Friday, October 30, 2020

Circus - Circus (1973 us, fine classic rock power pop)

Circus blasted out of Cleveland's college bar scene in 1972 with their local smash hit "Stop Wait and Listen", a classic combination of midwest rock/power pop sounds (a'la Raspberries and Blue Ash) that is one of the most memorable local recordings of the time, and is still covered by local bands.

Although we don't have a lot of details yet, Circus included guitarist Dan Hrdlicka (the writer of "Stop..."), singer Phil Alexander (who sported a "Ziggy Stardust" Bowie style haircut, very helpful when Cleveland went Ziggy crazy in late '72....), Tommy Dobeck (drums), Frank Salle (bass), and Mick Sabol (guitar), at least on the 45 and LP. On August 27, 1971, Circus competed against 5 other bands for a $1000 prize and a recording contract with RCA records. The event was televised live on WEWS Channel 5 as part of a Neil Sedaka TV show primarily intended to kick off a comeback. (For the record, the bands competing with Circus were One Yere, Jessup, Symbols Of Sound, Magic, and the Erector Set). 

The band recorded some stuff for RCA but they passed the band along to Metromedia, a label best known for Bobby Sherman and some very rare underground rock LPs. The songs that appeared on the 45 were recorded at Agency Recording, with the band actually doing the chorus echo parts live! Metromedia also released a follow up 45, "Feel So Right". This one didn't do as well, but Metromedia decided to release an LP anyway. In some strange arrangement the LP appears to resemble a private press, although it got distribution in many parts of the country.

The huge success of "Stop..." got the band much notoriety, and caused some problems when 1000s of fans showed up at school gig, detailed via press clippings on the LP back cover. Not long after the LP was released, Dan Hrdlicka left the band to join Magic (announced to happen on Aug 1, 1973), and the Balzer brothers (Craig and Bruce), late of Ambleside, joined. 

The band did some addtional recording but after slugging it out in the club scene for another year or so, disbanded. Tommy Dobeck (who was 15-6 years old when he joined Circus) joined the Michael Stanley band, while the Balzers formed 747. Phil Alexander and Mick Sabol recruited a new band to play out as Circus, including Al Globokar (guitar), Norm Issac (bass), and Frank Lauter (drums). Lauter was replaced by Myron Grombacher, in turn replaced by Stu Leyta. This lineup lasted for a year or so.

In 1978 a 45 turned up in local stores credited to Circus. This was a 'project' initiated by singer/producer Barry Ross and included Mick Sabol (who is credited with the songs) and Phil Alexander.
1. Stop Wait And Listen (Dan Hrdlicka) - 3:00
2. When I'm Gone (Phil Alexander) - 2:43
3. The Sea: Jonahs Fable (Frank Salle, Phil Alexander, Mick Sabol) - 5:15
4. My Captain - 3:24
5. Feel So Right (Dan Hrdlicka, Phil Alexander) - 2:43
6. Don't You Worry (Phil Alexander) - 2:34
7. Lullaby For Michael And Lisa (Phil Alexander) - 4:54
8. I Need Your Love (Dan Hrdlicka) - 3:00
9. Lets Have A Party (Dan Hrdlicka) - 2:28

*Phil Alexander - Vocals, Organ, Piano
*Mick Sabol - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
*Dan Hrdlicka - Vocals, Lead, 12 String Guitars
*Frank Salle - Vocals, Bass
*Tom Dobeck - Drums
*Rich Reising - Organ, Piano
*Mario Demurier - Piano, Moog  Synthesizer
*Bruce Balzer - Vocals
*Craig Balzer - Vocals


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Companion - Reap The Lost Dreamers (1974 us, fabulous mildy prog rock, 2002 edition)

 After the release of Leviathan's self-titled album, some elements of the band were continued under the name of Companion, led by Wain Bradley, Brit Warner & Mike Russell, who went on to release their one & only album, 'Reap Of The Lost Dreamers' (1974) - a mosaic of inspired vocal harmonies & fresh Tennessee psych. An obscure gem ready for rediscovery! Also includes the bonus track 'Anytime, Anywhere'.

When Grady Trimble decided to leave the band and go home, we needed a guitarist. I had played with Brit Warner in the Changin Tymes and I knew what a great player and singer he was. So the last 6 months we worked as a band, Brit folded in. Musically, it was the best we ever were. Brit was a much more versatile player and was a quality singer. Between Pete, Brit and myself, our vocals could stand with anyone. By then however, to many damaged egos and the band was over. 

Brit and I had been talking and writing music, and we wanted to create a project with other invited players. After Leviathan, he and I had access to a nice studio and we would go there at night and track our material. What a wonderful, exciting time. We put together this musical puzzle and had no idea what we were doing. We would talk about sounds or effects and then figure out how to create them. Some would just be mistakes when we plugged up something wrong and loved it. Total head candy. Once the material was mixed, we had been approached by some investors in Memphis who liked what we did and they wanted to press an album as a demo to shop to labels. We became Companion and that album became Reap the Lost Dreamers. They pressed a thousand and most were given away or sent to radio stations. We did get good college airplay. 

Theband live was very experimental. Lots of vocals, layered guitars and synths. We used massive equipment and had a very melodic sound. Very prog for Memphis.
by Wain Bradley, March 10, 2012
1. Blackbird (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 3:21
2. To The Better Days (Beth Nielsen Chapman, Brit Warner) - 3:48
3. The Child Goes On (Brit Warner) - 4:18
4. The Lonely Reaper (Brit Warner) - 6:23
5. Prelude To The Lost Dreamers / Wine For Dreamers / Dreamer's Final (Mike Russell, Wain Bradley) - 7:41
6. You Will Know (Brit Warner, Mike Russell, Wain Bradley) - 2:55
7. Lost My Past To You (Ginnie Cannon, Wain Bradley) - 6:01
8. Second Chance (Brit Warner, Wain Bradley) - 3:24
9. Anytyme, Anywhere (Brit Warner) - 4:44
Bonus Track 9

*Wain Bradley - Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
*Brit Warner - Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
*Mike Russell - Piano, Organ, Synthesizer, ARP, Vocals
*Andy Tate - Guitars, Vocals
*Shof Beavers - Drums, Percussion

Related Act

Friday, October 23, 2020

Riff Raff - Outside Looking In (1972 uk, splendid jazz prog rock)

Riff Raff brings together four men of varying musical experiences whose sound spans both rock and modern jazz but cannot be pigeonholed in either camp.

Their music is their own; they write, arrange and produce themselves, and the result is music of today that succeeds in avoiding the self-indulgence of many of their contemporaries. They named themselves Riff Raff with tongues firmly in cheek, although the name serves to emphasize the individuality of each member of the band. All four musicians have known or known of each other for a couple of years or more: that goes double for bassist Roger Sutton and keyboard man Tommy Eyre, who both ended a two-year run with the Mark-Almond band during the Summer of 1972; guitarist Pete Kirtley is a Geordie last seen as an Alan Price sideman; and percussionist Aureo de Souza hails, as all good percussionists should, from Rio de Janeiro.

Tommy Eyre plays Fender Rhodes electric piano, organ, six- and 12-string guitar, concert and bass flute. He was classically trained on the piano from the age of three (an infant prodigy as they say), and should be best known as the keyboardist in Joe Cocker's original Grease Band (indeed he played on and arranged Joe's cover of "With A Little Help From My Friends"). Later joined Aynsley Dunbar's Retaliation (with Roger Sutton) with whom he made two albums. When Aynstey left to join Zappa, Tommy had a brief period with Juicy Lucy and then moved on to Mark-Almond. Roger Sutton's bass is a specially-made fretless Fender, to which he adds cello, double bass, and six- and twelve-string guitars. He has been a pro musician since he was 17, and played his first starring part as bassist for Brian Auger's Trinity in the days of Julie Driscoll: several Sutton numbers were recorded by Jools and the band. Next came Aynsley Dunbar's Blue Whale (with Tommy Eyre), Heavy Jelly, and in mid-1970 - Mark-Almond. Roger is one of Riff Raff's main sources of original material.

The amalgam of jazz, rock, and soul was intoxicating and was a fine emotional alternative to the Canterbury bands, which were much more concerned with complexity than groove. The music included here features all seven of those original finished tracks as well as the first four recordings of the final band lineup after Marshall and Slade left. Guitarist Peter Kirtley and Brazilian drummer Aureo de Souza replaced them. Saxophonist Bud Beadle later joined the band as well. 

This is a heady, seductive brew of energetic, soulful jazz-rock -- recorded after fusion but more a real amalgam than a completely new genre of music like that of the Mahavishnu Orchestra or Miles Davis' experiments of the time. Individual tunes don't so much matter, as the album is sequenced almost as a series of segues. The interplay among soloists here and the sheer musicality separate this band from virtually everyone else on the scene at the time, with the possible exception of their former employers. This is for collectors to be sure, but it is nonetheless revelatory music and should be sought out by anyone interested in anything other than Top 40 from the era. 
by Thom Jurek
1. Outside Looking In - 9:12
2. The Blind Man - 8:16
3. Bach B. Minor Prelude - 2:58
4. Feeling Paranoic - 0:43
5. Buthelezi - 3:42
6. So You Want To Be Free - 10:52
7. Changes - 3:23
8. Child Of The Summer - 5:59
9. For Every Dog - 4:05
10.Morning - 5:57
11.The Garden - 6:59
All compositions by Rod Coombes, Roger Sutton

Riff Raff
*Roger Sutton - Bass, Acoustic Guitars, Vocals
*Tommy Eyre - Hammond Organ, Piano, Acoustic Guitars, Concert, Bass Flute, Vocals
*Rod Coombes - Drums, Percussion, Acoustic Guitar (Tracks 1-7)
*Martin Ball - Guitar (Tracks 1-7)
*Joe Peters - Drums(Tracks 1-7)
*Peter Kirtley - Guitar, Vocals (Tracks 8-11)
*Aureo De Souza - Drums, Percussion (Tracks 8-11)
*Kenny Slade - Drums (Tracks 8-11)
*Ritchie Dalton - Saxophone
*Alan Marshall - Vocals

Related Acts
1968  Joe Cocker - With A Little Help From My Friends (2015 SACD)
1969  Jody Grind - One Step On (2006 japan remaster)
1969  Jaklin - Jaklin
1969-70  The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation - To Mum From Aynsley And The Boys / Remains To Be Heard
1972  Roger Morris - First Album (korean remaster with extra tracks)
1974  Zzebra - Zzebra
1976  The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - British Tour

Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Left Banke - There's Gonna Be A Storm The Complete Recordings (1966-69 us, fantastic baroque folk psychedelia)

Noted as one of the trailblazers of baroque pop, the Left Banke,  known for their huge hit ‘Walk Away Renee’ were original twee. Think of a classical Zombies, harpsichord instead of wurli with dramatic classically-influenced arrangements.

‘Pretty Ballerina’ is their lesser but still well-known hit, and the singing is drop dead gorgeous. Steve Martin (not that Steve Martin) was one of the most under appreciated rock vocalists of his generation and his tender delivery, combined with the delicate string arrangements assured ‘Ballerina.’ Michael Brown wrote great melodies, lyrics tuned to the woe of teenage heartbreak.

Key tracks include ‘Shadows Breaking Over My Head,’ ‘She May Call You Up Tonight,’ ‘I Haven’t Got The Nerve,’ ‘Barterers And Their Wives,’ ‘There’s Gonna Be A Storm’ etc. The 2nd half of this collection covers the material surrounding the Left Banke’s unfortunate demise.

Only a country-rocker falls flat on a completely solid album that many people call baroque pop. Their second album Too, is respectable but lacks the fire of the debut and does not benefit from Michael Brown’s absence. Essential stuff!!

For the complete recordings of the Left Banke in one package, get this.
by Brendan McGrath, June 21st, 2007
1. Walk Away Renée (Michael Brown, Tony Sansone, Bob Calilli) - 2:40
2. I Haven't Got The Nerve (George Cameron, Steve Martin Caro) - 2:13
3. Pretty Ballerina (Michael Brown) - 2:32
4. She May Call You Up Tonight (Michael Brown, Steve Martin Caro) - 2:18
5. I've Got Something On My Mind (Michael Brown, Steve Martin Caro, George Cameron) - 2:46
6. Barterers And Their Wives (Michael Brown, Tom Feher) - 2:56
7. Let Go Of You Girl (Michael Brown, Steve Martin Caro, George Cameron) - 2:53
8. What Do You Know (Michael Brown, Tom Feher) - 2:57
9. Evening Gown (Michael Brown, Tom Feher) - 1:46
10.Lazy Day (Michael Brown, Steve Martin Caro) - 2:24
11.Shadows Breaking Over My Head (Michael Brown, Steve Martin Caro) - 2:34
12.Ivy Ivy (Michael Brown, Tom Feher) - 3:11
13.Men Are Building Sand (Previously Unreleased) (Michael Brown, Bert Sommer) - 2:19
14.Desirée (Michael Brown, Tom Feher) - 2:42
15.Dark Is The Bark (George Cameron, Tom Finn, Martin-Caro) - 3:28
16.My Friend Today (Tom Feher) - 3:03
17.Sing Little Bird Sing (Tom Finn) - 3:09
18.And Suddenly (Michael Brown, Bert Sommer) - 2:05
19.Goodbye Holly (Tom Feher) - 2:56
20.In The Morning Light (Michael Brown, Tom Feher) - 2:50
21.Bryant Hotel (Tom Feher) - 3:24
22.Give The Man A Hand (Marvin Potocki) - 2:33
23.Nice To See You (Tom Finn) - 2:41
24.There's Gonna Be A Storm (Tom Finn) - 4:16
25.Pedestal (Tom Kaye, Marty Joe Kupersmith) - 3:45
26.Myrah (Michael Brown, Steve Martin Caro) - 3:21

The Left Banke
*Steve Martin Caro - Lead Vocals, Drums, Tambourine, Bass 
*Michael Brown - Piano, Harpsichord, Clavinet, Organ, Vocals
*Tom Finn - Bass, Guitar, Backing Vocals
*George Cameron - Drums, Percussion, Vocals 
*Warren David-Schierhorst - Drums
*Jeff Winfield - Electric Guitar
*Rick Brand - Electric Guitar, Banjo
*Bert Sommer - Lead Vocals, Guitar 
*Michael McKan - Guitar 
*Tom Feher – Piano, Guitar 
Additional Personnel
*Steve Tallarico - Backing Vocals
*Paul Griffin - Keyboards
*Paul Leka - Piano, String Arrangements
*Hugh McCracken - Guitar
*Al Gorgoni - Guitar
*George "Fluffer" Hirsh - Guitar
*Marvin Potocki - Guitars
*John Abbott - Bass, Guitar, String And Horn Arrangements
*Seymour Barab - Bass, Cello
*Joe Mack - Bass
*Chet Amsterdam - Bass
*Al Rogers - Drums
*Buddy Saltzman - Drums
*Bobby Gregg - Drums
*Artie Schroek - Vibraphone, Drums, String Arrangements
*Paul Leka - String Arrangements
*Harry Lookofsky - Violin
*George Marge - Oboe
*Ray Alonge - French Horn
*Marvin Stamm - Trumpet
*George Young - Woodwinds

Related Act

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Lovecraft - Valley Of The Moon (1970 us, awesome classic rock with country and psych shades, 2008 remaster)

Drummer Michael Tegza is the only original from two years prior when the band was H.P. Lovecraft on Phillips Records. For this 1970 Reprise release, they are dubbed Lovecraft and have abandoned the psychedelic Jefferson Airplane sound for a progressive Crosby, Stills & Nash-meets-Uriah Heep flavor. In 1975, drummer Tegza re-formed the band again and separated the two words, their Love Craft album, We Love You Whoever You Are, took things into an almost Santana-goes-soul direction. 

Valley Of The Moon is a surprisingly good album mixing leftover psychedelica with good harmonies. There are no throwaways here, just 11 fabulous songs, one better than the next. The arrangements are uniformly excellent, bolstered by superb playing from Tezga, guitarist Jim Donlinger, bassist Michael Been, and multi-instrumentalist Marty Grebb, formerly of the Buckinghams & Aorta,and soon after,the Fabulous Rhinestones. Every song was outstanding -tight musicianship, great vocals & just plain good songs.
1. We Can All Have It Together (Jim Donlinger, Michael Been) - 3:55
2. Brother I Wonder (Jim Donlinger, Michael Been) - 2:28
3. Love Has Come To Me (Marty Grebb) - 3:13
4. Will I Know When My Time Comes (Jim Donlinger, Michael Been) - 3:00
5. Two Step Tussle (Marty Grebb) - 3:43
6. Take Me By The Hand (Jim Donlinger, Michael Been) - 3:10
7. Lady Come Softly (Jim Donlinger, Michael Been) - 2:35
8. The Dawn (Marty Grebb, Ken Wolfson) - 4:56
9. Never Gonna Go Back (Jim Donlinger, Michael Been, Michael Tegza) - 3:42
10.Dear (Jim Donlinger, Michael Been) - 3:09
11.Hopefully We'll All Remain Together (Jim Donlinger, Michael Been) - 4:17

*Marty Grebb - Keyboards, Vocals
*Michael Been - Bass, Vocals
*Jim Donlinger - Guitar, Vocals
*Michael Tegza - Drums, Vocals 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Gordon Lightfoot - The Complete Singles (1970-80 canada, tremendous folk soft rock, 2019 double disc remaster)

Gordon Lightfoot is a legend in the fullest sense of the word, an honour that few musicians can claim, especially those who are still alive and active, as Lightfoot fortunately is.

Of course, there are better songwriters, better singers, and better guitarists than him, but the combination of his talents creates something truly special. On this compilation, his skill as a composer is displayed in the widely-known original songs such as “Sundown”, “Beautiful”, and “If You Could Read My Mind”, while his covers—Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee”, for example—are often as good as the originals because of the depth that Lightfoot conveys through his vocal and guitar styles.

This compilation takes the best approach to an artist as prolific and consistent as Gordon Lightfoot: to collect the singles from the most fruitful period of his career (the 1970s in this case). For those who are unfamiliar with Lightfoot’s music or want to hear a variety of his finest work, The Complete Singles 1970-1980 is a perfect way to fill a lazy weekend afternoon, or any other time for that matter.
by Ljubinko Zivkovic.

Gordon Lightfoot began his recording career in Canada, releasing his first singles in 1962.  He signed with United Artists in 1965 and released his first album, Lightfoot!, in 1966.  Three more studio albums would follow by 1968.  But he wasn’t gaining much commercial success outside of Canada as a performer and was mainly known as a songwriter with credits such as the oft-covered “Early Morning Rain.”  That all changed when he signed to Reprise/Warner Bros. in 1970 and teamed with producer Lenny Waronker.

The first single released was a cover of “Me and Bobby McGee,” which again didn’t see much chart action outside of Canada.  Things would be completely different, however, with the November 1970 release of “If You Could Read My Mind.”  That Lightfoot original finally broke the singer out with American audiences becoming a No. 1 AC hit and climbing to No. 5 on the Hot 100.  The next couple of years brought more minor hits (including the No. 11 “Talking in Your Sleep” in 1971) but Lightfoot would see a string of major successes beginning with 1974’s “Sundown”, which hit the peak of the Hot 100 and AC charts.  Two more AC No. 1s would immediately follow: “Carefree Highway” and “Rainy Day People.”  Another hit came with 1976’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”  The epic tale of the doomed ship peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100 and No. 9 on the AC chart.  Other AC hits through 1978 included “Race Among the Ruin” (No. 13), “The Circle is Small (I Can See It In Your Eyes)” (No. 3) and “Daylight Katy” (No. 16).  Lightfoot would remain on Warner Bros. through 1998.  In the 20 years since, he has only released two albums: 2004’s Harmony on Linus Entertainment and the live set All Live on Rhino in 2012.  He has, however, maintained a busy touring schedule.

Real Gone’s new compilation presents Lightfoot’s complete A and B-sides from 1970-1980, totaling 34 songs in all.  The single versions of “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and “Rainy Day People” make their CD debuts, as well as six other songs that appear in their mono single versions on CD for the first time.  Real Gone has utilized the commercial, stock version of the singles unless the commercial version was released in both mono and stereo.  In those instances, the version used depended on the best source that could be found.  The set has been newly remastered by Mike Milchner at SonicVision, with additional mastering and tape vetting by Aaron Kannowski.  It’s been designed by John Sellards and annotated by folk-rock guru Richie Unterberger.
by Randy Fairman, January 16, 2019 
Disc 1
1. Me And Bobby McGee (Fred Foster, Kris Kristofferson) - 3:46
2. The Pony Man - 3:33
3. If You Could Read My Mind - 3:50
4. Poor Little Allison - 2:32
5. Talking In Your Sleep - 3:00
6. Nous Vivons Ensemble - 3:45
7. Summer Side Of Life - 4:08
8. Love & Maple Syrup - 3:17
9. Beautiful - 3:25
10.Don Quixote - 3:41
11.That Same Old Obsession - 3:45
12.You Are What I Am - 2:37
13.Can't Depend On Love - 3:07
14.It's Worth Believin' - 3:25
15.Sundown - 3:41
16.Too Late For Prayin' - 4:17
17.Carefree Highway - 3:46
18.Seven Island Suite - 6:01
All compostitions by Gordon Lightfoot except track #1
Disc 2
1. Rainy Day People - 2:47
2. Cherokee Bend - 5:05
3. The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald - 6:00
4. The House You Live In - 2:55
5. Race Among The Ruins - 3:22
6. Protocol - 4:04
7. The Circle Is Small (I Can See It In Your Eyes) - 3:53
8. Sweet Guinevere - 3:19
9. Daylight Katy - 4:23
10.Hangdog Hotel Room - 2:40
11.Dreamland - 2:58
12.Songs The Minstrel Sang - 2:52
13.Dream Street Rose - 2:59
14.Make Way For The Lady - 3:44
15.If You Need Me - 2:53
16.Mister Rock Of Ages - 3:31
All Music and Lyrics by Gordon Lightfoot

*Gordon Lightfoot - Vocals, Acoustic, Twelve-String, Guitar, Vibraphone
*Rick Haynes - Bass
*Red Shea - Lead, Classical, Dobro Guitar
*Ry Cooder - Slide Guitar
*John Sebastian - Harmonica
*Nick DeCaro - Strings, Piano, Accordion
*Barry Keane - Drums, Percussion, Tambourine
*Terry Clemments - Guitar, Mandolin 
*Bruce Good - Autoharp
*Larry Good - Banjo
*Dave Brown - Percussion
*Ollie Strong - Steel Guitar
*Bob Thompson - Strings 
*Jim Gordon - Percussion, Drums
*Milt Holland - Percussion, Congas 
*Gene Martynec - Moog Synthesizer 
*Catherine Smith - Harmony Vocals 
*John Stockfish - Bass Guitar 
*Jack Zaza - English Horn, Recorder 
*John Stockfish - Bass
*Pee Wee Charles - Steel Guitar
*Junior Huskey - Bass
*Charlie McCoy - Harmonica
*Jack Zaza - Shaker, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, English Horn, Alto Flute, Harmonica, Harmonium
*Mitch Clarke - Bassoon
*Tom Szczesniak - Bass
*Doug Riley - Piano, Electric Piano
*Musicians Of Local 149 Toronto - Strings
*Gayle Levant - Harp
*Herb Pedersen - Banjo
*Bob Glaud - Bass
*Lenny Castro - Percussion
*Michael Omartian - Keyboards, Accordion

1966-67  Lightfoot! / The Way I Feel
1976  Summertime Dream  

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Samson - Are You Samson (1969 uk, nice bag of prog psych rock, 2011 remaster)

Samson was one of the more obscure outfits signed to Andrew Oldham's Immediate label, considering that they got to cut an entire concept album, Are You Samson?, which was released by the label in 1969. They played the Marquee Club, and were known around London, but never caught on. Keyboard man and singer Ian Kewley later worked with Strider and Limey, before hooking up with Paul Young. This Samson had no relationship to an early '70s English band of the same name.

Originally released in November 1969 on Andrew Loog Oldham's subsidiary to his failing Immediate, Samson sank without trace, which was about as much as could be expected. Oldham's seemingly careless attitude of not even releasing a single to wet the record buyer's appetite however is now easier understood: Immediate was at its end; within weeks of Samson's debut release Oldham's empire went bankrupt! As the band were eagerly recording their carefully calculated work, Oldham had a lot more to worry about than whether the next album released on his subsidiary would be a big seller. 

With little assistance from the label, and practically no promotion, it's not surprising that the album had such low sales figures. But the poor turnover of this admittedly tackily sleeved album is by no means an indicator of the music contained within. Samson brought into their music a successful blend of harmonies which sound akin to the Gregorian psych-era choral vocal parts of the Pretty Things and the Zombies, a touch of Deep Purple circa Shades of Purple, and a hint of the increasingly popular concept album. For sake of classification, their blending of Kinks-ish psych-pop with more progressive elements is befitting of the title progressive pop -- a contemporary handle used to describe everything from the Fox's For Fox Sake, Caravan's early work, and fellow north country lads the Koobas' 1969 album. If the later songs compiled on the superb Rubbles series appeal to you, Samson are well worth investigating.

1. Traffic - 3:26
2. Sleep - 2:22
3. Journey - 4:34
4. Fair - 7:23
5. The End Song - 4:42
6. Mars - 4:48
7. Venus - 2:57
8. Saturn - 3:50
9. Poem For Sam - 4:22
10.Water (B-Side) - 4:23
11.Venus (New Version) (A-Side) - 3:03
All songs by Ian Kewley, Les Jones, Les Olbinson, Mike Delaney, Norman Findley, Paul Ford.
Bonus Tracks 10-11

*Les Olbinson – Bass 
*Mike Delaney – Drums 
*Les Jones – Guitar 
*Norman Findley – Organ 
*Paul Ford – Trumpet
*Ian Kewley - Vocals, French Horn 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Colosseum - The Collectors Colosseum (1971 uk, sensational prog jazz rock, japan issue)

 The Collectors' Colosseum is a compilation album by Colosseum that was released in England in 1971 and contains  early recordings from 1968-69.

Jumping off the Sun was originally recorded late in 1969, with Chris Farlowe's vocals overdubbed over Dave Clempson's originals. In addition, there are extra guitar overdubs by Clempson. I Can't Live Without You was recorded in 1968.

Bolero (yes Maurice Ravel's composition), Rope Ladder to the Moon  (written by Jack Bruce, Pete Brown) and The Grass is Greener recorded in late1969. Three more tracks Walking In The Park (penned by Graham Bond),  Beware The Ides Of March and Those About To Die are form their 1969 album "Those Who Are About To Die Salute You".
1. Jumping Off The Sun (Dave Tomlin, Mike Taylor) - 3:40, 
2. Those About To Die (Dick Heckstall-Smith, Jon Hiseman, Dave Greenslade, Tony Reeves) - 4:52
3. I Can't Live Without You (James Litherland) – 4:15
4. Beware The Ides Of March (Dick Heckstall-Smith, Jon Hiseman, Dave Greenslade, Tony Reeves) - 5:53
5. Walking In The Park (Graham Bond) – 3:55
6. Bolero (Maurice Ravel) – 5:29
7. Rope Ladder To The Moon (Jack Bruce, Pete Brown) - 3:22
8. The Grass Is Greener (Dick Heckstall-Smith, Jon Hiseman) - 7:37

*Jon Hiseman - Drums
*Dick Heckstall-Smith - Saxophone
*Dave Greenslade - Organ
*Tony Reeves - Bass
*James Litherland - Guitar, Vocals (Tracks 2, 3, 4, 5)
*Dave Clempson - Guitar, Vocals (Tracks 1, 6, 8)
*Chris Farlowe - Vocals (Track 1)

1969 Colosseum - Valentyne Suite (2004 deluxe expanded edition) 
1969  Colosseum - Those Who Are About To Die Salute You (2004 remaster and expanded)
1970  Colosseum - Daughter Of Time (remaster with bonus track)
Related Acts
1969  Sweet Pain - Sweet Pain
1969  Jack Bruce - Songs For A Tailor (expanded edition)
1970  Keef Hartley Band - Overdog (extra track remaster edition)
1970  Mogul Thrash - Mogul Thrash
1970 Chris Farlowe With The Hill - From Here To Mama Rosa (2010 Flawed Gems extra tracks remaster)
1972  Dick Heckstall Smith - A Story Ended (2006 Japan Remaster)
1973  Tempest - Tempest
1973-82  Bob Theil - So Far...

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Billy Thorpe And The Aztecs - More Arse Than Class (1973-74 australia, powerful hard rockin' funky boogie, 2006 remaster and expanded)

If you thought Crocodile Dundee was wild, then you haven't heard Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs, a rabble-rousing Hard Rockin' group from Down Under. These guys knew how to bottle lightning.

After listening to More Arse Than Class, it's no surprise that they were one of the most popular 1970's Hard Rock groups in Australia, but why haven't they gained fame in the United States where similar bands like Grand Funk Railroad, Foghat, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive were making names for themselves? I don't see any reason other than geography why they couldn't have made it big in the States.

The album opens with the rollicking “Boogie Woogie”, whose songtitle tells no lie, it is indeed a boogie woogie. It's also a peculiar boogie woogie, what with its menacing pace and crazy ascending key-changes toward the end. Billy Thorpe's powerful raspy vocals are also amazing to behold, bearing a resemblance to Roy Wood's, but with slightly more body. I also bring up Roy Wood, because “Boogie Woogie” reminds me of Wizzard. It's normal genre music, but with a slightly alien edge to it. And it's very good too!

Probably the greatest testament to Thorpe's vocal prowess is the epic closing track “Slowly Learning How”. It alternates back and forth between a soulful blues number and a tight rock'n'roll groove that resembles early Dire Straits. Thorpe's utterly soaring vocals have the same effect on me as Joe Cocker's, and bringing in a Gospel choir at the end only made me wish I could have joined in with them. That song is hardly amazing as a composition (it does nothing more than repeat those two sections for an entire nine minutes), but it's such a rousing experience that I'd gladly listen to it many more times. 

“I Wanna Know” is also a Gospel-oriented number, and Thorpe's commanding lead vocals keep the song exciting. The melody is catchy, and I like the ascending chord progression its based on. But I'd have to say the star of that show is the wily harmonica solo in the middle. If one thing's clear about Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs, they were a first-class jam band.

And that fact about them couldn't be any clearer than it is on “Back on the Road Again”, a powerful rocker that's so tight and exciting I can't contain myself! (I'm not kidding, either, I'm hopped up on adrenaline right now.) It's obvious they're emulating 1950's rock, but it's impossible to not get caught up in its spirit. The drive of that song is amazing, and Thorpe's lead vocals take an incredibly commanding lead over it. Perhaps even more amazing is the extended jam sequence in the middle. It takes a lot for me to enjoy a rock'n'roll jam, but I rarely run across things this exciting. When the Jerry Lee Lewis-style piano solo comes in, it's like nothing could be more thrilling ... it starts normally, then starts to favor the high-pitched keys in the middle, playing some brilliantly weird patterns. The electric guitar solo operates in a similar fashion ... it's normal and exciting at first, but it turns into something more fuddled and hyperactive. Crikey!

Still good, but not one of the highlights is the energetic R&B number “Walking Down the Street”. Thorpe's spirited vocal that opens the track is hilarious (at one point nearly going off into a rant), but unfortunately whoever was in charge of producing this album did a weird number on the panning effects ... it's painful to listen to this song with headphones. “No More War” is apparently a psychedelic anthem, with a rubbery guitar throughout and a huge reverb on the vocals. It's jam-oriented, but it's not quite as arresting as the others I've mentioned.

It's a shame that Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs aren't well-known in America. This style of music is still very popular round here, and if I'm able to enjoy the crap out of this, then there are millions of others who are bound to like it more. Trust me, if you've had your fill of all the Foghat you can handle (as if that's possible!), and you're feel like visiting the land of wallabies and Vegemite, then you should put Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs on your list.

Even if you're not, then you should still consider giving them a try. After all, they seemed very passionate about rock'n'roll, and they could rock like nobody's business. That's more than I get from most Hard Rock bands. Plus, it's kind of cool to have an album called More Arse Than Class on your iPod, just to see the reaction on people's faces.
by Don Ignacio
1. Boogie Woogie - 4:23
2. Walking Down The Street - 4:52
3. Don't You Know You're Changing - 4:46
4. No More War - 5:26
5. I Wanna Know - 5:22
6. Back On The Road Again - 4:14
7. Slowly Learning How - 9:11
8. A Little Bit Of Lunacy, Maestro Please - 3:30
9. I Wanna Know - 5:42
10.Pig's Blues - 6:25
11.Mame - 3:53
12.Movie Queen - 2:52
13.Kawasaki - 0:33
14.Kawasaki (Long Version) - 2:33
15.Slowly Learning How (Demo Instrumental) - 9:49
Tarcks 8-10 Live At Bill Armstrong Studios, 1973
Tracks 11-15 Singles, Ads and Demos, 1973

The Aztecs
*Billy Thorpe - Vocals, Guitar
*Warren "Pig" Morgan - Vocals, Piano, Organ, Harpisichord
*Teddy Toi - Bass, Vocals
*Gil "Rats" Matthews - Vocals, Drums, Percussion

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Mickey Jupp - Juppanese (1978 uk, solid boogie roots 'n' roll, pub rock, 2006 bonus tracks digipak remaster)

 Before he released his first solo album in 1978, Mickey Jupp's reputation as a songwriter had begun to grow, as pub rockers like Dr. Feelgood and Ducks Deluxe were covering his compositions. As a performer, Jupp didn't fare as well. The main problem with Juppanese, his first solo album, is his lifeless vocals. The first half of Juppanese was recorded with Rockpile, the rock & roll group fronted by guitarist Dave Edmunds and bassist Nick Lowe. Because Jupp's strength is standard three-chord rock & roll, the first side of the album works the best; while it never captures the joyous energy of Rockpile's best moments, it is considerably tighter and rawer than the slick second side, where Jupp's nondescript voice struggles to be heard amid the studio professionalism. 

Even though it features several of Jupp's finest songs, including "You'll Never Get Me up in One of Those" and "Old Rock 'n' Roller," Juppanese doesn't include "Switchboard Susan," arguably his best song. Rockpile recorded the backing track for the album, yet Jupp refused to sing on it. Nick Lowe kept the tape, recording his own vocals for the song; his version is included on his 1979 album Labour of Lust.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
1. Making Friends - 3:23 
2. Short List - 3:26 
3. Old Time Rock'n'roller - 3:06 
4. School - 3:03 
5. If Only Mother - 2:58 
6. Down In Old New Orleans - 3:07 
7. You'll Never Get Me Up In One Of Those - 3:11 
8. Pilot - 3:47 
9. S.P.Y. - 3:20 
10.The Ballad Of Billy Bonney - 3:26 
11.Partir C'est Mourir Un Peu - 4:04 
12.Brother Doctor, Sister Nurse - 4:00
13.Don't Talk To Me - 3:23 
14.Junk In My Trunk - 2:58 
15.Nature's Radio - 3:24 
16.You Made A Fool Out Of Me - 4:09 
17.Be Stiff - 2:58
All songs by Mickey Jupp
Bonus tracks 13-17

*Mickey Jupp - Vocals, Piano, Electric Guitar 
*Dave Edmunds - Guitar (Tracks 1-7)
*Billy Bremmer - Guitar (Tracks 1-7)
*Nick Lowe - Bass (Tracks 1-7)
*Terry Williams - Drums (Tracks 1-7) 
*Gary Brooker - Piano (Tracks 8-12)
*Bruce Lynch - Bass (Tracks 8-12) 
*Chris Spedding - Guitar (Tracks 8-12)
*Dave Mattacks - Drums (Tracks 8-12)
*Tim Renwick - Vocals, Guitar (Track 15)
*Mick Moody - Guitar (Track 15)
*Colin Gibson - Bass (Track 15)
*Henry Spinetti - Drums (Track 15
*Jimmy Jewell - Sax (Track 15)
*Peter Solley - Piano (Track 15)
*Glen Le Fleur - Percussion (Track 15)

Related Act
1972  Legend - Moonshine (2006 remasrter)