Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Strange Days - 9 Parts To The Wind (1975 uk, exciting epic prog glam rock, 2011 remaster)

One of the better British progressive one-offs has finally gotten the CD treatment it has long deserved. Led by guitarist, singer and songwriter Graham Ward, the four-piece was the standard g/k/b/d configuration, with a fairly high profile for keyboardist Eddie Spence. The six songs from the album proper reflect a fairly wide range of ideas and styles, with a penchant for elaborate arrangements and suite-length multi-part compositions. Each of the pieces focuses on a story, lyrically not unlike Genesis in their Selling England period, although the music and arrangements might better recall the Strawbs in their post-folk mid-70s period, or even the best of Crime-era Supertramp. 

The opening cuts from each side of the original LP tend to be more catchy, hook-filled pieces with strong melodies and standard song structures, yet bearing all the aforementioned qualities. The remaining songs are the more lengthy (as in seven-to-ten minute) multi-part song suites, often laced with a slight sense of humor that make this album essential for any serious fan of mid-70s style progressive rock.  It's good to finally have this on CD, this one is essential.
by Peter Thelen, 01/01/2008
1. 9 Parts To The Wind - 4:28
2. Be Nice To Joe Soap - 6:45
3. The Journey - 10:02
4. Monday Morning - 4:03
5. A Unanimous Decision - 8:24
6. 18 Tons - 7:29
All compositions by Graham Ward 

Strange Days
*Graham Ward - Vocals, Lead Guitar
*Eddie McNeil - Drums, Percussion
*Phil Walman - Vocals, Bass
*Eddie Spence - Keyboards 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Star Spangled Banger - Star Spangled Banger (1973 australia / uk, magnificent folkish psych rock with prog shades, 2008 bonus track remaster)

Star Spangled Banger was a short-lived studio project that resulted in a sole self-titled album and single on the Melbourne Havoc Records label in 1973. With Havoc closing soon after its release, the album was quickly deleted and, over the years, has grown in stature, becoming one of the rarest Australian records ever. This is a hugely enjoyable mix of English flavored progressive rock (Family, Cressida), reflective piano ballads, with a hint of Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band like lunacy. Principal songwriter John Brownrigg (vocals, guitar), Ron Walters (vocals, piano, organ) and drummer Paul Doo formed Star Spangled Banger in 1972 from the ashes of their former band The Sect. 

Brownrigg originally hailed from Liverpool and had played in several bands during the Merseybeat boom of the early Sixties – as his own brick on the Cavern Club wall of fame attests. Signed to Havoc in late 1972, the band were put into the studio with engineer/producer (and soon to be Aztec) Gil Matthews.

Armed with a stack of sound effects records, the album was recorded at odd hours (in-between Matthew’s day-job at Havoc and his night-time one as new drummer for the Aztecs) and resulted in an eclectic mix of progressive rock, protest songs and ballads – with a healthy dose of humour (witness: “Fancy Underpants”!). Added to this mix are: explosions, backwards tapes, crazy keyboards, nuclear explosions, crashing aeroplanes and fuzzed out psych guitar.
1. Fear Of The Night (Ron Walters) - 3:50
2. Question Of The Country - 4:15
3. Run (Move Away) (Ron Walters, John Brownrigg) - 2:26
4. Fancy Underpants - 1:03
5. Suite 3 (Ron Walters) - 5:26
6. Protestor Man - 1:53
7. Sailing (Ron Walters) - 3:10
8. Country Son (For Bot) - 1:53
9. Pull Together - 3:01
10.One Out – Two In - 3:43
11.Continental (Ron Walters) - 4:51
12.Don’t You (Ron Walters, John Brownrigg) - 3:32
13.Thanks To You - 3:40
14.Star Spangled Banger - 5:05
15.Star Spangled Banger (Previously Unreleased Edit) - 4:21
All songs by John Brownrigg except where indicated

Star Spangled Banger
*John Brownrigg - Vocals, Electric, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Bottle, Oscillator
*Ron Walters - Vocals, Electric, Acoustic Piano, Hammond Organ, Electric Guitar 
*Paul Doo - Drums, Percussion 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Pure Prairie League - Two Lane Highway / If The Shoe Fits (1975-76 us, fantastic country southern rock, 2017 SACD hybrid)

By 1975 Craig Fuller, who had written all but two songs for the "Bustin" Out album, had moved on to join American Flyer, so George Powell pulled in Hinds and Call from the first two albums, added Michael Connor (keyboards), Larry Goshorn (lead guitar) and Mike Reilly (bass) for 1975’s “Two Lane Highway”. Larry Goshorn (ex-Sacred Mushroom) has replaced Fuller as the main songwriter in the band. Nice moments including the title track, "Runner," and a humorous tribute to country music legend Merle Haggard. They recorded in Hollywood and Nashville and utilized such guests as Chet Atkins, Johnny Gimble, Don Felder and Emmylou Harris. Alongside group originals they featured Gene Clark’s Kansas City Southern, Tom McGrail’s  Pickin’ To Beat The Devil and the humorous I’ll Change Your Flat Tire, Merle. 

“If The Shoe Fits” features the same PPL line-up, though this time the band members co-wrote much of the material with each other, giving the whole album a more cohesive vibe.  However, that’s not apparent from the opening revival of the Crickets’ That’ll Be The Day, which sounds at odds with the rest of the album—despite it being a rather good rendition. That is the only outside song, though Sun Shone Brightly was penned by Tim Goshorn, younger brother of Larry, who was to join the band a year after the album was recorded.
1. Two Lane Highway (Larry Goshorn) - 4:06
2. Kentucky Moonshine (Larry Goshorn) - 2:33
3. Runner (George Ed Powell) - 2:44
4. Memories (Larry Goshorn, Richard Qualmer) - 2:57
5. Kansas City Southern (Gene Clark) - 2:57
6. Harvest (Larry Goshorn) - 3:41
7. Sister's Keeper (George Ed Powell) - 3:48
8. Just Can't Believe It (Mike Reilly) - 2:23
9. Give Us A Rise (George Ed Powell, William Frank Hinds) - 2:32
10.I'll Change Your Flat Tire, Merle (Nick Gravenites) - 2:10
11.Pickin' To Beat The Devil (Thomas J. McGrail) - 2:57
12.That'll Be The Day (Buddy Holly, Jerry Allison, Norman Petty) - 2:10
13.I Can Only Think Of You (Larry Goshorn, Mike Reilly) - 2:36
14.Sun Shone Lightly (Tim Goshorn) - 4:01
15.Long Cold Winter (George Ed Powell, Larry Goshorn, Mike Reilly) - 3:18
16.Lucille Crawfield (George Ed Powell) - 4:04
17.Gimme Another Chance (Larry Goshorn) - 3:40
18.Aren't You Mine (George Ed Powell, William Frank Hinds) - 3:45
19.You Are So Near To Me (George Ed Powell) - 4:33
20.Out On The Street (Larry Goshorn) - 3:10
21.Goin' Home (Larry Goshorn) - 3:28

Pure Prairie League
*George Powell - Guitar, Vocals, Vocals
*Larry Goshorn - Guitar, Vocals
*Michael Reilly - Bass, Vocals
*Billy Hinds - Drums
*John David Call - Banjo, Dobro, Steel Guitar, Vocals
*Michael Connor - Keyboards
*Vincent DeRosa - French Horn
*Don Felder - Mandolin
*Johnny Gimble - Fiddle, Violin
*Emmylou Harris - Vocals
*Jimmie Haskell - Orchestration
*John Rotella - Clarinet, Keyboards 
*Chet Atkins - Guitar

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Saturday, June 26, 2021

Montage - Montage (1969 us, impressive baroque psych, 2001 bonus tracks remaster)

After leaving the Left Banke, Michael Brown -- who had been the group's chief artistic force as principal songwriter, arranger, and keyboardist -- worked with Montage to continue in the splendid Baroque pop/rock vein of his early recordings with the Left Banke. 

Montage sounds far more like the real follow-up to the Left Banke's first LP, Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina, than the actual one, The Left Banke, Too. This is because after the first LP the band's three singers had sadly parted ways with keyboardist and prime songwriter Michael Brown, who instead became Montage's mentor/mastermind. (It's a long story: Brown's dad was managing the band to the distrust of the other members and Brown, like Brian Wilson, similarly disdained touring in favor of staying home to write and record.) 

And though Brown was not technically a Montage member, he not only wrote all the music and produced this LP, but he also played all the trademark piano and organ and charted the vocal arrangements. Yet the four New Jersey no-names he found clearly translated his vision of extraordinarily lush, unspeakably beautiful orchestral chart pop. Like Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina, and much like the Zombies' Odessey & Oracle, Montage seizes you from the moment the opening cascade of voices showers you on the fantastic "I Shall Call Her Mary." Then next comes the LP's biggest achievement, the strings-piercing, downbeat bomb "She's Alone" -- truly as remarkable as any similar Beatles moment (think "Eleanor Rigby"), so full of its cello mourn and a melody from the gods. 
by Jack Rabid
1. I Shall Call Her Mary (Michael Brown, Tom Feher) - 2:25
2. She's Alone (Bert Sommer, Michael Brown) - 3:03
3. Grand Pianist (Bert Sommer, Michael Brown) - 2:30
4. Men Are Building Sand (Bert Sommer, Michael Brown) - 2:14
5. Desiree (Michael Brown, Tom Feher) - 2:48
6. The Song Is Love (Bert Sommer, Michael Brown) - 1:46
7. Tinsel And Ivy (Michael Brown, Tom Feher) - 2:31
8. An Audience With Miss Priscilla Gray (Michael Brown, Tom Feher) - 2:02
9. My Love (Tom Feher) - 3:00
10.Wake Up Jimmy (Something Is Happening Outside) (Bert Sommer, Michael Brown) - 3:12
11.The Mirror (Bert Sommer) - 2:43
12.Thor And Or (Michael Brown) - 3:05
13.The Song Is Love (Bert Sommer, Michael Brown) - 1:45
14.Desiree (Michael Brown, Tom Feher) - 2:41
Bonus Tracks 11-14

*Vance Chapman - Drums, Lead Vocals
*Lance Cornelius - Bass, Vocals 
*Mike Smyth - Lead Guitar, Vocals 
*Bob Steurer - Lead Vocals
*Michael Brown - Keyboards, Producer, Vocal Arrangement

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Friday, June 25, 2021

Hopney - Cosmic Rockout (1977 us, amazing acid bluesy psych guitar rock, 2001 remaster)

Hopney's (Patrick Hearns) "Cosmic Rockout" is a rare 1977 US guitar psych album from Florida that was produced by Mike Pinera of Blues Image and Iron Butterly fame. Featuring some cool fuzz guitar work with melodic vocals this is reminiscent of Jeff Liberman with plenty of free flowing Hendrixy guitar work and a cool '70's funky vibe. 
1. Long Ago Far Away (Patrick Hearns, B.H.) - 3:33
2. Another Goudy Night (Patrick Hearns) - 2:56
3. Down For The Count (Patrick Hearns, Phineas, F. Fattier) - 2:51
4. I Must Get Thru (Patrick Hearns, Mike Pinera) - 3:43
5. Don't Say No (Patrick Hearns) - 5:21
6. Hey Girl (T.M.) - 3:07
7. Love Trop (Patrick Hearns, Phineas) - 2:48
8. No Particular Home (Patrick Hearns) - 5:37
9. Is There A Doctor In The House (Patrick Hearns, Phineas, Junkie Judie, M. Pritcher) - 4:13
10.I Can't Stop Now (Patrick Hearns) - 3:20

*Patrick Hearns "Hopney" - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Mike Pinera "Kingpin" - Lead Guitar, Vocals, Producer
*Catman Keys - Keyboards
*Richard Paulie Ross - Bass
*Steven Myers - Bass, Vocals
*Peter Brown - Drums
*Ronald "Rocky" Brooks - Drums

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Harvey Mandel - Shangrenade (1973 us, exceptional funky jazz rock)

This classic 1973 vintage album is a must. It contains some of the first recorded examples of the 'two handed tapping' technique.

Employing a distinctive two-handed finger-tapping method that many guitarists including Eddie Van Halen later mimicked, Shangrenade implements this on over 85% of the album. Teaming up once again with Don “Sugarcane” Harris of Don & Dewey fame, Mandel put out a record that was years before it’s time in the realm of psychedelic guitar. Incorporating sustain effects to replace strumming, he overdubs himself several times intertwining snake-like guitar licks and interjecting whammy-bar whines. Recommended to every aspiring axeman.

Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1945 and raised in Chicago, Harvey had a brief stint playing bongos before switching to guitar. He used little Fender amps at first, using different tricks, and eventually used an all-tube, low quality Bogan PA amplifier. It had the greatest natural sustain, according to Mandel. Mandel became the original guitarist with Charlie Musselwhite, releasing the debut album Stand Back! in 1966.

A pioneer of modern electric blues from Chicago, Harvey Mandel developed and mastered sustained and controlled feedback, displaying both extroversion and musical virtuosity. He has performed with many blues legends including Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, Albert King, and Buddy Guy. 
1. What the Funk (Victor Conte) - 3:06
2. Fish Walk (Victor Conte) - 4:46
3. Sugarloaf (Harvey Mandel) - 4:16
4. Midnight Sun II (Harvey Mandel) - 3:42
5. Million Dollar Feeling (Coleman Head) - 3:32
6. Green Apple Quick Step (Harvey Mandel) - 3:09
7. Frenzy (Victor Conte, Coleman Head, Paul Lagos, Harvey Mandel) - 4:32
8. Shangrenade (Harvey Mandel) - 4:14

*Harvey Mandel - Guitar
*Mark Skyer - Vocals, Guitar
*Coleman Head - Rhythm Guitar
*Danny Keller - Drums
*Paul Lagos - Drums
*Ray Lester - Bass
*Richard Martin - Vocals
*Victor Conte - Electric Upright Bass
*Bobby Lyle - Clavinet, Piano
*Bobby Notkoff - Strings
*Don "Sugarcane" Harris - Electric Violin 
*Fred Roulette - Steel Guitar

1968  Harvey Mandel - Cristo Redentor (2003 remaster and expanded)
1969-70  Harvey Mandel - Righteous / Games Guitars Play (2005 remaster)

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

John Dummer - John Dummer's Famous Music Band / Blue (1970/72 uk, outstanding blues rock, 2011 two disc set remaster)

Anthony John Dummer was born in 19th November 1944 in Surbiton, and started his musical career round mid sixties with the short lived Junior Ervine and The midnight Hours, after which he answered a Malody Maker ad for a blues singer, before evolving with the Muskrats and the Grebbells, and lasted until the early 70s, surviving numerous personnel changes. The line-up included prominent British blues artists such as pianist Bob Hall, guitarist Dave Kelly and his sister Jo Ann Kelly, Mike Cooper, and Tony McPhee. The band backed touring American artists John Lee Hooker and Howlin’ Wolf, and recorded albums for Mercury and Vertigo between 1969 and 1973. 

In late 1970 guitarist Dave Kelly left the band and was replaced by Nick Pickett who took over the songwriting, and change their name to John Dummer's Famous Music Band dropping the "Blues" signifier from their name, the band decided on further modification. The band moved slightly away from their original blues roots, but didn’t really find the commercial success they deserved. These albums, released in 1971 and 1972 on the Fontana and Vertigo labels.
Disc 1 John Dummer's Famous Music Band 1970
1. Lady Luck - 3:33
2. Changes - 3:08
3. Love Ain't Nothing But Sorrow (John Dummer) - 2:12
4. Run Around - 2:33
5. Yes Sir, She's My Baby Now - 4:03
6. Boogie Woogie Lullaby - 1:57
7. Coming Home - 3:58
8. Searching For You - 2:42
9. Nine By Nine - 3:19
10.Move Me, Don't Leave Me - 2:00
11.Going In the Out (John Dummer) - 2:03
12.No Change Now - 5:20
13.Fine Looking Woman - 2:55
14.Green Leaves - 1:04
All songs by Nick Pickett except where noted
Disc 2 Blue 1972
1. If I Can't Keep From Laughing - 6:48
2. Medicine Weasel - 4:48
3. Rambling Boy - 3:13
4. Me and Your Boogie - 4:00
5. Time Will Tell - 3:25
6. The End Game - 3:55
7. Me and the Lady - 9:28
All songs by Nick Pickett

Famous Music Band
*John Dummer - Drums, Vocals
*Nick Pickett - Guitar, Harmonica, Organ, Percussion, Piano, Vibraphone, Violin, Vocals
*Adrian Pietryga - Guitar, Vocals 
*Thumper Thomson - Bass
*John Fairweather - Harmonium (Disc 1)
*Chris Trengove - Alto Saxophone (Disc 1)

Monday, June 21, 2021

John Dummer's Oobleedooblee Band - Oobleedooblee Jubilee (1973 uk, solid blues classic rock, 2005 remaster)

John Dummer's Oobleedooblee Band is actually the continuation of John Dummer's Blues Band, this gem was released in 1973 at a time when the music contained therein had fallen out of fashion.  The result was that sales were extremely low and few copies now exist!!!!  A truly beautiful piece of popular music history, with some killer heavy bottleneck guitar from Dave Kelly!!
1. Passing Through (Dave Kelly) - 2:45
2. Hello L.A. Bye Bye Birmingham (Bonnie Bramlett, Ray Davies) - 3:50
3. Oobleedooblee Jubilee (Traditional) - 2:40
4. I've Been Scorned (Roebuck Staples) - 9:00
5. Lovin' Man (Jo-Ann Kelly) - 3:40
6. The Monkey Speaks His Mind (Dave Kelly) - 3:43
7. Fairy Tale (Ian Thomson) - 4:45
8. Sometimes (Adrian Pietryga) - 4:00
9. Too Much Monkey Business (Chuck Bery) - 2:45

The Oobleedooblee Band
*Dave Kelly - Guitar, Vocals
*Adrian "Putty" Pietryga - Guitar, Electric Piano
*Ian "Thumper" Thomson - Bass, Vocals
*John Dummer - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
*Kingsley Ward - Piano
*Roger Brown - Vocals
*Jo Ann Kelly - Vocals

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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Flied Egg - Dr. Siegel's Fried Egg Shooting Machine (1972 japan, glorious prog rock epic inventive and enjoyable, 2003 japan remaster)

Dr. Siegel's Fried Egg Shooting Machine was originally released back in 1972, and the members of the band included Shigeru Narumo (guitar, acoustic guitar, hammond organ, piano, Moog synthesizer, harpsicord, distorted organ, chelesta, vocal, equalized vocal, harmony, toy instruments, sound effects), Hiro Tsunoda (drums, percussion, lead vocal, high boosted vocal, harmony, toy instruments, jokes, noise), and Masayoshi Takanaka (bass, bowing guitar, acoustic guitar, vocal, harmony, toy instruments), who previously were called Strawberry Path.

The music on Dr. Siegel's Fried Egg Shooting Machine is mainly early 70's styled hard rock with bits of prog, and the obvious comparisons are Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, Iron Butterfly, and Birth Control, especially due to Narumo's heavy use of the Hammond organ and electric guitar. Heavy tracks are mixed with more passionate, pop/prog pieces, so there's plenty of variety to be had. Acid guitar freakouts like "Burning Fever" mesh with gorgeous pop numbers such as "I Love You", but then you have the Heep influenced heavy rock & prog gems like "Rolling Down the Broadway", "Plastic Fantasy", and "Guide Me to the Quietness" to really tug at your musical tastebuds. The heavy riffs and raging Hammond on "I'm Gonna See My Baby Tonight" are quite effective, and the dueling solos will bring to mind the glory days of Blackmore & Lord. For lovers of ELP, check out Narumbo's nimble piano, Moog, & Hammond lines on the wild "Oke-Kas", a tune that would certainly make Keith Emerson proud.

The vocals here are in English, and they are actually not bad, but the real highlights are the splendid musical performances that these three players delivered, and some really kick ass songs that will scratch that early 70's hard rock & prog itch for those that just can't get enough of recordings from that era. Awesome stuff! 
by Pete Pardo, November 29th 2011
1. Dr. Siegel's Fried Egg Shooting Machine (Christopher Lynn, Shigeru Narumo) - 6:05
2. Rolling Down The Broadway (Christopher Lynn, Shigeru Narumo) - 4:34
3. I Love You (Christopher Lynn, Hiro Tsunoda) - 3:32
4. Burning Fever (Shigeru Narumo) - 3:14
5. Plastic Fantasy (Christopher Lynn, Masayoshi Takanaka) - 6:07
6. 15 Seconds Of Schizophrenic Sabbath (Shigeru Narumo) - 0:17
7. I'm Gonna See My Baby Tonight (Christopher Lynn, Masayoshi Takanaka) - 5:33
8. Oke-Kus (Shigeru Narumo) - 4:37
9. Someday (Christopher Lynn, Hiro Tsunoda) - 4:00
10.Guide Me To The Quietness (Christopher Lynn, Shigeru Narumo) - 6:07

Flied Egg
*Shigeru Narumo - Electric, Acoustic Guitar, Hammond Organ, Piano, Moog, Harpsichord, Celesta, Vocals, Toy, Effects
*Masayoshi Takanaka - Bass, Bowed, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Toy
*Hiro Tsunoda - Drums, Percussion, Lead Vocals, Toy, Sounds

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Gandalf The Grey - The Grey Wizard Am I (1972 us, rough acid folk psych, 2003 edition)

One could make the argument that J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings fantasy trilogy (published 1954-1955) had as significant a formative influence on the emergent hippie generation as did Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) or Joseph Heller's Catch-22 (1961). Certainly you can hear it in the twee archaisms of British folk from the era and in the more whimsical, otherworldly strains of British psychedelia (the Incredible String Band comes immediately to mind), and, in time, it would saturate '70s prog rock. It is right there, too, as a catalyst in American folk-rock (perhaps Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair/Canticle," probably the Byrds' "Renaissance Fair") and Baroque pop (Sagittarius' Present Tense, Love's "Forever Changes"), and ultimately in its acid folk (Perry Leopold's dark masterpiece Christian Lucifer). 

But Chris Wilson took the inspiration to its logical extreme on The Grey Wizard Am I. His nom de guerre, appropriated from the novels, is the ultimate homage, while many of the lyrics on the album were directly inspired by Tolkien's imaginary landscapes as well, and even by some of his characters. The remainder convert the ins and outs of Wilson's bohemian life in Greenwich Village into a sort of fantasy world of its own. And it is all quite delightfully, if earnestly, done -- or, to be less precious about it, The Grey Wizard Am I is often a transfixing, bewitching little relic, particularly on such songs as "My Elven Home," "Go and See," and "Sunshine Down the Line." 

It's not likely to have a wide appeal -- anything this eccentric, unworldly, and chimeric, no matter how well done, probably has a limited audience -- and there is not a great deal of melodic variation from song to song to push it into the upper echelon of similar recordings. Nevertheless, The Grey Wizard Am I is a lovely little pastry for fans of obscure '60s and '70s folkadelica, ideal music for playing dress-up to, or for daydreaming.
by Stanton Swihart
1. The Grey Wizard Am I - 2:37
2. My Elven Home - 2:28
3. From The Grey Havens - 2:55
4. Here On Eighth Street - 7:42
5. Go And See - 2:31
6. The Christmas Song - 2:50
7. Old Town Church - 3:13
8. The Home Coming (The Sun Is Down) - 2:20
9. I Don't Know Why The People - 3:04
10.Mr. Joe's - 3:13
11.Sunshine Down The Line - 4:07
12.The Future Belongs To The Children - 3:06
13.A Young Girl Just Died - 2:25
14.Before Tomorrow - 2:49
15.The Shadow Of Tomorrow - 2:25
16.An Elven Song Of Love - 2:31
Words and Music by Chris Wilson

*Chris Wilson - Vocals, Guitar

Friday, June 18, 2021

Starbuck - Moonlight Feels Right / Rock 'N' Roll Rocket (1976-77 us, groovy melodic quirky pop, 2009 remaster with bonus tracks)

Starbuck is one of the rare '70s pop oddities that lives up to its one-hit wonder, delivering music every bit as beguiling and strange as that hit. For Starbuck, that one hit was 1976's glistening synth-and-marimba sensation "Moonlight Feels Right," a slick slice of soft rock that captures the mid-'70s in all its feathered, polyester glory, but the remarkable thing is that their full-length debut -- naturally also titled Moonlight Feels Right -- follows through on its smooth promise, offering another nine gauchely bewitching soft pop tunes. 

A certain amount of cheese comes with this territory, and Starbuck has some of the silliest in memory: a swinging ode to "Lash LaRue," a stiff bit of white-boy funk on "Working My Heart to the Bone" (just like you're "picking on a chicken"), the chant-along chorus of "I'm Crazy." But even at their silliest, they're still tuneful, fusing attractive elements of Steely Dan and 10cc while leaving behind guitars, and when the goofiness is toned down, the group offers some pure pop pleasure, particularly in the opening "I Got to Know," "Lucky Man," and "Moonlight Feels Right," which remains strangely timeless even as it is inextricably tied to its time. And that's appropriate -- Starbuck is a thoroughly modern band circa 1976, which also means that their appeal lies in both their melody and cheese, and Moonlight Feels Right excels in both. 

Rock 'N' Roll Rocket, Starbuck's sequel to their 1976 hit Moonlight Feels Right, is firmly within the tradition of their debut: it's smooth, tuneful soft rock, built on synths with guitars swapped out for marimbas. It's the same style, but the emphasis has shifted slightly, with the group pushing discofied rhythms over louche melodies, which makes the album a little less memorable, even if it retains a considerable amount of period charm with its laser-blaster synthesizers and percolating rhythms, and it's hard not to find a bit of camp charm in the subdued swagger of "Don't You Know How to Love a Lady," the disco fantasia of "Everybody Be Dancin'," and the perhaps tongue-in-cheek SoCal breeze of "Benny Bought the Big One." Cherry Red's two-fer of Moonlight Feels Right/Rock 'N' Roll Rocket contains two bonus tracks: "One of These Mornings" and "Gimme a Break." 
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
1. I Got To Know - 3:11
2. Drop A Little Rock - 2:52
3. Lash LaRue - 2:49
4. The Slower You Go (The Longer It Lasts) - 2:48
5. Moonlight Feels Right - 3:38
6. I'm Crazy - 3:15
7. So The Night Goes - 3:06
8. Working My Heart To The Bone - 2:27
9. Lucky Man - 3:33
10.Bordello Bordeaux (Jimmy Cobb) - 4:32
12.Call Me (Bruce Blackman, David Shaver) - 3:15
13.City Of The Future (Jimmy Cobb) - 3:28
14.Fat Boy - 3:14
15.Little Bird - 5:19
16.Sunset Eyes - 4:08
17.A Fool In Line - 3:33
18.Don't You Know How To Love A Lady - 2:41
19.Benny Bought The Big One - 3:25
20.Rock 'n' Roll Rocket / Little Bird (Reprise) - 5:12
21.One Of These Mornings - 3:26
22.Gimme A Break - 3:47
All compositions by Bruce Blackman except where indicated
Tracks 1-10 from "Moonlight Feels Right" 1976
Tracks 11-20 from "Rock 'n' Roll Rocket" 1977
Bonus Tracks 21-22

*Bruce Blackman - Keyboards, Vocals 
*Jimmy Cobb - Bass, Vocals 
*Sloan Hayes - Flute, Keyboards, Vocals
*Bo Wagner - Marimba, Percussion, Vibraphone  
*David Snavely - Drums (Tracks 1-10) 
*Tommy Strain - Guitar (Tracks 1-10) 
*Ron Norris - Guitar, Vocals (Tracks 1-10)
*David Shaver - Keyboards, Vocals (Tracks 11-20)
*Ken Crysler - Drums (Tracks 11-20) 
*Darryl Kutz - Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals (Tracks 11-20)
*Ted Stovall - String Arrangements (Tracks 1-10)
*Rod Kinder - String Arrangements  (Tracks 11-20)

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Cate Brothers - The Cate Brothers (1975 us, smart funky silky rock, 2009 edition)

The Cate Brothers' formal 1975 debut album opens with "Time for Us," an ebullient soul workout that is also (along with "Standin' on a Mountaintop" and "Always Waiting" -  among the more stripped-down pieces on the record: it shows off Ernie Cate's lead singing and Earl Cate's harmonies (supported with some exquisitely restrained help from Julia Tillman, Brooks Hunnicut, and Maxine Willard - , as well as the latter's clean, crisp lead playing in so genial and upbeat an introduction that it seems like the rest of the album might be hard-put to match it. But amazingly, the rest of the record does equal that opening and then some, alternately bursting out with some amazingly funky white soul and haunting balladry in equal measures. 

The duo's songbag was full to overflowing here, and with Steve Cropper producing and a coterie of players that included old friend Levon Helm and Beatles alumnus Klaus Voorman, the album pretty well soars from beginning to end. There's not a weak point on the record, but the highlights are three songs that the Cates previously cut for Huey P. Meaux: "Can't Change My Heart" (which charted briefly as a single in 1976 - , "Always Waiting," and "When Love Comes," the latter benefitting from a gorgeous Earl Cate guitar solo on the break.

The rest of the record isn't far behind, and the harmonies on "Easy Way Out" are almost worth the price of admission; and the augmentation by Terry Cagle plus Hunnicut, Willard, and Tillman puts the latter track and "Lady Luck" over the top in the vocal department. [The CD reissue is a special treat -- sad to say, the master tapes on the Cates' library were never exactly overused, but the plus side is that they translate nicely to digital on Wounded Bird's 2009 reissue. But however one hears it, this record is still great listening 30-plus years later.] 
by Bruce Eder
1. Time For Us -  3:50
2. Union Man (Earl Cate, Ernie Cate, Steve Cropper) -  4:47
3. Standin’ On A Mountain Top -  4:15
4. Always Waiting -  3:12
5. When Love Comes -  3:54
6. I Just Wanna Sing -  4:46
7. Can’t Change My Heart -  2:48
8. Easy Way Out -  3:53
9. Lady Luck -  3:52
10.Livin' On Dreams - 3:43
All songs by Earl Cate, Ernie Cate except where stated

*Earl Cate - Guitar, Vocal Harmony
*Ernie Cate - Clavinet, Elka, Organ, Piano , Vocals
*Steve Cropper - Guitar, Vocal
*Michael Baird - Drums
*Terry Cagle - Drums, Vocal
*Gary Coleman - Percussion
*Scott Edwards - Bass
*King Errisson - Percussion
*David Foster - Keyboards
*Bob Glaub - Bass
*Ed Greene - Drums
*Levon Helm - Drums, Vocal
*Brooks Hunnicutt - Vocal
*Carl Marsh - Synthesizer
*Nigel Olsson - Drums
*Julia Tillman Waters - Vocal
*Lee Sklar - Bass
*William Smith - Keyboards
*Klaus Voormann - Bass
*Maxine Willard-Waters - Vocal

Monday, June 14, 2021

Cate Brothers - In One Eye And Out The Other (1976 us, elegant funk soft rock, 2009 reissue)

For their sophomore effort, the Cate Brothers -- twin siblings Earl Cate (lead guitar, vocals) and Ernie Cate (vocals, keyboards) -- were once more working with producer Steve Cropper, who also plays on some tracks, along with Donald "Duck" Dunn and a brace of top session men, including Jim Horn and Bobby Keys. And the production here is pretty powerful stuff, soaring most of the time whether Earl and Ernie Cate are doing slow soul ballads ("Start All Over Again") or driving, high-energy numbers, such as the title cut -- although no matter how imposing the overall sound and the playing within, it's always rooted around the vocalizing by the two Cates (helped at times by Cropper, and Terry Cagle and Albert Singleton). 

Apart from the superb playing and singing, the amazing aspect of this record is how much it was ignored by most of the public at the time of its release, at least outside of the South where the Cates had built an audience. The Cate Brothers were a more soulful and virtuoso outfit than the Doobie Brothers, whose sales at the time were almost a license to print money. And as this album reveals, they were better at assimilating and building on the Motown sound as a foundation for soul-based rock than the Doobies, and Cropper's production gave them an ever better claim to the Stax/Volt sonic legacy than their considerable natural inclinations in that direction would have led them -- and it's all merged seamlessly here.

Perhaps the problem was that Asylum Records, with its reputation as a haven for singer/songwriters, just wasn't the label to break an act like this -- one wonders if the Cates might have fared better if they'd been signed to Asylum's sister label Atlantic Records instead. In any case, most of the resulting album was comprised of songs that few listeners would mind hearing more than once in the same sitting, with highlights that include "Can't Stop," "Start All Over Again," and "Where Can We Go." And somebody must have recognized that In One Eye and Out the Other was still a great record 30-plus years later, because it finally saw CD release in the 21st century. 
by Bruce Eder
1. Start All Over Again - 3:58
2. In One Eye And Out The Other (Earl Cate, Ernie Cate, Steve Cropper) - 4:08
3. Can't Stop - 5:05
4. Stuck In Chicago - 2:58
5. Travelin' Man - 4:49
6. Give It All To You - 4:11
7. Music Making Machine - 4:29
8. Let's Just Let It Be - 3:28
9. I Don't Want Nobody (Standing Over Me) - 4:00
10.Where Can We Go - 4:19
All songs by  Earl Cate, Ernie Cate except where noted

*Earl Cate - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Ernie Cate - Clavinet, Elka, Keyboards, Piano, Vocals
*Steve Cropper - Electric Guitar, Vocals
*Michael Baird - Drums
*Terry Cagle - Drums, Vocals
*Donald "Duck" Dunn - Bass
*Scott Edwards - Bass
*Steve Foreman - Percussion, Tambourine
*David Foster - ARP Synthesizer, Clavinet, Fender Rhodes, Guitar, Keyboards, Organ
*Anne Garner - Art Direction
*Jay Graydon - ARP Synthesizer, Guitar, Keyboards
*Eddie Greene - Drums
*Willie Hall - Percussion
*Jim Horn - Horn, Saxophone
*Brooks Hunnicutt - Vocals
*Bobby Keys - Horn
*Lisa Roberts - Vocals 
*Verna Richardson - Vocals
*Lisa Roberts - Vocals
*Sid Sharp - Violin
*Albert Singleton - Vocals

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Kevin Coyne - I Want My Crown Anthology (1973-80 uk, prog blues folk rock, 2010 four disc box set)

Many singer/songwriters have been more heralded, but fewproduced more good work or did so for longer than Kevin Coyne. While virtuallyunknown in America, Coyne released dozens of records, most of them very good,that dealt primarily with outsiders: men, women, and children arbitrarilyshunted to the fringes of society, or worse, locked away and left alone. Hissongs could be extraordinarily compassionate and, in the blink of an eye,angry, anguished, and accusatory. Perhaps the most durable and telling image ofKevin Coyne is the cover photo of his album In Living Black & White. On thefront, Coyne is smiling and politely bowing to an unseen audience; the back ofthe album jacket is the same photo taken from the rear, with Coyne clutching anopen straight razor.
Born in Derby, England, in 1944, Coyne, like many rock &roll performers who came of age in early postwar Britain, was an art schoolstudent who fell in love with American R&B. Living a bohemian life inlate-'60s London, Coyne was employed for a while as a socio-therapist foralcoholics and the emotionally disturbed, jobs that would profoundly affect hisapproach to music. In 1969 his first band, Siren, signed to influential BBC DJJohn Peel's specialty label, Dandelion. Two years and two excellent recordslater, Peel dissolved his label and Coyne embarked on a solo career. Marriedwith two children, Coyne supported both his family and musical career byreturning to social work. In many ways, his solo debut, Case History, set thetone for his career. Based on his social work experiences, it was a rivetingexamination of the desperate search for love by those forcibly exiled to thefringes of society. With his bluesy voice wailing almost inconsolably, CaseHistory is a naked examination of people (Coyne included) whose lives are inconstant turmoil: betrayed, institutionalized, unwanted, and mostly unloved.The characters in these songs cry out for attention, and Coyne, never one tobuy into England's bureaucratic social work system, howls right along withthem.
Case History was very nearly Coyne's swan song, but after aself-imposed exile from music, an opportunity to continue recording as a soloact with almost complete artistic freedom proved too powerful an incentive. In1973, Coyne began a relationship with the then-fledgling Virgin Records label,which seemed willing to embrace the decidedly noncommercial, difficultperformer. For the next eight years, he recorded some of his best music and,somewhat surprisingly, attained a modicum of commercial success, albeit inEurope only. These were mostly edgy folk-rock records tinged with anavant-garde feel for performance art (Coyne was a published poet, too), clearlynot easy listening by any stretch of the imagination; neither were theserecords overly pretentious nor unapproachable.
By the early '80s, Coyne was recording for independentlabels, making frustrating, semi-successful records that were erraticallyreleased and difficult to find. Exacerbating this bad situation were hisworsening mental and physical states: chronic depression culminating in anervous breakdown and alcoholism that, along with ending his marriage, nearlyended his life. In 1985 me moved to Nuremberg, Germany and began to pick up thepieces, improving his health and forming the Paradise Band. The move alsore-sparked his passion for painting and writing, resulting in a handful ofpublished books along with well-received exhibitions of his visual work in thecities of Berlin, Amsterdam, and Zurich. By the time the '90s rolled around,Coyne had reestablished himself as a true underground force, releasing acontinuous stream of albums of dizzying variety (and availability). In 2002 hewas diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. He died at his home on December 2, 2004.
 by John Dougan
Disc 1
1. Marjory Razorblade - 1:45
2. Marlene - 2:44  
3. Talking To No One - 2:31  
4. Eastbourn Ladies (American Edit) - 4:38  
5. I Want My Crown (Traditional) - 4:19  
6. House On The Hill - 4:52  
7. Lovesick Fool - 2:20   
8. Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning (Studio Version) (Traditional) - 4:06   
9. River Of Sin - 3:22  
10.Sign Of The Times - 5:22  
11.I Believe In Love (Rough Mix) - 3:33   
12.Blame It On The Night - 4:18  
13.Poor Swine (Alt. Version) - 3:41 
14.Dance Of The Bourgeoisie - 3:26  
15.Saviour - 5:33  
16.Lonely Lovers - 4:19  
17.Sunday Morning Sunrise - 5:33  
18.Rock 'N' Roll Hymn - 3:38  
19.Turpentine -  3:33 
20.Let's Have A Party (Jessie Mae Robinson) - 2:31  
21.Lorna - 2:45
All songs by Kevin Coyne unless as else stated
Disc 2
1. Which Way Can I Go - 3:33
2. A Life Divine - 4:41  
3. I Love My Mother (Kevin Coyne, Andy Summers) - 4:39  
4. Shangri LA - 5:30  
5. America - 4:09  
6. Big White Bird - 2:05   
7. Daddy - 4:16  
8. Case History No 2 (Live) - 6:03  
9. Fat Girl (Live) - 4:05  
10.Roses In Your Room - 4:19  
11.Mona Where's My Trousers -  2:56 
12.Rainbow Curve - 3:30  
13.River Of Blood - 3:14  
14.Dynamite Days - 2:44 
15.Brothers Of Mine - 4:09  
16.I Really Live Round Here (False Friends) - 3:56  
17.I Am (John Clare, Kevin Coyne) -  2:22 
18.I Only Want To See You Smile - 2:31  
19.Juliet And Mark - 4:47 
20.Older Woman - 4:12
All tracks by Kevin Coyne except where noted
Disc 3
1. Having A Party - 4:23
2. I'm Just A Man - 3:38  
3. Pretty Park - 5:39  
4. Marigold - 3:16  
5. Don't Blame Mandy - 2:59  
6. World Is Full Of Fools - 3:13  
7. Burning Head Suite (Live At Rockpalast 1979) - 6:17  
8. Are You Deceiving Me - 2:54  
9. Lonely Man (Studio Version) - 3:20   
10.I Confess - 3:24  
11.It's My Mind (Studio Version) - 3:38 
12.Happy Homes - 1:38  
13.Children's Crusade - 3:53  
14.Learn To Swim Learn To Drown - 4:59 
15.Dark Dance Hall - 2:31  
16.Day To Day - 2:33  
17.The Old Fashioned Love Song - 3:46  
18.New Motorway - 2:59  
19.The Loving Hand - 3:08  
20.Wonderful Wilderness - 7:48 
21.You Can't Kill Us - 2:02
Music and Lyrics by Kevin Coyne
Disc 4
1. Chicken Wing -  4:17 
2. Marjory Razorblade Suite (Kevin Coyne, Gordon Smith) - 6:29
3. Blame It On The Night - 4:07  
4. River Of Sin - 4:19 
5. Poor Swine - 3:50
6. Fat Girl - 5:18
7. Mad Boy - 2:30
8. Mummy - 6:23
9. Marjory Razorblade Suite (Kevin Coyne, Gordon Smith) - 8:17
10.Let's Have A Party (Jessie Mae Robinson) - 3:16
11.Poor Swine - 4:54
12.Need Somebody - 5:31
13.Chicken Wing - 4:26
14.Boogie Chillun (Johnny Lee Hooker) - 6:36
All songs written by Kevin Coyne except where indicated
Tracks 1-6  BBC In Concert, Golders Green Hippodrome 1974, tracks 7-14 Live In Hyde Park

*Kevin Coyne - Guitar, Vocals
*Andy Summers - Guitar
*Zoot Money - Keyboards
*Peter Wolf - Drums
*Steve Thompson - Bass
*Gordon Smith - Guitar, Harmonica
*Tony Cousins - Bass
*Eddie Sparrow - Drums
*Rick Dodd - Sax
*Terry Slade - Drums

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Jellybread - Sixty Five Parkway (1970 uk, fine blues rock, Mike Vernon production, 2005 remaster)

Formed at England’s Sussex University by pianist Pete Wingfield, Jellybread was originally completed by Paul Butler (guitar/vocals), John Best (bass), and Chris Waters (drums). In 1969 the quartet secured a recording contract with the exemplary Blue Horizon Records label and although largely unadventurous, their albums offered a highly competent grasp of black music, including both blues and soul. They provided stellar accompaniment on Lightnin’ Slim's London Gumbo and B.B. King in London, but the unit dissolved in 1971 with the departure of Wingfield and Waters. Newcomers Rick Birkett (guitar, ex-Accent) and Kenny Lamb (drums) joined for Back to Begin Again, but Jellybread broke up when the set failed to make commercial headway. However, Wingfield enjoyed success as a solo artist, session pianist, and member of Olympic Runners. 

The band's second album from 1970 that was released on the Blue Horizon label.The band features Paul Butler who later joined Chicken Shack and Pete Wingfield on keyboards and vocals.This is great UK blues rock that sits alongside bands like Sam Apple Pie, Savoy Brown, Head Hands And Feet etc.Contains 3 bonus tracks.
1. Faded Grace (Paul Butler) - 2:59
2. Old Before Your Time (Pete Wingfield) - 7:03
3. Sally Hotlips (Paul Butler) - 3:36
4. Go Through The Motions (Pete Wingfield) - 4:02
5. Full Circle One (Pete Wingfield) - 1:57
6. Old Man Hank (Pete Wingfield) - 3:42
7. The Missing Link (Chirs Waters, John Best, Paul Butler, Pete Wingfield) - 6:10
8. Samuel Taylor (Paul Butler) - 2:58
9. Try (Pete Wingfield) - 3:33
10.Full Circle Two (Pete Wingfield) - 2:10
11.That's Alright (Jimmy Rogers) - 2:07
12.Evening (Chirs Waters, John Best, Paul Butler, Pete Wingfield) - 6:53
13.Don't Want No Woman (Don Robey) - 2:58

*John Best - Bass 
*Paul Butler - Guitar, Vocals 
*Chirs Waters - Drums 
*Pete Wingfield - Keyboards, Vocals

Related Act

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Lamb - Cross Between (1971 us, fantastic jazzy folk rural rock, 2009 remaster)

Lamb's second album used some far more conventional elements of electric rock production than their starker debut had, which in some ways made this follow-up more mainstream and less striking. On the other hand, the songs themselves were more eclectic, and complemented well by the greater textural depth of the arrangements. Most importantly, the songwriting continued to be as inspired and unusual as it had been on A Sign of Change, and only slightly less abstract, again mixing jazz, folk, impressionistic singer/songwriter rock, gospel, and classical, though in different proportions.

Barbara Mauritz's singing continued to be mighty impressive, as sort of a more hushed and nuanced spin on the uninhibited woman rock singers coming to the fore in Californian rock, though with as much bluesy soul. "I'll spin a web of visions with the spider of my mind" she sings on "While Waiting," which is a pretty good indicator of the sort of oblique lyrics that permeate the record. Some of the material sounds decidedly happier than the more haunting tunes of A Sign of Change, approaching earthy country-rock on "Flying" (by far the most normal and accessible song on either of Lamb's first two albums). Gospel asserted itself as more of an influence, too, on cuts like the title track and "Reach High," though the lyrics were far more stream-of-consciousness in their wordplay than they were in mainstream gospel, and the orchestration backing the piano possessed an almost classical ingenuity likewise uncommon in most gospel arrangements. 

If you wanted some of the more intriguing strangeness of the hauntingly dreaming yet biting jazz-folk of the first album, that was here too, particularly in "Sleepwalkers." Other songs, like "KU," sound almost like the classically-influenced art song territory explored by Judy Collins in some of her late-'60s and early-'70s albums, though with more sensuality in the vocals. David Ackles might be another reference point in how the material and arrangements of some of the more ambitious tracks are, in some ways, more closely tied to classical and theatrical music than to rock, though this was ultimately targeted toward the singer/songwriter audience. Something like "Now's Not the Time," however, isn't easily comparable to anything, coming off like a mix of Native American incantational music with blues-gospel-rock. Like A Sign of Change, Cross Between is highly idiosyncratic yet rewarding music of considerable experimental integrity, and has mysteriously eluded rediscovery and cult recognition. 
by Richie Unterberger
1. Flying (Barbara Mauritz) - 02:35
2. Now's Not the Time (Barbara Mauritz) - 03:37
3. Cross Between (Barbara Mauritz) - 03:46
4. Sleepwalkers (Barbara Mauritz, Bob Swanson) - 05:43
5. Reach High (Jeffrey Cain, Jerry Corbitt) - 04:05
6. Ku (Barbara Mauritz, Bob Swanson) - 05:00
7. While Waiting (Barbara Mauritz, Bob Swanson) - 03:54
8. Flotation (Barbara Mauritz) - 04:30
9. Milo And The Travelers (Barbara Mauritz, Bob Swanson) - 06:13

*Barbara Mauritz - Vocals, Guitar, Tambourine
*Bob Swanson - Guitar
*Bill Douglass - Double Bass
*Anne Kish - Violin
*Bill Atwood - Trumpet
*David Hayes - Bass
*Ed Jaug 
*Ellen Dessler - Strings  
*Germaine Wallace  
*Gordon Messick - Trombon
*Kenneth Goldsmith - Violin
*Lawrence Duckles - Piano
*Lawrence Sousa - Trumpet
*Mitchell Howie - Banjo, Guitar 
*Dick Fenner - Cello 
*Robert Hughes - Basoon
*Tom Heimberg - Viola 
*Jerry Garcia - Banjo, Pedal Steel Guitar

Monday, June 7, 2021

Lamb - Bring Out The Sun (1971 us, wonderful jazzy rural roots 'n' roll, 2009 remaster)

Whether it was the intention of Barbara Mauritz or someone on the business side of her affairs, Bring Out the Sun leaves the impression that she was being groomed for a solo career. The impression is hardly subtle or accidental: the album is co-billed to Barbara Mauritz and Lamb, and although Lamb co-founder Bob Swanson is still aboard as guitarist and (on half of the tracks) as a sole or collaborating composer, there are some songs on which he doesn't play at all. Lamb's second album, Cross Between, had a much higher proportion of gospel-oriented material than their debut, and Bring Out the Sun continues the move to contemporary gospel-rock of sorts, particularly on side one.

As a consequence, it's by a considerable margin the most mainstream of Lamb's albums, and also by a considerable margin the least interesting. That hardly means that it's bad: Mauritz is quite a soulful singer, and the way she handles gospel-slanted stuff is reminiscent of the way another idiosyncratic vocalist, Annisette of Savage Rose, performed gospel-rock on some of the early-'70s Savage Rose albums (though Annisette was considerably quirkier). But the gospel-soul-ragtime-slanted tunes have a simpler, more upbeat tone that isn't nearly as intriguing as Lamb's more ambitious recordings, although one, "River of Boulevard," became Mauritz's best-known composition when it was covered by the Pointer Sisters on their self-titled Top 20 album in 1973. 

Yet side two gets considerably more interesting, "Salty" allowing Mauritz her furthest stretch into jazz torch singing territory. And, oddly, "The Vine" and "Live to Your Heart" end the album on its most adventurous note. Both songs sound much like they'd been recorded during the sessions for Lamb's first two LPs, as they revert to the slightly disturbing minor-keyed jazz-folk singer/songwriting, classical-tinged arrangements, and dream imagery-laden lyrics characteristic of the band's earlier work. And even on side one, the brief Mauritz solo instrumental piano piece "The Wish" makes a nice quasi-classical break on this uneven but worthwhile capper to Lamb's career. 
by Richie Unterberger
1. Old Fashioned Remedy (Barbara Mauritz) - 4:23
2. The Wish (Barbara Mauritz) - 1:54
3. Rap With Rhyme (Bob Swanson) - 4:33)
4. River Boulevard (Barbara Mauritz) - 3:09
5. How Am I Gonna Manage (Barbara Mauritz, Bob Swanson) - 3:24
6. Visions of Blackbirds (Barbara Mauritz) - 1:51
7. Salty (Barbara Mauritz, Bob Swanson) - 8:22
8. The Vine (Barbara Mauritz) - 3:04
9. Live to Your Heart (Bob Swanson) - 3:34

*Barbara Mauritz - Vocals, Piano
*Bob Swanson - Banjo, Acoustic Guitar
*Mark Springer - Acoustic Guitar
*David Hayes - Bass
*Richard Shlosser - Drums
*Tom Salisbury - Organ, Piano, Vocals
*Michael Pendergrass - Acoustic Guitar
*Clyde Flowers - Bass
*Richard Fenner - Cello
*Eddie Lee Charlton - Drums
*John McFee - Steel Guitar
*Ed Bogas - String, Brass Arrangements, Viola
*Charles Peterson - Saxophone
*Mel Martin - Saxophone
*Bill Atwood - Trumpet
*Warren Gale - Trumpet
*Dwight Hall - Trumpet
*Stephan Furre - Trombone
*Leonard Lasher - Bass
*Myron Mu - French Horn
*Vince Delgado - Tabla
*David Litwin - Moog Synthesizer 
*John Viera - Moog Synthesizer
*Patrick Gleason - Moog Synthesizer

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Lamb - A Sign Of Change (1970 us, gorgeous jazzy acoustic folk rock, 2009 edition)

Although Lamb started as a duo of Barbara Mauritz and Bob Swanson, it's very much Mauritz's singing that dominates their first album, though both she and Swanson were involved in the songwriting on most of the seven tracks. While Lamb were loosely aligned with the San Francisco rock scene of the early 1970s, A Sign of Change is not so much rock as an unusual hybrid of jazz and folk, with plenty of tinges of gospel, pop, blues, and even classical. 

Like some combination of Chet Baker, Joni Mitchell, and perhaps bits of Donovan, free jazz vocalist Patty Waters, and Tim Buckley at his most experimental, Mauritz sings dream-like chains of words almost as if they're improvised jazz notes. Sometimes sounding rather like hippie psalms, her poetic interior monologues are set against sad, pretty melodies with plenty of twists and jazzy tempo shifts, the acoustic backing largely relying on Swanson's acoustic guitar and Bill Douglass' bass, though there's occasional chamber-like orchestration. 

Mauritz has a mighty impressive voice, like that of a blues-rock belter with far more delicacy, her hazily mixed and enunciated vocals adding to the avant-pop mystery even if the words aren't always easy to make out. Those words are abstract enough, with references aplenty to florid natural imagery and dreamscapes, to make listeners feel like they've been dropped into a waking dream of sorts. Occasional phrases, however, penetrate with more cogency, like the rumination "how in the world could there be wars if there were no evil powers" (from "The Odyssey Of Ehram Spickor"). 

That might give the impression that this is a pre-new age album of sorts, but it's not: it's almost avant-garde in its otherworldliness, the production quite somber and spare. To bring this more to earth, Maurtiz really lets loose with extended jazzy scatting on "Barbara's Soul II," the record's bluesiest cut. She also delivers what amounts almost to an experimental gospel piece on the closing "Where I'm Bound," which unlike the rest of the album features piano, the rhythm and keyboard overtones accelerating almost to the point of storminess by the song's conclusion. 
by Richie Unterberger
1. Traveler's Observation (Bob Swanson, Barbara Mauritz) - 5:05
2. Adventures Of The Incredible Mr. Sandman (Barbara Mauritz) - 2:35
3. In Dreams (Bob Swanson, Barbara Mauritz) - 5:35
4. Barbara's Soul II (Bob Swanson, Bill Douglass, Barbara Mauritz) - 5:10
5. The Odyssey Of Ehram Spickor (Bob Swanson, Barbara Mauritz) - 3:11
6. Preacher's Holiday (Bob Swanson, Barbara Mauritz) - 7:54
7. Where I'm Bound (Barbara Mauritz) - 6:57

*Barbara Mauritz - Vocals, Guitar, Tambourine
*Bob Swanson - Guitar
*Bill Douglass - Double Bass
*David Litwin - Wind, String Arrangements
*Walter Papaport - Shepherd
*Diva Goodfriend-Koven - Flute
*Robert Hubbard - English Horn
*Douglas Blumenstock - Cello
*Ed Bogas - Viola