Monday, August 26, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1970  Aunt Mary - Aunt Mary 

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Saturday, August 24, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1970  Compton And Batteau - In California (2017 remaster)

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Friday, August 23, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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