Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Byzantium - Byzantium (1972 uk, splendid melodic folk prog rock, 2013 reissue)

Formed as a school band at UCS, Hampstead, London the original lineup included Nico Ramsden, Robin Lamble & Stevie Corduner who were soon joined by Chas Jankel. Robin Sylvester and Jamie Rubinstein, who were both also studying at UCS were both contributors at this time, Jamie by way of songwriting and Robin in his role of recording engineer, arranger and later joint producer.

Co-produced and arranged by Stuart Taylor and long-time friend and band associate Robin Sylvester, 1972's "Byzantium" is one of those album that leaves me on the fence.  As a naturally sucker for pretty melodies and sweet harmonies, the collection was swimming with those ingredients.  Tracks like 'I Am a Stranger To My Life', 'Come Fair One' and 'Into the Country' were great examples of the band's knack for writing highly melodic material that showcased their sweet harmonies.  I'll also readily admit to adoring several of these songs. 

I wasn't expecting something as funky and rocking at 'What Is Happening?'.   Nah, it wasn't George Clinton and Funkadelic, but for four pale London-based Englishmen who are often slapped with a progressive label, the track had considerable energy.  At the same time, the song served to underscore their tight harmony vocals. While I can appreciate the pretty melody and the thoughtful lyrics, 'I Am a Stranger' also underscored why so many reviewers slam the album as being forgettable ...   While I liked the unexpected mid-song  jazzy interlude, this one certainly won't appeal to everyone. Ear candy for folks who loved vocals hamonies. 

Opening up with a wall of acoustic guitars and those sweet harmonies, 'Come Fair One' was a song that should have sent acoustic music fans into spasms of ecstacy.  The song got even better when the electric instrumentation kicked in. Lamble's lone contribution, the acoustic ballad 'Trade Wind' was certainly pretty.  To my ears the intricate harmonies, the arrangement (and the topic), bore more than a passing resemblance to Crosby, Stills and Nash.  Very pretty.  Easy to see why Al Stewart was interested in having Lamble join his band. 

Shortly after the recordings sessions a personnel shake-up saw original guitarist Nico Ramsden replaced by Rubenstein and Mick Barakan (aka Shane Fonayne).
1. What Is Happening? - 5:20 
2. I Am A Stranger To My Life - 4:47
3. Come Fair One - 5:54
4. Baby I Can Hear You Calling Me - 5:20 
5. Trade Wind (Robin Lamble) - 2:56
6. Into The Country - 4:12
7. Lady Friend - 4:39
8. Why Or Maybe It's Because (Chas Jankel) - 10:14
All compositions by Jamie Rubenstein except where indicated

*Robin Lamble - Vocals, Bass, Violin
*Chas Jankel - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
*Nico Ramsden - Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Organ, Steel Guitar, Percussion
*Stephen Corduner - Drums, Percussion
*Jamie Rubinstein - Guitar
*Alan Skidmore - Tenor Saxophone
*Frank Riccotti - Timpani
*Derek Wadsworth - Brass
*Roy Young's Brass Section - Brass

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Sunday, December 29, 2019

Shaun Harris - Shaun Harris (1973 us, remarkable orchestrated sunny folk, 2005 remaster)

Though best known for his stint as bassist with the legendary psychedelic outfit West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Shaun Harris also cut a cult-classic solo LP for Capitol in 1973. Born in Colorado Springs, CO, in 1946, Harris was the oldest son of symphonic composer Roy Harris; the family relocated to Los Angeles in 1962, and a year later Shaun and his younger brother Danny joined the Kim Fowley-produced rock combo the Snowmen. While attending Hollywood Professional School, the Harris brothers befriended Michael Lloyd, leader of rival band the Rogues; Shaun eventually assumed bass duties in the Rogues, and in 1965 he also recorded a solo single, "Wanted: Dead or Alive," for Fowley's Living Legend label. With recording equipment borrowed from their father, the Harris brothers and Lloyd next began cutting the demos that would ultimately comprise the first WCPAEB album (later issued on Fifo); with the addition of Svengali Bob Markley and drummer John Ware, the group began regularly appearing on the Sunset Strip club circuit, eventually signing to Reprise and releasing a series of underground psychedelic classics.

In 1968 Harris briefly left WCPAEB to tour and record with his band the California Spectrum; after the 1970 LP Markley, a Group, the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band split for good, and the following year Harris signed a solo deal with Verve, recording under the alias Brigadune. The lone Brigadune single, "I'll Cry Out from My Grave (God I'm Sorry)," is a minor classic, documenting the sunshine pop sound at its most mordant -- as of this writing, it's most easily found on the excellent Soft Sounds for Gentle People compilation. In 1973 Harris signed to Capitol, issuing a self-titled LP boasting a country-rock sound unlike any of his previous efforts. Despite contributions from Beach Boy Bruce Johnston along with session aces Jim Gordon and Larry Knetchel, the record hit stores the exact same day as another Capitol release, Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, and quickly fell off the label's radar. Harris subsequently reunited with Michael Lloyd and brother Danny on a handful of little-remembered projects like the Grand Concourse and Rockit, also serving for a time as president of Barry Manilow's publishing company before retiring to Oregon and writing a play based on his life. The British reissue imprint Rev-Ola resurrected Shaun Harris on CD in the fall of 2005. 

Light years removed from the expansive psychedelia of his work with the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Shaun Harris' lone solo LP remains a compelling curio of the singer/songwriter boom of the early '70s -- while its lush country-pop sensibility sits squarely in the mainstream, the record's melodies and arrangements are atypically complex and its lyrics are profoundly introspective, exploring themes of melancholy, self-doubt, and even suicide with uncommon candor. Recorded with members of L.A.'s famed studio team the Wrecking Crew and featuring string arrangements by the artist's father, the esteemed symphonic composer Roy Harris, Shaun Harris captures the fear and resignation of an artist in the twilight of his career -- "Nothing to write that hasn't been written/What's the real point of livin'?" Harris asks in the record's emotional centerpiece, "Today's the Day," his most direct confrontation of the despair that spreads like cancer across otherwise slick, sun-kissed productions like "Empty Without You" and "I'll Cry Out." Harris revels in such contradictions, capturing with nuance and insight the sunset of West Coast pop's seemingly endless summer. 
by Jason Ankeny
1. Empty Without You - 2:47
2. I'll Cry Out - 3:00
3. Underachiever - 2:36
4. Color Of Your Eyes - 2:57
5. Canadian Ships - 3:53
6. Today's A Day - 3:09
7. Highest Dreams - 2:16
8. Misty Morning - 3:24
9. Love Has Gone Away - 3:07
10.Rock And Roll Idol - 2:36
11.I'll Cry Out (Mono Single Mix) - 2:58
All Music and Lyrics by Shaun Harris

*Shaun Harris - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*Ben Benay - Guitar
*Hal Blaine - Drums
*Joe Foster - Synthesizer
*Jim Gordon - Drums
*John Guerin - Drums
*Dan Harris - Guitar, Vocals
*Johanna Harris - Keyboards
*Roy Harris - Orchestration
*Bruce Johnson - Vocals
*Bruce Johnston - Vocals
*Carol Kaye - Bass, Keyboards
*Larry Knechtel - Keyboards
*Michael Omartian - Keyboards
*Joe Osborn - Bass, Keyboards
*Dean Parks - Guitar
*Bob Phillips - Guitar
*Nick Robbins - Synthesizer

Related Acts
1965-67   Volume One
1967  Part One
1967  Volume Two
1968  Volume Three
1960-71  Companion
1969  Markley - A Group

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Monday, December 23, 2019

The Winkies - The Winkies (1974 canada / uk, great pub rock with some glam shades, 2013 remaster)

Of all the songwriters and performers who were thrown into the spotlight during the early to mid-'70s, yet never attained more than a modicum of mainstream success, few proved as accomplished as Phil Rambow. Author of such modern classics as "Night Out" and "Young Lust" (for Ellen Foley) and "There's a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis" with Kirsty MacColl, Rambow himself also emerged as a major player on two of the most important underground scenes of the era: the British pub rock boom of the early to mid-'70s and near-concurrent the New York proto-punk explosion.

His group, the Winkies, meanwhile, were integral to Brian Eno's plans following his departure from Roxy Music, while the band's own recordings so expertly straddle the preoccupations of the time that it would be no exaggeration to describe them as one of '70s rock's greatest lost opportunities. They really were that good.

Canadian-born Rambow arrived in London in 1973, following stints with the New York-based band Saturday Night. Forming the Winkies with ex-Holy Rollers guitarist Guy Humphreys and the rhythm section of Brian Torrington and Mike Desmaris, his outrageous stage persona immediately attracted attention -- a pub rock band in glam rock clothing, the Winkies were everything that their compatriots on the bar scene weren't: blatant, theatrical, and flashy as hell. 

It was this which drew the interest of Eno, as he prepared to launch his first solo album, Here Come the Warm Jets onto a public which still regarded him in terms of his achievements with Roxy Music -- a conception which the album itself was not likely to disavow them of. Impressed by the Winkies' performance, he adopted them as his backing band and, in February 1974, launched out on his first (and, as it transpired, only) solo tour. The outing ended after just five shows, after Eno was rushed to the hospital suffering from a collapsed lung -- the only surviving evidence of the collaboration is a BBC radio session taped for John Peel in March 1974 and featuring distinctive versions of Eno's own "Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch" and "Baby's on Fire," plus the Peggy Lee standard "Fever."

The brevity of the union notwithstanding, the Winkies time with Eno slammed them into the limelight; by late spring, the band had signed with Chrysalis and was recording their debut album with producer Leo Lyons of Ten Years After. His bandmate Chick Churchill guested on the record, while Eno also put in an appearance on one track. Sadly, the album was never completed; instead, the Winkies began work on another set, this time with maverick Guy Stevens at the helm. The Winkies finally appeared in spring, 1975.

Unfortunately, much of the fervor surrounding the group had dissipated. The record did nothing and by early summer, the Winkies had disbanded. Desmaris soon reappeared in the Tyla Gang and Rambow cut a solo single for Chrysalis, but was soon back in New York, performing under his own name and preparing the city for the firestorms of punk which were just around the corner. Evidence of his own contributions to the movement can be found on the period compilations Bionic Gold and Live at Max's, Vol. 2. 

The Winkies were probably six months late in cutting and releasing their debut album -- six months, and one set of sessions. The news, earlier in 1974, that they were in the studio with Brian Eno was greeted with wild enthusiasm and anticipation; the collapse of those sessions, and Eno's replacement with Guy Stevens, somewhat less so. Far from the maverick icon which his posthumous reputation canonizes, Stevens' mid-1970s reputation owed more to his unreliability than his knob-twiddling skills, and it was no surprise whatsoever when The Winkies finally arrived, bearing more in common with the pre-fame Mott the Hoople (of course, Stevens' last major project) than the glorious glam pub hybrid which the band had hitherto nurtured. 

But time has done The Winkies considerably more favors than contemporary critics ever did. It does still sound like vintage Mott, but that's something to be celebrated now -- imagine if Ian Hunter and Co. had not gone off with Bowie following 1971's madcap Brain Capers album, but if Ariel Bender had joined the group regardless. The Winkies is edgy urban rock, as distinctly Dylan influenced as its role model (there's even a cover of "It Takes a Lot to Laugh"), but shot through with Philip Rambow's chiming, scything guitars and strained, emotional vocals. There're hints of the Heavy Metal Kids in the mix, and that's a grand thing as well -- side by side, their debut and The Winkies illuminate the future direction of British street rock as brightly as any other period albums you could name.

True to the pub rock template, there are occasional glances towards beery country ("North to Alaska"), and a nod towards heartland Americana (Bob Seger's "Long Song Comin'"). But the heart of The Winkies is carved out between Rambow's slow-burning "Red Dog" and Guy Humphreys' "Put Out The Light," tough blues stompers with a Stones-y grind and an enviably dissolute lurch. And then there's "Davey's Blowtorch," a Rambow cut which swaggers like the New York Dolls and caused rampant confusion in the archaeological ranks when it was selected to represent the Winkies on the Naughty Rhythms pub rock anthology. While everyone else was doing the greasy boogie shuffle, here come the Winkies sounding sexy as your sister. In a way, the mid-1970s critics were right. The Winkies isn't the album it could have been; may not be the record it should have been. But all that really means is, the band didn't trot obediently off down the path they were meant to and looked instead to their own needs and instincts. The future would thank them for their indulgence. 
by Dave Thompson
1. Trust In Dick (Guy Humphreys) - 3:38
2. Mailman It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry (Bob Dylan, Ruth Roberts, Stanley Clayton, Bill Katz) - 4:10
3. Put Out The Light (Guy Humphreys) - 4:56
4. Twilight Masquerade (Philip Rambow) - 5:43
5. North To Alaska (Mike Phillips) - 2:57
6. Out On The Run (Guy Humphreys) - 4:31
7. Wild Open Spaces (Guy Humphreys) - 3:44
8. Long Song Coming (Bob Seger) - 4:12
9. Davey's Blowtorch (Philip Rambow) - 3:24
10.Red Dog (Philip Rambow) - 5:02

The Winkies
*Michael Desmarais - Drums
*Guy Humphrys - Guitars, Vocals
*Philip Rambow - Guitars, Vocals
*Brian Turrington - Banjo, Bass, Vocals 

Related Act
1976-79  Tyla Gang - Pool Hall Punks / The Complete Recordings (2016 three disc box set remaster) 

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Van Morrison - Saint Dominic's Preview (1972 ireland, glorious folk jazz blues rock)

The best-produced, most ambitious Van Morrison record yet released, Saint Dominic's Preview presents an impressive assemblage of musical ideas that can be enjoyed on many levels. Though the album does not have quite the surface accessibility of Tupelo Honey, being melodically less predictable and lyrically more esoteric, its overall content is musically much richer and more adventurous.

Five of the album's seven cuts pick up where Tupelo Honey left off, as Van and many of the same crew who put together Tupelo further refine and extend the possibilities of the mainstream road-house band sound that has characterized Van's last three albums. In contrast, the two longest cuts, "Listen to the Lion" and "Almost Independence Day," run 10 and 11 minutes respectively, and mark a welcome return to the meditative vitality of Astral Weeks. The coexistence of two styles on the same record turns out to be very refreshing; they complement each other by underscoring the remarkable versatility of Van's musical imagination.

As in Tupelo Honey, the mood here is one of celebration and expectation, but this time not in terms of a relationship within a particular setting. Above all, Saint Dominic's Preview invokes the possibility of profound self-revelation through being on the road and making music. Often there is a feeling of thrilling mystical presentiment. All this is expressed in such a dazzling variety of ways that at first listening Saint Dominic seems to be a less unified work than Tupelo or Astral Weeks. The point, however, is that Van is deliberately proclaiming his freedom from musical style or place (either the specific southern locale of Tupelo or the mythic arena of Astral Weeks.) Images of travel abound, adding up to a summons to high adventure–actual, imaginative, and musical.

The album opens with "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)," a neat three-minute salute to soul then moves into "Gypsy," in which Van states where he's at artistically; the rhythms, alternating between double and triple time, are driving and excited, the harmonies faintly Middle Eastern, and the multiple guitar textures exotic. The song demonstrates that Van is precisely a musical gypsy–cryptic, sensual, and shrewd–a master at casting spells and at leading us through whatever territory he feels like exploring. While both cuts show off the band in its funky style, the third cut, "I Will Be There," goes the furthest of any into R&B-jazz; roots, as Van pays expert musical tribute to Count Basie and Joe Williams.

The excellence of these cuts isn't based on any major innovation, but on the homogenization of diverse but familiar ideas under the auspices of a single strong personality. But just as impressive as Van's personal stamp is the band's marvelous ensemble virtuosity. At the forefront of this evolving "roadhouse" sound are two saxophones (alternately played by Jack Schroer, Boots Houston, and Jules Broussard). The greater prominence of saxophone, plus the development of a more integrated and generally denser "band" sound in which Van's singing is somewhat laid back, mark the chief departures on these cuts from the sound of Tupelo.

Saint Dominic's Preview gets better as it goes along. The extended meditation, "Listen to the Lion," which closes side one, is magnificent. Here, as on much of Astral Weeks, the momentum is carried forward by incantatory rhythmic strumming (Van and Ronnie Montrose). But whereas the music on Astral Weeks was augmented by strings, "Listen to the Lion" uses subdued backup vocals (Montrose, Houston, and Van) to achieve the same hypnotic effect. The result is a purer but no less captivating sound than on Astral Weeks. Musically and lyrically, the cut builds slowly to an intense climax through the use of repeated short musical and lyrical phrases that gradually metamorphose without totally changing shape, and then subside, gradually surrendering tension like the release of a deep breath. Van begins: "Listen to the lion inside me." As the idea is developed it becomes, "and all my tears like water flow for the lion inside me," and ends, "and we sailed looking for a brand new start." As the song reaches peak intensity Van's singing becomes more and more gutteral until it is almost a feral muttering.

The six-and-a-half-minute title cut which opens side two nicely straddles the gap between the album's two styles. Instrumentally it is very similar to "Tupelo Honey." The arrangement and vocals are joyously full-bodied and enhanced by John McFee's steel guitar. However, the dense verbiage (more complex than on any other cut) is disjunctive and arcane, juxtaposing images of mythic travel, with those of social alienation, with reference to James Joyce and Northern Ireland. Within this deliberately obscure but provocative narrative recurs the refrain of Van's apocalyptic vision which he calls Saint Dominic's Preview. I was uneasy about Van's insistence on employing a basically private mythology in Astral Weeks, evocative as it was, and I am uneasy about "Saint Dominic's Preview" for the same reason. The words are difficult to follow, and the album provides no lyric sheet. Nevertheless Van achieves his effect–contrasting a restless, ominous perspective of the present with his certainty of a positive, perhaps ultimate resolution just ahead. The affirmation of "Saint Dominic's Preview" is translated to the past in "Redwood Tree," an ecstatic boyhood reminiscence centering on the image of a sheltering redwood tree. This beautiful, sensuous cut has the album's greatest potential as a hit single.

"Almost Independence Day," the ten-minute concluding cut, is a moving summation of what has preceded. Structurally akin to "Listen to the Lion," it duets Van and Ron Elliott on 12-string and 6-string guitar and effectively uses the Moog as a sort of foghorn bass. Grandly opening with references to the Stones' "Moonlight Mile," the body of the song is an incantatory montage of simple, portentous phrases repeated over and over with varying emotional emphasis: "I can hear the fireworks echoing up and down San Francisco Bay. I can see the boats in the harbor, lights shining out in a cool cool night. I can hear the fireworks. I can hear the people shouting out, up and down the line. And it's almost Independence Day, way up and down the line." As in "Listen to the Lion," the structure of the song is metamorphic, taking the form of a rising and subsiding wave. Music like this is so personal and private that you either relate to it or you don't. It can be faulted on so many grounds– formlessness, self-indulgence, monotony–by those who are unwilling to listen long and hard. For me, the deeply compelling quality of Van Morrison's trips is embodied in their very evanescence–in the fact that the forces he conjures are beyond precise articulation and can only be suggested. (RS 116)
by Stephen Holden,  Aug 31, 1972
1. Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile) - 2:58
2. Gypsy - 4:38
3. I Will Be There - 3:03
4. Listen To The Lion - 11:09
5. Saint Dominic's Preview - 6:25
6. Redwood Tree - 3:04
7. Almost Independence Day - 10:08
All compositions by Van Morrison

*Van Morrison - Vocals; Acoustic, Rhythm, Twelve String Guitars
*Jules Broussard - Tenor Saxophone, Flute
*Lee Charlton - Drums
*Bill Church - Bass
*Ron Elliott - Acoustic Guitar
*"Boots" Houston - Tenor Saxophone, Backing Vocals
*Mark Jordan - Piano
*Connie Kay - Drums
*Bernie Krause - Moog Synthesizer
*Gary Mallaber - Drums, Percussion, Vibraphone
*John McFee - Steel Guitar
*Doug Messenger - Electric, Acoustic, Twelve String Guitars
*Ronnie Montrose - Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals
*Mark Naftalin - Piano, Moog Synthesizer
*Pat O'Hara - Trombone
*Janet Planet - Backing Vocals
*Tom Salisbury - Piano, Organ
*Rick Shlosser - Drums
*Ellen Schroer - Backing Vocals
*Jack Schroer - Alto, Baritone Saxophones
*Mark Springer - Backing Vocals
*Leroy Vinnegar - Double Bass

1967  Blowin' Your Mind! (extra tracks edition)
1968  Van Morrison - Astral Weeks (2015 remaster and expanded)
1971  Tupelo Honey (Japan SHM remaster)
1973  Van Morrison - Hard Nose The Highway
1974  It's Too Late To Stop Now (Japan SHM remaster)
1974  Veedon Fleece  (Japan SHM remaster)
with Them
1964-66  The Story Of Them (two discs set)

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Saturday, December 21, 2019

Bob Lind - The Elusive Bob Lind (1966 us, brilliant vocals orchestrated folk, Vinyl edition)

Robert Neale Lind was born in Baltimore, Ohio on 25 November 1942. His parents separated when he was five and his mother remarried a master sergeant in the Air Force. After several years of constantly moving home, the family settled in Denver, Colorado.

“When I was in the 7th grade I discovered rhythm and blues,” Lind recalled when I interviewed him in 2007. “Before that, I used to listen to Gene Autry, Tex Ritter and Burl Ives, particularly. Burl Ives shaped my whole life. I knew what a guitar was. I knew you kinda raked across the strings with a pick and made noises. But here was a guy who was playing with his fingers, singing about mysterious things, like bats with leather wings and cowboys dying in the streets of Laredo. Oh man, I’d never heard anything like it.”

When Lind was 10, his parents bought him a guitar. He took a few lessons, but lost interest. “A few years later I began to realise that I wasn’t a particularly handsome guy, I wasn’t real smooth, but the guys that played music got all the hot girls. I thought, ‘Me for that!’ But somewhere along the line, I actually got into music for its own sake.” Forming a duo with his pal Jerry, Lind’s first paying gig was at a used car lot. “I played guitar and we sang R&B. Now they call it doo wop but nobody called it that then. It was rhythm and blues – dark and dangerous. We got all the hot dogs we could eat. Then we formed a band and played the teen clubs, where you could work underage.”

After graduating from high school, Lind enrolled at Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado, where he studied theatre arts. “I wasn’t really very serious about college. I was serious about playing music, learning how to finger-pick. I would wake up in the morning, take a bunch of uppers and coffee, and write maybe five or six songs a day. Then I’d go hear somebody play or have a gig myself. I’d come back, stay up most of the night and write more songs. Most of my songs from that period of time came from that line between sleep and wakefulness. That’s where ‘Elusive Butterfly’ was written. This was during the folk boom. There were two schools around then. There was the Kingston Trio, the Journeymen and Peter, Paul & Mary – these very slick guys who wore the striped shirts. Then there was a whole undercurrent, like Judy Henske, Josh White and Phil Ochs. And Dylan, of course. I played a place called the Analyst quite a bit. The first guy to hire me, Al Chapman, owned the place. They had things on the menu like the Freud Burger and the Psycho Salad. I still credit Al Chapman with discovering me. Al taped one of my sets and made a little reel-to-reel of five of my songs. He suggested that I take the tape around to the record companies.”

By 1964 the folk scene had started to dry up in Denver, but was still thriving in San Francisco; Lind headed there. “I was scared to death, because I didn’t know if I could make it there. I didn’t know if I would be able to get work, but in no time at all I was earning … I’m not sure if you’d call it a living. I was holed up in a crummy little hotel where people would die on a daily basis. They’d be hauling stiffs out of there every day – old guys dying lonely deaths in front of the communal TV, or junkies overdosing. It should have depressed me, but I found it romantic. I was maybe 21. I felt like Kerouac, you know. I was there for about three months before I moved on.”

Lind left his belongings with a friend and got on a plane down to Los Angeles to shop around the tape Al Chapman had made for him. “Liberty Records had just bought a jazz label called World Pacific and there was a guy running it named Dick Bock – a strange guy, eats yoghurt, stands on his head, a real free thinker. Bob Dylan was very popular at the time with ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ and the Byrds were happening, so they were looking for a folk rocker, a poet-with-guitar. I didn’t know that. I just went to Liberty because it was the first on my list. I gave them this tape and they said, ‘Yeah, we’d like to sign you’. I was amazed. It was that easy. They signed me as a songwriter to their publishing company, Metric Music, and as a recording artist. I think they were much more excited about my songs than me as a singer.”

Meanwhile, noted arranger Jack Nitzsche was looking for material for artists he was producing. Lenny Waronker, the head of Metric Music, called Lind in to play Nitzsche some of his songs. “I thought that was the dumbest idea I could imagine. I knew who he was and I even had a copy of his “Lonely Surfer” album. This guy is classically trained. This guy is Phil Spector’s right-hand man. He writes those beautiful string lines. This is too crazy! What was a brilliant, classically trained arranger with his melodic scope going to hear in my twangy, folky little songs? So with great trepidation I sat down and plunked out a couple of my folky three-chord tunes. He turned to Lenny and said: ‘You finally got yourself an honest writer.’ I hadn’t thought of myself as honest. I just wrote what I felt. So I played a few more and he said, ‘Boy, this guy’s really good.’ Jack didn’t choose any of my songs for the acts he was producing that day, but I thought of our first meeting as a good ego-boosting experience.”

When it came time to record, Dick Bock was assigned to produce, but things didn’t work out. “There were some technical difficulties that had nothing to do with the music itself. So they were trying to find another producer. They were talking to Chad Stuart and Sonny Bono. Then they said, ‘Let’s try Jack Nitzsche’. Lenny remembered that he had expressed an interest and asked him if he’d like to cut me. Jack said, ‘Yeah.’ He came over to my place, a terrible little $50-a-month apartment on Hawthorne. He looked at this place and said, ‘Man, you can’t create here in this awful place. Come and stay at my house.’ I’d only met him two or three times.”

Lind accepted Nitzsche’s offer and moved in to his house in the Hollywood Hills. Nitzsche and his wife, Gracia, were separated at the time. “It was an Odd Couple kind of deal. Jack and I both loved to drink and to get high. We had a beautiful friendship. He turned me on to music I’d never even heard of before. Fred Neil, Bulgarian folk music, all these jazz guys, classical music: Wagner – he loved Wagner! He had this wide cosmopolitan taste that spanned everything. Even when Gracia came back with the baby – and a more wonderful woman no one has ever met – he never kicked me out. Gracia treated me like a son, even though there wasn’t much difference in our ages. She was wonderful – aces as a person and as an artist. Gracia tended to crash early and when she went to bed, Jack and I would get drunk and put on Ray Charles or Otis Redding and cry like big maudlin babies.”

Lind’s first session with Nitzsche yielded ‘You Should Have Seen It’, ‘Truly Julie’s Blues (I’ll Be There)’, ‘Elusive Butterfly’ and ‘Cheryl’s Goin’ Home’. “‘Elusive Butterfly’ was five verses long. I wanted to do all five verses. Jack said no one would listen to a song that long, and I should only do two. Of course, he was right. Hal Blaine was the drummer. He was the drummer on every session done in LA in 1965. After we’d finished these four, the company was looking for a single. We both favoured ‘Cheryl’s Goin’ Home’. So we released that and – just to be safe, so we wouldn’t get split airplay – we put what we thought was the weakest song, ‘Elusive Butterfly’, on the other side. But the record went nowhere. There was no interest in it at all. Then a disc jockey in Florida turned it over and started to play ‘Elusive Butterfly’. It started to catch on, one market, then another.”

A month after the record’s release, Lind and Nitzsche returned to the studio to cut the eight tracks that would complete the “Don’t Be Concerned” album, released in February 1966. ‘Elusive Butterfly’ entered Billboard’s Hot 100 in January, eventually peaking at #5 in March, by which time ‘Remember The Rain’ / ‘Truly Julie’s Blues (I’ll Be There)’ had been released as Lind’s follow-up single.

“Things were very fast then. I think the “Don’t Be Concerned” album took about three sessions. The two World Pacific albums were recorded so close together that I kinda lump them both together in my mind. Later on I learned that all of these famous people had played on my sessions, like Carol Kaye. I didn’t know who Carol Kaye was! I didn’t know Henry Diltz was playing banjo, or Larry Knechtel was on keyboards. I do remember Leon Russell. He scared the hell out of everybody. He was a strange dude, with long, long hair, even for those times. He was quiet and scary, but he played great piano.”

Divided radio play resulted in ‘Remember The Rain’ and ‘Truly Julie’s Blues (I’ll Be There)’ each reaching the charts, albeit at only #64 and #65, respectively. Meanwhile, ‘Elusive Butterfly’ had taken off in Britain, prompting a promotional visit.

“I loved being in England. My managers, Greene & Stone, brought me over. There was a guy named Val Doonican who cut ‘Elusive Butterfly’ too. There were people who thought he was stealing food out of my children’s mouths, but I felt that when you write a song, you can’t claim ownership of it. Val Doonican’s version was different from mine, but I kinda liked that. I had a wonderful time in England. I met Eric Burdon, Paul Samwell-Smith, Keith Relf and a guy from the Pretty Things. He came up to our hotel one time. There were about 15 people in our room and we were all smoking this hash. He told us all this long improvised fantasy story. I thought what a great world this guy lives in!”

Bob Lind and Val Doonican each reached the Top 5 with ‘Elusive Butterfly’ in the UK, where Lind’s follow-up, ‘Remember The Rain’, was also a modest hit, as were Keith Relf’s recording of ‘Mr Zero’ and Adam Faith’s version of ‘Cheryl’s Goin’ Home’. “‘Cheryl’s Goin’ Home’ turned out to be my second most-recorded song. Cher recorded it, and the Blues Project, Noel Harrison and the Cascades did it. A group called the Rokes did an Italian language version, and one of ‘Remember The Rain’.”

May 1966 saw the opportunistic release of an album titled “The Elusive Bob Lind”. “I was 17 when I made that album. Some of my friends wanted records, so I got nine of them together, they put in $12 each, and I went and got an hour of studio time. I took my guitar and recorded these 12 songs – all acoustic, just me and my guitar – all in an hour. I got an acetate copy for everybody and thought that was the end of it. Jump ahead to Los Angeles. ‘Elusive Butterfly’ becomes a hit and my managers get a letter from Verve Folkways saying that they’d just bought these masters. The next thing I know, I hear this album that has strings, drums and all these other instruments, all dubbed over me and my guitar. They didn’t even get the titles right, and credited me with writing songs like ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’ and ‘Song Of The Wandering Angus’. I suppose I should be flattered that some people like the album, but it’s a terrible piece of shit.”

With a Top 5 single to his name, Lind found himself in demand for TV appearances, but it was not the type of work he enjoyed. “My managers had a certain view of my career. Their decisions for Sonny & Cher were great. They were pop singers; they didn’t care. The kind of music that I wrote was intimate stuff. It was about feelings that are not general commodities that can be packaged. They were wrong for lip-sync shows with go-go dancers jumping around. It made no sense. This wasn’t the course that I was trying to follow. Right then I started hating the business. I had gotten bent and warped and taken so far away from the direction I was trying to head.”

In the spring of 1966 sessions began for his second World Pacific album, “Photographs Of Feeling”. When Verve released a single from their LP, World Pacific responded with ‘I Just Let It Take Me’ from the new sessions. A further Verve single was countered by ‘San Francisco Woman’ on World Pacific, but it too failed to reach the charts. The “Photographs Of Feeling” album, released in August 1966, was the last record Lind would make with Nitzsche.

“Jack had his demons. If I said something that struck him wrong, he would suddenly go off on me about ‘being a fucking star’. At that time, far from being ego-ed out, I was constantly scared shitless, but he seemed very threatened by the success of the records we had made together. He was a hard man to figure out. It didn’t particularly end well with our friendship. Over the next few years, we’d see each other every once in a while and get close again. Then things would get nasty and we’d float away into our separate worlds. I’ll never forget Jack’s generosity, his belief in my music, his love of my music. When I think of him today, I can’t think of anything but that patience and generosity of his, and the fact that he had confidence in me way before I had any in myself. Jack was a strange guy. I miss him.”

The singles ‘It’s Just My Love’ and ‘Goodbye Neon Lies’, both produced by Tommy Oliver, were Lind’s only other releases over the next five years. Disenchanted, he moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. “I was a drunk. I was an abuser of drugs. That wasn’t Jack’s influence. He and I were just similarly inclined. I just wanted to go the desert and get my head straight, but Santa Fe ended up being the place where I did some of my worst drinking and using. So go figure. But while I was there I wrote the songs for an album.” Recorded with arranger Jimmy Bond and producer Doug Weston, the “Since There Were Circles” album was released by Capitol in 1971. Not long afterwards, Lind quit the music business and settled in Florida.

“I just got more and more disgusted and sick of these people in suits who had no feeling for music, but were making all the musical decisions. It wasn’t that I nobly made the decision that, ‘None of that for me anymore’. It was a mutual decision. The music business and I both had distaste for each other. I was a pain to work with. Drugs and alcohol will do that to you. I felt like a fraud. I felt that I wasn’t as talented as people said I was. All that’s completely turned around with sobriety. I haven’t drunk and I haven’t used since 1977. Now I honour my audience and I honour my music. I see that there is value in what I do. And my music has improved with sobriety.”

Lind never stopped writing and worked for a while for Weekly World News. “It was a fun paper where you could dream up stories about Big Foot, witches, UFOs and space aliens. You get paid to make things up all day. By night, I’d write literary short stories. One of them was called Emmett’s Last Day, about a guy in the Everglades. Another was called Nuisance Calls. A screenplay I wrote won the Florida Screenwriters Competition in 1991, I’ve written five novels and I’ve had plays produced. One of them won the Bronze Halo Award. I just like to write. But music never left me. I continued writing songs and once in a while I played, if the vibe was right. I did the Indian River Festival with Arlo Guthrie, who’s an old friend. There are over 200 cuts of my songs – Nancy Sinatra, Cher, Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Marianne Faithfull, Richie Havens, Eric Clapton, Carmen McRae, Johnny Mathis, the Turtles, Glen Campbell – so technically I don’t have to work anywhere I don’t wanna work.” Eventually his desire to make music returned. In 1998 he sold his Gold Wing motorcycle and bought something more dangerous, a tenor sax.

“I had never learned how to read music. I didn’t know chords. I didn’t understand music theory. It had been all instinct with me. I decided that when I learned the saxophone I was gonna learn it the right way. So I took lessons. I learned how to read music and I learned how to make chord charts. I learned why a major seventh is a major seventh, for example – what a D minor flat nine is. I made a little album for my friends, but I wasn’t much of a saxophone player. I was passable, but to be a good sax player takes years – more years than I really had to devote to it. But that’s really the thing that got me back into music. My melodic scope started to open and I started to write more jazz-oriented songs. I thought people had to hear these things, so I started gigging again.”

Signs of Lind’s cult following became apparent in 2001 when Britpop band Pulp recorded a song titled ‘Bob Lind (The Only Way Is Down)’. “What’s great about Britain is that there is a whole new generation of people who are interested in older artists, not just because of what they did in their prime, but what they’re doing now. About a third of the people who visit my website are from the United Kingdom. I think young people in England pay more attention to the history of music than people in America do. I’m baffled by the quality people who talk about me – Jarvis Cocker, Richard Hawley and Sean O’Hagan from the High Llamas, and that delightful madman, John Otway.” Closer to home, guitarist Jamie Hoover of US group the Spongetones released “Lind Me Four”, a CD EP of Lind compositions. Long-time fan Hoover subsequently played on “Bob Lind: Perspective”, a concert/documentary DVD produced and directed by filmmaker Paul Surratt.

A frequent live performer, but no fan of the recording process, Lind made some of his recent compositions available on a self-released CD, “Live At The Luna Star Café”. A new studio album, “Finding You Again”, eventually appeared here on Ace’s Big Beat label in 2012. “I’ve written at least 300 songs since my last LP came out. For 41 years I’ve known I have to get ‘product’ onto the market. Over those years, I talked to dozens of producers. Some, I knew right away were wrong for me. Others seemed right for a while, but egos (theirs and mine) crushed the trust needed for the fragile producer-artist relationship.”

Fortunately, Lind found a dependable producer in Jamie Hoover. “It started with me sending him a god-awful piano demo of ‘Finding You Again’. I love the song but the demo sucked, as all my self-made demos do. A week later I got an mp3. ‘Stunned’ is an understatement. Somehow he had transformed that piece-of-shit demo into a pulsing, exciting representation of the song. I kept playing it over and over, marvelling at how he had Frankensteined it to life. I sent him a simple demo of ‘Maybe It’s The Rain’. Again, he found the soul of the song, adding those tasteful electric guitar, bass and string lines. After he repaired and rejuvenated ‘Exeter (The Wedding Waltz)’, I called him up and said, ‘Who are we kidding? We’re making an album here!’. His love for my music brought out the best in his production artistry. He constantly sought to bring my ideas to life in his unique and creative way. All of the songs are new except ‘May’ and ‘How The Nights Can Fly’, both of which are over 30 years old – along with a first for me, the authorised release of a song I didn’t write. I’m genuinely happy with what we’ve done.”

His voice and songwriting undiminished by time, Lind still gigs regularly around the USA and has performed in Europe in recent years. “Since There Were Circles” was reissued by RPM in 2006 and is still available. “Live At The Luna Star Café” and the “Perspective” DVD are obtainable via his website (http://boblind.com). “Finding You Again” and “Elusive Butterfly: The Complete Jack Nitzsche Sessions” are in catalogue at Ace.
by Mick Patrick 
1. Fennario (Traditional) - 3:54
2. Wandering (Traditional) - 3:57
3. The Times They Are A Changin' (Bob Dylan) - 3:06
4. Black Night - 3:41
5. White Snow - 3:55
6. Cool Summer - 5:48
7. Hey Nellie Nellie (Traditional) - 3:33
8. The Swan - 4:18
9. What Color Are You? - 4:20
10.Gold Mine Blues - 5:26
11.Hard Road - 4:09
All songs by Bob Lind except where indicated

*Bob Lind - Vocals, Guitar

1965-72  Bob Lind ‎– You Might Have Heard My Footsteps, The Best Of 
1971  Bob Lind - Since There Were Circles (2006 bonus tracks issue) 

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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Bread Love And Dreams - Amaryllis (1971 uk, wonderful folk rock, 2001 korean remaster)

On Bread, Love and Dreams' third and final LP, their approach hadn't changed much since their 1969 debut album, aside from expanding the production some and getting into more ambitious song structures. It still hovered between British folk and British folk-rock, and the genteel pleasantry had an acoustic guitar base, but was sometimes embellished by added instruments like organ, electric guitar, and percussion. The big adventure on this outing was "Amaryllis," a suite of songs that took up all of side one. It sounded much like their other work save for the length and the fairly inscrutable lyrics. It was delivered and constructed in a manner suggesting an epic and/or a journey, yet ultimately in such a vague and impressionistic manner as to be impenetrable as to its specific intention. 

Side two went back to separate, more standard-length songs, and this worked better, with "Brother John" the most haunting piece on the record. At times, as on "Circle of Night," there's a resemblance to some of the work of Bert Jansch and Pentangle, though the similarity isn't incredibly strong. Ultimately it was pleasant but unmemorable U.K. folk with a few pop and rock touches, the songs sometimes seeming to be trying to bite off more than they could chew in their wrestling with abstract and philosophical images and stories. 
by Richie Unterberger
1. Amaryllis (David McNiven) - 21:39
.a.Out Of The Darkness Into The Night
.b.PZoroaster's Prophecy
2. Time's The Thief (David McNiven) - 4:40
3. My Stair Cupboard At 3 A.M. (David McNiven, Lindsay Levy) - 3:28
4. Brother John (Angie Rew) - 3:58
5. Circle Of The Night (David McNiven) - 3:17

Bread Love and Dreams
*David McNiven - Vocals, Guitar, Flute, Harmonica
*Angie Rew - Vocals, Guitar, Percussion
*Terry Cox - Drums
*Alan Trajan - Organ, Piano
*Danny Thompson -  Bass
*Dave Richmond - Bass Guitar

1970  Bread Love And Dreams - The Strange Tale Of Captain Shannon And The Hunchback From Gigha 
Related Act 
1969  Alan Trajan - Firm Roots 

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Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Jackal - Awake (1973 canada, spectacular prog rock, 2004 release)

In the late 1960s, Chris and James Kellesis formed a hard progressive-psych band called Jackal in Toronto. Organist Chris Kellesis and brother James wrote the material and were joined by singer Charlie Shannon and guitarist Dave Bernard for their only LP 'Awake', released on obscure Canadian label Periwinkle in 1973 and reissued by Radioactive in 2004.  With the band rounded out by guitarists Steve Hayward and Dave Bernard, and drummer Lois Mutton, they worked with producers Dan Goldberg and Bob Stright in the spring of '73. They became one of the first acts to record for Snider's new venture, Periwinkle Records, releasing their debut album, Awake a few months later.

Released by the small Periwinkle label, 1973's self-produced "Awake" was their sole release and showcased a set of eight extended originals.  Given the LP's high stature in collecting circles the few brief reviews I stumbled across weren't all that promising drawing broad comparisons to Deep Purple and other mid-1970s hard rock outfits (Captain Beyond, Warpig, etc.). Having low expectations may not have been all that bad since my initial impressions were of a competent and occasionally quite impressive set of hard rock with more than a little progressive influence scattered throughout.

As lead vocalist Shannon had a gruff and dry voice that you were either going to love or totally dislike.  He didn't have a great deal of range, but his raspy delivery was well suited to the band's barebones attack and I'll admit to being a converted fan.  The real finds were lead guitarist Bernard and keyboardist Kellesis.  Bernard wasn't the flashiest player you've ever heard, but he brought a spare and impressive style to the album.  Check out his lead on 'Sunny Side of the Day'.  Kellesis deserved similar praise, turning in surprisingly deft and melodic backing on tracks like 'At the Station' and 'For You'.  Certainly not the most original album you'll ever hear, but on songs like 'A New Day Has Arisen' and 'How Time Has Flown' they churned out material that was tuneful, driven and every bit as good as their better known competitors. 
1. At The Station (Chris Kellesis) - 5:45
2. For You (Chris Kellesis) - 3:08
3. Sunny Side of the Day (Steve Hayward) - 2:48
4. A New Day Has Arisen (Chris Kellesis, James Kellesis) - 8:22
5. How The Time Has Flown (Chris Kellesis, James Kellesis) - 5:56
6. Lost In The World (Steve Hayward) - 2:26
7. In The Heavens (Chris Kellesis, Lois Mutton) - 4:06
8. Awake (Chris Kellesis) - 7:57

*Charlie Shannon - Lead Vocals
*Dave Bernard - Guitar
*Chris Kellesis - Keyboards
*Steve Hayward - Guitar
*Lois Mutton - Drums
*James Kellesis - Bass

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Merry Christmas From The Sonics, Wailers And Galaxies (1965 us, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year)

Released on tiny Etiquette Records in 1965, Merry Christmas From The Sonics, The Wailers, And The Galaxies is a legendary three-garage-band compendium from the Pacific Northwest that doesn't quite live up to its vaunted reputation. Don't get me wrong - with no less than two songs in my Top 100, Merry Christmas very, very good. But, it's not the "Christmas Nuggets" one might expect and some claim.

That said, the ferocious Sonics - one of the most crazed, revered garage bands ever - carry the day with two relentlessly hard-rocking, monumentally egocentric tracks. First and foremost, the sonics' "Don't Believe In Christmas" (loosely based on Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business") viciously dismisses the holiday simply because singer Gerry Roslie can't get sexually satisfied. And while the band's "Santa Claus" (roughly patterned after the Premiers' "Farmer John") is a somewhat less frenzied, its bald confession of material greed is equally impressive. Rosalie gleefully confesses, "I want a brand new car, a twangy guitar, a cute little honey, and lots of money," to which Santa Claus essentially replies, "Nuts!"

Up Seattle way, the Sonics were the new kids on the block. The Wailers, on the other hand, were an established band best known for the instrumental hit "Tall Cool One" (1959). Their "Christmas Spirit??" - while no match for the vitriolic Sonics tracks - is a scream. The song is so relentlessly negative in its assessment of the holiday season and so positively spot-on in its appropriation of the language and style of Bob Dylan that it must considered be a parody - which doesn't mean it isn't right. The band's "She's Coming Home," on the other hand, relatively upbeat song looking forward to the carnal pleasures of Christmas vacation.

Sounding like a less-polished, more-soulful version of the Association, the relatively easygoing Galaxies come in a distant third to their more cacophonous peers. The band's "Christmas Eve," however, is lovely. Kicking off with James Jamerson's percolating bass riff from the Temptations' "My Girl," "Christmas Eve" provides a welcome yuletide soporific after the anti-Christmas rants of the Wailers and Galaxies. Good ol' Santa Claus, the Galaxies maintain, "wouldn't want anyone to be left out" - exactly the opposite of what the Sonics declaim more forcefully elsewhere on the album.

Merry Christmas was available briefly on CD - I actually own one - but I can find no current listing for it at Amazon or anywhere else. The original LP, meanwhile, is worth hundreds of dollars on the collectors market. Happily, two of the best tracks from Merry Christmas - "Don't Believe In Christmas" and "Christmas Spirit??" (which were originally released on a split 7-inch single) - are both are included on Rhino's delightful Bummed Out Christmas (1989). Also, all three Sonics tracks from Merry Christmas were appended to the CD reissue of their amazing 1965 debut LP, Here Are The Sonics. 
Artists - Tracks
1. The Sonics - Santa Claus - 2:52
2. The Wailers - She's Coming Home - 3:02
3. The Galaxies - Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer - 2:38
4. The Wailers - Christmas Spirit?? - 3:15
5. The Sonics - The Village Idiot - 2:41
6. The Galaxies - Please Come Home For Christmas - 3:13
7. The Sonics - Don't Believe In Christmas - 1:47
8. The Wailers - Maybe This Year - 3:24
9. The Galaxies - Christmas Eve - 4:16
10.The Wailers - The Christmas Song - 3:14

Sunday, December 15, 2019

King Harvest - King Harvest (1975 us, delicate soft rock, Vinyl edition)

In 1969, four students at the prestigious Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., banded together to perform cover songs by such contemporary artists as Sly and the Family Stone, Traffic, Jimi Hendrix, Dr. John and The Band at local pubs, fraternities and nearby colleges. The quartet would split up for the first time only two years later, then in 1971 they regrouped in Paris, France, playing clubs and, by now, their own material. After performing under such names as E Rodney Jones and the Prairie Dogs, the four musicians -- David (Doc) Robinson, Eddie Tuleja, Rod Novak and Ronny Altbach -- decided to call themselves King Harvest, a nod to The Band's song "King Harvest Has Surely Come." An old friend, drummer and future Orleans founding member Wells Kelly, visited the band at their villa in the Paris suburb of Orgeval, France, bringing along not only albums by such popular American bands as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, but also "Dancing in the Moonlight," a song he had composed with his brother, Sherman Kelly.

"We recorded 'Dancing in the Moonlight' in Paris in the fall of 1971 and after it flopped in Europe, we disappeared to lick our wounds," says saxophonist/vocalist Rod Novak. "In the short couple months we were incommunicado, DITM started up the charts in the U.S. and our illustrious record company in France (Musidisc) gave the tapes that they had to the little American company (Perception Records) that leased DITM and Voila!, our first American album." Rod added the band quickly put together "the album which should have been", but unfortunately Perception "went bankrupt before we could release it."

Recording "Dancing in the Moonlight" proved to be a logistical challenge. Lead singer Doc Robinson had to sing out in the stairwell of the small Parisian studio, which was a natural echo chamber (as long as the neighbors didn't come out during the recording), and the peculiar percussion sound they got was the result of using a toilet brush instead of some more modern percussion instrument. It was Jack Robinson, the hands-on producer of the track, who suggested playing the giddy intro to the tune up in the higher octaves, and Robinson who pitched the song to several U.S. and U.K. labels, eventually signing King Harvest to the small New York City label Perception Records.

Now relocated to Olcott Beach, N.Y., on the shore of Lake Ontario, King Harvest embarked on a U.S. tour, but eventually their record company went out of business. Then in the mid-'70s, the band was signed by major label A&M and hooked up with legendary songwriter Jeff Barry as producer. The King Harvest Album was released by A&M in 1975 and featured the band's trademark pop-rock formula of vocal harmony and jingling piano. By now, various members King Harvest were involved in touring with the Beach Boys, and The King Harvest Album featured guest appearances by Beach Boys Mike Love and Carl Wilson, as well as Peter Cetera of Chicago.

In late 2006, the band reacquired the rights to all their music from their former bankrupt record company, and released the above mentioned "album which should have been," now dubbed The Lost Tapes, on iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, and other major online record stores in September 2007. "The reason for the 30-year delay is that we 'lost' our rights to all our music in 1974," says Novak. "Also we just finished a DVD for PBS called The 70s Experience Live where we got together for the first time since 1976." Rod added that there's also talk of the band "going back to Paris and doing a reunion CD with our old producer, Jack Robinson."
1. Borderline (Dave Robinson, Ron Altbach, Ed Tuleja, Tony Cahill) - 3:56
2. Vaea-Vy-Ya (Dave Robinson, Sherman Kelly) - 6:00
3. Country Pie (Ron Altbach, Ed Tuleja) - 3:55
4. Shine On (Dave Robinson, Ed Tuleja) - 3:58
5. A Little Bit Like Magic (Ron Altbach, Dave Robinson, Sherman Kelly, Jeff Barry) - 3:16
6. As Soon As We Can Get It Together (Ed Tuleja) - 3:00
7. Rue Du Four Rag (Ron Altbach) / Fly By (Tony Cahill, Ron Altbach, Rod Novak, Dave Robinson, Ed Tuleja, Jeff Barry) - 4:49
8. Old Friends (Ron Altbach, Dave Robinson, Ed Tuleja) - 3:45
9. Jumbee (Dave Robinson, Ed Tuleja, Ron Altbach) - 4:06

King Harvest
*Dave Robinson - Lead Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
*Ed Tuleja - Vocals, Guitar
*Tony Cahill - Bass
*David Montgomery - Drums
*Ron Altbach - Keyboards
*Sherman Kelly - Keyboards
*Rod Novak - Tenor Saxophone
*Billy Hinsche, Carl Wilson, Mike Love, Peter Cetera - Backing Vocals
*Jeff Barry - Tambourine
*Charles Lloyd - Saxophone
*Bobby Figueroa - Drums

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Friday, December 13, 2019

Shape Of The Rain - Riley Riley Wood And Waggett (1971 uk, beautiful folk psych rock with west coast aura, 2006 release)

Born and raised in Sheffield (as the debut album liner notes pointed out, Sheffield was also Joe Cocker's stomping grounds), brothers Keith (vocals/guitar) and Len (bass) Riley, cousin/guitarist Brian Wood and friend/drummer Tag Waggett were Shape of the Rain.  Keith and Brian started out as an Everly Brothers inspired duo, eventually adding Len to the line-up and switching their musical interests.  Originally known as The Gear followed by a stint as The Reaction, they eventually added Waggett to the line-up,. Years of dances, club, and university performances helped the quartet generate a regional audience.  Finding a supporter in the form of David McPhie, who'd served as Joe Cocker's initial manager, they started opening for then rising bands like Fleetwood Mac, Free, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd, eventually attracting the attention of several English labels, before signing with RCA's short-lived Neon subsidiary. 

The business partnership proved short - one obscure album, but what a set !  A true undiscovered treasure. Co-produced by Tony Hall and Eric Hine (who also played keyboards on the set), 1971's cleverly-titled "Riley, Riley, Wood and Waggett" showcased a wonderful collection of English-flavored folk-rock.  I'm not talking about conventional Fairport Convention, or Steeleye Span styled moves, rather their sound was seemingly influenced by American folk-rock bands like The Byrds and The Buffalo Springfield.  How many UK bands do you know that embraced 12 string guitars and pedal steel with as much enthusiasm as these guys ?   While it wasn't the year's most original offering, group-penned material such as 'Woman', 'Wasting My Time' and the psych-influenced 'Willowed Trees' boasted an impeccable mix of strong melodies, great harmonies and some stunning guitar. Elsewhere, 'Patterns', 'Dusty Road' and 'I'll Be There' found the quartet aptly displaying that they were just as good in a folk-rock vein. 
1. Woman - 3:56
2. Patterns - 3:23
3. Castles - 1:59
4. Wasting My Time - 3:09
5. Rockfield Roll (Eric Hine) - 0:49
6. Yes - 5:49
7. Dusty Road - 3:50
8. Willowing Trees - 3:47
9. I'll Be There - 3:39
10.Broken Man - 6:00
..a.Every One A Gem
..b.After Collapsing At Kingsley's
All songs by Keith Riley, Len Riley, Brian Wood, Tag Waggett except track #5

The Shape Of The Rain
*Keith Riley - Vocals, Guitar
*Len Riley - Bass
*Ian 'Tag' Waggett - Drums, Percussion
*Brian Wood - Vocals, Guitar, Pedal Steel

1966-73  The Shape Of The Rain - The Shape Of The Rain 

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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels - Detroit Breakout! An Ultimate Anthology (1966-68 us, splendid rhythm 'n' blues, rockin' soul, roots 'n' roll, double disc remaster)

Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels Mitch Ryder was born William Levise Jr. in 1945, the second of eight children in the mainly Polish working-class city of Hamtramck, Michigan. While he was still quite young, Mitch's family moved to Warren, Michigan, near 9 Mile Road. The Levise family would eventually move to houses located on both 12 Mile and 11 Mile Roads while Mitch was growing up.

Mitch’s father, William Levise Sr., was a Big Band era singer who performed on radio in the late 1940’s and worked for a few small record companies in the Detroit area. Mitch's mother was not only a housewife, but an aspiring songwriter as well. There was always a lot of music in the Levise household, either from William Sr.’s collection of 78-rpm records, or on the family radio. It was on that radio that an 11-year-old Mitch would first hear the new sounds of Rock and Roll.

In junior high, Mitch befriended Joe Kubert, a budding guitarist. The boys shared a mutual love of music, especially Rhythm & Blues. Mitch and Kubert would go on to form a band when they got into high school called the Tempest.

Mitch's first taste of performing came during his sophmore year at Warren High School. He sang the Johnny Mathis hit "Chances Are" during a school assembly, and he was immediately hooked by the audience's applause and cheering. His high school music teacher then entered Mitch in a tri-county music tourament. His victory earned him a scholarship to a summer music camp.

From that point on, Mitch began singing whenever he could, at any venue that would have him. He shortened his last name and began performing as Billy Lee. His father had always been supportive of his son’s interest in music, and when Mitch turned seventeen, his dad put up the money for him to record a Billy Lee single.

The record was put out on a small independent black-owned label called Carrie Records. Owner James Hendrix had only issued a few gospel records on his tiny label. Hendrix wrote a song called “That’s The Way It’s Gonna Be” for one side of the 45-rpm, and Mitch wrote a blues ballad called “Fool for You’ for the other. Although the record got only minimal airplay, it opened some doors for Mitch.

Mitch began hanging out at a Detroit music club called the Village, located on Woodward Avenue. There, he began performing in an interracial vocal group called the Fabulairs along with two black singers who worked at the club, Joe Harris and Ronnie Abner. Besides singing together at the Village, the Fabulairs sang a capppella sets on the boat to Bob-Lo Island, the famous Detroit River amusement park. Soon after, Harris and Abner would add Tom Storm to their line-up and rename themselves the Peps.

Inspired by the success of the Beatles, Mitch and his old pal Joe Kubert joined forces with the Rivieras, the house band at the Village. The Rivieras were made up of guitarist Jim McCarty, bassist Earl Elliott, and drummer John Badanjek. Calling their new group Billy Lee & the Rivieras, the band rehearsed in the Badanjek attic at John’s parents' house, and soon landed a regular gig at the Bamboo Hut teen club.

The band also became a regular attraction at the Walled Lake Casino. The Casino, built in 1919, had reopened in 1962 for package music shows hosted by Detroit deejays. Billy Lee & The Rivieras first performed in “battles of the bands” in 1964, before quickly graduating to featured act status at the venue.

Their sets would start off with some instrumentals featuring McCarty’s guitar, and then Mitch would come on with his searing vocals, knee drops, leg kicks, and anything else that would get the teen crowds going. Billy Lee & the Rivera’s hard-rocking versions of R&B and soul classics attracted a large Detroit-area following, and also the ear of Motor City deejay Bob Prince.

Prince recognized both Mitch's and the band's potential, and he began booking the group in larger venues. Their performances were so hot that they soon started headlining over even Motown artists.

Billy Lee & the Rivieras recorded their first single in 1964 on the local Hyland label. Again, Mitch’s father financed the recording of the single, “You Know/Won’t You Dance With Me”. Although it got some Detroit-area radio play, it was not the hoped-for hit record.

Bob Prince also had the band record a demo at Badanjek’s rehearsal space that eventually got into the hands of the 4 Seasons’ producer, Bob Crewe. Crewe was impressed with what he heard, and he came to Detroit to watch Billy Lee & The Rivieras’ performance as the opening act for the Dave Clark Five. Crewe signed the band, and then had them move to New York City, his base of operations. The contract they signed with Bob Crewe would open the door to success, but it would come at a hefty price. 

Because another group called The Rivieras had already charted with a hit called “California Sun”, the band name was the first thing to be changed. Supposedly, Billy (Mitch) was leafing through a Manhattan phone book when he happened upon the name ‘Mitch Ryder’. Thus, a new stage name was born. The band then changed their name to the Detroit Wheels, and Crewe had publicity photos taken of the group on top of oil barrels, surrounded by piles of automobile tires, to drive the Motor City image home.

Crewe lodged the five band members in two tiny rooms at the Coliseum House hotel in New York City. He kept them busy with gigs at Greenwich Village clubs and Times Square bars playing three sets per night, five days a week.

While they were building a name for themselves in the Big Apple, Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels’ released their first single on Crewe’s New Voice label. “I Need Help” did not capture the excitement of Mitch and the band on stage, however, and it sunk without a trace.

But their second single, “Jenny Take A Ride”, started them on a two-year journey of hits that brought the band fame and fortune, but also ended up tearing them apart.

“Jenny Take A Ride” combined two oldies, Chuck Willis’ “C.C. Rider” and Little Richard’s “Jenny, Jenny”, into a new and instantly recognizable sound that peaked at # 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in early 1966. According to James A. Mitchell’s book, It Was All Right, Crewe had to be talked into releasing the song as a single by Keith Richards and Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones. Richards and Jones had been guests in the studio when “Jenny Take A Ride” was recorded, and they spoke up for the song’s potential as a hit single with Bob Crewe afterwards. 

The band underwent its first personnel change at this time when bassist Earl Elliott joined the Marines. He was replaced by Jim McCallister. Joe Kubert would become the next casualty as he began shooting drugs in an attempt to avoid the draft. This would lead to an addiction that would not only cost Kubert his place in the band, but also his life in 1991.

After quickly releasing their first album, “Take A Ride”, to capitalize on their hit single, Mitch and the band proved they weren’t just one-hit wonders with their next release, “Little Latin Lupe Lu”, in the spring of 1966. It became a # 17 hit, and earned the band a spot on the grueling Dick Clark’s Caravan Of Stars bus tour that summer.

Following the tour, Crewe sent the Wheels home to Detroit while he kept Mitch in New York to do photo shoots, interviews, attend meetings, and even take grooming and dancing lessons. It was the first indication that Mitch and his band were soon to be separated permanently. Mitch, who had married before leaving for New York, managed to finally break away and find the time to buy a house in Southfield, Michigan, for his wife and their baby daughter.

After the band’s next two singles, “Breakout” and “Taking All I Can Get”, achieved only minor chart success, Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels went back to the formula that was so successful on “Jenny Take A Ride”. The band combined Shorty Long’s “Devil With A Blue Dress On” with another Little Richard hit, “Good Golly Miss Molly”. The combination proved to be the band’s biggest single when it peaked at # 4 in late 1966. The hit served to make Mitch an established star. Crewe quickly put out a second album, “Breakout”, to take advantage of this latest success.

Crewe’s plans for a solo career for Mitch became apparent when he repackaged the best songs from the band’s first two LPs into an album with the misleading title of “All Mitch Ryder Hits”. Later that same year, Mitch and the Wheels would record a new album titled “Sock It to Me!” that featured a close-up of just Ryder on the cover. Furthermore, it placed Mitch’s name in larger letters than the album title, while ‘the Detroit Wheels’ was mentioned in the smallest print.

On the Top 40 front, Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels quickly followed “Devil With A Blue Dress On & Good Golly Miss Molly” with another big hit. “Sock It To Me-Baby!” was released as a single in early 1967. It reached # 6 on the Hot 100 despite being banned on several radio stations for being “too sexually suggestive”. In spite of the initial flap, the term ‘Sock it to me’ ended up becoming a national catch-phrase when it began to be used weekly on the hit TV comedy show, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.

At this point, Mitch was now a big enough star to have a tiny ‘Mitch Ryder’ doll put on the market by the Hasbro Company as part of its ‘Show Biz Babies’ series. Crewe, by now, had disposed of McCarty and Badanjek, who went back to Detroit with some hard feelings over the way they had been treated. Ryder was not happy either, but Crewe’s contract gave him full creative control over Mitch’s career, and his master plan was to make Ryder a mainstream singing star.

McCarty and Badanjek joined up with some other musicians and recorded two singles on the Inferno label under the name the Detroit Wheels before breaking up. Jim McCarty went on to play in the Siegel-Schwall Blues Band and the Buddy Miles Express before becoming a founding member of the group Cactus. Badanjek played in a local group called Blueberry Jam. During the 70’s, McCarty and Badanjek would reunite to form the Rockets.

Crewe’s first true solo recording with Mitch was the “What Now My Love” album from 1967. Producer Crewe was obviously not tuned into the musical changes in the air during that pivotal year, nor was he in touch with Mitch’s intense desire to be an outstanding R&B singer. The resulting album was an unsatisfying mix of theatrical tunes like the title track along with some rock and roll songs played by New York session musicians. Mitch was frustrated by both the finished product and by the fact that Bob Crewe was not allowing him to create and write his own material.

Although they were defunct, there was one last charting single credited to Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels. 1967’s “Too Many Fish In The Sea & Three Little Fishes” was a medley that combined a Marvelettes’ hit with an old Kay Kyser song from 1939. The unlikely combination achieved a very respectable # 24 showing on the Hot 100.

Bob Crewe’s grand plan for Mitch Ryder’s solo career did not come close to equaling the success he enjoyed with the Detroit Wheels. The first single, "Joy", was released in the summer of 1967. It didn't stray too far from the sound of his previous hits but only reached # 41 on the Hot 100. Mitch's follow-ups, however, including the string-laden and out-of-character ballad “What Now My Love”, as well as his version of the old country song, “You Are My Sunshine”, were a far cry from the quality of the recordings Ryder made with the Detroit Wheels.

On December 9, 1967, Mitch appeared on Lloyd Thaxton’s television program along with fellow guest Otis Redding. He and Otis sang a duet on the Eddie Floyd hit, “Knock On Wood”. Mitch would be the last artist to ever perform with the soul music icon, as Redding was killed in a plane crash on route to a show in Wisconsin the following day.

Ryder’s last charting single with Bob Crewe again reverted back to the medley concept. This final time they combined Lloyd Price’s “(You’ve Got) Personality” with the Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace”. The magic of his collaborations with the Detroit Wheels was missing, however, and the song peaked at a disappointing # 87 in 1968.

Mitch was now performing live with a nine-piece horn-driven show band complete with costume changes and slick lighting and stage production. Ryder was paying the band's salaries and transportation costs, and quickly fell deep in debt. Despite selling roughly six million records for Crewe's label, Ryder had only been paid a $15,000 advance and one royalty check for $1,000. 
Disc 1
1. Jenny Take A Ride (Enotris Johnson, Richard Penniman, Bob Crewe) - 3:24
2. Come See About Me (Brian Holland, Edward Holland, Jr., Lamont Dozier) - 2:59 
3. Turn On Your Lovelight (David Nixon, Jackie Robinson, James Smalls, Jennings Blackett Jr., Robert Burton) - 3:34
4. Just A Little Bit (Earl Washington, John Thornton, Piney Brown, Ralph Bass) - 2:41
5. I Hope (Bob Crewe) - 3:01
6. Shake A Tail Feather (Andre Williams, Otha Hayes, Verlie Rice) - 2:30
7. Please, Please, Please (James Brown, Johnny Terry) - 3:37
8. I'll Go Crazy (James Brown) - 2:10
9. I Got You (I Feel Good) (James Brown) - 2:35
10.Sticks And Stones (Henry Glover, Titus Turner) - 2:36
11.Bring It On Home To Me (Sam Cooke) - 3:33
12.Baby Jane (Mo-Mo Jane) (Bob Crewe, William Levise, Jr.) - 3:59
13.Walking The Dog (Rufus Thomas) - 2:27
14.I Had It Made (Bob Crewe, L. Russell Brown, Raymond Bloodworth, William Levise, Jr.) - 2:41
15.In The Midnight Hour (Steve Cropper, Wilson Pickett) - 2:30
16.Ohh Poo Pah Doo (Eddie Singleton) - 2:46
17.I Like It Like That (Allen Toussaint, Chris Kenner) - 2:46
18.Little Latin Lupe Lu (Bill Medley) - 3:09
19.Devil With The Blue Dress On / Good Golly Miss Molly (John Marascalco, Robert Blackwell) - 3:06
20.Shakin' With Linda (O'Kelly Isley, Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley) - 3:15
21.Stubborn Kind Of Fellow (Brian Holland, Edward Holland, Jr., Lamont Dozier) - 3:09
22.You Get Your Kicks (Bob Crewe, Gary Knight) - 3:09
23.I Need Help (Bob Crewe, Charlie Calello) - 2:27
24.Any Day Now (Bob Hilliard, Burt Bacharach) - 3:21
25.Break Out (Gary Knight, Herb Bernstein) - 3:16
26.Baby I Need Your Loving / Theme From Mitch (Brian Holland, Edward Holland, Jr., Lamont Dozier, Bob Crewe) - 3:59
27.Mitch Ryder Radio Promo - 0:32
Dis 2
1. Sock It To Me - Baby! (Bob Crewe, L. Russell Brown) - 3:05
2. I Can't Hide It (Bob Crewe, Gary Knight) - 2:36
3. Slow Fizz (Bob Crewe, George Woods) - 3:26
4. Walk On By (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) - 2:41
5. Shakedown (L. Russell Brown, Raymond Bloodworth) - 2:50
6. A Face In The Crowd (Bob Crewe) - 2:50
7. I'd Rather Go To Jail (Bob Crewe, L. Russell Brown, Raymond Bloodworth) - 3:09
8. Wild Child (Bob Crewe) - 3:13
9. Too Many Fish In The Sea / Three Little Fishes (Edward Holland, Jr., Norman Whitfield, Saxie Dowell) - 2:57
10.Joy (Mitch Ryder, L. Russell Brown, Raymond Bloodworth) - 3:11
11.You Are My Sunshine (Charles Mitchell, Jimmie Davis) - 3:05
12.Ruby Baby / Peaches On A Cherry Tree (Bob Crewe, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 3:06
13.Personality / Chantilly Lace (Harold Logan, Lloyd Price, J.P. Richardson) - 3:40
14.Let It Be Me (Gilbert Bécaud, Mann Curtis, Pierre Delanoë) - 3:20
15.I Make A Fool Of Myself (Bob Crewe, Bob Gaudio) - 3:52
16.Born To Lose (Frankie Brown) - 3:15
17.If You Go Away (Jacques Brel, Rod McKuen) - 4:42
18.What Now My Love (Gilbert Bécaud, Pierre Delanoë, Carl Sigman) - 4:16
19.Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On (Dave Williams, Sunny David) - 3:03
20.Sally Go Round The Roses (Abner Spector) - 3:20
21.Brown Eyed Handsome Man (Chuck Berry) - 3:26
22.I Need Lovin' You (Lori Burton, Pam Sawyer) - 2:49
23.That's It, I Quit, I'm Movin' On (Del Serino, Roy Alfred) - 3:16

*Mitch Ryder - Lead Vocals, Percussion
*Jim McCarty - Lead Guitar
*John Deleone - Drums, Percussion
*Mark Manko - Lead Guitar
*Joseph Kubert - Rhythm Guitar
*Earl E. Elliott - Bass
*Jim McCallister - Bass
*Johnny "Bee" Badanjek - Drums

1967  Mitch Ryder - All Hits! (Sundazed 1994)

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