Somewhere in between the psychedelic dream and the three-day week lies the curious remains of a bygone age. Electric Asylum 6 unveils an unforgiving world of melodic absurdity with psychotic, at times erotic, and neurotic sounds to arouse the senses one more time. Rocksteady Trojan stalwarts get into their platform boots as Marsha Hunt and her 22 turn the senses inside-out with a venomous rocker for Vertigo. An intrepid Time Lord prescribes a dose of infectious electronica rivaled only by a neurotic blast of Rococo before Buster break into the nearest Moog retailer, triumphant. Prizes go to the first one to spot the leprechaun! Includes a 16-page booklet with comprehensive liner notes and rare color photographs.
Mysterious one-off project, co-led by 3 US expatriots living in Munich, Germany: Keyboardist Jimmy Jackson, drummer George Green and Guitarist William Powell. Major point of interest for most progressive and psychedelic rockfans is Haboobs very significant connection with Amon Düül II. Bandleader Jimmy Jackson plays organ on Amon Düüls Albums "Dance of The Lemmings" and "Wolf City". He also played organ on many LPs of Embryo (Embryos Rache, Steig aus, Rock Session) and has further numerous studio credits (for example: Doldinger's Passport, Tangerine Dream "Electronic Meditation"). On Haboob Jackson effects-laden organ and mellotron (here called "choir-organ) are quite prominent. LP is comprised of a free improvisation, a very Hendrix-inspired Blues and some pretty straight forward funk-rock pieces. The end result is a collaboration between Amon Düül II and early Funkedelic. The music has a lot of appeal and those who are interested in a fusion of Euro-psychedelic rock with hints of funk should definitely seek this one out.
1. Israfil - 9:45
2. Blues For Willi Pee - 3:52
3. Sooloo - 5:11
4. Morning Prayer - 5:11
5. Keep On Pushing - 4:42
6. Soldier Boy (Florence Green, Florenz Dixon) - 3:44
7. Time To Be - 3:46
All compositions by James Jackson except where stated.
Following the dissolution of Poet & the One Man Band, Albert Lee (guitar), Pete Gavin (drums), Tony Colton (vocals), and Ray Smith (guitar) got together with Chas Hodges (bass, violin, vocals) and Mike O'Neill (keyboards) to form the country-influenced Heads, Hands & Feet and recorded a double album that had a great deal in common with the work of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and the Grateful Dead at that time. Their self-titled debut album, populated with guests from the folk and singer/songwriter scenes, was released as a double record in the U.S., but only as a single album in Europe. The record was very well regarded, with Lee's guitar work garnering attention.
Keyboardist O'Neill departed soon after the album's release, and the band proceeded to move away from country influences and toward rock. Band split before the 1973 release of Old Soldiers Never Die, which marked the group's move to Atlantic Records. Albert Lee moved on to found the Albert Lee Band with Pete Gavin and Chas Hodges, and eventually joined Eric Clapton's band. Chas Hodges later formed the duo Chas & Dave with Dave Peacock.
by Steven McDonald
1. I'm in Need of Your Help (Pat Donaldson, Raymond Barry Smith, Tony Colton) - 1:51
2. Send Me a Wire - 3:56
3. Look at the World It's Changing/You Because You Know Me - 8:43
4. Green Liquor - 5:48
5. Country Boy (Tony Colton, Albert Lee, Raymond Barry Smith) - 5:34
6. Tryin' to Put Me On - 3:23
7. I Wish You Knew Me - 4:29
8. Devil's Elbow - 5:04
9. Pete Might Spook the Horses (Raymond Barry Smith, Tony Colton, Pete Gavin) - 5:20
10.Everybody's Hustlin'/Hang Me, Dang Me (Tony Colton, Raymond Barry Smith, Chas Hodges) - 8:11
11.Delaware - 4:58
12.The More You Get, the More You Want (Tony Colton, Pete Gavin, Chas Hodges, Albert Lee, Mike O'Neill) - 6:56
13.Song for Suzie - 7:11
14.Tirabad - 3:33
15.Little Bit Lonely - 2:22
All songs by Raymond Barry Smith, Tony Colton except where noted
Heads Hands And Feet
*Tony Colton - Vocals
*Raymond Barry Smith - Guitar, Vocals
*Mike O'Neill - Keyboards, Organ, Piano
*Albert Lee - Guitar, Dobro, Vibes, Moog Synthesizer, Vocals
After a stint in the Army, a college degree, and an Air Force tour, singer/guitarist Tom Mobley kicked around the Indiana music scene playing in the band Shiloh Morning, and working in the duo Pleasant Street, before joining Sequoiah with brothers Bill and Bob Johnson.
Signed by Moe Whittemore's 700 West label, the trio debuted with 1976's cleverly titled "Sequoiah". Produced by Whittemore, the album featured a combination of band originals and covers by the likes of Gordon Lightfoot ('Brave Mountaineers') and Jerry Jeff Walker ('Bo Jangles'). All three members handled vocals with Mobley having the best voice of the three. Musically the album found the trio offering up a pleasant mixture of country-rock numbers and more country oriented numbers. Imagine a mixture of Asleep At the Wheel, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Poco, and you'd be in the right aural neighborhood.
The results were never less than professional, but with the possible exception of the ballad 'Trail of Tears' and 'When You Are Old' nothing here was particularly original, or inspirational. Too be totally honest, were it not for the connection with 700 West, there's a good chance this set would have disappeared without a trace.
'Memories (of a Man and a Woman)' is a pretty, acoustic country-tinged ballad. Nothing particularly original or special, the song's high came in the form of a nice acoustic guitar and some brief harmony vocals. Mobley's 'When You Are Old' is easily one of the best tunes. A pretty country-rock ballad, the tune had a gleaming melody and a nice Mobley vocal - yeah, the lyric was a bit on the sweet side, but it was still a nice performance.
Another album highlight, coutesy of some electtic guitar and producer Whittemore's synthesizers, Mobley's 'We're Al Friends' was the song came the closest to copping a rock attitude. Nice tunePretty acoustic country tune that showcased the trio's sweet harmony vocals and got an extra star for Bill Johnson's unexpected blazing electric guitar solo.
'Trail of Tears' is a beautiful song. Built on a bed of shimmering acoustic guitars and again showcasing their crystalline voices, this was a wonderful performance.
The band seemingly only recorded this one album before calling it quits. Mobley relocated to Florida and has remained active in music, recording a series of ten solo albums.
1. Memories (Of A Man And Woman) (Bob Johnson) - 3:36
2. I Can'T Make It Any Better (Bill Johnson) - 4:00
“Yesterday’s Gone”: the song by folk-pop duo Chad and Jeremy opens the first of the six discs comprising Cherry Red and RPM’s new box set Fab Gear: The British Beat Explosion and Its Aftershocks 1961967. It’s a most appropriate opener, as yesterday really was gone for an entire generation of artists swiftly rendered obsolete by the emergence of The Beatles. As the box eloquently explains, the Fab Four “in name, song, band structure, image, defined this new Beat music…Until 1967, when The Beatles reinvented pop again with Sgt. Pepper’s, Beat music – in the broadest sense – was the basic template for aspiring young (mainly male) teenagers forming a band.” This CD box collects 180 tracks chronicling this fertile period in British (and by extension) global music history, with an emphasis on new-to-CD cuts and the catalogue of Pye Records. Why Pye? Castle Music’s Beat Beat Beat series dug into the Pye vaults but was aborted before its intended conclusion; this box picks up where that series left off. The sixth disc here is even more collector-oriented, focusing on tracks that initially weren’t released.
As expected for such a large collection, there’s a blend of the famous and the not-so-famous. In the former category are lesser-known tracks from household names like The Kinks, David Bowie (with his early band The Lower Third), The Moody Blues, and The Searchers. Among the latter type are little-known bands whose personnel would become future members of Yes, Fleetwood Mac, Manfred Mann, Traffic, The Move, and Deep Purple, just to name a few. There are plenty of “A-ha!” moments and fascinating discoveries across these six discs. Connections abound between artists, bands, songwriters, and producers on this potpourri of Beat subgenres including rock-and-roll, pop, RAndB, folk, and soul. The chronological approach works well, allowing listeners to trace the development of production styles as well as the growing confidence of bandmates to write their own songs rather than tap established songwriters.
Though The Beatles are naturally absent from this survey, there are Fab connections, such as Marilyn Powell’s groovy, spirited cover of “All My Loving,” one of the first Beatle covers by a female artist; The Tremeloes’ bright take on “Good Day Sunshine;” and The Hi-Fi’s “Baby’s in Black.” Though The Kinks do appear on Fab Gear with “Who’ll Be the Next in Line,” the band is also represented via numerous covers including one from The Doc Thomas Group. Their RAndB-meets-country cover of “Just Can’t Go to Sleep” features none other than a pre-Mott the Hoople Ian Hunter. Ray Davies’ songs were so popular, and so evocative of their period, that this set also features interpretations from the Davies songbook by The Fingers (“I Go to Sleep”), The Thoughts (“All Night Stand”), Gates of Eden (“Too Much on My Mind”), The Attraction (“Party Line”), and Five’s Company (“Session Man”).
America happily adopted the British sound in the 1960s, but Britain enjoyed a cultural exchange too as American RAndB and pop inspired countless U.K. artists. America’s answer to Denmark Street, The Brill Building, is represented by tunes here like Billie Davis’ “That Boy John” (penned by Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry), Felders Orioles’ “Down Home Girl” (Jerry Leiber and Artie Butler), The Alan Price Set’s “Any Day Now” (Burt Bacharach and Bob Hilliard), The Syndicats’ “On the Horizon” (Leiber and Mike Stoller), and The Knack’s “Take Your Love” (Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil). “Love Potion No. 9” was a particular Brill-born favorite. The tale of Madame Rue and her amour-inducing concoction is heard here in versions by Tony Jackson with The Vibrations, as well as The Baskervilles, though the U.S. hit by Liverpool’s The Searchers is absent.
Not too far from the Brill Building, Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe were plying their song trade for Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, among others. The duo’s “She Lied” got the beat ballad treatment from The Buckinghams (of London, not the U.S. group of “Don’t You Care” and “Kind of a Drag” fame). The California sound crossed oceans, too, as evidenced by Tony Rivers And The Castaways’ credible take on The Beach Boys’ driving “Girl Don’t Tell Me.” The Spectrum made David Gates’ Monkees hit “Saturday’s Child” their own, and The Montanas went freakbeat on “That’s When Happiness Began” from the California-by-way-of-Massachusetts songwriting team The Addrisi Brothers. Some of The Montanas’ most enduring A-sides were penned, in part, by Pye’s songwriter-producer-arranger-AAndR man Tony Hatch. His compositions are among the most egregious omissions on this box, although that’s perhaps because his output is so well-represented elsewhere on CD. (Hatch’s behind-the-scenes influence is felt here, however.) Other top-tier U.K. writers are here, though, including Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway, John Carter and Ken Lewis, and even the future Sir Tim Rice.
For those wishing to dig deeper, a number of the artists here have had full anthologies released on Cherry Red including The Bo Street Runners (“Bo Street Runner”), The Mike Cotton Sound (“Round and Round”), The Artwoods (“If I Ever Get My Hands on You”), Philip Goodhand-Tait and The Stormsville Shakers (“I’m Gonna Put Some Hurt on You”), The Spectrum (“Saturday’s Child”), and Katch 22 (“Makin’ My Mind Up’).
Fab Gear is a beautifully-designed set. It’s packaged in the style of a hardcover book, with each disc slotted in a page of its own. A 5page, full-color booklet of liner notes from Nick Warburton and Bruce Welsh is worth the price of admission, with track-by-track annotations filling in the blanks on many of the artists who’ve fallen through the cracks over the years. It’s also copiously illustrated with records, sleeves, and artist photos. Simon Murphy has remastered, and the sound is strong throughout.
A treasure trove of enjoyable pop, Fab Gear is a testament to the endurance of the beat boom, not to mention its direct antecedents in rock-and-roll and rhythm-and-blues. Yeah, yeah, yeah!
by Joe Marchese, June 26, 2018
Artists - Tracks - Composer
1. Chad Stuart And Jeremy Clyde - Yesterday's Gone (Wendy Kidd, Chad Stuart) - 2:31
2. Carter-Lewis And The Southerners - Somebody Told My Girl (Kenneth Hawker, John Shakespeare) - 2:39
3. The Nomads - My Whole Life Through (Stuart Slater) - 2:57
4. Billie Davis - That Boy John (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich) - 2:31
5. Marilyn Powell - All My Loving (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 2:23
6. The Regents - Bye Bye Johnny (Chuck Berry) - 2:17
7. A Band Of Angels - Me (Mickey Baker, Mike D'Abo) - 2:03
8. Ray Singer - Tell Me Now (Ray Singer) - 2:44
9. Mickey Finn And The Blue Men - Reelin' And A Rockin' (Chuck Berry) - 2:22
10.Le Group 5 - Baby What You Want Me To Do (Jimmy Reed) - 4:09
11.The Bo Street Runners - Bo Street Runner (John Dominic) - 2:11
12.Mike Sarne And The Leroys - Love Me Please (Kenny Lynch, Mike Sarne, Clive Westlake) - 2:36
13.The Moody Blues - Lose Your Money (But Don't Lose Your Mind) (Denny Laine, Michael Pinder) - 1:58
14.The Mike Cotton Sound - Round And Round (The Mike Cotton Sound) - 2:36
15.The Others - I'm Taking Her Home (Ian McLintock, Paul Stewart) - 2:17
16.The Artwoods - If I Ever Get My Hands On You (Kenneth Hawker, John Shakespeare) - 2:03
17.Mal Ryder And The Spirits - Your Friend (Marty Wilde) - 2:38
18.Jimmy Royal And The Hawks - I'm Leaving You (T. Delaney, P. Delaney, B. Delaney) - 2:07
19.The Wild Oats - You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover (Willie Dixon) - 2:27
20.Four And One - Don't Lie To Me (Chuck Berry) - 1:53
21.Tommy Bruce And The Bruisers - Boom Boom (John Lee Hooker) - 2:42
22.Grant Tracy - Never Let It Be Said (Roger Cook) - 2:05
23.Angelina - Wishing My Life Away (Del Murray) - 2:10
24.Peter Jay And The Jaywalkers - What's Easy For Two Is Hard For One (Smokey Robinson) - 2:46
A young sunshine pop group that came from the East Coast rather than California (the home of most such acts in the '60s), the Blades of Grass had a mild hit in 1967 with "Happy." Their version made number 87, while a competing version by the Sunshine Company from Southern California got higher, making number 50. Actually the Blades of Grass' single was the much bigger hit in some markets, like New York, Washington DC, and St. Louis. But the two competing versions of the same song split sales, with the Sunshine Company, generally speaking, doing better in the western half of the country, and the Blades of Grass better in the eastern half.
Much of the Blades of Grass's personality was subsumed in the studio, where their tracks were given rather heavy orchestration, and where they seldom recorded original material. They were, however, a real band from the New York metropolitan area, with two of the members coming from Maplewood, NY, and the other two from South Orange, NJ. They were finishing high school around the time they recorded their only album, and unlike many groups from the time (even high school-aged ones), they boasted the clean-cut, short-ish-haired look that was actually much more common among average high schoolers in 1967 than long hair.
Recording for the Jubilee label, their Are Not for Smoking LP was lightly psychedelic-shaded pop, with good harmonies variously reminiscent in spots of the Mamas & the Papas and higher-voiced acts like the Happenings. The songs were more pleasantly romantic than memorable, however, even if they were densely and conscientiously arranged. The Blades of Grass did record a few additional non-LP singles in the late '60s before breaking up. The album, plus seven additional songs (mostly from non-LP 45s), was reissued on CD by Rev-Ola in 2002.
by Richie Unterberger
1. Happy (Tony Michaels, Vinny Gormann) - 2:26
2. Just Ah (Frank DiChiara, Marc Black) - 2:35
3. Tomorrow Is My Turn (Don Askew, Wayne Wadhams) - 2:27
4. Satin Slipper (Billy Meshel, Robert Sedita, Larry Tassi, W. S. "Sonny" Tongue) - 2:07
5. You Won't Find That Girl (Daniel Jay Greene, Donny Marchand) - 2:21
6. Just Another Face (Al Dischel, Joey Day) - 2:47
7. Help! (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 2:45
8. Or Is It The Rain (Frank DiChiara, Marc Black) - 2:28
9. Walk Away Renee (Bob Calilli, Michael Brown, Tony Sansone) - 2:35
10.That's What A Boy Likes (Bill Jerome, Jr., Steve Jerome) - 2:50
11.The Way You'll Never Be (Don Askew, Wayne Wadhams) - 2:55
12.I Love You Alice B. Toklas (Elmer Bernstein, Larry Tucker, Paul Mazursky) - 2:25
13.You Turned Off The Sun (Jerry Harris, Paul Kaufman) - 2:35
14.Charlie And Fred (Allan Clarke, Graham Nash) - 3:06
15.Pageant (Marc Black) - 3:07
16.If You Love Her, Cherish Her And Such (Fred Haber) - 2:42
17.Baby, You're A Real Good Friend Of Mine (Bill Jerome, Jr., Steve Jerome) - 2:22
18.Leap Into The Arms Of Love (Alan Dischel, Joey Day, Lyn Jerome) - 2:39
With 23 very rare singles originating from all over North America, from 1966-1970 (dates are not given for a couple but they certainly fit the time frame), this is very much in the Pebbles garage compilation mentality. The key difference is that the focus is on a later era -- only two to three years later on the average, mind you, but a significant difference when you're talking about the '60s, when styles and sounds changed very quickly. It logically begets another difference between this and your average garage compilation: there is much more weight given to hard, even heavy, guitar rock and psychedelic lyrics.
Nonetheless, much of the fuzz guitar and cheesy organ texture typical of "classic" garage music remains. You have to dig pretty deep even for any names that are known by association on this comp, as all of the groups are unknown: three members of Adam went on to the Balloon Farm, Light's "Back Up" was produced by Music Machine producer Brian Ross, and Steve Cropper co-produced the Aardvarks' "Subconscious Train of Thought." For all the effort involved in locating these 45s, and the informed and entertaining liner notes.
by Richie Unterberger
Artists - Tracks - Composer
1. The Changin' Tymes - Blue Music Box (Larry Moore, Charles Ferrer) - 2:15
Shortly after the Bonzo Dog Band broke up in 1970, Neil Innes formed the short-lived band the World, also including ex-Bonzos bassist Dennis Cowan and future King Crimson/top session drummer Ian Wallace. Their sole album, Lucky Planet, was also issued in 1970, and stands up neither to the Bonzo Dog Band nor to the best of the music Innes would make in his solo career. While Innes is one of the best rock parodists, Lucky Planet -- like, in some ways, the Bonzos' own final 1960s album, Keynsham -- leans too much toward straight rock, and not often toward comedy.
There's still much subtle humor in what's often a pastiche of late-'60s Beatlesque rock, but while subtlety is one of Innes' great virtues, perhaps the wit in these tunes is a bit too subtle to generate the kind of laughs you might expect.
On casual hearing, in fact, they sound a little like run-of-the-mill 1970 British rock tunes, though close patient listening reveals "Angelina" to have an unusually heavy streak of self-pity; "9-5 Pollution Blues" as a droll take on white-boy blues-rock, complete with blatant Cream-like riffs; and the very Byrdsy "Lead Us" as a spoof on the youth culture's hunger for heroes. "Godzilla's Return" is so much an of-its-time prog rockish mélange that it treads the line between a satire and the real article.
Like numerous folk-rock singer/songwriters in the late '60s, Andersen went to Nashville to record country-rock-flavored material, using some of the city's top sessionmen. Charlie McCoy, Ken Buttrey, Norbert Putnam, and David Briggs are all on this record, which doesn't rate among Andersen's strongest '60s albums. The LP's not so much weak as meek, or pleasantly undistinguished. Even by Andersen's own low-key standards, the mood is mild, the songs drifting amiably without a great deal of force. The cover of Otis Redding's "(Sittin On) The Dock of the Bay" and the instrumental "Smashville Jam" seem like padding.
The Salvation Army comedy of "Devon, You Look Like Heaven" could have hardly been more ill-placed in the running order, following as it does one of the better and most serious tracks, "Deborah, I Love You" (presumably addressed to his wife, Debbie Green). It's not that overt of a country-styled record, though Weldon Myrick makes his steel guitar heard often and Andersen takes a shot at the hit popularized by Hank Williams, "Lovesick Blues." The best song, though, is the concluding six-minute "Waves of Freedom," which is just as tranquil as the rest of the album, but a little more melodic and moving.
by Richie Unterberger
1. (Sitting On) The Dock Of The Bay (Otis Redding, Steve Cropper) - 3:40
2. All I Remember Is You - 2:56
3. Deborah, I Love You - 4:22
4. Devon, You Look Like Heaven - 3:06
5. Eyes Gently Rolling - 5:38
6. Just A Country Dream - 5:14
7. Lovesick Blues (Cliff Friend, Irving Mills) - 2:38
The eponymous 1979 album - originally released by ABC but reissued by Columbia when the group's contract changed hand - was the Amazing Rhythm Aces' fifth lomngplayer, and their first after the departure of founding member Burton, who had also handled production chores on bands' previous LPs. Burton's slot in the band was filled by Duncan Cameron, while the production reigns were taken ove by Jimmy Johnson, a veteran studio hand and a key member of the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.
The Amazing Rhythm Aces places a noticable amphasis on the "Rhythm" element of equation, with the band ambracing its R'n'B leanings full-tilt on a trio memorable soul covers. Smith holds his own on a smoldering reading of Al Green's then-recent "Love and Happiness", with the band laying down a sultry groove that does the original proud. The Muscle Shoals Horns lend a hand o a hearty rendition of the Allen Toussaint-penned "Lipstick Traces (on a Cigaret)", originally a 1962 hit for Benny Spellman, and on a gritty reading of the James Ray/Maxine Brown soul standard "If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody".
The Aces' lighthearted, down-home side emerges on the bluegrassy hoedown "Say You Lied", while Smith wears his romantic heart on his sleeve on the slick but sincere country dallads "Homestead In My Heart", "The Lonely One", and "Pretty Words". The nine-song album winds down gracefully with the after-hours blues vibe of "Whispering In The Night", and the pithy modern cowboy vignette "Rodrigo, Rita And Elaine", which fibds Smith trading verses with guests Joan Baez and Tracy Nelson.
by Scott Schinder, New York, December 2000
1. Love And Happiness (Al Green, Mabon Hodges) - 4:41
2. Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette) (Naomi Neville) - 3:45
3. Homestead In My Heart (Duncan Cameron, Michael Mikulka) - 3:15
4. Say You Lied (Russell Smith) - 2:15
5. The Lonely One (Duncan Cameron, James H Brown, Russell Smith) - 3:27
6. Pretty Words (David McDade) - 3:51
7. If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody (Rudy Clark) - 2:47
8. Whispering In The Night (Russell Smith) - 7:07
9. Rodrigo, Rita And Elaine (Russell Smith) - 3:37
With their best album sales to date and sell out concerts Fruupp appeared to be on a roll as they went into Christmas 1974 unaware of the bombshell that (for three of them at least) was soon to come there way. On the 19th January 1975 Houston played his final gig with the band having announced he was leaving to follow his recently adopted Christian beliefs (where have you heard that story before!). It was an ironic turn of events given that Houston had just established a more prominent role as songwriter within the band. Undaunted the remaining trio returned to the studio that summer with a new keyboardist (John Mason) and producer (Ian MacDonald of King Crimson fame) resulting in their fourth and final album released almost exactly a year after its predecessor.
Modern Masquerades turned out to be a far better effort than I for one expected due in no small part to Mason’s musicianship and writing talents. It’s McCusker who is responsible for the two opening songs however leading with the guitar propelled Misty Morning Way with its stirring Hackett flavoured guitar sound. The rhythm partnership of Farrelly and Foye are on top form sounding as sure footed as ever. Masquerading With Dawn includes references to the traditional folk tune Greensleeves albeit disguised under strident guitar and pulsating keys. The vocals and harmonies have never sounded as smooth as they do here. Gormenghast represents Mason’s first compositional foray with a beautifully gentle tune and more modern sounding keyboards than on previous Fruupp albums. With the emphasis on electric piano and synth it presents a jazzier (and dare I say more Transatlantic) sound with unexpected sax embellishments courtesy of the producer. It seemed to bode well for the bands future which unfortunately wasn’t to be.
The explosive Mystery Might opens with a shimmering wall of keys very like Saga’s Don’t Be Late and contains a typical Fruupp galloping rhythm and a very untypical organ dominated jazzy instrumental workout. McCusker’s plaintive Why is an unashamed ballad which allows the guitarist to bare his soul through Farrelly’s sensitive vocal aided by Mason’s glossy piano. Another departure is the light hearted, trumpet led and rhythmic Janet Planet. Bringing The Beatles circa Magical Mystery Tour to mind it was obviously intended as a single and in that format was released three weeks before the album. The final Sheba's Song features a lively electric piano riff very reminiscent of Supertramp’s Dreamer and flawless CSN style harmonies. The searing guitar and horns coda provides a fittingly poignant and proggy ending to the album and the recording career of Fruupp.
During the tour that followed they were supported by a band that within months evolved into The Clash, symbolic of the future for Fruupp and prog in general. Although they recorded demos for the next intended release with a live album also on the cards the band dissolved in July 1976 with neither seeing the light of day. Given their reputation as a stage act is particularly unfortunate that the master tapes for the live album were lost in a fire at the bands London apartment. Since then, there has been little to report from the Fruupp camp until now of course with this Esoteric collection making all four albums readily available on CD for the first time. There was a recent rumour from Stephen Houston’s website of a possible reunion but given the circumstances of his abrupt departure that hardly seems likely. For now however there is the opportunity to wallow in nostalgia with at least one if not all four recordings from one of the great unsung bands of the ‘70’s.
by Geoff Feakes
1. Misty Morning Way - 6:57
2. Masquerading With Dawn - 7:16
3. Gormenghast (John Mason) - 10:47
4. Mystery Might - 8:23
5. Why - 4:12
6. Janet Planet (Paul Charles, Vincent McCusker) - 2:58
7. Sheba's Song (John Mason, Paul Charles) - 8:31
All songs written by Vincent McCusker except where stated
*Peter Farrelly - Bass, Flute, Lead Vocals
*Martin Foye - Drums, Percussion
*Vincent McCusker - Acoustic, Electric Guitars, Vocals
With two albums under their belt, each displaying a natural progression, and gaining a reputation as one of the most solid live acts around, Fruupp were back in the studio that same summer to produce The Prince Of Heaven’s Eyes. It was released on 8th November 1974 the very same day that I and a friend and fellow fan caught them live mid tour to promote the album. The third album is regarded by most (including yours truly) to be their strongest and most assured. Most surprisingly McCusker’s compositions take a backseat with Houston given credit for writing six out of the eight songs. The albums title and concept are taken from a mythical story written by Paul Charles which was included as a separate booklet with the original vinyl release and has been thoughtfully reproduced to accompany this CD.
The tuneful opening cut It's All Up Now has shades of Barclay James Harvest and remains to this day my favourite Fruupp song. Gone were the strings of previous recordings, replaced by Houston’s symphonic keys and McCusker’s lyrical guitar. The sinister vocals during Prince Of Darkness echo Peter Gabriel’s character led performances with Genesis and it also made a curious choice for the bands first single released in October 1974. Jaunting Car is a whimsical Mellotron led instrumental whilst Annie Austere literally burst from the speakers sounding very like The Who, returning to the punchy but melodic style of the first album. Farrelly’s vocals are particularly expressive here with more than a hint of an accent to reveal his Irish origins. He also adds his talents as flute player to the poignant Knowing You, the first of two McCusker penned songs that open what would have been side two of the original vinyl release. It segues into the mini-epic Crystal Brook which again brings BJH to mind especially their classic Mockingbird. The two tracks combine into one of the bands finest ever creations.
The piano opening to Seaward Sunset sounds distinctly Chopin and develops into a beautiful and delicate melody that would have sat very comfortably on Ant Phillips’ The Geese And The Ghost album. The Perfect Wish also features classical style piano together with a stately Andy Latimer flavoured guitar line. John Lees appears to be the role model for the guitar sound whilst the classical inspiration is Sibelius’ 5th Symphony with lush waves of synth strings providing a perfect, grandiose closer. The bonus track Prince Of Heaven is something of a rarity in that it was co-composed by the band and was left off the original release due to space constraints. A pity because it would have provided the perfect prologue to explain the story and with a strong piano and guitar led melody building to a rousing climax it’s a quintessential slice of Fruupp. The single version of Jaunting Car on the other hand is instantly disposable as to my ears it’s identical to the album version.
by Geoff Feakes
1. It's All Up Now - 7:23
2. Prince Of Darkness - 3:48
3. Jaunting Car - 2:24
4. Annie Austere - 5:17
5. Knowing You (Vincent McCusker) - 10:47
6. Crystal Brook (Vincent McCusker) - 3:07
7. Seaward Sunset - 5:25
8. The Perfect Wish - 4:31
9. Prince Of Heaven - 3:32
10.Jaunting Car (Single Version) - 2:26
All songs by Stephen Houston except where indicated
Bonus Tracks 9-10
*Peter Farrelly - Bass, Flute, Lead Vocals
*Martin Foye - Drums, Percussion
*Stephen Houston - Keyboards, Oboe, Vocals
*Vincent McCusker - Acoustic, Electric Guitars, Vocals
Detective wasn't without its detractors who dismissed the short-lived band as a poor man's Led Zeppelin. But Detective had more to offer than that. To be sure, Detective was heavily influenced by Zeppelin, but it wasn't a knee-jerk Zeppelin clone -- and its bluesy brand of hard rock also owed a lot to Bad Company and Free and Pretty Things. Released in 1977, It Takes One to Know One was the second of Detective's two studio albums.
When Detective hits its mark -- and it often does -- the listener is happy to have this record in his/her collection. The album's best songs (which include "Dynamite," "Competition," and "Tear Jerker") pack an invigorating hard rock punch. Equally memorable is "Are You Talkin' to Me?," which was obviously inspired by Robert De Niro's famous line in the film Taxi Driver. That Martin Scorsese masterpiece came out in 1976, and Detective's 1977 song is an example of how De Niro's line quickly became a part of popular culture. Imperfections and all, It Takes One to Know One is worth having in your collection if you have a taste for bluesy, riff-oriented hard rock.
by Alex Henderson
1. Help Me Up (Jon Hyde) - 4:14
2. Competition (Michael Des Barres, Pamela Des Barres, Michael Monarch, Tony Kaye) - 4:34
3. Are You Talkin' To Me?- (Michael Des Barres, Michael Monarch) - 4:35
4. Dynamite (Michael Monarch, Jon Hyde) - 5:25
5. Something Beautiful (Michael Des Barres) - 4:19
6. Warm Love (Michael Monarch, Jon Hyde) - 5:24
7. Betcha Won't Dance (Michael Des Barres, Bobby Pickett) - 4:24
8. Fever (Michael Monarch, Bobby Pickett, Jon Hyde) - 4:40
9. Tear Jerker (Michael Monarch, Tony Kaye, Jon Hyde) - 4:30
In the late 1970’s, Led Zeppelin;s own record label Swan Song signed a band known as Detective. It was not a group of unknown musicians. At the helm on lead vocals was ex-Silverhead lead singer Michael De Barres. On keyboards ex-Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye. Bobby Pickett played bass and on drums was the John Bonham inspired John Hyde. Michael Monarch played guitar (previously for Steppenwolf). The band only recorded two albums that were both released in 1977. However, the band did make a splash in the rock scene during their short tenure.
Any band that was signed to Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label was due to get noticed. Having members of Led Zeppelin like Jimmy Page speak positively about the band Detective is not going to hurt. Like many bands that signed major label record deals in the 1970’s, the band Detective found themselves on tour opening for some of the biggest name in rock and roll. The band went on the road opening for Kiss and Blue Oyster Cult.
The band’s first album entitled Detective was released early in 1977. The record sold over seventy five thousand copies. However it never cracked the Billboard Hot 100 Album charts peaking at number 135. The album featured the popular cut “Wild Hot Summer Nights.” The song strayed closer to the soul funk sound of Chic than it did Led Zeppelin. Nonetheless, the cut featured some great lead vocals by Michael Des Barres and a great guitar solo from Michael Monarch. Bobby Pickett’s lead bass playing also played a prominent role in the tune. A really great track that you can check out below.
While the song “Wild Hot Summer Nights,” may have sounded closer to the popular disco funk sound of the 1970’s, the rest of the band’s debut album featured some pretty heavy Led Zeppelin-esqe melodies and Zep style performances. One great example is the standout track Grim Reaper.
by Janey Roberts
1. Recognition (Michael Des Barres, Pamela Des Barres, Michael Monarch) - 4:27
2. Got Enough Love (Michael Des Barres, P. Des Barres, Michael Monarch) - 3:59
3. Grim Reaper (Michael Des Barres, Monarch, Bobby Pickett, Jon Hyde) - 4:10
4. Nightingale (Michael Monarch, John Hyde) - 4:54
5. Detective Man (Michael Monarch, John Hyde) - 3:25
6. Ain't None Of Your Business (Lew Anderson, Becky Hobbs) - 4:29
7. Deep Down (Michael Monarch, Bobby Pickett) - 3:06
8. Wild Hot Summer Nights (Michael Monarch, John Hyde) - 4:17
9. One More Heartache (Michael Monarch, John Hyde) - 5:22
Totty formed 1975 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA by brothers Dennis and Byron Totty. A Christian Hard Rock trio, with a tight rhythm section, hard and powerful with great songs like the 8-minute "Somebody Help Me" or the early Prog Rock "Crack In The Cosmic Egg", if you like the so-called underground 70's Hard Rock, then Totty is for your tastes. If you like heavy guitar sound from the 70's then this is for you, or if you like bands like Montrose, Granicus or Nitzinger then you will love them.
This blasting album was originally recorded in 1976 in promo format (white cover) and in 50 copies only, for promotional-advertising purposes only. In 1977 it was released regularly in record stores, with a changed cover by an independent record company, of course it did not have any huge commercial success, the usually result for independent self-financed productions. After years the collectors of forgotten vinyl found it and it came back in part, the original vinyl copy costs around 250-300 euros, while the reissue costs 20.
Totty's influences are plentiful, most often reminiscent of bands such as Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top, but also bands such as Outlaws, Cain, Truth & Janey or Missouri. So it is a power-trio that plays hot hard 70's Hard Rock with some Boogie, Psych Rock and Prog Rock, but also Southern Rock music passages. This is a really good Hard Rock album, sometimes its sound is very heavy and with a hard approach, the vocals sound a little weird, hoarse and rough like those of Ted Nugent.
Oklahoma Desert Totty give us an intensely Hard Rock album with songs like "T-Town Teasers", "Crack In The Cosmic Egg", "Somebody Help Me" and "Wicked Truth", which sound like to have come straight from the records of the biggest and most remarkable bands of that era. It keeps the flame of the hot 70's burning inside. A reliable cult obscure Hard Rock album. After another album, "Too", which is less harsh than its predecessor, the Totty finally disbanded in 1981. In 1994 brothers Dennis and Byron Totty returned to the music scene with the EP "Rock-n-Okie Roll", but under the name Totty Brothers.
by Elias Kostopoulos
1. Thus Saith The Lord - 1:30
2. T-Town Teasers - 2:41
3. Crack In The Cosmic Egg - 5:04
4. Love Down By One Share (Love Song To A Whore) - 4:57
Mick Softley was a troubador in the classic mould; a drifter with a guitar slung over his shoulder, his songs drawn from his surroundings and his wonderful singing voice inflamed by social passion (a Londoner, his mother had worked for a time in the offices of Sylvia and Christabel Pankhurst). In the winter of 1959 he lost his job as an apprentice engineer and set off for Spain to follow his muse, with a mate of his, another Mick, on the back of a motorbike - which with almost tidal inevitability broke down. Eventually Softley found himself in Paris where he hooked up with numerous other dispossessed British beatniks, including Wizz Jones, Clive Palmer and Alex Campbell, who encouraged and mentored the inexeperienced singer. Returning to the UK in the early 60s, Softley discovered that the folk-protest movement was in full swing, and gripped by artistic fervour he started up a folk club in Hemel Hempstead, soon to be home to the likes of Mac MacLeod, Maddy Prior - and a young singer named Donovan Leitch, who by 1965 rapidly, meteroically almost, became a bona-fide star. Luckily Donovan remembered the favours he owed to Softley and it was through him that Softley’s debut album ‘Songs for Swinging Survivors’ came to be recorded – Donovan also recorded a couple of Softley songs on his debut records, including ‘The War Drags On’ on his EP ‘The Universal Soldier’ which made the Top Ten.
After a lengthy spell of wandering, it was Donovan who convinced Softley to record again in 1970, introducing him to producer Terry Cox who had by that time already worked with Sandy Denny, the Fairports, Yes and (the today sadly overlooked) Allan Taylor. Cox assembled a truly phenomenal cast of musicians to back the singer, including Trees’ guitarist Barry Clark, Fotheringay’s Jerry Donahue, Pat Donaldson and Gerry Conway, plus Lyn Dobson, Richard Thompson and Doris Troy, and together they recorded three albums – including the two reissues to hand now. Times had changed, folk was no longer fashionable and although this was the era of “progressive rock”, it was also the heyday of the singer/songwriter with artists like Cat Stevens, Jackson Browne and James Taylor dominating the US, and in Britain home-grown acts such as Roy Harper, John Martyn and Nick Drake all rising to prominence. Mick Softley’s incredible singing voice plus the fact that he had matured as a songwriter meant that his music was now easily as good as any of his contemporaries, and Tony Cox’s lush arrangements and production was quite simply the icing on the cake.
‘Sunrise’, the debut LP for CBS released in 1970, arrived in a full-colour gatefold sleeve and was filled with songs about earth, nature and the universe, Softley’s concerns by now being more environmental (and bodily!) than social. The stand-out track is arguably ‘Time Machine’, a song about reincarnation which became Mick’s best known song, thanks largely to it being included on the ‘Rock Buster’ double compilation LP from CBS which also featured tracks by Dylan, Soft Machine, Spirit, the Byrds, It’s a Beautiful Day, Johnny & Edgar Winter, Santana, Trees, Robert Wyatt and Poco. That sold a few copies! I well remember it being a regular in almost every second-hand shop “record bin” well into the 1980s. Another cut from the album, the exquisite ‘Waterfall’, also appeared on the CBS ‘Together’ sampler. ‘Ship’s another personal favourite, with a stunning lead guitar line from Barry Clarke and a synthesiser adding a suitably spaceward-bound rumble to the proceedings as the ship in question blasts into orbit; and the long closing track ‘Love Colours’ has an eastern feel thanks to some sitar from reedsman Lyn Dobson.
‘Street Singer’ followed in 1971 and, despite (or maybe because of?) featuring even richer and more expansive production values to ‘Sunrise’, it’s a patchy album in comparison – helped in no small part to my mind by the inclusion of some good-timey jazz and ragtime pieces, enormously clever and probably hilarious in the studio when performed by the musos present but not really bearing repeated listenings. There’s a few nice moments of Softley uplugged though, particularly ‘Gypsy’ which features some tasty harmonica playing from Steve Hayton (of Daddy Longlegs!) and the Donovon-esque ‘Water Sister Water Brother’. The closing ‘New Day, New Way’ gives the album a rousing climax – one of my own favourite pieces on here with some striking backing vocals from Doris Troy.
After one more album, ‘Any Mother Doesn’t Grumble’, Softley once again drifted away from the scene for ten years or so – eventually recording three now extremely hard to find solo acoustic albums for Doll Records of Switzerland, and subsequently retiring to Ireland.
by Phil McMullen
Disc 1 Sunrise 1970
1. Can You Hear Me Now? - 2:46
2. Waterfall - 2:09
3. Eagle - 4:25
4. Julia Argoyne - 2:30
5. Caravan - 3:03
6. If You're Not Part Of The Solution, You Must Be Part Of The Problem - 2:50