In The Land Of FREE we still Keep on Rockin'

Plain and Fancy

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

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Rare Earth - Back To Earth / Rare Earth (1975/77 us, marvellous jazzy soul funky rock, 2006 remaster)

An altogether more pleasurable experience than their previous recording sesions, "Back To Earth" restored the group to the chart, its #59placing their best in three years. Singles wise the group found the going a little more difficult, with "It Makes You Happy (But It Ain't Gonna Last Too Long)" bein written by new recruits Gabriel Katona and Paul Warren and bubblingunder at #106. 

With Motown shutting down the Rare Eartyh label following the release of "Midnight Lady" the group left the company. They weren't without a home for long, for long time champion Barney Ales had set up the Prodigal label, featuring an eclectic mix of artists and offered Rare Earth a new contract. Several of the Old group members joined up for the ride too, with Rare Earth at this point featuring Gil Bridges, Mike Urso, Pete Rivera and Ed Guzman along with newer recruita Ron Fransen (keyboards) and Danile Ferguson (Guitar).

Cal Harris and James Anthonh Carmaichael handled production, and whilst the resulting Rare Earth album was hardle a shattering succes, at least charting (albeit at #187) proved that they still had an audience.
from Motown Encyclopedia

Back To Earth 1975
1. It Makes You Happy (But It Ain't Gonna Last Too Long) (Gabriel Katona, Paul Warren) - 4:08
2. Walking Schtick (Gabriel Katona) - 4:14
3. Keeping Me Out Of The Storm (Johnny Stevenson, Paul Warren) - 5:22
4. Delta Melody (Doug Duffey) - 4:59
5. Happy Song (Doug Duffey) - 4:54
6. Let Me Be Your Sunshine (Gabriel Katona, Paul Warren) - 2:51
7. Boogie With Me Children (Jerry Lacroix) - 3:26
8. City Life (Dennis Provisor) - 4:56
Rare Earth 1977
9. Love Has Lifted Me (Michael Sutton, Brenda Sutton) - 3:52
10.Is Your Teacher Cool? (Anna Gaye, Elgie Stover, Jerry Knight, Terrance Harrison) - 5:12
11.Foot Loose And Fancy Free (Anna Gaye, Elgie Stover, Michael Torrance, Terrance Harrison) - 4:10
12.When I Write (Peter Hoorelbeke, Tom Baird) - 4:20
13.Share My Love (Gloria Jones, Janie Bradford) - 4:28
14.Tin Can People (Beverly Gardner, Gloria Jones) - 3:43
15.I Really Love You (Allen Story, Anna Story, Berry Gordy) - 4:59
16.Crazy Love (Peter Hoorelbeke, Ron Fransen) - 3:29
17.Ah Dunno (Michael Urso, Peter Hoorelbeke, Ron Fransen) - 2:06

Rare Earth
*Eddie Guzman - Congas, Percussion
*Gil Bridges - Flute, Alto Saxophone, Backing Vocals
*Jerry La Croix - Lead Vocals, Tenor Saxophone, Flute (Tracks 1-8)
*Ray Monette - Guitar (Tracks 1-8)
*Paul Warren - Guitar, Backing Vocals (Tracks 1-8)
*Gabriel Katona - Keyboards, Backing Vocals (Tracks 1-8)
*Reggie McBride - Bass, Backing Vocals (Tracks 1-8)
*Barry Frost - Drums, Percussion (Tracks 1-8)
*Michael Urso - Bass, Backing Vocals (Tracks 9-17)
*Daniel Ferguson - Guitar (Tracks 9-17)
*Ron Fransen - Keyboards (Tracks 9-17)
*Peter Hoorelbeke - Lead Vocals, Drums (Tracks 9-17)

1968  Dreams/Answers (2017 audiophile remaster)
1969-74  Fill Your Head (three cds box set, five studio albums plus outtakes and alternative versions)
1971  One World  (2015 audiophile remaster)
1971  In Concert (2017 Audiophile) 
1974  Live In Chicago (2014 audiophile remaster)
1976/78  Midnight Lady / Band Together (2017 digipak remaster)

Free Text
the Free Text

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Donnie Fritts - Prone To Lean (1974 us, awesome bluesy country folk rock, 2013 japan remaster)

One of the architects of the famed Muscle Shoals Sound, songwriter Donnie Fritts also enjoyed success as a longtime associate of Kris Kristofferson. A native of Florence, Alabama, as a teen Fritts played drums with local acts like the Satellites and Hollis Dixon. By the late '50s he was writing and performing with the likes of Arthur Alexander, Dan Penn, and Spooner Oldham, all of them joining forces to forge the unique fusion of Southern soul, pop, country, and R&B immediately recognizable as the Muscle Shoals Sound. Fritts' early songs were recorded by performers as diverse as Percy Sledge, Dusty Springfield, the Box Tops, and Tommy Roe. 

By the late '60s he was employed as a Nashville staff writer, often working alongside fellow up-and-comer Kristofferson. Beginning in 1970, Fritts was Kristofferson's touring keyboardist, and they even appeared together in films including Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, and A Star Is Born. He released his first solo album, the solid country soul offering Prone To Lean, in 1974, but whether because of poor sales or other priorities, it was 23 years before he released another one. Although his name is not as well known as some of his collaborators, Fritts was an integral part of the development of the 70s country soul sound. 

Fritts focused on session and touring work during the early 2000s. He guested on Robert Plant's Sixty Six to Timbuktu in 2003 and on the Resentments' Roselight in 2009, but did little else. His songs paid the bills, as they appeared on dozens of compilations and were covered by current artists including Shelby Lynne, who made his "Breakfast in Bed" the title track of her tribute to Dusty Springfield in 2008. 

Fritts didn't record again under his own name for another half dozen years. He had become friendly with producer and label and studio owner John Paul White (formerly of the Civil Wars), who asked him to play the premiere of the Muscle Shoals documentary. While visiting one day, White heard Fritts play songs on his well-used Wurlitzer that were favorites, not necessarily his own. The producer convinced him to record an album of this material on that instrument. With assistance from the Alabama Shakes' Ben Tanner, White assembled various guests including Brittany Howard, Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires, John Prine, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Spooner Oldham, and the Secret Sisters to back Fritts. Released by White's Single Lock Records, Oh My Goodness was issued in October of 2015.  
by Jason Ankeny

1. Three Hundred Pounds Of Hongry (Donnie Fritts, Eddie Hinton) - 3:30
2. Winner Take All (Donnie Fritts, Dan Penn) - 3:47
3. When We're On The Road (Donnie Fritts) - 3:22
4. Whatcha Gonna Do (Donnie Fritts, Jon Reid) - 3:22
5. You're Gonna Love Yourself (In The Morning) (Donnie Fritts) - 2:51
6. I've Got To Feel It (Donnie Fritts, Eddie Hinton) - 3:24
7. Sumpin' Funky Going On (Donnie Fritts, Tony Joe White) - 2:54
8. Jesse Cauley Sings The Blues (Eddie Hinton) - 3:28
9. My Friend (Donnie Fritts, Spooner Oldham) - 3:18
10.Prone To Lean (Kris Kristofferson) - 3:38
11.We Had It All (Donnie Fritts, Troy Seals) - 3:03
12.Rainbow Road (Donnie Fritts, Dan Penn) - 3:36

*Donnie Fritts - Vocals, Electric Piano
*Barry Beckett - Piano, Vives, Clavinet
*Roger Hawkins - Drums, Tambourine, Congas
*Jimmy Johnson - Acoustic, Electric Guitar
*David Hood - Bass
*Eddie Hinton - Acoustic, Electric Guitar, Harmonica
*Pete Carr - Acoustic, Electric Guitar, Dobro
*Mike Utley - Organ
*Sammy Creason - Drums
*Jerry McGee - Acoustic, Electric, Slide Guitar
*Tony Joe White - Lead Guitar, Back Vocal
*Spooner Oldham - Vives
*Jerry Masters - Bass
*Mickey Raphael - Harp
*The Muscle Shoals - Horns
*Rita Coolidge - Back Vocal
*Billy Swann - Back Vocal
*Dan Penn - Back Vocal
*Kris Kristofferson - Back Vocal
*John Prine - Back Vocal
*Spooner Oldham - Back Vocal
*Eddie Hinton - Back Vocal
*Jerry Wexler - Back Vocal

Free Text
the Free Text

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Fifth Avenue Band - Fifth Avenue Band (1969 us, spectacular blend of jazzy funk folk psych rock, 2018 japan SHM remaster)

Kenny Altman, Jerry Burnham and Peter Gallway started their musical partnership while attending high school in New York City.  As The Strangers, they recorded a little heard 1965 single 'Land of Music' b/w 'I Need Your Love Inside Me'.

By the late-'60s the trio were members of The Fifth Avenue Band (the line up rounded out by drummer Pete Heywood, vocalist Joe Lind and keyboard player Murray Weinstock).  Signed by Reprise, the band's self-titled 1969 debut was interesting for a number of reasons, including the fact it teamed them with Lovin Spoonful alumis Jerry Yester and Zal Yanvosky (Lovin' Spoonful producer Erik Jacobsen handling five tracks).  Certainly a result of the Lovin' Spoonful connection, numerous reviews and references have compared  "The Fifth Avenue Band" to the Lovin' Spoonful catalog.  To our ears, with the exception of 'Nice Folks', the comparison isn't really there

With Altman and Gallway responsible for the majority of material, the set was actually quite diverse.  The opener 'Fast Freight' recalled The Band-styled of rural rock; 'One Way or The Other' 'could haven been mistaken for The Fifth Dimension (not kidding) and 'Good Lady of Toronto' sported a pretty country-rock melody. 

Because it was produced by one-time Lovin' Spoonful members Zal Yanovsky and Jerry Yester, and because they were also based in Greenwich Village, the Fifth Avenue Band's sole and self-titled album has generated its share of Lovin' Spoonful comparisons. It's really not too close in sound to the Spoonful, however, even if it shares a little bit of the same sort of good-timey/easygoing reflective mood of some of the Spoonful's vintage material. It's far more colored by late-'60s rock in its arrangements, for one thing, sometimes going into a somewhat heavier, occasionally jazz-funk-influenced sound than what the Spoonful were renowned for, though there are bits of country as well. 

To be a little harsher, it also doesn't have anything on the order of the classic original material the Spoonful generated at their peak. It's not at all bad, however, with a gentle melodic vibe and vocal harmonies that tend toward the optimistically upbeat even on the somewhat more pensive tunes, though it's more a pleasant listen than a memorable one. Some of the more forceful songs might also recall some of the Nazz's work in their blend of pop/rock with slight soul spice, though the Nazz were more Beatlesque in their approach. They come closest to hitting that kind of stride on the closing cut, "Angel," which is the album's highlight. 
by Richie Unterberger 

1. Fast Freight (Peter Gallway) - 3:39
2. One Way Or The Other (Kenny Altman) - 2:27
3. Good Lady Of Toronto (Peter Gallway) - 4:03
4. Eden Rock (Kenny Altman, Peter Gallway) - 2:30
5. Country Time Rhymes (Peter Gallway) - 3:45
6. Calamity Jane (Peter Gallway) - 2:49
7. Nice Folks (Kenny Altman) - 2:26
8. Cockeyed Shame (Peter Gallway) - 2:48
9. Faithful Be Fair (Kenny Altman) - 4:11
10.In Hollywood (Peter Gallway) - 3:27
11.Angel (Jon Lind) - 3:36

The Fifth Avenue Band
*Kenny Altman - Vocals, Bass
*Jerry Burnham - Vocals, Guitar
*Peter Gallway - Vocals, Guitar
*Pete Heywood - Drums
*Joe Lind - Vocals
*Murray Weinstock - Keyboards

Free Text
the Free Text

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Tamburlaine - Say No More (1972 new zealand, fascinating folk rock with prog and psych touches, 2018 korean remaster)

Raised in Wellington’s rich musical underground, the great Tamburlaine was born from British-style blues and the folk revival, and graduated from shouty, sweaty clubs to spellbinding larger concerts.

Guitarist Steve Robinson grew up in Fiji, where he studied piano from age four, played the violin in school orchestras and learned the ukulele, which naturally led to guitar. Returning with his family to New Zealand as a young teenager, he first played bass in Christ College’s ironically named beat covers band The Pagans, and later, lead guitar with Wellington College’s Us Five.  

Long before graduating to guitar, young Denis Leong studied piano for eight excruciating years, while also developing his singing voice. Backed by brother Kevin on guitar, Leong sang and together the brothers dominated 1950s talent shows, where they regularly won prizes in competition and accumulated a modest collection of toasters and other small kitchen appliances.

“I would like to say we sang early Chuck Berry or Everly Brothers tunes,” says Denis Leong, “but … our repertoire was limited to all but the cheesiest of top twenty hits.”

Meanwhile, bassist Simon Morris was playing lead guitar in his Onslow College school band Changing Times when formidable future vocalist Rick Bryant tried out for singer, but was turned down. Meeting up again with Morris at university, a newly honed Bryant fancied starting a “serious blues band”, and he and Morris bore Original Sin. “Original Sin was very much a bunch of mates into Chicago type blues (Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, etc.), pretty much driven by Rick," says Steve Robinson.

After unshackling from Rick’s harmonically-challenged brother Rod on mouth harp, the Sin really caught fire when ex-Canberran draft-dodger Bill Lake took on guitar and harmonica. Cafe L’Affare founder Jeff Kennedy played drums, rounded off, says Morris, with “a revolving door of bass-players. We could never hold onto one. Steve Robinson was one, Tony Backhouse another, [and] Lindsay Field [later an in-demand backing vocalist in Australia]."

“I went to see Original Sin perform in a school gym,” says Denis Leong. “The stage was full but the hall was empty and there was possibly just one functional amplifier. I was there because Rodney Bryant – a year younger at Rongotai College – claimed to play in a rock band. A group of fellow sixth-form skeptics went to check this out. While Rodney did not play, his older brother Rick did, ably fashioning a credible Chicago blues frontman persona in the manner of a prematurely weathered Van Morrison. More striking was another fellow who did all the talking bits between songs. This fellow told great jokes and projected a very sunny entertaining disposition … a touch at odds with the otherwise grim authentic blues ethos. That was Simon.”

Sure, Original Sin had started off playing “authentic” blues – via the Stones and The Pretty Things – but soon the Sin stepped even farther from the source when Hendrix and Cream modified the mix. Songs got longer, tempos and keys changed more, and there was more adlibbing and improvisation.

They played sporadically – including a gig for the Karori Girl Guides – and by 1968 they were the resident band at the Mystic, on Wellington’s Willis Street, a hot, smoky blues club with ultraviolet lighting.

In 1971 Tamburlaine was performing around Wellington with similarly progressive folkies at the university and Chez Paree. “I vividly remember coming off the stage in the Victoria University Union Hall March 1971," says Robinson, "and seeing the next band due to go on, heavily made up with mascara etc. It was the first line-up of Split Enz.”

By May they were in the studio, recording for Kiwi Records, who had set up a new Tamburlaine-focused sub-label: Tartar. 

“We got signed up ridiculously easily by Tony Vercoe at Kiwi Records,” says Simon Morris. “He was a lovely old chap, and he promised us not only an album contract – recorded at a real studio, EMI, with a real producer, Alan Galbraith – but our own label, you know, like Apple. And the spirit of The Beatles was all over the first album – even the title Say No More was a running gag in the movie Help. We’d write a song, arrange it, then embellish it with overdubs. Alan Galbraith made sure it didn’t get out of hand – with one exception – and it was a lot of fun.

"We didn’t have a drummer at that stage, so Steve, who was the best rhythmically, did a lot of percussion – tambourine, bongos, tabla, that sort of stuff. I had the best ear for solos, so I’d usually do those – acoustic guitar, rudimentary piano, organ at one stage, and a bit of electric guitar. And Denis wrote the most specific songs, and brought some mates in to play strings and flute on them.”

“We had made a demo tape mostly of original material and this was shopped around to the various recording companies,” says Leong. “I was pleasantly surprised to get a call back from Tony Vercoe … Tony was planning to retire that year and he felt like doing ‘something out of the box’ with a final completely unexpected blockbuster. He had a twinkle in his eye when he gave me the numbers: there would be $30,000 available to record an LP in the EMI studios. Roughly speaking the budget allowed thirty hours of recording time on a lovely four-track machine, the very model that The Beatles had used to record Rubber Soul. There had been many surprises over the previous twelve months but this was right up there. We signed, somewhat in disbelief.”

Say No More is simply astonishing, and rightly recognised in Nick Bollinger’s 100 Essential New Zealand Albums. Robinson won the 1972 APRA Silver Scroll for ‘Lady Wakes Up’ and for good reason: a simple, elegant arrangement with guitars, subtle flute, hand-claps and wood block grace the homely homily: “In your woodbox of memories, may I be a chip.” When Julie Needham’s fiddle comes in during the opening to ‘Raven And The Nightingale’, it briefly foreshadows Alastair Galbraith’s violin on The Rip’s ‘Starless Road’, 15 years into the future.

1. Pass A Piece Of Paper (Denis Leong) - 3:45
2. Lady Wakes Up (Steve Robinson) - 3:26
3. The Raven And The Nightingale (Simon Morris) - 3:28
4. Do For The Others (Stephen Stills) - 3:18
5. Saffron Lady (Simon Morris) - 4:05
6. Some Other Day (Steve Robinson) - 4:03
7. Rainy City Memoirs (Denis Leong) - 3:52
8. The Flame Of Thoriman (Simon Morris) - 10:23

The Tamburlaine
*Steve Robinson - Lead Guitar, Electric Guitar, Percussion, Vocals, Tambourine, Bongos, Maracas
*Simon Morris - Piano, Percussion
*Denis Leong - Rhythm Guitar, Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar, Piano
*Julie Needham - Fiddle
*Alan Galbraith - Vocals
*Ingrid Culliford - Flute, Strings
*Alan Park - Bells
*Mike Fullerton - Drums
*Lindy Mason - Vocals

Free Text
the Free Text

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Tony Joe White - ...Continued (1969 us, stunning swamp roots rock, 2012 japan remaster)

In a world of neurotic hygiene—of self-cleaning chopping boards, plastic-sealed furniture and such—it's little wonder Louisiana's "Swamp Fox" Tony Joe White never made it big. There's something just too funky (in the old-fashioned sense of the word), too rough and ready about his brand of blue-eyed soul for him to have been a household name. (Check the pic below if you need further convincing.)

White's ruggedness hasn't stopped the songs themselves from becoming massive though. Elvis's hit "Polk Salad Annie"? That's a TJW track. "Rainy Night in Georgia," as sung by Ray Charles and Randy Crawford? TJW again. Hell, even Tina Turner's "Steamy Windows" is a TJW song (he produced her entire Foreign Affair album). And you can find the best of White's songwriting on his musky, 1969 sophomore album, ...Continued.

White sings about what he knows about: the things he grew up with. So besides the heartbreak of "Rainy Night" and the outrageous sexiness of "Woodpecker," there are tales of rednecks out poaching chickens and eating bullfrogs ("frawgs"), all sung in his smoky, Southern baritone.

The musicianship is a treat in itself. White is backed up by players from the legendary Muscle Shoals studios, so there's no shortage of Hammond riffs, groovesome wah-wahs, deliciously lazy drumming and horns. And thankfully, Continued was released in its raw state; between songs, there's the sound of buttons being pressed, little half-conversations between White and the studio engineers, and plenty of giggling and grunting. Great album!
by Sophie Harris

Tony Joe White passed away on Wednesday, October 24th 2018, in Nashville. He was 75.

1. Elements And Things - 5:15
2. Roosevelt And Ira Lee (Night Of The Mossacin) - 3:06
3. Woodpecker - 2:47
4. Rainy Night In Georgia - 3:42
5. For Le Ann - 3:24
6. Old Man Willis - 3:16
7. Woman With Soul - 3:20
8. I Want You - 5:22
9. I Thought I Knew You Well - 4:16
10.The Migrant - 3:32
11.Watching The Trains Go By (Dewey Oldham, Wallace Pennington) - 3:07
12.Old Man Willis - 3:06
All compositions by Tony Joe White except track 11

*Tony Joe White – Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
*Tommy McClure – Bass
*Sammy Creason – Drums
*James Milhart – Drums
*Mike Utley – Organ

1970  Tony Joe White - Tony Joe (2013 Japan remaster) 
1969-2004  Tony Joe White - Collected (2012 three discs release)

Free Text
the Free Text

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Tangerine Peel - Soft Delights (1970 uk, power pop glam rock, 2015 reissue)

Tangerine Peel was best known during the second half of the 1960s as a five-man psychedelic band, specializing in a slightly light but pleasant brand of the music. Their principal claim to fame was the presence of future songwriter/producer Mike Chapman in their ranks during the late '60s, when they cut records such as their version of the Bee Gees' "Every Christian Lion-Hearted Man Will Show You," cut for British United Artists in 1967. Subsequent singles included "Solid Gold Mountain" and "Talking to No One" for British CBS, and "Never Say Never Again" and "Play Me a Sad Song and I'll Dance" for British MGM. Chapman left before the group recorded its one and only LP, Soft Delights, in 1970. By that time, the group had abandoned its psychedelic influences in favor of a more conventional pop/rock sound. 
by Bruce Eder

1. Cindy Lou - 3:18
2. Soft Delights - 3:15
3. Goodnight To The Nights - 6:43
4. Long Long Ride (James Gaynor) - 3:31
5. What Am I To Do - 4:04
6. Talkin' 'Bout A New Day - 3:57
7. Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie - 4:34
8. To Judi - 3:34
9. Leave Me Now - 2:58
10.Moment I Recall (Terry Tootill, Mike Chapman) - 2:46
All songs by Mike Chapman except where indicated.

The Tangerine Peel
*James Gaynor - Guitar
*Terry Tootill - Keyboards
*John Warwick - Drums
*Ian Stalker - Vocals
*Alan Ross - Lead Guitar
*Mike Chapman - Vocals

Free Text
the Free Text

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Joanne Vent - The Black And White Of It Is Blues (1969 us, fascinating soul blues funky rock, 2015 japan SHM remaster)

Produced by Larry Marks, 1969's "The Black and White of it is Blues" sounded like A&M was trying to position her as a Joplin-esque blues singer.  That wasn't necessary a bad thing.  Judging by tunes like 'Love Come Down' and '' Vent had the chops to easily rival Joplin, or any other roof her other blues diva rivals.  Add to that, judging by the promo photo I stumbled across, she was one attractive young lady ...   Interestingly, at least to my ears, Vent was even more impressive on soul numbers like 'Ninety Nine and a Half', 'Weak Spot', and 'It's a Man's World'. 

With a bit of Etta James in her delivery, Vent sounded quite good on her cover of Billie Holiday's 'God Bless the Child'. "Bet No One Ever Hurt This Bad" is one of the better Newman covers with Vent using a range lower than normal. Vent turned in one of the exception on the Joplin-esque 'Love Come Down'.  The woman did have one amazing voice. The way she took on the refrain on" Ninety Nine and a Half" was simply mesmerizing.   One of the album's best performances. Vent's version of 'It's a Man's World' was quite good, showcasing what a powerful, but controlled singer she was.  Easily to imagine Joplin singing this with a shrill, out-of-control swagger.   Not Vent.  She was crisp, cool, and dazzling. 

Her cover of 'Weak Spot' was quite a bit different than the rest of the album - dropping the blues-rock moves for a surprisingly accomplished soul sound.   Every time I hear this one I have to admit I'm surprised at what a good 'soul' voice the lady had. In spite of an appearance on the Johnny Carson Show, the album disappeared almost instantly, leaving Vent to return to sessions work. Joanne Vent sadly passed away in 1998.

1. God Bless The Child (Billie Holiday, Arthur Herzog Jr.) - 4:46
2. Bet No One Ever Hurt This Bad (Randy Newman) - 2:25
3. Love Come Down (Jeanne Darling) - 3:27
4. You Can`t Change (Michael McCormick) - 2:09
5. Ninety Nine And A Half (Steve Cropper, Eddie Floyd, Wilson Pickett) - 2:56
6. It`s A Man`s World (James Brown) - 4:32
7. Weak Spot (Dave Porter, Isaac Hayes) - 2:51
8. I Love You More Than You`ll Ever Know (Al Kooper) - 4:00
9. Stormy Monday (T Bone Walker) - 7:15
10.Can`t Turn You Loose (Otis Redding) - 2:23
11.Gloomy Sunday (Sam M. Lewis, Rezco Seress) - 4:15

*Joanne Vent - Vocals
*Richard Crooks - Percussion
*Dave Johnson - Bass

Related Act
1972  White Cloud - White Cloud (2018 korean remaster)

Free Text
the Free Text

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

White Cloud - White Cloud (1972 us, splendind country folk funky blues rock, 2018 korean remaster)

Although energy and effort to please, are not the only requirements of quality in a group of musicians, they certainly make the package more pleasurable. White Cloud seven people from different parts of USA, uses this energy to put together an act that varies from a country blues tune like “Hoe Bus” to a soulful number “Qualified” to some decidedly Joplinesque efforts by their lead female Joanne Vent.

Kenny Kosek fiddle some nice riffs and Don Payne is consistent on bass, while Richard Crooks maintains a steady heavy beat on the drums. Charlie Brown is the sun behind the cloud, definitely the shinning member of the group, emitting strong rays of good music from his electric guitar. White Cloud also backed John Hammond and Loudon Wainwright.
by Abigail Lewis

1. All Cried Out (Mann Curtis, Michel Deborah) - 3:39
2. Hound Dog (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 3:20
3. Hoe Bus (Thomas Jefferson Kaye) - 4:44
4. Is That Somebody You (Joanne Vent, Thomas Jefferson Kaye) - 3:07
5. Rocky Roads To Clear (Joanne Vent, Thomas Jefferson Kaye) - 2:49
6. Qualified (Mack Rebenack, Jesse Hill) - 3:55
7. Colleection Box (Joanne Vent, Thomas Jefferson Kaye) - 4:03
8. Funky Bottom Congregation (Thomas Jefferson Kaye) - 4:24
9. Thanks For Nothin' (Thomas Jefferson Kaye) - 3:56
10.The Sun Don't Shine The Same (I. Vent, Joanne Vent, Thomas Jefferson Kaye) - 2:54

The White Cloud
*Charlie Brown - Guitar
*Richard Crooks - Percussion
*Thomas Jefferson Kaye - Guitar, Vocals
*Kenny Kosek - Violin, Vocals
*Don Payne - Bass
*Joanne Vent - Vocals
*Eric Weissberg - Banjo, Steel Guitar
*Teddy Wender - Keyboards, Vocals

Free Text
the Free Text

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Shawn Phillips - At The BBC (1971-74 us, impressive prog jazzy folk, 2009 release)

It’s something of a cliché to say it but unbelievably Shawn Phillips remains on the periphery of mainstream rock, despite selling hundreds of thousands of albums and singles since he first came on to the scene in the 1960s. Once famously described by the late rock impresario Bill Graham as ‘the best kept secret in the music business’, Shawn has collaborated with the good and great, – from Stevie Winwood and Eric Clapton, to Donovan and Bernie Taupin – was cast to play the lead in the original production of Jesus Christ Superstar (he had to pull out due to his other music commitments) , written soundtracks for and starred in movie,s and yet he’s as far as ever from being a household name.

Born in Fort Worth , Texas 3 February 1943 , Shawn was smitten by pop music from an early age. ‘My father gave me a Stella guitar when I was six, and it started there’, he recalls. ‘ Texas blues and rock’n’roll on the radio – ‘Rockin’ Robin’ for one, and the Everly Brothers and such’ . In 1959 he left Texas – ‘because the police wanted me for my automobile. It was fast’ – and he ended up in the US Navy for the next three years until he was discharged. ‘Honorable discharge’, he now quips, ‘it was due to medical reasons. I had too much cartilage in my knees (it’s called Osgoodschlatter’s Disease. A lot of young sports people get it).. I later had it corrected’.

As fate would have it, he ended up in Southern California where he befriended singer/guitarist Tim Hardin – ‘I met Tim in LA around 1962’, he recounts, ‘after we had known each other for several weeks, he suggested we go to New York ’. The folk revival was in full swing and Greenwich Village was awash with a wave of new talent – they were soon rubbing shoulders with the likes of Fred Neil, Ritchie Havens and a young Bob Dylan. As he later joked, ‘I played every class A club that exists in the United States from the ‘Hungry I’ on down to the other end. The best gig I ever had was the Café Au-Go-Go when it opened, with Lenny Bruce’.

But there was obviously a bit of the Woody Guthrie in Shawn – he’s always been a travelling man. Whilst in Toronto he met the classical Indian musician Ravi Shankar and ‘he set me off with the desire to play sitar. I left the States to go to India to study the instrument. I got waylaid in London by Denis Preston, who heard me sing at a party and asked me if I wanted to make a record. I told him sure as long as there’s no time clause to the contract. Never got to India but I learned to play the instrument anyway’.

It was in London in Ivor Moraint’s famous Music Store that Shawn met Donovan Leitch, who was just enjoying his first taste of fame and they shared a fruitful if brief relationship, with Shawn touring America with the young guitarist – they even played the Pete Seger TV show, where Shawn was interviewed by the great ex-Weavers singer about the sitar and mentor Ravi Shankar. But the relationship with Donovan was rather one-way and in 1971 Shawn would observe, ‘we wrote a lot of things together and there wasn’t over much said about my part. The only thing I ever got credit for was ‘Little Tin Soldier’ on the Fairy Tale album. We co-wrote ‘Season of the Witch’. We were sitting there on the floor and I was playing my guitar and Don started making up words to what I was playing. And I made up that funny little riff that you hear on the original ‘Season of the Witch’. The Sunshine Superman – I co-wrote most of the stuff on that’.

However, Shawn’s stay in the UK was cut short by the Home Office – ‘the English government said my work permit had expired and I must leave England for three months’ – a short bout in jail in Dublin and a stay in Paris followed, before Shawn found a new base in Italy. ‘My friend Casy Deiss told me to go to Positano and return after three months was up. I didn’t’. This little Mediterranean fishing village was to be Phillips’s home for the next 13 years, and its friendly, gentle atmosphere would provide him with the perfect environment to write and develop as a musician.

He’d already recorded a number of singles and albums for various EMI imprints, but in 1968 he signed to A&M and embarked on a project which should have cemented his reputation as not only a gifted composer, a fine singer, highly innovative guitarist and multi-instrumentali st, but also as a musician willing to take chances. It should have catapulted him into the big time. Recorded at Trident Studios in London with producer Jonathan Weston, Shawn began his most ambitious work to date, Trilogy. Unfortunately as he later opined, it ‘took me four and a half years to make and it took them [A&M] about two weeks to take apart’. All that music that he’d been soaking up since his first got into the business five years before poured out in an amazing splurge of creativity and originality – written against that sweeping psychedelic backdrop of the late 60s, it combined elements of jazz, rock, folk, blues, gospel, classical and his love of Indian music to stunning effect. It should have been his masterwork – his Solid Air or Sgt Pepper!

It was a tragedy that the work was never released as it was intended. As Shawn recounted to Goldmine in 2006: ‘the Trilogy was actually made and presented to A&M Records with the stipulation that each album would be released separately so that people would not have to buy all three at once. Everyone at A&M said yes to this project except one man, an executive at A&M. He considered it was unrealistic and looked at it solely from a financial standpoint, never even considering the artistic endeavour involved. He was the comptroller at the time. He made me take the Trilogy apart and put eight of the songs on to one album, which became Contribution. The rest, with the exception of one or two songs, went on to Second Contribution. This man was one of the forerunners for the desolate miasma the music business is today’.One can only ponder on what might have been had the original concept prevailed.

Even so these two records, which eventually emerged in 1970, are not without their pleasures – the first LP featured some great Phillips songs and also superlative playing not just from Shawn but from old ‘Slow Hand’ himself on ‘Man Hole Covered Wagon’, and Messrs Winwood, Capaldi and Wood (Traffic) on ‘For RFK, JFK and MLK’. ‘Every single song was recorded in less than three takes and the master vocals were not overdubbed later but were done in the same moment’, says Shawn. Second Contribution was more experimental and abstract with fabulous orchestrations from Paul Buckmaster.

Despite these major frustrations with his record label, Shawn came to record his first Peel session on something of a roll. Although never well marketed, Contribution was described by Rolling Stone magazine as ‘one of 1970’s better efforts’. On Saturday afternoon 29th August he’d played unbilled to an audience of some 500,000 people at the third Isle of Wight Pop Festival. The previous December he had also released a well-received Yuletide 45, ‘A Christmas Song’. Indeed, side by side with the broadcast of his first BBC session, Rolling Stone had also just given him a highly positive centre spread, written by noted critic Chet Flippo. The timing could not have been better.

Phillips’s staunchest fans already know what a treat these Beeb recordings are, but with 38 years of hindsight it strikes this scribe somewhat odd that in the realms of ‘legendary sessions’ done by ‘Auntie’, this is never mentioned in despatches. To these ears at least, it’s up there with the likes of Tim Buckley’s legendary 68 recordings for the corporation. Kicking off with ‘Hey Miss Lonely’ which he would later re-do in 1972 in LA with highly regarded session men Lee Sklar and Sneeky Pete Kleinow as part of the sessions for Faces, this gets us off to a cracking start. Shawn’s memories of this session are at best sketchy but he wryly adds, ‘Fuck me! Did I do that? OK, the acoustic tunes are what they are, and I notice I flat picked ‘Hey Miss Lonely’, I finger pick it now, and can’t remember when I started doing that’. The version on Faces is a gentler take with a country lilt rounded out by Sklar’s lovely bubbling bass and Pete’s sweet steel. The Radio 1 recording here maybe a rawer snapshot but both versions work equally well.

In contrast ‘Spring Wind’ is a reading take of the 9 ½ minute full-blown electric epic found on 1971’s Collaboration – an introspective, brooding piece which features some incredibly dexterous picking from the man and the lower range of his wonderfully elastic voice. ‘Salty Tears’ is a bluesy number, with superb harmonising between his guitar lines and voice – Shawn could flick from a low rumble to a soaring falsetto in the blink of an eye – this is a performance of one of the more obscure songs in his catalogue that only ever saw the light of day as the flipside of the 1974 single ‘All the Kings and Castles’– and it’s the only number on the session to use an electric guitar and the way he wields his Fender Telecaster is just jaw-droppingly brilliant!

For most musicians a performance like that would be hard to top but the last two numbers from March 1971 are just as potent, and both taken from the aforementioned Contribution LP. Shawn’s driving12-string playing is given full flight on ‘Withered Roses’. The song starts with a stunning raga-like sequence – shades of the great Fred Neal and David Crosby here – before a full onslaught of super-fast picking. In 2008 Shawn observes, ‘I have a conundrum. I’ve been thinking about playing ‘Withered Roses’ again in concert, but instead of an acoustic 12-string, I would use an electric 12-string. Peter Robinson has my original Gibson 12 string at his home in LA. He sampled it for use on his New England Digital Synclavier. I would rather it be in safe place, as it is the second 12 string Gibson made, after the prototype. Barney Kessel got the first one. We played a session together once, and he played mine, and I played his, and he offered to trade mine for his, with $500 on top of that. I said, “Don’t think so. Thanks anyway”’.

‘L. Ballad’ is just gorgeous, one of his best – a song brimming with mystery and imagination that has undergone various transformations. Here somewhat reminiscent of the best work by the Tims (Hardin, Rose and Buckley), it was later re-done for Faces where Shawn was backed up by Skaila Kanga on harp and the 85-piece David Katz Orchestra with a haunting, majestic arrangement courtesy of Paul Buckmaster. Even so, this unadorned solo version is hard to fault, it’s the real jewel in the crown of this first BBC set.

By the time he came to do the next BBC session for Bob Harris in March 1973, Shawn was regularly working with a backing band which featured

drummer Barry de Souza, guitarist Tony Walmsley and keyboard player Peter Robinson. As Peter recalls, ‘I met Shawn in the autumn of 1971.. My long standing friend and fellow Royal Academy of Music alumnus, Paul Buckmaster, had met Shawn during the recording of Contribution and took me over to see him at his flat located in one of London ’s famously secluded squares. We instantly hit it off and we all talked endlessly until the wee hours. It was during these dialogues that Shawn asked me to play keyboards on his next album. We took the songs from Contribution, Second Contribution and Collaboration on the road and I played with Shawn for the next five years in concert. On the Bob Harris Show we had no bass player at that time and so I played all the bass parts on Fender Rhodes bass keyboard. The only other group I knew about that utilised this instrument was the Doors’.

First up is ‘Spaceman’, done for the Collaboration album, a number says Shawn ‘prompted by my getting hit on, on the street, by various sundry Jesus freaks, whom I would invariably leave standing speechless, because I would remind them of the origins of the bible, and the myriad cultures that actually contributed to its writing, much of which was long before Jesus. For someone who loves Jesus so much, they weren’t real happy with the truth. Also contributing to it was a blonde lady (now long forgotten), that piqued my fancy’. ‘Not Quite Nonsense’ was another song from the Contribution record – something of a humorous break-neck tongue-twister – ‘”will the lady in the rear please be kind enough to take her lovely hat off”’, was actually the line that set the writing of the song off’, he says, ‘I like the ending as well, “and we’ll call a stop to all that’s not harmonic”. There wasn’t anything left to say. Dead stop’.

There is a pair of aces from the Faces record: ‘Anello’ has a Donovan flavour particularly in the vocal phrasing, not surprising given their earlier friendship, whilst ‘I Took A Walk’ shows the more political side of Phillips’ song writing. Talking now of the versions recorded for Bob Harris, Shawn says: ‘OK, what you have to remember is that in the studio when you’re trying to make an album, you have time to create several different moments, whereas in the radio studio you’ve got to get it right the first time. Each situation is different’. The take of ‘Took A Walk’ is certainly faster and snappier, with Robinson’ electric keyboards adding a funkier edge compared to the one on the record.

The final contribution to this session is another gem – ‘Dream Queen’, later recorded for 1974’s Bright White album, is pretty much another solo performance – Phillips adds, ‘I think the guitar I was playing was a Fender 6-string bass. I had turned the bridge around, so I could put guitar strings on it’.

When Phillips came to do his second Peel show in October 1974 former Big Three bassist Johnny Gustafson had replaced Tony Walmsley. Gustafson had already played with Shawn on ‘Spaceman’ and had been in the prog-rock organ-led power trio with Peter Robinson, Quatermass, and they’d co-headlined concerts together so this was a grand reunion. The funk elements that had been peeping through on the Harris recordings were now given full reign. Phillips’s music was now following a heavy jazz-funk direction. Peter Robinson recalls, ‘we recorded an album called Furthermore which made several musical turns to funk and extended improvisations. We were asked to record again for the Beeb in 1974, for John Peel. What a gentleman! He treated us so well and, I think, it made us play better! Thank you John!’ The final tracks on this Hux release are all based on tracks recorded for that LP. Talking about this change of style, Phillips now observes, ‘Truthfully, I have to pass the buck on to Pete (Robinson) and Paul (Buckmaster) . They opened my mind to soooo much music – Stockhausen, Miles, Penderecki, composers who made music that made you run out of the fucking room!’

About that final Peel session, he adds: ‘I have to say that I think they were amazing moments. Dude, Miles would be proud. The jam on ‘See you/Planscape’ is wonderful. ’92 years’ is funk personified, and ‘Talking in the Garden/Furthermore’ just flat out smokes. I can’t believe the tempo on ‘January 1st’. Great energy by everyone involved’. Gustafson adds: ‘It’s difficult to say how the music evolved, but Shawn was always open to ideas as long as it didn’t interfere with his original concept. For instance, when we rehearsed ‘January 1st’ in Los Angeles, there wasn’t an arrangement as such so after a few attempts I tried something quite fast that I thought might fit in with Barry’s drum pattern. It was just a repeated bass riff spread over an A flat minor 7th scale. It seemed to work after it was played more staccato’. Peter Robinson, who played B3 Hammond Organ, Moog and ARP synthesizers, Fender Rhodes piano, clavinets ‘and the kitchen sink thrown in for good measure’ says, ‘Everything was done in one take! At the end of the song ‘Planscape’, one can distinguish a somewhat truncated version of a tune that Paul Buckmaster wrote for Miles Davis titled ‘ Ife ’. I think secretly Paul’s a little pissed off that Miles never credited him with the composition so here it is, quoted as if to quietly cock a snoot!’

Going by these recordings, live gigs at the time must have been extraordinary – there’s an incredible electricity to them that had not been over evident in his earlier work. Shawn’s fixation with this type of music would see him go on to work with various ex-Herbie Hancock Headhunters sidemen, on records like Rumplestiltskin’s Resolve, whilst the spaced out jazz-funk jams would reach their zenith on 1977’s Spaced and the 16-minute ‘Came To say Goodbye’.

Sadly he has as yet never returned to the portals of Broadcasting House, but he has gone on to enjoy a long career as a musician and continues making interesting records and playing gigs to this day. He’s currently living in Port Elizabeth , South Africa , where in between writing and touring, he works as an emergency medical technician and fire fighter. He remains outspoken too – when I spoke to him about the BBC sessions, he finished with a typically forthright burst of Phillips insight – ‘now I got a question for you. Why don’t we hear music like this today? Where are the artists and musicians that create at that level? Seems everybody wants to play rock, blues or pop. For me today rock is standard chords with amps at 11, and no substance, and pop is oversimplified, and panders to the raging hormones of adolescent teenagers, and I don’t play blues, because I’m not black, and have no conception of the depths of despair those people suffered under such oppression, and never will. Any white guy that says they can identify with that is deluding themselves’.
by Nigel Cross, September 2008

1. Hey Miss Lonely - 3:27
2. Spring Wind - 5:06
3. Salty Tears - 3:55
4. Withered Roses - 5:34
5. L' Ballade - 5:38
6. Spaceman - 4:00
7. Not Quite Nonsense - 2:02
8. Anello - Where Are You - 2:32
9. I Took A Walk - 5:18
10.Dream Queen - 3:52
11.See You-Planscape - 8:06
12.92 Years - 3:02
13.Talking In The Garden-Furthermore - 5:30
14.January 1st - 2:58
All songs by Shawn Phillips

*Shawn Phillips - Guitars, Vocals
*Barry DeSouza Drums
*Jon Gustafson - Bass
*Peter Manning Robinson Keyboards
*Tony Walmsley Guitar

1970  Shawn Phillips - Contribution / Second Contribution (2009 remaster)
1971  Shawn Phillips - Collaboration
1969-72  Shawn Phillips - Faces (2014 remaster)
1974  Shawn Phillips - Furthermore (2014 issue)
1976  Shawn Phillips - Rumplestiltskin's Resolve (2013 remaster)
1977  Shawn Phillips - Spaced (2013 remaster)
1978  Shawn Phillips - Transcendence (2015 remaster)

Free Text
the Free Text

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Clear Blue Sky - Clear Blue Sky (1970 uk, essential raw heavy rock, 2017 remaster)

As the '60s gave way to the '70s in Swinging London, the colossal success of Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience was helping hard rock to become arguably the musical genre du jour, meaning there were literally hundreds of young British bands bent on following in their heavy footsteps, while testing the limits of those newly developed Marshall stacks. Needless to say, only a handful of those groups would go on to become household names (Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, etc.), leaving dozens more to share in the remaining limelight (Uriah Heep, Budgie, Taste, Jethro Tull, etc.), and then hundreds more fighting over the leftover table scraps -- including the subject of this text, Clear Blue Sky.

Formed in the western London suburb of Acton by teenage school chums John Simms (guitar, vocals), Mark Sheather (bass), and Ken White (drums), the bandmembers tried on several different monikers (Jug Blues, Matuse, and simply X) while they tinkered with their Brit-blues foundation, gradually adding harder, psychedelic, and eventually progressive songwriting elements. Extensive touring across the U.K. and into Germany also helped them gel as a unit, and so the precocious trio was primed and ready to capitalize on the next big opportunity that came its way, taking first place in a talent contest at the legendary Marquee Club that resulted in an offer from Donovan manager Ashley Kozak to represent the group. And true to his power broker reputation, Kozak soon managed to secure a recording contract for the boys with adventurous EMI imprint Vertigo, which put the newly renamed Clear Blue Sky into Island Studios in the spring of 1970, right next door to none other than Led Zeppelin! 

Another early believer, vocalist Patrick Campbell-Lyons, formerly of the progressive rock band Nirvana (no, not that Nirvana), was hired to produce the three 18-year-olds, and by January 1971 the eponymous Clear Blue Sky LP arrived in record stores, adorned with one of the first Roger Dean cover designs (although, in Europe, it was titled Play It Loud and given different artwork). Unfortunately, the record's edgy mix of proto-metal, post-psych acid rock, and burgeoning prog rock -- though enthusiastically praised by collectors to this day -- ultimately failed to distinguish itself from the embarrassment of heavy rock riches that marked this period in time. And despite consistent touring over the next few years, Clear Blue Sky's career slowly lost momentum -- along with their Vertigo contract -- until the old friends finally decided to call it a day in 1975.
by Eduardo Rivadavia

1. Sweet Leaf - 8:02
2. The Rocket Ride - 6:24
3. I'm Comin' Home - 3:08
4. You Mistify - 7:49
5. Tool Of My Trade - 4:55
6. My Heaven - 5:01
7. Birdcatcher - 4:15
All compositions by John Simms

Clear Blue Sky
*John Simms - Guitar, Vocals
*Mark Sheather - Bass
*Ken White - Drums

Free Text
the Free Text