Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Claire Hamill - Abracadabra (1975 uk, beautiful folk funky soft rock, 2006 japan remaster)



On her fourth album Abracadabra (1975) Claire Hamill, covered The Kinks’ `Celluloid Heroes’, Ian Anderson’s `Your Dear’, Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke’s `I Love You So’ and the traditional `Jamaica’, although once again the buying public showed little interest. In 1976, she had a brief stint as the vocalist with Ric Grech’s S.D.M. (Square Dance Machine), but this proved to be unfruitful and she retired for a while.

Claire Hamill subsequently started writing for a few rock groups, even joining Wishbone Ash for one 1982 album, `Two Barrels Burning’.
Tracks
1. Rory - 2:50
2. Forbidden Fruit - 3:00
3. One Sunday Morning - 3:30
4. I Love You So (Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke) - 3:16
5. For Sailors - 4:22
6. Jamaica (Traditional Arranged By Claire Hamill) - 2:14
7. Under A Piece Of Glass - 3:11
8. You Dear (Ian Anderson) - 3:18
9. Maybe It Is - 4:00
10.In So Deep - 3:51
11.Celluloid Heroes (Ray Davies) - 5:00
All songs by Claire Hamill except where indicated

Personnel
*Claire Hamill - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*Phil Palmer - Guitar
*Phil Chen - Bass
*Jon Hartman - Keyboards
*Gary Ray - Drums
*Mel Collins - Saxophone
*Vicki Brown - Background Vocals
*Doreen Chanter - Background Vocals
*Jean Roussel - Piano, Orchestral Arrangements
*Tom Robinson - Vocals
*Raphael Doyle - Vocals
*Hereward Kaye - Vocals

1971  Claire Hamill - One House Left Standing (2008 remaster with extra tracks) 
1972  Claire Hamill - October (2008 remaster) 

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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Big Star - #1 Record / Radio City (1972/74 us impressive power pop indie rock, 2004 SACD)




In the past, if you wanted to buy either of Big Star’s #1 Record or Radio City on CD you had to buy them together. While previously available individually on vinyl, the pair of albums were glued together in a two-for-one compact disc. Truthfully, while getting both albums at once was gratifying (because, really, you need both, along with Third/Sister Lovers), and it was probably cheaper to get a two for one deal, the end of #1 Record segueing into Radio City was messy at best. Thankfully, both albums are now back in print individually (sans bonus tracks), and are sourced from the original analog master tapes. One has to wonder, though, if the real reason behind these reissues is not to get the albums back into the hands of fans on CD in the proper format, but rather as a shot at Sony Music, who last year issued the godawful compilation album Playlist: The Very Best of Big Star (1972 – 2005). See, the problem with that disc was two-fold. The first is that the first three Big Star albums are Greatest Hits albums. They’re that necessary. Secondly, Sony got around the thorny issue of not having the rights to the original recordings by loading up songs on the tracklist from 1993’s Columbia: Live at Missouri University, 4/25/93. Basically, you would have been better off just buying the live album, as all that’s missing from it is a handful of songs from the original albums that the Best of album culls from. The 2013 Greatest Hits disc is, thus, that inconsequential.

While I cannot comment on the audiophile quality of these reissues for I was given access to a private stream, and we all know streams have their share of wow and flutter, the sound does manage to shine through. As do the songs themselves. Basically, if you don’t have either of these albums and have no idea of what I’m talking about, go. Just go, stop reading, and buy these records, especially if you want to see how this group essentially helped to invent the concept of ‘70s power pop, and would go on to influence countless bands from the Replacements, Teenage Fanclub, R.E.M. (whose Automatic for the People is essentially Third/Sister Lovers reimagined for the ‘90s) and, yes, Counting Crows, who have tucked a Big Star reference inside some live performances of their hit "Mr. Jones". As well, I’m not sure if it’s really worth giving more than a thumbnail sketch of the band’s history, because, chances are, if you’re reading this, you already know it and not much can be added or taken away from what you already know.

Still, here goes: Big Star was a group founded by Alex Chilton, formerly of the Box Tops, and also featured Chris Bell, drummer Jody Stephens and bassist Andy Hummel. (Stephens, incidentally, is the sole remaining original member still alive and kicking.) The group released #1 Record in 1972. The critics loved it, but, due to poor distribution problems with the record label, the album stiffed commercially, making the album title rather ironic (aside from the fact that it was, indeed, their number one record in order of release). Bell left the band and the remaining group, give or take a member or two depending on the song, went on to record 1974’s Radio City. The same result occurred: lavish critical praise, monumental commercial dud at the cash register.

Even if you haven’t heard of Big Star, you’ve heard Big Star. If you watched TV’s That ‘70s Show, well, the theme song is "In The Street" from #1 Record, only covered by Cheap Trick. For a band that sold a paltry number of records in its heyday, the cultural legacy of Big Star looms large. Without them, the Replacements wouldn’t have written their homage to "Alex Chilton". Without them, a large swath of alternative and indie rock would debatably cease to exist, or at least exist in some other unrecognizable format. Maybe indie kids today would have thought polka music was the hippest thing without Big Star. So this is a very monumental band, and, as I’ve said, if you don’t have these two albums, your record collection has a massive hole. You’re missing out on some of the finest music of the ‘70s, music that, in large part, remains timeless and even sounds much more relevant today than it did back then. That’s how ahead of the curve Big Star was.

So what of the albums themselves then? While both are in Rolling Stone’s 500 "Greatest Albums of All Time" list, #1 Record has the highest highs and the lowest lows. Had "The India Song" been swapped out its place at the end of Side One in favour of "When My Baby’s Beside Me", you would have had an argument for rock’s greatest Side One in the history of all music. That side would include the magnificent "The Ballad of El Goodo", the aforementioned "In the Street", the bluesy swagger of "Don’t Lie to Me", and the transcendent, touching ballad of first love "Thirteen". Even though the album does boast its share of filler ("ST 100/6" anyone?), the peaks are so towering that mere words cannot convey the brilliance. Plus, the album sounds like a group having a blast in the recording studio, unaware of the commercial disappointment that awaited them around the corner. The harmonies and the songwriting have been oft compared to Lennon/McCartney, and for a good reason. This stuff is just as good, if not better, than that of their predecessors. While #1 Record is slightly flawed, you could say that too about any Beatles album, and we all know that Revolver has the top spot generally on All Time Greatest Records lists. There is no such thing as outright perfection.

But then you have Radio City.

Radio City is outright perfection.

The album, which sees Bell get unofficially songwriting credit on just two songs ("O My Soul" and "Back of a Car"), is a sonic blast from start to finish. It’s rougher and bleaker than its predecessor, which presaged the harrowing decent into the tortured psyche of Third / Sister Lovers, but the songs themselves shine together with an overall consistency, even if there are gems within gems in the bunch. Do you remember the first time you heard the chiming riff to "September Gurls"? (And it had better not have been the Bangles’ absolutely atrocious butchering of the song.) Do you remember the first time you heard the sweet, affecting album closer "I’m In Love With a Girl"? Honestly, I bet you do. The album, and each song on it, is that memorable. I once made a mixed tape with the entirety of this record (and it was a record, I own a mint 1974 original pressing of the disc that set me back a pretty penny) on one side for a friend, who, upon listening to it, dubbed it "cottage rock". You know, the sort of thing you would have blasting at a keg party. That may sound like a reductive statement, but there’s a grain of truth to it. Radio City should be the summer album that everyone has, even if it is a little bit off-kilter and is the sound of a group trying to keep it together while falling apart. The songs are just stellar. Simple as that. Not a bad one in the bunch, not even the 87-second piano interlude “Morpha Too”.

While Radio City is, hands down, the stronger of the two discs, it is stronger by only a smidge. You need #1 Record, too, just for the group’s shot at familiarity and pseudo-hit making. Both albums are what we critics would dub essential. And, while you’re at it, try and score a copy of Third / Sister Lovers, too, as that album completes the trilogy. Listening to this all over again, one has to wonder if there was a better band during the tumultuous ‘70s than Big Star. At a time when prog rock was all the rage, Big Star was stripping rock music down to its poppy elements, setting the stage for a generation of bands who would pick up the mantle and run with it during the next few decades. While Bell and Chilton (and Hummel) are no longer with us, their legacy more than lives on with what the label is calling the "definite" digital masters of these albums. And, sure, there are no bonus tracks or outtakes, but these records don’t need them. They are as perfect or as near perfect as records come, and I’m pretty sure that I haven’t heard, in my entire lifetime, a record that is as flawless as Radio City, an album I always play front to back without skipping over any tracks.

So what on earth are you waiting for? Regardless if you have these records or not, you need them. Buy them again, if necessary. Trust me, the money will go to the enduring legacy of Big Star, and foster more bands that will head their path and blaze new trails in modern music. That’s not hyperbole, that’s just the plain truth. So go. Now. Get on your way to your nearest record store and pick these two stellar albums up before, you know, someone decides to pull them out of print as individual albums again.
by Zachary Houle, 02 Oct 2014
Tracks
#1 Record 1972
1. Feel - 3:35
2. The Ballad Of El Goodo - 4:22
3. In The Street - 2:57
4. Thirteen (Chris Bell, Alex Chilton, Mal Waldron) - 2:37
5. Don't Lie To Me - 3:10
6. The India Song (Andy Hummell) - 2:22
7. When My Baby's Beside Me - 3:26
8. My Life Is Right (Chris Bell, Thomas Dean Eubanks) - 3:09
9. Give Me Another Chance - 3:29
10.Try Again - 3:34
11.Watch The Sunrise - 3:46
12.St 100/6 - 1:01
Radio City 1974
13.O My Soul (Alex Chilton) - 5:40
14.Life Is White (Alex Chilton, Andy Hummell) - 3:20
15.Way Out West (Andy Hummell) - 2:52
16.What's Going Ahn (Alex Chilton, Andy Hummell) - 2:43
17.You Get What You Deserve - 3:10
18.Mod Lang (Alex Chilton, Richard Rosebrough) - 2:48
19.Back Of A Car (Alex Chilton, Andy Hummell) - 2:48
20.Daisy Glaze (Alex Chilton, Andy Hummell, Jody Stephens) - 3:51
21.She's A Mover (Alex Chilton) - 3:15
22.September Gurls (Alex Chilton) - 2:50
23.Morpha Too (Alex Chilton) - 1:30
24.I'm In Love With A Girl (Alex Chilton) - 1:47
All songs by Chris Bell, Alex Chilton axcept where stated

Big Star
1972  #1 Record
*Chris Bell - Guitar, Vocals
*Alex Chilton - Guitar, Vocals
*Andy Hummel - Bass
*Jody Stephens - Drums
1974  Radio City
*Alex Chilton - Guitar, Vocals
*Andy Hummel - Bass
*Jody Stephens - Drums
Guests
*Chris Bell - Guitar, Vocals
*Danny Jones - Bass
*Richard Rosebrough - Drums

1968-75  Big Star - Keep An Eye On The Sky (2009 four discs box set)
Related Acts
1967-69  The Box Tops - The Original Albums (two disc set, 2015 issue) 
1967-70  The Box Tops - The Best Of Box Tops
1970  Alex Chilton - Free Again: The 1970 Sessions (2012 release)
1985  Alex Chilton – Feudalist Tarts (Vinyl edition)
1972-76  Chris Bell - I'm The Cosmos (two disc set) 
1970  Terry Manning - Home Sweet Home (2006 Sunbeam)

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Michael d'Abo - Broken Rainbows (1974 uk, wonderful folk soft rock, 2001 japan remaster)



After leaving Manfred Mann, Mike d'Abo had been offered a contract with Immediate Records for which he made one single and one album, both entitled "Gulliver's Travels". Then he switched to MCA Records and his first album was issued in mid 1970, simply titled "d'Abo". His next project found himself scoring for the Peter Sellers/Goldie Hawn movie "There's A Girl In My Soup", and from this came the single "Miss Me In The Morning/Annabella Cinderella" in December 1970.

1971 saw the release of the "Jesus Christ Superstar" album on MCA, on which Mike d'Abo sang the part of Herod. In June 1971 he signed with Chrysalis Records, though nothing of his recorded work for this company was released. Anyway, by the end of the year he changed companies once again, this time to the American A & M Records. The best period of his solo career was just about to begin. His debut album was "Down At Rachel's Place" followed by the single "Belinda/Little Miss Understood". Nothing more was heard from Mike for more than a year, then he re-appeared as composer of five songs on the debut album of John Christie "Relax".

Halfway through 1974, another single emerged: "Fuel To Burn/Hold On Sweet Darling" which served as an introduction to his solo album "Broken Rainbows". It received very favourable reviews, though like his earlier solo outings, it was not successful on the charts.  "Handbags And Gladrags" on this album is not exactly the same song as on the "d'Abo" album on Uni UNLS 114, the album was produced by Elliot Mazer, however, even though Mike d'Abo didn't have any chart success, he could persuade many well known musicians to play on his albums. Artists like Albert Lee, Chris Spedding, Mo Foster, John Kongos, Graham Nash, Mike Bloomfield, and The Jordanaires are well known to all of us.
Tracks
1. Fuel To Burn - 2:54
2. This Is Me - 1:21
3. Broken Rainbows - 3:37
4. The Last Match - 3:13
5. I Go Where My Spirit Leads Me - 3:12
6. Handbags And Gladrags - 4:59
7. Sitting On A Wood Floor - 3:47
8. Papa Didn't Tell Me - 3:39
9. My Load - 1:50
10.Hold On Sweet Darling - 3:05
All compositions by Michael d'Abo

Musicians
*Mike d'Abo - Piano, Electric Piano, Clarinet, Tambourine, Vocals
*Teddy Irwir - Rhythm Guitar, Electric Guitar
*Rab Noakes - Rhythm Guitar
*Graham Nash - Rhythm Guitar, Harmonica
*Bobby Thompson - Banjo
*Gary Taylor - Bass Guitar
*Elliot Mazer - Bass Guitar, Cowbell
*Denny Seiwell - Drums
*Ben Keith - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Mark Naftalin - Organ
*Ben Keith - Dobro
*The Jordanaires - Backing Vocals
*Mike Bloomfield - Electric Guitar

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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Negative Space - Hard Heavy Mean And Evil (1970 us, primitive distorted underground fuzzed basement psych rock, 2009 remaster)



Negative Space were an underground psych/rock band from East Camden, New Jersey, formed in 1969. They released one privately-pressed album ‘Hard, Heavy, Mean and Evil’ in 1970. Only 500 copies were originally issued and now command large sums of money on the collectors market.

Inspired by the likes of Blue Cheer and Nazz - their sound has been described as “crudely-recorded distorted rock in its purest form” and “dark heavy fuzzed basement psych".

In the late '60s Rob Russen, with his cherry red Gibson SG, Baldwin Exterminator amplifier and fuzztone was an established fixture in the East Coast music scene having performed in bands such as Soul Providers, The Ellingtons, The Banished and The Turfers.

Russen recruited musicians Jimmy Moy (guitar/vocals), Bob Rittner (bass) and Lou Nunziata (drums) to form the original line-up of Negative Space. Over a three year period, with minor variations, the group continued to perform, record and evolve into Russen’s subsequent band - Snow.

Negative Space issued their music on Castle Records, a small independent label formed by Russen in 1965 and only 500 copies of the original ‘Hard, Heavy, Mean & Evil’ album were released.

Rob Russen said..
Some of the bands I joined before forming the Negative Space, were The Soul Providers, The Ellingtons, The Banished, The Turfers. My father and his best friend had formed a record label (Castle Records) to support my music career and help other local artists. Among those groups were Great Pride, Dirty Martha, Plynth, the Cellar Wall, and r&b vocal groups The Millionaires, The Ebonies and the Omystics.

This “Mean” and “Evil” and, at that same time, radio stations were calling the new music they were playing “Heavy Metal” . .The band had a reputation for coming out hard and heavy with strong initial impact. So I combined those into “Hard, Heavy, Mean & Evil”. Many of the songs on the album reflect the turmoil of my personal life at that time. Much of it was fantasy because I felt I was trapped so I wrote about imaginary relief. For example “Forbidden Fruit” was a song about having an affair with one of my wife’s sisters who was a very creative girl who originally told me about the artistic concept that is “Negative Space” and I adopted the name for the band at that time.

The album was released in May of 1970 and we gigged hot and heavy that summer to promote it. Jim Moy had gotten married and his wife wanted him to settle down and not travel as much. Last year I met with Jim here in Florida for lunch one day and asked him “How did we end up in the band together?” He told me that we had gone to the same high school together. I was a senior when he was a sophomore so we didn’t have any contact during that time. But I was an outstanding athlete in school and had a reputation for that plus playing in bands. He said that one day he heard that I was looking for a percussionist to join my band and it was like a dream of his to play in a band with the ‘famous” Rob Russen. I couldn’t help but laugh at his story because I didn’t remember it at all. Jim was replaced with a guy named Gordon and then Bob Rittner left because he had a day job and they decided they didn’t want him taking off time to play music as much as he had been doing. He was replaced by a blonde female named Barbara who was excellent. After a few months of gigging with the new lineup I decided to change the name of the group to Snow and we recorded “Johnny B Good” b/w “Sunflower”. The material that was recorded for Hard, Heavy, Mean & Evil that was not used on the album was later included on the two CDs released by Monster Records.
Tracks
1. Isolated Ivory Tower - 3:56
2. Summertime (George Gershwin, DuBose Heyward, Ira Gershwin) - 6:29
3. Hey Wall - 4:36
4. The Long Hair - 5:14
5. Calm Before The Storm - 6:34
6. You're All I Need - 4:14
7. Living Dead - 3:40
8. Forbidden Fruit - 4:32
9. Sunflower - 3:59
10.Johnny B. Goode (Chuck Berry) - 3:11
11.Light My Fire (Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger, John Densmore, Ray Manzarek) - 4:20
12.Purple Haze (Jimi Hendrix) - 2:57
13.The Pusher (Hoyt Axton) - 4:34
14.Snow's Angels - 3:02
15.Too Little Too Late - 2:37
16.Hour Of Quiet Rain - 4:17
17.Too Few Drums - 3:06
18.Father & Son - 4:02
All songs by Rob Russen except where indicated
Bonus Tracks 9-18

Negative Space
*Rob Russen - Guitar, Producer, Vocals
*Jimmy Moy - Guitar, Percussion, Piano, Recorder, Vocals
*Bob Rittner - Bass, Vocals
*Lou Nunziata - Drums
Additional Musicians
*Pat Bailey - Bass
*Gordon Cohen - Vocals
*Ron Gauntt - Rhythm Guitar
*Bill Messerschmidt - Guitar

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Monday, May 25, 2020

Mutzie - Light Of Your Shadow (1970 us, raw heavy blues brass rock, 2007 remaster)



Spawned by the same scene that produced The Stooges, MC5 and Bob Seger, this Detroit quartet made only one record, which originally appeared in August 1970. A heady brew of hard rock, blues, jazz and funk, it sold poorly, meaning that the band (who shared stages with the Allman Brothers, Johnny Winter, Alice Cooper, and many other leading acts of the era) splintered soon afterwards, leaving behind just one lost gem.
Tracks
1. Highway (E. "Mutzie" Levenburg, Barry Levenburg) - 5:55
2. The Light Of Your Shadow In Two Movements (E. "Mutzie" Levenburg, Mike Theodore, Gary Harvey) - 9:56
.a.The Inception (Incl. The Transition)
.b.The Consummation (Incl. The Judgement)
3. Cocaine Blues  (E. "Mutzie" Levenburg) - 4:32
4. Jessie Fly  (E. "Mutzie" Levenburg, Mike Theodore) - 4:49
5. Because Of You  (E. "Mutzie" Levenburg) - 2:39
6. The Game (E. "Mutzie" Levenburg, Mike Theodore, Gary Harvey) - 2:49
7. Daily Cycle (E. "Mutzie" Levenburg, Barry Levenburg) - 3:18

Mutzie
*E. "Mutzie" Levenburg - Guitar, Vocals
*Fred Boldt - Bass Clarinet, Baritone, Bass Saxophones
*Robert Cowart - Flute, Oboe, Tenor Sax
*Chuck Feger - Flute, Tenor Sax
*Dave Kovarick - Tenor Sax
*Andee Levenburg - Organ
*Barry Levenburg - Bass
*Nick Palise - Flute, Alto, Soprano Saxophones
*Marc White - Drums

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Sunday, May 24, 2020

Bent Wind - Sussex (1969 canada, rough heavy fuzzed psych rock, bonus tracks 2001 digipak remaster)



Phenomenally rare, with those surviving copies fetching upwards of 3000 bucks a pop, the 1969 acid rock raver Sussex had its origins in a drug-addled house in Toronto's Annex neighbourhood. As guitarist Marty Roth "recalls" on his blog, "Myself and another friend from schooldays were running a boutique/headshop at the corner of Sussex and Robert. And, every so often...I'd hear a faint blur of something, close to what some might consider music. It was emanating from the basement of one of the houses beside the lane at 57 Sussex Avenue, almost a block away. 

As it turned out, the guitarist was Gerry Gibas, a close friend who I'd been jamming with while writing original tunes any chance we could. He dropped by the shop during their break and told me to drop over. That's where I met Eddie Thomas Majchrowski, the drummer. His mother owned the house at 57 Sussex Avenue and all the rooms on all three floors were rented out to a mix of students, freaks, druggies and musicians. To my surprise, the bass player was Sebastian Pelaia, a classmate from high school, two years earlier."

With the nucleus of Bent Wind now in place, the lads consumed copious amounts of acid, hawked psychedelic candles at the infamous hippie residence Rochdale College, gigged around the corner at several U of T frat parties, and somehow managed to record these eight stoner nuggets. Roth: "Until we finally made it to recording an LP, all of our songs were without real words. We would use a sort of skat gibberish that sounded similar to words but were muffled by the way we used the microphone and echo effects. Nobody cared." With the rock world in flux - Led Zeppelin had already played sold-out shows at the Rockpile venue in February and August of 1969 - the plodding, freeform guitar workouts and soaring harmonies on Sussex would have been standard-issue cool at the time, bridging the Woodstock nation with the brave new heavy-metal world to come. But the band was essentially broke (Roth: "You have to remember, we were "hippies". We didn't have or need any money."), so it is little wonder that even the well-crafted songs sound somewhat amateurish. 

The heavier tracks like 'Mystify', 'Riverside' and 'Hate' come off better here, cutting through with muscular chords and airy vocals, whereas the flowery ballad 'Look at Love', though well-intended, seems to lug its psychedelic baggage a little too awkwardly. Still, in a Toronto awash in hippies and draft-dodgers, with a little spit and polish - not to mention some financial backing - Sussex could have been a contender. 
by Michael Panontin
Tracks
1. Touch Of Red (Marty Roth) - 3:14
2. Riverside (Jerry Gibas, Marty Roth) - 6:13
3. The Lions (Jerry Gibas, Marty Roth) - 5:29
4. Going To The City (Jerry Gibas) - 2:52
5. Hate (Marty Roth) - 5:23
6. Look At Love (Jerry Gibas) - 4:02
7. Mystify (Jerry Gibas) - 3:38
8. Sacred Cows (Jerry Gibas) - 4:10
9. Riverside (Jerry Gibas, Marty Roth) - 6:20
10.Bent Wind - 4:01
11.The Chant - 3:45
12.Castles Made Of Man (Marty Roth) - 3:26
13.Sacred Cows (Jerry Gibas) - 2:23
Tracks 1-8 Original Album
Tracks 9-11 Unreleased
Tracks 12-13 Rare Single

Bent Wind
*Jerry Gibas - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Eddie Thomas -  Drums   
*Sebastian Pelaia - Bass Guitar
*Marty Roth - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Tracks 9-11
*Marty Roth - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Michael George Jones - Lead Guitar
*Bill Miller - Bass
*John Butt - Drums

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Saturday, May 23, 2020

Blood Sweat And Tears - 3 (1970, us / canada, magnificent jazz brass rock, 2016 SACD)



At a distance of more than 40 years, we forget how big Blood Sweat and Tears was at the turn of the 1970s. Their second, self-titled album spent time at #1 in the spring and summer of 1969 and contained three classic singles: “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” “Spinning Wheel,” and “And When I Die.” They appeared at Woodstock and were frequently on TV. But their fame was short-lived, and it ultimately became a casualty of the times in which they lived.

Lead singer David Clayton-Thomas came aboard after the band’s first album, and his big, ballsy voice was the star of the second one. He was Canadian, so it was suggested to the band that a State Department-sponsored goodwill tour of Eastern Europe might be looked upon favorably the next time Clayton-Thomas tried to get a green card. But in the politically charged atmosphere of early 1970, the tour was perceived as buddying up with the Nixon regime. So, upon their arrival home from the tour (which ended up fairly unpleasant for the band), they were forced to fend off critics, both of their politics and of their music itself as their third album was released.

There are some interesting musical choices on Blood Sweat and Tears 3, although how well they work depends on your taste. BS&T covers James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain,” Traffic’s “Forty Thousand Headmen,” “Lonesome Suzie” by the Band, and even “Sympathy for the Devil,” which is incorporated into one of those multi-part suites every band was doing in 1970. Band member Steve Katz called the latter “ridiculous,” and said the reason the album sounded like it did was that the band had stopped having fun. Nevertheless, Blood Sweat & Tears 3 made it to #1 for the weeks of August 8 and August 15, 1970, despite some unkind reviews. “Hi-De-Ho” and “Lucretia MacEvil” both made the top 40.

By the end of 1971, the band would become a revolving door, and today, literally dozens of musicians can claim to be alumni of Blood Sweat and Tears. But all that was in the future when the band performed “Lucretia MacEvil” at the 1971 Big Sur Folk Festival, with Clayton-Thomas sounding great and the band’s jazz influences on display.
by J.A. Bartlett, January 24, 2013
Tracks
1. Hi-De-Ho (Gerry Goffin, Carole King) – 4:27
2. The Battle (Dick Halligan, Steve Katz) – 2:41
3. Lucretia MacEvil (David Clayton-Thomas) – 3:04
4. Lucretia's Reprise (Blood, Sweat And Tears) – 2:35
5. Fire and Rain (James Taylor) – 4:03
6. Lonesome Suzie (Richard Manuel) – 4:36
7. Symphony for the Devil/Sympathy for the Devil (Dick Halligan, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) – 7:49
8. He's a Runner (Laura Nyro) – 4:14
9. Somethin' Comin' On (Joe Cocker, Chris Stainton) – 4:33
10.40,000 Headmen (Steve Winwood) – 4:44

Blood Sweat And Tears
*David Clayton-Thomas - Vocals
*Bobby Colomby - Drums, percussion
*Jim Fielder -  Bass
*Dick Halligan - Keyboards, Flute, Trombone
*Jerry Hyman - Trombone
*Steve Katz - Guitars, Vocals
*Fred Lipsius - Sax, Piano
*Lew Soloff - Trumpet, Fleugelhorn
*Chuck Winfield - Trumpet, Fleugelhorn

The Blood Sweat And Tears
1968  Child Is Father To The Man (2014 Audio Fidelity and 2016 SACD)
1969  Blood Sweat And Tears (2014 audio fidelity and 2016 SACD)
1969  Live At Woodstock (2019 Legacy)
1971  Blood Sweat and Tears - 4 (2016 SACD)
1972  New Blood (2009 edition)
1973  No Sweat (2005 issue)
1974  Mirror Image (2005 issue)
1975  New City (Bonus Tracks)
1976  More Than Ever (Bonus Tracks)
1968-76  The Complete Singles (2014 two disc set)
Related Act
1972  David Clayton Thomas

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Love - Live In England (1970 us, stunning live recording, part 3 of 2007 three discs digipak remaster)



Love’s 13-city sweep through England, where the group was held in high esteem, would garner recordings compiled for the third disc of this set, Live In England 1970. The foursome lift off with “Good Times” and “August,” a pair of hard-hitting rockers from the final Elektra album, Four Sails. There’s a bit of “My Little Red Book” for nostalgia purposes before the group traipses the mushroom patch for “Nothing,” then leaping about during “Orange Skies” and “Andmoreagain.” The Love fest continues as “Gather “Round” and the classic “Bummer In The Summer” from Forever Changes jockey for position. The playing and interaction is tight and alive throughout, surging forth during the finale of “Signed D.C.” and “Love Is More Than Words Or Better Late Than Never” — a double force as powerful and authoritative as other high-ranking hard rocking tomes of the day.

But for Love, it wasn’t meant to last. At least in the 70s. Lee would reappear from time to time, reliving the past without realizing the future. After his release from prison in 2001, he spent the next five years reasserting his genius via a series of Forever Changes concerts and small venue tours. Although no new music has yet to surface, Lee’s legacy remains etched in stone with the L.A. music scene of the 60s. 
by Shawn Perry

After the masterwork Forever Changes (1968) failed to make a sizable impression on North American audiences, Love mainstay Arthur Lee (lead vocals/guitar) disbanded the lineup that had also featured John Echols (guitar), Bryan Maclean (guitar/vocals), Ken Forssi (bass), and Michael Stuart (percussion). He then regrouped along with Gary Rowles (lead guitar), Frank Fayad (bass), and George Suranovich (drums). It took nearly a year of woodshedding tunes before Love was miraculously resurrected. This single disc captures the latter incarnation during their first foray across the Atlantic while on the road promoting Out Here (1970).

The contents were gleaned from shows at the Waltham Forest Technical College (February 27), the Roundhouse in London (February 28) and at Lanchester Polytechnic in Coventry (March 5). All the material on the nearly hour-long disc is previously unreleased, although the Waltham Forest gig would turn out to be the source for "Stand Out" on the False Start (1970) album. The 11 songs span Love's five studio LPs. "Signed D.C." gets two nods for having been a key component of their 1966 eponymously titled collection and then a bluesy overhaul from the aforementioned Out Here. 

The remarkably high octane "My Little Red Book" -- which is announced as "My Little Red Crook" -- maintains much of the manic energy of the original. Lee is painfully off-key throughout "Orange Skies" -- the sole Da Capo (1967) era offering. The band make up for it with a tight arrangement that substantially serves the performance. 

Equally well-received are the Forever Changes (1968) sides "Andmoreagain," as well as Gary Rowles' wah wah fest with the nifty and funky take on "Bummer in the Summer" -- both of which are undeniable highlights here. Understandably, the recent material is likewise plentiful with the driving rockers "August," "Nothing," and the extended jamming on "Singing Cowboy" being prime examples from Four Sail (1969) of the heavier sound Lee was obviously aiming for. Nowhere is that as evident than on the practically seven-minute proto-metal workout given to "Signed D. C." Love smolders to an energetic conclusion with one last Out There entry, "Love Is More Than Words or Better Late Than Never." Judging by the ferocity and inspiration unleashed by Rowles, Fayad, and Suranovich they could give any power trio of the day a run for their money. 
by Lindsay Planer
Tracks
1. Good Times - 3:50
2. August - 5:17
3. My Little Red Book (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) - 2:52
4. Nothing - 4:38
5. Orange Skies (Bryan MacLean) - 3:59
6. Andmoreagain - 4:00
7. Gather 'Round - 7:00
8. Bummer In The Summer - 3:26
9. Singing Cowboy (Jay Donnellan, Arthur Lee) - 8:14
10.Signed D.C. - 6:43
11.Love Is More Than Words Or Better Late Than Never - 6:31
All songs by Arthur Lee excpet where indicated

Love
*Arthur Lee - Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Piano
*Gary Rowles - Lead Guitar
*Frank Fayad - Bass
*George Suranovich - Drums

1966  Love - Love (remaster and expanded)
1967  Love - Da Capo (remaster and expanded)
1967  Love - Forever Changes (2018 four discs 50th anniversary edition)
1969  Love - Four Sail (2002 remaster and expanded)
1969  Love - Out Here (2008 remaster)
1970 Love - False Start (2008 remaster)
1971  Love - Lost Love (2009 Sundazed release)
1972  Arthur Lee With Band Aid - Vindicator (2008 expanded)
1973  Love - Black Beauty (2013 bonus tracks)
1974  Love - Reel to Real (2015 deluxe sdition)  
1992  Arthur Lee And Love ‎– Five String Serenade

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Velvet Underground - Squeeze (1973 us, pleasant classic rock with glam shades, 2012 release)



Doug Yule played with the Velvets from 1968 until the band dissolved in the early seventies. Yet he was rarely, if ever, mentioned during the media blitz that surrounded the Velvet's resurgence. Despite the fact that Yule was a contributing member of the band on two of their studio albums, two live albums, toured with them from 1968 through 1972 and accompanied Lou Reed on a solo tour in 1975, he is apparently not considered significant enough in The Velvet Underground history to warrant the mention of him in the chronicles of the band.

In 1968, the Age of Aquarius was sweeping America, and Doug Yule was drafted to join the Velvet Underground. Although their own brand of avant-garde, experimental rhythm and blues was not really part of the "peace & love" scene, they were a part of the growing influence music had on pop culture. This was due in part to their affiliation with Andy Warhol and also through the musically distinct contributions of viola player and founding member John Cale.

In their dealings with Warhol, the darling of the New York pop art scene, the VU found support and appreciation for their music, which Warhol eventually showcased simultaneously with film, light and dance, creating one of the most bizarre and unique artistic "tours" ever offered, The Exploding Plastic Inevitable.

Cale was a child prodigy, a classically trained musical talent, who, with his electric viola, further added to the groundbreaking experimental sound that the Velvets were pioneering in the mid 60's. With the sudden and rather bitter departure of Cale, the Velvet Underground lost some of the cutting edge, aggressive sound that had endeared them to the Warhol crowd.

Yule played music from an early age, learning to play several different instruments before reaching his twenties. Even though he briefly tried his hand at acting school, he says he always loved music and felt most comfortable when playing.

"My reason for being in music was a hunger -- I couldn't have not been in music.", he remembers. "Playing music felt like I was home."

Growing up on Long Island in the late 50's, he remembers the cultural and personal impact of the literary movement, embodied in authors like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. In the 60's music grabbed the spotlight and rock and roll became the center of the collective cultural universe. He moved from his family’s home and eventually landed in Boston playing for a band called The Grass Menagerie. It happened that his managers were friendly with the manager for the Velvet Underground, Steve Sesnick. Sometimes the Velvets would stay in the same studio that Yule lived in while they were playing in Boston.

It was during one of those visits, just prior to Cale's exit, that Sterling Morrison, guitarist and alternate bassist for the band, overheard Yule practicing and mentioned to the other band members Yule's improved playing. Once Cale was out, the Velvets began looking for a bassist and Yule's name happened to come up. The Velvet Underground, with their already established following, offered a prime opportunity for Yule to fulfill his rock and roll fantasy. When he was offered the opportunity to play in what was now essentially Lou Reed's band, he accepted without hesitation.

"It all just sort of fell together.", Yule says about joining the band. "And then it all just sort of fell apart."

Maureen "Moe" Tucker, drummer for the Velvets, remembers Doug as a "very good musician and singer" and "a very nice, sweet, even-tempered guy". Much to the contrary, Yule says he was a cocky and gullible young man of 21. Ready and willing to believe he could and would become a rock and roll star. He remembers that when he joined the thrust of the band was fame.

"Today VU is this seminal group, known for breaking new ground, pushing the envelope, but back then it was just a bunch of guys who wanted to be famous.", he says.

Lou Reed, who actually spent the early part of his musical career penning pop hits like "Do The Ostrich", began to write more radio friendly tunes for the Velvets. The music they produced became more melodic, calmer and most notably, more listener friendly than their previous offerings. The final product on the next two albums, the third self-titled album (sometimes called the "Gray" album or the "Couch" album) and Loaded, reflected those changes greatly.

"The songs were so completely different from what was going on at the time [during] the John [Cale] years.", Tucker recalls, referring to the Cale days as their "musically wacky" days.

It's because of this noticeable change that fans associate the more commercially accessible Yule years with artistic demise of the band, especially in the case of Loaded, even though in reality the group achieved little commercial success at all. Reed, who quit before Loaded was even released, distanced himself from the album.

Yet despite all the negative feelings surrounding Loaded, two of the Velvet Underground's most famous and popular songs known today, "Sweet Jane" and "Rock and Roll", were from Loaded, which Yule not only performed on, but also collaborated on with Reed in terms of arrangement and production. Although Yule's musical contribution to the band's posthumous success cannot be disputed, fans and critics alike frequently blame him for the group demise.

Once Reed, one of the founding members, quit in 1970, many thought that the band would be finished as well. It might have happened that way if not for the Velvet's manager, Steve Sesnick. In an attempt to minimize Reed's impact on the album and maximize Yule's, Sesnick chose the back cover photo of Loaded, which featured Yule exclusively, and changed the order of the names of the band, featuring Yule at the top and Reed third. With the rights to The Velvet Underground moniker still in his hands, Sesnick could do just about anything he wanted.

"It was still The Velvet Underground.", Yule says. "It's just that everyone else had quit."

According to Yule, Sesnick was a manipulator, continually using his managerial power to isolate band members and intensify any resentful feelings they might have for each other. Sesnick persuaded a trusting and ambitious Yule that The Velvet Underground could still achieve fame and that Yule was the man to lead them there.

"I do think... that Steve started trying to make Doug the focal point.", Tucker says. "I think he figured he's cute, he's a good singer …and that more emphasis should be placed on Doug in order to attract the girl fans."

It was this hunger for fame that permeated the recording of the infamous fifth studio album, Squeeze. Never released stateside, it is an album many Velvets fans don't even know about and others wish they didn't. Referred to sometimes as Doug Yule's solo effort, it was actually more of an extension of Sesnick than most people are aware of. Yule says he had wanted Tucker to be a part of the recording of the album, but Sesnick nixed the idea, claiming Tucker would be too expensive to hire. Today Yule interprets Sesnick’s choice less as a monetary decision and more as an opportunity to further control the making of the album, seeing as Tucker would not allow herself to be easily manipulated.

"I don’t think Moe would have been expensive in money, but too costly in terms of 'management', meaning that she didn’t take a lot of bullshit and would have taken a lot of 'handling' on Sesnick's part.", Yule says.

Yule also recalls how receptive Sesnick was to outside ideas regarding the "new" Velvet Underground's work.

"I remember sitting on a plane writing extensive notes on the mixing of the album.", he says. "I sent it to Steve and none of my suggestions were taken, I'm sure he didn't even read it. He mixed it for the best possible commercial success."

Yule says that even some of the lyrics were originally suggestions offered to him by Sesnick which he then expanded on.

"It's really embarrassing.", he says. "I gave what I had at the time. There are parts of it I hate and parts I don't. But if I had to do it over again, it would be a completely different album, with different people and have nothing to do with Sesnick."
by Jennifer Yule, 1998

After Lou Reed left the Velvet Underground, bassist Doug Yule took control of the group. Retaining the name "The Velvet Underground," Yule assembled several new lineups of the band and toured the U.S. By the time Yule's VU recorded their first album, the band featured Boston-based vocalist Willie Alexander and was playing a set of conventional pop/rock songs. Squeeze appeared in 1973, and Yule broke up the band shortly after its release. Over the years, Squeeze has not only become increasingly rare -- after all, not many copies of the record were pressed -- it has virtually disappeared from the official Velvet Underground discography, and Yule's attempt to prolong the band's career has virtually been forgotten. 

The plagiarism is shameless -- and also misguided, because if nobody bought Loaded in the first place, who would want a glossy version of it? -- but it’s also the charm of Squeeze because Yule and his studio cats, headed by Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice, do create something that’s a square, cheerful knock-off of Loaded, containing none of the depth or innovation, but a little bit of its sunny swing. That’s hardly enough to make it unfairly maligned -- after all, it doesn’t just ride the coattails of VU’s legacy but deliberately co-opts their achievement -- but it’s listenable, something its reputation never suggests, and in a way, it’s almost fun to hear Yule ape Reed, provided that such shameless mimicry does not offend your sensibilities. 
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

My feelings are diverse for this release, the relationship with the Velvet Undergound is only in the name and in the participation of Doug Yule in some of the (from 1968 and later) albums of Velvet Underground, the  sound has nothing to do with the Velvets,  the members are some Doug’s  friends,  and on the drums is the great Ian Pace from the  Deep Purple fame. They  travel in simply musical forms without special aspects, it would be honest if he called them Doug Yule’s Velvets, anyway enjoy it....
Tracks
1. Little Jack - 3:25
2. Crash - 1:21
3. Caroline - 2:34
4. Mean Old Man - 2:52
5. Dopey Joe - 3:06
6. Wordless - 3:00
7. She'll Make You Cry - 2:43
8. Friends - 2:37
9. Send No Letter - 3:11
10.Jack And Jane - 2:53
11.Louise - 5:43
All songs by Doug Yule

The Velvets
*Doug Yule - Lead Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Bass
*Walter Powers - Bass
*William Alexander - Vocals, Keyboards
With
*Ian Paice – Drums

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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Love - False Start (1970 us, excellent acid psych rock, 2008 remaster)



False Start is Love’s most blatantly commercial album since their 1966 self-titled debut. Less than half the length of Out Here, False ditches the psychedelic excesses for terse, cowbell-happy pub-rock. Supposedly, the album’s marquee track is “The Everlasting First”, which lacks any discernible hooks or insight but does feature some wah-wah wanking from one Jimi Hendrix, a phoned-in performance that, if uncredited, would be unidentifiable. And its lyrics are pretty puzzling: Lee begins with a love song, and ends up talking about the unjust persecutions of Jesus, Lincoln, and MLK.

As a no-frills rock album, False Start is perfectly serviceable, diverse even. But as a Love album, it falls short, due more in part to lyrical superficiality than radio-ready concessions. Lee’s more pessimistic inclinations are masked, or chemically suppressed, with a hollow, up-with-people mentality. The man who once warned of water turning to blood and shooting bluebirds now sings of riding vibrations and sunshine. “Open up your heart and let the sun come shining in”, he suggests, a far cry from the fire-and-brimstone sermons he once recited. For finger-wagging sage advice, Lee can do no better than “You’re gonna reap just what you sow / I’m here to let everybody know / If you don’t do your best, you’re gonna find yourself in an awful mess”. “Stand Out”, a lesser track from Out Here, is duplicated in a rudimentary and no more impressive live version, and jaunty goofs like the immaturely titled “Slick Dick” (where Lee even admits “I know what it sounds like but it ain’t”) and “Gimi a Little Break” (note the Hendrix-fied spelling) further trivialize the album.

The band is tight and funky, the melodies are generous, and Lee is a versatile pop singer, probably more versatile than Hendrix even. It’s just that Lee is or was capable of so much more than these simplistic exercises. The double meaning of Love (hey, it’s an emotion, and it’s also the band name) is toyed with repeatedly, as on the eleven-minute “Love is More Than Words or Better Late Than Never” and “Love is Coming”, which might as well be a Monkees-esque self-referential theme song. At the end of “Keep on Shining”, Lee repeatedly shouts the word “love”, as though it’s imprisoning him, keeping him from shining, in fact.

And perhaps that’s the lesson of these albums. Forever Changes is a work not simply of prophecy, but finality, digging the grave for ‘60s idealism before the movement even peaked. In its aftermath, both Love the band and love the concept are debunked myths and irrelevant jokes. The man who once proclaimed “the things that I must do consist of more than style" is now prizing style over substance. On Out Here and False Start, Lee has become a casualty of that which he once railed against: it’s a sad, harrowing portrait of one more artist harnessed by the shadow of his own masterpiece, and the certainty of his own convictions. In that respect, these albums represent the shortcomings of peace-love utopianism every bit as much as Lee’s more regularly heralded work.
by Charles A. Hohman, 17 Jul 2008
Tracks
1. The Everlasting First - 3:01
2. Flying - 2:36
3. Gimi A Little Break - 2:10
4. Stand Out - 3:24
5. Keep On Shining - 3:52
6. Anytime - 3:26
7. Slick Dick - 3:08
8. Love Is Coming - 1:23
9. Feel Daddy Feel Good - 3:18
10.Ride That Vibration - 3:34
All songs by Arthure Lee axcept track #1 co-written with  Jimi Hendrix

Love
*Arthur Lee - Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Piano
*Gary Rowles - Lead Guitar
*Frank Fayad - Bass
*George Suranovich - Drums
With
*Jimi Hendrix - Lead Guitar (track 1)

1966  Love - Love (remaster and expanded)
1967  Love - Da Capo (remaster and expanded)
1967  Love - Forever Changes (2018 four discs 50th anniversary edition)
1969  Love - Four Sail (2002 remaster and expanded)
1969  Love - Out Here (2008 remaster)
1971  Love - Lost Love (2009 Sundazed release)
1972  Arthur Lee With Band Aid - Vindicator (2008 expanded)
1973  Love - Black Beauty (2013 bonus tracks)
1974  Love - Reel to Real (2015 deluxe sdition)  
1992  Arthur Lee And Love ‎– Five String Serenade

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Sunday, May 17, 2020

Love - Out Here (1969 us, superb acid psych rock, 2008 remaster)



What happens when the life you expected to end continues? Such was the predicament facing Love frontman Arthur Lee, who famously recorded his mortality-obsessed 1967 masterpiece Forever Changes under the impression he’d been worm food within a year. While Forever did not mark the end of Lee, it did mark the end of Love, at least its original line-up. By 1969, the still-very-alive Lee had assembled an entirely new band under the same moniker: players who, unlike Bryan MacLean (author of Love classics like “Alone Again Or” and “Softly to Me”), wouldn’t question or infringe upon Lee’s often dictatorial leadership. Indeed, these Phase 2 Love albums often play like Arthur Lee solo discs, with new musicians offering backup rather than additional (possibly competing) perspectives.

After Four Sail, Love’s final Elektra album, the band moved to Blue Thumb Records, and promptly released the double album Out Here in 1969, and the ten-track False Start a year later. These first two Blue Thumb albums have recently been reissued on Collector’s Choice, and both illustrate Lee’s concerted efforts to distance himself from his old band, his old music, his old life, and his old self.

Culled mainly from the Four Sail sessions (a more cohesive, though not superior, album), Out Here is, like many two-discers of its time, messy, indulgent, sporadically brilliant and often infuriating. For example, “Doggone” is a lilting tune of loss, until it unravels on an eight-minute (!) drum solo. Many good tracks end too soon to feel complete, and many bad tracks squander early promise on meandering jams. 

Like many of his contemporaries, Lee was consuming drugs pretty liberally at this point, and the music reflects this. “Signed D.C.”, a tender acoustic plea to Love’s drug-addled first drummer from the group's debut, is reworked as a blistering rocker. Where on the original, Lee seemed distant and preachy when inhabiting the first-person perspective, he now seems to be living the drug fiend’s life. It’s a tacit there-but-for-the-grace-of-god-went-I moment: he demonically repeats the word “dealer” and omits the title entirely, thereby leaving the viewpoint unshifted. In essence, Lee has become D.C.

Out Here is full of stellar highlights: two brief and funny country songs (“Abalony”, “Car Lights on in the Daytime Blues”), two gospel-inflected ravers (“I’ll Pray for You”, “Run to the Top”), trippy drug songs (“I Still Wonder”, “You Are Something”) and some righteous throwaways, including “Discharged”, an obvious yet amusing anti-army rant that semi-blasphemously quotes “America the Beautiful”. Lee contributes his share of pretty tunes, but where Forever was meticulous and timeless, Out Here is often tossed off and dated. It has more in common with the garage-psychedelia of Love’s earlier albums than the folk-pop beauty of Forever. There’s little to impress those who adore Forever: Lee’s vocals are more forceful hard-rock strutter than stoic prophet, and his lyrics eschew epigrammatic wisdom for uninspired bromides. 
by Charles A. Hohman, 17 Jul 2008
Tracks
1. I'll Pray For You - 4:16
2. Abalony - 1:46
3. Signed D.C. - 5:15
4. Listen To My Song - 2:24
5. I'm Down - 3:47
6. Stand Out - 3:00
7. Discharged - 1:36
8. Doggone - 12:00
9. I Still Wonder - 3:05
10.Love Is More Than Words Or Better Late Than Never - 11:20
11.Nice To Be - 1:50
12.Car Lights On In The Day Time Blues - 1:10
13.Run To The Top - 3:00
14.Willow Willow - 3:20
15.Instra-Mental - 3:00
16.You Are Something - 2:05
17.Gather Round - 4:50
All songs by Arthur Lee axcept track #9 co-written with Jay Donnellan

Love
*Arthur Lee - Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
*Frank Fayad - Bass Guitar
*George Suranovich - Drums
*Jay Donnellan - Lead Guitar
With
*Paul Martin - Lead Guitar (track 5)
*Drachen Theaker - Drums (track 3)
*Jim Hobson - Piano, Orga, (tracks 1, 13)
*Gary Rowles - Lead Guitar (track 10)

1966  Love - Love (remaster and expanded)
1967  Love - Da Capo (remaster and expanded)
1967  Love - Forever Changes (2018 four discs 50th anniversary edition)
1969  Love - Four Sail (2002 remaster and expanded)
1971  Love - Lost Love (2009 Sundazed release)
1972  Arthur Lee With Band Aid - Vindicator (2008 expanded)
1973  Love - Black Beauty (2013 bonus tracks)
1974  Love - Reel to Real (2015 deluxe sdition)  
1992  Arthur Lee And Love ‎– Five String Serenade

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Friday, May 15, 2020

Love - Four Sail (1969 us, eminent acid psych rock, 2002 remaster and expanded)



My favorite Love album is Four Sail (Elektra 1969). None of the original band members save for Arthur Lee are on this one. This album is an extraordinary voyage across genres. If it wasn’t so diverse and well-executed I might have written this album off as “pretentious, too proggy, jammy, etc…” but the musicianship is superb and tasteful, and everyone minds each other’s boundaries even at the album’s most intense moments.

The album opens with “August,” which wails away for five minutes. “Your Friend and Mine” is the perfect counterpoint/follow-up to the opening track; a beautiful baroque pop tribute to a friend who’d overdosed and died. The lyrics are heartfelt, yet vague enough to be played at any funeral.

“I’m With You” is a very fluid and sweet uptempo number. “Good Time” starts out smooth as a pebble with a muted jazz guitar tone, and then transitions back and forth into shaking foundations and rocking the fuck out. “Singing Cowboy” rocks with a soulful mannerism and an awesome extended break. “Dream” is just a damn good ballad about nothing in particular, with really cool overdubbed whispers.

“Robert Montgomery” sounds like Eleanor Rigby only for just a second, then turns into a totally different song. “Nothing” seems to be written about exactly that. The weird, enigmatic lyrics hint at this having been a leftover for the Forever Changes album that didn’t get recorded.

“Talking In My Sleep” is an absolute treat with exemplary vocals and some odd harmonies that are totally reminiscent of Queen. I have long speculated that Freddie Mercury and/or Brian May dug this and used it as a sonic blueprint for part of their sound. “Always See Your Face” is a sweet and beautiful soul ballad which was featured in the movie High Fidelity. The brass treatment gives it a very English feel.

One of the recurring themes throughout this album is the doubled vocals. Listen to the way Arthur Lee adeptly recorded another nearly identical vocal track over the original takes, making only subtle differences (sometimes in pitch, and sometimes with lyrics).

It is my opinion as a long-time musician and songwriter that there is not a bad tone or a single poorly-recorded instrument on this album. From croon to howl, shout to whisper, Arthur Lee covers just about every verb in the vocalist’s lexicon. I can’t be sure that Arthur Lee was responsible for writing every song on here, but the bottom line is, I’d like to see more musicians dedicate more effort and attention to detail into crafting songs like these. They are irregular and odd, yet somehow wonderfully palatable and diverse. They are original and enjoyable, excellently non-linear, and most importantly turn your brain on. Four Sail, indeed.
by Kyle Hoffman, October 14, 2014 
Tracks
1. August - 5:08
2. Your Friend And Mine - Neil's Song - 3:50
3. I'm With You - 2:43
4. Good Times - 3:33
5. Singing Cowboy (Arthur Lee, Jay Donnellan) - 4:48
6. Dream - 2:49
7. Robert Montgomery - 3:29
8. Nothing - 4:48
9. Talking In My Sleep - 2:49
10.Always See Your Face - 3:29
11.Robert Montgomery" (Alternate Vocal) - 3:35
12.Talking In My Sleep" (Alternate Mix) - 2:55
13.Singing Cowboy" (Unedited Version) (Arthur Lee, Jay Donnellan) - 5:52
All songs by Arthur Lee except where noted

Personnel
*Arthur Lee - Lead Vocals, Piano, Harmonica, Rhythm Guitar, Congas
*Jay Donnellan - Lead Guitar
*Frank Fayad – Bass, Backing Vocals
*George Suranovich - Drums, Backing Vocals
*Drachen Theaker - Drums

1966  Love - Love (remaster and expanded)
1967  Love - Da Capo (remaster and expanded)
1967  Love - Forever Changes (2018 four discs 50th anniversary edition)
1971  Love - Lost Love (2009 Sundazed release)
1972  Arthur Lee With Band Aid - Vindicator (2008 expanded)
1973  Love - Black Beauty (2013 bonus tracks)
1974  Love - Reel to Real (2015 deluxe sdition)  
1992  Arthur Lee And Love ‎– Five String Serenade
Related Act
1966-82  Bryan MacLean - Ifyoubelievein

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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Joe Cocker - Joe Cocker! (1969 uk, excellent rock r 'n' b, 2017 SACD)



Joe Cocker’s delightful second album is ample proof that the imagination that transformed a song so fixed in our minds as “With a Little Help From My Friends” has not run out of things to do, nor fallen into the trap of “stylization.”

Joe, his Grease Band, and their friends — who together form one of the toughest rhythm and blues bands outside of the Motown studios — start from the bottom up in re-arranging material as familiar as “Dear Landlord” or “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window.” It’s not a matter of “improving” the songs, but of removing them from their original sound and conception to such a degree that they remain great music and still don’t really remind the listener of the original versions. The feeling one gets when listening to, say, Aretha’s version of “The Weight” — “Wow, they must have really been reaching on that one” — doesn’t happen when Joe and his band make music.

Not just anyone can carry off lines like those, from Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on the Wire”: “Like a bird on the wire … I will try, in my way, to be free.” When Joe sings it those words seem as timeless as the wisdom of the blues.

If Cocker himself is beginning to sound like a master, his band has surprised as well. Their introduction to “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” sounds like a fat man splitting his pants — and then Cocker falls in like he slipped on a bar of soap. The song itself has that hilarious circus sound of Dylan’s “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window.” And maybe that’s not a coincidence.

It would be fun to hear Cocker experiment with different sorts of back-up groups. While there are certainly limits to what he can do, they are broad enough to keep him going for a long, long time. Limits or no, what’s special about Joe Cocker is that he is so much fun to listen to, because the fun he’s having — on stage, picking his phantom guitar with mad frenzy, or on record, letting his own excesses communicate his real emotion — is completely infectious.
by Greil Marcus, February 21, 1970
Tracks
1. Dear Landlord (Bob Dylan) - 3:26
2. Bird On The Wire (Leonard Cohen) - 4:29
3. Lawdy Miss Clawdy (Lloyd Price) - 2:14
4. She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 2:37
5. Hitchcock Railway (Don Dunn, Tony McCashen) - 4:41
6. That's Your Buriness Now (Joe Cocker, Chris Stainton) - 2:57
7. Something (George Harrison) - 3:32
8. Delta Lady (Leon Russell) - 2:51
9. Hello Little Friend (Leon Russell) - 3:53
10.Darling Be Home Soon (John Sebastian) - 4:42

Musicians
*Joe Cocker - Vocals
*Chris Stainton - Piano, Organ
*Leon Russell - Piano, Organ, Guitar
*Henry MCcullough - Guitar
*Clarence White - Guitar
*Sneaky Pete Kleinow - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Alan Spenner - Bass Guitar
*Bruce Rowland - Drums
*Paul Humphrey (Miscredited As "Paul Humphries") - Drums
*Milt Holland - Percussion
*Merry Clayton, Bonnie Bramlett, Rita Coolidge, Patrice Holloway, Sherlie Matthews - Background Vocals

1968  Joe Cocker - With A Little Help From My Friends (2015 SACD) 
1970  Joe Cocker - Mad Dogs And Englishmen (Deluxe 2005 two disc set)
1976  Joe Cocker - Stingray

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Lou Reed - Live (1975 us, fantastic live set, 2006 japan reissue)



Perhaps the fact that Lou Reed’s curious career continues is more important than what he does with it at this particular stage. Had he accomplished nothing else, his work with the Velvet Underground in the late Sixties would assure him a place in anyone’s rock & roll pantheon; those remarkable songs still serve as an articulate aural nightmare of men and women caught in the beauty and terror of sexual, street and drug paranoia, unwilling or unable to move. The message is that urban life is tough stuff — it will kill you; Reed, the poet of destruction, knows it but never looks away and somehow finds holiness as well as perversity in both his sinners and his quest.

Since leaving the Underground for a solo career at RCA, Reed’s star has shone very brightly commercially, less so artistically. Lou Reed, his first RCA LP, had strong songs, inept production. Transformer, excellently produced by David Bowie, brought Reed an AM radio hit, “Walk on the Wild Side,” but the paucity of much of the rest of the material was alarming. Berlin, unforgettable in many ways (not all of them good), has probably been underrated but was certainly not helped by the pretentiousness of the rock-opera/”masterpiece” ad campaign or Bob Ezrin’s soap-opera, cast-of-thousands overproduction. Sally Can’t Dance had one brilliant song: “Ennui.”

Which leaves us Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal and its sequel, Lou Reed Live, both recorded at New York City’s Academy of Music December 21st, 1973. As it happens, I had seen Reed and a mediocre pickup band at Lincoln Center some months earlier in his first New York non-Velvets appearance and he was tragic in every sense of the word. So, at the Academy, I didn’t expect much and when his new band came out and began to play spectacular, even majestic, rock & roll, management’s strategy for the evening became clear: Elevate the erratic and unstable punkiness of the centerpiece into punchy, swaggering grandeur by using the best arrangements, sound and musicians that money could buy; the trimmings, particularly guitarists Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter, were awesome enough so that if Reed were merely competent, the concert would be a success.

And it was, as one can judge from the resultant albums. The band does not emulate the violent, hypnotic, dope-trance staccato power and subway lyricism of the Velvet Underground, but rather opts for a hard, clean, clear, near-royal Mott the Hoople/Eric Clapton (Layla) opulence and Reed sings out most of the songs in his effective street-talk style. Animal, coming first, naturally contains the best performances (“Intro/Sweet Jane,” “White Light/White Heat,” the first half of “Rock ‘n’ Roll”), but Live, while less satisfying, is not a tremendous letdown (“Vicious” is first-rate, “Satellite of Love” and “Sad Song,” nice). It’s hardly a classic, but it’s good. Perhaps it will put an end to the Lou Reed jokes. The man’s accomplishments may be few of late, but he is still one of a handful of American artists capable of the spiritual home run. Should he put it all together again, watch out.
by Paul Nelson, June 5, 1975
Tracks
1. Vicious - 5:55
2. Satellite Of Love - 6:03
3. Walk On The Wild Side - 4:51
4. I'm Waiting For The Man - 3:38
5. Oh, Jim - 10:40
6. Sad Song  - 7:32
All songs by Lou Reed

Personnel
*Lou Reed - Vocals
*Steve Hunter - Guitars
*Dick Wagner - Guitar, Vocal
*Prakash John - Bass, Vocals
*Pentti "Whitey" Glan - Drums, Percussion
*Ray Colcord - Keyboards
*Rob Hegel - Background Vocals ("Sad Song" Only)

1972-76  Lou Reed - Original Album Classics (2008 five disc box set)
1974 Lou Reed - Rock 'N' Roll Animal (2006 japan edition)
1978 Lou Reed - Street Hassle (2006 japan)