Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Mississippi - Mississippi (1972 australia, great folk soft rock)

Mississippi evolved from Adelaide folk-rock band called Alison Gros, a trio consisting of Graeham Goble, Russ Johnson and John Mower. Alison Gros recorded one independent single ("Naturally" / "Would You Really Have To Go?") on the Gamba label in 1970. The band then moved to Melbourne and signed to Ron Tudor's Fable Records, for whom they cut two more singles in 1971, "If I Ask You" / "So Good" (July) and "All The Days" / "Weaver Of Life" (December).

Their next recordings for Fable is a genuine oddity of Australian rock. Under the pseudonym Drummond, the members of Alison Gros cut a novelty 'chipmunk' versions of the '50s rock'n'roll classic "Daddy Cool", which was released in July '71. It was a shameless cash-in on the success of Ross Wilson's new band Daddy Cool, whose own version of that song was included on Daddy Cool's hugely successful debut album.

Riding in on the coattails of DC's chart breakthrough, the Drummond version of the song actually knocked Daddy Cool's huge #1 hit "Eagle Rock" off the top of the charts and, inexplicably, became one of the biggest hits of the year, charting for 22 weeks (a fact Ross Wilson sarcastically referred to when introducing the song during Daddy Cool's farewell concert in 1972, captured on DC's The Last Drive-In Movie album). Fable went on to release three more singles under the Drummond pseudonym, but these were apparently recorded by anonymous studio musicians and the members of Alison Gros were not involved.

In early 1972, Alison Gros changed their name to Mississippi. They recorded their excellent self-titled debut LP with the addition of session players Peter Jones (piano), Geoff Cox (drums), Barry Sullivan (bass, ex-Chain) and Graham Lyall (flute). It was released in September that year on Fable's new Bootleg imprint, a subsidiary label recently set by Tudor and musician Brian Cadd. The Mississippi album showcased the band's considerable vocal abilities and Goble and Johnson's strong writing skills. The material and the tight harmonizing showed the influence of groups like The Hollies, The Bee Gees, Crosby and Stills, Nash & Young. Their debut single "Kings of the World" (released in July) became a Top 10 hit in October.

With their album and single now critical and commerical successes, the band decided to begin touring in support of the LP in late '72. Needing a singer and bass player for the touring band, Graeham Goble decided to contact Beeb Birtles, formerly bassist with Zoot), whom he knew from his Adelaide days. After Zoot split, Beeb had formed a shortlived duo called Frieze with Daryl Cotton. After that project folded he went to work for the AMBO booking agency, and it was here that he got a call one day from Graeham Goble.

When they met, Goble played the new LP to Beeb, and he was knocked out by what he heard; Goble in turn was greatly impressed by Birtles' ability. Although Beeb had by then switched from bass to guitar, Gobles invited him to join the band. According to Birtles, the rest of the band objected, but Goble threatened to quit unless Birtles was hired. Beeb bought a new bass and auditioned with the group, but the lineup was completed first by an unknown bassist (who was soon replaced by Colin Deleuca, ex-Fugitives), and drummer, Derek Pellici (ex The Ash). In December '72 they issued a second single, "Mr Moondog" / "All Through The Day". One of the group's important early appearances was their set at the 1973 Sunbury Rock Festival in January, where they were backed by a full orchestra. Graeham Goble has assisdously kept a diary throughout his career (now totalling over 1900 live performances!) and happily this means he has a virtually complete record of all Mississippi's live gigs, which can be viewed on  the Live Shows page of his official website. Over the next two years Mississippi worked solidly in pubs, clubs and discos all over the country, and although they never achieved the commerical success they deserved, it was a formative period for Graeham Goble, who wrote and first performed many of the songs that he later recorded with such success with LRB, including "It's A Long Way There". 

There were several more lineup changes, beginning in February 1973 when Russ Johnson left to join Country Radio; he was replaced for a month by Kerryn Tolhurst (who had himself just left Country Radio). When Tolhurst left to form The Dingoes he was replaced by Harvey James. Their next single, "Early Morning" / "Sweet World" was released in July '73, and in October they supported The Jackson Five on their Australian tour. When the tour ended, Deleuca and Mower both left the band. Deluca was replaced first by bassist Andre Santos, then by Charlie Tumahai (ex- Healing Force, Chain, Friends) in December.
1. Save The Land - 5:15
2. Mr. Moondog - 2:48
3. Three Days (Graham Goble) - 3:50
4. All Through The Day (Graham Goble) - 2:53
5. Sweet World (Graham Goble) - 4:37
6. Feel Alone (Graham Goble) - 3:38
7. Do I - 3:53
8. Kings Of The World (Graham Goble) - 2:30
9. City Sunday - 1:30
10.When You're Old - 3:23
11.Day Job Song (Graham Goble) - 4:52
All songs by Russ Johnson except where indicated

*Graeham Goble - Lead, Harmony Vocals, Acoustic, Electric Guitars
*Russ Johnson - Lead, Harmony Vocals, Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
*John Mower - Lead Vocal
*Peter Jones - Orchestrations
*Geoff Cox - Drums 
*Graeme Lyall - Flute (Tracks 4,5), Tenor, Soprano Saxophones (Track 7)
*Barry Sullivan - Bass
*Brian Cadd - Piano (Track 6)
*Peter Jones - Piano (Tracks 1,4), Tambourine, Percussion (Track 7)  
*John Gray - Bass (Track 11)
*Ted Van Zyl - Drums (Track 11)


Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Fields - Feeling Free The Complete Recordings (1971-73 uk, fascinating prog rock, 2022 double disc remaster)

The list of worthy 1970s bands who have remained largely unsung and, worse, unheard by most people is a long and unfortunate one. Even within those annals of obscurity, however, there can be few bands more unlucky to find themselves in that unenviable position than Fields. As if to prove the veracity of that opening statement, a great many reading this will, at this point, be asking ‘who?’, and that would be entirely understandable as, until 2015, I myself was in that same position. Fields were, as an explanatory note to the band name, formed by keyboard player Graham Field in 1971, after he had left the early configuration of Rare Bird following a dispute over what must rank as one of the worst recording contracts of all time (fascinatingly delved into in the accompanying booklet). With Rare Bird having unusually featured two keyboards and no guitars, Graham was still unwilling to cede all of the spotlight to the six-string option, but not to the point of omitting he guitar altogether. Therefore he put together a three-piece band which, in a quite similar way to ELP, Andy McCulloch (fresh from King Crimson’s Lizard album) came in on drums while Alan Barry joined on guitar, bass and vocals. Concentrating more on bass than guitar, for live work he would play a double-neck to be able to switch from one to another mid-song.

The self-titled Fields debut album appeared on CBS records in 1971, and it remains a superb listen. It is more usual for a band flying so far under the radar to have produced recordings which tend to be described using words such as ‘promising’, ‘potential’ and ‘flawed but fascinating’. It is very unusual to find one such as this where the first (and only, for a long time) recording is absolutely the finished article. This is the work of a confident, varied and exciting band. There are ELP influences aplenty, unsurprisingly, with Field often drawn to the huge, heavily bombastic sound of Keith Emerson in full flight, but that isn’t the whole story. Opening track A Friend Of Mine is an absolute barnstormer of a beginning, with that massive Emerson wall of keyboard sound hitting the listener right between the eyes, before it settles down as it progresses, to be a perfect marriage of ELP with the very differently keyboard-led influence of Procol Harum. Indeed, the track contains a repeated two-line melody which is so close to the later Procol classic Pandora’s Box that it is hard not to imagine the late Gary Brooker casting an approving ear over this back in 1971, subconsciously squirrelling it away for reference! 

There is so much great stuff here – there is more driving ELP rock with the likes of Over And Over Again, but elsewhere there is the ecologically minded and thought-provoking Not So Good, the slightly psychedelically-swirling keyboard showcase Slow Susan, and the stunning showcase for Alan Barry’s guitar and vocals which is the beautifully moving Fair Haired Lady. The rather oddly folky Three Minstrels, telling of the titular trio who came ‘out of the sun’, one playing lute, one playing drums and one ‘the organ sound’, could almost be a tip of the hat to ELP, even if totally different musically. It’s off-kilter but still quite charming. The closing instrumental The Eagle is a big proggy conclusion, marred only by the oddly dissonant breakdown towards the end. The only weak moment on this otherwise superb album is the lugubrious and bluesy A Place To Lay My Head which, while initially pleasant enough, drones on in an increasingly dull manner.

There are no long epics among these ten tightly composed tracks, but that matters not to an album which is utterly bursting with good, old-fashioned Golden Age prog rock. It is, genuinely, an unsung classic. Four bonus tracks are added to this first of two discs, two of which are alternate takes of Slow Susan and, infuriatingly, A Place To Lay My Head – which is not at all improved. Far more interesting are two songs recorded for a BBC radio session (for Sounds Of The Seventies), which reveal just how good Fields might have been as a live force. A Friend Of Mine is possibly even more dynamic and forceful than the album version, while the non-album track Wouldn’t You Agree would certainly have turned the album into a near flawless gem had it ousted A Place To Lay My Head in the running order, as it is a great song which seems, scandalously, to be receiving its first ever release here, after five decades. A shocking situation – Wouldn’t You Agree…

A year later, in 1972, Fields returned to the studio to record the follow-up album, Contrasts (subtitled Urban Roar To Country Peace), referencing Graham Field’s relocating in the meantime from Battersea to a country residence in leafy Buckinghamshire. Alan Barry had sadly left the band in the interim, returning to session and solo work, which he preferred to the band dynamic, but he was more than ably replaced on the same instrumentation by Frank Farrell, who had come from an early line-up of Supertramp. Sadly, an ill wind swept through the CBS corridors before the album was due to be released, with new American owners coming in with a dismissive attitude to progressive rock in general, and Fields were informed in no uncertain terms that their services were no longer required and their music would not be released. The band then folded (McCulloch going on to join another twin-keyboard band in Greenslade, interestingly), and the album languished in the vaults until 2015 when it was finally allowed to escape into the public arena – and consequently your humble scribe being introduced belatedly to the band.

So, how is that would-be follow up in comparison to its excellent predecessor. Well, ‘not as good’, is the short answer. However, ‘still blessed with much in the way of strong material’ is the more positive longer one. Opener Let Her Sleep is another fine beginning, cut very much from the debut cloth again, and even the dismally-titled Wedding Bells following it up manages to be a very strong track. Storm is an impressive closer, while the profoundly depressing tale of The Old Canal (that old chestnut, tragic suicide of a loved one) packs an emotional punch whilst making you hang your head in weary sorrow. Put Out To Grass invokes the heady spirit of ELP again, while Wonder Why possesses a sprightly jazzy feel, and they are good, entertaining stuff. The weak material is poor though, with Someone To Trust being rather an over-earnest trudging plod and, worst of all, Music Was Their Game setting its sights on the quirky rustic Three Minstrels area again but spectacularly failing. It’s still a strong record overall, but my word, that bar was raised high by the debut. Three tracks recorded at the album sessions have been added, and all are reasonable efforts without any being especially memorable.

The release is nicely presented with a trifold digipak design (though the front cover image is not for the easily offended bunny-lovers among us, as the unfortunate animal is being swept away to its presumed doom by a rather fearsome looking bird of prey – presumably, the eagle of the first album). Having only previously been aware of the second album, discovering the quality of the debut release was an eye-opening experience for me, and I really cannot recommend it highly enough. All in all, this is two discs of quality vintage prog listening. Of all the myriad forgotten avenues and cul-de-sacs in the estate signposted ‘The Forgotten ’70s’, this is one of the best you could wish to find. Rediscover it, you won’t be sorry.
by Steve Pilkington, April 27, 2022
Disc 1
1. A Friend of Mine - 4:29 
2. While the Sun Still Shines (Alan Barry) - 3:16 
3. Not So Good - 03:09 
4. Three Minstrels - 4:29 
5. Slow Susan - 3:44 
6. Over and Over Again - 5:56 
7. Feeling Free - 3:15 
8. Fair-Haired Lady (Alan Barry) - 3:05 
9. A Place to Lay My Head - 3:38 
10.The Eagle (Alan Barry, Graham Field) - 5:28 
11.Slow Susan - 3:45 
12.A Place to Lay My Head - 4:26 
13.A Friend of Mine - 3:59 
14.Wouldn't You Agree - 4:17
All compositions by Graham Field except where indicated
Tracks 1-9 from "Fields" Originally Released As CBS Records In 1971
Bonus Tracks 11-12 Alternate Versions
Bonus Tracks 13-14 BBC Radio One Sounds, Recorded 23rd December 1971 
Disc 2
1. Let Her Sleep - 5:01
2. Wedding Bells - 4:00
3. Someone to Trust - 3:49
4. Wonder Why - 3:38
5. Music Was Their Game - 3:01
6. The Old Canal - 4:17
7. Put Out to Grass - 3:29
8. Storm (Frank Farrell, Graham Field) - 4:36
9. Set Yourself Free (Frank Farrell, Graham Field) - 4:35
10.The River - 2:32
11.Spring - 1:49 
All compositions by Graham Field except where noted
Tracks 1-8 from "Contrasts Urban Roar To Country Peace", Recorded 1972
Bonus Tracks 9-11, Recorded 1972

*Alan Barry - Bass, Classical, Electric Guitars, Mellotron, Vocals 
*Frank Farrell - Lead, Acoustic Guitars, Bass,  Vocals
*Graham Field - Electro-Acoustic Piano, Keyboards, Organ
*Andy McCulloch - Drums, Percussion, Talking Drum, Timpani 

Related Acts


Monday, May 29, 2023

Touch - Street Suite (1969 us, rough heavy psych blues rock)

Coming directly from playing live with some of the finest hard rock bands of the era, Touch entered the studio to record their only album in 1968, released the following year in a limited pressing of 100 LPs. This Gear Fab reissue collects that entire album with the original lineup's two non-LP 45s, three songs recorded by the altered post-LP lineup, and a couple cuts by the Essence, the latter day band of Touch leader Ray Schulte. As such, it is the complete collection of the band's intense, sometimes left-leaning psychedelia grounded in blues. The early singles, which show the band as still slightly tentative, include a slowed-down version of the Doors' "Light My Fire" bolstered by some nice fuzz guitar and a smoking take on the traditional "Stormy Monday Blues," as well as two solid band compositions.

At this stage in the band's existence, Paulette Butts still mainly sang harmony to Schulte's appealingly gruff lead, but she began to surface out front more on the LP, adding another tensive dimension to the music. This is also where the band's political consciousness began to assert itself. The "suite" in the album's title is not figurative; Street Suite opens with a song sequence comprised of the introductory "Happy Face" and "Beginnings," which leads directly into the incendiary "Get a Gun," subtitled "A Song About Self Defense." Indeed, the song burns with the intensity that it implies, and Butts' vocals add a subversive edge to the performance. "Catfish" pulls off some progressive blues that cut a bit deeper than much of the era's blue-eyed blues, and Touch showed that they were equally capable of slowing things down on "Got to Keep Travelin' On," a cut that is both country-ish and reminiscent of the Lovin' Spoonful. 

The second side of the LP displayed its political threads even more so than the first, with titles such as "Let's Keep the Children on the Streets" and "Motor City's Burning," and the music is as thrilling and immediate as the titles bear, even when, like many of their peers, the lyrics are somewhat more sophomoric than the sentiments. The few cuts that the band recorded following their lineup changes show the band to be a more introspective psychedelic ensemble, though the music still maintains its merits. The songs by Schulte's the Essence, despite the presence of sitar on one of the cuts, are night-and-day away from his former band's music, but they are still pretty songs that show the influence of psychedelia, although they are much closer to an '80s synth-pop sound. Touch's album should have been more commercially successful than it was, as it is easily one of the stronger second-level psych-blues albums of the decade.
by Stanton Swihart
1. Stormy Monday Blues (Traditional) - 6:26
2. Round Trip (Chuck Sabatino, Ray Schulte) - 3:14
3. Day To Day Man (Chuck Sabatino, Ray Schulte) - 3:14
4. Light My Fire (Jim Morrison, John Densmore, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger) - 5:37
5. Lady Of The Universe - 6:07
6. The Magic Inside You - 4:02
7. Rainbow (David Surcamp) - 3:00
8. Happy Face/Get A Gun - 6:03
9. Beginnings/Catfish (Ray Schulte/Traditional) - 9:02
10.Got To Keep Travelin' On - 3:15
11.Let's Keep The Children On The Streets - 5:47
12.Motor City's Burning (Albert B. Smith) - 5:13
13.Gettin' Off - 7:02
14.Melt Away - 2:16
15.Everything To You - 2:28
All songs by Ray Schulte except where noted

*Ray Schulte (Raymond Stone) - Guitar, Vocals, Harmonica
*Jerry Schulte - Bass
*Paulette Butts - Vocals, Tambourine
*Ovid Bilderback - Drums
*David Surkamp - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals (Tracks 5-7)
*Tom Rhoty - Drums
*Chuck Sabatino - Vocals
*Eric Salas - Drums

Relasted Act

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Sarah Fulcher - Sarah And Friends (1971 us, elegant folk rock, with divine vocals and tight backup band)

Sara Fulcher's vocals are quite strong and powerful, besides being a fascinating musician, Sarah is the missing link between Jerry Garcia and the ‘70s Memphis scene, as well as Texas rockabilly hero Roy Head. In 1971, she released her solo debut on the excellently named TMI Records, a subsidiary of Columbia, under the not-very-well-named “Sarah and Friends.” Included is her version of Dan Penn and Don Nix’s “Like A Road Leading Home,” which Jerry Garcia would learn from her. Produced by Booker T. and the MGs guitarist (and famed Stax session musician) Steve Cropper, Sarah Fulcher’s last name does not appear on the album packaging. No wonder she was so elusive. 
by Jesse Jarnow, December 17, 2019
1. Fly By Night (Walter Ramsey Jr.) - 4:55
2. Cycles (Sam Samudio) - 3:42 
3. Big City Eye (David Mayo) - 4:08  
4. The Natural Order Of Things (Eric Mercury, Carson Whitsett) - 3:34
5. I've Told You For The Last Time (Steve Cropper, Delaney Bramlett) - 3:15
6. Antique Age (Mary V. Williams, Mack Rice) - 3:24
7. She Who Steals My Man (Mary V. Williams, Mack Rice) - 4:28 
8. Take It Like You Give It (Ted White, Aretha Franklin) - 3:27
9. Like A Road Leading Home (Don Nix, Dan Penn) - 4:23
10.I'm Sticking With My Man (Eddie Floyd, Mack Rice, Steve Cropper, Chester Simmons) - 2:53
11.Lord I Wonder Why (Betty Cropper) - 3:24

*Sarah Fulcher - Vocals
*Steve Cropper - Guitar
*Paul Cannon - Guitar
*J. Spell - Piano, Organ
*Jim Johnson - Bass
*Richie Simpson - Drums
*David Mayo - Organ, Guitar, Backing Vocals
*Walter Ramsey - Piano
*David Beaver - Backing Vocals
*Pat Taylor - Backing Vocals


Friday, May 26, 2023

Sharks - Jab It In Yore Eye (1974 uk, soulful rockin' vibes, 2011 remaster with extra track)

Despite Free bassist/composer Andy Fraser and engineer Andy Johns moving on after 1973's First Water album, Sharks come back with a solid second outing putting Mr. Snips front and center, not only as vocalist, but as writer or co-writer of eight of the nine songs here. Jab It in Yore Eye features an absolutely dreadful album cover, sure to turn off record buyers. Where the first LP's artwork was simple and ineffective, this cover illustration by Bill Imhoff is just awful -- and misleading, for the music inside is pretty good. Fraser contributed to half of the previous album's songs without providing the direction he helped give Free. 

Jab It in Yore Eye feels more unified -- the addition of new bassist Busta Cherry Jones and expansion of the group to five pieces with keyboardist Nicky Judd provide definition. It would be hard to say Sharks was imitating Bad Company, as both groups emerged pretty much at the same time. But the bluesy core of a song like "Baby Shine a Light," penned by the new bassist, and lengthy essays such as Snips' "Sophistication" and "Revolution of the Heart" play totally in Paul Rodgers' world. 

Chris Spedding adds some intricate rhythmic guitar on the mellow affair, his presence a subtle highlight. They've abandoned the hint of glam from the previous year's debut and replaced it with low-key mellow blues. But as with First Water, there is no hit single to help bring attention to an otherwise interesting and listenable project.
by Joe Viglione
1. Just Like A Fever (Snips) - 3:30
2. Baby Shine A Light (Busta Cherry Jones) - 4:52
3. Sun Beat Down (Snips) - 4:55
4. Rain Or Shine (Marty Simon, Snips) - 3:42
5. Kung Fu (Snips) - 4:01
6. Sophistication (Snips) - 5:26
7. Surrender (Chris Spedding, Snips) - 2:46
8. Cocaine Blues (Snips) - 4:36
9. Revolution Of The Heart (Snips) - 6:42
10.Elevator Dancing (Snips) - 4:29

*Busta Cherry Jones - Bass, Vocals
*Nick Judd - Keyboards
*Marty Simon - Drums, Vocals
*Stephen Parsons "Snips" - Guitar, Vocals
*Chris Spedding - Lead Guitar, Organ

Related Act
1977  Chris Spedding - Hurt
1975-77  Chris Spedding - Chris Spedding (2013 Audiophile edition)

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Sharks - First Water (1973 uk, groovy straight ahead glam rock, feat. Chris Spedding and Andy Fraser from Free fame, 2011 remaster)

Sharks initially took shape when Andy Fraser approached Spedding in 1971 with the offer of Chris joining his post-Free band Toby. Nothing came of that but the two kept talking and jamming and Sharks took shape in 1972.

Fraser and Spedding’s Sharks partnership was to be brief: a car crash on the way back from a gig in Spedding’s Pontiac LeMans (customised with a fin on the roof and teeth on the grill – see top pic) left Fraser hospitalised and then to his departure from the band.

They were signed to Island Records, for their 1973 release "First Water", the album was highly rated by critics, especially for Chris Spedding's guitar work. This is the first of three albums recorded by the band and considered to be their best work. Andy Fraser left the band before their second album, "Jab It In Yore Eye" 
1. World Park Junkies (Chris Spedding, Snips) - 3:18
2. Follow Me (Andy Fraser) - 4:34
3. Ol' Jelly Roll (Snips) - 2:37
4. Brown-eyed Boy (Andy Fraser) - 2:54
5. Snakes And Swallowtails (Snips) - 3:50
6. Driving Sideways (Andy Fraser) - 4:09
7. Steal Away (Snips) - 6:11
8. Doctor Love (Andy Fraser) - 3:25
9. Broke A Feeling (Andy Fraser, Marty Simon, Snips) - 4:11

*Andy Fraser - Bass, Piano
*Marty Simon - Drums
*Steve Parsons "Snips" - Vocals
*Chris Spedding - Guitar 

Related Acts
1977  Chris Spedding - Hurt
1975-77  Chris Spedding - Chris Spedding (2013 Audiophile edition)

Friday, May 19, 2023

The Farm Band - The Farm Band (1972 us, excellent rural jam psych hippie folk rock, 2009 korean remaster)

When the Sixties came to a close, the dream of community, music, family and love continued  in the hearts of those who had lived through the cultural and psychedelic revolution.

Full of heart, passion, youth and a vision,  a handful of San Francisco seekers left in search of a new “back to the land” home.

In 1971, led by the spiritual teacher Stephen Gaskin, they eventually settled on 1750 acres in rural Tennessee to start their new lives together.

The Farm grew to 1,500 residents at its peak and included a school, book publishing company, soy dairy, solar electronics company, clinic and a revolutionary midwife services.

In addition to this there was music.  A lot of it.  There was a recording studio, band stages and a radio station.  Music was at the heart of the revolution and continues to play an important part in the community.

In the beginning what started out as a handful of musicians strumming in a barn with acoustic guitars and drums made from logs soon turned into The Farm Band. Their first album was recorded in 1971.

As a band they were committed to using music to bring people together and promote their message of peace and happiness.

From country twang to full psychedelic rock in the style of the Grateful Dead and Credence Clearwater Revival, they recorded 6 albums and performed hundreds of concerts across the US, Europe and England.

Every gig they performed was free, a fundamental tenet of their commitment to bringing music with a message to the people.
The Farm Band
1. Om - 2:36
2. Loving You - 10:16
3. Lord's Work (Thomas Dotzler) - 3:06
4. Keep Your Head Up High - 3:17
5. Being Here With You (Thomas Dotzler) - 11:51
6. Let It Ride - 12:05
7. Prayer - 2:51
8. I Believe It - 17:12
All songs written by Philip Schweitzer except where stated

The Farm Band
*Philip Schweitzer - Vocals, Guitar
*Joseph Rhodes - Guitar
*Walter Rabideau - Rhythm Guitar
*Mike Sullens - Bass 
*Dave Chalmers - Drums  
*Linda Hershfield - Vocals 
*Kay Marie Schweitze - Vocals

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Bethlehem Asylum - Commit Yourself (1970-71 us, exceptional rock, folk and jazz fused with prog elements)

The Summer of love came late to the Deep South. Some say it never came at all. There were no real rednecks in The Bethlehem Asylum, it was a colorful coat to wear in order to fit in. Unless you were black or had really long hair or were a snotty college drop-out or a folk singer or a jazz musician, or a blues player or a minister of the Universal Life Church or just too freaky to pass as a redneck. Which we were.

We stood out like a sore but bright colorful thumb in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi in the late sixties, early seventies. The band traveled all over the South playing festivals, bars, concerts, antiwar rallies, love ins, art happenings and plain old rock ‘n roll bashes. We stood out because we were doing what we loved doing, which was playing great music: Our Music. We wrote it as a band even though the publishing went to certain names (mostly the record company)

When we were on stage the music was always fresh and exciting. The lyrics might be the same every time, along with the chord changes and hopefully the back-ground harmonies but the spirit was always new. As Jimm Neiman, the bass player/Captain Ego put it, “We play the soundtrack to whatever movie was going on.”

The actual experience of living as a teenager in the late sixties playing in a rock ‘n roll band was not anything like what the corporate media of today says it was. Being alive then was a question of choices. Either I could have gone to Vietnam and gotten killed like most of the other good ol’ boys I went to high school with or follow my heart and soul which meant risking my neck in more immediate places like Little Havana in Miami listening to great Salsa where they hated long hairs so much they stuck a gun in my face on a Saturday night corner on Calle Ocho. Or getting into black bars in southern ghettos where being white meant you were in big trouble. But that’s where the important music was; in the dangerous places.

The first performance was at Madam Taussand’s Wax Museum on St. Pete beach. but our home base in the beginning was the most famous coffee house in the South. The Beaux Arts. Where Jim Morrison got his start just a few summers before us. It was a page right out of Tennessee Williams’ world. Three story antibellum southern mansion run by Tommy, a retired Ballanchine dancer and his mother. Soon we were performing at Colleges around the state. Inevitably performing at antiwar rallies where the undercover CIA/FBI were taking our pictures. We were doin’ it for the music. But we were forced into politics by the events of the day. The Six O’clock News was showing body bags getting filled up with parts of good ol’ boys of every color in some god forsaken jungle in a place nobody ever heard of. The music was a voice that grew up out of the ground and found its way into the throats of the people. We could do anything. Either that, or get chopped up in the custom-made meat grinder. Things haven’t changed much. One thing that seemed different then was Hope. A sense of real Hope. Not the kind of hope where you hope you make a killing in the Stock Market, but the kind of hope where you knew that you could change the world for the better. Even in the Deep South. This seemed like a possible reality just beyond the horizon. A utopian dream of happiness, equality, and enough for everybody. It has been predicted and we were at the beginning of it. Just how much at the beginning we didn’t realize. We are also very naïve.

The Bethlehem Asylum would not have been such a success if it did not have a core group of supporters and followers. The people who drove across swamps and police blockades to see and hear the band thrash out their jazz, R ’n B Country Blues Rock ‘n Roll ol’ time religion mystical voodoo kind of music.     We wrote songs about them and sang about them on stage. We didn’t really have many songs about how some girl had done me wrong or some other safe subject. The songs were about the troublesome questions about honesty and soul. Although we certainly had our share of songs referring to the good things in life.

This story is for those who managed to survive a traumatic yet joyful and historical time and are still able to remember the real magic, love and hope that we still cherish today… Christian has disappeared, Buddy is in L.A., Jim is gone,  Charlie is playing Sax with Hall and Oates, Danny worked for Kinky Friedman and Billy Joe Shaver and has his own music as Panama Red.
by Russell Samuel, Buddy Helm
1. Lady Author - 3:58
2. The Year's Biggest Rain - 4:39
3. Another Time Another Place - 2:12
4. I Know A Lonely Man - 2:28
5. Ring My Bell - 3:15
6. Blind Man's Bluff - 4:30
7. Tales From Citadel: Vol.1 - 14:01
8. Child Of The Mountain (Danny Finley) - 3:15
9. Sailboat Ride (Danny Finley) - 3:10
10.Earth (Robert Christian Gandhi) - 9:50
11.Sea Rider (Charles Dechant) - 6:43
12.Talkin' Bout Love (Charles Dechant) - 6:43
13.It's About (Danny Finley) - 5:13
All compositions by Charles Dechant, Christian Gandhi, Danny Finley, Jimm Neiman, Buddy Helm except wher indicated
Tracks 1-7 from "Bethlehem Asylum" 1971
Tracks 8-13 from "Commit Yourself" 1970

Bethlehem Asylum
*Charles Dechant – Tenor, Soprano Saxophone, Vocals, Flute, Piano, Synthesizer
*Christian Gandhi – Piano, Trombone, Alto flute
*Danny Finley – Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Jimm Neiman – Bass, Vocals
*Buddy Helm – Drums, Percussion, Congas

Saturday, May 13, 2023

rep> Creation Of Sunlight - Creation Of Sunlight (1968 us, elegant trippy psych)

They started off as Sunlights Seven and recorded an LP entitled Sunstroke in 1968. This recording never got beyond the acetate stage by DCT Recorders and is a monster, monster rarity that has not been reissued. The picture of it below, taken from the book 1001 Record Collector Dreams, shows that at least 5 songs were recorded, 2 of which did not show up on their eventual LP for Windi Records. These are Sevens Theme and Judy In Disguise. The other 3 songs shown in the picture, David, Light Without Heat and In The Middle Of Happy were released on their eventual LP, but probably as re-recorded versions. 

After the Sunstroke project was scrapped, the band hooked up with Windi Records and recorded a 7" under the name of Sunlight. This 7" consisted of Colors Of Love and Sometimes A Woman and was released under catalogue number W-1001 and W-1002. The versions of these songs are different than the ones that appeard on their LP. It is possible that these versions appeared on the flip side of the Sunstroke acetate. I have read that a non-LP 45 was released by Sunlights Seven, but have never heard or read anything else about that release so I suspect that this may be the item in question.

Finally settling on the name Creation Of Sunlight, they continued recording for Windi, finally releasing their self-titled LP and one 7" later in 1968. Their self-titled album on Windi WS-1001 contains 10 songs, 8 of which are original compositions with Gary Young and Jerry Griffin doing most of the songwriting duties. Interestingly, the credits for David, which was not written by the band, differ on the 7" and the LP. The entire album is absolutely great, loaded with organ and fuzz guitar just oozing with that acid and sunshine vibe. Original copies of this LP almost never turn up for sale and when they do, expect a really nice copy to reach four figures. This is one of the (too) few rarities that can musically justify their price tag. The only vinyl reissue has been a European bootleg on the "Windi" label. This is a nice sounding and nice looking job and it too seldom comes up for sale.
by John E. Midnight
1. David (Gene Prophut) - 4:18
2. Rushhour Blues (Gary Young, Jerry Griffin) - 3:27
3. Light Without Heat (Gary Young) - 3:45
4. In The Middle Of Happy (Gary Young) - 4:31
5. Hammonds Eggs (Jerry Griffin) - 4:54
6. Sometimes A Woman (Gene Prophut) - 3:20
7. Second Thoughts (Gary Young) - 3:16
8. Seven Times Infinty (Carl Estrella, Gary Young, Jerry Griffin, Steve Montague) - 3:42
9. Colors Of Love (Gary Young) - 6:05
10.The Fun Machine (Gary Young, Jerry Griffin) - 2:32
11.David (Gene Prophut) - 4:18
12.Judy In Disguise (Andrew Bernard, John Fred) - 2:35

The Creation Of Sunlight
*Gary Young - Lead Vocals
*Carl Estrella - Lead Guitar
*Don Sain - Rhythm Guitar
*Steve Montague - Bass Guitar
*Jerry Griffin - Keyboards, Vocals
*Bob Morgan - Drums
*Ron Clark - Percussion, Flute, Saxophone

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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Aragorn - The Suite (1973 australia, prog rock masterpiece, 2022 korean remaster)

In 1975, a strange album that pressed only 50 copies without even an outer sleeve was released quietly. It was the only album by Snakes Alive, a band with a unique combination of guitar, drums, bass, keyboards, woodwinds and trumpet. About 25 years later, when its pirated CD was released, people were amazed at the high level of performance by unknown musicians and the complex, well-designed structure of a mix of Progressive Rock and Jazz. There are countless minor bands that have disappeared leaving only one album in the form of a private pressing, but Snakes Alive’s album was on a different level from those of mediocre minor ones. Despite this high level of musical quality, due to the very small amount of pressings, their music did not reach a larger audience and the band disappeared into history.

Snakes Alive had only been active for about a year, but if you look at their history, you can see that the group Aragorn, formed in 1972, was the starting point of their musical career. They also didn’t release an official album, but fortunately they left an album-length recording, and that’s the album you’re listening to right now called “The Suite.” This magnificent 43-minute grand piece, mainly composed by the keyboardist Oleg Ditrich was originally inspired by none other than, J.R.R Tolkien’s novel, “The Lord of the Rings.”

Oleg Dietrich, who studied classical music from an early age, began composing “The Suite” in 1967 under the influence of his friend John Simpson, who was obsessed with The Lord of the Rings. Oleg was only 14 years old at the time. After completing most of the composition, he formed the band Aragorn, named after the main character in the novel. In September 1973, after completing additional work on the composition and arrangement with the help of other band members, “The Suite” was recorded, but did not reach an album release and remained only as master tapes.

This album is a 43-minute suite consisting of 16 short pieces. As it is a song that has been refined over a period of 6 years, it shows a fairly elaborate level of completion.

The first thing that stands out in terms of performance is Oleg’s classical piano, which reveals his musical roots, and Peter Nykyruj’s drums, which give rich variation to the flow of the song’s structure. Also, what’s interesting is the glimpse of Jethro Tull throughout the aggressive appearance of flute and minstrel melody in the vocal by Jonas Sayewell. A fabulous flute solo flaring out on the solid rhythm , a medieval vibe using rippling guitar ensemble – Those excellent elements and ideas in a series of short pieces are proving how fluent they are in a variety of musical style.

Overall, Aragorn’s music style is a profound Progressive Rock that directly feels the influence of British Rock in the early 70’s. By taking various style from Medieval Folk to Symphonic Rock with a Jazzy flavor, they are fully expressing the dramatic and grandiose storyline of the original novel with delicacy. In order to compress situations and emotions such as mystery, magnificence, confusion and intensity contained in the original story, the composition becomes more complex and dense toward the latter part of the music.

The presence of album “The Suite” was discovered in the process of reissuing Snakes Alive, and it is the very first release brought out to the world in nearly 50 years. “The Suite,” a vigorous performance full of energy by the young bloods who were in their 20s back then, must be the hidden masterpiece to rewrite the history of Australian Progressive Rock.
by Jacopo Vigezzi, February 5, 2023
1. Creatures Of The Night (Oleg Ditrich, Jonas Sayewell) - 3:05
2. Rivendell - 3:52
3. Wonder (Jonas Sayewell) - 4:48
4. Rivendell South - 0:48
5. Land Of A Mordor - 3:49
6. Trees And Grass - 2:04
7. East Of Greyhaven - 4:17
8. A History Book (Jonas Sayewell) - 3:32
9. Thuner - 2:59
10.Grove - 2:01
11.Sky - 1:20
12.Dark Lord (Oleg Ditrich, Jonas Sayewell) - 2:33
13.Rivendell East - 1:39
14.Aragorn - 2:52
15.Ends Of Time - 1:52
16.Dance Of The Ring (Oleg Ditrich, Jonas Sayewell) - 1:32
17.And The People And The Night - 7:50
All compositions by Oleg Ditrich except where indicated

*Michael Vidale - Bass
*Peter Nykyruj - Drums, Percussion
*John Simpson - Electric Guitar
*Jonas Sayewell - Flute, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Oleg Ditrich - Piano, Keyboards, Vocals

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Bullfrog - High In Spirits (1977 germany, strong hard rock with hammond organ and prog touches, 2009 remaster and expanded)

Bullfrog played classic seventies hard rock, which in terms of sound is reminiscent of big names like Deep Purple , Rainbow or Uriah Heep , but nevertheless has its own note and independence. Starting with the raspy, rough voice of Gerd Hoch , through the superb, fresh and rousing guitar work of Sebastian Leitner , the cool grooving and equally explosive substructure of Vincent Trost (bass) and Bruno Perosa (drums) to the first-class keyboard work of Harald Kaltenecker, here were exceptionally good musicians at the start, who made "High In Spirits" the high-class album that it finally became.

The rocking title track opens the dance with small funky sprinklings and the keyboard (mostly on this track) reminiscent of Jon Lord . The following "Feelin' Allright" is a great grooving mid-tempo rocker, with a running time of more than six minutes, especially the guitar and the keys provide exclamation marks. "Be Yourself" was released as a single and is a killer ballad with a very successful vocal melody and a Gerd Hoch , who was able to fully show off his whiskey-soaked vocal cords here. A strong song that not only goes straight to the ear, but also gets stuck there.

But with "Rollin' Again" and "Free Spirit" the gas pedal is pushed harder again! Especially the boogie rocker "Free Spirit" gets you in a good mood, while in "Rollin' Again" the creaking bass carries everything away and the keyboard once again sets the tone. It's half time now and my bad memories of the band have long since faded, or rather been swept off the table completely! At just under nine minutes, "A Housepainter's Song" is the longest track on the disc. After a guitar/keyboard intro lasting about two minutes, the band once again slides into a melodic verse of highsThen vote the necessary dirt, i.e. the corners and edges are missed. Fat guitar melodies make the title downright epic, but they always find their way back to the verses in good time. My personal highlight on "High In Spirits"!

After the straight forward rocking "Live" follows the last piece with "LA Police #55". And this is where it gets down to business with such a relaxed, swinging, rocking energy that you are inevitably carried away. A worthy conclusion to a great disc!

The mix of the record, released in 1977, was done by Krautrock producer legend Conny Planck . On the new edition of "High In Spirits" to be discussed here, all eight tracks were added a second time as a bonus. And this in the original mix completed by the band in the recording studio. The biggest difference is that the bonus tracks sound a bit rougher.

Ultimately, it remains to be said that "High In Spirits" is a very strong rock album by this band, which rightly claims its special place in German rock history and was therefore also highly deservedly re-released. So, I'll see if I can get Bullfrog 's Rockpalast performance again. It seems to me that I was fundamentally wrong in my opinion at the time! 
by Markus Kerren, November 8th, 2009
1. High In Spirits - 3:19
2. Feelin' Allright - 6:05
3. Be Yourself - 3:21
4. Rollin' Again - 3:32
5. Free Spirit - 2:54
6. A Housepainter's Song - 8:53
7. Live - 3:46
8. L.A. Police No. 55. - 5:09 
9. High In Spirits - 3:19
10.Feelin' Allright - 6:04
11.Be Yourself - 3:19
12.Rollin' Again - 3:41
13.Free Spirit - 2:54
14.A Housepainter' Song - 8:30
15.Live - 3:46
16.L.A. Police No. 55 - 5:08
All compositions by Sebastian Leitner, Gerd Hoch
Tracks 1-8 from "High In Spirits" 1977
Bonus Tracks 9-16 The Unreleased Hiltpoltstein Mix

*Gerd Hoch - Vocals
*Sebastian Leitner - Guitars
*Harald Kaltenecker - Keyboards
*Vincent Trost - Bass
*Bruno Perosa - Drums, Percussion
*Günter Kaup- Backing Vocals
*Uwe Hillmer - Backing Vocals
*William Candler - Backing Vocals


Monday, May 1, 2023

Sky - Don't Hold Back (1970 us, fantastic power pop classic rock, 2010 bonus tracks remaster)

As part of an ongoing commemorative series of releases, the family of Doug Fieger is making available two albums by Fieger’s first band, Sky. Forty years after their original release on vinyl, Don’t Hold Back and Sailor’s Delight are being released digitally to a new generation. Better known as the lead singer of The Knack and co-writer of the #1 song of 1979, My Sharona, Fieger’s place in rock history might never have happened had it not been for the Cinderella story of Sky, nearly ten years earlier.

In 1970, Sky, whose members included Fieger, John Coury and Robert Greenfield, was achieving local success in Detroit. Although underage, the band was frequently booked at the concert venue, The Grande Ballroom, as the opening act for a powerhouse succession of groups including The Who, Joe Cocker and Jeff Beck. In a display of youthful bravado Fieger and Coury sent a letter to legendary producer, Jimmy Miller - Rolling Stones, Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith, saying that if he ever found himself in Detroit he should come by and listen to their band, and to everyone’s surprise, Miller took them up on the offer.

“On his way to LA he made a pit-stop in Detroit,” recalls Greenfield. “He came to Doug's parents’ house and we played for him in their basement. The next day Jimmy Miller told us he would like us to come to London to produce us. That was the goal we had worked so hard for.”

Within weeks of graduating from high school, a seventeen year-old Fieger and his bandmates were on a plane to London and Olympic Studios with a recording contract on RCA records.

With Miller on board, the lineup of musicians that came in to work with Sky reads like a Who’s Who of 60s rock and roll: Bobby Keys on sax, Jim Price on trumpet, Nicky Hopkins on keyboards as well as Gary Wright - who also produced, Chris Wood - Traffic on woodwinds, and Ian Stewart on piano. Andy Johns - Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main St., Goat's Head Soup and Led Zeppelin IV engineered and shared producer credit.

Don’t Hold Back was released that year and work on the second album Sailor’s Delight began almost immediately - in LA and at the Rolling Stones’ mobile studio at Mick Jagger’s mansion, Stargroves; this time with a new drummer, 16 year-old Rob Stawinski. Sky returned to LA for the 1971 release of the album, but marketing was weak and sales were tepid. The band broke up and went their separate ways. Fieger went on to co-found The Knack, but he remained close friends with Coury, who also found success in the music business, recording with Don Henley and co-writing the hit “Last Worthless Evening.” In 1994 he played on The Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over and continued to tour with them until 2000. Stawinski toured with Badfinger before returning to his hometown near Detroit. Of his time with Sky Stawinski comments, “I am proud, to this day, of what we accomplished.”

After Fieger’s death in 2010 his family decided to go about obtaining the rights from RCA. However, this project was not purely sentimental. Not only did they believe in the quality of the material - all written by Fieger and Coury, but having seen that Sky was frequently referenced on Knack message boards, the family concluded that there was also general interest in the music and wanted to make it available to fans.

Long-time Knack producer Richard Bosworth was called in to digitally re-master the songs. The project interested him immediately; despite having worked so closely with Doug he knew of Sky, but had never heard the songs before. He was not disappointed. “I - was impressed with the quality of songs Sky composed for theses two albums,” he says. “I've become a fan.”

Discovered among the recordings were some titles and mixes that did not appear on the original albums. They have been included as bonus tracks on the re-releases as a treat for those fans from long ago who never expected to hear a “new” Sky song after all these years.
by Heather Noonan, April 12, 2011
1. Goodie Two Shoes - 2:52
2. Take Off And Fly - 4:41
3. Rockin' Me Yet - 3:08
4. I Still Do (Doug Fieger, John Coury) - 3:25
5. Make It In Time (Doug Fieger, John Coury) - 4:14
6. One Love (Doug Fieger, John Coury) - 2:54
7. There In The Greenbriar - 4:07
8. How's That Treatin' Your Mouth, Babe? - 2:57
9. Homin' Ground - 1:59
10.Feels Like 1000 Years - 5:08
11.You Are The One - 3:59
12.Anomona Getcha (John Coury) - 2:45
13.Watcha Gonna Do - 2:20
All songs by Doug Fieger except where stated

*John Coury - Flute, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*Douglas Lars Fieger - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*Rob Stawinski - Drums, Percussion
*Bobby Keys - Saxophone
*Jim Price - Saxophone
*Bob Greenfield - Drums
*Alan White - Drums
*Chris Wood - Flute
*Gary Wright - Keyboards
*P.P. Arnold - Vocals
*Flo Bender - Vocals 
*Doris Troy - Vocals