Monday, April 29, 2019

Roy Buchanan - Telemaster Live In '75 (1975 us, spectacular blues funky rock, 2017 remaster)

This is the third in a series of previously unreleased live gigs – and though it’s not all 1975 (the first six songs are from the year on the title card, the final two come from 1973, the band is largely the same for all) it is all great.

Worth it for Buchanan’s dazzle across signature pieces like I Used To Have A Woman and The Messiah Will Come Again.

Heck, even when he’s trotting out bar-room blues staples such as Further On Up The Road and Sweet Home Chicago, there’s real fire in his playing.

The version of Don Gibson’s Sweet Dreams (from ’73) is a sublime closer. Like Peter Green and really only one or two others Buchanan had something truly special in his touch, something utterly believable in his soul. He took the blues on his journey while always being respectful to the form.

It’s a solid crew behind him, road-tight and tested. With drummer Byrd Foster a sympathetic hand and bassist John Harrison capable as a vocalist when needed, since that wasn’t Roy’s thing.

Even when the band rocks things up a lot (Running Out, Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On) it’s worth it for the way Buchanan paints himself into, and then straight out of, the corners of the tune. His attack on Running Out is tremendous, all scrambly and scratchy.

Also, these recordings are – sonically – wonderful. No patchiness, nothing lost. It’s a great live sound that’s been captured here. Probably it’s just for existing Roy fans. But his sad story was score by mesmerising music and so the legend lives on.
by Simon Sweetman
1. Can I Change My Mind (Barry Despenza, Carl Wolfolk) - 6:48
2. Running Out (Roy Buchanan, John Harrison) - 3:18
3. Further On Up The Road (Don Robey, Joe Veasey) - 3:40
4. I Used To Have A Woman (Roy Buchanan) - 7:23
5. Sweet Home Chicago (Robert Johnson) - 3:09
6. The Messiah Will Come Again (Roy Buchanan) - 7:24
7. Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On (Sunny David, Dave Williams) - 3:35
8. Sweet Dreams (Don Gibson) - 4:00

*Roy Buchanan - Vocals, Guitar
*Byrd Foster - Drums
*John Harrison - Bass, Vocals
*Dick Heintze - Organ
*Malcolm Lukens - Organ, Piano

1969-71  Roy Buchanan - The Prophet
1969-78  Roy Buchanan - Sweet Dreams The Anthology
1972-73 Roy Buchanan - Roy Buchanan / Second Album
1974  Roy Buchanan - Live At Town Hall (2018 double disc set)
1977  Roy Buchanan - Loading Zone (2005 remaster)
1978  Roy Buchanan - Live In Japan (2003 remaster)

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Sunday, April 28, 2019

Stillwater - I Reserve The Right (1978 us, good southern rock, 2007 remaster)

I Reserve the Right album features a naked man running down the main street of a major city, which is a little more appealing than the wardrobe this seven-piece group sports on the back cover. They look like they just got off work for the day at the farm, so you know without the image they'd better have some chops to warrant this record's release. Lead guitarist Rob Walker's "Alone on a Saturday Night" is a beautiful song, with drummer Sebie Lacey getting the honors for the lead vocal. It is the tune that stands out and grabs you on a decent outing produced by Stillwater and engineer Tad Bush for Buddy Buie Productions. 

The title track sounds like it is a cross between Duke & the Drivers meets Bachman Turner Overdrive sans Randy Bachman; it is truck-driving rock, the qualities of "Alone on a Saturday Night" or the other subdued highlight here, "Women (Beautiful Women)." With no Top 40 hit to their credit and not much of a cult for this genre of music, this fairly decent outing is one for the bargain bins. Having the Muscle Shoals Horns contribute is pretty neat, and there are some enjoyable moments here nonetheless. 
by Joe Viglione
1. I Reserve The Right (Buddy Buie, Jimmy Hall, Mike Causey, Rob Walker, Sebie Lacey) - 7:09
2. Women (Beautiful Woman) (Buddy Buie, Rob Walker, Sebie Lacey) - 4:25
3. Keeping Myself Alive (Buddy Buie, James B. Cobb Jr.) - 2:53
4. Kalifornia Kool (Allison Scarborough, Buddy Buie, Jimmy Hall, Rob Walker, Sebie Lacey) - 3:31
5. Sometimes Sunshine (Buddy Buie, James B. Cobb Jr., Mike Causey, Robert Nix) - 4:06
6. Fair Warning (Bobby Golden, Buddy Buie, Jimmy Hall, Mike Causey, Rob Walker) - 4:28
7. Alone On A Saturday Night (Rob Walker) - 2:09
8. Ain't We A Pair (Buddy Buie, Jimmy Hall, Mike Causey, Rob Walker) - 4:26

*Mike Causey - Guitar
*Bobby Golden - Guitar, Vocals
*Jimmy Hall - Percussion, Vocals
*Sebie Lacey - Drums, Vocals
*Allison Scarborough - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*Bob Spearman - Keyboards
*Robert Walker - Guitar, Vocals
*Steve Hulse - Strings

1977  Stillwater - Stillwater (Vinyl edition)  

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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Stillwater - Stillwater (1977 us, fine southern rock, Vinyl edition)

Stillwater was an obscure multi-membered Southern rock band that featured the triple guitar team of Mike Causey (guitar), Bobby Golden (guitar, vocals), and Rob Walker (guitar), plus Jimmy Hall (vocals, percussion), Allison Scarborough (bass, vocals), Bob Spearman (keyboards, vocals), and Sebie Lacey (drums). Originally formed in Georgia during 1973, Stillwater issued a pair of albums during the late '70s -- 1977's self titled debut and 1979's I Reserve the Right! -- and narrowly missed scoring a Top 40 hit single with the track "Mind Bender." 

Between the near-hit single and steady opening gigs for the Atlanta Rhythm Section and the Charlie Daniels Band (the latter of which was riding high at the time with the monster crossover hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia"), Stillwater seemed to be on the right track for breakthrough success. But when their record label, Capricorn Records, hit upon hard times, Stillwater found themselves without a label, and broke up soon thereafter. Several live tracks from 1978 were included on the 1997 Alive Down South multi-artist collection, which was followed by a Stillwater reunion the same year. A new album, Running Free, was released a year later, and the group began to play live shows once more.
by Greg Prato
1. Rock 'n' Roll Loser (Rob Walker) - 4:14
2. Out On A Limb (Bob Spearman, Jimmy Hall, Mike Causey, Rob Walker) - 3:57
3. Sunshine Blues (Bob Spearman, Bobby Golden, Buddy Buie, Jimmy Hall) - 3:37
4. Sam's Jam (Allison Scarborough, Bob Spearman, Bobby Golden, Buddy Buie, Jimmy Hall, Mike Causey, Sebie Lacey) - 9:36
5. Mindbender (Buddy Buie, Rob Walker) - 4:14
6. Universal Fool (Buddy Buie, Jimmy Hall, Rob Walker) - 6:58
7. April Love (Buddy Buie, Mike Causey, Rob Walker) - 4:08
8. Fantasy Park (Allison Scarborough, Buddy Buie, Jimmy Hall, Mike Causey, Rob Walker) - 4:07

*Mike Causey - Guitar
*Bobby Golden - Guitar
*Jimmy Hall - Percussion, Vocals
*Sebie Lacey - Drums, Vocals
*Allison Scarborough - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*Bob Spearman - Keyboards
*Robert Walker - Guitar, Vocals

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Roy Buchanan - Live At Town Hall (1974 us, fantastic blues rock with impressive guitar parts, 2018 double disc set)

Roy Buchanan is one of those artists who seemed to just excel in front of a live audience. A true guitarists’ guitarist, he never had a strong desire to be a studio maverick. Buchanan just wanted to play. While his early studio LPs are all certified classics, 30 years since his passing it is his live sound is what he will be remembered for.

Live Stock, his first official live album released in 1975, is a glimpse of what a typical Buchanan show might have been during his glory days. However, the album only features eight tracks and doesn’t really give the listener the full extent of a live performance.  Now over 40 years later, we can hear the whole thing. Live at Town Hall, offers the listener the complete Live Stock show.

Over the course of the double CD set, we can fully experience two full sets of Buchanan’s at the height of his career. It’s easy to picture a smoke-filled room reeking of stale beer and old sweat seeing ol’ stone faced Butch making his ’53 Telecaster squeal.

While Buchanan’s guitar prowess is at the peak of its powers, the music can suffer at times due to the occasionally trite singing, which can seem uninspired in parts. Billy Price, who provides the vocals here, sang on the majority of his ‘70s work but never quite had the power of Butch’s first singer, Chuck Tiley. Nevertheless, the ferocious guitar playing makes up for it. Tracks like “Too Many Drivers”, “Done Your Daddy Wrong” and most importantly “Roy’s Bluz” are pure brilliance.
by Ryan Sagadore
Disc 1 Early Set
1. Done Your Daddy Dirty (Roy Buchanan) - 3:17
2. Reelin' And Rockin' (Roy Milton) - 2:13
3. Hot Cha (Willie Woods) - 4:12
4. Further On Up The Road (Don Robey, Joe Medwick Veasey) - 3:39
5. Roy's Bluz (Roy Buchanan) - 8:01
6. Can I Change My Mind (Barry Despenza, Carl Wolfolk) - 5:47
7. Hey Joe (Billy Roberts) - 8:36
8. Too Many Drivers (Andrew Hogg) - 2:50
9. Down By The River (Neil Young) - 9:16
10.I'm A Ram (Al Green, Mabon "Teenie" Hodges) - 4:23
11.In The Beginning (Roy Buchanan) - 2:19
12.Driftin' And Driftin' (Charles Brown, Johnny Moore, Eddie Williams) - 7:45

Disc 2 Late Set
1. I'm Evil (Roy Buchanan) - 3:48
2. Too Many Drivers (Andrew Hogg) - 5:07
3. Done Your Daddy Dirty (Roy Buchanan) - 2:03
4. Roy's Bluz (Roy Buchanan) - 8:48
5. Further On Up The Road (Don Robey, Joe Medwick Veasey) - 3:56
6. Hey Joe (Billy Roberts) - 8:07
7. Can I Change My Mind (Barry Despenza, Carl Wolfolk) - 6:18
8. In The Beginning (Roy Buchanan) - 2:30
9. All Over Again (I've Got A Mind To Give Up Living) (Carl Adams, B.B. King) - 8:55

*Roy Buchanan - Guitar, Vocals
*Ron "Byrd" Foster - Drums
*John Harrison - Bass
*Malcolm Lukens - Keyboards
*Billy Price - Vocals

1969-71  Roy Buchanan - The Prophet
1969-78  Roy Buchanan - Sweet Dreams The Anthology
1972-73 Roy Buchanan - Roy Buchanan / Second Album
1977  Roy Buchanan - Loading Zone (2005 remaster)
1978  Roy Buchanan - Live In Japan (2003 remaster)

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Barclay James Harvest - Once Again (1971 uk, remarkable prog rock with orchestrated arrangements, 2011 remaster and expanded)

The British progressive rock band Barclay James Harvest were founded in Saddleworth, Yorkshire (UK) in September 1966 by John Lees (guitar, vocals), Les Holroyd (bass guitar, vocals), the deceased Mel Pritchard (drums) and keyboardist Stuart 'Woolly' Wolstenholme, who passed away in December 2010. After signing with EMI's Parlophone record label in 1968 for one single, they moved to EMI's Harvest-label that was more specialized in progressive rock. BJH released their eponymous debut album in the summer of 1970. It got very positive reviews, but few sales. Their second album Once Again gained more favourable reviews followed by a tour with a classical orchestra conducted by Robert John Godfrey (The Enid).

Generally Once Again is regarded as being one of the strongest efforts by BJH featuring powerful, epic tracks as Song For Dying, She Said and the classic piece Mocking Bird, one of their best known songs. John Lees wrote Mocking Bird in 1968 while he was living with the parents of his future wife Olwen. The song is based on a musical phrase from Pools Of Blue, which he wrote around the same time. It can be found on the CD-version of the debut album as one of the bonus tracks. Another classic BJH-piece is Galadriel on which John Lees played on John Lennon's Epiphone Casino guitar that stood in a corner of the Abbey Road Studios. Later on he wrote a melancholic song about this event called John Lennon's Guitar that appeared on the album Welcome To The Show (1990).

Early 2011, EMI released the 40th anniversary edition of Once Again. The two-disc set comprises a CD with a remastered stereo version of the album, five previously unreleased bonus tracks plus a DVD audio disc with the original album in 5.1 Dolby surround and high resolution stereo. After listening again to this album after such a long time I could only conclude that BJH must have been in great shape in those days. The eight compositions are of a very high level. Recording a radio-friendly hit wasn't something they had in mind, unlike several years later. 

All songs are pure and honestly written right from the heart with power and passion. They got complete artistic freedom and could experiment with whatever they would like to create. So they used a Mellotron and asked a classical orchestra to support them which was something bands hardly did at the time. You can hear the orchestra on Mocking Bird and Galadriel. Versions of these songs without the orchestra have been added to this release as bonus tracks. They still sound very strong thanks to the intense Mellotron parts. There has also been added an unreleased version of Mocking Bird as it was recorded in May 1970. It doesn't sound very different from the version that made it to the album. Other previously unreleased songs you can enjoy are the first take of Happy Old World and the full u nedited version of Song For Dying. A special addition is the short piece Introduction- White Sails (A Seascape). Here we can hear the orchestra in full splendour.
by Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
1. She Said (John Lees) - 8:21
2. Happy Old World (Woolly Wolstenholme) - 4:41
3. Song For Dying - 5:02
4. Galadriel (John Lees) - 3:14
5. Mocking Bird - 6:39
6. Vanessa Simmons (John Lees) - 3:46
7. Ball And Chain - 4:49
8. Lady Loves - 4:01
9. Mocking Bird (May 1970 Version) - 6:17
10.Introduction - White Sails (A Seascape) (Woolly Wolstenholme) - 1:43
11.Too Much On Your Plate - 5:31
12.Galadriel (Non Orchestral Version) (John Lees) - 3:12
13.Happy Old World (Take One) (Woolly Wolstenholme) - 4:40
14.Song For Dying (Full Un-edited Version) - 7:02
15.Mocking Bird (Extended Non-orchestral Version) - 8:01
All compositions by Les Holroyd, John Lees, Mel Pritchard, Woolly Wolstenholme except where indicated
Bonus Tracks 9-15

Barclay James Harvest
*John Lees - Vocals, Guitars, Recorder
*Les Holroyd - Vocals, Bass, Guitars, Keyboards
*Stuart "Woolly" Wolstenholme - Vocals, Mellotron, Keyboards
*Mel Pritchard - Drums, Percussion
*Alan Parsons - Jaw Harp (On Lady Loves)

1974  Barclay James Harvest - Live (2005 edition) 

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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Three Man Army - A Third Of A Lifetime (1971 uk, stunning power hard guitar rock, bonus tracks remaster)

A Third Of A Lifetime by Three Man Army was one of the first LPs I bought, around 1972 from a cut-out bin in a dodgy independent supermarket, run by a local chancer and located at the rear of a cattle market. Ah…the smell of fresh vinyl and cow shit, I remember it well. As with all those other bargain LPs by obscure bands it shared the rack with, some of which now change hands for large sums, it was bought (or not) on the strength of its cover design, and the look of the band from the photos on the inner sleeve. The cover is a rather clever amalgam of a gun, based around a machine head and a drumstick. It was no doubt a reference to the band’s previous incarnation as much as it tied in with the new and militaristic band name. I am glad I bought it, as it has remained a favourite over all those years. When I saw Esoteric were reissuing this lost gem I just had to take up the scribbling duties, so here goes…

The coming together of Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton in 1966 as Cream not only saw the first instance of what swiftly became known as a supergroup, but it was also the first widely popular rock power trio, beating the likes of The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Taste by a matter of weeks. The power trio would prove to be a format that would become increasingly popular in the years that followed, with bands like Groundhogs – who actually existed before Cream – Blue Cheer, Budgie, Beck Bogert & Appice, ZZ Top and many, many others taking the format on into the ’70s and beyond.

One such trio was UK psychedelic hard rock band Gun, formed in 1967 by guitarist Paul Gurvitz (then known as Curtis), who previous to their 1968 worldwide hit Race With The Devil and subsequent two albums were a larger unit, once famously and briefly including Jon Anderson in the line up. The Yes connection continued, as Gun’s self-titled debut album was illustrated by Roger Dean’s first foray into LP cover art. The version of the band that released records was whittled down to a trio, with Paul Gurvitz on bass guitar, joined by his brother Adrian on lead and rhythm guitar and Louie Farrell on drums.

Gun disbanded after unsuccessful attempts to follow up the hit single, and the brothers briefly went their own ways before reconvening in 1971 as Three Man Army, initially a studio-only project due to other commitments, and ironically without a permanent drummer, rather giving the lie to the name! The punchy band name was reflected in the music, which saw a stylistic shift into the then nascent hard rock sound, as exemplified by contemporaries Budgie, but sweetened by a pop sensibility. The psychedelic embellishments of yore were trimmed right down but not completely shorn, as evidenced by the kaleidoscopic ending to Another Day, probably my favourite track from A Third Of A Lifetime. Largely though, the paisley was replaced by denim, the band pursuing a melodic yet tough rocking sound.

In the post-Gun period Adrian had worked with Buddy Miles, and he appears as a guest drummer on the opening track, offering a typically muscular backing. Buddy Miles also contributes organ to the laid back funk rock of Midnight and bass to the fearsome wah-fest of Nice One. Mike Kellie, on a short sabbatical from Spooky Tooth, who seven or so years later turned up on the drum stool for the fabulous post-punk band The Only Ones is the drummer for the rest of the album, and his percussive flair shines through on Another Day and on Midnight, the gloriously clear mix of this particularly fine remaster highlighting every subtlety of Kellie’s highly musical style.

As with Gun, Adrian Gurvitz writes almost everything for Three Man Army and A Third Of A Lifetime opens with Butter Queen, a song that nails the brothers’ new sound to the floor, it being a fast paced hard rocker that rattles the ornaments in exemplary fashion. Butter Queen, along with the Groundhogs-like sleazy wah-funk of Nice One and the dramatic rhythmic syncopations of See What I Took are ’70s rock classics…I wonder if he wrote them in an attic*?

It’s not all hard rockin’, they did slower songs too, in my humble opinion better than their Welsh contemporaries Budgie, leaders of the UK pack in early ’70s power trio hard rock, but a band whose slow songs sound like the album fillers they were. The romantic instrumental title track here includes a neat string arrangement presaging Adrian’s later forays into the pop market. The pop arrangements Adrian has a knack for are also highlighted on the band anthem Three Man Army, and on Agent Man which both come across as a combination of Slade balladry and early ELO with added guitar wizardry, and both written before either of those bands had got into their stride. Closing with the reflective and latterly joyously charging and symphonic Together, hinting at the musical changes that were afoot in 1971, this is a fine album that does not trap itself into a corner of patchouli scented leather jacketed rocking, as was the case with a lot of similarly structured bands of the time, which is maybe why it didn’t sell in the quantities it certainly deserved to.

Three Man Army eventually became a proper touring band a year or so after this debut, when Adrian’s previous commitments with Buddy Miles had been fulfilled, with renowned tub thumper Tony Newman moving into the drum seat. They recorded two more albums – a third album of unreleased material came out in 2005 – and went on to have moderate success in Europe, and Germany in particular, but the gap between the first album to becoming a touring band meant that impetus was lost here in the UK and they never amounted to anything in their homeland. This was a shame as I consider them to have been at least on a par with their contemporaries, and it took Adrian’s meeting up with Ginger Baker while in the States with Buddy Miles prior to the recording of A Third Of A Lifetime, a meeting that would eventually lead to the formation of the Baker Gurvitz Army, for the brothers to achieve the albeit short-lived level of success that their undoubted talents deserved.
by Roger Trenwith
1. Butter Queen (Adrian Gurvitz, Keith Ellis) - 5:23
2. Daze (Adrian Curtis, Lou Reizner) - 4:02
3. Another Day - 6:49
4. A Third Of A Lifetime - 4:29
5. Nice One - 4:10
6. Three Man Army - 5:05
7. Agent Man - 5:36
8. See What I Took - 3:31
9. Midnight - 5:23
10.Together - 6:34
11.What's Your Name (Single Version) (Adrian Gurvitz, Lee Baxter Hayes) - 3:31
12.Travellin' - 4:00
13.What's Your Name (Previously Unreleased)  (Adrian Gurvitz, Lee Baxter Hayes) - 4:36
All songs by Adrian Gurvitz except where stated
Bonus Tracks 11-13

Three Man Army
*Adrian Gurvitz - Guitar, Vocals, Organ, Mellotron
*Paul Gurvitz - Bass, Vocals
*Mike Kelly - Drums
*Buddy Miles - Drums (Track 1), Bass (Track 5), Organ (Track 9)

1974  Three Man Army - Two (Japan SHM remaster)
Related Acts
1965-67 The Knack - Time Time Time (2007 release)
1968  Gun - Gun
1969  Gun - Gunsight (Japan 2008 remaster)
1971-72  Parrish And Gurvitz - The Parrish And Gurvitz Band (2006 remaster)

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Friday, April 19, 2019

McCully Workshop - Ages (1975 south africa, fine multiblended rock, 2010 bonus tracks edition)

“'Ages' is a sort-of concept album”, remembers Mike McCully. In the early 70's, the promise made by the improvisational bands in the late 60's, like Cream, Iron Butterfly, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and many others, had started to bear fruit. It was a time of rock music becoming really heavy and progressive, but also a time of the Singer-Songwriters genre and Folk Rock. Medieval themes, Lord Of The Rings and 'Dungeons and Dragons' styles were the also the order of the day. Keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman had released an instrumental album about the 'Six Wives Of Henry VIII', Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow had sang about 'The Man On The Silver Mountain' and Uriah Heep celebrated 'The Magician's Birthday'.Mike says that when McCully Workshop used to perform live around that time, the set list would include their arrangements of classical pieces like Bach's 'Toccata in D Minor', Grieg's 'Hall Of The Mountain King' and Strauss' 'Also Sprach Zarathustra' (better known as the theme to '2001: A Space Odyssey)' alongside 'Every Little Thing' by The Beatles and 'The Man From Afghanistan' by Curtiss Maldoon. Quite an eclectic mix.

When asked about his favourite song on the 'Ages' album, Mike McCully says without hesitation: 'I Walked Alone'. “This song had very difficult drumming, and I was influenced by Jim Keltner at the time. And the drumming on 'Guinevere' features double-tracked triplets”, continues Mike, “and live I used to play this with four sticks (a la John Bonham) for audio and visual effect.” The album opener, 'Avenue' is a bass-driven rock track, which echoes 'Salisbury'-era Uriah Heep, whilst 'Carbon Canyon' is an up tempo Steve Miller Band influenced blues boogie with rollicking piano and cool guitar licks from Richard Black (born 9th December 1946) who had been playing guitar with various bands since the mid-60s. He had been in a rock power trio, Elephant, with George Wolfaardt (Abstract Truth) and Savvy Grande (Suck) and he brought his impressive rock credentials into McCully Workshop as a replacement to Bruce Gordon. Black also brought his flute-playing skills to the 'Ages' album, and the flute adds an extra dimension to the Focus-inspired instrumental 'Shingles'. 

'Step On Easy' is influenced by Country Folk Rock, and would not have been out of place on a Stealers Wheel album. 'Blues In C minor' was recorded live at the Students Union Hall at the University Of Cape Town. It is a tongue-in-cheek improvisational live blues jam with Tully trying out his best Louis Armstrong impersonation. “It was a spoof song”, says Tully, “I would make up different lyrics every time I sang it”. Leon Morton's organ-playing shines on this song.

Emerson, Lake and Palmer were a big influence on the recording sessions. Keyboardist Leon Morton loved Keith Emerson, Mike McCully rated Carl Palmer as a top drummer, and Tully McCully is a singing bassist, just like Greg Lake. Leon Morton used an Elka Rhapsody string synthesizer (also used by artists like Jean-Michel Jarre and Tangerine Dream) extensively on the 'Ages' album, and the epic chords on 'The Plague' are thanks to this instrument.

Richard Wilson's violin playing can be heard on a number of tracks on 'Ages' including a few of his own compositions. '1623' and 'Shingles' are among Tully's favourite songs on the album .'Great medieval sounds, mixed in with Irish jigs”, says Tully. “They were very much in the style of 70's prog-rock band East Of Eden`s surprise hit single,. 'Jig-A-Jig' ,we even used to play that song at our live performances”. Richard Wilson was also a classically-trained pianist and his playing can be heard prominently on 'Guinevere'. This song is a powerful prog-rock ballad that reached the LM Radio Top Ten. The vocal harmonies of Crocodile Harris can be heard on this track and it was performed live during the early days of South African TV.

McCully Workshop always prided themselves on their vocal harmonies, and were influenced by bands such as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Yes, The Beach Boys, Uriah Heep, The Moody Blues and The Beatles. “We were always well-rehearsed with our vocal harmonies”, remembers Tully. 'Forgot How To Smile' was penned by Richard Black and Tully wanted to try something different with the vocals, so he put them through a guitar phase pedal! On the subject of strange effects, the echo chamber for this album was the 18 by 12 foot corrugated iron water tank on the roof of the studio building. “We put a speaker on one side, and two mikes on the opposite side to create echo and reverb effects” says Tully. “Then one day a storm came and blew the water tank across the road on top of the building next door!” Unperturbed they strung cables across and continued to use it.
by Brian Currin
1. Avenue - 3:58
2. 1623 (Richard Wilson) - 2:08
3. You - 2:54
4. I Walked Alone (Richard Wilson) - 3:35
5. Carbon Canyon (Richard Black) - 2:50
6. Blues In C Minor - 5:15
7. Step On Easy - 2:40
8. Guinevere - 3:11
9. Goddbye Lonely Blues - 2:56
10.The Plague (Richard Wilson) - 2:54
11.In The Quiet Hours (Richard Black) - 3:13
12.Forgot How To Smile (Richard Black) - 2:34
13.Shingles (Richard Wilson) - 3:43
14.Carnival - 3:14
15.Got A Good Reason - 2:51
16.I'm Waiting - 4:35
17.Inside - 3:52
18.Rainbow'S Illusion - 3:29
19.Gunpoint - 2:54
20.Shamrock - 2:52
All songs by Tully Mccully except where stated
Bonus Tracks 14-20

McCully Workshop
*Mike Mccully - Drums, Vocals
*Tully Mccully - Lead Vocals, Bass, Guitar
*Richard Black - Guitars, Vocals
*Richard Wilson - Violin, Mellotron, Electric Piano
*Leon Morton - Organ, Synthesizer

1970  McCully Workshop - Inc (2009 remaster) 
1971  McCully Workshop - Genesis (2009 remaster) 

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Thursday, April 18, 2019

McGuinness Flint - Happy Birthday Ruthy Baby (1971 uk, great folk pub rock with some prog shades, 2016 japan SHM remaster with bonus tracks)

In the early '70s, Capitol had both the Band and McGuinness Flint on their roster, with both bands producing the best work of their careers. Like the Band, McGuinness Flint excelled by ignoring trends in rock music and drawing on styles with deeper roots. Also like the Band, Happy Birthday, Ruthy Baby is a follow-up that often surpasses their exceptional debut album. Where Dylan's former backup band was making the cover of Time magazine, though, McGuinness Flint remained largely unknown outside their native England. Happy Birthday, Ruthy Baby, with solid production by Glynn Johns and the gifted Nicky Hopkins on piano, expands on the rustic tone of the band's first album. 

The title track is a rousing pub rock tribute to one of the band's supporters, a touching picture of life as a struggling musician. Jazz influences permeate the propulsive "Reader to Writer" and "Fixer," with its stunning trombone solo. "Klondike" is a slice of Americana that could easily pass for a Robbie Robertson composition, and the acoustic "Sparrow" is as moving as any ballad to come out of the '70s. From beginning to end, Happy Birthday, Ruthy Baby is a gem, full of promise for the group. It's unfortunate that the album, and the band, were not more widely appreciated. Principle songwriters Gallagher and Lyle left after this album. Although McGuinness Flint rebounded in style with Lo and Behold, lead singer Dennis Coulson soon started a solo career, and the band folded in 1975. 
by James A. Gardner
1. Happy Birthday, Ruthy Baby - 3:23
2. Conversation - 3:06
3. When I'm Alone With You (Hughie Flint, Tom McGuinness) - 2:42
4. Fixer - 3:55
5. Faith And Gravy - 2:45
6. Klondike - 2:10
7. Reader To Writer - 2:40
8. Changes - 2:44
9. Friends Of Mine - 2:52
10.Piper Of Dreams - 3:41
11.Jimmy's Song - 3:36
12.Sparrow - 2:59
13.Wham Bam (Dennis Coulson, Hughie Flint, Tom McGuinness) - 2:46
14.Back On The Road Again - 2:59
All songs by Benny Gallagher, Graham Lyle except track #3 and #13
Bonus Tracks 13-14

McGuinness Flint
*Tom McGuinness - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*Hughie Flint - Drums, Vocals
*Benny Gallagher - Guitar, Harmonica, Ocarina, Piano, Vocals
*Graham Lyle - Banjo, Bass, Guitar, Vocals, Mandolin
*Dennis Coulson - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*Nicky Hopkins - Keyboards
*Jimmy Jewell - Saxophone
*John Mumford - Trombone

1970  McGuinness Flint - McGuinness Flint (2016 japan SHM bonus tracks remaster)

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

McGuinness Flint - McGuinness Flint (1970 uk, marvelous folk soft rock, 2016 japan SHM bonus tracks remaster)

Here’s another roots rock classic in the same vein as The Band, only this slice of ‘Americana’ is from the UK! McGuinness Flint is sort of ‘The British Band’ and their debut album is a good, straightforward roots rock record worthy of your attention.

McGuinness Flint are Steve McGuinness, former Manfred Mann guitarist, and Hughie Flint, former John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers drummer. They only lasted from about 1970-1973 and thus were a bit ahead of the emerging Pub Rock scene in the UK, which might have provided them some more longevity, but it was well received in 1971. Two of these songs made the top 5 upon release in the UK: the upbeat go-to track, When I’m Dead And Gone(#2), and the polka-ish Malt And Barley Blues(#5). There are fun and strong tunes here like Bodang Buck, and Lazy Afternoon has a great mid-song transition. Mister Mister is brilliantly penned and infinitely catchy. Mainly, a good English folk/blues classic, and a pleasurable listen.

Faintly, the album teases some classic rock schmaltz; I don’t know how comfortable I’d be singing along to the lyrics “Rock on, rock on, everybody’s gonna rock on!” (unless it were a T-Rex song or something). And one time I dj’ed a track from this at a party and had to cut it short. But you can’t let missteps like these be judge. Fans of the Band are sure to be pleased with this quality record and will find the right time and place to let it ride.
by Brendan McGrath
1. Lazy Afternoon (Tom McGuinness, Dennis Coulson, Hughie Flint) - 3:54
2. Bodang Buck - 3:08
3. Mister Mister - 2:07
4. Heritage - 2:21
5. I'm Letting You Know (Tom McGuinness, Dennis Coulson) - 3:28
6. Let It Ride - 2:52
7. Dream, Darling Dream - 1:47
8. When I'm Dead And Gone - 3:41
9. Brother Psyche - 5:07
10.Who You Got To Love - 2:42
11.International - 3:22
12.Malt And Barley Blues - 2:14
13.Rock On (Dave Kelly, Tom McGuinness) - 2:54
All compositions by Benny Gallagher, Graham Lyle except where indicated
Bonus Tracks 12-13

McGuinness Flint
*Tom McGuinness - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*Hughie Flint - Drums, Vocals
*Benny Gallagher - Guitar, Vocals
*Graham Lyle - Guitar, Vocals
*Dennis Coulson - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*Dixie Dean - Bass, Harmonica

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Monday, April 15, 2019

The JuJus You - Treat Me Bad (1965-67 us, excellent garage folk beat psych, 2009 release with extra tracks)

Of all the regional garage bands that were never given the opportunity to record an album, the JuJus were amongst the very best.  They formed in 1964 and played a mixture of frat rock, British Invasion influenced teenbeat and classic garage rock sounds all around the local clubs of Grand Rapids.  Their early tracks can be heard on the above 2009 Cicadelic reissue, it’s an excellent sampling of the group’s career.   The early tracks have saxophones, sappy lyrics and muddy sound but are good for what they are – great frat rock and teenbeat. 

In 1965 the group would cut vocalist/guitarist Ray Hummel’s “You Treat Me Bad/Hey Little Girl” for Fenton.  Fenton was a local label run by electronic/production genuis  Dave Kalmbach and business partner Bruce Smith.  Fenton would cut many, many garage classics but You Treat Me Bad stands out as one of the label’s best.  The vocals are snotty and the tempo is driving; You Treat Me Bad would eventually hit number 2 on local radio.   The JuJus second 45 was cut in Kingtones guitarist Phil Robert Jr.’s basement studio and issued in a picture sleeve on the United label in 1966.  Both sides of “I’m Really Sorry/Do You Understand Me” are superb.  Do You Understand Me has guitar lines straight out of the Stones’ Last Time and is achored down by a nice fuzz solo.  Both recordings sound very crude and primitive but hold a special place in many garage fans’ hearts – this was some of the best rock n roll being pumped out of Michigan at the time.

The JuJus lineup would change quite a bit from 1964 to 1967.  Eventually the group would break up after losing core band members Ray Hummel, drummer Bill Gorski and saxophone player Max Colley.  But before throwing in the towel they would cut a few more songs in 1967 for a possible single release.  The JuJus were constantly evolving and by this time they had grown into a more experimental unit.  They would record two songs that year:  Sometime Or Another and If You Really Love Me.  The latter was a nice slice of power pop with pretty vocal harmonies and a quality guitar oriented arrangement.  Sometime Or Another, a song that was good enough for an A-side release, was the JuJus at their most psychedelic and adventurous.  This track could compete with any “big group’s” best single and was notable for its distorted vocals, blazing fuzz guitar solo and introspective lyrics.  It sounded like a hit but was probably a bit downbeat and too experimental for top 40 radio. 

The above reissue is one of the best garage rock offerings I’ve heard in quite some time.  Cicadelic gives you the classic singles, a good 1965 Ray Hummel Fenton 45 ( in which he is backed by the JuJus) and a slew of quality outtakes.  There are no lame covers and the sound quality is excellent.  The JuJus were a great group whose music still burns brightly in the memories of Michigan locals.  This is mandatory listening for anyone interested in pure rock n roll.
by Jason Nardelli

Formed in Grand Rapids, MI in 1963 by a trio of Godwin High School students, the JuJus never recorded an album but released an impressive series of poorly recorded but wonderfully energetic singles on local labels, including the ragged and raw garage cult classic “You Treat Me Bad,” and if they weren’t exactly polished musicians, the band certainly understood what made the little girls scream. Led by singer Ray Hammel and the throaty saxophone playing of Max Colley, Jr., the group played the state’s frat circuit, mixing in thinly disguised R&B licks with a dose of folk-rock, British Invasion echoes, and, later, a nice splash of psychedelia, sounding a bit like the Beau Brummels crossed with the early Kinks. “You Treat Me Bad” got a lot of play on the regional radio stations, but the band was no more by 1967. 

This set collects all of the group’s singles and adds in a live track and a handful of unissued sides to make a complete history of this fun little band. Highlights include two versions of “You Treat Me Bad,” the breezy “There She Goes,” “Hey Little Girl” (in two versions), “Do You Understand Me” (which borrows the main riff from the Rolling Stones' “The Last Time” and somehow gets away with it), the impressive “Sometime or Other,” and the delightful “If You Really Love Me,” which may have been the band’s melodic peak and certainly deserved some airplay. Countless garage bands like the JuJus sprang up in the mid- to late '60s, and most of those never did more than play a handful of gigs and left behind nothing but stacks of yellowed handbills in someone’s attic or basement, but the JuJus left behind at least 23 fun tracks of local garage band history, all of which is collected here. 
by Steve Leggett
1. You Treat Me Bad (Alternate Version) - 2:00
2. Hey Little Girl (Alternate Version) - 2:09
3. Runaround Girl - 2:09
4. I’m Cryin’ - 2:22
5. I Love Her So - 2:32
6. She’s My Girl - 2:03
7. There She Goes - 1:45
8. The Gentle Rain (Single B Side) -  2:52
9. Fine Day (Single A Side) - 2:34
10.It’s Gonna Be Alright (Gerry Marsden) - 2:24
11.You Treat Me Bad (Single A Side) - 1:51
12.I’m Really Sorry (Single A Side) (Rick Stevens) - 2:24
13.Do You Understand Me (Single B Side) (Bill Gorski, Rick Stevens) - 2:33
14.Sometime Or Other (Rick Stevens, Rod Shepard, Ron Homrich, Ronn Burke) - 2:49
15.If You Really Love Me (Rick Stevens, Rod Shepard, Ron Homrich, Ronn Burke) - 2:46
16.In The Park (Ronn Burke) - 2:14
17.Hey Little Girl (Single B Side) - 1:58
18.Come On Children - 3:21
19.The Gentle Rain (Alternate Stereo Version) - 2:54
20.Fine Day (Alternate Stereo Version) - 2:29
21.I’ll Be There (Bobby Darin) - 1:53
22.I Don’t Want To See You Again (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 2:09
23.Open Up Your Door (Lawrence Russell Brown, Neval Nader, Raymond Bloodworth) - 2:43
All songs by Ray Hummel except where stated

The JuJus
*Ray Hummel - Guitars, Harmonica, Vocals
*Ronn Burke - Guitar, Vocals
*Max Colley - Saxophone
*Bruce Essex - Rhythm Guitar
*Bill Gorski - Drums
*Ron Homrich - Drums
*Rod Shepard - Guitar, Bass, Organ
*Rick Stevens - Guitar
*Ray Vasques - Organ
*Brett Wells - Vocals

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Sunday, April 14, 2019

New Heavenly Blue ‎– New Heavenly Blue (1972 us, extraordinary blend of country, folk, jazz blues rock, 2010 reissue)

Chris Brubeck was born on March 19, 1952, in Los Angeles, where his family was staying at the time, due to his dad’s extended club engagement. One of  Dave Brubeck's six children,  he began playing piano at age five at the insistence of his dad, who wanted his offspring to have proper musicianship skills, in case they wanted to pursue music.

For high school, Brubeck attended the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, majoring in classical bass trombone, and was in the new jazz program’s big band, with Peter Erskine on drums. Through school and after graduating, he continued to play bass guitar, both in rock bands with classmates and as a guest on a few of his dad’s sides. One of the rock groups that he starthed along with David "Spaceman" Mason,  were New Heavenly Blue. 

They cut two albums one for RCA and one Atlantic, blending jazzrock, blues, country, folk and classical music. When the band dissolved in 1975, Chris and half the members went on to form the funk–rock–jazz unit Sky King. 
1. Love You Tonite (Chris Brubeck) - 3:04
2. The Battlefields Of History (Stephen C. Mason, David Mason) - 6:21
3. Raft Song (Chris Brubeck) - 2:20
4. Where Are You Tonight? (Chris Brubeck) - 3:26
5. Pegleg (Back In 35) (Chris Brubeck) - :05
6. Hard Lovin' Man (Chris Brubeck, David Mason, Jimmy Cathcart, Peter Bonisteel, Peter Ruth, Stephan Dudash) - 3:54
7. Tulsa Oklahoma Blues (Chris Brubeck) - 4:36
8. Nebulon Possessed (David Mason) - 3:25
9. The Idol (Chris Brubeck) - 5:30
10.I Look Upon What I Have Done (Jimmy Cathcart) - 1:55

The New Heavenly Blue
*Chris Brubeck - Bass, Trombone, Organ, Piano, Guitar, Vocals
*David "Spaceman" Mason - Guitar, Viola, Vocals
*Peter Ruth - Harmonica, Flute, Jew's Harp, Spoons, Vocals
*Jimmy Cathcart - Organ, Piano, Trumpet, Bass, Kalimba, Flugelhorn, Washboard, Vocals
*Stephan Dudash - Violin, Guitar, Vocals

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Friday, April 12, 2019

Jerusalem - Jerusalem (1972 uk, rough heavy downer rock, 2017 japan SHM remaster)

Round 1966 two high school classmates, Paul Dean and Ray Sparrow, in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, put together a local amateur band along with Chris Skelcher. They began as a trio, after a while Chris left and guitarists Bob Cooke and Bill Hinde came to join the band. They recorded a demo which eventually reaches in Ian Gillan's hands, who got excited.  TheĎ… signed a contract deal with Deram label. In 1972 they recorded and released their same titled sole album, produced by Ian Gillan.

Ian Gillan wrote:
“This is the first album by Jerusalem, a band which excites me very much; they are rough, raw and doomy with their own strong identity. As they are young and a bit green, they don't follow many rules, so their material is almost crude - but still immensely powerful in content. I believe that, whenever possible, the work of writers and players in their formative stages should be recorded; before inhibition and self-consciousness set in, before fire and aggression die down, and while they are still absorbing influences and doing things which others might consider 'uncool'. Most important though, before they might develop that self-imposed rigidity which afflicts so many. I hope none of these things happen to Jerusalem, we'll have to wait and see, this album is just in case. I hope you like it as much as I do”.
1. Frustration - 5:18
2. Hooded Eagle - 4:48
3. I See The Light - 3:55
4. Murderer's Lament - 3:40
5. When The Wolf Sits - 4:57
6. Midnight Steamer - 4:42
7. Primitive Man - 5:55
8. Beyond The Grave - 6:09
9. She Came Like A Bat From Hell - 5:43
10.Kamikaze Moth (Non LP Single Track)- 2:46
11.Primitive Man (Demo Version) - 6:56
12.Beyond The Grave (Demo Version) - 7:15
13.Hooded Eagle (Single Version) - 4:04
14.I See The Light (Mono Version) - 3:58
All songs by Lynden Williams, Bob Cooke, Bill Hinde, Paul Dean, Ray Sparrow 

*Lynden Williams – Vocals
*Bob Cooke – Guitar
*Bill Hinde – Guitar
*Paul Dean – Bass
*Ray Sparrow – Drums

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Mainline Bump 'N' Grind Revue – Live At The Victory Theatre (1972 canada, awesome blues jam rock, 2006 edition)

One of Canada’s finest, the “McKenna Mendelson Mainline” (from band members Mike McKenna and Joe Mendelson), soon simply known as “Mainline,” are the authors of several very strong rock-blues oriented albums. Also well-known for their live performances, their incessant gigging granted them slots playing alongside names like the Jeff Beck Group (Grande Ballroom, Detroit), and on the British circuit, the Bonzo Dog Band, Family, Keef Hartley Band, Gun, Fleetwood Mac and the nascent Led Zeppelin. 

In 1972, under the more representative moniker of “Mainline Bump ‘n’ Grind Revue,” the band recorded this memorable live album, featuring several inspired originals along with reputable versions of songs by Big Joe Williams, Johnny Young, Jimmy Smith, Leadbelly, and even a surprising “Misty” by Erroll Garner. When these guys get cooking, not even a cold day in the Canadian Rockies can stop them. 

Michael McKenna, previously with Luke & the Apostles and the Ugly Ducklings, formed McKenna Mendelson Mainline with Joe Mendelson (vocals, guitar, bass, harmonica), Tony Nolasco (vocals, drums) and Frank Sheppard (vocals, bass, mandolin, harmonica). After Stink (1968) and Canada, Our Home and Native Land (1971), the band shortened their name to Mainline and broke up soon after.

Two posthumous albums appeared in 1972-73: The Mainline Bump and Grind Revue — Live at the Victory Theatre and Biscuit Meets Mainline. Joe Mendelson’s first solo album, Mr. Middle of the Road, appeared in 1972. Michael McKenna and Tony Nolasco later formed Diamondback. A reunion album with McKenna called No Substitute has also been released. 
by John Bush
1. Canada - 1:36
2. Ezmerelda (Joe Mendelson) - 3:26
3. Wild Wild Women (Johnny Young) - 4:57
4. Miss Collin’s Cha Cha (Michael McKenna) - 5:24
5. Feel Alright (Big Joe Williams) - 5:18
6. Game of Love (Joe Mendelson) - 3:17
7. Chicken Shack (Jimmy Smith) - 5:01
8. Misty (Errol Garner) - 3:52
9. C.C. Rider (Huddie William Ledbetter) - 3:16
10.No Boogie Finale - 1:27

Michael McKenna- Guitar, Vocals
Joe Mendelson- Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals 
Adam Mitchell- Harmonica, Mixing 
Tony Nolasco- Drums, Vocals 
Zeke Sheppard- Harmonica, Vocals

1969  McKenna Mendelson Mainline - Stink
1971  McKenna Mendelson Mainline - Canada Our Home And Native Land (2006 remaster) 

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Monday, April 8, 2019

McKenna Mendelson Mainline - Canada Our Home And Native Land (1971 canada, solid hard blues rock, 2006 remaster)

Having played in famed Toronto acts Luke & The Apostles and then, briefly, The Ugly Duckings, guitarist Mike McKenna took out an advertisement asking other like-minded individuals to form a new blues band. Joe Mendelson answered the ad and this team-up provided the basis of Mendelson Mainline in the summer of 1968.

Former Paupers' bassist Denny Gerrard was the next to join and another advertisement brought in new-comer Tony Nolasco from Sudbury.

The band worked its way around Yorkville with Denny Gerrard soon being replaced by former Grant Smith & The Power bassist Mike Harrison in 1968. With bigger profile concert gigs, the band's vibrant live show was committed to tape in September 1968 -- a session that would later come back to haunt the band.

McKenna Mendelson Mainline relocated to England late that year to pursue a record deal. After being signed to Liberty (United Artists) in the Spring of 1969, they worked the same English club circuit as up and coming bands like Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin. In July of 1969 a single day recording session yielded the first Liberty Records album 'Stink'. They returned to Canada to await the release of the new album.

With their reputation as crowd pleasers on tours in England, Holland, and Australia with such acts as Rod Stewart, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, and The Guess Who preceding them, Paragon Records in Canada anticipated the band would be the 'next big thing' and rush released the September 1968 sessions to the band's chagrin.

Joe Mendelson quit in September of 1969 and Rick James (of Myna Birds fame) replaced him briefly to finish a run of contracted gigs. Mike McKenna effectively took the wind out of the group's sails by reforming a new version of Luke & The Apostles.

After a brief recording stint with Luke And The Apostles, McKenna found himself back with Mendelson, Nolasco and bassist Zeke Sheppard (formerly of Dutch Mason's Escorts) for the 1970 Scarborough Fair Festival.

By 1971 the re-christened Mainline was signed to GRT Records and released 'Canada Our Home & Native Land'.

The band's live shows became more risque and raunchier, defying the staid Canadian R & B clubs up and down the Toronto bar circuit. The result of Mainline's new found infamy was released as the 'The Mainline Bump 'n' Grind Revue: Live At The Victory Theatre' in 1972. One more album, 'No Substitute', was produced before the band collapsed.

Mendelson re-named himself Mendelson Joe and has had a prolific independent recording, writing, and painting career as well as being an outspoken political activist. He currently lives in Muskoka, Ontario; Gerrard went through a series of semi-successful Canadian recording acts such as Jericho and the Lisa Hartt Band; Zeke Sheppard joined former members of Rhinoceros under the new banner Blackstone for one album on GRT Records in 1973.  Ted Purdy is a lawyer in Toronto.

Mike McKenna continued on as a legendary slide guitar player -- including a stint replacing Domenic Troiano in the final days of the original Guess Who line-up. By the '90s he had formed Mike McKenna and Slidewinder with former Mainline bassist Denny Gerrard.

In the Spring of 1998 a Classic Rock Revival festival at The Warehouse club in Toronto found a semi-reformed Mainline hitting the stage for the first time in 25 years. The new Mainline has remained a mainstay of the Toronto Blues scene ever since and now boasts the title of being the final band to play at legendary El Mocambo upstairs on November 4, 2001. The band was recorded that night and an album from this performance was released on Bullseye Records in 2002.
by Tony Nolasco, Mike McKenna, Jim Zeppa, Bill Munson, Mike Harrison, Maxine Mitchell,  GW Watson. 
1. Blind Girl - 3:14
2. Get Down To - 3:34
3. Pedalictus Rag - 2:25
4. One Time Loser - 3:59
5. You're My Heart's Desire (Zeke Sheppard) - 2:28
6. Motorcycle - 4:44
7. I Am Normal - 2:44
8. Brain Damage - 4:04
9. Honkis De Honkis - 3:26
10.Going To Toronto (Joe Mendelson, Michael McKenna) - 8:02
11.Nova Scotia Breakdown (Traditional) - 0:42
All songs by Joe Mendelson except where stated

*Mike McKenna - Vocals, Guitar
*Joe Mendelson – Guitar, Bass, Harmonica, Vocals
*Tony Nolasco – Drums, Vocals
*Zeke Sheppard – Bass, Mandolin, Harmonica

1969  McKenna Mendelson Mainline - Stink 

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Sunday, April 7, 2019

Steppenwolf - Second (1968 canada / us, stunning hard acid psych rock, 2013 japan SHM with extra track)

Lost And Found was a genuinely thoughtful and self-critical song about romance and sex completely at odds with the still rather macho attitudes in rock music at the time. Because of their two-albums-a-year recording contract, the band had less time than they would have liked to work on 'Steppenwolf The Second'. For this reason, Mekler contributed one of his own compositions to the album in 28, (as well as co-writing two others with Kay, as he had on the first album).

Mars Bonfire contributed the opening Faster Than The Speed Of Life, which is actually sung not by Kay but by Jerry Edmonton. Despite the album's short gestation period, the band had grandiose artistic ambitions for it: the whole of side two had originally been intended to portray the development of the blues from its cotton field origins to present day rock. The concept wasn't fully realised but glimmers of it can be discerned, especially on the steel guitar opening and 12-bar structure of Disappointment Number (Unknown).

The centrepiece of the album was Magic Carpet Ride, a Kay/Moreve composition which was released as a single. Moreve would never get another songwriting credit with Steppenwolf so must have been especially pleased that it became only second to Born To Be Wild in being the song the public most associated the band with. Contrary to those who read drug connotations into the songwords, they were inspired by the expensive hi-fi Kay had bought with some of his royalties from the first album. 

The single certainly went on a magic carpet ride chart-wise, soaring to number 3 Stateside. Its parent album likewise went top five. It was the perfect end to a wonderful year for  a band which hadn't even been in existence barely a few months before its start.
by Sean Egan
1.  Faster Than The Speed Of Life (Mars Bonfire) – 3:12
2.  Tighten Up Your Wig  – 3:06
3.  None Of Your Doing (John Kay, Gabriel Mekler) – 2:50
4.  Spiritual Fantasy  – 3:39
5.  Don't Step On The Grass, Sam – 5:43
6.  28  (Gabriel Mekler) – 3:12
7.  Magic Carpet Ride  (John Kay, Rushton Moreve) – 4:30
8.  Disappointment Number (Unknown)  – 4:38
9.  Lost And Found By Trial And Error  – 2:20
10.Hodge, Podge, Strained Through A Leslie  - 2:42
11.Resurrection  – 3:43
12.Reflections  (John Kay, Gabriel Mekler) – 1:30
13. Magic Carpet Ride (Mono Single Version) (John Kay, Rushton Moreve) – 2:57
All tracks composed by John Kay except where indicated

*John Kay - Lead Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
*Michael Monarch - Lead Guitar
*Goldy McJohn - Organ, Piano
*Rushton Moreve - Bass
*Jerry Edmonton - Drums, Vocals

1968  Steppenwolf (2013 japan SHM bonus tracks and 2014 SACD)
1969  Early Steppenwolf (1967 Live, Japan SHM mini lp)
1969  At Your Birthday Party (Japan SHM 2013 remaster)
1969  Monster (2013 japan SHM issue)
1970  Steppenwolf - 7 (2013 japan SHM remaster)
1970  Live (2013 Japan SHM edition)
1971  For Ladies Only (Japan SHM 2013 remaster)
Related Act
1968  John Kay and the Sparrow
1972  John Kay – Forgotten Songs and Unsung Heroes

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Friday, April 5, 2019

McKenna Mendelson Mainline - Stink (1969 canada, remarkable hard blues rock)

Both natives of Toronto, Mike McKenna and Joe Mendelson grew up fans of the blues, and both emulated their idols early in life while learning to play guitar.

After McKenna left Luke & The Apostles in the mid '60s, he was a brief footnote in The Ugly Ducklings' story, then began working the local club circuit. He placed a newspaper ad looking for people to start a new band with, which Mendelson, a University of Toronto student, replied to. They decided that instead of toiling through the process of finding other musicians through the same means to round out the group, they'd do it on their own - and the foundations of McKenna Mendelson Mainline were laid with former Paupers bassist Dennis Gerrard and drummer Tony Nolasco, ex of The Spassiks.

After some rehearsals their first paid gig was a week-long run at The Night Owl in Yorkville in August of '68. They recorded some demos a month later, but Gerrard's run in the band was short, leaving that October immediately after a show at Massey Hall supporting The Fugs. But with new bassist Mike Harrison, who'd just left the popular R&B group Grant Smith & The Power, they carried on, opening for The Jeff Beck Group at The Grande Ballroom a month later, one of a handful of shows they gained favourable reviews for around the Detroit area.

Before the end of the year, they flew to England, where they filled in for a recently departed Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Utrecht Pop Festival. Hoping to land a recording deal while in the UK, they ended up working the same club circuit that saw the likes of Rory Gallagher, Fleetwood Mac, and the newly-formed Led Zeppelin appearing on a regular basis. They signed with Liberty Records under the United Artists umbrella in early '69 and recorded the basic tracks to their debut album in a single day. But homesick and with the rigors of the rock & roll lifestyle already getting to them, they returned to Toronto that June.

Their debut album, STINK, was in the stores a couple of months later, and the slide guitar-driven single "You Better Watch Out" got some good airplay around the Toronto area and made them one of the hottest tickets in town. The flipside "She's Alright," "Mainline," "Bad Women," the cover of Ramblin' Thomas' "One Way Ticket," and the funky second single "Don't Give Me No Goose For Christmas" helped catch the critics' and the audiences' attention, and things were looking up.

Meanwhile, Paragon Records, who owned the rights to the demos they recorded a year earlier in Toronto, released them as the McKENNA MENDELSON BLUES album in September. This notorized the group as arguably the first Canadian act signed to a major label to become victims of a bootlegged album, which featured the eleven-minute original version of "Bad Women" called "Bad Women Are Killing Me," "Pretty Woman," "Toilet Bowl Blues (the original version of "T B Blues"), and a cover of Albert King's "Born Under A Bad Sign."

But partially due to differences in musical vision, the band fell apart in the fall of '69. Mendelson briefly left the band and was replaced by ex-Mynah Byrds member Rick James, who later went on to be a huge disco star. By the spring of 1970 the band was dissolved due to musical differences.

Mendelson and Nolasco carried on, dubbing themselves Mainline, with Zeke Sheppard on bass and harmonica, who'd spent time in one of Dutch Mason's makeshift groups on the east coast, while McKenna returned to a reformed version of Luke & The Apostles for a pair of singles. But one thing led to another and he was back with Mendelson's new group that fall.

They signed with GRT Records and looking for new inspirations, travelled to California, recording material that became CANADA - OUR HOME AND NATIVE LAND at Pacific Recording Studios in San Mateo in the spring of '71. It was the first album they used Adam Mitchell to produce, and all the bulk of the material was written by Mendelson. Although no singles were released and with sales that fell far short of the label's or their own expectations, they had to be satisfied knowing that tracks like "Brain Damage," the southern rhythms of the Sheppard-penned "You're My Heart's Desire," the harmonica boogie in "Goin' To Toronto," and the somewhat out of place horns section in "Honkis de Konkis" gave it the versatility that critics called a future classic.

They stayed around the Toronto area, becoming regulars at The Canberra Playhouse and Wexford Collegiate in Scarborough, among other hot venues. Their live shows were by that point known not only for the on-stage magnetism, but also for the risque and raunchier banter, much to the shagrin of some of the more snootier nightclub owners. They returned with the live album, MAINLINE'S BUMP N GRIND REVUE - LIVE AT THE VICTORY THEATRE in 1972, recorded that February in one of Toronto's more infamous and seedier former burlesque theatres on Spadina and Dundas.

With Adam Mitchell and Zeke Sheppard among those who showed up to lend a hand, all the material was new, and all were covers, and critics praised it - saying their live versions of "C C Rider," "Ezmeralda," "Chicken Shack," and "Feel Alright" captured the band in their live essence. Along with playing their home turf, they ventured out to Detroit and the area, and also did a series of shows with King Biscuit Boy that took them out to Winnipeg.

Their final album came in the form of NO SUBSTITUTES in the fall of '72, stripped down without frills and returning the band to its core essence. But the album came and went just as fast, and no singles were released. Worse yet, internal problems were plaguing the band and with burnout setting in, tracks like "Sometimes," "Give It To Me Straight," "I've Been Lucky," and the title track went largely un-noticed by an audience that was finding new sounds to relate to. This was despite the critics' calling McKenna's slide guitar work among his best.

The band split up and everyone went on to do their own things. McKenna later joined Diamondback, prior to joining a version of The Guess Who in the late '70s. After joining Downchild Blues Band for awhile in the late '80s, he formed Sidewinder with Gerrard and Ronnie Jacobs, a saxophonist he'd played with in Downchild that had also worked with Mainline, and released one album in 1997. McKenna also kissed and made up with Luke Gibson (of Luke and the Apostles) in The Luke Gibson Band - the house band for the Blues on Belair Club in Toronto as the decade came to a close.

Mendelson meanwhile renamed himself Mendelson Joe, and became a sessions player, working with the likes of Ben Mink, Gwen Swick and Colin Linden. He also began to make a name for himself as a contemporary artist, pursuing painting as well as music. In 1988, he appeared in an episode of Sharon, Lois & Bram's Elephant Show titled "Sunday in the Park". A music video for a novelty song he recorded, "Dance with Joe," also received extensive airplay on MuchMusic for awhile.

Prior to and following his stint in Sidewinder, Gerrard toured with various bands, including Jericho and Lisa Hartt. After Mainline, Sheppard joined a reformed version of Rhinoceros, now going by the name of Blackstone for one album in '73. Purdy went back to school and got a Law degree, later becoming a lawyer.

McKenna, Nolasko, Purdy, and Harrison re-united in 1998 for a date at The Warehouse Club in Toronto, playing together for the first time in a quarter of a century. With Bob Adams on harmonica, this led to a semi-reformation and the band playing off and on again, including being the final band to play upstairs at El Mocambo in November 2001. That show was taped and released by Bullseye Records the following spring as LAST SHOW AT THE ELMO. 
1. One Way Ticket - 2:40
2. She's Alright - 3:35
3. Beltmaker - 3:35
4. Mainline - 6:40
5. Think I'm Losing My Marbles - 2:30
6. Drive You - 2:20
7. T.B. Blues - 2:05
8. Better Watch Out - 4:30
9. Bad Women - 12:20
10.Don't Give Me No Goose For Christmas Grandma - 2:30
All songs written by Joe Mendelson

The McKenna Mendelson Mainline
*Mike Harrison - Bass
*Mike McKenna - Guitar
*Joe Mendelson - Guitar, Harmonica, Keyboards, Vocals
*Tony Volasco - Drums

1966  The Ugly Ducklings - Somewhere Outside 
1975/87  Downchild Blues Band - It's Been So Long / Ready To Go 

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