Monday, October 30, 2023

Luther Allison - Bad News Is Coming (1972 us, outstanding raw electric blues, 2001 remaster with extra tracks)

You might think of Bad News is Coming as giving life to the strange animal-human hybrids from the Island of Doctor Moreau, animating weird chimeras, beings that emanate from the strings of his Les Paul but enter a register of sound more akin to the human voice than the guitar.

From the first mournful notes of the album, the distortion-heavy sound of a cock crowing, we get the sense that the sun is rising on a distorted world: we’ve entered an uncanny plane of shadowy grotesques, a bizarro America, hellish and spectral, and Luther Allison is our Virgil through this post-Vietnam inferno.  The song is “Little Red Rooster,” made famous by Howlin’ Wolf in 1961, and is one of the best songs on the album to showcase Allison’s guitar virtuosity and dramatic vocal skill.  Allison’s menagerie includes barking dogs, howling hounds and general barnyard chaos. It’s both playful and dire.  He ends the song in a desperate staccato solo before opening the next track, “Evil is Going On,” where he growls ‘something just ain’t right.’  This album is PARANOID (not literally, but there must have been something in the air) and that really speaks to Allison’s range, not only vocally — his iconic high-pitched scream punctuates the title track (a giant!) but retains its rich, butter-smooth timbre throughout the album — but in terms of tone, oscillating between sexual optimism and deep suspicion.  

A little heaven and a little hell: we’re out here in the wasteland, so we may as well live a little.  Opening with this homage to Howlin’ Wolf, with whom Allison jammed in the late ‘50s, demonstrates the album’s devotion to a careful curation of well-known standards and early blues tunes: palimpsests of blues history.  Musically, you hear the indelible impact of that great voodoo king Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, especially in the title track. There are hints of delta blues, and whispers of straight ahead Chicago blues undergird some of the later songs, but Allison stitches them together into a violent, rock heavy collage that ranks him with Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin in ferocity and sound.  While only three of the tracks on the album may be original, Allison’s arrangements are all his own.  This shit bangs.

What is most striking about the album historically is Allison’s prescient insight which, by 1972, had already picked up on the tremors of imminent collapse resounding through the American empire of the early ‘70s.  Alluding to the rousing cries of the rooster in the first song, the title track opens with Allison singing “I got the bad news this morning.”  The two upbeat and entendre-rich songs that precede “Bad News is Coming” give way to a fully paranoid, if not quite fully realized prophecy, of impending horror.  But the war was ending, people said; things are looking up – just think of the post-war economic boom of the ‘50s!  Maybe it was growing up Black in Eisenhower’s America, or maybe Allison just saw things clearer than most everybody else, but the future was foreboding from where he was standing.

Luther Allison died in Madison in 1997, aged 57, at the top of his game, having never seen any clearer.
by Ivan Bobanovski, March 4, 2018
1. The Little Red Rooster (Willie Dixon) - 4:13
2. Evil Is Going On (Willie Dixon) - 4:38
3. Raggedy And Dirty (Andrew Smith, Joe Peraino, Luther Allison, Ray Goodman, Robert Kreiner) - 3:42
4. Rock Me Baby (B.B. King, Joe Josea) - 5:46
5. Bad News Is Coming (Joe Peraino, Luther Allison, Paul White) - 7:26
6. Cut You A-Loose (Mel London) - 5:59
7. Dust My Broom (Elmore James) - 2:48
8. The Stumble (Freddy King) - 2:23
9. Sweet Home Chicago (Robert Johnson) - 4:13
10.It's Been A Long Time (Luther Allison) - 10:44
11.Take My Love (I Want To Give It All To You) (Mertis John) - 4:21

*Luther Allison - Guitar, Vocals
*Garfield Angove - Harmonica
*Andrew Smith - Bass, Drums
*Paul White - Keyboards, Piano
*Ray Goodman -  Rhythm Guitar


Sunday, October 29, 2023

Luther Allison - Love Me Mama (1969 us, stunning electric chicago blues, 2015 edition)

In his original liner notes, John Fishel noted that Luther Allison has the propulsive force and mastery to totally decimate an audience. I have been a witness to this many times.
Amen! Luther's family moved to Chicago from Forrest City, Arkansas in 1951. He was one of 12 children, and his brother Ollie... played the guitar and had a band on the West Side from 1954 to 1957. A preacher taught Luther to repair shoes... "but when I found out how much money I'd need to set myself up"...So he started out on bass... switched to guitar and in 1957 had his own band... played at the Bungalow on west 15th street for about a year and then went to Earl's place in Argo, IL. It was in Argo that Luther met Freddy King. Freddy and Luther's brother Grant encouraged Luther to start singing. Luther took over a job (from Freddy King) at Walton's Corner with Big Mojo Elem, bass and T.J. McNulty, drums. The gig lasted five years, then Luther began moving around from white clubs on the North Side to the 1815 Club on Roosevelt Rd. and back to Walton's Corners. 

Then in 1967 he moved to Peoria and began playing with an organ trio at Birdland. By the late 1960s we had become familiar with the fabulous West Side blues scene where Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Magic Sam, and Otis Rush capitalized on their R’n’B record successes at Sylvio's, Club Alex, Avenue. Lesser-known, unrecorded (but no less interesting) talent could turn up any night at smaller clubs such as Ross & Ma Bea's, Walton's Corner, the L&A, the Avenue, Duke's two joints and places ID'd more by their location than a name. We found and recorded Jimmy Dawkins and Carey Bell after such discoveries but were indebted to Shakey Jake's partner Bill Lindeman for the introduction to Luther Allison. They had recorded him for a label that never materialized. 

Their masters make up Sweet Home Chicago (618) and presently we heard him at the Alex. We immediately decided to add Allison to our roster but before we could do so, Luther gravitated to Los Angeles where he worked as a side- man on World Pacific's short-lived blues series and played at the Back Door, Red Velvet and Golden Bear. Delmark had been besieged by entreaties from record producers for Magic Sam's contract. In the absence of concrete proposals (I duck when recordmen ask me to "be a nice guy"), I suggested that they sign.

Luther Allison-Delmark couldn't afford to do sessions in L.A. Luther's present popularity with critics and fans alike indicates those A&R guys had a no understanding of blues. Luther eventually returned to the Chicago area, was signed and his first LP released. [Now that it can be told, John Fishel (chief instigator of the original Ann Arbor Blues Festival) was so high on Luther that he loaned us most of the money for the sessions we had spent our wad on Crudup, Carey, Dawkins, etc.] Love Me Mama outsold any album Delmark had issued by an artist not already established with an R’n’B single.

We were unable to connect Allison with a booker who under- stood the new blues market and after a succession of managers Luther moved to Europe where he had good management, recording regularly. Recently he has returned to the states, becoming the most popular and critically acclaimed blues artist of 1996. As the old saying goes: "You've been a long time coming, but you're welcome here."
by Bob Koester, Jim Fishel
1. Why I Love The Blues - 4:01
2. Little Red Rooster (Willie Dixon) - 4:27
3. 4:00 In The Morning (Waiting On You) (B.B. King, Ferdinand Washington) - 2:12
4. You Done Lost Your Good Thing (B.B. King, Jo Josea) - 4:13
5. Five Long Years (Eddie Boyd) - 4:15
6. Dust My Broom (Robert Johnson) - 3:32
7. Every Night About This Time (Fats Domino) - 3:56
8. Love Me Mama - 3:54
9. The Sky Is Crying (Elmore James) - 5:33
10.Help Me (Sonny Boy Williamson II, Ralph Bass, Willie Dixon) - 3:46
11.You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now (B.B. King, Jo Josea) - 3:31
12.Bloomington Closer - 7:18
13.Little Red Rooster (Willie Dixon) - 5:17
14.Walking From Door To Door - 3:46
All songs by Luther Allison except where noted
Bonus Tracks 4, 7, 13,14

*Luther Allison - Guitar, Vocals
*Robert "Big Mojo" Elem - Bass
*Jim Conley - Tenor Saxophone (Tracks 2, 6, 13, 14)
*Jimmy "Fast Fingers" Dawkins - Guitar (Tracks 2, 6, 8, 9, 13, 14)
*Bob Richey - Drums (Tracks 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 13, 14) 
*Bobby Davis - Drums (Tracks 1, 4, 5, 7, 10-12)

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Blackfoot - Flyin' High (1976 us, awesome guitar driven hard southern rock, 2000 edition)

Blackfoot began as Fresh Garbage. The hard- rocking band first saw life in the same tough Jacksonville, Florida, club scene that spawned Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet. And, as Skynyrd became international stars, members of Blackfoot would come and go from Skynyrd, including leader Ricky "Rattlesnake" Medlocke. Indeed, as the century wound down, Medlocke was back in Lynyrd Skynyrd, serving as second drummer for that band and also doing some dates with a newly re-configured Blackfoot.

Medlocke has a varied musical background. His grandfather was the renowned bluegrass musician Shorty Medlocke. In the late '60s, Ricky formed Fresh Garbage with Jakson Spires and Greg T. Walker. They were later joined by New Yorker Charlie Hargrett and became regulars in the rough and tumble bar circuit of north Florida playing as Blackfoot.

In 1970, Blackfoot broke up and both Medlocke and Walker joined what was then the constantly changing Lynyrd Skynyrd line-up. Three years later, Medlocke gave up his drummer's chair with Lynyrd Skynyrd to return to a revived Blackfoot, where he played guitar and sang. In 1975 the band debuted on Island Records with No Reservations, a powerful record that reflected both Medlocke's Sioux Indian heritage and his time in Lynyrd Skynyrd. Granddad Shorty appeared, playing on Railroad Man. When No Reservations did not get the attention it deserved, the group went to the Epic division of Columbia Records for one release-Flyin' High-a strong 1976 album that makes up this package.

By 1979, the group was signed to the Atco subsidiary of Atlantic Records. Strikes, their third album, charted in the spring and attained platinum status, helped by constant touring and the Top 40 singles Highway Song and Train, Train. Strikes was followed by Tomcattin' in the summer of 1980. A year later they were back with Marauder, which sported the hit Fly Away. They also charted on Atco with Siogo-which was notable for the debut of former Uriah Heep keyboard ace Ken Hensley-and Vertical Smiles, an '84 release that marked the exit of guitarist Spires. Hensley was gone by the time Rick Medlocke And Blackfoot came out in 1987 on Atco. By the late '80s, Blackfoot was winding down and dropped out of sight for a time. Medlocke was back with the band in 1994, signed to Nalli Records, which issued the blues rock of After The Reign. Not long after that he was back in Lynyrd Skynyrd.
by Mark Marymont, 1999
1. Feelin' Good - 2:47
2. Flyin' High (Charlie Hargrett, Jackson Spires, Rick Medlocke) - 4:20
3. Try A Little Harder (Charlie Hargrett, Jackson Spires, Rick Medlocke) - 4:48
4. Stranger On The Road - 2:43
5. Save Your Time - 3:43
6. Dancin' Man (Charlie Hargrett, Jackson Spires, Rick Medlocke) - 3:38
7. Island Of Life - 4:07
8. Junkie's Dream - 3:57
9. Madness - 4:56
10.Mother (Greg T. Walker) - 2:46
All songs by Jackson Spires, Rick Medlocke except where indicated

*Rickey Medlocke - Lead Vocals, Rhythm, Lead, Acoustic , Electric Guitars, Dobro
*Charlie Hargrett - Lead, Rhythm, Acoustic Guitars
*Greg T. Walker - Bass, Backing Vocals, Keyboards, Triple Guitar (Track 10)
*Jakson Spires - Drums, Backing Vocals, Percussion
*Laura Struzick - Backing Vocals
*Suzy Storm - Backing Vocals


Friday, October 27, 2023

Blackfoot - No Reservations (1975 us, hot and heavy southern rock with intense fire, grit, and authority)

Blackfoot were contemporaries of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and tried for years to make it as a Southern rock band, although they finally succeeded as a hard rock outfit, in the manner of AC/DC and the Scorpions. They racked up a hit album (Strikes) and a pair of successful singles ("Train, Train," "Highway Song") in the late '70s and early '80s, before they became lost in the post-MTV era of visually oriented bands.

The group started out as a quartet comprising singer/guitarist Rickey Medlocke (the grandson of bluegrass musician Shorty Medlocke, who wrote "Train, Train"), drummer/singer Jakson Spires, bassist/singer Greg T. Walker, and lead guitarist Charlie Hargrett. Named Blackfoot as an acknowledgment of Medlocke's heritage, they were signed to Island in 1975, evidently as that label's resident Southern rockers, but moved to Epic the following year. Neither relationship was successful, but in 1979, after moving to Atco, their first album for the new label, Strikes, hit a responsive chord -- the group spent the next few years on that label, racking up impressive sales with the follow-ups Tomcattin' and Marauder. 
by Bruce Eder
1. Railroad Man (Shorty Medlocke) - 2:22
2. Indian World - 2:52
3. Stars - 4:08
4. Not Another Maker - 5:08
5. Born To Rock And Roll - 3:37
6. Take A Train - 4:23
7. Big Wheels - 5:05
8. I Stand Alone - 7:47
9. Railroad Man (Shorty Medlocke) - 1:10
All songs by Jakson Spires except where noted

*Rickey Medlocke - Lead Vocals, Rhythm, Lead, Acoustic Guitars, Dobro
*Charlie Hargrett - Lead, Rhythm, Acoustic Guitars
*Greg T. Walker - Bass, Backing Vocals, Keyboards
*Jakson Spires - Drums, Backing Vocals, Percussion
*Shorty Medlock - Banjo, Acoustic Guitar (Track 9)
*Barbara Wyrick - Backing Vocals
*Laura Struzick - Backing Vocals 
*Suzy Storm - Backing Vocals
*Barry Beckett - Keyboards
*Roger Hawkins - Percussion

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Spring Fever - Woodstock (1970 canada, fine blues rock)

Obscure Canadian power trio playing Blues, Rock and a few Funky Hammond Gems. Has covers like David Crosby's A Long Time Coming, Taj Mahal's She Caught My Katie, Morganfield's I Just Want To Make Love To You and She Moves Me, a great Rolling Stones Gimme Shelter, J.B. Lenoir's Mama What About Your Daughter, Buddy Guy's Watch Yourself and Burnett's Oh Baby Hold Me. What makes this impressive is the great musicianship and simple and clear production. Issued on same label as Reign Ghost and Christmas, and super rare too. One of the toughest Paragon LP's to track down... Hans Pokora has it listed in his Record Collector Dreams series of books with a 3 Star Rarity Rating! Even with its inclusion in the Pokora books it's still relatively unknown. 

A limited German CD reissue surfaced some years back and it has never been reissued on vinyl. This album is mainly comprised of great covers done in a very raw garage charged blues rock fashion with slight psychedelic touches... but the real standout on this album, for me personally, is the original instrumental "Spring Fever", an incredibly tight jam action with a Slide Wah Wah Guitar combined with a heavy bottom end and hard drums.
1. Woodstock (Joni Mitchell) - 4:00
2. A Long Time Coming (David Crosby) - 4:49
3. She Caught My Katie (Taj Mahal) - 3:15
4. I Just Want To Make Love To You (McKinley Morganfield) - 2:29
5. She's Looking Good (Rodger Collins) - 2:57
6. Oh Baby Hold Me (Chester Burnett) - 2:32
7. Watch Yourself (Buddy Guy) - 3:36
8. Gimme Shelter (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) - 4:00
9. She Moves Me (McKinley Morganfield) - 3:30
10.Mama, What About Your Daughter (J. B. Lenoir) - 2:39
11.Spring Fever (Paul James, Rick Law, Frank Meehan) - 4:18

Spring Fever
*Paul James - Vocals, Guitar
*Rick Law – Bass, Organ, Harmony Vocals
*Frank Meehan – Drums

Sunday, October 22, 2023

John Lees - A Major Fancy (1977 uk, fascinating mix of epic, prog, jazzy silky rock, 2010 double disc remaster)

Born Oldham, January 13th, 1947. John had no formal musical education, but took up guitar when he was fourteen. Educated at Robin Hill Secondary Modern and Breeze Hill Comprehensive, John went on to study at Oldham School Of Art, where he met Woolly Wolstenholme in 1964. They played together in the Sorcerers, playing Eddie Cochran-style rock and roll, and in The Blues Keepers, before forming Barclay James Harvest in 1967. He recorded a solo album, A Major Fancy, in 1972, but this was tied up when the band changed record label and was not released until 1977. 

John’s musical influences include Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Joe Walsh and The Eagles. He also enjoys reading, his favourite books being Graham Greene’s A Burnt Out Case, science fiction novels (especially those of Ray Bradbury) and poetry. His hobbies include photography and amateur radio. John lives in Saddleworth with his wife Olwen and they have two children, Esther Jane (born 28th July, 1980) and John Joseph (who shares his father’s birthday, being born on 13th January, 1986). For five years John worked in the sixth form at Crompton House School, involved with the production of the GCSE and A Level students' Music and Music Technology coursework, but in July 2012 he retired from that work in order to concentrate fully on music once more.

By the time John Lees’ solo album eventually hit the harsh, gob-bespattered streets of 1977, it couldn’t have been more out of step if you’d tied its shoelaces together and started pelting its feet with stones. The Barclay James Harvest guitarist originally recorded the album in a comparatively benign 1972, when the charts may have been awash with glam rockers tottering around on glittery stack heels, but there was still room in the ranks for long-form soft-rock introspection.

As a direct consequence of that insanely protracted release schedule, A Major Fancy has never really received an unbiased hearing, which is a pity because it holds up surprisingly well. Produced by Wally Waller and abetted by a crack team of musos including Rod Argent, 10cc’s Kevin Godley and Eric Stewart, and Wally’s fellow Pretty Things Skip Alan and Gordon Edwards, it benefits from a reining-in of the characteristic BJH impulse to overstate. Admittedly, the BJH touchstone Child Of The Universe is unveiled here, but this version seems drier, cooler and somehow more credible. The attractively baggy Latinate jazz groove of Untitled No 1 – Heritage, meanwhile, is closest in texture to the Parachute-era Pretties. A whole disc’s worth of contemporaneous extras seals the deal.
by Marco Rossi 
Disc 1
1. Untitled No. 1 - Heritage - 7:54
2. Child Of The Universe - 6:18
3. Kes (A Major Fancy) - 2:33
4. Untitled No. 2 - 3:52
5. Sweet Faced Jane - 5:05
6. Witburg Night - 5:47
7. Long Ships - 5:20
8. Untitled No. 3 - 5:02
All compositions by John Lees
Disc 2
1. Untitled No. 8 - 4:36
2. Child Of The Universe (First Version) - 6:28
3. Witburg Night (First Mix) - 5:48
4. Untitled No. 2 (First Version) - 3:51
5. Untitled No. 1 - Heritage (Alternate Mix) - 8:16
6. Best Of My Love (Don Henley, Glen Frey, J.D. Souther) - 3:40
7. You Can't Get It - 3:57
8. Please Be With Me (Charles Scott Boyer) - 2:47
9. Child Of The Universe (Single Edit) - 3:41
Songs written by John Lees except where stated

John Lees - Vocals, Acoustic, Electric Guitars
Wally Waller - Bass, Congas, Timbales, Mellotron, Vibraphone, Tubular Bells, Moog Synthesizer, Harmony Vocals
Skip Allen - Drums, Tambourine
Rod Argent - Organ
Gordon Edwards - Piano 
Graham Preskett - Violin, Strings, Choral Arrangement
Rex Morrison - Tenor Saxophone
Kevin Godley - Percussion
Eric Stewart - Acoustic Guitar
The Mike Sammes Singers - Choir

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Friday, October 20, 2023

The Tweeds - I Need That Record The Tweeds Anthology (1977-85 us, fantastic power pop with harder edges)

The Tweeds where from Massachusetts and issued a small string of singles and EPs from 1977 – 1981, the most famous of which is probably 1980’s Perfect Fit which contains their most lasting tracks “I Need That Record” and “The Girl Who Said No”

Pretty much all of their output is included here, even including an alternate recording of “Underwater Girl” from its inclusion on an ’81 b-side that saw it rerecorded for the release and added an intro. The band apparently included Kenny Gorelick (aka Kenny G, the band of your elevator existence) on keys at one point but its unclear how much of the material he may have played on. In general the band has a lot of delightful, but not especially hard hitting power pop and its safe to say this may be the most definitive release of their music that you’d ever need. 

The aforementioned “Underwater Girl” might be the best surprise, as its not included on many compilations and its a solid runner of a power pop jam and gives the band a bit of a harder edge. The rest is probably for the true power pop diggers but I’ve always been a sucker for the fringes of the genre. Not holding my breath for a vinyl issue of this but it would be nice to have a bit more background from the label on this one. Barring that, I’ll just cross my fingers that the Buttons series might start back up (please, please, please), it was promising but I’m sure it sorely undersold those soul comps. One can only hope this might be an indication of turning their gaze back towards power pop.
by Andy (Raven Sings The Blues)
1. If I Could Only Dance (Marc McHugh, Paulson) - 2:21
2. I'm Thru (Marc McHugh, Paulson) - 1:56
3. Shortwave (Marc McHugh, Paulson) - 2:25
4. Teen Love (Marc McHugh, Paulson) - 2:35
5. Ode To A Glicknick (The Larry Glick Song) - 1:39
6. Underwater Girl (Marc McHugh) - 3:10
7. My Memories (Charles Blackwell, Françoise Hardy, Jacques Datin) - 2:44
8. Postcard (Marc McHugh) - 3:01
9. I Need That Record (Marc McHugh, Jeff Mezzrow) - 3:19
10.Hey Baby (Marc McHugh, Jeff Mezzrow) - 3:50
11.Later Tonight (Marc McHugh, Jeff Mezzrow) - 2:53
12.She's The Girl (Who Said No) (Marc McHugh) - 3:09
13.I've Got Rock In My Heart (Marc McHugh, Jeff Mezzrow, George Godding) - 3:39
14.We Ran Ourselves (Marc McHugh, Jeff Mezzrow, Paulson) - 3:45
15.Away From You (Marc McHugh, Jeff Mezzrow, Paulson) - 4:11
16.Underwater Girl (Eat Records Version) (Marc McHugh) - 3:51
17.Part Of The Game (Marc McHugh) - 4:02
18.No More (Erik Lindgren) - 3:02

The Tweeds
*Jeff Mezzrow - Guitar, Vocals, Bass
*Marc McHugh - Guitar, Vocals
*Gordon Wallace - Brums, Vocals, Bells
*George Godding - Vocals, Percussion (Tracks 1-13)
*Michael White - Bass (Tracks 14-18)
*Kenny Gorelick - Piano (Track 10)

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Charlie - Fantasy Girls (1976 uk, excellent straight ahead rock with good lead harmony and backup vocals, 2007 remaster)

Charlie's "Fantasy Girls", shows a much tighter control of the music then the live appearance. Their main problem scorns from a lack of originality. Their playing is competent but couldn’t be distinguished from the sound of a 101 other bands. Their lyrics aren’t exactly gripping either, le: “I have my dreams although I’m broke, acute skintitús is no joke.” That speaks for itself I think. 
by Rosalind Rusael, Record Mirror 

Charlie was a British band, that initially started out as a fairly hard-rock guitar band, and it’s the band’s 1976 debut album Fantasy Girls that is easily the best in their catalogue (IMO). The band here comprised of Terry Thomas (lead vocals, guitar), John Anderson (bass, backing vox), Steve Gadd (drums, percussion), and Martin Smith (guitar, backing vox). Fantasy Girls came with different covers for each side of the Atlantic; I prefer the UK version, subsequent albums would feature models on the covers, which were an improvement. 

The album is full of great guitar, with plenty of different styles and blends, heavy in places, harmonies, melodies… Not quite an overly heavy band, but holding back with smooth production, and a variety of cuts. Some massive solos, like these guys were torn between wanting to be an-out 2-guitar hard-rock/metal act and vocally an American smooth sounding AOR band. Regardless, every track is good here, but highlights have to be the title track, as well as “Prisoners”, the single “TV Dreams”, and the closing straight ahead rocker “Summer Romances”. 
1. Fantasy Girls - 4:35
2. Miss Deluxe - 3:58
3. TV Dreams - 3:04
4. Prisoners - 5:57
5. First Class Traveller - 2:50
6. Greatcoat Guru - 5:09
7. Please Let Me Know - 4:01
8. Don't Let Me Down - 2:24
9. It's Your Life - 5:29
10.Summer Romances (John Anderson, Martin Smith, Steve Gadd, Terry Thomas) - 5:04
All songs by Terry Thomas except where noted

*John Anderson - Vocals, Bass
*Martin Smith - Guitar 
*Steve Gadd - Drums
*Terry Thomas - Vocals, Guitar
*Graeme Quinton-Jones - Keyboards

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Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Goodness - Goodness (1976 us, soft easy going art rock with some jazzy moments)

Goodness started in Bronx, New York, formed by Shelly Yarmovsky, Billie Canfield, Bobby Lang, Jay Castelli, Dave Sturdevant and Richie Giannantoni with some help from Mike Rod and Shelly Horn! 

Their first rehearsal was in Harrison N.Y. Presbyterian Church. They played on the beaches of the Hamptons, on the snowy slopes of Hunter Mountain, on the stage of the Princeton U Prom, on the streets of Bronx, before entering the studio to record their one and only album, in the winter 1975-76. 

Nice Harmony laden soft jazzy psych sound with Keyboards, Sax, Flute and Latin Percussion.
1. You Call This Love (Jay Castelli, Shelly Yarmovsky) - 3:18
2. Run Rabbit Run (Jay Castelli, Shelly Yarmovsky, Bobby Lang) - 4:16
3. Summer Song (Jay Castelli, Shelly Yarmovsky, Bobby Lang) - 3:54
4. Let's Get Away (Jay Castelli) - 3:24
5. Winter's Coming On (Jay Castelli, Shelly Yarmovsky, Bobby Lang, Billie Canfield) - 3:36
6. Rock Band In Your Dreams (Jay Castelli) - 4:15
7. Wind Rushes By (Jay Castelli, Shelly Yarmovsky, Bobby Lang) - 3:25
8. It Ain't Easy (Jay Castelli, Shelly Yarmovsky, Bobby Lang, Billie Canfield) - 3:49
9. Girl (Jay Castelli, Billie Canfield) - 3:33

*Shelly Yarmovsky - Lead Vocals
*Billie Canfield - Lead Vocals
*Bobby Lang - Lead, Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
*Jay Castelli - ARP String Ensemble, Piano, Backing Vocals
*Dave Sturdevant - Drums, Percussion
*Richie Giannantioni - Bass, Backing Vocals
*Mike Rod - Flute
*Shelly Horn - Congas

Monday, October 16, 2023

Simpson - Simpson (1971 us, wonderful folk country silky rock)

Simpson was recorded in the fall and winter of 1970-1971 in Studio A, Columbia Records building, 49 East 52nd Street, New York City, and released in May 1971; and re-engineered and re-mastered by Jerry Brown of The Rubber Room, Chapel Hill, NC, and is being re-released in August 2021, with help from The Splinter Group, Carrboro, NC. 

Bland Simpson on piano led the quartet, which included David Olney (acoustic guitar), Steve Merola (drums), and Rob Rothstein (bass). Olney would have a storied career as a Nashville songwriter (and a member of the famed cohort that included Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt), recording artist, and leader of the high-powered X-Rays; Rothstein (as Rob Stoner) would later tour as bandleader of Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue and record with Epic, MCA and Sun Records; Merola would perform on Broadway, and widely beyond, and also become the president of one of the first internet music companies, AreaMusic Entertainment.

The quartet was joined on the record by legendary musicians Bill Keith (veteran of Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys and the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, on pedal steel), Eric Weissberg (of the Greenbriar Boys and The Tarriers, on fiddle and dobro), and Billy Schwartz (then appearing on Broadway in Hair and later a star recording artist and producer in Denmark as Billy Cross, electric guitar) and Rick Derringer (founder of the McCoys, later working with Johnny and Edgar Winter, Weird Al Yankovic, and Ringo Starr, electric guitar).

In 1972, Simpson returned to North Carolina, and he and John Foley (on 12-string guitar) formed a popular duo in Chapel Hill, soon expanding into a folk-rock quintet, the Southern States Fidelity Choir (with Jim Wann, guitar; Jan Davidson, bass; and Mike Sheehan, drums). The Southern States and The Red Clay Ramblers old-time band took Simpson and Wann's musical Diamond Studs: The Life of Jesse James to New York and a 1975 hit Off-Broadway run and national tour, opening the door to a host of "musicians' theatre" shows that later earned Wann & Foley et al.'s Pump Boys & Dinettes a Tony Award nomination and an Olivier Award in England and the Ramblers' Fool Moon a Special Tony Award and a Drama Desk “Unique Theatrical Experience” Award after that show's third Broadway run.

Simpson, who received the North Carolina Award for Fine Arts in 2005, is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of English & Creative Writing at UNC Chapel Hill, where he has taught since 1982. He has collaborated on numerous musicals, including King Mackerel & The Blues Are Running and Kudzu, and he has written many books about North Carolina. His new work North Carolina: Land of Water, Land of Sky (with photography by his wife and collaborator Ann Cary Simpson, Tom Earnhardt and Scott Taylor) will be published by UNC Press in October 2021.  

David Olney’s entry into music was much like that of many a young man and woman during the 1960s. “It was something that I could do,” he says, “and there weren’t a whole lot of those things. The times were pretty weird, the wild ‘60s, and that was the thing that I could count on.” Born in Rhode Island, Olney began his career playing guitar, eventually moving to North Carolina to attend college.

“I got into music really serious when I was in North Carolina,” he remembers, “and a friend of mine, Bland Simpson, went up to New York and got some interest up there, so he called me up to play in the band. We did a record, but nothing much happened, so we were back in North Carolina.” That band, named Simpson, would record a single album with Rick Derringer and Olney on guitars, Bland Simpson on piano, and Eric Weissberg on fiddle.

“I went down to Atlanta to be in the Atlanta Children’s Theater,” says Olney. “I was writing songs, and at some point it seemed the time to make a move, musically, and Nashville was the closest place. I knew a couple of people, so I had a couch to crash on. That was in 1973.” Olney arrived in the Music City at the tail end of the “cosmic cowboy” phase of outlaw country music. “Waylon Jennings was hitting big, so it was still going on,” remembers Olney. “I always thought that the gas crunch of ‘73, the first gas crisis, kind of shut things down. I don’t think the business felt like it could take chances on the crazy people. You couldn’t waste a lot of money on somebody that was interesting, which was too bad.” David Olney passed away on Saturday night, January 18th, 2020.
1. Mama, On My Way - 2:36
2. I'm Not Leaving You Now - 2:55
3. Swordswoman Provocation - 4:08
4. Interlude: Dixie - 0:57
5. Detroit Gregorian - 1:58
6. Too Much Help - 3:20
7. Crimes And Misfortunes - 2:58
8. Take It Your Own - 2:51
9. Lord, How I Wanna Go Home Again - 3:53
10.Worthless, Out Of Tune - 4:36
11.Interlude: Black Betty - 1:02
12.Cemetery Hill - 2:04
13.Long Day's Journey Into Night - Mrs. Neill - 2:16
All songs by Bland Simpson except track #4 by Daniel Decatur Emmett

*Bland Simpson - Piano, Vocals
*David Olney - Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
*Rob Rothstein - Bass, Organ, Vocals
*Steve Merola - Drums
*Rick Derringer - Electric Guitar (Track 3)
*Bill Schwartz - Electric Guitar (Track 1)
*Bill Keith - Pedal Steel
*Eric Weissberg - Dobro, Fiddle

Saturday, October 14, 2023

The Creatures - Columbia Singles (1964-67 ireland, fabulous garage beat)

The Creatures were one of the key beat groups to emerge from Ireland in the 1960s. They were also one of the few Irish acts to attempt to by-pass the UK market and ambitiously aim straight for the US charts, and in the process they left behind a considerable recorded legacy which has been regrettably overlooked by the digital age.

First there were The Hootenannys, featuring guitarists Jim Dalton, Bobby Kelly and Liam McKenna, bassist Frank Boylan and drummer Ray McDonald. They issued just one single, pairing the Shadows-style instrumentals Fiona / 6.10 Special in 1964, with royalties donated to the ‘Conquer Cancer Fund’. Jim Dalton was soon replaced by lead guitarist Brian Harris, and when Bobby Kelly left, McKenna, Boylan, McDonald and Harris renamed themselves The Creatures in April 1965. They quickly built a following and became a fixture of the Dublin clubs. They performed at the Locomotive Club in Paris in August 1965 where they impressed New York producer Neil Levenson of Columbia Records. Back home, Liam McKenna, Frank Boylan and Brian Harris stood out amongst a crowd queuing for a Rolling Stones concert at Dublin’s Adelphi Theatre on Abbey Street in September 1965, and were interviewed for the documentary film ‘Charlie Is My Darling’. Neil Levenson arranged a recording session at Advision Studios in London in late 1965, where the band recorded ten demos which earned them a one-year contract with Columbia Records USA. 

The band spent most of 1966 in the USA, where each of their four singles were originally issued during 1966 and 1967. The first three received a delayed release in Ireland and the UK on the CBS label, but their only chart hit was in Ireland with debut single Turn Out The Light, despite it being banned by RTE Radio Eireann. Neil Levenson wrote or co-wrote much of the band’s recorded material, with the notable exception of the sophisticated Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil song Looking At Tomorrow, and Someone Needs You.apparently written by Frank Boylan’s brother. Their sound on record ranged from hard R’n’B to pop ballads. The American chart break-through never came however, and The Creatures returned to Ireland in late 1966 when Columbia chose not to renew their contract.
1. Turn Out The Light (Derry Lindsay) - 1:50
2. It Must Be Love (Neil Levenson) - 2:33
3. String Along (Neil Levenson) - 2:31
4. The Night Is Warm (Derry Lindsay) - 2:02
5. Looking At Tomorrow (Barry Mann, Cunthia Weil) - 1:52
6. Hurtin’ All Over (Neil Levenson,Eddie Reeves) - 2:13
7. Love Is A Funny Little Game (Neil Levenson,  Steven Venetoulis, G. Robinson) - 1:45
8. Looking At Tomorrow (Alternate Take) (Barry Mann, Cunthia Weil) - 1:50
9. Someone Needs You (Alternate Take) (Richard Boylan) - 1:57
10.Don’t Think You Can Cry On My Shoulder - 2:18
11.Everybody Needs Somebody (Bert Berns, Solomon Burke, Jerry Wexler) - 2:46
12.That’s What Love Can Do - 2:31

The Creatures
*Frank Boylan - Bass 
*Brian Harris - Guitar 
*Ray McDonald - Drums 
*Liam McKenna - Guitar, Vocals

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Thursday, October 12, 2023

Mighty Joe Young - Joe Young (1976 us, awesome electric rhythm and blues)

There was a time during the late '70s and early '80s when Mighty Joe Young was one of the leading blues guitarists on Chicago's budding North side blues circuit. The Louisiana native got his start not in the Windy City, but in Milwaukee, where he was raised. He earned a reputation as a reliable guitarist on Chicago's West side with Joe Little & his Heart Breakers during the mid-'50s, later changing his on-stage allegiance to harpist Billy Boy Arnold. Young recorded with Arnold for Prestige and Testament during the '60s and backed Jimmy Rogers for Chess in 1958.

After abortive attempts to inaugurate a solo career with Jiffy Records in Louisiana in 1955 and Chicago's Atomic-H label three years later, Young hit his stride in 1961 with the sizzling "Why Baby"/"Empty Arms" for Bobby Robinson's Fire label. Young gigged as Otis Rush's rhythm guitarist from 1960 to 1963 and cut a series of excellent Chicago blues 45s for a variety of firms: "I Want a Love," "Voo Doo Dust," and "Something's Wrong" for Webcor during the mid-'60s; "Something's Wrong" for Webcor in 1966; "Sweet Kisses" and "Henpecked" on Celtex and "Hard Times (Follow Me)" for USA (all 1967), and "Guitar Star" for Jacklyn in 1969. Young even guested on Bill "Hoss" Allen's groundbreaking 1966 syndicated R&B TV program The Beat in Dallas. Late-'60s session work included dates with Tyrone Davis and Jimmy Dawkins.

Delmark issued Young's solo album debut, Blues With a Touch of Soul, in 1971, but a pair of mid-'70s LPs for Ovation (1974's Chicken Heads and an eponymous set in 1976) showcased the guitarist's blues-soul synthesis far more effectively. Young's main local haunt during the '70s and early '80s was Wise Fools Pub, where he packed 'em in nightly (with Freddy King's brother, Benny Turner, on bass).

In 1986 Joe began work on a self-financed recording that would finally allow him to have complete artistic control. At this time he also discovered surgery was needed on a pinched nerve in his neck. Following the operation, complications arose that affected his ability to play guitar. As part of psychical therapy he continued to work on the album sporadically until Mighty Man was finally released in 1997. Unfortunately health problems continued to plague Mighty Joe and he passed away on March 25, 1999 in Chicago. He was 71. 
by Bill Dahl and Al Campbell
1. Love Bone / Jody (Don Davis, Kent Barker, Cam Wilson) - 6:12
2. Mama-In-Law Blues - 3:18
3. Need A Friend - 5:02
4. Take My Advice (She Likes The Blues And Barbecue) - 2:45
5. New Orleans Women - 3:38
6. Takes Money - 3:43
7. Green Light - 3:35
8. Mean Hitchhiker - 2:45
9. I Give - 3:20
All songs by Mighty Joe Young except where indicated

*Mighty Joe Young - Guitar, Vocals 
*Alvino Bennett - Drums
*Bill Chinnock - Guitar
*Ken Sajdak - Keyboards
*Ed Tossing - Synthesizer

Monday, October 9, 2023

Wigwam - Tombstone Valentine (1970 finland, spectacular bluesy psych prog rock, 2013 remaster and expanded)

Formed in 1968, Wigwam recorded "Tombstone Valentine" in 1970 at Finnvox studios, Helsinki, the album was produced by the infamous Kim Fowley and was a wonderful collection of highly original material such as the album title track and compositions like Wishful Thinker, 1936 Lost in the Snow and For America

Undeniably the crown jewel of Finnish progressive rock, Wigwam released Tombstone Valentine in 1970 and quickly gained international attention. Unlike the first album released a year earlier, this album was a more focused effort at creating memorable songs that were both unique and exciting. I would have to consider it more of a pop album that had strong progressive elements sprinkled throughout. The addition of new members Jukka Tolonen (guitarist) and bassist/composer Pekka Pohjola brought a cohesiveness that had not yet been attained on 1969's Hard N' Horny. The rest of the line-up featured Jukka Gustavson on vocals, organ, piano; Ronnie Sterberg on drums; Jim Pembroke on vocals: Heikki Laurila on guitar; banjo; and Kalevi Nyqvist on accordion. 

Where Hard N' Horny was a more exploratory and disjointed effort, Tombstone Valentine can easily be compared with the likes of Procul Harum, Traffic, and yes .... even the Beatles without ever loosing the progressive foundations we fans so admire and crave in our musical diets. Perhaps of even more significance is how this album essentially opened the door to several additional albums over the next few years that managed to get better and better as the group fully gelled and developed a style and sound that has become a hallmark of progressive rock.

No single element can be clearly defined as the definitive reason for this album's overall success, but I would offer a personal bias of sorts: I have always considered Pekka Pohjola to be one of the finest bassist ever. The first track has become the  go to  track for me, followed by the next ... all the way to the end. Throughout the album can be found elements from many schools of style and sound. Track 4 for example is very much in the Canterbury vein ala Soft Machine, Caravan, and Supersister. The first track has a psychedelic hook that is unstoppable. The jazz elements are strong and well placed. The musicianship presented here is easily on par with the likes of Gentle Giant and Jethro Tull. I really believe this is a band without limitations. If that sounds good to you, wait until you hear the album!

Esoteric Records/ Cherry Red Records has graciously included two bonus tracks on this reissue Pedagogi and Haato that were the A & B sides of a 1970 single released in Finland. Owning these two tracks alone is reason enough to pick up your own copy, but Esoteric went further still and included a fine essay to boot. The artwork is fully restored as well, so by all means secure a copy for your own collection, and enjoy some great tracks from Finland's finest.
by Thomas Rhymer
1. Tombstone Valentine (Jim Pembroke) - 3:07
2. In Gratitude! (Jukka Gustavson) - 3:46
3. Dance Of The Anthropoids (Erkki Kurenniemi) - 1:07
4. Frederick And Bill (Jim Pembroke, Pekka Pohjola) - 4:26
5. Wishful Thinker (Jim Pembroke) - 3:46
6. Autograph (Jim Pembroke, Kim Fowley) - 2:39
7. 1936 Lost In The Snow (Pekka Pohjola) - 2:11
8. Let The World Ramble On (Jim Pembroke) - 3:20
9. For America (Jukka Gustavson) - 4:22
10.Captain Supernatural (Jim Pembroke) - 3:02
11.End (Jukka Gustavson) - 3:39
12.Pedagogi (Jukka Gustavson) - 3:29
13.Haato (Mats Huldén) - 4:10
Bonus Tracks 12-13

Pekka Pohjola - Bass, Violin
Jukka Gustavson - Organ, Piano, Vocals
Ronnie Osterberg - Drums, Percussion
Jim Pembroke - Vocals
Jukka Tolonen - Guitar
Heikki Laurila - Guitar, Banjo
Kalevi Nyqvist - Accordion 
Erkki Kurenniemi - Synthesizer

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Blue Rose - Blue Rose (1972 us, fine rural rock)

The Blue Rose LP is worth looking for. The album. It’s a pretty good piece of work. The opener, “My Impersonal Life” – which was edited down and altered for the single, is probably the best song on the record, but not by much. I also really like a couple other tracks: “Debt of Fools,” a bluesy track that reminds me a little bit of the Eagles, and “Sweet Thing,” a great ballad with some nice horns pulling it along.

Some notes about a few of the other tracks: “Takin’ Love And Run”  reminds  Badfinger with its crunchy power chords; “I’ll Never Be In Love Again” is a nice country-rock piece; “Chasing The Glow Of A Candle” is over-orchestrated and has its vocals over-stacked, and the metronome sound is really odd.

The rest of the album is good. The vocals are well done with harmonies and stacks that generally work but sometimes seem to be a little too much. Terry Furlong (from Grass Roots fame) and Dave Thomson on guitars, with great Harvey Mandell on guitar in one song “I’ll Never Be In Love Again”; Dave Thomson on bass, with John Uribe (taking bass on “Takin’ Love and Run” and “Home”; Stu Perry (ex Jellyroll, Frankie Miller Band) on drums, with Don Poncher (Blue Mountain Eagle, Arthur Lee and The Band Aid,  Bobby Whitlock) taking drums on “Takin’ Love and Run” and “Home”; horns by the Elijah Band Horn Section; conga by King Errison; and arrangements and piano by Michael Omartian. Terry Furlong produced the record.
1. My Impersonal Life  (Terry Furlong) - 04:25 
2. Takin' Love And Run  (Terry Furlong) - 02:46 
3. I'll Never Be In Love Again  (Dave Thomson) - 02:00 
4. Debt Of Fools  (Terry Furlong) - 04:16 
5. Chasin' The Glow Of A Candle  (Dave Thomson) - 02:18 
6. Sweet Thing  (Terry Furlong) - 04:04 
7. Make You Happy  (Dave Thomson) - 02:52
8. Home (Day After Day)  (Terry Furlong, John Uribe) - 03:20 
9. Show You A Way To Have Fun  (Dave Thomson) - 03:01 
10.Look What We're Doin'  (Dave Thomson, John Uribe) - 02:54

Blue Rose
*Terry Furlong - Guitar 
*Dave Thomson - Guitar, Bass 
*John Uribe - Bass 
*Stu Perry - Drums 
*Don Poncher - Drums
*Harvey Mandel - Guitar (Track 3)
*Michael Omartian - Piano
*Trumpet – Bobby Blood
*Elijah Band Horn Section - Horns

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Saturday, October 7, 2023

Greg Sneddon - Mind Stroll (1975 australia, beautiful melodic baroque prog rock, 2019 korean remaster)

Australian composer and instrumentalist Greg Sneddon's sole album is a wonderful mixture of pop, space rock and strong keyboard driven progressive rock. Greg was a founding member of Men At Work. 

A keyboard player of some repute, Sneddon used a handful of other musicians on the album, playing multi-keys himself. The compositions have their moments. With flavours of Rick Wakeman in his keyboard playing and vocals similar to Peter Gabriel, this album is still worth a listen.
1. Mind Stroll - 9:45
2. Winter - 3:17
3. Take It Slow And Easy - 3:22
4. A Spell Of Destruction - 3:57
5. Minuet In F - 2:14
6. Concerto For Two Handed Plectrum / Madman - 8:47
Music and Lyrics by Greg Sneddon

*Greg Sneddon - Piano, Hammond B3, ARP Pro Synth, Mellotron, Hohner Clavinet, Spinnet, Fender, Rhodes, Percussion, Vocals, 2-Handed Plectrum, Composer
*Dayle Alison - Vocals, Percussion
*Phil Butson - Guitars
*Jerry H. Speiser - Drums, Voice
*Gary Ricketts - Bass, Vocals (Track 6)

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Allan Clarke - My Real Name Is 'Arold (1972 uk, wonderful straight ahead rock with folk and country aspects)

Singer/guitarist/songwriter Allan Clarke is one of the founders of the Hollies; intermittently, he also has maintained a solo career. Clarke and his childhood friend, Graham Nash, began singing together in Manchester in the '50s. Adding Eric Haydock (bass) and Don Rathbone (drums) (replaced by Bobby Elliott in 1963), they became the Fourtones in 1961 and then the Deltas in 1962. By early 1963, when they added Tony Hicks (guitar) and signed a record contract, they had become the Hollies. 

Their initial repertoire consisted of American R&B songs (though they soon began to write original material), and their defining characteristic was a strong vocal style, usually with Clarke in the lead and Nash and Hicks providing harmonies. In the U.K., the Hollies enjoyed consistent singles success, starting with "Just Like Me," the first of 29 chart singles, 17 of which made the Top Ten, with two -- "I'm Alive" and "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" -- reaching number one. Their appearances on the U.S. charts were less successful, though they managed to rack up 23 chart singles, six of which hit the Top Ten. Nash decamped at the end of 1968 to form Crosby, Stills, and Nash, but the Hollies continued. Clarke quit in August 1971 and launched a solo career, during which he made three albums: My Name Is 'arold (1972)
by William Ruhlmann
1. Ruby (Allan Clarke) - 3:03
2. Mary Skeffington (Gerry Rafferty) - 2:54
3. Baby It's Alright With Me (Allan Clarke) - 5:24
4. Moonshine Whiskey (Allan Clarke) - 3:53
5. Nature's Way Of Saying Goodbye (Allan Clarke) - 4:11
6. You're Losing Me (Kerry Chater, Renée Armand) - 4:12
7. Let Us Pray (Allan Clarke, Ray Glynn) - 4:17
8. Patchwork Quilts (Terry Slater) - 3:51
9. Walpurgis Night (Joe Egan) - 3:33
10.Bring On Your Smiles (Allan Clarke) - 2:52
11.Oh! Granny (Kenny Lynch, Tony Hicks) - 2:41

*Allan Clarke - Vocals,Acoustic Guitar 
*Gary Brooker - Keyboards
*Herbie Flowers - Bass
*Joe Moretti - Guitars
*Dee Murray - Keyboards, Vocals
*Alan Parker - Guitar 
*Tony Newman - Drums, Timbales
*Ray Glynn - Pedal Steel Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
*Roger Coulam - Electric Piano

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