Saturday, December 31, 2022

Ethos - Relics (1973-75 us, extraordinary prog space rock)

Ethos were that rarest of things; an American progressive band who got a major label deal. Capitol signed the band around 1975 and let them release two albums before (presumably) pulling the plug. Of course, while in Britain it was punk that scuppered prog, in the States it was disco; unlike punk, a major-league cash cow for the record companies, without too much financial input. 

In 2000, an archive set, cheekily entitled Relics appeared, containing demos and live tracks from 1973-74, including early versions of both Intrepid Traveler and Pimp City. The material isn't all as good as that on their two proper releases, but most of it's pretty much up to scratch, making this a welcome find. The hidden track at the end is a slightly pointless instrumental jam, but as with most of the other tracks, it's got loads of (L. Duncan) Hammond and Ponczek's Mellotron and Chamby work, the only obvious exception being Intrepid Traveler, replacing the later version's Mellotron with string synth. Tape replay highlights are the great strings pitchbend work on Placebo and a lengthy section of flute lead on Experimental War.
1. Nightingale - 6:24
2. Elephant Man - 2:48
3. Placebo - 9:00
4. Identity - 4:02
5. Experimental War (Instrumental) - 5:39
6. Troilus And Cressida - 3:29
7. Intrepid Traveler (Instrumental) - 4:45
8. Doing Your Duty - 2:10
9. Perceptions - 6:44
10.Pimp City - 7:33
10.-(Silence) - 1:02
10.1.Dream - 9:05
Tracks 1,2,3,5,6,7,8 recorded at Thiele Road home studio in 1974.
Tracks 4,11 recorded live at Electric Flag Concert in 1974.
Tracks 9,10 recorded on home equipment in 1973.

*Wil Sharpe - Acoutic, Electric Guitars, Voice
*Michael Ponczek – Mini Moog, Poly Moog, Hammond Organ, Chamberlin, Rhodes Piano
*Mark Richards - Percussions, Moog Drum, Micro Moog, Voice
*Brad Stephenson - Bass, String Bass, Moog Bass Pedals, Voice
*Steve Marra - Vocals, Bass, Flute

Friday, December 30, 2022

Butler - Butler (1973 new zealand, great fuzzy psych rock, 2016 remaster)

Having built a strong Christchurch following, the band took stabs at other South Island centres, returning to hometown Rotorua in 1971.

From there they began building up a North Island following, proving popular on the Univertiy circuit with their combination of originals and Led Zeppelin and Whishbone Ash covers.

Some television exposure followed with a spot on Happen Inn, Popco and Free Ride. This was fairly rare for and underground group and even with this they never really gained much pulling power.

In 1973 they recorded a self-titled album for Pye. It was released on the Family label an from it came the single Especially For You. 
more about Butler 
1. Bang Bang (Sony Bono) - 3:57
2. Sucide Ride - 4:32
3. We're Getting Nowhere - 2:48
4. In The Morning - 3:06
5. Especially You - 3:11
6. Green River (John Fogerty) - 3:32
7. Reach Out (Brian Holland, Edward Holland, Jr., Lamont Dozier) - 5:19
8. Tilda Jane - 1:40
9. Mistake - 1:50
10.Southern Music - 2:30
11.Here We Come - 2:51
12.Mirror Don't You Weep - 4:30
All songs by Angel Adams, Heidi Warren, Hori Sinnott, Steve Apirana except where stated

*Heidi Warren - Vocals, Lead Guitar 
*Steve Apirana - Vocals, Lead Guitar
*Hori Sinnott - Drums
*Angel Adams - Bass Guitar

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Joe And Bing - Daybreak (1971 us, magical sunny baroque folk, 2004 bonus tracks remaster)

A lost sunshine pop gem – with some unique Brazilian touches! The album's the first offering from the folk rock team of Joe & Bing – an earthy duo who remind us a fair bit of Alzo & Udine, with jangly use of acoustic guitar, sweet harmony vocals, and a surprisingly soulful undercurrent. But added to this already-great style are some beautiful arrangements by a young Deodato and Atlantic pop stringmeister Harry Lookofsky – expanding the sound wonderfully, and giving the album a beautifully airy quality. 

The record also has the distinction of being one of the few to appear in Brazil on the legendary Quartin label – no doubt because of the Deodato connection – but overall, it's got a wonderful post-folk sound that's right up there with the best Sunshine pop of the late 60s! Titles include "Summer Sound", "Sail", "Drifting With Time", "Fenario", "If Love's In Season", and "I'm Not Forgetting Your Name". CD also features a whole bunch of bonus tracks, including the tunes "Come & Bring The Sun Again", "Those Sunday Soda Pop Dreams", "More Than I Can Live With", and "Panther Pond Breakdown".
1. Daybreak - 2:31
2. I'm Not Forgetting Your Name - 3:25
3. It's OK - 2:59
4. Summer Sound - 2:54
5. Fennario - 3:43
6. Love The One You're With (Stephen Stills) - 3:09
7. If Love's In Season - 2:53
8. Just Plain Livin' Blues - 2:21
9. Sail - 3:14
10.Drifting With The Time - 3:14 - 
11.Come And Bring The Sun Again - 3:15
12.Summer Sound - 2:47
13.If Love's In Season - 2:47
14.Without Her (Harry Nilsson) - 2:53
15.More Than I Can Live With - 2:31
16.Panther Pond Breakdown - 2:07
17.Those Sunday Soda Pop Dreams (William "Bing" Bingham, Joe Knowlton, McKeon) - 3:59
Words and Music by William "Bing" Bingham, Joe Knowlton except where noted
Bonus Tracks 11-17

*Joe Knowlton - 5-string Banjo, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*William Bingham - Guitars, Vocals
*Ken Asher - Organ, Piano
*Joe Beck - Electric Guitar
*Garnett Brown - Trombone
*Geoffrey Daking - Drums, Percussion
*Eumir Deodato - Keyboards
*Joe Foster - Synthesizer
*Harry Lookofsky - Violin
*Donald MacDonald - Drums, Percussion
*Don Payne - Bass
*Nick Robbins - Synthesizer
*Dom Um Romão - Drums, Percussion
*Bob Rose - Electric Guitar 
*Rick Rowe - Flute
*Jimmy Seldar - Trumpet
*Dick Hurwitz - Trumpet
*Grady Tate - Drums, Percussion

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

B.W. Stevenson - Calabasas (1974 us, excellent gently country rock, 2019 remaster)

"Calabasas" is the fourth album by BW Stevenson, released in 1974 on RCA, and is backed by the likes of Larry Carlton on guitar (who also played on the "My Maria" release), Kim Carnes and Linda Ronstadt.
1. Look For The Light (Daniel Moore) - 3:12
2. Little Bit Of Understanding (Kenny Edwards) - 2:48
3. We Had It All (Donnie Fritts, Troy Seals) - 2:32
4. (Livin' It) Day By Day (B.W. Stevenson) - 3:45
5. Dry Land (Jay Pruitt) - 3:07
6. Anna-Lisa (Dave Ellingson, Kim Carnes) - 2:36
7. Please Come To Boston (Dave Loggins) - 3:58
8. Roll On (B.W. Stevenson) - 3:07
9. Song For Katy (B.W. Stevenson) - 2:51
10 Here We Go Again (B.W. Stevenson) - 3:59

*B.W. Stevenson - Guitars, Vocals
*Larry Carlton - Guitars
*Jim Gordon - Drums
*Bobbye Hall - Percussion
*Jimmie Haskell - Moog Synthesizer
*Larry Muhoberac - Keyboards
*Joe Osborn - Bass
*Jay Pruitt - Keyboards
*Bobby Rambo - Guitars
*Red Rhodes - Steel Guitar
*Daniel Moore - Background Vocals
*Kim Carnes - Background Vocals
*Linda Ronstadt - Background Vocals
*Julia Tillman Waters - Background Vocals
*Kenny Edwards - Background Vocals
*Dave Ellingson - Background Vocals
*Andrew Gold - Background Vocals
*Darla Griser - Background Vocals

Monday, December 26, 2022

B. W. Stevenson - My Maria (1973 us, marvelous country soft rock)

Part of the Texan country-rock scene of the 1970s, B.W. Stevenson landed a smash hit in 1973 with "My Maria. Singer/songwriter B.W. Stevenson (the "B.W." reportedly stood for "Buckwheat" -- his real first name was Lewis) was born October 5, 1949, in Dallas, TX. As a teen he played in a variety of local rock bands before attending college, eventually joining the U.S. Air Force; upon returning from duty Stevenson settled in the Austin area, where he became a frequent attraction on the city's thriving club circuit. 

Upon signing to RCA he was marketed primarily to country listeners, enjoying little success with either his 1972 self-titled debut or its follow-up, Lead Free; the title track of 1973's My Maria, however, became a Top Ten pop favorite, although ironically it missed the country charts altogether. Stevenson never again recaptured the single's success, and after 1974's Calabasas he landed at Warner Bros. to issue We Be Sailin' a year later. "Down to the Station," from 1977's Lost Feeling, was his last chart hit, and after 1980's Lifeline his recording career was over. Sadly, Stevenson died on April 28, 1988, shortly after undergoing heart surgery; he was just 38 years old. 
by Jason Ankeny
1. My Maria (B. W. Stevenson, Daniel J. Moore) - 2:33
2. Be My Woman Tonight (Al Anderson) - 2:36
3. Sunset Woman (Dave Loggins) - 3:30
4. A Good Love Is Like A Good Song (Casey Kelly) - 2:29
5. Grab A Hold Of My Soul (Alex Del Zoppo, B. W. Stevenson) - 2:51
6. Shambala (Daniel J. Moore) - 2:30
7. Lucky Touch (B. W. Stevenson) - 3:15
8. I Got To Boogie (Michael Smotherman) - 3:22
9. Remember Me (B. W. Stevenson) - 3:50
10.Pass This Way (B. W. Stevenson) - 1:32

*B.W. Stevenson - Guitars, Vocals
*Larry Carlton - Lead Guitar
*Joe Osborn - Bass
*Larry Muhoberac Keyboards
*Jim Gordon - Drums
*Herb Steiner - Steel Guitar, Mandolin
*Rodney Garrison - Bass (Tracks 7,9)
*Donny Dolan - Drums (Track 7)
*Layton DePenning - Guitar (Track 7)
*Lorna Willard - Background Vocals
*Venetta Fields - Background Vocals 
*Clydie King - Background Vocals
*Daniel Moore - Background Vocals
*Taffy Danoff - Background Vocals

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Zephyr - Sunset Ride (1972 us, pure marvellous multicolor rock, 2007 remaster)

Zephyr the band will always be overshadowed by their original guitarist, Tommy Bolin. He found fame in the James Gang and Deep Purple, and Zephyr’s place in the canon, to most rock fans, is as the springboard for his talents. Their first album sold 100,000 copies and still stands as a unique piece of heavy metal history. The combination of Bolin’s robust but tasteful guitar playing (on songs almost all in the 6/8 time signature) and Candy Givens’ histrionic, even more overpowering singing makes ZEPHYR unlike any other metal album of the 60s. The record is spotty, mostly because Candy is uncontrolled and often unhinged. Half the time her voice is stunning, as in the opening “Sail On,” but the other half of the time it’s strident. Her obvious talent is not balanced by “taste.”•

The second album, "Going Back To Colorado", an attempt to add some complexity to Zephyr’s sound, softens the heavy metal edge, and it sold poorly. It’s even spottier than the debut, but includes some interesting experimentation that foreshadows their future. Bolin left after this album, and many don’t even know that Zephyr continued on as a band. Theoretically, the 1972 release Sunset Ride would be nothing but a footnote in the history of a well-known guitarist, an album to be filed with the Doors’ Other Voices and the Velvet Underground’s Squeeze. Indeed, Sunset Ride’s continued obscurity shows that critics and public alike dismissed it without listening to it. (It is housed in one of the ugliest sleeves ever, possibly another reason the album fell under the radar.) What a surprise, then, to discover the brilliant album it is.

Obviously the departure of Bolin liberated the band, and with Sunset Ride, the husband/wife team of Candy and David Givens truly came into their own as songwriters. Since the songs no longer needed to be structured to accommodate long guitar solos, the songwriting became impeccably tight. The experimentation on this album is entirely structured and intentional, the exact opposite of the kind of improvisation that passes for heavy metal “innovation.” The more refined and intricate song structure also works miracles with Candy’s singing. Gone is the wailing and screeching, most of which took place during and around Bolin’s solos when Candy obviously didn’t know what else to do. Here her voice is 100% under control. It’s a thing of beauty and power, potential completely fulfilled. New guitarist Jock Bartley’s jazzy but unobtrusive style and undistorted sound is a perfect fit for the songs. This is blues-rock, but it lacks the musical cliches of traditional blues. The production, which puts the percussion high in the mix and the guitar and voice low (the exact opposite of the first album) adds an eerie, late night feel; there’s no question that the *sound* of this album is as effective as the songs. The overall vibe is that of Candy struggling to the surface from a not-so-happy hole she’s found herself in. The end result is a positive one: wasted energy being trumped by creativity. The upbeat songs are filled with longing; the downbeat ones filled with hope. Moments like the raveup at the end of “Moving Too Fast” are intensely powerful, and lyrics like “I’ve been smokin’ hash/talking trash/wishing things weren’t real” have a sense of tragedy. This album has the kind of indefinable magic of a true masterwork.

The album itself is as perfectly structured as the songs within. Side one is relatively straightforward, developing the new style confidently but safely. “I Am Not Surprised” and “Moving Too Fast” brim with understated energy, “Someone To Chew” with sexual passion. “No Time Lonesome,” which has all of the heartbreak of a Hank Williams song, features a lovely, unexpected violin break by Bobby Notkoff, known for his work with Neil Young. On side two, the song cycle goes completely haywire, with each song being more experimental than the previous. Brilliantly, as strange as the songs are, they’re organized in a way that creates a perfect flow. “Sold My Heart” begins the side in understated (but lovely) fashion. Its mild country leanings are absorbed into the warped psychedelic country rock of “Sierra Cowgirl.” The following “Chasing Clouds” dispenses with the country and is pure downer psychedelia. Candy’s voice is almost buried beneath the heavy tremolo of the organ and the overwhelmingly loud cymbals. It feels like a windstorm many levels beyond the gentle breeze of the band’s name. Toward the end, a backwards guitar appears, moving the listener from this storm to one even more mysterious. The effect of floating in the sea, no destination in sight, is even more pronounced on “Sunset Ride.” It’s a wordless tone poem that anticipates the repetition and fade-in/fade-out structure of Brian Eno’s “Here Come The Warm Jets” and “Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy.” The turn towards art-rock completes itself with the free-form introduction to “Winter Always Finds Me,” which could have been pulled from the weirdest parts of Kevin Ayers’ Shooting At The Moon album. When the song itself kicks in, it merges blues and jazz and brings the album to a breathtaking conclusion.

"Sunset Ride" combines startling performances, unique production, and amazing precision. While it’s instantly melodic and appealing, it takes many listens for the overall brilliance of this album to fully reveal itself. Sit back and feel it a few times, then really start to listen closely. It may seem absurd to think that a very American band who started out as heavy metal and gravitated to blues and jazz could be legitimately compared to Eno and Ayers, but like all works of genius, Sunset Ride defies categorization. If there’s anything here to criticize, it’s the inclusion of the much-covered “High Flying Bird” on side one. Zephyr’s rendition is fantastic, fits nicely in the context of this album, and gives Candy her best chance here to belt it out. Nonetheless, given the strength of Zephyr's own songwriting on this album, a song we’ve heard by dozens of other artists is a mild letdown, probably enough to keep the album from being “perfect.”

Like Bolin, Candy Givens would die young, about ten years after the release of this album. It’s sad that Zephyr didn’t produce an immediate followup, but it’s hard to imagine that they could have. By the time Sunset Ride ends, they seem completely spent. Despite the lack of product, Candy and David Givens stayed musically active for years. They reunited with Bolin for some concerts and even released a mildly inspired new wave-styled album under the Zephyr name in 1980. Nonetheless, Sunset Ride is their real swan song. It doesn’t have the same air of doom and foreshadowing as pre-death albums like Joy Division’s Closer or Badfinger’s Wish You Were Here, but it does have the feel of artists who are going through great pain and turning it into beauty. Candy’s ability to express this feeling without words in the title track is almost awe-inspiring. Her legacy lives on with Sunset Ride.
by Aaron Milenski
1. I'm Not Surprised (Candy Givens, David Givens) - 5:12
2. Someone To Chew (Candy Givens, David Givens) - 3:00
3. High Flying Bird (Billy Edward Wheeler) - 3:34
4. No Time Lonesome (David Givens) - 4:00
5. Moving Too Fast (David Givens) - 5:00
6. Sold My Heart (David Givens, Jock Bartley) - 3:45
7. Sierra Cowgirl (Candy Givens) - 3:07
8. Chasing Clouds (Dan Smyth, David Givens) - 4:06
9. Sunset Ride (Candy Givens) - 3:45
10.Winter Always Finds Me (Alan Armstrong, David Givens, Jock Bartley) - 6:02

*Candy Givens - Keyboards, Piano, Vocals
*David Givens - Bass, Guitars, Vocals
*Jock Bartley - Guitar, Vocals
*P.M. Wooten - Drums, Percussion
*Dan Smyth - Keyboards, Organ, Piano
*John Alfonse - Congas
*Bobby Notkoff - Violin 

Friday, December 23, 2022

James Gang - Newborn / Jesse Come Home (1975-76 us, pleasant classic rock, 2004 edition)

Tommy Bolin left the James Gang after the release of "Miami", leaving the band without a compelling lead guitarist once again. Fox and Peters broke up the group after his departure, but they re-formed a year later, adding guitarist Richard Shack and vocalist Bubba Keith. The new version of the James Gang released their first album, "Newborn", in 1975.

"Jesse Come Home" was the James Gang's final album, with new line up, Bubba Keith and Richard Shack left the band and replaced by Bob Webb and Phil Giallombardo. After "Jesse Come Home" failed to make the charts, Fox and Peters wisely decided to call it a day, disbanding the James Gang for the last time. 
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine 
1.Merry-Go-Round - 3:04
2.Gonna Get By (Bubba Keith, Mark Smith) - 3:57
3.Earthshaker (Bubba Keith) - 3:48
4.All I Have - 2:16
5.Watch It (Bubba Keith) - 3:32
6.Driftin' Dreamer - 3:31
7.Shoulda' Seen Your Face - 3:45
8.Come With Me - 2:33
9.Heartbreak Hotel (Mae Boren Axton, Tommy Durden) - 2:15
10.Red Satin Lover - 2:17
11.Cold Wind - 2:36
12.I Need Love (Phil Giallombardo) - 3:17
13.Another Year (Bob Webb) - 3:59
14.Feelin' Alright (Phil Giallombardo, Dale Peters, Bob Webb) - 3:26
15.Peasant Song (Phil Giallombardo) - 3:56
16.Hollywood Dream (Bob Webb) - 3:12
17.Love Hurts (Andrew Gold) - 3:29
18.Pick Up the Pizzas (Bob Webb) - 2:30
19.Stealin' The Show (Bob Webb) - 3:58
20.When I Was A Sailor (Phil Giallombardo) - 6:46
All songs by Bubba Keith, Richard Shack except where stated
Tracks 1-11 from "Newborn" LP 1975
Tracks 12-20 from "Jesse Come Home" LP 1976

James Gang 
Tracks 1-11
*Bubba Keith – Lead Vocals, Guitars
*Richard Shack – Guitars, Backing Vocals
*Dale Peters – Bass, Backing Vocals, Percussion
*Jim Fox – Drums, Organ, Piano
*Al Perkins – Steel Guitar
*David Briggs – Organ, Piano
*Kenneth Hamann – Synthesizer
*George Ricci – Cello
*Don Brooks – Harmonica
Tracks 12-20
*Bob Webb – Guitars, Vocals
*Phil Giallombardo – Keyboards, Vocals, Piano
*Dale Peters – Bass, Backing Vocals, Percussion
*Jim Fox – Drums, Backing Vocals, Percussion, Keyboards
*Nelson Flaco Pedron – Percussion

1969  James Gang - Yer' Album (Japan SHM remaster)
1970  James Gang - Rides Again (2010 SHM remaster)

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Jane - Together (1972 germany, tremendous heavy prog rock)

Hardly another German rock act looks back on as long and successful a history as Jane. Founded in autumn 1970, after bassist Klaus Hess, saxophonist Werner Nadolny and vocalist Peter Panka had split from the professional act, Justice of Peace, changing not only their musical environment but also their instruments, Hess switched to guitars, Nadolny to organ, and Panka to drums.

Over two million copies of the eleven albums that saw the light of day via the legendary Krautrock label, Brain, were sold between 1972 and 1982, while releases like the debut, Together, and Fire, Water, Earth And Air or Live At Home (both tram 1976) are considered milestones in German rock history.

The clear, charismatic voice of mastermind, Peter Panka, and the deeply melodic style of their songwriting give the band their incomparable flair. 
1. Daytime - 8:05
2. Wind - 4:52
3. Try To Find - 5:24
4. Spain - 11:53
5. Together - 3:43
6. Hangman - 9:58
All compositions by Klaus Hess, Bernd Pulst

*Klaus Hess - Lead Guitar
*Bernd Pulst - Lead Vocals
*Werner Nadolny - Organ, Flute
*Charly Maucher - Bass, Vocals
*Peter Panka - Drums, Prcussion

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Kak - Kak-Ola (1968-69 us, stunning garage psych folk rock)

Barely noticed when it was first released on Epic Records in January 1969, Kak's eponymous album has been a collector's item since the late 1970s and has also been bootlegged several times. A legitimate CD version on US Sony opened up a new chapter in 1992, but in the ensuing seven years time has passed that straight (and now out-of-print) reissue by. Since then, reissue standards have risen dramatically, which brings us to the latest offering in Big Beat's "Nuggets From the Golden State" series.

Retitled Kak-Ola, this reissue gives you the full original album, resplendent Inverness cover and all. But you also get the rare alternate single version of Rain, both sides of guitarist/vocalist Gary Lee Yoder's even rarer 1970 Epic single, and eight previously unreleased demos and live cuts for good measure. The latter eight consist of three pre-album Yoder recordings that bridge the gap between Kak and the Oxford Circle (the previous band he and fellow Kak-ster Dehner Patten were in, documented on Live At The Avalon 1966, CDWIKD 178). There are revelatory acoustic demos, live versions of three album cuts by Kak, plus a fine Yoder medley of the previously unheard Bye Bye / Easy Jack.

One might call these eleven extras the icing on the cake, but it's more like another cake considering what you already have in the original album. If you were to hold up any record as exemplifying the "feel-good" West Coast sound of the late 60s, it might as well be Kak's. Through poignant imagery and strong playing, the album touches on the era's social turbulence on Everything's Changing, free-spirited lifestyles on Electric Sailor and Lemonaide Kid, dreamy idealism on I've Got Time, and mind expansion with the Trieulogy of Golgotha, Mirage and Rain. The textures range from hard to soft to ethereal, and by the end of this CD visions of grassy California hillsides seen through granny sunglasses are guaranteed to be on your mind.

While you're still in the fantasy, be sure to check out the liners for the band's spoken-word history via a transcript of interviews conducted by Kak-Ola compiler Alec Palao.
by Doug Sheppard

Gary Lee Yoder passed away on August 7, 2021 at the age of 75.
1. HCO 97658 (Gary Lee Yoder, Gary Grelecki, Dehner Patten, Joe Dave Damrell, Chris Lockheed) - 1:40
2. Everything's Changing (Gary Lee Yoder, Gary Grelecki) - 4:07
3. Electric Sailor (Gary Lee Yoder, Dehner Patten, Joe Dave Damrell, Chris Lockheed) - 3:08
4. Disbelievin' (Gary Lee Yoder) - 4:00
5. I've Got Time (Gary Lee Yoder) - 3:41
6. Flowing By (Gary Lee Yoder, Gary Grelecki) - 3:58
7. Bryte 'N' Clear Day (Gary Lee Yoder, Gary Grelecki) - 3:47
8. Trieulogy  a. Golgotha/b. Mirage/c. Rain (Gary Lee Yoder, Gary Grelecki) - (8:12)
9. Lemonaide Kid (Gary Lee Yoder) - 5:56
10.Rain (Gary Lee Yoder, Gary Grelecki) - 2:06
11.Everything's Changing (Gary Lee Yoder, Gary Grelecki) - 2:54
12.I've Got Time (Gary Lee Yoder) - 2:06
13.Medley: Bye Bye / Easy Jack (Gary Lee Yoder) - 4:14
14.Bryte 'N' Clear Day (Gary Lee Yoder, Gary Grelecki) - 6:10
15.Medley: Mirage / Rain (Gary Lee Yoder, Gary Grelecki) - 5:53
16.When Love Comes In (Gary Lee Yoder) - 2:50
17.I Miss You (Gary Lee Yoder) - 3:59
18.Lonely People Blues (Gary Lee Yoder) - 4:16
19.Flight From The East (Gary Lee Yoder) - 4:13
20.Good Time Music (Gary Lee Yoder) - 2:20
Bonus Tracks 10-20
Tracks 16-20 as Gary Lee Yoder

*Gary Lee Yoder - Lead Vocals, Rhythm, Acoustic Guitars
*Christopher Lockheed - Drums, Tabla, Harpsichord, Maracas, Vocals
*Dehner Patten - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Joe Dave Damrell - Bass, Sitar, Tambourine, Vocals
*Billie Barnum - Backing Vocals (Tracks 19,20)
*Jim Keylor - Bass (Tracks 16,17,19,20) 
*Ralph Burns Kellogg - Bass, Keyboards (Track 18)
*Paul Whaley - Drums (Tracks 16-20)
*Richard Berger - Flute (Track 17)
*Bruce Stephens - Guitar (Tracks 16-18)
*Bryn Haworth - Guitar (Tracks 19,20)
*Pete Sears - Keyboards (Tracks 19,20)

Related Acts

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Iota - Iota (1971 us, rough fuzzy heavy psych rock, 2003 reissue)

Originally formed in El Paso in the late 60s, this Texan four-piece soon relocated to Memphis and released a couple of singles. Finding that their sound and lyrics were apparently too strong and dark for the times, the band broke up in 1972 leaving behind only a thin legacy. This CD compiles ten songs for a half hour of vintage, rough psychedelic rock, sometimes not far off from Blue Cheer, sometimes more laid-back like many of their contemporaries.

Mark Evans' guitar work ranges from pure fuzzed-out riffing to mildly funkified wah scratches, while Steve Phipps' organ distinguishes the group from many of the dual guitar outfits of the time. Being the band leader and singer, it's perhaps not surprising that Carl Neer's bass lines are often mixed higher than usual for this sort of band, while Rick Ramaka's drums get the job done rhythmically.

The delicate guitar picking during the first bars of "Precincts" soon expands into classic 70s psych, with expansive keyboards and vocals that are nearly-but-not-quite over the top. When the guitar kicks into the lead, it's got the perfect fuzz tone, on the edge of breaking up completely. One of the best songs here, "Love Come Wicked" sports deep riffing, cool organ, and vocals perhaps mildly reminiscent of early Deep Purple. The burning guitar lead in the middle is really something.

Heavier rock filled with distorted guitar and a blues-derived riff, "Glympses" leads into the slower, dark-tinged bit of psych aptly titled "R.I.P." The doo-wah chorus of "Better Place" feels somewhat different, with a vaguely funky feel, while "Bottle Baby" will make you nod your head to the thick bass riff and staccato organ.

The rest of the brief collection includes the spacious feel of "Sing For You" and "The Words Are True," with strong organ and a really compressed distorted guitar sound. "I'm Gonna Be a Man" is a more traditional late 60s garage rock tune, while "Our Love so Warm" is the most "of-its-time" song, a paisley-covered psych tune complete with pure '60s-era vocal harmonies and jangly guitars.

Great to have Shadoks pulling out items like this from various label archives. This one's a pretty welcome find, whether you're looking for some pretty heavy fuzz-riffs or flower-power psych. Shame it's only thirty minutes, but then, that's all there was to find, which is better than nothing!
by Mason Jones
1. Precincts - 3:39
2. Glympses - 2:34
3. R.I.P. - 3:18
4. Love Come Wicked - 2:26
5. Bottle Baby - 4:02
6. Sing For You2:49
7. Better Place - 2:23
8. The Words Are True - 4:11
9. I'm Gonna Be A Man - 2:47
10.Our Love So Warm - 2:21
All songs by Carl Neer

*Mark Evans - Guitar
*Carl Neer - Bass, Guitar
*Steve Phipps - Keyboards
*Rick Ramaka - Drums 

Monday, December 19, 2022

James Gang - Miami (1974 us, energetic, muscular guitar rock)

Led by guitarist/singer Joe Walsh, The James Gang were a hard rockin’ outfit who had no problem filling out their music with only three players. When Walsh left the group at the height of their popularity to form Barnstorm, the rhythm section of bassist Dale Peters and drummer Jim Fox decided to soldier on, and expanded the group to a quartet with singer Roy Kenner and guitarist Domenic Troiano. 

After a pair of releases, Troiano left. At the suggestion of their old pal Walsh, Tommy Bolin was invited to saddle up and ride with The James Gang.

Peters recalls Bolin relocating to their home base of Cleveland, Ohio: “He was great. He just seemed like the right guy, played the right way – a spectacular guitar player. Tommy was actually relatively quiet, but the drug thing was hideous. He’d get up in the morning and take, like, 20 aspirins just to get going. When he was high he was great. But when he wasn’t he was just miserable."

Despite Bolin’s growing chemical dependency, there’s no denying that the two albums The James Gang recorded with him, 1973’s Bang and 1974’s Miami, are among the group’s finest, and are arguably among the most underrated rock releases of the 70s.
by Classic Rock, January 11, 2021 
1. Cruisin' Down The Highway (Dale Peters, Tommy Bolin) - 3:23
2. Do It (Roy Kenner, Tommy Bolin) - 3:44
3. Wildfire (John Tesar, Tommy Bolin) - 3:35
4. Sleepwalker (John Tesar, Tommy Bolin) - 4:05
5. Miami Two-Step (Dale Peters, Jimmy Fox, Tommy Bolin) - 1:28
6. Praylude / Red Skies (Tommy Bolin) - 6:02
7. Spanish Lover (Jeff Cook, Tommy Bolin) - 3:43
8. Summer Breezes (Tommy Bolin) - 2:39
9. Head Above The Water (Dale Peters, Tommy Bolin) - 4:15

James Gang
*Roy Kenner - Lead Vocals
*Tommy Bolin - Guitars, Lead Vocals 
*Albhy Galuten - Keyboards, Piano, Synthesizer 
*Dale Peters - Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals, Percussion
*Jimmy "Jim" Fox - Drums, Backing Vocals, Percussion, Keyboards, Organ
*Tom Dowd - Keyboards, Piano

1969  James Gang - Yer' Album (Japan SHM remaster)
1970  James Gang - Rides Again (2010 SHM remaster)

Free Text 

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Jefferson Airplane - Surrealistic Pillow (1967 us, psych rock masterpiece, 2013 audiophile and 2003 xpanded edition)

The second album by Jefferson Airplane, Surrealistic Pillow was a groundbreaking piece of folk-rock-based psychedelia, and it hit like a shot heard round the world; where the later efforts from bands like the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and especially, the Charlatans, were initially not too much more than cult successes, Surrealistic Pillow rode the pop charts for most of 1967, soaring into that rarefied Top Five region occupied by the likes of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and so on, to which few American rock acts apart from the Byrds had been able to lay claim since 1964.

And decades later the album still comes off as strong as any of those artists' best work. From the Top Ten singles "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love" to the sublime "Embryonic Journey," the sensibilities are fierce, the material manages to be both melodic and complex (and it rocks, too), and the performances, sparked by new member Grace Slick on most of the lead vocals, are inspired, helped along by Jerry Garcia (serving as spiritual and musical advisor and sometimes guitarist). Every song is a perfectly cut diamond, too perfect in the eyes of the bandmembers, who felt that following the direction of producer Rick Jarrard and working within three- and four-minute running times, and delivering carefully sung accompaniments and succinct solos, resulted in a record that didn't represent their real sound. 

They did wonderful things with the music within that framework, and the only pity is that RCA didn't record for official release any of the group's shows from the same era, when this material made up the bulk of their repertory. That way the live versions, with the band's creativity unrestricted, could be compared and contrasted with the record. The songwriting was spread around between Marty Balin, Slick, Paul Kantner, and Jorma Kaukonen, and Slick and Balin (who never had a prettier song than "Today," which he'd actually written for Tony Bennett) shared the vocals; the whole album was resplendent in a happy balance of all of these creative elements, before excessive experimentation (musical and chemical) began affecting the band's ability to do a straightforward song. The group never made a better album, and few artists from the era ever did. 
by Bruce Eder

The Jefferson Airplane’s second LP, Surrealistic Pillow, gave notice that San Francisco in 1967 was the epicenter of the counterculture, even more so than swinging London. Established Bay Area bands such as the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service already existed, but Surrealistic Pillow gained AM radio play with “Somebody to Love,” which brought Jefferson Airplane and the Summer of Love into many American households.

Jefferson Airplane had already released a debut, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, the year before. Something in the air seemed to inject more experimentation and radicalism into music, and the group took a big leap with their second record. The band solidified its new sound (slightly harder-edged but retaining folk-rock elements) when it hired vocalist Grace Slick and drummer Spencer Dryden. Surrealistic Pillow comes on tougher and more focused than the band’s debut, and plays to the instrumental strengths of guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady.

Significant sonic differences distinguish the original mono edition from the stereo version. The latter format has a heavier layer of echo. The mono uses the effect more judiciously, and some tracks vary in other ways, such as the more pronounced bass on “Comin’ Back to Me.” Mobile Fidelity’s choice to release the album in mono on two LPs cut at 45RPM is the correct aesthetic choice since it happens to be the best way to hear this music.

More importantly, the new pressing registers a distinct improvement over the original. Guitar tones come through with better clarity, the bass features extra heft, and the vocals are more clearly separated. The tones of Dryden’s drums on the intro of “She Has Funny Cars” feel more distinct, and the slight amount of fuzz tone added to Casady’s bass registers with striking clarity. On the original, when Slick and Marty Balin harmonize, their voices are crammed together, but here, it’s much easier to hear each singer.

Similarly, the voices on the wonderful folk-rock tune “My Best Friend” feel richer and harmonically deeper on the Mobile Fidelity, and Casady’s more audible, firmer bass gives the track a stronger foundation. Kaukonen’s electric-guitar lines ring truer and the acoustic guitar playing possesses added drive. In addition, the acoustic guitars on “Today” sound more resonant and warm, the tambourine in the background is less aggressively splashy than on the earlier pressing, and Dryden’s percussion more dramatically builds on the Mobile Fidelity.

The reissue also gives more space for the rock tunes to spread out, which makes it easy to hear each of the vocalists on “3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds” and lets all the guitar parts bloom. Slick’s vocal on “White Rabbit” is more expressive, and Kantner’s rhythm guitar strikes have a slightly sharper echo behind them that firms up the arrangement. Balin’s vocal on “Plastic Fantastic Lover” conveys the snarl of the original, but the sibilance is tamed and, as a result, he sounds less self-righteous.

I also compared the Mobile Fidelity with the 33RPM mono pressing Sundazed released in 2003. Overall, the Sundazed sounds very good, less bright than the original and nicely balanced. However, as soon as I played “Somebody to Love” on the Mobile Fidelity and could more clearly visualize where Paul Kantner’s voice is placed in relation to Slick’s, just behind and in support, I knew it’s the version everyone should own—as well as more transparent, dynamic, full, and musical. Don’t miss it.
by Joe Taylor
1. She Has Funny Cars (Jorma Kaukonen, Marty Balin) - 3:14
2. Somebody To Love (Darby Slick) - 3:00
3. My Best Friend (Skip Spence) - 3:04
4. Today (Marty Balin, Paul Kantner) - 3:03
5. Comin' Back To Me (Marty Balin)  - 5:23
6. 3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds (Marty Balin) - 3:45
7. D.C.B.A.-25 (Paul Kantner) - 2:39
8. How Do You Feel (Tom Mastin)  - 3:34
9. Embryonic Journey (Jorma Kaukonen) - 1:55
10.White Rabbit (Grace Slick) - 2:32
11.Plastic Fantastic Lover (Marty Balin) - 2:39
12.In The Morning (Jorma Kaukonen) - 6:21
13.J.P.P. Mcstep B. Blues (Skip Spence) - 2:37
14.Go To Her (Version Two) (Paul Kantner, Irving Estes) - 4:02
15.Come Back Baby (Traditional) - 2:56
16.Somebody To Love (Darby Slick) - 2:58
17.White Rabbit (Grace Slick) / D.C.B.A.-25 - 5:21
Bonus Tracks 13-17 only on 2003 expanded edition

Jefferson Airplane
*Marty Balin - Vocals, Guitar, Lead Vocals Cars", "My Best Friend" And "Go To Her"
*Jack Casady - Bass Guitar, Fuzz Bass, Rhythm Guitar
*Spencer Dryden - Drums, Percussion
*Paul Kantner - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals, 
*Jorma Kaukonen - Lead Guitar, Vocals 
*Grace Slick - Vocals, Piano, Organ, Recorder, Lead Vocals 
*Jerry Garcia - Guitar (Tracks 4,5,11,12,13)

1966  Jefferson Airplane - Takes Off (2013 audiophile remaster)
Related Acts
1972  Hot Tuna - Burgers (2012 audiophile Vinyl replica)  

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Chicken Shack - Roadies Concerto (1981 uk, tough boogie rock, 2015 release)

In 1981 Stan Webb had possibly found the most prolific of all of his line-ups with basically an all-star line-up of bluesrock royalty:Stan Webb, the master - guitars and vocals Paul Butler (ex-Jellybread) - guitars, vocals Ric Lee (ex-Ten Yeasr After) - drums, Allan Scott - bass, Tony Ashton (ex-Ashton, Gerdner & Dyke) - keyboards, vocals.This Roadies Concerto recording displays the mastery of this assembly of exceptional musicians - a gatheriing of the tribes! Rarely ever Chicken Shack played in such perfection.In this line-up they undertook a very successful toru of Europe, esp. Germany ... they blew everybody's mind!
1. Tell Me (Chester Burnett) - 5:07
2. Why I Sing The Blues (Riley King, Dace Clark) - 2:03
3. Back Door Man (Willie Dixon) - 7:00
4. Black Night (Stan Webb) - 5:59
5. So Far Back (Stan Webb) - 6:38
6. The End (Stan Webb) - 4:13
7. Poor Boy (Stan Webb) - 4:32
8. Shake Your Money Maker (Elmore James) - 4:02
9. Hideaway (Freddy King, Sonny Thompson) - 1:24

Chicken Shack
*Tony Ashton - Keyboards
*Paul Butler - Guitar, Vocals 
*Ric Lee - Drums
*Allan Scott - Bass
*Stan Webb - Guitar, Vocals 

1968  40 Blue Fingers, Freshly Packed And Ready To Serve (2013 reissue)

Friday, December 16, 2022

Hank Marvin And John Farrar - Hank Marvin And John Farrar (1973 uk / australia, nice melodic soft rock, 2007 remaster)

Paring Marvin, Welch & Farrar down to a duo of Hank Marvin and Olivia Newton-John producer John Farrar results in "So Hard to Live With," an opening track which sounds more like the Beach Boys than that veteran band did in 1973. John Farrar's original "Music Makes My Day" could be England Dan & John Ford Coley imitating Paul McCartney. "Skin Deep" changes identity yet again, but these consistent minstrels are true craftsmen and the pretty acoustic guitars match their harmonious vocals delivering music as satisfying as their discs with Bruce Welch, who co-writes the final tune, "Lord How It's Hurting" with Hank Marvin. 

The melancholy "If I Rewrote Yesterdays" is as good a tune as it is a title, it has elements of the Beach Boys and McCartney, an exquisite track for lovers of pop music. The failure of both Sire and EMI to break hit records from this crew is sad, and a loss for the music world. Progressive and psychedelic are the only way to describe "Galadriel (Spirit of Starlight)," it's just a gem of a tune deserving rediscovery. There are so many layers of sound, smart lyrics and shimmering vocal beauty that demand repeated listenings. It's a monster, and this album by two veteran musicians is an absolute find. 
by Joe Viglione
1. So Hard To Live With - 3:34
2. Music Makes My Day (John Farrar) - 3:50
3. Skin Deep - 4:28
4. If I Rewrote Yesterday - 2:16
5. Galadriel (Spirit Of Starlight) - 6:20
6. Love Oh Love - 4:17
7. Help Me Onto Your Wagon (John Farrar) - 3:15
8. Small And Lonely Light (John Farrar, Peter Best) - 3:15
9. You Can Never Tell (Hank Marvin) - 3:37
10.Nobody Cares (Hank Marvin) - 4:52
11.Lord How It's Hurting (Bruce Welch, Hank Marvin) - 0:36
All songs by Hank Marvin, John Farrar except where stated

*John Farrar - Guitar, Mellotron, Piano, Vocals
*Hank Marvin - Guitar, Mellotron, Piano, Vocals
*Brian Bennett - Percussion
*Trevor Spencer - Drums, Percussion
*Alan Tarney - Bass
*Bruce Welch - Vocals 
*Richard Hewson - Conductor, Orchestral Arrangements

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Jefferson Airplane - Volunteers (1969 psych rock milestone, 2013 Audiophile remaster and 2003 xpanded)

Volunteers was different from many of the anti-war and protest albums of the ‘60s. There was no despair or condescension, but rather, it was an angry and scathing commentary about what was wrong with society and our nation. Listening to such songs as the title track and “We Can Be Together” forty years later may find them a little dated, but the passion of the lyrics and the power of the music remain.

The opening notes of the first track, “We Can Be Together,” announce a strong political statement featuring the harmonies of Slick, Balin, and Kantner. It may be a tad idealistic today, but as the ‘60s drew to a close it was a meaningful anthem. “Volunteers,” which closes the album, was a call to a generation. It was both anti-establishment and unifying, which served as a vehicle for the group to preach their political message. The music demands your attention.

I have always been attracted to The Airplane’s presentation of “Wooden Ships.” The popular version may remain that of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, but this rock interpretation of the apocalypse, Cold War, and nuclear holocaust seems more true to the song’s lyrical intent. And the Kaukonen guitar solo is brilliant.

There are certainly a number of other highlights on this album. “Eskimo Blue Day” finds a tough Grace Slick fronting a song that would look ahead to Blows Against The Empire, while “Hey Fredrick” features another of her great vocals. Jorma Kaukonen continued his creative guitar explorations on the traditional “Good Shepherd” and his own composition, “Turn My Life Down,” which would look ahead to his work with Jack Casady in Hot Tuna.

Two final comments seem in order. Marty Balin was the co-writer of only one song and his time with The Airplane as a regular member was coming to a close. He always had more pop sensibilities than the other members and, as a counterpoint, would be missed. On the other hand, the great Nicky Hopkins contributed his virtuoso piano playing to four of the tracks, which added an interesting sound to their usual mix.

Volunteers  was the last great Jefferson Airplane release. Today the album stands the test of time well. Some of the lyrical nuances may be lost on the modern listener, but it remains an essential statement four decades after its release. Historically, it is an important echo from an era, especially for people with a draft number of three.
by David Bowling, 11/17/2010
1. We Can Be Together (Paul Kantner) - 5:48
2. Good Shepherd (Traditional) - 4:21
3. The Farm (Gary Blackman, Paul Kantner) - 3:15
4. Hey Fredrick (Grace Slick) - 8:26
5. Turn My Life Down (Jorma Kaukonen) - 2:54
6. Wooden Ships (David Crosby, Paul Kantner, Stephen Stills) - 6:24
7. Eskimo Blue Day (Grace Slick, Paul Kantner) - 6:31
8. A Song For All Seasons (Spencer Dryden) - 3:28
9. Meadowlands - 1:04
10.Volunteers (Marty Balin, Paul Kantner) - 2:02
11.Good Shepherd (Traditional) - 7:20
12.Somebody To Love (Darby Slick) - 4:10
13.Plastic Fantastic Lover (Marty Balin) - 3:21
14.Wooden Ships (David Crosby, Paul Kantner, Stephen Stills) - 7:00
15.Volunteers (Marty Balin, Paul Kantner) - 3:26
Bonus Tracks 11-15 only on 2003 edition, Recorded November 28 and 29, 1969 at the Fillmore East

Jefferson Airplane
*Grace Slick - Vocals, Piano, Organ 
*Marty Balin - Vocals, Percussion
*Paul Kantner - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
*Jorma Kaukonen - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Jack Casady - Bass
*Spencer Dryden - Drums, Percussion
*Nicky Hopkins - Piano (Tracks 1,4,6,8,10)
*Stephen Stills - Hammond Organ (Track 5)
*Jerry Garcia - Pedal Steel Guitar (Track 3)
*Joey Covington - Congas (Tracks 5)
*David Crosby - Sailboat (6)
*Ace Of Cups - Vocals (Tracks 3,5)
*Bill Laudner - Lead Vocals (Track 8)

1966  Jefferson Airplane - Takes Off (2013 audiophile remaster)
Related Acts
1972  Hot Tuna - Burgers (2012 audiophile Vinyl replica)