Friday, November 29, 2019

Bubba Fowler - ...And Then Came Bubba (1970 us, groovy rural bluesy folk psych rock, Vinyl edition)



Bubba Fowler began his career as a half in the duo, "The Avant Garde", along with Chuck Woolery, they were backed by session musicians on each of their three singles for the Columbia label. The duo debuted in late 1967 with "Yellow Beads," capturing a sweeping acoustic sound that crested with the follow-up, "Naturally Stoned," a minor classic of orchestral pop that reached number 40 on the Billboard pop charts in mid-1968. The more overtly psychedelic touches that distinguished the Avant-Garde's first two efforts were scrapped for their third and final single, "Fly With Me" -- when the disc barely dented the charts, the group dissolved.

Fowler then went folky and in 1970 Columbia issued his lone solo LP, And Then Came Bubba -- he later played guitar on Bob Dylan's Self-Portrait, Leonard Cohen's Songs of Love and Hate, and a handful of other sessions. Woolery, meanwhile, went on to much greater fame as a television game show host, helming Wheel of Fortune in its original daytime run as well as the long-running Love Connection, Scrabble, and Greed. He also founded MotoLures, a company that manufactured his signature line of fishing lures. 
by Jason Ankeny
Tracks
1. Listen Big City - 3:04
2. Lousie (My Cajun Woman) - 4:00 
3. Joli Girl - 2:33
4. Sociological Bind - 3:56
5. Next Year This Time -  5:02
6. The Pounding Status Quo - 3:09
7. Lament #1 (Bubba Fowler, Bob Johnston) - 2:21
8. The Messenger Of Life (Bubba Fowler, Bob Johnston) - 3:08
9. Yellow Beads - 2:51
10.On Tomorrow - 3:38
11.Jenny Love - 2:34
All songs by Bubba Fowler except where stated

*Bubba Fowler - Vocals, Guitar

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Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Dave Chastain Band - Rockin' Roulette (1980 us, great twin guitars southern rock)



The Dave Chastain Band was in the mold of southern rock bands like the Allman Brothers. They sounded very much like the legends of the south on "Rockin’ Roulette." This was originally released in 1980.

"Sunshine" opens up the LP rather than the title track, which I thought was odd. "Rockin’ Roulette", which is one of the best songs on the album, should have been the opener but it ends up as the closer. Either way is fine with me, I thought that this LP offered consistently good songs throughout. Chastain was the leader and he provided some great lead and slide guitar along with great soulful rockin’ vocals. At times his leads could be explosive and others warm and rhythmic, much in the tradition of southern rock. 
by Keith Hannaleck
Tracks
1. Sunshine (Dave Chastain, Steve Martinez) - 5:35
2. Gotta Get Away - 2:13
3. Highway Man - 4:37
4. Losin' You Blues - 3:17
5. Breezin' - 4:47
6. Down At Dee's - 3:47
7. One In The Sun (Ron O'Brien) - 4:23
8. Ballad Of William Quantrill (Bud Pruett, Don Mitchell, Mark French) - 2:53
9. Rockin' Roulette (Dave Chastain, Tom Jernigan) - 3:12
All compositions by Dave Chastain except where indicated

The Dave Chastain Band
*Dave Chastain - Lead, Slide Guitars, Vocals
*Tom Jernigan - Drums, Vocals
*Nip Beer - Keyboards
*Bud Pruett - Bass, Vocals
*Mark French - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Randy Wickert - Saxophone, Percussion
With
*Mo Abbott - Fiddle
*Bobby "Mongo" Harvey - Pedal Steel Guitar, Second Lead Guitar
*Bob Smith - Banjo
*Kris Lewis - Vocals
*Patsy Sullivan - Vocals

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Friday, November 22, 2019

Womb - Overdub (1969 us, trippy acid folk psych with prog elements, Vinyl edition)



This San Francisco-based band (probably originally from Sacramento, California, came together in 1967 and like every other mid-'60s band, headed for San Francisco) were sometimes prone to over-indulgent improvisation but they had their moments. Their second album is a trippy dreamlike late-night freakouts with spooky femme vocals.  "Flash" for example, a somewhat mystical, trippy piece of psychedelia,  “Love” is an experimental soft psychedelia with liberal lashings of woodwind.

The two last songs “Flying High” and ” Evil People”are eight and ten minutes respectively, and let the band really stretch out on songs that are alternately funky, jazzy and trippy, kinda like Grace Slick sitting in with King Crimson and a couple of guys from War,  an amalgam of psychedelia and progressivism with some nice interweaving guitar work. Both songs should not be missed.  
Tracks
1. Taking A Long Walk (Roluf Stuart) - 3:06
2. Flash - 6:31
3. Two Levels - 4:20
4. Love - 4:28
5. Flying High - 8:00
6. Evil People - 10:26
All compositions by Greg Young except where noted

Womb
*Karyl Boddy - Piano, Guitar, Vocals
*Ron Brunecker - Drums
*Rory Butcher - Percussion, Vocals
*Christopher Johnson - Bass
*Roluf Stuart - Saxophone, Flute
*Greg Young - Guitar

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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Beauregarde - Beauregarde (1971 us, sharp funky bluesy brass rock, with young Greg Sage)



Beauregarde was a Portland based professional wrestler who (by the sounds of it) totally kicked ass. For a start he used to ride a Harley motorcycle into the wrestling ring. Secondly, he sort of looks like a weird cross between Andre the Giant and Neil Young and on top of that he had his own band!!! This album was recorded in a day way back in the early 70's with Beauregarde's band that featured a 17 year old Greg Sage who would later go to own in The Wipers. The other cool thing about this record is that it's practically a soul record that doesn't mention wrestling at any point throughout. Musically this is a laid back homage to James Brown and Neil Young in equal measures with the heady mix of hammond organ and crazy horse style backing makes for a decent listen. 

Lyrically Beauregarde is full of naive charm and commonly brings a smile to my face. I'm quite taken by this record. He sings about the atrocities of war, burnt out rockstars, race relations and what it means to have soul. At times he's got a Neil Young tone, at others times he's not far from Ian Svenonious! Off course, your attention will inevitably be drawn to Greg's badass guitar playing. This guys got blues, soul, R&B, psych and good old Jimi Hendrix style licks totally nailed.
Tracks
1. I Got Something - 3:06
2. Super Star Super Star - 5:28
3. If You Got Soul - 4:35
4. Tomorrow, Tomorrow - 2:47
5. Everybody Ball - 2:56
6. I'm Talkin' Time - 4:27
7. Testify - 2:40
8. Pass Away - 3:13
9. I - 3:19
All songs by Beauregarde

Musicians
*Beauregarde - Vocals
*Greg Sage - Guitar
*Dave Koupal - Bass
*Jay Lundell - Drums
*Allen Robinson - Congas, Saxophone
*Omar Bose - Organ, Piano, Trumpet

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

MU - The Last Album (1974 us, remarkable acid folk blues psych rock, 2003 edition)



Recorded in 1974, Mu's second album never saw the light of day because the band broke up soon after recording. Finally released as a limited Italian-only edition in 1982, the music transmits a delicate mix of soundscapes, in which elements of blues, folk and psych rock.

The front cover was the wonderful 'hair blowing in the wind, heroic pose' photograph showing Randy, Merrell and Jeff.  It's likely Jeff Parker took the shot which explains his absence although he plays bass on the album.

There is a picture of all four of them, smiling, outside their Maui shack on the inner cover, along with pictures of sheet music to Make A Joyful Noise and On Our Way To Hana, a map of the continent of MU and a psychedelic design incorporating Mu symbols (for a possible album cover?).  Mary Lee, who features on violin isn't pictured

The packaged in a solid card gatefold sleeve using the same front as the original vinyl; the back cover just gives track information. Inside there is a brief run through Merrell's career, plus the same illustrations from the vinyl's back cover.

It's always good to have extra tracks but as these cover such a spread of time they do not all fit so well with the original 14 tracks. The Interview with Lew Irwin (the Earth News interview), Daybreak Sunshine, Showering Rain and You're Not The Only One are contemporary with the Maui tracks and will be familiar to most fans already. Raga Bill and Oceans Of Intelligence are the closest in feel to the others and may also originate from around 1974/76 timeframe but are Merrell solo songs.

Red House was recorded live in 1991 and includes Nicky Hopkins on piano while All Along The Watchtower (credited to J. Hendrix - I wonder what Dylan thinks of that?) was recorded in 2002 along with Merrell's new partner Yoriko.
Tracks
1. The Land of Mu - 1:53
2. Make a Joyful Noise (Jeff Cotton) - 2:44
3. Haleakala (Jeff Cotton) - 2:29
4. Blue Jay Blue - 3:20
5. Who Will Write this Song - 3:25
6. Too Naked for Demetirus - 2:31
7. One More Day - 2:31
8. On Our Way to Hana - 2:15
9. You've Been Here Before - 2:58
10.Waiting For the Sun - 2:41
11.In Mu - 3:04
12.You and I - 2:49
13.Drink From the Fountain - 4:43
14.End of an Era - 3:10
15.Mu Interview With Lew Irwin - 2:41
16.Daybreak Sunshine - 3:46
17.Showering Rain - 3:39
18.You're Not the Only One - 3:00
19.Raga Bill - 3:38
20.Oceans of Intelligence - 3:43
21.All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan) - 5:04
22.Red House (Jimi Hendrix) - 6:25
All songs by Merrell Fankhauser exceot where noted

MU
*Merrell Fankhauser - Guitar, Vocals, Bass
*Jeff Cotton - Guitar, Vocals, Bass, Clarinet
*Jeff Parker - Bass
*Randy Wimer - Drums, Vocals
With
*Mary Lee - Violin
*Yoriko Hongo - Bass (Track #21)
*Art Dougall - Drums (Track #21)
*Nicky Hopkins - Piano (Track #22)
*Frank Parades - Bass (Track #22)
*Tim Fankhauser - Vocals, Guitar (Track #22)

1971-72/74  MU - The Band From The Lost Continent  
Related Acts
1964-67  Fapardokly - Fapardokly 
1968  Merrell Fankhauser HMS Bounty - Things 

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Monday, November 18, 2019

Happy And Artie Traum - Happy And Artie Traum (1969 us, excellent folk rock, 2010 korean remaster)



In 1967, Jane, Happy and their three children moved to Woodstock, NY, and Happy and his late brother, Artie Traum, formed a duet that, according to Rolling Stone, "defined the Northeast folk music style."Their performances at the 1968 and 1969 Newport Folk Festivals helped to gain them an avid following and a contract with famed manager Albert Grossman. This strong musical partnership lasted until Artie's untimely death in July, 2008.

In 1970 Happy and Artie recorded their first album for Capitol Records, "Happy and Artie Traum," which The New York Times called "One of the best records in any field of pop music." ‍They do a version of the Rick Danko / Robbie Robertson's song "Bessie Smith" (later released by The Band on The Basement Tapes) using the song title "Going Down to See Bessie" and changing the lyrics quite a bit here and there. Members of the Band have been present on some of the Traums' later work in the '80s and '90s. 
Tracks
1. Rabbit's Luck (Artie Traum) - 3:27
2. Farmer's Almanac (Artie Traum) - 2:42
3. Going Down To See Bessie (Rick Danko, Robbie Robertson) - 3:28
4. Mama, It's Such A Long Ride Home (Happy Traum) - 3:03
5. Misty Dreams (Happy Traum) - 3:20
6. State Line (Artie Traum) - 2:19
7. Uncle Jedd Say (Billy Batson) - 4:23
8. The Hungry Dogs Of New Mexico (Artie Traum) - 4:19
9. Brave Wolf (Artie Traum) - 2:55
10.Trails Of Jonathan (Happy Traum, Artie Traum) - 3:29
11.Golden Bird (Happy Traum) - 2:54

Musicians
*Happy Traum - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Artie Traum - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Ken Lauber - Piano
*Ferrell Morris - Percussion
*Tracy Nelson - Vocals
*Ken Buttrey - Drums
*Ken Buttrey - Bass
*Jerry Carrigan - Drums
*Buddy Spickard - Fiddle
*Bobby Thompson - Dobro Guitar
*Weldon Myrick - Steel Guitar
*Eric Kaz - Harmonica, Piano, Organ
*Wayne Butler - Saxophone

1971  Happy And Artie Traum - Double Back (2010 korean remaster) 

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Friday, November 15, 2019

Harvey Mandel - Righteous / Games Guitars Play (1969-70 us, beautiful after hours jazzy blues rock, 2005 remaster)



Many listeners’ first exposure to the unique, slithering guitar sound of Harvey Mandel came when the Rolling Stones’ “Hot Stuff” hit the airwaves in 1976. But Mandel’s story begins more than a decade earlier, when young white guitarists roamed Chicago’s blues clubs, learning to play at the feet of legends like Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, and Magic Sam. The release of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band in 1965, with its back-cover exhortation to “play it loud,” and the group’s East-West in 1966 showcased the incendiary playing of one of those nascent guitar heroes, Michael Bloomfield, whose raw performances on both records spoke to a new generation of players.

Harvey Mandel was also on the Chicago scene, cutting his teeth sitting in with blues legends. “Bloomfield was more on the South Side, and I hung more at the club Twist City, which is the West Side,” says Mandel. Born in 1945, he was a few years younger than the Butterfield Band guitarist, but by his late teens he was consistently jamming with the likes of Buddy Guy. “I wasn’t legally allowed in a lot of clubs because I wasn’t 21, but the owners didn’t mind,” he says. “They would sneak me in and out, making sure no one fed me liquor so they wouldn’t lose their licenses.” Shortly after becoming “legal,” Mandel made his recording debut on Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite’s Southside Band, with a singing tone already hinting at the sustain that would help define his sound.

To many suburban blues guitarists, Stand Back was almost as influential as the Butterfield records, but because it was released in 1967, Mandel’s emerging style was overshadowed by Clapton’s work with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and the arrival of Jimi Hendrix. Still, Bill Graham deemed the Musselwhite band worthy to share a bill with Bloomfield’s Electric Flag and Eric Clapton’s new group Cream at his San Francisco-based Fillmore West. “I ended up staying in San Francisco, because after that show the group disbanded and everyone went their own way.

There, the guitarist met Abe “Voco” Kesh (Keshishian), a radio DJ and producer for the Mercury/Philips labels. A fan of the Musselwhite band, Kesh had just produced a No. 1 record for Blue Cheer. This let him get Mandel a solo deal with Phillips without so much as an audition. His first solo record, Cristo Redentor, in 1968, contained many of the markers Mandel would revisit over more than a dozen records and almost five decades: funky grooves with strings and horns filling out the sound, along with psychedelic production techniques like guitars panning across the stereo spectrum and flipping the tape over to achieve backwards guitar effects. Even without recording tricks, Mandel’s distinctive licks seemed at times to be going backwards, creating the serpentine sound that earned him his nickname, “Snake.”

The next year saw the release of Righteous, cementing the eclecticism that would mark all of Mandel’s music, ranging from the clean tones on Cannonball Adderley’s “Jive Samba” and the funky “Poontang” to more distorted effects on the swampy “Love of Life” and the slow blues “Just a Hair More.”
by Michael Ross

‘Righteous’ has more intriguing strings-and-guitar pieces like the torrid and nimble ‘Jive Samba’ and ‘Summer Sequence’. The third disc ‘Games Guitar Play’ broadens the scope yet again, with side one featuring Russell Dashiel a rather good singer and Mandel bringing the blues quotient up with ‘Leavin’ Trunk’ and ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’, then on the reverse side more instrumentals including the pop-country title tune, a hit for Joe South and here played straight with a few dashes of slide guitar. A stealthy tread through ‘Capurange’ works well, as does a gorgeous reading of Horace Silver’s theme ‘Senor Blues’, at once biting but spring-heeled. This cat really IS a genius!
by Pete Sargeant
Tracks 
1. Righteous (Harvey Mandel) - 3:46
2. Jive Samba (Nat Adderley) - 4:22
3. Love of Life (Bob Jones, Harvey Mandel) - 7:36
4. Poontang (Bob Jones) - 4:04
5. Just a Hair More (Harvey Mandel) - 4:53
6. Summer Sequence (Ralph Burns) - 3:27
7. Short's Stuff (Shorty Rogers) - 6:09
8. Boo-Bee-Doo (Duane Hitchings) - 3:21
9. Campus Blues (Harvey Mandel) - 4:03
10.Leavin' Trunk (Sleepy John Estes) - 6:35
11.Honky Tonk (Bill Doggett, Billy Butler, Clifford Scott, Shep Shepherd) - 3:38
12.I Don't Need No Doctor (Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson) - 3:52
13.Dry Your Eyes (Russell Dashiel) - 3:09
14.Ridin' High (Russell Dashiel, Harvey Mandel) - 2:51
15.Capurange (Russell Dashiel) - 6:48
16.Senor Blues (Horace Silver) - 5:37
17.Games People Play (Joe South) - 4:55
Track 1-9 from LP "Righteous" 1969
Tracks 10-17 from LP "Games Guitars Play" 1970

Musicians
*Harvey Mandel - Lead Guitar
*Eddie Hoh - Drums, Percussion
*Art Stavro - Bass (Tracks 1-9)
*Shorty Roberts - Trumpet (Tracks 1-9) 
*John Audino -Trumpet (Tracks 1-9)
*Michael Barone - Trombone (Tracks 1-9)
*Baddy Childers - Trumpet (Tracks 1-9)
*Gene Cipriano - Saxophone (Tracks 1-9)
*Victor Feldman - Percussion (Tracks 1-9)
*Stan Fishelson - Trumpet (Tracks 1-9)
*Plas Johnson - Saxophone (Tracks 1-9)
*Pete Jolly - Keyboards (Tracks 1-9)
*Bob Jones - Guitar (Tracks 1-9)
*Dick Leith - Trombone (Tracks 1-9)
*Lew McCreary - Trombone (Tracks 1-9)
*Ollie Mitchell - Trumpet (Tracks 1-9)
*Peter Myers - Trombone (Tracks 1-9)
*Jack Nimitz - Saxophone (Tracks 1-9)
*Earl Palmer - Drums (Tracks 1-9)
*Bill Perkins - Saxophone (Tracks 1-9)
*Howard Roberts - Guitar (Tracks 1-9)
*Ernie Watts - Saxophone (Tracks 1-9)
*Bob West - Bass (Tracks 1-9)
*Duane Hitchings - Organ (Tracks 1-9) 
*Larry Taylor - Bass (Tracks 10-17)
*Russell Dashiel - Guitar, Vocals, Organ, Piano (Tracks 10-17)

1968  Harvey Mandel - Cristo Redentor (2003 remaster and expanded)
1971  Harvey Mandel - Baby Batter (2016 remaster)
1972  Harvey Mandel - The Snake (2016 remaster)
Related Acts
1965-66  The Barry Goldberg Blues Band - Blowing My Mind ..Plus (2003 remaster and expanded)
1967  Charley Musselwhite - Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite's Southside Band
1968  The Barry Goldberg Reunion - There's No Hole In My Soul
1969  Barry Goldberg - Two Jews Blues (vinyl edition) 
1967-73  Canned Heat - The Very Best Of (2005 issue with previous unreleased track)
1970  Canned Heat - Future Blues (remastered and expanded) 
1971-72  Canned Heat - Historical Figures And Ancient Heads (extra track remaster issue)
1974  Love - Reel To Reel (2015 deluxe edition)

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Great Jones - All Bowed Down! (1970 us, sharp bluesy hard rock, Vinyl issue)



With only one highly collectible 1970 album to their credit, Great Jones, as the liner notes to their LP declared, was an odd combination. This hard driving rock and blues trio featured Billy Cadieux, a fiery jazz-loving guitar player, ex-folky bassist and gutsy lead vocalist, David Tolmie and blues-breaking drummer, Gary Kollarus. This Brooklyn based band became part of the scene revolving around legendary R&B producer, Jerry Ragavoy's Hit Factory Studios in New York City, which is where they met up with keyboardist and songwriter, Jeff Gutcheon. Then an apprentice at the Hit Factory, Gutcheon had worked extensively with Geoff and Maria Muldaur and not only contributed piano and organ tracks to Great Jones' album sessions, but also penned the title song, "All Bowed Down."

Following the release of their album, Great Jones was invited to open two high profile evenings at Bill Graham's Fillmore East, kicking off a bill that also featured Delaney & Bonnie & Friends (then with Eric Clapton on board) and headliners, the Byrds.
Tracks
1. Cripple Creek (Joe Zagarino) - 2:11
2. Finding My Way (Billy Cadieux) - 3:08
3. United State of Mind (Dr John) - 6:32
4. You Don't Know Nothin' About Love (Jerry Ragovoy) - 4:47
5. All Bowed Down (Jeff Gutcheon) - 3:20
6. Idaho Potatoes (Billy Cadieux) - 3:00
7. Leaving Trunk (Sleepy John Estes) - 3:23
8. I Ain't Got Long (Billy Cadieux, David Tolmie, Jeff Gutcheon) - 5:14
9. Leaving California (Billy Cadieux, Richard Farina) - 3:28

Great Jones
*Billy Cadieux - Guitar, Vocals
*David Tolmie - Bass, Vocals
*Gary Kollarus - Drums
With
*Jeff Gutcheon – Piano, Organ
*Mery Clayton, Clydie King, Vanetta Fields - Backing Vocals

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Monday, November 11, 2019

Mushroom - Early One Morning (1973 ireland, brilliant, heavy prog rock psych folk with blazing guitar and fiddle attacks, 2004 edition)



This rare album by this obscure early-'70s Irish folk-rock outfit is in some ways quite similar to the brand of British folk-rock pioneered by Fairport Convention in the late '60s and early '70s. Traditional Celtic folk-flavored melodies are given both delicate and hard-rocking treatments, the standard rock instruments given a British Isles folk tinge with embellishments of violin, electric mandolin, harpsichord, tin whistle, wind chimes, recorder, and bodhran. The similarity isn't extreme, however, as to start with, the production is far funkier and more homespun -- not a bad thing at all, but a trait that needs to be noted in case you're expecting something on the order of Fairport's Full House. Just as crucially, there are definitely more influences from pop, psychedelia, and progressive rock in Mushroom's particular spin on the British Isles folk-rock genre. While at times this is very much in the rapid-fire, lickety-split, ferociously rocked-up reels'n'jigs style that Fairport and such often used in the early '70s, there are also some nearly exquisite passages of melancholy Celtic folk balladry with a mild contemporary rock slant, such as "Tenpenny Piece" and the title track.

Then there's the psychedelic guitar sustain and wah-wah weaving around the violin in "Crying," which otherwise would be a rather standard British late-'60s pop/rock song. And there's also the almost berserk keyboards of "Johnny the Jumper," where Fairport-style folk-rock meets the distorted roller rink sounds of early-'60s Joe Meek productions. It's far more naïve a record than Fairport Convention or Steeleye Span ever made, and less vocally and instrumentally accomplished, not to say more rudimentarily produced. Yet for those very reasons, it's a fairly nifty relic in the genre, if only because it's not just an emulation of obvious influences, but a somewhat odd and original twist on the format. 
by Richie Unterberger
Tracks
1. Early One Morning - 2:37
2. The Liathdan - 4:17
3. Crying - 3:53
4. Unborn Child - 3:44
5. Johnny The Jumper - 3:04
6. Potters Wheel - 2:20
7. Standing Alone - 5:36
8. Devil Among The Tailors - 2:44
9. Tenpenny Piece - 3:28
10.Drowsey Maggie - 3:57
11.King Of Alba - 4:17
All Songs By Alan Brown, Aengus McNally, Cam Lynch, Michael Power, Pat Collins

Mushroom
*Aengus McNally - Guitars, Tin Whistle, Vocals
*Cam Lynch - Percussion, Bodhran, Wind, Wood Chimes, Vocals
*Alan Brown - Bass, 12 String Guitar, Vocals
*Michael Power - Organ, Harpsichord, Moog, Vocals
*Pat Collins - Violin, Electric Violin, Vocals

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Sunday, November 10, 2019

Lucifer's Friend - Banquet (1974 germany / uk, remarkable prog jazz brass rock, 2015 digi pak remaster with extra track)



On Banquet, Lucifer's Friend finally pulled together the many different elements to their sound (prog, soul, jazz, hard rock) into one cohesive and totally distinctive style. This time out, the primary focus of the album is epic prog numbers with complex instrumentation that go through a variety of surprising and ambitious changes in their arrangements. The standout example is the opening track, "Spanish Galleon": this pirate-themed epic starts with a Latin-flavored rock groove, that is given further power by the addition of horns, segues into a lyrical, pirate-themed song section that climaxes with a rousing chorus, takes a left turn into an instrumental portion studded with jazzy solos, and then finishes with a stirring reprise of the song section. 

The other prog numbers continue in a similar vein, reaching heights of almost orchestral complexity, but working in enough hooks and solid songcraft into the compositions to keep the listener hooked. Another standout in this arena is "Sorrow," a keyboard-based epic that features a lovely midsection where a keyboard solo is accompanied by a lush string arrangement. Banquet also balances out these epics with a pair of shorter, poppier songs that still manage to show off the band's firepower and complexity in their tighter format; the best is "Dirty Old Town," the closing ballad that builds to a jazzy, horn-powered chorus. All in all, Banquet is a fine, underrated prog outing and is worthy of rediscovery by art-rock fanatics. It's an ideal introduction to the sound of Lucifer's Friend. 
by Donald A. Guarisco
Tracks
1. Spanish Galleon (Peter Hesslein, John Lawton) - 11:50
2. Thus Spoke Oberon (John F. Bacardi, John O'Brien-Docker) - 6:44
3. High Flying Lady Goodbye (Peter Hesslein, John Lawton) - 3:40
4. Sorrow (Peter Hesslein, John Lawton) - 11:36
5. Dirty Old Town (Dieter Horns, Peter Hesslein, John Lawton) - 4:46
6. Our World Is A Rock 'N' Roll Band (Werner Becker, John O'Brien-Docker) - 3:20
Bonus Track 6

Lucifer's Friend
*John Lawton - Lead Vocals
*Peter Hesslein - Electric And Acoustic Guitars, 12 String Guitar, Percussion, Backing Vocals
*Dieter Horns - Bass, Backing Vocals
*Herbert Bornhold - Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
*Peter Hecht - Piano, Organ, Moog Synthesizer, Electric Piano
With
*Herb Geller - Alto Saxsophone, Flute
*Karl Hermann Lüer - Baritone Saxophone
*Stefan Dobrzynski - Tenor Saxophone
*Wilfried Schoberanzky - Bass
*Klaus Holle - Flute
*Franz Behle - Oboe
*Rolf Lind - French Horn
*Hans Alves - English Horn
*Kurt Donocik, Luigi Schaufub, Walter Hillinghaus - Cello
*Günter Fulisch, Heinz Reese, Waldemar Erbe, Wolfgang Ahlers - Trombone
*Bob Lanese, Heinz Habermann, Manfred Moch - Trumpet
*Bruno Korzuschek, Günter Grünig, Werner Knupke - Viola
*Fritz Köhnsen, Günter Klein, Günther Zander, Heinz Donocik, Helmut Jochens, Helmut Rahn, Ingeborg Kaufmann, Otto Kaufmann, Reinhold Gabriel, Senia Daschewski - Violin
*Dave Brian, Elvira Herbert, Sheila McKinley - Choir

1970  Lucifer's Friend - Lucifer's Friend (2008 remaster) 
Related Act
1970  Asterix - Asterix 

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Sugar Cube Blues Band - Sugar Cube Blues Band (1967 us, excellent garage psych folk rock, 1995 Vinyl edition)



From Grenada, Mississippi, the Sugar Cube Blues Band were not a blues band, but more a garage-psychedelic group, as heard on their sole single, 1967's "My Lasting Impressions." 

An entirely unreleased album's worth of material by the Sugar Cube Blues Band found its way onto this LP 30 years after it was recorded, along with the A-side of their sole single, "My Last Impression." As every one of the few reviews of this disc notes right off, despite the band's name, there's no blues or blues-rock here. Instead, it's a mixture of folk-rock, folk, garage rock, and psychedelia, all written by singer Bill Crowder. While the range of songs is considerably greater than that of the average period garage band (if indeed the group could fairly be called a garage outfit), musically it's average to below-average. 

The lyrics show greater ambition than the usual such act, and at times it sounds just a bit like the stranger groups recording on the Austin scene speared by the 13th Floor Elevators. But Crowder aims too high for his vocal range, and his straining, sometimes faltering singing can be frankly irritating at times, especially when exposed more nakedly on the acoustic folky tracks. There's often a bent toward moody minor-keyed folk-rock, though "My Last Impression" is fairly typical ominous garage-psychedelia, complete with pounding fuzzy riff, half-shouted surly lyric, quasi-Eastern guitar solo, and swirling organ. But on the whole this sounds like the work of a band not really ready for or deserving of an album release. 
by Richie Unterberger
Tracks
1. Shades of Life - 1:53
2. Run, Run, Run - 2:39
3. Never Think About Today - 1:59
4. You Can't Be Free - 3:22
5. Summer Sunset/Winter Sky - 2:14
6. There Is A Time For Everyone - 3:28
7. My Last Impression - 3:40
8. Step Into Your Life - 1:54
9. In this Way - 2:35
10. Learn To Be Yourself - 2:08
11.I Need You - 3:07
12.We've Got To Get Away - 2:18
All songs by Bill Crowder

Sugar Cube Blues Band
*Budley Bays - Guitar
*Bill Crowder - Vocals, Harmonica
*Danny Lancaster - Bass
*Deve Lancaster - Drums
*Tony Portera - Keyboards

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Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Ten Wheel Drive - Peculiar Friends (1971 us, good funky bluesy brass rock, 2019 korean remaster)



The third and final disc on Polydor from Ten Wheel Drive before Annie Sutton would come in to take over for the irreplaceable Genya Ravan and they would move the organization to Capitol for one more go at it, this is the most sophisticated of the small but cherished output from the ever changing and evolving entity known as Ten Wheel Drive. The pity here is that they had really found their groove on Peculiar Friends.

The band blends so nicely behind Ravan's unique and multi-purpose voice, changing genres while exploring the possibilities of a song like "I Had Him Down." They lift a few notes from Blood, Sweat & Tears' cover of the Laura Nyro composition, "And When I Die," but the song mutates before you can hold it down. The key word is "down," and the six-minute "Down in the Cold" rocks -- co-written by the core of the band, keyboardist Michael Zager (no relation to Zager & Evans of "25/25" fame, though many have made that mistake), guitarist Aram Schefrin, and vocalist Ravan. Drummers and bassists and horn players came and went, but the musical vision of the three main partners kept maturing, "Down in the Cold" takes Janis Joplin's drunken barroom "Turtle Blues" and speeds it up a whole lot. Ravan is in total control from the very slick "Shootin' the Breeze," which is one of the most magnificent songs they ever put on plastic, to "Fourteenth Street (I Can't Get Together)." The textures Schefrin and Zager build are the perfect complement to Ravan, and they should have kept this unit together at all costs. 

The title track is a mere 19 seconds of silliness while "The Night I Got Out of Jail" takes a Beatles riff and tucks it inside an Ike & Tina Turner rave-up. The nine tracks here hardly satisfy fans of early adult rock who would demand more. What they got was "No Next Time," the closest thing to a duet on this album, and a wonderful exercise in stretching the boundaries of pop. This is tough stuff that didn't lend itself to early-'70s radio, but had the potential to move the music from this time period to another, higher level. "The Pickpocket" fuses the hard rock of early Deep Purple from their keyboard heavy Tetragrammaton Days with contemporary jazz. The arrangements and performance here are top-notch, so good that the fact that there would be no more is the most disappointing aspect of Peculiar Friends. 
by Joe Viglione
Tracks
1. Peculiar Friends - 0:19
2. The Night I Got Out Of Jail - 3:44
3. Shootin' The Breeze - 3:19
4. The Pickpocket (Aram Schefrin, Michael Zager, Genya Ravan) - 3:48
5. No Next Time - 4:34
6. Love Me - 5:05
7. Fourteenth Street (I Can't Get Together) - 5:49
8. I Had Him Down - 3:52
9. Down In The Cold (Aram Schefrin, Michael Zager, Genya Ravan) - 6:09
All songs by Aram Schefrin, Michael Zager except where stated

Ten Wheel Drive
*Genya Ravan - Harmonica, Harp, Vocals
*Aram Schefrin - Guitar, Producer, Vocals
*Michael Zager - Clarinet, Keyboards
*Frank Frint - Trumpet
*Alan Gauvin - Reeds, Wind
*Blake Hines - Bass
*Tom "Bones" Malone - Trombone
*Dean Pratt - Trumpet
*Danny Stiles - Trumpet
*David Williams - Drums

1969  Ten Wheel Drive - Construction #1 (2019 korean remaster)
1970  Ten Wheel Drive - Brief Replies (2019 korean remaster)
1969-71  Ten Wheel Drive With Genya Ravan - The Best Of
1971  Genya Ravan - Genya Ravan (Vinyl edition)

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Saturday, November 2, 2019

The Mojo Men - Not Too Old To Start Cryin' The Lost Masters (1966 us, tight razor sharp blend of garage rock and trippier elements, 2008 remaster)



In 1966, having just left Autumn Records, the Mojo Men recorded a batch of songs for their new label Warner Brothers, intended both as potential singles and a possible long-player. The San Francisco-based band had recently recruited drummer and lead singer Jan Errico from the neighbouring Vejtables into the fold, which brought about a change of direction. Originally a raunchy rhythm and blues based combo, the Mojo Men were now transformed into an assured folk rock and baroque pop band that drew comparisons to the Beau Brummels, the Byrds and the Mamas & The Papas.

Sad to say, this album’s worth of mostly original material was eventually shoved under the rug, leaving these sessions to gather dust in the vaults, although some of the tunes would be re-recorded later. But thanks to the recent discovery of the master tapes, here’s “Not Too Old To Start Cryin’” in all its shimmering glory. While a handful of cuts, particularly the Bo Diddley-influenced shuffle beat of ‘Til I Find You’, the fuzztone-spiked ‘Give Me One More Chance’ and the rebel snarl of ‘They May Be Right’ retain the band’s initial garage punk pose, the remainder of the material on the disc emphasizes polish and precision. ‘Don’t Let It Happen To Me’, ‘Look Into My Eyes’, ‘Don’t Leave Me Crying Like Before’, ‘Happiness Is You’ and the title track of the collection – which is heard in two differing arrangements - place a strong emphasis upon the band’s new found repertoire of blissed-out harmonies and flowery melody, complemented by heaps of jangly guitars, twinkling keyboards and smart and tight arrangements.

Alive with colour and light, “Not Too Old To Start Cryin’” examines the Mojo Men at the peak of their powers, resulting in a genuine pop rock masterpiece. Despite the fact these stunning songs were shelved, the band soldiered on and it wasn’t long before fame arrived. In early 1967 they netted a nationwide Top 40 hit single with a gorgeous cover of Buffalo Springfield’s ‘Sit Down Think I Love You’ - but that’s another story altogether.
by Beverly Paterson 
Tracks
1. Not Too Old To Start Cryin' (Second Version) (Jim Alaimo, Jan Errico) - 2:34
2. 'Til I Find You - 2:07
3. Is Our Love Gone (Second Version) - 2:05
4. Sure Of Your Love - 2:02
5. Don't Leave Me Crying Like Before (Jim Alaimo, Jan Errico) - 3:34
6. You Didn't Even Say Goodbye - 2:47
7. What Kind Of Man (Jim Alaimo, Jan Errico) - 2:08
8. Happiness Is You - 2:18
9. Look Into My Eyes (Paul Curcio) - 2:46
10.What's The Answer - 2:58
11.Free Ride (Jim Alaimo, Jan Errico) - 2:26
12.Times Like These (Jim Alaimo, Jan Errico) - 2:41
13.Another World (Jim Alaimo, Jan Errico) - 3:07
14.Give Me One More Chance (Paul Curcio) - 3:08
15.Don't Let It Happen To Me - 1:53
16.Remember Me (Jim Alaimo, Paul Curcio, Jan Errico) - 2:41
17.Oh Lonesome Me (Don Gibson) - 3:39
18.Not For Me (Jim Alaimo, Paul Curcio, Jan Errico) - 2:44
19.They May Be Right - 2:49
20.She Cried (Ted Daryll, Greg Richards) - 2:54
21.I've Had It (Raymond Ceroni, Carl Bonura) - 2:50
22.Is Our Love Gone (First Version) - 2:21
23.Not Too Old To Start Cryin' (First Version) (Jim Alaimo, Jan Errico) - 2:41
24.There Goes My Mind (Paul Curcio) - 2:35
All songs by Jim Alaimo, Paul Curcio except where stated

The Mojo Men
*Jim Alaimo - Bass, Vocals
*Jan Errico - Vocals, Drums
*Paul Curcio - Guitar, Vocals
*Don Metchick - Keyboards

1965-66  The Mojo Men - Whys Ain't Supposed To Be 
1967-68  Mojo Men - There Goes My Mind 
Related Act
1965-66 The Vejtables - Feel...The Vejtables 

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