Thursday, November 30, 2023

rep> Black Merda - The Folks From Mother's Mixer (1970-72 us, excellent funky psych blues rock, 2004 remaster)

Black Merda were a funky rock combo with a significant debt to Jimi Hendrix, mixing fuzz-toned, psychedelic blues-rock with folky acoustic passages and contemporary late-'60s soul. Featuring guitarists Anthony and Charles Hawkins, bassist VC Veasey (aka Veesee L. Veasey), and drummer Tyrone Hite, the group got its start in the late '60s after Veasey, Hite, and Anthony Hawkins had spent time in a band called the Soul Agents, backing Edwin Starr and Gene Chandler. Inspired by Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced?, they added Anthony's younger brother Charles on second guitar and christened themselves Black Merda. Despite some interest around their Detroit base -- including Norman Whitfield and Eddie Kendricks -- Black Merda signed to Chess, thanks in part to the psychedelic soul eccentric Fugi (aka Ellington Jordan), who they also backed on his Mary, Don't Take Me on No Bad Trip LP for Chess.

Black Merda's self-titled album sounded revolutionary enough, although the bandmembers were disappointed that it didn't reflect their heavy live shows. They then moved to the West Coast to continue playing with Fugi, but returned to Chicago to record a second album. Shortening their name to Mer-Da, the group returned in 1971 with Long Burn the Fire, a funkier outing that bore a likeness to early Funkadelic. The band quickly fizzled out, but over the next three decades, continued record-collector interest in the group eventually resulted in a reunion with Veasey, both Hawkins brothers, and Fugi, although Hite had died in 2004. 
by Steve Huey

Usually linked in with the brief explosion of "black rock" bands that followed Jimi Hendrix in the late '60s and early '70s, Black Merda's formula was a good bit more complicated than most, and their debut album blends elements of hard rock, blues, soul, folk, and embryonic funk with a tough and uncompromising political consciousness that makes the disc at once a product of its time and not quite like anything else around back in the day. 

The guitar work from Anthony Hawkins and Charles Hawkins is tough and organic, whether they're stretching out on extended blues jams such as "Over and Over" and "Windsong" or cutting some hard R&B-accented rock on "Cynthy-Ruth" and "Prophet." Bassist Vessee L. Veasy (who also contributes most of the lead vocals) and percussionist Tyrone Hite generate a lean but effective groove throughout as they jump from the streetwise soul of "Reality" to the acoustic meditation of "Think of Me." But as good as the music is on this album (and despite bland production from someone named Swan, most of it is very good indeed), what really sets it apart is the dark vibe reflected in the minor-key tenor of the melodies and the bitter realities of the lyrics. 

Grinding poverty, racism, political and social inequality, the ongoing nightmare of Vietnam, the growing schism between youth culture and the establishment, and the absence of any easy answers to the dilemmas of a nation spinning out of control dominate songs such as "Reality," "Ashamed," and "That's the Way It Goes," and the grim but wholly appropriate fable of "I Don't Want to Die" ends this album as if a lid were being slammed shut on a coffin. 

Black Merda anticipates the grim consciousness-raising session of Sly and the Family Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On, which wouldn't arrive in stores until a year after this album, and if it isn't the stark masterpiece that Sly's album was, it's good enough that this group deserves to be regarded as much more than a footnote in the black music scene of the early '70s. 
by Mark Deming
1. Prophet (Anthony Hawkins) - 2:54
2. Think of Me (Anthony Hawkins, Charles Hawkins, Tyrone Hite) - 2:33
3. Cynthy-Ruth (Roosevelt Veasey) - 3:06
4. Over and Over (Anthony Hawkins, Charles Hawkins, Tyrone Hite) - 5:33
5. Ashamed (Anthony Hawkins) - 3:52
6. Reality (Roosevelt Veasey) - 2:01
7. Windsong (Anthony Hawkins, Charles Hawkins, Tyrone Hite) - 4:14
8. Good Luck (Anthony Hawkins) - 3:46
9. That's the Way It Goes (Roosevelt Veasey) - 3:16
10.I Don't Want to Die (Anthony Hawkins, Charles Hawkins, Tyrone Hite) - 3:52
11.Set Me Free (Anthony Hawkins) - 0:43
12.For You - 4:43
13.The Folks From Mother's Mixer - 4:13
14.My Mistake - 5:30
15.Lying - 3:30
16.Long Burn The Fire - 3:21
17.Sometimes I Wish - 3:45
18.I Got A Woman - 5:01
19.We Made Up - 3:45
Songs from 12 to 19 were written by Anthony Hawkins, Charles Hawkins, Roosevelt Veasey
Tracks 1-11 from "Black Merda" 1970
Tracks 12-19 from "Long Burn The Fire" 1972

Black Merda
*Anthony Hawkins - Guitar, Vocals
*Charles Hawkins - Guitar, Vocals
*Roosevelt Veasey - Bass, Vocals 
*Tyrone Hite - Drums, Vocals (Tracks 1-11)
*Bob Crowder - Drums (Tracks 12-19)
*Mary Hawkins Veasey - Background Vocals (Tracks 12-19)

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Grinderswitch - Have Band Will Travel (1981 us, fine roots 'n' roll southern rock, 2010 reissue)

In late 70’s Grinderswitch’s record sales suffered and they finally broke up in 1982 after releasing 5 albums between 1974 and 1982. There is also 1977 recorded unreleased album under the name “Chasing Wild Desires”, that hopefully sees release in the future.

After Grinderswitch, Dru Lombar formed Dr. Hector and The Groove Injectors in 1986 and released five albums. Larry Howard has also recorded several albums under his own name.

In 2004 Dru Lombar put Grinderswitch back together with new members Wally Condon on drums, Eddie Stone (from Doc Holliday fame) on keyboards , Jack Corcaran on guitar and  Steve Miller on bass. They released new album “Ghost Train From Georgia” in 2005, but Dru Lombar’s death in September 2005 put Grinderswitch back to rest for good.
1. One Hour Into Sunday (June Black) - 3:10
2. Real Good Sign (Dru Lombar) - 3:11
3. The Warm Kind (Stephen Miller) - 3:46
4. Ashes And Stone (David Anderson, Owen Davis) - 4:42
5. Golden Minutes (Stephen Miller) - 3:49
6. Lady Luck (Dru Lombar) - 3:25
7. Open Road (Dru Lombar, Joe Dan Petty, Larry Howard, Rick Burnett, Stephen Miller) - 3:12
8. The Fever (Dru Lombar) - 4:08
9. Bound And Determined (Dru Lombar, Stephen Miller) - 3:17

*Joe Dan Petty - Vocals, Bass
*Stephen Miller - Keyboards, Vocals
*Rick Burnett - Drums
*Dru Lombar - Guitar, Vocals
*Austin Pettit - Guitar, Vocals
*Bonnie Bramlett - Backup Vocals
*Brett Rowan - Acoustc Guitar
*Muscle Shoals Horns - Horns

Monday, November 27, 2023

White Water - Out Of The Darkness (1973 us, awesome funk jazz brass psych rock)

Early seventies New York based horn-band, previous known as The Blue Jays. Their "Out Of The Darkness" LP released in 1973 produced by Vini Poncia.

Dick Domane was born as Richard DiDomenico in Providence, subsequently a member of the New York based horn-band White Water. Dick Domane passed away February 10, 2022.

John Vastano οbituary was the lead singer/song writer of the Blue Jays and White Water RCA recording artists. He wrote the Olivia Newton John hit "Deeper Than The Night", as well as songs for Leo Sayer, Melissa Manchester, Cher, Peter Criss of Kiss, Carol Bayer Sager and many other artists. He also wrote motion picture soundtracks for "The Warriors" and "Hugo the Hippo". Johnny  passed away September 21, 2018.
1. Let Me Take You Down - 5:33
2. Storm In My Soul - 6:14
3. (Caught Up In) White Water - 5:32
4. Ain't Nothin' So Bad - 5:35
5. Reach On Out (Johnny Vastano, Vini Poncia) - 4:05
6. Long Time Ago (Johnny Vastano) - 3:36
7. Out Of The Darkness (Johnny Vastano, Vini Poncia) - 4:31
8. The People Say (Dick Domane) - 8:46
All songs by Dick Domane, Johnny Vastano, Vini Poncia except where indicated

White Water
*Johnny Vastano - Lead Vocals, Guitar, 
*Bob Fiocco - Bass, Trombone, 
*Conrad Catalano - Drums, Percussion, 
*John Emma - Saxophone, 
*Dick Domane - Organ, Trumpet, 
*Paul Phillips - Trumpet, Flugel Horn

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Two Guns - Balls Out (1979 us, excellent southern rock, 2009 edition)

The Two Guns album Balls Out is the first and last album of a talented band that were unfortunately getting signed when Southern Rock made its last stand. Released by Capricorn Records, the label was three releases away from getting bankrupt. How's that for a healthy future? Well, obviously, these guys never had much of a chance and this is where it ended to the public eye.

This record is a true masterpiece of Southern rock and was released at a time when the genre was already in agony. It overshadows everything that was produced at that time - the year was 1979 - by the 'first generation' of Southern rock, be it the ABB, the Henry Paul Band or .38 Special. The tragedy of Two Guns' failure and their disappearance into the endless sea of oblivion lay not only in the 'death throes' of the genre, but above all in the bankruptcy of Capricorn Records. A number of other bands were unable to cope with the collapse of this stroke of luck for Southern Rock - just think of Stillwater.
Like the latter, Two Guns were absorbed into a black hole and today hardly anything is known about the careers of the four band members. 

The only thing you can find out about Bob Williams on the internet is from the authoritative mouth of his widow Joni Ann. Bob died on May 21, 1999, at the age of forty-four, as a result of a motorcycle accident near Kansas City. Previously, he had to end his musical career after losing a fingertip in an accident at work. After the four-piece from Lawton, Oklahoma, split up in 1980, he played for Chubby Checker and founded his own band under the pseudonym Greg Hockett.

According to Joni Williams, most of the songs on "Balls Out" were written by singer and bassist Mike Sconce - the rest by second shouter Kenny Baker. It is no longer possible to find out which of the two wrote and sang which songs.

The opening "Hard Times" sounds like a jammy number from the Charlie Daniels Band, and not just because of the 'shimmering' Hammond. The work of the two guitarists is outstanding, as they seem to float over a very 'fuzzy' carpet of sound. The chorus sounds very clear  Point Blank, who had their heydays back then. This is a number that could easily have been twice as long. What follows is a crisp Southern Boogie in which the singer (which of the two was it?) knows how to shine.

"Slippin' Into The Night" would have been the natural single release that never happened. The song is hugely jazzed up by the background choirs and the razor-sharp horns of the Muscle Shoals Horns. A wonderful honkytonk piano by Hornsby gives the whole thing the finishing touch. The double leads and the walking bass provide the highlights in "Judgment Plea", a driving blues'n'boogie. “The Daltons” rocks smoothly and fluidly in the country style of the Outlaws. Here the double leads sparkle again, making it a real joy.

It's a shame that Two Guns has been so forgotten. They would undoubtedly have had the potential to valiantly hold up the Southern Cross after Skynyrd's tragic plane crash. Instead, the remaining bands hammered one nail after another into the final resting place of Southern rock through inconsequential LPs. At the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, it wasn't even remotely possible to imagine that he would be resurrected in the new century (and definitely not as a zombie).

A simple yet cheerful rocker warms the hearts of listeners with “Seems Like Thunder”. Once again the choirs and the casually strumming piano provide the highlights. "Look In Your Eyes" is initially (at the beginning of the verse) somewhat reminiscent of Skynyrd's "Every Mothers Son" and then escalates into a grooving jam-rocker that sounds like the finest CDB moments - but the same applies here again: doubly so that long would have been perfect! With "There's A Battle Goin' On", a wonderful half-ballad closes a perfect record - but the obligatory guitar battle is ended by a final chorus.
by Steve Braun, 19.12.2011
1. Hard Time (Kenny Barker) - 5:05
2. I Just Dropped On By To Tell You (Mike Sconce) - 3:51
3. Slippin' Into The Night (Randy Richards) - 2:57
4. Judgement Plea (Mike Sconce) - 5:58
5. The Daltons (Kenny Barker) - 5:28
6. Seems Like Thunder (Mike Sconce) - 3:50
7. Look In Your Eyes (Kenny Barker) - 4:04
8. There's A Battle Goin' On (Mike Sconce) - 4:52

Two Guns
*Kenny Barker - Guitar, Lead Vocals
*Bob Williams - Guitar, Vocals
*Mike Sconce - Bass, Lead Vocals
*Pat Sconce - Drums
*Paul Hornsby - Keyboards
*Dodie Petit - Background Vocals
*Muscle Shoals Horns - Horns

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Cold Chisel - Cold Chisel (1978 australia, tough pub power rock, 2011 digipak remaster)

A singular force of nature, Cold Chisel concocted a sound that merged blues, soul, rockabilly and – of course – pub rock into something quintessentially Australian. Their sound was unvarnished and unfiltered, forged in the country’s thriving but unforgiving live music circuit of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

Cold Chisel came together in Adelaide in 1973, featuring Ian Moss on guitar and vocals, Steve Prestwich on drums, Les Kaczmarek on bass, and Don Walker on piano. Jimmy Barnes – still just a teenager – soon arrived as lead singer, joined by Phil Small as Kaczmarek’s replacement as bassist in 1975. 

They would disband just eight years later, but not before leaving behind a strong five-album run that started with their self-titled debut album in 1978 and culminated in 1984 with Twentieth Century. Before myriad reunions, before their ARIA Hall of Fame induction, before they even had a street named after them in Adelaide, that flawed first album set them on their way to national stardom. 

Back to 1978: perhaps a retrospective success, more than an immediate one, Cold Chisel’s debut album has nevertheless earned its place in the country’s music history. What do two of its makers recall of that time, though? For Barnes, making the album was all “a bit of a blur.”

In terms of its structure, the band was firmly committed to not being a singles band, according to Barnes.
“We thought we’d just release albums and keep away from the singles chart,” he explains, reflecting an attitude that feels more and more rare in today’s musical landscape. 

That was until one certain song changed things. When Cold Chisel came out with “Khe Sanh” – a single that told the story of the Vietnam vets, in a style that epitomises what was so popular at the time – it’s little wonder it became such a resonant sound in Australian pop culture. 
by Conor Lochrie, April 11, 2023
1. Juliet (Don Walker, Jimmy Barnes) - 2:44
2. Khe Sanh - 4:14
3. Home And Broken Hearted - 3:25
4. One Long Day - 7:24
5. Northbound - 3:15
6. Rosaline - 4:47
7. Daskarzine - 5:10
8. Just How Many Times - 5:14
All songs by Don Walker except where noted

Cold Chisel 
*Ian Moss - Guitar, Vocals
*Jimmy Barnes - Vocals
*Steve Prestwich - Drums
*Phil Small - Bass
*Don Walker - Organ, Piano, Background Vocals
*David Blight - Harmonica
*Joe Camilleri - Saxophone
*Janice Slater - Background Vocals
*Wilbur Wilde - Saxophone
*Carol Stubbley - Background Vocals

Friday, November 24, 2023

Smokey John Bull - Smokey John Bull (1971 us, fine spiritual blues psych rock)

Smokey John Bull were a communal gospelblues group from the Hartford Connecticut area. The album was produced by Lewis Merenstein, producer of Van Morrisons Astral Weeks and is a mix of gospel, rock, blues, and funk. The album features two Bob Dylan covers, He Was A Friend Of Mine and The Mighty Quinn plus Tom Cosgroves Hitchin To Memphis. Also included is the albums highlight, Jeff Gordons E-Z Rider Jack Dominilla.
1. He Was A Friend Of Mine / Worried Man Blues / Shorty George (Bob Dylan / Woody Guthrie / Traditional) - 2:58
2. The Mighty Quinn (Bob Dylan) - 3:10
3. Looking For America (Mark Lipson, Ben Mochan) - 3:35
4. Gotta Get Away Man (Mark Lipson, Ben Mochan) - 3:31
5. E-Z Rider (Jeff Gordon) - 7:20
6. The Gospel Song (Mark Lipson, Ben Mochan) - 4:24
7. I'll Try To Make It Up To You (Mark Lipson, Ben Mochan) - 3:36 
8. Georgia Home (Mark Lipson, Steve Loeb, Ben Mochan) - 3:05
9. Chances Are Better (Steve Loeb) - 2:50
10.Hitchin' To Memphis (Tom Cosgrove) - 2:39

Smokey John Bull
*Shelly Rosen - Bass
*Gary Linke - Drums, Percussion
*Bob Mintzer - Flute, Saxophone
*Lenny Nelson - Lead Guitar, Bass
*Alex Brierly - Lead Vocals
*Bob King - Lead Vocals
*Steve Loeb - Piano, Organ, Alto Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Electric Piano
*Barry Buxbaum - Vocals
*Debbie Gray - Vocals
*Pat Thomason - Vocals
*Ben Mochan - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica, Autoharp, Percussion
*Mark Lipson - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Percussion

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Blue Condition - Beyond The Sun (1976 us, nice soft prog rock)

Blue Condition were an American psych-pop band that released the album Beyond the Sun on self-press Low Rider Records in 1976. An eponymous second album with a half-changed lineup was self-issued by the band in 1984. 

There are some good guitar parts, funky tunes mixed with jazzy feeling, think of some lighter version of Steely Dan, in conclusion a nice hard to find record.
1. Birds In Flight (West Goewey) - 4:25
2. Lord I'm Blue (West Goewey) - 5:02
3. Love Me Right (West Goewey, A. Marshall) - 4:16
4. Hourglass (West Goewey, A. Marshall) - 4:39
5. Synthesizer Prelude: Beyond The Sun (West Goewey, A. Marshall) - 6:09
6. My Girl (West Goewey) - 3:21
7. Piscean Lady (West Goewey) - 4:16
8. You're The One (West Goewey, Greg Carter) - 4:25

Blue Condition
*Leo Price - Guitar, Vocals
*West Goewey - Keyboards, Vocals
*Danny Massalon - Bass, Vocals
*Greg Carter - Drums

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Gabriel Bondage - Angel Dust / Another Trip To Earth (1975/77 us, good space psych prog rock, 2009 digipak release)

Gabriel Bondage was an American post-psych band from Chicago that released the album Angel Dust on local-press Dharma in 1975, followed by Another Trip to Earth in 1977.

Their name was inspired by Gabriel Prosser, an enslaved 18th century blacksmith who — held in bondage on a Richmond, Virginia, plantation — became a martyred early hero of the abolitionist movement after planning one of the earliest anti-slavery revolts.

The group formed in 1973 as One Brain when singer and multi-instrumentalist Rex Bundy, a former writer of religious music, enlisted bassist Tony Stram, once of the Pink Floyd covers band Stark Raving & Mad. They grew to a six-piece with reedist Bill Wisniewski, who once rubbed shoulders with members of Chicago.

As Gabriel Bondage, they opened an early US date by Canadian rockers Rush. Bundy developed a set of originals, influenced by The Beatles, Genesis, and Emerson Lake & Palmer.

Gabriel Bondage signed to Dharma Records, a Libertyville, Ill., indie label whose roster included jazz-rockers Streetdancer and the symphonic trio Atlantis Philharmonic.
1. Babylon - 4:44
2. First Stone In A Pyramid - 3:45
3. You And The Wind - 3:47
4. Take My Eyes - 3:09
5. Ladies And Gentlemen - 4:26
6. Bondage Rust Flakes, Dinosaur, Implosion - 8:10
7. Island - 3:59
8. Sing Me A Song - 3:30
9. Take It On A Dare (Ron Schwartz) - 6:02
10.Long Time - 3:47
11.Living In The City - 4:04
12.Birth Of The Unconquered Sun (L.James Biernacki) - 5:32
13.In The Daylight - 4:00
14.No Winners - 5:01
15.All I Know (L.James Biernacki, Rex Bundy) - 3:51
16.Those Games - 3:51
17.Fallen Angels - 11:11
All songs by Rex Bundy except where stated

Gabriel Bondage
*Rex Bundy - Lead Vocals, Guitar, 12-String Guitar, Drums, Piano, Effects) 
*Tony Stram - Vocals, Bass, Keyboards, Programming 
*Larry Biernacki - Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin 
*Bill Wisniewski - Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone             Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet 
*Ron Schwartz - Piano, Synthesizer, Hammond Organ, Programming 
*P.J. Shadowhawk - Drums

Monday, November 20, 2023

The Woods Band - The Woods Band (1971 ireland, lovely folk with traditional expressions, 2021 digipak remaster)

The Esoteric eye for an item of musical buried treasure turns its attention on this occasion to the world of early-’70s folk-rock. However, before you go away thinking that this was another bunch of fly-by-night nobodies, coming in from nowhere and going back there as quickly as possible, think again. Because The Woods Band were historically extremely significant in the fast-blossoming world of British and Irish electric folk music when this album was released in 1971. The first, and most significant, reason for this is because the ‘Woods’ part of the band name refers to Irish husband and wife team Terry and Gay Woods who, as anyone with an interest in that scene will surely recognise, were founder members of Steeleye Span in 1969. 

Indeed, it was Terry Woods who first joined up with Asley Hutchings after the latter’s departure from Fairport Convention and decided to put together a new band. Tim Hart and Maddy Prior were brought in, and the five-piece recorded the first Steeleye album Hark! The Village Wait, in 1970, with Gay and Maddy sharing the vocal duties. The Woods left the band after this first album, but their legacy and their place in folk-rock history was secured. Terry Woods had also been with another band who helped to spearhead the nascent movement, namely Sweeney’s Men, who recorded an album in 1968.

The Woods Band was formed by Terry and Gay after their departure from Steeleye, bringing in guitarist Ed Deane (who later replaced Gary Moore in Irish band Skid Row, in rather a musical about-face) and also excellent drummer Pat Nash. Gay’s brother Austin Corcoran was also in the band for a while on bass, but departed while the album was being recorded (either owing to musical self-doubt or a disapproving wife, according to the accompanying booklet!), though he is on three tracks. Producing the album was Tony Reeves, during a break between his spells with Colosseum and Greenslade, which is a rather nice ‘prog’ connection. The folky significance is not done yet, however, as the story goes that fellow Irish folk-rock pioneers Horslips might never have existed without The Woods Band, as they turned up at a Woods show, were reportedly entranced, and elected at that point to form their own band ploughing a very similar furrow to the show they had seen which, if true, is another factor making this recording something of a defining moment in the electric folk scene.

Given all of that, the first surprising thing when putting the CD in to play, having seen the ‘Trad Arr.’ credits scattered throughout the eight tracks, is that the album is far from entirely based in the English or Celtic folk sound. Much of it is, of course, but three songs at least (opener Everytime, Promises and the extremely Sandy Denny-esque Dreams) are equally rooted in American folk, with an air of some of the material that Jefferson Airplane or even The Byrds were doing in the ’60s. This is reaffirmed by Woods in the booklet notes, as he confirms that one of the influences he had was The Band, and the work they were doing in adapting traditional Americana to a modern rock framework. This balance makes the album work very well, as it avoids any risk of sounding too samey at any point and all comes across fresh. The Horslips connection is blindingly obvious in the Woods-composed Noisey Johnny (note spelling), while the ‘jigs and reels’ selection which seemed mandatory on folk-rock albums of the time manifests itself in Lament & Jig, which as the title suggests, juxtaposes a stately piece (Valencia’s Lament) with a celebratory one (Apples In Winter). It’s very good.

Probably the best moment to these ears, however, is the traditional arrangement of the song As I Roved Out, which takes the Fairport template used on songs such as Matty Groves and creates a perfectly crafted piece of traditional electrified folk-rock. Pat Nash’s drums are exceptional on this piece, contributing lovely little rolls and fills throughout, and a slightly experimental mid-section sees the whole band jamming to great effect in a far more ‘rock’ way than elsewhere on the album. The starkly accompanied January’s Snows shows perfectly why Gay Woods was the original choice for Steeleye vocalist, and indeed why she later rejoined them in the ’90s for a further six years, as her vocal is trad folk perfection on this fragile, aching piece.

Sadly, when the album came out, the label (Greenwich Gramophone Company) almost immediately folded – a fate also befalling fellow bands Open Road and Samurai – and The Woods Band split following the album’s failure. The Woods couple continued for a while as Gay And Terry Woods, and also hooked up for a short while with Doctor Strangely Strange, but apart from a second Woods Band incarnation briefly formed by Terry in 2002, the world had seen the last of The Woods Band, which is a great shame.

Anyone with an interest in that period of folk-rock, or who is a fan of early Fairport, Steeleye or Horslips, really ought to check this out. Quite apart from its historical significance, it remains an excellent listen, and it really should be in any self-respecting folk-related collection.
by Steve Pilkington,  July 4, 2021
1. Everytime (Terry Woods) - 5:46
2. Noisey Johnny (Terry Woods) - 2:37
3. January's Snows (Edmund John Deane) - 4:24
4. Lament And Jig (Including 'Valencia Lament' And 'Apples In Winter') (Edmund John Deane) - 5:39
5. Dreams (Terry Woods) - 4:15
6. As I Roved Out (Edmund John Deane) - 5:01
7. Promises (Gay Woods, Terry Woods) - 5:18
8. Over The Bar (Including 'The Road To Athy') (Gay Woods, Terry Woods, Edmund John Deane) - 3:36

*Terry Woods - Acoustic, Electric, Bass Guitars, Mandola, Concertina, Vocals
*Gay Woods - Concertina, Autoharp, Dulcimer, Bodhran, Vocals
*Ed Deane - Electric, Acoustic, Slide, Bass Guitars, Harpsicord
*Pat Nash - Drums, Vocals


Sunday, November 19, 2023

Virginia Tree - Fresh Out (1975 uk, wondrous melodic acoustic electric folk psych, 2000 edition)

Virginia Tree is the pseudonym of the former Ghost vocalist Shirley Kent. After the demise of Ghost (the British progressive '60s band, not the Japanese band of the same name) in the early '70s, Kent joined former Ghost band members Paul Eastment and Terry Guy to record Fresh Out. This album contains nine original folk- and jazz-styled compositions as well as a cover of Jimmy Dorsey's "I'm Glad There Is You." Only 1,000 copies of the album were originally pressed on the Minstrel label in 1975, and it soon became a collector's item. 

This is the first time this album has appeared in CD format and it has been re-released in a slightly oversize cardboard gatefold sleeve which reproduces the original album's graphics. It also contains detailed liner notes outlining the history of Ghost, including Shirley Kent's involvement with the band and her subsequent solo career. This CD reissue also contains two extra tracks that have been recently recorded by Kent. 
by Keith Pettipas
1. Hiding There (Virginia Tree) - 3:23
2. In My Garden (Virginia Tree) - 3:17
3. Like Morning (Virginia Tree) - 4:57
4. Wicker Basket Weaver (Virginia Tree) - 2:27
5. I’m Glad There Is You (Jimmy Dorsey) - 4:44
6. Make Believe Girl (Mo Lawless, Virginia Tree) - 4:43
7. Harlequin And Columbine (Virginia Tree) - 5:06
8. Comical Wise (Virginia Tree) - 2:30
9. Let Us Go Dancing (Virginia Tree) - 3:19
10.Fresh Out (Virginia Tree) - 4:01
11.I've Got To Get To Know You (Shirley Kent Tipping) - 2:54
12.Forever A Willow  (Shirley Kent Tipping) - 3:55

*Virginia Tree - Vocals
*Malcolm Gibbons - Guitar
*Paul Eastment - Lead Guitar
*Hal Shaw - Piano 
*Terry Guy - Piano
*Paul Eastment - Harmonica 
*Virginia Tree Acoustic - Guitar 
*Derek Hughes - Bass 
*Jeff Pearson - Bass
*Phil Sperring - Drums 

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Saturday, November 18, 2023

Everpresent Fullness - Fine And Dandy The Complete Recordings (1966-70 us, nice sunny folk surf roots 'n' roll, 2004 remaster)

The story of the Everpresent Fullness is one of record company politics, missed opportunities, and -- above all -- good music. Rev-Ola's Fine and Dandy: The Complete Recordings presents the music as the band intended for the first time, and in the process unearths a darn good group that played a high-energy blend of folk, jug band, and pop music with the occasional harder-edged garage-style track -- sort of like a happy kid brother to the Lovin' Spoonful or maybe a jacked-up Byrds, though not as strong in the vocal department as either of those bands. 

Their only album, The Everpresent Fullness, was released in 1970, four years after it was recorded and long after people stopped caring about music like theirs. This collection is made up of tracks from the original album, both sides of their second single, an unreleased demo acetate, and five demos that predate the group's formation. The first seven tracks are taken from the album and were remixed by bandmembers Nick Walusko and Paul Johnson in 2003. The group always felt that producer Bones Howe had botched the final mix, making it too poppy. Amazingly, Howe still had the original tapes and handed them back to the band to revamp. Now the songs fairly jump out of the speakers, sounding very alive and exciting. The best tracks, like the very Nesmith-sounding "My Girl Back Home" and their strong take on "I Know You Rider" (here called "Rider"), sound like they could have been hits in 1966. 

The tracks the group recorded for their second single contain their best original songs; "Darlin' You Can Count On Me" is a snarling Dylan-inspired rocker and "Yeah!" is a rollicking instrumental the band never had a chance to put vocals on. Best of all might be the unreleased take of Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue." It's one of the most commercial versions of the song, giving the track a bouncy Spoonful sound and adding some wonderfully cheesy female vocals on the tag line. The five tracks featuring three-fifths of the Everpresent Fullness (guitarist Paul Johnson and vocalists Jack Ryan and Tom Carvey) are pretty straight folk-rock numbers with nice harmony vocals. 

The songs they cover include a folk standard by Tom Paxton ("Sometimes I Don't Know Where I'm Bound"), a couple of Dale Hawkins songs ("Suzie Q," "La Do Da Da"), a Buddy Holly track ("Lonesome Tears"), and a strong original by Johnson ("The Rovin' Kind"). It is nice to hear the roots of the band, but the tracks aren't much more than a pleasant diversion. The real strength of the disc lies in the tracks by the full band. That their record company sank the group's fortunes is not a huge surprise, and while it was a real shame for them, luckily the story turned out okay and fans of '60s folk-rock have this excellent document. 
by Tim Sendra
1. Fine And Dandy (Kay Swift, Paul James) - 2:12
2. Wild About My Lovin'  (John Sebastian) - 2:39
3. Leavin' California (Richard Farina) - 2:29
4. You're So Fine (Lance Finnie, Willie Schofield) - 2:37
5. Rider (Traditional) - 2:01
6. The Way She Is (Warren Zevon) - 2:30
7. My Girl Back Home (Paul Johnson) - 2:25
8. Darlin' You Can Count On Me (Paul Johnson, Terry Hand) - 1:58
9. Yeah! (The Everpresent Fullness) - 2:42
10.Sometimes I Don't Know Where I'm Bound (Tom Paxton) - 2:35
11.Lonesome Tears (Buddy Holly) - 1:51
12.The Rovin' Kind (Paul Johnson) - 2:09
13.La Do Da Da (Dale Hawkins, Stanley Lewis) - 2:40
14.Suzie Q (Dale Hawkins, Stanley Lewis) - 2:24
15.It's All Over Now Baby Blue (Bob Dylan) - 2:12
16.Doin' A Number (Richard Farina) - 2:30
Tracks 10-14 as Carvey And Ryan

Everpresent Fullness
*Jack Ryan - Autoharp, Harmonica, Trumpet, Washboard, Vocals
*Steve Pugh - Bass
*Terry Hand - Drums
*Tom Carvey - Guitar, Lead Vocals
*Paul Johnson - Lead Guitar

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Pidgeon - Pidgeon (1969 us, wonderful baroque folk psych)

Pidgeon's obscure, sole self-titled album is most notable for marking the recording debut of Jobriath (here billed as Jobriath Salisbury), who five years later became notorious as a failed glam rocker whose debut solo album didn't come close to justifying its hype and promotional budget. In Pidgeon, however, he was just an ordinary if somewhat effete pop-psychedelic singer/songwriter, also playing keyboards and guitar on the record.

In mid-1968, Jobriath Salisbury left the Los Angeles cast of the Hair musical to hook up with Pidgeon, whose material was co-written with lyricist Richard T. Marshall. Producer and session singer Stan Farber got them a contract with Decca Records, and arranged for them to rehearse for six months in a house before they entered the studio to record Pidgeon in late 1968. 

Many of the tracks employ tinny harpsichord and male-female harmonies (with autoharpist Cheri Gage) that are blatantly imitative of the Mamas & the Papas; occasionally, there are more distant echoes of Jefferson Airplane, with Jobriath sometimes faintly approaching the stridency of Marty Balin's vocal style. Containing elements of California sunshine pop, the harmonies of the Mamas & the Papas, the baroque pop of the Left Banke, and a little heavier psychedelia à la Jefferson Airplane, the Pidgeon album was too confused to cohere into a satisfying whole, though Jobriath's high and strident vocals were a big part of the mix. Pidgeon released a subsequent non-LP single in 1969, "Rubber Bricks"/"Prison Walls," before breaking up. 
by Richie Unterberger
1. Of The Time When I Was Young - 2:30
2. Milk And Honey - 3:23
3. When She Arrives - 3:07
4. Dark Bird - 3:22
5. Irene - 3:21
6. The Wind Blows Cold - 3:20
7. Penny's Magic Bell - 3:02
8. The Main Line - 3:02
9. Springtime Girl - 3:05
10.The Dancer - 2:38
11.House On A Hill Among Trees - 3:10
Music by Jobriath Salisbury, Richard T. Marshall, Lyrics by Richard T. Marshall

Bill Strong Smith - Drums, Percussion, Vocal
Cheri Gage - Autoharp, Lead Vocal
Jobriath Salisbury - Keyboards, Guitar, Lead Vocal
Richard T. Marshall - Poetry

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Wigwam - Dark Album (1977 finland, excellent blend of prog straight rock, 2008 bonus tracks remaster)

Wigwam were the number one progressive rock band out of Finland in the 70's golden era of prog rock. Wigwam's Dark Album (1977) has a tumultuous production history. The original edition did not go past test pressing stage as the band's UK label Virgin rejected it. The band returned to the studio to create the final Dark Album which eventually was released only in Finland on Love Records, as Virgin were no longer interested.
1. Oh Marlene! (Jim Pembroke) - 4:52
2. Cheap Evening Return (Pekka Rechardt, Jim Pembroke) - 5:29
3. The Item Is The Totem (Pekka Rechardt, Mats Huldén) - 4:49
4. The Silver Jubilee (Jim Pembroke, Gerard Manley Hopkins) - 3:07
5. Horace's Aborted Rip-Off Scheme (Pekka Rechardt, Jim Pembroke) - 4:07
6. The Big Farewell (Pekka Rechardt, Jim Pembroke) - 6:28
7. The Vegetable Rumble (Pekka Rechardt, Jim Pembroke) - 5:02
8. Helsinki Nights (Jim Pembroke) - 4:02
9. Grass For Blades (Jim Pembroke) - 9:13
10.Daemon Duncetan's Request (Jim Pembroke) - 5:01

*Jim Pembroke - Vocals, Piano
*Pekka Rechardt - Guitar
*Måns Groundstroem - Bass
*Ronnie Österberg - Drums
*Jukka Gustavson - Organ 
*Pedro Hietanen - Keyboards, Accordion 
*Timo Kojo - Backing Vocals 
*Paavo Maijanen - Backing Vocals 


Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Wigwam - Being (1974 finland, stunning art prog rock, 2010 remaster)

This is a weird one. How about an album that sounds like nothing else before or since (a few very vague influences notwithstanding) yet never, throughout its 38 minute duration, veers into avant garde territory? I've never really known what to make of 'Being'. On first hearing it sounds as though it was made up on the spot: the tunes seem random, tentative and unresolved. But unlike, say, 'Trout Mask Replica', there's nothing shambolic or chaotic happening here. Musos will freak at the virtuosity going down, especially the bass playing of Pekka Pohjola which is straight from Planet Genius in the galaxy of Awesome XXI. But repeated hearings reveal far more than technical excellence. 'Being' is a timeless work of the utmost originality which, in spite of a loony communist manifesto lyrical concept, just knocks me out every time I play it.

First, a bit of background for those of you unfamilar with this Finnish wondergroup. Wigwam's history essentially falls into two phases: the first from 1969 until 1974 when the band was dominated by the muse of one Jukka Gustavson, a Stevie Wonder/Steve Winwood-obsessed keyboard-playing vocalist who steered Wigwam from cabaret jazz through Europrog to the unique soundworld of the album under discussion here; and the second from 1975 up to the band's split at the end of the decade when Hull-born Jim Pembroke led a much more conventional, guitar-orientated (but still good) band. The latter phase coincided with a record contract with Virgin and a tour supporting Gong, the nearest Wigwam came to a commercial breakthrough. But it was the earlier phase that was the most interesting, and it remains a crime against human existence that classic albums like 'Tombstone Valentine', 'Fairyport', and, most tragically of all, 'Being', never obtained a UK release. Even now you'll be lucky to get your mitts on this one outside of right-on shops like Freak Emporium or Ultima Thule. I will endeavour to explain why a trip to the said establishments will more than justify the effort and cost.

'Being' consists of ten tracks grouped into segued pairs (mostly with freaky psuedo-lefty titles beginning with the letter P). The first thing that grabs you is the nature of the tunes. With a few exceptions they sound as if they're being played backwards, a bit like Robert Wyatt's contemporaneous 'Little Red Riding Hood Hits The Road'. But they're NOT. Gawd knows where Gustavson and Pohjola got these chord sequences from, but they're like nothing else on Earth. Try to define the tune in the opening 'Proletarian'. It's there, somewhere; the whole thing's thoroughly tonal, the vocal harmonies are intricate (if vague) and Pohjola's Mick Karn-predicting bass "whoops" are a joy to behold, but jeez, as I said before, this is a weird one. Even the lyrics (perhaps thankfully) are difficult to comprehend, and it takes several hearings to be satisfied that you're actually listening to songs being sung in English. 'Inspired Machine' follows with another backward tune over a stilted, oompah beat and the most spaced out fairground theme since 'Mr Kite'. Pembroke gets a rare spotlight with 'Petty Bourgeois' which is far more 'normal' in sound, a fast mover with a delicious middle section, catchy finger-clicking sequence and a coda that could have graced a Mothers' opus, but its companion, 'Pride Of The Biosphere', returns us to never-never land. It's the album's definite low point: a tasteless monologue recited in a mock Tommy Beecham voice over what sounds like Procol Harum jamming on Jupiter. But it's presence is jusified by its contrast with the epic pairing that follows.

'Pedagogue' and 'Crisader' form the album's centrepiece and are the tracks to play first when sampling the record. This is where Gustavson achieves true greatness. 'Pedagogue' is nine minutes of...what can I tell you? Egg, Hatfields, Wyatt all come to mind, but only fleetingly. Key and time changes seem to occur every few bars, the double-tracked vocal line is all over the place, yet it's accessible. Weird, weird, well weird, but accessible. Give it time and you'll be singing this at the bus stop while everyone around you thinks you're deranged. There's a Rhodes solo from heaven four minutes in, and the best non-classical use of woodwind on record permating the bulk of the song. A couple of times it appears to speed up, but never for long. It's tantalising and terrific. 'Crisader' evolves straight out of 'Pedagogue' and rocks big time, like Traffic on steroids, but Winwood and Capaldi never sounded like this. Gustavson sounds like Donald Fagen on speed. The piano and organ interplay is orgasmic and the song is a real foot-tapper, yet the tune, again, is straight from the Bizarro alternate world. Man, I love this record.

'Planetist' is another track with slight Zappa ('Waka/Jawaka' period) overtones, but again, the tune is without antecedent. It features a delightful string arrangement, an inspired dual soprano sax sequence at the end, and bass playing that makes Jaco Pastorius sound like Sid Vicious. It's companion piece, 'Meastro Mercy', has more double-tracked Gustavson vocals and the only guitar on the whole album, a delicately-plucked acoustic enhancing an enchanting waltz-time cosmic melody. The album closes with Pembroke's other showcase, 'Marvelry Skimmer' ('Friend From the Fields'), the most regular-sounding track on the record (and an indicator of the direction Wigwam would follow on 'Nuclear Nightclub' the following year). It is prefaced by Gustavson's 'Prophet', which sounds like an Indian mantra devoid of all ethnic influences - world music from another world - and featuring yet more skybourne bass manouevres and, a couple of times, an ass-kicking fatback beat with ace VCS3 dexterics.

'Being' was released in 1974, when rock music was in its supposed decline. A pox on that. Had Wigwam been given the exposure (and record contracts) of such as Genesis, Yes and Gentle Giant then the school haversacks of the day would have exhibited a damn sight more taste and adventure than they did (at my school at least!). Rock was not so much in decline in the mid seventies: it was simply that the bulk of the bands that dominated the scene were more concerned with musical dexterity than invention. Hear 'Being' and you'll hear plenty of the former, but in the context of some of the most innovative rock music ever created. Make up for a quarter century of neglect and hear this great unsung band's unique music. I doubt you'll regret it.
by Fitter Stoke, 06/08/2002

Ronnie Österberg died in 1980 so it seemed as if that would be the end of Wigwam however in the 1990's, Pembroke, Rechardt and Groundstroem surprised many by coming back with a third version of the band. Jim Pembroke passed away in Oct 2021.
1. Proletarian (Jukka Gustavson) - 2:10
2. Inspired Machine (Jukka Gustavson) - 1:25
3. Petty-Bourgeois (Jim Pembroke) - 2:58
4. Pride of the Biosphere (Jukka Gustavson, Pekka Pohjola) - 3:15
5. Pedagogue (Jukka Gustavson) - 9:11
6. Crisader (Jukka Gustavson) - 4:47
7. Planetist (Jukka Gustavson, Pekka Pohjola) - 3:08
8. Maestro Mercy (Jim Pembroke) - 2:32
9. Prophet (Jukka Gustavson) - 6:11
10. Marvelry Skimmer (Jim Pembroke) - 2:32

*Jim Pembroke - Vocals, Voice, Piano 
*Jukka Gustavson - Vocals, Piano, Organ, Mini-Moog, VCS-3 Synths
*Pekka Pohjola - Bass, Violin, Piano, Mini-Moog 
*Ronnie Österberg - Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals 
*Taisto Wesslin - Acoustic Guitar
*Unto Haapa-Aho - Bass Clarinet
*Paavo Honkanen - Clarinet
*Pentti Lasanen - Clarinet, Flute
*Juhani Aaltonen - Solo Flute
*Erik Danholm - Flute
*Kai Veisterä - Flute
*Pentti Lahti - Flute
*Seppo Paakkunainen - Flute
*Pekka Pöyry - Soprano Sax, Flute
*Ilmari Varila - Oboe
*Aale Lingren - Oboe
*Juhani Tapaninen - Bassoon
*Jukka Ruohomäki - VCS-3 Assistance
*Erkki Kurenniemi - VCS-3 Assistance

Monday, November 13, 2023

John Jones - Collage (1974 uk, pleasant folk prog rock, 2007 korean remaster)

In 1964 John Evan-Jones (Guitar, Keyboards, vocals) and his elder brother Trevor "Gypsy" Jones (Bass, Vocals) moved from Canterbury to Tasmania with their parents. In Launceston they soon joined a local band, The Revelles, which quickly met with the audience favour. After changing name in Chaos & CO and, with a line-up completed by Graeme Pearce (Drums), John Pearce (Guitar) and Dave Randell (Bass), in 1966 the band got a hit single with "Seven Golden Daffodils/It Was You" (EMI/Columbia) and split after a possible second hit. John and Trevor then formed Mickey Finn, but in 1969 John decided to go back to London, to promote at EMI several songs written in the last couple of years. 

Unlikely enough, not only were his songs left unpublished but also he was denied the possibility to sign to a different label due to EMI requiring an override royalty for him to leave his contract. So Trevor and the rest of the band, who had arrived in London full of hope, went back down under to give life to Sweatty Betty, with Peter Hutchinson (Guitar), Tim Joyce (Guitar) and Dave Witt (Drums), plus singers Jeff Reader and Janet Sexton, the only result of this new band was one 7" single, "Every Little Thing", recorded for Van Diemen in 1971. In the meantime John was making himself known as a session guitarist, playing for artists like Tom Jones, Arthur Brown, Rory Gallagher, Petula Clarke, Charles Aznavour, Dusty Springfield, Arthur Conley, Jeff Beck, Ronnie Charles, New Seekers, London Symphony Orchestra etc.

Thanks to all the contacts and the esteem acquired with all this hard work, in 1971 Polydor approached John asking him to play for American songwriter Jake Holmes (of "Dazed and Confused" fame) during his European tour. One of the support bands on this tour was Irish band Anno Domini, whose guitarist "Tiger" Taylor was having problems with the band's management. John Evan Jones replaced him on stage first and then definitively, and later Trevor joined to complete the new line-up. Anno Domini had already recorded an album and it happened that the two Jones took Taylor's place on the English issue's cover (pressed later than the German one, which shows instead the right line-up). A second album was quickly recorded but remains still unpublished to this day and at this point Anno Domini split-up. John was approached by German label BASF, with the proposal to record a solo album. 

The album, "Collage", was cut at Command Studios in London, featured Australians Alan Tarney and Trevor Spencer (both ex-Quartet) and the British/American James Kaleth. It was the standard melodic singer/songwriter affair, its highlight being the conclusive "Live In 2", where John Jones showed all his fine guitar playing ability. A second solo album "Just A Few Changes" was recorded (but not released) and no one knows its whereabouts today. The meeting with Kaleth, who had moved from Chicago to Lancashire in 1959 and had previously played for one year with White Summer and for a very short time with Crowjane (formed by three ex-Gracious members), gave birth to a new band, called Jonesy.
by Gianpaolo Banelli
1. Oh, What A Pity - 3:06
2. That's Alright By Me - 3:28
3. Hey Girl - 3:12
4. Man Of 21 - 3:20
5. Working - 3:43
6. Anthem - 4:53
7. Fade Away - 2:12
8. Smiling Eyes - 3:14
9. Feeling For Today - 3:20
10.Live In 2 - 4:01
11.The Prisoner - 3:44
12.It's Been Such A Long Time - 4:19
All compositions by John Evan Jones
Bonus Tracks 11-12

*John Evan Jones - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*Jamie Kaleth - Mellotron, Piano, Vocals
*Alan Tarney - Bass
*Trevor Spencer - Drums
*Alan Bown - Trumpet

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