Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Illusion - If It's So (1970 us, solid hard classic rock with psych shades)

If you aren't familiar with The Illusion (not to be confused with the UK band of the same name), enjoy a trip back in rock history with this little known, underappreciated band from Long Island, New York. 

Known for their sweet harmonies and stellar musicianship, the band drew a large & loyal following on the East Coast. Lead by John Vinci on vocals, the band featured fine drummer, Mike Ricciardella. Rounding out the rhythm section was Chuck Alder on bass and background vocals. The most versatile member was Mike Maniscalco who sang occasional lead but was the voice that stood out in the harmonies. Mike played rhythm guitar, keyboards & sax. Giving Illusion the edge over all other Long Island bands was a most underrated guitar player Rich Cerniglia.

Having a top 40 hit on Jeff Barry's Steed label, "Did You See Her Eyes", gave them the opportunity to do their first tour with Mitch Ryder. Illusion later went on to open for such acts as Chicago, The Who, Savoy Brown, The Allman Brothers and Sly and the Family Stone just to name a few. Also, along with Cactus, the Illusion were a support act for Jimi Hendrix at the Boston Garden in 1970, shortly before his tragic death. The Illusion went on to record two more albums for Steed Records- Together (As A Way Of Life) and perhaps their finest album, If It's So. Shortly after the release of what should have been Illusion's break through LP, the band disbanded.
1. Man (John Vinci, Chuck Alder, Mike Maniscalco, Mike Ricciardella, Richie Cerniglia) - 7:13
2. Let's Make Each Other Happy (Richie Cerniglia, Chuck Alder) - 3:26
3. When I Metcha Babe (Jeff Barry, John Vinci, Richie Cerniglia) - 6:33
4. Collection (John Vinci, Chuck Alder, Mike Maniscalco, Mike Ricciardella, Richie Cerniglia) - 5:13
5. If It's So (Mike Maniscalco) - 5:06
6. Life Cycle Theme (Mike Maniscalco) - 1:40
7. Dr. Stone (John Vinci, Mike Maniscalco) - 3:52
8. Excerpt From Recuerdos de Alhambra (Francisco Tárrega) - 1:10

The Illusion
*John Vinci - lead vocals
*Chuck Alder - bass
*Mike Maniscalco - keyboards, rhythm guitar
*Richie Cerniglia - lead guitar
*Mike (Sylvester) Ricciardella - drums, percussion

Friday, January 29, 2021

The Marshall Tucker Band - A New Life (1974 us, impressive southern country guitar jam rock, 2002 bonus track remaster)

Perhaps the only reason that New Life isn't quite as memorable as its self-titled predecessor is that the band's debut was just so startling when it appeared. By the time New Life was issued in 1974, to the band's credit, it seemed like the Marshall Tucker Band sound had always been a part of America's rock & roll scene. 

New Life is earthier than the first album, and country music is less layered over by the trappings of jam-band rock. "Blue Ridge Mountain Sky" is only eclipsed by Dickey Betts' "Ramblin' Man" as the ultimate road song from the period. Likewise, the pedal steel blues of "Too Stubborn" echo an earlier era altogether, as the ghost of Bob Wills comes into Toy Caldwell's songwriting.

The whining guitars and lilting woodwinds of the title track bring the jazzier elements in the band's sound to the fore and wind them seamlessly into a swirling, pastoral country music. The Muscle Shoals horns lend a hand on the Allman Brothers' Brothers and Sisters-influenced "Another Cruel Love," and guest Charlie Daniels' fiddle cooks up a bluegrass stew on "24 Hours at a Time." The sound is fantastically balanced and warm, and like its predecessor, this album has dated very well.
by Thom Jurek
1. A New Life - 6:43
2. Southern Woman - 7:53
3. Blue Ridge Mountain Sky - 3:39
4. Too Stubborn - 3:54
5. Another Cruel Love - 3:59
6. You Ain't Foolin' Me - 7:02
7. 24 Hours At A Time - 5:01
8. Fly Eagle Fly - 4:25
9. Another Cruel Love (Live) - 4:25
All songs by Toy Caldwell
Bonus Track 9

The Marshall Tucker Band 
*Toy Caldwell - Vocals, Electric, Acoustic, Steel Guitars
*Tommy Caldwell - Vocals, Bass Guitar
*George McCorkle - Electric, Acoustic Guitars
*Doug Gray - Vocals, Percussion
*Jerry Eubanks - Saxes, Flute, Vocals
*Paul Riddle - Drums
*Jai Johanny Johnson - Congas
*Paul Hornsby - Keyboards
*Charlie Daniels - Fiddle 
*Oscar Jackson - Tenor Saxophone
*Earl Ford - Horns
*Harold Williamsl - Horns
*Todd Logan - Horns

1974  The Marshall Tucker Band - Where We All Belong (2004 remaster with bonus track)
1975  Marshall Tucker Band - Searchin' For A Rainbow (2004 remaster and expanded)
1976  The Marshall Tucker Band - Long Hard Ride (2004 extra track remaster)

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Marshall Tucker Band - Long Hard Ride (1976 awesome country southern rock, 2004 extra track remaster)

The Marshall Tucker Band had a wider palette of musical influences than any other Southern rockers. The eternally high-spirited Wet Willie (of "Keep On Smilin'" fame) mixed r&b, gospel and pop into their rock and roll stew. Even the granddaddies of the genre, The Allman Brothers Band, forged their style from the three distinct, albeit open-ended, sources: English hard rock ala The Jeff Beck Group, blues from Muddy Waters et, al, and the pure openness of free-jazz ordained by John Coltrane.

MTB, however, had a sure grip on rock, blues, gospel, bluegrass and mainstream jazz(including swing and big band). As demonstrated on their very first album the group was able to write credible material in each of those genres (or mix it up convincingly)as well as play as if each was their forte. The versatility becomes even more evident on their comparatively understated follow-up A New Life and there the band's studio artistry takes full flower with the exhilarating likes of "Another Cruel Love." The remastering of the Marshall Tucker catalog, the release of a hot time left in the vaults as well as a new studio effort form the current lineup provides additional insight into the workings of the group.

Persevering through multiple tragedies like their Dixie rock brethren ABB and Skynyrd titular leader Toy Caldwell died of heart problems in early 1993. On Long Hard Ride, The Marshall Tucker Band's country influences come to the fore, resulting in a strong record that failed to gain many hits. Still, the final product is well worth listening to -- it's one of their better releases. Be sure to listen for Charlie Daniels' guest appearance. 
1. Long Hard Ride - 3:53
2. Property Line - 3:02
3. Am I The Kind Of Man - 4:26
4. Walkin' The Streets Alone - 5:09
5. Windy City Blues (Doug Gray, George McCorkle, Jerry Eubanks) - 4:58
6. Holding On To You (George McCorkle) - 3:52
7. You Say You Love Me - 4:02
8. You Don't Live Forever (Tommy Caldwell) - 4:02
9. See You One More Time (Albert Savoy, Wardell Quezergue) - 4:54
All songs by Toy Caldwell except where noted
Bonus track 9

The Marshall Tucker Band 
*Doug Gray - Lead Vocals, Percussion
*Toy Caldwell - Electric, Acoustic Guitars, Steel Guitar, Lead Vocals 
*Tommy Caldwell - Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
*George McCorkle - Electric, Acoustic Guitars, Banjo
*Jerry Eubanks - Flute, Alto, Baritone, Tenor Saxophone, Backing Vocals
*Paul Riddle - Drums

1974  The Marshall Tucker Band - Where We All Belong (2004 remaster with bonus track)
1975  Marshall Tucker Band - Searchin' For A Rainbow (2004 remaster and expanded)

Monday, January 25, 2021

Bryan Ferry - These Foolish Things (1973 uk, glam rock with folk 'n' soul touch covers, 2015 japan SHM remaster)

Much like his contemporary David Bowie, Ferry consolidated his glam-era success with a covers album, his first full solo effort even while Roxy Music was still going full steam. Whereas Bowie on Pin-Ups focused on British beat and psych treasures, Ferry for the most part looked to America, touching on everything from Motown to the early jazz standard that gave the collection its name. Just about everyone in Roxy Music at the time helped out on the album -- notable exceptions being Andy Mackay and Brian Eno. The outrageous take on Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," with Ferry vamping over brassy female vocals, sets the tone for things from the start. 

All this said, many of the covers aim for an elegant late-night feeling not far off from the well-sculpted Ferry persona of the '80s and beyond, though perhaps a touch less bloodless and moody in comparison. In terms of sheer selection alone, meanwhile, Ferry's taste is downright impeccable. There's Leiber & Stoller via Elvis' "Baby I Don't Care," Lesley Gore's "It's My Party" (with narrative gender unchanged!), Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' "The Tracks of My Tears," and more, all treated with affection without undue reverence, a great combination. Ferry's U.K. background isn't entirely ignored, though, thanks to two of the album's best efforts -- the Beatles' "You Won't See Me" and the Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil." Throughout Ferry's instantly recognizable croon carries everything to a tee, and the overall mood is playful and celebratory. Wrapping up with a grand take on "These Foolish Things" itself, this album is one of the best of its kind by any artist. 
by Ned Raggett
1. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (Bob Dylan) - 5:19
2. River Of Salt (Irving Brown, Bernard Zackery, Jan Zackery) - 1:48
3. Don't Ever Change (Gerry Goffin, Carole King) - 2:15
4. Piece Of My Heart (Jerry Ragovoy, Bert Berns) - 3:06
5. Baby I Don't Care (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 1:50
6. It's My Party (Walter Gold, John Gluck Jr., Herb Weiner) - 2:00
7. Don't Worry Baby (Brian Wilson, Roger Christian) - 4:13
8. Sympathy For The Devil (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) - 5:50
9. The Tracks Of My Tears (William Smokey Robinson, Jr., Warren Moore, Marvin Tarplin) - 3:04
10.You Won't See Me (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 2:32
11.I Love How You Love Me (Barry Mann, Larry Kolber) - 3:02
12.Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever (Ivy Jo Hunter, Stevie Wonder) - 3:06
13.These Foolish Things (Eric Maschwitz, Jack Strachey) - 5:41
*Bryan Ferry  - Harmonica, Piano, Vocals
*Eddie Jobson  - Keyboards, Synthesizer, Violin
*Henry Lowther  - Horn, Trumpet
*Phil Manzanera  - Electric Guitar
*Angelettes  - Vocals
*Roger Ball  - Horn Arrangements, Alto Sax, Baritone Sax, Bass Sax, Saxophone
*Jesse Ed Davis  - Vocals
*Malcolm Duncan  - Tenor Sax, Saxophone
*Robbie Montgomery  - Vocals
*Ruan O'Lochlainn  - Alto Saxophone
*John Porter  - Bass, Guitar
*John Punter  - Drums
*Dave Skinner  - Piano
*Paul Thompson  - Drums

Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Amazing Rhythm Aces - Toucan Do It Too / Burning The Ballroom Down (1977-78 us, awesome southern country classic rock, 2000 reissue)

Although the Amazing Rhythm Aces remained firmly in touch with their country and Southern rock roots, they began shedding their twang in favor of some harder and edgier material, which they matched with equally aggressive execution. The airy and slightly calypso "Never Been to the Islands (Howard and Hugh's Blues)" -- which opens their third long-player, Toucan Do It Too -- demonstrates that the Aces had not strayed too far afield. Both "Living in a World Unknown" and "Who's Crying Now" provide a contrast with solid, propulsive rockers led by the dual electric fretwork of Russell Smith (guitar/vocals) and Barry Burton (dobro/guitar/mandolin/pedal steel/slide guitar/vocals), who left the band shortly after the Aces recorded their follow-up to this disc.

They recall the sunny and carefree southern California sound of the Eagles, and blend that force with their trademark country-rock leanings. The Aces could also pull off lean blue-eyed soulful numbers, such as the midtempo "Never Been Hurt," featuring some tasty keyboard inflections from future Nanci Griffith collaborator and Blue Moon Orchestra member James Hooker (piano/electric piano/clavinet/vocals). There are a number of decidedly more traditional-sounding sides, which are among the album's zeniths. "Everybody's Talked Too Much" offers somewhat of a retreat into an increasingly laid-back country-rock vibe, while the high and lonesome "Last Letter Home" is instrumentally bolstered by Burton's lilting and acoustically lyrical mandolin runs, which are tucked behind Jeff Davis (bass) and Hooker's sonic accoutrement. "Geneva's Lullaby" is an achingly tender ballad from Smith, whose criminally underappreciated guitar work and songwriting are given a well-deserved showcase. His compositional versatility is evident on the LP's closing track, "Two Can Do It Too," which boasts a healthy syncopation that could have easily been covered by the likes of Little Feat or -- thanks to the funky shuffle groove -- even the Neville Brothers.

On their fourth long-player, the Amazing Rhythm Aces continued the trend of presenting well-crafted pop songs leaning toward laid-back country and Southern rock. Burning the Ballroom Down was the final long-player from the "classic" incarnation of the band, featuring Barry Burton (dobro/guitar/mandolin/steel guitar/slide guitar/vocals), who departed shortly after this disc was recorded, Jeff Davis (bass/vocals), Billy Earheart (organ/keyboards), James Hooker (piano/keyboards/clavinet/vocals), Butch McDade (percussion/drums/vocals), and Russell Smith (guitar/vocals). The Aces' Memphis roots are evident throughout the album and are revealed in a variety of styles, ranging from the blue-eyed soul of the opening title track to the gospel-tinged waltz balladry on "Out of Control." The even more sacred "Spirit Walk" is particularly notable for aptly displaying Burton's multi-stringed mastery. Moving away from the harder edge of their previous long-player.

Toucan Do It Too, the Aces retreat into more regional acoustic folk and bluegrass styles on the tongue-in-cheek "I Pity the Mother and the Father (When the Kids Move Away)" as well as the tropically inspired "Ashes of Love." Along the same line is Smith's hauntingly poignant and minor-chord masterpiece "Red to Blue (When Dreams Come True)." Other highlights include the slinky rocker "A Jackass Gets His Oats," which bears some striking resemblances to a typical Lynyrd Skynyrd deep-fried rocker. The easygoing "Della's Long Brown Hair" features a sweet pedal steel solo from Burton, who had exited the combo by the time the Aces hit the road in support of Burning the Ballroom Down. Enthusiasts should search out the live disc Between You & Us, which includes a show from this tour and features Burton's replacement, Duncan Cameron, in one of his earliest gigs with the band. In 2000, Collectors' Choice Music issued a two-fer that paired this album with its predecessor, Toucan Do It Too, on a single compact disc.
by Lindsay Planer
1. Never Been To The Islands (Howard And Hugh's Blues) (Russell Smith, Butch McDade, James Hooker Brown Jr.) - 3:54
2. Never Been Hurt (Russell Smith, James Hooker Brown Jr.) - 4:17 
3. Living In A World Unknown (Russell Smith, James Hooker Brown Jr., Jeff Davis) - 4:27
4. Everybody's Talked Too Much (Russell Smith, James Hooker Brown Jr.) - 5:18
5. Last Letter Home (Butch McDade, James Hooker Brown Jr.) - 3:54
6. Who's Crying Now? (Russell Smith) - 4:28
7. Just Between You And Me And The Wall, You're A Fool (James Hooker Brown Jr.) - 4:43
8. I'm Setting You Free (Harold Allen, J.T. Watts, Jimmy Grimes) - 3:00
9. Geneva's Lullaby (Russell Smith) - 3:17
10.Two Can Do It Too (Russell Smith) - 4:30
11.Burning The Ballroom Down (Russell Smith, James Hooker Brown Jr.) - 5:21
12.A Jackass Gets His Oats (Russell Smith, James Hooker Brown Jr.) - 4:53
13.Ashes Of Love (Jim Anglin, Jack Anglin, Johnnie Wright) - 3:05
14.All That I Had Left (With You) (Jeff Davis) - 3:35
15.I Pity The Mother And The Father (When The Kids Move Away) (Russell Smith) - 2:09
16.Della's Long Brown Hair (Russell Smith) - 3:18
17.Out Of Control (Billy Earheart) - 4:00
18.Red To Blue (When Dreams Come True) (Russell Smith) - 5:20
19.The Spirit Walk (Russell Smith, James Hooker Brown Jr.) - 5:57
Tracks 1-10 from Toucan Do It Too 1977
Tracks 11-19 from Burning the Ballroom Down 1978

The Amazing Rhythm Aces
*Barry Burton - Dobro, Guitars, Mandolin,  Vocals
*Jeff Davis - Bass, Vocals 
*Billy Earheart - Keyboards, Organ, Piano
*James Hooker Brown Jr. - Clavinet, Keyboards, Piano, Vocals
*Jim Kershaw - Guitar
*Butch McDade - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Russell Smith - Guitars, Harmonica, Vocals
*Billy Earheart III - Accordion
*Buddy Spicher - Fiddle

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Freeport - Freeport (1970 us, excellent classic rock, Vinyl edition)

The short-lived Freeport can trace its roots to the Cleveland-based band Paper Sun which featured the talents of bassist Craig Holt, singer/keyboardist Kevin Raleigh, and drummer Bill Stallings (along with singer/guitarist Phil Okulovich, aka Eric Janson).  

 Unfortunately a national deal with Chess Records fell apart and by early 1969 Okulovich was gone, replaced by former The Poppy singer/guitarist Roger Lewis and lead guitarist Dennis Stredney.  At that point the band dropped the Paper Sun nameplate, morphing into Freeport Express and then simply Freeport.  With support from longtime manager Otto Neuber they scored a contract with Bob Shad's Mainstream label.

Produced by Shad, 1970's cleverly titled "Freeport" featured a mildly entertaining mixture of original pop and rock numbers.  With Lewis, Raleigh, and Stredney all contributing to the writing chores, exemplified by tracks like 'It's a Brand New Morning', 'Just What You Need' and '' the album underscored the band's affinity for harmony-rich pop-rock.  Comparisons to Eric Carmen and Raspberries weren't that far off, though these guys leaned a bit more to the rock side of the equation.  At the same time, they were much more mainstream and commercial than the majority of Mainstream acts, which may have been somewhat of a letdown if you were expecting to hear a collect of psychedelic oriented material like The Art of Lovin', or The Tiffany Shade. 

While the liner notes credited three lead singers (Lewis, Raleigh, and Stredney), Raleigh seems to have handled the bulk of the material, though many of the songs featured the band's distinctive multi-part vocal arrangements (What She's Done').  Quite unlike anything else on the LP, 'Forty Long Faces'  offered up a nice mixture of pop melody, sweet harmony vocals, crunching guitars, and just enough progressive flavor to make it interesting.  Freeport released one more non-LP single 1970's 'Now That She's Gone' b/w 'Misunderstood'  and the band was history.
1. It's a Brand New Morning (Kevin Raleigh) - 4:26
2. I Need Your Lovin' (Eric Carmen) - 2:44
3. Just What You Need  (Kevin Raleigh) - 2:14
4. What She's Done  (Kevin Raleigh) - 2:59 
5. Nonsense (Roger Lewis, Dennis Stredney) - 3:45
6. Old Man  (Kevin Raleigh) - 3:47
7. Call Yourself the Wind (Roger Lewis) - 4:51
8. Forty Long Faces  (Roger Lewis, Kevin Raleigh) - 4:00
9. Lend a Hand  (Kevin Raleigh) - 3:02

*Craig Holt - Bass, Backing Vocals
*Roger Lewis - Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar
*Kevin Raleigh - Lead Vocals, Keyboards,
*Dennis Stredney - Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar
*Bill Stalling - Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals

Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Outsiders - Time Won't Let Me / Album #2 (1966 us, tight garage roots 'n' roll)

The Outsiders started life as the Starfires, a hard-working popular local band in Cleveland founded by guitarist/singer Tom King in 1958. By 1965, the group had decided to add more vocals to its repertory, adding lead singer Sonny Geraci. Tom King and his brother-in-law, Chet Kelley, co-authored a song called "Time Won't Let Me," and King turned the new number into a rock & roll tour de force. Recording it on their own, the band (under King's direction) melded the group's core sound -- augmented by the presence of Al Austin on lead guitar -- to brass and horn sections, in what was a fairly complex dual-layer arrangement. The group was signed by Capitol Records on the strength of the recording, but the label insisted that the band get a new name. King had been forced to abandon Pama Records, the label for which the Starfires had cut a dozen sides and was owned by his uncle, who accused his nephew of being an "outsider" to the family. 

The name, the Outsiders, fit the new band and the times perfectly, and "Time Won't Let Me" was issued in January of 1966, rising to number five on the national charts soon after. The B-side "Was It Really Real" showed off the unadorned group sound, a lean two-guitar, bass, and drums arrangement with some tasteful, shimmering guitar arpeggios and a gentle, folk-rock style of harmonizing. The group's lineup was a bit fluid at this point, with King, Geraci, and longtime Starfires bassist Mert Madsen comprising the core; with Bill Bruno playing lead guitar and drummer Ronnie Harkai aboard. Harkai left to join the Air Force soon after the debut single was recorded, however, and he was succeeded by Bennie Benson and later by Ricky Baker.

The Outsiders enjoyed a second hit with "Girl in Love," which reached number 21 -- a reflective ballad with a lush (yet not overwhelming) string accompaniment over some restrained electric guitars; it showed off another side of the group's sound. By the time of "Girl in Love"'s release, Capitol was ready for the group to record their debut album and Tom King called up Jimmy Fox, who had been the drummer for a slightly earlier lineup of the Starfires, to play on those sessions. Fox had left the group to attend college, but he came back to play on the album; in the wake of his brief reunion with his bandmates, decided to forego college in favor of forming a band of his own, which he named the James Gang. 

There aren't too many debut albums anywhere quite as strong as the Outsiders' first long-player. The fact that "Time Won't Let Me" is only the most familiar song here -- but not even necessarily the best track on the album -- demonstrates just how firm a footing Tom King, Sonny Geraci, Bill Bruno, and Mert Madsen had in delivering their first long-player. 

The songs here, most of them originals co-authored by Tom King -- which encompass the classic title track and four others that are pretty good (and two better than that) -- and covers, are all fine examples of mid-'60s garage rock with a blue-eyed soul edge, and there's hardly a moment on this album that isn't engaging in the extreme. Indeed, the big surprise to listeners today is how strong the rest of the album -- beyond "Time Won't Let Me" -- is, whether they're covering the Spencer Davis Group ("Keep on Runnin'"), Bobby Day ("Rockin' Robin" -- in a rendition that really does rock), or Buddy Holly ("Maybe Baby"); indeed, the only slack moment anywhere might be a less-than-riveting rendition of the Jay & the Americans chestnut "She Cried"; and they make up for it with a very successful and slightly arty, string-accompanied original ballad in the equivalent position on side two, to close the album. 
by Bruce Eder
1. Keep On Running (Jackie Edwards) - 2:21
2. Listen People (Graham Gouldman) - 2:30
3. Time Won't Let Me (Chet Kelley, Tom King) - 2:59
4. My Girl (Ronald White, William Robinson) - 2:29
5. What Makes You So Bad (Chet Kelley, Tom King) - 2:30
6. She Cried (Greg Richards, Ted Daryll) - 2:22
7. Chase Away The Tears (Chet Kelley, Tom King) - 2:59
8. Was It Really Real (Chet Kelley, Tom King) - 2:13
9. Maybe Baby (Buddy Holly, Norman Petty) - 1:58
10.Rockin' Robin (Jeanne Vikki) - 2:31
11.Girl In Love (Chet Kelley, Tom King) - 3:18
12.(Just Like Romeo And Juliet) (Bob Hamilton, Freddie Gorman) - 2:25
13.Lost In My World (Chet Kelley, Tom King) - 2:54
14.Since I Lost My Baby (Smokey Robinson, Warren Moore) - 3:09
15.Cool Jerk (Donald Storball) - 2:38
16.Oh How It Hurts (Chet Kelley, Tom King) - 2:45
17.I Will Love You (Chet Kelley, Tom King) - 2:53
18.Respectable (O'Kelly Isley, Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley) - 2:00
19.Hanky Panky (Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry) - 2:24
20.Lonely Man (Chet Kelley, Tom King) - 3:04
21.Wine Wine Wine (Billy Joe Shine, David Schwartz, Gene Haufler, Jack Allday, Mario Daboub) - 2:38
22.Backwards, Upside Down (Chet Kelley, Tom King) - 2:29
23.Gotta Leave Us Alone (Bob Turek, Chet Kelley, Tom King) - 2:20
24.I Just Can't See You Anymore (Bill Bruno) - 2:55
25.I'll See You In The Summertime (Richard D'Amato) - 2:44
26.And Now You Want My Sympathy (Sonny Geraci, Tom King) - 2:49
27.Little Bit Of Lovin' (Ed Fournier) - 2:20
28.We Ain't Gonna Make It (Tom King, Chet Kelley, Turif) - 2:24
29.Think I'm Falling (Group Version) (Walter D. Nims) - 2:36
30.Rock And Roll Heaven (Alt Version) (Alan O'Day, Johnny Stevenson) - 3:27
Tracks 29 as Sonny Geraci
Track 30 as Climax Featuring Sonny Geraci

The Outsiders
*Tom King - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals, Tenor Saxophone
*Sonny Geraci - Lead Vocals 
*Mert Madsen - Bass, Harmonica
*Bill Bruno - Lead Guitar 
*Ricky Biagiola - Drums
*Ronnie Harkai - Drums 
*Al Austin - Lead Guitar 
*Jimmy Fox - Drums 
*Mike Geraci - Baritone Saxophone
*Tommy Baker - Horns And Strings Arrangements
*John Madrid - Scream Trumpet
*Hank Geer - Saxophone
*Evan Vanguard - Horns


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Avengers - Everyone's Gonna Wonder (1967-69 new zealand, marvelous harmony folk baroque psych beat, 2016 remaster)

The Avengers began in 1966 in Wellington as the protégés of local promoter Ken Cooper, who was looking for a band to play at his new night club, The Place. He found guitarist Dave Brown, added organist/guitarist Clive Cockburn, auditioned to obtain bass player Eddie McDonald and rounded out the Avengers with drummer Ian 'Hank' Davis from Napier.

The group name was the result of a Sunday Times competition. The first hit was Everyone’s Gonna Wonder followed by Days of Pearly Spencer, but the track Love Hate Revenge provides the best memories and was probably the pinnacle of their achievements in their four year existence.

They debuted there in June 1966 and their early repertoire was mainly covers of Beatles songs and other British groups, but as time went on they closely followed the likes of Cream and Traffic.

They toured with numerous packages, made regular appearances on television and won a number of awards, following all this up with two Australian tours and a total of three albums. It all seems to have ended as suddenly as it began and apart from Cockburn’s television production career their present whereabouts are unknown.

The Avengers story by Grant Gillanders Part 2
1. Everyone's Gonna Wonder (Chris Malcolm) - 2:40
2. Midnight Visitation (Kevin Watson) - 2:43
3. Summer Set Morning (Clive Cockburn) - 2:28
4. Sunshine Lady (Kevin James) - 2:03
5. Love - Hate - Revenge (Irwin Levine, Ritchie Adams) - 2:37
6. Days Of Pearly Spencer (David McWilliams) - 2:29
7. 1941 (Harry Nilsson) - 2:39
8. Daniel The Postman (Clive Cockburn) - 2:10
9. You Don't Understand (Tony Bankhouse) - 2:39
10.Water Pipe (Chris Malcolm) - 4:02
11.Only Once In My Life (Chris Malcolm) - 2:20
12.I Wouldn't Do That (Clive Cockburn) - 2:55
13.Night Time (Chris Malcolm, Clive Cockburn) - 3:00
14.Fisherwoman (Bill Henderson, Claire Lawrence, Howie Vickers) - 2:22
15.Take My Hand (Don Addrisi, Dick Addrisi) - 2:04
16.You Better Come Home (Bert Russell) - 3:07
17.Night In The City (Joni Mitchell) - 3:12
18.Sally (Clive Cockburn) - 2:31
19.September Winds (David McWilliams) - 3:08
20.Only Last Year (Alan Galbraith) - 2:51
21.What Price Love (Chris Malcolm, Ian 'Hank' Davis, Eddie McDonald, Clive Cockburn, Dave Brown) - 2:31
22.Flower Girl (Clive Cockburn) - 2:11
23.Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind (David Jordan) - 3:36
24.Love Is A One Way Ticket (Clive Cockburn) - 4:07
25.Top 20 (Radio Spot) - 0:08
26.Top 20 Time Check (Radio Spot) - 0:07
27.This Show Is Groovy (Radio Spot) - 0:07

The Avengers
*Ian 'Hank' Davis - Drums
*Eddie McDonald - Bass, Vocals
*Dave Brown - Vocals, Guitar
*Clive Cockburn - Guitar, Organ

Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Sons Of Champlin ‎- Fat City (1966-67 us, nice power pop rhythm 'n' blues folk rock)

The Sons Of Champlin: psychedelic danceband par eminence, much-loved San Francisco ballroom regulars of the late 1960s, doyens of twenty minute jazz-rock extrapolations and the epic acid sprawl of 1968's Loosen Up Naturally. But wind the clock back a year or two to their mid-1960s beginnings and you'll find a different animal: a vital young rock'n'roll combo more akin to Paul Revere & The Raiders, the Beau Brummels and the Animals, fronted by a teenage white Lou Rawls soundalike. Rather than the folk and beatnik derivations of most hippie bands, the Sons drew on the grand tradition of grass roots rock'n'roll. "The Beach Boys with balls" is how Trident supremo Frank Werber remembers them.

FAT CITY is the first of several volumes of the Nuggets From The Golden State series drawn from the exciting vaults of Werber's San Francisco-based Trident Productions. As the manager of the Kingston Trio, the astute and hip entrepeneur re-invested the earnings from the Trio's unprecedented success into a small empire of properties and music-related corporations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Foremost amongst these was Trident, a management and recording combine that hit immediate paydirt with folk-rockers We Five in 1965, and subsequently began to assemble a stunning roster of local talent. The Sons Of Champlin were Werber's great white hope and he accurately recognised the group as a diamond in the rough when he signed them the following year.

Evolving out of the cornerstone Marin County white R&B outfit the Opposite Six in late 1965, the Sons were still technically a garage band but tough, streamlined and super-hip with soul to spare. Therefore the youthful exuberance of FAT CITY will be a total surprise to fans of the Sons' later recordings for Capitol and CBS. Werber sent the band into Trident's own Columbus Recorders with staff producer Randy Steirling in late 1966 to provisionally work on a full album via a lease deal with MGM-Verve. Due to a variety of circumstances, as much the band's own doing as anything else, it never happened and the Sons split Trident with some acrimony in June 1967.

Consequently, only two songs on FAT CITY are previously released: the superb, shoulda-been-a-monster 1967 single Sing Me A Rainbow/Fat City, the rocking flipside of which the Sons continue to perform in concert to this day. Here you get both tunes in extended form, and in crystal-clear stereo to boot. The remaining eighteen tracks include covers as unexpected as the Beau Brummels' Don't Talk To Strangers and the Monkees' Shades Of Grey alongside startlingly accomplished originals by group members Bill Champlin, Terry Haggerty and Tim Cain. Through the supercharged blue-eyed soul of She Said and smoky niteclub R&B of To Me to the Byrdsian folk-rock of It's The End, via the fuzz-tinged powerpop of Green Monday, it's an incredibly diverse selection. Throughout these early recordings, the Sons Of Champlin are a force to be reckoned with.

Despite the marked difference in their music once they left Werber (ie apres LSD), the Sons remain proud of their achievement at Trident and are excited that the work of the period is finally seeing the light of day. All five original members contributed to the in-depth sleeve notes that fully spill the beans on this mysterious chapter in the Sons' career.

Additionally packed with many unseen photos from the archives, FAT CITY will appeal to both diehard devotees of the Sons Of Champlin, and to anyone who digs the sound of 1966-67 teenaged American rock'n'roll, played with passion and panache.
by Alec Palao
1. Sing Me A Rainbow (Estelle Levitt, Lou Stallman) - 3:19
2. She Said (Tim Cain) - 2:36
3. Don't Talk To Strangers (Bob Durand, Ron Elliot) - 2:30
4. 1,000 Miles From Nowhere (Tim Cain) - 2:49
5. One Of These Days (Bill Champlin) - 2:37
6. I Wouldn't Put It Past You (Bill Champlin) - 3:00
7. It's Gonna Rain (Tim Cain) - 2:22
8. Fat City (Rob Moitoza) - 3:41
9. To Me (Bill Champlin) - 3:42
10.Green Monday (Randy Steirling) - 2:33
11.Don't Stop (Rob Moitoza) - 1:54
12.Little Fugue (Terry Haggerty, Tim Cain) - 1:50
13.Shades Of Grey (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil) - 3:43
14.Say You Know (Terry Haggerty) - 2:24
15.I Wish You Could Be Here (Bruce Woodley, Paul Simon) - 2:46
16.One Of These Days (Audition) (Bill Champlin) - 2:07
17.It's The End (Terry Haggerty) - 2:52
18.Pillow (Tim Cain) - 2:29
19.Don't Stop (Audition) (Rob Moitoza) - 1:56
20.KCPX Radio Spots - 0:50

The Sons Of Champlin
*Sally Champlin - Vocals
*Bill Bowen - Drums
*Tim Caine - Vocals, Organ, Piano
*Bill Champlin - Vocals, Organ, Piano, Guitar
*Terry Haggerty - Guitar, Vocals 
*Al Strong - Bass, Vocals  
*Jim Myers - Drums
*Chris Howard - Drums

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Brinsley Schwarz - It's All Over Now (1974 uk, great pub rock, 2017 remaster)

Nick Lowe’s reputation as an elder statesman of pop classicism is long established, and it might have come that little bit sooner, had the chips fallen differently. As the most prolific writer in 70s pub rock figureheads the Brinsleys, it was his songs that represented the group’s best chance of charming the mainstream, but they imploded on the verge of a breakthrough with one final album languishing in the vaults – until now.

Their last release, ’74’s New Favourites, opened with the jangling original version of Lowe’s (What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding, the song which ultimately became his gold-plated pension plan when covered by Curtis Stigers on The Bodyguard, the most successful film soundtrack of all time, selling 45 million copies. Hopes were high later in the year at Rockfield studios, until the band went their separate ways at the end of the sessions.

It’s All Over Now (a prescient title, though it initially came from the closing cover of the Bobby Womack song of the same name) makes its belated bow with a few selections long-term fans will recognise. Chief among these is the original recording of Cruel To Be Kind, co-written by Lowe and guitarist Ian Gomm, which surfaced on the B-side of Nick’s ’78 solo single Little Hitler, before he reworked it with Rockpile the following year to score a sizeable UK and US hit.

Similarly, the delicate Everlys-like ballad As Lovers Do was later reupholstered for a B-side by Lowe’s Rockpile sparring partner Dave Edmunds, and the faux Philly soul of God Bless Whoever Made You was given a fresh lick of paint for a Jona Lewie single. Then there’s the strutting Mess Around With Love, a song that eventually saw active service on both the debut album by The Rumour (featuring Brinsleys alumni guitarist Schwarz himself and keyboard wiz Bob Andrews) and Lowe’s The Abominable Showman.

Admirable recycling, perhaps, but a bigger-than-usual reliance on covers to fill It’s All Over Now suggests pressure to deliver to a deadline less than six months after New Favourites hit the racks. The cor-blimey-guvnor Cockney reggae of the title track is a massive misfire, though they’re on safer ground with the fuzzy garage stomp of Tommy Roe’s Everybody and the minimalist soul groove of the Stax classic Private Number.

Dave Edmunds’ production on New Favourites had enhanced the Brinsleys’ beat group sensibilities after a succession of albums closer in spirit to the rustic Americana of The Band and the nascent Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter scene, and here, with the desk manned by Steve Verroca (Link Wray, Juicy Lucy) there’s a whiff of over-egged pudding, a sound geared to US radio but lacking the sparkle of its predecessor.

The album’s chequered past includes a couple of previous attempts to take it to market, stymied by copyright and distribution snafus, and Gomm himself infamously “burned” several dozen bootlegs for friends, fans and contacts. At last it’s more easily available, so that a new legion of listeners can, in the words of one of the group’s best-loved songs, surrender to the rhythm.
by Terry Staunton

Despite Brinsley Schwarz’s management’s legendarily disastrous attempt to break America the first time, with a badly planned press junket and publicity event surrounding their Fillmore East debut, they were determined to give it one last try with this album. It may well have done so, too, with a pub rock by way of Nashville sound and the first recording of singer Nick Lowe and guitarist Ian Gomm’s song 'Cruel to Be Kind'. The problem was that the band was also in the process of breaking up.

The album was shelved for the first time and languished on a shelf at Rockfield Studios. Meanwhile Brinsley Schwarz had launched the successful careers of its members: Nick Lowe and Ian Gomm as solo artists, guitarist Brinsley Schwarz and Bob Andrews as the nucleus of The Rumour, and Billy Rankin as a member of Big Jim Sullivan’s Tiger.

In a rescue effort that should earn Ian Gomm a service award for the arts, he prevented the album’s master tapes from being destroyed in the 80s. “When I came to Wales to work at this recording studio, and help build it, Royal Studios it’s called, we had a sixteen-track recorded there that took two-inch tape,” Gomm says. “We’d wired the studio up and wanted to test it, and I thought two-inch tape, that’s what that Brinsleys album was recorded on. So I phoned up Kingsley Ward at Rockfield Studio and said ‘Do you remember that Brinsleys album that never got finished?’ And Kingsley said: ‘Funny you should mention that we’re clearing out the tape library this week and that’s going in the dumper.’ So I got in my car and I drove that afternoon to Rockfield and rescued it. Then I mixed it down because I had the studio time.”

'It’s All Over Now' was again scheduled to be released in the 80s but was then withdrawn – for a second time. Undaunted, Gomm sold CD-Rs of the album for years on his website.

The album sounds like a bar band on the verge of a massive breakthrough, but the choice of material designed to achieve that breakthrough in America is somewhat odd. There is the expected country-tinged rock, but there’s also a strange glut of AM radio sweetness emphasizing sugary harmonies and nods to early soul. The band’s interpretation of white soul works best on their brilliant version of Garnet Mimms’ 1966 hit 'I’ll Take Good Care of You' but is baffling on 'God Bless (Whoever Made You)', recorded by Jona Lewie a few years later.

Nick Lowe’s voice is rich and unabashedly sentimental, somehow cutting through the heavy orchestral backing on 'As Lovers Do' (written by Dave Edmunds) and 'Hey Baby (They’re Playing Our Song)' that seem taken from early 60's American pop vocal groups. Lowe uses his effective and now well-established narrative voice of a wayward lover, who is well aware that he is a bit of a bastard, swanning back into someone’s life on 'We Can Mess Around' and 'Private Number', either of which could have been an early Rumours song.

The lovely early version of 'Cruel to Be Kind' here is much mellower and less choppy than the well-known hit from Nick Lowe’s solo album 'Labour of Lust'. A similar version was recorded for the B-side to Lowe’s 'Little Hitler'. It’s by far the strongest original track and undoubtedly would have been the first single off 'It’s All Over Now'. Glimpses of Rockpile to come, 'Everybody' and 'Give Me Back My Love' are the hardest rocking and least treacly moments on the record. There is a pointless instrumental, 'Do The Cod', and a silly reggae version of Bobby Womack’s 'It’s All Over Now' that was hopefully recorded when they were all very high indeed.

Brinsley Schwarz’s compelling story as a hardworking band enduring strange twists in their career can be found in the accompanying book from Mega Dodo: Brinsley Schwarz: Happy Doing What We’re Doing.
by Kimberly Bright
1. We Can Mess Around (Nick Lowe) - 3:00
2. Cruel To Be Kind (Ian Gomm, Nick Lowe) - 2:47
3. As Lovers Do (Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe) - 3:56
4. I'll Take Good Care Of You (Bert Berns, Jerry Ragovoy) - 3:58
5. Hey Baby (They're Playing Our Song) (Carole Bayer Sager, Marvin Hamlisch) - 3:14
6. Do The Cod (Billy Rankin, Bob Andrews, Brinsley Schwarz, Ian Gomm, Nick Lowe) - 2:23
7. God Bless (Whoever Made You) (Ian Gomm, Nick Lowe) - 3:57
8. Everybody (Tommy Roe) - 2:38
9. Private Number (Booker T. Jones, William Bell) - 3:49
10.Give Me Back My Love (Ian Gomm, Nick Lowe) - 3:44
11.It's All Over Now (Bobby Womack, Shirley Womack) - 3:25

Brinsley Schwarz
*Brinsley Schwarz - Guitar, Alto, Tenor Saxophone, Vocals
*Nick Lowe - Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Billy Rankin - Drums, Percussion
*Ian Gomm - Guitar, Vocals
*Bob Andrews - Keyboards, Alto Saxophone, Vocals

Friday, January 15, 2021

Brinsley Schwarz - New Favourites Of Brinsley Schwarz (1974-75 uk, awesome pub roots rock, 2001 bonus tracks remaster)

Pub rock, the English roots rock movement of the early '70s, would never have earned a cult following if it wasn't for Brinsley Schwarz. Initially, Brinsley Schwarz was a rambling, neo-psychedelic folk-rock band that borrowed heavily from Crosby, Stills & Nash and the Grateful Dead. Following a disastrous publicity stunt to promote its debut album, the band went into seclusion outside of London and developed a laid-back, rootsy sound inspired by Eggs Over Easy, an American band that had been playing a mixture of originals and covers in English pubs. Following their conversion to pub rock, the Brinsleys ditched their pretensions of stardom and became a down to earth, self-effacing rock & roll band. Between 1971 and 1974, Brinsley Schwarz toured England innumerable times, playing pubs across the country.

Along the way, they established a circuit for similar bands like Dr. Feelgood and Ducks Deluxe to follow. Though the group was nominally guitarist Brinsley Schwarz's band, bassist/lead vocalist Nick Lowe provided the bulk of the group's songs. Lowe developed a distinctive songwriting voice -- conversational, melodic, offbeat, and funny -- and the band was infused with his skewed sense of humor. Despite strong reviews and a dedicated fan base, the Brinsleys never managed to escape cult status, yet they influenced a legion of other artists, creating an underground, back-to-basics movement that laid the foundation for punk rock. 

Brinsley Schwarz didn't plan to start a grassroots movement -- the bandmembers wanted to be stars. Lowe and Schwarz had already spent several years in Kippington Lodge, a Tunbridge Wells-based guitar pop group that released five singles on Parlophone during the mid-'60s to no success. By 1968, the members of Kippington Lodge were beginning to feel restless with their straight-ahead pop/rock and were eager to explore psychedelia. Keyboardist Bob Andrews joined the band later that year and drummer Billy Rankin came aboard in the fall of 1969. By that time, Kippington Lodge had completely revamped its musical style, evolving into a folk-rock band with psychedelic pretensions and appropriately changing its name to Brinsley Schwarz after the group's lead guitarist. Ironically, it was around this time that Lowe became the band's lead singer and primary songwriter. 

With their final album, Brinsley Schwarz turn in their most pop-oriented record, filled with infectious gems like "The Ugly Things," "Trying to Live My Life Without You," and "(What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding." Lowe's songs were the best he had ever written and show that his ambitions were beginning to conflict with those of the rest of the band. Nevertheless, there isn't a weak song or uninspired performance on New Favourites, making it an excellent farewell album. 
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
1. (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding (Nick Lowe) - 3:33
2. Ever Since You're Gone (Nick Lowe) - 4:05
3. The Ugly Things (Nick Lowe) - 2:46
4. I Got The Real Thing (Nick Lowe, Ian Gomm) - 3:35
5. The Look That's In Your Eye Tonight (Nick Lowe) - 4:10
6. Now's The Time (Allan Clarke, Graham Nash) - 2:05
7. Small Town, Big City (Nick Lowe) - 4:27
8. Trying To Live My Life Without You (Eugene Williams) - 3:22
9. I Like You, I Don't Love You (Nick Lowe, Ian Gomm) - 3:24
10.Down In The Dive (Brinsley Schwarz) - 4:54
11.I've Cried My Last Tear (Naomi Neville) - 2:34
12.(It's Gonna Be A) Bringdown (Ian Gomm) - 2:52
13.Everybody (Tommy Roe) - 2:58
14.There's A Cloud In My Heart (Nick Lowe) - 3:05
Bonus Tracks 11-14

Brinsley Schwarz
*Brinsley Schwarz - Guitar, Alto, Tenor Saxophone, Vocals
*Nick Lowe - Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Billy Rankin - Drums, Percussion
*Ian Gomm - Guitar, Vocals
*Bob Andrews - Keyboards, Alto Saxophone, Vocals
*Carlos Luna - Harmonica

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Man - Welsh Connection (1976 uk, fine guitar prog space rock, 2013 double disc remaster)

The Welsh Connection was originally released on MCA Records back in 1976, and was the eleventh album from the Welsh psychedelic/progressive rock/hard rock act Man. The line-up for the album consisted of Terry Williams (vocals, drums), Phil Ryan (vocals, keyboards), John McKenzie (vocals, bass), Deke Leonard (vocals, guitar), and Micky Jones (vocals, guitar). Esoteric Recordings/Cherry Red have remastered this fine album and included a sizzling live performance from the tour in support of The Welsh Connection, recorded at The Keystone in Berkeley, California.

Things kick off with the irresistible, melodic hard rocker "The Ride and the View", which leads into the driving "Out of Your Head" and the more pop laden "Love Can Find a Way". The band mixes in prog & jazz fusion on the alluring title track, as Jones and Leonard weave plenty of fluid, tasty solos around each other, supported nicely by Ryan's hypnotic keyboards. "Something is Happening" made some waves as a radio single, and you can totally see why with its dreamy instrumentation and melodic, floating vocal harmonies. Quirky prog not far removed from late period Gentle Giant can be heard on "Car Toon", and "Born With a Future" again layers in jazz, prog, and pop into an addicting brew. The bonus track "I'm a Love Taker" is a scorching, heavy blues rocker with some great guitar work, rhythms, and vocals. One of the strong points of this album, and Man in general, is the well rounded vocal attack. You get plenty of that here as all the members take part in the vocal layering on each song.

The second half of the first CD, and the entire second disc, is made up of the Keystone performance, and it's a real good one. For those familiar with Man, they are more known as a live band, and this is another stellar concert to add to their many official live albums. Live, the band takes on a much more aggressive, jamming nature, so the guitars are out in force on cuts like "7171 551", "C'Mon", "Romain", and the classic "Bananas", but also look for strong version of songs from The Welsh Connection as well, as the band played plenty of them at this show. There is also a wonderful performance of "Hard Way to Die" here, as Man go full on prog, with Ryan's sumptuous keyboards taking center stage. Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist John Cipollina, as was customary whenever Man came to California, sits in with the band on this live set.

As is always the case, Esoteric's remaster sounds splendid, and there is a booklet included containing loads of information on the album & bonus live show as well as exciting photographs. Very solid album, excellent reissue=TWO THUMBS UP! 
by Pete Pardo 
Disc 1
1. The Ride And The View (Deke Leonard) - 5:00
2. Out Of Your Head (Deke Leonard) - .4:04
3. Love Can Find A Way (John McKenzie) - 5:13
4. The Welsh Connection (Phil Ryan, Micky Jones) - 7:22 
5. Something Is Happening (Phil Ryan) - 6:19
6. Car Toon (Deke Leonard, Phil Ryan) - 5:58
7. Born With A Future (Micky Jones, Phil Ryan, Deke Leonard) - 6:57
8. I'm A Love Taker (B-Side Of Single) (Deke Leonard) - 2:58
9. Let The Good Times Roll  (Fleecie Moore, Sam Theard) - 2:42 
10.7171 551 (Deke Leonard) - 5:01
11.Hard Way To Die (Micky Jones, Deke Leonard, Ken Whaley, Terry Williams) - 6:37
12.The Welsh Connection (Phil Ryan, Micky Jones) - 8:01
13.Something Is Happening (Phil Ryan) - 6:58
Tracks 1 - 7 The Original Album
Bonus Tracks 8-13
Tracks 9-13 Live recordings from The Keystone, Berkeley, California, August 1976
Disc 2
1. The Ride And The View (Deke Leonard) - 5:42
2. Out Of Your Head (Deke Leonard) - 5:09
3. Born With A Future (Micky Jones, Phil Ryan, Deke Leonard) - 7:18 
4. C'mon (Micky Jones, Phil Ryan, Terry Williams, Clive John) - 17:22
5. Many Are Called, But Few Get Up  (Martin Ace, Clive John, Micky Jones, Deke Leonard, Terry Williams) - 11:32 
6. Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You (Anne Bredon, Erik Darling, Paul Bennett) - 5:32
7. A Hard Way To Live (Deke Leonard) -  3:16
8. Romain (Martin Ace, Clive John, Michael Jones, Deke Leonard, Terry Williams) - 6:02 
9. Bananas (Micky Jones, Phil Ryan, Terry Williams, Clive John) - 10:18
Live recordings from The Keystone, Berkeley, California, August 1976

*Micky Jones - Vocals, Guitar
*Deke Leonard - Vocals, Guitar
*Phil Ryan - Vocals, Keyboards
*John McKenzie - Vocals, Bass
*Terry Williams - Vocals, Drums
*John Cipollina - Guitar
*Nigel Brooke-Heart - Tape Operation, Vocal 
*Caromay Dixon - Vocal 
*Jeffrey Hooper - Vocal 
*Anton Matthews - Vocal 

1969  Man - Revelation (2009 remaster and expanded)
1969  Man - 2 Ozs Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle (2009 remaster)
1971  Man - Man (2007 remaster with extra tracks)
Related Acts
19773  Help Yourself - Reaffirmation An Anthology (2014 Remaster)
1973  Help Yourself - 5 (2004 release)
1976-78  Tyla Gang - Pool Hall Punks / The Complete Recordings 
1967-68  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Lost Gold And Silver (double disc issue)
1968  Quicksilver Messenger Service (2005 japan, 2012 audiophile mini LP replica)
1969  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Happy Trails (2012 Audiophile remaster)
1969  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Shady Grove (2012 Audiophile remaster)
1969  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Castles In The Sand
1970  Q. M. S. - Just For Love  (2005 japan, 2012 audiophile mini Lp replica)  
1970  Q. M. S. - What About Me (2005 japan, 2012 audiophile mini LP replica)
1971  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Quicksliver (2012 Audiophile Vinyl replica)
1972  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Comin` Thru (2012 Audiopfile mini LP replica)  
1975  Quicksilver Messenger Service - Solid Silver
1973  Copperhead - Copperhead (2001 reissue)
1972  Terry Dolan - Terry Dolan (2016 remaster and expanded)

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Jefferson Airplane - After Bathing At Baxter's (1967 us, superb psych rock, 2013 audiophile and 2003 xpanded)

There’s nowhere to begin with After Bathing At Baxter’s than with the cover art, where for a sixteen year old in 1967, I was completely captivated by a tri-winged San Francisco style flying house, complete with marijuana bushes peaking out of the windows, that in full colour was aimlessly winging its way over piles of black and white trash, a sea of pollution and debris, where balloons and coloured confetti (though I was informed that this was blotter acid at the time) were being dispensed over just about any anonymous city in America during the middle of the psychedelic 60’s. Of course over the years I’ve come to learn that this flying house represented the 2400 Fulton Street pad that The Jefferson Airplane called home, and oddly enough wasn’t painted in day-glow paints, but rather totally in black and white, at least from the outside.

While the Surrealistic Pillow album brought The Airplane to center stage, it was After Bathing At Baxter’s that defined this band and the journey into the hearts and minds of the counterculture generation, flagging these high flying minstrels as a group of revolutionaries out to subvert the youth of America. With that in mind, the album is much more psychedelic than people give it credit for being, with pondering lyrics that ask question that could only be asked from seeing the world through psychedeliczed eyes, such as “Will the moon still hang in the sky / when I’m high / when I die?” or “Does the sky look green today?” not to mention the dadaesque feedback that opens the album and a mixture of words such as “armadillo,” injected for no reason at all, other than for the sake of embracing weirdness … and truth be told, that was enough of a reason, especially with Grace wailing away singing “It’s a wild time / I’m doing things that haven’t got a name yet!”.

After Bathing At Baxter’s isn’t an album to be listened to, it’s an album to be assaulted by, as The Airplane attack everything from middle America, to womanhood and everything in-between, and it’s all done as a celebration of freedom and self liberation. There is nothing commercial about this record, it was designed for the hip, those who got the joke before it was spoken, those willing to be a force to be reckoned with. Of course “Somebody To Love” was the soundtrack of the day, yet Surrealistic Pillow, the album the single rose from, stood in stark contrast to what The Airplane were doing live, which was much darker, and plays out here in all of its psychedelic glory. This is not to say by any means that the album does not have its flaws, these flaws are easily heard and have not aged well, but for the time, these aspects (such as overindulgent jams) were pure experimentation that broke new ground, giving The Airplane a surefooted platform from which to take flight on their more controlled and pointed future releases.

With the album composed of songs strung together into mini-suites of sorts to create a bizarre aural collage of lengthy jams, screaming guitars, some extremely beautiful moments, and a great deal of raucous ones, all was mixed with the alchemy of intellectualism, where The Jefferson Airplane manage to embrace the weird and the disconnected, yet at the same time intertwined it all as a freaky acid trip … though surely one I won’t wish to have taken. While nearly contextually unlistenable with today’s ears by those who weren’t there then, I embrace this gem with my total being.

The Fun Facts: Baxter’s was’t a real place, and it certainly was a bath, though in a sense it was.  “Baxter” was the band’s code for LSD, or bathing in acid, so the coded album title would translated to “After Tripping On Acid”.
by Jenell Kesler
1. The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil (Paul Kantner) - 4:35
2. A Small Package Of Value Will Come To You, Shortly (Bill Thompson, Gary Blackman, Spencer Dryden) - 1:34
3. Young Girl Sunday Blues (Marty Balin, Paul Kantner) - 3:32
4. Martha (Paul Kantner) - 3:26
5. Wild Tyme (Paul Kantner) - 3:08
6. The Last Wall Of The Castle (Jorma Kaukonen) - 2:40
7. Rejoyce (Grace Slick) - 4:00
8. Watch Her Ride (Paul Kantner) - 3:11
9. Spare Chaynge (Jack Casady, Jorma Kaukonen, Spencer Dryden) - 9:11
10.Two Heads (Grace Slick) - 3:13
11.Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon (Paul Kantner) - 5:02
Bonus Tracks
12.The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil (Live Long Version) (Paul Kantner) - 11:04
13.Martha (Mono Single Version) (Paul Kantner) - 3:26
14.Two Heads (Alternate Version) (Grace Slick) - 3:15
15.Things Are Better In The East (Demo Version) (Marty Balin) - 2:31
16.Young Girl Sunday Blues (Ιnstrumental Hidden Track) (Marty Balin, Paul Kantner) - 3:59

Jefferson Airplane
*Grace Slick - Piano, Organ, Recorder, Vocals, Lead Vocals    
*Marty Balin - Rhythm Guitar, Lead Vocals 
*Paul Kantner - Rhythm Guitar, Lead Vocals 
*Jorma Kaukonen - Lead Guitar, Sitar, Lead Vocals 
*Jack Casady - Bass
*Spencer Dryden - Drums, Percussion, Horn Arrangement
*Gary Blackman - Vocals
*Bill Thompson - Vocals

Related Acts
1972  Hot Tuna - Burgers (2012 audiophile Vinyl replica)  

Monday, January 11, 2021

Jefferson Airplane - Crown Of Creation (1968 us, pioneer psychedelic rock, 2013 audiophile high definition and 2003 xpanded issue)


“Is it true that I’m no longer young?” Grace Slick sang in “Lather,” the luscious and cinematic opening number of “Crown of Creation.”

Slick was singing about the arrested development of her lover, the Jefferson Airplane drummer Spencer Dryden, but by extension she addressed the fast-forward aging afflicting the San Francisco scene. That sunny Summer of Love had given away to the chill winds of LBJ’s 1968.

“Crown of Creation” finds the Airplane coming of age, wary but not yet transformed into the jaded radical-chic collective that rolled out “Volunteers” a year later. The erratic and playful psychedelia of “After Bathing at Baxter’s” gives way to songwriting for adults:

“Long time since I climbed down this mountain before,” a weary-sounding Paul Kantner sings on “In Time.” “Things I’ve seen here make me want to go running home.”

Slick, a painter, ponders the 1960s’ boho dance — underground art as commerce — on the album’s single, “Greasy Heart”:

    He’s going off the drug thing ’cause his veins are getting big
    He wants to sell his paintings but the market is slow
    They’re only paying him 2 grams now
    For a one-man abstract show

And has anyone ever captured the highs and lows of the hippie era better than Kantner in this lyric from the title track, boiled down to haiku: “You are the crown of creation / and you’ve got no place to go.”

The unease comes packaged beautifully. The band performs with precision and assurance, lead by guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady, team players and not yet a faction. (Their work at times points to the heavy metal of the great live album to follow, “Bless Its Pointed Little Head.”)

Time is a major theme. War and the sickening events of 1968 are the undercurrents. “Crown of Creation” does no duty as a concept album, however. It is a collection of songs, some far better than others, most of them recorded on-the-run while the band met its rock-star obligations.

Despite the album’s prescience and longevity, it remains woefully underrated — here we have Jefferson Airplane at their psychedelic peak. They soon would become a rock band, angry and disenfranchised, but with one great album left in them.

“Crown of Creation” opens with a triple offering of morning maniac music.

Slick’s “Lather” employs studio effects to tell its tale of an aging man child. It was inspired by Dryden’s turning 30, and by the arrest of bassist Casady for nudity. The effects — a child’s fearful query; a blast of firepower from a tank — flirt with kitsch, but hold up well. Slick uses a conversational storyteller’s tone, lovely and knowing. “I’m singing the song quietly and softly, like a little kid,” she recalled years later. All other studio Airplane albums open with rockers; commencing with this quiet number is part of “Crown of Creation’s” confident genius.

Marty Balin and Kantner’s “In Time” celebrates a lover, a hippie chick cast in psychedelic tones, “in the colors of what I feel.” A less obvious companion to “Baxter’s” “Martha.” “In Time” brings to mind the softer side of L.A. band Love.

David Crosby’s “Triad” completes the opening trilogy. Slick finds the humanity in Crosby’s come-on to a pair of competing lovers. It is the closest to an embrace (and reaffirmation) of the hippie ideal to be found on the album, and it remains stunning.

Things get back to Airplane(/Hot Tuna) business as usual with Kaukonen’s “Star Track,” a meditation on fame and the scarcity of time. Kaukonen works out with his wah-wah pedal — the guitar effect is your constant companion on this album — warning the listener: “Running fast you’ll go down slow in the end.”

Balin’s “Share a Little Joke” delivers a seemingly whimsical message, belied by the instrumental chaos just below the surface. “I believe in half of you,” Balin sings to his friend. The song reportedly touches on mental illness.

Drummer Dryden gets credit for the brief bit of electronic music, “Chushingura.” It’s a sort-of sequel to “Baxter’s” “A Small Package of Value Will Come to You, Shortly.” Dryden has said it was inspired by the soundtrack to an old samurai film.

Side 2 opens with more generic Airplane and more wah, as Balin works out on the tambourine-shaking ode to freedom “If You Feel.”

Kantner’s classic title track marches to martial beat. The bandleader foresees the yuppie apocalypse in the pages of a science fiction novel:

    Soon you’ll attain the stability you strive for
    In the only way that it’s granted
    In a place among the fossils of our time

(Kantner borrowed from the post-apocalyptic novel “The Chrysalids.”)

“It’s trying to make the point that science fiction is politics, and politics is science fiction,” Kantner later explained.

“Ice Cream Phoenix” has Kaukonen returning to the scarcity of time, with Slick providing a surreal vocal interlude.

The rocker “Greasy Heart” finds Slick in full badass mode, dispensing advice in a jumble of words straight out of Lewis Carrol. “Don’t ever change, people,” she warns. “Your face will hit the fan.” It’s a slap at cosmetic beauty and plastic people — a la “Plastic Fantastic Lover.” “It sounds like I’m pointing fingers, but (I was) living it,” the former model has said.

“The House on Pooneil Corners” concludes the album with a scalding dose of acid rock. The title and the familiar amp-shaking feedback that begins the song suggest it’s a mirror-image sequel to “The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil” from “Baxter’s.” Kaukonen, Casady and Dryden slash and burn their way through as Slick’s Middle Eastern-influenced vocals summon the darkness.

Lyricists Balin and Kantner’s vision is distinctly apocalyptic:

    Everything someday will be gone except silence
    Earth will be quiet again
    Seas from clouds will wash off the ashes of violence
    Left as the memory of men
    There will be no survivor my friend

Truth in advertising: The cover of “Crown of Creation” showed the band caught up in a mushroom-shaped cloud. The h-bomb, Kantner said, is our civilization’s technological crown — and the thermonuclear holocaust one very possible outcome seen from the badlands of 1968.
1. Lather (Grace Slick) - 2:56
2. In Time (Marty Balin, Paul Kantner) - 4:10
3. Triad (David Crosby) - 4:54
4. Star Track (Jorma Kaukonen) - 3:09
5. Share A Little Joke (Marty Balin) - 3:06
6. Chushingura (Spencer Dryden) - 1:17
7. If You Feel (Gary Blackman, Marty Balin) - 3:20
8. Crown Of Creation (Paul Kantner) - 2:53
9. Ice Cream Phoenix (Charles Cockey, Jorma Kaukonen) - 3:00
10.Greasy Heary (Grace Slick) - 3:25
11.The House At Pooneil Corners (Marty Balin, Paul Kantner) - 5:51
Bonus Tracks 2003
12.Ribump Ba Bap Dum Dum (Spencer Dryden, William Goodwin) - 1:32
13.Would You Like A Snack (Grace Slick, Frank Zappa) - 2:40
14.Share A Little Joke (Mono Single Version) (Marty Balin) - 3:09
15.The Saga Of Sydney Spacepig (Spencer Dryden) - 8:00
16.Candy Man (Hidden Track) (Rev. Gary Davis) - 2:23

Jefferson Airplane
*Marty Balin - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
*Grace Slick - Vocals, Piano, Organ
*Paul Kantner - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Jorma Kaukonen - Lead Guitar, Electric Chicken, Vocals
*Spencer Dryden - Drums, Piano, Organ, Steel Balls, Vocals
*Jack Casady - Yggdrasil Bass
*Arthur Tripp - Percussion
*Gary Blackman - Nose Solo 
*Charles Cockey - Guitar, Vocals
*David Crosby - Guitar
*Bill Goodwin - Talking Drums
*Dan Woody - Bongos, Drums
*William Goodwin - Drums (Track 12)
*Timothy Davis - Drums
*Gene Twombly - Sound Effects
*Art Tripp - Percussion (Track 13)
*Don Preston - Keyboards (Track 13)
*Frank Zappa - Guitar, Vocals (Track 13)
*Ian Underwood - Woodwind (Track 13)

Related Acts
1972  Hot Tuna - Burgers (2012 audiophile Vinyl replica)