Saturday, May 29, 2021

Downchild Blues Band - Road Fever (1980 canada, splendid roots blues brass rock, 2003 remaster)

Downchild (originally Downchild Blues Band). Toronto blues band, named for the Sonny Boy Williamson song "Mr. Downchild." It was formed in 1969 by the lead and slide guitarist, harmonica player and singer Don (Mr. Downchild) Walsh (b Toronto 24 Mar 1947). Members have included the singers Rick (The Hock) Walsh (b 19 Dec 1948, d Toronto 31 Dec 1999) and Tony Flaim (b 1948, d 10 Mar 2000), who alternated with Downchild for more than 20 years, and the pianists Jane Vasey (b Winnipeg 1949, d Toronto 7 Jul 1982; a member 1973-82) and, as of 1987, Gene Taylor (b Norwalk, California, 2 Jul 1952).

Downchild first performed its spirited brand of jump-band and Chicago-style blues at Grossman's Tavern, Toronto, before moving onto the national club circuit. After the release of their first album, Bootleg, the group was signed by RCA. In 1973, the band's single "Flip, Flop and Fly" (from the LP Straight Up) was a Canadian hit; two other songs from that album, Walsh's "(I Got Everything I Need) Almost" and the Walsh brothers' "Shot Gun Blues," were recorded in 1978 by the Blues Brothers (Briefcase Full of Blues, Atlantic KSD-19217), and the songs' popularity brought Downchild several US engagements. Vasey's "Tryin' to Get Her 88s Straight" was a minor Canadian hit in 1980. Downchild slowed in the years immediately following Vasey's death (of leukemia) but made a comeback in 1987.

Downchild has included several trumpeters, saxophonists, bassists, keyboard players and drummers during its history and by 1990 more than 100 musicians had passed through the band, which has been, variously, a quintet, sextet and septet. Since the early 1990s the core of the band membership has comprised Donnie Walsh, guitar and harmonica; Chuck Jackson (b Toronto, 11 Mar 1953), vocals; Michael Fonfara (b Stevensville, Ont, 11 Aug 1946), keyboards; bassist Gary Kendall; drummer Mike Fitzpatrick; and Pat Carey, saxophone. By 1990 the group had toured Canada more than 25 times, appearing at folk festivals, the NAC, Ontario Place, etc, as well as in countless bars in towns and cities from coast to coast.

In 1991, Downchild received a Juno Award for best roots and traditional album (Gone Fishing). Individually the musicians have each earned several Maple Blues Awards and Downchild was awarded electric act of the year (2005), recording of the year (Come On In, 2005), and entertainer of the year (2005, 2006). 
The Canadian Encyclopedia
1. Road Fever (Jane Vasey) - 3:37
2. Stages Of Love (Jane Vasey) - 2:32
3. Caught In The Middle (Tony Flaim) - 3:55
4. Low Tide (Freddie King) - 4:06
5. Money Trouble (Tony Flaim) - 4:27
6. What You Gonna Do? (Don Walsh) - 2:50
7. Try To Fall In Love With Me (Don Walsh) - 3:28
8. You Don't Do (Jane Vasey) - 4:01
9. She Won't Come Home (Don Walsh) - 3:22
10.Half Ain't Been Told (James Burke Oden) - 2:28
11.T.V. Mama (Big Joe Turner) - 3:13

Downchild Blues Band
*Don Walsh - Guitar, Harmonica, Slide Guitar
*Jane Vasey - Piano, Vocals
*Tony Flaim - Lead Vocals
*Gary Kendall - Bass, Vocals
*Bob Heslin - Trumpet
*Larry Bodner - Sax
*Richard Howse - Sax

1971  Downchild - Bootleg (2007 edition)
1973  Downchild Blues Band ‎- Straight Up (Vinyl edition)

Friday, May 28, 2021

Pavlov's Dog - At The Sound Of The Bell (1976 us, gorgeous ballads prog and sheer exuberances, a little wonder, 2010 bonus tracks remaster)


I know, maybe it would have been better by reviewing the debut Pampered Menial (which was released in 1975) nut for some reason At The Sound Of The Bell landed first into my cd-player. Not that it is that important as for some reason (just like all the other fans do) these two albums form a holy duo.

Reviewing an album by this progrockband isn't the easiest of things as you either hate them or worship them, even if I still have to meet the first person who dislike Pavlov's Dog! These six guys who formed a band in St. Louis, Missouri are making prog-rock just like so many others did, but still their music is very, very different. The band were "big" listeners of British progrockbands like King Crimson, Soft Machine, Family, Gentle Giant and of course Genesis and they used these influences to make something quite unique.

It's not only the Bee Gees-voice from frontman David Surkamp which make Pavlov's Dog a godlike band. Nah, everything's perfect....from arrangment to the used ingredients. The album opens with a poppy (almost forgettable) She Came Shining but beneath the pop lies a layer of melancholic feelings. Cos yes, you'll cry on Standing Here With You, Mersey and you'll definitely burst out in tears once you reach Valkerie or Early Morning On.

Every song is perfect and I'm sure (at least that's in my case) you'll hear the album a thousand times once you discovered it and no (if I'm not counting King Crimson) then Pavlov's Dog is the sole progrockband in my collection, so there you go!

It's not the first time that this album (just like the debut Pampered Menial) got reissued but the version on Cherry Red is digitally remastered and even if there are no extra tracks on it, the cd comes with a mighty booklet in where you can finds lots of information about this essential band.

If you never tried Pavlov's Dog, you better do as changes are big they'll chance your life. And yes, these are the kind of albums you'll take to that famous island.... Classic.
by Didier Becu, 03/04/2013
1. She Came Shining (David Surkamp, Doug Rayburn) - 4:19
2. Standing Here With You (Megan's Song) - 3:52
3. Mersey (David Surkamp, Steve Scorfina) - 3:05
4. Valkerie - 5:21
5. Try To Hang On - 2:11
6. Gold Nuggets - 3:28
7. She Breaks Like A Morning Sky (David Surkamp, Doug Rayburn) - 2:28
8. Early Morning On (David Surkamp, Doug Rayburn) - 3:12
9. Did You See Him Cry (David Surkamp, Doug Rayburn) - 5:42
10.Gold Nuggets - 4:38
11.Standing Here With You (Megan's Song) - 4:07
12.Try To Hang On - 3:12
All songs by David Surkamp except where indicated
Bonus Tracks 10-12
Track 10 recorded live at Burg Herzberg Festival 2007
Tracks 11 - 12 recorded live at Ford Auditorium Detroit 1976

Pavlov's Dog
*David Surkamp - Lead Vocals, Veleno, Acoustic Guitars
*Steve Scorfina - Lead Guitar
*Tom Nickeson - Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals
*David Hamilon - Keyboards
*Doug Rayburn - Mellotron, Bass, Percussion
*Rick Stockton - Bass
*Martyn Ford Orchestra - Strings
*High Wycombe Parish Boys Choir - Chorus Vocals
*Elliot Randall - Guitar
*Les Nicol - Guitar
*Paul Prestopino - Mandolin
*George Gerich - Organ
*Mike Abene - Organ
*Andy MacKay - Saxophone
*Michael Brecker - Saxophone
*Gavin Wright - Violin
*Bill Bruford - Drums

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Russ Giguere - Hexagram 16 (1971 us, fine multi sunny beats, 2013 reissue)

In 1971, rhythm guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Russ Giguere departed the band’s ranks to pursue a solo career.  He teamed that year with the producer of The Association, John Boylan, to craft his Warner Bros. solo debut Hexagram 16.  With support from musicians including Jim Keltner, Russ Kunkel, Spooner Oldham, The Dillards’ Herb Pedersen, steel guitarist Buddy Emmons and The Flying Burrito Brothers’ Chris Ethridge, Hexagram was released to little fanfare.  It’s just made its CD debut from Real Gone Music. Real Gone’s CD, produced by the label’s Gordon Anderson, has no remastering credits, but shouldn’t disappoint.

“Now we begin, we’re reaching out to you/Now we begin, doing the thing that we do,” Giguere’s familiar voice intones over some gentle strums on “Now We Begin,” the first track on Hexagram 16.  Though an accomplished songwriter, he only wrote two songs on the album, turning over the balance of the tracks to writers including producer Boylan, Randy Newman, Judee Sill, Bill Martin, Association bandmate Jules Alexander, and even Smokey Robinson for a cover of “Shop Around.”  The solo voice introduced on “Now We Begin” momentarily jars, hearing Giguere’s plaintive instrument sans the billowy blend of Association harmonies.  But the acoustic folk-pop sound is just one of the many solo styles explored by the artist on Hexagram 16.

Future Eagle Bernie Leadon played guitar, along with Giguere, on “Begin.”  He also supplied the heavier licks on Boylan’s folk-rocking “Brother Speed,” first recorded by Boylan and his brother Terence the song in 1968 as Appletree Theater.  Judee Sill, one of the most original voices to emerge from the Laurel Canyon rock scene, accompanies Giguere on her own mini-western vignette “Ridge Rider.”  (Sill’s own rendition can be heard on her 1971 eponymous debut album.)  Jim Spheeris’ “Let It Flow” is a truly lovely, almost Byrds-ian track, in an even more explicitly country vein.

Sill and Leadon weren’t the only well-known guest musicians.  For Bill Martin’s impressionistic “My Plan,” Giguere enlisted Wrecking Crew vet Larry Knechtel (of Bread and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” fame) to play gothic organ, while The Association’s onetime producer Jerry Yester, his wife Judy Henske, and keyboardist Craig Doerge of The Section on the track’s ethereal, high harmonies.  Martin also supplied the considerably more relaxed “Rosarita Beach Café.”  The starriest track on Hexagram is a tough and funky remake of “Shop Around,” with Leadon, pianist Spooner Oldham and R&B legend Bobby Womack (also on guitar) joining Giguere, Merry Clayton, Clydie King and Venetta Fields on the soulful vocals.

Giguere affected an exaggerated voice for the rock-and-roll of his song “In New Germany,” but more naturally rocked on Randy Newman’s 12 Songs track “Lover’s Prayer.”  With Oldham doing his best boogie and Clayton leading Fields and King on the backups, it’s one of the best tracks on the LP.  As with so many rock covers of Newman tunes – think Tom Jones or Joe Cocker – Giguere’s version plays it straight on the lyrics that came off as dryly funny when sung by their composer in character: “Don’t send me no young girl to love me, With their eyes shinin’ bright/All the young girls are afraid of me, Send me a woman tonight…”

Hexagram 16 concludes with Jules Alexander’s “Pegasus,” orchestrated by Al Capps in Wagnerian style.  It ends the eclectic album on an offbeat and grandiose note, and indeed, perhaps Hexagram 16 was too diverse for its own good.  In the liner notes penned by Richie Unterberger, Giguere confesses, “It’s pretty hard to bag it, pretty hard to put it in a category.  Because it’s just music for music’s sake.”  True though that may be, it’s a more-than-worthwhile reissue for any fans of The Association eager to hear one of the group’s finest vocalists out front exploring his many facets and influences.
by Joe Marchese, August 7, 2013
1. Now We Begin (Russ Giguere) - 2:54
2. Brother Speed (John Boylan) - 3:44
3. Ridge Rider (Judee Sill) - 3:20
4. My Plan (Bill Martin) - 4:40
5. In New Germany (Russ Giguere) - 2:37
6. Rosarita Beach Cafe (Bill Martin) - 3:56
7. Lover's Prayer (Randy Newman) - 2:12
8. Let It Flow (Jimmie Spheeris) - 3:50
9. Shop Around (Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson) - 3:28
10.Pegasus (Jules Alexander) - 3:31

*Russ Giguere - Vocals, Guitar
*Bernie Leadon - Guitar
*Larry Knechtel - Celesta, Piano, Bass
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*Russ Kunkel - Drums
*Jules Alexander - Guitar
*Ben Benay - Guitar, Bass, Harmonica
*Bobby Womack - Guitar
*Buddy Emmons - Guitar
*Judy Sill - Guitar
*Herb Pederson - Banjo
*Bob West - Bass
*Chris Ethridge - Bass
*John Boylan - Bass
*Lyle Ritz - Bass
*Tony McCashen - Bass
*Bob Brookmeyer - Brass
*Bud Childers - Brass
*John T. Johnson - Brass
*Lew McCreary - Brass
*Roy Caton - Brass
*Don Beck - Mandolin
*Bill Perkins - Woodwind
*Bud Shank - Woodwind
*Gene Cipriano - Woodwind
*Emil Richards - Percussion
*Jungle Giguere - Percussion
*Spooner Oldham - Piano
*Clydie King - Backing Vocals
*Craig Doerge - Backing Vocals
*Fat John - Backing Vocals
*Herb Pederson - Backing Vocals
*Jackie Allen - Backing Vocals
*Jerry Yester - Backing Vocals
*Judy Henske - Backing Vocals
*Julia Rinker - Backing Vocals
*Merry Clayton - Backing Vocals
*Vanetta Fields - Backing Vocals

with the Association
1966-69  The Association - Original Album Series (2016 five discs box set)  

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

White Witch - A Spiritual Greeting (1974 us, integrating prog, glam, psych elements into something of a hard rock sampler)

Formed in Tampa, Florida by guitarist Buddy Richardson, a veteran of the late-60s and early-70s Florida scene (The Outsiders, Soul Trippers, Noah's Ark), White Witch played an eclectic mix of psychedelia, prog, power pop, heavy Southern rock and glam rock, with painted faces, powerful vocals and some strange lyrics. 

They developed a devoted live following around the southeast, and their two albums (on Capricorn Records) are highly rated by some, ignored by others. Flashy vocalist Ronn Goedert was renowned for his histrionics; he sounded like a more glam Robert Plant. Some say he influenced Axel Rose, but that's debatable. Goedert passed away in 2000, as did keys man Buddy Pendergrass in 2003. Remaining members have played sporadically over the years. Highlights include "Home Grown Girl" from the first LP. "Showdown", "Class of 2000", and "Walk On" from 'Spiritual Greeting'.

Regardless of their obscurity, White Witch was versatile, often surprising, and always listenable. Lead singer Ron Goedert was a vocal chameleon, and the band was equally adept at playing heavy and with finesse. The addictive "Showdown" sounds like a gutsier version of Supertramp or a poppier Deep Purple, and trippy tracks, "Crystallize and Realize" and "Class of 2000" could almost pass for lightweight early Genesis. "Walk On," the album's best song, is a lilting stroll that would stand out on any of the Kinks' '70s concept albums. 

While the group's philosophy is never exactly clear, lyrics referencing the Book of Revelations and Jean Harlow (in a single song) make for interesting listening. And whether sounding like a leather-lunged Brit screamer or a ringer for Ray Davies, Goedert delivers even when the songwriting doesn't. Although A Spiritual Greeting was, in fact, the band's farewell, it's a satisfying slice of  hard rock. 
by James A. Gardner
1. We'll All Ride High (Money Bags$) - 5:02
2. Slick Witch - 4:50
3. Walk On - 3:36
4. Class Of 2000 - 6:14
5. Showdown - 4:06
6. Crystallize And Realize - 3:54
7. Black Widow Lover - 4:52
8. Auntie Christy/Harlow - 5:15
All songs by Buddy Pendergrass, Buddy Richardson

The White Witch
*Buddy Richardson - Guitars
*Bobby Shea - Drums
*Ron Goedert - Vocals
*Buddy Pendergrass - Keyboards
*Charlie Souza - Bass, Percussion
*Bill Peterson - Percussion

Monday, May 24, 2021

Armageddon - Armageddon (1975 uk / us, extraordinary heavy prog rock with Keith Relf, 2010 japan SHM remaster)

Cynics who perceive many super-groups as nothing more than bloated extrapolations of, at times, perfectly mundane musical components, can back up their assumptions with Armageddon's eponymous debut from 1975. The first and final spawn of the would-be-super-group featuring former Yardbird vocalist Keith Relf, erstwhile Captain Beyond drummer Bobby Caldwell, ex-Steamhammer guitarist Martin Pugh, and Relf's Renaissance partner, bassist Louis Cennamo, the album contains a meager five tracks -- four of which extend beyond the eight-minute barrier due to bouts of arguably unnecessary, self-indulgent waffling. On the other hand, this was the '70s, people, and of course this sort of excess was par for the course, back then. What's more, these same dubious qualities actually contributed to the album's eventual adoption as a precursor to the stoner rock movement by dope fiends everywhere, most of whom rarely heard a lengthy jam session they couldn't nod approvingly to. 

Whatever one's opinion, the quartet's admirable pedigree unquestionably yielded some inspired songwriting, and even memorable improvisational moments within driving opener "Buzzard," the gently whimsical post-psych ballad "Silver Tightrope," and the 11-minute, prog rock smorgasbord of "Basking in the White of the Midnight Sun" (boasting four subtitled movements). Like the LP's sole conventionally sized offering, the Pugh-dominated "Paths and Planes and Future Gains," as well as its bluesiest, loosest jam, "Last Stand Before" (where Relf finally whips out his famous harmonica), these songs all fall significantly short of their obvious objective, Led Zeppelin, but fare quite nicely in comparison to more down-to-earth contemporaries like Budgie, Hawkwind, or the interconnected Captain Beyond. 

Upon release, Armageddon was met with wildly polarized love/hate critical reviews and actually skimmed the lower reaches of the American charts; but very infrequent live shows and Relf's shocking death by accidental electrocution the following year put an end to the band's hopes. A few half-assed reunions took place in years to come but, thankfully, none proved serious enough to yield any Relf-less Armageddon recordings, thus guaranteeing the enduring cult status of this far from perfect, but intriguing and understandably one-of-a-kind LP. 
by Eduardo Rivadavia
1. Buzzard - 8:16
2. Silver Tightrope - 8:23
3. Paths And Planes And Future Gains - 4:30
4. Last Stand Before (Bobby Caldwell, Keith Relf, Martin Pugh, Louis Cennamo) - 8:23
5. Basking In The White Of The Midnight Sun - 11:30
..a. Warning Coming On - 1:00
..b. Basking In The White Of The Midnight Sun - 3:03
..c. Brother Ego (Bobby Caldwell, Keith Relf, Martin Pugh, Louis Cennamo) - 5:10
..d. Basking In The White Of The Midnight Sun Reprise - 2:18  
All compositions by Bobby Caldwell, Keith Relf, Martin Pugh except where stated
*Keith Relf - Lead Vocals, Harp, Harmonica
*Martin Pugh - Electric, Acoustic Guitars
*Bobby Caldwell - Drums, Vocals, Piano, Assorted Percussion
*Louis Cennamo - Bass, Electric Bowed Bass Guitars

Related Acts
with the Yardbirds
1963-68  The Yardbirds - Glimpses (five disc box set, 2011 release)
1964  The Yardbirds - Five Live Yardbirds (2007 Repertoire digi pack with extra tracks)
1965  The Yardbirds - For Your Love (japan 2018 mono edition)
with Renaissance
1969  Renaissance - Renaissance (2008 remaster)
1970  Renaissance - Illusion (2010 bonus tracks remaster)

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Dr. Strangely Strange - Heavy Petting And Other Proclivities (1970 ireland, amazing folk rock, with young Gary Moore, 2011 remaster with bonus tracks)

On their first album, Irish band Doctor Strangely Strange declared themselves to be "strangely strange but oddly normal," and by their time of their second effort, 1970's Heavy Petting, it's possible that "oddly normal" no longer applied. The spiritual cousins of the Incredible String Band, although less rooted in folk traditions, their music flitted around like a butterfly, rarely settling anywhere for long -- and certainly never for the length of an entire song. "Gave My Love an Apple," for example, begins as a folk ditty, and then morphs into an extended electric bluesy guitar solo that has little to do with what went before.

Childlike in its innocence, the album seems eager to taste all the possible flavors of music in a short span, making it a miracle that it holds together at all, let alone as well as it does. For make no mistake, Heavy Petting is something of a hippie joy. Joe Boyd's production is pristine, and the playing is well above the amateur standard of so many bands of the ilk, even if the frequent left turns of the material -- try "Summer Breeze" and "When Adam Delved" as examples -- makes things disorienting, but in a good way. If you're willing to expect the unexpected, you'll love it. 
by Chris Nickson

Dr Strangely Strange were Ireland's answer to the Incredible String Band, a delightfully quirky outfit whose vinyl releases have become collectors' items – and rightly so. Now digitally remastered, and with out-takes and live tracks added in, this set was originally released in 1970, and includes fine, fluid early guitar solos from the great Gary Moore, then a teenager. 

The songs match surreal lyrics against an engagingly bizarre kaleidoscope of styles; Moore's blues-rock is intercut with ragtime, country (including a burst of the Patti Page favourite, Tennessee Waltz), acoustic traditional and medieval styles, along with church music and carols, with Jove Was at Home suddenly segueing into a triumphant Gloria, Hosanna in Excelsis. There is also inventive vocal harmony work – which sounded particularly impressive.
by Robin Denselow, Thu 3 Nov 2011 
1. Ballad Of The Wasps (Tim Goulding) - 3:23
2. Summer Breeze (Tim Booth) - 3:39
3. Kilmanoyadd Stomp (Ivan Pawle) - 2:44
4. I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes (Tim Goulding) - 1:55
5. Sign On My Mind (Ivan Pawle) - 8:26
6. Gave My Love An Apple (Tim Booth) - 6:07
7. Jove Was At Home (Ivan Pawle) - 2:37
8. When Adam Delved (Ivan Pawle) - 2:11
9. Ashling (Tim Booth) - 4:42
10.Mary Malone Of Moscow (Tim Goulding) - 3:55
11.Goodnight My Friends (Ivan Pawle) - 1:50
12.Sign On My Mind (Ivan Pawle) - 9:06
13.Gave My Love An Apple (Tim Booth) - 5:39
14.Horse Of A Different Hue (Tim Goulding) - 4:44
15.Ballad Of The Wasps (Tim Goulding) - 3:07
16.Sweet Red Rape (Tim Booth) - 6:07
17.Lady Of The Glen (Ivan Pawle) - 2:57
18.The Prisoner (Medley) (Tim Booth, Tim Goulding) - 3:14
Tracks 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10 recorded at Eamonn Andrews Studios, Dublin
Tracks 1, 4, 7, 9 recorded at Sound Techniques Studios, London
Tracks 12, 13 Outtakes from the Dublin sessions
Tracks 14, 15, 16 Recorded Live in Autumn 1970
Track 17 Edited Version for use on an unissued Single
Track 18 Excerpt from a Film Soundtrack recorded in September 1983 

Dr. Strangely Strange
*Ivan Pawle - Organ, Bass, Mandolin, Bass, Rhythm Guitar, Tin Whistle, Human Whistle, Voices, Vocals, Keyboards, Harmonium, Piano
*Tim Booth - Banjo, Vocals, Voices, Guitar, Keyboards, Harmonium, Rhythm Guitar, Bass
*Tim Goulding - Organ, Bass Recorder, Voices, Vocals, Recorder, Keyboards, Fiddle, Piano, Violin, One-String Fiddle, Harmonium
*Dave Mattacks - Drums, Percussion
*Jay Myrdal - Glockenspiel
*Heather Wood - Vocals
*Brendan Shields - Bass Guitar
*Johnny Mounthay - Bouzouki
*Annie Xmas - Harmonium, Vocals
*Brush Shiels - Bass
*Johanna - Harmonium, Vocals, Keyboards, Cover Photo
*Annie Christmas - Keyboards, Vocals
*Linus - Percussion, Autoharp, Whistle, Finger Cymbals, Voices, Vocals
*Gary Moore - Guitar
*Andy Irvine - Mandolin
*Heather Woods - Vocals

Friday, May 21, 2021

Darryl Way's Wolf - Canis Lupus (1973 uk, creation of shifting moods, incorporating classical, rock, and jazz elements, 2008 japan SHM bonus tracks remaster)

The 70s continue to be a repository of stimulating music that new and old labels don’t stop digging out. Well, this is not all gold that glitters, but several forgotten works resurface, coming as surprises to newcomers and as useful reminders to those who had already known them in their youth. A case in point is Wolf, the group founded by Darryl Way after leaving Curved Air (Keyboardist Francis Monkman left too in the same period). It was in 1972, the band had just released their third album, Phantasmagoria, the peak of their creativity as well as of their chart success. 

The blond fiddler’s new group consisted of guitarist John Etheridge, Canadian bass player Dek Messecar and drummer Ian Mosley. These names did sound new to rock fans, but this was balanced by the producer’s one: Ian McDonald, former King Crimson sax player. In those days, an actual guarantee. In Curved Air, Way’s counterpart had been Francis Monkman’s keyboards, whilst in Wolf this role was taken up by John Etheridge’s jazzy guitar — in retrospect, already walking on the road that would lead him to Soft Machine and his solo career. 

The leader also plays some keyboards, mainly electric piano and synth. Dek Messecar’s vocals cannot compare with Sonja Kristina’s, and besides that instrumental tracks use to look more interesting. This is the case of "Cadenza," mixing reminiscences of "Vivaldi," the famous Curved Air hit, with rock accents and powerful synth episodes. Echoes of Curved Air can still be heard in "Chanson sans paroles." "McDonald’s Lament", dedicated to the producer, is arguably the best track, with Way’s violin reaching lyrical peak.
by Jeff Melton, 2009-07-01 
1. The Void (Darryl Way) - 4:35
2. Isolation Waltz (Darryl Way, Dek Messecar) - 4:37
3. Go Down (Darryl Way, Dek Messecar) - 4:45
4. Wolf (Darryl Way, Dek Messecar) - 4:06
5. Cadenza (Darryl Way, Ian Mosley) - 4:48
6. Chanson Sans Paroles (Darryl Way, John Etheridge) - 6:28
7. McDonald's Lament (Darryl Way, Dek Messecar, Ian Mosley, John Etheridge) - 7:10
8. Spring Fever (Darryl Way) - 3:29
9. Wolf (Single Version) (Darryl Way, Dek Messecar) - 4:05
Bonus tracks 8-9

Darryl Way's Wolf
*Darryl Way - Violin, Viola, Keyboards
*John Etheridge - Guitar
*Dek Messecar - Bass, Vocals
*Ian Mosley - Drums
*Ian McDonald - Piano, Tambourine

1974  Darryl Way's Wolf - Night Music

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Dr. Strangely Strange - Kip Of The Serenes (1969 ireland, beautiful tender hippie folk, 2002 and 2009 remaster and expanded)

The fact that the Stranglies were Dublin-based, friends of The Incredible String Band and managed and produced by Joe Boyd should be enough to allow you, in your mind’s ear, to hear them. Thankfully, however, it’s not that simple. The title of the opener, Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal explains some of their everlasting charm and deserved cult status, for this album is a rich and rewarding mix of both. Dr Dim & Dr Strange underlines their debt to The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter but, on tracks such as Roy Rogers, they are more oddly normal, more approachable than the ISB. 

Their song structures often belie the homely, but nevertheless very genuine weirdness of the lyrics – just listen to On The Westcork Hack for evidence.The variety in their playing and instrumentation, the Stranglies’ love of counterpoint and, above all, the sheer fun in the songs makes Kip… a sheer joy from start to finish.  Highly recommended and oddly
by Jan Zarebski, 28 March 2009
1. Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal (Ivan Pawle) - 4:28
2. Dr. Dim And Dr. Strange (Tim Goulding) - 7:33
3. Roy Rogers (Tim Booth) - 5:37
4. Dark Haired Lady (Ivan Pawle) - 4:25
5. On The West Cork Hack (Tim Goulding) - 2:32
6. Tale Of Two Orphanages (Tim Booth) - 3:49
7. Strings In The Earth And Air (Ivan Pawle) - 6:38
8. Ship Of Fools (Tim Goulding) - 6:18
9. Frosty Mornings (Ivan Pawle) - 3:59
10.Donnybrook Fair (Tim Booth) - 8:48
11.Mirror Mirror (Ivan Pawle) - 4:39
12.West Cork Hack (Tim Goulding) - 3:11
13.Strings In The Earth And Air (Ivan Pawle) - 2:06
14.Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal (Ivan Pawle) - 5:59
Bonus Tracks 11-14 only on 2009 edition

Dr. Strangely Strange
*Ivan Pawle - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Whistle, Electric Guitar
*Tim Booth - Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Bass, Vocals
*Tim Goulding - Piano, Hammond Organ, One-String Fiddle, Electric Piano, Melodic, Whistle, Vocals 
*Jay Myrdal – Glockenspiel
*Linus - Vocals, Percussion

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Vince Martin - If The Jasmine Don't Get You... The Bay Breeze Will (1969 us, fantastic jazzy folk psych rock, 2006 remaster)

Vince Martin first emerged in the late 1950s as a folk-blues singer around Greenwich Village...of the tendency which kind of avoided the academic approach. A friend of commercial folk-pop group The Tarriers, he was the lead singer on their 'Cindy Oh, Cindy' 45, a monster hit and one of the first real big successes to emerge from the Folk Boom. Vince, lending not only a gritty edge of authenticity, but a note of wistful yearning no amount of study can bring, in the early 1960s, gravitated toward the intense club nights presented by black activist and broadside editor, Len Chandler. Starting a celebrated partnership with fellow maverick Fred Neil which stretched over live appearances which influenced a generation, David Crosby, Mama Cass, Richie Havens, you name them... and cutting an acclaimed and now-classic album for Elektra.

It was Vince who started the to-ing and fro-ing of the folk scene players between Greenwich Village and Florida's Coconut Grove, a place he discovered by chance in 1961, later immortalized in a song by Fred Neil covered by everyone. All of this is perfectly captured on Vince Martin's 1969 album, If the Jasmine Don't Get You ... The Bay Breeze Will, one of that decade's overlooked gems, and a record whose title truly says it all, and whose time has come. From the opening cut, 'Snow Shadows,' the sound is an airy blend of folk spirit and rock dynamics. Softly brushed drums push forward behind propulsive flat-picked twin acoustic guitars; Martin's high tenor sings of romantic loss, quivering over the lines 'Stumbling through the snow..../Nothing waitin' for me like I'm leaving behind..../Cities are meant for leaving before I get too black and blue.' 

As the song builds, the drummer dramatically downshifts, cracking his snare with a full stick. Martin's voice in turns seems to lift off with a thrilling effect, soaring, as he croons, 'Heading south without you like a wild bird flying blind/Someone should have told me I'd never go home.' Produced by infamous A&R man/producer Nickolas Venet at Capitol's studio in Nashville, Tennessee, this record came in out on Capitol releases which included Euphoria, Gandalf, and Karen Dalton's self titled album... strange company indeed
1. Snow Shadows - 06:59
2. I Can't Escape From You (Hank Williams) - 03:14
3. Summerwind - 03:46
4. Danville Girl (Traditional) - 04:36
5. Yonder Comes The Sun - 08:09
6. Jasmine - 13:17
Words and Music by Vince Martin except where noted

*Vince Martin - Vovcals, Guitar
*Charles R. McCoy - Harmonica
*Fred F. Carter, Jr. - Guitar
*Henry P. Strzelecki - Bass
*John Buck Wilkin - Guitar
*Kenneth Buttrey - Drumms
*Lloyd Green - Dobro, Steel Guitar
*Murrey M. Harman, Jr. - Drums

Monday, May 17, 2021

Sam Gopal - Escalator (1969 uk / malaysia, essential underground acid psych rock, 2010 xtra tracks remaster)

It has been more than fifty years since the formation of UK psychedelic rockers Sam Gopal, a quartet who took their name from their tabla player and percussionist. The band recorded a lone album “Escalator” recorded in October and November 1968, engineered by Barry Ainsworth and Andy Jones and produced by Trevor Walters at De-Lane Lea and Morgan Studios. It was released in March 1969 on the tiny British label, Stable Records. The album’s eleven tracks are joined by both sides of a promo single, and feature lead vocals as well as lead and rhythm guitar by a young, Ian Willis, who would go on to join British psychedelic legend’s Hawkwind in 1971, before becoming a founding member and front man, lead vocalist and bassist of heavy metal giants Motorhead under his birth name of Ian Kilmister, although being much better known by his nickname “Lemmy.” The band consisted of Gopal and Lemmy, jointed by Roger D’Ella on lead, acoustic and rhythm guitars and Phil Duke on bass guitar. 

“Escalator” consists of five tunes written by Lemmy, four credited to the band, and two cover tunes, “Angry Faces” pennedy by Leo Davidson, and a memorable rendering of the often covered Donovan Leitch classic “Season Of The Witch.” The band’s 45 pairs a Lemmy song “Horse” with an incredibly heavy cover of Willie Dixon’s blues staple “Backdoor Man” best known for its recording by Jim Morrison and The Doors. With its heavy groove of guitars, bass and tablas, Sam Gopal’s recording is even more raucous than that of The Doors and is unquestionably one of, if not the, best documents of the group’s recorded legacy.

“Escalator” opens with the group composition “Cold Embrace” a hard rocker filled with fuzzed out guitars, a thundering bass line and gorgeously echoed vocals by Lemmy. In addition to its roaring lead line the track features a soaring guitar solo. Another tune credited to the band, “The Dark Lord” is another heavy rocker, reminiscent of Black Sabbath, with fuzz guitar layered over a luscious lead line and tablas underneath and a monster guitar solo. Lemmy’s “The Sky Is Crying” is much gentler, with flamenco style acoustic guitar and gorgeous vocals. “You’re Alone Now” has a raga intro leading up to a climbing guitar solo and a false stop before returning to its Eastern influenced sound with gorgeous, crisp acoustic guitar to the fore. “Grass” is a gorgeous number, with incredibly clean sounding guitar, tablas and vocals, its rolling acoustic guitar solo giving it a lovely raga feel. Side one closes with “It’s Only Love” bringing The Yardbirds to mind, with its rather gentle psychedelic intro before the tempo changes about a minute in as the guitars heat up. Midway through the just short of five minute track it settles into a melodic groove of guitars, tablas and gorgeous vocals as the song and side come to an end.

The title track is a hot rocking whose fuzz filled guitars and frenzied vocals are joined by Gopal’s familiar tablas. The tempo speeds up at the two minute mark building to a crescendo as a fuzz guitar solo pushes the song’s final minute. “Angel Faces” a cover penned by Leo Davidson opens with thunderstorm sound effects giving way to delicate flamenco guitar, its lovely, lead guitar line joined by relentless acoustic guitar adding to its infectious texture. Swirling fuzz guitars race throughout the band original “Midsummer Nights Dream” highlighted by yet another soaring mid-tune solo. The group’s four and a half minute cover of Donovan’s “Season Of The Witch” opens with a thundering bass intro, followed by an insistent guitar riff before Lemmy’s vocal enter, Gopal’s tabla work keeping time. Gorgeous female backing vocals and thundering drums set the song apart before tablas and smoking guitars play the tune out. The album closes with the gentlest tune of Lemmy’s career, “Yesterlove” has a delicate acoustic guitar intro with tablas and chimes adding texture supplemented Lemmy’s heavily echoed vocals and horns added for good measure. The song, with its trippy vibe and even more Eastern influence is the perfect closer to the album. 

Cherry Red adds both sides to Sam Gopal’s promo single as bonus cuts. “Horse,” a Lemmy composition is a rocker, with screaming guitars and nicely echoed fuzz work. Mid-tune fuzzed out guitars take over as the pace quickens with tablas and guitars forcing the beat. At the three minute mark fuzzed, feedback laden guitar takes over and plays the song out. The b-side of the 7” is the band’s take on “Backdoor Man.” The song’s heavy groove is a combination of chugging guitars, bass and tablas. The pulsating beat is heavier than The Doors’ with the lead guitar stabbing in and out, before a fuzz filled solo takes over. The driving beat is relentless as Lemmy’s vocals are screamed and howled over the top as the lead guitar slashies to a swirling outro. With two such strong performances it is truly a pity that the single never received proper release. It could have supplied the spark the band and album needed to break out. Sadly it was not to be, and the band broke up soon after the release of “Escalator.” The package comes in a standard jewel case, with a 16 page full color booklet containing an essay by Marco Rossi, band photos, album artwork and complete track and recording information.
by Kevin Rathert
1. Cold Embrace - 3:20
2. The Dark Lord - 3:40
3. The Sky is Burning (Ian Willis) - 2:30
4. You're Alone Now - 3:41
5. Grass (Ian Willis) - 4:03
6. It's Only Love (Ian Willis) - 4:18
7. Escalator (Ian Willis) - 2:49
8. Angry Faces (Leo Davidson) - 4:03
9. Midsummer Night's Dream - 2:14
10.Season of the Witch (Donovan Leitch) - 4:27
11.Yesterlove (Ian Willis) - 4:55
12.Horse (Ian Willis) - 3:33
13.Back Door Man (Willie Dixon) - 3:06
All songs by  Sam Gopal, Ian Willis, Roger D'Elia, Phil Duke except where noted
Bonus tracks 12-13

Sam Gopal
*Sam Gopal -  Tabla, Percussion; Drums 
*Ian Willis (Lemmy Kilmister) - Vocals, Lead, Rhythm Guitar
*Roger D'Elia - Lead, Rhythm, Acoustic Guitar 
*Phil Duke - Bass Guitar

Sunday, May 16, 2021

The Don Harrison Band - The Don Harrison Band (1976 us, pleasant country bluesy classic rock, 2004 edition)

Solo performers seemed to have two options back in the '70s: take the oft-ill-fated supergroup route or weave a band around their name. Music industry pundits sure found the latter route amusing, since nobody knew Harrison before he started working with Creedence Clearwater Revival's Stu Cook and Doug Clifford. Guitarist Russell DaShiell also plays a key role behind the board (he's credited as a remixer). 

The band flies out of the gate with a funky, punchy, to-the-point remake of "16 Tons," the poor-man's lament associated with Tennessee Ernie Ford; however, his version brims with a rootsy confidence that outshines the more conventional readings turned in by other performers. "Rock 'N' Roll Records" is a sly inversion of the rebellious-teen-versus-parents cliché ("They kick off their shoes and get down with the blues/But you were too young to know"). "Sweetwater William" is an equally agreeable slice of boogie pop about a roving musician ("Just ask him the time and he'll sing you a song"). "Fame and Fortune" tackles Dixieland-style territory that's similar to the Band's work along those lines. Harrison's blustery vocal style gets plenty of room on the country weeper "Barroom Dancing Girl." DaShiell's songs are, by turns, lovelorn ("Sometimes Loving You") and love-struck, respectively ("A Bit of Love"); his guitar work is low-key but impressive throughout the proceedings. 

Cook and Clifford lay down the unassuming groove that made them one of rock's most reliable rock sections (though they get a brief, impressive percussive interlude on "Sometimes Loving You"). The only misstep is "Living Another Day," a look at the professional musician's lifestyle that sounds like a schlockier Elton John instead. Although this album's been cutout-bin fodder for years, it's a real sleeper that merits another listen by roots music lovers.
by Ralph Heibutzki
1. Sixteen Tons (Merle Travis) - 2:59
2. Who I Really Am (Don Harrison) - 3:03
3. Rock 'N Roll Records (Don Harrison) - 2:40
4. Fame And Fortune (Don Harrison) - 3:57
5. Sometimes Loving You (Russell Da Shiell) - 5:45
1. Romance (Don Harrison) - 3:04
2. Sweetwater William (Russell Da Shiell) - 2:34
3. Barrom Dancing Girl (Don Harrison) - 3:56
4. A Bit Of Love (Russell Da Shiell) - 2:53
5. Living Another Day (Don Harrison) - 4:30

The Don Harrison Band 
*Stu Cook - Bass, Piano, Harmony Vocal
*Russell Da Shiell - Lead And Rhythm Guitar, Piano, Harmony Vocals
*Doug Clifford - Drums, Percussion, Harmony Vocals
*Don Harrison - Singer, Rhythm Guitar, Keyboards

Related Act

Friday, May 14, 2021

Jack Hardy - Jack Hardy (1971 us, excellent folk outlaw country rock, 2010 korean remaster)

John Studebaker Hardy was born in South Bend, Ind., on Nov. 23, 1947. His mother, Lillian, is a painter; his father, Gordon, is a musician and the past dean of students at the Juilliard School and a past president of the Aspen Music Festival.

Young Jack grew up in New York City, Aspen, and Durham, Conn.. He graduated from the University of Hartford, where he edited a student newspaper and in 1969 was convicted of libeling President Nixon for publishing a vulgar cartoon depiction of him. (The conviction, and a $50 fine, were overturned on appeal.) He moved to the Village in 1973. 

Since the late 1970s and up until recently, when he entered the hospital, Mr. Hardy was the host of Monday night workshops at his railroad flat on West Houston Street. Songwriters from as far away as Boston and Philadelphia would come to share a pasta dinner and their brand-new songs. Critiques were expected; the rule was that no song was supposed to be more than a week old, a dictum, Mr. Hardy said, that forced writers to write. Ms. Colvin, Ms. Vega and Mr. Lovett are all alumni.

In the early 1980s, after Bob Dylan had gone electric and folk music had been shunted aside by disco and punk, Mr. Hardy helped found a musical cooperative for like-minded folkies. It established a performance space and made more than 1,000 low-budget recordings of local performers and distributed them to subscribers and radio stations, along with a newsletter, under the rubric the Fast Folk Musical Magazine. 

Jack Hardy passed away in Manhattan, on March 11, 2011, he was 63. The cause was complications of lung cancer.
by Bruce Weber, March 12, 2011
1. Ain't Never Found A Good Woman - 3:57
2. I've Lost A Very Pretty You - 3:08
4. Backyard In Kansas - 3:43
5. Talk To Me, Babe - 3:00
6. Mostly Jeri's Song - 3:15
7. .45 Caliber Man - 3:49
8. I'm Still Dreaming - 3:38
9. Now We Are Three - 3:20
10.Ballad Of McLaughin (Beneath The Rain) - 3:38
11.Daisy Girl - 2:56
12.Kathleen - 7:09
Music and Lyrics by Jack Hardy

*Jack Hardy - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Larry Gottlieb - Electric, Acoustic 12 String Guitar, Backing Vocals, Bass
*Bill Walach - Bass, Harp, Mandolin, Pedal Steel Guitar
*Dick Coleman - Drums

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Primevil - Smokin' Bats At Campton's (1974 us, hard raw proto-stoner)

Indianapolis based, Primevil's only album, Smokin' Bats at Campton's (Dave Campton being their lead singer; "bats" being, well, you know), was originally recorded in 1974, but only found its way onto CD some 20 years later. Now, the record is frequently cited as a bona fide stoner rock touchstone (whether anyone could find a copy to be influenced by or not, in the interim), and its eight cuts run a wide gamut featuring surprisingly refined songcraft and impressive musicianship, as well as semi-improvised efforts and unfocused jam waffling. 

The best qualities among these are all exemplified within the opening trio set off by the standout "Leavin'," with its acoustic passages and stop-start riffs, the hard-driving "Progress," with its funky bass, wailing harp and twin guitar midsection, and the instrumental six-string showcase "Fantasies," which recalls Fly by Night-era Rush, but was in fact recorded one year earlier. On the other hand, forgettable rockers like "Pretty Woman" and "Tell Me If You Can" don't fare nearly as well, stumbling on some truly awful lyrics from Campton amid their boring, sub-Cactus-like thud. Likewise, the white-knuckled romp, "Hey Lover," was allegedly whipped together in one night -- and sounds like it, but at least it possesses a certain rough charm à la Sir Lord Baltimore. 

Back on firmer ground, the memorable "High Steppin' Stomper" actually shows traces of glam rock (must be that hand-clapping and boot-stomping), but then the closing "Your Blues" screws it up again by offering nothing but -- you guessed it -- lazy blues jams, serving no foreseeable purpose aside from framing some searing lead guitar flights, and acting as album filler. Even with all of these inconsistencies, though, Smokin' Bats at Campton's is a true relic that's still well worth excavating by stoner rock enthusiasts, who are bound to enjoy its sporadic triumphs as much as they'll be captivated by its modest D.I.Y. origins. 
by Eduardo Rivadavia
1. Leavin' (Dave Campton, Larry Lucas, Mark Sipe) - 3:53
2. Progress (Dave Campton, Mark Sipe) - 3:25
3. Fantasies (Jay Wilfong) - 6:00
4. Pretty Woman (Dave Campton, Larry Lucas, Mark Sipe, Mel Cupp) - 3:11
5. Tell Me If You Can (Dave Campton, Jay Wilfong, Larry Lucas, Mark Sipe, Mel Cupp) - 5:20
6. Hey, Lover (J Winoker, Dave Campton, Larry Lucas, Mark Sipe, Mel Cupp, Jay Wilfong) - 2:36
7. High Steppin' Stomper (Dave Campton, Jay Wilfong, Mark Sipe) - 4:27
8. Your Blues (Dave Campton, Jay Wilfong, Mark Sipe) - 7:24

*Dave Campton - Lead Vocals, Harp, Percussion
*Jay Wilfong - Electric Guitar, Vocals
*Mark Sipe - Bass
*Larry Lucas - Electric, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Mel Cupp - Drums

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Quiver - Gone In The Morning (1972 uk, strong folk country rock, 2008 reissue)

Gone in the Morning is Quiver's follow-up to their self-titled debut, which was somewhat successful in the U.K., but invisible on American shores, as was this disc. It wasn't until three of the members hooked up with the Sutherland Brothers that the band got any recognition stateside. Cal Batchelor's contributions are what differentiate this group from the band that merged with Iain Sutherland and his brother Gavin, Batchelor having written or co-written eight of the nine tracks here. Tim Renwick's "Green Tree" is more laid-back and the only title not written by or with Batchelor. Renwick played the recorder on Jackie Lomax's Apple releases, and was a member of Junior's Eyes, and musically this Chris Thomas production sets the stage for what the three minstrels who carried the name on would do in the future. 

There's a nice George Harrison guitar riff that begins the solo on "Love/No Boundaries," and the pop of that song works better than the pseudo-country which keeps seeping through, as on "I Might Stumble." The title track, "Gone in the Morning," is not a bad song, but at nine minutes, it descends into a jam before it re-emerges and concludes -- and that is perhaps the downside with Quiver and this record. There is more focus on riffs and pedestrian jamming than musical experimentation, and a song like "Fung-Kee Laundry," all 55 seconds of it, is a succinct and prime example of what transpires in the middle of the title track. "She's a Lady" is a weird combination of country/reggae/blues

It's competent, well-played, well-produced, but goes nowhere. The real magic is when the worlds of Quiver and the Sutherland Brothers collided, and this excellent group got to perform on some meaty material. Or maybe this quartet didn't translate well to record, the Warner Brothers hype around Quiver was that they were "one of England's best loved live groups" -- which begs the question, why not a live album to launch them? "Don't Let Go" is the most musical and exciting piece on this disc; eerie guitars and vocals conclude the record with some promise. 

Cal Batchelor was from British Columbia, which might explain the heavy American music styles that permeate this British group; indeed, some of the material sounds like the Canadian offshoot of the Guess Who that was Brave Belt. Gone in the Morning is an interesting artifact, but the end result is a competent disc which doesn't beg repeated listening. Roger Daltrey sang "it's the singer not the song," and this album proves him wrong. It's definitely the song that matters. 
by Joe Viglione
1. Dorset, I Know You So Well - 3:05
2. I Know You So Well - 3:02
3. Green Tree (Tim Renwick) - 2:26
4. Love/No Boundaries - 3:39
5. I Might Stumble - 3:37
6. Gone in the Morning - 8:59
7. Fung-Kee Laundry (Terry Thomas, Cal Batchelor, Tim Renwick, John Wilson) - 0:58
8. She's a Lady - 3:09
9. Don't Let Go (Terry Thomas, Cal Batchelor, Tim Renwick, John Wilson) - 3:59 
Akk songs by Cal Batchelor except where indicated

*Tim Renwick - Guitar 
*Cal Batchelor - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals 
*Bruce Thomas - Bass 
*John 'Willie' Wilson - Drums

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Simon And Garfunkel - Live (1969 us, gorgeous live perfomance a tender portrait of an often innocent time, 2008 remaster)

Live 1969 collects Simon & Garfunkel performances from a six-city run, which culminated in a two-night engagement on their New York home turf.

By the late 1960s, Simon & Garfunkel had become the folk establishment. The duo-- who had been together since their teenage years, when they were known as Tom and Jerry-- were unfailingly polite, earnest, and very, very serious, singing gorgeous harmonies and guided by their belief in popular music as big-statement art. Even as they drew inspiration from the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 60s, they were never quite part of it, and never quite so stringent as some of their peers-- simultaneously too straight-laced and too ambitious. Dispensing studious allusions to Dylan Thomas, Robert McNamara, and Frank Lloyd Wright, they were and remain primarily unthreatening and accessible, which forty years later makes them an ideal gateway act to the weirder, harsher, more complex folkies of the 60s counterculture. Since the duo's infamous break-up, how many teenagers have closed themselves up in their rooms poring over the lyrics to even Simon & Garfunkel's most overwrought songs (like the high school poetry of "The Dangling Conversation") before graduating to Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, or Fred Neil?

Their status as a jumping-off point for further musical exploration might explain their durable legacy even four decades later, but Simon & Garfunkel have a deeper, more consistent catalog than most of their peers. For all their politeness, they still took risks, still tried to innovate, as this document of their short 1969 tour proves. Released exclusively to Starbucks with a wider release planned tentatively for this fall, Live 1969 collects performances from their six-city run, which culminated in a two-night engagement on their New York home turf. Along the way, they premiered new songs from their forthcoming album, which would be titled Bridge Over Troubled Water and would prove to be their swan song. Part of the pleasure of listening to Live 1969 is hearing early versions of "Why Don't You Write Me" and "Song for the Asking" and imagining what it would have been like to hear them with fresh ears, well before they became lodged in the American music culture. As Art Garfunkel remarks, "This is also one of our new songs. It's called 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'." Five and a half minutes later, the hall erupts in rapturous applause.

Another part of this album's appeal is hearing Simon & Garfunkel's backing band rip through numbers like "Mrs. Robinson" and even "The Boxer". Having already played on their two previous albums, the ensemble-- Joe Osborn on bass, drummer Hal Blaine, pianist Larry Knechtel, and Nashville picker Fred Carter Jr.-- give these songs a spark of energy, loosening them up where the studio versions were tight and tasteful. When someone in the audience yells for more piano, Garfunkel replies, "The keyboard should be louder, huh? What label do you produce for?" That's pretty dickish stage banter, but sure enough, a few songs later Knechtel's more prominent piano puts extra bounce in "Why Don't You Write Me?", which here sounds like it should be a break-out hit.

In addition to offering proof that someone once yelled for "Richard Cory", Live 1969 represents a turning point for Simon & Garfunkel. By this point they were all but broken up, with Garfunkel ready to try an acting career and Paul Simon destined for a more productive solo venture. They played some of their last live dates together on this tour, and wouldn't play together again until their official reunion thirteen years later (unless you count their brief reunions on "Saturday Night Live" in the 1970s). The tension with which their partnership famously ended is nowhere apparent on Live 1969, although Simon seems to hang back while Garfunkel dominates, introducing the songs and running through Simon's composition "Bridge Over Troubled Water" solo.

Ultimately, Live 1969 succeeds on the merits of its tracklist, which mixes hits like "Homeward Bound" and "The Sound of Silence" with lesser-known tracks like "For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her", "Leaves That Are Green", and the lone unreleased cover, "That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine", which had previously been covered by their heroes the Everly Brothers. Late on the album, the back-to-back sequencing of the quiet, self-consciously poetical "Sound of Silence" with the defiantly self-delusional "I Am a Rock" feels particularly inspired-- two takes on loneliness whose contrast makes it possible to hear both songs somewhat afresh. In fact, that seems to be the primary and most compelling goal of this belated release: to let us hear these songs as if for the first time, as a means to reconsider the two men behind them.
by Stephen M. Deusner
1. Homeward Bound - 3:04
2. At The Zoo - 2:07
3. The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) - 1:55
4. Song For The Asking - 2:28
5. For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her - 2:37
6. Scarborough Fair - Canticle (Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel) - 3:56
7. Mrs. Robinson - 4:44
8. The Boxer - 4:46
9. Why Don't You Write Me - 2:56
10.So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright - 3:55
11.That Silver-Haired Daddy Of Mine (Jimmy Long, Gene Autry) - 3:11
12.Bridge Over Troubled Water - 5:24
13.The Sound Of Silence - 3:52
14.I Am A Rock - 3:36
15.Old Friends - Bookends  - 3:22
16.Leaves That Are Green - 3:23
17.Kathy's Song - 3:53
All songs by Paul Simon except where stated
Tracks 1,4,8,9,11 recorded November 15, 1969 Long Beach Arena, CA
Track 2 recorded November 27, 1969 Carnegie Hall, NY
Tracks 3,7,10,13,14 recorded November 8, 1969 Carbondale, IL
Track 5,17 recorded circa November, 1969 St. Louis, MO
Track 6, 12 recorded November 28, 1969 Carnegie Hall, NY
Track 15 recorded November 1, 1969 Toledo, OH
Track 16 recorded October 31, 1969 Detroit, MI

*Paul Simon -  Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Art Garfunkel -  Vocals
*Fred Carter Jr. -  Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
*Larry Knechtel -  Keyboards
*Joe Osborn -  Bass
*Hal Blaine -  Drums, Congas

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Rick Derringer - Joy Ride (1973-80 us, fine groovy guitar rock, 2017 four discs set)

Never one to be pigeon holed into one style of music, guitarist and singer Rick Derringer had already had mainstream success in 1965 with The McCoys and their hit "Hang On Sloopy" by the time he released his first solo album in 1973. Anyone expecting a repeat of the slick pop tunes would be delighted and confused, Derringer already setting the tone for what was to come by ranging his attack from pop to country, blues to hard rock. The key thing being that he did them all so well.

All American Boy was the name of the album and with everyone from Joe Walsh to Suzi Quatro and Bobby Caldwell to Edgar Winter contributing, this was an all star affair and yet it's the songs that Derringer wrote that really take top billing. "Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo" is still a rock radio staple to this day, while "Teenage Love Affair" has been paid respect through countless cover versions over the years. With the easy groove of "It's Raining" and mature country tinged pop of "The Airport Giveth (The Airport Taketh Away)" offering a completely different mood, there's no surprise that while sounding loosely of its time, All American Boy has aged remarkably well. Something that the Patti Smith co-write, "Hold" and two segueing instrumentals "Joy Ride" and "Time Warp" (not the Rocky Horror "Time Warp") ensure.

Two years later and Spring Fever was in the air, Derringer's second album again featuring Edgar Winter heavily as it continued the focused diversity of its predecessor. "Gimme More" opens with a rock and roll boogie shuffle that's simply irresistible - Winter's piano right at the heart of things - while "Tomorrow" could almost have fitted onto a Cheap Trick album had those dream police softened their stance. With "Don't Ever Say Goodbye" pulling at the heartstrings, and "Still Alive And Well" pulsating through the blasts of Winter's sax and Derringer's pinpoint guitar solo, the A-side of this album positively burst with life. However featuring a loosely reggae version of "Hang On Sloopy" and one of the darkest versions of Rufus Thomas's "Walkin' The Dog", the flip side was hardly lagging behind; Dan Hartman also showing up to provide some backing vocals.

Considering how confident and assured those first two solo albums were, the real surprise came when the solo man formed the band Derringer, and between 1976 and 1978 released three studio albums and one (arguably two) live disc(s). All of which can also be found on the HNE/Cherry Red box-set, The Complete Blue Sky Albums 1976-1978. However, by '79 Derringer - via "hidden" studio work for Kiss - was back in solo mode. Guitars And Women is a potent mix in anyone's book and yet even with Todd Rundgren contributing (and co-producing) and many of his Utopia bandmates also on show, the third solo album from Derringer is possibly the least hard hitting. Instead it feels like there's more of an eye on mainstream success, hooky choruses and slick backing vocals making "Something Warm", the album's title track and "Desires Of The Heart", good time rockers that make a strong, if hardly world changing impact. Still, the performances from Kenny Aaronson, Myron Grombacher, Rundgren and Derringer are sharp and precise, although in some ways that's maybe the issue. Still, "Need A Little Girl (Just Like You)" adds a little more guitar grit, just as "Man In The Middle" builds a groove that's hard to ignore.

The final album included in this set originally landed in 1980, Face To Face finding Derringer teaming up with bassist Donnie Kisselbach. The pair split the songwriting on the album and while it leans on the poppy-rocky-prog of Guitars And Women, the results are a much less forced set of songs. "Runaway" pulls in numerous directions, reminding of everyone from ELO to Supertramp via Cheap Trick, while "Big City Loneliness" is almost a Paul McCartney like slowie. With "Burn The Midnight Oil" a big bold rocker and "Let The Music Play" almost veering into 10CC territory, the real surprise comes as live versions of "Jump Jump Jump" (from All American Boy) and the Neil Young classic "My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)" focus on a bluesy guitar side that is the polar opposite of the studio cuts - especially when the studio take of the good time rock and roll of "I Want A Lover" falls in between the pair. Somehow the disparity it creates actually heightens the experience, highlighting the class on show as it does so.

Brought together in a stunning clam-shell box and with excellent liner notes from Malcolm Dome (which Derringer contributes to) a total of six bonus tracks appear across three of the four discs. Admittedly these take the form of five 'mono' versions of songs featured elsewhere in the boxset and a single edit of "Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo", but if you're a completist, you won't be complaining.

Having worked with as diverse a cast as Patti Smith, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Bonnie Tyler, the Winter Brothers and many, many more over the years, the compositional and guitar skills of Rick Derringer have never been in doubt. Here however one of the often overlooked areas of his career has a welcome spotlight turned upon it, Joy Ride: Solo Albums 1973-1980 living up to its name in more ways than one.
by Steven Reid, October 1st 2017
Disc 1 All American Boy 1973
1. Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo - 3:43
2. Joy Ride (Instrumental) - 1:50
3. Teenage Queen - 3:30
4. Cheap Tequila - 2:44
5. Uncomplicated - 3:40
6. Hold (Rick Derringer, Patti Smith) - 3:13
7. The Airport Giveth (The Airport Taketh Away) - 2:49
8. Teenage Love Affair - 3:20
9. It’s Raining - 2:04
10.Time Warp - 2:53
11.Slide On Over Slinky - 4:21
12.Jump, Jump, Jump - 5:59
13.Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo (Single Edit) - 2:54
14.Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo (Mono) - 2:54
15.Teenage Love Affair (Mono) - 2:34 
All songs by Rick Derringer except where noted
Bonus Tracks 13-15
Disc 2 Spring Fever 1975
1.Gimme More - 3:37
2. Tomorrow - 3:33
3. Don’t Ever Say Goodbye - 4:34
4. Still Alive And Well - 3:16
5. Rock - 4:42
6. Hang On Sloopy (Bert Russell, Wes Farrell) - 3:06
7. Roll With Me - 3:32
8. Walkin’ The Dog (Rufus Thomas) - 4:10
9. He Needs Some Answers - 3:18
10.Skyscraper Blues - 3:51
11.Hang On Sloopy (Mono) (Bert Russell, Wes Farrell) - 3:06
12.Don’t Ever Say Goodbye (Mono) - 3:26 
All tracks by Rick Derringer except where stated
Bonus Tracks 11-12
Disc 3 Guitars And Women 1979
1. Something Warm - 3:30
2. Guitars And Women (Myron Grombacher, Rick Derringer) - 3:35
3. Everything - 3:18
4. Man In The Middle (Myron Grombacher, Rick Derringer) - 3:18
5. It Must Be Love (Rick Nielsen) - 3:39
6. Desires Of The Heart (Myron Grombacher, Rick Derringer) - 4:00
7. Timeless - 4:34
8. Hopeless Romantic - 3:02
9. Need A Little Girl (Just Like You) (Rick Nielsen) - 3:29
10.Don’t Ever Say Goodbye - 3:38 
All selections by Rick Derringer except where indicated
Disc 4 Face To Face
1. Runaway (Donnie Kisselbach, Rick Derringer) - 4:37
2. You’ll Get Yours (Rick Derringer) - 4:59
3. Big City Loneliness (Larry Sloman, Rick Derringer) - 3:58
4. Burn The Midnight Oil (Donnie Kisselbach) - 5:34
5. Let The Music Play (Donnie Kisselbach, Rick Derringer) - 3:25
6. Jump, Jump, Jump (Rick Derringer) - 7:12
7. I Want A Lover (Rick Derringer) - 3:23
8. My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue) (Jeff Blackburn, Neil Young) - 6:09
9. Let The Music Play (Mono, Bonus Track) (Donnie Kisselbach, Rick Derringer) - 3:25 

1973  All American Boy
*Rick Derringer - Electric, 12-String Acoustic Guitar, Pedal Steel Guitar, Bass, Tambourine, Lead Vocals
*Bobby Caldwell - Drums
*Carl Hall - Backing Vocals
*Lani Groves - Backing Vocals
*Tasha Thomas - Backing Vocals
*Joe Lala - Congas, Cowbell
*Joe Walsh - Electric Guitar
*Paul Harris - Piano
*Kenny Passarelli - Bass
*Joe Vitale - Drums
*David Bromberg - Dobro
*Edgar Winter - Electric, Acoustic Piano, Organ, Synthesized Clavinet
*Jean "Toots" Thielemans - Chromatic Harmonica

1975  Spring Fever 
*Rick Derringer - Electric, Rhythm Guitar, Bass, Sitar, Vocals 
*Chick Corea - Moog Synthesizer, Synthesizer 
*Dan Hartman - Vocals
*George I. Isaac - Drums
*Alston Clewelyn Jack - Drums 
*David Johansen - Harmonica
*Allan Nicholls - Vocals 
*Paul Prestopino - Mandolin, Vocals
*Emmanuel Riley - Drums
*John Siegler - Bass
*John Siomos - Drums
*Doris Still - Vocals
*Toots Thielemans - Harmonica
*Edgar Winter - Arp Strings, ARP Synthesizer, Keyboards, Marimba, Organ, Piano, Saxophone, Slide Guitar, Synthesizer, Vocals
*Johnny Winter - Guitar 

1979  Guitars And Women
*Rick Derringer - Guitar, Vocals, Bass
*Neil Giraldo - Guest Artist, Guitar, Piano
*Myron Grombacher - Composer, Drums, Guest Artist
*Benjy King - Keyboards, Vocals
*Donnie Kisselbach - Bass, Composer, Vocals
*Roger Powell - Guest Artist, Organ, Sound Effects, Synthesizer, Synthesizer Strings
*Todd Rundgren - Engineer, Guest Artist, Producer, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
*Kasim Sulton - Bass, Guest Artist, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
*Jimmy Wilcox - Drums, Vocals 

1980  Face To Face
*Rick Derringer - Bass, Composer, Guitar, Primary Artist, Producer, Vocals
*Benjy King - Keyboards, Vocals
*Donnie Kisselbach - Bass, Composer, Vocals
*Jimmy Wilcox - Drums, Vocals