In The Land of Free, we still keep on Rockin'

Plain and Fancy

"I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I am free"

Nikos Kazantzakis

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Box Tops - The Original Albums (1967-69 us, superb classic heavenly soulful jazzy folk baroque psych, four albums two disc set, 2015 issue)



The Box Tops are a ground breaking 1960s group made up of five friends from Memphis Tennessee who first charted in 1967 with a song called 'The Letter,' which like most of their other songs from the 1960s was recorded at Chips Moman's "American" recording studio and was produced by Dan Penn. In fact they were the first Memphis artists to record in Memphis and have a number one record! During 1967-69, the group released 4 albums (excluding their "Super Hits" album) and 10 singles. 'The Letter' remained at the top of Billboard's chart for four weeks in 1967; their third single, 'Cry Like A Baby,' hit the number two position for two weeks in 1968. Both records went gold at initial release, with 'The Letter' selling over four million copies and 'Cry Like A Baby' over two million.

The original members (Alex Chilton, Bill Cunningham, John Evans, Danny Smythe, and Gary Talley) were members of a local band called The Devilles, but changed the group name at the time of the release of 'The Letter,' because it was discovered that other groups had released records under that name and member changes had taken the group in new musical directions. "No American group since the Righteous Brothers had looked whiter and sung blacker than the Box Tops on that sensational first single in 1967, 'The Letter.' Alex Chilton's voice had more Memphis grit than was considered entirely proper for a white gentleman. But he learned to sing in Memphis, where lots of people sing that way, and got his musicians from a town where musicians are pretty heavy whatever their color."

By January 1968 the line up had changed. John Evans and Danny Smythe returned to school and were replaced by Rick Allen (from the Gentrys) and Tom Boggs (from the Board of Directors). This line up remained the same until Bill Cunningham left to return to school in August 1969, although Jerry Riley substituted for Gary Talley at live performances in 1968 for a couple of weeks while Gary was ill. Harold Cloud replaced Bill in September of 1969. During the following months there were a number of group member changes, and in February 1970 the group disbanded.


Tracks
Disc 1
The Letter/Neon Rainbow 1967
1. The Letter (Wayne Carson Thompson) - 1:54
2. She Knows How (Wayne Carson Thompson) - 3:07
3. Trains And Boats And Planes (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) - 3:45
4. Break My Mind (John D. Loudermilk) - 2:29
5. Whiter Shade Of Pale (K. Reid, G. Brooker, M. Fisher) - 4:34
6. Everything I Am (Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham) - 2:18
7. Neon Rainbow (Wayne Carson Thompson) - 3:03
8. People Make The World (Bobby Womack) - 2:30
9. I'm Your Puppet (Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham) - 2:53
10.Happy Times (Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham) - 1:45
11.Gonna Find Somebody (Bobby Womack) - 3:01
12.I Pray For Rain (Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham) - 2:23
Cry Like A Baby 1968
13.Cry Like A Baby (Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham) - 2:34 
14.Deep In Kentucky (Bill Davidson) - 2:10
15.I'm The One For You (H. Thomas, L. Jones) - 3:05
16.Weeping Analeah (D. Folger, M. Newbury) - 3:04
17.Every Time (Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham) - 2:34
18.Fields Of Clover (Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham) - 2:52
19.Trouble With Sam (Daniel Pennington) - 2:16
20.Lost (Mark James, Glen D.Spreen) - 2:29
21.Good Morning Dear (Mickey Newbury) - 3:40
22.727 (Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham) - 2:18
23.You Keep Me Hanging On (E. Holland, L. Dozier, B. Holland) - 3:42 
Bonus Tracks, Single Versions
24.The Letter (Wayne Carson Thompson) - 1:58
25.Cry Like A Baby (Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham) - 2:34 
26.I See Only Sunshine (Alex Chilton) - 2:14
27.You Keep Tightening Up On Me (Wayne Carson Thompson) - 2:53
28.Come On Honey (Alex Chilton) - 3:23


Disc 2
Non Stop 1968
1. Choo Choo Train (Donnie Fritts, Eddie Hinton) - 2:52
2. I'm Movin' On (Clarence E. Snow) - 3:47
3. Sandman (Wayne Carson Thompson) - 2:57
4. She Shot A Hole In My Soul (Mac Gayden, L. Neese) - 2:43
5. People Gonna Talk (Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham) - 4:10
6. I Met Her In Church (D. Penn, S. Oldham) - 2:43
7. Rock Me Baby (Riley B. King, Joe Bihari) - 3:48
8. Rollin' In My Sleep (Paul Davis) - 3:15
9. I Can Dig It (Alex Chilton) - 2:24
10.Yesterday Where's My Mind (John Reed) - 3:27
11.If I Had Let You In (Donnie Fritts, Eddie Hinton) - 3:17
Dimensions 1969
12. Soul Deep (Wayne Carson Thompson) - 2:29
13. I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan) - 2:48
14. Midnight Angel (Mark James, Glen D. Spreen) - 3:20
15. Together (Alex Chilton) - 3:24
16. I'll Hold Out My Hand (Chip Taylor, Ai Gorgoni) - 3:25
17. I Must Be The Devil (Alex Chilton) - 3:36
18. Sweet Cream Ladies, Forward March (B.Weinstein, Jon Stroll) - 2:16
19. (The) Happy Song (Alex Chilton) - 1:57
20. Ain't No Way (Neil Diamond) - 3:03
21. Rock Me Baby (Riley B. King, Joe Bihari) - 9:13
Bonus Tracks, Single Versions
22. Since I Been Gone (Alex Chilton) - 3:14
23. Lay Your Shine On Me (Curtis Arcenaux, Richard Mainegra) - 2:34

The Box Tops
*Alex Chilton - Lead Vocals, Guitar
*Gary Talley - Lead Guitar,  Vocals
*Bill Cunningham - Bass, Keyboards,  Vocals (1967-68)
*John Evans - Guitar, Keyboards,  Vocals (1967-68)
*Danny Smythe - Drums (1967-68)
*Larry Spillman - Drums (1967-68)
*Thomas Boggs - Drums, Vocals (1968-69)
*Rick Allen - Keyboards, Vocals (1968-69)
*Harold Cloud - Bass (1969)

1967-70  The Box Tops - The Best Of Box Tops
1970  Alex Chilton - Free Again: The 1970 Sessions (2012 release)
1985  Alex Chilton – Feudalist Tarts (Vinyl edition)

Free Text
Free Text II

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Mandingo - Savage Rite (1975-77 uk, exotic instrumental funk jazz rock oddity, 2012 issue)



A strange netherworld filled with rattling bongos, slick strings, wall wall-infused rhythms and searing guitar solos. The original sleeve of Mandingo's fourth album, 1977's 'Savage Rite' reveals little. Other than an image of a scantily clad Afro-sporting female looking into the middle distance, there's little to go on. Track names summon up the exotic but apart from an associate producer credit for Gil King and the line "A Supertunes Production for EMI, produced by Norman Newell", there arc no details at all. The reverse sleeve image smoulders and rereading the song titles; 'Jungle Juice', 'Rebellion' and 'Requiem For A Warrior' merely adds to the intrigue. Who was this strange band and where did they come from?

Sought after on vinyl and commanding a heavy price if you can find it, the album is a real oddity. From the opening bars of 'Manhunter' with its filmic strings, pounding bongos and funky rhythm section, it sounds like a lost piece of Afro-beat-inspired disco, a souped-up version of 'Bongolia' with a scorching guitar rolling out around the two-minute mark. Tags on the internet mention all genres and the sleeve suggests some level of authenticity, but the sound is unique, it's not from some long lost tribe, the moves are too well rounded, the riffs too well organized, the sound just too perfect.

'Wild Man" continues the groove with a 'Shaft'-styled wah wah underpinning an almost Bond-esque sound while that guitar tears into proceedings again. Indeed it's that 007 sound that permeates this whole album that makes it so exciting. It's a larger than life drama played out over pounding drums and exotic percussion from vibraslap to maraca, all held together with a pin sharp funk rhythm. A hint of disco, for sure, but this is a big production.

Side one closer 'Requiem For A Warrior' adds tribal African drums, a fistful of electronic swirls and a brass sound that's more Chicago Transit Authority than Fela Kuti. And, side two's opener 'The Man From Takoradi” continues the sleuth-some sound, while 'Jackal' sounds like a backing track from a Motown ballad with layers of jazz funk strangeness unevenly placed on top with more than a nod to David Axelrod.

'Jungle Juice' turns up the heat in a neo-strip erotica fashion and the closing title track sounds like the chase scene from Live And Let Die. There's voodoo in those rhythms and heady funk in the finish. There's flutes, there's odd noises, it has everything.

Before I came across 'Savage Rite', I'd heard Mandingo's 'Black Rite' on the compilation 'The Sounds Of Monsterism Island' a fantasy collection by artist Pete Fowler that also included Millennium, Martin Denny, The United States Of America, The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Silver Apples, Eden Ahbez and Dead Meadow among others. Heady company to be in for sure. But, who were Mandingo? I had to find out more. It seems that, at a time when Osibisa had carved a small niche for themselves in the UK with their funky African rhythms and Roots was being screened on TV, Mandingo were created in an EMI studio to cash in on the interest in African culture, some time around the early 1970s. Knowingly removed from the real thing, Mandingo possessed a contemporary orchestral sound and clever arrangements that were navigated by seasoned composer and bandleader Geoff Love.

A staple'of the easy listening circuit in the 1960s, Love had provided the music for everyone from Shirley Bassey and Mrs Mills to Max Bygraves, while taking a leaf from Mantovani's book by recording a series of albums as Manuel And The Music Of The Mountains. A gifted songwriter and seeming workaholic, Love also made a string of instrumental albums that featured great themes from TV series to movies. And, in doing so, he had the best players at his command. So, when the concept of Mandingo came along they were allowed to break free a little, to flourish on four albums that began with 'The Primeval Rhythm Of Life' in 1973.

By 1977, the concept was in closure but their final hurrah, 'Savage Rite' was to be their masterpiece. The brief had been relaxed somewhat and the juxtaposition of sounds and styles took them to a new place. Just listen to 'The Man From Takoradi' if proof were needed. As punk was exploding, Mandingo were on a wild flyer, making bongo-powered funk that was far removed from the original source idea but no less exotic.
by Dave Henderson, MOJO magazine, 2012


Tracks
1. Manhunter (Mike Vickers) - 3:17
2. Wild Man (Roger Webb) - 3:04
3. Arachnid (Brian Fahey) - 2:39
4. King Of The Jungle (Mike Vickers) - 2:56
5. Requiem For A Warrior (Roger Webb) - 4:22
6. The Man From Takoradi (Roger Webb) - 4:05
7. Jackal (Brian Fahey) - 2:49
8. Rebellion (Mike Vickers) - 2:37
9. Jungle Juice (Roger Webb) - 4:17
10.Savage Rite (Mike Vickers) - 2:39

Free Text
Free Text II

Friday, July 17, 2015

Damon - Song Of A Gypsy (1959-68 us, gorgeous acid folk psychedelia, surf beat roots 'n' roll, 2013 hard sleeve double disc edition)



Damon was born in Rochester, New York. His parents owned a beauty shop with living quarters atop, and they squirreled away funds enough to buy a small bowling alley. When Damon was eight, his parents sold their building and business, packed Damon and brothers Ken and Gerald and their belongings into a car, and moved to Alhambra, California. It was the beginning of what he now regards as his "predestined life as a gypsy," as his parents moved constantly within Los Angeles city limits first to the northeast, then to Westchester, then "to a city here and a town there" and finally to Inglewood, where Damon spent his high school years.

Theirs was a tight knit Italian American family: communal suppers were a must and all three boys sat dutifully at the table and focused on "family first," talking about school, community and their parents' business and property management at least until their parents began private conversations in Italian. In 1960 his high school sweetheart Katy told him she was pregnant. She was sixteen, he was nineteen. They married, and their union bore him his three girls.

Beginning in the seventh grade, when he picked up the clarinet after falling in love with the music of Benny Goodman, he had dreamt of becoming a musician. As his high school years came to a close, he tried anything that felt natural. He was an avid surfer so, in late 1960, newlywed and "bit by the recording bug," he wrote and recorded "The Lonely Surfer" (groovy, if standard surf rock) and cut to wax his first stab at "Don't Cry" (blue-eyed doo-wop). 

He was backed by a group he picked up at the Hermosa Biltmore Hotel named The Crossfires but dubbed The Castaways for their Merri Records release; this band would later become SoCal mainstays The Turtles. He then moved on to the even more obscure Harmony Records for the "Twisf'-inspired "Bowling Alley Jane" and his second version of "Don't Cry," this time called "Don't Cry Davy." After a detour with Associated Artists - "Little Things Mean a Lot /The Glory of Love" feature only his backing vocals, but were inexplicably released under his name - he founded his own Del Con label and issued promotional and commercial versions of "A Face In A Crowd" and "I Lie," the latter establishing his preference for garage-rocking soul.

Damon's Song Of A Gypsy was a key album in the revisionist narrative put forth by the psychedelic record collectors who searched out the rarest of the rare privately pressed American albums in the early 1990s. In this dogmatic view, the likes of Jefferson Airplane and The Doors mattered quite less than those they influenced. 

The psychedelic experience, went the argument, was stronger on the periphery, and the outsiders who populated the rim created quirky masterpieces that deserved space in an already overflowing canon. Song of a Gypsy was quickly included, the scant original copies that existed were suddenly very in demand, and, even then, in the days before eBay, exchanging hands for thousands of dollars.

But these were pontificating record collectors after all, conversing with each other. So Damon's musings on love, longing, questing and sorrow became spiritual fodder for a few; those fortunate enough to hear of Song of a Gypsy's existence but not quite fortunate enough to own a copy of the album had to imagine the music contained within the original Ankh Records' textured, gatefold sleeve. Confounding descriptions such as "tranced out gypsy Arabian acid fuzz crooner psych with deep mysterious vocals, an amazing soundscape and excellent songwriting" (from Acid Archives' - the Lonely Planet of psychedelic record collecting review of the album) didn't help matters. And the shoddy bootlegs that came about in the early '90s only spread Damon's music - none of the backstory that afforded this singular album came into view.

Thus, those looking for connections found many, as anything was plausible. Was there a kinship with John Arcesi and his Johnny Greek produced Reachin' Arcesia album on the tiny Los Angeles imprint Alpha? Was there a connection between this album and fellow Southern Californian psychedelic hero Darius's self-titled 1968 album? Over the years, however, Song of a Gypsy remained high on its own plateau: out of reach and indescribable. It seemed that this homespun, funky psychedelic monument borrowed from nothing and sprung from nowhere. To follow our previous examples: Darius's album is a bit too polished, and sounds as if it could have emerged from Capitol's Studio A; Arcesi's album, as intriguing as it is, is a psychedelic novelty, and Arcesi's performance borrows a bit too much from the over-the-top vocal style of the black-tied '40s and '50s crooners that he'd once considered peers.

To the contrary, Damon's album leapt from the tortured mind of its curious creator at the perfect time. Damon's unique, introspective songwriting and nuanced voice, the interplay between he and lead guitarist Charlie Carey and an atmosphere that so perfectly captured the last bloom of the flower power era as it decayed into the dark haze of the '70s underground could only have arisen from a spark of auspicious genius.
by Eothen Alapatt, Los Angeles, April 2013


Tracks
Disc 1
1. Song Of A Gypsy - 2:18 
2. Poor Poor Genie - 2:54
3. Don't You Feel Me - 2:34 
4. Did You Ever - 3:01 
5. Funky Funky Blues - 2:59 
6. Do You - 3:10
7. The Night - 2:05 
8. I Feel Your Love - 2:16
9. Birds Fly So High - 3:03  
10.The Road Of Life - 2:47 
11.Oh What A Good Boy Am I - 2:27 
12.Song Of A Gypsy (45 Version) - 2:18
13.Song Of A Gypsy (Demo Version) - 2:12 
14.Poor Poor Genie (Demo Version) - 2:51 


Disc 2 
1. The Lonely Surfer - 1:47
2. Don't Cry - 2:00
3. Bowlin' Alley Jane - 2:23
4. Don't Cry Davy - 2:10
5. A Face In The Crowd - 2:27
6. I Lie - 2:31
7. Cry - 2:36
8. I've Got My Pride - 2:34
9. Lovin' Man - 2:15
10.They Call Me A Fool - 2:05
11.The Battle Hymn (Of The Republic) - 2:17
12.Everything Is Alright - 2:01
13.The Little White Cloud That Cried - 2:00
14.I Wonder Why - 2:10
15.Seems Like I Traveled - 3:13
16.Dirty Daddy Blues - 3:06
All songs by David Del Conte

Pesronnel
*Damon - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
*John "Mac" Rebennack - Keyboards, Guitar
*John Johnson - Saxophone
*Earl Palmer - Drums
*Mike Deasy - Guitar
*Atley Yeager - Bass, Vocals
*Charlie Carey - Lead Guitar
*Mike Pastora - Drums
*Helena Vlachos - Finger Cymbals
*Carl Zarcone - Drums
*Richard Barham - Durbeki
*Lee Pastora - Percussion

Free Text 
Free Text II

Monday, July 13, 2015

Roxy - Roxy (1969 canada / us, beautiful groovy west coast psych, 2005 edition)



Roxy might be best known as the group from which a more widely known Elektra band emerged, as principal singer-songwriter Bob Segarini and Randy Bishop went on to found the Wackers, who issued three LPs for the label in the early 1970s. While the Wackers' albums (also reissued on CD by Collectors' Choice Music) often went in a Beatlesque pop direction, the earlier Roxy put a greater accent on rootsy if diverse rock of both the R&B- and country-influenced variety. Seeds of the Wackers, however, could be heard in Roxy's general back-to-basics approach at a time when much rock music was getting heavier, though Roxy never did get wide recognition before breaking up.

Segarini was already a young veteran of the California rock scene by the time Roxy came out in 1969. Growing up about 100 miles east of San Francisco in Stockton, by the mid-'60s he was in Us, who got as far as recording demos for the Beau Brummels' label, Autumn Records. Nothing came out on Autumn, however, and Bob moved on to the Ratz, who also included Gary Grubb; as Gary Duncan, he'd later play guitar in Quicksilver Messenger Service. Before Quicksilver got off the ground, however, Grubb/Duncan made an intermediate step with the Merced group the Brogues, with bassist Bill Whittington. Whittington and Segarini subsequently formed the Family Tree, whose early lineup included Mike Olsen -- the future Lee Michaels -- on keyboards.

The five-man lineup that recorded Roxy would also include fellow ex-Family Treer Jim De Cocq, as well as keyboardist James Morris and drummer John McDonald. The multi-talented Bishop contributed bass, guitar, keyboards, and vocals. Taking their name from the book From Vaude to Video, which had a big section on the Roxy theaters in the vaudeville circuit, they cut a demo, "Change My Mind"/"Bird." "Patty Faralla had gone over to work for [Elektra founder and president] Jac Holzman," explains Segarini, "so she told Jac about us. We went to L.A. and recorded these two songs at Elektra Studios with John Haeny, the engineer and producer, who also worked with the Doors [and] Jackson Browne. Jac heard it, called it some amazingly wonderful things, and signed us on the spot the day he heard the demos. That was late '68, early '69."

To prepare for the album, Haeny would come over to the band's house on Horseshoe Canyon Boulevard in Laurel Canyon, where they lived with their manager, John Frankenheimer. Of the ten songs on the LP, all but one were written by Segarini, the exception being Bishop's "I Got My Friends." 

There is just one song on Roxy, in fact, that truly anticipates the Beatlesque pop directions that Segarini and Bishop would embrace shortly afterward in the Wackers. That's "Yesterdays Song" They managed to attract concert reviews in The Washington Post, which in April 1970 found Roxy's "sound not unlike that of the early Grateful Dead," and Billboard, who reviewed a show at New York's Bitter End the following month. While their debut gig at the Bitter End was soured by the theft of their truck and custom-made equipment, here they also showed they could play both hard and soft, with Segarini and Bishop opening the set as a duo with several numbers on acoustic guitars (including "Yesterdays Song") before being joined by the rest of the band.

The Roxy album, however, was not a big seller, despite a Rolling Stone review by the young Lester Bangs that hailed the band as "a ripsnortingly tight outfit from Los Angeles. Live they are enormously exciting, running through Fifties standards and their own originals with unflagging energy and with a sound that for all its fast rippling instrumental tradeoffs is always absolutely clear." Bangs saved special praise for the opening track, "a classic blast called 'Love Love Love,' a brilliant thundering anthem in the great L.A. tradition of the Byrds, Love, and Clear Light's 'Black Roses.' It's all over too soon at 1:59 and leaves us begging for more." "Love Love Love" was chosen as the first single off the album, and Segarini fondly recalls how it "was all over the radio in L.A. for at least eight weeks or so. That was exciting, driving down Sunset Boulevard hearing one of our tunes back to back with somebody really big." Another song from the LP, "Rock and Roll Circus," found some action in Las Vegas.

It wasn't enough action, however, to stall Roxy's breakup later in 1970. (The much more famous Roxy Music, incidentally, had to ask for permission -- which was granted -- to use their name due to its similarity to Roxy.) Despite constant live work and some encouraging critical reception, Segarini and Bishop wanted to go in a new direction and explore more pop-oriented sounds. That's what they did as part of their next band, the Wackers. 
by Richie Unterberger 


Tracks
1. Love, Love, Love - 1:59
2. Sing A Song - 4:03
3. New York City - 2:25
4. Somebody Told You - 3:21
5. Love For A Long Time - 2:26
6. Windy Day - 3:22
7. You Got A Lot Of Style - 3:25
8. I Got My Friends (Randy Bishop) - 2:27
9. Yesterday's Song - 3:29
10.Rock And Roll Circus - 4:26
All songs by Robert Joseph "Bob" Segarini except where noted.

Roxy
*Bob Segarini - Lead Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Percussion
*Jimmy De Cocq - Lead Guitar, Keyboards
*Randy Bishop - Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
*John Mcdonald - Drums, Percussion
*James Morris - Keyboards

1968  The Family Tree - Miss Butters
1971  The Wackers - Wackering Heights (Vinyl issue)
1972  The Wackers - Hot Wacks

Free Text
Free Text II

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Amazing Blondel - Mulgrave Street (1974 uk, wonderful folk silk rock with special guests musicians, 2009 japan remaster)



Originally released in 1974. First band album without John Gladwin and along a more commercial line. Long sought after.

With the departure of John Gladwin in 1973, Eddie Baird and Terry Wincott decided to continue The Amazing Blondel. Eddie took up writing most of the material and whilst it was still of an acoustic-folk base it now had a slightly more commercial bent.

'Mulgrave Street' came out to critical acclaim and set up the band for a further three albums. Certain tracks within the album became standards like "Mulgrave Street", "Love must be the best time of your life" and "Sad to see you go".

Continuing to tour extensively the new brand of Amazing Blondel soon became established with a large fan-base to which this album will appeal. And since it has never had a CD release all Folk/Amazing Blondel fans will be sure to seek out this album.

Eddie and Terry are looking to do some gigs later in the year to help promote the release of the long missing Amazing Blondel albums.
Proper-Music


Tracks
1. Mulgrave Street - 2:28
2. Iron And Steel - 4:55
3. Leader Of The Band (Terry Wincott) - 4:19
4. Light Your Light - 3:00
5. Hole In The Head - 2:16
6. Help Us Get Along - 3:45
7. See Em Shining - 2:35
8. Love Must Be The Best Time Of Your Life - 2:34
9. All I Can Do - 2:41
10.Goodbye Our Friends (Terry Wincott) - 3:16
11.Sad To See You Go - 3:29
12.Runaway - 3:24
13.Little Darling - 3:13
Lyrics and Music by Eddie Baird unless as else stated

Personnel
*Edward Baird - Guitars, Vocals
*Terence Wincott - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocal
*Sue Glover - Vocal
*Eddie Jobson - Violin, Keyboards
*Paul Kossoff - Guitar
*Sunny Leslie - Vocal
*John Bundrick - Keyboards
*Boz Burrell - Bass
*Pat Donaldson - Bass
*Mickey Feat - Guitar
*Simon Kirke - Drums
*William Murray - Drums
*Mick Ralphs - Guitar
*Alan Spenner - Bass

1971  Amazing Blondel - Fantasia Lindum
1973  Amazing Blondel - Blondel
1974  Amazing Blondel - England 

Free Text
Free Text II

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Jack Bruce Band - Live At Manchester Free Trade Hall (1975 uk, magnificent blend of jazz blues prog and classic rock, 2003 edition)



This double-CD set was one of the unexpected bonuses of the 2001/2002 remastering of Jack Bruce's RSO/Polydor catalog -- amid a search of the vaults, a tape of this performance, the only official live recording of the Jack Bruce Band, was unearthed. They were news to Bruce at the time of their discovery, rough mixes done in contemplation of a concert album that was abandoned. It has its technical problems, but it was possible to clean up most of the sound to a fully professional modern standard, except for a couple of spots where extraneous noise does intrude, especially on the opening of disc two. But those are insignificant flaws in relation to the overall content of these tapes, which capture the band in fine form, especially Bruce, lead guitarist Mick Taylor, and keyboardist Carla Bley -- Ronnie Leahy fills out the keyboard sound and Bruce Gary handles the drumming. Their sound is surprisingly tight and their playing rich and crisp, doing a mix of progressive rock and blues-rock in which there are at least four potential lead instruments beyond Bruce's voice, which is extremely powerful throughout and, indeed, more expressive on-stage than it ever seemed amid the cacophony of Cream's concerts. 

The repertory is drawn almost entirely from his solo catalog (though they do close with an extended version of "Sunshine of Your Love"), with a special emphasis on songs from Out of the Storm. Though Carla Bley gets a lot of the spotlight for her work on piano, organ, Mellotron, and various other keyboard instruments, Leahy gets an extended featured spot on the piano for the medley of "Tickets to Waterfalls"/"Weird of Hermiston"/"Post War." Although there are a few standard-length songs here, this was a band that mostly preferred to stretch out, a fact illustrated by the presence of only four numbers on the second CD, which runs the better part of an hour. What made it work was that they had enough to say to fill that length, even on the 23-minute "Smiles and Grins," and the otherwise familiar "Sunshine of Your Love," here flexed out to over 13 minutes. They switch gears effortlessly between vocal numbers like "One" and instrumental-driven jams such as "You Burned the Tables on Me," without skipping a beat or letting the listener go. 

It's difficult to imagine how RSO would have released this recording reasonably intact in its own time -- there are too many tracks here that would have taken up a full side of an LP, and while Leon Russell and a few others had made the triple-live album a reality in rock, one is hard-put to imagine RSO springing for that with Bruce, whose critical notices were fantastic but whose sales -- especially in England -- had never matched his reviews. So perhaps it's just as well that this recording was forgotten but not lost, to show up today. 

The mix of blues, jazz elements, and hard rock, all in a free-form jam format, now seems all the more bracing and the CD market allows it to be kept intact. It's also doubly fortunate that this show was recorded during the period in which technology had finally mastered the art of capturing the sound of various electronic keyboard devices on-stage intact -- it's a small matter, but fans of the Mellotron will probably love this release. 
by Bruce Eder


Tracks
Disc 1
1. Can You Follow? - 1:43
2. Morning Story - 7:27
3. Keep It Down - 5:30
4. Pieces Of Mind - 5:42
5. Tickets To Waterfalls / Weird Of Hermiston / Post War - 24:21
6. Spirit (Tony Williams) - 10:44


Disc 2
1. One / You Burned The Tables On Me - 16:41
2. Smiles And Grins - 23:56
3. Sunshine Of Your Love (Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Pete Brown) - 12:07
All songs by Jack Bruce, except where stated

Musicians
*Carla Bley - Clavinet, Mellotron, Organ, Electric Piano, Synthesizer
*Jack Bruce - Bass Guitar, Piano, Vocals
*Bruce Gary - Drums
*Ronnie Leahy - Piano, Electric Piano, Synthesizer
*Mick Taylor - Guitar

1969  Jack Bruce - Songs For A Tailor (Expanded Edition)
1971  Jack Bruce - Harmony Row (Bonus tracks edition) 
1974  Jack Bruce - Out Of The Storm (Extra tracks issue)
1966  Cream - Fresh Cream (SHM remaster)
1967  Cream - Disraeli Gears (SHM remaster)
1968  Cream - Wheels Of Fire (2014 SHM remaster) 
1969  Cream - Goodbye (2010 SHM remaster)
1967-68 Cream - Live Cream (2010 SHM remaster)
1972  Cream - Live Cream II (2010 SHM remaster)

Free Text
Free Text II

Monday, July 6, 2015

Space Opera - Space Opera (1972 us, superb post psych prog rock, 2014 korean remaster)



An obscurity from day one, Space Opera is an overlooked classic-rock wonder. Three of the four members of Space Opera (Philip White, Scott Fraser, David Bullock) had previously recorded a stellar country-folk gem in Whistler, Chaucer, Detroit, and Greenhill. As good as that record was, they were still green compared to the fully developed band (adding drummer Brett Wilson) they would become by 1972.

From Forth Worth, Texas, but recorded in Canada, Space Opera forged a familiar rock sound in an unheard context, combining blissful three part harmonies with searing guitar leads and righteous, intricate jams. The reissue is appropriately billed as “12 string prog rock” and while references to the Byrds and Zappa abound in other reviews, it behooves me to agree. Though it is a must; Space Opera combines these musical forces like nothing I have ever heard before. Still, if you have ever hankered for the sounds of local FM radio rock, this is an album you won’t believe didn’t hit the airwaves.

Songs are well developed and near classical in form, developing into finely tuned suites. “Country Max” leads off as the clear “hit” record, remarkably recognizable, it’s the kind of record you feel like you’ve heard a million times. Moodier numbers like “Holy River” and “Riddle” jangle their way into your head with good craftsmanship and memorable refrains. “Guitar Suite” is the album’s instrumental centerpiece that successfully merges prog and country rock during every moment of sound; gnarly double-tracked harmonica and tape effects stealing the show. The recordings are so warm it’s as if the master tapes were filtered through a rainbow of vintage tape machines, and the flutes on “Outlines” even sound suspiciously mellotron-esque. Some of the beauty to this record must be owed to the warmth and grit that you just can’t get with modern digital technology.

More than pleased to discover one like this. Beautiful songs that are truly unheard classics. These fellas clearly understood how to create rock music in a way more advanced than many better known contemporaries and are still awaiting their recognition.
by Brendan McGrath


Tracks
1. Country Max (David Bullock) - 3:19
2. Holy River (Scott Fraser) - 5:26
3. Outlines (Philip White) - 4:11
4. Guitar Suite (Scott Fraser, David Bullock, Philip White, Brett Wilson) - 7:38
5. My Telephone Artist (Has Come And Gone) (David Bullock) - 3:46
6. Riddle (Philip White) - 3:07
7. Prelude No. 4 (Philip White) - 3:52
8. Lookout (Scott Fraser) - 2:47
9. Blue Ridge Mountains (David Bullock) - 2:13
10.Over And Over (Scott Fraser) - 5:54

The Space Opera
*David Bullock - Vocals, Flute, Harmonica, Guitar
*Scott Fraser - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
*Philip White - Vocals, Bass, Guitar, Keyboards
*Brett Wilson - Drums, Percussion

1970-78  Space Opera - Safe At Home (2010 Issue)

Free Text
Free Text II