Saturday, March 30, 2019

Otis Waygood Blues Band - Otis Waygood Blues Band (1970 zimbabwe, awesome blues rock)

It was the worst of times in Joburg's white suburbs. The Beatles were banned on state radio. Haircut regulations were merciless. The closest thing to a pop star was Ge Korsten. Life was an unutterable hell of boredom and conformity, but lo: salvation awaited. They came from the north in the summer of '69, armed with axes and Scarabs, long hair streaming behind them, and proceeded to slay the youth of the nation with an arsenal of murderous blues-rock tunes, synchronized foot-stomping and, on a good night, eye-popping displays of maniacal writhing in advanced states of rock'n'roll transfiguration. The masses roared. The establishment was shaken. They were the biggest thing our small world had ever seen, our Led Zeppellin, our Black Sabbath, maybe even our Rolling Stones. They were the Otis Waygood Blues Band, and this is their story.

It begins in l964 or so, at a Jewish youth camp in what was then Rhodesia. Rob and Alan Zipper were from Bulawayo, where their dad had a clothes shop. Ivor Rubenstein was Alan's best mate, and Leigh Sagar was the local butcher's son. All these boys were budding musicians. Alan and Ivor had a little "Fenders and footsteps" band that played Shadows covers at talent competitions, and Rob was into folk. They considered themselves pretty cool until they met Benny Miller, who was all of 16 and sported such unheard-of trappings as a denim jacket and Beatles-length hair. Benny had an older sister who'd introduced him to some way-out music, and when he picked up his guitar, the Bulawayo boys were staggered: he was playing the blues, making that axe sing and cry like a negro.

How did the music of black American pain and sufferation find its way to the rebel colony of Rhodesia, where Ian Smith was about to declare UDI in the hope of preserving white supremacy for another five hundred years? It's a long story, and it begins in Chicago in the forties and fifties, where blues cats like Howlin' Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson cut '78s that eventually found their way into the hands of young British enthusiasts like John Mayall and Eric Clapton, who covered the songs in their early sessions and always cited the bluesmen as their gurus. Word of this eventually penetrated Rhodesia, and sent Benny scrambling after the real stuff, which he found on Pye Records' Blues Series, volumes one through six. Which is how Benny Miller came to be playing the blues around a campfire in Africa, bending and stretching those sad notes like a veteran. The Bulawayo contingent reached for their own guitars, and thus began a band that evolved over several years into Otis Waygood.

In its earliest incarnation, the band was built around Benny Miller, who remains, says Rob Zipper, "one of the best guitarists I've ever heard." Rob himself sang, played the blues harp and sax. His younger brother Alan was on bass. Bulawayo homeboys Ivor and Leigh were on drums and rhythm respectively, and flautist Martin Jackson completed the lineup. Their manager, Andy Vaughan, was the dude who observed that if you scrambled the name of a famous lift manufacturer you came up with a monniker that sounded authentically American negro: Otis Waygood. Rob thought it was pretty witty. Ivor said, "Ja, and lifts can be pretty heavy too." And so the Otis Waygood Blues Band came into being.

By now, it was l969, and the older cats were students at the University College of Rhodesia, earnest young men, seriously involved in the struggle against bigotry, prejudice and short hair. By day they were student activists, by night they played sessions. Their repetoire consisted of blues standards and James Brown grooves, and they were getting better and better. They landed a Saturday afternoon gig at Les Discotheque. Crowds started coming. When Rob stood up to talk at student meetings, he was drowned out by cries of, "You're Late Miss Kate." "Miss Kate" was the band's signature tune, an old Deefore/Hitzfield number that they played at a bone-crunching volume and frantic pace. Towards the end of '69, Otis were asked to perform "Miss Kate" on state TV. The boys obliged with a display of sneering insolence and hip-thrusting sexuality that provoked indignation from your average Rhodesian. These chaps are outrageous, they cried. They have "golliwog hair" and bad manners! They go into the locations and play for natives! They aren't proper Rhodies!

Indeed they weren't, which is why they were planning to leave the country as soon as they could. Rob graduated at the end of l969, and he was supposed to be the first to go, but it was summer and the boys were young and wild and someone came up with the idea of driving to Cape Town. Benny Miller thought it was a blind move, and refused to come. But rest were bok, so they loaded their amps into a battered old Kombi and set off across Africa to seek their fortune.

South of the Limpopo River, they entered a country in which a minor social revolution was brewing. In the West, the hippie movement had already peaked, but South Africa was always a few years behind the times, and this was our summer of love. Communes were springing up in the white suburbs. Acid had made its debut. Cape Town's Green Point Stadium was a great milling of stoned longhairs, come to attend an event billed as "the largest pop festival south of and since the Isle of Wight." It was also a competition, with the winner in line for a three-month residency at a local hotel. Otis Waygood arrived too late to compete, but impresario Selwyn Miller gave them a 15-minute slot as consolation -- 2pm on a burning December afternoon.

The audience was half asleep when they took the stage. Twelve bars into the set, they were on their feet. By the end of the first song, they were "freaking out," according to reports in the next morning's papers. By the time the band got around to "Fever," fans were attacking the security fence, and Rob got so carried away that he leapt off the ten-foot-high stage and almost killed himself. "That's when it all started," he says. Otis made the next day's papers in a very big way, and went on to become the "underground" sensation of 1969's Christmas holiday season, drawing sell-out crowds wherever they played.

In South Africa, this was the big time, and it lasted barely three weeks. The holidays ended, the tourists departed, and that was that: the rock heroes had to pack their gear and go back home. As fate would have it, however, their Kombi broke down in Johannesburg, and they wound up gigging at a club called Electric Circus to raise money for a valve job. One night, after a particularly sweaty set, a slender blonde guy came backstage and said, "I'm going to turn you into the biggest thing South Africa has ever seen."

This was Clive Calder, who went on to become a rock billionaire, owner of the world's largest independent music company. Back then he was a lightie of 24, just starting out in the record business. His rap was inspirational. Said he'd just returned from Europe, where he'd seen how the moguls broke Grand Funk Railroad. Maintained he was capable of doing the same thing with Otis Waygood, and that together, they would conquer the planet. The white bluesboys signed on the dotted line, and Clive Calder's career began.

The album you're holding in your hand was recorded over two days in Joburg's EMI studios in March, l970, with Calder producing and playing piano on several tracks. Laid down in haste on an old four-track machine, it is less a work of art than a talisman to transport you back to sweaty little clubs in the early days of Otis Waygood's reign as South Africa's premier live group. Rob would brace himself in a splay-legged rock hero stance, tilt his head sideways, close his eyes and bellow as if his life depended on it. As the spirit took them, the sidemen would break into this frenzied bowing motion, bending double over their guitars on every beat, like a row of longhaired rabbis dovening madly at some blues-rock shrine. By the time they got to "Fever," with its electrifying climactic footstomp, the audience was pulverized. "It was like having your senses worked over with a baseball bat," said one critic.

Critics were somewhat less taken with the untitled LP's blank black cover. "We were copying the Beatles," explains Alan Zipper. "They'd just done The White Album, so we thought we'd do a black album." It was released in May 1970, and Calder immediately put Otis Waygood on the road to back it. His plan was to broaden the band's fan base to the point where kids in the smallest town were clamouring for the record, and that meant playing everywhere - Kroonstad, Klerksdorp, Witbank, you name it; towns where longhairs had never been seen before. "In those smaller towns we were like aliens from outer space," says drummer Ivor. "I remember driving into places with a motorcycle cop in front and another behind, just sort of forewarning the town, 'Here they come.'" Intrigued by Calder's masterful hype campaign, platteland people turned out in droves to see the longhaired weirdos. "It was amazing," says Ivor. "Calder had the journalists eating out of his hand. Everything you opened was just Otis."

The boys in the band were pretty straight when they arrived in South Africa, but youths everywhere were storming heaven on hallucinogenics, and pretty soon, Otis Waygood was doing it too. By now they were living in an old house in the suburbs of Jo'burg, a sort of head quarters with mattresses strewn across the bare floors and a family of 20 hippies sitting down for communal meals. The acid metaphyisicians of Abstract Truth crashed out there for weeks on end. Freedom's Children were regular guests, along with African stars like Kippie Moeketsi and Julian Bahula. Everyone would get high and jam in the soundproofed garage. Otis' music began to evolve in a direction presaged by the three bonus tracks that conclude this album. The riffs grew darker and heavier. Elements of free jazz and white noise crept in. Songs like "You Can Do (Part I)" were eerie, unnerving excursions into regions of the psyche where only the brave dared tread. Flautist Martin Jackson made the trip once too often, suffered a "spiritual crisis" and quit the band.

His replacement was Harry Poulus, the pale Greek god of keyboards, recruited from the ruins of Freedom's Children. Harry was a useful guy to have around in several respects, an enormously talented musician and a Zen mechanic to boot, capable of diagnosing the ailments of the band's worn-out Kombi just by remaining silent and centred and meditating on the problem until a solution revealed itself. With his help, the band recorded two more albums in quick succession (Simply Otis Waygood and Ten Light Claps and a Scream) and continued its epic trek through platteland towns, coastal resorts and open-air festivals. They finished l970 where they started - special guests at the grand final of Cape Town's annual Battle of the Bands. The audience wouldn't let them off the stage. Rob worked himself into such a state of James Brownian exhaustion that he had to be carried off in the end. "Whether you accept it or not," wrote critic Peter Feldman, "1970 was their year."

After that, it was all downhill in a way. There were only so many heads in South Africa, and by the end of 1970, they'd all bought an Otis LP and seen the band live several times. Beyond a certain point, Otis could only go round in circles. Worse yet, conservatives were growing intolerant of long-haired social deviance. National Party MPs complained that rock music was rotting the nation's moral fibre. Right-wing students invaded a pop festival where Otis was playing and gave several particants an involuntary haircut. "We had police coming to the house every second night," says Ivor, "or guys with crewcuts and denim jackets saying, 'Hey, man, the car's broken down, can we sleep here?' They always planted weed in the toilets, but we always found it before they bust us."

By March, 1971, the day of was drawing nigh. Describing drug abuse as a "national emergency," the Minister of Police announced a crackdown. At the same time, various armies started breathing down Otis Waygood's neck. When the SADF informed Ivor that he was liable for military service, the boys sneaked back into Rhodesia, but more call-up papers were waiting for them at their parents' homes. "Ian Smith despised us," says Ivor. "They wanted to make an example of us, so we basically escaped." At the time, international airlines weren't supposed to land in Rhodesia because of sanctions. But there was a Jo'burg-Paris flight that made a secret stop in Salisbury. The boys boarded it and vanished.

Back in Jo'burg, we were bereft. Friends and I started a tribute band that played garage parties in the white suburbs, our every lick, pose and song copied off Otis, but that petered out in a year or two, and we were left with nothing but their records and vague rumours from a distant hemisphere. Otis were alive and well in Amsterdam. Later, they were spotted in England, transmogrified into a white reggae band that played the deeply underground blacks-only heavy dub circuit. Later still, they became Immigrant, a multi-racial outfit that did a few gigs at the Rock Garden and the Palladium. But it never quite came together again, and the band disintegrated at the end of the seventies.

Today, Leigh Sagar is a barrister in London. Rob Zipper practices architecture. Alan Zipper runs a recording studio. Ivor Rubenstein returned to Bulawayo, where he manufactures hats. Clive Calder is chairman of Jive Records and ruling genius of the teen pop genre, responsible inter alia for the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears. Martin Jackson was last seen drifting around Salisbury with a huge cross painted on his back, and is rumoured to have died in the mid-seventies. Harry Poulos stepped off a building, another casualty of an era whose mad intensity made a reversion to the ordinary unbearable.

As for Benny Miller, the guy who started it all, he's still in Harare, wryly amused by the extraordinary adventure he missed by ducking out of that fateful trip to Cape Town. He still plays guitar in sixties nostalgia bands, and produces African music for a living.
by Rian Malan
1. You're Late Miss Kate (James Dee Fore, Larry Otto Hitzfeld) - 2:09
2. Watch 'n Chain (Traditional) - 4:37
3. So Many Ways (Rob Zipper) - 3:55
4. I Can't Keep From Crying (John Renbourne) - 6:14
5. Fever (John Davenport, Eddie Cooley) - 4:23
6. Wee Wee Baby (Traditional) - 2:58
7. Better Off On My Own (Rob Zipper, Alan Zipper) - 3:04
8. Help Me (Willie Dixon, Ralph Bass) - 5:16
9. I'm Happy (Rob Zipper) - 2:43
10.Devil Bones (Rob Zipper, Alan Zipper, Ivor Rubenstein, Leigh Sagar, Martin Jackson, Harry Poulus) - 2:40
11.You Can Do Part One (Rob Zipper, Alan Zipper, Ivor Rubenstein, Leigh Sagar, Martin Jackson) - 4:22
12.You Can Do Part Two (Rob Zipper, Alan Zipper, Ivor Rubenstein, Leigh Sagar, Martin Jackson) - 4:30
Bonus Tracks 11-12

The Otis Waygood Blues Band
*Rob Zipper - Vocals, Guitars, Saxophones
*Ivor Rubenstein - Vocals, Percussion
*Leigh Sagar - Guitars, Organ
*Martin Jackson - Vocals, Flute
*Alan Zipper - Bass

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Friday, March 29, 2019

The Ivy League - This Is The Ivy League (1965-67 uk, beautiful harmony vocal beat roots 'n' roll, 2007 japan remaster with extra tracks)

The British pop trio Ivy League consisted of members John Carter, Ken Lewis (previous members of Carter-Lewis and the Southerners), and Perry Ford. All three members were session singers who possessed high-pitched singing voices, forming the group in 1964. Although an initial single quickly disappeared from sight, their second single, "Funny How Love Can Be," turned out to be a surprise U.K. Top Ten hit. Further hits followed, including "That's Why I'm Crying" and a cover of "Tossin' And Turnin'," the latter of which hit number three on the U.K. charts. 

The original trio managed to only release a single full-length album, 1965's This Is the Ivy League, before both Carter and Lewis left the group a year later. With replacement members Tony Burrows and Neil Landon taking the recently departed original members' places, the Ivy League issued two more full-lengths, 1967's Sounds of the Ivy League and 1969's Tomorrow Is Another Day. They scored another minor hit, "Willow Tree," before changing their name to the Flowerpot Men. In the '80s, fans of the group were confused by a band going by the name of the Ivy League which performed the group's hits at nightclubs, even though none of the group's earlier members were involved. During the '90s, several best-of compilations surfaced, including 1998's 43-track Major League: the Collectors' Ivy League. 
by Greg Prato
1. Almost Grown (Chuck Berry) - 2:23
2. That's Why I'm Crying - 2:37
3. The Floral Dance (Katie Moss) - 2:52
4. What More Do You Want - 2:40
5. Lulu's Back In Town (Al Dubin, Harry Warren) - 1:26
6. We're Having A Party (Donald K. Epstein) - 2:02
7. Don't Worry Baby (Brian Wilson, Roger Christian) - 3:09
8. Make Love - 2:51
9. Don't Think Twice It's Alright (Bob Dylan) - 2:39
10.Funny How Love Can Be (John Carter, Ken Lewis) - 2:09
11.My Old Dutch (Albert Chevalier) - 1:27
12.Dance To The Locomotion (Billy Barberis, Bobby Weinstein, Teddy Randazzo) - 2:31
13.Lonely Room - 1:58
14.A Girl Like You (Perry Ford) - 2:03
15.Tossing And Turning - 2:28
16.Graduation Day - 2:16
17.Our Love Is Slipping Away - 2:53
18.Running Round In Circles - 2:13
19.Willow Tree - 2:32
20.My World Fell Down - 2:52
21.Four And Twent Hours (John Carter, Perry Ford) - 2:35
22.Suddenly Things (Perry Ford) - 3:14
All songs by John Carter, Ken Lewis, Perry Ford except where noted

The Ivy League
*John Carter - Vocals
*Perry Ford - Vocals
*Ken Lewis - Vocals, Guitar
*Mick O'Nell - Organ
*Mickey Keene - Lead Guitar
*Dave Winter - Bass
*Clem Cattini - Drums

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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Walker Brothers - Everything Under The Sun (1965-78 us, brilliant orchestrated vocal folk jazz r 'n' b, 2006 five discs box set)

Everything under the sun from the Walker Brothers' studio output is indeed here on this five-CD box set. It not only has everything from their mid-'60s prime on the first three CDs, but also the more neglected (though considerably less impressive) three albums or so they did in the mid- to late '70s after reuniting. There are also 13 previously unreleased tracks from 1961967, as well as a 48-page booklet with a historical essay and oodles of photos and memorabilia. Naturally, like many completist box sets, this isn't for everyone; there's much superb material, but also a good deal of also-ran cuts and covers. 

Too, the 1970s material is not only often rather dull pop (sometimes with slight country overtones), but not too similar or compatible with the lush 1960s productions. Plus, to be technical, it doesn't have everything the Walker Brothers issued, lacking the live album they recorded in Japan in 1968 (which, as of the release of this box set, still had not made it to CD). Focusing on the positive, however, this has a lot of quality music besides their familiar hits (which are also all included, of course). 

The R&B and soul covers the brothers sang to pad out their releases may not have been their forte, and sometimes the pop ballads were gushy, but Scott Walker's voice (and John Walker's second vocals) usually at least made them pleasant on some level. As for the booming, brooding ballads (with nods to Phil Spector and the Righteous Brothers) at which they excelled, there are plenty of those, including "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore," "After the Lights Go Out," "Another Tear Falls," "In My Room," "Everything Under the Sun," "Just Say Goodbye," "Deadlier Than the Male," and others. A few other songs have seeds of Scott Walker's more serious, arty side ("Archangel," "Mrs. Murphy," "Orpheus," "Experience"), and John Walker takes a nice lead vocal on one of their best obscure tracks, "I Can't Let It Happen to You." 

The 13 previously unreleased 1961967 recordings don't add up to an unissued album of sorts; they're more an assembly of odds and ends with a bent toward mediocre soul covers ("In the Midnight Hour," "I Got You [I Feel Good]") and pop standards (such as "The Shadow of Your Smile"). Again, however, the vocals make even these erratic leftovers worthwhile to some degree, and a few of the songs are rather good, including the characteristically melancholy "Hang on for Me," the dreamily orchestrated "Lost One," and the relatively upbeat Burt Bacharach-like "I Got Lost for a While." (The writers of all three of those mysterious tunes, incidentally, are listed as "unknown," leaving it open as to whether these were original compositions.) Also among these 13 unearthed items are alternate versions of two songs the Walkers did release, Randy Newman's "Looking for Me" and their big smash "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)." While these aren't as good as the official versions, they are at least notably different, and it's interesting to hear "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)" in a considerably tamer, more reserved arrangement.

Other than the obvious similarities in the vocals, discs four and five could almost be the work of a different group than the one heard on the first three CDs. While this latter portion does include their big 1976 U.K. hit "No Regrets," it's tough sledding, with much of it given over to middle-of-the-road covers of the likes of Jimmy Webb, Randy Newman, Kris Kristofferson, and Boz Scaggs. Suddenly, however, the torpor is interrupted by Scott Walker's four originals from their final album, 1978's Nite Flights. They're bleak, piercing, heavily electronic rhythmic numbers, wholly unlike anything else the Walker Brothers did in either the 1960s or the 1970s, and wholly unlike any other '70s Walkers recordings in that they sounded bold and adventurous, rather than just treading water. They're enough, just about, to justify the inclusion of the Walker Brothers' reunion material in the box, though not enough to keep the inclusion of said material from making the box even more erratic than most such complete overviews of major artists. 
by Richie Unterberger
Disc 1
1. Pretty Girls Everywhere (Eugene Church, Thomas Williams) - 2:18
2. Doin' The Jerk (Scott Walker) - 2:26
3. Love Her (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil) - 3:20
4. The Seventh Dawn (Paul Francis Webster, Riziero Ortolani) - 2:38
5. Make It Easy On Yourself (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) - 3:12
6. There Goes My Baby (Benjamin Nelson, George Treadwell, Jerome "Jerry" Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 3:05
7. First Love Never Dies (Bob Morris, Jim Seals) - 3:36
8. Dancing In The Street (Ivy Jo Hunter, Marvin Gaye, William Stevenson) - 2:47
9. Lonely Winds (Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman) - 2:35
10.The Girl I Lost In The Rain (David Gates) - 2:46
11.Land Of 1000 Dances (Chris Kenner, Fats Domino) - 2:33
12.You're All Around Me (Lesley Duncan, Scott Walker) - 2:37
13.Love Minus Zero (Bob Dylan) - 3:02
14.I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore (Randy Newman) - 3:45
15.Here Comes The Night (Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman) - 2:25
16.Tell The Truth (Lowman Pauling) - 1:47
17.But I Do (Paul Gayten, Robert Guidry) - 2:53
18.My Ship Is Coming In (Joey Brooks) - 3:12
19.The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore (Bob Crewe, Bob Gaudio) - 3:02
20.After The Lights Go Out (John Stewart) - 4:06
21.(Baby) You Don't Have To Tell Me (Pete Autell) - 2:39
22.My Love Is Growing (John Stewart, Robert H.J. Van Leeuwen) - 2:17
23.Looking For Me (Randy Newman) - 2:10
24.Young Man Cried (John Franz, Scott Walker) - 2:33
25.Everything's Gonna Be All Right (Phillip Mitchell) - 2:15
26.I Need You (Gerry Goffin, Carole King) - 3:12
27.The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore (Bob Crewe, Bob Gaudio) - 3:11
Disc 2
1. Another Tear Falls (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) - 2:26
2. Saddest Night In The World (John Walker) - 2:10
3. In My Room (Joaquin Prieto, Lee Julien Pockriss, Paul Vance) - 2:31
4. Saturday's Child (Scott Walker) - 2:05
5. Just For A Thrill (Lilian Harding Armstrong) - 3:34
6. Hurting Each Other (Gary Geld, Peter Udell) - 2:42
7. Old Folks (Dedette Lee Hill, Willard Robison) - 3:11
8. Summertime (DuBose Heyward, George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin) - 4:28
9. People Get Ready (Curtis Mayfield) - 2:37
10.I Can See It Now (John Franz, Scott Walker) - 2:58
11.Where's The Girl? (Jerome "Jerry" Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 3:11
12.Living Above Your Head (Jay Black, Kenny Vance, Marty Sanders) - 2:40
13.Take It Like A Man (Jerome "Jerry" Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 2:29
14.No Sad Songs For Me (Tom Springfield) - 3:38
15.Deadlier Than The Male (John Franz, Scott Walker) - 2:30
16.Archangel (Scott Walker) - 3:41
17.Sunny (Bobby Hebb) - 3:47
18.Come Rain Or Come Shine (Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer) - 3:19
19.The Gentle Rain (Luiz Bonfá, Matt Dubey) - 2:42
20.Mrs. Murphy (Scott Walker) - 3:20
21.Stay With Me Baby (George David Weiss, Jerry Ragovoy) - 3:17
22.Turn Out The Moon (Scott Walker) - 3:51
23.Walking In The Rain (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Phil Spector) - 3:25
24.Baby Make It The Last Time (Kirk Duncan, Michael Nicholls, Scott Walker) - 3:27 
25.Me About You (Alan Gordon, Garry Bonner) - 2:12
Disc 3
1. Everything Under The Sun (Bob Crewe, Gary Knight) - 4:22
2. Once Upon A Summertime (Eddie Barclay, Eddy Marnay, Johnny Mercer, Michel Legrand) - 3:50
3. Experience (Scott Walker) - 2:54
4. Blueberry Hill (Al Lewis, Lawrence Stock, Vincent Rose) - 3:27
5. Orpheus (Scott Walker) - 3:24
6. Stand By Me (Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 3:57
7. I Wanna Know (John Walker) - 2:24
8. I Will Wait For You (Jacques Demy, Michel Legrand, Norman Gimbel) - 3:39
9. It Makes No Difference Now (Iller Pattacini, Norman Newell) - 2:38
10.I Can't Let It Happen To You (John Walker) - 3:12
11.Genevieve (Scott Walker) - 2:49
12.Just Say Goodbye (Petula Clark, Pierre Delanoë, Tony Hatch) - 3:37
13.Looking For Me (Randy Newman) - 2:12
14.The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore) (Bob Crewe, Bob Gaudio) - 3:26
15.Lazy Afternoon (Jerome Moross, John LaTouche) - 4:10
16.In The Midnight Hour (Steve Cropper, Wilson Pickett Jr.) - 2:16
17.A Song For Young Love (Bill Post, Doree Post) - 3:04
18.Let The Music Play (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) - 2:46
19.The Shadow Of Your Smile (Johnny Mandel, Paul Francis Webster) - 2:28
20.Hang On For Me (Unknown) - 1:54
21.I Got You (I Feel Good) (James Brown) - 1:43
22.I Got Lost For A While (Unknown) -  3:01
23.A Fool Am I (Alberto Testa, Flavio Carraresi, Peter Callander) - 3:01
24.Wipe Away My Tears (Unknown) - 2:35
25.Lost One (Unknown) - 3:07
Disc 4
1. No Regrets (Tom Rush) - 5:44
2. Hold An Old Friend's Hand (Donna Weiss) - 3:42
3. Boulder To Birmingham (Bill Danoff, Emmylou Harris) - 3:51
4. Walkin' In The Sun (Jeff Barry) - 3:51
5. Lover's Lullaby (Janis Ian) - 3:47
6. I've Got To Have You (Kris Kristofferson) - 3:28
7. He'll Break Your Heart (Curtis Mayfield, Jerry Butler) - 5:08
8. Everything That Touches You (Michael Kamen) - 4:06
9. Lovers (Mickey Newbury) - 2:59
10.Burn Our Bridges (Jerry Ragovoy, Linda Laurie) - 3:31
11.Remember Me (John Walker) - 3:52
12.Loving Arms (Thomas Jans) - 3:36
13.I Never Dreamed You'd Leave In Summer (Stevie Wonder) - 3:13
14.The Moon's A Harsh Mistress (Jimmy Webb) - 3:00
15.Marie (Randy Newman) - 3:43
16.Lines (Jerry Fuller) - 3:25
17.Taking It All In Stride (Tom Snow) - 4:34
18.Inside Of You (Tom Jarvis) - 3:36
19.Have You Seen My Baby (Randy Newman) - 3:34
Disc 5
1. We're All Alone (Boz Scaggs) - 4:37
2. Many Rivers To Cross (Jimmy Cliff) - 4:39
3. First Day (John Walker) - 2:21
4. Brand New Tennessee Waltz (Jesse Winchester) - 3:12
5. Hard To Be Friends (Larry Murray) - 3:28
6. Dreaming As One (David Palmer, William Smith) - 3:03
7. Til I Gain Control Again (Rodney Crowell) - 5:02
8. The Ballad (John Walker) - 4:06
9. Shutout (Scott Walker) - 2:46
10.Fat Mama Kick (Scott Walker) - 2:52
11.Nite Flights (Scott Walker) - 4:21
12.The Electrician (Scott Walker) - 6:02
13.Death Of Romance (Gary Walker) - 3:42
14.Den Haague (Gary Walker) - 4:02
15.Rhythms Of Vision (John Walker) - 2:53
16.Disciples Of Death (John Walker) - 3:46
17.Fury And The Fire (John Walker) - 3:56
18.Child Of Flames (John Walker) - 3:14
19.Tokyo Rimshot (Scott Walker) - 3:40

*Scott Engel (Scott Walker) - Vocals
*John Maus (John Walker) - Vocals
*Gary Leeds (Gary Walker) - Percussion, Vocals
*Brian Bennett - Drums
*B.J. Cole - Pedal Steel
*Les Davidson - Guitar
*Mo Foster - Bass
*Tristan Fry - Percussion
*Frank Gibson - Drums
*Steve Grey - Conductor, Piano
*Reg Guest - Accompaniment, Orchestra Director
*Ritchie Hitchcock - Electric Guitar
*Alan Rankin Jones - Bass
*Chris Karan - Percussion
*Paul Keough - Acoustic Guitar
*Ben E. King - Composer
*Katie Kissoon - Vocals
*Dave MacRae - Conductor, Keyboards, Orchestrationr
*John Mealing - Piano
*Chris Mercer - Tenor Sax
*Barry Morgan - Drums
*Jack Nitzsche - Arranger, Conductor
*Brian Odgers - Bass
*Morris Pert - Percussion
*Simon Phillips - Drums
*Judd Proctor - Acoustic Guitar
*Ronnie Ross - Soprano Sax
*Alan Skidmore - Tenor Sax, Saxophone
*Peter Vanhook - Drums
*Dr. John Walker - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Len Walker - Acoustic Guitar
*Dennis Weinreich - Vocals
*Dave Wilus - Saxophone
*Dougie Wright - Drums, Percussion
*Joy Yates - Vocals

1969  Scott Walker - Scott 3
1968  Gary Walker And The Rain - Album Number 1 (2009 edition)

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Sunday, March 24, 2019

Groundhogs - The United Artists Years (1972-76 uk, exceptional hard prog space blues rock, 2013 three discs remaster)

Wasting no time at all, The Groundhogs released Hogwash in late 1972. Sticking to their new progressive blues template, they produced another good album in a similar vein to its predecessor, although I detect slightly more jamming, possibly to fill a quickly-recorded follow-up. On the 'Tron front, You Had A Lesson has some nice string chords, double-tracked with brass at one point, but the album's other Mellotronic track is most certainly its highlight. Earth Shanty opens with wave sounds from McPhee's ARP 2600, before a strong 'Tron strings part, lasting some time, leads into the main part of the track. Further along, a cello line underpins the acoustic guitar, and some brass chords ride over the top. Excellent.

Crosscut Saw is the album wherein T.S. McPhee launches you into the universe.Beautiful, powerful guitar work that grasps the mind and bends the consciousness.In an era of Jean Luc Ponte's Moog violin work and Pink Floyd's lazy psychedelia, Mr. McPhee gives muscle to an otherwise too-sweet genre.Bravo for voicing the masculine male's malaise in that last gasp of white boy angst fueled by too much speed, acid, smoke and wine!

Crosscut Saw / Black Diamond were McPhee's final run with his synthi-hifli guitar synth - he took it farther than anyone ! -his over the top guitar work on crosscut saw can acutally scare people - 3 way split, promiscuity and fulfillment are some of the most dynamic in your face guitar you'll ever hear. Black Diamond actually  contains better material but isn't quite as aggressive as Crosscut Saw - friendzy, fantasy partner, live right , Black Diamond are all exceptional tunes - not a bad one on the album - this is probably McPhee's most under-rated LP.
Disc 1
Hogwash 1972
1. I Love Miss Ogyny - 5:25 
2. You Had A Lesson - 5:53
3. The Ringmaster - 1:23
4. 3744 James Road - 7:18 
5. Sad Is The Hunter - 5:19
6. S'one Song - 3:34
7. Earth Shanty - 6:51
8. Mr. Hooker, Sir John - 3:34
BBC In Concert 1972
9. Split I - 6:20 
10.I Love Miss Ogyny - 7:00 
11.You Had A Lesson - 7:37
12.Earth Shanty - 11:15
13.3744 James Road - 8:14  
All songs by Tony McPhee
Disc 2
BBC In Concert 1972
1. Sad Is The Hunter - 4:45 
2. Split II - 6:21 
3. Split IV - 4:48 
4. Cherry Red - 5:44 
BBC In Concert 1974
5. Ship On The Ocean - 4:18 
6. I Love Miss Ogony - 5:44 
7. Split I - 7:26
8. Soldier - 14:52 
9. Split II - 8:22 
Single 7" 1976
10.Live A Little Lady - 4:59
All songs by Tony McPhee
Disc 3
Crosscut Saw 1975
1. Crosscut Saw - 3:44
2. Promiscuity - 5:43
3. Boogie Withus - 3:53
4. Fulfilment - 7:32
5. Live A Little Lady - 6:06
6. Three Way Split - 4:56
7. Mean Mistreater - 2:33
8. Eleventh Hour - 6:43
Black Diamond 1976
9. Body Talk - 4:53
10.Fantasy Partner - 5:13
11.Live Right - 3:46
12.Country Blues - 4:19
13.Your Love Keeps Me Alive - 4:49
14.Friendzy - 5:28
15.Pastoral Future - 3:11
16.Black Diamond - 5:55
All songs by Tony McPhee

The Groundhogs
*Tony McPhee - Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
*Peter Cruikshank - Bass (on Hogwash and both BBC In Concert)
*Clive Brooks - Drums (on Hogwash and both BBC In Concert)
*Mike Cook - Drums (on Crosscut Saw and Black Diamond)
*Martin Kent - Guitar (on Crosscut Saw), Bass (on Black Diamond)
*Dave Wellbelove - Bass (on Crosscut Saw)

1968-72  Groundhogs - Thank Christ For The Groundhogs The Liberty Years (2010 three disc set remaster)
1971  Groundhogs - Live At Leeds (2002 reissue)

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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Groundhogs - Live At Leeds (1971 uk, stunning heavy blues rock, 2002 reissue)

Although there are several Groundhogs live albums that have popped up in the last decade or so, most of them were recorded well after the band’s early 70’s peak. “Live at Leeds ‘71”, recorded when the band was on tour opening for the Rolling Stones, is a fantastic exception. Rumour has it that this show was recorded at the personal behest of Mick Jagger himself, a fan of the band who gave the master to Groundhogs main man Tony McPhee and had a few copies pressed for promotional purposes. Whether or not this is true doesn’t really matter, as there’s so much smoke and mirrors in rock and roll mythos that it becomes virtually impossible to separate the bullshit from the truth. In any case, it makes for a nice story, and what’s really important is the result: a short but potent snapshot of the classic Groundhogs line-up of Tony McPhee (guitar/vocals), Pete Kruickshank (bass) and Ken Pustelnik (drums) rocking like a motherfucker in front of a bunch of Stones fans. 

The album finds the band playing 3 songs from their then newest LP, “Split”, and 2 more their previous one, “Thank Christ for the Bomb”. Opening with “Cherry Red”, arguably the bands finest bit of studio glory, the band starts out strong and only gets better as the show progresses, the cacophonous but limber bass and drums providing ample prodding for McPhee’s sheets of stinging guitar fuzz. “Cherry Red” is perhaps the only song here that doesn’t quite equal the studio version, but that’s only because the studio version is so fucking great to begin with. McPhee’s marble-mouthed vocals can’t quite replicate the multi-tracked female impersonator chorus from the original, but the guitar is even more rough & ready, the sound of the whole album falling somewhere between the MC5’s “Kick out the Jams” and Grand Funk Railroad’s “Live Album”. The band tackle’s “Garden” next, showing great restraint on the verses while nearly doubling the tempo on the chorus riffs. 

Much like the underrated Blue Cheer, The Groundhogs knew the value of dynamics, even if the volume is on 11 most of the time here. “Split, Part 1” is given a great workout here, sounding considerably more muscular than the studio version, and Tony takes some time to stretch out a bit during the second solo. The delta/dada blues of “Groundhog” is next, with Tony going solo on guitar and vocals. While not as “authentic” sounding as the studio version, it’s yet another fantastic showcase of McPhee’s oh-so-very underrated guitar and vocal skills. I will admit the decision to leave out the constant bass drum “thump” of the studio version here is a little baffling, but if you listen closely, you can hear a few people in the audience offering some helpful handclaps.

The band caps things off (at least on this recording) with the extended jam-a-thon of “Eccentric Man”, McPhee’s low-key introduction standing sharply at odds with the staggeringly powerful intro of the song. One of the group’s heaviest studio cuts is transformed into an absolute monster here, the tempo and volume both increased considerably. Cruickshank’s meandering throb and Pustelnik’s drunken octopus bashing push along McPhee’s shrieking guitar improvisations like a meth-raging Cream. This was some of the heaviest stuff anyone was putting out at this time, with Blue Cheer having turned down and close to breakup and Grand Funk on their way to “We’re An American Band” mediocrity. “Live at Leeds ‘71” is a great example of how great the trio of McPhee, Cruickshank and Pustelnik really were, and it shows them at their peak as a band: energetic, loud-as-fuck and full of fire and purpose. 
by Brandon Tenold
1. Cherry Red - 6:23
2. Garden - 6:14
3. Split - Part One - 7:26
4. Groundhog Blues (John Lee Hookker) - 5:10
5. Eccentric Man - 11:25
All compositions by Tony McPhee except Track #4

The Groundhogs
*Tony McPhee - Guitar, Vocals
*Peter Cruickshank - Bass
*Ken Pustelnik - Drums

1968-72  Groundhogs - Thank Christ For The Groundhogs The Liberty Years (2010 three disc set remaster)

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Friday, March 22, 2019

Groundhogs - Thank Christ For The Groundhogs The Liberty Years (1968-72 uk, astonishing blues rock, 2010 three disc set remaster)

The Groundhogs' debut album is a long way from the "classic" sound of the better-known Thank Christ for the Bomb/Split/Who Will Save the World? trilogy. Indeed, the mellow classic blues through which the band pursues its nine tracks offer the unsuspecting listener little more than a direct blast from the peak of the British blues boom past. Early Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack, and Savoy Brown all haunted precisely the same corridors as Scratching the Surface, with only the occasional burst of fuzzed Tony McPhee guitar to distinguish the sonics from the rest of the pack. That said, Scratching the Surface ranks among the finest albums to emerge out of that entire period, a moody shuffle that includes an epic recounting of the Chicago classic "Still a Fool" and which matches five solid McPhee originals with a pair of blistering contributions from outgoing harmonica whiz Steve Rye. In fact, his "Early in the Morning" and "You Don't Love Me" might well be the album's best numbers, a discrepancy that puts one in mind of another of the blues boom's hottest acts, Jethro Tull, and just how much they changed once a founding member (Mick Abrahams) departed. Again, if you arrive at Scratching the Surface in search of a fresh "Cherry Red" or "Status People," you'll probably be disappointed. But if you want to hear the blues sluicing straight out of the Southern England Delta, there are precious few better introductions. 

Thank Christ for the Bomb was the first Groundhogs album to indicate that the group had a lifespan longer than the already-fading British blues boom suggested. It was also the first in the sequence of semi-conceptual masterpieces that the group cut following their decision to abandon the mellow blues of their earlier works and pursue the socially aware, prog-inflected bent that culminated with 1972's seminal Who Will Save the World? album. They were rewarded with their first ever Top Ten hit and purchasers were rewarded with an album that still packs a visceral punch in and around Tony McPhee's dark, doom-laden lyrics. With the exception of the truly magisterial title track, the nine tracks err on the side of brevity. Only one song, the semi-acoustic "Garden," strays over the five-minute mark, while four more barely touch three-and-one-half minutes. Yet the overall sense of the album is almost bulldozing, and it is surely no coincidence that, engineering alongside McPhee's self-production, 

Martin Birch came to the Groundhogs fresh from Deep Purple in Rock and wore that experience firmly on his sleeve. Volume and dynamics aside, there are few points of comparison between the two albums -- if the Groundhogs have any direct kin, it would have to be either the similarly three-piece Budgie or a better-organized Edgar Broughton Band. But, just as Deep Purple was advancing the cause of heavy rock by proving that you didn't need to be heavy all the time, so Thank Christ for the Bomb shifts between light and dark, introspection and outspokenness, loud and, well, louder. Even the acoustic guitars can make your ears bleed when they feel like it and, although the anti-war sentiments of "Thank Christ for the Bomb" seem an over-wordy echo of Purple's similarly themed "Child in Time," it is no less effective for it. Elements of Thank Christ for the Bomb do seem overdone today, not the least of which is the title track's opening recitation (a history of 20th century war, would you believe?). But it still has the ability to chill, thrill, and kill any doubts that such long-windiness might evoke, while the truths that were evident to McPhee in 1970 aren't too far from reality today.
by Dave Thompson

Recorded during June of 1969 at Marquee Studios in London with Gary Collins and Colin Caldwell engineering, the trio of Groundhogs put the blues to rest on Blues Obituary in front of a castle on the Hogart-designed cover while six black and whites from photographer Zorin Matic grace the back in morbid Creepy or Eerie Magazine comic book fashion. Composed, written, and arranged by Tony "T.S." McPhee, there are seven tracks hovering from the around four- to seven-minute mark. The traditional "Natchez Burning," arranged by McPhee, fits in nicely with his originals while the longest track, the six-minute-and-50-second "Light Is the Day," features the most innovation -- a Ginger Baker-style tribal rant by drummer Ken Pustelnik allowing McPhee to lay down some muted slide work. As the tempo on the final track elevates along with manic guitar runs by McPhee, the jamming creates a color separate from the rest of the disc while still in the same style. Vocals across the board are kept to a minimum. It is all about the sound, Cream without the flash, bandleader McPhee vocally emulating Alvin Lee (by way of Canned Heat's Alan Wilson) on the four-minute conclusion to side one that is "Mistreated." 

While Americans like Grand Funk's Mark Farner turned the format up a commercial notch, Funk's "Mean Mistreater" sporting the same sentiment while reaching a wider audience, the Groundhogs on this late-'60s album keep the blues purely in the underground. The pumping beat on "Mistreated" embraces the lead guitarist's vocal, which poses that eternal blues question: "what have I done that's wrong?" Blistering guitar on the opening track, "B.D.D.," sets the pace for this deep excursion into the musical depths further down than Canned Heat ever dared go. While "Daze of the Weak" starts off sludgy enough, it quickly moves like a train out of control, laying back only to explode again. "Times" get things back to more traditional roots on an album that breaks little new ground, and is as consistent as Savoy Brown when they got into their primo groove. 
by Joe Viglione

As the Groundhogs' best example of their gritty blues-rock fire and unique form of guitar-driven music, Split reveals more about Tony McPhee's character, perseverance, and pure love for performing this style of blues than any other album. Based around the misunderstanding and mystery of schizophrenia, Split takes a raw, bottom-heavy recipe of spirited, spunky guitar riffs (some of the best that McPhee has ever played) and attaches them to some well-maintained and intelligently written songs. The first four tracks are simply titled "Part One" to "Part Four" and instantly enter Split's eccentric, almost bizarre conceptual realm, but it's with "Cherry Red" that the album's full blues flavor begins to seep through, continuing into enigmatic but equally entertaining tracks like "A Year in the Life" and the mighty finale, entitled "Groundhog." Aside from McPhee's singing, there's a noticeable amount of candor in Peter Cruickshank's baggy, unbound percussion, which comes across as aimless and beautifully messy in order to complement the blues-grunge feel of the album. Murky, fuzzy, and wisely esoteric, Split harbors quite a bit of energy across its eight tracks, taking into consideration that so much atmosphere and spaciousness is conjured up by only three main instruments. This album, along with 1972's Who Will Save the World?, are regarded as two of the strongest efforts from the Groundhogs, but Split instills a little bit more of McPhee's vocal passion and dishes out slightly stronger portions of his guitar playing to emphasize the album's theme. 
by Mike DeGagne

The final installment in the Groundhogs' trio of early '70s masterpieces--also including 1970's THANK CHRIST FOR THE BOMB and 1971's SPLIT--WHO WILL SAVE THE WORLD features eight epic tracks, so stripped-to-the-bone and brutal they are barely definable as blues. With the classic line-up of the band recording for the last time (drummer Ken Pestelnik departed after this album's release), the album has some of the heaviest cuts in their oeuvre: "Earth is Not Room Enough" finds a riffy groove dissolving into mellotron-driven confusion; "Death of the Sun" foregrounds frantically layered piano and guitar arpeggios; and the album's closer, "The Grey Maze," highlights the devastating guitar work that made Tony McPhee a British legend. Hearing the latter's fret heroics, one would be hard pressed to disagree with the album's premise (bolstered by the artwork of D.C. Comics illustrator Neal Adams) that the Mighty Groundhogs were indeed here to save the world. 
by Patrick Sullivan
Disc 1
Scratching The Surface 1968
1. Rocking Chair - 4:15
2. Early In The Morning (Steve Rye) - 4:51
3. Walking Blues - 2:30
4. Married Men - 4:40
5. No More Doggin' - 4:57
6. Man Trouble - 6:27
7. Come Back Baby - 3:55
8. You Don't Love Me (Steve Rye) - 4:11
9. Still A Fool (McKinley Morganfield) - 6:36
Bonus Track
10.Still A Fool (Single Edit) (McKinley Morganfield) - 4:09
Blues Obituary 1969
11.B.D.D. - 3:50
12.Daze Of The Weak - 5:16
13.Times - 5:20
14.Mistreated - 4:04
All song by Tony McPhee except where noted
Disc 2
Blues Obituary 1969
1. Express Man (Traditional) - 3:59
2. Natchez Burning (Traditional) - 4:39
3. Light Was The Day - 6:54
Bonus Track
4. BDD (Mono Mix) - 2:54
Thank Christ For The Bomb 1970
5. Strange Town - 4:21
6. Darkness Is No Friend - 3:48
7. Soldier - 4:55
8. Thank Christ For The Bomb - 7:25
9. Ship On The Ocean - 3:28
10.Garden - 5:25
11.Status People - 3:34
12.Rich Man, Poor Man - 3:27
13.Eccentric Man - 4:56
Split 1971
14.Split - Part One - 4:30
15.Split - Part Two - 5:15
16.Split - Part Three - 4:31
17.Split - Part Four - 5:44
All song by Tony McPhee except where stated
Disc 3
Split 1971
1. Cherry Red - 5:44
2. A Year In The Life - 3:16
3. Junkman - 5:03
4. Groundhog - 5:53
Who Will Save The World? The Mighty Groundhogs 1972
5. Earth Is Not Room Enough - 4:49
6. Wages Of Peace - 4:38
7. Body In Mind - 3:50
8. Music Is The Food Of Thought - 4:39
9. Bog Roll Blues - 3:10
10.Death Of The Sun - 2:53
11.Amazing Grace (Traditional) - 2:25
12.The Grey Maze - 10:10
All song by Tony McPhee except where indicated

The Groundhogs
*Tony McPhee - Guitar, Vocals, Harmonium,  Mellotron, Synthesizer
*Ken Pustelnik - Drums
*Peter Cruickshank - Bass
*Jo Ann Kelly - Guitar

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Crosby Stills And Nash - Crosby Stills And Nash (1977 us / uk, marvelous folk rock, 2013 24k gold audio fidelity)

The times had certainly changed since Déjà Vu's release in 1970. Nevertheless, there was a hunger in audiences for a return to the harmony-soaked idealism with which the trio had been catapulted to popularity, and CSN consequently reached number two on the charts, behind Fleetwood Mac's megasuccessful Rumours. The music here is very good, though probably not up to the hard-to-match level of Crosby, Stills & Nash or Déjà Vu. 

Still, the songs showed a great deal of lyrical maturity and compositional complexity compared to those earlier albums (from a far more innocent time). "Just a Song Before I Go" was the latest of Graham Nash's radio-friendly acoustic numbers, and a Top Ten single. "See the Changes" and "Dark Star" ranked with the best of Stephen Stills' work, while David Crosby contributed three classics from his distinctive oeuvre: "Shadow Captain," "Anything at All," and the beautiful "In My Dreams." 

Nash's multi-part "Cathedral," a recollection of an acid trip taken in Winchester Cathedral on his 32nd birthday, became a staple of the group's live repertoire. CSN was the trio's last fully realized album, and also the last recording on which the three principals handled all the vocal parts without the sweetening of additional voices. It has held up remarkably well, both as a memento of its time and as a thoroughly enjoyable musical work. 
by Jim Newsom 
1. Shadow Captain (David Crosby, Craig Doerge) - 4:33
2. See The Changes (Stephen Stills) - 2:59
3. Carried Away (Graham Nash) - 2:33
4. Fair Game (Stephen Stills) - 3:31
5. Anything At All (David Crosby) - 3:05
6. Cathedral (Graham Nash) - 5:26
7. Dark Star (Stephen Stills) - 4:45
8. Just A Song Before I Go (Graham Nash) - 2:14
9. Run from Tears (Stephen Stills) - 4:02
10.Cold Rain (Graham Nash) - 2:34
11.In My Dreams (David Crosby) - 5:11
12.I Give You Give Blind (Stephen Stills) - 3:23

*David Crosby - Vocals, Rhythm, Acoustic Guitar, String Arrangements
*Stephen Stills - Vocals, Guitars, Electric Piano, Piano, String Arrangements
*Graham Nash - Vocals, Piano, Harmonica, String Arrangements
*Joe Vitale – Drums, Organ, Electric Piano, Percussion, Flute, Tympani, Vibraphone
*Craig Doerge – Piano, Electric Piano
*Mike Finnigan - Organ
*George "Chocolate" Perry - Bass
*Jimmy Haslip - Bass
*Tim Drummond - Bass
*Gerald Johnson - Bass
*Russ Kunkel - Drums, Congas, Percussion
*Ray Barretto - Congas
*Mike Lewis - String Arrangements
*Joel Bernstein - String Arrangements

1970  Crosby Stills Nash And Young - Deja Vu (2008 japan SHM remaster)
1971  Crosby Stills Nash And Young - 4 Way Street (2016 japan double disc remaster) 
1974  Crosby Stills Nash And Young - Live (2013 four discs box set)
1972  Graham Nash David Crosby - Graham Nash David Crosby (2008 remaster)
1964  The Byrds - Preflyte (2012 double disc edition)
1973  Byrds (Reunion Album, 2004 issue) 
1971  Graham Nash - Songs For Beginners (2008 digipak remaster)
1973  Graham Nash - Wild Tales
1968  Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, Steve Stills - The Super Sessions (2014 Hybrid Multichannel SACD 24/88)
1970  Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills (debut album, 2008 japan SHM remaster)
1972  Stephen Stills - Manassas (2006 HDCD)
1971-73  Manassas - Pieces (2009 release)
1973  Stephen Stills And Manassas - Down The Road (Japan issue)
1975-76/78  Stephen Stills - Stills / Illegal Stills / Thoroughfare Gap
1976  The Stills Young Band - Long May You Run

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Crosby Stills Nash And Young - Deja Vu (1970 uk / canada / us, folk rock masteripiece, 2008 japan SHM remaster)

One of the most hotly awaited second albums in history -- right up there with those by the Beatles and the Band -- Déjà Vu lived up to its expectations and rose to number one on the charts. Those achievements are all the more astonishing given the fact that the group barely held together through the estimated 800 hours it took to record Déjà Vu and scarcely functioned as a group for most of that time. Déjà Vu worked as an album, a product of four potent musical talents who were all ascending to the top of their game coupled with some very skilled production, engineering, and editing. 

There were also some obvious virtues in evidence -- the addition of Neil Young to the Crosby, Stills & Nash lineup added to the level of virtuosity, with Young and Stephen Stills rising to new levels of complexity and volume on their guitars. Young's presence also ratcheted up the range of available voices one notch and added a uniquely idiosyncratic songwriter to the fold, though most of Young's contributions in this area were confined to the second side of the LP. Most of the music, apart from the quartet's version of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock," was done as individual sessions by each of the members when they turned up (which was seldom together), contributing whatever was needed that could be agreed upon. "Carry On" worked as the album's opener when Stills "sacrificed" another copyright, "Questions," which comprised the second half of the track and made it more substantial. "Woodstock" and "Carry On" represented the group as a whole, while the rest of the record was a showcase for the individual members.

David Crosby's "Almost Cut My Hair" was a piece of high-energy hippie-era paranoia not too far removed in subject from the Byrds' "Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man," only angrier in mood and texture (especially amid the pumping organ and slashing guitars); the title track, also by Crosby, took 100 hours to work out and was a better-received successor to such experimental works as "Mind Gardens," out of his earlier career with the Byrds, showing his occasional abandonment of a rock beat, or any fixed rhythm at all, in favor of washing over the listener with tones and moods. "Teach Your Children," the major hit off the album, was a reflection of the hippie-era idealism that still filled Graham Nash's life, while "Our House" was his stylistic paean to the late-era Beatles and "4+20" was a gorgeous Stephen Stills blues excursion that was a precursor to the material he would explore on the solo album that followed.

And then there were Neil Young's pieces, the exquisitely harmonized "Helpless" (which took many hours to get to the slow version finally used) and the roaring country-ish rockers that ended side two, which underwent a lot of tinkering by Young -- even his seeming throwaway finale, "Everybody I Love You," was a bone thrown to longtime fans as perhaps the greatest Buffalo Springfield song that they didn't record. All of this variety made Déjà Vu a rich musical banquet for the most serious and personal listeners, while mass audiences reveled in the glorious harmonies and the thundering electric guitars, which were presented in even more dramatic and expansive fashion on the tour that followed. 
by Bruce Eder
1. Carry On (Stephen Stills) - 4:25
2. Teach Your Children (Graham Nash) - 2:53
3. Almost Cut My Hair (David Crosby) - 4:25
4. Helpless (Neil Young) - 3:30
5. Woodstock (Joni Mitchell) - 3:52
6. Déjà Vu (David Crosby) - 4:10
7. Our House (Graham Nash) - 2:59
8. 4 + 20 (Stephen Stills) - 1:55
9. Country Girl: Whiskey Boot Hill/Down, Down, Down/"Country Girl" (I Think You Are Pretty) (Neil Young) - 5:05
10.Everybody I Love You (Stephen Stills, Neil Young) - 2:20

*David Crosby - Guitar, Various Instruments, Vocals
*Graham Nash - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*Stephen Stills - Bass, Composer, Guitar, Keyboards, Member of Attributed Artist, Performer, Producer, Various Instruments, Vocals
*Neil Young - Guitar, Harmonica, Keyboards, Piano, Various Instruments, Vocals
*Greg Reeves - Bass, Percussion
*Dallas Taylor - Drums, Percussion
*Jerry Garcia - Steel Guitar, Slide Guitar
*John Sebastian - Autoharp, Harmonica

1971  Crosby Stills Nash And Young - 4 Way Street (2016 japan double disc remaster) 
1974  Crosby Stills Nash And Young - Live (2013 four discs box set)
1972  Graham Nash David Crosby - Graham Nash David Crosby (2008 remaster)
1964  The Byrds - Preflyte (2012 double disc edition)
1973  Byrds (Reunion Album, 2004 issue) 
1971  Graham Nash - Songs For Beginners (2008 digipak remaster)
1973  Graham Nash - Wild Tales
1968  Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, Steve Stills - The Super Sessions (2014 Hybrid Multichannel SACD 24/88)
1970  Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills (debut album, 2008 japan SHM remaster)
1972  Stephen Stills - Manassas (2006 HDCD)
1971-73  Manassas - Pieces (2009 release)
1973  Stephen Stills And Manassas - Down The Road (Japan issue)
1975-76/78  Stephen Stills - Stills / Illegal Stills / Thoroughfare Gap
1976  The Stills Young Band - Long May You Run

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Barclay James Harvest - Live (1974 uk, spectacular soft prog rock, 2005 edition)

Having been dropped by Harvest due to poor record sales and spiralling costs (they insisted on touring with an orchestra) they signed with Polydor Records in January 1974. To support their latest album Everybody Is Everybody Else (a prog classic if ever there was one) a UK tour was set in motion with the Liverpool Stadium and London’s Theatre Royal shows earmarked for recording their first live album. The Liverpool gig was cancelled on the eleventh hour when the bands road crew discovered that the venues electrical system was in a potentially lethal state. The 30th June London gig on the other hand got off to a resounding start but sadly the performance was blighted by the less than trusty Mellotron which failed to co-operate during the show.

A rescheduled Liverpool Stadium performance went ahead on 31st August 1974 but the pressure was on to have the live album in the shops before Christmas. As a result Barclay James Harvest Live released in November 1974 was taken mainly from the London recordings with some minimal studio overdubs plus the occasional song from Liverpool to replace those that couldn’t be salvaged from the London tapes. Whilst several songs remain in the bands set list to this day, some like guitarist John Lees’ epic Summer Soldier (from their final Harvest album Baby James Harvest) were living on borrowed time. A pity because it provides a magisterial opening to the show and it’s also one of the songs that first attracted me to the band. Melody wise it’s reminiscent of the bands popular Hymn but more ambitious drawing on the symphonic grandeur of earlier classics like After The Day. The band is clearly on top form from the outset, especially the late Mel Pritchard who gives a powerhouse performance throughout. Only keyboardist Stuart ‘Woolly’ Wolstenholme’s ever present Mellotron lets the side down sounding a tad muddy despite the post production tinkering.

Summer Soldier segues into Medicine Man which is basically an excuse for the band to indulge in some rare and lengthy soloing. This includes some very Yes like moments especially Woolly’s manic synth break and Les Holroyd’s thunderous bass workout. Crazy City sounds as tuneful as ever and reveals Holroyd’s love of US west coat music including some neat harmonies in the vein of The Eagles. Following the obligatory band introductions from Wolstenholme they launch into After The Day where the keyboardist also provides the vocals. This song remains the bands crowning glory in my humble opinion although the slightly ragged sound here doesn’t match the quality of the version that can be found on 2007’s Legacy DVD. Lees’ guitar work however is as stirring as ever and there is also a sneaky reference to The Moody Blues’ Nights In White Satin.

The poignant The Great 1974 Mining Disaster is treated to a fine performance with superb harmonies from Lees and Holroyd and once again drummer Pritchard provides a master class in technique. A beautiful rendition of the exquisite Galadriel leads into the uncharacteristic (for BJH) sounding Negative Earth, a pleasant if not outstanding tune and probably the weakest from the then latest album despite the Pink Floydish coda. It’s no surprise that it quickly disappeared from the bands set list after this tour. She Said is more like it, taken from the bands second album it’s full of pomp and splendour with Lees’ rousing guitar solo going into overdrive. Paper Wings is another tuneful but fairly average song from Holroyd and even the lively instrumental break sounds a little contrived by BJH’s usual standards.

For No One is another standout song from Everybody Is Everybody Else with the memorable chorus providing the albums title. Lees’ soling over the backdrop of Mellotron strings is archetypal Barclay James Harvest. Unsurprisingly the bands signature tune Mockingbird provides the encore and as prog rock classics go this is the genuine article. Furthermore this is quite possibly the definitive version with a stunning performance from the band interlocking brilliantly during the instrumental section. Even the Melly behaved itself on this occasion sounding suitably grand. 
by GeoffF Feakes
1. Summer Soldier (John Lees) - 10:19
2. Medicine Man (John Lees) - 10:27
3. Crazy City (Les Holroyd) - 4:59
4. After The Day (John Lees) - 7:11
5. The Great 1974 Mining Disaster (John Lees) - 6:32
6. Galadriel (John Lees) - 3:09
7. Negative Earth (Les Holroyd, Mel Pritchard) - 6:20
8. She Said (Les Holroyd) - 8:33
9. Paper Wings (Les Holroyd, Mel Pritchard) - 4:19
10.For No One (John Lees) - 5:51
11.Mockingbird (John Lees) - 7:41
Recorded Live at the Theatre Royal, London and at the Stadium, Liverpool in 29-30/June 1974

Barclay James Harvest
*John Lees - Lead Guitar, Recorder, Vocals
*Stuart "Woolly" Wolstenholme - Mellotron, Electric Piano, Moog, Vocals
*Les Holroyd - Bass Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Mel Pritchard - Drums

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