scene. 
by Pete Pardo
1. Futilist's Lament - 5:17
2. Death Warmed Up - 9:08
3. Pushed, But Not Forgotten - 4:43
4. Walking Down Their Outlook - 4:58
5. Missing Out - 9:38
6. Nowhere (Roger Hadden, Simon House) - 5:54
7. The Great Universal Protection Racket - 11:24
8. Dilemma - 5:14
9. Death Warmed Up (Demo) - 7:35
10.Pushed, But Not Forgotten (Demo) - 4:01
11.Time Gauges - 6:24
All tracks by Tony Hill except where stated

High Tide
*Roger Hadden - Drums
*Tony Hill - Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Simon House - Violin, Organ
*Peter Pavli - Bass

1970  High Tide - High Tide (2010 bonus tracks edition) 
1970  High Tide - Precious Cargo
Related Act
1965-66  The Misunderstood - Before The Dream Faded

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Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Ant Trip Ceremony - 24 Hours (1968 us, fantastic psych rock, 40th anniversary edition and 1995 Vinyl reissue)

How did such a wonderfully strange name such as Ant Trip Ceremony come  about?  The band's name came from Steve DeTray.  He entered Oberlin College in Ohio in 1964 but took a hiatus from college in 1966 and part of 1967.  He went to stay with his brother in Logan, Utah.  There Steve  formed a band and needed a name.  By chance he mentioned it to an  English professor at the nearby University in early 1967.

The professor suggested a phrase, "ant trip ceremony",  from an American novel  whose  title Steve can't recall. The author described modern   societal life as an ant trip ceremony.  Steve thought it spoke to the alienation felt by many of the younger generation in 1967, and the name stuck.  So in essence there were two different groups with the name Ant Trip  Ceremony.  The first one Steve formed in Utah in early 1967 and then the second one which he formed at Oberlin in the fall of 1967.

Steve left Utah in the summer of 1967 and headed back for a tour of  duty at Oberlin College.  The band he had in Utah had broken up and  Steve wanted to put together another band at Oberlin. Steve put out the word that he wanted to form an electric rock and roll band.  Gary Rosen was playing in a blues band with George Galt and Mark Stein. Stein, a multi-talented instrumentalist, was a flute major at the Oberlin Conservatory.  Roger Goodman was a brilliant keyboard player,  but refused to play it while in Ant Trip Ceremony and only wanted to sing. All the members for the new band were from Oberlin with the exception of  Jeff Williams who was a local sixteen year old up and coming jazz musician.

The Ant Trip Ceremony album was recorded during two sessions. the first session was in  February of 1968  in a rented hall at Oberlin.  Steve  was there for the first sessions but had left Oberlin by the spring of 1968 and was not present for the second recording session. The album was called "Twenty Four Hours"because that was the feeling behind the sessions(ie.that it took what seemed like twenty four hours to record). The machinery used for the recordings was primitive.

 The band used a KLH tape deck for playback and a two track Roberts reel to reel for recording.  When they wanted to  multitrack they would record on one side of the tape and then record  on the other side as well. Then they would  mix it down to the KLH. The reason the album sounds somewhat  imbalanced  is  because the KLH had one faulty speaker and thus the speaker balance leaned  heavily to the left. This ended up affecting the final mix-down.

How were the songs chosen for the album?  The band  felt ready to record their original songs.  These were performed live before student  audiences. During live shows, the band was wild, but  sadly no live tapes exist.  Thus the original songs done on the album when performed live were more psychedelic and improvised.  Where did the band play live?  Mostly at Oberlin and at off campus parties.  The band was known for getting into strange and long jams.  Furthermore no song was ever done twice exactly the same.

They were, in some ways like the Grateful Dead of the region. When the band played it was a happening, a genuine psychedelic event.  Shows went on for hours, with the audience in a wide variety of states of consciousness. Three hundred copies of the album were pressed and one hundred were sold  for $3.00 each!!  The album's expenses was shared equally by the band members. The artwork and production was done at Oberlin for free. Why was the album done? Steve was leaving Oberlin, and the band wanted to capture some of the magic they had collectively created anything could happen in those days, that there were no limits.

The producer of the album was David Crosby, an Oberlin student and good friend of the band who was very much into music production and sounds.  Sadly, he passed away during the making of this reissue and will be missed greatly.  The artwork for the album was of its time with  psychedelicmindzapping art work.  It was without a doubt a counterculture statement!!          

What are the songs about?  "Elaborations"a great  example of Steve's development of the Indian Raga form, with his guitar tuned to get a sitar sound. He had also been to Berkeley in the summer of 1967 and was  wowed by bands such as The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and  Quicksilver.  " Pale Shades Of Gray".words were written by Steve's  first wife, with some Procol Harum  influence, is about the pain of alienation. "River Dawn" George wrote this song about    escaping the restrictions of campus life by sitting on the banks of the Ohio River when the sun was coming up. "Locomotive Lamp"- Gary’s first song as a singer-songwriter.

It was a forerunner to the Grateful Dead’s train/drug imagery. “Little Baby” a blues cover song that was done by Gary and George's blues band before Ant Trip Ceremony.  “ Violets Of Dawn” the band members were fans of Eric Anderson and covered the song, that was also done by the great Northwest group, The Daily Flash. “ Hey Joe” the band loved Jimi Hendrix (of course) and did this cover version in his honor. “Four In The Morning” a weird but strangely ethereal song that bears a striking similarity to “Hey Joe” with its despondency and desperateness.

 “Outskirts- A song about alienation, has words by Oberlin poet, Sandy Lyne and music by pianist, Neal Evans. “What the matter now” written by George's friend , Jack Lee.  Lee used to play with Mother Earth. George got the tune from Jeff and added  different words to it.  “Get Out Of My Life Woman”-a then popular cover song that west coast bands such as “The Doors” were performing.

“What’s The Matter Now”-a lovely psychedelic number that predates the background vocal effect John and Yoko were doing in 1969 and 1970. “Sometimes I Wonder”- no available comments on this blues flavored melody.
1. Locomotive Lamp (Gary Rosen) - 3:50
2. What's The Matter Now (George Galt, Jack Lee) - 2:45
3. Violets Of Dawn (Eric Anderson) - 4:34
4. Riverdawn (George Galt) - 3:38
5. Hey Joe (Billy Roberts) - 4:20
6. Outskirts (Sandy Lyne, Neal Evans) - 1:39
7. Little Baby (Willie Dixon) - 3:03
8. Get Out Of My Life (Alain Toussaint) - 3:05
9. Four In The Morning (George C. Remaille) - 4:30
10.Sometimes I Wonder (Major Lance) - 3:53
11.Pale Shades Of Gray (Steve Detray, Jo Detray, Roger Goodman) - 4:30
12.Elaborations (Steve DeTray) - 7:20

The Ant Trip Ceremony
*Steve DeTray - Guitar
*George Galt - Bass, Harmonica, Harp, Rhythm, Vocals
*Gary Rosen - Bass, Rhythm, Vocals
*Mark Stein - Bass, Flute, Guitar
*Jeff Williams - Drums

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Stepson - Stepson (1974 us, solid rough bluesy rock, 2010 remaster)

Portland's Stepson were a sweatdrenched bluesy hard rock act that rose from the ashes of defunct area band, Touch. Their sole album was released on ABC/Dunhill Records in 1974, though the band were essentially a studio creation. Despite the fact that the band never toured in support of this amazing album, over the years the word has gotten out about this incredible album and the band enjoys cult success among collectors and obscurity geeks.

Though the album doesn't reinvent the wheel, it is a fine example of Detroit style hard rock with a healthy dose of punk attitude. Easily one of the best example of "cock rock" to come along at such an early stage of the genre's existence, Stepson deserve recognition for their meager contribution to rock music. After the band's efforts to record a followup were snuffed out, several members went on to later work for Elektra Records. Others went on to do session work for notably fluffier artists like Carole King, James Taylor and Shaun Cassidy.
1. Rule In The Book (Len Fagan, Bruce Hauser, Jeffrey Hawks, Joey Newman) - 3:21
2. Lil' Bit (Len Fagan) - 4:04
3. Rude Attitude (Carl D'Errico, Roger Atkins) - 3:26
4. It's My Life (Gerry Goffin, Carole King) - 3:04
5. I Apologize (Len Fagan, Bruce Hauser, Jeffrey Hawks, Joey Newman) - 5:38
6. Suffer (Jeffrey Hawks, Joey Newman) - 4:43
7. Back To 'Bama (Len Fagan, Bruce Hauser, Jeffrey Hawks, Joey Newman) - 2:35
8. Man, I'm A Fool (Jeffrey Hawks, Joey Newman, Bruce Hauser) - 4:31
9. Turnpike (Bruce Hauser, Goldsmith) - 2:42
10.Burnin' Hurt (Len Fagan, Bruce Hauser, Jeffrey Hawks, Joey Newman) - 4:38

*Len Fagan - Drums
*Bruce Hauser - Bass
*Jeffrey Hawks - Vocals
*Vern Kjellberg (aka Joey Newman) - Guitar
*Jeff Simmons - Harp
*Jimmy Greenspoon - Organ

Related Acts
1968-73  Touch - Touch (2012 remaster and expanded) 
1970  Blue Mountain Eagle - Blue Mountain Eagle (2012 remaster and expanded) 

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Monday, September 9, 2019

Mountain ‎- Setlist The Very Best Of Mountain Live (1969-73 us, stunning bluesy hard rock, 2011 release)

Mountain were a thundering live band, channeling Cream through a kind of American heavy metal blender, and at the group's peak between 1969 and 1971, with the classic trio lineup of Leslie West on guitar, Felix Pappalardi on bass, and Corky Laing on drums, they were as good as any hard rock band anywhere. This set collects several live tracks from that period, including two songs Mountain did at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 (with N.D. Smart on drums -- Laing replaced him in the band soon after), "Long Red" and "Waiting to Take You Away," a version of "Nantucket Sleighride" from a New Year's Eve show at the Fillmore East in 1970, and a rendition of their biggest hit, "Mississippi Queen," from a show at the Fillmore East in the spring of 1971, all powerful live tracks from a band in its touring prime. 
by Steve Leggett
1. Long Red (Norman Landsberg, John Ventura, Felix Papalardi, Leslie West) - 5:43
2. Waiting To Take You Away (Leslie West) - 4:39
3. Crossroader (Felix Papalardi, Gail Collins) - 6:01
4. Blood Of The Sun (Gail Collins, Felix Papalardi, Leslie West) - 2:58
5. Theme For An Imaginary Western (Pete Brown, Jack Bruce) - 4:50
6. Roll Over Beethoven (Chuck Berry) - 2:23
7. Baby, I'm Down (Gail Collins, Felix Pappalardi) - 8:20
8. For Yasgur's Farm (Gail Collins, Felix Pappalardi, George Gardos, Corky Laing, David Rea. Gary Ship) - 4:19
9. Nantucket Sleighride (Gail Collins, Felix Pappalardi) - 5:57
10.Guitar Solo (Leslie West) - 2:18
11.Silver Paper (Gail Collins, George Gardos, Corky Laing, Steve Knight, Leslie West, Felix Papalardi) - 7:39
12.Mississippi Queen (Corky Laing, Felix Pappalardi, David Rea, Leslie West) - 6:10

Felix Pappalardi - Bass, Vocals
Leslie West - Guitar, Vocals
Corky Laing - Drums (Tracks 1-3, 7-12)
Steve Knight - Organ (Tracks 1-3, 7-12)
David Perry - Rhythm Guitar (Tracks 1-3)
Norman D. Smart - Drums (Tracks 1-3)
Bob Mann - Guitar, Keyboards (Tracks 4-6)
Allan Schwartzberg - Drums (Tracks 4-6)

Related Acts
1965-68  Vagrants - I Can't Make a Friend (2011 remaster) 
1969  Leslie West - Mountain (Japanese edition) 
1973  Back Door - 8th Street Nites
1976  The (Blues) Creation With Felix Pappalardi - Live At Budokan (rare double disc japan issue) 

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Saturday, September 7, 2019

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Live At Woodstock (1969 us, amazing classic rock with country shades, 2019 remaster)

Creedence Clearwater Revival's entire performance at Woodstock finally released 50 years after the band played at the legendary music festival.

Live at Woodstock includes all 11 songs from CCR's set on Aug. 16, 1969. In addition to band classics like "Green River" and "Proud Mary," the album includes covers of Wilson Pickett's "Ninety-Nine and a Half (Won’t Do)" and Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You."

Creedence were scheduled to perform on Saturday night of the festival, following the Grateful Dead's set. But Woodstock almost immediately lost any hope of following a schedule, so they were pushed back. The Dead's longer-than-expected show sent CCR's appearance back even further, and they didn't end up onstage until after midnight.

They refused to allow their set to appear in the hit 1970 movie or the No. 1 soundtrack. Three songs eventually appeared on 2009's Woodstock 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur's Farm box set: "Green River," "Bad Moon Rising" and "I Put a Spell on You." The upcoming album marks the first time their historic show has been released in full.

Creedence Clearwater Revival had just released the second of the three albums they put out in 1969. Their second LP, Bayou Country, was released in January. Green River came out just a few weeks before their Woodstock performance. Willy and the Poor Boys followed in November.
by Michael Gallucci, June 11, 2019
1. Born On The Bayou - 5:34
2. Green River - 3:16
3. Ninety Nine And A Half (Won’t Do) (Steve Cropper, Eddie Floyd, Wilson Pickett) - 4:46
4. Bootleg - 3:38
5. Commotion - 2:48
6. Bad Moon Rising - 2:13
7. Proud Mary - 3:52
8. I Put A Spell On You (Jay Hawkins And Herb Slotkin) - 4:28
9. The Night Time Is The Right Time (Lew Herman) - 3:30
10.Keep On Chooglin’ - 10:29
11.Suzie Q (Eleanor Broadwater, Robert Chaisson, Dale Hawkins, And Stan Lewis) - 10:52
All songs by John Fogerty except where stated

Creedence Clearwater Revival
*John Fogerty – Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, Piano
*Doug Clifford – Drums
*Tom Fogerty – Guitar, Vocals
*Stu Cook – Bass Guitar

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Friday, September 6, 2019

Bakerloo - Bakerloo (1969 uk, splendid heavy prog blues rock, 2013 bonus tracks remaster)

Nowadays one of the secondary, supplementary pleasures of music listening can be the background genealogy of those involved. The trail usually goes two ways: a forgotten or legendary one-off debut album, whereby context becomes archaeology rather than tracing current and ancestral lines; or else going on to form or augment more famous bands later known worldwide. A rare confluence of all these factors finds us in the territory of Bakerloo, a name which had as little to do with London’s public transport as their sole album’s distinctive cover image. 

Their initial moniker was neat word-play: The Bakerloo Blues Line, formed in England’s West Midlands in early 1968 by David ‘Clem’ Clempson (guitar, piano/harpsichord, harmonica, vocals) and Terry Poole (bass, vocals), a graphic artist who handled their promo material. In the wake of Cream, they searched long for a drummer adept in different styles to complete a power trio, coming up trumps with the aptly-named Keith Baker. Their local area was a hotbed for up and coming bands that also saw young liggers like Robert Plant, John Bonham, Spencer Davis, Cozy Powell, The Move, Medicine Head, and Black Sabbath. Indeed, the Sabs in their first incarnation as Earth shared the same agency as Bakerloo, and later label-mates Tea & Symphony, so often gigged together and more; Bill Ward filled-in on drums a couple of times for the ’loo. 

In the spirit of those times Bakerloo, with the later Black Sabbath manager Jim Simpson, started their own club. The legendary Henry’s Blueshouse (1968-1973) was located in the upstairs function room of the Crown Hotel (actually a pub) surrounded by music shops in central Birmingham. Bakerloo were the first headliners (supported by Earth) to open the venue that soon became famous for Tuesday jam sessions with Rory Gallagher, Zepp and many others and, like the Mothers club in nearby Erdington, featured touring blues legends like Arthur Big Boy Crudup, J.B.Hutto, Gary Davis, and Son House (supported by Stackwaddy!).  

In September 1968 Bakerloo played London’s Roundhouse with the Small Faces, Barclay James Harvest and The Action, followed the next month as support at the famous Marquee for the debut of Led Zeppelin, a little-known band that saw fit to modestly advertise themselves as ‘The New Yardbirds’. Bakerloo played it so often as to be almost residents while crashing with local friends, including support for the last appearance there of Jethro Tull before headlining in their own right soon after. John Peel heard them at Mothers and put them on his Top Gear show (with the Bonzo Dog Band) that same October. There is a bootleg in existence which may be this BBC recording, featuring four songs later on their album. They reappeared on the BBC in January 1969 (with Alexis Korner) and for two songs on Top Gear the next month, perhaps a repeat of their debut appearance. Their first airing led to nationwide gigs throughout the next year and what seems their only foray abroad, a concert in Belgium for the princely fee of £100. Back in Brum they were seen by Tony Hall of EMI and became one of the first signings to its new prog label.

That same summer a single was released: Drivin’ Bachwards (an arrangement of Bach’s Bourrée In E Minor, soon adapted also on Jethro Tull’s second album) coupled with the non-album Once Upon A Time (HAR 5004). An unknown session drummer was used as Keith Baker had yet to join, and this is when their name was shortened to Bakerloo. There is some dispute, however, if the 45 even saw the light of day. An expert dealers’ forum has never seen one—certainly the exhaustive popsike website has no appearance—although a test pressing exists, once owned by Harvest label manager Malcolm Jones. Was it held back by the label awaiting the album then overlooked as the label gained momentum?

The self-titled album of seven tracks appeared as a gatefold in December 1969 on Harvest (SHVL 762) with band photos on the inner sleeves. Terry Poole kindly informed me that his cover design features a mining accident in the transalpine tunnel during the 1880s. The recording was one of the first produced by Gus Dudgeon (he’d engineered John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Zombies prior) before later fame with Bowie’s Space Oddity and the first LPs of Elton John and Michael Chapman. Recorded round the corner from the Marquee at Trident Studios, it what was their live set nailed in two or three takes (except, ironically, for the shortest track Drivin’ Bachwards) in just a few days—unsurprisingly as the studio cost £30 per hour, at a time when the Marquee paid exactly half that and many bands were on retainers of a fiver a week. They even squeezed sessions in-between gigs the same day. In spite of being featured on Harvest’s double sampler Picnic (This Worried Feeling) it has become one of the rarest vinyls of the Harvest catalogue. Unlike for smaller labels—the only way to get Incredible Hog’s album on Dart was to hotfoot it to Haymarket and buy in the label’s office I recall—the platter was in the shops but eluded sales. Incredibly, however, the line-up had already split by the time the album hit the shelves.

Now Esoteric/Cherry Red has digitally remastered it plus five bonus tracks. The sound is loud, sharp and full of body, each instrument in its own space for a listening delight. A jazzy fast-chord instrumental opens, Big Bear Ffolly named after their agency’s first tour, which appropriately leads into a tasty Willie Dixon standard of the 60s, Bring It On Home, mid-paced with understated mouth harp in the spirit of early Canned Heat. Driving Bachwards, the aforementioned take on Bach, is a harpsichord-led instrumental very much ’69 or an electric Amazing Blondel, with the lone guest Jerry Salisbury on trumpet. The pace drops for Last Blues, funereal-paced bass morphs into a Cream-like power trio blast with guitar effects and solo, before returning via shimmering cymbals to the original melody with wind effect. Laden with metaphors (“Take me to the train”…), its dark atmosphere clings like a coroner’s wet-suit beside a foggy lake. Imagine the Wuthering Heights’ moor round an old graveyard and you’re there.

The unfortunately titled Gang Bang closed side one, like the opener with a nod to jazz inflections overlaid by guitar solo. This group composition—no doubt the real intent of the title—showcases each musician, especially drummer Keith Baker’s rhythm patterns as pounding as those of his namesake Ginger. Surely one of the least boring drum solos on record: close your eyes and you’re on the Victorian loco rattling through the tunnel en route to the Crystal Palace. This Worried Feeling opens with a Peter Green ‘lonely style’ Fleetwood Mac blues but stays closer to the four-bar like Savoy Brown. The stronger vocals here are underpinned with bar-room piano, building up to some blistering guitar. The bonus of this drops the guitar intro in favour of piano which is more prominent in a variant, shorter take that’s still finished and interesting.  

The album closes with a track that is impossible to avoid superlatives about. Extending to almost 15 minutes, Son Of Moonshine flies by like a single due to sheer energy and inventiveness. This is one helluva beast of a track, with enough horse-power to chuff a Genghis Khan who up to that point only had the heaviest Groundhogs on his walkman fed through a bank of pillaged cabinets. It is ’Hogs plus Mayblitz (live) or a tighter, heavier Mighty Baby jam. A total experience; live, you would have had to crawl out of the venue on your hands and knees afterwards—and forget to ask why the venue omitted to have a booze licence.

Its riffing, feedback opening, abrasive as asbestos, opens outs into a thumping fuzz-driven beat with more guitar styles and licks than a heaving music shop could cater for. The lyrics aren’t bad either, full of pithy wisdom, but bejeezus it’s darn hard to remember to listen out for them while such chords and rhythms are being committed to posterity. It is one of the greatest tracks of the period if you like driving, let-it-rip rock, a youth-filled bash that sums up the era, an Uncle Harry’s Freakout linking the Grove with Brum as if the M1 had never been built.

The bonus of this (Son Of Moonshine Part One) is a genuine alternate take, slightly less fuzzed but still an energetic nine minutes without the album’s post-blitz closing segment or vocals. The b-side of their only single, Once Upon A Time, is a swirling guitar example of the last flourishing of psych as we now know it in a paean to lost love. The three new bonuses are completed by the sore-thumb (Hoagie Carmichael’s Georgia) and a rumbling first take of Train, a hardy perennial subject back then that has some tasty bottle-neck slide. With 15 minutes plus of new bonuses, added to the two prior released 9 minutes, this issue is a 71 minute treat from start to finish. 

The influences span genres: blues, hard rock, psych, jazz and progressive including classical elements for an experience rare as tunnel cleaners on the transport system of their name. There is no bloody gap to mind. Clearly the trio, versatile without being flashy, saw Bakerloo as a showcase for instrumental prowess and audiences lucky enough to catch them on the circuit during that brief 18 months. Reviewers compare them to Alvin Lee’s Ten Years After, Cream, Blue Cheer, Canned Heat, Juicy Lucy and Blodwyn Pig, but Bakerloo is a sticky amalgam of these great bands fired by the energetic joie de musique of stand-alone albums like Quatermass, T2 or Hackensack. One immediate post-album killer line-up featured Clem (a nickname from schooldays, he doesn’t like the name Dave) with Cozy Powell and Dave Pegg before they left for other name bands after one gig, while a later more jazzy 5-piece incarnation morphed into a renamed Hannibal (Chrysalis Records) but without any Bakerloo founder members.

It’s said that the original split was because Terry Poole wanted to move to London but not Clem. Bakerloo was their vinyl debuts, reproducing their stage sound with added keys: Clem studied piano at the Royal School of Music from an early age before taking up the guitar under the influence of blues and early  rock ‘n’ roll. Incredibly, he has never released a solo album. Initially he left to form Colosseum, while Poole and Baker formed Mayblitz but again left before the Vertigo albums. The clear origins of the sound of that cult band appear on Bakerloo. And here the genealogy takes off, as the trio’s members went their own ways to Humble Pie, Graham Bond, Vinegar Joe, Judas Priest, Supertramp, Running Man and Uriah Heep—to name but a few! After more than ably replacing Peter Frampton, Clem worked in the 80s and 90s with Cozy Powell, Jack Bruce, Snafu, Rough Diamond, Ken Hensley, Jon Anderson, Bob Dylan and Chris De Burgh. After soon becoming Supertramp’s first drummer then Uriah Heep’s tubman for their second album but declining to tour, Keith Baker has worked as an in-demand sessionman. Terry Poole has had an equally glittering career as one of the best bassists in the business.

The founders are all still rightly proud of an album that has had laudatory reviews from day one for forty five years. It could have been the making of a major 70s band, rather than the safe-as-rock stepping stone it became. A more accomplished, confident debut could not exist; it would have to share the same plateau. Of course most debuts usually have their fair share of ideas—or should have—but here there is a consistent effort to add their own stamp to the event. Initially released on CD by Repertoire in 2000, with two bonus tracks, and then in 2013 on Belle (Japan) in mini cardboard sleeve, this Esoteric recording via Cherry Red in remastered glory is now definitive in concert-live sound like their recent issue of Quatermass. Even hoarders of the rare vinyl should check out its sound quality. No, not a lost gem, it has never gone missing and remains one of the cornerstones of heavy progressive rock without need of hype. Because it’s a masterpiece.
by Brian R. Banks, 2014
1. Big Bear Ffolly - 3:57
2. Bring It On Home (Willie Dixon) - 4:18

3. Drivin' Bachwards (Johann Sebastian Bach) - 2:08
4. Last Blues - 7:07
5. Gang Bang (Clem Clempson, Terry Poole, Keith Baker) - 6:18
6. This Worried Feeling - 7:06
7. Son Of Moonshine - 14:58
8. Once Upon A Time - 3:39
9. This Worried Feeling (Alternative Take) - 5:46
10.Georgia (Hoagie Carmichael, Stuart Gorrell) - 4:04
11.Train - 2:54
12.Son Of Moonshine Part One (Alternate Take) - 8:46
All songs by  Clem Clempson, Terry Poole except where indicated

*Dave 'Clem' Clempson - Guitars, Piano, Harpsichord, Harmonica, Vocals
*Terry Poole - Bass Guitar
*Keith Baker - Drums
*Jerry Salisbury - Trumpet

Related Acts
1967-69  Ruperts People - Magic World Of Rupert's People (2001 Circle limited edition) 
1970  Colosseum - Daughter Of Time (2004 remaster with bonus track)
1971  Colosseum - Colosseum Live (2016 double disc set remaster)
1972  Humble Pie - Smokin' ((1972 uk, great classic rock, 2007 japan remaster)
1973  Humble Pie - In Concert / King Biscuit Flower Hour
1974  Humble Pie - Thunderbox (2011 japan SHM remaster)
1975  Humble Pie - Street Rats (2016 japan SHM remaster with extra tracks)

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Beggars Opera - Nimbus The Vertigo Years Anthology (1970-73 uk, remarkable heavy prog rock, 2012 double disc remaster)

This splendid anthology from the classically-infused progressive rock band from Glasgow that initially coalesced in 1969, includes everything from their first three releases – 'Act One', 'Waters Of Change' and 'Pathfinder' as well as two early non-album tracks, plus four from their fourth album 'Get Your Dog Off Me'. Beggars Opera have gone on to release (I think) a further eleven studio albums, most of these following the reactivation of the band by the husband and wife pairing Ricky Gardiner and Virginia Scott along with their drummer son Tom Gardiner: the most recent being last year's 'Mrs Caligari's Lighter'.

But I'm jumping ahead! This very welcome anthology documents something of a Reggie Perrin type scenario, with a band reaching their pinnacle but then losing some of their sheen as personnel changes cause a lack of creative focus. All five of the tracks on the debut album are included and show a band already very much into their creative stride, with Alan Park's signature organ sound redolent of The Nice and – especially in the epic pairing 'Raymond's Road' and 'Light Cavalry' – extensive musical quotes from classical sources including Mozart, Greig and Bach on the former, while the latter is adapted from a piece by Austrian composer Suppé. You'll recognise it!!

'Waters...' is quite different as Mellotron-player Virginia Scott turned the band into a sextet! This time all nine songs were written by the band, and focused on dual organ/mellotron keyboardery to produce wonderful symphonic landscapes. The song writing was also top drawer, and melodic rock has rarely sounded better than on tracks such as 'I've No Idea', 'Festival' and the utterly pomptastic pair of 'Time Machine' and 'Silver Peacock'.

'Pathfinder' still finds the band mainly on top of its game, although Virginia Scott does not feature other than on a couple of co-writing credits (Park seemingly having mastered the Mellotron!) It's perhaps their most cohesive offering even though the highlight ('Macarthur Park') is not an original composition and it also takes a further step away from the symphonic focus of the first two albums. In many ways, however, it is more progressive and the wonderful instrumental 'From Shark To Haggis' introduces bagpipes to the instrumentation used by the band!

By the time 'Get Your Dog Off Me' appeared, drummer Raymond Wilson had gone but more importantly vocalist Martin Griffiths had departed. Ex-Writing On The Wall front man Linnie Paterson was then in place, and his stylings were very different from those of Griffiths. The band's focus on this album had become rather disjointed and fuzzy as will be judged from the four tracks included here. None of these are poor, and indeed keyboardist Alan Park's arrangement of 'Classical Gas', the hit instrumental for Mason Williams in 1970 is particularly inspired.

This anthology is due testament to a band that whilst failing to achieve any sort of commercial consistency, managed to bequeath some remarkable and even inspirational music across the albums documented here.
by Paul Jerome Smith
Disc 1
From The Album "Act One" 1970
1. Poet And Peasant (Franz von Suppé, Arranged By Beggars Opera) - 7:13
2. Passacaglia (Marshall Erskine, Virginia Scott) - 7:07
3. Memory (Marshall Erskine, Virginia Scott) - 3:59
4. Raymond's Road (Martin Griffiths, Marshall Erskine, Ricky Gardiner, Alan Park, Raymond Wilson) - 11:56
5. Light Cavalry (Franz von Suppé, Arranged By Beggars Opera) - 11:56
Single 1971
6. Sarabande (Martin Griffiths, Marshall Erskine, Ricky Gardiner, Alan Park, Raymond Wilson) - 3:33 
7. Think (Alan Park, Martin Griffiths) - 4:27
From The Album "Waters Of Change" 1971
8. Time Machine (Alan Park, Martin Griffiths, Ricky Gardiner) - 8:09
9. Lament (Alan Park, Raymond Wilson) - 1:51
10.I've No Idea (Alan Park, Martin Griffiths) - 7:43
11.Nimbus (Gordon Sellar, Martin Griffiths, Ricky Gardiner) - 3:35
Disc 2
From The Album "Waters Of Change" 1971
1. Festival (Alan Park, Marshall Erskine, Martin Griffiths) - 5:58
2. Silver Peacock Introduction (Alan Park, Martin Griffiths, Virginia Scott) - 0:23 
3. Silver Peacock (Alan Park, Martin Griffiths, Virginia Scott) - 6:32
4. Impromptu (Ricky Gardiner, Virginia Scott) - 1:18
5. The Fox (Martin Griffiths, Ricky Gardiner, Virginia Scott) - 6:47
From The Album "Pathfinder" 1972 
6. Hobo (Alan Park) - 4:26
7. MacArthur Park (Jimmy Webb) - 8:20
8. The Witch (Ricky Gardiner, Virginia Scott) - 6:03
9. Pathfinder (Ricky Gardiner) - 3:46
10.From Shark To Haggis (Ricky Gardiner, Virginia Scott) - 6:43
11.Stretcher (Ricky Gardiner) - 4:52
12.Madame Doubtfire (Alexander McFreddries, Martin Griffiths, Ricky Gardiner) - 4:20
From The Album "Get Your Dog Off Me" 1973
13.Turn Your Money Green (Alan Park, Barry Ainsworth) - 4:09
14.Working Man (Barry Ainsworth, Gordon Sellar) - 4:33
15.Requiem (Ricky Gardiner) - 2:17
16.Classical Gas (Mason Williams) - 4:34
Beggars Opera 
*Martin Griffiths - Vocals
*Alan Park - Organ
*Raymond Wilson - Drums
*Ricky Gardiner - Lead Guitar
*Marshal Erksine - Bass Guitar (Disc 1 Tracks 1-7)
*Virginia Scott - Mellotron, Vocals (Disc 1 Tracks 8-5 Disc 2)
*Gordon Sellar - Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals (Disc 1 Tracks 8-16 Disc 2)
*Colin Fairlie - Drums, Percussion, Vocals (Disc 2 Tracks 13-16)
*Linnie Paterson - Lead Vocals (Disc 2 Tracks 13-16)

1971  Beggars Opera - Waters Of Change (2006 Repertoire digi pack edition) 

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Monday, August 26, 2019

Aunt Mary - Loaded (1972 norway, stunning organ drivin' heavy rock, 2002 remaster and expanded)

In the summer of ’71 Deep Purple played in Odense, Denmark. And as usual when big names visited the town, Aunt Mary was asked to support. The band performed so well that they were called back for encores. That was not very popular with Deep Purple. It didn’t help much that the audience went ballistic as Aunt Mary started playing Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love. 

Rumours had it that Aunt Mary played in circles around Deep Purple that night. In a later interview, Ritchie Blackmore allegedly should have referred to Bjørn Kristiansen: «A Norwegian guitar player in Denmark. He is one of the few good guitarists I have met. And if anyone should take over the throne (as guitar king), it should be him.» Neither Bjørn nor the other aunts can confirm the truth of this, as they haven never seen the interview.

That same summer Aunt Mary toured with Jethro Tull for three days. The tour opened in Copenhagen, where Ketil Stensvik played a drum solo so popular with the audience that the band were forbidden to play encores. The summer continued with two concerts with Rory Gallagher, one with Ten Years After and two with Muddy Waters.

Johnny Reimar approached the band with an idea: What if the band made a rock version of Marvin Gayes’ "Abraham, Martin and John" and replaced the names with the recently departed Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Brian Jones? The single became a huge hit, but was refused airtime in Britain by BBC on account of the song characters’ association to drugs. Regardless of the single’s success, the band never saw any money from it.

On May 1972, a new single was recorded in Norway: "Rosalind". On the B-side was the band’s version of Edvard Grieg’s "In the Hall of the Mountain King". This turned out to be the end of this line-up. Organ player and lead vocalist Jan Groth was an active Christian and had found the music and the lifestyle increasingly difficult to combine with his belief. Thus, he decided to leave the band to pursue a solo career as a Christian artist in Denmark.

With Jan leaving, the band no longer saw the need to stay in Denmark, and relocated to their home town Fredrikstad, Norway. They found a brilliant keyboard player, Bengt Jenssen, almost in the neighborhood, and decided that Bjørn should be the bands new lead singer. September 1972 New album "Loaded" produced by Johnny Sareussen in the famous Rosenborg Studio in Oslo, Norway, "Loaded" showed a much heavier version of the band.  It performed very well for an album in that genre and became a huge hit among the fans.
1. Playthings Of The Wind (Bjoern Christiansen) - 2:59
2. Joinin' The Crowd (Bjoern Christiansen, Svein Gundersen) - 3:43 
3. Delight (Bjoern Christiansen, Kjetil Stensvik, Svein Gundersen) - 2:50 
4. Upside Down (Bjoern Christiansen, Svein Gundersen) - 4:15
5. Farewell My Friend Pt. 1 (Bjoern Christiansen, Svein Gundersen) - 2:25 
6. Farewell My Friend Pt. 2 (Bengt Jenssen, Kjetil Stensvik, Svein Gundersen) - 1:00 
7. Blowin' Tiffany (Bengt Jenssen, Bjoern Christiansen, Svein Gundersen) - 7:32 
8. Fire Of My Lifetime (Svein Gundersen) - 5:17 
9. G Flat Road (Bjoern Christiansen, Svein Gundersen) - 5:44
10.In The Hall Of Mountain King (Svein Gundersen, Kjetil Stensvik, Bjoern Christiansen, Jan Groth) - 4:35 
11.Stop Your Wishful Thinking (Svein Gundersen, Kjetil Stensvik, Bjoern Christiansen, Jan Groth) - 3:49 
12.Rosalind (Jan Groth) - 2:50 
13. Jimi, Janis And Brian (Abraham, Martin And John) (Dick Holler) - 4:25
Bonus Tracks 10-13

Aunt Mary
*Bjoern Christiansen - Guitar, Vocal
*Per Ivar Fure - Flute, Harmonica, Saxophone, Mouth Organ, Vocal
*Bengt Jenssen - Keyboards (Tracks 1-10)
*Svein Gundersen - Bass, Piano, Vocal
*Kjetil Stensvik - Drums, Vocal
*Jan Groth - Vocals, Keyboards (Tracks 10-13)

1970  Aunt Mary - Aunt Mary 

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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Batteaux - Batteaux (1973 us, excellent free soul aqua space groover, 2002 japan remaster)

A notoriously jaw-dropping folk-funk classic, long treasured by the Balearic fraternity, the self-titled LP from the brothers Batteau nevertheless remains a criminally underheard gem. Appealing to fans stuck on Ned Doheny's scorching blue-eyed soul as well as Gene Clark's rich country-rock, it's an honour to present the reissue of this undoubted masterpiece of proto-Yacht-Rock.

Like a forgotten piece of baroque folk caught in 1973, Batteaux's eponymous album somehow sounds magically timeless. A full 45 years after the fact, it remains a mystery as to why they weren't better known. The lush production and virtuoso playing conforms with the ruling aesthetic of the time - well-crafted, melodic songs performed with precision and balance - whilst the shimmering AOR atmosphere and sun-dappled vocal washes align neatly with the best Crosby, Stills & Nash records.

Throughout, the beautifully penned tracks hold traces of Jimmie Spheeris, America and Seals & Crofts. The immaculately orchestrated percussion and additional instrumentation (electric piano and fiddle to name a few) are performed by perennially celebrated West-Coast cats including Tom Scott, John Guerin and Andy Newmark.

It's no surprise that the heavenly "High Tide" is such a Balearic touchstone. A free soul aqua-space groover, its sophisticated rhythms predict the swing of CSN's canonical "Dark Star" by a full four years. An alternative measure of its enduring magnificence can be gauged by MF Doom sampling Paul Horn's wonderful version, subsequently used by Ghostface Killah.

The highlights are many and memorable. Gorgeous opener "Tell Her She's Lovely" is the perfect example of the addictive, melody-driven songwriting which really should have earned them stardom. Moody ballad "Living's Worth Loving" is nothing short of heartbreaking whilst the chugging elegance of "Wake Me In The Morning" showcases their bewitching harmonies. The hypnotic yearning of "Lady Of The Lake" is an exquisitely string-drenched, piano-laced favourite that achieves a peculiar strutting-funk. It's that good.

This lovingly curated reissue enables a long overdue reappraisal of the hitherto buried genius of Batteaux. The serene aqua artwork which their father worked on a dolphin-human communication project in Hawaii, hence the infamous design.
1. Tell Her She's Lovely (David Batteau) - 2:38
2. Living's Worth Loving (David Batteau) - 3:13
3. Wake Me In The Morning (Robin Batteau) - 2:42
4. Mirror (David Batteau) - 2:58
5. Joe Arnold (David Batteau) - 3:15
6. Dig Up The Love (David Batteau) - 2:50
7. Katy (Robin Batteau) - 2:00
8. Lady Of The Lake (David Batteau, Henry Lewy, Stuart Alan Love) - 2:23
9. Treat Me Right, Treat Me Wrong (Robin Batteau) - 2:47
10.High Tide (David Batteau) - 3:51
11.Wishing My Father (Robin Batteau) - 1:15
12.Maybe I'll Run Away (David Batteau) - 2:59

*Robin Batteau - Lead Vocals, Violin, Guitar
*David Batteau - Lead Vocals, Guitar, Melodica, Cello
*Doug McClaran - Keyboards
*Peter Freiberger - Bass
*Andy Newmark - Drums
*John Guerin - Drums
*Tom Scott - Flute
*Milt Holland - Percussion
*Jackie Ward, Robin Lane, Sally Stevens, Shelby Flint - Backing Vocals

1970  Compton And Batteau - In California (2017 remaster)

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Friday, August 23, 2019

Karen Dalton - It's So Hard To Tell Who's Going To Love You The Best (1969 us, marvelous blues jazzy folk)

The cultist's cult singer of the 1960s New York folk scene, the late Karen Dalton was a wilful, contrary figure. She loathed the formality of the studio, recording only this 1969 debut, now given a welcome re-release, plus one other album. Dalton wrote no original material but was a stupendous, visceral interpreter of folk and blues classics. Fred Neil's Little Bit of Rain, her sultry croon sounds about to dissolve with woe, while her readings of Jelly Roll Mortin's Sweet Substitute and Leadbelly's Down on the Street (Don't You Follow Me Down) ache with a sumptuous melancholy. Dalton died in 1993, and this striking album is an eloquent testament.
by Ian Gittins

It’s So Hard To Tell spans generations of classic American songwriting (Led Belly, Jelly Roll Morton, and Tim Hardin) and with Dalton’s unsurpassed interpretive depth and emotional range, it’s no surprise that artists from Fred Neil to Nick Cave have sung Dalton’s praises over the years. Even the likes of Bob Dylan have fallen under her spell, recalling the singer’s illuminating presence on the New York music scene during the pair’s formative Greenwich Village days: “My favorite singer in the place was Karen Dalton. She had a voice like Billie Holiday’s and played the guitar like Jimmy Reed.” But championing endorsements aside, all you have to do is drop the needle on the grooves to understand.

World weary and filled with the blues, Dalton’s tragic life story was a rocky road. While no longer with us in the physical, her growing musical presence is stronger than ever and worthy of re-examination by the converted and uninitiated alike. Selling poorly at the time of release, original vinyl copies of It’s So Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You The Best have all but vanished while bootleg internet rips take away all the soul. Dim the lights and turn that stereo up, Karen Dalton will turn your living room into private concert, an intimate performance you will never forget.
1. Little Bit Of Rain (Fred Neil) - 2:30
2. Sweet Substitute (Jelly Roll Morton) - 2:40
3. Ribbon Bow (Traditional Adapted By Karen Dalton) - 2:55
4. I Love You More Than Words Can Say (Eddie Floyd, Booker T. Jones) - 3:30
5. In The Evening (It's So Hard To Tell Who's Going To Love You The Best) (Leroy Carr) - 4:29
6. Blues On The Ceiling (Fred Neil) - 3:30
7. It Hurts Me Too (Mel London) - 3:05
8. How Did The Feeling Feel To You (Tim Hardin) - 2:52
9. Right, Wrong Or Ready (Major Wiley) - 2:58
10.Down On The Street (Don't You Follow Me Down) (Lead Belly) - 2:17

*Karen Dalton – 12 String Guitar, Banjo, Vocals
*Kim King - Electric Guitar
*Dan Hankin - Acoustic Guitar
*Harvey Brooks - Bass
*Gary Chester - Percussion

1971  Karen Dalton - In My Own Time (2006 remaster) 

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Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Glitterhouse - Color Blind (1968 us, great psychedelic rock, Vinyl edition)

The Glitterhouse is best-known for the title song from the cult classic film Barbarella, but this is plainly an injustice. First, although featured as vocalists on that song and several others from the film’s soundtrack, the band does not play on the album and did not write any of the material. Second, and more importantly, the band released, at nearly the same time, a far superior album featuring their own playing and their own original material and it is that album—Color Blind—that is our subject here. It is one of the best American psych-pop albums of the ’60s and, other than Love’s Forever Changes, perhaps one of the few that really competes with the work of the great British psych bands.

Even among American psych bands, the Glitterhouse was unusual. For one thing, they were from New York City rather than California. For another, they were produced by a well-credentialed square, Bob Crewe, mastermind of the Four Seasons and the Godfather of easy listening. And finally, there were an interracial band—a plausible inspiration for the title of their sole LP, Color Blind.

The Glitterhouse story begins in 1965 in Great Neck, New York, where vocalist Mike Gayle, guitarist Hank Aberle and bassist Al Lax all met at a party and, shortly thereafter, formed a band called the Justice League. Signed to Epic in 1966, a single was released (“Rumplestiltskin” b/w “Ode to an Unknown Girl”), but credited—much to the band’s surprise—to the Pop Set. Later, keyboard player Moogy Klingman joined the band and, due mostly to management issues, Gayle got fed up and quit. After adding a new lead vocalist and releasing another failed single, the band broke up―but about six months later, in the fall of 1967, Gayle, Aberle, Lax and Klingman reformed, along with drummer Joel O’Brien, formerly of James Taylor’s formative band, the Flying Machine. Rolling with the tide of the Summer of Love, the group adopted the name the Glitterhouse and began playing the New York circuit.

Crewe discovered the band at a party (though he was, in fact, set up by Klingman’s father who arranged the gig as an ersatz audition) and signed them to a management and production contract. Taken into the studio almost immediately, the Glitterhouse and Crewe began work on both the Barbarella soundtrack and Color Blind. The songs sung by the Glitterhouse on Barbarella are just what who would expect: plastic, campy, easy-listening pseudo-psych. They are very enjoyable, however, with the title track especially lush and catchy.

Color Blind, though, is the real deal. The opening track, “Tinkerbell’s Mind” is the standout track on the album. A slow, descending chord progression in the verses is complemented by an ascending set-up, then a return to the descending pattern in the choruses. Swirling organ, melodic bass and great harmonies complete the track, while the lyrics are a lysergic projection into, well, the mind of Tinkerbell (the hook line: “Tinkerbells’s mind is a crazy machine at the best”). An absolute classic. “Princess of the Gingerland” opens with organ appreggios and a wordless vocal arrangement, followed by swelling organ and guitar crescendos and trippy lyrics recounting a royal morality tale (almost a trope in the genre). Again, all the vocals are excellent. “Sassafras and Cinnamon”—despite the bubblegum title—is a raga-driven pop tune that lands somewhere between the Herd and Spanky and Our Gang, though the arrangement is far more adventurous that any of the work by either of those bands. “Child of Darkness” opens with a fairly straight garage-psych feel, but gradually moves through a cycle of psychedelic musical ideas that are arranged like dominoes, never returning to the original verse or chorus material. The second side of Color Blind drops most of the psychedelic touches and offers more straightforward pop material. While not as impressive as the first side of the album, the songs, vocals, and arrangements are all excellent and, as sort of a bookend, the last track on the album, “Happy to Have You Here Again,” features two very psychedelic breaks near the end of the song.

Only one single was released from Color Blind: “Tinkerbell’s Mind” b/w “I Lost Me a Friend.” The single did fairly well in the New York area, but failed to create a stir nationally. Crewe and the Glitterhouse parted company and there were no more official releases (an unofficial comp featuring some reunion demos recorded in 1974 was released by Klingman in 2006). O’Brien went on to record sessions (including the James Taylor LP on Apple and Carole King’s Tapestry). He passed away in 2004 from liver cancer. Klingman was the original keyboardist in Todd Rundgren’s Utopia. He too has passed away, from bladder cancer in 2011. Aberle went on to become a recording engineer and luthier. Gayle participated in Glitterhouse reunions in 1974 and 2002, but then fell off the radar entirely.
by Peter Marston
1. Tinkerbell's Mind - 4:43
2. Princess of the Gingerland - 4:24
3. Sassafrass and Cinnamon - 4:16
4. Child of Darkness (Journey of a Child Traveler) - 4:22
5. I Lost Me a Friend - 4:19
6. Times Are Getting Hard - 3:50
7. Where Have You Been Hiding - 2:25
8. Hey Woman - 3:55
9. Happy To Have You Here Again - 3:25
All songs by Michael Gayle

The Glitterhouse
*Hank Aberle - Guitar, Violin, Vocals
*Michael Gayle - Guitar, Vocals
*Al Lax - Bass, Vocals
*Mark Moogy Klingman - Kyeboards
*Joel "Bishop" O'Brien - Drums, Percussion

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