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

Monday, May 25, 2015

Hilton Valentine - All In Your Head (1969 uk, amazing folkish baroque psychedelia, 2009 remaster)

Hilton Valentine really got his start playing lead guitar with the Animals. Those were the old raving days, when Scotch and hit records and chicks and shiny limos and riots made up most of an Animal's life. "House of the Rising Sun" days - and nights.  There was even a time when Hilton got sacks of fan mail while the Burdon Himself wistfully shrugged and waited for a card from his Mum. Hilton never did anything on stage, lie just stood and played and maybe grinned. The letters and the girls rolled in. Obviously another pretty face. Everyone loves Mr. Valentine. Very sweet. He kisses the ladies' hands. Can you stand much more? The poor geezer's not to blame. A Taurus/Gemini cusper, Hilton exudes charm and gentleness. The Taurus comes out after 10. He is still a dedicated looner. Even after years of Eric Burdon shows, he makes a special trip to see his friend onstage, shouts, "Too much!" and laughs all over everybody's drinks. Fortunately, he is more Gemini. Hilton's music and message are airy, yet apt. The stuff you think of, hut nearly always keep to yourself. Things of youth and life and truth and beauty. If it is a wee mite naive it is also optimistic.
Original Notes by Debbi Smith (Strobe Magazine)

There's always been a special place in the heart of record collectors for late Sixties acid casualty albums. Syd Barrett's solo work and Alexander 'Skip' Spence's extraordinary Oar LP are probably the best known examples of this intriguing little sub-genre, but there are quite a few others worthy of note, particularly Sky Saxon's post-Seeds adventures with religious cult/commune Ya Ho Wha and former Monkees songwriter Craig Smith's equally spaced-out vinyl adventures as Maitreya Kali.

Somehow, though, Hilton Valentine's 1969 solo effort, the psychedelic folk-flavoured All In Your Head, seems to have slipped through the net, having eluded even the nefarious attentions of those individuals who can't stumble across a collectable album without bootlegging it. As guitarist with the Animals, Hilton had had a seismic effect on both the British and American music scenes of the mid-Sixties, from his iconic arpeggio intro to 'House Of The Rising Sun' to the clanging Rickenbacker chords that had shaped such classics as 'It's My Life' and 'We've Gotta Get Out Of This Place'. 

But by the time that the original Animals went their separate ways in the summer of 1966, Hilton was marinated in the acid experience, and he was still attempting to get out of the drug's clutches when, in 1969, he was given the opportunity to fly to California to record a solo album for Capitol Records.

A fascinating collection of wide-eyed, flowerchild- of-the-universe songs delivered in endearingly ramshackle fashion (though it should be noted that Hilton has subsequently disowned the album, unhappy with the baroque arrangements that were grafted onto his original, largely acoustic recordings), All In Your Head had a similar sense of melody and the same naive, childlike whimsy as similar-vintage recordings by Donovan. Unfortunately, a worsening of relations between Capitol and the Animals' management meant that, in addition to only being issued in America and Canada, All In Your Head was given little or no promotion.

Forty years later, even some hardcore Animals fanatics remain unaware of its existence. Hopefully this first-ever reissue, which represents the first time that All In Your Head has been made unavailable outside of North America, will bring a little-known but thoroughly charming album from one of the era's key musicians to wider attention.

As he had been for the last three years or so, Hilton was firmly under the influence of Donovan, so it's no surprise that All In Your Head followed the Celtic Bard's late Sixties template: latter-day nursery rhymes with a strong peace'n'love hippie ethos, fey vocals that reflected the childlike lyrics, strummed guitars, baroque orchestration and a general late Sixties psychedelic folk vibe. Two of the songs had already seen the light of day more than a couple of years earlier, 'Run Run Run' having been recorded by Keith Shields, and the near-title track 'It's All In Your Head' by Natasha Pyne. Nevertheless, they fitted in perfectly with more recent material like 'Girl From Allemagne', a lilting, charming love song that Hilton recently recalled he'd written when "I was tripping at a friend's place, and I was looking at this giri across the room who was from Germany - I felt we were communicating telepathically, and I wrote a song about it."

Hilton, however, was (and still is) extremely unhappy with what he felt to be unsuitable or overpowering arrangements, recently claiming that the production "had lost the plot of what I was trying to do". To be honest, he does have a point. Some of Vic Briggs' arrangements are perhaps obtrusively florid; 'Run Run Run', for example, is punctuated by some ridiculous didgeridoo-style interjections, the charming simplicity of 'Is There Anything But Love' is compromised by the horns arrangement, and 'Little Soldiers' bears that peculiar late Sixties weakness for vaudeville backdrops.

Nevertheless, there are occasions when the instrumentation matches the song perfectly, and the bulk of the album is a triumph. Hilton's homespun, Age of Aquarius philosophising blends with a strong sense of melody and his pleasingly wistful vocals on a handful of wide-eyed paeans to Mother Nature, including 'Listen', 'Sitting In The Sun' and the drowsy, hypnotic 'Peace', with its "peace be with you my friend" refrain and general Byrds-like air. The laconic 'It's All In Your Head' has a gently rolling, Dylanish charm that transcends the rather unsympathetic arrangement, but perhaps the strongest track is the gorgeous 'Everything Returns To Me', a fragile beauty that's so catchy that it really should have been issued as a single.

Sadly, Capitol chose not to release a single, and All In Your Head didn't make too much of an impression. Hilton claims this was due to Burdon leaving Deverich's management ("everything fell to pieces when Eric left Kevin"), and it may well be the case that Capitol's dwindling relationship with the Animals' camp played its part. Vic Briggs was sacked by Capitol in December 1969, having acted as producer on no less than three former Animals' solo albums (All In Your Head, Danny McCulloch's Wings Of A Man and Zoot Money's Welcome To My Head} as well as former Music Machine lead singer Sean Bonniwell's Close and Mark Eric's highly regarded A Midsummer Day's Dream (the latter as arranger only).

Whatever the reason for All In Your Head disappearing into the ether, it left Hilton very much a stranger in a strange land. Burdon once again helped out, employing him as a roadie for the duration of Eric's two-year liaison with the band War. "LA was perfect for me at the time", Hilton subsequently admitted. "It was the flower-power thing. I was even chanting 'Hare Krishna' for a while. Thank God I'm not still doing that. I couldn't handle the yellow robes..."

When the Burdon/War gig ended, Hilton signed on the dole. Meanwhile, he was playing in a CSNY-style soft rock band called  Oojakapiv, who signed a one-album deal with a local record company, only for the advance to mysteriously disappear. With no money coming in, he accepted an offer to become manager of the Theatre Restaurant in LA. By the time that the original Animals reconvened in late 1975 to make the wittily-titled album Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted (not released until August 1977 due to legal difficulties involving Burdon's former managers), Hilton had been a Buddhist for two or three years. "In retrospect, I'd always been trying to escape from my life until then -trying to transcend to somewhere else", he told Andy Blackford in 1986. "When I started to practice Buddhism, I began to realize that this is where it's all at. There isn't anywhere else, other than in your daily life."

Hilton returned to England in 1977, working for Chas Chandler for a year or so before moving back to his native North Shields in 1980. Further musical endeavors followed. On the back of a 1982 reissue of The House Of The Rising Sun' that peaked at No. 11 in the UK singles chart, the Animals came together once more to record an album of new material, Ark, as well as embarking on an extensive worldwide tour which resulted in the LP Greatest Hits Live!

When the Animals once again found they were unable to tolerate each others' presence on a permanent basis, Hilton reformed his pre-Animals band, the Wildcats, before joining forces with John Steel and Dave Rowberry (who'd been Alan Price's replacement back in 1965) in Animals II. He then returned to America, settling down in Connecticut, where he began to concentrate on acoustic music. Using the pseudonym Skiffledog, in 2004 he released a new CD entitled It's Folk 7V Skiffle, Mate!, which included stripped-down revamps of two All In Your Head songs, 'Peace' and 'Run Run Run1. Having toured extensively with Eric Burdon, he has recently recorded with fellow Sixties survivor, Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty.

Forty years after the subterranean release of his first solo album, Hilton still claims that he'd rather forget all about it. That's the artist's prerogative, of course, but there's nothing about the charming period-piece All In Your Head that should embarrass him - apart, maybe, from the groovy, astrologically-inclined original sleeve note from the editor of Strobe magazine, one Debbi Smith. But such is life. Here, then, is All In Your Head in all its beautiful, gentle, enigmatic, late Sixties acid casualty glory...
by David Wells August 2009

1. Listen - 2:40  
2. Everything Returns To Me - 2:47
3. Its All In Your Head - 3:13
4. Little Soldiers - 1:54
5. Eyes Of A Child - 2:23
6. Sitting In The Sun - 2:38
7. Is There Anything But Love - 2:45
8. Land Of Children - 2:27
9. Run,Run,Run - 2:39
10.Peace - 3:33
11.Girl From Allemagne - 2:55
All selections by Hilton Valentine

*Hilton Valentine - Vocals, Guitars

1964-67  The Animals - The Complete French EP

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Temptations - All Directions (1972 us, classic soul funk psych, 2012 japan remaster)

The Temptations were Motown's top-selling male vocal group, racking up a ton of mid-60s hits, most of which were written by Smokey Robinson. Unique among the label's acts in that all the vocalists were able to sing lead, they succeeded with a variety of material, from ballads ("My Girl") to heavy R&B ("Ain't Too Proud To Beg"). Producer Norman Whitfield became the group's primary songwriter (with Barrett Strong), and starting around 1969 he led them into Sly Stone-inspired psychedelic funk, with lyrics that were increasingly insightful socio-political statements (including "Ball Of Confusion," which was only released as a single). 

It kept them at the top of the charts, but in fact the band's best records came before and after the psychedelic period: Whitfield's endless orchestral excursions and relentless wah-wah made albums like Psychedelic Shack difficult to sit through. While the band underwent rapid personnel changes, Whitfield moved on, and later produced popular but unambitious albums for Rose Royce ("Car Wash," "Love Doesn't Live Here Anymore")
by David Bertrand Wilson

The Temptations, like many other contemporary vocal groups, often had to cope with frequent changes in personnel. Not only did the outfit handle this well, the original group itself was a product of a line-up change or, more specifically, a merging of two groups: The Primes and The Distants. By the time of this 1972 release, after Motown’s creative prime had passed, many thought that the band, after an 11-year career, was dead. Then Damon Harris replaced Eddie Kendricks and they released Papa Was A Rolling Stone, a magnum opus of pop-funk spanning almost 12 minutes in length, which served as the central pillar of a cracking album that provided the Tempts with a new lease of life.
by Paul Rigby

1. Funky Music Sho' Nuff Turns Me On (Barrett Strong, Norman Whitfield) - 3:08
2. Run Charlie Run (C. Maurice King, Jan Forman) - 3:17
3. Papa Was A Rollin' Stone (Barrett Strong, Norman Whitfield) - 12:08
4. Love Woke Me Up This Morning (Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson) - 2:32
5. I Ain't Got Nothin' (C. Maurice King, Evans King) - 3:53
6. The First Time Ever (I Saw Your Face) (Ewan MacColl) - 4:16
7. Mother Nature (Nick Zesses, Dino Fekaris) - 3:14
8. Do Your Thing (Isaac Hayes) - 3:44

The Temptations
*Dennis Edwards - Vocals
*Damon Harris - Vocals
*Richard Street - Vocals
*Melvin Franklin - Vocals
*Otis Williams - Vocals
*The Funk Brothers - Instrumentation
*The Andantes - Backing Vocals

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rich Mountain Tower - Rich Mountain Tower (1971 us, magnificent folk psych country rock, 2014 issue)

"Rich Mountain Tower's debut self-titled album, released in the fall of 1971, combines southern rock with acoustic ballads and psychedelic flourishes to create a sound well ahead of its time. Originally issued in quadrophonic sound, it's a superb recording that shows just what a fine and underrated band this Tennessee quintet was.

Really, though, these folks are mainly anchored in psychedelic folk, with a driving, rock rhythm and lots of jangly guitars and Southern-style slide balancing out the nascent twang. The lyrics are very hippie-dippie and diffuse, spacy, celebratory stuff about being alive and in nature, sung in airy harmonies with pedal steel an 12-string guitar providing sweet counterpoint -- all in all, a very Byrds-y sound. 

A few Nashville studio pros were brought in to beef up the band's sound -- Charlie McCoy lays down a few hot harmonica riffs, and steel player Weldon Myrick adds gorgeous accompaniment throughout. There's not a lot on here that I would call "country," as opposed to rock, and a few songs may get irritating if you're just in search of country sounds, although for psych/folk-freak fans this record is a real treat. A mixed bag, but a great document of its time. 

1. Uncle Bob White - 5:08
2. Circle Sky Moon Mix (Randy Haspel, Tom McNamee) - 4:14
3. Thank You, Maggie - 3:47
4. If You Don't Look Back (Randy Haspel) - 3:13
5. Our Passage Home - 3:37
6. He Ain't Got No Color, Boys (Bob Tuccillo, Dana Paul, David Carr, Sandy Garrett) - 4:06
7. Song Of The Sea - 2:54
8. The Same Thing Applies To Me That Applies To You - 3:51
9. One Last Farewell - 2:39
10.Marie - 2:32
All songs by Dana Paul except where stated.

The Rich Mountain Tower
*Dana Paul - 12 String Guitar, Keyboards, Lead Vocals, Harmonica
*David Carr - Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
*Sandy Garrett - Bass, Vocals
*Randy Haspel - Guitar, Vocals
*Bob Tuccillo - Drums, Percussion
Additional Musicians
*Lamonte "Skip" Ousley - Congas, Percussion
*Charlie McCoy - Harmonica
*John "Hoffy" Hoffmann - Banjo
*Sonny Pitman - Bass
*Weldon Myrick - Steel Guitar
*Don Tweedy - Moog Synthesizer, String Arrangements

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Zoo - Hard Times Good Times (1972 france, superb jazz psych brass prog rock, 2014 remaster)

The French band Zoo was formed in 1968. They took part in the festival in Amougies, Belgium, along with Pink Floyd, The Nice, East Of Eden, Frank Zappa, etc. The band had a strong jazz-blues-rock influenced sound with traces of psychedelia and funk. Featuring electric guitars, Hammond organ, electric violon and saxophone..

In 1972 Zoo released their 3rd album "Hard times, good times", Strong jazzy psych brass sounds, like Blood Sweat and Tears, Chicago, etc. Even though τhey participated in many big festivals  they failed to make an international career and due the lack of commercial success they disbanded in late 1972. 

1. Captain (Ian Bellamy, Andre Herve) - 3:51
2. Faces (B. Bergmann, E. Baaz) - 4:41
3. Delusions And Dreams (Philipe Rault, Michel Herve) - 3:10
4. Four Strings (Michel Ripoche) - 3:58
5. Second Class Games (Ian Bellamy) - 3:54
6. Hard Times, Good Times (Ian Bellamy, Andre Herve) - 3:26
7. Queen Of The Green Eyes (Ian Bellamy, Christian Devaux) - 3:24
8. La Feuille (Andre Herve, Daniel Carlet, Michel Ripoche, Ian Bellamy, Michel Herve, Philipe Rault) - 2:16
9. What Am I To Be (Ian Bellamy) - 5:58
10.Down In Memphis (Philipe Rault, Daniel Carlet) - 3:48

The Zoo
*Ian Douglas Bellamy - Vocals, Percussion
*Andre Herve - Acoustic, Lead Guitar, Organ, Piano, Percussions, Vocals
*Michel Herve - Bass, Percussion
*Christian Devaux - Drums
*Michel Ripoche - Electric Violin, Tenor Saxophone, Trombone
*Daniel Carlet - Soprano, Tenor, Baryton Saxophone, Flute, Violin

1969  Zoo - Zoo (2012 Remaster)
1970  Zoo - I Shall Be Free (2011 Issue)

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Invaders - Invaders (1971 south africa, outstanding heavy psych rock, 2010 bonus tracks remaster)

The rise of The Invaders to the pinnacle of South African pop and rock stardom can be traced directly to the 1961 Cliff Richard & The Shadows tour in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. After seeing the show twenty one year old John Burke confidently declared “I was born for show business and someday I’ll be famous like The Shadows” - these would be prophetic words. Armed with a battered guitar he formed his first group called The Astronauts, the first pop band in Uitenhage but after several live dates that band splintered. Undeterred John and guitarist Errol Gobey continued in various groups including an embryonic Invaders before settling on the classic line up of John Burke-bass; Joe Moses-lead guitar ; Errol Gobey- guitar and Dave Burke –drums in 1963.

Over the next 3 years The Invaders proceeded to play every 'session', 'school hop' dance party and talent competition available, often thrashing the opposition bands. Word of mouth about their energetic live performances and in 1967 they released their debut album “Two sides of The Invaders” which rapidly achieved gold status. In December of that year they released the “Shockwave” single (also available on the “Astral Daze 2” compilation)– a seminal, fuzz drenched guitar workout that seemed to preempt the coming psychedelic revolution. This track climbed the South African charts peaking at No.10 and earning them a gold disc-the “Shockwave” single and album was a huge success” recounts Gobey, we toured the whole country and according to the media 

The Invaders were South Africa's top band”. This success is confirmed by the band's fan club which at it's peak had over 50,000 members, rivaling that of The Beatles and Rolling Stones. Another two successful albums, “One more time” and “New image” were released before the band embarked on a European tour. Hassled by red tape and permit problems but inspired by the rock explosion in the countries that they played in, the band returned to South Africa with a new vision and direction for the next album.

Now joined by vocalist Lionel Petersen and organist Rodger Pillay they entered the studio to record “There's a light, there's a way”. Gone were the guitar driven pop instrumentals and light pop tunes of previous years and in it's place was a more contemporary sound, incorporating elements of funk, prog rock and psychedelic soul. “Turn on the sun”, with it's layered vocal harmonies manages to bridge the divide between early '70s soul and pop whilst the funky “Ocean of peace” wouldn’t be out of place on a Rare Earth album ; awash with swirling Hammond and driving guitar work the pastoral “Astral III” is the perfect counterfoil to the Grand Funk like “Astral II”. With a nod to The Kinks' “You really got me” the stomping riff of “I need you” is the platform for Joe's searing guitar solo. 

Tackling a Stones classic like ‘You can’t always get what you want” is a daunting task for any band but The Invaders 'soulify' the tunes with soaring vocals, funky piano/organ lines and some jazzy flute making it one of the best covers in rock history.The original album is boosted by the inclusion of two bonus tracks; a raw version of Creedence's ‘Born on the bayou” and an earlier psych tune “Painter Man”.

With the long overdue release of ‘There's a light, there's a way”, The Invaders rightfully take their place alongside other shining lights in the rock firmament like Freedoms Children, Otis Waygood, Hawk, Suck and Abstract Truth.
by Benjy Mudie, May 2010

1. There's A Light There's A Way (David Burke, Joe Moses) - 3:04
2. Turn On The Sun - 3:58
3. Ocean Of Peace - 4:21
4. Astral III - 4:46
5. Astral II - 3:07
6. Second Coming - 4:27
7. I Need You - 2:04
8. You Can't Always Get What You Want (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) - 6:01
9. Born On The Bayou (John Fogerty) - 2:35
10.Painter Man (Kenny Pickett, Eddie Phillips) - 2:14
All compositions by Invades except where stated
Track #5 including excerpts from "You Really Got Me" and "I Want To Take You Higher"

The Invaders
*Joey Moses - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Errol Gobey - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
*Johnny Burke - Bass
*Dave Burke - Drums
*Lionel Petersen - Vocals
*Roger "Spewy" Pillay - Organ

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Nite People - P.M. (1970 uk, fascinating prog psych groovy rock)

Originated from Bournemouth circa 1965. Nite People were signed to Fontana records in 1966 before signing to Page One in 1969. Recorded couple of demos for Avenue Artists circa 1967 at Bob Potter's studio in Mytchett, Surrey and in London, circa 1969 to be included on their LP for Page One records entitled P.M.. They disbanded in 1970.

Their sole album originally issued in 1970 on the collectable Page One label and one of their rarest releases. Progressive/psychedelic sound dominated by Hammond organ/guitar with cool jazz-funk and rare-groove touches, including the mod-club classic "P.M.," the superb instrumentals "Funky Hoe" and a top cover of Frank Zappa's "Peaches en Regalia," among others.  

1. P.M. (Barry Curtis, 'Fergy' Ferguson, Scott Kirkpatrick) - 2:58
2. Rock Island Line (Traditional) - 3:37
3. Train And A River (Jimmy Giuffre) - 3:48
4. Reach Out I'll Be There (Brian Holland, Edward Holland, Jr., Lamont Dozier) - 5:48
5. Funky Hoe (Barry Curtis, 'Fergy' Ferguson, Jim Shipstone, Scott Kirkpatrick) - 3:18
6. Season Of The Rain (Elton John, Bernie Taupin) - 3:15
7. Native Land (Curtis Amy) - 4:02
8. North Canadian Paradise (Hans Vermeulen) - 3:29
9. Delilah (Barry Mason, Les Reed) - 5:07
10.Peaches In Regalia (Frank Zappa) - 3:53

The Nite People
*Jimmy Warwick - Guitars, Vocals
*Barry Curtis - Keyboards, Recorder
*Scott Kirkpatrick - Bass
*Chris 'Fergy' Ferguson - Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Guest Musicians
*Freddy Staff - Trumpet
*John Hockridge - Trumpet
*Jeff Evans - Trumpet
*Roy Sidwell - Tenor, Baritone, Soprano Saxophones
*Allan Dilly - Baritone Saxophone
*Danny Elwood - Bass Trombone
*John Kirkland - String Leader
*Colin Frechter - Bass, String Arrangements

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Big Foot - Big Foot (1968 us, awesome early prog, jazz brass rock, Vinyl edition)

Big Foot were formed in Los Angeles California in 1967 and consisted of Art Munson (guitar, vocals), Virgil Beckham (bass, vocals), Gerard Belisle (trumpet, trombone, vocals), Spencer Earnshaw (drums), David Garland (organ, trumpet, saxophone, vocals). 

Munson had previously been a back-up musician for the Righteous Brothers while the other members played in various groups in and around Orange County. One such group was the Soul Brothers which included Beckham and Belisle who while cruising the Sunset Strip, came up with the name Big Foot, after the ape-like creature that roamed the remote mountain areas of the Pacific Northwest. 

The band played the Los Angeles area which included gigs at the Whisky-A-Go-Go and the Pussy Cat-A-Go-Go in Vegas while entertaining recording contract offers.
by Jack Dominilla

1. I Keep Holding On (Gerard Belisle, Art Munson) - 3:26
2. Colors (Art Munson) - 3:57
3. Sarah Lee (David Garland) - 3:30
4. When Will It Hit Me (Gerard Belisle, David Garland, Virgil Beckham, Spencer Earnshaw) - 3:37
5. Living Again (Art Munson, Gerard Belisle, David Garland, Virgil Beckham) - 3:19
6. Take Me (Gerard Belisle, Art Munson) - 2:26
7. California Lights (Art Munson) - 4:59
8. Bring Another Day (Virgil Beckham) - 3:11
9. Teen Thigh (Art Munson, Spencer Earnshaw) - 2:44
10.Music Maker (Gerard Belisle, Art Munson) - 3:30
11.Let It Flow (Art Munson, Gerard Belisle, David Garland) - 3:21

The Big Foot 
*Art Munson - Guitar, Vocals
*Virgil Beckham - Bass, Vocals
*Gerard Belisle - Trumpet, Trombone, Vocals
*Spencer Earnshaw - Drums
*David Garland - Organ, Trumpet, Saxophone, Vocals

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